“Krishnastu Bhagwaan Swayam”

Explaining “Krishnastu Bhagwaan Swayam” as per Ramanuj and Madhav school of Vedanta.

Any explaination should not contadict Shruti (Vedas and Upnishads). If one doesn’t accept Vedas as highest authority, he can’t be considered a Vaidikan.

  1.   “Eko ha vai Naaraayana Aasit, Na brahma nesaanaha {MahOpanishad (1.1) “ (Only Narayana was there in the very beginning); “Apahatapaapma Divyo devaha Eko Naaraayana:” (Only Narayana is untouched from Paap or sins.)
  2.  Taitriya Aranyaka, Atharv-Veda, “Narayana Pram Brahma, Tattvam Narayan Param
  3. Panini Vyakaran (Astadhyayi AshtadhyAyi (8.4.3)), the `Na-kaaram’ makes the word `nArAyaNa’ a proper noun. The vedas invariably use the `nArAyaNa’ term (rolling the tongue for `na-kAram’) as opposed to `nArAyana’. On the contrary, terms like devki-putra, `Rudra’, `Siva’, `Indra’, `Agni’, `Hiranyagarbha’ are common nouns that have general meanings like  ‘all-attractive’, `Auspicious One’, `Foremost One’, etc. Hence, statements like `Siva eva kevalam’ are addressed to nArAyaNa only as Siva means auspiciousness. The nArAyaNa suktam contains words like ‘Sivamachyutam’, where this is seen explicitly.
  4. There is a rule known as chAga pashu nyAyA, (“Vishesha sabdaartha prathipaadita arthe saamaanya sada ganaartha paryavasaanam”). Comprehending the meaning of common nouns using the meaning conveyed by the particular noun and identifying the common nouns with the entity that is denoted by the particular noun in the given relevant context is “Chaaga Pasu Nyaaya”.Those general terms, common nouns  occurring in the same context as a specific term (proper noun like nArAyaNa) would make these general terms connote the specific term.
  5. For example, shruti says, ‘sacrifice an animal (paShu) at one point and then later on says, ‘sacrifice a goat’. Since the sacrifice in both contexts is the same, it is correct to interpret ‘paShu’ in the first vAkya as referring to the goat only.
  6. Thus, If only Narayan existed prior to deluge, that means Krishna, Ram etc. are his vibhav expansions. Any other interpretation would contradict Shruti. 

Detailed explanation of “Krishnastu Bhagwaan Swayam” (SB 1.3.28) is given in below link along with quotations from Gita-Bhasya of Madhava

