Krishna was born on the 20th of July, 3228 years before the Advent of Christ. If this has to be put in our calendar, it will be in the year Srimukha, month by the name Shravana, fortnight by the name Bahula, and the day of Ashtami. The star will be Rohini and the time will be 3:00 a.m. after midnight. If we count backwards from today, the day on which Krishna gave up His mortal body will work out at 5078 years. If we want to check this, we see that 3102 B.C. and 1976 (the year in which Discourse was given) add up to 5078 years. Thus, since the Kali Yuga has started, we have now gone through 5078 years.
SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS NAME
We must understand properly the meaning of the term Krishna. The word has three meanings. One is “Krishyati Iti Krishnah” (The one who cultivates is Krishna). What is it that has to be cultivated? The Hridayakshetra (field of the heart). Krishna cultivates the field of our hearts by removing the weeds of bad qualities, watering it with love, ploughing it with the use of Sadhana, and sowing the seeds of devotion. This is how Krishna cultivates out hearts.
The second meaning of the word is: “Karshati Iti Krishnah”. (The one who attracts is Krishna). Krishna attracts you by His eyes, His speech, His sports, and by every action of His. By His words, He softens and calms the hearts of even those filled with hatred and makes them rejoice.
A third meaning of the word Krishna is “Kushyati Iti Krishna” (one who is always blissful). Krishna was always in a state of bliss. It was because He had these various qualities, the sage Garga named Him Krishna. The ordinary meaning of the word Krishna is “one who is dark”. But people think only of this meaning and forget the deeper and truer meanings of the Lord’s name. The essence of Krishna’s life is, He proclaimed the Truth to the world, propagated the eternal verities and delighted the world by His Leelas.
KRISHNA AND GOPIKAS
People forget that Krishna was just 11 years old, when He finally left Brindavan, the scene of the Rasa Leela, towards Mathura and from thence to Dwaraka. The Bhagavata itself explicitly says that. But, it is ignored, because the minds of the people and the poets who want to see sensuality in the Rasaleela are vitiated by Vishaya Vasana (attachment to sense objects).
It is also stated that Krishna was wedded to 16,000 Gopikas. Who are these Gopikas? They are not cowherdesses in physical form. In the human head there is a lotus with a thousand petals. The Lord is described as the embodiment of the 16 Kalas. As the Lord of the Sahasrara (thousand-petalled lotus), He presides over the 16,000 Kalas which are present in this lotus. The Kundalini Shakti, which starts at the bottom of the spinal column (Mooladhaara), rises and merges with the 16,000 entities in the Sahasraara. This is the esoteric significance and the meaning of the role of the Divine within the body. Oblivious to this inner meaning, people indulge in misinterpretations and perverse expositions.
THE MASTER ACTOR-DIRECTOR
Is it possible for any ordinary individual to make his appearance simultaneously in numerous different places? The image of Krishna could appear in the hearts of the Gopis, though they were far away from Him. What is necessary is to purify the heart. The image of the Divine will not be reflected in an impure heart. There is no limit to the power of the Divine. Only the small-minded have limited power. God alone knows to whom, in what circumstances, at what time, to what extent and in what form His grace should be showered.
For example, take the case of Draupadi. In his vast audience-hall Duryodhana was inflicting humiliation on Draupadi. Unknown and unseen by anyone, Krishna was giving to Draupadi an endless number of saris. How are ordinary persons likely to view the situation? They might ask: “How is Krishna tolerating this kind of disrobing of Draupadi? Why does He not reduce Duryodhana to ashes that very moment? Why does He not put an end to his life? When the devotees are in agony, should the Divine merely look on?” The ignorant may tend to react in this fashion. But the Divine, who is the embodiment of peace, love and truth has to take note of Kaarana, Karya and Kartavya (the cause, the remedy and the task to be done). In the great cosmic drama, the Lord is also an actor. The time should be ripe for the role He has to play in a particular sequence of events. His action should be appropriate to His role. He cannot act otherwise. For instance, if Krishna decided to kill Duryodhana at the moment of Draupadi’s humiliation, He would be going against His role in the play. He has to play His specific part. Krishna knew that Duryodhana’s end lay in the hands of Bheema and not in His. It would be against His Dharma if He did what Bheema had to do. Bheema alone should slay Duryodhana with his mace. This is the law of creation. Krishna waited for the ordained event.
KRISHNA – THE WAR MONGER OR DIVINE DOCTOR?
The fire of Adharma has spread and taken possession so much that if you want to remove this fire, the only way that can be done is to have a heavy rain and not just ordinary drops of shower. Also this rain must be the rain of arrows. Krishna believed that the battle and this shower of arrows was necessary to stop the fire of Adharma engulfing the whole world.
