Kṛṣṇa’s body is not material

Śrī Jīva Goswami spends a large part of the Bhagavat Sandarbha establishing the concept that Śrī Bhagavān’s body is not a temporary product of māyā, but is real and a manifestation of viśuddha-sattva, beyond the material guṇas. In establishing this, he examines the experience of āpta-janas, or reliable persons, like Śrī Brahmā, as recorded in the Bhāgavat Purāṇa.

Considering Kṛṣṇa’s body as material is faulty logic

One can imagine the following type of syllogism to prove that Kṛṣṇa’s body is material (see Śrī Babaji’s commentary on Anuccheda 58 in Bhagavat Sandarbha):

Proposition: Kṛṣṇa’s body is material.

Reason: Because it is visible.

Universal proposition: All visible objects are material, like a table.

Application: Kṛṣṇa’s body was seen by Brahmā, Kardama and others.

Conclusion: Hence Kṛṣṇa’s body is material.

Śrī Jīva Goswami notes that this is a logical fallacy called kālātyayopadiṣṭa-hetu-ābhāsa. There are different types of hetu-ābhāsas or fallacies. For example, one may claim: “Fire is cold because it is a substance. Whatever is a substance, like water, is not hot”. This is a kālātyayopadiṣṭa-hetu-ābhāsa. It is rejected on the basis of the direct observation that fire is hot. Similarly, the scriptures override the above reasoning because they explicitly state that Kṛṣṇa’s form is not material.

Kṛṣṇa’s body does not undergo the six types of transformations

For example, in Anuccheda 58, Śrī Jīva takes up verse 10.14.23 from the Bhāgavat Purāṇa, where Brahmā prays:

ekas tvam ātmā puruṣaḥ purāṇaḥ satyaḥ svayaṁ-jyotir ananta ādyaḥ
nityo ’kṣaro ’jasra-sukho nirañjanaḥ pūrṇādvayo mukta upādhito ’mṛtaḥ

You are the one Self, the primeval Supreme Person, the Absolute Truth – self-effulgent, endless and beginningless. You are eternal and imperishable, full of unobstructed joy, pure, perfect and complete. Being non dual and free from all limiting adjuncts, You are immortal. (SB 10.14.23)

Every material body undergoes six types of transformations: jāyāte, asti, vardhate, vipariṇamate, apakṣiyate and naṣyati (these are listed in the Nirukta dictionary, 1.1.2). Śrī Jīva shows how the above verse establishes that these six types of transformations do not exist in Kṛṣṇa:

  1. Bhagavan’s form is ādyaḥ, the Source. This means that His body is prior to all cause and effect, and therefore is not an effect of any prior cause. Therefore the verb jāyāte (is born) is inapplicable to Him.
  2. Bhagavan’s form is nitya, eternal. As His body is not born, the transformation expressed by the verb asti: existence between birth and death in a certain time, also does not apply to Him. He is nitya, beyond time.
  3. His form is pūrṇa, complete. He is pūrṇa because He is ananta, unlimited. Therefore He cannot ‘grow’ (vardhate) because any form He would grow into would also already be in Him.
  4. He is ajasra-sukha (eternally blissful), which means He is beyond any mutation (vipariṇamate).
  5. He is akṣara, imperishable, which denies that He can decay (apakṣiyate).
  6. He is amṛta, immortal, which denies that He can die (naṣyati).

Crucially, all this is not referring to Brahman inside Krsna’s body, because Brahmā offered His prayers to Kṛṣṇa’s form directly. In fact, he starts his prayers by first describing Kṛṣṇa’s form:

naumīḍya te ’bhra-vapuṣe taḍid-ambarāya guñjāvataṁsa-paripiccha-lasan-mukhāya
vanya-sraje kavala-vetra-viṣāṇa-veṇu- lakṣma-śriye mṛdu-pade paśupāṅgajāya

I bow down to You, O worshippable one, who are the son of the cowherd Nanda, with soft feet, a cloud-complexioned body and lightning-covered clothes. Your beautiful face is effulgently framed with earrings made of guñjā berries. You wear a garland of forest flowers and You look so sweet, holding yogurt and fruits in one hand, a flute, horn and prodding stick in the other. SB 10.14.1

Kṛṣṇa’s form is immortal

Brahmā also says in the same verse that Kṛṣṇa’s body is not one among the four types of results of any material action: utpādya (creation), vikārya (transformation), saṁskārya (improvement) and prāpya (attainment). Bhartṛhari summarizes these four types of results in his Vākya-padīya, and I include how they are negated in the verse:

  1. When something did not previously exist and is created, it is called utpādya (an example is a garland or cooked rice). The word ‘ādyaḥ’ excludes this.
  2. When an existent object is transformed into something else, it is called vikārya. Vikārya is of two types: when the nature of the object changes (fire burning wood) and when a change is made in the shape of the object (bangles made out of gold). The words mukta upādhitaḥ or freedom from all external superimposition negate this possibility.
  3. When an object is modified or improved, it is called saṁskārya (an example is adding fragrance to water). The word pūrṇa negates this, because Krsna’s body is complete and therefore cannot be embellished or improved further. Also the word nirañjana negates this, because He is pure and therefore cannot be further purified or cleansed.
  4. To reach a destination, whether physically, or through comprehension, is called prāpya. The word ‘ātmā’, which means Kṛṣṇa (and not the jīva) in the verse negates prāpya, because Kṛṣṇa is beyond sense perception and even mental conception.

The conclusion is that Kṛṣṇa’s form is the cause of all causes, and not the effect of anything.

Categories: Bhagavān

Tagged as:

2 replies »

  1. Just a quick editing note; I see that the body text of this article correctly uses the diacritic marks for the retroflex consonants in Kṛṣṇa, but for some reason the headline text does not, incorrectly rendering the name as Krsna, though other articles’ headers use diacritics correctly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s