By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Lord Krishna’s birthday is approaching and people are getting ready to celebrate it all over India.
Lord Krishna said, ‘I am never born and I never die. I am ajanmaa (one who is never born).’ Celebrating the birth of One who is never born is a very fascinating thing.
Before being born as Lord Krishna, there was another birth that Lord Krishna had taken. In that previous birth, he was known as Kapil Muni (a wise enlightened sage). In His incarnation as Kapil Muni, Lord Krishna gave His mother the knowledge of the Self, the knowledge of Sankhya Yoga. So He had an avatar (incarnation) by the name of Kapil Muni before being born as Lord Krishna.
Now, a mother’s love is such that she would always want her child to keep coming back to her in every birth. So, even though she received Self-knowledge, still her attachment to her child remained. So in the next birth she was once again born as mother to Lord Krishna –Yashoda. As Kapil Muni, He gave his mother the knowledge of the Self, but as Lord Krishna He gave her a lot of love and affection, and not Self-knowledge. So in one birth He gave her only knowledge and in another birth He gave her only love. He did not give any Self-knowledge to Yashoda. He played and did so much mischief with Yashoda. So today is a day to be mischievous! (Laughter)
The birth in which knowledge, love and mischief all come together is considered as the birth or incarnation of Lord Krishna.
So today, on Lord Krishna’s Birthday, all of you must take a Sankalpa (pledge or promise) to read the Bhagavad Gita.
How many people here have not read the Bhagavad Gita till now? (Many raise their hands)
See! Let us do one thing. We will start reading the Gita from today itself. Read it with its simple translation, and understand as much as you can. If you cannot understand, never mind but at least read it once. Whatever you understand is good enough.
Do not expect to understand the entire Bhagavad Gita all at once. Throughout your life you must read and go through the pages of the Gita again and again, only then will you be able to understand it completely.
As the level of maturity of our mind and intellect rises, our understanding of the Bhagavad Gita also increases.
Lord Krishna says, ‘Senaninam Aham Skandah’ – Among Military Generals, I am Kartikeya. (Kartikeya was the most powerful leader of armies).
Among Munis (wise sages) I am Kapil Muni.
Among Rishis (enlightened seers) I am Veda Vyasa.
Among Pandavas I am Arjuna.
So He says that He is both Krishna and Arjuna.
If someone is able to understand the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, they would have perfected the knowledge ofAdvaita (philosophy of Non-duality of the Self; experiencing all as ‘One’).
It is called Vibhuti Yoga. One’s life becomes endowed with Vibhuti.
Vibhuti does not just mean the holy ash that one smears on the forehead. Vibhuti also refers to miracles.
A lot of miracles happened in the life of Lord Krishna. But at the same time, He also had a blessing or you can call it a curse also, in a way. The moment a miracle would happen, people would instantly forget about it for around one year.
So for example, if some miracle would have happened today, everyone would forget about it and they would be able to remember it only after one year! Have you heard about this?
This is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam (texts of Sanskrit literature, with its primary focus on bhakti (religious devotion) to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna.) It is said that after being a witness to any of the magnificent manifestations of the Lord, people would forget about it in the next minute.
So when Lord Krishna danced on the head of Kaliya (the many headed serpent), after witnessing this when the people returned to their homes, everybody forgot about the miracle and went about doing their work as if nothing had happened.
It was ordained that His miracles would be forgotten, only to be remembered after one year had passed.
Some say it was a blessing, and some say it was a curse from Lord Brahma (the Creator among the holy Trinity) that people’s memory would be veiled whenever a miracle happened.
So whenever any calamity would befall Gokul (Lord Krishna’s village), the residents would gather and chant, ‘Om Namo Narayana’, and pray to Lord Narayana (Lord Vishnu) to save their young Krishna and prevent any harm from happening to Him.
