Saturday, July 20, 2013

Revisiting The Images of Krishna

“Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavatibharata Abhyuthhanam Adharmasya Tadatmanam Srijamyaham Paritranay Sadhunam Vinashay Cha Dushkritam Dharm Sansthapanarthaay Sambhavami Yuge Yuge!”
"Whenever there is decay of righteousness O, Bharat! And a rise of unrighteousness then I manifest myself. For the protection of the good, for the destruc­tion of the evil and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age”

If I have come across any popular verse from the Hindu scriptures since my childhood, it has to be this from the famous ‘Bhagvad Geeta’. It is believed that Lord Krishna himself narrated all the verses to Arjuna during the epic war of Mahabharata. I had seen the posters depicting these verses in Devnagari script with the background of Krishna in his Vishwaroop (The Universal Form) in the very battleground of Kurukshetra and Arjuna bowing to him. The posters came in all shapes and sizes, a fit for almost every household. I am although talking about the late 80’s and early 90’s

I am just trying to rekindle those memories and pondering if it influenced any of my actions and what I am today. The television was introduced to India in early 80’s. To own a television (though monochrome) was a matter of prestige. There was only one channel being aired i.e. Doordarshan (or DD in short), the Indian public service broadcaster which started its service in 1982. In the late 80’s the whole population of India was smitten by Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan (the television adoption of the epic, Ramayan). People were dazed by this series and almost went into depression when it was concluded in July 1988. The extravagant ‘Mahabharata’ series came to the rescue of public in October 1988. And guess who the show stealer – Nitish Bharadwaj as Krishna!

Krishna remains the most glamorous incarnation of Lord Vishnu as per the Hindu mythology. None of his incarnations are as detailed as Krishna. Almost every detail is noted from his birth, the toddler stage, adolescent stage, the youth and becoming the King of Dwaraka. In India, almost every child is related to Krishna. At least when I was kid, I used to see many parents loving to get their kids clicked as Krishna in any nearby local photo studio.

I was also impressed equally by Krishna. I found it difficult to imitate Rama as I thought that he always carried his bow and arrows wherever he went. Krishna was easy to imitate. Just take a handkerchief, tie it around your skull and adjust the peacock feather in the hanky. You are Krishna. Uhh…don’t bother about your wardrobe.. wearing a t-shirt with “SPORTS” printed on it and an elastic short is perfectly alright. It is the peacock feather which adds glamour! I used to flaunt it almost for the whole day wandering in my locality. This gave me momentary popularity to be forgotten next moment.

Krishna though was quite a contrast to his predecessor incarnation Rama.  Rama was considered to be a perfect gentleman (Maryada Purushottam). He grew up as an obedient child, went to gurukul for acquiring knowledge, married to Seeta,respected his step mother’s wish and gave up the kingdom of Ayodhya and went into exile in forest, went in search for miles for his kidnapped wife, waged a war on the mighty kingdom of Lanka and the king Ravan and after returning to Ayodhya,finally gave up his wife since the people questioned her fidelity. In a nutshell, it is difficult to relate any of us to Rama and hence, personally, I don’t find him worth following.

Krishna is altogether a different character. Krishna was a naughty kid. He used to steal milk products (say curd, milk, butter…no cheese) from the households in Vrindavan along with his friends. . He was KNOWING everything. He used to pass time with the herd in the meadows on the banks of Yamuna river and is considered to be a master of playing flute. And everybody just loved listening to him…including many girls in the locality! There is also a reference of Krishna stealing clothes of the women who were bathing in the Yamuna river.

Suddenly every youth relates himself to Krishna. Some go to the extent that if Krishna could do that why can’t we? Remember the rhyme? – “Raas Leela” and “Character Dheela”! Further, visibility of Krishna is much higher than any other God. (Of course, nobody can beat the God of the Gods, Shiva in the visibility and follower context in India) The organizations like ISKCON had taken the visibility of Krishna to another level and hence, Krishna has a huge following even in the foreign countries.

Generally, Lord Vishnu’s two incarnations, Ram and Krishna are very popular compared to others. Ram was a very straightforward person and was stuck to his principles. On the other hand, Krishna was extremely strategic in thinking. Hence, it is generally believed that Ramayana is a good read but is the ‘Bhagvad Geeta’ which is applicable to day to day life, even to the corporate world. While Ram was a one woman man, Krishna had 16,108 wives. A common man may experience perpetual vertigo if he’s informed that he has 16,108 wives. Although 16,108 technically, Krishna actually had 8 princely wives (“Even this is a daunting number” – Common Man) and this reincarnation of Vishnu is believed to be present with all his princely wives at any given time. This is Godly!

I think we can find multiple references of Krishna and the discussion will go on. I particularly used the word ‘Images’ of Krishna instead of Krishna. Because whatever I have learnt, heard, understood thought is about the image of this God. I don’t know if he existed in Vrindavan, Gokul, Mathura. I don’t know if he was on Pandava’s side during Mahabharat and charioted Arjuna during the epic war. I don’t know if he married 16,108 girls and never sure that this epic incarnation ended with a tragedy. But yes, the images are fascinating, awe-inspiring, thought provoking….and hence this write up. J

Disclaimer - Trust nobody’s sentiments are hurt as everything written here is unintentional and a result of Brownian motion of my mind.