In the bodily concept of life, due to false egotism one is attached to the offspring of the body, and thus everyone in conditioned life is entrapped by false relationships and false affection. The whole world is moving under this false impression and suffering material bondage. I know that neither of You is my son; both of You are the original chief and progenitor, the Personality of Godhead, the Puruṣa with pradhāna. But You have appeared on the surface of this globe to minimize the burden of the world by killing the kṣatriya kings who are unnecessarily increasing their military strength. You have already informed me about this in the past. My dear Lord, You are the shelter of the surrendered soul, the supreme well-wisher of the meek and humble. I am therefore taking shelter of Your lotus feet, which alone can give one liberation from the entanglement of material existence.
“For a long time I have simply considered this body to be myself, and although You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I have considered You my son. My dear Lord, at the very moment when You first appeared in Kaṁsa’s prison house, You informed me that You were the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that You had descended for the protection of the principles of religion as well as the destruction of the unfaithful. Although unborn, You descend in every millennium to execute Your mission. My dear Lord, as in the sky there are many forms, appearing and disappearing, You also appear in many eternal forms and then disappear. Who, therefore, can understand Your pastimes or the mystery of Your appearance and disappearance? Our only business should be to glorify Your supreme greatness.”
When Vasudeva was addressing his divine sons in that way, Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were smiling. Because They are very affectionate to Their devotees, They accepted all the appreciation of Vasudeva with a kindly, smiling attitude. Kṛṣṇa then confirmed all of Vasudeva’s statements as follows: “My dear father, whatever you may say, We are, after all, your sons. What you have said about Us is certainly a highly philosophical understanding of spiritual knowledge. I accept it in toto, without exception.”
Vasudeva was in the complete perfection of life in considering Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma to be his sons, but because the sages assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukṣetra had spoken about the Lord as the supreme cause of everything, Vasudeva simply repeated it out of his love for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Lord Kṛṣṇa did not wish to detract from His relationship with Vasudeva as father and son; therefore in the very beginning of His reply He accepted the fact that He is the eternal son of Vasudeva and that Vasudeva is the eternal father of Kṛṣṇa. After this, Lord Kṛṣṇa informed His father of the spiritual identity of all living entities. He continued: “My dear father, everyone and everything, including Me and My brother Balarāma, as well as all the inhabitants of the city of Dvārakā and the whole cosmic manifestation, are exactly as you have already explained, but all of us are also qualitatively one.”
Lord Kṛṣṇa intended for Vasudeva to see everything with the vision of a mahā-bhāgavata, a first-class devotee, who sees that all living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and that the Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart. In fact, every living entity has a spiritual identity, but in contact with material existence he becomes influenced by the material modes of nature. He becomes covered by the concept of bodily life, forgetting that his spirit soul is of the same quality as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One mistakenly considers one individual to be different from another simply because of their material bodily coverings. Because of differences between bodies, the spirit soul appears before us differently.
Lord Kṛṣṇa then gave a nice example in terms of the five material elements. The total material elements, namely the sky, air, fire, water and earth, are present in everything in the material world, whether in an earthen pot or in a mountain or in the trees or in an earring. These five elements are present in everything, in different proportions and quantities. A mountain is a gigantic form of the combination of these five elements, and a small earthen pot is made of the same elements, but in a smaller quantity. Therefore all material items, although in different shapes or different quantities, are of the same ingredients. Similarly, the living entities—beginning from Lord Kṛṣṇa and including millions of Viṣṇu forms, and also the living entities in different forms, from Lord Brahmā down to the small ant—are all of the same spiritual quality. Some are great in quantity, and some are small, but qualitatively they are of the same nature. It is therefore confirmed in the Upaniṣads that Kṛṣṇa, or the Supreme Lord, is the chief among all living entities and that He maintains them and supplies them with all necessities of life. Anyone who knows this philosophy is in perfect knowledge. The Vedic version tat tvam asi, “Thou art the same,” means not that everyone is God but that everyone is qualitatively of the same nature as God.