7-Minute Bhagavatam

7-Minute Bhagavatam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.20-21
by
Gopiparanadhana Dasa
Language 
English
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Transcript 


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.20 and 1.1.21
Continuing the explanation of the first chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with verse twenty:
kṛtavān kila karmāṇi
 saha rāmeṇa keśavaḥ
ati-martyāni bhagavān
 gūḍhaḥ kapaṭa-mānuṣaḥ
“Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, along with Balarāma, played like a human being, and so masked He performed many superhuman acts.”
The sages at Naimiṣa forest asked Śrī Sūta to tell them whatever was connected with the glories of the Supreme Lord, but they were especially eager to hear about Kṛṣṇa, who had not long ago finished His 125-year-long appearance. In this verse they focus on Kṛṣṇa’s amazing pastimes and show that they understand their significance. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are the original Supreme Lord and His immediate counterpart, but They pretended to be human beings. Many of the feats the two Lords performed, like the lifting of Govardhana Hill and the killing of Pralambāsura, are impossible for any human being, especially humans in the time of decline in which They appeared. Demons in Satya-yuga of the caliber of Hiraṇyakaśipu, and even demons in Tretā-yuga such as Rāvaṇa, were immensely more powerful than the antagonists Kaṁsa, Jarāsandha, and Śiśupāla in kṛṣṇa-līlā. Still, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma handled them and many others in superhuman fashion.
Kapaṭa means “deceit.” Objectively speaking, a human is a soul embodied in a particular species of earthly body. Kṛṣṇa and His brother were nothing of the sort; They only put on a show of being members of the human race. But because They played like this without at all defiling Their dignity of omnipotence, no one should accuse Them of fraud. Even while Their purest potency, Yogamāyā, hid Their divinity from the eyes of Their family and friends, in everything They did They proved themselves Bhagavān, the Supreme exhibiting His real self as most suits His pleasure. To delight Their servants, They disguised Themselves as brāhmaṇas and begged like ordinary supplicants from the materialist Jarāsandha. They teased the totally unmaterialistic young girls of Vraja with irrelevant instructions in morality, and cheated Them with Their flute music and other charms. Everyone became so bewildered by Kṛṣṇa’s trickery that it was generally thought “He can’t be God.” Thus He hid Himself.  
Śrīla Prabhupāda mentions anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. The first word refers to any attempt to portray as human something that is either not human or is impersonal. This includes artificially modeling God into the image of man. Zoomorphism is to imagine some revered animal to be God. Kṛṣṇa in the form of a human, animal, or any other creature is never a product of the imagination. Kṛṣṇa, Nṛsiṁha, Kūrma, and Matsya exist eternally, even when there are no human beings to imagine Them.
Because some of the Supreme Lord’s appearances on earth seemed to be human, in particular Rāmacandra in Tretā-yuga, Kṛṣṇa in Dvāpara, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu in Kali, many imitators have tried to also be accepted as avatāras. Those who have learned from Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam how the Supreme Lord actually takes birth and acts in this world can detect these frauds and become liberated from illusion. Therefore the Bhāgavatam discusses Kṛṣṇa’s avatāras at length before turning to Kṛṣṇa’s own intimate pastimes.
Now verse twenty-one:
kalim āgatam ājñāya
 kṣetre ’smin vaiṣṇave vayam
āsīnā dīrgha-satreṇa
 kathāyāṁ sa-kṣaṇā hareḥ
“Knowing well that the age of Kali has already begun, we are assembled here in this holy place to hear at great length the transcendental message of Godhead and in this way perform sacrifice.”
The original purpose for the gathering in the forest sacred to Lord Viṣṇu was to perform a soma sacrifice, or satra, that was to last for one thousand years. The sages hoped this performance might help mitigate the bad effects of the new age. Only gradually did the participants realize the real reason fate had brought them together at this time and place, namely, to hear the Mahābhārata and Purāṇas from the lips of a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord. The hearing itself gave them this realization. What was at first a daily relaxation period between their all-important rituals turned out to be the cause of an enthusiasm for the messages of Godhead. Most of the sages had never known this feeling before. Their lives were transformed and they were ready to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.