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Universal Form, Animal Killing, Bhagavata Commentaries
Questions & Answers

Universal Form, Animal Killing, Bhagavata Commentaries

Krishna’s Universal Form

Question: Usually we hear that on the field of Kuruksetra, only Arjuna saw the virata-rupa. But sometimes it is said that others saw it as well. Do you know where this alternate idea is stated specifically? I found a reference from Sridhara Maharaja’s disciple, Govinda Maharaja. But I can’t find it in the text itself (Mahabharata or commentaries of acaryas). Do you have any idea?

Answer: Govinda Maharaja may be referring to Krsna’s form which He manifested in the assembly of the Kauravas when He went as a peace messenger, before the war of Kuruksetra. He advised Dhrtarastra to put Duryodhana in prison to prevent the destruction of the Kuru dynasty. When Duryodhana came to know of this, he wanted to catch Krsna  and bind Him with ropes. Seeing Duryodhana approach Him, Krsna laughed loudly and manifested the universal form. Everyone present who had eyes saw it.

I do not think the virat rupa which Krsna manifested at Kuruksetra was seen by anyone except for Arjuna and Sanjaya. It needed divine eyes to see, which were granted only to these two persons.



Animal killing:

Question: When Bharata was doing animal sacrifices, in which way did he think it was for the pleasure of Visnu? Obviously he was a very compassionate person, as we can see from the deer episode. Even if some sacrifices of Karma Kanda require animal killing, how could he offer this kind of violence to the Supreme Lord?


Answer: Where is it said that Bharata did animal sacrifice? Yupa is used to tie the animal, but that does not mean it is killed. There are two opinions – one is killing and other is touching and releasing the animal. Bhagavata 11th Canto says, alabahna does not mean to kill but to touch. Alabhana is the word used in Vedas which has been translated as killing.



Bhagavata Commentaries

Question: In my research I came across an article which meantions that there are more than 80 commentaries on Bhagavata Purana.  Can you please direct me in my research to further authors who can confirm this?

Answer: I have two boks in Hindi in my libraray which give a list of available commentaries and the names of commentaries which are mentiones by other commenatators but are not available at present Book no 1 – Bhagavata ke Tikakara by Dr. Vasudeva Krishna Chaturvedi, Rajyasri Prakashan, Dalapat Street, Mathura, 1976

This book gives a list of 93 commentaries.

Book no 2 – Bhagavata Parichaya by Sudarshan Singh Chakra, Sri Krishna Janma Seva Sansthan, Mathura, 1977
He gives a list of 173 commentaries and has used the list from the above book also.

It is to be noted that all commentaries are not on the complete book. Some are only on specific chapters such as Rasa-panchadhyayi, or Sruti stuti.

I hope this is of help to you.


  • Scooty Ram July 23, 2012

    Wrt Animal killing , How to understand
    carantaḿ mṛgayāḿ kvāpi
    hayam āruhya saindhavam
    ghnantaḿ tatra paśūn medhyān
    parītaḿ yadu-puńgavaiḥ

    • snd July 23, 2012

      It is very clear that He killed animals. But the animals which He killed were medhyan or those which are offered in sacrifice.
      In this description Krsna is being depicted as a grhastha who follows varnashrama dharma. A grhastha performs sraddha in which medhya is offered to the pitris.
      Krsna performs lila or shows by His example in order to teach different type of people. Just as He married and produced children, which is not an ideal for a sannyasi, in the same way He killed medhya animals in mrigaya, which is not an ideal for Vaishnavas. Not everything He did is to be emulated.

    • Scooty Ram July 23, 2012

      How to reconcile Krishna’s activity with statement in
      na dadyād āmiṣaḿ śrāddhe
      na cādyād dharma-tattvavit
      muny-annaiḥ syāt parā prītir
      yathā na paśu-hiḿsayā
      This chapter gives instructions for grihasthas.As per this verse ,a dharma-tattvavit should not offer meat in sraddha ceremony.

      Do gaudiyas agree with the following statement:
      “Ya veda vihita himsa na sa himseti Keeryate”
      Sridhara Swami takes alabhanam as killing in 11.5.13.

    • snd July 25, 2012

      Very smart question Scootyji. Thank you.
      If you want to see Krishna from the lens of such verses, as if he is an ordinary person, then he is not a dharma-tattvavit. I already wrote that all of his behaviour is not for vaisnavas or dharma-tattvavits. He came to establish dharma (Gita 4.8) but he also asked to give up dharma and take to bhakti (18.66). This seems contradictory, but contradiction is resolved because of adhikari-bheda.

