May 14, 2011

Early Christian Vegetarians

Early Christian Vegetarians
Early Christians Practice Vegetarianism

Christian scholars have concluded vegetarianism to be the more consistent with respect to the spirit of Christ's teachings. There are the Ebionites, Athanasius, and Arius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Heronymus, Boniface, St. Jerome, and John Chrysostom. Clement wrote, "It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals. The Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables, without flesh". Of the earliest Christian documents is, Clementine Homiles', a second-century work based on the teachings of St. Peter. Homily XII states, "The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils". Many monasteries in ancient times to the present practiced vegetarianism.

Many early Christians were vegetarian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great. In some early church writings, Matthew, Peter and James (Brother of Jesus and first leader of the New Jerusalem Church) were all Vegetarian.

Early Christian Vegetarians
The apostle Matthew partook of seeds and nuts and vegetables without flesh. Clement of Alexandria (The Instructor, book 2, chapter 1., Peter said, "I live on olives and bread to which I rarely only add vegetables." Pseudo-Clementine Homolies 12,6; also Recognitions 7,6.

Early Christians Practice Vegetarianism
Christian scholars have concluded vegetarianism to be the more consistent with respect to the spirit of Christ's teachings. There are the Ebionites, Athanasius, and Arius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Heronymus, Boniface, St. Jerome, and John Chrysostom. Clement wrote, "It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals. The Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables, without flesh". Of the earliest Christian documents is, Clementine Homiles', a second-century work based on the teachings of St. Peter. Homily XII states, "The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils". Many monasteries in ancient times to the present practiced vegetarianism.

Clement of Alexandria
Sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for eating flesh.

James, the brother of the Lord was holy from his mothers womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. Hegesippus, quoted in The Church History of Eusebius, book 2, chapter 23.

Says that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus depicted as eating Flesh and "if the Last Supper was a Passover meal, there is, no mention of the Pass Over Lamb Dish".

Saint Augustine
Says: Jacobus, the brother of Jesus, lived of seeds and vegetables and did not accept meat or wine.

Saint Basil
The steam of meat meals darkens the spirit. One can hardly have virtue if one enjoys meat meals and feasts. In the earthly paradise, no one sacrificed animals, and no one ate meat.

St Francis of Assisi
All things of creation are children of the Father and thus brothersof man, God wants us to help animals, if they need help. Every creature in distress has the same right to be protected.

Saint Jerome
The eating of meat was unknown up to the big flood, but since the flood they have the strings and stinking juices of animal meat into our mouths, just as they threw in front of the grumbling sensual people in the desert. Jesus Christ, who appeared when the time had been fulfilled, has again joined the end with the beginning, so that it is no longer allowed for us to eat animal meat.

Christian Resources

The Avataras of God

The Avataras of God
By Stephen Knapp

Hare Krishna 

It seems that as we browse through the internet and the
media we see the word avatara is increasingly used in a number of
ways. But often it is in ways that have nothing to do with its real
meaning. Or we also find that an increasing number of people are
referring themselves as avataras of God. So let us really understand
what the word means and how it is referred in relation to its real
purpose, or how to discern who is really an avatara.
First of all the word avatara actually means a form of
God when He descends into this material world. There are many such
forms listed in the Vedic texts, which will be discussed in this
article. Many times they are referred to as incarnations of God. But
the word incarnation is not proper either because it actually means
when someone or something reincarnates, or takes another material
body of flesh and blood. However, people use the word incarnation in
this context quite often anyway. But God does not take such a
material form. His form is always spiritual, transcendental to the
norms and laws of material nature. And He descends from the spiritual
strata as He is, or in a form to do a specific activity, mission, or
carry out a particular purpose. For this reason, the Supreme has many
names, according to His forms and activities that He displays in His
cosmic creation.

As mentioned in the Puranas and other portions of the
Vedic literature, the Supreme Being descends in various forms, called
avataras. Each avatara has a specific objective, but primarily they
help maintain the world and guide the living beings in life, and
attract them back to the spiritual domain.

To dispel the power of the illusory energy, the Lord
maintains all of the planets in the universe and assumes roles or
incarnations to perform pastimes to reclaim those in the mode of
goodness.1 In this way, throughout the many millions of universes in
which the Supreme Being appears, the purpose is to bring society to
its senses, at least those who are in the higher grades of
consciousness and are receptive to understanding their spiritual
relation with Him. He also sends His pure representative and
instructions in the authorized scripture to guide people. In either
case, the purpose is the same, to point the suffering living beings
back toward the spiritual world. Only there can the living beings
find the true happiness for which they are hankering. That kind of
happiness is not found in any part of the material universe.

The source of the various avataras within this cosmic
creation is the Lord of the universe, namely Garbhodakashayi Vishnu.

