Mahaabhaarat | Krishn


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Krishn is not only Gopee's Kanhaiyaa, Yashodaa's Kaanhaa and Gop's Sakhaa, he is much more than them. He has come in this world with some good qualities to improve it. We refer to Krishn mentioned in Chhaandogya Upanishad as Devakee-Putra and not Krishn of Rig Ved (1.116.23) or Krishn of Kausheetakee Brahm (30.9) or Aitareya Aaranyak (3.26). We consider Krishn as a synergetic deity of four - Naaraayan, Vishnu, Vaasudev and Gopaal. Krishn has been ruling the hearts of millions for a long time. His Avataaar was for establishing righteousness (Dharm) on a firm foundation. Below are given some of the qualities of His character.

Krishn's Character
See also   Krishn's Character

He was concerned for the underprivileged
The care He took of the cowherds, his curing Kubjaa of her deformity, His protecting the honor of Draupadee and his bestowing the wealth to Kuchelaa indicate his care for the weak.

His Valor
He was the strongest and the greatest warrior of His time. The demons and tyrants He vanquished are many. See the list

His Scholarship
The three Geetaa - Bhagvad Geetaa, Anu-Geetaa and the Uddhav Geetaa speak of his scholarship in the Vaidik lore. Everybody knows His Bhagvad Geetaa. It has been translated in more than 150 languages.

His Intelligence
He was so intelligent and his intuition and common sense are legendary. His peace mission to Duryodhan on behalf of paandav, His negotiation with Karn and several steps He took to bring success to the Paandav in the war are too famous.

His Selflessness
After killing Kans and Jaraasandh, He could have usurped their kingdoms, but He did not do that. He gave them to Ugrasen and Sahadev. He never owned any kingdom.

His Tolerance
The patience he showed before killing Shishupaal indicates how cool He could be amidst provocation. He was indeed Yogeshwar.

His Powers
Bhaagavat Puraan narrates several instances of His extraordinary powers. Giving a vision of Vishnu to Akroor, His curing Kubjaa-Trivakra, bringing back His Guru's dead son, showing Devakee her dead sons after many years, bringing back Braahman's dead son back, give life to Pareekshit, are some examples.

His Dynamism
From birth till the end of His life, He was always active and dynamic, but always in the interest of others - not for Himself.

Modern Outlook
When He felt that a particular practice is out of time, He had no hesitation to modify it. He stopped the worship of Indra and started worshipping cows and the Govardhan hill. He agreed to be a charioteer to  Arjun although that was considered menial job (Soot's job) at that time.

His Human Nature
His beauty, enchanting music, sweet words and simple logic could enslave anybody. He was naturally considered Purushottam.

Charges Against Krishn

Some of the incidents of Krishn's life, both in His childhood and in adult life, have been criticized. Some of them have been appreciated while others have been criticized. Here are those incidents which are criticized ---

(1) Bhaagvat’s Gopee Vastra Haran
This is an urban view of morality. In the villages the bathing was in public tanks. Women had their separate, shallower Ghaat. Children went to the women’s part. What Bhaagavat describes it, it is a wholly enjoyable childish prank. In the slower life of the villages there is a greater degree of awareness. Slow rural life allowed a lot of light hearted banter between the sexes. Much of it was innocent and pleasant. It removed the tension that prevails in the urban relationships of the modern times.

The stories as depicted in Mahaabhaarat and Bhaagvat are the basis for any charge against him. These pertain to his relationship with Gopee and his tricks in the war against Kaurav. Bhaagvat’s Gopee Vastra Haran and Raas Leelaa are the major incidents commented upon. The first incident is not mentioned in Vishnu Puraan and Harivansh whereas Raas Leelaa is mentioned in all the three.

Gopee were Kumaaree in the pre-puberty age group and Krishn himself was seven at that time. So, it is foolish to attribute any sexuality. Moreover, the girls were doing the Kaatyaayinee Vrat to get Krishn as their husband. This type of worship is recognized as Kantaa Bhaav or Madhuraa Bhaav (lover's emotions). (Incidentally, it may be mentioned that this is present in Christianity and Soofism also). What is intended here is the symbolic of total surrender of the Jeev to God. We should study the incident in the proper perspective. The Gopee stories are poetical fancies of later writers (Not at the time of MBH). Many mystics have cultivated this type of love towards the divine.  Aandaal, Akkaa Mahaadevee, Meeraa Baaee, are well known mystics. Gopee remained faithful to their husbands although they loved God. Even their husbands had no objections.

(2) Raas Leelaa
Raas Leelaa describes female delusion. Krishn was an attractive child and lovable lad. Every female developed a “crush” for Him. Each woman in the gathering thought that she was dancing with Krishn. This was the earliest recognition that females have sexual delusion as much as men. Even some Indian and other women who went the whole distance with their delusions. Human sexuality is different from the animal instinct. The face and intellect (not the genitals or the hormones) guide the human instinct and emotion.

