You know, I was told that there was a difference of opinion in the house. Should we follow the study of the Gita, or should we follow the study of the Upanishads? But we'll take no ready position. We shall do both, in the sense that we shall do first the first four chapters of the Essays on the Gita. Then we shall see and review whether we can change the plan.
In any case, the Gita itself is regarded as the quintessence of the Upanishads, so the study of the Gita actually, is a kind of a study of the Upanishads. And Upanishads themselves are the quintessence of the Vedas, so you might say it is even a study of the Veda.
But you know the reason why I was truly inclined to deal with the Bhagavad Gita now was that Sri Krishna is rather too pressing. That is to say He is around us as it were and we need to deal with Him. So that is why I thought, at present, in the present state of consciousness, it is better to invite Sri Krishna and to be with Him.
Very often it is said that there is no evidence that Sri Krishna ever lived at all on the Earth – this is said about Jesus also, whether Jesus lived at all one does not know. There are legends, there are stories, but historically, whether he lived on the earth, there are people who doubt the whole idea of Sri Krishna having ever lived on this earth. They believe that Mahabharata itself is a story, a fiction, that Puranas in which Sri Krishna's life is described are all legends, symbolic stories. And this is a question which very often troubles the minds of those who would like to be in the fold of the Bhagavad Gita or Bhagavat, in the fold of the spiritual tradition of India.
Now there is no doubt about the fact that many things that are told about Sri Krishna may be legends, may be symbolic. But in the Upanishad, there is a reference to Sri Krishna. In the Chhandogya Upanishad" (Chand. U. III, 17,6) it is said, "Krishna, the son of Devaki, the pupil of Rishi Ghora who gave lesson to Krishna, who at once realised the Divine." That is a reference in the Chhangodya Upanishad. Now Chhandogya Upanishad is no legend, it’s not a fiction, therefore, there is some historical evidence of some Krishna who lived at one time and was known, so well known, that merely referring to him as "son of Devaki" (Chand. U. III, 17,6) was enough to identify that man. But most importantly, the reality of Sri Krishna is even the continuous experience of Sri Krishna through the ages. In India, we can have a galaxy of saints, who can testify that they had direct experience of Sri Krishna.
Even the Mother, who came from France and who had up to an advanced, up to 1904, had hardly any idea about India. Now when she entered into the Indian experience, she began to have the experiences. There is a very interesting conversation of the Mother in the Agenda of 1964, do you have an English translation? It is one paragraph which is very, very, interesting. This is in French, so I cannot read it out to you but Anjali has got an English translation; so I shall read out to you the paragraph, which is very interesting about Sri Krishna. She says the following: "You understand, when I was giving meditations in the hall downstairs, (Mother used to give meditations in Pondicherry, in the Ashram, for many years in a hall, below her room, so she is referring to that) You understand, when I was giving meditations in the hall downstairs, they were all there: Shiva, Krishna, all the gods of the Indian pantheon were there, seated like this in a circle, to follow the meditation." (Mother's Agenda, 4 January 1964, Vol. 5, P.18)
Now about Krishna, Mother says, "Krishna, sometimes I walked with him for hours in conversation. At night, when I was very tired from my work, he would come and sit on the edge of my bed. I would put my head on his shoulder and fall asleep. And it lasted for years, and years, and years. You know, not just once by chance."
Now, this is the experience of the Mother for years!
It is experiences of this kind – when Mirabai for example used to talk to Sri Krishna, – it was not some imaginary being or there was not some kind of hallucination when she was experiencing day after day, but it was a concrete experience of Sri Krishna. It is the concrete experience of Sri Krishna throughout the ages, we people have experienced, that gives us the basis of the reality of Krishna.
We have for example, the experience recorded by Sri Aurobindo himself. Just now, I read out the experience of the Mother of Sri Krishna, but there is a very famous speech given by Sri Aurobindo called ‘Uttarpara Speech’. Sri Aurobindo was arrested in 1908 on charge of sedition, of conspiring to blot out the British Government. That was the charge. On that charge he was put into the prison. Now, this was the period when Sri Aurobindo had already attained to Brahmic consciousness, a complete state of silence, and already he was advancing in his yoga, to such an extent that he could converse and seek guidance from the Divine directly. Now he describes his experience in the speech that he gave in 1909, after his acquittal when he was acquitted from the jail, from the whole charge of sedition. He was taken to give a lecture at Uttarpara – Uttarpara is a town in West Bengal. He went there to give a speech there, and as he was sitting to give a speech, he was directed to give an account of some of the major experiences that occurred to him in the jail. 1 would like to read out to you a few portions of this account because it gives again a very concrete proof of the experience of Sri Krishna that Sri Aurobindo himself had. He says:
"When I was arrested and hurried to the Lal Bazar hajat I was shaken in faith for a while, for I could not look into the heart of His intention. Therefore I faltered for a moment and cried out in my heart to Him, `What is this that has happened to me? I believed that I had a mission to work for the people of my country and until that work was done I should have Thy protection. Why then am I here and on such a charge?' A day passed and a second day and a third, when a voice came to me from within, 'Wait and see'. Then I grew calm and waited. I was taken from Lal Bazar to Alipore and was placed for one month in a solitary cell apart from men. There I waited day and night for the voice of God within me, to know what He had to say to me, to learn what 1 had to do. In this seclusion, the earliest realisation, the first lesson came to me. I remembered then that a month or more before my arrest, a call had come to me to put aside all activity, to go into seclusion and to look into myself, so that I might enter into closer communion with Him. I was weak and could not accept the call. My work was very dear to me and in the pride of my heart I thought that unless I was there, it would suffer or even fail and cease; therefore I would not leave it. It seemed to me that He spoke to me again and said, 'The bonds you had not the strength to break, I have broken for you, because it is not My will, nor was it ever my intention that that should continue. I have had another thing for you to do and it is for that I have brought you here, to teach you what you could not learn for yourself and to train you for My work.' Then He placed the Gita in my hands. His strength entered into me and I was able to do the sadhana of the Gita. I was not only to understand intellectually but to realise what Sri Krishna demanded of Arjuna and what He demands of those who aspire to do His work, to be free from repulsion and desire, to do work for Him without the demand for fruit, to renounce self–will and become a passive and faithful instrument in His hands, to have an equal heart for high and low, friend and opponent, success and failure, yet not to do His work negligently."[i]
[i] Sri Aurobindo, Uttarpara Speech, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry, October 1973.