The form of the Lord that descends to the material world to create is
called an avatara. All expansions of Lord Krishna are residents of
the spiritual world who are also called avataras when they descend
into the material world.3

There are six kinds of incarnations of Krishna, which
include those of Vishnu (purusha-avataras), pastime incarnations
(lila-avataras), incarnations that control the modes of nature (guna-
avataras), incarnations of Manu (manvantara-avataras), incarnations
in different millenniums (yuga-avataras), and the empowered
individuals (shatyavesha-avataras).4 However, Lord Krishna Himself
descends to this world once in a day of Brahma to manifest His
transcendental pastimes.5 All other incarnations are potentially
situated in the body of the primeval Lord Krishna. Thus, according to
one's opinion, one may address Him as any one of the incarnations.6
This is because all of the plenary expansions of the Supreme exist
within the body of the original person. Thus, He can expand Himself
as one flame from a candle lights another, but all such flames come
from the original. Some say that Krishna is directly Nara-Narayana.
Others say that He is Vamana, or the incarnation of Ksirodakashayi
Vishnu, the Supersoul. However, as it is explained, none of these
statements is impossible. Everything is possible in Krishna, for He
is the primeval Lord.7

From Krishna comes innumerable incarnations, the most
prominent of which are the lila-avatars, such as Matsya, Kurma,
Varaha, Rama, etc. I will describe most of these later. There are
also the qualitative incarnations who are in charge of the modes of
material nature, such as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, along with the
Manus and the yuga-avatars.8

The time and reason for these incarnations is that
whenever and wherever there is a decline of religion and a rise in
irreligion, at that time Lord Krishna manifests Himself. In this way,
in order to protect the sadhus (the pious), destroy the envious, and
reestablish the principles of religion, He advents Himself millennium
after millennium.9

Let us remember that Lord Maha-Vishnu is resting in His
yoga-nidra trance, in which He manifests the material energy. He is
also the seed of the other incarnations of the Supreme who appear in
the material world. So you could say that the Lord is like a sleeping
person who creates a separate world in His imagination and then
enters His own dream and sees Himself within it.10


Even though there are so many incarnations of the Supreme
Being and plenary expansions of Him who appear in this world, we have to be aware of how to distinguish who is and who is not an
incarnation. As in other ages, an incarnation is accepted according
to the directions in the scriptures.11 In all descriptions of an
incarnation the scripture will provide the name of the father and the
name of the place of birth in which the incarnation will appear.12
Such descriptions will also elaborate on His bodily symptoms and
activities. Therefore, we must be able to recognize the
characteristics of an incarnation of God by the descriptions and must
not be whimsical about accepting someone as an incarnation, or even a representative of the Supreme.13 An actual incarnation of God never proclaims that He is God or an incarnation. The great Vedic texts have already recorded the characteristics of all the avataras.14

Whenever Lord Sri Krishna desires to manifest His
incarnation on earth, He first sends His respectable predecessors.
These take the form of the incarnations of His father, mother, and
spiritual master. They appear first in order to prepare the way for
the Supreme Being's appearance.15 These people, however, are the
Lord's great devotees who serve Him by participating in His pastimes.
Thus, though the Lord personally has nothing to do with this material
existence, He comes to earth and imitates material life just to
expand the varieties of ecstatic enjoyment for His devotees.16 In
this way, Krishna, the original Soul of all living beings, has
appeared as an ordinary human being for the benefit of the whole
universe and out of His causeless mercy. This He has done by the
strength of His own spiritual potency.17 Not only do the devotees
enjoy Krishna's pastimes, but He also enjoys His transcendental
activities in various forms in this material world, which cleanse
away all the unhappiness of those who joyfully chant His glories.18


In this way, Lord Krishna appears in each universe. When
His activities are finished in one universe, He begins His pastimes
in another. Thus, His eternal pastimes go on like this in the
universes as long as the material manifestation continues.
Furthermore, His eternally liberated devotees also follow Him from
one universe to another to accompany Him in His blissful pastimes.19

The Supreme is also joined by those devotees who are
nearly perfect in their spiritual consciousness. By joining the
Lord's pastimes in another universe, and by their personal
association with the Lord and His pure devotees, they can complete
the necessary qualifications for entering directly into the spiritual
atmosphere. This is how the Supreme Being displays the eternal
pastimes of the spiritual domain within the material creation and
attracts the materially conditioned souls.

In this way, the consecutive pastimes of Krishna are
manifest in one of the innumerable universes moment after moment.
There is no possibility of counting the universes, but in any case
some pastime of the Lord is being manifest at every moment in one
universe or another.20


There are 22 main lila-avataras of the Supreme Being who
appear throughout the ages. They all have specific forms or bodily
features, and particular purposes for appearing. These are listed in
the various Vedic texts, especially the Puranas, and their many
pastimes are explained in detail therein. I will only give a short
summary of each of the main avataras, however I would encourage
everyone to delve more deeply into the Puranas to read these pastimes
more extensively.

