Qualities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa

Personal features can be divided into two: one feature is covered, and the other feature is manifested. When Kṛṣṇa is covered by different kinds of dress, His personal feature is covered. There is an example of His covered personal feature in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His Dvārakā līlā (His residence in Dvārakā as its king). Sometimes Lord Kṛṣṇa began to play by dressing Himself like a woman. Seeing this form, Uddhava said, “How wonderful it is that this woman is attracting my ecstatic love exactly as Lord Kṛṣṇa does. I think she must be Kṛṣṇa covered by the dress of a woman!” 

One devotee praised the bodily features of Kṛṣṇa when he saw the Lord in His manifested personal feature. He exclaimed, “How wonderful is the personal feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa! How His neck is just like a conchshell! His eyes are so beautiful, as though they themselves are encountering the beauty of a lotus flower. His body is just like the tāmala tree, very blackish. His head is protected with a canopy of hair. There are the marks of śrīvatsa on His chest, and He is holding His conchshell. By such beautiful bodily features, the enemy of the demon Madhu has appeared so pleasing that He can bestow upon me transcendental bliss simply by my seeing His transcendental qualities.” 

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, after consulting various scriptures, has enumerated the transcendental qualities of the Lord as follows: 1) beautiful features of the entire body; 2) marked with all auspicious characteristics; 3) extremely pleasing; 4) effulgent; 5) strong; 6) ever-youthful; 7) wonderful linguist; 8) truthful; 9) talks pleasingly; 10) can speak fluently in all languages; 11) highly learned; 12) highly intelligent; 13) a genius; 14) artistic; 15) extremely clever; 16) expert; 17) grateful; 18) firmly determined; 19) an expert judge of time and circumstances; 20) sees and speaks on the authority of Vedas, or scriptures; 21) pure; 22) self-controlled; 23) steadfast; 24) forbearing; 25) forgiving; 26) grave; 27) self-satisfied; 28) possessing equilibrium; 29) magnanimous; 30) religious; 31) heroic; 32) compassionate; 33) respectful; 34) gentle; 35) liberal; 36) shy; 37) the protector of surrendered souls; 38) happy; 39) the well-wisher of devotees; 40) controlled by love; 41) all-auspicious; 42) most powerful; 43) all-famous; 44) popular; 45) partial to devotees; 46) very attractive to all women; 47) all-worshipable; 48) all-opulent; 49) all-honorable; 50) the supreme controller. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has all these fifty transcendental qualities in fullness as deep as the ocean. In other words, the extent of His qualities is inconceivable. 

As parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the individual living entities can also possess all of these qualities in minute quantities, provided they become pure devotees of the Lord. In other words, all of the above transcendental qualities can be present in the devotees in minute quantity, whereas the qualities in fullness are always present in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. 

Besides these, there are other transcendental qualities which are described by Lord Śiva to Pārvatī in the Padma Purāṇa, and in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in connection with a conversation between the demigod of the earth and the King of religion, Yamarāj. It is said therein, “Persons who are desirous of becoming great personalities must be decorated with the following qualities: truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, perseverance, renunciation, peacefulness, simplicity, control of the senses, equilibrium of the mind, austerity, equality, forbearance, placidity, learning, knowledge, opulence, chivalry, influence, strength, memory, independence, tactfulness, luster, patience, ability to talk, gravity, steadiness, faithfulness, fame, respectfulness and lack of false egotism.” Persons who are desiring to become great souls cannot be without any of the above qualities, so we can know for certain that these qualities are found in Lord Kṛṣṇa, the supreme soul. 

Besides all of the above-mentioned fifty qualities, Lord Kṛṣṇa possesses five more, which are sometimes partially manifested in the persons of Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva. These transcendental qualities are as follows: 51) changeless; 52) all-cognizant; 53) ever fresh; 54) sac-cid-ānanda (possessing an eternal blissful body); 55) possessing all mystic perfection. 

Kṛṣṇa also possesses five other qualities, which are manifest in the body of Nārāyaṇa, and they are listed as follows: 56) He has inconceivable potency. 57) Uncountable universes generate from His body. 58) He is the original source of all incarnations. 59) He is the giver of salvation to the enemies whom He kills. 60) He is the attractor of liberated souls. All these transcendental qualities are manifest wonderfully in the personal feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa. 

