A Universal Penis

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.10.26

निरभिद्यत शिश्नोवै प्रजानन्दामृतार्थिनः।
उपस्थ आसीत् कामानां प्रियंतदुभयाश्रयम्।।

nirabhidyata śiśno vai prajānandāmṛtārthinaḥ;
upastha āsīt kāmānāṁ priyaṁ tad-ubhayāśrayam.

A penis certainly differentiated itself on the Universal Body, as a result of the desire to experience the bliss of procreation and the endeavor for immortality. The deity of procreation generated the counterpart genital, the vulva, and the two things required to enjoy sexual pleasure: desire and affection.

In the Bhaktivedanta Purport on this verse, Śrīla Prabhupāda comments: “The impersonalist must know from this verse that the Lord is not impersonal, for He has His genitals.”

This verse comes in a section where Śukadeva answers Parīkṣit’s request to more clearly explain the relationship between the objects in the universe and the Universal Form of the Puruṣa (Original Person). Śuka explains how each sense became manifest on the Universal Form as a result of specific desires, and thereafter how a divinity of perception empowered that sense and generated the corresponding sense objects, thus creating the template or blueprint from which all of the senses, sense perceptions, and sense objects in the universe could later become manifest.

The whole context of answering this question is as a way to demonstrate that God is the Ultimate Refuge of everything, and everything is dependent on him – because this is the 10th and most important theme of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which Śuka is about to begin reciting to Parīkṣit.

The genitalia is one of the 10 sense organs, so at a certain point in the discussion Śuka explains how it manifest. All the organs are described as appearing by way of nirabhidya or ruruha, which means “differentiating” or “sprouting” respectively. This is a very fascinating image, which is similar to how an embryo develops into a fetus. Śrīla Prabhupāda noted this in an earlier commentary, and I appreciated that this can also be one reason why the Universal Form is said to exist within the “Womb-Ocean” (garbhodaka).

The penis (śiśno) differentiated itself (nirabhidyata) on the Universal Form… certainly (eva). Why “certainly” has to be said? Maybe to make it emphatic so listeners are not like, “What? Are you serious?” Or maybe to show that the genitals are an especially important organ.

What desire caused the penis to appear/differentiate itself on the Universal Form? A two-fold desire: (1) the bliss of procreating (praja-ananda); and (2) the quest for immortality (amṛta-artha). Each desire has two meanings. “The bliss of procreating” means (i) the happiness that arises from children, and (ii) the pleasure inherent in the act of procreation itself. The two meanings of “the quest for immortality” are: (i) the inherent instinct to create new life to avoid extinction – a type of immortality (here amṛta literally means immortality); (ii) the desire to enjoy nectar, heavenly pleasure (Here amṛta figuratively means “nectar” – the elixir of immortality).

Essentially, two simultaneous desires in the universal blueprint cause genitals to exist in the universe: the desire to enjoy and the desire to procreate.

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s comment indicates that these two are interwoven, a singular two-fold desire, and cannot be separated. “No one would have taken the trouble to maintain children if there were no taste of heavenly nectar by means of sexual intercourse.”

Genitals are empowered to fulfill their two-fold purpose by means of two divine powers: (1) lusty desire (kāmānāṁ) and (2) affection (priyaṁ). The word lust need not be read with a negative connotation here. It should be read as “desire” with the sense of sexual desire. The genital will not function without these two empowerments. There has to be sufficient desire (kāma) for children and pleasure, or else the genital will not prepare itself for activity. And there has to be sufficient affection (priya) for the sexual partner, otherwise the pleasure involved will be quite deficient and disturbing. Another meaning here is that desire (kāma) empowers the genital to fulfill it’s purpose of enjoying nectar and procreative bliss, while affection (priya) empowers it to fulfill its other purpose: creating new life and raising children correctly.

The word “genital” appears twice in this śloka; in the first half of the verse as śiśnaḥ, and in the second half as upastha. The first, śiśnaḥ primarily refers to the male genital, a penis – because the root of that word indicates penetration. The second, upastha, primarily refers to the female genital, a vulva – because the root of this word connotes a receptive area. Ācāryas analyzing this śloka, Śrīla Prabhupāda and Śrīla Viśvanātha for example, indicate that the vulva is produced in the universe as a result of the Universal Form generating a penis.

Feminists may sometimes take exception to the vulva being denoted as the sense object and the penis being denoted as the sense organ. An explanation could be offered that this relationship is relative to the Universal Form. However I don’t imagine that this explanation alone would fully satisfy most objectors. It would therefore take a bit of patient, well-educated, and careful explanation to help them understand why the Absolute Truth possess both male and female characteristics – primarily adopting the male character as his own subjective point of view and investing the female character into all the divinity that eternally emanates from him. Some elaboration on this seems required to fully answer such an objection, since this masculinity of the Universal Form,and femininity of the Universe is a reflection of that intrinsic dynamic in the Absolute Entity.

The name of the divinity of the genital is curiously lacking from, or hidden in, this śloka, unlike most other ślokas in this section. Viśvanātha Ṭhākur takes praja in prajānanda to indirectly indicate Prajapati as the divinity of genital perception. Prabhupāda follows this in his translation. Prajapati literally means “master of procreation.” In keeping with this, and in deference to the fact that the literal demigods who bear the names of these divine powers have not yet been created when this “fetal development” of the Universal Form is happening, I identify praja as the divinity of genital perception and translate the term as, “the divinity of procreation.”

In closing, it is amazing how many people are shocked to hear that God has a penis. For sure its not an ugly, exploitive, misappropriated penis such as we have sole experience of among the various temporary forms of pretenders to masculinity amongst the expansive species in this world. Nonetheless, God has a penis. Call it a “divine penis” if it helps. Realization of divine beauty of this fact will help us lose obsession with our own genitalia and gain the liberating fascination with his. Surely this is beyond the level of many readers to comprehend – but it’s nice to throw some ideas out there over people’s heads every once in a while. It tends to make them try to reach up a little higher.

Hare Krishna.

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  1. great article. i got it! don’t scratch the itch it will go away. no more vulture culture as Aindra would say. see you soon Prabhu. yes, INd

    all glories to Srila Prabhupada. Hare Krsna

    we are situated in our new apartment.  soon we can invite you over. our kitchen is really nice. we are ready to serve. Gauranga!


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