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Vrajendra-nandana Syamasundara is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, svayam-bhagavan. When we enter the deep philosophy, Krsna is called sarva-avatari, the source of all incarnation. Avatara means “incarnation of Lord”, which means all incarnation manifested from Him. 
ramadi-murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan
nanavataram akarod bhuvanesu kintu
krsnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 5.155)
[“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is by His various plenary portions appears in the worlds in different forms and incarnations such as Lord Rama, but who personally appear in His supreme original form as Lord Krsna.”]

Even Rama, Nrsimha, Kalki, Varaha, Matsya, all they are coming from Krsna. If you say Rama is Bhagavan, yes, Rama is Bhagavan, but not svayam-bhagavan. Try to understand tattva-siddhanta, Rama is not svayam-bhagavan, He is called avatara. Who is svayam-bhagavan? Vrajendra-nandana Syamasundara. Even Dvarakadis or Mathuradis-Krsna are not svayam-bhagavan. Krsnas tu bhagavan-svayam, all the incarnations manifested from Him; this is our gaudiya tattva-siddhanta. 

Many people have no tattva-siddhanta. They are saying “Visnus tu bhagavan-svayam”, “Ramas tu bhagavan-svayam”. You cannot say this. Krsnas tu bhagavan-svayam, Vyasadeva wrote this way in Srimad Bhagavatam. 
ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ
kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam 
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28)
[“All above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead.”]

All incarnation manifested from Him, so what are the qualities (gunas) of svayam-bhagavan? Why Ramacandra is not svayam-bhagavan? Our sastra-siddhanta explains in this way and in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvamipad clearly explains: Krsna is svayam-bhagavan, He has 64 qualifications and four qualifications are extraordinary:

1) rupa-madhurya - the sweetness of His beauty;
2) prema-madhurya – the sweetness of His divine love;
3) lila-madhurya – the sweetness of His pastimes and
4) venu-madhurya – the sweetness of His flute.

Ramacandra has 62 qualifications. However, in rasa-vicara He has 62, 5; Narayana has 60 qualifications and is full of aisvarya (opulence); Sivaji has 55 qualifications and the other demigods and demigoddess have 50 qualifications and the jivas have 50 very minute qualifications.

If you don't know this tattva-sidhanta, you may think all is the same. Jiva is Brahman, Brahman is jiva. This is not correct.

Ramacandra cannot perform rasa-lila. But there is another thing, you try to understand. If you think Krsna is one Bhagavan, Rama is another Bhagavan and Narayana is another Bhagavan, this is also not correct. Lord is one.

According to tattva-sidhanta, there is no difference between Rama, Krsna, and Visnu. However, according to rasa-vicara, Krsna is topmost.

Therefore, Siva-tattva is very complicated. Siva means “mangala” [auspicious]. Satyam-sivam-sundaram. Beauty is truth and truth is beauty. What is the beauty? That which is the perfect truth is called beauty. Krsna is the topmost beautiful, you cannot compare. This is called beauty; beauty is truth, and truth is beauty. In this material world, this is not possible. One lady can be very beautiful but maybe not truthful and one person can be very ugly but very nice and sweet-hearted. In this material world, everything is completely upside down. 

So Krsna is called svayam-rupa; His own beautiful form is called svayam-rupa. Inside of the effulgence, Krsna is there and He plays the flute. So svayam-rupa Vrajendra-nandana Syamasundara
kṛṣṇera svarūpa-vicāra śuna, sanātana
advaya-jñāna-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20.152)
[“O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krsna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality but present in Vrindavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja.”]

Krsna is called advaya-jnana-para-tattva, non-dual. He performs rasa-lila with the gopis and He manifests many incarnations for the creation of other living entities. Because when you dance, when will your heart be overjoyed? When you are free from all kinds of duties, responsibilities, and anxieties, then your heart will be overjoyed. What is Visnu doing? Visnu cannot even sleep. You can see Visnu’s eyes, they are half-closed and half-opened, and He is not laying down. Because all the time demigods and demigoddess, especially Brahmaji, knock the door and say, “Prabhu, Prabhu, Prabhu.” It is very rare to see Visnu completely laying down. Visnu doesn’t have a king size bed. Visnu’s bed is a snake, because anytime they can come. This is His duty. 

As like the fire brigade, at any moment the siren calls and they have to go. This is the rules, according to the law. They cannot say, “Oh, we have no oil, we have to go to the petrol station.” No, fire brigade has always to be ready, it cannot wait even five minutes. So this is Lord Visnu’s duty; the same Krsna manifests as Visnu-avatara and His duty is to kill the demons. 

