Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (September 2000, Super School Auroville) - Track 3

Krishna was personally related to all the Pandavas in a relationship of family. So that Krishna and Arjuna were cousins. Krishna was as you know, the story of Krishna is very famous, but I'll tell you only three things about him. First of all, he was exiled right at the time of his birth from Mathura to Brindaban. There were two towns very near each other. He was born in a jail because his father and mother were jailed by the king of Mathura.

And the King was going to kill him at the birth. There is a long story about it and I won't go into that story just now, but in order to escape from this terrible fate the father of Krishna took him away from the jail stealthily and put him in the hands of a very close relative and friend in Brindavan. Both these towns exist even today − Mathura and Brindavan. The childhood of Krishna was spent in Brindavan. And this childhood was something very special in the history of the world. The stories of his childhood have created a religion in India called a devotional religion of Vaishnavism, which is largely centered upon the childhood of Krishna. This religion considers Krishna to be the incarnation of God. Now, all incarnations of God do not manifest the special qualities of an Avatar, of an incarnation in childhood, but in the case of Krishna, it was different. Right from his childhood there was something sublime, sweet, supreme, majestic, glorious. The foster mother of Krishna, her name was Yashoda and the foster father was Vasudeva. That is why his son Krishna was called Vasudeva.

Vasudeva being the father's name the son was Vasudeva. So there is another name of Sri Krishna − Vasudeva. The relationship between Krishna and Yashoda and the pranks of childhood of Krishna have been immortalized in the history of India and the world. In one particular instance when Krishna was supposed to have eaten butter by stealing it and when Yashoda was scolding him and when he said he had not eaten the butter the mother asked him to open his mouth and saw the whole universe in his mouth. This is one of the very important incidents in the life of Krishna in his childhood. The second aspect of his life was his relationship with a number of gopis. The word gopi means the woman who looks after cows. Since Brindavan was of small village, a village of farmers basically and since farming was dependent upon bulls and cows, there was a huge population of cows in the village and many men and practically every woman in the village looked after the cows. So one who protects the cows is called gopa, the woman who looks after the cows, protects the cows, is called gopi. Now this young boy Krishna was, so charming, so wonderful, and such a great expert in music, particularly playing of the flute, that he was constantly surrounded by these women and although there was a great quarrel between the gopis and Krishna, the gopis could not live without him and there was a constant interchange between them. And the stories of these interchanges are again an unforgettable chapter in the life of Krishna and of India. Among them was one whose name was Radha. She was an elderly woman and Krishna was a younger boy, but the relationship and the love between the two was so great that Radha had recognized that Krishna was not a mere boy, but the Divine himself and her whole life was surrender to him; in fact, it is said that the greatest surrender in the history of the world is the surrender of Radha to Krishna. So that if you want to learn what surrender means one must study Radha and follow Radha's example. You must have seen in Auroville a flower called Radha's Consciousness. I don't know if you've seen some blue little flower, (Pardon?) dark blue. It's a beautiful flower. If you smell it, you will enter into the state of surrender of Radha. You make an experiment. So this is the second aspect of Krishna's childhood. First was the relationship of Krishna with his mother Yashoda; second is his relationship with gopis and Radha; and third was his relationship with his comrades and people of Brindavan. And there are many great stories as to how Krishna even as a young boy came to the rescue of the people of Brindavan in very trying times and circumstances. When there was an outpouring of rain, and there was a flood and men and women and cows and bulls and creatures found no place, it is said that he himself lifted a mountain so as to give protection to all the people. When there was a poisonous snake in the river or in the pool of water, which was emitting poison in the water so that if people drank the water they would die, he plunged into the river and ensured that the snake would leave the entire pool. And many such other events which occurred in which Krishna was seen by the people of Brindavan as not only special but as Divine. And Sri Aurobindo himself has said that Sri Krishna was indeed the Incarnation of the Divine. So his whole life had a mission and that mission was to lead mankind from subjection to the rule of evil, injustice, cruelty