Shri Krishna: The Essence
Since time immemorial, existence, sustenance, and destruction of the universe have been reflected upon by myriad philosophers and poets, with the most intriguing question being: what is the purpose of life. Every thinking mind has, at one point or another, wondered why, at all, one is born if, eventually, one has to die — what is the soul’s ultimate goal?
Every activity that we mortal beings indulge in is pursuing a desire. We are perpetually thirsty for something, be it a material object like food, an expensive car or simply a state of mind promising peace, comfort, and happiness. Ironically, it is an ever-increasing thirst. Even when we have successfully conquered one desire, another is waiting to overpower our minds and direct our senses towards its fulfilment. This unquenchable thirst certainly stems from the ignorant belief that we are separate from the Divine.
After fulfilling a desire, one feels happy, whereas one suffers if one fails to grasp the desired object. The root of every suffering is desire. But what is the source of fascination? In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that He is the root of all desire. Every desire arises from Shri Krishna and finally merges into Him. He is the only one capable of quelling this seemingly never-ending thirst in all beings. He strengthens every desire we consciously or subconsciously harbour. If we desire an expensive car for quite a long time, the Lord finally gives it to us. If we want God, the Lord finally gives Himself to us. But how many of us single-mindedly crave God to leave everything else behind.
After lifetimes of suffering and repetitive cycles of death and rebirth, a time comes when a spiritually oriented being stops deriving pleasure from anything material and turns inward, wherein a greater consciousness and supreme existence await its realisation by the Grace of the Divine.
One seeks a constant union with the Godhead, which transpires through the descent of the Divine. There occurs a transcendence from mortal imperfection to a divine perfection of being. Sri Aurobindo explains the Divine as Supra-mental truth consciousness — oneness — seeing Shri Krishna as the eternal essence of everything and everyone. The dancer and the dance become one.
Thoughts shape our destinies. A quote by Gautama Buddha says, “We are what we think.” Consciously or subconsciously, we become whoever or whatever is our object of contemplation. Sri Aurobindo was one such dignified soul who contemplated upon Shri Krishna to realise the Divine within Himself.
Whenever we come across a symbol, a letter or a word, the brain tries to interpret it using the languages we already know. The brain performs this activity without our conscious intervention or effort. However, Shri Krishna is formless and without attributes. So how does one begin to comprehend that which is incomprehensible, eternal, and limitless?
Shri Krishna is an ocean — the largest and the deepest ocean that exists. He eludes time and space constraints as He lies beyond everything we have ever experienced, perceived, sensed, and cognised. His glimpse can be had only by the most fortunate amongst us who possess enough courage to navigate the tricky waters of the innermost being. The turbulence of the storms does not bewilder genuine seekers. Those who realise Shri Krishna as their underlying reality know His presence as the undivided organic unity of existence that remains at the root of all worldly phenomena. He is known as the essence of everything that exists.
The sonnet Krishna is a lucid exposition of Shri Aurobindo’s experience as he got enlightened. Before we delve into understanding the poem, it is essential to know that Shri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo are the same at a spiritual level. In her childhood, while meditating, Mother had seen the form of Shri Krishna identical to that of Sri Aurobindo in her visions. This incident occurred even before she met him, and Sri Aurobindo had later attested that he had met her in her childhood. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo can be considered an incarnation of Shri Krishna.
May we all read the sonnet with utmost sincerity and seek the blessings of the Almighty to lead us as we walk the path of salvation.
In the sonnet “Krishna,” Sri Aurobindo writes of his experience of meeting Shri Krishna. When Grace falls upon Shri Aurobindo, and the descent of the Divine takes place, he becomes capable of realising the true purpose of his life — the meaning of his soul’s birth into this universe that bestows upon it both sweet and sour experiences. He refers to the understanding that dawns upon him when he comes face to face with the supreme Godhead. He aptly describes himself as a representative of all the beings on earth seeking the golden bliss at the lotus feet of Shri Krishna, which is beyond the heavens. In Srimad Bhagavad Purana, a sage descended from heaven and practised penance for seven days on the earth to attain oneness with Shri Krishna. Human life has immense potential for achieving spiritual greatness.
When one realises the Self, one becomes aware of the ever-shining Self’s blissful essence, which is nothing but Truth, Existence and Bliss. A sense of intense rapture enveloped Sri Aurobindo when he beheld the lotus eyes of Shri Krishna — the eyes of the immortal supreme Being that transcends time — that who is beyond birth and death — that who is the truth of our very existence. Even Shri Krishna loves each of us and eagerly waits for our realisation, and hence his flute is called the Lover’s flute. Shri Krishna is also the eternal Lover, and Divine is the purity of his love for Radha. In a spiritual sense, Radha represents all the mortals who wish to unite with their immortal counterpart, Krishna. The passion of the Lover’s flute refers to the Divine Leela. The Lord spins this web of a world out of nothingness. The blessed soul of Shri Aurobindo is bathing in eternal joy, and sorrows have come to an end forever. Radha is the pleasure-potency, and Krishna is Anandamaya eternally in pleasure-potency. For the manifestation of pleasure, Krishna creates many out of the one. One cannot enjoy it alone. One needs an object for enjoyment and hence is built the entire cosmos.
As the loving music of Shri Krishna’s flute becomes more palpable — as it reverberates through his sundry veins, the entire being of Sri Aurobindo — his whole world is imbued with happiness. Such is the blessing of the Graceful Lord. It seems to him that the whole of nature was still — eager for Shri Krishna’s love and Grace. He can see himself as pure stillness itself. The entire creation of the Lord wants to be touched by the Supreme Grace, to be held and healed as by a mother’s warm embrace, but most significantly to be — to dwell in its own eternally blissful existence.
Towards the end, Sri Aurobindo reflects upon the wonder that man spends so many ages realising his true nature. His enthralling experience of the union with the supreme divinity Shri Krishna fills one with a deep sense of awe and a thirst for the Supreme, which stings and burns more brightly than ever before.