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Thread: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

  1. #1

    Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Hello and Hare Krishna,
    I'm just curious and wish to know in which vedic scripture it's mentioned that Vishnu (all 3 forms of Vishnus) are expansions of Krishna.

    I know that in the Gita, Lord Krishna in his many verses has explained that he is the cause of all causes.
    And also in the Brahma samhita, the four headed Brahma has said that Govinda (Krishna) is the supreme.
    But i'm in search of a verse, that says explicitly, that Vishnu is an expansion of Krishna.

    Are there any such verse? If so then please share.

    Thank You.

  2. #2

    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Hare Krsna Red Dragon,

    This answer will not be without fault, it was just today I had a chat with a friend who said in Bhagavatam there is a verse where there is an apology to Sri Krsna where shastra says that it doesn't have the ability to explain him properly, he did not know the exact verse and if I find it I will post it, it will probably be in shruti Gita chapter 87 10th Canto.

    But i'm in search of a verse, that says explicitly, that Vishnu is an expansion of Krishna.

    To find the verses you seek then its best to search what ISKCON says about it as they are the main ones who talk about the expansions or plenary portions as somehow being one and different and Krsna as the source or fountainhead of expansions or plenary portions. The main reference given is usually Brahma Samhita, which is not universally accepted by all Hindus. To then find the verse one would then need to go deeper into the translations and also the intent of the teaching on how ISKCON is promoting this in their teachings, and where the modification appears in their teaching.

    I do not want to put up any type of intellectual logic to prove a point or argument and certainly not compare slokas or Vishnu and Krsna against each other to see which is giving better explanation and hwo is first and higher and better but will offer some information, verses and some personal understanding to show that Vishnu and Sri Krsna are One and the same, if there is any difference it would be by rasa and relationship of the devotee~sadhaka, especially its said like this within Gaudia Vaishnava teachings. In Sri sikastakam Sri Chaityana's eight verses He says

    namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis
    tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah

    O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krsna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies.

    In the category of Vishnu-tattva there is no loss of power from one expansion to the next, any more than there is a loss of illumination as one candle kindles another. Thousands may be kindled by an original candle, and all will have the same candle power. In this way it is to be understood that although all the Vishnu-tattvas, from Krishna and Lord Chaitanya to Rama, Narasimha, Varaha, and so on, appear with different features in different ages, all are equally invested with supreme potency. (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi 3.71, Purport)

    Srila Prabhupada's candle analogy draws on a traditional example found in the Brahma-samhita (5.46)

    Vishnu Meaning

    The traditional Sanskrit explanation of the name Viṣṇu involves the root viś, meaning "to settle, to enter", or also (in the Rigveda) "to pervade", and a suffix nu, translating to approximately "the All-Pervading One". An early commentator on the Vedas, Yaska, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as 'vishnu vishateh; one who enters everywhere', and 'yad vishito bhavati tad vishnurbhavati; that which is free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu.'Adi Sankara in his commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama states derivation from this root, with a meaning "presence everywhere" ("As he pervades everything, vevesti, he is called Visnu"). Adi Sankara states (regarding Vishnu Purana, 3.1.45): "The Power of the Supreme Being has entered within the universe. The root Viś means 'enter into.'" Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of Vishnu sahasranama further elaborates on that verse: The root Vis means to enter. The entire world of things and beings is pervaded by Him and the Upanishad emphatically insists in its mantra "whatever that is there is the world of change." Hence, it means that He is not limited by space, time or substance. Chinmayananda states that which pervades everything is Vishnu.


    Sri Krsna in Vishnu Saharanam is listed as 57th Name of Sri Vishnu, which is describing the divine nature of Sri Vishnu and his qualities or ways that he is known, revealed and meditated upon, but this is done by grammar and revealing the Whole Being as One Undivided Being. Krsna is described as Black, Dark ( black and dark meaning veiled, hidden, mysterious), All Attractive, lets try be simple about this where its describing the same Being but by his different attributes qualities and so on as All Pervasive and All Attractive, Existence , knowledge and Bliss.

    Other names there are vasudeva-sankarshana-pradyumna-aniruddha.

    Fourfold manifestation (Chaturvyuuha) Vaasudeva-Sankarshana-Pradyumna-Aniruddha.

