• Krishna is Relevant for all ages
• The Dancing, Celebrating, Choiceless Krishna
| Krishna is Relevant for all ages
No awakened person takes birth in a time which he may call his time; on the contrary, he molds time in his own way. Time follows him; he does not follow time. It is the unawakened ones, the unconscious people who come in the wake of time and go on trailing behind it.
But we always think Krishna was born to respond to the needs of the times, because the times were bad, because the times were terrible. But this kind of thinking is basically wrong: it means that even a man like Krishna comes as a link in the chain of cause and effect. And it shows that we reduce even the birth of Krishna into a utilitarian item. It means we see Krishna as serving out interests. We cannot see him in any other way.
It is as if a flower blooms by the wayside and a passerby thinks it has bloomed for his sake and that its fragrance is meant for him. Maybe he writes in his diary that wherever he goes flowers bloom to perfume his path. But flowers bloom even in secluded places where humans never go. Flowers bloom for the sheet joy of blooming; they don't bloom with the purpose of pleasing others. If someone happens to partake of their fragrance, it is quite a different matter.
People like Krishna take birth out of their own joy and bliss and for the love of it; they don't do so for the sake of others. It is different if others partake of his fragrance. And is there a time when people would not profit from the presence of a man like Krishna? Every age will need him, and every age will bask in his sunshine. Really, every age is unhappy; every age is steeped in suffering. So a man like Krishna is relevant and meaningful for all ages. Who is not fond of fragrance? Who is not going to enjoy it if he comes upon it? Wherever a flower blooms a passerby will certainly partake of its fragrance. What I want to tell you is that it is utterly wrong to think of Krishna in terms of utility.
But we have our own limitations. We are conditioned to see everything in terms of its utility for us. We don't attach any significance to that which is non-utilitarian, purposeless. When clouds gather in the sky, we think they are there to irrigate our fields and fill our tanks. If your wristwatch could think, it would think your wrist was made for its use and for no other reason. If your eyeglasses could think they would think your eyes were meant for them. Their difficulty is that they can't think.
Because man thinks and he is egocentric, he thinks that everything in the cosmos is meant to serve him and his ego. If the flowers bloom they bloom for him, and if the stars move they do so in his service. He thinks that the sun is there just to give him warmth and light. And if Krishna is born, he is born for his sake. But this kind of thinking is utterly egoistic and stupid.
To think in terms of utilitarianism is basically wrong. The whole movement of life is non-utilitarian; it is purposeless. Life is for its own sake, for the sake of being life. The flower blooms out of its own joy. The river flows for the joy of flowing. The clouds, the stars, the galaxies all move out of their own bliss. And what do you think you are for and why?
You too are here out of your own joy. And a person like Krishna lives totally out of his ecstasy. It is a different matter that we utilize the light of the sun in various ways, that we grow our food with the help of the rains and make garlands of flowers, but they are not there to serve these purposes. In the same way we take advantage of his presence when a Krishna or a Christ is among us.
But we are entrenched in the habit of looking at everything through the eyes of our petty egos. And so we always ask why was Mahavira born. We ask what the special social and political conditions were that made it necessary for Buddha to be born. Re member that this kind of thinking has another implication, which is dangerous. It means that human consciousness is the product of social conditions.
This is how Karl Marx thought. Marx says that consciousness is shaped by social conditions, not that social conditions are shaped by consciousness. But the irony is that even the non-communists think the same way. They may not be aware that when they say that Krishna was born because of certain social and political conditions that they are saying he was the product of those conditions.
No, social conditions are not responsible for Krishna's birth. No social condition is capable of producing a consciousness of the height of Krishna. When a person like Krishna visits the world he finds society far behind him. Such a backward society cannot create a Krishna. The truth is, it is Krishna who gives that society, without its being aware of it, a new image, a new direction and a new milieu of life.
In my vision, social conditions are not important; it is consciousness that has the highest value. And I tell you that life is not utilitarian: it serves no purpose, no end; life is like a play, a leela. Try to understand the difference between life with purpose and life as play. Someone walks a street in the morning in order to reach somewhere, say his office. And the same person walks the same street in the evening for a stroll; he does not have to reach anywhere. Though the person is the same and the street is the same, there is a great difference between the two walks. While going to the office is an effort, a drudgery, the evening stroll is a play, a joy. Walking to the office he feels heavy and dull; walking for walking's sake he feels delight.
