Tag Archive: Indian Philosophy


krishna_radha

The story of Mahabharat is incomplete without its main character, Kṛṣṇa also known as Krishna. Kṛṣṇa was the main strategist for the Pandav Army even though his own army, “Narayani Sena” was fighting for the side of Kauravas.

He is referenced as a lover of Radha and their love songs are sung in south Asian societies, Radha never married Kṛṣṇa. He grew up to become a man (if we believe the stories of Mahabharat as a true story) who would be instrumental in changing the ideology of masses with his principles and lectures in Bharat/India.

Birth and childhood

Krishna or Kṛṣṇa as he was also called was the eighth biological son of Devki and Vasudeva (Royal Couple), who were imprisoned by Devki’s evil brother Kansa. In childhood, Krishna does all forms of miracles and there are numerous attempts on his life but he survives and eventually kills his maternal uncle Kansa.

He is transported from the prison cell on the day of his birth to Gokul as Yashoda and Nand’s child and was exchanged with their Biological child by his father Vasudev. In this way Kṛṣṇa is able to escape death on night of his birth. Kansa kills the biological child of Yashoda thinking as child of Devki (his sister) in prison cell by smashing child’s head against the wall. Quite a violent night. Kansa had killed previous six children of Vasudev and Devki like this.

In his childhood Kṛṣṇa is notorious for stealing and eating butter, as a teenage young boy playing a flute along with Radha (who is classified as his girlfriend, love interest, but is older to him). Love story of Kṛṣṇa and Radha is sung and passed on for many ages, since ancient India. No doubt it attracts many lovers of this age.

There are many instances when he watches young girls bath in ponds by hiding and sitting on top of trees, in some instances taking their clothes and running away. A true flirt in every sense. He is also documented to be dancing with many female companions of his, who are known to the world as Gopis of Gopal (Kṛṣṇa’s other name).

Some like to call these girls as his numerous girlfriends or friends or even cheerleaders, who were amazed by Kṛṣṇa’s antics in Gokul. Plus since he played flute very nicely, so it was another attraction. In short a stud for some.

krishna-stealing-the-cloths-of-the-gopis- painting

Personality and Teachings

A lot has been written on the personality of Kṛṣṇa by those who worship him (especially the Vaishnavites) and there are many schools of thoughts which sing praise of him. He for one seems to have a good sense of righteousness and believed that the principles need to be upheld even if it means breaking the laws. He was a spiritual guide and a teacher to Arjun, whom he uses/helps to win the war of Kurukshetra.

In the battle of kurukshetra, he motivates Arjun and pumps him up to fight Bhishma and Karna. Arjun in the beginning of the battle is reluctant to fight Bhishma and his teachers who were fighting with Kauravas side. During this time he reveals Arjun his real sense and updates him about the true meaning of life and lectures him on many topic, these lectures collectively are known as Bhagavat Gita.

However, there is another school of thought in India, who are fans of Kauravas who believe the Kṛṣṇa was a trickster and magician, who helped Pandavas to no end. His partisan viewpoint is also taken in to consideration in denouncing him as no god, since god will accept all, as he has created all.

Krishna and Balaram fight the Yadu Dynasty

Krishna and Balaram fight the Yadu Dynasty

Kṛṣṇa has an elder brother Balram who is the King of Dwarka, where Kṛṣṇa lives. Balaram was also child of Vasudev, transported to Gokul in stressful circumstances.

Once Radha is married off to someone else and Kṛṣṇa’s first love story ends (I presume she being elder to him plays a role here and his leaving Gokul to fight is uncle Kansa). He falls in love with Rukmini and then elopes with her and humiliates her brother while doing so (brother is represented to be egoistic), again this is story is a favorite of romantics.

He is shown as someone who gets his way through, no matter what the odds are and is rarely angry barring some instances. He is also definitely a poster boy for all the lovers in South Asia.

Marriages

 Kṛṣṇa had 8 queens who are collectively called the Ashtabharya—including Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra and Lakshmana

Later, Kṛṣṇa married 16,000 or 16,100 women who were held captive by the demon Narakasura, to save their honour. He killed the demon and released them all. According to social custom of the time, all of the captive women were degraded, and would be unable to marry, as they had been under the Narakasura’s control. However Kṛṣṇa married them to reinstate their status in the society. This symbolic wedding with 16,100 abandoned daughters was more of a mass rehabilitation. He gave them shelter in his new palace and a respectful place in society. The chief amongst them is Rohini.

Most well-known among his sons are Pradyumna, the eldest son of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmini. Samba, the son of Kṛṣṇa with Jambavati was notorious one whose actions led to the destruction of Kṛṣṇa‘s clan

Arjun and Kṛṣṇa

krishna-arjuna

Mahabharat in its entire entity talks a lot about the relationship of Arjun and Kṛṣṇa. Their friendship and Kṛṣṇa’s mentoring of Arjun is the main drawing points. Arjun apart from being married to Draupadi, was also married to Kṛṣṇa’s sister Subhadhra, with whom Arjun has son named Abhimanyu.

