Attainment of the Self is distinct from attainment of a body. Lord Krishn’s manifestation cannot be seen with physical eyes. He is birthless, hidden, and eternal, and yet he is born with a human body. Therefore, they who preach that death of the physical body brings liberation offer, but, a false consolation.
A Soul realizes the ultimate essence while he is yet in his assumed human body. If there is even the slightest flaw, he has to undergo another birth. Arjun has thought Lord Krishn to be a mortal like him.
Is Lord Krishn like other bodies?
Lord Krishn sings:
“Although imperishable, birthless, and God of all beings,
I manifest myself subduing the materialistic world of nature
by the mysterious power of atm-maya.”
Sri Krishn is imperishable, birthless, and pervading the breath of all beings, but he is manifested when he restrains materialistic attachments by atm-maya.
One kind of maya is the moral ignorance that makes one accept the reality of the material world, and which is the cause of rebirth in low and inferior forms. The other maya is that which Lord Krishn calls yog-maya, of which we are unaware. This is the maya of Self that provides access to the Soul and leads to awareness of the Supreme Spirit.
It is by the operation of this yog-maya that Lord Krishn subdues his three-propertied nature and manifests himself.
People usually say that they will have a vision of God when he manifests himself through an incarnation. According to Lord Krishn, however, there is no such incarnation as may be seen by others. God is not born in a corporal form. It is only by gradual stages that he controls his three-propertied nature by the exercise of yog-maya and manifests himself.
But what are the circumstances of such manifestation? We will find this in next verse of Bhagavad Gita which is well quoted and known through out the entire globe.
Lord Krishn sings:
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥
yadā-yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata,
tadā’tmānam sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever, O Bharat, righteousness (dharm) declines
and unrighteousness is rampant,
I manifest myself.”
Sri Krishn tells the devout Arjun that when hearts fall into inertia in regard to the Supreme Spirit, the most sublime dharm, and when the pious are unable to see how to cross safely to the other bank, he begins to shape his form in order to manifest himself. Such a feeling of weariness had come to Manu. Goswami Tulsidas has written of his grief-laden heart because his life had passed without contemplation of God.
When despairing tears flow from the eyes of loving worshipers because of their overpowering feeling of helplessness at their inability to steer across unrighteousness, God begins to mould his form into a manifest shape.
But that also implies that God manifests himself to only loving worshipers and only for their well-being.
God’s incarnation comes about only within the heart of a blessed worshiper. But what does the manifest God do?
Lord Krishn answers in next verse:
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām,
“I manifest myself from age to age to defend the pious,
destroy the wicked, and strengthen dharm.”
God manifests himself as a saviour of saintly men. He, the adored, is the one God after attaining whom there is nothing else to contemplate. Lord Krishn assumes a manifest form from age to age to destroy impediments that obstruct the smooth flow of righteous impulses such as wisdom, renunciation and restraint, as also to annihilate the demoniacal forces of passion, anger, attachment and repugnance, and to reinforce dharm.
“Age”, as used by Sri Krishn here, does not refer to historical ages like the Golden Age (Satyug) or the Iron Age (Kaliyug). It rather alludes to the stages of rise and fall, of the waxing and waning, of dharm through which human nature has to pass. These are stages of dharm and the human heart has to progress through them.
Goswami Tulsidas has written about it in Ram Charit Manas:
The stages of dharm undergo variation in every heart at all times, not because of ignorance but because of the operation of the divine power of maya.
This is what has been named atm-maya by Lord Krishn. Inspired by God, this knowledge is the one which makes the heart a veritable dwelling of God.
But how can one know through which Stage one is passing at the moment?
When virtue and moral goodness (sattwa) alone are active in the heart, when passion and ignorance have subsided, when all fears are stilled, when there is no feeling of repulsion, when there is the necessary strength to rest firmly on the signals that are received from the desired goal, when the mind is overflowing with happiness-then alone is one enabled to enter into the Golden Age.
On the other hand, when the forces of darkness (tamas), combined with passion and moral blindness (rajas), are sweeping through, when there are animosities and conflicts all around, the worshiper is passing through the Iron Age (Kaliyug).
When there is predominance of ignorance and abundance of lethargy, slumber and procrastination, that is the stage of the Kaliyug of dharm. The man passing through this stage does not do his duty even though he knows it. He knows what he is forbidden to do, and yet he does it.
These stages of dharm, of its ascent and descent, are determined by innate properties. These stages are the four ages (yug) according to some, the four classes (varn) according to others, and the four levels of spiritual seeking-excellent, good, medium, and low-according to yet others.
In all the stages God stands by the worshiper. Nevertheless, there is a plenty of divine favour at the highest stage, whereas the assistance appears to be meagre at the lower stages. So Lord Krishn tells Arjun that a worshiper who is earnestly devoted to his ultimate goal is a sage, but he can be saved only when the flow of divine impulses such as wisdom, renunciation, and self-restraint, which provide access to the object, is unimpeded.
Similarly, doers of wicked deeds are not undone just by the destruction of their nonexistent mortal bodies, because they will be reborn with the same wicked impressions (sanskar) they had earned in the previous life, and do the same evil which they had done before. So Lord Krishn manifests himself in all ages to destroy moral perversions and to strengthen dharm.
Installation of the one changeless God alone is the final destruction of evil.
In brief, Lord Krishn has said that he manifests himself again and again, in all circumstances and categories, to destroy evil and foster good, and to strengthen faith in the Supreme Spirit. But he does this only if there is profound regret in the worshipers’ heart.
So long as the grace of the worshiped God is not with us, we cannot even know whether evil has been destroyed or how much of it still remains. From the beginning to the moment of final attainment, God stays by the worshiper at all stages. He manifests himself only in the devotee’s heart.
Doesn’t everyone see him when he manifests himself?
According to Lord Krishn it is not.
~ Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadananad Jee Paramhans ~
~ mrityunjayanand ~
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