      Krishna says his janma and karma are divya (Gita 4.9). He has nothing to achieve by karma such as sraddha (Gita 3.22), he does it to teach. The offering of medhya (meat of certain animals) in sraddha is prescribed in the smriti sastra. If Krsna does it, so that those who are not dharma-tattva-vit can continue to follow sastra and slowly advance, then what is the problem? Those who are dharma-tattvavit, like yourself, will not do it, and others will benefit from doing it. He is jagadguru and not a guru for Vaisnavas only.

      He also says that one who does not have a sense of doership is not implicated in karma (Gita 18.17). So even if he killed animals, he is free of karma, presuming that he is free of sense of doership. He is showing that by his action. We usually think that one who has no sense of doership will only engage in Vaisnava type of behaviour. But he was living in a varnasrama society and not in a pure Vaisnava society. We have to go back in time by 5000 years, then we can try to grasp his actions.

      Moreover, besides teaching by his example, he did things which are just his lila and not to be imitated, otherwise one will be thrown into trouble SB 10.30-32). We should do what Krsna says and not imitate him. A brahmcari should not associate with girls or women, but he had thousands around him and did everything with them except copulation (SB 10.29.46. By the way, the word Alabhana is used in this verse in the sense of touching and not killing. So pasu-alabhana does not always mean killing an animal.) What do you say about that? This is very sinful. Is it not ? May be that is the reason that Sri Ramanujacarya did not refer to SB in his writings. This is very problematic behaviour seen from varnasrama point of view.
      Krishna also killed a calf and a bull and actually a nicely dressed lady also. That is highly sinful for any Vedika or dharma-tattva-vit. Bhisma chose to die but not lift a weapon on Shikhandi just because Shikhandi was born as a girl. He was not even a girl at the time of war. And Krishna is killing a woman. Wow, that is outrageous!! No wonder dharma-tattvavits don’t like him and rather worship Visnu, the nice simple guy.

      About the other question: No, Gaudias do not accept that vediki himsa is not himsa. Gita (18.48).

    • Scooty Ram July 25, 2012

      Thank you for the response.

      1.There is no contradiction between BG 4.8 and BG 18.66 . It depends on how one defines dharma and word Tyaj/sannyasa.It depends on fundamental definition of dharma and its classification as sadhya dharma and siddhi dharma.One definition of dharma is Krishnam Dharmam sanatanam. With this definition does Krishna say give up “Me” and surrender to ME?
      Infact sri vishvanath says Arjuna can not take sannyasa since he is a kshatriya(dharmic rule imposed on Arjuna).Definitely adhikara plays a role but interestingly as per Sri Ramanuja siddhanta there is no adhikara to follow 18.66. its a birth right.

      2.Actually only a true dharma tattvavit is eligible to do such sacrfices or rather any karma for that matter.By each performance of karma the intention changes while the activity and its rules remain as it is.Sastras / brahamanas define rules for each yajna and it is not choice of doer to omit or add anything based on ones liking towards himsa or ahimsa. Ofcourse for a vaishnava, kamya karmas are not to be performed.Interestingly Dasaratha did Putrakameshti to beget Sri Rama — Ramo Vigrahavan Dharma- another definition of Dharma.So again, it depends on how we define dharma.When asked if bhakti is dharma or adharma, it obviously is dharma(sa vai pumsam paro dharma).It is the topmost dharma. Hence if we define dharma as bhakti then how can we interpret BG 18.66 ?therefore parityajya word is to be included in the understanding.

      3.Even King bharata performed all sacrfices with right sense of non-doership i believe. But 5.7.5 mentions “With great faiht” Bharata performed.However as per uttama bhakti definition one may perform karma but WITHOUT faith in it.

      4.There could be many reasons why Sri Ramanujacharya did not refer SB. But definitely the reason you mentioned is not any of the possible reason since in many places questions regarding Gods activity appearing to be contradictory to dharma is raised and settled.
      Indeed only a true dharma tattvavit finds each action of the Lord is dharma personified. Such a dharma vitt can very easily justify each action referring to dharma sastra. Problem arises when we do not move out of a text from where a confusion arises.In this case it appears Krishna did things contrary to dharma. But if he indeed broke dharma , then how is krishna fit for teaching when his words contradicts his actions. Such a person is a hypocrite.This character might be a uddipana for modern city girls but definitely not for municari gopis or any kind of gopis.Infact even Parikshit raises such question and it is answered in SB itself.

      5.Alabhana- if there is a confusion of animal being killed in satra yaga etc, one can refer to sutras or mimamsa to know how it should be performed.Sticking to SB for knowing prayogas of such yajna is neither the intention of Purana nor a possible solution.Hence I do not think SB is authority for vegetarianism . Even to say only herbs were used , one must get out of SB. At best one can say SB has no intention to teach yagas but only bhakti but interestingly it appeared amidst a 1000 year old satra yaga by saunka rishis and continued after it was spoken . We can say saunakas do not have adhikara for bhakti or they do not like karma per 1.18.12 but fundamental position is that varnashrama is integral part of life for any kind of human being including most advanced vaishnava.

