“The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.” (Bhagavad-gita, 11.32)
कालो ऽस्मि लोक-क्षय-कृत् प्रवृद्धो
लोकान् समाहर्तुम् इह प्रवृत्तः
ऋते ऽपि त्वां न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे
ये ऽवस्थिताः प्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः
kālo ‘smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt pravṛddho
lokān samāhartum iha pravṛttaḥ
ṛte ‘pi tvāṁ na bhaviṣyanti sarve
ye ‘vasthitāḥ pratyanīkeṣu yodhāḥ
1. He is the oldest person in the world
At the time of the war on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, over one hundred years had elapsed since Krishna first emerged from the womb of mother Devaki in the prison cell in Mathura. This is known as the janma of Krishna, occurring on the eighth day of the lunar cycle; hence the annual celebration titled Janmashtami.
What is normally considered the birth occasion, in this instance the eighth child for Devaki, is actually the appearance of the Divine. He is always in front of me. He is always behind me. He is both inside of the temple and outside of it. He is worshiped in a land today known as India, but He can also be celebrated, honored and appreciated in any planet of the universe.
In paintings depicting the famous conversation that took place between Krishna and Arjuna, we see that the charioteer is an all-attractive youth. Not much older than someone who has recently graduated college. The visual is one evidence of the lack of a debilitating influence of time.
For everyone else time is the great destroyer, but for Krishna it is another one of His servants. You could not tell by looking at Him, but Krishna is the original person, adi-purusha. He is also without an origin, anadi. In that sense He is the oldest person, but also without any accurate age measurement.
2. He is all-devouring time
Krishna declared this to be true to Arjuna. It was part of their discussion. I cannot see the future, necessarily. I can understand from past experience and logical deduction that everything will be destroyed. Eventually, I will lose the ability to read the very words I am producing at this moment. The future generations who will consult the documented evidence will also one day pass on to another lifetime.
That agent of change is known as kala in Sanskrit. It has a double meaning of time and death. Time is what leads to death. There is no other cause. Time is the element of change with respect to the material elements. Time has no bearing on my existence or yours.
Krishna is that all-devouring time, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at Him. Therefore, the vision of the virata-rupa was necessary. This is the complete everything, but it also included three dimensions and a time element for Arjuna. The leading fighter for the Pandava side saw everyone being destroyed, rushing into Krishna’s many, large mouths.
3. He is unlimited
The image of Krishna seen on the battlefield has a fixed location. The chariot of Arjuna, who is a single person. A specific time and circumstance. In the deity, the same image of Krishna gets worshiped, and again there is a fixed location. There can be many locations following the same standard of worship, but within each place there is only one image.
This is described to be the saguna form of the Divine. The literal translation is “with qualities.” These are distinguishable characteristics. I don’t have the ability to truly understand what nirguna means with respect to Krishna, so the saguna is there as an extension of His causeless mercy.
Whether viewed as nirguna or saguna, Krishna is unlimited. He is ananta. He is everywhere simultaneously. That is how He can hear any prayer offered to Him. He is the all-pervading witness, antaryami, and the swift-deliverer from the cycle of birth and death for His supporters.
ये तु सर्वाणि कर्माणि
मयि सन्न्यस्य मत्-पराः
मां ध्यायन्त उपासते
तेषाम् अहं समुद्धर्ता
भवामि न चिरात् पार्थ
ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi
mayi sannyasya mat-parāḥ
māṁ dhyāyanta upāsate
teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha
“For one who worships Me, giving up all his activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, O son of Pritha, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.6-7)
4. He will consume banana peels if offered
Shri Krishna is an all-attractive youth. From His childhood pastimes we know that He enjoys milk and butter. These are sourced in an animal most dear to Him, the cow. What we may not know immediately is that Krishna will eat banana peels. These were once offered to Him by accident at the home of Vidura. Krishna accepted the offering and did not complain. Neither was this considered an offense on the part of the devotee.
5. He can lift a massive hill
If you are aware of Krishna’s Divine nature, you are not surprised by His amazing strength. The planets do not remain suspended in outer space on their own. The law of nature dictates that the planets remain where they are, but someone had to first create those laws. Otherwise, any person could conduct the same experiment. Keep a small round object floating in a fixed location, without any external support.
The asura underestimates Krishna’s strength. They do not know the true measure of His power. Sometimes, even the suras are fooled. The demigods become blinded by envy and they consider Shri Krishna to be an ordinary person. But that darling child of Devaki can lift a massive hill, if required. He can hold it above His head for an infinite period of time, without feeling exhaustion.
There is so much more to know, where the single worshipable image is merely the starting point. The acharyas and the saints of the bhakti tradition continue to enlighten me, and I never tire of hearing Krishna’s glories.
So much from an image to see,
And acharyas enlightening me.
That to Shri Krishna much more,
Than beautiful image to adore.
Infinite in reverse and forward time,
In Him unimaginable strength to find.
Where a massive hill can lift,
His vision a precious gift.
Categories: the five