Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti… – The Real Meaning


  • Rigveda Verse
  • Eternal and Material manifestations of Lord Krishna
  • Meaning of Rigveda Verse
  • Indra, Vayu, Agni, Yama etc. are not the names of persons
  • All the names and forms comes from Vishnu
  • All the material forms or manifestations are created by Lord Krishna
  • The Material manifestations are not equal to Krishna, Vishnu, Rama or any other forms of Krishna
  • Difference between material and eternal names and manifestations of Krishna
Let’s see the famous verse from the Rigveda, which has been many times misrepresented by Impersonalists to mean that all the deities are one and same:

Rg Veda 1.164.46

इन्द्रं॑ मि॒त्रं वरु॑णम॒ग्निमा॑हु॒रथो॑ दि॒व्यः स सु॑प॒र्णो ग॒रुत्मा॑न् ।
एकं॒ सद्विप्रा॑ बहु॒धा व॑दन्त्य॒ग्निं य॒मं मा॑त॒रिश्वा॑नमाहुः ॥४६॥


They called him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni; and he is heavenly Garuda, who has beautiful wings. The truth is one, but the sages (or learned ones) call it by many names or describe him in many ways; they called him Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.

Eternal and Material manifestations of Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna explains his opulences or manifestations of both eternal (his own expansions) and material (empowered beings) type in the 10th chapter of Srimad Bhagavad-gita as follows:

Bg 10.19 — The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Yes, I will tell you of My splendorous manifestations, but only of those which are prominent, O Arjuna, for My opulence is limitless.

Bg 10.20 — I am the Supersoul, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

Bg 10.21 — Of the Ādityas I am Viṣṇu, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Marīci, and among the stars I am the moon.

Bg 10.22 — Of the Vedas I am the Sāma Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force [consciousness].

Bg 10.23 — Of all the Rudras I am Lord Śiva, of the Yakṣas and Rākṣasas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera], of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of mountains I am Meru.

Bg 10.24 — Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Bṛhaspati. Of generals I am Kārttikeya, and of bodies of water I am the ocean.

Bg 10.25 — Of the great sages I am Bhṛgu; of vibrations I am the transcendental oṁ. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa], and of immovable things I am the Himālayas.

Bg 10.26 — Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am Nārada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.

Bg 10.27 — Of horses know Me to be Uccaiḥśravā, produced during the churning of the ocean for nectar. Of lordly elephants I am Airāvata, and among men I am the monarch.

Bg 10.28 — Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi. Of causes for procreation I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am Vāsuki.

Bg 10.29 — Of the many-hooded Nāgas I am Ananta, and among the aquatics I am the demigod Varuṇa. Of departed ancestors I am Aryamā, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death.

Bg 10.30 — Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlāda, among subduers I am time, among beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuḍa.

Bg 10.31 — Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am Rāma, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.

Bg 10.32 — Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.

Bg 10.33 — Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahmā.

Bg 10.34 — I am all-devouring death, and I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.

Bg 10.35 — Of the hymns in the Sāma Veda I am the Bṛhat-sāma, and of poetry I am the Gāyatrī. Of months I am Mārgaśīrṣa [November-December], and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.

Bg 10.36 — I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.

Bg 10.37 — Of the descendants of Vṛṣṇi I am Vāsudeva, and of the Pāṇḍavas I am Arjuna. Of the sages I am Vyāsa, and among great thinkers I am Uśanā.

Bg 10.38 — Among all means of suppressing lawlessness I am punishment, and of those who seek victory I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am the wisdom.

Bg 10.39 — Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being – moving or nonmoving – that can exist without Me.

Bg 10.40 — O mighty conqueror of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences.

Bg 10.41 — Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.

Bg 10.42 — But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.


Meaning of Rigveda Verse

The Rigveda verse clearly describes the material manifestations of Lord Krishna or the empowered incarnations/beings by Lord Krishna mentioned in the 10th chapter of Bhagavad-gita. As the Gita is the essence of all the 5 Vedas and it appeared from the lotus mouth of the Lord Himself, its conclusion is most perfect and clearer than any other Vedic text.

Also, the verse describes the three aspects of absolute truth by saying “The truth is one, but the sages (or learned ones) describe him in many ways”.

The three aspects, i.e. Brahman, Parmatma and Bhagavan are described in Bhagavad-gita and all over the other Vedic texts. Read more at “The Three aspects of Absolute truth

In the Rigvedic verse, it is said they call him Indra, Mitra,Varuna, Garuda, Agni etc..

There are innumerable Indras, Varunas, Vayus, Agnis etc. as there are innumerable universes and they (indras, varunas etc.) all are doing their work by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Krishna says:

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ bhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt

The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under My will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end.