    Vasudeva (Va+Su+Deva) means reverentially addressing the Supreme God of Knowledge (Jnaana), the one who is the creator (bring forth) of the world viz. Lord Vishnu.

    “Sankarshana” is second in the line of four plenary expansions/dimensions of the primordial supreme God Naaraayana Sam (n) + Karshana; Sam (n) means plenty, good, together, complete, perfectly, efficiently effectively, competently etc and Karshana means drawing back, pulling off, withdraw, demolish, eliminate, reduce etc.

    In supreme spiritual sense Pradyumna is the 3rd dimensional expansion of Lord Sri Hari the fourfold manifestation (Chaturvyuuha) Vaasudeva-Sankarshana-Pradyumna-Aniruddha.
    Pra means conspicuous; prominent; great; noticeable; and Dyumna means glory, strength, affluence. Pradyumna means the Supreme God, the one with great auspicious and infinite attributes glowing like Gold.
    Sri Vishnu Sahasranaama Stothram (sloka # 68) eulogizes the Lord as "Pradyumno-amitavikramah" the one who is having immense and unrivaled powers. Pradyumna is the creative power of the supreme Lord Sri ManNaaraayana.


    Niruddha means the one who is suppressed, held back, restrained, stopped;
    Aniruddha means the one who is unstoppable, unrestrained, the one who is invincible.

    The 4 forms of Sri Vishnu is related to the 4 states, Jagrat~ emprical world, svapna~ mind and subtle phenomenon, sushupti~ pure awareness and Turiya ~ transcendent.


    An example given in ISKCON and one that I like is that a person maybe the head of state, when he goes to work people will address him as the head of state. Later he may go to a social event with friends and they will see him not a head of state but as a friend, when he goes home to his wife she will see him as her husband and partner, his family will see him as father, son, cousin and so on. He is always the same person but known by what activity he does, the deeper one gets the know that person they will see that he is head of state, a friend, a husband and family member and much more. He didnt become many people, he remained the same person.

    In this way Vishnu and Krsna are one but may act upon our consciousness or the world lokas in different ways. All Vishnu tattva is unborn, beginningless, all pervasive, all attractive and full of divine attributes.

    Vishnu Tattva is advaita or One Whole Being Om Purnam, to really understand it fully we need to be fully Self Realized.

    advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpamādyaṁ purāṇa-puruṣaṁ nava-yauvanaṁ cavedeṣu durlabham adurlabham ātma-bhaktaugovindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi"I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda (Kṛṣṇa), who is the original person—absolute, infallible, without beginning. Although expanded into unlimited forms, He is still the same original, the oldest, and the person always appearing as a fresh youth. Such eternal, blissful, all-knowing forms of the Lord are usually not understood by even the best Vedic scholars, but they are always manifest to pure, unalloyed devotees."

    The ISKCON version is more geared towards people in the west that will have Christian or Monotheistic roots, now that many people in the west have abandoned Christianity and Monotheism, which are both anthropomorphic or man made, ISKCON is starting to struggle to communicate, I know this directly because I have just been working with ISKCON for the last 12 months trying to help them set up some social welfare activities and promote spirituality in society, their levels of communication are outdated, I have neither a Christian background or a Monotheistic view and therefore cant accept the contemporary explanation of ISKCON and how they say Krsna is above all as some exclusivity within Vishnu Tattva. Whereas in pre existing devotional traditions the teachings are to empower dedication, Bhakti or devotion, lets not forget that each devotee whether they are devotee of different forms of Visnu tattva, devotees Sri Rama, Narayana, Krsna and so on will all hold their Ista deva~personal deity or object of devotion as very dear and Supreme, but as one advances they will see that same Supreme Being everywhere.

    In between the lines is hard to express and can only be known through adhikara or quality of consciousness and what ISKCON says now seems to be more influenced by literal reading and conditioning to falsely declare Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and other forms of Vishnu are somehow lacking something.

    ISCKON still has great potential, but due to literacy or taking things too literal they are loosing an important impact on society and within their own sangha, I have no idea how they will update and maintain the teachings, like in Shruti Gita 87th Chapter 10TH canto we should be humble enough to at least not try and figure out the Absolute Truth with limited and faulty instruments .
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 19 March 2018 at 08:34 AM.

