Krishna Never Gets Old
There are some differences between Krishna and ourselves. Yesterday we saw that Krishna and Arjuna are both born around the same time but Krishna could remember everything He had done in all his previous ‘births’ but Arjuna could not. Actually we have trouble remembering even exactly what we did just a few hours ago. If I ask you what you were doing at exactly this time yesterday it may be difficult for you to answer immediately. You would have to dredge your memory to recall exactly what you were doing at the same time yesterday. So this is a very important difference between Krishna and us. Krishna is all-cogniscient, He knows everything: past, present and the future–but we have trouble even recalling exactly what we did yesterday and still foolish men claim to be god. One should not me mislead by such meaningless claims.
There is a saying in the Vedic literature, atmavan manyate jagat: “What I am thinking the whole world is thinking.” It describes the fact that we have the tendency to think others are like ourselves. If I am a very honest man I tend to think others are honest, if I am a criminal I will presume that others are criminals. In reality there are varieties of mentalities and according to our association with the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance we develop different types of consciousness.
When we think of Krishna or God we have the tendency to think He is like us. Because we experience things in a particular way we think Krishna will be the same. We see everyone is born, everyone gets old and everyone dies but in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says:
“Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.” (Bg. 4.6)
It is very easy to misunderstand Krishna. Krishna appears to take birth from Devaki in Kamsa’s prison house and He goes to Vrindavan as a baby and grows up to become a young man. He goes through His childhood and boyhood and becomes a young man. This is all very familiar to us because we also take birth and and go through childhood then experience adolescence and become an adult. So it appears that we share all these things with Krishna, but we get old and according to Krishna: “My transcendental body never deteriorates.” Krishna never gets old because old-age is a sign that the body is deteriorating and His transcendental body never deteriorates.
Krishna also says in this verse that He appears in His original transcendental form. He does not change His body as the common living entities change from one body to another. We have one type of body in our present birth but we will have a different body in our next birth. In the material world the living entity has no fixed body but transmigrates from one body to another. Krishna however does not change from one body to another like us. Whenever Krishna appears He does so in the same original body by His internal potency. In other words Krishna appears in this material world in His original eternal form with two hands holding a flute. Krishna appears exactly in His eternal body uncontaminated by the material world.
Although Krishna appears in the same transcendental body and is the Lord of the universe, it still seems that He takes birth like us however despite the fact that He grows from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth astonishingly enough He never ages beyond youth. At the time of the battle of Kuruksettra Krishna had many grandchildren so He was quite old by material calculations but when we see a picture of Krishna driving Arjuna’s chariot He still looks like a young man twenty or twenty-five years old. We never see a picture of Krishna in old-age because He never grows old like us although He is the oldest person in the whole creation: past, present and future. Neither Krishna’s body or His intelligence ever deteriorates or changes.
From this we can understand that in spite of Krishna being in the material world, He is the same unborn form of eternal bliss and knowledge, changeless in His transcendental body and intelligence. Krishna’s appearance and disappearance are like the sun’s rising, moving before us and then disappearing from our eyesight. When the sun is out of sight we think that the sun is set, and when the sun is before our eyes we think that the sun is on the horizon. Actually the sun is not moving or changing. The sun is always in its fixed position but because of our defective, insufficient senses we calculate the appearance and disappearance of the sun in the sky.
The Vedas also confirm that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is unborn, yet He still appears to take His birth in multi-manifestations. So although Krishna appears to be taking His birth He is still not changing His body. Actually even Krishna’s so-called birth is very different from our birth, He does not take birth in the ordinary way rather He appears before His mother Devaki as Narayana grown up and complete with beautiful clothing and ornaments with the six kinds of opulences in full. Upon seeing Krishna in this opulent form of Narayan Devaki was concerned that Kamsa is looking for Krishna to kill Him and now Krishna has appeared in this gorgeous Narayan feature full of all opulences. She was afraid that Kamsa would immediately recognize Krishna and try to kill Him. So out of concern for Krishna Devaki prayed to Him, requesting Him to take the form of a baby. So Krishna accepted this prayer from His mother and transformed Himself into a baby.
So although externally there seems to be some similarity between Krishna’s appearance and activities and our birth and activities on a closer investigation it will be found that actually Krishna’s birth and activities are completely different from our birth and activities. There is another very interesting statement by Krishna on this point in the Gita:
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Bg. 4.9)
Therefore simply understanding Krishna’s appearance and activities is so powerful that one who understand the appearance and activities of Krishna is liberated, he does not have to take birth in the material world again and when he leaves the current material body he goes to Krishna, back home, back to Godhead. So I think it will be quite valuable for us if we spend a little time contemplating the appearance and the activities of Krishna and if we can try and understand how they are different from our birth and activities.