Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s jovial explanation of the relationship of Visnu and Krishna

A summary of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 9, verses 82–86 and 109–166.

The Temple of Ranganath in Sri Rangam

When Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu arrived in Śrī Raṅgam, a Śrī Vaiṣṇava named Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa respectfully invited the Lord to his home. He and His family washed the Lord’s feet, drank this water, and then offered the Lord alms. Seeing that the monsoon season had arrived and knowing it was a custom for sannyāsīs to remain in one place during that time, Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa requested Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, “Please stay in my home for the monsoon season (Chāturmāsya), speak every day about Kṛṣṇa, and thus liberate me from material existence.” Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu accepted Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa’s request and then spent four months happily in his home.

Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa was a Śrī Vaiṣṇava, a worshipper of Lakṣmī and Nārāyaṇ, and seeing his devotion, Chaitanya Mahāprabhu was pleased. They became friends and laughed and joked together naturally.

One day, Mahāprabhu said, “O Bhaṭṭa, Your Goddess Lakṣmī resides on Nārāyaṇ’s chest and is the crown-jewel of chaste ladies. My Lord Kṛṣṇa is a cowherd boy who tends cows. Being so chaste, why does Lakṣmī desire His company? To attain Him, She gave up all enjoyment, followed rites and regulations for a long time, and performed countless austerities.

kasyānubhāvo ’sya na deva vidmahe
yad-vāñchhayā śrīr lalanācharat tapo
vihāya kāmān suchiraṁ dhṛta-vratā
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.16.36):

“‘[The wives of Kāliya say to Kṛṣṇa:] O Lord, we do not know by what cause Kāliya has attained the privilege of being touched by the dust of Your feet. To attain this, Your wife Lakṣmī Devī abandoned all other desires, observed austere vows, and performed penances for a long time.’”

Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa said, “Kṛṣṇa and Nārāyaṇ are one, but Kṛṣṇa is more playful. Lakṣmī’s chastity is not lost by His touch. Just for fun, She wanted to associate with Her Lord in the form of Kṛṣṇa.

siddhāntatas tv abhede ’pi śrīśa-kṛṣṇa-svarūpayoḥ
rasenotkṛṣyate kṛṣṇa-rūpam
eṣā rasa-sthitiḥ
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.59)

“Although according to the scriptures, Nārāyaṇ and Kṛṣṇa are nondifferent, according to rasa, Kṛṣṇa is superior.”

“Lakṣmī’s chastity is not broken by Kṛṣṇa’s company. Rather, She can attain something greater in Kṛṣṇa’s company: the Rāsa Dance. So, Lakṣmī desired Kṛṣṇa. What fault is there in this? Why do You joke about it?”

The Lord replied, “There is no fault in Lakṣmī’s behaviour. That I know. But in the scriptures we hear that Lakṣmī did not get to enter the Rāsa Dance.

nāyaṁ śriyo ’ṅga u nitānta-rateḥ prasādaḥ
svar-yoṣitāṁ nalina-gandha-ruchāṁ kuto ’nyāḥ
rāsotsave ’sya bhuja-daṇḍa-gṛhīta-kaṇṭha-
labdhāśiṣāṁ ya udagād vraja-sundarīṇām
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.47.60)

“‘[Uddhava sings before the gopīs:] Neither Lakṣmī Devī, who is extremely devoted, nor the ladies of heaven, whose aroma and lustre resemble lotus flowers, let alone other women, achieved the grace Kṛṣṇa bestowed upon the ladies of Vraja by embracing them around the neck with His arms during the Rāsa Dance.’

“Why didn’t Lakṣmī get to participate in the Rāsa Dance? Why did the sages get to?

nibhṛta-marun-mano ’kṣa-dṛḍha-yoga-yujo hṛdi yan
munaya upāsate tad arayo ’pi yayuḥ smaraṇāt
striya uragendra-bhoga-bhuja-daṇḍa-viṣakta-dhiyo
vayam api te samāḥ sama-dṛśo ’ṅghri-saroja-sudhāḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.87.23)

“‘[The authors of the Upaniṣads and Vedas say to Kṛṣṇa:] Through their remembrance of the Lord, even the Lord’s enemies attain Brahman, which the sages who strictly practice yoga with their senses, mind, and controlled breath meditate on within their hearts. But we shall attain the nectar of Your lotus feet as did the gopīs, whose minds are attached to Your serpent-like arms, by adopting the same position and vision as them.’

Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa replied, “My mind cannot enter into this. I am a a tiny living entity with a very meagre intelligence, and the Lord’s Pastimes are deeper than ten million oceans. I feel in my heart that You are Kṛṣṇa Himself. So, You understand Your own actions, and only those whom You enlighten can understand the mysteries of Your Pastimes.”

The Lord said, “Kṛṣṇa attracts everyone’s heart with His sweetness, but only those who approach in the mood of the residents of Vraja can attain Him. The residents of Vraja do not consider Kṛṣṇa to be the Supreme Lord. Some of them tie Him to a mortar, considering Him their son, and some defeat Him and climb on His shoulders, considering Him their friend. The residents of Vraja consider Kṛṣṇa the prince of their village. They have no awareness of His divine power at all.