The first listed of these incarnations are the four sons
of Brahma, the Kumaras. They took a vow of celibacy and underwent
severe austerities for realization of the Absolute Truth. They are
considered empowered incarnations, or shaktyavesha-avataras, whose
mission was to teach the process of spiritual development.21
Knowledge of spiritual truth had disappeared from the previous
universal devastation and they helped re-establish it.22

Lord Varaha was the second incarnation who appeared in
the form of a huge boar. He lifted the earth out of the nether
regions of the filthy waters of the universe, which was a suitable
activity for a boar. He did this to counter the nefarious activities
of the demons who had put the earth planet into jeopardy.23

The third incarnation was the empowered avatara known as
the sage among the demigods, Devarshi Narada Muni. He collected
expositions of the Vedas which dealt with the process of devotional
service to Lord Krishna, and authored the great classic Narada-
pancaratna. He also traveled throughout the universe singing His
praises and giving instruction on bhakti-yoga and how to attain real
happiness. Thus, he has many disciples all over the creation.24
Narada Muni had once been taught the science of loving service to the
Supreme during the Lord's Hamsavatara incarnation, the swan-like form
of the Supreme, who had been very much pleased by Narada.25

In the fourth incarnation, the Lord became the twin sons
known as Nara and Narayana. They were born of Murti, the wife of King Dharma. They underwent severe austerities in the area of
Badarikashrama in the Himalayas to demonstrate the process of
controlling the senses for spiritual advancement.26 The celestial
beauties who were the companions of Cupid went to distract Narayana
from His vows, but were unsuccessful when they could see many other
beautiful women like them emanating from the Supreme Being.
Everything comes from the Supreme, who remains unattached to all His

The fifth incarnation was Lord Kapila, the foremost among
perfected beings. He explained for the first time the system of the
Sankhya philosophy and the way of understanding the Truth by the
analysis of material elements.28 He was the son of the sage Kardama
Muni and his wife Devahuti. He also gave great expositions to his
mother on the science of devotional service to the Supreme Lord. By
that means she became cleansed of all material tendencies and
achieved liberation.29 This spiritual knowledge is provided in detail
in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The sixth incarnation was born as Dattatreya, the son of
the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya, both of whom had prayed for an
incarnation to be their son. Dattatreya spoke on the subject of
transcendence to Alarka, Prahlada, Yadu, Haihaya, and others.30

The seventh incarnation was Yajna, the son of Ruci and
his wife Akuti. During the time of Svayambhuva Manu there was no
living entity qualified to take the post of Indra, the King of
Heaven, Indraloka. So Yajna took up the post of Indra and was
assisted by His own sons, such as Yama, the lord of death, and other
demigods to rule the administration over universal affairs.31

King Rishabha was the eighth incarnation, who appeared as
the son of King Nabhi and his wife Merudevi. Again He demonstrated
the path of spiritual perfection by performing yoga and instructing
His sons in the process of tapasya, austerities for spiritual
development. This path sanctifies one's existence and leads to
eternal spiritual happiness. This is followed by those who have fully
controlled their senses and are honored by all orders of life.32

The Lord also appeared as the Hayagriva incarnation in a
golden color during a sacrifice performed by Brahma. When He
breathed, all of the sweet sounds of the Vedas came out of His

The ninth incarnation was Prithu, who accepted the body
of a king. He had been prayed for by the brahmana priests to
counteract the problems that had been brought on by impious
activities of the previous king, Vena. Prithu made various
arrangements to cultivate the land to yield various forms of
produce.34 Although King Vena was bound for hell due to the reactions
of his misdeeds and the curse of the brahmanas, he was delivered by

After the time of the Chakshusha Manu there was a
complete inundation over the whole world by water. Manu had been
warned about this flood and built a ship in which he and his family
survived. The Lord accepted the form of a huge fish to protect
Vaivashvata Manu and guide the ship to safety on a huge mountain
peak. This was the Matsya avatara. After the period of each Manu
there is a devastation by water over the earth. The Lord then appears
to show special favor to His devotees and protect them from the
devastation and allow society to start anew. In this way, He protects
all of the living entities as well as the Vedas from destruction.36
After the last flood, Manu and his family and the surviving living
creatures again repopulated the earth. Local people of Uttarakhand in
Northern India identify the Nanda Devi mountain as the one in the
story of the flood.

The eleventh incarnation of the Supreme was in the form
of a huge tortoise, Kurma, whose main mission was to act as a pivot
for the Mandara Hill, which was being used as a churning rod between
the demons and demigods. The scheme was that the demons and demigods
wanted to produce a nectar from the ocean by this churning action
which would make them immortal. Each side wanted to be the first to
get it, and the back of Lord Kurma was the resting place for the
hill.37 As the mountain moved back and forth on the back of Matsya
while He was partially asleep, He felt it as an itching sensation.38

In the twelfth incarnation the Lord appeared as
Dhanvantari who produced the nectar that came from the churning
action. He is considered the lord of good health. It is He who
inaugurated the medical science in the universe.39 The Lord accepted
the thirteenth incarnation by becoming Rohini, the most beautiful
woman who allured the demons away from the pot of nectar and gave it
to the demigods. Thus, the Lord prevented the havoc that would have
taken place if the demons had gotten the nectar and became

In the fourteenth incarnation the Lord appeared as
Narashimhadeva, the half-man half-lion form that displayed the anger
and power of the Supreme Being when one of His devotees was in peril.
The Lord placed the demon Hiranyakashipu on His lap and with His long
fingernails tore apart the body of the atheist who had threatened the
life of his son, Prahlada, who was a staunch devotee of the Lord.41
This is one of the most popular stories described in the Puranas.