  3. #3

    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Hello Markandeya 108 Dasa,

    Yes even i would agree with you on the point, that ISKCON takes things too literally. I posted a similar question in their forum few years back, that what makes them think Krsna is supreme and not Vishnu (even though i know both are one and the same) but since most vedic scriptures speak of Vishnu or Narayana as the supreme being, so i had to ask them this question and their reply was, the reason they consider Krsna as supreme is because Krishna told Arjuna in the battlefield that He is the source of everything. Their teachings are based on the Gita and also Bhagavatam. So that was their reply.

    Now my opinion is, when Krishna said such things in the Gita, it could be, that HE was just reffering to his spiritual Vishnu form ... OR He was reffering to his avyakta / unmanifested transcendental state ... I mean if you think that way, it is possible that Krsna was referring to his spiritual being.

    I believe that God is both formless and also has innumerable forms. For him nothing is impossible. He can manifest in trillions of forms if he wishes. And yet knowing all this, i keep searching for the truth in the scriptures (that's what bookish guys, like me, loves doing lol) hoping there would be a clear answer in the shastras, on issues like which existed first in the beginning. The formless unmanifested God or the manifested anthropomorphic God... If it's the latter, then is it Vishnu or is it Krishna. I guess such questions will always remain a mystery.

  4. #4
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    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?


    Isn’t it just the freedom of thought - that makes Sanatana Dharma so great an unique – that anyone can ‚fashion‘ his believe without giving a proof what’s written in any scripture?

    In the Gaudiya group where I attend regularely they say Shiva ist a Vaishnava, and not only this, He is the most honred Vaishnava. Why not?

    Krishna … Vishnu … Shiva … not just names for the ‚Only One‘?

    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

  5. #5

    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Namaste Indialover,

    Isn’t it just the freedom of thought - that makes Sanatana Dharma so great an unique – that anyone can ‚fashion‘ his believe without giving a proof what’s written in any scripture
    Maybe it's the freedom from thought that makes sanatana dharma traditions unique

    There is a very definite standard to sanatna dharma and vedanta, even within Gaudia Vaishnavism which doesn't give to much emphasis on traditional vedanta Baladeva Vidyabhusana had to write a commentary on vedanta to satisfy the other maths and sampradayas called Govinda Bhasya. So there is a standard and widely and diversly practiced, not that any thing can be fashioned according to our own ideas. It's another topic. Sanatan dharma and the mahatmas are broadminded and all inclusive but it's not anything goes

    Why is shiva considered the greatest vaishnava and krsna as supreme when this is not usually the way things are understood more widely and for much longer. Not just with iskcon but with other teachings that came from from east to west all had a certain audience to communicate with. This ranges from sri aurobindo, swami vivekananda, buddhist groups and so on that had to make some adjustment. As I see it at the essence of how they communicated there is no difference, along these lines and to make it as simple as possible the more one nows the essence the purer their teachings are seen and not following the same adjustments in modern times looses the power of communication.

  6. #6
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    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    You are absolutely right, markandeya 108 dasa, there are standards, but Hinduism is open minded.

    When I started reading about Hinduism I found the standard Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva – creator, sustainer, destroyer. So far easy to understand.

    But then I read about Vishnu and His avatars. There is a tenth avatar, Kalkin. He destroys as well.

    The first confusion – two distroyers?

    I felt drawn to Shiva from the beginning. In 2002 a Tamil Hindu temple, dedicated to Ganesha, opened not far away from my home. I learned that Shiva is the Highest. I learned that Shiva is creating, sustaining and destroying with His different dances.

    The second confusion – three distroyers?

    Furtheron I learned that Shiva is threefold – Yogi, Dancer, Linga.

    In 2005 the in my post mentioned Krishna temple opened.

    I learned that Krishna is the Highest. Shiva is His devotee.
    I was not confused that moment, I got angry, they humilitated my Shiva.

    I told them about Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and that Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu.

    They laughed: No, no … never ever!

    I asked: ‚If Krishna is the Highest, who is Krishna in the list of avatars?‘
    The answer was: It‘s Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

    In Bhagavad Gita Krishna says: I am Skanda. I am Ganga.

