|Chapter 4||Approaching the Ultimate Truth||Verse 4|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Considering the possibility of Visvavan being instructed 120 million years previously by the same Lord Krishna as He is standing before him, Arjuna asks the Lord to explain just how it was that He taught this eternal yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness to Visvavan, the demigod of the sun.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
This question is asked in relation to Lord Krishna's earlier declaration in chapter III.XXX mayi sarvani karmani meaning to offer all activities to Him.
Now begins the summation.
The purpose of inquiry from men of wisdom as given in the Agni Purana has a dual purpose. First is reconfirmation of the knowledge of eternal principles that they already possess. Second is that their explanations offer additional clarification. In this same way these questions asked to Lord Krishna should be understood in this manner. One should be aware that Arjuna was not a novice bereft of Vedic knowledge, he had been to the heavenly planets and had received instuctions from his father Indra the chief of the celestials. He also had never broken his vows and was never defeated in battle. So he was not an ordinary being and was somewhat cognizant of Lord Krishna supreme position.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The sun-god Visvavan had duly received the Bhagavad-Gita from Lord Krishna 120 million years previously; yet he was Arjuna's contemporary; so an explanation of this anomalous anachronism is being requested. One may question what is the purpose to ask this from one who is aware of Lord Krishna's supreme position for it is known that even saintly and noble souls remember events from previous incarnations. Also before when the Pandava king Yudhisthira performed the Rajasuya ceremony the grandsire Bhishma was heard to say that Lord Krishna alone is the origin of all created beings and the beginning and the ending of all movable and immovable beings. So the reason Arjuna asked such a question was to get clarification presented in an exposition on the meaning of avatars or Lord Krishna's authorised incarnations in the Vedic scriptures and answer these questions. 1) Are avatars real or illusory? 2) Under what circumstances do avatars manifest? 3) What is the nature of the body the avatar assumes? 4) Are all the avatars expanding from Lord Krishna? 5) Are all the avatars omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent? 6) Are all avatars transcendental to the cycle of birth and death? 7) Are all avatars able to fulfill all desires? 8) What is the time schedule which avatars manifest themselves?
This was the purpose of this question so Lord Krishna would give an expose on these topics.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Although Arjuna had experienced many wonderful and divine lila's or pastimes with Lord Krishna still he could understand that it would be difficult for others to fathom the reality of His teaching the demigod of the sun Visvavan 120 million years previous. So Arjuna posed this question for Lord Krishna who is isvara or the Ultimate Controller and Supreme Ruler of all creation, time and action. He alone is the ultimate reality and highest destination who incarnated in the family of Vasudeva in order to remove the speculations of those whose minds were made impure by tendency to sinful activities as well as to eradicate the demoniac elements present who were polluting the Earth. The question was asked so Lord Krishna could confirm the truth Himself regarding His transcendental appearance and supra- mundane phenomenal exploits that the miscreants and non-believers refuse to except as being possible for the Supreme Lord. By answering this question all doubts would be cleared up about Lord Krishna's supreme position.