In the long chain of spiritual masters, from ancient Indian rishsis, to Buddha, Mahavira and Christ, there comes one Krishna and gives us a completely new perspective on spirituality. The fact that Krishna gives us the cream of advaita knowledge in the most poetic way through Geeta, and the same Krishna plays flute and sings and dances and celebrates, shows that religion need not be against life, not based on negation and abnegation. Religion should be both, celebration of this life, and preparation for the after life. He is truly an example of how one can live like a lotus in muddy water, ever shining and not let a spec of dirt corrupt or stain it. And this quality makes Krishna so vast he is difficult to comprehend.
Osho, one of the best philosophers of recent times, was a Jain from Madhya Pradesh who started his own commune with no affiliate to any religion. His spiritual philosophy was also based on celebrating life as a means to worship. Naturally OSHO was fond of Krishna. Quoting some of His commentaries on Krishna, no-one else could have said it better.
He explains why Krishna is unique:
” Every religion, up to now, has divided life into two parts, and while they accept one part they deny the other, Krishna alone accepts the whole of life. Acceptance of life in its totality has attained full fruition in Krishna. That is why India held him to be a perfect incarnation of God, while all other incarnations were assessed as imperfect and incomplete. Even Rama is described as an incomplete incarnation of God. But Krishna is the whole of God.
He accepts life in all its facets, in all its climates and colors. He alone does not choose he accepts life unconditionally. He does not shun love; being a man he does not run away from women. As one who has known and experienced God, he alone does not turn his face from war. He is full of love and compassion, and yet he has the courage to accept and fight a war. His heart is utterly non violent, yet he plunges into the fire and fury of violence when it becomes unavoidable. He accepts the nectar, and yet he is not afraid of poison. In fact, one who knows the deathless should be free of the fear of death. And of what worth is that nectar which is afraid of death? One who knows the secret of non-violence should cease to fear violence. What kind of non-violence is it that is scared of violence? And how can the spirit, the soul, fear the body and run away from it? And what is the meaning of God if he cannot take the whole of this world in his embrace?”
Krishna accepts the duality, the dialectics of life altogether and therefore transcends duality. What we call transcendence is not possible so long as you are in conflict, so long as you choose one part and reject the other. Transcendence is only possible when you choicelessly accept both parts together, when you accept the whole.”
It is this paradox that makes Krishna difficult to understand. Therefore, people who have loved and worshiped him have done so by dividing him into parts, and they have worshiped his different fragments, those of their liking. No one has accepted and worshiped the whole of Krishna, no one has embraced him in his entirety. Poet Surdas sings superb hymns of praise to the Krishna of his childhood, Bal. krishna. Surdas’ Krishna never grows up, because there is a danger with a grown-up Krishna which the personality of Surdas cannot accept, whereas Meera finds union and love in the young Krishna.
Similarly for Geeta. No interpretations of the GEETA interpret Krishna, they only interpret the interpreters. Shankara finds corroboration of his own views from the GEETA: he finds that the world is an illusion. From the same book Ramanuja discovers that devotion is the path to God. Tilak finds something else: for him the GEETA stands for the discipline of action, Karma yoga. And curiously enough, from this sermon on the battlefield, Gandhi unearths that non violence is the way. No body has any difficulty finding in the GEETA what he wants to find. Krishna does not come in their way; everyone is welcome there. He is an empty mirror. You see your image, move away, and the mirror is as empty as ever. It has no fixed image of its own; it is mere emptiness.”
God is truly infinite, it is the whole, the complete. It is the personality of devotee that limits god by rejecting a different way of worship, limit God’s knowledge by claiming all his knowledge is contained in one book. It is only Krishna that could accept divinity within in its entirety, and that is why Krishna seamlessly engaged in Devine love with Gopis and also declares in Geeta, the famous quote associated with the atom Bomb ” And now I am death, the destroyer of the worlds.”
Krishna is often accused by “intellectuals” of being a war monger, as someone who lead Arjuna into fighting his own relatives. OSHO has a brilliant reply for these pacifists :
“Krishna is not a hawk, not a supporter of war for war’s sake. He, however, treats war as part of life’s game. But he is not a warmonger. He has no desire whatsoever to destroy anyone; he does not want to hurt anyone. He has made every effort to avoid war, but he is certainly not prepared to escape war at any cost – at the cost of life and truth and religion itself. After all, there should be a limit to our efforts to avoid war, or anything else for that matter. We want to avoid war just for so it does not hurt and harm life. But what if life itself is hurt and harmed by preventing war? Then its prevention has no meaning. Even the pacifist wants to prevent war so that peace is preserved. But what sense is there in preventing a war if peace suffers because of it? In that case, we certainly need to have the strength and ability to wage a clear war, a decisive war.
Krishna is not a hawk, but he is not a frightened escapist either. He says it is good to avoid war, but if it becomes unavoidable it is better to accept it bravely and joyfully than to run away from it. Running away would be really cowardly and sinful. If a moment comes when, for the good of mankind, war becomes necessary – and such moments do come – then it should be accepted gracefully and happily. Then it is really bad to be dragged into it and to fight it with a reluctant and heavy heart. Those who go to war with dragging feet, just to defend themselves, court defeat and disaster. A defensive mind, a mind that is always on the defensive, cannot gather that strength and enthusiasm necessary to win a war. Such a mind will always be on the defensive, and will go on shrinking in every way. Therefore Krishna tells you to turn even fighting into a joyful, blissful affair.
And it is not necessary that war bring only evil. Sometimes the avoidance of war can result in evil. Our country was enslaved for a full thousand years just because of our incapacity to fight a war. Similarly, our five-thousand-year old poverty and degradation is nothing but the result of a lack of courage and fearlessness in our lives, a lack of expansiveness in our hearts and minds.
A row of defeatist teachers successfully used Mahabharata to tell us that war is an unmitigated evil to be shunned at all costs. And this defeatist teaching took root, deep in our minds. So for five thousand years we have been a frightened people, frightened for our lives. And a community that is afraid of death, afraid of war, eventually begins, deep down in its being, to be afraid of life itself. And we are that community – afraid of living. We are really trembling with fear. We are neither alive nor dead, we art just in limbo.
It is so ironic that, despite our opposition to war, we have been dragged into war over and over again. First we refused to fight, then some external power attacked and occupied our country and made us into slaves, and then we were made to join our masters’ armies and fight in our masters’ wars. Wars were continuously waged, and we were continuously dragged into them. Sometimes we fought as soldiers of the Huns, then as soldiers of the Turks and the Moghuls and finally as soldiers of the British. Instead of fighting for our own life and liberty we fought for the sake of our alien rulers and oppressors. We really fought for the sake of our slavery; we fought to prolong our enslavement. We spilled our blood and gave our lives only to defend our bondage, to continue to live in servitude. This has been the painful consequence of all our opposition to violence and war. But the Mahabharata is not responsible for it, nor is Krishna responsible. Our lack of courage to fight another Mahabharata is at the root of all our misfortunes.
In my view, mankind will suffer if they accept what Bertrand Russell and Gandhi say. There is no need to be afraid of war.”
The following words by OSHO sums up why Krishna is the God of the future:
“When the glow and the glamor of all other godmen and messiahs has dimmed, when the suppressive religions of the world have been consigned to the wastebasket of history, Krishna’s flame will be heading towards its peak, moving towards the pinnacle of its brilliance. It will be so because, for the first time, man will be able to comprehend him, to understand him and to imbibe him. And it will be so because, for the first time, man will really deserve his knowledge and his blessings.”