In the fifteenth avatara, the Lord as Vamana assumed the
form of a dwarf-brahmana. He appeared as the youngest son of His
mother, Aditi. He visited the sacrificial arena of Bali Maharaja on
the pretense of asking for a measly three steps of land. Bali quickly
agreed, thinking that this dwarf could not take up much land.
However, when Vamana took two steps, His body became so gigantic that
it covered the whole universe. There was no where else to place His
third step, so Bali, understanding that this was the Supreme Being,
offered his own head. Thus, Vamana humbled Bali, who then became
qualified to be given his own planet.42

In the sixteenth incarnation, the Lord accepted the
mighty form of Parashurama and annihilated the wicked class of
warrior kings twenty-one times in order to free the earth of the
burden of these nefarious rulers. In this way, He could establish a
noble administration.43

The seventeenth incarnation was Srila Vyasadeva, who
appeared as the son of Parashara Muni and his wife Satyavati. His
mission was to divide the one Veda into various branches and sub-
branches so the people who are less intelligent can more easily
understand them.44 He then composed the more important Vedic texts,
culminating in his own commentary of the Vedic writing in the form of
the Srimad-Bhagavata. In this way, the one Veda became the four main
samhitas, namely the Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva Vedas. Then came
the Brahmana texts, the Vedanta Sutras, the Mahabharata, and then the
Puranas, of which Vyasadeva considered the Bhagavat Purana the most
important and complete.

It is also explained that the Bhagavat Purana is the
literary incarnation of God, which is meant for the ultimate good of
all people, and is all-blissful and all-perfect. Sri Vyasadeva
offered it to his son after extracting the cream of all Vedic
literature. This Bhagavat Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and has
arisen just after the departure of Lord Krishna to His own abode.
Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of this
age of Kali can get light from this Purana.45

To explain further about Srila Vyasadeva, Jiva Gosvami
quotes the Vishnu Purana (3.4.2-5) in his Tattva-sandarbha (16.2)
that a different empowered jiva soul takes the position of Vyasadeva
in each incarnation as a shaktyavesha-avatara. However, in this
particular divya-yuga, or cycle of the four ages, Lord Narayana
Himself appears as Srila Krishna-Dvaipayana Vyasa to divide the Vedic
literature into various branches, and is not simply an empowered
living entity.

In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King
Rama. In order to please the demigods and mankind, He displayed His
superhuman powers as the ideal king and killed the demon King
Ravana.46 This is one of the most popular stories in all of India
that make up the great Vedic epic known as the Ramayana. Lord Rama
appeared in the family of Maharaja Ikshvaku as the son of Maharaja
Dasaratha, with His internal potency and wife, Sita. Under the order
of Dasaratha, Lord Rama had gone to the forest to live with Sita and
His brother Laxmana. While in the forest, Sita was kidnaped by the
demon Ravana, which made way for the telling of the Ramayana. Being
aggrieved, Rama went to search for Sita. With red-hot eyes, He looked
all over India and on to the city of Ravana, which was on present day
Sri Lanka. All of the aquatics in the ocean were being burnt by the
heat in His angry eyes, so the ocean gave way to Him. During the
course of battle, proud Ravana was killed by the arrow from Lord
Rama, who was then reunited with Sita.47

In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord
advented Himself as Lord Krishna and His brother Lord Balarama in the
Yadu dynasty near the end of Dvapara-yuga. He displayed wonderful
pastimes to invoke the attraction of the people and, again, to
relieve the burden of the world of numerous demons and atheists.48
Lord Krishna is directly the original Personality of Godhead, and
Balarama is the first plenary expansion of the Lord. From the
original Lord Balarama comes all the other expansions of the Divine.

The next incarnation of the Lord appeared in the
beginning of Kali-yuga as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, for the
purpose of deluding the envious who had misused the Vedic path, and
to preach a simple system of nonviolence.49 At the time people in
general were falling away from the proper execution of the Vedic
system and had misused the Vedic recommendation of sacrifice and
began offering and consuming animals. Buddha denounced all such
actions and taught people simply to follow him and his teachings.
Thus, he fooled the faithless people who then believed in Lord Buddha
and gave up the misuse of the Vedic system.