(3) His 16008 wives really represent 16 parts of the human personality
These women were captives of Narakaasur. They were “comfort women”. After Krishn had killed Narakaasur, He freed them and asked their wish as what did they want. They all said together that they wanted to marry Krishn. Krishn sent them to Dwaarakaa and married them all in the same Muhoort. Thus Krishn married them all to give them respectability at their will - nothing more.

Men are classified into three groups - the ordinary people, Jeevan Mukt, and Eeshwar. No Super-Dhaarmik doings of Eeshwar can be followed by any ordinary people. His 16008 wives really represent 16 parts of the human personality with which the Jeevaatmaa is associated - 5 organs of perception, 5 organs of action, 5 vital airs and the 16th is mind. In the ultimate analysis the Jeevaatmaa is identical with Paramaatmaa Krishn is depicted as having 16 (000) wives.

Criticized Actions of Krishn in the MBH war

Krishn's Tricks in the War Against Kaurav
The MBH war was not for justice, if the conventions were anything to go by, on Kaurav side. The logic of the situation was simple. Paandav were not Paandu’s children. They were the children of Paandu’s wives by the Gods. They were not in the Kuru's blood line and hence were not entitled for anything. Unfortunately for the Kaurav, the Paandav were the only creative ones. The epic highlights this by the example of Indra Prasth which apparently was an architectural wonder using unknown materials (like glass). Duryodhan got fooled seeing that and Draupadee earned his wrath by laughing at him. The MBH war was for creative values and the future of human civilization. Normal rules did not apply here.

War actions are most of the instant and just to win the war or to take revenge of some previous illogical action. Pearl harbor shall be paid for by Hiroshima. Stalingrad by carpet bombing, Godhra by Gujaraat. War is the result of raw emotions. Wars are fought when morality breaks down. There is no sense in invoking morality in wars. In war one either kills or gets killed. Most people prefer the first option. It is said "everything is fair in love and war".

(1) The Bheeshm Episode
The first episode was of Bheeshm. In fact he got himself caught in a web of his own creation. His heart was with Paandav but his pledge to Satyavatee’s father held him prisoner of Satyavatee. He had to fight for Duryodhan as the heir of Satyavatee was Duryodhan through Vyaas. Krishn’s strategy was to put the transvestite Shikhandee to stand on Arjun's chariot. Bheeshm could not fight against a ‘ former woman”. Krishn had no other alternative except this, because no other person could defeat him, nor he could be killed by anybody.

Bheeshm was fighting fiercely and Arjun, because of his love to the his grandfather was not putting his best efforts. So, Krishn had to encourage and arouse Arjun to fight well. The only method to do that was to take the weapon Himself, although He had taken a vow not to take weapons in the war, but to arouse Arjun He took His Chakra and ran towards Bheeshm to kill him Himself. This made Arjun to come running to Krish to stop Him to break His vow. Bheeshm himself was a Krishn devotee and he had taken another vow that he would make Krishn take up a weapon. So, Krishn served two purposes by taking the Chakra - one to arouse Arjun and two, to fulfill His Bhakt Bheeshm's vow.

(2) The Jayadrath Episode
The second episode is of Jayadrath. This was because of Abhimanyu's killing. Abhimanyu deserved a better treatment and more consideration than he got at the hands of all the scoundrels including Drone. Jayadrath, the Sindhu king was the brother-in-law of the Kaurav and was a wicked person.

Jayadrath had abducted Draupadee once. He was primarily responsible for the murder of the innocent Abhimanyu deceitfully and against all norms. Arjun had taken vow to kill him the very next day before sunset and if he could not kill him as per his vow before darkness fell on that day, he would immolate himself. Krishn, by His Yaugik power (not by the Discus) created darkness so that Jayadrath came out of his security and Arjun could kill him. Krishn thus helped the establishment of Dharm even by going out of the way but it was entirely justified.

In my opinion Drone was the real killer of Abhimanyu, because when all the Mahaarathee were not able to kill him and he was also killing lots of Kaurav army, Karn got scared of his bravery. He went to Drone and told him that one has to do something to kill Abhimanyu otherwise he would kill all the Kaurav army. Then he asked drone if he would tell him the way to kill him. Drone told him that Abhimanyu could not be killed till he had his bow and arrow in his hand. Secondly he cannot be killed from front, one has to kill him from his back. Then only Karn broke Abhimanyu's bow from behind. If Drone had not told Karn the way to kill him, nobody could kill him. That is why his real killer was Drone not Jayadrath, and the other was Dushaasan's son who really killed him.

(3) The Drone Episode
The third episode is of Drone. He was a gold-digger. He could have walked out at Draupadee's disrobing. His so-called loyalty was a contrived justification of his lack of scruples. A man who demanded the right thumb from an archer and he did get it (from Eklavya) deserved to be killed by any means. He was as jealous and as unscrupulous as Kaikeyee and fully deserved his fate.

