The Opulences of Kṛṣṇa
Since Lord Caitanya is especially merciful to innocent, unsophisticated persons, His name is also Patita-pāvana, the deliverer of the most fallen conditioned souls. Although a conditioned soul may be fallen to the lowest position, such a lowly state will not prevent him from advancing in the spiritual science, provided he is innocent. Sanātana Gosvāmī was considered fallen in society because he was in the service of the Muslim government and had thus been excommunicated from brahminical society. But because he was a sincere soul, Lord Caitanya showed him special favor by granting him a wealth of spiritual information.
The Lord next explained to Sanātana Gosvāmī how the different spiritual planets are situated in the spiritual sky. The spiritual planets are also known as Vaikuṇṭha planets. The planets of the material creation have a limited length and breadth, but as far as the Vaikuṇṭha planets are concerned, because they are spiritual there is no limit to their dimensions. Lord Caitanya informed Sanātana Gosvāmī that the length and breadth of every Vaikuṇṭha planet is thousands of billions of miles – in other words, no one can measure any Vaikuṇṭha planet’s actual extent. Each of these planets is unlimitedly expanded, and in each of them the residents are full in all six opulences – wealth, strength, knowledge, beauty, fame and renunciation. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is present in every Vaikuṇṭha planet. Indeed, in each Vaikuṇṭha planet an expansion of Kṛṣṇa has His eternal abode, and Kṛṣṇa Himself has His original eternal abode, called Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
In this universe even the largest planet lies in one corner of outer space. For example, although the sun is a million times larger than the earth, it still lies in one corner of outer space. Similarly, each of the Vaikuṇṭha planets, although unlimited in length and breadth, lies in a corner of the spiritual sky, known as the brahmajyoti. In the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40) the brahmajyoti is described as niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtam, or undivided and unlimited and without a trace of the material modes of nature. All the Vaikuṇṭha planets are like petals of a lotus flower, and the principal part of that lotus, the center of all the Vaikuṇṭhas, is called Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Thus the expansions of Kṛṣṇa in various forms, as described herein, as well as His various abodes on the spiritual planets in the spiritual sky, are unlimited. Even demigods like Brahmā and Śiva cannot see the Vaikuṇṭha planets or even estimate their number or vast extent. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.21): “No one can estimate the length and breadth of all the Vaikuṇṭha planets.” Elsewhere in the Bhāgavatam (2.7.41) it is stated that not only are demigods like Brahmā and Śiva unable to make such an estimate, but even Ananta, the incarnation of the Lord’s opulence of strength, cannot ascertain any limit to the Lord’s potency or to the area of the different Vaikuṇṭha planets.
Again, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.21, one of the prayers of Brahmā, is very convincing in this connection: “O my dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, O Supersoul, O master of all mystic powers, no one can know or explain the extent of Your Vaikuṇṭha planets or how You expand Your yogamāyā energy throughout the three worlds.” And a few verses earlier (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.7) Brahmā prays:
guṇātmanas te ’pi guṇān vimātuṁ
hitāvatīrṇasya ka īśire ’sya
kālena yair vā vimitāḥ su-kalpair
bhū-pāṁśavaḥ khe mihikā dyu-bhāsaḥ
“Scientists and learned men cannot even measure the atomic constitution of a single planet. Even if they could count the molecules of snow in the sky or the number of stars in space, they could not understand how You descend to this earth or in this universe with Your innumerable transcendental potencies and qualities.” In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.7.41) Lord Brahmā informs Nārada that none of the great sages born before Nārada, including Brahmā himself, can measure the extent of the Supreme Lord’s potencies. Indeed, Brahmā declared that even Ananta, with His thousands of tongues, fails when He tries to fully describe the Lord’s energies. Similarly, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.41) the personified Vedas pray:
dyu-pataya eva te na yayur antam anantatayā
tvam api yad-antarāṇḍa-nicayā nanu sāvaraṇāḥ
kha iva rajāṁsi vānti vayasā saha yac chrutayas
tvayi hi phalanty atan-nirasanena bhavan-nidhanāḥ
“My Lord, You are unlimited, and therefore no one can measure the extent of Your potencies. I think that even You do not know the range of Your energies. An unlimited number of planets float in the sky just like atoms, and great Vedāntists, who are engaged in research to find You, discover that everything is different from You. At last they conclude that You are everything.”