Krishnastu bhagwaan swayam

  1. When it is said that Krishna is the amshi (the whole), and that Varâha, etc., are amsha-s, there is another problem — in the subsequent verse of the Bhâgavata, it is said: `indrArivyAkulaM lokaM mR^iDayanti yuge yuge’ — when there is trouble from enemies of Indra, “they” protect Yuga after Yuga. Here, the verb mR^iDayanti is in the plural form, and so also should the subject be. Yet, in your interpretation, we came across only Krishna for the subject.
  2. Thus, here Krishna is not an specific noun but it represents all the ‘Swayam Avtaars’ of Narayana.
  3. For mR^iDayanti (they protect) — a plural, the subject should be plural and an interpretation with the singular subject-word `kR^ishhNa’ is also not possible for this reason. It cannot be said that the referent is the plural “fragments” referred to earlier: when some subject is brought in between, for the meaning after this subject, the reference given before cannot be used. If you say that propriety rather than proximity is a concern in interpretation here, then we say that we will demonstrate propriety without sacrificing proximity, so that that argument does nothing to save your interpretation.
  4. In the previous two verses (1.3.26-27), Suta says that the number of incarnations of Sriman nArAyaNa (Hari) are  innumerable like thousands of rivulets flowing from a river & goes on to say that RishIs & devas (demigods), Manus & prajApatis are all amsAs of Lord Hari. Coincidently, some verses before to this Suta listed Balraam and Krishna as 19th and 20th incarnation of Sriman Narayan. So, any meaning should be related to context.
  5. Now the question arises as to whether, all these incarnations (rishis, manus and others) are actually “svayam bhagavAn” i.e. nArAyaNa Himself. To clarify that, sUtar is telling in the verse 1.3.28 that rishIs, anya dEvatAs (dEvAs), manus and others (above mentioned avatArams”) are not “svayam bhagavAn” ( not ” nArAyaNA Himself), but KrishNa is bhagavAn Himself. So, obviously, SUta muni wants to reiterate that rishis and others are only amsAvatArAs (ie. They are not same as nArAyaNa) and are different from Narayan’s svayam avatArams (like Ram, KrishNa).
  6. “ete” can be interpreted using CHHatri Nyayam:It is described as follows : “chatrinO gacchanti” a group of people having umbrellAs are going. Actually, not everyone in that group needs to hold an umbrella. This usage, though addresses the group as a whole, it doesn’t convey that everyone in that group has an umbrella. Thus, according to “chatri nyAyam”, eventhough the adressing be done to the whole group, as if everyone has the same characteristic (eg: holding the umbrella), still, it needn’t convey that _everyone_ in that group has that characteristic ie. the intention is to just refer to those who actually posses that characteristic (holding an umbrella), though adressing is done to the whole group as such.Lets see how “chatri nyAyam” is employed in this verse (1.3.28). All avatArams of the type Nrusimha , RAma are Poorna avatArams only, since they are taken by the same person nArAyaNa. Eventhough all the poorna avatArms ( no umbrella) seems to be grouped with that of many other avatArams (anupravesa / amsAvatAra etc; with umbrellA ) by the word “ete”, its actual import from the application of “chatri nyAyam” is that the word “ete” refers only to the amsa avatArams (with umbrella). So, the comparison of KrishNAvatAram is strictly not with _all_ the avatArams that has been listed before, but only with other amsa avatArams. The word “ete”, though addresses the whole group of avatArams that has been listed so far, the intention is to refer to only those avatArams that are amsAvatArams (with umbrella). If one fails to recognize the “chatri nyAyam ” employed, it leads him/her into a contradiction


  1. http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/apr2000/0185.html
  2. htmlhttp://www.dvaita.org/shaastra/gita/bg1041.html

Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

2 thoughts on ““Krishnastu Bhagwaan Swayam””

  1. Thank so much for this post.
    Though i couldnt understand completely the grammar part of the post.I got the essence and have trust on you that what ‘krishnastu bhagwan swayam means’.You coupd have put down the whole last question from the pdf so that person like me who is not very well known with grammar rules can get the ultimate essence of your post.If possible please append this to your post.
    Question: why was “KrishNa” selected here and said as “krishNAstu bhagavAN svayam” and
    not “rAmA is bhagavAn svayam” OR “nrusimha is bhagavAn svayam”, etc, though krishNa,
    rAma, nrusimha are all the same nArAyaNa (poorna avatArams; svayam bhagavAn; not
    amsAvatArAs) ??

    I have been mentally put under torture by my own mind,when people were quoting krishnatu bhagwan syayam as only he is original god and even Ram,Narsimha and even Vishnu are plenary but not original incarnations(krishna).This post needs to Quora so that every guy who isnt treating every avatar of narayana equally and sometimes showing naryana/vishnu/Rama inferior to krishna learns the fact.So please answer the same if asked on Quota,it would help many people like me

    Finally,i want to read Bhagvatham england translation .Please suggest me a good book comimg from srisampradya or madhvasampradaya school of thought.

    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    On namo narayanaya
    Jai sriram
    Jai srikrishna


    1. The commentaries are in Sanskrit and not translated in English so far.

      The grammar is simple. Plural subject takes plural verb. Here ‘mridayanti’ is plural form of verb and hence subject ‘Krishna’ is also plural. That’s logic of Madhvacharya.

      Sri Vaishnavism uses ‘Chhatri-nyaay’. Krishna is mentioned as ’20th’ avtaar just before. Then is the mention of aavesh-avtaars. Then swayam-avtaars of Vishnu are differentiated from his aavesh avtaars.
      Swayam avtaar means himself comes as Ram, Krishna etc. Aavesh avtaar means he gives his shakti or swarupa to a jeevatma like Ved-Vyasa, Parashuram etc.

      The rishis there wanted to listen to especially to Krishna’s leela. They were attracted to Krishna. Bhagwatam is mainly about krishna-avtara.
      ‘Ramastu bhagwaan swayam’ comes in Padm-Puran.

      Just like Mukesh khanna got famous as Shaktimaan. If I say Shaktiman’s expressions are best of all actors. Here it means all roles played by Mukesh Khanna.


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