The Life of Krishna — Roles Rendered Perfectly
Krishna is incomparable, Krishna is indescribable, Krishna is infinite… Yet my affinity towards the stories of Krishna’s glorious incarnations compels me to continue writing about Him.
This is an English translation of Sri Guru’s original Hindi article.
Ours is a culture rich in the tales and legends of avatars, where they have been widely celebrated across generations through folklore, music, poetry and more. Having served as a useful medium to propagate the fundamental values, morals & ethics of life, they have taught us how to become righteous human beings. However, even though these songs and stories have prevailed since long, the morals behind them seem to have disappeared in today’s day and age. The meaningful lessons they intended to convey have not been as well-preserved. And this is why from time to time, enlightened souls awaken in this world in the form of Sadguru, with a passion to unravel the hidden truths about these extraordinary stories and once again enliven the spirit of Krishna in our hearts.
Given his far reaching presence in our cultural traditions, people of all ages are drawn with fondness towards the tales of Krishna. In this article, we will take a look at three significant phases of Krishna’s life, which not only strengthen our devotion towards him but also motivate us to aim for such a holistic way of evolving our lives.
Krishna’s Childhood — A Symbol of Pure Love
The childhood of Krishna has been articulated in numerous ways. In fact, the Bhaagvad Purana has a multitude of stories that have chronicled his formative years — so many in number, that one’s entire childhood may be spent listening to them! In the present age too, after taking certain creative liberties, these stories are being presented in a way that imprints his grand persona in people’s minds. But every now and then, these portrayals stretch so far and beyond that the actual message of the story becomes hard to interpret. Same is the case with the expansion of Bhaagvad Purana, where the essence of Krishna seems to have grown faint. Perhaps this is why we could only ‘worship’ His godly form, but never dared to ‘become’ like Krishna!
For me, little Krishna signifies Love in its purest form, who knows how to receive love from others and how to express it in abundance. The invaluable moments where there is no reluctance in accepting something from your beloved, neither is there any need for keeping record while giving — that is what true Love is. In all his childhood tales, I have always regarded Krishna in this form, and it has encouraged me to live my life in the same manner. Be it Gokul or Vrindavan, little Krishna was adored by all beings. Everyone was intensely drawn to him with deep affection. And Krishna also kept alive this mutual love by frequently protecting them from attacks by demons and even the wrath of nature.
Love is that absolute experience where we are free of all expectations and just want to unconditionally give as much as we can. Therefore, the essential lesson we can derive from such an extensive account of Krishna’s embodiment as a child is that we should lay the foundation of our lives with love and embrace its purity right from the beginning.
Krishna’s Youth — A Warrior’s Revolution
After ten years of propagating the divine message of love throughout his childhood, the next phase in Krishna’s life arrives when he goes to Mathura to kill the evil king Kansa and end his rule of tyranny. Love has the power to enter into any battle of life and emerge victorious, upon relinquishing fear and delusion. Uncle Kansa was extremely powerful and had great experience in the battlefield. Nevertheless, when it came to eliminating the reign of injustice and evil, Krishna did not let the bond of relationships stop him from doing what was right — which depicts the delusion-free state of Krishna, and he bravely executed Kansa despite being aware of his enormous strength and experience — which portrays the fearless state of Krishna.
Thereafter, Krishna and Balarama left for Rishi Sandeepani’s Ashram for their spiritual initiation. This part of the story has always filled me with profound reverence towards a ‘Guru’, for it has taught me that even though we may possess a wealth of virtues within, it is the presence of an enlightened master that strengthens the spiritual foundation in our lives. Otherwise, why would Krishna, in all his divinity and omniscience, ever need to seek education from a Rishi? Yet, despite being well-endowed in the virtues of love, detachment and fearlessness, Krishna gave utmost importance to learning from a Guru. It is an important lesson for every era that the attainment of spiritual wisdom is only possible in the humbling presence of a Guru.
Upon completing his education, Krishna returns to Mathura where he finds that King Jarasandha has waged an all-out war against Mathura to avenge his son-in-law Kansa’s death. For seventeen times, Jarasandha attacks and is defeated. But in the eighteenth attempt, he allies with Kalayavana, who is capable of killing a large number of Mathura residents at once. To avoid this massacre, Krishna says to the people of Mathura that it is time to leave this land and migrate to Dwarka, where he builds an entire city with his divine powers. Because he withdrew from the battlefield and fled, history often describes Krishna as ‘Ranchhod Das’ but for the sake of protecting his people, Krishna gladly accepted this blemish upon his character.
This whole incident has guided me plenty of times in my life — the foremost duty of a warrior is to save his own people by any means possible, a duty which Krishna performed unfailingly. As it happens in life, the tides of time are such that we are unable to fight and protect ourselves from the battles of life, even after having the strength and ability to do so. Here, my Krishna says to me that it is best to leave that battlefield and distance ourselves from the situation. In this Leela of life, the sacred duty of a warrior is to safeguard his vital resources (life and property) and if that requires him to flee the battlefield, then the sensibility of Krishna-avatar deems it as a wise decision. If we consciously apply this teaching from Krishna’s youth in our daily lives, we can save ourselves from wasting a remarkable amount of time and energy.
Krishna in domestic sphere — A politician who changed the course of time
This phase illustrates his political acumen and diplomatic skills. Truly, the life of Krishna is beyond compare. And blessed are those who witnessed, understood and experienced the vivid aspects of Krishna’s Leela, subsequently weaving them in the form of stories.
The ascension to Dwarka’s throne marks the beginning of the most important mission of Krishna-avatar — the re-establishment of Dharma. After fighting all kinds of evil demons, the preparations for the grand battle of Mahabharata had begun. This was a fierce battle against the weakening moral standards of society and the rising injustice and oppression in the provinces. The destruction of Adharma (evil and injustice) and the restoration of Dharma (law and order) was only possible with this mega-war that involved the entire Bharatvarsha.
Knowing that the battle would be among his own people, Krishna proposed several ways to make peace and avoid bloodshed. But as war became inevitable, he did not hesitate to be a part of it, undertaking the role of a charioteer (conscious witness). Thus, in addition to virtues like love, detachment, fearlessness, sensitivity, courage, wisdom and a grand perspective, we learn yet another significant lesson from Krishna. Whenever we find ourselves amidst a conflict, we must become like a charioteer, that is, a conscious witness. We should definitely attempt to make peace with our fellow beings (or our mind) and avert the conflict in the first place. But if the conflict becomes unavoidable, then mindfully confronting it is what Krishna encourages.
In the present age, life of Krishna can be a source of immense wisdom and inner transformation for every being. All we need to do is invoke the right perspective to clearly understand the various dimensions of Krishna and to re-establish Dharma in our lives.