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(C) 1995 by Richard S. Brown
All rights reserved.

Avatara & Avatari

For all ACBSP devotees, the proper path to enter Vrndavana is via Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg. But when I first arrived in Vraja this sacred path was not yet established. The old route was the road from Mathura to Vrndavana by pony-drawn tongas. Half way down this road, nearly opposite the very grand Birla Mandir of Lakshmi-Narayana, is a dirt road leading to Akrura Ghata. It is here at Akrura Ghata that Lord Krsna, Lord Balarama, and Akrura paused as they rode to Mathura-mandala. The Transcendental sentiment of this sacred place is that of the Vraja-gopis, who were angry at Akrura for stealing Sri Krsna and Balarama away from them.

There is also a very subtle philosophical point to be understood from Krsna's pastime here at Akrura Ghata. This is revealed best by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sat-sandarbhas, where he makes a careful distinction between 'avatar' Krsna and 'Avatari' Krsna---between, that is to say the Supreme Lord's Vishnu expansion and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, the cause of all causes. Avatara Krsna appears for the purpose of delivering the pious and annihilating the impious, but Avatari Krsna eternally enjoys his blissful loving relationship in Vraja-mandala without taking so much as a single step out of Vraja-dham: Vrndavanam parityajya kvacin naiva gacchati (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya-lila, Ch.1, Text 67). Thus, the aspect of Krsna's pastime here at Akrura-ghata which is most interesting philosophically is the fact that avatara Krsna appeared simultaneous with the disappearance of Avatari Krsna. Srila Jiva Goswami explains this as follows: There exists a transcendental border around the Vraja area, between Vraja-dham and Mathura-mandal. Lord Sri Krsna, Svayam-Bhagavan, never passes beyond this line separating Vrndavana (Vraja) from Mathura. Therefore when Vasudeva carried baby Krsna to the safety of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yasoda he was actually carrying the Lord's Vishnu expansion. When Vasudeva reached this invisible transcendental boundary between the two villages of Vraja (Vrndavana) and Mathura, the Lord slipped out of his hands and into the raging water of the Yamuna River. When Vasudev picked up his little son from the water he now held Svayam-Bhagavan (Avatari) Sri Krsna Himself, in his hands, for all the Narayana expansions of the Lord had merged into the original Personality of Godhead. The Krsna Who fell into the Yamuna River was Lord Narayana, but the Krsna Who emerged was Sri Nandanandana. One may finds several discussions of this facet of the Lord's Personality in Srila Prabhupada's merciful translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

All the while the Lord enjoyed His pastimes in Vrajabhumi, His Vishnu expansions remained merged within Him. Even when demons invaded Vrndavana, Krsna displayed His Narayana feature in dealing with them, and in this way He fully enjoys His loving relationships with the pure devotees of Vrndavana.

When Akrura took Krsna and Balarama to Mathura and paused midway to take bath and chant Gayatri, the transcendental transformation of the Supreme Lord from avatari Krsna to avatara Krsna took place again. As Akrura bathed, svayam bhagavan Krsna became unmanifest (residing eternally in the hearts of the Vrajavasis, lead by Radharani) and His Vishnu expansion emerged from His Supreme Personality and conducted the Lord's pastimes in Mathura, Dvaraka, etc. Therefore, Akrura-ghata is important, and at the small temple and lake here the pilgrim should pause and pay respect, followed by a bath (at lease a shira-snan) and chanting of Gayatri-mantra...

--->Lord Krishna has His bhauma lila, where He appears in different incarnations, including His Krishna Avatara Bhauma Lila, besides which He eternally sports in Vaikuntha in Golok Dham enjoying His Nitya Lila, which has no beginning nor end, and which doesn't take place within the material creation. This is a very misunderstood subject. One Iskcon Guru told me that Krishna's "nitya lila" was roaming from one universe after another and performing His incarnation. This Guru said joining Krishna in these incarnations was liberation. I told him that what he described is called Krishna's "Bhauma Lila", BUT, Krishna's "Nitya Lila" takes place eternally outside the jada Samsara. In Nitya Lila there are no demons nor non devotees, and Krishna enjoys with devotees in 5 rasas. To enter the Nitya Lila, THAT is liberation.

By Richard Shaw Brown