When Lord Kṛṣṇa was within this universe, Brahmā played a trick on Him in order to confirm that the special cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana was actually Kṛṣṇa Himself. By his mystic power Brahmā stole all the cows, calves and cowherd friends of Kṛṣṇa and hid them. But when Brahmā returned to see what Kṛṣṇa was doing alone, he saw that Kṛṣṇa was still playing with the same cows, calves and cowherd boys. By His Vaikuṇṭha potency Lord Kṛṣṇa had expanded all the stolen cows, calves and friends. Indeed, Brahmā saw millions and billions of them, and he also saw millions and billions of herding sticks and fruits, lotus flowers and horns. All the cowherd boys were wearing different clothes and ornaments, and no one could count their vast numbers. Then Brahmā saw each of the cowherd boys become a four-handed Nārāyaṇa, and he also saw innumerable Brahmās from different universes offering obeisances to the Lord. He saw that all these personalities were emanating from the body of Kṛṣṇa and, after a second, entering into His body. Lord Brahmā became struck with wonder by this extraordinary feat of Kṛṣṇa’s, and in a prayer he stated that although anyone and everyone could say they knew all about Kṛṣṇa, as far as he was concerned, he did not know anything about Him. “My dear Lord,” he said, “the potencies and opulences You have exhibited just now are beyond the ability of my mind to understand.”
Lord Caitanya further explained that not only is the potency of Kṛṣṇaloka limitless, but so also is that of Vṛndāvana, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s abode on this planet. From one point of view, Vṛndāvana is about thirty-two square miles in area, yet in one part of this Vṛndāvana all the Vaikuṇṭhas exist. The area of present-day Vṛndāvana contains twelve forests and covers about eighty-four krośas, or 168 miles in area, and Vṛndāvana City is estimated to be about sixteen krośas, or thirty-two square miles. How all the Vaikuṇṭhas can exist there is beyond material calculation. Thus Caitanya Mahāprabhu concluded that the potencies and opulences of Kṛṣṇa are unlimited. Whatever He told Sanātana Gosvāmī was only partial, but by such a partial presentation one can try to imagine the whole.
While Lord Caitanya was speaking to Sanātana Gosvāmī about the opulences of Kṛṣṇa, He became deeply immersed in ecstasy, and in that transcendental state He recited a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.2.21) in which Uddhava, after the disappearance of Kṛṣṇa, told Vidura:
svayaṁ tv asāmyātiśayas try-adhīśaḥ
baliṁ haradbhiś cira-loka-pālaiḥ
“Kṛṣṇa is the master of all demigods, including Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the expansion of Viṣṇu within this universe. Therefore no one is equal to or greater than Him, and He is full in six opulences. All the demigods engaged in the administration of each universe offer their respectful obeisances unto Him. Indeed, the helmets on their heads are beautiful because they are decorated with the imprints of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.” It is similarly stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.1) that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and no one can be equal to or greater than Him. That is Brahmā’s conclusion. Although the universal rulers – Brahmā, Śiva and Viṣṇu – are masters of each and every universe, they too are servants of the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa.
As the cause of all causes, Lord Kṛṣṇa is also the cause of Mahā-viṣṇu, the first of the incarnations who control this material creation. From Mahā-viṣṇu come Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu. Thus Kṛṣṇa is the master of Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu, and He is also the Supersoul within every living entity in the universe. The Brahma-saṁhitā (5.48) states: By Mahā-viṣṇu’s breathing innumerable universes are produced. In each universe there are innumerable viṣṇu-tattvas, but it should be understood that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the master of them all and that they are but His partial plenary expansions.
