Krishna’s is a Dynamic incarnation of Lord Vishnu.He is an Avatar, an Avatar is one who is attuned to the Supreme Consciousness from his very birth, Krishna’s incarnation brought about a profound and powerful influence upon Indian thought and life. There is no aspect of Indian Life, Culture and Civilisation which does not receive his revitalising touch, India’s philosophy and religion, mysticism and poetry, painting and sculpture, music and dance articulated Krishna’s theme and thought, every aspect of Krishna’s life and deeds has a mystic symbolism indicating a sublime truth.
Krishna in snskrit means dark, Krishna stands for the inner – self, the Atman, the Atman is dark in the sense that it is unknown to man as long as he is involved in his terrestrial experiences, Man’s knowledge is limited to the realms of perceptions, emotions and thoughts, he gains these experiences through his three equipments of body, mind and intellect, he knows not Atman within, the body, mind and intellect by themselves are inert and insentiment, they constitute the material aspect of man, the Atman is his spiritual bein, the Atman is the living principle in man which transforms his inert matter into a living being.
Krishna is blue in color and wears yellow clothes,blue color has been always associated with infinity, the sky appears blue, so does the Ocean, Yellow color represents earth, when Sand is introduced in a colorless flame, the flame turns yellow, the blue form of Krishna clothed in yellow therefore suggets the Infinite Reality reduced to finite human being. The incarnation of Krishna represents the descent of God on earth, this idea of the limitless, formless Reality being consticted and resticted to a limited , human form is again suggested by Krishna’s birth in a prison. No sooner was Krishna born the prison doors miraculously flung open, the guards could not hold the child back, the child’s father, Vasudev carried him out of the prison in spite of the severe restrictions imposed on him, this episode is meant to convey that the infinite being can never be really restricted or limited to the human form, a God man is ever free and liberated, the Atman in man is limitless, only his body, mind and intellect are limited, finite,. These material equipments have a beginging and an end, they cannot restrict Atman, the Atman is eternal, all – pervading , infinite, Krishna represents Atman.
Krishna was born in Mathura, his uncle , Kamsa was tyrant, Kamsa imprisoned his father King Ugrasena, and usurped the throne of Mathura, he reigned over Mathura, his minister Chanura was equally wicked and cruel. Under the rule of these two tyrants Mathura suffered greatly from confusion and chaos, Krishna destroyed them both and restored peace and order in that land, the word, “ Madhuram” means sweetness, the land of Mathura represents the personality of man, Man’s essential nature is his Atman. His real nature is ever sweet, peaceful and blissful, but when the evil forces of Ego and Egocentric desires usurp man’s personality he suffers from stress and strain, worries and anxieties, he is agitaed and sorrowful, he looses his blissful nature, to regain the lost bliss, man has to destroy his ego and egocentric desires and establish his identity with his Supreme Self.
There is a Puranic story which speaks of Krishna Killing a mighty Serpent with many heads, it lived in a lake poisoning its water, the entire village suffered because of this serpent, Krishna jumped into the lake and began to crush down its heads, but as he crushed them other heads sprung up in their place, Krishna ultimately crushed all the heads and killed the serpent, he danced on its crested head playing the flute, the wives of the Serpent paid homage to the Lord.
This again has an allegorical significance, the lake represents the mind, the Serpent and it many heads the ego and egocentric desires, the ego and egocentric desires poison the mind and make its world miserable, when man turns his attention inward, when he contemplates and meditates upon his Atman(Krsna) he outgrows his ego and egocentric desires, thereafter he revels in the bliss of Realisation, the sense objects of the world become subservient to such a man. This is symbolised by the wives of the Serpent paying Homage to Krishna…
Krishna is often represented as playing a flute, the enchanting music emanating from the flute of the Lord is the bliss of Godhood enjoyed by the man of realisation, the flute is hollow but it can produe enchanting music, so too when man empties himself of his Vasanas and desires, the Divinity within him flows out with enchanting bliss, man has to give up all his claims upon his body, mind and intellect, give up all egocentric connections, all thoughts of “Mine” and “Thine” , rise above them all and chant OM(Krsna), remove all sefishness from the flute of his body and fill it with the divine breath of OM..
The milkmaids of Vrundavan were called gopis, these gopis were enchanted by the divine music flowing out of Krishna’s flute, they danced in their ecstasy around Krishna, the dance of the gopis is known as Raas-leela, Krishna again represents the Atman, Pure Consciousness while gopis represents thoughts, Atman in man is the enlivening factor by which he beomes conscious of his thoughts, thoughts by themselves are insentiment, in the presence of Consciousness, thoughts gain sentiency or consciousness. Thoughts dance around the Atman as it were, but the Atman is ever-immaculate. It is unaffected by the thoughts around it, so is Krishna Pure, Immaculate, He remains detached and unaffected by the dance of gopis, losing this allegorical signifincance of the raas-leela much criticism has been leveled against Krishna’s association with gopis. The gopis were in fact deeply devoted to Lord Krishna , they remembered Krishna throughout the day in all their obligatory duties while their minds were constantly attuned to the Lord, to dedicate oneself to a higher being and work in the world without ego and egocentric desires is Karma Yoga,. When man works in a spirit of Karma yoga he gets rid of his desires or vasanas, this idea is suggested by Krishna stealing the butter which the gopis, had churned and collected in their pots, the desire for realization of the Self alone remains, the last trace of desire gets eliminated by itself through single-pointed meditation upon the Lord, in Verse 66 of chapter 18 of the Bhagvad Gita the Lord gives man this assurance:
“Abondoning all dharmas, take refuge in me alone, I will liberate thee from all Sins, Grieve not”.
There is yet another beautiful incident in Krishna’s life indicating his absolute state of detachment, it served as an eye-opener to the wives of Krishna when they began to doubt his association with many gopis.
One day the great sage Durvasa camped with his many disciples on the opposite bank of river Jamuna where Krishna live, Krishna’s wives saw the sage and prepared a lot of sweetmeats to take to him, in the evening when both the ladies with their trays of delicacies approached the river it was flooded, they could not cross over to the other bank to make the offerings to the sage, they returned and sought Krishna’s help, Krishna asked them to go back to the river-side and pray to Mother Jamuna(the rivers in India are defied as Goddess), , “if sage Durvasa is a nitya-upavasi please show us the way”, ‘Nitya’ meajs eternal , permanent, ‘Upavasi’ means one who fasts, so nitya –upavasi is one who is observing fast, the ladies did not understood the implication, they followed Krishna’s advice and prayed to Goddess Jamuna, the goddess granted their prayer and instantly the water subsided, they crossed over and offered the sweets to the sage, the sage ate every bit of the food and returned the empty trays, A Nitya-Upavasi!!!!
Krishna’s wives took the sage’s blessings and reached the river bank to return home, again the river was flooded preventing them from crossing over, this time they sought the help of Durvasa, the sage advised them to go back to the river bank and pray to goddess Jamuna, ”if Krishna is a Nitya Brahmachari, please shows us the way”, (Nitya Brahmachari means Permanent Celibate), the ladies followed the advice and prayed to the Jamuna, to their amazement the waters subsided forthwith enabling them to cross over to the bank.
The significance of this episode is obvious, Durvasa was totally free from mental attachment to any type of food, he had absolutely no desire or craving for them, eating to him is a ritual an obligatory function, such a person though eating eats not, a man of Perfect detachment “even though acting acts not”(BhagvadGita chapter IV, verse 20), Durvasa belonged to that rare category, he was ever mentally detached from food,. Hence he was called a nitya-upavasi, even he was eating like any other man.
The same Principle applies to Krishna, It is not man’s physical expression but his mental impression that determines his attachment or detachment to the world. Krishna’s association with the gopi’s does not in any way affect his total detachment, his mental resignation from them, he was ever maintaining an inward dispassion and disinterest even as he was closely associating with the gopi’s, his mind was ever in a state of celibacy, hence he was called nity-brahmachari…
In his childhood, Krishna is said to have eaten mud on an occasion, his mother Yasodha chided him, Krishna denied having eaten the mud, Yasodha would not take his word, she asked him to open his mouth, the child did so, Yasodha was wonderstruck to see the entire universe within the child’s mouth, this episode has a deep philosophical implication, Krishna is the Infinite, Omnipresent, Omnipotent Reality, the Reality alone exists, Nothing else does. The universe is nothing but the same Reality, though seen differently by men with limited vision, Yasodha was one of those who could not see the Supreme being in Krishna, she only saw her child in him, but in truth Krishna is that all-pervading Reality which includes the earth as well, the earth is a part of the Reality which Krishna is. Krishna therefore gave the right answer to his mother when denied eating mud (earth),how can Krishna(Reality) eat Mud(Reality)? Krishna was therefore speaking the truth, when Yasodha insisted on knowing the truth Krishna had to reveal it by opening his mouth and showing the universe in him..
Man’s essential nature is the Supreme Reality, the world is also nothing but Reality, Yet man finds the necessity to run after the world of objects for his pleasures, is this not an absurd situation-Reality in the form of man craving to enjoy Reality in the form of the world?? This absurdity of man’s pursuit is subtly implied when Krishna as a baby is show sucking his own big toe,.
Lord Krishna is also described as holding a staff in one hand and showing a symbol of wisdom (Gnana Mudra) with the other, a staff is used by a cowherd boy to drive the cattle to the pasture lands for grazing. The gnana mudra is a symbol made by holding the little, ring and middle fingers erect and bringing the index finger to touch the middle portion of the thumb. This again has a Philosophical meaning, Krishna represents the Atman in man, Atman is the Life-principle which enlivens his body, mind and intellect. Without the life spark man cannot act at all, all actions are possible because of the life spark, Actions broadly classified will fall under two distinct heads-actions, that are degrading and devolutionary and those that are elevating and evolutionary, Man can make use of the Atman to evolve or to devolve, Atman is neutral. It helps man to pursue whatever direction he wants, the first type of actions is indicated by Krishna holding the staff, the cattle represents the sense organs, the sense organs constantly feed upon the sense objects of the world, Eyes go to color and form, Ears go to sound, the Tongue to taste etc., The sense objects are the pastures for the sense organs, Man spends all his life driving his sense organs to their respective fields of enjoyment for sensual pleasures, he uses his Life-principle merely to indulge in sense gratification, that seems to be his main occupation in life..
The other type of actions, indicated by the gnana mudra leads man to Self-realisation , the index finger represents the Ego, it is the pointing finger which creates duality, plurality develops his ego by his association and identification with his body, mind and intellect, with his gross, subtle and casual bodies with his sattwa, rajas and tamas gunas. This idea is indicated by the index finger remaining in contact with the other three fingers, the thumb represents the Atman by virtue of the vital role it plays in all actions, the index finger bending towards the thumb to from a circle shows the ego’s detachment from the three bodies or gunas and total surrender to the Atman. When man does that he reaches his Infinite state, the state of Self-realisation, this state of Infinitude is indicated by making a circle. The circle has no beginning or end, that which has no beginning or end is said to be infinite, Krishna gives the choice of action to man, that is spend his lifetime in merely gratifying his senses or to transcend the limitations of his body, mind and intellect and reach the state of Realisation. Krishna is mere witness, as skshi,he does not interfere with your course of life, unless you surrender to Him in totality,.
In Bhagvad Gita Arjuna surrenders to Krishna completely and seeks his advice, Krishna gives him the entire philosophy of life in the eighteen chapters of the Gita and towards the end of the last chapter he declares to Arjuna,”I have declared the highest wisdom to you, reflect upon it and at as you choose to
“ Shri Krsna Sarnam Mamm”