A key theme of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is that there is only one param tattva or Absolute Truth. This param tattva is known variously as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān. In the Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Goswami is focused on establishing Kṛṣṇa as the complete, supreme Bhagavān. In doing so, he reviews objections from Śrī Madhvācarya and others, who insist that there is no hierarchy between Bhagavān’s forms like Kṛṣṇa, Rāma or Nārāyaṇa. He emphatically establishes that Kṛṣṇa is supreme, through relentless analysis and study of the various scriptures. If one understands Śrī Jīva’s approach, it becomes clear that for his followers, Śrī Jīva intends the prayojana to be prema for Kṛṣṇa alone, and not Rāma or Nārāyaṇa or any other form of Bhagavān. His treatise is delightful and comprehensive with deep meaning and many, many startling insights.
In Anuccheda 92, Śrī Jīva establishes the same conclusion discussed above by examining the significance of the name of Bhagavān, Kṛṣṇa. He cites a famous verse from the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam spoken by Śrī Garga to Nanda Mahārāja during Kṛṣṇa’s naming ceremony:
āsan varṇās trayo hy asya gṛhṇato’nuyugaṁ tanūḥ |śuklo raktas tathā pīta idānīṁ kṛṣṇatāṁ gataḥ ||
This boy certainly manifests different forms in every yuga. Previously He had assumed three distinct colors- white, red and yellow. At present, He has manifested a blackish complexion. (SB 10.8.13)
Śrī Jīva’s unique insight into SB 10.8.13
As usual, Śrī Jīva does a careful analysis of this verse. He notices that the second line has a seemingly unusual construction. The subject of the first line is the word varṇāḥ, colors. The second line explains what these colors were in the past: śuklo raktas tathā pīta: white, red and yellow.
But the second half of the second line is curiously constructed. It reads:
idānīṁ kṛṣṇatāṁ gataḥ — at present (idānīṁ), [he] has attained (gataḥ) the quality of blackness (kṛṣṇatāṁ).
The word gataḥ is a past participle in the Nominative case, singular number, and masculine gender. The word varṇāḥ is in Nominative plural, and so it does not agree with gataḥ. Who, then, is ‘he’, who has attained blackness?
Śrī Jīva writes:
yo yaḥ śuklas tathā raktaḥ pītaś ca, sa sa idānīm etad avatāra-samaye kṛṣṇatām eva gataḥ: each person who was white, red and yellow, has now, that is, at the time of Kṛṣṇa’s avatāra, attained blackness.
Differently put, what he means is this: All those forms of Bhagavān which appeared in previous yugas have attained blackness.
What exactly does ‘attaining blackness’ mean? Śrī Jīva writes:
kṛṣṇatām eva gataḥ=etasmin kṛṣṇākāra evāntarbhūtaḥ, each former avatāra has entered into the form of Kṛṣṇa.
The significance of the name Kṛṣṇa
We are now ready to examine the significance of the name Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Jīva notes: kim uta yo yaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ, sa sa evety arthaḥ, which implies that because Kṛṣṇa is black Himself, He cannot get subsumed by anyone else.
Śrī Jīva concludes:
tasmāt kṛṣṇī-kartṛtvāt svayaṁ kṛṣṇatvāt sarvākarṣakatvāc ca kṛṣṇa ity ekam asya nāma: Therefore, because He renders the other forms black, is black Himself, and attracts all other forms, His one name is Kṛṣṇa.
This, then, is the significance of the name Kṛṣṇa:
- He makes all other avatāras turn black because they are within Him.
- He is black Himself.
- He is all attractive (sarvākarṣaka).
The name Kṛṣṇa thus establishes Kṛṣṇa as the supreme Bhagavān.