Reposting: Question on Incarnations

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Aug 21 10:39:52 CDT 2001

On Mon, 20 Aug 2001, Chandrashekaran Venkataraman wrote:

> >> Chandrasekaran wrote:
> >> So, after all what was "really" great in Sri Krishna's embodiment ?
> > Jaladhar wrote:
> >Have YOU tried killing an asura lately? :-)
>    I am NOT questioning the greatness of the Lord, which doesn't need
> any reasoning like you have given here.

I didn't think you were.  The smiley after my reply was meant to suggest
that portion of it wasn't altogether serious.  But on reflection, I think
it is true that were we in Arjunas position, most of us would react with
the same fear when confronted with the total presence of God.  Sometimes
hearing people make statements such as "I am one with God" seem awfully
glib.  There is no doubt that understanding the full import of such a
concept is no minor undertaking!

>    I have double-quoted "really" as above.. by which I desired to know
> what is in reality the greatness of the embodiment, given that as per
> advaita the incarnation itself didn't happen at all. I know that we are
> exchanging these questions and clarifications at a mundane level.. But
> if we are to read Gita and understand it literally and then advaita tells
> us that actually Krishna didn't incarnate, it's confusing.

Again we are in good company because Arjuna also tells Krishna Bhagawan
that several times, "Stop, you're confusing me.  Explain again!"

"Really" there are no avatars.  Nor is there anyone to see those avatars.
At the beginning of the fourth chapter (karmabrahmArpaNayoga,) Krishna
Bhagawan tells Arjuna that this knowledge was known in ancient times
by Surya Bhagawan who taught it to Manu His sone who taught it to his
descendents the Rajarshis.  (Incidentally Arjuna is the descendent of
those same Suryavamshi Kshatriyas.)  Arjuna asks Him how could He who was
born a few years ago know such an ancient thing?  Krishna Bhagawan tells

bahUni me vyatItAni janmAni tava chArjuna |
tAnyahaM veda sarvaNi na tvaM vettha paraMtapa || 5 ||

Many births of mine have passed and yours Arjuna,
I know them all but you don't know them Parantapa

[This is the greatness.  What Bhagawan teaches is the complete and
untainted knowledge which we do not know because of avidya.]

ajo'pi sannavyayAtmA bhUtAnAmIshvaro'pi san |
prakrtiM svAmadhiShThaya saMbhavAmyAtmamayayA || 6 ||

I am the Unborn and Formless and the Lord of All Creatures,
Nevertheless, entering My prakrti, I become born through My Maya.

[It is in samsara which is afflicted by Maya that avatars occur.  It is
also only there where anyone needs to be saved or destroyed or taught.]

> Please point to me some verses in Gita where Krishna gives hints to
> advaita thoughts that He is same as Arjuna.

There are many but the following from kshetrakshetrajnayoga (chaper 13)
commes immediately to mind:

idaM sharIraM kaunteya kshetramityabhidhIyate |
etadho vetti taM prAhuH kshetrajna iti tadvidaH || 2 ||

This body Kaunteya, is known as the field. And the one who understands
this body is called the knower of the field.

kshetrajnaM chApi mAM viddhi sarvakshetreShu bhArata |
kshetrakshetrajnayorjnAnaM tattajjnAnaM mataM mam || 3 ||

Know Me as the knower of the field residing in every body Bharata!
Knowledge of this [relationship between] field and knower of the field is
Jnana in my opinion.

> >> If He is same as the one Universal Soul that is all of us (as one), who
> >> are those "sAdhUs" and "dhushkr~ths" in that verse "parithrANAya
> sAdhUnAm" ?
> >> So are there different levels of defining a True statement..

Yes. As Bhagawan says in karmayoga (chapter 3)

prakrteH kriyamANAni guNaiH karmaNi sarvashaH |
ahaMkAravimuDhAtmA kartAhamiti manyate || 27 ||

Truly all actions are the result of Prakrtis three gunas.
But deluded by ego, the self thinks "I am a doer."

>   Here again I think I should have brought out my question more clearly.. I
> wanted to know if "a" statement made in Gita has different levels of its
> Truthfulness.. ie., in other words for an early aspirant it's all true but
> for a realised soul it's not.. Are there such different levels of defining
> some Truth?

Well I hope the above quotes have clarified things.  Arjuna must act
because of his particular circumstances and mental condition.  But in the
"big picture" actions are actually not happening.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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