|Hindu Gods and Goddesses|
by Sri Swami Sivananda
IntroductionO Adorable Krishna!
Let my longing eyes behold Thy form.
Let my ears hear Thy flute.
O Healer of all sorrows!
Show me Thyself.
Thou art the only Truth—
All the rest is false.
I crave not for Mukti;
I long not for emancipation;
Let there be devotion to Thy feet.
Be kind unto me, O Lord!
Remove my delusion.
I am a servant unto Thee.
THE auspicious hour came. The star Rohini was shining. It was Vijaya Muhurta. The elements were extremely pleasant. Winds were blowing auspiciously. The stars were shining with lustre. The lakes were filled with lotuses. Lord Krishna incarnated at midnight on this earth. The gods played divine music. The Kinnaras and Gandharvas sang. Siddhas and Charanas praised. The Vidyadharas danced along with Apsaras, sages and Devas. There was a rain of flowers from the heavens in joy.
Vishnu incarnated with lotus eyes, with four hands armed with conch, disc, mace and lotus, with the mark Srivatsa adorning the chest. Vasudeva saw this marvel of a Divine Child.
Vasudeva praised Him: "Thou art known to me already as the Supreme Being. Thou art an embodiment of Knowledge and Bliss. Thou art seated in the hearts of all beings. Thou art the Witness of the minds of all. Thou art beyond Maya and Avidya".
Devaki beheld marks of Vishnu on her son and praised Him: "Thou art beginningless, omnipresent, self-luminous, attributeless, changeless and actionless. Thou art the source and place of dissolution for everything. Kindly do not show me this form with four hands. Let me see You as an ordinary child. Withdraw this divine, transcendental form. We are afraid of Kamsa".
The Lord said: "Let both of you often meditate with love on Me as a son and as the Supreme Being and you will obtain eternal bliss and immortality".
The Lord assumed the form of a handsome baby through the power of His own Maya.
The Purna Avatara
Lord Krishna was the highest Incarnation of the great Vishnu. He was the Purna Avatara. He had all the sixteen Kalas or rays of the Lord. He was a noble scion of the illustrious Yadava dynasty. He was the world-teacher. He was the one Lord of love. He was the lover of men. His enchanting form, with flute in hand, holds the heart of India captive in chains even today.
The object of Sri Krishna’s Avatar who has become the beloved of India and the world at large, was threefold—to destroy the wicked demons, to take the leading part in the great war fought on the battlefield of Kurukshetra where He delivered His wonderful message of the Gita and to become the centre of a marvellous development of the Bhakti Schools of India.
The purpose of the Krishna-Avatara was not only to destroy Adharma, but also to reveal to the world the magnificence of God. Sri Krishna was the symbol of the Absolute, the representation of the mighty Sovereign of the universe. In His well-adjusted, symmetrical conduct of life is portrayed the majestic perfection of God.
Sri Krishna’s life is the Bhagavad Gita in action. In Him are found the supreme knowledge and power blending to form the God-Man of all times. In Him the highest Vidya and Vinaya (knowledge and humility) co-exist as inseparable virtues of the Great Hero of the world.
Sri Krishna was a perfect Master. He was a Karma Yogi, Bhakta, Raja Yogi and Jnana Yogi. He preached Karma, Upasana Yoga and Jnana. Lord Krishna drove the chariot in the battle-field and danced with the Gopis in the shady retreats of Brindavan and taught Yoga and Jnana to Uddhava and Arjuna. The four Yogas are blended in His Gita or the Immortal Song.
Lord Krishna was great in knowledge, great in emotion, great in action, altogether. The scriptures have not recorded any life more complete, more intense, more sublime, more grand than His.
Study the Bhagavat and the Pancharatras, which are equal to the Upanishads. You will know all about the glory of Lord Krishna, His Lilas and superhuman deeds.
Student Days with Sage Sandipani
Sri Krishna received His instructions from Sandipani, a sage of Avantipur. He lived with His teacher like an ordinary student. He was meek, humble and obedient. He led a laborious life. He gathered fuel from the woods for His preceptor’s household. He inspired His class-mates with love.
Sri Krishna had wonderful retentive memory. He mastered the sixty-four arts in sixty-four days.
The Lord’s Life of Selfless Action
Krishna was a man of action. He was a history-maker and righter of wrongs. He stood for justice and righteousness. His policy was to defend the oppressed from the oppressor.
Lord Krishna was the greatest Karma Yogi of all time. He held up the torch of wisdom. He was an embodiment of wisdom and selfless action.
He was all love for the cowherd boys, cows and Gopis. He was the friend and benefactor of the poor and the helpless. He was extremely kind and merciful towards the meek and the humble.
Krishna was the thunderbolt to the wrestlers assembled in the arena of Kamsa and yet, He had the softest heart among men. He was Yama unto Kamsa, a Cupid unto Gopis, the object of constant meditation for Yogins and devotees, the form of Bliss and Beatitude to the sages, and a child to His parents. He was Cupid unto Cupid himself.
Lord Krishna was an embodiment of humility, though He was the Lord of the universe. He became the charioteer of Arjuna. He accepted the duty of washing the feet of the visitors voluntarily at the time of the Rajasuya Yajna performed by Yudhishthira.
Krishna, The Warrior
Lord Krishna was matchless in physical strength. He was an undaunted warrior even from His twelfth year. He, being anointed by Kubja and garlanded by Sudama, a flower-seller, entered the place of sacrifice in the Dhanur Yajna performed by Kamsa and broke the great bow. Kamsa sent an elephant named Kuvalayapeeda to kill Krishna. Krishna killed the elephant and entered the arena. Then He killed the chosen athletes of Kamsa, viz., Chanura and Toshalaka. Krishna got upon the platform on which Kamsa was seated, caught hold of his hair, threw him down on the ground and killed him.
Jarasandha, son-in-law of Kamsa, was very much enraged when Krishna killed Kamsa. He invaded Mathura seventeen times. Krishna drove out Jarasandha every time.
He fought with Bana, the thousand-armed king of Sonitpur, and cut off his arms. Thereafter He killed Paundra, the king of Karusha who denied Krishna’s divinity and assumed Vishnu’s conch, discus, club and lotus and declared Himself to be the real Vasudeva.
The wicked Sisupala challenged Krishna in Yudhishthira’s Rajasuya Yajna. Sri Krishna threw His Chakra at Sisupala and cut off his head. Similarly He slew Dantavakthra also.
Salva, king of Saubha and a friend of Sisupala, waged war with Krishna to avenge his friend’s death. Salva was put to death by Lord-Krishna.
A Great Statesman
Sri Krishna was a great statesman. The world has not witnessed a greater statesman than Sri Krishna. He was a champion of liberty and a peacemaker. He had wonderful foresight and held extremely liberal views. Even when He was a boy, He taught people the essentials and the true significance of religion, when He rose against the popular worship of Indra for getting rains.
Krishna was a king-maker. He was the founder of the city of Dwaraka. He was the towering genius of His age. He was a great historical figure.
Sri Krishna’s political insight and wise statesmanship were admired by the ablest rulers of His time. His wise counsel was sought by kings and rulers.
The Lord of Yogis
You can even count the stars and the particles of sand in the seashore, but it is not possible to count the marvellous and heroic deeds and glorious actions of Sri Krishna, the Lord of the three worlds.
When He was a child, He did countless miracles. He showed Viswarupa Darshan (universal form) to His mother, Yasoda, in His mouth while He yawned. He uprooted the Yamala Arjuna trees. He danced on the Kaliya serpent. He raised the Govardhana Hills on His little finger to protect Gokul from the heavy rains caused by Indra.
He multiplied Himself into various forms, when Brahma kept the Gopas and calves away from Krishna’s view. He multiplied Himself and appeared in countless forms in Rasa Lila. Can a human being do this? It is only a Yogeshwar who can perform these great miracles.
Krishna gave eyesight to the blind Vilwamangal. He gave unlimited clothes to Draupadi. He gave cosmic vision to Arjuna.
Who can describe the glory of Lord Krishna, the Lord of Yogis and the Supreme Lord of the three worlds, the Soul of the universe? Durvasa and countless disciples were satisfied when Lord Krishna ate a small particle of vegetable. This by itself clearly proves that Lord Krishna is the one Soul that dwells in all beings.
The sage Narada wished to find out how Krishna could lead a happy, married life with His sixteen thousand wives. He visited their mansions and found Krishna in every one of their homes engaged in a variety of duties. What a great marvel! Narada was stunned. Does this not prove that Krishna is the Lord of Yogis and is Lord Hari Himself?
Krishna is the Lord of all beings. He is, in fact, the husband of all women in this world. The real husband is the Lord only. It is to demonstrate this to the world that Lord Krishna incarnated Himself as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva.
An Embodiment of Love and Mercy
Lord Krishna is styled as one who steals butter, because He used to eat the butter stealthily in the houses of the Gopis on account of His extreme love for them. This stealing of butter was a sort of sport or Lila when He was a boy, to instill delight in the hearts of the Gopis who were His devotees. The Gopis liked this immensely. They were eagerly expecting Krishna to come and eat their butter. Krishna really steals or captivates the hearts of His devotees, makes them forget the world, draws their minds towards His blessed feet and makes them enjoy everlasting peace and bliss.
Krishna had the Bhav of mother even for Puthana who came to kill Him and gave her Salvation. He gave Salvation even to His bitterest enemies, Kamsa and Sisupala who insulted Him openly in the Rajasuya Yajna. Then, what to speak of those who are highly devoted to Him?
The Lord’s Teachings
Sri Krishna was the friend of Arjuna and Uddhava. His immortal teachings to Arjuna and Uddhava on Yoga, Bhakti and Jnana are unique. They even now stir the hearts of the readers and goad them towards the spiritual path and instill peace into their hearts.
Arjuna had various kinds of doubts. Lord Krishna cleared his doubts one by one. He pushed Arjuna up in the ladder of Yoga from one rung to another rung. Ultimately, Arjuna placed his step in the highest rung of the ladder, attained Knowledge of the Self and then exclaimed in joy, "O my Lord! My delusion is destroyed. I have attained Knowledge through Thy Grace. I am firm now. My doubts have vanished now in toto. I will act according to Thy word".
The Bhagavad Gita contains the teachings of Lord Krishna to Arjuna. It is a wonderful book for constant study. Aspirants study this book with great care daily. The first fix chapters deal with Karma Yoga and represent the "Tat" Pada of "Tat Twam Asi" Mahavakya. The next six chapters deal with Bhakti Yoga and represent the "Twam" Pada. The last six chapters deal with Jnana Yoga and represent the "Asi" Pada.
Sri Krishna asked man to consider himself a doll in the hands of God. He asked man to think himself a soldier, God as his great General, his worldly acts as duties under orders. He asked him to act on the faith and belief that whatever he does is the work of God. He asked man to act, but act only with devotion to God without desire for fruits.
The teachings given by Lord Krishna to Uddhava on the eve of His departure from this world are wonderful. He gives instructions on a variety of subjects. But the one ringing note is: "See Me in everything. Surrender yourself to Me. Do all actions for My sake. Cut of all sorts of attachments. Have perfect unswerving devotion to Me. Sing My glories".
Call of the Flute
Krishna’s flute is the symbol of Freedom or Pranava. It is this flute that attracted the devoted Gopis, the maidens of Vraja, to meet their beloved Lord on the banks of the sacred Jumna. The sound of this divine flute thrilled the heart with rapturous delight and instilled new life and joy. It produced God-intoxication in all beings and infused life even in insentient objects. The sweetness of the music was unsurpassed. He who heard once the music of Krishna’s flute cared not for the nectar of heaven or the bliss of Moksha.
The flute and its music had stirred the souls of the Gopis. They were not masters of themselves. The world was nothing to them. They felt irresistibly drawn towards Sri Krishna. They had neither shame nor fear in leaving their homes. There was a soul-awakening in them. Their mind was not of this world. Their husbands and brothers stopped them in vain. Who can resist the torrent of divine love for the Lord?
The love that the Gopis bore towards Krishna was a divine love. It was the union of souls. It is no union of sex. It is the aspiration of the Jivatma to merge in Paramatma. It is the blending of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul.
