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Krishna: Friend, Philosopher, Lover and Guide


IN the month of Magh in August-September each year, Janmashtami is celebrated to mark the day Lord Krishna appeared on this earth at the end of dvapara yuga 5,000 years ago. To all Hindus, irrespective of their sectarian beliefs, Krishna is Almighty God, the supreme person. What sort of God is Krishna? What does He look like and what are His characteristics? How does He relate with us ordinary humans?

Does Krishna fit Michael Angelo's vision of God? Is He tall, strong and solemn, with long hair and a flowing beard, wearing an ankle length robe? Grand and awesome, one who invokes respect and terror; who is simultaneously compassionate and gracious, remote but attentive, benevolent yet impartial; kind but strict; for whom we should feel affection, gratitude as well as fear?

Krishna is the supreme personality of godhead, the absolute truth, the cause of all causes, the one without a second, the creator, maintainer and destroyer of all that be. Yet devotees see Him as the epitome of sweetness and love. They know Him as a beautiful and adorable infant crawling about in the nude; as a naughty child who breaks butter-pots and steals butter from the houses of the beloved inhabitants of Nandagaon; as a dutiful young boy who tends His father's cows; who plays practical jokes on the gopis, young women of Vrajadham, by hiding their clothes while they are bathing in the river; one who has amorous affairs with them as they willingly submit to His unsurpassable beauty and charm; and one who has 16,108 wives.

Krishna is known as the one who ever remains a young lad of sixteen even when over a hundred years old. As the one who enthrals the residents of Vrajmandala with captivating melodies from His flute. Who is addressed lovingly by the Vrajavasis by millions of intimate names like Gopala, Govinda, Nandalala, Yoshodha-nandan, Gopinath, Makhan-chor, Kanhiya, Madana-Mohana and so on. He is loved and adored as God, as master, as friend, as son and as lover.

The Brahma Samhita contains hymns sung by Lord Brahma in praise of Lord Krishna. Brahma describes Him thus: ``I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept at playing on His flute, who has blooming eyes like lotus petals, whose head is decked with a peacock's feather, whose beautiful body is tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and whose unique loveliness charms millions of cupids. Around His neck swings a garland of flowers graced with a moon-locket; jewelled ornaments adorn His two hands in which He hold His flute. He always revels in pastimes of love, and who eternally manifests Himself in the graceful three-way bending form of Shyamsundara''.

Rishi Parasrama, a great Vedic authority, has defined Bhagavan as the one who possesses completely the six opulences -- power, wealth, knowledge, fame, beauty and renunciation. Among ordinary persons it is, perhaps possible for a few to possess one, or at most two or three, of these opulences to a large extent, but no one can possesses all six of them. Krishna qualifies as God because He has all the six opulences in infinite measure.

By definition, God must be the most lovable, the most attractive and alluring of all persons; and His abode must be the most excellent and most desirable of all places; and we would not want anything but to be with Him in His kingdom. Liberated devotees of Sri Krishna have attained to just this state of sat-cit-ananda or existence-knowledge-bliss, in His abode Gokula Vrindavana in the spiritual world, and of them the gopis of Vrajamandal are eternally established in madhurya- bhava, the most intimate and ecstatic of the five main possible relationships with Him.

Krishna's activities are mysterious and unfathomable. he abets in the abduction of His own sister, Subhadra, by His friend and cousin, Arjuna, and encourages their elopement. In the Kurukshetra war He breaks His promise by taking up arms to save His devotee Arjuna and persuades Yudhistra to tell a lie for tactical gain. He uses deception to retrieve the five arrows meant for killing Arjuna and his four brothers given to Duryodhana by Bhisma, in order to save the lives of the Pandavas. He is paramour of the gopis of Vraja, many of whom, including Radharani, were married. Inexplicable behaviour for one who professes to be God.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that the one who knows His true nature is indeed very rare and even the devas or gods, fail to understand Him. But that rare devotee, ``Who knows the transcendental nature of my appearance and activities, does not, upon leaving the body, take birth again in this material world but attains My eternal abode''.



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