SRI KRISHNA – INSIGHT INTO HIS THOUGHTS & ACTIONS

                                           (Interactive session on 17.6.2015)

Keynote address by Asish Kumar Raha

(Other participant speakers: Mr. A.K. Sengupta, Dr. Kalyan Chakravarty and Mr                                                                                 Asim Banerjee)

Anchor: Dr. Ramesh Chandra Chanda

Opening Song: Mr. Basudeb Shandilya

Closing Song: Ms. Jayanti Dasgupta    

INTRODUCTION 

Among all the spiritual leaders of all times, none perhaps was as versatile and as dynamic as Sri Krishna. While spiritual leaders in general made a clear distinction between the spiritual and the mundane, Sri Krishna spiritualized the mundane with his irrefutable reasoning, essentially secular in character. One may nevertheless find it difficult to reconcile Sri Krishna’s deepest spiritual proclamation (in Srimad Bhagavad Gita) viz. immortality and unassailability of the soul, to his simultaneous encouragement to Arjuna to fight the bloodiest battle of contemporary time, where several lakhs of warriors were to lose their lives with a handful eventually surviving at the end.

Was his sermon to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra an Ode to spirituality or Ode to violence?

Vast majority of Hindu sages and commoners including philosophers and thinkers hold Sri Krishna and Srimad Bhagavat Gita in highest esteem. At the same time, contra views about him persisted since the days of Mahabharata. Therefore, the very first poser that one is required to address is how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction between philosophical texts of the Gita and its apparently provocative verses meant to inspire Arjuna to engage in a bloody battle with devastating consequences.

Sri Krishna in contemporary texts, viz. Mahabharata, Bhagavata Mahapurana, some Upanishadas, Hari Vamsha and some well known Puranas has been described as the Purna Avatar (of Vishnu) or God incarnate, who possessed cosmic consciousness. In the Bhagavad Gita, the cosmic consciousness of Sri Krishna is amply demonstrated when he spoke in first person as the Supreme Creator, Sustainer and the Destroyer of the universe. He also manifested his cosmic form to Arjuna (refer chapter eleven). The contemporary texts on the other hand are also replete with references to his seemingly amorous relationship with a number of women since his early childhood. According to those texts, the number of his principal spouses was eight, viz. Rukmini, Jambavati, Satyabhama, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Satya, Bhadra and Laksmana. He also symbolically married sixteen thousand Yadava women upon refusal of their husbands to take them back after he rescued them from captivity of a demon called Narakasura. In the above context, the second poser that confronts us is how Sri Krishna with his supreme wisdom and yogic equipoise could engage in amorous sport or relationship, which all other spiritual seekers scrupulously avoided.

Although the contemporary texts hail Sri Krishna as the ultimate founder, saviour and protector of the Dharma (righteousness), the narratives appear to suggest deceitful conduct on his part in the course of the Battle of Kurukshetra, when as the charioteer of Arjuna he became instrumental in the killing of Bhishma, Drona and Karna by flouting the well-set battle norms. What is the rational explanation for such deceit in a righteous battle?

Before we attempt to address the above three posers, let is first understand Sri Krishna in the light of his thoughts and actions as were depicted in the contemporary texts.

WHO WAS SRI KRISHNA

“Who is this Keshava (Sri Krishna)” was precisely the question asked by Yudhisthira to his Grandfather Bhishma after the battle of Kurukshetra was over (refer Shanti Parva, chapter 1528/200, Mahabharata).

Though flattened on the bed of arrows, Bhisma was in his full sense, waiting for the onset of Uttarayana (northward journey of the sun from Capricorn to Cancer, starting from January 14 up to July 16, and viewed as spiritually auspicious) for departing from this world.

It was not as if Yudhisthira did not know who Krishna was. As a matter of fact, if any person outside the dynasty was intimate to the Pandavas, it was Krishna, known also as Vaasudeva, Keshava, Hrishikesha, Pundarikaksha, Madhava, Madhusudana etc. Born on 18th July, 3228 B.C, (as per astrological data based on stellar position at the time of his birth as recorded in contemporary texts) Krishna was of the same age as Arjuna, the third Pandava (Krishna was younger by 8 days only), and the friendship between the two was legendary. It was also well known to him that Krishna was born of Vasudeva and Devaki of Yadava clan in a prison cell at Mathura as Kamsa, the tyrannical king for reason of a prophecy that the 8th son of his sister Devaki would kill him, had put the couple into the prison so that he could kill their offspring as soon as they were born. Yudhisthira was also well aware how Krishna was transferred to the custody of Nanda and Yashoda at Gokula to evade detection, brought up in Vraja Bhumi (Vrindavana) among cow herders when he demonstrated his miraculous power, and how he eventually killed Kamsa and thereby incurred the wrath of Jarasandha, the king of Magadha, who happened to be Kamsa’s father-in-law, and how Krishna became instrumental in getting Jarasandha eliminated in a wrestling bout with Bhima, the second Pandava. It was also known to Yudhisthira that Krishna was related to him as his mother Kunti was the sister of Vasudeva, father of Sri Krishna. Besides, Krishna was like friend, guide and philosopher to Yudhisthira in his days of glory and adversity. Finally, in the battle of Kurukshetra Krishna took the side of the Pandavas and, though widely known as invincible in battles, he volunteered to play a secondary role as the charioteer of his bosom friend Arjuna. Even in that role, he had ensured the victory of the Pandavas by his constant guidance and extra ordinary skill.

Despite knowing him so intimately, Yudhisthira still felt that he did not know the real Krishna yet. Hence this question to the Grand Shire of the Mahabharata, known to be the wisest Kshatriya of his time.

Bhishma’s reply was not simple. He elaborately described Sri Krishna as the incarnate of Vishnu (one of the Trinity, the other two being Brahma and Maheswara), and also as the Purusha or the first evolved form of Brahman. He cited as his source his Master Parashurama, the sage Narada, Vedavyasa (author of Mahabharata, Hari Vamsha and Bhagavata Mahapurana), sage Markandeya (believed to be immortal by the boon of Lord Shiva) and sages Asita and Devala, all highly respected contemporary persons known for their strict adherence to Truth. Bhishma concluded by saying that truth was Krishna’s real strength and that Pundarikaksha (Krishna) was inconceivable.

Bhishma’s above understanding of Krishna assumes significance when one considers that Krishna was not only his adversary but was also critical of his oath of loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur at any cost as perverse, as in the process he shackled himself to embrace untruth / falsehood by taking the side of Duryodhana, knowing fully well that truth was on the side of Yudhisthira as the rightful claimant of the throne.

In the end, Bhishma correctly read the signal of Krishna and decided to give up his life as he realized that his continuation in the battle would have made the victory of the truth extremely difficult, if not impossible.

There was no dearth of negative assessment of Sri Krishna in the Mahabharata. Duryodhana often referred to him as no more than a magician and was not impressed at all by his valour or prowess. King Jarasandha considered him as a petty operator who ran away from Mathura to Dwaraka out of his fear. Sisupala abused him as cowherd in the open court of Yudhisthira on the eve of Rajashuya Yajna, which eventually led to his death. Shakuni considered Krishna as a shrewd rival in diplomacy and politics. Ashvatthama considered him as beatable if only he could be dispossessed of his Sudarshana Chakra. Ashvatthama, in fact, offered him Brahmashira weapon in exchange for Sudarshan Chakra so that he could challenge him to a battle and defeat him too (Even while Krishna agreed to gift him the Chakra, Ashvatthama failed to lift it with all his might). None of the above characters, however, was respected for wisdom or sagacity. But the fact remains that even Arjuna for whom no sacrifice was considered enough by Krishna, admittedly failed to recognize who he actually was till he witnessed his cosmic form (ref. chapter 11, verses 41-42, Gita). And that too despite his awareness of the revelation made by all the great sages that Sri Krishna was self-evolved eternal being (ref. chapter 10, verses12-13, Gita).

Be that as it may, when we examine thoughts and actions of Krishna, we have to take into consideration all the contemporary views as available on record.

CHILD KRISHNA AGAINST IRRATIONAL CONVENTION

It was customary for the cowherds in the land of Vraja to worship Indra, the god of rain, at a particular time every year. When preparation for Indra worship was in progress, little Krishna asked his foster father Nanda as to why must they worship Indra and for what benefit.

Nanda explained that if Indra was pleased, he wiould favour the Vraja land with shower to the delight and benefit of all beings.

Krishna instantly questioned this age-old convention, saying that ‘the rain is a natural phenomenon and Indra has very little to contribute to it. Life of all beings is governed by Karma alone and not by Indra. Karma is our preceptor and almighty Lord. Indra is incapable of altering the course of actions performed by men according to their nature. Therefore, instead of worshipping Indra, let us worship cows, as cows have been our only means of subsistence. Let us also worship learned Brahmins who guide us on the correct path. Even the mountain Govardhana deserves our worship as it shelters us.’

The elders of the Vraja were already convinced of his divinity from several past instances. Therefore, they accepted his suggestion and worshipped the cow, the Brahmins and the mountain instead of Indra. This enraged Indra who unleashed torrential rain for seven days, non-stop. According to Bhagavata Mahapurana, Sri Krishna lifted and held the mountain by one hand so as to provide shelter to all cowherds till the remission of rain (refer Bhagavata Mahapurana, 10.24).

What is pertinent to ponder here is not whether a mountain could be lifted and held for seven days by a little child, but that the little Krishna had the courage to question irrational tradition of Indra worship by convincing logic and to set a new tradition of worship on the basis of substantive benefit to the society rather than illusory gain.

GOPI LOVE – A NEW VISTA TO SPIRITUAL HEIGHT

Sri Krishna’s amorous sport with the Gopis (cowherd maidens), more famously with Radha, known as Rasa Leela, has been subject of folklore and dance drama in all parts India. It is generally believed that the Gopis, most of them already married, were in deep love with Krishna who also responded to their love. What was the nature of their relationship, as is evident from contemporary texts such as Bhagavata Mahapurana?

At the outset, it may be mentioned that Bhagavata does not mention Sri Radha in particular. Therefore, the fabled love affair between Sri Radha and Sri Krishna may not have any strong foundation in contemporary texts, and in all probability Radha-Krishna love saga came into currency at a later period.

Secondly, Sri Krishna was only twelve when he left Vrindavana (Vraja Bhumi) for Mathura. Therefore, it would be quite logical to eliminate physical angle from the Gopis’ love toward much younger Krishna.

Thirdly and more importantly, sage Garga categorically told Nanda and his community elders that Sri Krishna was no ordinary child. He was Vishnu incarnate, born of Vasudeva and Devaki (not of Nanda and Yashoda) to deliver the world from oppression and ignorance. It was his divinity, extra ordinary mental and physical strength and mesmerizing flute-play that attracted the Gopis toward him. Their love toward him was clearly of the nature of absolute surrender to the Divine and opened a new vista to spiritual liberation, hitherto unknown.

Now the question is how Sri Krishna responded to the Gopis’ unique love. To understand the nature of Sri Krishna’s love toward the Gopis, we will rely upon two narratives, one from Bhagavata Mahapurana ( ref.10.32) and the other from Gopala Uttaratapaneeya Upanishada.

 KRISHNA LOVE – NARRATIVE FROM BHAGAVATA

Let us first refer to Bhagavata narrative. Once the Gopis told Krishna that some loved in return of love, while others loved unilaterally without any expectation of return love, while still others did not love at all. What according to Krishna was the ideal situation?

Krishna replied that love in return of love was not true love as it was actuated by self-interest. One-sided love without response may be compassionate love. As to the last category of persons who did not love even those who loved them let alone those who did not, they could be sages reveling in their own self or those who had realized their mission and were, therefore, free from all craving for enjoyment, or those who were dullards incapable of enjoyment, or ungrateful people inimical to their own benefactors. “I, O my dear friends, do not come under any of these categories, being supremely compassionate and friendly, even though I do not visibly reciprocate your love, and remain out of sight……I love all of you invisibly…….Let your services (love) to me be repaid by your own goodness.” The above narrative clearly establishes that true love does not go in vain and even the Divine responds to true selfless love, though invisibly. The last sentence in the above narrative is quite significant; implying that one who loves God should not expect any tangible return. Response of the Divinity is reflected in the glow of goodness in such lover.    

KRISHNA LOVE – UPANISHADIC ANECDOTE

After a nightlong amorous sport with Krishna, the Gopis asked him to whom they should offer first alms in the morning. ‘Let it be sage Durvasha who is camping on the other side of the river Yamuna and quite hungry’, suggested Krishna. As the Yamuna was in full spate in the monsoon, and no boat was in sight, the Gopis asked Krishna how they would cross the river. “Request Yamuna” said Krishna, “to make way for all of you to cross over, if it is true that Krishna is a Brahmachari (celibate)”. The Gopis wondered how Yamuna would respond to such atrocious lie. Nevertheless, they complied with Krishna’s advice and found to their surprise that Yamuna made way for them to cross over to the other side.

After serving sage Durvasha with milk, butter and sweetmeats, the Gopis requested the sage to help them cross the river, as not a single boat was available. The sage asked them how in the first place they crossed the river to reach him. The Gopis narrated the Krishna episode. The sage asked them to repeat the same exercise, requesting Yamuna this time to make way if it was true that Durvasha had not eaten anything. The Gopis were baffled by this apparent falsehood.

Understanding their confusion the sage explained to them that he in reality was not the body, but soul who was without action. It was his body that took the alms, not his soul. As for Krishna, the sage explained to the Gopis that whom they knew as Krishna was in fact all pervasive Soul, existing in all living beings. He was the sole existence before the creation. He was incomprehensible by our sense organs. One who had lost one’s self being engrossed in love with him would eventually become him. The duality would get lost in such love, the lover getting merged into the beloved. Krishna was that beloved Soul in whom lay the final destination of the Gopis. In that sense, Krishna was single, the eternal Brahmachari.    

SYMBOLIC MARRIAGE WITH SIXTEEN THOUSAND RESCUED WOMEN

According to the narratives from Bhagavata and Mahabharata, Sri Krishna rescued sixteen thousand captive Yadava women after killing demonic Narakasur, the ruler of Pragjyotishpur (now Assam). It is said that the husbands of those women refused to take them back following the Rama tradition, inasmuch as their chastity was taken as tainted in the custody of the demon. Answering the prayer of the deserted women, Krishna out of compassion as also his resolve to change the cruel and unfair tradition, married all those women symbolically on the same day so as to give them respectability together with security. By this unusual and unprecedented act, Sri Krishna proved once again that he had scant respect for irrational tradition. On the other hand, he had no hesitation to change the age-old tradition set by Sri Rama, making it mandatory for an abducted wife to pass the severe fire-test to prove her chastity. Krishna found this tradition barbaric, irrational and disrespectful to the women who had been forcefully abducted. Realizing that love and respect in a relationship cannot be revived by force or persuasion, he decided to marry all those women instead of compelling their husbands to take them back, so that they were given due respect as his wives and none could raise a finger against them in future.

TRUTH VS. TRUTH – CONFUSION OF BHISHMA AND DRONA “Nasti

Satyasamanam Tapaha” (Vedavyasa) or ‘there is no religion higher than Truth’ was the constant refrain of the sages and the enlightened souls during the time of Krishna. But there was enormous confusion among the wisest and the enlightened persons when it came to the question of distinguishing Truth from falsehood,

The case in point is the confusion of Bhishma and Dronacharya on the eve of the Battle of Kurukshetra. As for Bhishma, he had taken a vow to protect the kingdom of Hastinapur at all costs. For a Kshatriya like him, allegiance to truth meant staking of his life to keep his vow. However, he received a boon from his father that he would die only when he so wished. Therefore, the ground reality in his case was that if he lived on to fight for Duryodhana, none could dethrone the ruler of Hastinapur. Hence, in the battle of Kurukshetra, the victory of Yudhisthira was nearly impossible. But Bhishma was convinced that in the fraternal dispute for the throne, truth was on the side of Yudhisthira, not Duryodhana who stood all through his life for falsehood with tacit support from his blind father Dhritarashtra. Thus Bhishma faced the worst dilemma of his life, i.e. whether he should be truthful to his personal oath and side with Duryodhana who represented untruth or falsehood, or in pursuit of truth, he should side with Yudhisthira, ignoring his vow to protect the kingdom of Hastinapur. He also evaluated the third option of going into withdrawal mode, but rejected the same, as it would have been against the prevailing norms for a true Kshatriya. Eventually, even though he blessed Yudhisthir for victory, he stuck to his vow of fighting the battle for Duryodhana. In doing so, he gave priority to his Kshatriya dharma, which mandated him to stick to his vow and enjoy heaven after death or else to suffer in hell. He obviously opted for the former going against his conscience.

Dronacharya also confronted the same dilemma. Like Bhishma, he also eventually decided to side with Duryodhana despite his conviction that truth was on the side of Yudhisthira, whom he blessed for victory. Drona’s compulsion was that he was obligated to Duryodhana for his son Ashvatthama, whose welfare was his sole consideration. Besides, according to Kshatriya dharma, he was not permitted to betray his benefactor. In case he did so, he was to be consigned to hell, which was the last thing he desired.

Same thing could be said about Karna, who like Bhishma and Drona was well aware that truth was on the side of Yudhisthira, and yet for reason of his personal obligation and loyalty under oath to Duryodhana, and also his oath to either kill Arjuna or get killed by him, he did not waver for a moment from supporting his benefactor. And this he did even after being informed by Sri Krishna as also by his real mother Kunti that he was her eldest son and, therefore, had the foremost claim to the throne of Hastinapur.

SACRIFICE OF LOWER TRUTH FOR HIGHER TRUTH

Let us now look at Krishna’s views on Truth. In doing so, let us leave aside the perception of the leading sages and the wise men such as Narada, Parasurama, Markandeya, Vedavyasa, Suka, Asita, Devala, Durvasha and lastly Bhishma himself, that Sri Krishna was the Ultimate Truth. To Sri Krishna, there was no absolute Truth barring Brahman. When a man rises to the highest level of consciousness, he becomes one with Brahman and Truth. In this phenomenal world of man-made rules and rituals, truth is relative, intricately connected with the goal, whether personal or collective, changing according to time and perspective. He made a gradation of truth, viz. higher and lower. When lower truth comes in conflict with higher truth, higher truth must prevail and lower truth must give way. As for instance, personal oath of a Kshatriya is a lower truth if compliance of the said oath results in loss of innocent lives, thereby sacrificing higher truth, viz. non-violence to innocent living beings.

When Bhima took an oath to kill Duryodhana and his brothers in a battle, and in order to make sure that he got a chance to fulfill his oath, he was insistent that Krishna as the messenger of Yudhisthira must not bargain for peace. But Krishna admonished him, pointing out that his personal oath was not as important as the lives of a million soldiers. Therefore, he requested for only five villages for Yudhisthira when Duryodhana denied his title to the throne of Hastinapur.

On at least two occasions during the battle, he was prepared to break his personal oath of not taking up weapons. The first such occasion arose when Arjuna was unable to resist Bhishma from destroying the army of the Pandavas ruthlessly. Krishna jumped out of the chariot and rushed to Bhishma with an intent to kill him. Though eventually Krishna withdrew at the persuasion of Arjuna, his aggressive stance served a signal to Bhishma that his time to leave this world had come. In fact Bhishma himself gave out the secret to Yudhisthira how he could be killed, when he learnt that it was Krishna who advised Yudhisthira to find that out from his grandfather directly.

The second occasion when Krishna was prepared to break his oath was to help Arjuna kill Jayadratha before sun set as otherwise Arjuna vowed to end his own life. Krishna asked Daruka to keep his chariot in readiness so that he could join the battle, if need be.

Thus Krishna’s view was crystal clear, i.e. when personal oath comes in conflict with higher truth, there is no sin or fault in violating personal oath.

Now the question is how Krishna judged the conduct of Bhishma and Drona. He made no bone of his adverse views on the decision of the above two highly respected elders cum fierce warriors to take the side of Duryodhana. He called their decision perverse as they sacrificed higher truth for self-centric lower truth. According to Krishna, the minimum that they ought to have done was not to fight at all, in which event, Duryodhana would not ventured to battle with the Pandavas relying entirely on the strength of Karna, and the destructive battle could have been avoided.

As for Karna, the distinction between higher and lower truth got totally blurred in his vision as his jealousy and complex against Arjuna clouded his judgment. Therefore, in the interest of higher truth, those three great warriors ought to have perished in the battle, according to Krishna. Here, the end was more important than the means. Accordingly, it was immaterial whether the means to the end were ethical, proper or moral so long as the end was to establish higher truth.

There is yet another perspective that clearly surfaces from the text of Mahabharata. Sri Krishna unmistakably emerged as the judge punishing the wrongdoers, logically explaining the grounds for and deciding the manner of the punishment inflicted upon each such person.

KRISHNA RESOLVES ARJUNA’S CONFUSION ABOUT TRUTH  

As we are aware, Bhagavad Gita was all about truth at different levels of perception, with Karma as the driving force. It was meant to remove the doubts and confusion from the mind of Arjuna. But Arjuna’s mind was not yet fully disabused. This is evident from the following anecdote of Mahabharata.

When Karna was at his destructive best, injuring Yudhisthira severely so that he had to retire into the tent for treatment, Arjuna accompanied by Krishna dropped in to find about his condition. This infuriated Yudhisthira as he thought that Arjuna had run away from the battle out of fear of Karna. He insulted the third Pandava, calling him coward and unfit to hold the Gandiva. Arjuna took a vow to kill anyone who would insult him by calling him unfit for the Gandiva. Therefore, he picked up the Gandiva to kill Yudhisthira. Krishna intervened and reproached his attempt to kill his elder brother who was like his father, forgetting his ultimate goal to establish righteous rule (Dharma Rajya) for the good of the people under Yudhisthira. Arjuna’s counter was that as a Kshatriya, it was his bounden duty to honour his oath failing which he would be consigned to hell. Krishna countered by saying that if he killed his father-like elder brother he would not be able to escape from hell. To that Arjuna replied that if hell were unavoidable, he would like to suffer it as a Kshatriya and not a fallen one. Now Krishna must find out a solution for him so that his oath was not violated and Yudhisthir also survived. Krishna’s solution was unique and pragmatic. He said that insulting a honourable man is like killing him. Hence, my dear friend, insult Yudhisthira.

After harping volleys of insult on Yudhisthira, Arjuna pulled out his sword to commit suicide, as he vowed to end his life if ever he insulted Yudhisthira. Now it was Krishna’s turn to convince Arjuna how sinful it would be to commit suicide and that for higher truth he ought to sacrifice the lower truth. But Arjuna would not be convinced. Finally, the solution fell from Krishna’s mouth. ‘Self-praise, O Partha, amounts to killing self. Therefore, indulge in self-flattery and honour your vow.’ The problem got resolved and higher truth eventually prevailed without violating the lower truth.

QUESTIONING MERITS OF GANDHARI’S BLINDFOLD

Queen Gandhari who had blindfolded her vision in empathy with her blind husband Dhritarashtra was hailed as one of the most pious ladies of her time for this supreme sacrifice. She was otherwise also known for her righteousness and pursuit of Truth. She did not hesitate for a moment in wishing Yudhisthira victory in the battle of Kurukshetra as she was convinced that truth was on his side and not on the side of her son Duryodhana. Like Bhishma and the venerable sages, Gandhari also believed in the divinity of Sri Krishna and hoped that by his mercy, at least one of her hundred sons would survive the battle. As it did not happen, crestfallen Gandhari accused Krishna that it was very much within his power to stop this destructive war. Because of his non-intervention, the battle happened and she had lost her hundred sons. Therefore, she cursed Krishna that not a single male member in his Vrishni clan would survive him. Smilingly, Krishna replied that he was well aware of the destiny of his clan and also that none of them would survive him, irrespective of her curse. However, her accusation had no basis. The Battle of Kurukshetra happened not because of him, but primarily because of Gandhari’s failure to discharge her duty as a mother to properly bring up, train and control her sons. She had no justification in putting a blindfold on her eyes and remaining blind to her sons’ activities. Since her husband was born blind, she ought to have taken extra care and responsibility for proper grooming of the children. If only she had kept her eyes open, her children would not have fallen under the evil influence of her brother Shakuni, and the battle could have been averted. Gandhari broke into tears, understanding her incurable mistake.

NON-VIOLENCE – THE ULTIMATE GOAL

However paradoxical it may sound, Sri Krishna was an ardent advocate for non-violence. To him, nothing was more important than protection of innocent lives. Unless it was absolutely necessary to terminate life of a demonic character, who himself posed a threat to innocent lives, Krishna had not raised his weapon famously known as Sudarshan Chakra. Even while engaging in battle against such demonic and egoistic characters, he had scrupulously avoided mass scale killing. This explains why he chose not to confront Jarasandha in a battle where loss of lives on a large scale could not be avoided. He instead migrated with his people from Mathura to strategically more secure Dwaraka, which was situated between the sea on the west and Raivataka Mountain on the east. When the time was apt, he escorted Bhima and Arjuna to Jarasandha’s palace and got him killed by Bhima in a wrestling bout. Likewise, as an emissary for Yudhisthira he tried his best to avert the battle by proposing to Duryodhana that let him offer just five villages to Yudhisthira and the latter would accept that, instead of fighting for the throne of Hastinapur. To stop the battle, he even approached Karna and disclosed his true identity as the eldest son of Kunti, as he knew that without Karna’s support, Duryodhana would not dare to go into friction with the Pandavas.

Krishna’s ideal of non-violence is best demonstrated in verse 55, chapter 11, of the Gita where he proclaims:

“Nirvairah sarva-bhuteshu yah sah mameti pandava”

[One who is free from enmity toward all beings attains me]

It is pertinent to note here that Sri Krishna was talking of non-violence of mind here, as in the same breath he was inspiring Arjuna to engage in the battle selflessly as his duty (Karma). In other words, Krishna’s message to Arjuna was to fight the battle without any sense of enmity toward Duryadhana or his army. Thus there does not appear to be any contradiction between the above two propositions. Krishna’s concept of non-violence of mind is further elucidated in verse 28, chapter 13 of the Gita where he proclaims: “He who finds God in every being does not injure the Self by the self. That man reaches the supreme goal.”

SPIRITUALITY REDEFINED

Traditionally, a line of demarcation divided spiritual pursuit from secular affairs. Krishna brought a revolution in the conventional thinking by integrating the mundane with the spiritual. Thus there remained no bar for a butcher or a cowherd from being spiritually more advanced than a sage or a learned Brahmin, by steadfastly and selflessly pursuing their respective professions. Krishna defined selfless Karma as the highest worship. A Karma Yogi need not go to temple for worship or to a forest for meditation. Instead, if he dedicates his Karma to the Divine with no desire for the result, he would be liberated from the bondage of action. This happens to be the central theme of the Gita, contained in verses 27 and 28 of chapter 9 which are cited below.

“O son of Kunti, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as sacrifice, whatever you give and whatever austerities you perform, all that you offer to me. Thus you will be free from bondage of actions”.  

If we apply this standard to our daily life, every piece of our mundane work can be spiritualized if only we perform it selflessly and dedicate the same to God. The uniqueness of this concept is that its cornerstone is not God as such, but selfless Karma, i.e. action without the desire for its fruit, as the result is not in our hands. It is not just an idealistic approach, but realistic and pragmatic too.

CONCLUDING REMARKS  

In the light of the above in-depth discussion on the thoughts and actions of Sri Krishna, let us now revert to the three posers made in the Introduction.

Our first poser was whether the sermon to Arjuna in the Gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra was an Ode to spirituality or Ode to violence? It has been explained above with reference to relevant verses from the Gita, viz. verse 55, chapter 11 and verse 28, chapter 13, that non-violence of mind was the ultimate objective and the ideal. The cardinal message of Sri Krishna to Arjuna was to fight the battle as his duty or Karma, as truth was on his side; but he should engage in the battle without any self-interest or desire for the fruit of his action, and most importantly, without any sense of enmity to Duryodhana or his army. In this sense, the Gita is an Ode to spirituality as selfless Karma necessarily pre-supposes Gnana (knowledge), Buddhi (intellect), Bhakti (devotion) and Vignana (ultimate wisdom) of the doer. In other words, the Gita spoke of integral Yoga, which Sri Aurobindo developed into a distinct philosophy.

It is pertinent to mention here that Mahatma Gandhi, the champion and practitioner of non-violence was an ardent follower of the Gita. He once stated that he found resolution of all his problems and doubts from the Gita.

Let us now deal with the second poser, viz. how Sri Krishna with his supreme wisdom and yogic equipoise could engage in amorous sport or relationship with women, which all other spiritual seekers scrupulously avoided. While dwelling on the Gopi love and the nature of Krishna love, it has been explained elaborately with reference to contemporary texts that the Gopi love was far from physical or amorous. It was of the nature of a devotee’s love of God. The Gopis who were simple cowherd maidens sincerely believed that Sri Krishna, a boy not yet adolescent, but possessing enormous mental and physical strength, was God incarnate. Their love for him was intense, deep and total. As for Sri Krishna’s love, it was invisible, compassionate and detached, as Bhagavata mentions in Krishna’s own words. Besides, it goes to the credit of Sri Krishna that he opened a new vista to spiritual liberation through love of absorption and total surrender, which was held as a taboo by the ascetics on spiritual path, during and before his time.

As for the allegation of deceit against Sri Krishna, our in-depth analysis of various anecdotes from Mahabharata establishes that Sri Krishna was ideologically and rather openly inclined toward compromising lower truth for higher truth. Therefore, the charge of duplicity or deceit against him does not stand our scrutiny.

Krishna said in Gita (4.18) “He who finds inaction in action and action in inaction, is a great Yogi, the performer of all actions”. Swami Vivekananda has interpreted it a bit differently as follows: “He who in the midst of intense activity finds himself in the greatest calmness, and in the greatest peace finds intense activity, is the greatest Yogi as well as the wisest man” (The Complete Works of Vivekananda, Vol.I, The Gita I). We agree with the Swami that there is no better candidate than Sri Krishna to answer the above description, as he possessed the unique calmness to preach the deepest thoughts of the Vedanta on a battlefield on the eve of probably the ghastliest battle known to history.

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28 Responses to SRI KRISHNA – INSIGHT INTO HIS THOUGHTS & ACTIONS

  1. Kushal Shah says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts, Mr. Asish! You have rightly pointed out that, “Traditionally, a line of demarcation divided spiritual pursuit from secular affairs. Krishna brought a revolution in the conventional thinking by integrating the mundane with the spiritual.” I recently came across a related quote by Sister Nivedita: “If the many and the One be indeed the same Reality, then it is not all modes of worship alone, but equally all modes of work, all modes of struggle, all modes of creation, which are paths of realization. No distinction, henceforth, between sacred and secular. To labour is to pray. To conquer is to renounce. Life is itself religion. To have and to hold is as stern a trust as to quit and to avoid.”

  2. akraha1948 says:

    Thanks Dr. Kushal for your appreciation and Nivedita quote. The state of realization Nivedita had in mind is known as equipoise in yogic term. In such state of perfect balance of all the Gunas, viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, the man attains liberation, Moksha or Nirvana, as you may term it.

  3. RKGupta says:

    An excellent discussion and presentation.
    I only wish to make one comment that Lord Krishna stood for protecting the interest of the humanity. All His actions were for the sake of serving the humanity. The same cannot be said for Bhishma. For example Bhishma had taken the vow to serve and protect the throne. He and Drona, both were capable of stopping the treatment meted out to Draupdi but they did not do so. Bhishma did not act in the interest of humanity but preferred to keep his vow. On the other hand, in the battlefield when Bhishma was fighting ferociously and was about to uproot the Pandavas, Krishna did not care for His vow and jumped out of the chariot to kill Bhishma. Bhishma knowing the reality of the status of Krishna stopped fighting and awaited Krishna to kill him but just then the sun set and the fight stopped. Similarly on some other occasions also Krishna’s conduct shows protecting humanity is far more important than anything else. Sticking to a vow against humanity is a sign of subtle ego, which needed to be shed for realising the Truth. Similarly, Krishna did not bother about public opinion or criticism in marrying 16000 women to give them a respectful life.He willingly and happily accepted the curse of Gandhari.
    Krishna also appears to be a great scientist. The incidence relating to ‘Kaliya Dah’, appears to be an incidence relating to purifying the river. It appers that with time a lot of Methane gas had accumulated in the basin of the river, which was poisonous and harmful. This was released by Krishna and the river was purified. There may also be spiritual explanation for this anecdote, Similarly, Putna had applied poison to herself and Krishna delayed and made her wait till the time the poison entered her body and killed her.

  4. Kushal Shah says:

    Mr. Asish, I think Nivedita was referring to the process of life and not to the final state of realization. I am also of the opinion that there is no final state of realization. The higher one goes, the farther the goal moves away. The infinite Brahman is both infinitely close and infinitely far away!

    Mr. Gupta, you have rightly pointed out that Krishna was more interested in the greater good of humanity and not his personal vows. But this can also be used as an excuse by ordinary mortals for breaking promises on flimsy grounds. It is actually very hard to ascertain whether our actions are for the greater good of humanity or just disguised selfish interests. This is why I think both the ideals of Bhishma and Krishna are required in society.

  5. RKGupta says:

    I appreciate your comments Dr. Shah. You have rightly pointed out “It is actually very hard to ascertain whether our actions are for the greater good of humanity or just disguised selfish interests”. Only those, who have risen above the ego (self-interest), know what is good for humanity and that is why at times their actions superficially may look not acceptable by the standards set by the society, but they care not, as they are aware of the real good. Lord Krishna at many occasions favored actions, which were not acceptable by the social standards, like hitting Duryodhana below the belt, suggesting Yudhistar to make announcement about the death of Ashwathama and so on. But then, as you have rightly pointed out, if the ordinary mortals start imitating, without attaining that level of spiritual evolution, they are bound to commit mistakes and that is why a Master (Satguru like Lord Krishna, who could guide Pandvas) is required to guide them. Blindly following the scriptures without understanding their real meaning is not free from dangers.

  6. akraha1948 says:

    Dr. Kushal, the state of mind that Sister Nivedita was referring to, when the many and the one become the same reality and work and life itself become religion is the state of Tat Tvam Asi, the ultimate state of one’s realization when all become One. As for her remark that ‘life is itself religion’, I am reminded of her master Swami Vivekananda’s famous saying: “I do not love religion. I’ve become religion.”

    I agree that the ultimate realization does not come easily. But I do not agree with your view that there is no final state of realization, for three reasons. First, it clearly goes against the revelation of Sri Krishna himself, even if we leave aside the realization of other saints, sages and enlightened souls. Second, a person who has not realized the Truth / Brahman, will never be in a position to comprehend or perceive Truth except under guidance of a realized Master. Third, the burden to prove what Krishna and other realized souls revealed is either concocted or sheer hallucination is on us and not on them, if one goes by the standard set by Einstein, viz. unless a proposition is proved to be impossible, it is possible.

    Guptaji, your observation that higher truth was for the good of the community and, therefore, deserved precedence over individual oath was exactly the principle enunciated by Sri Krishna. Bhsihma and Drona eventually gave precedence to their individual oath to the larger goal, even while realizing that the truth was not only on the side of Yudhisthira but under the benevolent and righteous rule of Yudhisthira, the people would be much happier. It was their mis-judgment that was primarily responsible for Kurukshetra battle.

    Dr. Kushal, the confusion as to what would constitute greater good of the community is no doubt a practical problem. It can also be a ruse by a crook to mislead people in a democracy. But such possibility surely does not warrant your conclusion in the given context that both the ideals of Bhishma and Krishna are required in the society. There is a difference between the given context of Bhishma and your example in that Bhishma never had a doubt about the truth being on the side of yudhisthira or that the greater good of the community would be served under the benevolent rule of Yudhisthira. His only problem was his personal oath to protect the throne of Hastinapur. The issue in his case was clearly defined. Only his judgment was in question. If we extend the Mahabharat like situation to the present day scenario, we have to choose either the goal of greater good of humanity or the individual goal of accomplishment.

  7. RKGupta says:

    Raha Sahab you have mentioned “It was their mis-judgment that was primarily responsible for Kurukshetra battle”, which needs further elaboration. Mis-judgment of what? Did they mis-judge that Pandvas were on the right path or they mis-judged the strength of Pandvas under the shelter of Krishna? I think they mis-judged their duty? Bhishma thought his duty was to keep his promise under all circumstances, forgetting that the biggest duty is to serve the humanity and save a lady from being insulted in that manner?

  8. akraha1948 says:

    Guptaji, I used the word ‘misjudgment’ in the sense that both Bhishma & Drona ignored higher truth for lower truth which related to their individual oath or obligation. Those two old men were always confused when called upon to distinguish right from wrong.

    Let us take the instance of Draupadi. According to the term of the bet, Draupadi was lost by Yudhisthira to Duryodhana. In other words, Duryodhana became her master and Draupadi his slave. It was the contention of Duryodhana that she was no longer the queen but only a slave who had no discretion whether to comply with the command of her master or not. Thus when Draupadi refused to obey the command of Duryodhana, he sent Duhshyashana to fetch her to the court by force and then the most condemnable act, viz. her disrobing in the open court was attempted. At that very moment, Draupadi raised the following logical poser to the elders, namely Bhishma, Drona, Kripacharya, Vidur and Dhritarashtra. Could a person who himself became a slave by losing a dice game, stake his wife who was still a free person, in the next game?

    Shakuni and Duryodhana responded by saying that a wife being Ardhangini could not in any case be a free person after the husband had been reduced to a slave. In any case husband, whether a slave or a free man, would always have a right over his wife.

    Except for Vidura, none else answered the question raised by Draupadi, even though they were convinced what Duryodhana and his brother Duhshyashana did were totally unacceptable morally and ethically. Only Vidura approved Draupadi’s logic from the higher perspective of Rajadharma. The silence of other elders rather indicated that they were more inclined toward the logic of Shakuni and Duryodhana that Yudhisthira had in inherent right to stake his wife in a game of dice even while he was reduced to a slave. Thus the elders were critical of the act of disrobing on the ground of propriety only and not on the ground of legality. Inaction of Bhishma & Drona on that occasion was not because of any personal oath or obligation to Duryadhana but because of their genuine confusion, indecisiveness and lack of discretion.

  9. Kushal Shah says:

    “But I do not agree with your view that there is no final state of realization, for three reasons. First, it clearly goes against the revelation of Sri Krishna himself, even if we leave aside the realization of other saints, sages and enlightened souls.”

    Mr. Asish, I am not at all disagreeing with Krishna and other saints. Ramakrishna has also said that most realized souls are only able to slightly touch the ocean of Brahman and only Shukadev was able to drink a drop or two. Puranas also state that Shukadeva surpassed his father, Ved Vyas, in spiritual attainment. Does not this show that there are different levels of realization? Also, Ramana Maharshi has placed Sahaj Samadhi above Nirvikalpa Samadhi. And my friends from traditional Advaita schools tell me that there are many levels of Nirvikalpa Samadhi itself. So in all this, what is the final state?

    “Inaction of Bhishma & Drona on that occasion was not because of any personal oath or obligation to Duryadhana but because of their genuine confusion, indecisiveness and lack of discretion.”

    I find it very hard to agree with this. If Bhishma was such a confused and indecisive person, why was he so revered by Krishna himself?

  10. akraha1948 says:

    “Ramakrishna has also said that most realized souls are only able to slightly touch the ocean of Brahman and only Shukadev was able to drink a drop or two. Puranas also state that Shukadeva surpassed his father, Ved Vyas, in spiritual attainment. Does not this show that there are different levels of realization?”

