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Meaning of Krishna, Mantras, Avataras
Questions & Answers

Meaning of Krishna, Mantras, Avataras

Krsna's hands with flute in clouds

Question: I am looking for good, authoritative definitions of the word kṛṣṇa, particularly in terms of the oft-repeated “all-attractive” derivation. I am aware of the other, more common meanings, but am specifically looking for anything in relation to the word sarvākarṣaka and its close relations, whether from dictionaries, encyclopedias, or what have you. Might we find it in the Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyakāraṇa?

Answer: The word kṛṣṇa is formed from root √ kṛṣ by applying nak suffix on it. This root has two meaningsto plough and to attract (kṛṣ vilekhane, ākarṣaṇe ca)

kṛṣ + nak = kṛṣṇa.

So one of the meanings is “one who attracts or pulls.” The final “k” in the suffix nak is an indicator letter, technically called an “it” and thus it is dropped. The “n” of nak changes into “ṇ” because it is preceded by an “ṣ” of kṛṣ by a grammatical rule that says that a “n” changes into “ṇ” when preceded by a “r” or “ṣ.”


Yugala Mantra

Question: Which scripture mentions the Yugal Mahāmantra of the Nimbarka Sampradāya?

rādhe kṛṣṇa rādhe kṛṣṇa  kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa rādhe rādhe

rādhe śyām rādhe śyām  śyām śyām rādhe rādhe


Answer: I have not across it in any scripture. I have also not seen any reference to it in any book or article,       


Gayatri Mantra

Question: Does the Brahmā Gāyatrī mantra refer to the material world or spiritual reality?

Answer: Spiritual world, according to Jīva Gosvāmī.

Question: The Bhāgavatam unfolds from the Brahmā Gāyatrī. What about Kāma Gāyatrī?

Answer: Śrīmad Bhāgavata is the explanation of the Brahmā Gāyatrī. Kāma Gāyatrī is also there but not directly related because it is a tantric mantra.

Question: Is Śrīmad Bhāgavatam an explanation of the Kāma Gāyatrī?

Answer: No. Kāma Gāyatrī describes the conjugal love of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. It’s more confidential.


Prābhava and Vaibhava Avatāras

Question: This concerns the classification of avatāras as prābhava and vaibhava. From Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, we understand that prābhava-avataras are less powerful and vaibhava-avatāras are more powerful. Can we grammatically derive that prābhava is less powerful than vaibhava?

Answer: Prābhava is derived from the word prabhu by applying the suffix aṇ. Vaibhava is derived from the word vibhuby applying the suffix aṇ. Prabhu is made with the prefix pra added to the root √ bhu, and vibhu is made with the prefix vi- added to the root bhu. So basically, both prābhava and vaibhava are derived from the root bhu. Technically, there is no such difference in meaning based on the derivation.


  • Rishika March 10, 2024

    My first response is concerning the ‘dccitionary’ meaning of karsaka…..just see!
    Any comments? … Yes! Krishna attracts like the great Ploughman… towards Him… But with force…… or?

  • Vraja Kishor March 12, 2024

    The etymology of “Kṛṣṇa” is interesting. I have three requests!

    Please explain the semantic function of the suffix “nak”. (by guessing from context, I assume it means “one who”)

    Please give two or three other words that also use the suffix “nak”.

    Please explain the etymology of Viṣṇu.

    • Babaji March 16, 2024

      Kṛṣ + nak + Kṛṣṇa.
      nak is a uṇādi suffix and is applied in the sense of “color”.

      viṣ = nuk + Viṣṇu. The verb viṣ means to pervade.

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