Krishna Vs Vishnu – Who is Supreme and Who is avatar? What are the three types of Vishnus?
TWO QUESTIONS FROM TWO DEVOTEES (Name hidden):
Hare Krishna Prabhu ji.. Me and my wife are in initial stages of devotional service to Lord Krishna.. Our parents taught us from childhood that Lord Vishnu is the highest diety and supreme among all lords and lord Krishna is his incarnation so did he existed before this incarnation as lord krishna?? I while reading Bhagvad gita and Shri Krishna come across contradictions where in Lord Krishna is Supreme personality of Godhead. So please tell who is supreme?? (Vishnu or Krishna?)
“Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisance! I was wondering if you could clear this confusion that is in my mind. I was brought up being taught that Krishna is an Avatar of Lord Vishnu. After attending ISKCON classes and talks and reading Srila Prabhupads book , I am clear now that Krishna is the supreme, but I still do not understand clearly the difference between Vishnu and Krishna and why so many people think krishna is an avatar. Haribol!”
This is the doubt that many devotees have and it is natural since there are so many stories about Krishna, Vishnu, avatars, etc. This small article will put a sharp Full Stop for all such doubts of devotees!
First , I like to clear the following as said by Srila Prabhupada:
(1) Krishna is the Adhi Purusha. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is the source of all the deities; He does not directly involve in the creations and He expands into different forms to undertake this process.
Lord Krishna is the original form of the Lord who appears in Goloka Vrindavan, plays with the gopas (cowherd boys), and has loving relationships with His dear devotee.
Srila Prabhupada has said in many places that Lord Vishnu is the expansion of the Lord Krishna who would take care of business in a more formal way – protecting His devotees, riding on Garuda (Lord Vishnu’s great winged carrier), in the heart of each soul.
(2) Maha-Vishnu is a plenary expansion of Krishna. It is Maha Vishnu into whom all the innumerable universes enter and from whom they come forth again simply by His breathing process.
(3) Generally, Srila Prabhupada would refer to Lord Vishnu in the place of Lord Sri Krishna and vice versa, interchangeably.
These two are examples:
(4) BHAGAVAD GITA (1.14): “…and wherever the Lord is present, the goddess of fortune is also there because the goddess of fortune never lives alone without her husband. Therefore, victory and fortune were awaiting Arjuna, as indicated by the transcendental sound produced by the conch shell of Vishnu, or Lord Krishna.”
(5) BHAGAVAD GITA (2.2): “…Persons who are led by the material conception of life do not know that the aim of life is realization of the Absolute Truth, Vishnu, or Bhagavan Sri Krishna, and they are captivated by the external features of the material world, and therefore they do not know what liberation is.”
(6) “BRAHMA SAMHITA” beautifully clears your doubt as follows:
jivanti loma-vila-ja jagad-anda-nathah
visnur mahan sa iha yasya kala-viseso
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
MEANING: “The Maha-Vishnu, into whom all the innumerable universes enter and from whom they come forth again simply by His breathing process, is a plenary expansion of Krishna. Therefore I worship Govinda, Krishna, the cause of all causes.”
Therefore one should conclusively worship the personal form of Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead who has eternal bliss and knowledge. He is the source of all forms of Vishnu, He is the source of all forms of incarnation, and He is the original Supreme Personality, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita.
(7)“Brahma Samhita (5-48)” also describes Lord Krishna as the “original candle” from which many candles are lit, and they appear the same, but the original is Lord Sri Krishna!
HOW KRISHNA EXPANDS INTO THREE TYPES OF VISHNUs?
The Adhi Purusha Krishna expands into THREE forms (Purusha Avataras) of VISHNUs
(1) MAHA VISHNU – who creates the material universes just with a glance through Pradhana & Mahat tatva;
(2) GARBHODAKASAYI VISHNU – who enters each and every universe. From His navel, the stem of a lotus flower grows, and on that lotus flower the first creature, Brahma, is born. Within the stem of that lotus flower are fourteen divisions of planetary systems, which are created by Brahma. Within each universe the Lord is present as the Garbhodakasayi Visnu, and He maintains each universe and tends to its needs.
When it is required, this very same Visnu takes the form of Lord Siva and annihilates the cosmic creation. The three secondary incarnations—Brahma, Visnu and Siva—are the predominating deities of the three modes of material nature. The master of the universe, however, is the Garbhodakasayi Visnu, who is worshiped as the Hiranyagarbha Supersoul. The Vedic hymns describe Him as having thousands of heads. Although He is within the material nature, He is not touched by it.
(3) KSIROSAKASAYI VISHNU:
is the third incarnation of Visnu, Ksirodakasayi Visnu, is also an incarnation of the mode of goodness. He is also the Supersoul of all living entities (residing in our hearts), and He resides on the ocean of milk within the universe.