So everyone in Vrindavan would pray and chant, ‘Om Namo Narayana’, for the safety ofYadukul Nandan (a descendant of the clan of Yadus, here referring to Lord Krishna). They would also pray to Lord Shiva for the safety and wellbeing of their young Krishna. So all the miraculous events that happened then, whether it was the slaying ofShakatasur (a demon), or that of Putana (a demoness sent by Krishna’s uncle, Kansa, to kill Him as an infant); all these would be forgotten by people in a matter of a few seconds. And they would remember it only after a year had passed. As a result of this, people would keep talking about the past events.
So goes the story from the Srimad Bhagavatam.
It would appear from reading the Srimad Bhagavatam that the times of the Lord were filled with fun, frolic, happiness, love and devotion. But, along with this there is a lot ofvairagya (dispassion) as well.
If you wish to understand dispassion, you should refer the Srimad Bhagavatam.
The Srimad Bhagavatam is a very rare and extraordinary confluence of Vairagya (dispassion) and Anuraga (love), knowledge and devotion, even though it seems to be so contradictory to each other.
So, Lord Krishna was the center of attraction. But along with Lord Krishna was Lord Balarama (Lord Krishna’s elder brother) and he represents great strength and power. People are mostly scared of great strength.
Usually where there is attraction and love, one also experiences weakness or helplessness. Though love is the greatest strength, yet it can also make a person feel very weak. And if someone only sees this weakness that comes from love, then they run away from it. Then it transforms into hatred.
So Lord Krishna is the center of attraction and the fountain of love, while Lord Balarama represents dignity and strength. Both always go hand in hand.
Also, Lord Krishna could not be without Radha. That is why I said that there is weakness in love as well.
Radha is a Shakti, Radha was not a person. She represents Lord Krishna’s strength, the strength of love. And Lord Balarama represents power, which walks with Lord Krishna wherever He goes.
It is said ‘Nirbal ke Balaram’. Just as Lord Rama offers shelter to the weak and helpless, the same goes for Lord Balarama who signifies the strength of Lord Krishna, and is always by His side.
Where there is love, there will be longing. Where there is longing, there will surely be love. Both go together. There is longing because there is love. In the same way, love brings with it great strength also – Lord Balarama.
Lord Balarama circumambulated the Earth many times and connected himself with every part of the Earth. But Lord Krishna just stayed where He was and smiled, and the entire Earth revolved around Him.
One has to make efforts to attain strength, but for love one need not go anywhere or do anything. You can be immersed in love wherever you are.
Lord Balarama signifies effort and hard work, while Lord Krishna symbolizes deep rest. And in that deep rest love dawns within you.
Love cannot be found by making efforts, rather by doing nothing. But strength comes only by making efforts and striving hard. Sitting idle and doing nothing will not give you great strength.
To achieve capability or excellence in any field, you will have to work hard and strive hard. If you wish to play the Sitar, you will have to practice rigorously for two hours every day. If you wish to play the Flute, then too you will have to practice. You have to exercise regularly to make your body strong. So, one has to make efforts to attain strength.
Even to receive knowledge one has to make effort. But for love, you need not make any effort. You just need to relax and repose in self.
Lord Krishna says, ‘Dharmaviruddho Bhuteshu Kamo’smi Bharatarshabha‘.
The desires that arise inside you, know them to be Me too (inspired by Me), as long as they do not oppose or destroy Dharma (righteous conduct). Any action or desire that opposes Dharma is not Me. This is quite surprising.
If you act according to Dharma, and act as per your Svadharma (one’s own responsibilities as prescribed by the scriptures), then all the righteous desires that arise in you are borne out of Me (Lord Krishna). I am (the source of) all those desires that arise in you that are of a righteous intent.
This is so astonishing and unique.
He says, ‘I am the strength of the strong; I am also the beauty in all whom you see as beautiful. Any and all good qualities that you see in another person come from Me only.’ Why is He is saying this? This is because the tendency of the mind is to run wherever it finds beauty. If there is great wealth or great strength in someone, the mind runs there.
