“Vasudeva saw that wonderful child born as a baby with four hands, holding conchshell, club, disc, and lotus flower, decorated with the mark of Shrivatsa, wearing the jeweled necklace of kaustubha stone, dressed in yellow silk, appearing dazzling like a bright blackish cloud, wearing a helmet bedecked with the vaidurya stone, valuable bracelets, earrings and similar other ornaments all over His body and an abundance of hair on His head.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
Friend1: When we speak of the residents of Gokula-dhama, the sacred land where Shri Krishna appeared some five thousand years ago, we say that they were unaware as to His Divine nature.
Friend2: They hand an inkling. How could you not think something was up after an infant survives being fed poison by a witch? He tore apart a giant serpent that had taken the form of a cave.
Friend1: You had mother Yashoda looking into Krishna’s mouth, checking for dirt, and she sees the entire Brahmanda.
Friend2: The universe, which is in the shape of an egg, or an oval. Yes, despite these indications of the extraordinary, they did not think that Krishna was God Himself.
Friend1: Which leads me to my question. Why didn’t the Supreme Lord just show the four-handed form of Narayana?
Friend2: As in a vision? He did that with Devaki and Vasudeva, the birth parents. They saw Him as God in the jail cell in Mathura.
Friend1: Okay, use that incident as a reference. Just extend out the duration. Always stay as Narayana. Walk around everywhere in that manifestation, so that people know who you are.
Friend2: Hmm, that is an interesting idea, but it already occurs in the spiritual land of Vaikuntha. Why would it be needed here?
Friend1: So that people have visual confirmation. They won’t have to doubt. They will behave properly.
Friend2: You mean with awe and respect?
Friend1: Something like that.
Friend2: Well, what do you think the reason is?
Friend1: Maybe personal desire. Shri Krishna doesn’t want so much respect from everyone.
Friend2: Why would that be?
Friend1: Because it is not enjoyable. I don’t want to hear how great I am all the time. I’d like to be treated as an ordinary person sometimes.
Friend2: You are overlooking something.
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: These people in Gokula were so pious that they likely wouldn’t say a word in front of Narayana. That is to say if they saw God standing before them, there would be total and complete respect. No way to utter anything. Nothing to ask from Him. Just bow down, so as to not risk offending Him.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: With Krishna as their companion, they are free to act as themselves. This is a glimpse into the spiritual world on the planet known as Goloka Vrindavana. The residents don’t even know that Krishna is God. They just want to be with Him. In whatever manner of preferred service, they get the opportunity. As they surrender unto Him, so Krishna rewards accordingly:
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते
तांस् तथैव भजाम्य् अहम्
मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
Friend1: What about people who want to see Him as God?
Friend2: Plenty of opportunity for that. Be promoted to the Vaikuntha realm. That is one of the kinds of mukti, or liberation. You get a form identical to His.
Friend2: Yes. Everyone appears like Him, except the real Narayana has the shrivatsa mark on His chest. There is no right or wrong here. The idea is that genuine spiritual life is full of variety. Just as every child born to a mother and father has their own tendencies, so the innumerable individual souls have their preferred ways of interaction with the original father, the seed-giver of creation.
Of every living thing the seed,
So why not as God to proceed?
Where four-handed form to show,
So that everyone as Vishnu to know.
Because not preferred that interaction,
Hindering the loving attraction.
As Krishna the most dear friend,
In more intimate way to spend.