Kṛṣṇa plays an important role in getting Arjun married, first to Draupadi and then to Subhadra. In Draupadi’s case, Karna was also there in the swamwar and is insulted by egoistic Draupadi.

Kṛṣṇa teaches Arjun the true meaning of life and the teaching and lectures are known as Bhagavad Gita.

Draupadi and Kṛṣṇa

Draupadi_Krishna

Kṛṣṇa was a friend Draupadi always had for consoling and when in trouble. He was instrumental in saving Draupadi from Drushashan, when latter was pulling away her saree and trying to strip her naked in royal court. He also helps her Husbands in getting the revenge for her insult in Hastinapur Royal Court at the hand of Kauravas.

However, I think he chooses to ignore Draupadi’s failings especially her handling of Karna and saying that Duryodhan is in capable of seeing path in front of him , since he is son of a blind man, in short like father like son.

Draupadi is also called Krishna, it is used for her to show that they are one in spirit and to commemorate their friendship. Also because Draupadi was of a darker complexion with fire inside her.

Karna and Kṛṣṇa

BGKrishnaArjunaKarna

The relationship between Kṛṣṇa and Karna is baffling to me. It is so that Kṛṣṇa admired Karna and knew that he had faced massive hardship to reach the place of respect. Kṛṣṇa never tried to help Karna out of his miseries, if he is god then a god can do anything, right or else he is no god but a human being, who is worshiped.

Here the story of karna and his pain shown in “just a sympathetic light”, instead of finishing or giving a resolution to it. It may well show the social construct of the times when the story was written and re-written by many Brahmins, who always view men like Karna as a threat to their social order and establishment (even today in 21st century, some ideologies never change).

Karna is being accused of saying bad words to Draupadi, if vocal harm is considered bad by Kṛṣṇa then not giving value to verbal abuses dealt by karna, is equally baffling. As stated before, It may be more about those era’s Brahmins who believed that “so called higher beings” can say anything and get away, but when a relatively social weaker being challenges and retaliates those verbal comments, he becomes worthy of being killed for his unworthy deeds towards a “higher order” egoistic woman.

I am really disappointed in Kṛṣṇa’s approach towards Karna in Mahabharat, but it has been said and believed that the Brahmins use to tell these stories to suit them first, they use to mold them as per their desires in past and create brahmanical order to profess their dominance or superiority over others in the region (same was Salafists do in Islam and try to subdue Sufis).

 

Bhishma and Kṛṣṇa

Bhishma and Krishna

Both of them had deep respect for each other and had a common belief of upholding the principles. However, the difference between them was Bhishma’s absolute devotion towards rules and his vow. Bhishma refused to break age old rituals and rules, he tried his best to be good but these became his failings.

Whereas Kṛṣṇa was of belief that rule can be broken but principles and human values must be maintained. Therefore many say that the fight of kurukshetra was to break the old order and establish the new older, since old had become too rigid.

Death

After 36 years passed, a fight broke out between the Yadavas, at a festival, who killed each other. Kṛṣṇa retired into the forest and started meditating under a tree. The Mahabharata also narrates the story of a hunter who becomes an instrument for Kṛṣṇa’s departure from the world.

The hunter Jara, mistook Kṛṣṇa’s partly visible left foot for that of a deer, and shot an arrow, wounding him mortally. After he realized the mistake, While still bleeding, Kṛṣṇa told Jara, “O Jara, you were Bali in your previous birth, killed by myself as Rama in Tretayuga. Here you had a chance to even it and since all acts in this world are done as desired by me, you need not worry for this”. The place of this incident is believed to be Bhalka, near Somnath temple.

Kṛṣṇa On management

Kṛṣṇa is someone who believes that rules which are obsolete need to be let go, for running any organizations in effective way, in short a reformist or a revolutionary. The principles for his organization will remain utmost priority and so would be welfare of his employees.

 

Kṛṣṇa in today’s world:

He is a leader and a calm adviser, he would be someone who will give principles top most value and would not hesitate from breaking rules to uphold them. Especially those rules which have become oppressive and benefiting only few. Many view Kṛṣṇa as a left-wing ideologue fighting an obsolete,rigid, non -productive and outdated system.

Principles would be same which most of the humanity believes in but some powerful men/women seem to not follow them for their personal gains and profit.

Lastly, he would most certainly be a rage among women, not to mention a true flirt.

Kurukshetra

 

There are some very nice Mahabharat quotes, which I would like to share with the reader.

From the first book Adi Parva :

Anukramanika Parva, Chapter 1:

Time creates all things,
and time destroys them all.
Time burns all creatures,
and time again extinguishes that fire.

—Anukramanika Parva, Adi Parva, Mahabharata Book i.1

 

Tapa is not a sin,
Study is not a sin,
Ordinances of Vedas are not sins,
Acquisition of wealth by exertion is not a sin,
When they are abused, then do they become the sources of evil.

