Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam analyzed by śruti and liṅga

As we discussed in a previous article, in Anuccheda 28 of the Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Goswami presents the emperor statement, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ – Kṛṣṇa, however, is Bhagavān Himself – in the famous verse below:

ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge

– All these are either portions (āṁśas) or minute portions (kalās) of the Puruṣa, who engladden the world tormented by the asuras in every yuga. Kṛṣṇa, however, is Bhagavān Himself. (SB 1.3.28)

The main point here is that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the source of all other avatāras including Śrī Viṣṇu. Śrī Jīva Goswami does not stop at Anuccheda 28, but embarks on an extensive analysis to support his principal conclusion that Kṛṣṇa alone is Bhagavān Himself. For example, in Anuccheda 74 of the Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha, he analyzes the Bhāgavata using six hermeneutical indicators from Pūrva-mīmāṁsā to support his conclusion. These six indicators are śruti, liṅga, prakaraṇa, vākya, sthāna and samākhyā. Here we examine his analysis and reproduce parts of Śrī Babaji’s commentary which makes things crystal-clear. Without Śrī Babaji’s commentary, one would be totally lost in trying to understand what Śrī Jīva is trying to say!

The six hermeneutical indicators of viniyoga-vidhi

Pūrva-mīmāṁsā concerns itself with the performance of sacrifices and the procedure for doing them. The instruction to perform a sacrifice is laid down in injunctions called utpatti vidhi, which are single sentences, such as

agnihotram juhoti : he performs the agnihotra.

It is understood that this sentence instructs a person to perform the agnihotra. Now the question is- what material, what types of actions, what mantras, and what subsidiary rites, if any, are to be used in performance of the agnihotra? The viniyoga vidhi, or the injunction of application, conveys the relation between these types of subsidiaries and the sacrifice, agnihotra. To determine the subsidiaries, one resorts to an analysis of the Vedic text using the six indicators starting with śruti. These indicators are not of equal power as indicated in the following sūtra:

śruti-liṅga-vākya-prakaraṇa-sthāna-samākhyānāṁ samavāye pāradaurbalyam artha-viprakarṣāt

When direct statement (śruti), inferential mark or word meaning (liṅga), sentence or syntactical connection (vākya), context or interdependence (prakaraṇa), position or order of words (sthāna), and name (samākhyā) are present simultaneously, each member is progressively weaker in interpretive force, because of increasing remoteness from the meaning. (Jaimini-sūtra 3.3.14)


śruti is a direct statement or an independent speech (nirapekṣa-ravā). The words that make up such an independent declaration express their sense without any intermediate steps, as are required in the case of liṅga, and so on. Therefore, śruti is the strongest indicator of the meaning or subject of a text. An example is the statement:

vrīhibhir yajeta – the sacrifice is to be performed with rice grains

This sentence instructs that rice grains are the material to be used in the sacrifice, i.e. rice is subsidiary to the principal rite, and is an example of viniyoga-vidhi.

Turning to the topic at hand, Śrī Jīva writes:

tatra nirapekṣa-ravā śrutir darśitaiva kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayamity atra

Out of these, direct statement (śruti), defined as an “independent declaration” (nirapekṣa-ravā), has already been shown in the statement, “Kṛṣṇa, however, is Bhagavān Himself” (SB 1.3.28)

The reason this statement is śruti is that its meaning is not dependent on any other statement.


liṅga refers to the power of words to denote something. It refers to the conventional meaning of words. Śrī Babaji writes in his commentary that an example of liṅga is the following mantra:

barhir deva-sadanaṁ dāmi: “I cut the sacrificial grass, the seat of the devas” (Maitrāyaṇī-saṁhitā 1.1.2).

The task is to determine the specific rite in which this mantra is to be used. This is accomplished by liṅga as follows. The power of the word dāmi indicates that this mantra is to be used in cutting. What is to be cut is specified as barhis, or grass. The word barhis primarily denotes kuśa grass on the strength of popular meaning, liṅga-sāmarthya. By looking to the secondary meaning instead, barhis could signify other kinds of grass, such as ulapa, which resembles barhis. The liṅga in barhir dāmi, however, restricts the employment of the sentence to cutting kuśa.