      6.A true dharma tattvavit is indeed Krishna/Rama/Vishnu and Knower of Krishna/Rama/Vishnu is the true tattvavit.

      Since you expressed a possible opinion of how Sri Ramanujas followers might take these verses wrt dharma, I am sharing a one liner of the crux of vedanta from Sri vedartha sangraha.

      aZeSa jagad hita anuZAsana Zruti nikara Zirasi samadhigato Ayam arthaH – jIva paramatma yAthAtmya jnAna pUrvaka varNa AZrama dharma itikartavyatAka parama puruSa caraNa yugala dhyAna arcana praNAma Adir atyartha priyas tat prApti phalaH

      Now it may bring Joy to know that Sri Ramanuja is also saying Priti is the parama purushartha or one may try to define different shades of Priti to bring a difference. In essence one can not draw rules and regulation to love ones own self.Infact one of the purvapakshas to vaishnava siddhanta is How bhakti is a sadhana since any such imposed means of practise is in itself contrary to the nature of bhakti. You can not “plan” and “practise” Love to yourself.

      Finally , though I do not know dharma sastra, there are cases where some kind of srardha is not to be performed with meat. Some portions within srardha contains meat but those meat are not to be partaked. Some injunction or meat is not full killing but just a shave of the hair.Hence its quite impossible to explain such verses remaining within the boundary of bhagavatam alone. One must refer earlier texts or other texts. Infact does this not the word “Up brahmanam” mean?-supplementary texts to substantiate and understand the pramANams clearly

    • Anand July 26, 2012

      I wanted to put in a few comments

      aprokshitam vrithämäMsam vidhihInam na bhakshayet
      bhakshayan nirayaM yäti naro nästy atra samsayaH
      prokshitäbhyukshitam mämsam tathä brähmanakämyayä
      alpadosham iha jneyam viparIte tu lipyate

      This is from mahabharata. It is mentioned here as alpadosham. not nirdosham. even if flesh of an animal offered properly in sacrifice is eaten, there is still little fault. Not NO fault.

      This is so in pravritti marga itself.

      Below is a reference of King Uparichara performing asvamedha with no killing. This king was a pancharatrin. The sacrifice was so successful that Hari Himself came to accept the offerings. So, if people wanted, they could perform asvamedha without killing.

      na tatra pasughäto ‘bhüt sa räjaivam sthito ‘bhavat
      ahimsraH sucir akshudro niräsIH karmasaMstutaH

      The illustrious king performed a great Horse-sacrifice in which his preceptor Brihaspati became the Hota. The sons of Prajapati (Brahman) themselves, viz., Ekata, Dwita, and Trita, became the Sadasyas in that sacrifice. 2 There were others also who became Sadasyas in that sacrifice, viz., Dhanusha, Raivya, Arvavasu, Parvavasu, the Rishi Medhatithi, the great Rishi Tandya, the blessed Rishi Santi, otherwise called Vedasiras, the foremost of Rishis, viz., Kapila, who was the father of Salihotra, the first Kalpa, Tittiri the elder brother of Vaisampayana, Kanwa, and Devahotra, in all forming sixteen. In that great sacrifice, O monarch, all the requisite articles were collected. No animals were slain in it. The king had ordained it so. He was full of compassion. Of pure and liberal mind, he had cast off all desires, and was well-conversant with all rites.

      Another quote from mahabharata:

      bIjair yajneshu yashTavyam iti vai vaidikI srutiH
      ajasaMjnäni bIjäni chägam na ghnantum arhatha
      naisha dharmaH satäM devä yatra vadhyeta vai pashuH
      idaM kritayugam sreshTham katham vadhyeta vai pashuH

      The Vedic Sruti declares that in sacrifices the offerings should consist of seeds. Seeds are called Ajas. It behoveth you not to slay goats. O deities, that cannot be the dharma of good and righteous people in which slaughter of animals is laid down. This, again, is the Krita age. How can animals be slaughtered in this epoch of righteousness?

  • Scooty Ram July 23, 2012

    Also as per 10th canto 82nd chapter ,Sri Krishna met his parents Yasoda and Nanda. As per 10th canto 85th chapter, Sri Krishna retrieves the sons of Sri Devaki per their request. So for whom was this sraddha performed ?

    • snd July 25, 2012

      Sraddha is performed for the dead ancestors upto 7 generations. So I don’t understand your question.

    • Scooty Ram July 25, 2012

      Yes sradha is performed for many generations but performer should be a person whose parent(s) have died. Hence in this case Krishnas parents might be performing them not krishna since his parents are alive. Wonder what sacrfice Krishna was planning !

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