There are 3 avataras in sattva, raja, and tama-guna. Lord Visnu nourishes all the living entities with sattva-guna; Brahmaji creates this universe with raja-guna, the mood of passion and with tama-guna Sivaji destroys, that is his duty. 

Visnu nourishes with sattva-guna, but this sattva-guna is maya’s sattva-guna. So here there is one thing, Visnu does not involve or is contaminated with maya’s sattva-gunas, as like the leaves of the lotus; lotus leaves are staying in the water but do not touch the water. In the same way, Lord Visnu nourishes all the living entities without touching maya’s gunas. Brahma creates everything with maya’s raja-gunas, and Sivaji destroys everything with maya’s tama-guna. However, try to understand, Visnu-tattva is completely different. Hari is completely beyond all gunas

Brahmaji’s duty is the creation. But mostly Brahmaji-tattva is called jiva-tattva. And who will become Brahma? An ordinary person cannot occupy this post. “Brahma” is one post; “Siva-tattva” means one post. As like one minister, you can become a minister if you have the qualification. There are many ministers, the prime minister, the finance minister... You can get this post or position. All demigods and demigoddess are one post; Indra is not one person, Indra is one post. You can become Indra if you perform hard austerities, do charity donation, then you can get the post of Indra. So if jiva, during one hundred births, follows all the rules and regulations of the society (varnasrama-dharma), then after one hundred births that jiva will get the post of Brahma. In Srimad Bhagavatam, fourth canto, chapter 29, you can see this, very clearly explained. However, in every yuga it is very difficult to find that kind of jiva to occupy the post of Brahma. In Kali Yuga it is impossible. 

To be a brahmacari for one life is very hard; one life as a perfect grhastha is also very difficult, what to say one hundred births! That time Lord Himself takes the post of Brahma and He is called Hiranyagarbha Brahma. There are two kinds of Brahma, Hiranyagarbha Brahma and Vairaj Brahma, jiva-tattva. One who follows all the rules and regulations during 100 births, that is Vairaj Brahma. 

And who will become Siva? Because sastra explains that Siva is jiva and jiva is Siva. So, one who takes the position of Brahma will be liberated and after that, Lord will put him in charge of the post of Siva-tattva. Not so easy. That Siva is called jiva-tattva, but most of the time it is very difficult to find, because one who gets the post of Brahma, after he is liberated, wants to go to Vaikuntha. So Brahmaji, when he is liberated, does not want to take the charge of Siva.That time Lord Visnu Himself takes the charge of Siva and that Siva is Bhagavat-tattva, it is Sada-Siva Himself. 

So when we are saying that Siva is jiva and jiva is Siva, that jiva is a liberated jiva. Another thing, in every yuga it is very difficult to find qualified jivas, so the Lord then gives to one qualified jiva His avesa, His energy, potency, so that jiva becomes sakti-avesa-avatara. Lord gives His own potency but that jiva is also called jiva-tattva. 

Sada-Siva expansion is called Kailash-Siva. Kailash-Siva, Rudra-Siva, there are many different expansions. So this Kailash-Siva, Lord Siva, is very merciful. He always meditates on his Lord Rama or Sankarsana, this is his duty, always remember to Lord. And he is staying with his wife Parvati and glorifying about Lord, Ramacandra-lila or Krsna-lila. Lord Siva is very generous. Vaisnavas and demons, both worship Siva, but in different ways. Vaisnavas worship Lord Siva and ask only for Visnu-bhakti, not other things, “Hey Lord Siva, please give me Krsna-bhakti, Visnu-bhakti.” And they are thinking, “This Lord Siva is Gopesvara Mahadeva.” Even the gopis also worship Gospesvara Mahadeva.
vrndavanavani-pate jaya soma soma-maule
gopisvara vraja-vilasi-yuganghri-padme
prema prayaccha nirupadhi nama namaste
(Sankalpadruma 103, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur)
[“O gatekeeper of Vrindavana! O soma, O you whose forehead is decorated with the moon, and who is worshipful for the sages headed by Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Narada, all glories to you! O Gopisvara! Desiring that you bestow upon me prema for the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja-dhama, I offer obeisances unto you time and time again.”] 

