According to Jainism, Krishna is suffering in the seventh hell because he was the cause of the greatest war India has suffered, mythologically. Jains point out Krishna as the one responsible of the violence that took place in Mahabharata. No doubt, there is some truth in it. Arjuna was not willing to fight. He wanted to retire from the war at the last moment. He said it was better that others keep the throne, what is the point of killing all these people who are his brothers. Arjuna wanted to withdraw because it was a family struggle and both parties were connected in many ways.
Arjuna’s own master, Guru Dronacharya, who made him the best archer in the world, was on the other side because he was also the master of his brothers. Krishna was fighting on the side of Arjuna, and his own army was fighting on the other side because both parties has approached Krishna to join them. Mahabharata was a very strange war in which everybody was related. The grandfather of Arjuna, whom he loved and respected, was on the other side. The people with whom he was going to fight were his cousin-brothers – whom he had played and grown up with. Thousands of people would be killed.
Arjuna’s argument was very valid : “After killing all these people, sitting on the throne on all these corpses is meaningless. I will not be happy, I will live miserably all my life. What will I gain? I won’t even have people to celebrate with. Killing my own people with my own hands does not seem worthwhile. It gives me a clear idea that it is better to go to the mountains and to meditate and forget about all this.” But Krishna persisted. When he could not continue to argue, he brought in the last argument, “It is God’s will. Now you cannot disbelieve in God’s will, and it is God’s will that you should fight.”
This has been the strategy of all the priests around the world, “God’s will”. Its surprising that a man of Arjuna’s intelligence did not ask, “If you know God’s will, why is he not speaking directly to me? If it is God’s will, you fight. But as far as I am concerned, I feel this is God’s will that I drop out of this chariot and go to the mountains.”
God’s will has been used to simply destroy our arguments, our intelligence and create fear. If I don’t believe in God, I am going to hell, if I believe in God, then I have paradise and all the pleasures. The Christian goes on seeing Christ, the Hindu goes on seeing Krishna, the Muslim goes on seeing Muhammad, and to see these people, simple psychological methods have been used. A man waking up in the morning starts praying to Krishna the first thing, or to Christ, goes to the church and listens to the priest, reads The Bible or The Gita, which all preach, “Have Faith” and it is repeated thousands of times in hundreds of scriptures which man recites his entire lifetime.
Faith does not change you, you stay the same, but the experience transforms you. This is the only use of faith. Whether your knowledge is true or not, whether it changes you or simply gets accumulated in your memory. With faith, it’s not necessary that you can become a good teacher, a good priest or a good leader, but you can become a good man.
There are people who are just indecisive. They have not yet decided for or against. People are indecisive because religions have criticized each other than appreciating. But their criticisms were half-hearted. They could not go the full length, because to go to the full length they would have to criticize themselves too. A Hindu can criticize a Christian, but only up to a certain limit, because beyond that limit, beyond that limit he is vulnerable.
According to Hindu philosophy, a man who is enlightened is finished with all his evil karmas; he cannot be crucified. Crucifixion is possible only if in your past life you have committed a very grave, evil act. An enlightened man is supposed to have a calm, peaceful death. Jesus was crucified, it fails Hindu philosophy, therefore Hindus can easily criticize Jesus, and therefore, Christianity. But Krishna dying from a poisoned arrow, he may not have committed as grave a crime as Jesus Christ in his past life, but he must have committed something; all his Karmas are not finished, hence it would be absolutely correct to say that Krishna was not enlightened. He was a mere human, may be with an extra bit of intelligence, a better IQ level, therefore he was able to support his argument just before the war between Pandavas & Kauravas.
All these arguments exist because of religion. One should be aware that all the religions are based on superstitions, which may be different but the worst part is that they are also illogical. It does not matter what form the illogicality takes, a superstition is a superstition. Every religion has something that it cannot answer. So they have argued, but their argument was always half hearted. I don’t have anything to protect. I don’t have a religion. I can argue the way. No one can use my argument against me because I have nothing.
