A talk by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Bihar School of Yoga, Janamashtami 1999


Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimad Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

Krishna was born 5,520 years ago. Before Krishna's birth there was a prophecy in relation to Kansa, his maternal uncle and the tyrannical king of Mathura, that the eighth child of Kansa's sister would be the cause of his death. It happened that this child was Krishna, the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, born in a prison at Mathura. His childhood was spent in Gokul and Vrindavan with Yashoda and Nanda/

Krishna proved to be a child with extraordinary abilities. He was recognized as an avatar. What is an avatar? Descent of divinity. According to all the conclusions, certain parameters have been defined which determine who a yogi is, who a siddha is, who an acharya is, who a sannyasin is and who an avatar is.

In the course of Krishna's life, all the qualities of an avatar were seen in him. Therefore, he is considered to be an avatar. As thinkers, not as devotees or bhaktas, we can also accept that he had certain qualities which people at large do not have. He expressed himself in certain super-human ways and was therefore endowed with extraordinary qualities

The focus of Krishna's life was the establishment of dharma. Dharma is identified as a purushartha, a goal of human life. Dharma is not a belief, a concept or a religion; dharma is action, effort. This action and effort should lead one to experiencing the divine nature that is dormant in every being. Krishna wanted to establish this concept of dharma right from the time he became self-aware.

In the festival of Ganga Dashahara, the women float candles or deepaks on the river as a form of worship. There is a story that when Krishna was very young he accompanied his mother, Yashoda, to the banks of the Yamuna to observe this ritual. When he saw people floating little candles on the river, he entered the water himself and every time a deepak or candle floated by he would pick it up and put it on the riverbank.

When his mother asked him what he was doing, he replied, “Mother, all the candles that come near me I pick up and put on the shore. My little hands can't reach the candles that are in midstream or near the other shore, but any deepak that floats towards me I pick up and put on the shore.”

Deepaks or lights represent the individual souls who are floating in this stream of samsara. Those who are too far away go unattended, but those souls which float towards the godly nature are immediately picked up and saved. Coming close to the proximity of the Divine is the purpose of dharma, nothing more.
Teachings that bring us closer to God change from age to age, from civilization to civilization.

In Satya Yuga, the method was tapasya, penance. In this age, known as Kali Yuga, Buddha, Mahavir, Christ, all the saints and sages, have said that the form of religion should be love and compassion. Being compassionate, loving and kind towards others was the teaching of these sages for this age.

However, what would the teachings have been in another time, in the past, when people had a different kind of lifestyle and were living according to the precepts of dharma? The relevant teaching for that age, as enunciated by Krishna and as enunciated in the time of Rama, was involvement with karma. Rama did not say to be compassionate, it was part of the natural expression of that society. There was no poverty, everyone had plenty. There was no need to become charitable. People were charitable, compassionate, loving and kind by nature; it was part of their personality expression. Today we are not charitable, loving and kind by nature; we are by our nature creating an egocentric and self-centred society. So, the teachings have to change according to the time and the mentality of the people who form a society.

In the Bhagavad Gita, emphasis was given to acceptance, performance and realization of actions. All the masters, after they attained the highest realization, have involved themselves in karma, practical action. Buddha, after attaining nirvana, plunged himself into karma. He did not isolate himself from the world. Mahavir, after attaining nirvana, plunged headlong into karma. He did not seek the isolation of a mountain top. Ramana Maharishi, after attaining moksha, plunged himself into karma. That has been the trend followed by every seer and saint in this age, whether it is Maharishi Dayananda or Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Swami Vivekananda or Swami Sivananda or Swami Satyananda.

When we see these living examples of people who have attained realization again involving themselves in action, then we have to think, because the common belief is that nothing needs to be done after realization, that one is free to retire to the mountains and lead a solitary life. It is possibly because of this misunderstanding that sadhakas have been unable to advance in spiritual life. We isolate ourselves by creating walls of silence around us, by meditating for ten or twenty hours a day. But that has no meaning because the transformative experience of life lies in karma, not in meditation.

Karma, not meditation, has been the central philosophy of spiritual life. Meditation cannot eradicate the seeds created by karma. Meditation can provide you with mental, emotional and psychic strength, tranquillity and harmony. But the seeds of karma, the weeds of karma, are deep-rooted and cannot be uprooted through meditation alone.

For this, the central theme in yoga and in other spiritual philosophies is karma yoga. It indicates a process, a state in which you are the master of your karma and not a subject of your karma. When you are the master of karma, you become a karma yogi. When you are under the influence of karma, you are subject to karma.

This was the message that Krishna gave to Arjuna, and through Arjuna to all of us. In order to transform and harmonize life, in order to understand the secrets of life, in order to understand your relationship with other beings and with the universe, with the cosmos, with creation and with God, you need to understand how you interact with the karmas. It is a very simple thought that Krishna conveyed, yet it is one of the most difficult to understand.

Another theme in the teachings of Krishna is never to be under stress. Krishna was a compassionate person. No other person in history has been as compassionate, not Buddha, not Christ. There is a story that Krishna had 16,000 wives. Some people even joke about it and say he was the biggest playboy the earth has ever seen. But which society, whether past or present, would allow a person to declare, “I have 16,000 wives,” and for those 16,000 wives to accept one husband?

The story is that these women were kidnapped by a king and liberated by Krishna. In Eastern society and also in Western society the belief is that marriages are made in heaven. When people have been kidnapped and kept in bondage in another kingdom by another king, their purity and chastity will definitely be doubted. In prison anything can happen – rape, voluntary affairs, etc. When Krishna liberated the women he knew they would be rejected by their society, families and friends upon their return home because they were no longer pure. So he married all of them. Did he marry out of passion or out of compassion?

Society accepted it because they knew that Krishna's love was not physical or carnal. His character was such that people knew he was providing shelter and support. Krishna himself had eight wives to whom he was legally married and he provided social protection for the 16,000 wives so that they would be able to live in dignity. Krishna radiated love. When we speak of love we always think of carnal, physical love, but love does not mean a physical relationship. These are very gross definitions of love. Real love is transcendental.

Krishna's teachings were to develop transcendental love – bhakti - and to be involved with karma. If we can understand these two concepts, we will find that many of our doubts about life, spirituality and dharma can be clarified. Today, on Krishna Janmasthami, we celebrate the birthday of this extraordinary child who was later recognized as an avatar. We also acknowledge the teachings we have received from this extraordinary person and we take a sankalpa to understand the teachings, the guidelines and the path which has been shown to us through inspirational and uplifting examples from his life.



Jai Guru !!

Jai Jai Shri Radhey !!