—Anukramanika Parva, Adi Parva, Mahabharata Book i.1

 

 

 

Sangraha Parva, Chapter 2:

As all the senses are dependent on the wonderful workings of the mind,
so all the acts and moral qualities depend on this treatise (Mahabharata).

—Sangraha Parva, Adi Parva, Mahabharata Book i.2

 

 

 

Paushya Parva, Chapter 3:

You are the infinite, you are the course of Nature and intelligent soul that pervades all,
I desire to obtain you through knowledge, derived from hearing and meditation.

—Paushya Parva, Adi Parva, Mahabharata Book i.3

 

 

 

Adivansabatarana Parva, Chapter 62:

This (Mahabharata) is equal to the Vedas, it is holy and excellent,
it is the worthiest of all that should be listened to. It is a Purana, adored by the Rishis,
It contains many useful instructions on Artha and Kama. This sacred history makes the heart desire to attain salvation.

—Adivansabatarana Parva, Adi Parva, Mahabharata Book i.

 

 

 

Drupada said to Drona: Friendship never remains in the world in anyone’s heart without being worn out,
Time wears it out, anger destroys it.
The poor cannot be the friend of the rich, the unlearned cannot be the friend of the learned,
the coward cannot be the friend of the brave, how then do you desire the continuance of our old friendship?

—Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Mahabharata Book i.

 

 

 

One who is afflicted by destiny can find a remedy in destiny alone.”
— [Elapatra to Vasuki, Astika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 34]

 

 

 

This single strand of grass that you see, the one from which we are hanging, is the strand of our family lineage. O Brahmana! The strands that you see being eaten up, are being eaten up by time. O Brahmana! The half-eaten root from which we are all hanging is the last of our lineage, practising austerities. O Brahmana! The rat that you see is time, immensely powerful. He is slowly killing the misguided Jaratkaru, engaged in austerities, who is greedy for austerities, but has lost his mind and senses.”

— [Ancestors to Jaratkaru, Astika Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 41]

 

 

 

“According to the sacred texts, there are three kinds of fathers. In proper order, they are the one who gives a body, the one who protects and the one who provides food.

— [Shakuntala describing to King Duhshanta what Sage Kanwa told her about her birth. Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 66]

 

 

 

“The wise have said that a man is himself born as his son. Therefore, a man should regard the mother of his son as his own mother. … The wife is the sacred ground in which the husband is born again. Even sages are unable to have offspring without wives.”
—[Shakuntala to Duhshanta, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 68]

 

 

 

“You see the faults of others, even though they are as small as a mustard seed. But you do not see your own, even though they can be seen as large as a bilva fruit. … O Duhshanta! My birth is nobler than your own. O lord of kings! You are established on earth. But I roam the sky. Know that the difference between you and me is that between a mustard seed and Mount Meru.”
— [Shakuntala to King Duhshanta, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 69]

 

 

“I also know the difference between anger and forgiveness and the strength and weakness of each. But when a disciple behaves disrespectfully towards a preceptor, it should not be condoned.”
— [Devayani to Shukra, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 74]

 

 

“Altercations are nothing but the resort of the weak.”
— [Karna to Arjuna, Jatugriha-daha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 126]

 

 

“Unlike a cow, the fruits of evil actions are not immediate. Such fruits are certainly manifested, if not in one’s own life, in one’s son or in one’s grandson. They are like a heavy meal in the stomach.”
—  [Shukra to King Vrishaparva, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 75]

 

 

“Great is unhappiness for those who desire wealth, greater for those who have acquired it.”
— [Brahamana lamentingBaka-vadha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 145]

 

 

 

“One who does not see impurities in one’s acts, is not expected to see it in another.”
— [Upajaya to Drupada, Chaitraratha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 155]

 

 

 

“But if a crime doesn’t find a punisher, many in the world will commit crimes. A man who has the power to punish a crime and doesn’t do so, despite knowing that a crime has been committed, is himself tainted by the deed, even if he is the lord.”
— [Ourva to ancestors,Chaitraratha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 171]’

 

 

 

“Which hero will kill an enemy who has been defeated in battle, has lost his fame and is now protected by a woman?”
— [Yudhishtra to Arjuna,Chaitraratha Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 158]

 

 

 

“He was a king who had no abilities. All that he did was breathe air in and out.”
—  [Karna on King Amuvicha, Viduragamana Parva, Adi Parva, Ch 196]

 

 

I shall collect more quotes which I find interesting  in time coming and post on my Blog. Though I would like to mention here that Abhinav Agarwal‘s blog was a great help. The guy is an inspiration for his writings on Mahabharat. I hope my blog is also someday overflowing with Information on Mahabharat like his, he has made a detailed study of all the Parvas (i.e. Volumes) in Mahabharat.

 

Reference link:

http://blog.abhinavagarwal.net

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