Krishna was a man of self. He wasn’t obedient. Obedience means that whatever your parents are saying you have to listen, to follow, you are not to listen to any voice that is coming from your own being. In the beginning that voice is there. Obedience is the method to kill your inner voice. Hence all the societies, all the religions, all education systems praise obedience. The story of Adam & Eve is of great impact here. They were not punished because they ate the fruit of a tree, they were punished because they disobeyed. They were punished because they listened to their own voice. This is their great sin, their only sin. They were thrown out of the garden of Eden for a simple reason that they disobeyed. It seems that people have not paid enough attention to how all the religions depend on disobedience.
They may call it different names such as belief, surrender, trust, faith, but look into all these words; they are simply saying that you have to follow the dictates which God has given. They have the Holy book, they have the Messiah, they have the Prophet, they have the Gurus, so you don’t have to listen to any voice – particularly your inner voice because that will be again committing the same sin – disobedience.
The story uses the serpent to persuade Eve, but that is just a metaphorical way of saying it. The reality is that Adam & Eve were already curious to eat the fruit because God has prohibited them from eating from the tree of knowledge. It is the same curiosity which arises in children when they are told not to do something, there was no need of serpent, Adam & Eve were curious. This is the religious condemnation of women. Religions never forget that a woman should be condemned. In every story, it is the woman who hears it : the serpent talks to the woman, Raavan talk to Sita, Ram tell Sita to pass through the fire test, Draupadi hears it from her Brother-In-Laws Duryodhana & Dushasana, Mary Magdalene hears it and gets labeled as a prostitute. But there is more to it, thankfully.
The woman can hear the inner voice more easily than the man, for the simple reason that she is not too hung up in her head. She still lives in her heart. It is not a condemnation of a woman, it is turning out to be a compliment, but only those who have a beautiful mind can see the compliment in it, others will still see condemnation. She has more capacity of the inner growth than the man, she can hear her heartbeats more clearly than the man can.
It is a strange thing that a woman has never founded a religion, all the religions are founded by men, and when a man founds a religion, it is going to be intellectual, it cannot be of the heart.
There is a beautiful story I have loved, it is about one of the greatest women of the world, Meera.
She was only four or five years old when there was a great procession, a marriage procession. She asked her mother, “What is happening?” The mother explained, and the little girl said, “When will I be married?”
The mother said, “These are not questions to be asked! You are too small.”
Meera said, “I may be too small but I have already fallen in love.”
The mother said, “What do you mean?”
She said, “In the temple, when I go with you – the statue of Krishna is so beautiful. I have fallen in love with that statue; so whenever you want me to be married, marry me to that statue.”
The mother said, “You are just mad! Just go out and play.” She did not take it seriously.
Meera belonged to a royal family. She finally married into another royal family, but she did not forget to take a small statue of Krishna with her.
The man she was married to must have been a very compassionate man. The first night, when he was going to meet his wife, he heard her talking, so he looked in through the window. She was sitting before the statue of Krishna and saying to him, “My lord, so finally I got married to you!”
It was a shock. Meera was an immensely beautiful woman… but the husband was certainly of great understanding. He turned back, he did not go into the room – Meera remained a virgin. And just to avoid embarrassment, he went to war as the commander in chief. He won the war, but he died in it.
Meera left the house with the statue, singing and dancing in the streets. People thought she had become mad because of the death of her husband. But she would show the statue to them: “My husband cannot die, my husband is always with me. And the one who has died, he was never my husband.”
She became famous. I don’t think anybody has sung such beautiful songs, danced so beautifully, so ecstatically.
She reached the birthplace of Krishna. At the birthplace of Krishna there is the biggest Krishna temple in India. The priest of the temple had taken the vow of celibacy, so no woman was allowed in the temple.
A guard was standing there with a naked sword to prevent women. But when Meera came dancing, ecstatic, he forgot why he was standing there, and she entered the temple. She was the first woman to enter the temple in the forty years since that man had become the priest.
The priest was worshipping Krishna. He could not believe his eyes; the things he was holding in his hands for worship fell on the ground. He was really angry. He said, “Woman, you have some nerve! Everybody knows – nobody who is not a man can enter this temple. You have destroyed my forty years’ austerity!”