    In Valmiki’s Adbhuta Ramayana there are two Ravanas. The ten headed from Lanka and his brohter, the thousand headed from Pushkara.

    Rama was not able to kill the thousand headed Ravana. Sita turned into Kali and did it.

    That’s why Hinduism is so confusing for non-Hindus – everything, any mix is possible beside the standard.

    It took a long time until I could be relaxed, hearing that Shiva is always immersed in prayers to Krishna.

    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

  7. #7
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    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Namaste Red Dragon

    This morning at breakfast I remembered a lecture of a archaeologist long ago who said that a brick with Vasudeva was found in Harappa. I was astonished because this would proof what I was told in the Krishna temple. My question why Krishna and not Vishnu he could not answer … he was an archaeologist not an indologist.

    Searching in google I found

    The earliest evidence of “Bhagavata cult” goes back to the days of Mahajanapadas with Vasudeva (Krishna) and Sankarshana (Balarama) making their appearance in archaeological residues of Vidisha.

    and the following discussion

    Anyhow, Red Dragon … you are on the right path with your last thought

    I guess such questions will always remain a mystery.

    There is a wonderful dialogue in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad III.8 between Yajnavalkya and Gargi. It ends with the these wise words of Yajnavalkya

    ‚Do not, O Gargi, push your inquiry too far, lest your head should fall off. You are questioning about a deity that should not be reasoned about. Do not, O Gargi, push your inquiry too far'. Thereupon Gargi, the daughter of Vacaknu, kept silent'.

    Enjoy the mystery!

    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

  8. #8

    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Hare Krsna Red Dragon,

    When krsna refers to Himself in Bhagavad Gita among other names He uses Aham and mam t's important to know what that actually means. Aham and mAm is both vishnu all pervading and Krsna all attractive. The aishvarya's or oppulences of the Supreme. Krsna is not located anywhere due him being Vishnu or all pervasive.

    Aham or mAm is shiva~auspicious. It's all part of the same transcendental body, so we need a better understanding of what Supreme or para means. If it's taken to literal it causes all sorts of problems and leads one further away, or so it seems.

    Studying the books is ok, srimad bhagavatam is known as the spotless purana, its the way we read and apply the knowledge that's the key. For us in the immature stage there is the sadhana's which as I understand should all lead one to upeksha, there is strong emphasis on the develop$ent of sama or equanimity, sama dharshana equal vision, from that state then everything that is para is understood.

    Namaste Indialover

    Again to understand how shiva glorifies krsna and why sri rama does shiva puja is something beautiful, nothing to get angry about.

    In srimad bhagavtam shiva glorifies markandeya rishi. the reason being SB 12.10.22
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 22 March 2018 at 07:40 AM.

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    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Dear all,

    That which is Shiva is Vishnu and that which is Vishnu is Krishna and that is Brahman which alone exists. "Sarva Khalu idam brahman" .... "Vaasudevah sarvam iti". There is actually no fight. The problem would start when there are two. There is just One and therefore there is no argument, there is no issue and there is no fight. The fight comes from our ego. The fight comes from our mind which cannot conceptualise what God is and limits God to our imagination and words used to describe Him.

    Enjoy that One ... that "Thou Art THAT, O' Svetketu" !

    What is the meaning of "Or else your head will fall off" spoken in BrahdaraNyaka Upanishad ? Why should one's head fall off by just asking questions and that too valid questions ? Is it a sin asking questions ? It appears that asking question is not good and one will get his/her head cut off by asking intelligent questions and that is why Gargi was warned ! If that is so then that is highly illogical and unjustified. Moreover, who will cut off the head of the questioner ??

    Sorry, we have to get to the actual meaning behind the literal meaning to come out of this quagmire. "Head" is also symbol of mind as the mind acts through brain being held in our heads. The questions that Gargi asked were too profound and the answers were beyond the capacity of human mind to understand --- "From where the words and mind turn back". So, here "Your head will fall off" simply means "Your mind will fail badly while trying to understand the answers to these questions". The failure of mind is termed here as "head would fall off".

