As discussed in this question, Krsna and Arjuna go to Svetadvipa to retrieve the Brahmana's sons. Now when they reach there, Vishnu says this (of all the beautiful words he could say):

I brought the brāhmaṇa’s sons here because I wanted to see the two of you, My expansions, who have descended to the earth to save the principles of religion. As soon as you finish killing the demons who burden the earth, quickly come back here to Me.

Now, why in Svetadvipa would Vishnu take so much trouble just to see his expansions? And that too just to say, "Hi, you are my avatara, so after your purpose is over you will return back here. Off you go."

I don't know, but Vishnu's answer seems pretty unsatisfactory. Why exactly did Vishnu want to see them? Srila Prabhupada says (I'll post the reference as soon as I find it) that Mahavishnu couldn't control his desire to behold Lord Krsna (from the POV that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead), and thus arranged this leela. That explains Krsna. But there is another person standing next to Krsna. What about him?

  • Exactly, that is my question. – Surya Nov 14 '15 at 12:48
  • @Surya Krishna and Arjuna didn't go to Shwetadvipa, they went to Vishnu's highest abode of Paramapadam; they passed through the Lokaloka mountains: vedabase.com/en/sb/10/89/47 – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 14 '15 at 13:22
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    @Surya Well, regardless of whether they went to Paramapadam or one of Vishnu's other abodes (like the abodes of Pradyumna, Aniruddha, etc.), the clearly did not go to Shwetadvipa, because they passed beyond the seven Dvipas. And besides, just because ordinary Jivatmas cannot return from Paramapadam doesn't mean incarnations of Vishnu can't. And the description sounds remarkably like Paramapadam. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 14 '15 at 13:46
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    By the way, you may be interested in my question here, about a story where Rama meets Vishnu: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/7299/36. Also, here was the statement by Pravhupada you were looking for: vedabase.com/en/sb/10/89/62 It references the Harivamsa, where Krishna says "That great soul took away the boys to see me. He knew that kR^iShNa will come for the sake of the one who trembles (brAhmaNa), otherwise he will not come. O the best among bharatas (arjuna!) The great and most superior brahma splendor you saw, is me. That is my eternal splendor." – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 14 '15 at 14:37
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    That's from this chapter of the Harivamsa: mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/vishnuparva/hv_2_114.html – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 14 '15 at 14:37

Lord Maha Vishnu spoke in indirect manner.

There is no fault in speaking that way since Krishna says in SB 11.21.35

paroksha-vada rishayah paroksham mama ca priyam

"The Vedic sages and mantras deal in indirect terms, since they know that I prefer this indirect method."

A similar idea is expressed in Bhagavad Gita(7.25)

nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yoga-māyā-samāvṛtaḥ mūḍho ’yaṁ nābhijānāti loko mām ajam avyayam

I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.

Similar indirect verses can be found in many places.

Vishnu Purana (5.1.59) says

ujjaharatmanah kesau sita-krishnau mahamune: O great sage, he pulled out black and white hairs from himself.

Mahabharata 1.199.? also says:

sa capi kesau harir udbabarha suklam ekam aparam capi krishnam | tau capi kesavavisetam yadunam kule striyau rohinim devakim ca ||

tayor eko balabhadro babhuva yo ’sau svetas tasya devasya kesah | krishno dvitiyah kesavah sambabhuva keso yo ’sau varnatah krishna uktah ||

"And Hari took up two hairs from his body, one of which hairs was black and the other white. And those two hairs entered the wombs of two of the Yadu race, by name Devaki and Rohini. And one of these hairs viz., that which was white, became Baladeva. And the hair that was black was born as Kesava's self, Krishna."

Mahabharata AnuGita

परं हि बरह्म कथितं यॊगयुक्तेन तन मया

param hi brahma kathitaM yogayuktena tanmayA

I discoursed to thee on Supreme Brahma, having concentrated myself in Yoga.

