Tag Archives: Śrī Kṛṣṇa

Predictions for Kali-Yuga

SB 1.16.18

The god of morality in the form of a bull was moving on a single leg. He met the earth in the form of a cow under the shadow of grief, with tears covering her cheeks like a mother who has lost her child. He inquired from her.

19

Dharma said:

Good lady, are you alright? Why has the shadow of grief darkened the face of your soul? Are you ill, Mother? Are you remembering of a long-lost friend?

20-22

Do you lament for my broken legs? Because wicked people will eat you? Because of the drought that will strike you when sacrifices to the gods cease?

Do you cry for the unsheltered women and children of the earth, who will be left for monsters to devour? Or because priests will speak only words, while their behavior is fraudulent; abandoning spirituality in an attempt to gain political power? Or because the so-called kings, bewildered by bickering, will allow civilization to decline into a mob of creatures who wildly eat, drink, live, bathe, and have sex with anything, anywhere?

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O mother, Hari descended to earth to lighten your heaven burden. Within yourself you must be remembering all the deeds he did to save you.

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O mother, please tell me what is at the very root of your tears. Has fate, more powerful than the most powerful, dissolved your treasure and good fortune, which the gods themselves desired?

These are predictions of the conditions that always arise during kali-yuga: the Age of Quarrel.

  • “Broken Legs” – Dharma (morality) is held up by four pillars, or “legs:” truthfulness, simplicity, compassion, and cleanliness. In each age another leg is broken. The only leg that remains in Kali Yuga is truthfulness. During the age, this final pillar of morality gradually crumbles.
  • Meat eating. It is not a rampant and gluttonous staple of the human diet in any other age, especially not the consumption of beef.
  • Famine. Deserts will spread because the forces of nature are not respected, and the gods of nature are not worshipped.
  • Women and children left to fend for themselves. The strong will exploit and even rape the weak instead of protect them.
  • Fraudulent “saints.” So called spiritualists care only about gaining clout with kings and rulers and similar means of attaining political power and wealth.
  • Fraudulent “leaders.” They merely bicker and war amongst themselves while civilization falls into a rank mob of uncivilized debauchery.

Mother earth certainly must cry about such things, but in truth the Kali-yuga is just one of the four seasons, just like winter. Winter is disturbing every time it comes, but is not the source of the soul wrenching lamentation dharma witnessed upon her face. Something else is at the root of her tears.

It is only once in every 1,988 Kali-yugas that Śrī Kṛṣṇa descends personally to the earth. (It happens once in every day of Brahmā, approximately at noon in his time-scale. The interval between one noon and the next for Brahmā holds the same duration of moments as 2 sets of 14 intervals called manvantara, each of which holds 71 divya-yugas – in which there is one Kali-yuga. In years, it is equivalent to more than 8.6 billiion.) The advent of the All-Attractive upon the earth is such a treasure of good fortune that the gods of paradise line up to incarnate on earth to take part in it. This amazing event has just come to a close, and thus the dark shadow of lamentation falls heavily upon the soul of the Earth. That is the root of her depression.

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The Wealth of Dvārakā

1.11.11

Madhu, Bhoja, Daśārha, Arha, Kukura, and the Vṛṣṇi – all equally powerful – protected it like the dragons protect their capital, Bhogavatī.

It seems that all the nearby kingdoms allied themselves with the Vṛṣṇi, whose capitol was therefore very secure. It was at least as opulent and secure as the fabled capitol city of the dragons.

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It was surrounded by all the seasons, all natural amenities, and residents of saints amidst very good trees and flowers. There were parks with gardens and orchards surrounding lakes full of beautiful lotuses.

On earth, seasons result from the position of the Sun relative to the equator. They are therefore time-dependent and it is not possible for all of them to manifest simultaneously at will. However Sūta tells us here that Dvārakā had this opulence. The implication is either that, (a) Sūta is telling us fairy tales, or (b) Dvārakā exists above the normal earthly dimension with which it maintained a link for some time.

A reader might favor the former, if he doesn’t really understand Sūta’s education, erudition and personality as well as the type of gathering he was addressing – most similar in modern terms to a symposium of doctorates and scientific researchers. One who embraces the later explanation, however, cracks open a doorway into Kṛṣṇa’s dimension. Opened wide enough, one can attempt to walk through it.

13-15

Gates, doors and roads were enthusiastically painted and decorated with flags bearing auspicious signs. Pleasant shade spread beneath all these decorations. The shops and halls and roads big and small were very clean and sprinkled with perfumes, flowers, fruits, and whole seed.

Things for welcoming a respected guest were assembled in the doorways to each and every house: yoghurt, fresh fruit, sugarcane, full water pots, incense and lamps.

What is your reaction to hearing about such a place? Mine is, “Wow, what a great place to live. I want to be a guest at these houses, feel the peace of such natural opulence, relax in these beautiful parks, and enjoy life in such a fine place.” Paradoxically, this self-focused frame of mind is exactly what makes it impossible to live in a place like Dvārakā. It is because each and every citizen is so focused on the same central figure of enjoyment, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, that their city is so peaceful, beautiful, opulent, and – ironically – enjoyable.

Upon the return of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his city decorated herself exquisitely and appeared at the height of blushing beauty. Kṛṣṇa was very pleased to see her ecstatic romantic symptoms as she welcomed the handsome lord into her loving embrace.


Philosophy in the City – Part 3

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This man, O friend, is certainly the most fitting topic for song,
The most intimate object known by the most intimate knowers.
He alone is the master of everything,
As his own play he creates, maintains and destroys it without attachment.

Another girl turns to a friend close by her side, tugs gently upon her arm and says, “Dear friend, that man is the real topic for love songs! Such songs are real spiritual discussion.”

“Ah,” answers her friend, “but who will write such songs?  The world is full instead of worthless hymns, mantras, poems, and lyrics.”

The girl answers quickly and confidently, “We will! And we will inspire others too! We are guhya-vādī – the most intimate philosophers. We alone know the Veda’s most intimate secret (vedeṣu guhyeṣu). That is why our gossip and chatter is better than any sermon, it is sat-katha! Those who listen to the lyrics we now weave will later expand them into new song!”

At this point, an older woman who was sitting a bit apart with folded arms finally expressed her growing dissatisfaction and suspicion of these young ladies, “Oh please,” she blurted out. “You are just ridiculously in love with that charismatic heartbreaker, that’s all. You are just lusty, pritter-prattering young urban girls. Why on earth are you insulting priests, scholars and real spiritualists by pretending to be some deep and mysterious philosophers and transcendentalists!?”

“Oh be quiet, you old crow!” Shout the young ladies in unison. “If you had half an ear you would already know the answer to your own question, for we have already explained all that. He is no ordinary charmer! He alone is the true master of everything in the universe! You people speak of gods of universal creation, maintenance and annihilation – but the truth is that all such things take place effortlessly as a result of his playful will!”

“Playful!?”  The old woman attempts to retort. “What could possibly be ‘playful’ about universal creation and destruction!?!?”

With a long sigh and quiet laugh, the girls said, “You really are thick-headed, grandma. Everything exists merely for the sake of joy, for play. All the sufferings and disasters in this world are our own doing, as a result of protest against our inherent nature to facilitate his play. Yes, we say this entire universe is nothing but play.”

Seeing the persistent sour look on the old woman’s face start to barely give way to curiosity, they invited her, “Unfold your arms, and come over here with us. Get a good clear view of our handsome Master. We think your dry old breasts will again perk up when you see him with your own eyes! And when your bosom blossoms with love for him you too will clearly see all these confidential secrets of reality kept hidden from those with eyes blinded by turning away from the sunlight of Godhead towards the darkness of ego.”

Opening their arms and waving her over, the encouraged, “Come dear woman, come…”

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When immoral and dark-hearted kings thrive
Then, with his absolute goodness he manifests
Opulence, reality, truthfulness, compassion and fame
In many forms, aeon after aeon.

Now the old, reluctant woman has joined the young ladies and looks down upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa seated upon a fabulous chariot slowly rolling into the road in front of the palace. The young ladies help the old woman appreciate him by recounting a well-known philosophical principle of the time.

“You see that handsome man?” They gently ask her. “He is the one that scriptures say appears aeon after aeon in so many different forms for the sake of counteracting immorality and dark-heartedness by broadcasting his beautiful opulence, reality, truthfulness, compassion.”

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Aho! How very praiseworthy is the Yadu family!
Aho! How very praiseworthy is the Sweet Forest!
The greatest person of all, the husband of the Goddess of Fortune,
Was born from them, and walked amongst them!

Now all the women, young and old, overcome with the ecstasy and deepest profound visions of divine love exclaim Kṛṣṇa’s glories in one voice: This man who walks among us is actually that All-Attractive godhead who sets the world aright age after age. How fortunate and lucky are we, therefore!

We often have “God” rammed down our throats, “now get down on your knees and fear his wrath, and be in awe of his power.” So, we are prone to misunderstand Kṛṣṇa as a self-centered being, imparting on him the imperfections of greed and hunger ingrained within our own mentalities. In fact Kṛṣṇa is a being of purely selfless love who purposefully invests other persons, places and things with the power to lift him to his highest heights. Thus the husband of the Goddess of Fortune decides to be born amongst simple cowherd people in the sweet forest of Madhu-vana, and be loved, raised, and even protected by them.

 


Philosophy in the City

Kṛṣṇa is leaving Hastinapura amidst an extremely emotional outpouring of affection. The narrator, Sūta, chooses to ignore the benedictive hymns of scholastic priests and focuses our attention instead upon the chatter and gossip going on between the women of the city as Kṛṣṇa’s chariot moves onto the road.

1.10.21

This man is most certainly the Complete Original Male,
Who singularly existed in the beginning as the self without differentiation.
All variations spring from him, the master and soul of the universe.
All energies return into him in slumber.

I did not expect that the chatter and gossip of city women to be so philosophical, but that is exactly the point Sūta infers by focusing our attention on them and not the priests. True knowledge requires affection. We can never know something as deeply and thoroughly as when we are completely dedicated and devoted to it. Thus people who are deeply in love with the All-Attractive wind up with  philosophical understandings far deeper than philosophers who are mainly in love with the philosophical process itself, or priests who are mainly in love with the accoutrements of religion, ritual and ecclesiastical governances.

But their philosophy is strongly marked by romantic perfume.

They point to Kṛṣṇa with graceful hands and love-laden glances, saying, “That man is unlike all other men! He is the Complete Original Male!”

“What do you mean by that?” One lady asks excitedly.

“It means,” another answers, glancing over her shoulder again at Kṛṣṇa, “that he and he alone existed in the very beginning of things.”

“Tell me more!” Cries another.

Eyes fixed upon Kṛṣṇa sitting on his chariot amidst all the flowers they had showered from the rooftops, one of the women explained to the others. “In the beginning was only him, existing as an undifferentiated, non-relativistic quantum of self.”

In a breathy tone, one lady protests, “Oh but how could an ‘undifferentiated entity,’ as you say, be as handsome and attractive as Kṛṣṇa???”

Inspired by love, the central woman continues to explain. “This singular, absolute self,” she says, gesturing as if in a dance towards Kṛṣṇa, “expands into all the differentiations, individualities and relativities that we see all around us, and more.”

“But why?” asks a lady barely able to think in her swoon as Kṛṣṇa’s driver takes up the reigns.

“I will explain it in words, but everyone already knows it well from practical experience:

  • To exist is to experience
  • The height of experience is in pleasure
  • The height of pleasure is in love
  • Love is realized through relationships involving varieties of situations

“That is why the original singular existence, full of experiential potency, manifests all varieties of people, things and relationships via his unlimited energies.”

Satisfied, all the ladies fell silent for some moments, gazing upon the beauty and charms of the All-Attractive. All the energies of their being flowed like rivers from their hearts through their eyes, and merged lovingly into the ocean of sweetness, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The lady who started the topic spoke again to bring it full circle. “Since all things come from him, all things yearn to return to him. All energy must complete its circuit. So, my friends, all us of only exist for him. When we give all our energy and being to him, the circuit is complete and we feel peace and satisfaction, similar to the deepest sleep.”

“Do you mean,” asks another lady, “that we must merge back into the source from which we have come? Is that why we are so hopelessly and completely attracted to Kṛṣṇa?”

“Yes,” the main woman answers with a very suggestive flicker of her eyebrows, “we must merge ourselves into him, my dear!”

Another woman now speaks up, “Just look at those bald-headed priests! They are sitting so calmly chanting mantras and hymns. What is that all about!? To them, the idea of ‘merging back into the original self’ means complete annihilation of their miserable existence! In so doing they do not please the Original Husband at all. They merely erase themselves from displeasing him – which I suppose is better… than… nothing… If you get my pun.”

Amidst laughter, the women continued, “Yes, The Original One made us individuals because he wanted individuals – so he could share the bliss of love. How odd that those called doctors and scholars can’t understand such simple things! Fools who know nothing of the ways and powers of love seek to lose their differentiation by ending their individuality. Ha! We ladies are no such fools, are we!? I think we alone have the right idea about how to ‘merge’ with that man in ‘sleep’! We will lose our differentiation from him in the heights of that love.”


Bhīṣma’s Instructions on Human Duty (Varṇāśrama-Dharma)

1.9.25

Sūta said:

Hearing all this from he who lay on a bed of arrows, Yudhiṣṭhira then asked him many questions about duty, and the sages also listened to the answers.

26

Humans all have unique individual character, and on that basis they are given specific responsibilities for material and spiritual development. Bhīṣma systematically described these, and how they involve both attachment and detachment.

27

He differentiated the duties pertaining to wealth, politics, and enlightenment; and explained that they sometimes overlap but are sometimes specific to certain subgroups like women, and devotees.

28

Understanding the truth of such things, he explained the four goals – morality, stability, pleasure, and enlightenment, along with the means to achieve them as illustrated in the histories.

Yudhiṣṭhira came to Bhīṣma mired in the quicksand of depression, unable to comprehend and digest the horrors he just partook in during the war. Bhīṣma told him that fate is beyond our comprehension, and we can simply trust that it is good, knowing that its master wishes us well. He said not to dwell on the past but to face the future. For Yudhiṣṭhira, the future means being the king and taking care of thousands of people. Therefore Yudhiṣṭhira began asking him many, many questions about how to properly execute his duties as a king.

Sūta summarized the elaborate questions and answers in three concise verses (26-28). Bhīṣma first explained that all duties are relative to a single key issue: your unique individual character. Everyone has unique duties and responsibilities based on their character, just as every patient does not receive exactly the same medicine and treatment from a hospital.

We have two basic frameworks of duty. Varṇa refers to career duties, material duties as a member of society. Āśrama refers to evolutionary duties, spiritual duties as an evolving spiritual being. We should pursue both duties simultaneously, balancing material attachment and spiritual detachment in a ratio befitting our unique individual character.

Bhīṣma specifically cited charity as the prime duty of business and industrial career types (vaiṣya-varṇa); politics as the main duty for administrative and governmental careers (kṣatriya-varṇa); and enlightenment as the primary duty mainly for educational and philosophical careers (brahmaṇa-varṇa). Bhīṣma also said that sometimes duties overlap with each other and with the borders of different careers and stages of evolution; while at other times are specific only to certain people. He specifically sites women and devotees as groups that have exceptional and specific duties not shared by other groups.

Bhīṣma then explained that there are four goals of human life: we search for pleasure (kāma), which leads us to desire stability (artha) as a solid foundation for happiness, which then leads us to desire order and morality (dharma) to insure the stability of our shared social foundations, and finally culminates in the desire for enlightenment (mokṣa) as we come to understand that ego-based pleasure is not truly pleasant.  All classes of people share these goals, but various categories have different primary focus. Commoners focus primarily on pleasure, businesspeople focus on economic stability, administrators focus on law and order, while the educational class primarily focuses on enlightenment.

Bhīṣma explained all this to the King, along with what history has shown to be the best means for attaining each goal, so that the King could guide all the different citizens in a manner appropriate to their individual natures.

29

While he was explaining human duties, the Sun began moving northward: the exact time desired by mystics who can chose the moment of their death.

Most contemporary Indian astrologers miscalculate the northern course (uttarāyaṇa) due to over-habituation towards sidereal references, and ignorance of the simple fact that the Sun’s movement in relation to earthly directions is an inherently tropical phenomenon. The Sun moves further and further south each day until the winter solstice, at which point it begins moving northward. This conversation between Bhīṣma and Yudhiṣṭhira culminated on the winter solstice, which is always in the vicinity of December 21st by our modern calendar.

30

Then, he who was expert in thousands of subjects withdrew his voice and removed his mind from all other embraces; fixing his wide-open eyes on the Original Person, Kṛṣṇa, who was right before him with four arms, in flowing yellow cloth.

31

All impurity washed away by that contemplation. Simply by looking on Kṛṣṇa, the weariness of his battle-wounds ceased and fled. He arrested all the activities of the roaming senses and prayed to the Delighter of People as he cast off the thing which was born.

Bhīṣma was the master of thousands of subjects. Besides being a warrior he was a philosopher and sage, and a mystic as well. He had the ability to choose the moment of his death. So he waited for Kṛṣṇa’s presence before dying – although his body was completely destroyed by battle wounds and it was very tiring and painful to remain alive. Kṛṣṇa came to him just before the winter solstice, and when that moment arrived Bhīṣma ceased all other responsibilities and completely withdrew his consciousness from everything in the world, focusing it upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the true delight of people (Janārdana) who stood before him in exactly the form adored by Bhīṣma.

Ayyavali depiction of Vishnu.

Image via Wikipedia