The youth of today may get a doubt. Krishna wanted the peace of this world and yet He encouraged this big battle in which forty lakhs of people were killed. Is this called Himsa (violence) or Ahimsa (nonviolence)? Even then, Krishna gave an appropriate answer to this. He said, “Arjuna! Let us take the case of a cancerous growth on the body. This cancerous growth gives pain to the whole human body, although the growth itself is confined to a localised area. In that cancer, you have so many small germs present in the wound. When the doctor performs an operation on this cancerous growth, he will no doubt kill millions of germs. He will not think that he is going to kill a million germs and therefore stop the operation. If he does not perform the operation, the germs will be saved but the patient will suffer. He will surely kill the disease causing germs and save the patient”. Krishna further said, “In this body of the world this is the situation now. The cancer has come in the form of the Kauravas who are ruling. The whole world has got upset, and a state of anarchy is prevailing in the world now. There is also a decline of Dharma. All families who are living peacefully are being broken up. Therefore, I will be the doctor, with Arjuna as the compounder. I will perform the operation of cancer in the form of the battle of Mahabharata. In this battle or the operation, 4,000,000 (four million) of disease-causing germs will be killed for the benefit of the world. Is this bad or is this good for the world?”
Here Krishna is only demonstrating His authority. It is a very difficult matter to recognise and accept authority. There is a small example for this. In a hospital you may find a very proficient and capable doctor. He may be a very reputed person in his field. He comes to a decision that for a particular person an operation has to be performed at a particular time the next morning. This will be notified in the notice board and all concerned relatives will be informed. There is no secret about this. Everybody will know about this and the patient will be carried into the operation room. The doctor takes him into the operation room and performs the operation; but due to some misfortune, the patient dies. As a result of this, the police will not come and arrest the doctor. In the same context, if two people enter into a quarrel and one of them inflicts a small wound on the other man with a razor blade, the police will immediately come and register a case and arrest the man who has caused the injury. In the second example, the person does not have the authority to inflict a wound with a razor blade while in the first case; the doctor has the right to perform the operation, even in public.
Sometimes we interpret and call one of these as a help or a good deed while the other one is called harm. We take the case of a diabetic patient with a wound on his hand. The wound may not heal and may spread to the whole body in the form of gangrene. The doctor will have to come and say that to prevent further spreading of this; the hand will have to be removed. He will then amputate the whole hand, and this is a good deed done to the body.
In another case, if there is a lady who is wearing bangles on her hand, a thief may come and decide to take away the bangles by cutting the hand and taking away the hand with the bangles. While the thief and the doctor have both done the same thing, what the thief has done is harm and what the doctor has done is good.
When there is a young child who unknowingly sets fire to a house, we think that he has done great harm and we begin to punish him. However, when Hanuman burnt down the whole of Lanka, which was as prosperous as heaven itself, we not only did not punish him but we regarded him as a sacred person. The reason for this is that in the first case something good was burnt down while in the second case what Hanuman burnt down was the sin itself. He caused injury to the demons and the Rakshasas while the small boy caused injury to good people.
Thus, in order to remove or promote the demonic qualities in us, we have the complete right and power. It is in the context of recognising these various conflicting situations, in order to preach the inner meaning of these conflicting situations, Krishna gives various instances which will proclaim to us what good things are. Krishna was a selfless person, and He always desired the well-being of the human community. In that context, whatever He may have done was always good, and there was never anything bad in what He did. He himself conquered many kingdoms, but He never became a king of any of these kingdoms. He gave those kingdoms to several people.
Whatever He may have done, there was always an inner meaning. All His actions were directed towards preaching an inner meaning.
The embodiment of Dharma in the human form of Krishna was one who desired the well-being of the entire humanity. The true interpretation of Dharma is to ask for the well-being of the entire human community in the universe. In this context, you may begin to argue that Krishna Himself behaved as if He wanted to like some people and favour some people and dislike other people. But the situations were such that Krishna, who was all-knowing, had to make the determination of taking a certain line of action. We should look back and see what Krishna said when Arjuna, in a state of great despondency, refused to go to battle against his own kinsmen, kill them, see their blood and yet become a ruler. Krishna told Arjuna, “I am giving the future of Dhritarashtra and his family. Listen to it. He has one hundred sons but they are all selfish. There is no place for selfishness in this world, and all these must be killed. Even though Dhritarashtra had one hundred sons, there will not be even a single son left to perform the obsequies for him when he dies. Good or bad, Punya (merit) or Paapa (sin) are not something which others will give you. These are simply direct results of whatever actions we perform”. What Krishna said and agreed to was that under such circumstances, to fight a battle was the right kind of Dharma.