For the practice of yoga, Krishna is the Yogavatara, the incarnation of yoga in all its aspects of knowledge, devotion and action.
If there is any single figure who represents India, its yogic spirituality, vibrant culture and great history, it is Shri Krishna. This is not an easy choice as India is also the land of Buddha, Rama, Shankara and other sages and yogis of the highest order.
Similarly, if there is any single book that conveys the wisdom of India to the world, with its synthesis of yogic teachings and cosmic consciousness, it is Krishna’s Bhagavad Gita. The Gita remains the most read and published book from India after many thousands of years.
The Bhagavad Gita is the prime scripture of Hindu dharma and Shri Krishna is its most visible teacher. Yet this fact has occurred not because Krishna gave us a simple dogma or en masse prescription, or claimed to have spoken the last word – but because Shri Krishna brings together all that is profound, beautiful and wonderful in human thought and action, and links it with the Supreme Divine.
Shri Krishna was a multisided personality, a renaissance man who mastered every domain of human life according to the highest inner vision. He was not simply a monk, a prophet or a saint, but a master of our full human potential, in the world and beyond the world, as illumined by an unlimited Divine Light from within the heart.
On Krishna Janmashtami we must remember this great avatar of Yoga, who taught Jnana, Bhakti and Karma Yoga in an integral manner.
Shri Krishna’s many teachings
For the study of the most transcendent Vedantic philosophy of Atman and Brahman, Krishna’s key teachings in the Bhagavad Gita remain central, unlocking the Upanishadic wisdom of the highest Self-realisation.
For the practice of yoga, Krishna is the Yogavatara, the incarnation of yoga in all its aspects. His Gita is one of the most important Yoga Shastras with each chapter forming a special yogic approach of its own, covering all branches of Yoga in more detail than the Yoga Sutras.
For Karma Yoga and transformative action, Krishna’s counselling to Arjuna in the Gita is the foundational teaching. As a statesman and diplomat par excellent no one compares with Krishna.
That is why Krishna and the Gita became the inspiration for India’s Independence movement with Tilak, Aurobindo and Gandhi.
Shri Krishna and the beauty of life
Yet besides his towering spiritual and philosophical stature, Krishna became the splendorous icon of art, music and dance – lauded in India’s literary and artistic traditions and temple worship, north and south, east and west. His flute is the basis of all music. His ras lila is the ultimate dance. Indian painting revolves around his colourful image.
As a teacher of devotion, Shri Krishna reigns supreme as the ultimate image and guide of Divine Love, as detailed in the many heart-rending stories about him. These we find in the Srimad Bhagavatam and other Vaishnava teachings.
Moreover, Krishna has a special form and teaching for every age group and every phase of human life. There is the infant or bal Krishna delighting his mother, the trickster youthful Krishna fascinating his friends, Krishna as the enchanting lover with his consort Radha, extending to Krishna as the husband, friend, warrior, king, and supreme guru, each with its own wide dimension of experience and wisdom.
Krishna holds all the colours of the rainbow of human life, extending into all the colours of the boundless universe, represented by the peacock feather that he wears, and the all-encompassing cosmic form that he assumes in the Gita.
The need to connect with Krishna today
Krishna reflects the beauty, diversity, abundance, paradox and profundity of India as a whole and its many-sided dharmic traditions. On his birth date one can honour any or all the many facets of the bejeweled light of Krishna.
The world today needs the vast wisdom of Krishna, along with his creative inspiration, diplomatic sagacity, and divine sense of play and delight.
Our world is too heavy with material attachment, intellectual opinions, exploitation of nature, and violence inciting cults in the name of God.
We should listen to Krishna’s flute once more and open up to our own inner reality in the divine play of consciousness and bliss.
We can contact Krishna in any way we wish, with or without form, within or without, in music or in silence, in dance or in stillness. He will surely respond.
The message of Krishna is to carefully face all life’s difficulties directly and decisively but remember to affirm that bliss is eternal, from Kurukshetra to Vaikuntha. Though we may need to take our role as Arjuna, we must remember that Krishna is taking us to the highest truth.
Jai Shri Krishna!