The Supreme Personality of Godhead
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Krsna (pronounced “Krishna”),The Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a summary study of the tenth canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam is an encyclopedic, 18,000 verse text—divided into twelve Cantos—chronicling many of Krishna’s various incarnations over the millennia. It also describes the creation and cosmography of the material universes, and the lives of many pure devotees of Krishna and how they attained perfection.
The tenth canto of the Bhagavatam focuses on Krishna Himself and His activities when He appeared on earth five thousand years ago. In Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead—popularly known as “Krishna Book”—we see the private life of the Supreme Person. Behind all the omnipotence and majesty, Krishna is the all-attractive, fun-loving, perfect person, eternally reciprocating unlimited varieties of loving relationships with His devotees.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wrote “Krishna Book” before he had even fully completed his translation and commentary on the Bhagavatam. He wanted people to hear about Krishna the person and His activities, in English, from an authorized representative of the Krishna-bhakti tradition. As he mentions in his Introduction, this was so they wouldn’t risk mistaking Krishna to be just another human being and his pastimes as mundane adventure/romance stories.
It should be said, however, that fans of adventure and romance will find nothing lacking in this contemporary recounting of Krishna’s activities.
While attempting to write this book, Kṛṣṇa, let me first offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda 108 Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda. Then let me offer my respectful obeisances to the ocean of mercy, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa Himself, appearing in the role of a devotee just to distribute the highest principles of devotional service. Lord Caitanya began His preaching from the country known as Gauḍadeśa (West Bengal). And as I belong to the Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya, I must therefore offer my respectful obeisances to the disciplic succession of that name. This Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya is also known as the Brahma-sampradāya because the disciplic succession originally began from Brahmā. Brahmā instructed the sage Nārada, Nārada instructed Vyāsadeva, and Vyāsadeva instructed Madhva Muni, or Madhvācārya. Śrī Mādhavendra Purī, the originator of the Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya, was a sannyāsī (renunciant) who belonged to the Madhvācārya disciplic succession. He had many renowned disciples, such as Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu and Īśvara Purī. Īśvara Purī happened to be the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. So let us offer our respectful obeisances to Īśvara Purī, Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrī Advaita Ācārya Prabhu, Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita. Next, let us offer our respectful obeisances to Svarūpa Dāmodara, who acted as the private secretary to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu; and let us offer our respectful obeisances to Śrī Vāsudeva Datta and the constant attendant of Lord Caitanya, Śrī Govinda, and the constant friend of Lord Caitanya, Mukunda, and also to Murāri Gupta. And let us offer our respectful obeisances to the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana – Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī.
Kṛṣṇa Himself has explained in the Bhagavad-gītā that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that whenever there are discrepancies in the regulative principles of man’s religious life and a prominence of irreligious activities, He appears on this earthly planet. In other words, when Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared, there was a necessity of minimizing the load of sinful activities accumulated on this planet, or in this universe.
For affairs of the material creation, Lord Mahā-viṣṇu, the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa, is in charge. Thus, when the Lord descends, the incarnation emanates from Viṣṇu. Mahā-viṣṇu is the original cause of the material creation, and from Him Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu expands, and then Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu. Generally, all the incarnations appearing within this material universe are plenary expansions from Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu. Therefore, the business of minimizing the overload of sinful activities on this earth does not belong to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa Himself. But when Kṛṣṇa appears, all the Viṣṇu expansions join with Him. Kṛṣṇa’s different expansions – namely Nārāyaṇa, the quadruple expansion of Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, as well as partial plenary expansions like Matsya, the incarnation of a fish, and the yuga-avatāras (incarnations for the millennium) and the manvantara-avatāras (incarnations associated with the reigns of the Manus) – all combine together and appear with the body of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kṛṣṇa is the complete whole, and thus all plenary expansions and incarnations always live with Him.
Therefore when Kṛṣṇa appeared, Lord Viṣṇu was with Him. Kṛṣṇa actually appears in order to demonstrate His Vṛndāvana pastimes and in this way attract the fortunate conditioned souls and invite them back home, back to Godhead. The killing of the demons in Vṛndāvana was carried out only by the Viṣṇu portion of Kṛṣṇa.
The Lord’s abode is described in the Bhagavad-gītā, eighth chapter, twentieth verse, where it is stated that there is another, eternal nature, the spiritual sky, which is transcendental to this manifested and nonmanifested matter. The manifested world can be seen in the form of many stars and planetary systems, such as the sun and moon, but beyond this there is a nonmanifested portion, which is not approachable by anyone in this body. And beyond that nonmanifested matter is the spiritual kingdom. That kingdom is described in the Bhagavad-gītā as supreme and eternal, never to be annihilated. This material nature is subjected to repeated creation and annihilation. But that part, the spiritual nature, remains as it is, eternally.
The supreme abode of the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is also described in the Brahma-saṁhitā as the abode of cintāmaṇi. That abode of Lord Kṛṣṇa, known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, is full of palaces made of touchstone. There the trees are called desire trees, and the cows are called surabhi. The Lord is served there by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune. His name is Govinda, the Primeval Lord, and He is the cause of all causes. There the Lord plays His flute, His eyes are like lotus petals, and the color of His body is like that of a beautiful cloud. On His head is a peacock feather. He is so attractive that He excels thousands of Cupids. Lord Kṛṣṇa gives only a little hint in the Gītā of His personal abode, which is the supermost planet in the spiritual kingdom. But in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Kṛṣṇa actually appears with all His paraphernalia and demonstrates His activities in Vṛndāvana, then at Mathurā, and then at Dvārakā. The subject matter of this book will gradually reveal all these activities.