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Reflections on Krishna Consciousness on Janmashtami

By S N Sahu | PUBLISHED: 07, Sep 2023, 10:17 am IST | UPDATED: 07, Sep 2023, 10:22 am IST

Reflections on Krishna Consciousness on Janmashtami Swami Vivekananda while delivering several lectures on Bhagavat Gita in the USA explained that before the advent of Lord Krishna there used to be internecine conflicts among different sects founded in quest for divinity. All those lectures are compiled in a book “Thoughts on Gita” and published by Ramakrishna Mission. He argued that those sects fought among themselves and caused much bloodshed. For instance sects based on Karma Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Gyan Yoga and Bhakti Yoga remained engaged in violent conflicts to purse their goals. In the process he said much hatred and conflicts were generated  among themselves. Such bloodshed was committed to establish supremacy of one sect over another.  

Diverse Approcahes to Divinity  

Swamiji stated that that was the backdrop against which Lord Krishna advocated reconciliation of diverse approaches to divinity when He said in the Gita that whatever path one flowed it would lead to realisation of God. In many of his speeches Swami Vivekananda asserted that in reconciling diverse approaches to divinity Lord Krishna became the first prophet to make the adherents of manifold paths for spirituality equal. It was quite revolutionary to proclaim equality for adherents of all sects and schools of thought. In that sense He was underlining the point that there was no scope for fanaticism in approaches to pursue one's faith and belief. Such an approach of Lord Krishna underlined an inclusive approach which celebrated relevance of diverse approaches to pursue truth.  

Emphasis on Dialogue

The second aspect of Krishna consciousness deals with dialogue which was brilliantly manifested in the engagement of Lord Krishna with Arjuna in the stormy battle field to reason out the imperative necessity of duty when Arjun expressed his reluctance to fight the war against his own kith and kin. While Arjuna took the stand that he would not kill his own relatives and wreck havoc to win kingdom and territory, Lord Krishna stressed on performance of duty on the part of Arjuna regardless of consequences he would confront. Professor Amartya Sen said that none could say that Lord Krishna was right and Arjuna was wrong and vice versa. 

He then maintained that truth lies somewhere in between and some truth was there in the stand of both Lord Krishna and Arjuna.  In other words truth lies in diverse approaches and so plurality of approaches should be a critical imperative to realise truth and divinity.

Krishna consciousness means dialogue and engagement. Lord Krishna through dialogue eventually persuaded Arjuna to perform duty. Professor Amartya Sen in his book "Idea of Justice" invokes dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna and outlines the relevance of dialogue as a method for deepening public reasoning to ensure justice to people. Professor Sen argues that the idea of justice could be taken forward not only by pursuing western  thoughts and intellectual tradition but by a plurality of factors which should include ideas from non-western intellectual tradition.  

Stress on Abstract Level of Identity

When Lord Krishna told Arjun that he was the soul and not just body and mind He was talking about multiple identities of people and how often people remain alienated from their identity based on soul and remained fixated to the identities based on body or narrow categories. In taking Arjun to the level of soul he made him realise his true identity and thereby empowered him to go beyond limited and restrictive identities. In this sense Krishna consciousness takes one to higher levels of awakening based on which one can perform duty with total dedication and passion.

Professor Robert Oppenheimer who was director of the Manhatan Project was found reading Gita when the first atomic device was being tested in Neveda desert in the USA. When asked as to how he was reading a Hindu scripture Bhagvat Gita at the time of testing of first atomic device he quoted its stanza where Lord Krishna told his disciple Arjuna that he had within Him energy of thousands of suns which would be released at the end of Time to destroy the creation.  

Expansive Nature of Krishna Consciiusness

Krishna consciousness is expansive and ranges from high abstract level of soul to the level of identity rooted in many primordial factors. It has impacted sensitive minds and ordinary people for ages and for thousands of years and continues to do so for all time to come.

#The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Views expressed in the article are in his personal capacity.