So, to collect and bring the mind back to the Self, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, ‘See Me alone in everything that you see. Whatever greatness you see anywhere or in anyone, it is due to Me, I am the power behind it all, and I am right here.’
To retrieve and collect the mind that wavers and wanders here and there and to bring its focus back on the Atma (Soul) which is the source of all strength, Yogeshwara (Lord Krishna) gives this Vibhuti (miraculous secret) to attain perfection (siddhi).
Lord Krishna used to worship Devi (Mother Divine). This is mentioned in the Durga Saptashati (a series of 700 verses in praise of the Mother Divine, from the Markandeya Purana). How many have heard about this?
‘Roopam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisho Jahi’. These verses come from the Argala Stotram in the Durga Saptashatiand become a kavach (armour or shield) for one who recites them.
It is said, ‘Krishnena Samstutay Devee Shashvad Bhaktyaa tathaambikay, Roopam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisho Jahi.’
Meaning, ‘Oh Devi (Mother Divine) who is worshipped with eternal devotion by Lord Krishna, bless us with beauty (Roopam), victory (Jayam), glory (Yasham) and destroy all craving and ignorance (Dvisho) in us.’
This is the prayer. It is in the 3 verses from the Kavach Argala Keelakam.
If you see, it is actually the Devi who rescued Lord Krishna. Devi was also born on the day of Ashtami, to Yashoda. And on that very same day was brought to Mathura. Kansa tried to get hold of her and kill her but she escaped from his hands.
Here, Kansa symbolises Ahankaar (ego), Lord Krishna symbolises Ananda (bliss) and the Devi or Durga symbolisesAa
Ego cannot catch hold of Consciousness or the primordial energy (Devi), nor can it catch hold of Ananda (bliss, that is Krishna).
So the Divine Consciousness (Devi) then made a prophecy that the One who is destined to destroy the Ego (Kansa) is Bliss (Krishna) and he has already been born.
When life becomes full of Ananda (bliss), then ego vanishes. When one is feeling blissful there is no ego. But as long as ego remains, a person keeps on suffering and is miserable. They become sad due to something or another, or go on blaming someone or the other. Even then ego cannot destroy Consciousness, because Consciousness is eternal.
Nothing can destroy or diminish the power of Consciousness. It is constant and eternal. Those who know physics would know this very well that energy can never be created or destroyed. So also, Consciousness can never be created nor destroyed. Any efforts to create or destroy that (primordial) energy will only fail.
See, if you look at it on the surface, it seems only like a story. But if you delve deeper, you will find such amazing knowledge hidden within it.
Lord Krishna was born in a prison. When He was born, all the guards who were keeping watch fell asleep. Who are the guards? They symbolize our senses – When our senses, which are always focused outwards come to rest that is when we can go inward, and that is when we can experience the bliss that springs forth from going inward.
So keep on contemplating and analysing these stories, and you will find that both, amazing knowledge and love become available to you.
Lord Krishna says, ‘You cannot free yourself of your own sins. I will liberate you from your sins.’
See, everything that a person does – fasting, visiting places of worship, feeling guilty, etc., all this one does it to free oneself of sins.
So, Lord Krishna says, ‘Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami ma suchah’.
He says, ‘You will have to do just one thing. You must surrender everything to Me, and seek refuge in Me’.
He says, ‘Come and seek refuge in Me’, that is His first condition. And then He says, ‘I will liberate you of all your sins. That is my job.’
So, your only job is to come under His protection and seek refuge in Him and He will liberate you of all your sins. With this He says it all. This completes it.
I think we all should make these words of Lord Krishna available everywhere. We do not do this but instead we keep listening to many other things around us. Especially these words, ‘Come and surrender unto Me and seek refuge in Me. I will absolve you of all your sins.’
This itself will help curb all the religious conversion that is going on in our country.
Lord Krishna has said this very thing.