Is Krishna brahman or parabrahman?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJanuary 10, 2020

Answer Podcast

 

Transcriber: Sharan Shetty

Edited by: Keshavgopal Das

Question: Is Krishna brahman or parabrahman?

Answer: Krishna is referred by both the names in the scriptures. When the soul is to be distinguished from Krishna, at that time, the reference parabrahman is used which means he is the supreme spiritual reality and brahman is the standard reference used for the Absolute Truth in the Vedanta Sutra. Therefore, one should not think that only the word parabrahman refers to Krishna. Most of the time, when the word brahman is used, it can also refer to Krishna. We can see in the Bhagavad-gita that the word brahman is used to refer to the spirit soul. It also refers to the Supreme Lord and also to the material nature for example, in Bhagavad-gita 14.3,
mama yonir mahad brahma
Translation: The total material substance, called brahman
The important point and differentiation between brahman and parabrahman is that we are not the Absolute Truth. We are parts of the Absolute Truth. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita 15.07,
mamaivamso jiva-loke
jiva-bhutaḥ sanatanaḥ
The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts.

It means that we are parts of Krishna and that too, eternal parts. Even after we become liberated, we remain parts of Krishna. Krishna is both brahman and parabrahman and the soul is a finite, limited, infinitesimal part of that Supreme Reality. Often the term – aham brahmasmi is used to refer to the point that we are spirit, but it does not mean that the soul is equal to the Absolute and neither the word Brahman is a monopoly of the impersonalists. The word brahman does not necessarily mean only brahmajyoti or the all-pervading effulgence of the Lord. In general, it refers to the Absolute Truth and there are many verses in the scriptures which indicate that it also refers to the personal Absolute Truth. Thus, we have to look at the context, to see, what is being referred by the particular term, the soul or the Supersoul. If at all we want to contrast between brahman and parabrahman then we can say that Krishna is the highest reality as explained in Bhagavad Gita 07.07

mattaḥ parataram nanyat
kincid asti dhanan-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.)
Also, in the Srimad Bhagavatam 08.03.04, Krishna is referred as parat parah or He who is transcendental to transcendental, or above all transcendence. The brahmajyoti which is considered as transcendence is coming from him and he is beyond the brahmajyoti and the source of it as explained in Bhagavad-gita 14.27,
brahmano hi pratisthaham.

(I am the basis of the impersonal brahman)

End of transcription.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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