If Krishna is God, why is Vishnu widely considered to be God and Krishna his incarnation?
Time: 6 minutes 05 seconds
Transcribed by: Nikhil Fernandes
If Krishna is god, why is Vishnu widely considered to be god and Krishna his incarnation?
In most aspects, there is no difference between Vishnu and Krishna. They are the same person in two forms. In terms of potency both are the same. By worshipping Krishna, one can be liberated and the same is also possible if one worships Vishnu. One aspect where the difference between to two is stressed is the mood. Krishna is like god at home and Vishnu is like god in office. The same person in office will not manifest the intimate emotions that they manifest at home. For example, the prime minister or president of a country at home may carry his grandson on his back, run around, play in this manner and delight in it. However, he will not do so when in the office. Krishna exhibits intimate emotions as seen when his friends sit on him and ask him to carry them around. Nobody does similarly with Vishnu who sits on a throne. Hence, we can understand that although they are the same person but exhibit two different moods. As god at home, it is Krishna who manifests sweeter and more intimate emotions. To ask the question which of them is superior is akin to asking – “Is the prime minister at office the prime minister or is the prime minister at home the prime minister?” Both are the same person in two different moods.
Why then there is conception that Krishna is an avataar of Vishnu? Consider that the prime minister or president of a country has a name that is only used at home, but does not show up in official documents and paperwork. However, the name used at home also is a name of the head of state. From the point of view of managing the country, it is the president in office, whose mood and profile becomes prominent. Vishnu is god in office and hence in the Vedas, Vishnu is referred more than Krishna. Just as when we have a problem, we would approach a police officer at the police station and not at their home, similarly when the devatas are in trouble and need assistance, they pray to god in office. From the perspective of this world, prayers go to Vishnu and in response to these prayers various avataars descend. This fact that in response to prayers addressed to Vishnu, various avataars appear, gives rise to the notion that Vishnu is the source of the avataars. The very word avataar means “one who descends” (avatara iti avataar). This indicates that it is not true that Krishna’s form is created when the devatas pray to Vishnu. Rather Krishna exists in the spiritual world eternally and so do all the other forms like Ram and Narasimha. When the prayer goes to Vishnu who is god in office, according to the time and particular lila to be performed, one of these avataars appear. Because these forms descend through the prayers to Vishnu, they are often thought of as incarnations of Vishnu. However, it is not that Vishnu is god and the others are incarnations. All of them exist eternally in the spiritual world. All of them are god but in different moods and roles – god in office, god at home, god more intimate, god less intimate and so on.