Besides these sixty transcendental qualities, Kṛṣṇa has four more, which are not manifest even in the Nārāyaṇa form of Godhead, not to speak of the demigods or living entities. They are as follows: 61) He is the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes (especially His childhood pastimes). 62) He can attract all living entities all over the universes by playing on His flute. 63) He is surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead. 64) He has a wonderful excellence of beauty which cannot be rivalled anywhere in the creation. 

Adding to the list these four exceptional qualities of Kṛṣṇa, it is to be understood that the aggregate number of qualities of Kṛṣṇa is sixty-four. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has attempted to give evidences from various scriptures about all sixty-four qualities present in the person of the Supreme Lord. 

1. Beautiful Bodily Features

Any comparison of the different parts of the Lord’s body to different material objects cannot factually be a complete comparison. Ordinary persons, who cannot understand how exalted are the bodily features of the Lord, are simply given a chance to understand by a material comparison. It is said that Kṛṣṇa’s face is as beautiful as the moon, His thighs are powerful, just like the trunks of elephants, His arms are just like two pillars, His palms are expanded like lotus flowers, His chest is just like a doorway, His hips are dens, and the middle of His body is a terrace. 

2. Auspicious Characteristics

There are certain characteristics of different limbs which are considered to be very auspicious and are fully present in the body of the Lord. In this connection, one friend of Nanda Mahārāj, speaking about Lord Kṛṣṇa’s auspicious bodily symptoms, said, “My dear King of the cowherds, I can find 32 auspicious symptoms on the body of your son! I am wondering how this boy could have taken His birth in a family of cowherd men.” Generally, when Lord Kṛṣṇa appears He does so in a family of kṣatriyas (kings), as did Lord Rāmacandra, and sometimes in a family of brāhmaṇas. But Kṛṣṇa accepted the role of son to Mahārāj Nanda, despite the fact that Nanda belonged to the vaiśya community. The business of the vaiśya community is trade, commerce and the protection of cows. Therefore his friend, who may have been born into a brāhmaṇa family, expressed his wonder at how such an exalted child could take birth in a family of vaiśyas. Anyway, he pointed out the auspicious signs on the body of Kṛṣṇa to the boy’s foster father. 

He continued: “This boy has a reddish luster in seven places—His eyes, the ends of His hands, the ends of His legs, His palate, His lips, His tongue and His nails. A reddish luster in these seven places is considered to be auspicious. Three parts of His body are very broad: His waist, forehead and chest. Three parts of His body are short: His neck, thighs and genitals. Three parts of His body are very deep: His voice, intelligence and navel. There is highness in five parts of His body: His nose, arms, ears, forehead and thighs. In five parts of His body there is fineness: His skin, the hairs on His head and on the other parts of His body, His teeth and His fingertips. The aggregate of all these bodily features is manifest only in the bodies of great personalities.” 

The fate lines on the palm are also considered to be auspicious bodily symptoms. In this connection, one old gopī informed King Nanda, “Your son possesses various wonderful fate lines on His palms. There are the signs of lotus flowers and wheels on His palms, and on His soles there are the signs of a flag, thunderbolt, fish, rod for controlling elephants, and a lotus flower. Please observe how auspicious these signs are!” 

3. Pleasing

Beautiful bodily features which automatically attract the eyes are called rucira (pleasing). Kṛṣṇa possesses this attractive feature of rucira in His personal features. In the Third Canto, 2nd Chapter, 13th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a statement about this. “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His pleasing dress, appeared at the scene of the sacrificial arena when King Yudhiṣṭhira was performing the rāja-sūya sacrifice. All important personalities from different parts of the universe had been invited to the sacrificial arena, and all of them, upon beholding Kṛṣṇa there, considered that the Creator had ended all of His craftsmanship in the creation of this particular body of Kṛṣṇa.” 

It is said that the transcendental body of Kṛṣṇa resembles the lotus flower in eight parts—namely, His face, His two eyes, His two hands, His navel and His two feet. The gopīs and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana used to see the luster of lotus flowers everywhere, and they could hardly withdraw their eyes from such a vision. 

