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Lord Buddha as a saktyavesa-avatara

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Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 4

Sometimes the Lord appears as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra like Lord Buddha. As explained before, these śaktyāveśa-avatāras are incarnations of Viṣṇu's power invested in a living entity.
SB 4.19.37, Purport:

In two hands Lord Viṣṇu always carries a club and a cakra to kill demons, and in His other two hands He holds a conchshell and a lotus to give protection to His devotees. When His incarnation is present on this planet or in this universe, the Lord kills the demons and protects His devotees simultaneously. Sometimes Lord Viṣṇu appears in His person as Lord Kṛṣṇa or Lord Rāma. All of these appearances are mentioned in the śāstras. Sometimes He appears as a śaktyāveśa-avatāra like Lord Buddha. As explained before, these śaktyāveśa-avatāras are incarnations of Viṣṇu's power invested in a living entity. Living entities are also part and parcel of Lord Viṣṇu, but they are not as powerful; therefore when a living entity descends as an incarnation of Viṣṇu, he is especially empowered by the Lord.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Just (take) Lord Buddha. He is śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Many śaktyāveśa-avatāra. So in this way Kṛṣṇa is always existing along with His expansion and incarnation. But the real original Personality of Godhead is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam.
Lecture on BG 9.1 -- Vrndavana, April 17, 1975:

Actually, Bhagavān is Kṛṣṇa because He has got cent percent qualities of Bhagavān. That is analyzed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta. He is cent percent Bhagavān. Others, they are also Bhagavān, viṣṇu-tattva, Nārāyaṇa, He is also Bhagavān. But Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has analyzed; He is 94%, not cent percent. Or, in other words, you can take it that ṣaḍ-aiśvarya pūrṇaḥ, that is Kṛṣṇa. And They are also ṣaḍ-aiśvarya, but it is not displayed. Not that... Just like Lord Rāmacandra. Lord Rāmacandra... Madhva has approved, He, also Bhagavān. Rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan (Bs. 5.39). Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is existing as the Supreme Person along with Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha, many thousands of avatāras. They are also Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-rāma-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare. Keśava dhṛta-mīna-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare. So Keśava, Kṛṣṇa, He is existing with all the incarnation, not that He is existing as Kṛṣṇa. So when we speak of Kṛṣṇa, we take it that all His expansion and incarnation.

Therefore it is said rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā. They are kalā. Kalā means partial expansion, not full expansion. Full expansion means pūrṇa. So they are also Bhagavān. But kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam means bhagavatva, the authority of Bhagavān, is fully expressed in Kṛṣṇa, not in others. Therefore in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said... After making the list of different incarnation, it is summarized that ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: (SB 1.3.28) "All these incarnations mentioned," rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan (Bs. 5.39), "they are partial expansion and expansion of the expansion or expansion of His power, śaktyāveśa-avatāra."

Just (take) Lord Buddha. He is śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Many śaktyāveśa-avatāra. So in this way Kṛṣṇa is always existing along with His expansion and incarnation. But the real original Personality of Godhead is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). Therefore Bhagavad-gītā is being spoken by Kṛṣṇa. But in order to distinguish Him, Vyāsadeva is writing śrī bhagavān uvāca. He does not say, śrī kṛṣṇa uvāca just to make it distinguished that kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Śaktyāveśāvatāra means a living entity is especially empowered to preach the glories of the Lord. Lord Buddha is also śaktyāveśāvatāra. They are not ordinary human being. They are especially empowered personalities.
Lecture on SB 6.1.27-34 -- Surat, December 17, 1970:

Revatīnandana: I have a question. One of my prabhus told me that you once said that your Guru Mahārāja said that Jesus Christ was a śaktyāveśāvatāra. Is that correct?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Because he said it, it must be correct. Muhammad also, śaktyāveśāvatāra. Śaktyāveśāvatāra means a living entity is especially empowered to preach the glories of the Lord. Lord Buddha is also śaktyāveśāvatāra. They are not ordinary human being. They are especially empowered personalities.

Devotee (1): Lord Buddha is not an incarnation?

Prabhupāda: Incarnation. Avatāra means incarnation.

Devotee (1): So that means incarnation also?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Śaktyāveśāvatāra means incarnation with special power.

Revatīnandana: It's stated in the Bhāgavatam that there are two kinds of incarnations. One is a plenary portion, and the other is an empowered living entity. They're both incarnations.

Devotee (1): I thought that Lord Buddha was supposed to be incarnation of Viṣṇu.(?)

Prabhupāda: Not viṣṇu-tattva. They are not viṣṇu-tattva. There are jīva-tattva and viṣṇu-tattva. The jīvas are sometimes... Just like Lord Brahmā. He is also not viṣṇu-tattva. Lord Śiva is between viṣṇu-tattva and jīva-tattva. So powers, energies of the Lord exhibited in different categories... The viṣṇu-tattva is full of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Others, they are not full. And Kṛṣṇa is the fullest, ṣoḍaśa-kalāḥ. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Ete cāṁśa, aṁśa. Aṁśa means partially present in Kṛṣṇa. Ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28).

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Śaktyāveśa-avatāra, they are counted just like Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ. They are counted amongst the śaktyāveśāvatāras. They are also incarnation of śaktyāveśāvatāra, powerful.
Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.172 -- New York, December 14, 1966:

So there are three incarnation of guṇāvatāra, then manvantarāvatāra. Manvantarāvatāra means... There is seventy-one yugas. One yuga means about 4,300,000's of years. Four million and 300,000's of years, that makes a complete yuga. Such seventy-one yuga is the duration of a Manu. That is called Man... And each Manu is also an incarnation, Manvantarāvatāra. And such Manu takes place, fourteen Manus take place, during one day of Brahma. So Manvantarāvatāra. Then yuga avatāra. Yuga avatāra... In each yuga, during that 4,300,000's of years, there are yuga avatāra. They are the incarnation. They come. They are called yugāvatāras. And then there is śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Śaktyāveśa-avatāra, they are counted just like Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ. They are counted amongst the śaktyāveśāvatāras. They are also incarnation of śaktyāveśāvatāra, powerful. In this way the Supreme Lord manifests all over the universes. There are innumerable universes, and some of His incarnation are working always.

Just like Lord Buddha. His name is also mentioned. And there will be another incarnation, Kalki. That is also mentioned. So they are mentioned, yugāvatāra. And śaktyāveśāvatāra. Śaktyāveśāvatāra. All avatāras, their mission is to preach the message of God.
Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.245-255 -- New York, December 16, 1966:

In every avatāra, every incarnation... Just like Lord Buddha. His name is also mentioned. And there will be another incarnation, Kalki. That is also mentioned. So they are mentioned, yugāvatāra. And śaktyāveśāvatāra. Śaktyāveśāvatāra. All avatāras, their mission is to preach the message of God. Avatāra has no other business. The message of God. Śaktyāveśāvatāra. This Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, this is also considered śaktyāveśāvatāra, the incarnation of sound. Incarnation of sound. It is described by Lord Caitanya that kali-kāle nāma rūpe avatāra: "In this Kali-yuga, in this age, this incarnation of name—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare—to give facility to the conditioned soul." They cannot do anything. It is very difficult to perform any other religious rituals. This, the best anywhere, everywhere—you can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. Nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śakti. Śakti, this word is used, śakti. And from śakti, that energy, śaktyāveśāvatāra. So this name is also śaktyāveśāvatāra.

So far Buddha is concerned, he's also considered śaktyāveśa avatāra.
Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.367-84 -- New York, December 31, 1966:

So far Buddha is concerned, he's also considered śaktyāveśa avatāra. He preached this nirvāṇa philosophy. Although he did not speak about God, because it is considered that he was himself God, but the people amongst whom he preached, they were mostly atheistic people; therefore he did not preach about God. But he did not deny also. He simply wanted to make extinction of this present worldly activities. That was, yes... Nirvāṇa. And he represented the sacrifice of renouncement. He..., you may remember that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, out of His six opulences, one opulence is renouncement. So Lord Buddha's life is renouncement. He was prince. He, he was in a very young time. He renounced the world and underwent severe penances. These are the symptoms by which we can understand that he's also śaktyāveśa avatāra. And the Bhagavad-gītā you'll find, yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ mama tejo-'ṁśa-sambhavam. Anyone, not only Lord Buddha or others, but anyone, Lord, in the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated, anyone who has got some extraordinary power, uncommon power, he's to be considered vibhu. Śaktyāveśa avatāra, there are two kinds, one directly empowered for particular mission, comes from the transcendental spiritual sky, and others, those who are in this material world, but they have got some specific power, uncommon power, not found in ordinary man. They are called vibhūti. This vibhūti (is) explained in the Bhagavad-gītā: yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ mama tejo-'ṁśa sambhavam. That is out of the opulence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

General Lectures

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Buddha is also accepted as śaktyāveśa avatāra, especially empowered incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare.
Lecture -- Bombay, November 2, 1970:

Without becoming devotee one cannot become Kṛṣṇa conscious. The nondevotees accept Kṛṣṇa (pause—drinks water) as ordinary person. Avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam (BG 9.11). Because Kṛṣṇa comes before you as a human being, therefore, because one has not sufficient knowledge about Kṛṣṇa, paraṁ bhāvam ajānantaḥ, therefore such foolish persons accept Kṛṣṇa as ordinary human being, or a little greater than ordinary human being. But that is not the fact. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the verdict of Vedic instruction. Ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). There is a list of incarnation of God. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Buddha is also accepted as śaktyāveśa avatāra, especially empowered incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare. Although Buddhism, we do not accept the philosophy of Buddhism, we Vaiṣṇavas, we do not accept, but we accept Lord Buddha as incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. Lord Buddha appeared being very much compassionate on the matter of animal slaughter. As nowadays, animal slaughter is going on without any check, similarly, sometime before about 2,500 years ago in India, the same condition prevailed.

Lord Buddha is also accepted as śaktyāveśa avatāra, especially empowered incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare.
Pandal Lecture -- Bombay, January 14, 1973:

Without becoming devotee, one cannot become Kṛṣṇa conscious. The nondevotee... (aside:) Water. The non-devotees accept Kṛṣṇa as ordinary person. Avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam (BG 9.11). Because Kṛṣṇa comes before you as a human being, therefore because one has no sufficient knowledge about Kṛṣṇa, paraṁ bhāvam ajānantaḥ, therefore such foolish persons accept Kṛṣṇa as ordinary human being or a little greater than ordinary human being. But that is not the fact. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: "Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." That is the verdict of Vedic instruction. Ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). There is a list of incarnation of God in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Lord Buddha is also accepted as śaktyāveśa avatāra, especially empowered incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare. Although Buddhism, we do not accept the philosophy of Buddhism, we Vaiṣṇava, we do not accept, but we accept Lord Buddha as incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. Lord Buddha appeared, being very much compassionate on the matter of animal slaughter. As nowadays animal slaughter is going on without any check, similarly, sometime before, about 2,500 years ago, in India the same condition prevailed.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Śaktyāveṣa avatāra is not viṣṇu-tattva. He is jīva-tattva. So the Lord Jesus Christ or Lord Buddha, they come within the jīva-tattva especial power.
Morning Walk -- April 6, 1974, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: Acyutānanda: In the last part of Kṛṣṇa Book, Mahā-Viṣṇu says that Arjuna is of the capacity of Nara-nārāyaṇa. So they are avatāras also.

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes.

Acyutānanda: But as Arjuna he acts as an ordinary jīva?

Prabhupāda: Yes, there are different types of śaktyāveṣa avatāra. So when an ordinary jīva is specially empowered, he is called śaktya aveṣa avatāra, śatktyaveṣa avatāra, vibhūti. Yad yad vibhūtimat sattvam. He is living entity, but especially empowered. Just like for certain business I give sometimes somebody power of attorney, that "He will do this. He will sign for me." Like that. He is also one of the disciples, but for particular purpose, he is given the power of attorney. In this way when a living entity is empowered specifically to do something, that is called śaktyāveṣa avatāra. Aveṣa avatāra. Kṛṣṇa śakti vinā nāhe nāma pracāra. That is explained in the... These are explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. (break) ...śaktya. Mama tejo-'ṁśa-sambhavam. So śaktyāveṣa avatāra is not viṣṇu-tattva. He is jīva-tattva. So the Lord Jesus Christ or Lord Buddha, they come within the jīva-tattva especial power.

Bhāgavata: They are śaktyāveṣa avatāras.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Acyutānanda: So Nara-nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi is which?

Prabhupāda: Nara-nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi was a ṣaktyāveṣa avatāra.

Acyutānanda: So Arjuna has no constitutional connection with them, but at that time he was equal, by deputed potency. But they are individuals.

Prabhupāda: Yes, Arjuna is also... Yes, equal to Nara-nārāyaṇa.

Buddha is śaktyāveśa-avatāra. We accept Lord Jesus Christ also, śaktyāveśa-avatāra; Mohammed, śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Śaktyāveśa-avatāra means a living entity especially empowered and he preaches the philosophy on behalf...
Room Conversation with Prof. Regamay, Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Lausanne -- June 4, 1974, Geneva:

Prof. Regamay: And Buddha?