Once, Lord Siva heard the glories of the rasa dance of the gopis. Then so much greed coming into his heart and he asked Paurnamasi Devi, “I want to enter Krsna’s rasa dance.” Paurnamasi Devi said, “No, even Laksmi Devi did not enter the rasa dance. So how possible?” But Siva insisted, “No, no, please!” Then Paurnamasi said, “Okay”, took him and drowned him in the water of Brahma-kunda. Then Lord Siva manifested a very beautiful young girl’s form, gopi form and Paurnamasi told, “You sit in this corner then you can see the rasa dance.”

Then Krsna played the flute and all gopis came very eager, “He Govinda, we want to do rasa dance; dancing, and singing.” Krsna said, “Today… I don’t know... My mind is very disturbed. Maybe someone has come, who is not in our group, who is not female. A male person must be here. I am the only male, but someone who does not belong to us has come.” Gopis asked, “Who? We are all here.” and Krsna said, “Search.” 

Then they started searching and came in one corner where Mahadeva was sitting in the form of gopi. They asked, “Hey! What is your name?”, but Mahadeva did not say any word since Paurnamasi Devi had not said his gopi form’s name. “Hey! Who is your husband? Which village have you come from? Who is your mother? Who is your father? Oh, Krsna said it, this must be the intruder, the one who is not in our group.” Then they hardly beat her and Mahadeva was crying and crying.

Paurnamasi came and told, “Oh, this is Mahadeva, Sivaji, and he wanted to see your rasa dance, so I drowned him in the water of Brahma-kunda.” And then she explained everything. Krsna said, “Okay, Sivaji is my maha-bhakta, he is my pure devotee” and he told Siva, “You stay a little bit far from here and if anybody wants to enter in My rasa dance, have to take permission from you.” Then Krsna gave him the name “Gopesvara Mahadeva”. Even the gopis (not the nitya-siddha gopis but the sadhana-siddha gopis), they have to take permission from Gopesvara Mahadeva. So every day we sing: 
jaya jaya gopīśvara vṛndāvana-mājha 

jaya jaya kṛṣṇa-sakhā baṭu dvija-rāja (6) 
(Sri Vraja-Dhama-Mahimamrta)
[“All glories, all glories to Gopisvara Siva, who resides within Vrindavana (to protect the holy dhama). All glories, all glories to Krsna”s young brahmana friend, Madhumangala.”]

One of the names of Siva is “Ashutosh”. Ashu means “very quickly” and Tosh means “happy”. Siva-puja is very simple, no need any kind of things, just offer one bael leaf and Ganga water, then Sivaji is very happy. 

And Siva is very ugly. How ugly? Krsna has a beautiful temple and beautiful dress, but Sivaji walks completely naked; sometimes he wears a tiger skin and is covered with ashes. Ashes are inauspicious, apavitra. According to the Indian culture, if you go to a cemetery, you have to take bath after that. But Sivaji is taking ashes in his body. And he also wears dreadlocks. We are gentlemen, every day we are putting very nice perfume, oils. Taking bath, going to the beauty parlor, etc. Sometimes we wear white hair, sometimes blonde hair. Also making curls in the hair. However, Sivaji is not putting any soap or perfume. Why? Sivaji is showing in this way, what is the essence of life. Why is he putting the ashes in his body? He is teaching us vairagya [renouciation]. What is the essence of our life? Ashes.

In Srimad Bhagavatam, Pariksit Maharaj asked, “He Gurudev Sukadev Gosvamipada, Lord Visnu is called “Laksmi Pati”, full of opulence. He is the husband of Laksmi and all the jewels, all the opulence is coming from Her. However, His devotees are very poor; those who are devotees of Lord Visnu are very poor. And Lord Siva is completely renounced but the devotees of Lord Siva are very rich. So I am confused, why is this?” That time Sukadeva Maharaj told, “He Pariksit Maharaj, your question is perfect. A bonafide question.”  

If there is a bonafide question then a bonafide answer will come. If it is a stupid question then stupid answer will come. This is true. So Sukadeva Gosvamipada told, “He Pariksit Maharaj, listen, those who are devotees of Lord Visnu are not poor. Externally they are looking poor but they are first class devotees and they are the topmost richest. What kind of wealth do they have? Krsna-bhakti, Krsna-prema. One who has Krsna-prema is called the richest person. So externally, they are poor, but actually, they are rich because they have Krsna-prema-dhana, the treasure of Krsna-prema.

[Transcription: Govinda Priya Devi Dasi
Revision: Acyuta Priya Devi Dasi]