People like Krishna don't live for a purpose; their life is like an evening stroll. Their life is just a play, a leela. Of course, if he finds a thistle lying on the path, he removes it, which is a different matter. This too is part of his joyful play; he does not do so with a motive to earning merit. He walks for the love of walking, but walking, he will lovingly help someone who has lost his way. The man should not go away with the impression that Krishna is a traffic policeman deputized especially to help him. People like Krishna don't do things with a purpose, with a motive. They do not conform to the law of cause and effect.
I do not think men like Krishna, Buddha, Christ and Mahavira are products and parts of our traditions; they are outside every tradition. They happen without a cause. Or you can say that the cause of their being is totally inner; it has nothing to do with any social or external conditions.
I have heard about a famous astrologer whose townsmen had become scared of him because whatever he predicted came true. So two young men of his town conspired to do something so that for once the astrologer would be proved false. As it was winter time, one of them put on an overcoat and hid a pigeon inside it. Together they went to the astrologer's house to test him. They told the astrologer that they had a pigeon hidden inside the overcoat and they wanted him to say if it was alive or dead. They had settled among themselves that if the astrologer said the pigeon was alive, the pigeon would be throttled and killed before being taken out, and in case he said it was dead the live pigeon would be taken out. The astrologer would have no way to be right, so the two friends thought.
But the answer of the astrologer was one they could not have conceived. He said, "It is in your hands." He said, "The pigeon is neither alive nor dead; it is in your hands. It depends on you." They were flabbergasted and they said, "You have defeated us, sir."
Our life is in our hands, and for people like Krishna it is utterly in their hands. They live the way they want to live. Society as such, its social and political conditions, or any kind of external pressures, do not make a difference to them; they go their own way. Their beings are exclusively their own. Of course, they do make some adjustments with the societies they live in, but they do so out of compassion for those societies. Such adjustments are made not for fear of punishment or for reward. And many things happen just because of their living in a particular time, things that would not take place without their presence. But these things are insignificant and irrelevant, they have nothing to do with their inner lives as such.
Please listen. Men like Krishna do not come to this world for the sake of a particular society or for the sake of some particular social and political condition. Nor do they come to protect some kind of special people. It is true some people receive guidance, and even protection at their hands, but it is a different matter altogether. Krishna flowers out of his own ecstasy and this happens without a cause. It is as causeless as the dance of the stars in the heavens and the blossoming of the flowers on the earth. It is as causeless as the passing of the breeze through the pine tree and the clouds raining in the monsoon.
But we are not so purposeless. All of us are tethered to some purpose in life, and therefore we are unable to understand Krishna. We live with a goal in life, with a purpose, a motive. Even if we love some one we do so with a purpose; we give our love with a condition, a string attached to it. We always want something in return. Even our love is not purposeless, unconditional, uncontaminated. We never do a thing without motive, just for the love of it. And remember, unless you begin to do something without a cause, without a reason, without a motive, you cannot be religious. The day something in your life happens causelessly, when your action has no motive or condition attached to it, when you do something just for the love and joy of doing it, you will know what religion is, what God is.
Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy,
| The Dancing, Celebrating, Choiceless Krishna
KRISHNA IS SAID TO HAVE LEFT MATHURA AND SETTLED IN DISTANT DWARKA SO THAT THE WESTERN COAST COULD BE DEFENDED AGAINST EXTERNAL AGGRESSION IT IS ALSO SAID THAT THE PEOPLE OF MATHURA BELIEVED THAT KRISHNA WAS THE CAUSE OF THEIR TROUBLES BECAUSE IT IS ON HIS ACCOUNT THAT KINGS LIKE JARASANDH RECURRINGLY WAGED WAR ON MATHURA. IT IS ALSO BELIEVED THAT KRISHNA SUFFERED DEFEAT AT THE HANDS OF KING JARASANDH, WHICH SHOWS UP HIS HUMAN ASPECT. PLEASE COMMENT.
Victory and defeat in life are like the warp and weft with which a piece of cloth is woven. Victory alone cannot make a life, as warp alone cannot create a piece of cloth. Nor can defeat alone make a life. To weave the cloth of life, the warp and woof of victory and defeat, success and failure, gain and loss, right and wrong, are essential. Life is made of these opposites; the opposites are like two sides of a coin.
