Sri Krishna was born in captivity, in the prison of the tyrant King Kamsa; yet through his life Krishna lived as a liberated soul, unaffected by suffering, war, desire and other human frailties. Not only was Sri Krishna a liberated soul, but he embodied the direct descent of the Absolute Supreme. Even in times of sorrow, suffering and death Krishna showed perfect equanimity; illustrating his divine unity, and complete mastery of any situation. Never a victim, always a witness; his human life brought the Divine to the aspiring Earth.
“Because I am beyond the perishable, and even beyond the imperishable,
in this world and in the Vedas I am known as "the Supreme."
One who, with a clear vision, sees Me as "the Supreme,"
knows all there is to be known; his soul is merged in Me.
- The Bhagavad Gita Ch 16
Revered even in his lifetime as an incarnation of Vishnu, Krishna offered liberation to both his friends, lovers and enemies. Anyone who called on his name with intensity was rewarded with his blessingful presence. He fulfilled the desires of his devotees, and then sublimated these desires to allow the descent of pure divine bliss.
Throughout the long period of history since the time of Krishna, there have been embellishments and myths developing around the life of Krishna, but the truth of his Divine realisation and divine manifestation have been celebrated and sung by the great Seers, Saints and Avatars that have followed Sri Krishna - the unique descent of Vishnu in human form.
What we know about the life of Krishn,a comes from two sources, the Shrimad Bhagavata and the Mahabarata. The Mahabarata deals primarily with the Battle of Kurushetra, and the epic dialogue between Krishna and his devoted disciple Arjuna. The fascinating early life of Krishna is covered in the Shrimad Bhagavata.
Krishna’s parents were the devout Vasudeva and Devaki, they both suffered imprisonment at the hands of Devaki’s tyrant brother. After Krishna’s birth, he was taken to the safety of Gokula, where he was brought up by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda.
As a child the baby Krishna delighted the villagers with his grace, beauty and innocence. But, hidden within this childlike beauty that enchanted the villagers, Krishna embodied the miraculous power’s which stemed from his own unity with the Absolute Supreme. At the age of 12, Krishna defeated his uncle Kamsa; freeing the region from his tyrannical rule, but not only did Krishna kill Kamsa; he was able to grant him liberation, because of Kamsa's one pointed focus on the life of Krishna (even though it had been constant thoughts of defeating Krishna)
From the woodlands of Vrindavan Krishna travelled to Dwaraka, his capital on the Eastern sea of India. Here he became a great leader of men helping to establish dharma in the political and cultural life of India.
Sri Krishna played an instrumental role in the great war of the Mahabarata. Although he didn’t fight, he acted as the charioteer for his devoted disciple, Arjuna. The epic conversation between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, and recorded by Sanjaya, is the source of the Bhagavad Gita. Exorting Arjuna to follow the path of righteousness, dharma and overcome man made morality, the Bhagavad Gita remains an illuming treatise on spiritual philosophy; perfectly described by Christopher Isherwood as “like a university lecture delivered by God” (2)
Sri Krishna incarnated in a time when unrighteousness prevailed, and the world was being assailed by hostile forces. He came to defeat the evil forces and bring peace to the world.
"Whenever virtue declines and unrighteousness rises, I manifest Myself as
an embodied being. To protect the good, to destroy the
evil and to establish righteousness, I am born from age to age."
- Bhagavad-Gita 4.7 and 4.8
At the time of Krishna, the ordinary people had no direct access to religion. The widom of the Vedic Seers was only studied by an elite of priests and Brahmins. The Vedic religion had been elaborated into a vast and complicated system of rituals that required learned priests to perform them. On the other hand Sri Krishna offered a path of love and devotion that could be practised without the necessity ofdeep intellectual knowledge. Sri Krishna, as an avatar, provided a conduit for aspiring seekers to reach God directly, through devotion and selfless service.
“At the end of your life, your knowledge of grammar is not going to save you, O foolish man! Therefore, adore the Supreme Lord, Govinda, for in that alone lies your salvation”
Sri Krishna’s divine Romance with the Gopi’s of Vrindavan was the great foundation for the devotional path of Bhakti. This devotional path of Vaishnavism inspired seekers throughout the centuries notably through other Saints and Masters such as Mirabai, Sri Chaitanaya, Sri Ramakrishna and many others.
An excellent biography of Sri Krishna was written by Vanamali, a contemporary Hindu mystic. This is her description of Sri Krishna:
“Thus, Lord Krishna was not only a precocious child, an invincible hero, and a mahayogi, but He was the very God Whose contact transforms even sinners into saints, ignorant men into sages, sense-bound beings into spiritual ecstatics, and even animals into devotees. Krishna is the human version of the metaphysical Satchidananda Brahman (existence-consciousness-bliss) of the Upanishads.”
- Vanamali (1)
By: Richard P.
(1 +2) The Play of God - Visions of the Life of Krishna By: Vanamali
(3) Bhagavad Gita at Sacred Texts by Edwin Arnold
(4) Bhagavad Gita.org Bhagavad Gita Trust
(5) Bhagavad Gita at Tribute to Hinduism - comments and quotes on the Gita
(6) Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Sri Chinmoy
(7) Message Light of Bhagavad Gita Aphorisms on Bhagavad Gita by Sri Chinmoy