Meera laughed, and she said, “I was thinking there is only one man, and that is Krishna, and we are all his lovers; we are all women. I am glad to see that there is another man also in the world!”
The way she said it just penetrated the man’s very heart. He fell at her feet to be forgiven. He said, “I have never thought about this – what I said is simply absurd. Only Krishna is the man – we are all his lovers; naturally we are all women. You are right and I was wrong.”
Meera’s saying that only the woman has a heart-to-heart contact with the divine is of great importance.
But all the religions are founded by men. They are great intellectuals, philosophers, theologians; they spin great, complicated theories – but nothing in them gives the sense that they have experienced. They are only thinking, they are not living.
To think is a very superficial thing, to live is the deepest, and love is the way to go deeper into it.
Krishna was not God, neither the incarnation of any God. Krishna was a mere human who loved, and he loved so many that the world fell in love with him. Krishna loved and lived in it. If I were given a choice to choose between a cross or a flute, I would choose a flute without doubt. A flute needs throbbing lips and supple fingers to play it, whereas a cross keeps hanging in our necks, reminding us that man is born in sin, that life is the original sin. According to the cross, what we think of as life is not God’s gift, but a form of punishment inflicted on man, and I mean ‘cross’ only, I don’t mean Jesus.
A flute needs a singing and dancing heart, a soul brimming with joy and bliss to hold it. I think its time man makes a clear choice between the cross and the flute. It is not that life is without its hurts and pains, it cannot be. But if a person brings his focus only to the hurt and pain and goes on accumulating them, he will soon cease to meet with any happy moments in life. It is not that there is no happiness in life, it has its fair share of happiness too. If someone trains his attention on happiness alone and goes on gathering it, he will eventually cease to come across painful moments in life. Man is free and this freedom affirms him being Krishna, because Krishna was free too.
A cross, a janeu or a kirpan might be forced on an individual, but Krishna plays the flute for the love of it. Nobody has forced it on him, he has chosen it for himself. If you happen to pass by a cross with Jesus hanging on it, you will immediately be depressed and sad. On the other hand, seeing Krishna dancing in ecstasy on the banks of river Yamuna will fill your heart with delight & joy. Pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness are contagious; they are communicable from one to another, they spread like wildfire.
But the question that arises, and an important one, that why did the war of Mahabharata happen in a civilization that accepted the flute as its symbol? There is no relationship between a flute and war! The Mahabharata took place in spite of Krishna and his flute. It simply means we are so attached to sorrow, so steeped in misery that even Krishna’s flute fails to bring a ray of hope and joy to our hearts. The flute continued to play and we plunged into the vortex of war. The flute could not change our sadistic natures. It remained only Krishna’s flute, it could not become ours.
Jesus, Mahavira or Buddha will never say yes to war. Only Krishna is capable of doing that. But remember, Krishna is not a warmonger. He is not a hawk, he is a supporter of life, he stands by life, he will fight for it if need be. If the great values of life, without which life would cease to be life, are in peril, Krishna will not hesitate to defend them with missiles. Not that he relishes violence or war, but if it becomes unavoidable he will not shirk the responsibility. That is why, from the very beginning he does everything to avoid Mahabharata. He leaves no stone unturned to avert war and save life and peace. But when all his efforts for peace fail, he realizes that the forces of death and destruction, forces that are against righteousness, are not amenable to an honorable peace. He readies himself to fight for life.
Life and action are not two different things for Krishna and that’s why he can fight as naturally as he can dance or play his flute. It is remarkable that a man like Krishna, even when he goes to the battlefield, is happy and joyful, he never loses his bliss. It is because war comes to him as a part of life, it cannot be segregated from life. Krishna does not divide black and white, good and evil, as the moralists and priests do. He does not approve that war is purely evil. He says that nothing is good or bad under all circumstances. There are occasions when poison can work like nectar and nectar can work like poison. There are moments when blessings turn into curses and curses into blessings.
Krishna lives in the moment, he lives from moment to moment. In fact, every blissful person lives in the moment, in timeless space.