karmany anihasya bhavo ’bhavasya te
durgasrayo ’thari-bhayat palayanam
kalatmano yat pramada-yutasramah
svatman-rateh khidyati dhir vidam iha
karmani—activities; anihasya—of one who has no desire; bhavah—birth; abhavasya—of one who is never born; te—your; durga-asrayah—taking shelter of the fort; atha—thereafter; ari-bhayat—out of fear of the enemies; palayanam—flee; kala-atmanah—of He who is the controller of eternal time; yat—that; pramada-ayuta—in the association of women; asramah—household life; sva-atman—in Your own Self; rateh—one who enjoys; khidyati—is disturbed; dhih—intelligence; vidam—of the learned; iha—in this world.
My Lord, even the learned sages become disturbed in their intelligence when they see that Your Greatness engages in fruitive work although You are free from all desires, that You take birth although You are unborn, that You flee out of fear of the enemy and take shelter in a fort although You are the controller of invincible time, and that You enjoy householder life surrounded by many women although You enjoy in Your Self.
Pure devotees of the Lord are not very much concerned with philosophical speculation in regard to transcendental knowledge of the Lord. Nor is it possible to acquire complete knowledge of the Lord. Whatever little knowledge they have about the Lord is sufficient for them because devotees are simply satisfied in hearing and chanting about the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. This gives them all transcendental bliss. But some of the pastimes of the Lord appear contradictory, even to such pure devotees, and thus Uddhava asked the Lord about some of the contradictory incidents in His pastimes. The Lord is described as having nothing to do personally, and it is actually so because even in the creation and sustenance of the material world, the Lord has nothing to do. It seems contradictory, then, to hear that the Lord personally lifts the Govardhana Hill for the protection of His unalloyed devotees. The Lord is the Supreme Brahman, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead appearing like a man, but Uddhava had doubts whether He could have so many transcendental activities.
There is no difference between the Personality of Godhead and the impersonal Brahman. How then can the Lord have so many things to do, whereas the impersonal Brahman is stated to have nothing to do either materially or spiritually? If the Lord is ever unborn, how then is He born as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki? He is fearful even to kala, the supreme fear, and yet the Lord is afraid of fighting Jarasandha and takes shelter in a fort. How can one who is full in Himself take pleasure in the association of many women? How can He take wives and, just like a householder, take pleasure in the association of family members, children, relatives and parents? All these apparently contradictory happenings bewilder even the greatest learned scholars, who, thus bewildered, cannot understand whether inactivity is a fact or whether His activities are only imitations.
The solution is that the Lord has nothing to do with anything mundane. All His activities are transcendental. This cannot be understood by the mundane speculators. For the mundane speculators there is certainly a kind of bewilderment, but for the transcendental devotees there is nothing astonishing in this. The Brahman conception of the Absolute Truth is certainly the negation of all mundane activities, but the Parabrahman conception is full with transcendental activities. One who knows the distinctions between the conception of Brahman and the conception of Supreme Brahman is certainly the real transcendentalist. There is no bewilderment for such transcendentalists. The Lord Himself also declares in Bhagavad-gita (10.2), “Even the great sages and demigods can know hardly anything about My activities and transcendental potencies.” The right explanation of the Lord’s activities is given by Grandfather Bhismadeva (Bhag. 1.9.16) as follows:
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