Avatars and Fragmental Souls

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Avatars and Fragmental Souls

Postby backtohome » Wed May 12, 2010 1:54 pm

Question: Avatars and Fragmental Souls

With respect to discussion on 8th May 2010, I have the following query. (I have faced such questions from many of my friends during discussions and also during book distribution activities, etc especially from modern learned people.):

While reading the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam purports we come across mention of Supreme Soul's eternal fragments (jivatma) and Supreme Soul's expansions (Avatars). I have also read somewhere that Lord Krishna, the Supreme Soul, wished to become many (anek) from one (ek) for self enjoyment. We have also seen that during one of the transcendental pastimes in Gokula Vrindavana Lord Krishna expanded Himself into many calves and cowherd boys when Brahmaji kidnapped the boys and calves who were associating with Krishna in the forest.

Now I want to understand is:

(1) How and when do the jivatma (fragmental souls) came into existence?

(2) If they are eternal along with the Supreme Soul, is the number of such fragmental souls constant, considering both the material world and spiritual worlds?

(3) It is seen that the expansions of the Supreme Soul act as a separate persons during the Krishna's transcendental pastimes. After each pastime does that expansion remain as a separate expansion?

(4) If yes, then what is the difference between such expansions and the fragmental souls?

(5) Can an expansion of Krishna fall down due to any reason and have to pass through the cycle of birth and death in the same way that the fragmental souls oftentimes do?

Please enlighten me.

Hare Krishna.


Answer: Plenary and Separated Portions of Krishna

As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita 2:12 the jivatmas, the part and parcel living beings, did not come into existence at a certain point in time. Rather they are the eternal emanations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since they are eternal, their number must be constant and unchanging. They are infinite in number. When it is stated that the one became many, this does not refer to an event which takes place within time. It refers rather to the relationship between the Supreme Emanator and the living beings which he is emanating. In other words, that Supreme One is eternally manifesting the many from Himself for the purpose of His enjoyment.

The Supreme Lord expands from Himself the jivatmas or jiva- tattvas, who are His separated parts and parcels and are thus separate persons from Him. These are known as His separated expansions or His fragmental expansions. We are in this category.

He also expands from Himself the vishnu-tattvas, who are He Himself and are known as integrated expansions. The different avatars or incarnations of God are in this category. These expansions are not fragmental. Each of them is the Complete Whole Supreme Personality of Godhead and is thus one and the same with Him. The pastimes of each of them is eternal so there is no question of their losing their identities and merging into Krishna. These vishnu-tattva expansions can never and will never fall down because they are Krishna Himself.

In the Brahma vimohana lila in Vrindavana (the pastime of Lord Brahma's bewilderment) Lord Krishna expanded Himself into millions of forms that were are all in the category of vishnu-tattva. In other words they were all directly and fully He Himself. They were all integrated expansions, not separated or fragmental expansions.

Both the avatars and jivatmas are portions of Krishna. The avatars are called plenary portions, which means that they are fully Krishna. The jivatmas are called separated portions because they are fragmental. They are not the Complete Whole.

Sankarshan Das Adhikari
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