Indian as well as Western scholars have now accepted the period between 3200 and 3100 BC as the period in which Lord Krishna lived on earth. Krishna took birth at midnight on the Ashtami or the 8th day of the Krishnapaksha or dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Shravan (August-September).
Krishna, God, exists in three principal forms (rupas)—svayam-rupa, tad-ekatma-rupa, and avesha-rupa in the cosmic universe.
Svayam means "original." In this category there is only one person: Krsna. Originally God is one; no one is greater than or equal to Him. Krsna has no origin. He is the source of everything and the sum of everything. He is the original creator of all living entities and of the material and spiritual worlds. He is the source of all expansions of God. He is the shelter of everything and master of everyone. He is the supreme controller, and His spiritual body is eternal, full of bliss and knowledge. There is no difference between Krsna and His body, as there is for living entities in the material world.
This category consists of expansions and avataras (incarnations) of the Lord. They are extraordinary and unlimited. The chart lists only a few. An expansion is a form of the Lord residing in the spiritual realm; an avatara is a form of the Lord who comes to the material world. (See the side-bar "The Avataras.") Vedic literature refers to both expansions and avataras as amsa (plenary portions) and kala (portions of plenary portions). Amsas expand directly from the Lord, and kalas expand from amsas.
These expansions and avataras possess some of the qualities Lord Krsna possesses in full. They appear with bodily features and emotions different from Krsna's, and They carry out specific activities. They are uniquely named according to these qualifying characteristics.
Also known as saktyavesa-avatara, this category has three divisions: bhagavad-avesa (divine absorption), saktyavesa (directly empowered), and vibhuti (indirectly empowered). Servants of the Lord empowered with knowledge and strength make up this category. They can act almost like God in carrying out specific functions.
There are unlimited numbers of empowered devotees; the chart lists some of them. Most are jivas, or minute souls, and not God Himself (visnu-tattva). Exceptions: Sesa Naga, Ananta, Kapila, and Rsabhadeva.
Vibhutis, or opulent things of this world, are also categorized as avesa-rupas of the Lord. They are indirectly empowered by God. Krsna explains that everything beautiful, opulent, and glorious in this world comes from Him. He gives an extensive list ofvibhutis in the tenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita.