The fullness of Krishnavatara
Janmashtami is the sacred day when the birthless, deathless Supreme Consciousness took birth as a human child in the city of Mathura. In the Bhagavatam it says that at the time of the Lord’s birth, a bright light pervaded, clearing darkness in all directions. People’s minds became suddenly joyful, and plants and trees bloomed. The shackles on Vasudeva’s feet fell away, and the prison doors opened by themselves. The Yamuna River parted to make way for Vasudeva, who was carrying the infant Krishna.
There is a teaching in this: Whenever God incarnates, along with the external changes the light of knowledge will spread within us. When we, like Vasudeva, move forward, holding God close to our hearts, all obstacles on our path will fall away and we will attain our goal.
From the moment of his birth to the time he left his mortal body, each lila Sri Krishna enacted was sweet. They were beacons of light, illumining the path of goodness for the world. The Lord himself says that those who realise the principle behind his divine birth and actions will be freed from the bondage of samsara.
It is difficult to worship the formless, attributeless Supreme Consciousness. But when that supreme essence incarnates in a charming human form and lives among us, playing, eating, bathing and sleeping, it becomes easy and pleasant to remember, obey and meditate upon. It makes the path to Self-realisation easy. When the Lord endeared himself as a child to Yashoda, as a stealer-of-hearts to the gopis, as a playmate to the gopas and as a friend to Arjuna, it was this opportunity they were receiving.
Krishna’s beautiful form—with the peacock feather in his hair, flute in hand, adorned in yellow raiment, garlanded with flowers, and forehead marked with sandal paste—is enough to attract and hold anyone’s attention. The peacock feather attracts the eye; the sweet melody of the flute, the ear; the flower garland attracts the sense of smell; the sandal and yellow silk, the sense of touch; and the butter, the sense of taste. In this manner, Krishna’s avatara paved the way for enjoying and worshipping God through all five senses.
To make devotees happy, to uphold dharma, to define the dharma befitting the times, to impart wisdom to uplift the spiritual sensibilities of society, to shelter and nourish culture in all possible ways, to enact divine lilas to inspire even future generations—these are some of the duties of a divine incarnation. Lord Krishna fulfilled all these in an exemplary way.
Two things are particularly noteworthy about Krishna’s life: His sweet face never lost its pleasant smile, and he engaged wholeheartedly in different roles but always with total dispassion. Like an actor who plays many diverse roles, performing them each to perfection, Krishna used this world as his theatrical stage. He took upon each role with grace and shed it with grace as well. He did not get attached to any of them, yet he made each one beautiful.
It is when one transcends the mind completely that one becomes complete. Lord Krishna was able to do this. This is why the incarnation of Lord Krishna is called a purnavatara—a complete incarnation. With a smile on his face, he moved from circumstance to circumstances as easily as if moving from room to room.
Wind moves everywhere freely, but it never stops. It touches and caresses everyone, but no one can contain it. Krishna was like this. His life was a song with a delightful rhythm and beautiful melody, sung with perfect pitch.
The completeness that is visible in the Lord’s life is also evident in his teachings. His teachings are relevant for people of all walks of life, showing them the way to advance materially as well as spiritually. It is said of the Mahabharata, “Whatever is here may be found elsewhere, but whatever is not here is nowhere else.”
This is also true of the Bhagavad-Gita—the crown jewel of the Mahabharata. It contains the essence of all the spiritual texts of the world. Many great people from different countries and religions have accepted the Gita as their guiding light, and several world universities have recognised the Bhagavad-Gita as a subject for course study. All these are a testament to the unsurpassed glory of the text.
Lord Krishna showed us the way to transform attachment-causing action into a tool for attaining Self-realisation. He advised that one should act with dispassion and detachment, with no desire for the fruit of the action.
Some may have a doubt here: “Amma always advises us to perform actions with love and attention. So, is Amma’s advice contrary to Lord Krishna’s advice?” No, there is no contradiction. Dispassion does not mean lack of enthusiasm or laziness. It only means letting go of any pride associated with your performing of the action. This pride is what causes attachment to the action. It is definitely possible to perform actions efficiently and effectively, with utmost attention and love, without any pride.
For example, if a guru gives a disciple a particular responsibility, the disciple should perform it with sraddha [care] to the best of his ability, considering it as a means of worship and surrender to the guru. After this, when the disciple approaches the guru, the guru may scold him and say, “You did a horrible job!” What should the disciple do then? Without any sadness or complaint, the disciple should accept this response and take it to heart as the guru’s will. He should continue to perform each action with love and sraddha.
Every moment is precious. We unnecessarily waste so much time. Enthusiasm is the other quality needed. A small child learning to walk falls down many times, but always pulls himself back up to try again. The desire to be back up on his feet makes him forget the pain of falling. His only goal is to stand back up again. But enthusiasm by itself is not enough. Along with that, we should have humility and surrender. Only then will we be able to receive God’s grace.
God’s grace, the sun of love, is ever blazing. If you shut the doors and windows of your house, how will you be able to experience the light of that love? We should open the door of our ego and come out. Then we will be able to experience the sweetness and coolness of Krishna’s love. Amma prays to the Paramatma that the doors of their hearts may open to that love.