From the revealed scriptures it is understood that Kṛṣṇa lives in three transcendental places. His most confidential residence is Goloka Vṛndāvana. It is there that He stays with His father, mother and friends, exhibits His transcendental relationships and bestows His mercy upon His eternal entourage. There Yogamāyā acts as His maidservant in the rāsa-līlā dance. The residents of Vrajabhūmi think, “The Lord is glorified by particles of His transcendental mercy and affection, and due to His merciful existence we, the residents of Vṛndāvana, have not the slightest anxiety.” As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.43), in the spiritual sky all the Vaikuṇṭha planets (which make up Viṣṇuloka) are below the planet known as Kṛṣṇaloka, Goloka Vṛndāvana. On that supreme planet the Lord enjoys His transcendental bliss in multiple forms, and all the opulences of the Vaikuṇṭhas are fully displayed on that one planet. Like Kṛṣṇa, His associates are also full with six opulences. In the Padma Purāṇa (Uttara-khaṇḍa 255.57) it is stated that the material energy and the spiritual energy are separated by the Virajā River. That river flows from the perspiration of the first puruṣa incarnation. On the far bank of the Virajā is the eternal nature, unlimited and all-blissful, called the spiritual sky, the spiritual kingdom, or the kingdom of God.
The spiritual planets are called Vaikuṇṭhas because there is no lamentation or fear there and everything is eternal. The spiritual world has been calculated to comprise three fourths of the energies of the Supreme Lord, and the material world comprises one fourth. But no one can understand what that three fourths is, since even this material universe cannot be described. Trying to convey to Sanātana Gosvāmī something of the extent of this display of one fourth of Kṛṣṇa’s energy, Caitanya Mahāprabhu next cited an incident from the scriptures in which Brahmā, the lord of this universe, came to see Kṛṣṇa at Dvārakā. When Brahmā, the first created being in the universe, approached Kṛṣṇa, the doorman informed Kṛṣṇa that Brahmā had arrived to see Him. Upon hearing this, Kṛṣṇa inquired as to which Brahmā had come, and the doorman returned to Brahmā and asked, “Which Brahmā are you? Kṛṣṇa has asked.”
Brahmā was struck with wonder. Why did Kṛṣṇa ask such a question? Brahmā informed the doorman, “Please tell Him that the Brahmā who is the father of the four Kumāras and who has four heads has come to see Him.”
The doorman informed Kṛṣṇa and then asked Brahmā to come inside. Brahmā offered his obeisances unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, and after Kṛṣṇa had received him with all honor, the Lord asked him why he had come.
“I shall tell You of my purpose in coming here,” Lord Brahmā replied, “but first I ask You to kindly remove a doubt I have. Your doorman told me that You asked which Brahmā had come to see You. May I inquire if there are other Brahmās besides me?”
Upon hearing this, Kṛṣṇa smiled and at once called for many Brahmās from many other universes. The four-headed Brahmā then saw many other Brahmās coming to see Kṛṣṇa and offer their respects. Some of them had ten heads, some had twenty, some had a hundred, and some even had a million heads. Indeed, the four-headed Brahmā could not even count the Brahmās who came to offer their obeisances to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa then called many other demigods from various universes, and they all came to offer their respects to the Lord. Upon seeing this wonderful exhibition by Kṛṣṇa, the four-headed Brahmā became nervous and began to think he was just like a mosquito in the midst of many elephants. Since so many demigods were offering obeisances unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā concluded that no one can measure Kṛṣṇa’s unlimited potency. All the helmets of the various demigods and Brahmās shone brightly in the assembly, and when the helmets struck one another as the demigods offered obeisances, the helmets seemed to make a great sound of prayer.
“Dear Lord,” the demigods said, “it is Your great mercy upon us that You have called us to see You. Is there any particular order? If so, we will carry it out at once.”
“There is nothing especially required of you,” Lord Kṛṣṇa replied. “I only wanted to see you all together at one time. I offer My blessings to you. Don’t be afraid of the demons.”
“By Your mercy, everything is all right,” they all replied. “There are no disturbances at present, for by appearing on the earth You have vanquished everything inauspicious.”
As each Brahmā saw Kṛṣṇa, each thought that Kṛṣṇa was only within his universe. After this incident, Kṛṣṇa wished all the Brahmās farewell, and after offering respects to Him they returned to their respective universes. Upon seeing this, the four-headed Brahmā at once fell down at the feet of Kṛṣṇa and said, “What I thought about You before was all nonsense. People may say they know You perfectly, but as far as I am concerned, I cannot begin to conceive how great You are. You are beyond my understanding.”