    Dr. Kushal, What Sri Ramakrishna said was told by sri Krishna millenniums ago, i.e that among those who consider them as Siddha (realized) may be one only has actually realized me (Gita, 7.3). Shukdeva was considered as spiritually more advanced than his father Vedavyasa, the author of Mahabharata, by none other than Sri Krishna himself. After revealing the mystery of spirituality and Brahman (compiled in Gita) Krishna told Arjuna that all of this was known to Shuka as well, while Vyasa may or may not know it (Aham vetti, Shuka vetti, Vyasa vetti na vetti ba). It is well known that there are different levels of realization, the highest being that of Brahman when all other existence get merged or lost in Brahman.

    “If Bhishma was such a confused and indecisive person, why was he so revered by Krishna himself?”

    Bhishma was a man of great character, pure, honest to the core, truthful to his words, chivalrous, compassionate and knowledgable. For all these extra-ordinary qualities, he was respected by one and all. He made a mistake in prioritizing his personal oath to the cause of the higher truth that was on the side of Yudhisthira. Even while he was conscious of that, he took Duryodhana’s side in the battle. Krishna called his decision perverse as it was against his conscience. According to Krishna, if Bhishma and Drona refrained from fighting for Duryadhana and remained neutral, the battle could be prevented.

    Bhishma was called confused and indecisive in relation to Draupadi episode when he failed to answer her poser, i.e, whether Yudhisthira after being a slave to Duryadhana had a right to stake his wife in the game of dice? If Bhishma decided in favour of Draupadi, the ignominy of disrobing in open court could have been avoided. Bhishma instead got engrossed in searching for a legalistic answer as he found the issue a tricky one. His silence was taken by all present as a lost case for Draupadi, as earlier Bhishma was quite vociferous in disapproving the conduct of Duryadhana.

  11. Kushal Shah says:

    “It is well known that there are different levels of realization, the highest being that of Brahman when all other existence get merged or lost in Brahman.”

    Mr. Asish, what is Brahman always remains Brahman. And what is non-Brahman can never become Brahman. So what is this merger?

    “Bhishma was called confused and indecisive in relation to Draupadi episode when he failed to answer her poser, i.e, whether Yudhisthira after being a slave to Duryadhana had a right to stake his wife in the game of dice?”

    Thats true! But after the war, Bhishma says this to Arjuna: “This pain that I experience is due to my silence and injustice to Draupadi. I was blinded and failed to question the evil act because I was taken care by the Kauravas and this body was relying on them for survival. Now, with this arrows pierced deep into my body, all the blood that is sustained with sin is drained out.” This shows that his apparent confusion was also primarily due to his oath.

  12. akraha1948 says:

    “what is Brahman always remains Brahman. And what is non-Brahman can never become Brahman. So what is this merger?”

    The realized soul experiences ‘Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma’ or everything that exists is Brahman’. To him there is nothing but Brahman. And the concept of non-Brahman is just not relevant here. In that state of realization, individual identity of the realized soul becomes non est. The merger of individual soul with Brahman happens in that highest state of realization when only Brahman pervades the vision.

    “But after the war, Bhishma says this to Arjuna: “This pain that I experience is due to my silence and injustice to Draupadi. I was blinded and failed to question the evil act because I was taken care by the Kauravas and this body was relying on them for survival. Now, with this arrows pierced deep into my body, all the blood that is sustained with sin is drained out.” This shows that his apparent confusion was also primarily due to his oath.”

    I don’t know your source, but I haven’t found that admission of Bhishma from the critical edition of Mahabharata by Bhandarkar Oriental Research institute after extensive research from 1919 till 1966, based on which Bibek Debroy has brought out his 10 volumes Mahabharata.There are several versions of Mahabharata, which are not quite reliable. Pl. let me have the reference from the Mahabharata that contains above admission of Bhishma to Arjuna. After checking authenticity of the statement, I shall offer my comments.

  13. Kushal Shah says:

    “The merger of individual soul with Brahman happens in that highest state of realization when only Brahman pervades the vision.”

    It is true that the popular translation of Mundaka 3.2.9 is “Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed.” But there is another translation which says, “The knower of Brahman is verily that same Brahman” I heard this second one from a friend who in turn heard it from his Guru. I personally find the second one more acceptable.

    “There are several versions of Mahabharata, which are not quite reliable.”

    Thats true! I should be more careful with this. I found that earlier utterance from an article on the net but it didn’t contain any reference to a proper book. I need to read more in this regard.

  14. akraha1948 says:

    “It is true that the popular translation of Mundaka 3.2.9 is “Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed.” But there is another translation which says, “The knower of Brahman is verily that same Brahman” I heard this second one from a friend who in turn heard it from his Guru. I personally find the second one more acceptable.”

    There is hardly any difference between the two statements. Both convey the same meaning, i.e. the knower of Brahman becomes / is Brahman. The difference lies in the two words, viz. ‘being’ and ‘becoming’. ‘Being’ is eternal Truth, irrespective of whether one realizes it or not. ‘Becoming’ is the state of realization that brings a change in the perception of the knower, not in the known. The underlying concept of ‘Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma’ or ‘all that exists is Brahman’ is validated by both the statements.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      There are at least 4 people on this planet (incl. myself) who think these two translations are totally different and prefer the 2nd one (is and not become). 🙂

  15. akraha1948 says:

    As I have explained, ‘is’ relates to Brahman, while ‘become’ relates to the realized soul. A scientist as you are, you will understand the difference between the two with reference to “laws of gravity’ as ‘is’, and awareness of Newton of the said laws as ‘become’.

  16. Kushal Shah says:

    Thats a very interesting analogy! But “Newton” is a fundamentally different being from “laws of gravity”. So, it makes perfect sense to say that Newton became aware of laws of gravity at some point of time. However, the “individual soul” is not fundamentally different from “Brahman”. Let me give another analogy from gravity itself.

    In the theory of blackholes, a major question is regarding what happens to a person as he crosses the event horizon (the blackhole boundary). There are two schools of thought. One says that the person will be immediately charred to death. Another says that he won’t feel any difference. There are very strong arguments in favor of both these yet unresolved points of view. Some scientists even believe (with good reasons) that our present world may very well be inside a blackhole!

    I think at this point it is not possible to resolve the meaning of that verse through logical reasoning since we are now directly talking about an experience that is beyond the realm of space-time-causation. I think what matters beyond this point is that we stay true to the interpretation that we feel comfortable with and work sincerely towards the goal.

  17. akraha1948 says:

    Dr. Kushal, your blackhole analogy is quite interesting but not apt. To be frank, I was not aware of the view that our present world can very well be inside a blackhole. I shall be thankful for reference or link to relevant websites in this regard.

    However, the blackhole analogy is not apt in the present context as we do not know of any person who had an experience of blackhole whereas our upanishadic and Gita verses referring to Brahman are authored by those who had experienced Brahman. The blackhole is still in the realm of hypothesis whereas Brahman is postulate. Even in the previous two centuries, we hear of liberated yogis who had realized Brahman. To those who have realized Brahman, Brahman is as real as the laws of gravity, and our awareness or lack of it hardly matters to Brahman, like it does not matter to Laws of gravity.

  18. Kushal Shah says:

    Please see this:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140218-black-hole-blast-explains-big-bang/

    “Even in the previous two centuries, we hear of liberated yogis who had realized Brahman”

    According to your interpretation, these yogis should have been merged with Brahman. Then it means that the ones who authored those Upanishads didn’t have the highest realization!

  19. akraha1948 says:

    “According to your interpretation, these yogis should have been merged with Brahman. Then it means that the ones who authored those Upanishads didn’t have the highest realization!”

    Merger is in the sphere of consciousness, not of body. This we may term as ‘God-consciousness’ or ‘Brahman-consciousness’ which you find in Gita. In that state of consciousness, the yogi sees every being as Brahman – Tat Tvam Asi (Thou art That). Thus you will appreciate that merger with Brahman does not mean one person less in this mortal world. It only means that one more person has accessed the eternal Truth that All is Brahman. Nothing prevents that person from revealing the Truth he has realized, so as to inspire others also to know the Truth:
    Srinyantu Vishve Amritasva Putrah I
    Aye Dhamani Divyani Tasthu II
    Vedahametam Purusha Mohantam I
    Aditya Varnam Tamaso Parastat II
    Tameva Vidityati Mrityumeti I
    Nanya Panthah Vidyate Ayanaya II

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “Merger is in the sphere of consciousness, not of body.”

      This implies that the consciousness of the yogi was different from Brahman before reaching the state of realization. If yes, then how can something that is different from Brahman become Brahman? If not, then the consciousness of the yogi was always Brahman to begin with and there is no question of any further merger. One can say that its just his illusion of being different from Brahman that got destroyed as a process of realization. This I can agree with to some extent.

      “In that state of consciousness, the yogi sees every being as Brahman – Tat Tvam Asi (Thou art That). Thus you will appreciate that merger with Brahman does not mean one person less in this mortal world. It only means that one more person has accessed the eternal Truth that All is Brahman.”

      This I agree with wholeheartedly! But this is very different from ‘merging’ in Brahman. May be we are just using different words to describe the same thing.

  20. akraha1948 says:

    “One can say that its just his illusion of being different from Brahman that got destroyed as a process of realization. This I can agree with to some extent.”

    This is precisely what the realized yogis have to say. Nevertheless, it is incomprehensible for those who have not experienced the truth. The word ‘merger’ is used in the sense of being one with Brahman, and not in the sense of two territories or two companies merging together to be known as a separate identity.

    I am thankful for the link to the article ‘Are we living in a black hole?’ Though purely hypothetical & speculative, the conjecture in the article interestingly conforms to the Vedantic theory of cyclical evolution and involution, involution corresponding to Black Hole and evolution to Big Bang. The major difference between the approach of a physicist and that of a Yogi, however, will always remain unless physics dwells upon the source of consciousness and yoga works on symbiotic relationship between matter and spirit.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “The word ‘merger’ is used in the sense of being one with Brahman, and not in the sense of two territories or two companies merging together to be known as a separate identity.”

      Perhaps it is precisely because of the impreciseness of language that many realized souls choose to communicate directly with their disciples. I wonder what an amazing experience it would be to just sit in front of Ramana and have all doubts resolved without anyone uttering a single word!

      “The major difference between the approach of a physicist and that of a Yogi, however, will always remain unless physics dwells upon the source of consciousness and yoga works on symbiotic relationship between matter and spirit.”

      I can clearly see these differences dissolving away. The speed at which neuroscience is making progress, it won’t be surprising if it is able to objectively verify at least some of the Vedantic truths in a decade or two.

  21. akraha1948 says:

    “I can clearly see these differences dissolving away. The speed at which neuroscience is making progress, it won’t be surprising if it is able to objectively verify at least some of the Vedantic truths in a decade or two.”

    At least one Vedantic concept appears to have been partially validated by neuroscience – the concept delineated in verse 8 of the Gita:

    “When the Jiva acquires a body, He brings with him the mind and the senses. When He leaves that body, He takes them and goes, even as the wind wafts away scents from their dwelling places.” (transl. by Swami Yogananda)

    Similar to double-slit experiment with electrons by quantum physicists, neuro-biological researches with electrons / neurons housed in the brain have by now established dual function of these particles i.e. while confined in a brain and while those particles move out of it like a wave. The latter state is described by the researchers as disembodied consciousness, which is not a property of the brain. Experiment further suggests that the dis-embodied consciousness possesses visual, auditory, and olfactory senses and experiences a new perception of reality outside of one’s self, I-ness, or oneness. When the person becomes self-conscious, the wave function collapses and the electron changes from wave to particle preventing the person from being aware of his/her larger self or existence as part of the whole. However, the phenomenon of soul and its relationship with consciousness still remain outside the purview of neuro-biological research.

  22. Kushal Shah says:

    Yes, the concept of disembodied consciousness is gaining lot of acceptance in the scientific community nowadays. Jill Bolte Taylor’s experience is quite noteworthy in this regard:

    However, the quantum mechanical description is not quite accurate. An electron never changes from particle to wave or the other way round. It has the properties of both particle and wave at all times. One may ask, what then is an electron actually? Our current understanding is that it is an excitation of a quantum field (like the notes of a string).

    Also, this concept of “wave function collapse” is not very well understood even today and has multiple interpretations. Some physicists prefer the concept of quantum decoherence over this.

  23. akraha1948 says:

    The experience of Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuro-anatomist & national spokesperson of Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Centre, consequent upon her major stroke on Dec.10, 1996, and till her complete recovery after about 9 years, when the left hemisphere of her brain was practically non-functional, was indeed unique. Her book: ‘My Stroke of Insight’ (2008) was a best seller as her poser to humanity whether we should choose the right hemisphere of our brain to become the life-force power of the universe or the left one to become a self-centric individual, separate from all others, had aroused the curiosity of people. However, her experience is questionable in the absence of validation either from neuro scientists in general or from persons who have suffered similar stroke. Herein lies our difficulty in accepting her finding.

    On the other hand, the experiment-based findings of neuro-biological researchers like Sir John Eccles, Robert Lanza, Dr. Susan Greenfield, etc. and empirical findings recorded by Dr. Raymond Moody, a renowned American heart surgeon, in his book ‘Life after Life’, regarding out-of-body consciousness, are certainly more credible. We look forward to major break-through in neuro researches into consciousness in near future.

  24. It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people in this particular subject, however, you seem like you know what
    you’re talking about! Thanks

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