Ok, this is a replug of my post from a few years earlier. However its refreshed – and more importantly its adorned with a wonderful piece of art by young school-going Richi, the daughter of a wonderful friend who wonders why her daughter seems to favour krishna above anything else as the subject of her art. Read through this post and maybe there’s an answer mam!
Relish this drawing from the little girl – they capture the spirit of krishna and his wonderous ways more than words ever could.
For those who haven’t come across this God yet in the travels of their life, Krishna is a god for everyone. if you are an intellectual, he can teach you the lofty truths of vedanta. If you are emotional and full of feeling, his endearing stories and his very life history (bhagavatam) will talk to your heart. If you are one who revels in the experience of god, he can teach you meditation. And if none of these appeal to you just now, he can teach you a way of living through righteous action (karma yoga).
Philosopher, social worker, friend, warrior monk, king – he is an incredible package – even by Godly standards. Think about picking one gentle man who encompasses the best of harry potter, lao tzu, batman, superman and another 20 such super starts – and you begin to get the idea…
Why do we need a god in the first place? Some need it for inspiration, some need it for solace, some need a year-round santa claus to give them gifts, some are lookign desperately for hope and reassurance of a better future, some need an ear to listen to them. Truth spoken – God means different things to different people – and when a God can relate to each of our needs, he transcends to become a super God in our eyes.
So how do we relate to God?
There are 5 major ways we relate to a God – and based on our need and our evolution, we choose the appropriate one – so proclaim the scriptures. Each of these ways allows you to build a personal relationship so he can bring you the grace you wish to enjoy – you can look upon God as your child, a beloved, a dear friend, a master or of course as the all knowing God (capitalized at that!). While many of us may find it difficult to relate to the lord as an absolute entity (try imagining a formless, nameless, attributeless entity named god and you will understand the challenge!), we can with greater success imagine him as an adorable child, a dark-skinned youth with charms to rival any mills-and-boons character, a dear friend and so on. Incredibly, Krishna mythology has different people relating to him through each of these ways – all with equal success. Now, isn’t that special? let’s hear out a few stories to round things off.
Yasodha (his foster mother) related to him as her child, and by all accounts he was a most mischievous child. There are many, many endearing tales of his pranks – here’s one that also hints at his godliness. One day he put a lump of sand in his mouth and when she forcibly opened his mouth, legend has it that she saw the entire universe instead of the grains of sand she was seeking to remove. She must have felt blessed and a little disoriented too (we can only imagine that she must have given him a free hand to eat what he wanted post this incident!).
Radha (and the gopis) related to Krishna as their beloved. You’ll find tons of stories (and paintings) detailing this relationship across India. This one is not the typical romeo story though, it has several shades of spiritual meaning in it. For the common man/ woman, there’s one key takeaway – krishna loves Radha that he would do anything for her sake. So if you have a favour to ask of Krishna (buy a house, score more marks, win an Olympic medal – or is that one too difficult!), you better get radha on your side and she will pleade your case successfully with him!!
As a friend, Krishna stands alone – especially in times of need, tales abound of how he comes to his friend’s need. The only favour he asks in return is true unallyed friendship – which of course in these days of caution, many are loathe to give! India’s inspirational masterpiece – the bhagavad gita are but a conversation he has with a close buddy (Arjuna) where he gently coaxes his friend to achieve greatness – of all things on a battlefield. Think about it – if you were the friend of the commando and in a war – and your friend loses his will and wits – would you stay back and inspire him to fight the war of his life or do a quick abscond. My survey says, 99% would take the latter route – perhaps a reason we aren’t a krishna!
There’s also a story where he is graciousness itself while meeting a childhood friend who has fallen upon hard times and showers grace and abundance on him unasked. The friend’s life is transformed infinitely for the better – as all authentic encounters with Krishna are wont to do.
And who can forget the the dramatic incident where he alone among the numerous wise men at court steps up to save his friend Draupadi during a shameful episode where her husbands gamble her away to their cousins – who attempt to disrobe her. Everytime I read this one, i feel this is where feminism started as a movement, and rightly so!
Krishna somehow seems to have a tender heart, high intellect and awesome brawn – and all of this he readily employs for those who need them. And in this time of a needy human populace, no wonder he is a such a popular God. There’s a fascinating story of two folks – a king and an old lady (who has but a cow to call her own) – who pray regularly to Krishna. The King prayed for – well more – more power, more fame, more riches (he was like most of us!), while the old lady prayed for krishna’s grace. One day – lo and behold – Krishna showered his blessings on them. The king got an expanded kingdom and retired happily for the night (the next day of course he could resume his request for just a little bit more again!) while the old lady’s cow died. “How could you do this, my lord” asked a perplexed (and one can imagine very angry) minister to Krishna. Krishna answers– “All the king wanted was more material riches so I gave him that. It’s going to take him eons to outgrow his fascination for the riches and ask for eternity. The lady though – she has almost reached the land of bliss but her attachment to the cow is preventing her from taking the final jump to godliness – and hence I took that away. Now she truly is with me”. The lady we understand is now above gracing us with her benevolence, the king of course is now back on earth (possibly suited and booted too) and was last heard asking Krishna for a jaguar XJ or atleast a beemer. We haven’t heard back from the cow yet….
On that note, here’s bidding adieu to this post. Krishna’s birthday is celebrated across the world as a momentous day, the day when God descended on earth in a human form. Women paint little feet inviting this wonderful, wise and fun God into their homes. Let’s pray that his teachings, his form and his very life (called lilas) bring us serenity, a smile and profound grace into our lives.