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Chapter 1: The Original Person

kunty uvāca
namasye puruṣaṁ tvādyam
īśvaraṁ prakṛteḥ param
alakṣyaṁ sarva-bhūtānām
antar bahir avasthitam

Śrīmatī Kuntī said: O Kṛṣṇa, I offer my obeisances unto You because You are the original personality and are unaffected by the qualities of the material world. You are existing both within and without everything, yet You are invisible to all.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.18

Śrīmatī Kuntīdevī was quite aware that Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead, although He was playing the part of her nephew. Such an enlightened lady could not commit a mistake by offering obeisances unto her nephew. Therefore, she addressed Him as the original puruṣa, beyond the material cosmos. Although all living entities are also transcendental, they are neither original nor infallible. The living entities are apt to fall down under the clutches of material nature, but the Lord is never like that. In the Vedas, therefore, He is described as the chief among all living entities (nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām). Then again He is addressed as īśvara, or the controller. The living entities or the demigods like Candra and Sūrya are also to some extent īśvara, but none of them is the supreme īśvara, or the ultimate controller. Kṛṣṇa is the parameśvara, or the Supersoul. He is both within and without. Although He was present before Śrīmatī Kuntī as her nephew, He was also within her and everyone else. In the Bhagavad-gītā (15.15) the Lord says, “I am situated in everyone’s heart, and only due to Me one remembers, forgets, and is cognizant, etc. Through all the Vedas I am to be known because I am the compiler of the Vedas, and I am the teacher of the Vedānta.” Queen Kuntī affirms that the Lord, although both within and without all living beings, is still invisible. The Lord is, so to speak, a puzzle for the common man. Queen Kuntī experienced personally that Lord Kṛṣṇa was present before her, yet He entered within the womb of Uttarā to save her embryo from the attack of Aśvatthāmā’s brahmāstra. Kuntī herself was puzzled about whether Śrī Kṛṣṇa is all-pervasive or localized. In fact, He is both, but He reserves the right of not being exposed to persons who are not surrendered souls. This checking curtain is called the māyā energy of the Supreme Lord, and it controls the limited vision of the rebellious soul. It is explained as follows.