The twenty-second and final incarnation of the Supreme
will appear at the end of Kali-yuga, at the conjunction of the next
yuga. He will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation, the son of
VishnuYasha in the village of Shambala, when the rulers of earth will
have degenerated into common thieves and plunderers.50 At the time
there will be no topics on the subject of God, nor any knowledge of
religion. Then, rather than trying to teach or show the way of
progress when people will be too retarded and slow minded to
understand philosophy, He will simply slaughter the foolish rogues
who wander the earth. This will take place about 427,000 years from
now. [Details about Lord Kalki and His activities are provided in my
book, The Vedic Prophecies: A New Look into the Future.]

As is summarized in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28), all
of these incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the
plenary portions of the Lord. However, as explained, krishnas tu
bhagavan svayam, Lord Sri Krishna is the original Supreme Personality
of Godhead.

Although learned men discuss the birth and activities of
the Supreme unborn, Lord of the heart, the foolish who have a poor
fund of knowledge cannot understand the transcendental nature of the
forms, names, and activities of the Supreme Being, who is playing
like an actor in a drama.51 However, only those who render favorable
service to Lord Krishna can know the creator of the universe in His
full glory, power and transcendence.52


The Manus appear for certain durations during a day of
Brahma. Brahma's day is calculated as 4,300,000 years (the time of
one cycle of the four yugas) times 1,000. Within one day of Brahma
there are 14 Manus. The list of the 14 Manus in this universe are as
follows: Yajna is Svayambhuva Manu, Vibhu is Svarocisha Manu,
Satyasena is Uttama Manu, Hari is Tamasa Manu, Vaikuntha is Raivata
Manu, Ajita is Ckakshusha Manu, Vamana is Vaivasvata Manu (the Manu
of the present age), Sarvabhauma is Savarni Manu, Rishabha is Daksha-
savarni Manu, Vishvaksena is Brahma-savarni Manu, Dharmasetu is
Dharma-savarni Manu, Sudhama is Rudra-savarni Manu, Yogesvara is Deva-
savarni Manu, and Brihadbhanu is Indra-savarni Manu. These fourteen
Manus cover the 4,320,000,000 solar years of one day of Brahma.53

To understand more completely how long these Manus reign
we can consider the following information. For example, there are
four ages, namely Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and Kali-
yuga, which comprise a divya-yuga, one set of the four yugas. Let's
remember that Satya-yuga lasts 1,728,000 years, Treta-yuga 1,296,000
years, Dvapara-yuga 864,000 years, and Kali-yuga 432,000 years. That
is a total of 4,320,000 years. A day of Brahma, called a kalpa, lasts
for 1,000 of these cycles, and is thus 4,320,000,000 solar years.
There are 14 Manus in each day of Brahma. Each Manu is said to exist
for one manvantara, which is a period of time lasting 71 divya-yugas.
Therefore, each Manu exists for roughly 306,720,000 years.
Additionally, Brahma lives for 100 years, composed of 365 of such
days in a year.54 Let's remember also that we are talking about
beings who do not live in the same dimension as we do, and are thus
free from the same influences of time and matter with which we must

From further analysis we can also discover the age of the
earth from these Vedic calculations. The present Manu is the seventh
in line, called Vaivasvata Manu, the son of Vivasvan. Twenty-seven
divya-yugas, or cycles of the four yugas, of his age have now passed.
So 27 divya-yugas means 116,640,000 years. It is scheduled that at
the end of the Dvapara-yuga of the twenty-eighth divya-yuga of the
seventh Manu, Lord Krishna appears on earth with the full
paraphernalia of His eternal spiritual abode, named Vrajadhama or
Goloka Vrindavana. Brahma's day consists of 4,320,000,000 years. Six
of these Manus appear and disappear before Lord Krishna takes birth.
This means that 1,975,320,000 years of the day of Brahma have gone by
before the appearance of Lord Krishna.55 Therefore, this is also the
age of the earth in this particular day of Brahma by these Vedic
calculations. Science is sometimes surprised that such lengths of
time were part of the ancient Vedic conception of the universe.


Getting back to the various incarnations of the Supreme,
we now come to the yugavataras. The yugavataras are divided by the
millenniums in which they appear. They appear in a particular color
according to the yuga. In Satya-yuga the color is white, in Treta-
yuga the color is red, in Dvapara-yuga it is black, and in Kali-yuga
the color is yellow or golden. For an example, in Dvapara-yuga Lord
Krishna was a blackish color while in Kali-yuga Lord Chaitanya had a
golden complexion.56

In Satya-yuga the people were generally quite advanced in
spiritual knowledge and could meditate upon Krishna very easily.
During the time in the white incarnation, the Lord taught religion
and meditation, and in this way showed His mercy to the people of
that era. In the Lord's reddish incarnation during the Treta-yuga, He
taught the process of performing great rituals and religious
sacrifices. In Dvapara-yuga, the Lord appeared in His blackish form
as Krishna and induced people to worship Him directly. Then in Kali-
yuga the Lord appears with a golden complexion as His own devotee,
showing others the spiritual process for this age. Accompanied by His
personal associates, He introduces the process of hari-nama-
sankirtan, or the congregational singing and chanting of the Lord's
holy names, specifically in the form of the Hare Krishna mantra. He
personally chants and dances in ecstatic love of God. Through this
process He delivers this love of God to all. Whatever spiritual
results are attained through the other processes in the previous
three yugas can easily be achieved in Kali-yuga by the chanting of
the holy names of Krishna. It is the easiest process for becoming
freed from material existence and reaching the transcendental