If one examines the superficial meanings of these statements, they are contradictory and therefore should be rejected. Though Näräyana has a body of bliss and knowledge, totally unaffected by the three gunas, he is described as having white and black hair. However he is described as being eternally young in statements such as santaà vayasi kaisore: he has a young age. (SB 3.28.17) And Krishna is stated to be the original form of Bhagavän with the statement krsnas tu bhagavän svayam(SB 1.3.28) whereas here it says he arose from Vishnu’s hair. Therefore the wise will explain these verses differently.

We have following rule from Purva Mimamsa:

śruti-liṅga-vākya-prakaraṇa-sthāna-samākhyānāṁ samavāye pāra-daurbalyam artha-viprakarṣāt

When direct statement (śruti), inferential mark or word meaning (liṅga), sentence or syntactical connection (vākya), context or interdependence (prakaraṇa), position or order of words (sthāna), and name (samākhyā) are present simultaneously, each member is progressively weaker in interpretive force, because of increasing remoteness from the meaning. (Jaimini-sūtra 3.3.14)

Now, the main verse under the discussion in this question is:

SB 10.89.58:

dvijatmaja me yuvayor didrksuna mayopanita bhuvi dharma-guptaye kalavatirnav avaner bharasuran hatveha bhuyas tvarayetam anti me

"I brought the brahmana’s sons here because I wanted to see the two of you, My expansions, who have descended to the earth to save the principles of religion. As soon as you finish killing the demons who burden the earth, quickly come back here to Me."

This statement of krishnas tu bhagavan svayam that Krishna is the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears to contradict the Bhuma-purusha's assertion: "O Krishna and Arjuna, you are both My plenary expansions". The first statement(krsnastu bhagavan svayam) is a direct statement, and the second in the context of an historical narration. For this reason, according to the description given in the Mimamsa-darshanam, the former statement is more authoritative than the second.

These words of the Bhuma-purusha are not to be taken very seriously for the following reasons:

  1. The Bhuma-purusha's statement is contradicted by His activity of stealing > > the brahmana's sons just to get the audience of Shri Krishna (The Bhuma-purusha said: "I have taken away the brahmana's sons because I am so eager to see You.")
  2. The statement of Suta Gosvami in the beginning of Shrimad-Bhagavatam and the > instructions of many other exalted speakers in the Bhagavatam clearly contradict the statement of the Bhuma-purusha.

The answer is based on commentaries of Jiva Goswami(taken from Krishna Sandarbha) and Vishnwanath Chakravarty Thakur(taken from Sarartha Darshini, they are paraphrased in purports in SB 10.89)

As stated in Hari Vamsa & the above verse, Maha Vishnu stole the children because of his intense desire to see Krishna.

At this time, Lord Krishna desired to amaze and bewilder His friend Arjuna.

This is nothing new, Krishna's activites bewilder even great sages for eg:

SB 10.84.16 The great sages said: Your power of illusion has totally bewildered us, the most exalted knowers of the truth and leaders among the universal creators. Ah, how amazing is the behavior of the Supreme Lord! He covers Himself with His humanlike activities and pretends to be subject to superior control.

Maha Vishnu smiled (10.89.57) and spoke in grave voice.

Vishnwanath Chakravarty Thakur comments,

"Visnu smiled, indicating “ According to your intentions, I, your amsa, will reveal by my words my own superior powers, but actually in those words I will indicate your superiority in form, qualities and power, and my own position as amsa. See my cleverness.” By this smile he also indicated his request that Krsna later reveal to Arjuna the truth about his position"

Arjuna understood it as:

"I brought the brahmana’s sons here because I wanted to see the two of you, My expansions, who have descended to the earth to save the principles of religion. As soon as you finish killing the demons who burden the earth, quickly come back here to Me."

