Lately sufficient cultural and archaeological evidence have been gathered to point to the historicity of the personality of SriKrishna.  A skilled and wise charioteer of his name appears in the folklores of North India independent of the legendary characterization in the epic Mahabharata.  The Gita presents him as a person of critical analysis who preached his convictions boldly and powerfully.  We infer that he rebelled against the established religious dogmas of the time and enunciated a new doctrine declaring freedom from the conservatism of books and the rituals.

The message that one’s own life is the greatest educator of all must have been refreshing during the time of its declaration.  The liberating call of Individual empowerment can be considered the most scientific among all thoughts enunciated by the philosophers in the world.  We are not yet able to reconstruct the language that SriKrishna might have spoken, but from the writings in the Gita we conclude that he was strong in his conviction and forceful in his language.  It is not clear how his message was retained in the popular culture to create a faith system which is eventually depicted in the Gita. His personality and the message have defined the Indian society as we know it today.


How does a person get empowered?  A person is empowered by achieving excellence in whatever he or she does.  No action is less, yoga is excellence in action.  We do excellent work when we are in yoga.  Sri Krishna’s yoga demands that we perform our work without waiting for the results, we accept work with proper discrimination, we do not boast our individuality in our performance and we keep our mind steady while doing the action.  The Gita terms these attributes as the Karmayoga, the JnAnayga, the Bhaktiyoga and the Rajayoga.  They complement each other.   In yoga, all actions are offerings to a concept of universality, characterized by an all-pervasive spiritual entity called Brahman.


Sri Krishna’s thesis has its base on the principle that no action is personal and that everything conforms to a cause larger than what is perceived locally.  This larger cause is dharma that sustains the universe.  The basic characteristic of dharma is shAnti “peace” which is achieved when tasks are done conforming to dharma.  In the cosmic scale, all actions have a purpose while the pleasure and pain are only perceptions.  There is no win or loss, there is no victor or a loser; all actions perish in time.  The only binary mode the universe has is the difference between knowledge and ignorance; people who know the triviality of the individual ado and people who remain obsessed with such an ado.


Human beings of different characteristics and attributes are created to complement the needs in society.  Sri Krishna prescribed that each individual can pursue yoga in his or her sphere of activity.  The life’s goal is yoga and one would constantly strive to reach perfection by decimating one’s selfishness and realizing that one is indeed a small speck in the vast universe.  In the words of the Gita the phrase is vAsudevah sarvam iti, everything is indeed Vasudeva, where the latter is the birth name of SriKrishna.  The name or the object is unimportant; everything is indistinct from the other, all are same, nothing is different.  The Gita coins a term brAhmIsthiti for the state of the person for whom no object is different.


SriKrishna declares that such man is indeed a yogi who does not distinguish between a lump of gold and a piece of stone.  For a man of wisdom, there is no difference between a person of nobility and a lowly animal.  In SriKrishna’s point of view, such knowledge and wisdom are built in to each person endowed as the intellect.  He accepts the Sankhya theory of the guNa, that the latter can cloud our thoughts and we could be seriously impaired from the path of dharma. The ultimate practice of dharma is to achieve a state of nistraiguNya, a state devoid of the three guNa(s) in our living life.


Sri Krishna’s message as depicted in the Gita has been a book of code on the practice of life.  He realizes that his prescription of yoga might be difficult to practice and hence he suggests paths of therapy that can be practiced in everyday living.  The most important enemy of peace in life is desire and the practice of negating desires is a reward that an individual can give to himself or herself.  Negating desires does not mean that one becomes useless, but one does not work to benefit oneself at the cost of others.  In his view, initiating no action is better than an action not in yoga.  It is the mind that matters; we must drive our mind through our intellect and not be driven by our mind.  A clean and steady mind is achievable and is the goal.


In a sense, SriKrishna had studied the human mind and came to the conclusion that one of the principal deficiencies of the mind is one’s attachment to objects.  Attachment develops through a sense of fear that segregates people and communities.  One wants to feel locally secure in a small structure and Sri Krishna observed that such security was artificial and fallacious.  Attachment confines people and the confinement breeds jealousy.  The freedom of man is the freedom from attachment.  The positive part of the process is that everyone is a friend and no one is an enemy.  One has no pretension, one accepts everyone as a part of his or her family and treats them as he or she would like to be treated.


SriKrishna was eventually called a teacher since he devised plans for the student’s progress.  Unlike others before him or philosophers after him he taught that the student only learns by doing, hence it is the practice that is the most important exercise.  Nothing is gained without practice and so the practice must be instituted to discipline life.  Practice has to be invoked in regulating one’s food, one’s living and one’s interactions.  One needs a healthy body to cure the deficiencies in the mind.  One must understand the implication of every action in life to know if it is in the right direction.  He went a step further than Sankhya in classifying food, objects and actions in their potential guNa. Such classification and prescription becomes a faith to practice and so, Sri Krishna’s teaching has later developed to appear like a religion, though it was designed as a path to achieve purity of mind and perfection in yoga.


The important message of SriKrishna’s discovery is that mind can be unsteady and it must be restrained.  Though we may understand everything right, we act erroneously because of our mind.  SriKrishna had realized that the penetration of knowledge inside the brain to affect the mind is a very slow process and hence he devised the theory of multiple births to reach one’s destined liberation.  To the question how such a birth would be engineered he would take responsibility on himself to shut down the hypothesis.  Though rebirths and multiple lives became a part of his doctrine he believed that liberation of humans from the ties of grief is possible right here on the earth by the simple practice of detachment.


SriKrishna’s doctrine has been termed SriKrishnayoga by late Swami Sarvagatananda of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society who served students at MIT. The author of this essay had the privilege to work with the Swami and a book of the above title is published by the Advaita Press of Mayavati in the Himalayas.  The author would like to dedicate these essays on SriKrishna to the memory of the late Swami who would have been a hundred year old this year.


SriKrishna’s yoga principles were later coded by Sage Patanjali in a book called Yogasutram.  We will discuss the teachings of Patanjali in the next essays.


Let Sai bless all.

Bijoy Misra