Bhagavad-gita 9.8

It is explained in more detail in the Srimad Bhagavatam (SB):

SB 3.29.40: Out of fear of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the wind blows, out of fear of Him the sun shines, out of fear of Him the rain pours forth showers, and out of fear of Him the host of heavenly bodies shed their luster.

SB 3.29.41: Out of fear of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the trees, creepers, herbs and seasonal plants and flowers blossom and fructify, each in its own season.

SB 3.29.42: Out of fear of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the rivers flow, and the ocean never overflows. Out of fear of Him only does fire burn and does the earth, with its mountains, not sink in the water of the universe.

SB 3.29.43: Subject to the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sky allows outer space to accommodate all the various planets, which hold innumerable living entities. The total universal body expands with its seven coverings under His supreme control.

SB 3.29.44: Out of fear of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the directing demigods in charge of the modes of material nature carry out the functions of creation, maintenance and destruction; everything animate and inanimate within this material world is under their control.

SB 3.29.45: The eternal time factor has no beginning and no end. It is the representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the maker of the criminal world. It brings about the end of the phenomenal world, it carries on the work of creation by bringing one individual into existence from another, and likewise it dissolves the universe by destroying even the lord of death, Yamarāja.

Indra, Vayu, Agni, Yama etc. are not the names of persons

Indra, Vayu, Agni etc. are the posts or titles. The posts can be attained by any qualified Jiva. Even the ‘Brahma’ is not a name of a person. Over the time, other persons take the posts if they are qualified. For. E.g. Maharaj Bali is said to be the next Indra of next Manvantara as he has qualified for the post of Indra. In the Mahabharata Adi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section CVIII, there is an incident of meeting of Yama and Manduka (Mandavya) Muni. Yamaraja were cursed by Manduka Muni for punishing him for the acts done by him (Manduka Muni) in his childhood. Later, Aryama officiated for the post of Yamaraja to punish the sinful person. But, the demigods are not that powerful to handle something on their own or the person who is handling the post of Brahma is not qualified to create the three worlds on his own. Even the digestion process cannot be completed without the help of the Supreme Lord:

Krishna says:

ahaṁ vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇināṁ deham āśritaḥ prāṇāpāna-samāyuktaḥ pacāmy annaṁ catur-vidham

“I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life, outgoing and incoming, to digest the four kinds of foodstuff.”

Srila Prabhupada explains:

“According to Āyur-vedic śāstra, we understand that there is a fire in the stomach which digests all food sent there. When the fire is not blazing there is no hunger, and when the fire is in order we become hungry. Sometimes when the fire is not going nicely, treatment is required. In any case, this fire is representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vedic mantras (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 5.9.1) also confirm that the Supreme Lord or Brahman is situated in the form of fire within the stomach and is digesting all kinds of foodstuff (ayam agnir vaiśvānaro yo ’yam antaḥ puruṣe yenedam annaṁ pacyate). Therefore since He is helping the digestion of all kinds of foodstuff, the living entity is not independent in the eating process. Unless the Supreme Lord helps him in digesting, there is no possibility of eating. He thus produces and digests foodstuff, and by His grace we are enjoying life. In the Vedānta-sūtra (1.2.27) this is also confirmed. Śabdādibhyo ’ntaḥ pratiṣṭhānāc ca: the Lord is situated within sound and within the body, within the air and even within the stomach as the digestive force. There are four kinds of foodstuff – some are drunk, some are chewed, some are licked up, and some are sucked – and He is the digestive force for all of them.”

All the demigods are empowered by the Supreme Lord(for e.g. Brahma is empowered by the creative energy of God for the creation of the three worlds) and thus, they are known as Material manifestations of Lord Krishna.

However, the position of Brahma is topmost post. Sometimes there exists no qualified Jiva for the post of Brahma. At such times, Lord Vishnu expands himself and handles the post of Brahma for the creation of three worlds.

All the names and forms comes from Vishnu

These powerful materialistic posts and their materialistic names were not manifested before the beginning of the universe of the current Mahakalpa or before the starting or after the end of Every Kalpa (except for Brahma) or Mahakalpa, the material manifestations and their names become unmanifest :

The Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad (1.4.7) explains:

tad dhedam tarhi

“In the beginning they were not manifested. Only later were the material forms and names manifested.”

All such titles are of Vishnu’s material manifestations as explained in the Bhalvaveya-shruti:

namani vishvani na santi loke yad avirasit purushasya sarvam namani sarvani yam avishanti tam vai vishnum paramam udaharanti

“The names of this world are not different from Him. All names in this world are names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All names refer to Him, Lord Vishnu, whom the wise declare is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

Vaishampayana Muni explains that all these names are names of Lord Krishna. The Skanda Purana also explains:

shri-narayanadini namani vinanyani rudradibhyo harir dattavan

“Except for Narayana and some other names, Lord Hari gave away His names to Lord Shiva and the other demigods.”