The real question is not whether Krishna wins a battle or loses it; the real question is whether the totality of one's life results in victory or defeat. And it applies to everyone's life. It is immaterial whether one wins a battle here and loses a battle there. It is possible that a defeat becomes a stepping stone to victory. It is also possible that a victory may serve as a jumping board to fall into abysmal defeat. The warp and weft of life are so vast and complex, every defeat does not mean defeat and every victory does not mean victory. It is okay if one loses a battle or two and wins the war. The ultimate judgment on one's life depends not on a count of wins and losses, but on the final summation of one's whole life story.
It is natural that Krishna had moments of defeat in his life. It is inevitable with life. If God has to live in the world he will have to live as humans do; he will have to accept everything that life brings with it. Success and failure, happiness and pain, light and shade, will walk hand-in-hand together. In fact, one who is not ready to face defeats in life should give up all thought of victory.
Krishna's life contains both victory and defeat; that is why it is so human. But this humanness does not detract from the grandeur and glory of his life, really it adds much to it. It means that Krishna is so unique that he can take defeat too. He is not set on winning, not an egoist who is sworn to win and who is not going to accept a defeat. Krishna is prepared for everything that life brings with it. He is prepared to lose a war, even to run away from it, to escape it from any point. He accepts the ups and downs of life unconditionally; he is really choiceless. He does not say that he will go this far and no further. This is what makes Krishna tremendously human, and at times because of his humanness he looks small in comparison to the divinity of Buddha and Mahavira. Both Buddha and Mahavira look absolutely divine; they do not look human at all. But remember, too much divinity is likely to turn harsh and inhuman; it loses that beautiful quality called human tenderness.
Krishna is not going to be harsh, so he accepts all that we call human weakness. A proverb says, "To err is human," but there is no corresponding proverb that says, "Not to err is inhuman." There should be one; it is utterly inhuman if one does not ever err. And Krishna does not take a mistake as mistake; he takes it in stride, as something coming with life.
And it is true that Krishna had to leave Mathura. A man like Krishna might have to leave many places; he might prove to be troublesome at many places. Any number of places may find it increasingly difficult to bear him; they can ask to be excused for their inability to go with him. To under stand him and to go with him is really arduous. So Krishna moves away without difficulty; he is not set on staying in a particular place. He moves from one place to another with the ease you move from one room of your house to another. And he leaves a place so utterly that he does not once turn his head to look back at it again. While his lovers feel disturbed about it, and implore him again and again to come back, they want to know if he still remembers them or not, on his part he has left them completely and finally. Now he is mindful of the other place to which he has moved; he forgets Mathura altogether. Wherever Krishna is, he is there totally. And because of it he sometimes seems to be harsh and hard-hearted.
Krishna's life is a flux; he moves with the winds. He goes eastward with the east wind; he goes westward with the westerly. He has no choice of his own to be here or there or anywhere; he goes with life totally. There is a saying of Lao Tzu: Be like the winds; move with the winds; go wherever they take you. And don't choose.
I am reminded of a small Zen parable:
There is a river which is flooded. It is rushing toward the ocean with tremendous speed and force, and two small stalks of some plant are also flowing with its currents. One of the stalks has placed itself crosswise against the currents; it is tense and anxious, tries to fight against them... it makes no difference for the currents which are too powerful to be resisted. The currents are not even aware that a little straw is in their way, trying to resist their triumphant advance. But as far as the little stalk is concerned, it is fighting for its life and wasting all its energy for nothing.
The other stalk has left itself lengthwise in the currents, which are taking it with them effortlessly. This stalk is relaxed and joyous and festive. It is dancing with the ripples of the river; it has a feeling of sharing and celebrating with the great river. The ways of the stalks make not the least difference to the river, but make all the difference to themselves.
Like the two straws there are two kinds of people in the world. One is demanding, aggressive and resistant like the first stalk which places itself against the river and fights with it and suffers at every step. And there are people -- the other kind of people -- who say "Yes" to life, who cooperate with it like the other stalk, which places itself in the currents lengthwise and moves effortlessly and happily with them. These people have a sense of deep kinship with existence; they move with it, with a song in their hearts.
There is a flute in Krishna's hands because he has left himself completely in the hands of existence; he flows effortlessly with its currents. He does not come in the way of life, he does not fight with it. That is how he sings and dances and plays the flute and goes blissfully through life. You cannot put a flute in the hands of Mahavira; he cannot play it. It is unthinkable.
Only Krishna can afford a flute, because he is totally with life, not against it. He is ready to go wherever the river of life takes him. He is as happy in Dwarka as he was in Mathura or anywhere else. And wherever he is, he is dancing and celebrating. That is the way of a choiceless person. And choicelessness is the door to bliss, ecstasy.
Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy,