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Krishn and Raam's Character

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Krishn and Raam's Characters

Indian history has two great heroes or leaders to choose from - Raam and Krishn.

Vaalmeekiís Raam represents idealism;  While Vyaasí Krishn represents realism.
Perhaps Krishn is the best example of a leader as a catalyst available in the whole world literature. He has no interests, no position and no power. Yet on almost all important occasions, when great events occur in Mahaabhaarat, He is present there. He does nothing, only his presence makes things happen. The word Krishn means center, He is the center of attraction, He is the center of activities. He stands for certain values of life and wants to destroy all those who make others suffer. Unlike Raam He doesnít try to walk on a straight line. He makes His own way, He deviates from His way when it is situationally appropriate.

While Raam is a character,  While Krishn is an actor.
Krishn involves Himself without being involved. He Himself does not do anything but is a catalyst energizing others into action. He refuses to circumscribe his life with ideas and ideals. For him life is larger than all ideas and ideals put together. In fact His all ideas and ideals are for life; not that life is for them. Itís the same mind that gives rise to both good and evil, virtue and vice. Both aspects are different transformations of one and the same energy. Krishn doesnít deny these dualities. A mirror reflects everything that appears before it, but unlike a camera, it doesnít retain impressions. A man of mirror-like consciousness will relate with people and things, but He wonít enter into any kind of relationships involving attachment.

Raam is a doer; He acts for his ideals and is therefore called Marayaadaa Purshottam While Krishn on the other hand, is an incomparable actor.
He turns the whole world into His stage. He plays a friend and a foe without being involved in friendship and enmity. That is why Krishn is called Leelaa Purushottam. He does only Leelaa (acting). He accepts all contradictions and ambiguities of life. He isnít afraid of them. That is why Heís called complete incarnation or Poorn Avataar. Krishnís mission of life was to uphold Dharm. His whole life is like an open book. He wears no mask. Whatever He is, He is. He doesnít deny anything; He is transparent. Itís true that life is full of contradictions and absurdities. To Krishn all that doesnít justify escapism. He does what is situationally appropriate. Since itís not possible to remain a mere witness, itís better to act with complete self-knowledge and moral courage.

Creative Destruction
Thereís one event in Mahaabhaarat, which generally doesnít catch popular attention: the burning of the Khaandav forest. When Duryodhan had failed in killing Paandav at Baaranaavat, Dhritraashtra was forced to give them half of his kingdom. he kept Hastinaapur to himself and his sons, and gave a little-known town Khaandav Prasth to the Paandav. On a hot summer day, some younger members of the Paandav family with Krishnís family went for a picnic to the nearby Khaandav forest. There they drank, sang and danced. Suddenly everyone saw that the forest caught fire and Krishn and Arjun together guarded the forest from all sides so tightly that no creature could flee from the blaze. Furiously driving their chariots, the two slaughtered everything in sight. Fire consumed almost all vegetation and life. Itís not known how the fire really started. But, the question remains: why Krishn and Arjun acted so ruthlessly and so mercilessly? Of course, the Paandav were planning to build Indra Prasth, a city bigger than Hastinaapur, which they did. And, they may also be trying to fulfill the duty of a ruling king to provide more land for cultivation. Forests had to be cleared for human settlement and entire region made rich and fertile.

Swadharm, as ordained by Swabhaav, Krishn makes a distinction between ends and means. Ends can be idealistic but if means are absolutely pure, they will soon become ends and the distinction between ends and means will disappear. Is a pure end ever fully achieved? Itís always there as an ideal. Often at times the problem is to choose between a greater evil and a lesser evil. If itís found necessary Krishn breaks his own vows. In the MBH history, it has happened three times -

(1) Violating the Kshatriya code, he once even ran away from the battlefield when Jaraasandh attacked Mathuraa (and at that time He was called Ranachhod = who has abandoned battlefield) because discretion could sometimes be a better part of valor.
(2) When MBH was going to take place
His elder brother, Balaraam, decided to remain neutral in the battle at Kuru Kshetra, but Krishn knew that great issues were at stake. He was also aware that both sides looked at Him as a friend. Neither side was totally right nor totally wrong. The way He divided Himself is indeed admirable and may be said that it was in an extraordinary way. He told both Arjun and Duryodhan they had two options : He or His army. Itís obvious if one is anxious for victory he wouldnít choose Krishn without his army and, more so when He Himself says that He wouldnít fight. Krishn intelligently provided the first choice to Arjun and Arjun chose Him because he knew that He was a great strategist, at one moment a sober statesman, but very often also the shrewd manipulator bent upon achieving His purpose irrespective of means employed. He knew that even His presence was more important than His participation. And it was true He manipulated the killings of all outstanding warriors of the Kauravís army.
At another time, when Duryodhan and Arjun came to ask for His help, He had already indicated that He would not take up any weapon during the war, but when He saw that Bheeshm was killing Paandav army like anything, He asked Arjun to kill Bheeshm but Arjun could not kill him. Seeing this He got angry and ran towards him carrying a wheel of a broken chariot. It happened not only once, but twice. Thus for a good cause Krishn broke even His promise (just for information Bheeshm could not do it, he kept his vow. Perhaps if Bheeshm had broken his vow the situation of the family must have been different).

An individualís sacrifice for the sake of the family, a sacrifice of the family for the sake of the community, a sacrifice of the community for the sake of the nation, are the widening grades of sacrifices, and with each sacrifice is widening the greater fulfillment of the collective life of humanity promoted.

A few other issues are also involved here. How do we destroy evil. Was the killing of Duryodhan justified? I think most of us would agree (if we agree that Duryodhan was evil) killing of Duryodhan in whatever means is justified. There is nothing wrong in taking out a thorn with thorn, poison with poison. That was the price paid for enduring peace.


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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 02/22/13