4. Effulgent

The effulgence pervading the universe is considered to be the rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa is always throwing off the effulgence known as brahma-jyoti, and that effulgence is emanating from His body. 

The luster of the hosts of jewels fixed on the chest of the Lord can defeat even the luster of the sun, and still, when compared with the bodily luster of the Lord, that crest of jewels appears to be only as bright as one of the stars in the sky. Therefore the transcendental influence of Kṛṣṇa is so great that it can defeat anyone. When Kṛṣṇa was present in the sacrificial arena of His enemy King Kaṁsa, the wrestlers present, although appreciating the softness of the body of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, were nevertheless afraid and perturbed when they thought of engaging with Him in battle. 

5. Strong

A person who has extraordinary bodily strength is called balīyān. When Kṛṣṇa killed Ariṣṭāsura, some of the gopīs said, “My dear friends, just see how Kṛṣṇa has killed Ariṣṭāsura! Although be was stronger than a mountain, Kṛṣṇa plucked him up just like a piece of cotton and threw him away without any difficulty!” There is another passage wherein it is said: “O my dear devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa, may the left hand of Lord Kṛṣṇa, which has lifted Govardhana Hill like a ball, save you from all dangers.” 

6. Ever-youthful

Kṛṣṇa is beautiful at His different ages—namely, His childhood, His boyhood and His youth. Out of these three, His youth is the reservoir of all pleasures and is the time when the highest varieties of devotional service are acceptable. At that age, Kṛṣṇa is full with all transcendental qualities and is engaged in His transcendental pastimes. Therefore, devotees have accepted the beginning of His youth as the most attractive feature in ecstatic love. 

At this age Kṛṣṇa is described as follows: “The force of Kṛṣṇa’s youth was combined with His beautiful smile, which defeated even the beauty of the full moon. He was always nicely dressed, in beauty surpassing even Cupid, and He was always attracting the minds of the gopīs, who were thereby always feeling pleasure.” 

7. Wonderful Linguist

Rūpa Gosvāmī says that a person who knows the languages of different countries, especially the Sanskrit language, which is spoken in the cities of the demigods—as well as other worldly languages, including those of the animals—is called a wonderful linguist. It appears from this statement that Kṛṣṇa can also speak and understand the languages of the animals. An old woman in Vṛndāvana, present at the time of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, once stated in surprise: “How wonderful it is that Kṛṣṇa, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Brajabhūmi, can nicely speak the language of Brajabhūmi with the gopīs, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmere Province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Kṛṣṇa is so expressive!” She inquired from the gopīs as to how Kṛṣṇa had become so expert in speaking so many different types of languages. 

8. Truthful

A person whose word of honor is never broken is called truthful. Kṛṣṇa once promised Kuntī, the mother of the Pāṇḍavas, that He would bring her five sons back from the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. After the battle was finished, when all the Pāṇḍavas had come home, Kuntī praised Kṛṣṇa because His promise was so nicely fulfilled. She said, “Even the sunshine may one day become cool and the moonshine one day become hot, but still Your promise will not fail.” Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa, along with Bhīma and Arjuna, went to challenge Jarāsandha, He plainly told Jarāsandha that He was the eternal Kṛṣṇa, present along with two of the Pāṇḍavas. The story is that both Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas—in this case Bhīma and Arjuna—were kṣatriyas (warrior-kings). Jarāsandha was also a kṣatriya and was very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas. Thus Kṛṣṇa, who had planned to fight with Jarāsandha, went to him with Bhīma and Arjuna in the dress of brāhmaṇas. Jarāsandha, being very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas, asked them what they wanted, and they expressed their desire to fight with him. Then Kṛṣṇa, dressed as a brāhmaṇa, declared Himself to be the same Kṛṣṇa who was the King’s eternal enemy. 

9. Pleasing Talker

A person who can speak sweetly even with his enemy just to pacify him is called a pleasing talker. Kṛṣṇa was such a pleasing talker that after defeating His enemy, Kāliya, in the water of Yamunā, He said: “My dear King of the snakes, although I have given you so much pain, please do not be dissatisfied with Me. It is My duty to protect these cows, which are worshiped even by the demigods. Only in order to save them from the danger of your presence have I been obliged to banish you from this place.” 

Kāliya was residing within the water of the Yamunā, and as a result the back portion of that river had become poisoned. Thus so many cows who had drunk the water had died. Therefore Kṛṣṇa, even though He was only four or five years old, dipped Himself into the water, punished Kāliya very severely and then asked him to leave the place and go elsewhere. 

Kṛṣṇa said at that time that the cows are worshiped even by the demigods, and He practically demonstrated how to protect the cows. At least people who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should follow in His footsteps and give all protection to the cows. Cows are worshiped not only by the demigods. Kṛṣṇa Himself worshiped the cows on several occasions, especially on the days of Gopāṣṭamī and Govardhana Pūjā. 

10. Fluent in All Languages

A person who can speak meaningful words and with all politeness and good qualities is called vāvadūka, or fluent. There is a nice statement in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regarding Kṛṣṇa’s speaking politely. When Kṛṣṇa politely bade His father, Nanda Mahārāj, to stop the ritualistic offering of sacrifice to the raingod, Indra, a wife of one village cowherd man became captivated. She later thus described the speaking of Kṛṣṇa to her friends: “Kṛṣṇa was speaking to His father so politely and gently that it was as if He were pouring nectar into the ears of all present there. After hearing such sweet words from Kṛṣṇa, who will not be attracted to Him?” 

Kṛṣṇa’s speech, which contains all good qualities in the universe, is described in the following statement by Uddhava: “The words of Kṛṣṇa are so attractive that they can immediately change the heart of even His opponent. His words can immediately solve all of the questions and problems of the world. Although He does not speak very long, each and every word from His mouth contains volumes of meaning. These speeches of Kṛṣṇa are very pleasing to my heart.” 

11. Highly Learned

When a person is highly educated and acts strictly on moral principles, he is called highly learned. A person conversant in different departments of knowledge is called educated, and because he acts on moral principles, he is called morally stout. Together, these two factors constitute learning. 

Kṛṣṇa’s receiving education from Sāndīpani Muni is described by Śrī Nārada Muni as follows: “In the beginning, Lord Brahmā and others are as clouds of evaporated water from the great ocean of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, Brahmā first received the Vedic education from Kṛṣṇa, as the clouds receive water from the ocean. That Vedic education or instruction which was spoken by Brahmā to the world was then reposed upon the mountain of Sāndīpani Muni. Sāndīpani Muni’s instructions to Kṛṣṇa are like a reservoir of water on the mountain, which flows as a river and goes again to mix with the source, the ocean of Kṛṣṇa.” To be more clear, the idea is that Kṛṣṇa actually cannot be instructed by anyone, just as the ocean does not receive water from any source but itself. It only appears that the rivers are pouring water into the ocean. So it is clear that Brahmā received his education from Kṛṣṇa, and from Brahmā, via the disciplic succession, this Vedic instruction was distributed. Sāndīpani Muni is likened to the river which is flowing down again to that same original ocean of Kṛṣṇa. 

The Siddhas, the inhabitants of Siddha-loka (where all are born with fully developed mystic powers), and the Cāraṇas, the inhabitants of a similar planet, pray to Kṛṣṇa as follows: “My Lord Govinda, the goddess of learning, who is decorated with fourteen kinds of educational ornaments, whose intelligence is all-pervading within the four departments of the Vedas, whose attention is always on the lawbooks given by great sages like Manu, and who is appareled in six kinds of expert knowledge—namely Vedic evidence, grammar, astrology, rhetoric, vocabulary, and logic, and whose constant friends are the supplements of the Vedas and Purāṇas, decorated with the final conclusion of all education—has now acquired an opportunity to sit with You as a class friend in school, and she is now engaged in Your service.” 

Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not require any education, but He gives a chance to the goddess of learning to serve Him. Being self-sufficient, Kṛṣṇa does not require the service of any living entity, although He has many devotees. It is because Kṛṣṇa is so kind and merciful that He gives the opportunity to everyone to serve Him, as though He required the service of His devotees. 

Regarding His moral principles, it is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Kṛṣṇa is ru