The true intended meaning is:

In the Bhuma-purusha's first statement we may note the following definitions of words: "yuvayoh" means "of You two", “didrikshuna maya" means "by Me, who was desiring to see", "me" means "My", "bhuvi" means “abode", and "upanitah" means "taken away". In the Bhuma-purusha's second statement, He addresses Krishna and Arjuna as "kalavatirnau". In this compound word, the word "kala" means "expansions", and the phrase "along with" is understood. In this way the word is a "madhya-pada-lopi-samasa", and it means "O Supreme Lord, who has descended along with all Your vishnu-tattva expansions". Because the material world is an expansion of the Supreme Lord's energy, the word "kala" may also be interpreted to mean "in the material world". In this interpretation the word "kalavatirnau" means "O Lord who has descended to this material world". That the material world is as expansion of Lord Krishna's energy is confirmed in the Purusha-sukta prayers: "pado 'sya vishva-bhutani" (The material world is one quarter part of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead). The word "bhuyah" means “again". The last part of the Bhuma-purusha's statement is: "Please kill the demons who still remain on the earth, and liberate them, bringing them quickly back to Me". This means that the demons who are personally killed by the Personality of Godhead become liberated and enter the Brahman effulgence emanating from the transcendental body of the Lord's Bhuma-purusha expansion. In this verse the word "tvarayetam (please cause to quickly arrive)" is in the causative and the potential mood. The potential is used here to indicate a prayer or appeal. The word "anti" is an indeclineable prefix with a dative sense, and it is used here to mean "for the purpose of" in much the same way as the infinitive is used. It means here "for the purpose of killing the demons, and granting liberation to them (tvarayetam)."

The second meaning thus is:

"I wanted to see both of You, and therefore I have brought the sons of the brahmana here. Both of You have appeared in the material world to re-establish religious principles, and you have appeared here with all your potencies and the incarnations who have expanded from You. Please kill all the demons, and cause them to quickly return to the spiritual world"

Similarly, next verses can be explained.


SB 10.89.62: Having seen the domain of Lord Viṣṇu, Arjuna was totally amazed. He concluded that whatever extraordinary power a person exhibits can only be a manifestation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.

Vishwanath Chakravarthy Thakur comments on this verse as follows:

"Supremely astonished:" First, seeing the unlimitedly great opulence, he was amazed, thinking, "Just see, even though I, the son of PANDu, am a mere mortal, by KRSNa's mercy I have seen the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is the root cause of everything." Then, pondering for a short time more, he thought, "Ah, why has He said that <(I took the [brAhmaNa's] children) out of desire to see you>? How can He who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead have a desire to see KRSNa, His own expansion? Perhaps this may be possible due to some temporary circumstance, but His having said [diRkSuNA] instead of [didRkSatA,] where the (desiderative) suffix carries the sense of having a (permanent) characteristic, produces the idea that His desire to see is perpetual. Even if I grant hypothetically that He always wants to see, still why does He not see KRSNa present in DvArakA, since He (MahAkAla) is omnipresent ([vibhutvAt]), since this universe, being His own creation, is like an [A`malaka] fruit in His hand, and since personally entered this universe for the purpose of maintanance after creating it? Perhaps He could not see KRSNa (in DvArakA) because KRSNa cannot be seen without KRSNa's desiring it. But why would He (MahAkAla), despite being the merciful Lord of the [brAhmaNas,] create pain for a [brAhmaNa] year after year? I have to conclude that He could not abandon His eagerness to see KRSNa, and for that sake has acted reprehensibly. Let Him act improperly for that sake, but why could not He have sent some servant to steal the [brAhmaNa's] sons? Why did He have to come Himself? I think the stealing of them out of DvArakA must have been impossible for any else to do. Thus I can understand that His intention was, "Let me cause so much misery to a [brAhmaNa] of KRSNa's city that he will be unable to tolerate it. Then KRSNa will give Me His audience." Therefore in His form of the Supersoul, (Lord MahAkAla) inspired the garrulous [brAhmaNa] to go and see KRSNa in person and recite to Him his lamentation after the demise of each of his infant sons. The logical conclusion from this is that the Godhood of KRSNa is superior (to Lord MahAkAla's)."

Thinking out all this, (Arjuna) became totally amazed. Then Arjuna inquired from Lord KRSNa, telling Him, "Now I understand the facts." Lord KRSNa replied, as related in the

[Hari-vaMsa(Vishnu Parva 114.8)

mad-darsanArthaM te bAlA hRtAs tena mahAtmanA viprAtham eSyate kRSNo mat-sapIpaM na cAnyathA]

"It was for the purpose of seeing Me that He, the Supreme Soul, stole the children. He thought, 'Only on behalf of a [brAhmaNa's] will KRSNa come to see Me, not otherwise.' "

But I did not go there for the [brAhmaNa's] sake; rather I went for the sake of saving the life of you, my friend. If I were to go there for a [brAhmaNa's] sake, I would have gone after the first child was stolen. Since I only went after the ninth child had been taken, it wasn't his request that made Me go, but yours.

