In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that people follow the example of great men.
यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः। स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते।।3.21।। न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन। नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि।।3.22।। यदि ह्यहं न वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः। मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः।।3.23।।
3.21 Whatever a great man does, other men also do. Whichever standard he sets, the world follows it. 3.22 For me, Arjuna, there is nothing in all the three worlds which ought to be done, nor is there anything unacquired that ought to be acquired. Yet I go on working. 3.23 If I did not continue to work unwearied, O Arjuna, men would follow my path.
The implication of this is that great men should set an example to ordinary people.
Yet, in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna's behavior towards gopis, who are the wives of other men, raises questions, which the Bhagavatam itself touches upon.
ŚB 10.33.26-27 श्रीपरीक्षिदुवाच संस्थापनाय धर्मस्य प्रशमायेतरस्य च । अवतीर्णो हि भगवानंशेन जगदीश्वर: ॥ २६ ॥ स कथं धर्मसेतूनां वक्ता कर्ताभिरक्षिता । प्रतीपमाचरद् ब्रह्मन् परदाराभिमर्शनम् ॥ २७ ॥ ŚB 10.33.28 आप्तकामो यदुपति: कृतवान्वै जुगुप्सितम् । किमभिप्राय एतन्न: शंशयं छिन्धि सुव्रत ॥ २८ ॥
Parīkṣit Mahārāja said: O brāhmaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the universe, has descended to this earth along with His plenary portion to destroy irreligion and reestablish religious principles. Indeed, He is the original speaker, follower and guardian of moral laws. How, then, could He have violated them by touching other men’s wives?
O faithful upholder of vows, please destroy our doubt by explaining to us what purpose the self-satisfied Lord of the Yadus had in mind when He behaved so contemptibly.
The bhagavatam's answer is that ordinary rules dont apply to such gods. Ordinary people should not imitate such behavior.
ŚB 10.33.29 श्रीशुक उवाच धर्मव्यतिक्रमो दृष्ट ईश्वराणां च साहसम् । तेजीयसां न दोषाय वह्ने: सर्वभुजो यथा ॥ २९ ॥
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: The status of powerful controllers is not harmed by any apparently audacious transgression of morality we may see in them, for they are just like fire, which devours everything fed into it and remains unpolluted.
ŚB 10.33.30 नैतत् समाचरेज्जातु मनसापि ह्यनीश्वर: । विनश्यत्याचरन् मौढ्याद्यथारुद्रोऽब्धिजं विषम् ॥ ३० ॥
One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison.
So here there are two mutually contradictory viewpoints -
- Krishna Himself says in the Gita that great men need to set an example to ordinary people.
- Srimad bhagavatam saying that certain actions of gods should not be followed by ordinary people.
How to reconcile these two viewpoints? How can gods behave in questionable manner if they are supposed to set an example to ordinary men?