Kṛṣṇa then informed him, “This particular universe is only four thousand million miles across, but there are many millions and billions of universes which are far, far greater than this one. Some of these are many trillions of miles across, and all these universes require strong Brahmās with many more than four heads.” Kṛṣṇa further informed Brahmā, “This material creation is only one quarter of My creative potency. Three quarters is in the spiritual kingdom.”
The four-headed Brahmā then offered obeisances to Kṛṣṇa and departed, now understanding the meaning of the Lord’s “three-quarters energy.”
The Lord is known as Tryadhīśvara, a name indicating His principal abodes – Gokula, Mathurā and Dvārakā. These three abodes are full of opulences, and Lord Kṛṣṇa is the master of them all, situated as He is in His transcendental potency. Lord Kṛṣṇa, the master of all transcendental energies, is thus full with six opulences, and because He is the master of all opulences, all the Vedic literatures acclaim Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lord Caitanya then sang a nice song to Sanātana Gosvāmī about the opulences of Kṛṣṇa: “All the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa are exactly like the activities of human beings. Therefore it is to be understood that His form is like that of a human being. Indeed, the human form is an imitation of His form. Kṛṣṇa is dressed just like a cowherd boy. He has a flute in His hand, and He seems to be just like a newly grown youth. He is always playful, and He plays just like an ordinary boy.”
Thus Lord Caitanya begin telling Sanātana Gosvāmī about the beautiful aspects of Kṛṣṇa. The Lord said that anyone who understands these beautiful qualities is dipped into an ocean of nectar. Kṛṣṇa’s yogamāyā potency is transcendental, beyond the material energy, but the Lord exhibits His transcendental potency even within this material world just to satisfy His confidential devotees. In other words, Kṛṣṇa appears in the material world to satisfy His devotees. His qualities are so attractive that Kṛṣṇa Himself becomes eager to understand Himself. When He is fully decorated and stands with His body curved in three ways, with His eyebrows always moving and His eyes so attractive, the gopīs become enchanted. His special abode is at the top of the spiritual sky, and He resides there with His associates – the cowherd boys, the gopīs and all the goddesses of fortune. It is there that He is known as Madana-mohana.
There are many different pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, such as His pastimes in the forms of Vāsudeva and Saṅkarṣaṇa. In the material sky He performs pastimes as the first puruṣa incarnation, the creator of the material world. There are also pastimes in which He incarnates as a fish or a tortoise or takes the forms of Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, incarnations of the material qualities. In His pastimes as an empowered incarnation, He takes the form of King Pṛthu, and He also performs pastimes as the Supersoul in everyone’s heart and as the impersonal Brahman as well.
Among Kṛṣṇa’s innumerable pastimes, however, the most important are His humanlike activities – frolicking in Vṛndāvana, dancing with the gopīs, playing with the Pāṇḍavas on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra and playing in Mathurā and Dvārakā. And His most important pastimes in the human form are those in which He appears as a cowherd boy, a newly grown youth who plays a flute. Just a partial manifestation of His pastimes in Goloka – in Gokula, Mathurā and Dvārāvatī, or Dvārakā – can overflood the whole universe with love of Godhead. Everyone can be attracted by the beautiful qualities of Kṛṣṇa.
The manifestation of Kṛṣṇa’s internal potency (yogamāyā) is not exhibited in the part of the kingdom of God comprising the Vaikuṇṭha planets, but Kṛṣṇa does exhibit that internal potency within the universe when He descends from His personal abode out of His inconceivable mercy. Kṛṣṇa is so wonderful and attractive that He Himself becomes attracted by His own beauty, and this is proof that He is full of all inconceivable potencies. As far as the ornaments decorating Kṛṣṇa’s body are concerned, it appears that they do not beautify Him but that they themselves become beautiful simply by being on His body. Always standing in a three-curved way, He attracts all living entities, including the demigods. Indeed, He even attracts the Nārāyaṇa form who presides in every Vaikuṇṭha planet.