Thursday, August 25, 2016
Janmashtami celebrates the Birthday of Sri Krishna, bestower of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord of Brindaban, beloved Prophet of millions throughout the world.
Krishna gave wisdom. Therefore we, including myself, consider that
Krishna’s greatest contribution of His whole life,
though every minute of His play on earth was great,
was the Bhagavad Gita.*
~Swami Amar Jyoti
*”Song of God”, the most beloved scripture of India
Sri Krishna manifested practically all the aspects of human and Divine. That is why he is called the Perfect Incarnation, because he could combine all nature’s forces in such a blending and wholesome way, which otherwise only manifests in various people at different times. There is nothing physical remaining from Krishna’s life that you can go and investigate–no manuscripts, no buildings or statues even, though lately they have found some ruins under the sea on the western coast of India. So, whether he is taken as a human personality, an Incarnation, or the Supreme Godhead is up to anyone to believe or not.
When Krishna was a small child–there are many stories, hundreds and thousands–one day his mother, Yashoda, wanted to punish him. Gopal, his childhood name, which means “protector of the cows,” was a very naughty boy. He played mischief with
everyone–men, boys, grannies, small girls and teenagers. On this occasion, he had eaten charcoal or some ashes outside, as children sometimes do. The other boys told on him and his mother wanted him to tell the truth. She tried to look into his mouth herself but he was holding it closed tightly. Finally at one point she pressed his cheeks like this, you know, and his mouth opened. And inside she saw the three worlds–the earth, heaven and the nether world, manifested in his mouth! She got scared and swooned, saying, “Gopal, what are you doing? Close your mouth! I don’t want to see this. I want to see you as my son!”
There are so many stories of this kind. For example, Radha was the foremost gopi. She was the personification of unconditional love, of divine love, of the highest love ever experienced. And Radha was not even Krishna’s wife. Why would the love of Radha-Krishna remain immortal all these thousands of years, and growing more and more? Even Americans and Europeans worship their immortal love. That is because it was so unconditional, so unalloyed and selfless. Radha is considered to be an Incarnation of Lakshmi–the Goddess and consort of Lord Vishnu in heaven. And Krishna was everything for her, so much so that they say, if you were to go incognito while Radha was lying down asleep and put your ear on her pulse, you would hear, “Krishna… Krishna…” Now it may be poetry, allegory, or whatever, but love was in her very blood and in her every breath. She knew only Krishna, not even Radha.
He gave wisdom. Therefore we consider that Krishna’s greatest contribution of his whole life–though every day, every minute was great–was the Bhagavad Gita. He taught that if you are worldly, thinking only of possessions, attachment and greed, you will not be happy. You have to be wise. Your karma has to be karma yoga, selfless action. You have to have devotion to the Lord. Acquiring possessions is just transitory. The Gita, therefore, is still living now, not only one of the scriptures of India, but the ultimate wisdom and Krishna’s greatest contribution to humanity.
Great powers he showed–omnipotence, magic, even love, but the greatest is the Gita. If you read it very carefully you will see that he not only harmonized devotion and selfless work with wisdom, but he gave the way of salvation out of all this. Krishna himself was a great king, but he knew that salvation is not in these riches. It is not achieved through possessions, materialism, jealousy, competition or ambition. He gave the way out of these, the release, the Ultimate, Kevalya, which they call the Absolute, Brahman. He showed that Brahman resides and pervades in everyone and that everyone is in Him. Therefore, to Krishna, the sinner and saint were not even in his vocabulary.
The good, the devotees, the faithful ones, he constantly protected. His famous line in the Gita is: “My Incarnation is only to protect my devotees.” By devotees he meant devotees of God. So it was with the villagers of Vraja who invoked the wrath of Indra, or against the wrath of Kaliya, a poisonous snake that inhabited a lake nearby, or against the many demons who came to defeat him. He was always protecting his devotees against these evil ones. But to those who asked for a slap, who asked for destruction, who otherwise would not yield, grow, change or learn the lesson, he said: “Okay, I’ll give you tit for tat.” Both ways he did very perfectly, but ultimately both good and evil got salvation.
Why is Krishna called the Supreme Personality? He is such a perfect Incarnation, right on earth. Where he seems complex or paradoxical is only because human nature is complex and paradoxical. How could he play straight with complex people? You have to play complexly in order to teach a lesson, to change a person or to do good to people. So Krishna dealt perfectly with both. And this is exactly the whole meaning of Krishna’s leela, which is sometimes incomprehensible, but to me it is very easily understandable. There couldn’t be any other way. It cannot be the same stereotyped, classical way for all people. It has to be different with different kinds. When they learn the lesson, they also understand. That is the way they are asking to learn. The mean, the wicked, the selfish, the evil ask for the hard way, but in the end, God is merciful. On the contrary, since you have paid the price, now you are free.
Excerpted from the book
From The Grace of Sri Krishna
(K-110) given at Sacred Mountain Ashram on the holy day of
Sri Krishna Janmashtami (Birth of Sri Krishna), August 24, 1989.