Prabhupāda: Buddha is śaktyāveśa-avatāra. We accept Lord Jesus Christ also, śaktyāveśa-avatāra; Mohammed, śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Śaktyāveśa-avatāra means a living entity especially empowered and he preaches the philosophy on behalf... That is called śaktyāveśa-avatāra. There are different types of avatāras. Guṇāvatāra, manvantarāvatāra, yugāvatāra, līlāvatāra, śaktyāveśāvatāra, like that. They are described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. About avatāras. You find out Teachings of Lord Caitanya, avatāras. Innumerable avatāras. Come here. Find out this chapter. Avatāra saṅkhyeyaḥ. It is compared, just like in the river, the waves are flowing. You cannot count, or in the... What is that? Avatāra. Read, read that chapter.

Buddha is not viṣṇu-tattva. He's jīva-tattva. Śaktyāveśāvatāra.
Room Conversation with devotees about Twelfth Canto Kali-yuga, and Conversation with Guest -- June 15, 1974, Paris:

Prabhupāda: In old age he'll be crippled like that. Then he said that "I am also going to be like that? No. What is the value?" Then he began meditation, how to stop old age. Then he gradually became very great, saintly person, and studied Veda, karma, and by bad karma, one becomes subjected with material tribulation, and the most of the bad karma, he thought, was killing of animals, so he wanted to stop this. That is Buddha's... "Stop animal killing." Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam.

Yogeśvara: He's viṣṇu-tattva?

Prabhupāda: No, he's not viṣṇu-tattva. He's jīva-tattva.

Yogeśvara: Śaktyāveśāvatāra.

Prabhupāda: Hm.

1977 Conversations and Morning Walks

Guru Mahārāja said that Christ is śaktyāveśa-avatāra, as Buddha.
Room Conversation with Ram Jethmalani (Parliament Member) -- April 16, 1977, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: We admit. Guru Mahārāja said śaktyāveśa-avatāra, powerful incarnation. Therefore whenever there was question of Jesus, I never disrespected Jesus. Never criticized him, because I know that he is powerful representative of God. We took it from Guru Mahārāja.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Your Guru Mahārāja would sometimes...

Prabhupāda: He said that Christ is śaktyāveśa-avatāra, as Buddha. How he can be otherwise? He sacrificed everything for God. He cannot be ordinary man.

Correspondence

1968 Correspondence

Lord Buddha and Lord Jesus Christ were in this group of saktyavesa avatara. But they were not in conditioned state when they appeared; they came to teach here.
Letter to Aniruddha -- Los Angeles 14 November, 1968:

Yes, Lord Jesus was jivatattva. He is not Visnu tattva. When a jiva tattva becomes specifically empowered by the Lord, he is called saktyavesa avatara. Lord Buddha and Lord Jesus Christ were in this group of saktyavesa avatara.. But they were not in conditioned state when they appeared; they came to teach here.

You should all read very carefully Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, and you should be able to answer all questions like this, and only in rare cases approach me. But it is important that our students must be able to answer all questions for becoming preachers.

1969 Correspondence

Regarding your question about Lord Jesus Christ, we accept him as saktyavesa avatara. Lord Buddha is in the same category also.
Letter to Hamsaduta -- Tittenhurst 2 November, 1969:

Regarding your question about Lord Jesus Christ, we accept him as saktyavesa avatara. Lord Buddha is in the same category also. Lord Buddha is mentioned specifically in Srimad-Bhagavatam as incarnation of Godhead, and yet Vaisnavas do not accept his philosophy, which is classified as atheism. Similarly, even if we accept Lord Jesus Christ as saktyavesa avatara., it doesn't mean that we have to accept his philosophy. But we have all respects for him without fail.

1970 Correspondence

The incarnations listed however may be classified as follows: Jivatattva (empowered): Narada, Vyasa, Buddha, Kumaras, Dattatreya, Prthu and Bhrgupati.
Letter to Jayadvaita -- Los Angeles 12 July, 1970:

Regarding your second point, all incarnations should be proper nouns and therefore capitalized. It does not matter whether they are Visnutattva or jivatattva, saktyavesa-avatara. or plenary expansion. The incarnations listed however may be classified as follows: Visnutattva: Kapila, Nara Narayana, Rama, Balarama, Krsna, the Purusas, the Boar, Yajna, Rsabha, Matsya, Kurma, Dhanvantari, Mohini and Kalki. Jivatattva (empowered): Narada, Vyasa, Buddha, Kumaras, Dattatreya, Prthu and Bhrgupati.

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