    All questions are welcome and there is no sin in asking questions but the problem is that our mind cannot comprehend the Reality and it actually hinders the process of realisation of Truth when mind acts very hard to understand the Reality. The Reality can be realised in tranquility of our mind and not in agitated state. So, the Yagnyavalkya warns Gargi .... Don't agitate your mind too much by such questions ... calm down ... you are going in the wrong direction .... your method of understanding the Truth is just opposite to what is required to be done and so STOP.

    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  10. #10

    Re: Vishnu as an expansion of Krishna?

    Hare Krsna Red Dragon,

    I believe that God is both formless and also has innumerable forms
    This part of Iskcons presentation has not been handled very well, and if there was any teaching that has caused the most disruption it would be this one, or as they say personalism and impersonalism.

    If seen in the right way it's actually a very interesting study, even from the intellectual side.

    There are a number ways to understand what's meant by form and formless, one is saguna or with attributes and the other is nirguna or without attributes. Nirguna does not mean formless or impersonal in the way that Isckon commonly preaches, to keep it simple for the time being nirguna is simply without gunas or material modes, meaning the transcendent is spotless, without taints and unconditioned. That's just one way to describe. Saguna will refer to his forms of ishvara or the supreme controller of maya, as I understand ishvara is nirguna or non different from nirguna. Ishvara displays divine attributes that lead one into turiya, putting the iron rod in fire will eventually become fire via that association. The whole bhakti culture is based on this.

    From the school of vedanta another aspect of form and formless comes from the terms nama and Rupa or name and form, name and form make up the jiva, which is the individual consciousness, nama and Rupa are subtle and gross identification with gross and subtle phenomenon, also known in vedanta and jagrat, gross physical matter and svapna subtle physical matter or mind. When consciousness is grouped around mind, ahamkara~ I factor ( ego) , chitta ~ memory, storehouse consciousness ( chitta is worth a deeper study) buddhi~ intellect and Manas, thought waves. this combined make up the personality in the translated language of vedanta. As one studies this personality we can see is not whole or complete, it's a compound and is not true self, vedanta then introduces the next more subtle state of consciousness, sushupti, or pure awareness, shunyata or emptiness. Empty means no trace of gross or subtle phenomenon, it's pure chitta or pure mind, in gaudia siddhanta it's known as tatashta or the boader or the river between the material and spiritual world.

    Now we are entering into formless realms of consciousness or awareness which has no trace of gross and subtle mind and it's attachments to the objects of the mind and it's evolution. It's withdrawn and turned in on itself. That's why sushupti is generally translated as deep sleep, it's unaware of the gross and physical nama and Rupa. So when vedanta talks of an impersonal it simple means transcendent to nama and Rupa name and form of gross and subtle mind and it's identification.

    In Bhagavad Gita krsna addresses arjuna as gudakesha, one meaning to this is one who never sleeps. Arjuna although a kstariya was an adept yogi, all the pandavas had perfected many of the yoga systems when in exile. So krsna who is turiya, the 4th, the immanent and transcedent all attractive nirguna speaks to arjuna while he is in in sushupti or deep sleep, or perfect wakefulness free from the limiting conditions, only by this way do we know what is para or supreme.

    Turiya is inconceivable to the mind, our false identification ahamkara can not know turiya, manas cannot not know, intellect also does not have the power and even the power of pure chitta, which is a power do not by their own nature posseses the power to know turiya, as in the upanishads it says the Self reveals itself to whom He chooses, and in avadhuta gita it says the Self fills the Self with His Self , so the giving up of the personal through neti neti is a sadhana to end falsely identification with the mind. Mind can be engaged and purified but to know the Supreme who is acintya or inconceivable there is the need to reach sushupti to then experience through anugraha~grace Turiya. I will write another thread soon on how iskcon can bridge their teaching with vedanta, they are supposed to be a branch of vedanta, but in parts and the root core values as set out by the GBC are faulty in terms of vedanta. One of the key identities within the vedanta traditions are the teachings of the 4 states, in whatever form it's taught as I understand and I could be wrong is vedanta is a teaching covering only the 4 states, jagrat, svapna, sushupti and turiya, although many do not like turiya being known as a state.

    The devotees around hare krsna, within or without iskcon institute are very diverse, it's a great culture and there are some amazing and highly evolved devotees, so let's hope over time iskcon can fulfill some of its potential.
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 26 March 2018 at 04:41 AM.

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