The Tree of Knowledge
The Birth of Krishna
Krishna just manifested; he was never born. Yet, we celebrate his birth!
Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva. Vasu means “breath” – the prana, and Devaki means “body”. Kansa put Devaki and Vasudeva into prison. “Kansa” means “ego”. Kansa (the ego) is Devaki’s (the body’s) brother. So the ego imprisoned the body and the breath. “Ananda” (bliss) was borne out of the union of this body and breath, and that is why Krishna is called Nandalala. “Nanda” or “ananda” means bliss — the embodiment of bliss, the embodiment of knowledge, the embodiment of infinity. Within your small body, you are able to experience this infinite space.
In pictures, Krishna is always “coloured” blue. In fact even Shiva is always depicted as being blue in colour. Do you know why they are shown in this manner? It’s because the colour blue indicates that the body is transparent; it is as if the body is not there. This does not indicate the outside physical body, but the inside, which is infinity. Whatever is infinite is represented by the colour blue – so the sky is blue, and the ocean is blue. Blue depicts the great and the big. It depicts enormous depth… and it depicts that bliss, that Being — the soul. The soul is never “born”; it exists in another state of consciousness. It is created when the mind, the prana and the body come together, and this is what we are doing when we practise the Hollow and Empty Meditation — we take the mind here and there… and then suddenly, we experience space. We experience that inside there is nothing, but just space — pure space. Space has always been there, yetyou normally do not experience it.
When Krishna was born at 12 mid-night in jail, all the watchmen and guards fell asleep. Now, who were these guards? Who are these guards? They are the eyes, the nose, the ears, the tongue and the skin; the five senses are the five guards, which keep you “Out”, which keep you engaged, so you do not see the infinite sky which is within. These five senses keep you so busy with the “outside” – you either look at this or you look at that, you hear this or you hear that, you smell this, you taste that, you feel that, and so on. You are engaged with the outer world all the time, and the guards do not let you go in; they do not let you experience your Self. So, when all the guards fell asleep, Krishna was born. It was because all the guards fell asleep that the prana could permeate, and bring out that bliss, that joy, into the entire atmosphere. Vasudeva (the prana) took the child to another town called Gokul. Krishna was carried away in the middle of the night because Kansa (the ego) would have killed him. It is like someone experiencing bliss and bliss, itself, becoming a “trip” for the ego. This eventually destroys infinity, joy and bliss.
So, in order to protect Krishna (bliss, infinity and joy), Vasudeva (the prana or the breath) takes him across the river of love (the river Yamuna is the symbol of love). Now, Vasudeva took Krishna to Yashoda. Infinity is born through yoga and meditation. However, yoga alone cannot handle it. Bhakti (i.e., devotion, love) is needed to nourish it. Yashoda is a symbol of bhakti, a symbol of shraddha, a symbol of faith. Vasudeva, carrying baby Krishna in a basket, placed on his head, had to cross the river Yamuna to take the child to Gokul. It was raining, and while he walked through the river, the water began to rise higher and higher. Yamuna (i.e., love) rises higher and higher until it glimpses infinity. It then comes down for a touch of silence, a touch of bliss. This is why when people make music, there too one “goes high up” and then “comes down” — just like the Yamuna river.
It is not the singing that is important; the singing, by itself, is not sufficient. One can go on singing, but in between the songs, there should be a fractional moment of silence, of depth, of experiencing the bliss of infinity. This is very essential. Many groups simply sing bhajans, one after another. They sing very nicely — as if they are in a competition, but they do not stop and experience the space in between the bhajans. In Gokul, Yashoda was sleeping with her baby girl, when Vasudeva went and replaced her child with Krishna, in the middle of the night. He took the baby girl with him and left Krishna in Yashoda’s house, where he grew up. So only bhakti (devotion) can make ananda (bliss) grow in us. Yashoda is a symbol of shraddha – of faith and devotion. In Krishna, there is the birth of all qualities in the very human body, in the very being.
In Krishna, you see the total personality from every angle. He is multi-dimensional. Krishna is the full blossoming of human potential. You can see him sitting silently like Buddha, and you can see him dancing. You can find him in a war field, and you can find him as the best friend; you can even find him as being a very mischievous child. In Krishna, the personality — the existence — has blossomed completely from all angles.
Joy is the sole object of search of every being, of every soul. Whenever one searches, whatever one searches for, one is looking for joy — the search is simply for joy. Krishna is absolute joy, absolute bliss. Nothing whatsoever could take away joy from Krishna! In the presence of pure bliss and joy, all complaints and troubles vanish. Life appears like a play. Everything is a play. Everything is a game. That’s why Krishna calls it “leela” — a game. Once, Queen Kunti told Krishna, “Krishna, I wish I had more troubles.” He asked, “Why, sister? Why are you wishing for trouble?” She said “You were always with me when I had troubles. Now, there is no trouble, the war is over, and I have become Queen Mother. But you are going away! Nothing equals the joy of your company — no comfort, no pleasure. Any misery is tolerable in your presence, for your presence is so great. I can trade all the pleasures in the world for a moment of your presence. I can tolerate all the miseries in the world — in the universe — for a moment of your company.”
Kunti spoke these words with tears in her eyes. At that time, Krishna gave her more knowledge of the Being. He said, “Look, I am in you — as you. There is not a place in this planet, where I am not. The fools think of me as my body, but I am not the body. People do not really know my real nature. The body has eight aspects: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and ego but I am the ninth. I am beyond this. They think I am a human being. Though I am in the body, I am not this body. Though I am working through the mind, I am not the mind. I am not what you see me as. I am much more than what you perceive me as. I am present in your heart as you — and anytime you need me, feel free to call me. I’ll be right there with you, and take you out of your troubles and difficulties. You can count on me.”
This wisdom, this humility, is unparalleled.
When a story was written in ancient days, people never wrote it like they were reporting history. They would never say that somebody was born on such and such a date, or lived in such and such a place, during such and such a date, or died on such and such a date. They did not bother about dates. They did not bother about history at all! Even within the story, they never allowed limits to enter! A story could depict unlimited infinity. An event could also depict infinity. So, when a story goes beyond time, it becomes timeless and ageless and that story is for any age, at any time.
When Arjuna asked Krishna about the knowledge Krishna was giving (recited as the fifth chapter in the Bhagavad Gita), Krishna said, “This yoga — this knowledge of yoga that I am giving to you now, I had given to somebody, fifteen thousand years ago… ” Arjuna immediately said, “What?! Ishkwaku lived so long ago, but you are born now… How is it possible that you could have taught this yoga to Ishkwaku and others? Those people were born thousands of years ago!” Krishna replied, “My dear, both you and I have come here several times. I know it all –– and I remember you. You do not remember. It is not just once that I am here. I am eternal — continuing in consciousness.”
Krishna then promises (as given in the Bhagavad Gita), “I’ll come again and again when it is needed. In the time cycle, when people forget yoga, when people forget this knowledge, when they forget how to go into themselves (how to become hollow and empty, how to get into the source of the being), then I’ll come… and I will come again and again to revive this knowledge. I will come again and again so that every fortunate one gets this knowledge. ”
Source: Excerpts from ‘Krishna – Absolute Joy’
(Today’s Tree of Knowledge in this auspicious week is dedicated to the late Soodhakur Ramlallah, a committed philanthropist and contributor to the Mauritius Times. May his soul, through the mercy of Lord Krishna, rest in peace.)
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