Thus hearing the full truth from Lord KRSNa's mouth, Arjuna thought that whatever prowess is possessed by any person, even including the Lord of the spiritual sky, has been obtained only by the mercy of KRSNa. In this way we should understand that in this last portion of the Tenth Canto, from the prayers of the personified [Vedas] through the end of the narration, is found the description of the superexcellence of the [A`sraya-tattva] (who is the subject) of the Tenth Canto, KRSNa.

According to Sri Sridhara SvAmi-caraNa, although this took place before the BhArata War, it is spoken here as included under the heading of the description of Lord KRSNa's supremacy.

The idea of Krishna being asraya tattva, final shelter of everything(10th topic of bhagavatam as expressed in SB 2.10.1) is also expressed in Bhagavad Gita(7.7)

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañ-jaya mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva

O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

Why Arjuna is present if Vishnu wanted to see only Krishna? That is because, Arjuna made a promise to protect the brahmana's children and unable to do so, he was ready to give up life by entering fire. Thus Krishna took Arjuna along with him.

This explanation is in line with Paribhasa sutra(SB 1.3.28, krsnastu bhagavan svayam) as I discussed here.

A similar idea of rarity of beholding Krishna's form is also expressed in Bhagavad-Gita(11.52)[This is talking about other devas not Krishna's incarnations, but it gives us some idea about the rarity of Krishna's form]

śrī-bhagavān uvāca su-durdarśam idaṁ rūpaṁ dṛṣṭavān asi yan mama devā apy asya rūpasya nityaṁ darśana-kāṅkṣiṇaḥ

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, this form of Mine you are now seeing is very rare to see. Even the demigods are ever seeking the opportunity to see this form, which is so dear.

Some interpret the word idam to refer to the Universal form whereas some interpret that idam rupam means this two handed form of Krishna which he just displayed to Arjuna as seen from 11.51 thus following the natural flow of the verses.

The latter interpretation that idam refers to Krishna's two handed form seems more reasonable for the following reasons:

The word tu (but) at the beginning of verse 11.54 indicates a different subject matter. This indicates that this form which is difficult to see, mentioned in verse 11.52 to 11.54, is not the thousand-headed form, because the previous description in verse 11.50 and 11.51, specifically concerning the Lord’s human-like four-armed form, is continuous with this topic, and separate from the topic of the thousand-headed form. Otherwise there would be the fault of redundant statement in verse 11.53 of what was stated in verse 11.48 concerning the thousand-headed form, if we were to say that verse 11.53 was also concerning the thousand-headed form.

UPDATE: I checked Sri Vaishnava commentaries regarding these, these verses are interpreted in indirect manner, not superficially:

Vishnu Purana 5.1.59, kesa is taken as hair by modern translators. Sri Vaishnava commentator quotes from Moksha dharma where in meaning of the name Keshava is explained to give different meaning of kesa. enter image description here

And regarding verses about Krishna and Arjuna meeting Maha Vishnu, the commentary is brief. This is screenshot of Viraraghavacharya's commentary.

enter image description here

The acharya interprets that kalavatirnau in 10.89.58 not as My expansions but as kalaya avatirnau that means the two who have descended with kalas(potencies). He says Krishna is poorna avatar. He didn't elaborate on why Vishnu stole brahmanas year after year to see Krishna.

And in 10.89.62 (63rd verse in SS) he quotes bg 7.8 (śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu) to explain second half of the verse. I think what the acharya says is that by Krishna's grace, Arjuna got the ability to see the Vishnu's abode.

  • "qualifies for an EX grade" sounds weird to me... though upvoted for other content... – YDS Dec 19 '18 at 14:41
  • @YDS I just said it because, the questioner said it qualifies for D grade..so i think I overcompensated it.. – user16618 Dec 19 '18 at 15:21

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