The old religions taught suppression as the way to God. The man was asked to suppress everything –his sex, his anger, his greed, his attachments – and then alone would he find his soul, would he attain to God. This war of man against himself has continued long enough. And in the history of thousands of years of this war, barely a handful of people, whose names can be counted on one’s fingers, can be said to have found God. So in a sense, we lost this war, because down the centuries billions of people died without finding their souls, without meeting God.
Undoubtedly there must be some basic flaw, some fundamental mistake in the very foundation of these religions.
It is as if a gardener has planted fifty thousand trees and out of them only one tree flowers – and yet we accept his scripture on gardening on the plea that at least one tree has blossomed. But we fail to take into consideration that this single tree might have been an exception to the rule, that it might have blossomed not because of the gardener, but in spite of him. The rest of the fifty thousand trees, those that remained stunted and barren, are enough proof the gardener was not worth his salt.
If a Buddha, a Mahavira or a Christ attains to God in spite of these fragmentary and conflict-ridden religions, it is no testimony to the success of these religions as such. The success of religion, or let us say the success of the gardener, should be acclaimed only when all fifty thousand trees of his garden, with the exception of one or two, achieve flowering. Then the blame could be laid at the foot of the one tree for its failure to bloom. Then it could be said that this tree remained stunted and barren in spite of the gardener.
With Freud a new kind of awareness has dawned on man: that suppression is wrong, that suppression brings with it nothing but self-pity and anguish. If a man fights with himself he can only ruin and destroy himself. If I make my left hand fight with my right hand, neither is going to win, but in the end, the contest will certainly destroy me. While my two hands fight with themselves, I and I alone will be destroyed in the process. That is how, through denial and suppression of his natural instincts and emotions, man became suicidal and killed himself.
Krishna alone seems to be relevant to the new awareness, to the new understanding that came to man in the wake of Freud and his findings. It is so because in the whole history of the old humanity Krishna alone is against repression.
He accepts life in all its facets, in all its climates and colours. He alone does not choose he accepts life unconditionally. He does not shun love; being a man he does not run away from women. As one who has known and experienced God, he alone does not turn his face from war. He is full of love and compassion, and yet he has the courage to accept and fight a war. His heart is utterly non-violent, yet he plunges into the fire and fury of violence when it becomes unavoidable. He accepts the nectar, and yet he is not afraid of poison.
In fact, one who knows the deathless should be free of the fear of death. And of what worth is that nectar which is afraid of death? One who knows the secret of non-violence should cease to fear violence. What kind of non-violence is it that is scared of violence? And how can the spirit, the soul, fear the body and run away from it? And what is the meaning of God if he cannot take the whole of this world in his embrace?
Krishna accepts the duality, the dialectics of life altogether and therefore transcends duality. What we call transcendence is not possible so long as you are in conflict, so long as you choose one part and reject the other. Transcendence is only possible when you choicelessly accept both parts together when you accept the whole.
That is why Krishna has great significance for the future. And his significance will continue to grow with the passage of time. When the glow and the glamour of all other godmen and messiahs have dimmed, when the suppressive religions of the world have been consigned to the wastebasket of history, Krishna’s flame will be heading towards its peak, moving towards the pinnacle of its brilliance. It will be so because, for the first time, man will be able to comprehend him, to understand him and to imbibe him. And it will be so because, for the first time, man will really deserve him and his blessings.
It is really arduous to understand Krishna. It is easy to understand that a man should run away from the world if he wants to find peace, but it is really difficult to accept that one can find peace in the thick of the marketplace. It is understandable that a man can attain to purity of mind if he breaks away from his attachments, but it is really difficult to realize that one can remain unattached and innocent in the very midst of relationships and attachments, that one can remain calm and still live at the very centre of the cyclone. There is no difficulty in accepting that the flame of a candle will remain steady and still in a place well secluded from winds and storms, but how can you believe that a candle can keep burning steadily even in the midst of raging storms and hurricanes? So it is difficult to even for those who are close to Krishna to understand him.
For the first time in his long history, man has attempted a great and bold experiment through Krishna. For the first time, through Krishna, man has tested and tested fully his own strength and intelligence. It has been tested and found that man can remain, like a lotus in water, untouched and unattached while living in the throes of a relationship. It has been discovered that man can hold to his love and compassion even on the battlefield, that he can continue to love with his whole being while wielding a sword in his hand.
It is this paradox that makes Krishna difficult to understand. Therefore, people who have loved and worshipped him have done so by dividing him into parts, and they have worshipped his different fragments, those of their liking. No one has accepted and worshipped the whole of Krishna, no one has embraced him in his entirety. Poet Surdas sings superb hymns of praise to the Krishna of his childhood, Bal. Krishna. Surdas’ Krishna never grows up, because there is a danger with a grown-up Krishna which Surdas cannot take. There is not much trouble with a boy Krishna flirting with the young women of his village, but it will be too much if a grown-up Krishna does the same. Then it will be difficult to understand him.
After all, we can understand something on our own plane, on our own level. There is no way to understand something on a plane other than ours.
So for their adoration of Krishna, different people have chosen different facets of his life. Those who love the Geeta will simply ignore the BHAGWAD because the Krishna of the GEETA is so different from the Krishna of the BHAGWAD Similarly, those who love the BHAGWAD will avoid getting involved with the GEETA. While the Krishna of the GEETA stands on a battlefield surrounded by violence and war, the Krishna of the BHAGWAD is dancing, singing and celebrating. There is seemingly no meeting-point whatsoever between the two.
There is perhaps no one like Krishna, no one who can accept and absorb in himself all the contradictions of life, all the seemingly great contradictions of life. Day and night, summer and winter, peace and war, love and violence, life and death – all walk hand in hand with him. That is why everyone who loves him has chosen a particular aspect of Krishna’s life that appealed to him and quietly dropped the rest.
Gandhi calls the GEETA his mother, and yet he cannot absorb it, because his creed of non-violence conflicts with the grim inevitability of war as seen in the GEETA. So Gandhi finds ways to rationalize the violence of the GEETA: he says the war of Mahabharat is only a metaphor, that it did not actually happen. This war, Gandhi says over and over again, represents the inner war between good and evil that goes on inside a man. The Kurushetra of the GEETA, according to Gandhi, is not a real battlefield located somewhere on this earth, nor is the Mahabharat an actual war. It is not that Krishna incites Arjuna to fight a real Mahabharat, Mahabharat only symbolizes the inner conflict and war of man, and so it is just a parable.
Gandhi has his own difficulty. The way Gandhi’s mind is, Arjuna will be much more in accord with him than Krishna. A great upsurge of non-violence has arisen in the mind of Arjuna, and he seems to be strongly protesting against the war. He is prepared to run away from the battlefield and his arguments seem to be compelling and logical. He says it is no use fighting and killing one’s own family and relatives. For him, wealth, power and fame, won through so much violence and bloodshed, have no value whatsoever. He would rather be a beggar than a king if kingship costs so much blood and tears. He calls war an evil and violence a sin and wants to shun it at all costs. Naturally, Arjuna has a great appeal for Gandhi. How can he then understand Krishna?
Krishna very strongly urges Arjuna to drop his cowardice and fight like a true warrior. And his arguments in support of war are beautiful, rare and unique. Never before in history have such unique and superb arguments been advanced in favour of fighting, in support of the war. Only a man of supreme non-violence could give such support to the war.
Krishna tells Arjuna, ”So long as you believe you can kill someone, you are not a man with a soul, you are not a religious man. So long as you think that one dies, you don’t know that which is within us, that which has never died and will never die. If you think you can kill someone you are under a great illusion, you are betraying your ignorance. The concept of killing and dying is materialistic; only a materialist can believe so. There is no death, no death for one who really knows.” So Krishna exhorts Arjuna over and over again in the GEETA, ”This is all play-acting; killing or dying is only a drama.”
In this context, it is necessary to understand why we call the life of Rama a characterization, a story, a biography, and not a play, a Leela. It is because Rama is very serious. But we describe the life of Krishna as his Leela, his play-acting because Krishna is not serious at all. Rama is bounded, he is limited. He is bound, limited by his ideals and principles. Scriptures call him the greatest idealist: he is circumscribed by the rules of conduct and character. He will never step out of his limits; he will sacrifice everything for his principles, for his character.
Krishna’s life, on the other hand, accepts no limitations. It is not bound by any rules of conduct, it is unlimited and vast. Krishna is free, limitlessly free. There is no ground he cannot tread; no point where his steps can fear and falter, no limits he cannot transcend. And this freedom, this vastness of Krishna, stems from his experience of self-knowledge. It is the ultimate fruit of his enlightenment.
For this reason, the question of violence has become meaningless in Krishna’s life. Now, violence is just not possible. And where violence is meaningless, non-violence loses its relevance too. Non- violence has meaning only in relation to violence. The moment you accept that violence is possible, non-violence becomes relevant at once. In fact, both violence and non-violence are two sides of the same coin. And it is a materialistic coin. It is materialistic to think that one is violent or non-violent. He is a materialist who believes he can kill someone, and he too is a materialist who thinks he is not going to kill anyone. One thing is common to them: they believe someone can be really killed. Spirituality rejects both violence and non-violence. it accepts the immortality of the soul. And such spirituality turns even war into play.
Spirituality or religion accepts, and unreservedly accepts, all the dimensions of life. It accepts sex and attachment together, relationship and indulgence, love and devotion, yoga and meditation, and everything there is to life. And the possibility of the understanding and acceptance of this philosophy of totality is growing every day – because now we have come to know a few truths we never knew in the past. Krishna, however, has undoubtedly known them. – OSHO