Shri Krishna - Our Beau Ideal
--By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
When I relax and think of the most excellent man who walked on this earth, the profile of Shri Krishna flashes across my mind. He was indeed the most beautiful person that one can think of. He was and continues to be the Beau Ideal of millions of men and women in many a millennium. He lived and died for the fellow human beings. He shared the joys and sorrows of kings and commoners alike. He was born in Dwapar Yug, the mega unit of Time just preceding our Kaliyug. By and large we agree that it was 5,000 years ago that he was born in Mathura of pious parents who were put in prison by a close relative called Kansa, the then king. Thus Shri Krishna was born in captivity but he , by dint of merit, hard work and humane nature became a liberator of Mankind.
Shri Krishna was so sweet by nature, word and deed that not only humans but animals too loved him. All living beings longed to be near him. He embraced one and all as if they were his kith and kin.
This is what the Ved mantra enjoined on men and women :
Mitrasya Chakshusha sarvani bhutani samikshantam
Let us treat all living beings as our friends : that was the Vedic teaching and Shri Krishna followed it in letter and spirit. After all, he had received his education in the Gurukul Ashram of Rishi Sandipani and had graduated to worldly life therefrom. The legendary friendship with a poor Brahmin had a beginning there and Shri Krishna nourished it in later life too. As the King of Dwarka, in western India, he had accorded same honour and respect to poor Sudama as to a fellow king or a mighty warrior. Of course, the large hearted largesse was in evidence too. Indeed it was a fine example of life-long friendship, notwithstanding the colossal difference in social status. A friend in need was a friend in deed; so said Shri Krishna through his actions.
Among the animals the Cow was at the centre of attention throughout. He loved cows. He cared for cows. For cows he was just a cowherd. He played his flute for cows and they came flocking to him. It was a genuine love for cows; not for their milk but for their loving company. It was the same type of soul or Jeevatma that stood embodied for action or Karma. So, the companionship with cows was also philosophical. Shri Krishna showed the way as a leader of men in loving animals and his kith and kin followed suit. A fraternity of human beings and other living beings symbolized by the cow was born here. One has to know and experience the Vedic ethos to appreciate this bond of love. Indeed the strife-torn world needs this philosophy of life more today than ever before. Shri Krishna is , inter alia, known as Gopal, that is the preserver and protector of cows. Let us emulate him and enlist ourselves as neo-gopals to protect and preserve the progeny of Cow. The world economy and environment will improve and love, instead of hatred, will prevail, It will indeed be a precursor of Peace on Earth.
Among numerous biographies of Shri Krishna there are refrences to folklore portraying wrongly his amorous nature. Suffice it to say that the so-called playful love of Radha Ji and Shri Krishna is philosophised by some scholars as the affinity of Atman or soul with Parmatman or God. In the present script we are portraying Shri Krishna as a Maha-Purush or a great man. No man is or should be equated with the Almighty. Therefore, the philosophy of love referred to above is fallacious and fails the litmus test of the Vedas. At best, one can say that when Shri Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura to do away with the diabolical influence of demons he was just at the threshold of becoming a teenager. Radha was a full-fledged housewife. There was no chance of even an infatuation, what to say of a calf-love. The umpteen number of love-lores are pure figments of poetic imagination that have done more harm than good to the otherwise unblemished character of the great man. Let us leave it at that.
Let us quote Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati on Shri Krishna :
“ Shri Krishna’s story (history) as told in the Mahabharat is indeed par excellence.His qualities,thought and action, character and totality of personality rank in the class of the Enlightened Ones. There is no reference therein to show that he deviated from the Dharm Path from birth to death. “
The great Rishi has really summed up well what the personality of Shri Krishna was. Indeed it was the epic battle of Mahabharat and epoch-making events preceding it that bring out the best of Shri Krishna. He emerges as a Yogeshwar, one who had mastered the art and science of Yoga, the physical, mental and spiritual meeting points – convergence of diverse forces for greater good of the greater numbers. Leaving folklore of boyhood days aside, we proceed to events that bring out sterling qualities of character of Shri Krishna.