There is a popular belief that Bheem killed an elephant by the name Ashwatthaamaa and Krishn made Yudhishthir to utter a lie to Drone about the death of Ashwatthaamaa, Drone’s son. The verse which tells this has been found to be a later insertion and has been dropped by several scholars including VS.Sukthankar (see Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune). It is obviously so because the story continues to say that Drone did not lay down his bow immediately after that but he laid down only after the several sages like Vishwaaamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaaj, Gautam, Atri, Vashishth, Brighu etc, arrived and advised Drone against using the Brahmaastra against innocent people and to renounce the weapons. They also told him that he was doing things against his Braahman Dharm and that he should take up to spiritual path. It was after this that he retired and sat in meditation at which instance Drishtadyumn beheaded him. Neither Yudhishthir, Bheem nor Krishn did any thing wrong.

(4) The Karn Episode
The fourth episode is of Karn's episode. Long after Krishn, Chaanakya codified the prewar strategy as Saam (pacification), Daam (control), Bhed (create schism) and Dand (punishment). When Duryodhan refused the offer of peace in spite of Krishn’s best efforts, as a last effort, Krishn tried to avoid the unfortunate war by telling Karn the secret of his birth. He tried to alienate (Bhed) Karn from Duryodhan. He was the most feared warrior on Kaurav side by revealing the secret of his birth. Karn was an honest warrior. Both Kuntee and life had been harsh to him. Life’s course could not be reversed, so he had to make the amendment with Kuntee, he promised to her - “Your all five sons will be alive, either Arjun or me.” Duryodhan was more successful with Maadree’s brother Shalya. He made Shalya to fight against his own nephews. If Karn had taken Krishn’s advice, the war could be avoided and both the Paandav and Kaurav could have lived in peace with half kingdom each. This was possible because Karn was Duryodhan’s best friend and main source of strength. Karn’s refusal to accept Krishn’s advice made the difference and the entire clan perished. Krishn’s attempt was laudable from this angle.

Karn Parv gives a detailed narration of the rebuttal given by Krishn when Karn questioned on the method adopted. When Kaurav adopted all deceitful methods like poisoning Bheem, trying to burn the Paandav in the Lac house, molesting Draupadee, cheating them in the game of dice etc., Karn had abetted the Kaurav, so he had lost all claims to Dharm. Karn himself accepts the logic and dies while he was taking out the wheel of his chariot..

(5) Gadaa Yuddh of Bheem and Duryodhan
At the time of the Gadaa Yuddh between Duryodhan and Bheem. When Duryodhan was getting the upper hand in Gadaa Yuddh with Bheem, Arjun on a suggestion by Krishn made a sign to Bheem of his vow to break Duryodhan’s thigh. If this was not done, Dharm would suffer and Duryodhan’s A-Dharm would perpetuate.

Like these, it is clear to see the reasons why Krishn behaved in the way He did; and why He advised Paandav the way He advised as an advisor. His purpose was restoration of Dharm and vanquishing the A-Dharm. Small procedural irregularities in order to achieve a major objective are acceptable. They are like amputating an unhealthy limb in order to save a whole life.

One Good Action of Krishn

There was only one good action of Krishn which if Duryodhan agreed, could stop the war; and that was His going to Hastinaapur as a Peace Messenger and He played His role there with full sincerity. It was only Duryodhan's bad luck that he did not agree on giving even 5 villages to Paandav. This was the only time and the best time when the war could be stopped, but...

(6) Raadhaa Concept

I do not accept Christian doctrine of lechery and adultery by lustful thought. Platonic love is a common failure among humans.

Here is a quote from "Encyclopedia of Hinduism" by Swaamee Harshananda - "... ...Raadha is nowhere to be seen in the four well known sources of Krihn story: Mahaabhaarat, Harivansh, Vishnu Puraan amd Bhaagvat Puraan. There is a reference in Bhaagvat Puraan (10.30.25) to a fortunate Gopee who had gone alone with Krishn just before Raas Kreedaa. The words used here - "Anayaaraadhitah (being propitiated by her) might have provided the seeds for the later concept of Raadhaa as the Gopee dearest to Krishn."

The story of Raadhaa in detail appears in the Krishn Janma Khaand of Brahm Vaivart Puraan - a late work. She is described here as Krishn's Shakti or power having emerged out of Krishn. It is perhaps the poet Jayadev that has immortalized her through his well known lyric Geet Govind. Bangaal Vaishnavism nourished by Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu and others has given her a unique place in Krishn theology and metaphysics. "It is plausible that the Prakriti Pradhaan)mother nature) of the earlier Saankhya system of philosophy has gradually got metamorphosed into Raadhaa personality of the later Vaishnav Schools of theology.


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Created by Sushma Gupta On 03/09/02
Modified on 03/23/13