The last kind of avataras are what is called the
shaktyavesha-avataras. These are the living beings who are empowered
by the Supreme to act in certain ways or accomplish a particular
mission. Such avataras include the four Kumaras, Narada Muni, Lord
Parashurama, and Lord Brahma. Lord Seshanaga in the spiritual
Vaikuntha worlds and His expansion as Lord Ananta in the material
world are also empowered incarnations. The power of knowledge was
given to the Kumaras. The power of devotion to the Lord was given to
Narada. Brahma was, of course, empowered with the ability to create.
Parashurama was given the power to kill the many rogues and thieves
who were on the planet at His time. Whenever the Lord is present in
someone by a portion of His various potencies, that living entity is
considered a shaktyavesha-avatara--a living being invested with
special power.58

It is through these many incarnations that the Lord
maintains the universe and provides guidance to the living beings
within it. It is also through these descriptions that we can
understand that not just anyone can call themselves an incarnation of
God, without being verified by Vedic descriptions. To understand this
knowledge is an important part in perceiving the plan behind the
universe and our purpose in it, and it provides great benefits for
all who hear it. As it is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam
(8.23.30), "If one hears about the uncommon activities of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead in His various incarnations, he is certainly
elevated to the higher planetary systems or even brought directly
back to Godhead, the spiritual domain."


1. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.34

2. Ibid., 1.3.5

3. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20.263-4

4. Ibid., Madhya-lila 20.245-246

5. Ibid., Adi-lila 3.6

6. Ibid., Adi-lila 2.112

7. Ibid., Adi-lila 2.133-115

8. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.5.purport

9. Bhagavad-gita 4.7-8

10. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.86.45

11. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20.352

12. Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.2.purport

13. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 14, 18.purport

14. Ibid., Madhya-lila 20.354

15. Ibid., Adi-lila 3, 93-94

16. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.37

17. Ibid., 10.14.55

18. Ibid., 10.40.16

19. Ibid., 3.2.7

20. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20.382

21. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.6

22. Ibid., 2.7.5

23. Ibid., 1.3.7 & 2.7.1

24. Ibid., 1.3.8

25. Ibid., 2.7.19

26. Ibid., 1.3.9

27. Ibid., 2.7.6

28. Ibid., 1.3.10

29. Ibid., 2.7.3

30. Ibid., 1.3.11 & 2.7.4

31. Ibid., 1.3.12

32. Ibid., 1.3.13 & 2.7.10

33. Ibid., 2.7.11

34. Ibid., 1.3.14

35. Ibid., 2.7.9

36. Ibid., 1.3.15 & 2.7.12

37. Ibid., 1.3.16

38. Ibid., 2.7.13

39. Ibid., 2.7.21

40. Ibid., 1.3.17

41. Ibid., 1.3.18 & 2.7.14

42. Ibid., 1.3.19 & 2.7.17-18

43. Ibid., 1.3.20 & 2.7.22

44. Ibid., 1.3.21& 2.7.36

45. Ibid., 1.3.40-43

46. Ibid., 1.3.22

47. Ibid., 2.7.23-5

48. Ibid., 1.3.23 & 2.7.26

49. Ibid., 1.3.24 & 2.7.37

50. Ibid., 1.3.25 & 2.7.38

51. Ibid., 1.3.35, 37

52. Ibid., 1.3.38

53. Ibid., 1.3.5.purport & Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20, 319-

54. Bhagavad-gita 8.17 & Srimad-Bhagavatam.3.11.20 & Vishnu Purana,
Book One, Chapter Three, p.35

55. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 3, 7-10 & Srimad-Bhagavatam
4.30.49 purport

56. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.5.purport & Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-
lila 20, 329-333

57. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20, 334-347 & Srimad-
Bhagavatam 11.5.32, 36 & 12.3.51-2

58. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20.369-73

10 Reasons to Celebrate Diwali

10 Reasons to Celebrate Diwali

The Festival of Lights is for All
Why do we celebrate Diwali? It's not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy, or just that it's a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter. There are 10 reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights.

1.Goddess Lakshmi's Birthday: The Goddess of wealth,
Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean
(samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with

2. Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this very day (Diwali day), Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara rescued
Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Larkshmi on Diwali.

3. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.

4. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic
`Mahabharata', it was `Kartik Amavashya' when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

5. The Victory of Rama: According to the epic `Ramayana', it was
the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and
Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and
conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire
city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.

6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King
Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali
became a historical event as well.

7. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of
Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the
greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj
attained his nirvana.

8. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be
the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on
Diwali day.

9. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das
institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would
gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation
stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In
1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the
Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort
along with 52 kings.

10. The Pope's Diwali Speech: In 1999, Pope John Paul II
performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the
altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a `tilak'
marked on his forehead and his speech bristled with references
to the festival of light.

Vedic Gods Of Japan

Vedic Gods Of Japan
By Subhash Kak

The Vedas tell us that the gods (deva in Sanskrit) reside within the mind. But since physical reality is also experienced as a construction of the mind, therefore, one may see the Vedic gods in the physical space and its relationships. These conceptions led to the detailed exposition of the devas in yoga, tantra as well as in architecture and iconography.

1 The Vedic way recognizes that reality is a synthesis of opposites.
We are suspended between being and becoming, between hazy memories of the past and fears for the future.

Within each of us lie not only sublime thoughts but also avarice and greed. We are the battlefield of a struggle between the gods and demons. The opposites require an act of balance so that the individual's relationship to Truth is articulated only partly by means of abstract ideas, and it needs art – in performance and representation – to complete the picture.

The two poles of the approach to reality are provided by the Upanishadic mahâvâkyas: " I am Brahman" or "I am the Universe" (aham brahmâsmi) and "Not this, not this" (neti,
neti). These lead to two artistic styles: one rich and textured, the other spare and austere.

One speaks of infinite possibility and structure (Brahman), the other of nothingness (úûnyatâ). Each of these is the ground of the other; within one lays the other in endless
recursive details. This is the essence of the paradox taught in the Vedas to help one learn that one is not a thing, but a process. On the one hand are the maddeningly complex rituals, on the other the simplicity of dhyâna (meditation). Both these styles are to be incorporated within the life process.

The Western philological approach to the Vedas not only misses this understanding of the
Vedas, it has misguided generations of scholars and laypersons into a simplistic view of Indian culture. It sees Hinduism and Buddhism in dichotomous terms that appear absurd to those within the tradition. 

The Buddha himself affirmed on the basis of his own direct experience the existence of the various elements of the Vedic world view, including the existence of many hells, heavens, and various supernatural beings like devas, asuras (demons), and râkshasas.

The Buddha claimed to have seen these realms and beings with his divine sight, and he also claimed to have observed how sentient beings cycle through these diverse forms of existence in the interminable process of transmigration. The Buddha, therefore, took for granted the Vedic cosmic geography wherein all these natural and supernatural beings lived. It is no wonder then that the anthology Subhâsitaratnakosha of Vidyâkara (c. 1100) a Buddhist abbot at the monastery of Jagaddala in present-day Bangladesh,2 has 20 verses to the Buddha, but 73 to Úiva, and 40 to Visnu.

The philologists and the anthropologists wonder what Úiva and Visnu are doing in a book by a Buddhist. Neither can they explain how the Vedic devas continue to be a part of the
Mahâyâna pantheon. Their texts absurdly describe the Vedic devas of Japan and China as Buddhist since according to legend they became followers of the Buddha when he started
preaching. The Buddha in the Mahâyâna tradition is the principle of Understanding, who fits in perfectly within the Vedic conception, and we see this most emphatically in the
Lotus Sûtra (Saddharma Pundarîka Sûtra).

Living in an isolated valley, Kashmiris have maintained many old customs, although their recent tragic history has been responsible for much loss of the meaning of their ceremonies. For example, we were told of six psychological states of the existence, where the lowest three states represented (1) ideas of evil people, (2) ghosts of unfulfilled desires, and (3) our animal nature. The highest three states are (4) asuras, who take the bodies to be all that we are; (5) humans; and (6) devas, who embody the essence of the various tattvas (or their combinations) that constitutes the world of the mind. There were ceremonies in which the yakshas were invoked. We didn't quite understand these ceremonies although we were reminded of their connection to architecture and directions by their appearance in the ruins at Avantipur and Martanda.

The Vedic devas went to China and Japan through Kashmir.

The fourth great council was held there under the patronage of the Kushana emperor Kanishka (r. 78-120) in around 100 CE, where monks of the Sarvastivâdin School compiled a new canon. This became the basis of Mahâyâna. The Vedic devas were a part of this understanding, as was dhyâna of the Vedic tradition (Ch'an in China and Zen in Japan) with devotion to Îúvara (Úiva) as its ultimate objective (Yogasûtra 1.23). The Parihâsapura monuments (near Úrînagar) of the Cankuna stûpa (Kârkota dynasty, 8th century) "served as a model all across Asia from the Pamir Mountains to Japan".3 The Kashmiri images of the Vedic devas were also much copied. The art historian Susan Huntington reminds us: "The Yunkang caves in China, the wall paintings from several sites in Inner Asia, especially Qizil and Tun-huang, the paintings from the cache at Tun-huang, and some iconographic manuscripts from Japan, for example, should be evaluated with Kaúmîr in mind as a possible source."