“Only those who render service to Kṛṣṇa in the mood of the residents of Vraja attain Him.

nāyaṁ sukhāpo bhagavān dehināṁ gopikā-sutaḥ
jñānināñ chātma-bhūtānāṁ yathā bhakti-matām iha
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.9.21)

“‘[Śukadev Goswāmī says to Mahārāj Parīkṣit:] The Lord, the son of Yaśodā, is not easily attained by those who identify with the body, who perform austerities, or who seek liberation, though He is by devotees here (who follow the residents of Vraja).’

“The sages became followers of the gopīs and served Kṛṣṇa according to the mood that the gopīs did. When they attained, internally and externally, the bodies of gopīs, they then in those bodies engaged in the play of Rāsa with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is a cowherd, and the gopīs are His lovers. Kṛṣṇa does not accept goddesses or any other women in His Pastimes.

“Lakṣmī wanted Kṛṣṇa’s association in Her present body, appearance, and mentality. She did not engage in service to Kṛṣṇa as a follower of the gopīs. Because no one can enter Kṛṣṇa’s Rāsa Dance in any other body than that of a gopī, Lakṣmī could not have Kṛṣṇa’s association as she desired.

Previously Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa had the misconception: “Śrī Nārāyaṇ is the Supreme Lord Himself. His worship is a level above all, and thus the worship of the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas’ is above all.”

To cut down this pride He had, by joking the Lord brought up all these points. The Lord said, “O Bhaṭṭa, do not doubt it. Kṛṣṇa is certainly the Supreme Lord Himself. Śrī Nārāyaṇ is a Pastime form of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, Kṛṣṇa captivates the minds of Lakṣmī and all goddesses.

“Kṛṣṇa has extraordinary qualities greater than those of Nārāyaṇ. Thus, Lakṣmī always desires Kṛṣṇa. The verse you recited is evidence of this.

siddhāntatas tv abhede ’pi śrīśa-kṛṣṇa-svarūpayoḥ
rasenotkṛṣyate kṛṣṇa-rūpam eṣā rasa-sthitiḥ
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.59)

“‘Although according to scripture, Nārāyaṇ and Kṛṣṇa are nondifferent, according to rasa, Kṛṣṇa is superior.”

“Kṛṣṇa captivates Lakṣmī’s mind, but Nārāyaṇ cannot captivate the gopīs’ minds. What to speak of Nārāyaṇ, Kṛṣṇa Himself once appeared as Nārāyaṇ to the gopīs as a joy. He showed them a four-armed form of Himself, but the gopīs has no attraction to that ‘Kṛṣṇa’.

gopīnāṁ paśupendra-nandana-juṣo bhāvasya kas tāṁ kṛtī
vijñātuṁ kṣamate durūha-padavī-sañchāriṇaḥ prakriyām
āviṣkurvati vaiṣṇavīm api tanuṁ tasmin bhujair jiṣṇubhir
yāsāṁ hanta chaturbhir adbhuta-ruchiṁ rāgodayaḥ kuñchati
(Lalita-mādhava: 6.54)

“‘What learned man can understand the ways of the gopīs’ enigmatic mood of service to the son of the cowherds’ king? Oh! When He shows them His glorious, wonderfully beautiful, four-armed Viṣṇu form, their loving attachment to Him diminishes.’”

By explaining all these points, the Lord crushed Vyeṅkata Bhaṭṭa’s pride, but to imeadiately cheer him up, the Lord harmonised everything: “Do not be sad, O Bhaṭṭa. I was joking. Hear the conclusion on the scriptures that all Vaiṣṇavas have faith in: as Kṛṣṇa and Nārayaṇ are one, so there is no difference between the gopīs and Lakṣmī; they are one. Rādhārāṇī with Her one form assumes various figures. So, there is no difference between the gopīs and Lakṣmī. Understand their nature. Through the gopīs, Lakṣmī tastes the company of Kṛṣṇa. If one thinks there is a difference between forms of the Lord, that is an offence. There is one Lord. According to devotees’ meditation, He with His one form assumes various figures.

maṇir yathā vibhāgena nīla-pītādibhir yutaḥ
rūpa-bhedam avāpnoti dhyāna-bhedāt tathāchyutaḥ
(Śrī Nārada-pañcharātra)

“‘As a jewel paired with different colours such as blue or yellow assumes a different appearance, so too does the Lord as a result of differences in meditation upon Him.’”

Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa said, “Who am I? A fallen soul. And who are You? Kṛṣṇa, the Lord Himself. I do not understand the Lord’s unfathomable Pastimes at all, but what you say I accept as truth. I feel that Lakṣmī and Nārāyaṇ have bestowed Their full mercy upon me: by Their mercy, I have seen Your feet, and mercifully You have told me the greatness of Kṛṣṇa. No one can reach the end of His form, qualities, or divine power. I have now understood that devotion to Kṛṣṇa is above all. You have mercifully explained this to me and brought me the greatest fulfilment.”

Saying this, Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa fell at the Lord’s feet, and the Lord mercifully embraced him.

When the monsoon season came to an end, taking Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa’s permission, the Lord visited Śrī Raṅganāth and then departed south. Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa went with the Lord; he did not wish remain at home without the Lord, but with great care, the Lord eventually bade him farewell. In separation from the Lord, Vyeṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa fainted.

The son of Śachī performs such playful Pastimes.