The Lord’s Paraphernalia
Jagabandhu das: In response to a question on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
“I’ve been reading in Cc. Madhya-lila, Ch 20, vs. 224. There are a number of verses such as this one (224).
“In His lower right hand, Lord Vasudeva holds a club, in the upper right hand a conchshell, in the upper left hand a disc and in the lower left hand a lotus flower. In His lower right hand, Sankarsana holds a club, in His upper right hand a conchshell, in His upper left hand a lotus flower and in His lower left hand a disc.”
What we have here is Lord Caitanya describing to Sanatana Goswami all the different names and forms of Visnu, according to what He is holding in His hands and the order they are in.
You can see the words club and disc. Of course, these are weapons. Also, this is in regards to Visnu in the Spiritual Sky. So I was wondering why the Lord would have weapons? Especially in the Spiritual World. A place of eternal love. Seems a bit out of place. So I was curious about this.
Any thoughts on this?? Perhaps this is a stupid question.”
Many thanks for your nice question! Often puzzling incongruity occurs when comparing the Absolute realm with our limited mundane experience. Because God is Love and therefore all-good, all the time—whatever might appear as possibly violently contentious and aggressive in the mundane realm is actually transcendentally beautiful for Him and therefore consequently in the eyes of those devoted to Him that see with Love towards Him. A tiger’s jaws appear very fearful to anyone but it’s own affectionate progeny, which can be lovingly carried within the very same fearful maw without any apprehension whatsoever. In His eternal domain, such martial paraphernalia don’t appear so to the other residents of the spiritual sky who view such attributes as ornaments of adornment on His beautiful form as He exists in the land of un-inebriated Love Supreme.
Because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He has a Supremely multi-faceted personality full of the Supreme diversity of all traits, one of which is to play the part of the ultimate hero. The Lord has various paraphernalia when He manifests in different forms for the performance of His pastimes. Such as Lord Balaram is also known to have a club. The disc is an inherent, innate aspect of all Krishna’s multifarious diverse expanded persona forms of the Vishnu-tattva category. From Srimad-Bhagavatam we can know that these paraphernalia like the club and disc are actually conscious entities in the mood of pure neutral servitorship and are therefore themselves devotees of the Lord manifest to serve Him in these various forms. The Lord’s Vaikuntha manifestations as four-armed Narayan and His Vishnu expansions are part of His lila/mood, to play the part of a ksatriya/warrior/king for His own pleasure.
And it gives Him great transcendental pleasure/satisfaction to sometimes fight with great adversaries like Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, etc. However, His martial aspect is incomparable to anything on the mundane plane by way of comparison. Also, the scriptures are filled with explanations of how the sinister persons who meet their apparent demise at the hand of the Lord’s violent demonstrations actually achieve a level of liberation much sought after by great yogis and sadhus through severe penance, sacrifice and austerity. And give the Lord (and the devotees who witness or remember such transcendental displays) great transcendental satisfaction.
Of course, we might also consider that in this present age of widespread degradation and darkness, the Supreme Lord’s heroism is manifest as Mahaprabhu and Nityanananda Prabhu. We have the story of how, when the two brothers Jagai and Madhai harmed Haridas Thakur and Nityananda Prabhu, Mahaprabhu at first became so angered that He actually wanted to invoke the Sudarshan Chakra to annihilate the miscreants. Yet He nonetheless listened to Nitai’s plea for mercy, which contained the appeal that in this age of many faults, the Lord would also have to annihilate nearly everyone else for their various sacrilegious offenses and impious transgressions against God, His true devotees and real religion. Which was antithetical to the Lord’s true purpose to widely promulgate the Holy Name as a means to awaken pure Love of God amongst the fallen masses. As if to “kill the demons” with kindness and Love.
As a cross-reference to your study, it might be helpful to look at various excerpts from Srimad-Bhagavatam wherein the Lord manifests as various lila-avatars like Nrsimhadev, Varaha, Baladev, etc.— to play the hero and protect the pious and give spiritual liberation to the miscreants.
How does it affect you when you see the club or disc? Does it make you fearful? Or are you impressed by Their splendour, like ornaments on a deity? He also wears a crown, as befitting His position as the ultimate king. In our present experience this might denote autocratic political connotations in aversion to apparent democracy. Whereas, although He is indeed an absolute autocrat, there is nothing political about His Supremacy whatsoever.
I hope that this explanation is helpful – (although it might incite more questions as well). I thank you for asking it because it helped give me a nice remembrance of the Lord, His lilas and His devotees. Sometimes I consider that such reflection and writing is my sadhana.