Next, one imagines a śruti in which this mantra must be employed as no śruti or direct statement for cutting grass can be found in what is available of the Vedas (96% of the Vedas are now lost). As an example, one could imagine a śruti as follows

“anena mantreṇa kuśa-lavaṇaṁ kartavyam, “Cut kuśa grass by this mantra”

Returning to the topic at hand, Śrī Jīva writes,

atha śruti-sāmarthya-rūpaṁ liṅgaṁ ca—

tāvat sarve vatsa-pālāḥ paśyato’jasya tat-kṣaṇāt |vyadṛśyanta ghana-śyāmāḥ pīta-kauśeya-vāsasaḥ || [bhā.pu. 10.13.46] ity-ādau jñeyam | kintv anyatra barhir deva-sadanaṁ dāmi[maitrāyaṇī-saṁhitā1.1.2] ity asya mantra-rūpasya liṅgasya balāt śrutiḥ kalpyate | atra tu kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam iti sākṣād eva tad-rūpo’stīti viśeṣo’py asti

“The inferential signifier (liṅga), which has the power to support the independent declaration, is to be recognized in verses such as the following:

While Brahmā looked on, all the cowherd boys immediately appeared to him with dark complexions like that of a raincloud and adorned in yellow silken garments. (SB 10.13.46)

Elsewhere [in the Vedas], however, the [relevant] śruti is to be conjectured on the strength of its inferential mark (liṅga) in the form of the mantra, barhir deva-sadanaṁ dāmi, “I cut the sacrificial grass, the seat of the devas” (Maitrāyaṇī-saṁhitā 1.1.2). But here [in the Bhāgavata] the śruti is directly present in the form of the declaration “Kṛṣṇa, however, is Bhagavān Himself,” and this is what distinguishes the Bhāgavata’s inferential signifier (liṅga) [i.e., SB 10.13.46] from that of the Vedas [namely, barhir deva-sadanaṁ dāmi].”

Verse 10.13.46 refers to the famous incident in which Brahmā had stolen Kṛṣṇa’s calves and cowherd friends. Kṛṣṇa expanded Himself into an equal number of calves and cowherd boys whom Brahmā was amazed to discover when he came back to visit a year later. Even as he watched, they all turned into four-handed Viṣṇu forms. Brahmā then understood that Kṛṣṇa was Svayaṁ Bhagavān, the original source of innumerable avatāras. If this were not the case, it would not have been possible for Him to expand into the unlimited Viṣṇu forms.

As Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī points out above, there is no need to imagine a śruti on the basis of liṅga or conventional meaning of verse 10.13.46, because it already exists in the form of the declaration, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Thus verse SB 10.13.46 supports the independent declaration, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. In other words, according to the hermeneutics of Pūrva-mīmāṁsā, verse 10.13.46 does not have an independent application but is used to illustrate how Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān.


Śrī Jīva’s interpretation of the statement, “kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ – Kṛṣṇa, however, is Bhagavān Himself ” as the emperor statement of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is supported by numerous other statements from the Bhāgavata itself, including verse 10.13.46 above. In a follow-up article, we will examine how prakaraṇa, vākya, sthāna and samākhyā similarly support it. In fact, the Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha is full of such analyses, which all show that Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān Himself, the source of all avatāras. Śrī Jīva makes a formidable case indeed!

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3 replies »

  1. Krsna Dasji!

    //Bearing in mind the definition of a paribhāṣā as “a guiding principle laid down where none existed before,” Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī identifies verse 1.3.28 as a paribhāṣā–sūtra. In this case, there was no rule prior to this verse by which one could distinguish the aṁśa avatāras from Svayaṁ Bhagavān. This verse now specifies the distinction. In the given list of avatāras, all others are aṁśa manifestations of the Puruṣa, but Kṛṣṇa Himself is alone Svayaṁ Bhagavān.//

    Babaji, in an article, says that Jiva Goswami treats kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam as a Sutra or a Sruti that OVERRIDES other Scriptural Statements saying Krsna as an Avatar, not Avatari.

    So, Mayavadis can also Object that statements like– Tat Tvam Asi; Aham Brahmasmi, etc. also OVERRIDE statements that Convey Distinction between the Brahman & the Jiva.


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