4 Vedic ideas were also taken to Japan by the sea route from South India and Southeast Asia. That serves to explain the specific transformations of some Sanskrit terms into Japanese through Tamil phonology. For example, consider the ansformation of Sanskrit homa, the Vedic fire rite, into Japanese goma, where the initiation is given by the achari (Sanskrit âcârya). The Sanskrit mantras in Japan are written the Siddham script of South India.

In this article, I present the main Vedic gods that are popular in present-day Japan. I begin with the Vedic fire and consecration ceremonies and then describe the gods of the
directions and a few goddesses. Goma-Homa Homa, Vedic fire rite, remains central to religion in Japan. It consists of mantra, mudrâ 

5, and mandala. In the Vedic fire-ritual manuals, some instructions regarding mudrâ are given. For example, the ladles are to be held in the úankha-mudrâ, and when the priest enters the chamber, he is to put his right palm downward on his left palm at right angles and close the hands. The fire-ritual is the quintessential Vedic ritual, emphasizing the process of transformation.

6 The artistic parallels of this ritual is presented most clearly by Kapila Vatsyayan.

7 Abhisheka Another Vedic rite that is widely practiced is abhisheka (consecration). The initiates are given a potion to drink before they enter the room. Inside, the initiate places the right foot on an elephant, which represents Ganesha or Vinâyaka, (Kangitan in Japanese) as he is
the remover of obstacles. Next, the initiates rub powdered incense on their hands, and dab it on their foreheads and also on their tongues, and then swallow the potion.

Now the candidate enters the first room, where the samaya vow (sammaya-kai) – the vow
of secrecy -- is administered. They hear hymns being chanted as they are given instructions as to the meaning of the rite by the priest. Another image of Ganesha is seen
surrounded by offerings. Two mandalas are used in the ceremonies:8 the garbhadhâtu (womb mandala) and the vajradhâtu (diamond mandala). The candidates are first initiated into the garbhadhâtu; the following day they are initiated into the vajradhâtu. The candidates are each blindfolded with a strip, white for the womb mandala, red for the vajra mandala.

A folded paper flower, white or red depending on the mandala, is put between their joined hands, with their fingers slightly crossed at the end, and then they are led in
front of the mandala in a central room.

The candidate goes through a landscape-screened labyrinth of the oblong buildings (corresponding to the Vedic goddess temple), to its centre, the womb, (the garbhagrha
section of the Indian temple), where the mandala is located. The squares of the mandala corresponding to the deities are left blank, with white circles. A homa fire is burning in
the chamber. The candidate now is given a flower to throw at the mandala. The circle on which it lands becomes the candidate's tutelary deity for life, and this is whispered into his ear by the master. Now the blindfold is taken off and the candidate is taken to a side table. A crown is placed on his head, showing his initiation.

Water from a well has been drawn in advance with special mantras to make it symbolic of the five oceans. Now the master pours five drops of it on the crown of the candidate
and consecrates him as a monarch, chakravartin, of dharma. Next the master takes a bronze needle (úalâkâ in Sanskrit) and applies it to his eye, saying "the scales of ignorance have fallen from your eyes; your eyes are open." Then he takes a bronze mirror and holds it up to the newly initiated master (no longer a candidate), for him to see his face.

Hare Krishna 

Link Between Hindu Gods and Japan

Link Between Hindu Gods and Japan

Source: Japan Times Newspaper

TOKYO, JAPAN, April 10, 2002: An exhibition called "Gods Derived From India to Japan" is showing at the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts until May 26. The story behind the showing is a fascinating one. It all started 51 years ago when Toshio Yamanouchi's job took
him to India as general manager for an iron importer company. His passion for religious art took him all across the country and in twenty-five years he built up his collection. In northern Uttar Pradesh, he discovered a miniature painting of "Govardhana Krishna."

In Madhya Pradesh, he purchased a 18th century three-headed Ganesha made of ivory.

A sandalwood Saraswati was found in the NW state of Rajasthan. Yamanouchi's entire collection, which he has donated to the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts, consists of 350 statues, sculptures, reliefs and paintings. Seventy of these pieces are part of the present exhibition. Indian law would now prohibit the export of any historical object more than 100 years old. This law was passed in the early 70's. 

However, by this time, the collection had already been brought back to Japan. Diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 73, Yamanouchi chose to utilize what he thought might be his final years to write three books about how India and Japan are bound by their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism.

The article says, "Yamanouchi identifies Benzaiten, the Japanese goddess of good fortune, with Saraswati; Seiten of the Jogan Period with Ganesha; and Enma, the Japanese lord of hell, with his Indian counterpart Yama."

Interestingly, Yamanouchi was fascinated with the Hindu gods that he saw during weekly visits to Buddhist temples when he was a young boy. He recalls, "My parents were very religious. I saw many Buddhas at the temples, but I also noticed many Indian Gods protecting the central Buddha figure."

Hare Krishna