“In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, 8th Chapter, 35th verse, it is stated by Shukadeva Gosvami that Mother Yashoda accepted Lord Krishna as her son, although He is accepted in the Vedas as the King of heaven, in the Upanishads as the impersonal Brahman and in philosophy as the supreme male. By the yogis he is accepted as the supersoul and by the devotees as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 43)
Mother Yashoda really wasn’t interested in the many superlatives. The amazing survival of her beloved son through many dangerous situations must have been through auspicious credits, sukriti. Perhaps she and her husband had worshiped Vishnu properly. Maybe the higher ups were looking out for her family. In no possible way were any of the wonderful feats performed in Vrindavana due to Krishna Himself, who is accepted in so many ways other than as her son.
1. The king of heaven
This title is usually associated with Indra. He is the leader of the suras, who live in Svarga-loka. That is the heavenly realm, the place of residence for the most pious souls. Those whose bodies and way of life are in the mode of goodness, sattva-guna, get to enjoy in that place for as long as their credits earned through good deeds allow.
Yashoda’s son is also known as the king of heaven, as a way to relate to those who think achieving that temporary place is the highest goal in life. That is to say Krishna is the true leader of the suras. He comes to their rescue whenever the struggle against the asuras becomes too much to handle.
Good and evil have been at odds since before anyone can remember, and since that conflict involves the material world the Supreme Lord generally remains neutral. The one subtle distinction is that the suras will approach Him for help, whereas the asuras steadfastly deny both His existence and His supremacy. Since He always favors the good, the real king of heaven, Shri Krishna, periodically intervenes on behalf of those who are devoted to Him.
2. The impersonal Brahman
This is the description most prevalent in the Upanishads. Rather than listen to stories describing amazing personalities, capable of extraordinary things, certain classes of men prefer the philosophical angle. Understand the world around them through logic and reasoning. There is observation and experiment, as well, but not for exploiting the material resources or somehow prolonging life in a temporary and miserable world.
There is a corresponding literature base, known as the Upanishads. There the same son of Yashoda is known as Brahman, which is the impersonal side of spiritual life. God is always a person, but He can be realized in different ways. Brahman is essentially a concept. Consider the infinite fragments of spirit as a collective. Take everything as a singular energy and you get Brahman. This is one way to know God.
3. The supreme male
Keeping with the philosophical angle, the component parts of the manifest world are combinations of male and female. Not just in the sense of gender, but with an enjoyer and an enjoyed. The enjoyed, or female, is prakriti. This is the material nature. It consists of gross and subtle elements, and the noticeably lacking feature is consciousness.
Purusha is the enjoyer, or male. This dominates prakriti, though it often doesn’t look that way. After all, isn’t the approaching tornado strong enough to lift up my house? Aren’t we helpless against hurricanes and earthquakes? How can purusha be considered superior, then?
“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)
Even in those instances there is a purusha behind the scenes. Matter is incapable of doing anything on its own. In this context, Krishna is known as the supreme male. He is Purushottama, or the topmost purusha. He enjoys more than anyone else, and He is dominant over all the other purushas, who are prakriti in relation to Him.
4. The Supersoul
Another valid path of spiritual life is meditational yoga. Not merely for health benefits. Not just for dealing with stress or curing diseases, there is a defined goal. Brahman is the collection of individual spiritual fragments. It is considered impersonal. Supersoul is the individualized expansion of God.
Not that He divides or loses potency, but the Supreme kindly expands to reside with every individual in the heart. This is for both human and non-human living beings. The Supersoul is known as the overseer and the permitter; without His sanction not a single result to action would occur.
“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)
The goal in meditational yoga is to realize the Supersoul, who is also the same as Yashoda’s son. The path is not easy and the result not guaranteed, but there is no loss or diminution. The sincere seeker along this path maintains their progress in successive lives. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that of all the yogis the best is he who constantly thinks of Krishna.
“And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47)
5. The Supreme Personality of Godhead
Brahman is impersonal and Paramatma localized. The complete realization of God is known as Bhagavan. One translation for this Sanskrit word is “Supreme Personality of Godhead.” This is how Yashoda’s son is known to the devotees. He is everything described already and more. There is so much to Him that it is not possible to learn everything in a single lifetime.
Despite being Bhagavan Himself, Yashoda’s devotion is so pure that she is under the control of yogamaya. This is the illusory energy controlled by Krishna, to allow devotees to further enjoy His direct association. In this way Yashoda’s position is superior, as she loves God so much that she forgets who He really is.
Motherly love to Him showing,
But His true position not knowing.
Since covered by yogamaya’s veil,
Not seeing that supreme male.
Or over heaven acting as king,
Or Brahman of Upanishads to sing.
Of yogis Supersoul in the heart,
But Bhagavan best understanding from start.
Categories: the five