All the Material forms or manifestations are created by Supreme Person Sri Krishna:

Krishna says:

na me viduḥ sura-gaṇāḥ prabhavaṁ na maharṣayaḥ aham ādir hi devānāṁ maharṣīṇāṁ ca sarvaśaḥ

Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages.

— Bhagavad-gita 10.2

maharṣayaḥ sapta pūrve catvāro manavas tathā mad-bhāvā mānasā jātā yeṣāṁ loka imāḥ prajāḥ

The seven great sages and before them the four other great sages and the Manus [progenitors of mankind] come from Me, born from My mind, and all the living beings populating the various planets descend from them.

— Bhagavad-gita 10.6

Taittiriya Araṇyaka 3.12.16:

sarvṇi rupṇi vicitya dhiro namani kṛitvabhivadan yad aste
“The all-knowing Supreme Personality of Godhead created all forms and names.”

The Material manifestations are not equal to Krishna, Vishnu, Rama or any other forms of Krishna

Bhagavad-gita 10.12

paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma

Arjuna says: You (Krishna) are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth.

Rigveda 1.156.2:

Vishnu is the most ancient of all, yet also the most recent. Nothing and no one creates Vishnu, yet Vishnu creates everyone and everything.

Taittiriya Samhita 5.5.1

aniravamo devatanam vishnuh paramah
Vishnu is the supreme amongst devatas. 

Rig Veda 1:156:4

dādhāra dakṣamuttamamaharvidaṃ vrajaṃ ca viṣṇuḥ sakhivānaporṇute
Viṣṇu hath power supreme and might that finds the day” 

Rig Veda, 1:22:20

oṃ tad viṣṇoḥ paramam padam sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ
All the suras (i.e., the devas) look always toward the feet of Lord Vishnu.” 

Aitareya Brahmana 1.1.1

agnirvai devanamavamo vishnuh paramah tadantara sarva devatah
Agni is the lowest and Vishnu is the highest among devas. All other gods occupy positions that are in between.” 

Taittiriya Upanishad 2.8.1 

bhishasmad vatah pavate bhishodeti suryah bhishasmad agnis candras ca mrityur dhavati pancamah

“It is out of fear of the Supreme Brahman that the wind is blowing, out of fear of
Him that the sun regularly rises and sets, and out of fear of Him that fire acts. It is
only due to fear of Him that death and Indra, the King of heaven, perform their
respective duties.”

Maha Upanishada 1-2 explains that there was only Narayana in the universe. Lord Shiva, Brahma, Indra, Chandra etc. were not there in the beginning.

Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva 71.4

krishir bhu-vacakah shabdo nash ca nirvritti-vacakah tayor aikyam param brahma krishna ityabhidhiyate

The syllable krish refers to the all-attractive quality of Krishna, and the syllable na refers to His spiritual bliss. When the verb krish is added to the affix na, it becomes the word Krishna, indicating the Supreme Truth.

Rig Veda 1.164.31

apasyam gopam anipadyamana ma ca para ca pathibhis carantam
sa sadhricih sa visucir vasana avatirvati bhuvanesv antah

I saw a cowherd. He never falls from his position; sometimes he is near, and sometimes far, wandering on various paths. He is a friend, decorated with a variety of clothes. He comes again and again to the material world.

//The above verse describe Krishna, the foremost of all the Gopas (cowherd). It also describes Krishna as Avatari ParamPurusha.

Narayana Suktam: 

brahmanyo devki putra

The son of Devki i.e. Sri Krishna is Supreme Brahman.

But, because the demigods are material manifestations of Krishna or they possess the fraction of Supreme Power of Lord Krishna, they are like temporary and inferior aspects of absolute truth, but they are not equal to Lord Krishna in any way.

Difference between Material forms and names and Spiritual (eternal) forms and names

Material manifestations and their names are temporary and subject to continuous manifestation and un-manifestations, but the own names and forms of Lord Krishna like Rama, Narsimha, Vamana etc. are eternal and whoever chants his names, he becomes transcendental to the three modes of material nature and attain the Moksha by the mercy of Lord Krishna.

Thus, all the names and forms ultimately come from Supreme Lord Krishna/Vishnu, this is why it is said that the Truth is one, but it can be told in many ways, be it inferior (like the material manifestations or energies of the Lord) or superior ways (Three aspects of absolute truth, energy and energetic are one and different at the same time etc.).

~ Manohar Krishna Patil


Vedabase.com and Verses Most quoted by Srila Prabhupada 

Thank you for reading, Hare Krishna!

Material and eternal manifestations of Lord Krishna

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