The Gopis were the sages of Dandaka forest in their previous births. They wished to embrace Lord Rama. They were promised satisfaction in the later Avatara. They got blended into the Paramatma in the Krishna-Avatara.
Krishna has preached Prem through His flute. He has created this world out of the Dhwani Omkara that proceeds from His flute. He stands on the right big toe. This signifies the Upanishadic utterance: "Ekam Eva Adwitiyam Brahma—One without a second". He shows three curves while standing. This represents the three Gunas by which He has created this world. He gazes at Radha and puts the Prakriti in motion. He is the primum mobile. The lotus on which He stands stands for the universe.
Radha asked Krishna: "O my dear! Why do You love the flute more than me? What virtuous actions has it done so that it can remain in close contact with Your lips? Kindly explain to me, my Lord, the secret of this. I am eager to hear". Sri Krishna said: "This flute is very dear to Me. It has got some wonderful virtue. It has emptied off its egoism before I began to play. It has made its inner hollow quite void and I can bring out any kind of tune, Raga or Ragini, to My pleasure and sweet will. If you also behave towards Me in exactly the same manner as this flute, if you remove your egoism completely and make perfect self-surrender, then I shall also love you in the same manner as I love this flute".
This body also is the flute of Lord Krishna in the macrocosm. If you can destroy your egoism and make total self-surrender, unreserved Atma-Nivedan to the Lord, He will play on this body-flute nicely and bring out melodious tunes. Your will will become merged in His Will. He will work unhampered through your instruments, body, mind and Indriyas. You can rest very peacefully then without cares, worries and anxieties. You can watch the play of the universe as a Sakshi. Then your Sadhana will go on by leaps and bounds, because the Divine Will or Divine Grace itself will work through you. You need not do any Sadhana at all. But make the self-surrender from the core of your heart with all your being (Sarva Bhavana). Learn the lesson from the flute and follow its ways. If you have done complete Saranagati at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, you have already reached the realm of peace, the Kingdom of Immortality, the dominion of eternal bliss and everlasting sunshine. You have found out a joy that never fades, a life that never decays or dies. You have reached the other shore of fearlessness which is beyond darkness, doubt, grief, sorrow, pain and delusion.
O my dear children of Immortality! Lord Krishna is still roaming about in the gullies of Brindavan. Just as Lord Dattatreya is still moving about with His astral body in the reputed Girnar hills and gives Darshan even now to His sincere Bhaktas, just as Sri Jnana Dev is still moving about with his astral body in Alandi, near Poona and gives Darshan even now to his sincere devotees, so also, Lord Krishna is still moving about in Brindavan and gives Darshan to His sincere Bhaktas even now. You can find Him in the Seva Kunja in the Kunja gullies if you really want Him. He is the Brij Raj, unprecedented Monarch of the three worlds. He is waiting with outstretched hands to embrace you with His warm love in His sweet bosom as He did with Mira, Surdas and others in days of yore. Purify your mind. Destroy your evil Vasanas (subtle desires) and egoism. Hear once more the flute of the Bhansiwala, Banki-Bihari of Brindavan, His immortal Song of the Gita and allow Him to play in this body-flute of yours. Lose not this rare opportunity. It is very difficult to get this human body.
Call Him fervently with single-minded devotion and purity and sing this song of welcome. He will appear before you.
Hey Krishna Aja Bhansi Bajaja
O Lord Krishna, come to me and play Thy flute
May we hear once more the flute of Radha-Krishna, the Muraliwala of Brindavan. May we hear once more the Gita directly from His own mouth as Arjuna had heard in days of yore. May we play with Him in close intimacy and dance in divine ecstasy like the Gopis and the cowherds and merge ourselves in Him. May we eat Makhan-Misre with Him in Gokul. May we allow Lord Krishna to utilize our bodies also as His flute!
May we sing His Name—Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya—wholeheartedly like Radha and obtain His Grace which can take us to His Abode of everlasting peace and infinite bliss! May His blessings be upon us all!
Return to Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Hinduism...gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the God ward endeavor of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Santana Dharma...