Yogeshwar Shri Krishna emerges as a great man who put society before self. Whatever he did was for the good of the common man. No selfishness at all. Going chronologically, King Kansa was his first major kill. After removing that tyrant and eliminating him from the scene, he did not usurp kingdom of the deceased. He, in his charitable style, put Kansa’s father, Ugrasen, on the throne. The common man was happy as a benevolent ruler was once again at the helm of affairs. Peace prevailed.
Shri Krishna made it a point to punish the wrong-doer. It did not matter if the man to be punished was a king or a commoner. It was immaterial if the sinner was his close relative. An example was made of his first cousin, Shishupal. Notwithstanding his royal status, Shishupal was killed by Shri Krishna in public for his acts and omissions amounting to crime against humanity.
Shri Krishna was a Peacenik. Never was he a war-monger. When Duryodhan, the leader of evil forces refused to give to the Pandavas what was their due, Shri Krishna volunteered to present himself at the Kaurav Court as a Messenger of Peace. He played well the role of a peace maker. He offered to convince the Pandavas of the futility of war provided the Kauravas gave them just five villages, instead of a kingdom, and let them live with honour and dignity. It was the evil-doer Duryodhan who threw a red herring and refused to give the Pandavas even land covered by a needle-point. The blind King Dhritrashtra, remained blind to national interest and promoted his son blindly. Thus the peace mission failed. The war was inevitable. Mahabharat was the answer to oppression of the forces of the Good by the forces of Evil.
Of course, before going into battle Shri Krishna tried the path of diplomacy too. He knew that once Maharathi Karna abandoned Kauravas and joined the Pandavas where he belonged, the battle would be over before it began. He persuaded Kunti to go to Karna and make a clean breast of the past that the latter was indeed her son conceived and begotten before marriage and had to be abandoned. Shri Krishna made a sincere effort to convince Karna to save the society by eschewing the path of violence paved by the Kauravas. However, it was just too little and too late. Karna chose to stick to the Kauravas, come rain come shine. Now, the writing was on the wall. War, war and war.
Kurukshetra is the chosen battleground for an epic battle that lasted eighteen days. It was Mahabharat. It left an indelible mark on the history of Bharat. Before the battle began , Arjun, the commander-in-chief of the Pandava army lost heart. The will to do battle was missing. He did not want to kill his kith and kin and the acharyas for a mundane kingdom. In fact, he was so non-plussed that he abandoned his bow and arrow and was not in a fit state of mind to command his army. Here Yogeshwar Shri Krishna played a major role as a motivator of men who were in a state of bewilderment. His teaching and psychological approach made Arjun sit up, take stock of the situation and resume the operational command. Not doing so would have made Arjun go down in history as a coward and as a shammer who shunned his duty. “ Do thy duty, reward is not thy concern, “ said Shri Krishna. He emphasized that it was the laid down duty of a Kshattriya(the man of the warrior class) to protect the Dharma or righteousness and eliminate the forces of evil. So, one has to fight with Determination and win- so said Shri Krishna. The message is as relevant to men and women to-day as it was to Arjun in the Mahabharat. At the end of the war, the Pandavas were victorious and the Kauravas were vanquished. Shri Krishna was the guiding spirit through it all.
Shri Krishna is addressed as a Yogeshwar because he preached and practiced Yoga. He advocated complete balance in life, be it in food or behaviour in society or in our Karma, that is action in pursuance of duty to self and society. The same balance is to be maintained in our meditation and God-realisation. Shri Krishna himself summed it beautifully in this seventeenth sloka of the sixth chapter of the Shrimadbhagwat Gita :
" Yuktaharviharasya yukta cheshtasya karmasu
Yukta swapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati dukhha."
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