oppression to a new level of existence where people would be ruled by kindness, by justice, by truthfulness − a new order of existence. In other words the time in which Krishna was living was a time in which the battle between the good and the evil had come to a very acute point of struggle. We have seen about Duryodhana. He was one of the principal agents of the forces of oppression and Injustice. Yudhisthira was the other one on the side of the right and justice. And therefore the followers of one and the followers of the other, they were in a tremendous struggle; each one trying to have victory over the other. Now, one of the peculiarities of Krishna's life was that right from his early boyhood he made a deep study of the condition of the country. If you read the whole story of Mahabharata the one thing that comes out is that Krishna had the acutest knowledge of all the important people of India he knew the strength of each one, the weakness of each one. He knew who were the friends of whom. He knew the geography of India so well; he could act as a charioteer. To be a charioteer as you know requires a great knowledge of geography. In fact, in Mahabharata in the war he was selected as a charioteer. One of the greatest in every field, he was still also a very great charioteer and he accepted the task of a charioteer very gladly and we shall see later on how important it was that he was a charioteer at the time of the war. In his knowledge, he had marked out a few individuals who would be central to the development of India and he knew that Arjuna was one of the greatest of his times and  he had established a very close association with Arjuna. It was not only because of the personal familial relationship but also because Krishna knew the mission that was to be fulfilled and the role that Arjuna would play. It was on that basis the relationship had grown between the two. You might say he was a chosen instrument of the Divine and that is the greatness of Arjuna, to be chosen by the Divine for a great divine work. At one stage of his life on a certain occasion, because of a certain thing that he did for which the punishment was exile. And for 12 years he went out in exile, personal exile, alone; wandering about and spent several years only in tapasya in a great experience of austerity, particularly to please the great Lord Shiva and he received a boon from Shiva as a result of this tapasya, a boon which helped him tremendously in later times; particularly the time of Mahabharata war. He wandered also in India at that time and spent some time also with Krishna who was by that time in Dwarka. I don't know if you heard the word Dwarka, even now this small town exists. If you have seen the map of India, I'm sure all of you have seen the map of India, no? The most important part − this is now become Pakistan. Yes, Dwarka is here in the map of India, on the western coast. So Krishna who was born in Mathura near Delhi, who was taken to Brindavan very near Mathura, had migrated over here. And it was here, there was a big Kingdom and he was worshipped as a ruler of Dwarka. Therefore Krishna is also known as Dwarkadhisha. Dwarkadhisha means the Lord of Dwarka. So Arjuna during his time of exile went to Dwarka also and spent a good deal of time in Dwarka with Krishna. Arjuna also married the sister of Krishna called Subhadra. This name is important because later on she herself played a great role in the Mahabharata war. So you can see again at closer relationship between Krishna and Arjuna. So not only was Arjuna great in the art of warfare, not only was he possessed of sattvic nature − pursuit of knowledge, pursuit of Dharma, pursuit of Harmony, pursuit of the right, these were his special qualities but also the achievement of a relationship with the incarnate God. One of the closest friends of Krishna was Arjuna and that was his position that he aquired in the relationships. Arjuna was therefore called by Sri Krishna as Vibhuti. What is the Vibhuti? Vibhuti is an individual who manifests a great power of the Divine, an aspect of the Divine, and uses that divine power either to obstruct divine work or to promote divine work, but ultimately always to promote divine work, even by obstructing. A great manifestation, very special manifestation, a personality which is superhuman that is Vibhuti. All incarnations of God are Vibhutis but not vice versa. All Vibhutis are not incarnations of God, one maybe a vehicle of divine power, but not himself a divine. Incarnation is God himself in the human body so Arjuna was not incarnation of God like Krishna. Krishna was the incarnation of God, but Arjuna was a great manifestation of the power of God. He had reached in his evolution up to a point where he was ready for a very great achievement. So the veil of ignorance could be torn off from his eyes and he could see the Divine face-to-face. He was on the brink of that achievement. I am telling you about this because this knowledge about Arjuna is very important before we read the question that he raises in this episode, which we are going to discuss at length.