Do you know why this life has been given to you? It is not for searching for food all through nor for eking out a livelihood, but it is to enable you to search and search for God
The moment we hear the word Bharath, the name of our country, the Himalayas come to our mind. For centuries in the past, the essential and the great principles of Hinduism were symbolised in truth and ahimsa. These two great principles of truth and ahimsa are also symbolised in the silvery mountains of the Himalayas. These lofty mountains are the places where great men and great saints have performed their thapas (austerities and sense control). Those mountains appear to us as the symbols of purity attained through truth and through dharma. When we look at those mountains, we get the feeling that those silvery mountains are lost in the meditation of Madhava. In those mountains, where the rishis (sages) had performed their thapas, lies the origin of Ganges, the sacred river. Ganges is the flowing symbol of Hinduism. Ganges also symbolises what flows through the blood vessels of our country from its spiritual heart. We have to compare the blood vessels and the arteries of Bharath and of its citizens to the flow of the sacred Ganges. The moment we hear the name of Ganges, we are reminded of the two banks thereof on which are the centres of pilgrimage, and on which lie the great places of learning. We visualise, when we think of Ganges, the great spiritual centres like Benares, Prayag, Rishikesh, and Hardwar.
In the same manner, as in this analogy of Ganges, we should also recognise the great pilgrim centres of our mind which lie on either side of the blood vessels. Our own intelligence and Anthahkarana (inner consciousness) are the great pilgrim centres of our body. It is customary that in these sacred places of pilgrimage, sacred tasks are performed; and as a consequence thereof, sacred ideas are generated. In the inner body, alongside the life flow of blood, our mind, our Chitta (mind), our Anthahkarana, etc., can all be recognised as places where good ideas can be generated.
The fact that Ganges flows in our country has itself got a spiritual significance. The moment we hear about the name of our country, Bharath, we are reminded of the great epic the Mahabharatha. The hero of this epic is Lord Krishna. However, the great deeds of Lord Krishna are being pictured in a distorted fashion, and one gets the feeling that we are forgetting the true nature and true character of Lord Krishna. Krishna is one who had mixed with the gopis (cowherd maids) and gopikas (cowherds) as water mixes with milk. He moved intimately with gopis and gopikas.
In order to recognise the sacred truth behind the actions of Krishna, we should realise that in the great battle between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, he took Arjuna to the centre of the battlefield and has taught the philosophy of Karma or the path of work to Arjuna and to us in the world at large, through the ears of Arjuna. It is said in this context that Dhritharashtra asked a question and described the battlefield as Dharmakshetra (Field of virtue)—Kurukshetra (Field of action.) Dhritharashtra asked a question according to which he wondered about the name Kurukshetra. We should understand the hidden meaning and significance of this question. The question says “Mamaka”—that is, those people to whom I am bound down by attachment and Pandavas who are known for their sathwic (pure) qualities—what is it that these two groups are doing in the battlefield of Dharmakshetra? We have to understand here that Dhritharashtra, in his ignorance, asked a question which really means, from an inner significance point of view, what are the thamo (slothful) and rajo (passionate) gunas (qualities), represented by the Kauravas, doing in the battlefield with the Pandavas who represent sathwic gunas. His ignorance was about what these thamo and rajo gunas were doing in the battlefield of his heart along with the sathwic gunas.
In this context, to limit this battle between these qualities to a period of eighteen days is not correct. This battle between the thamo and rajo gunas on the one hand and the sathwic gunas on the other hand, is continually being waged, for all time, in the body which is the Dharmakshetra, in Kurukshetra which symbolises the sensory organs. This continuous battle is always going on and when the battle is on, Lord Krishna in the form of atma or the witnessing consciousness is a witness of this battle all the time. Krishna here should be understood as the very essence of Mahabharatha come in the human form. This Krishna symbolises the inner consciousness, the unseen atma of Hinduism. With a view to propound this aspect of the cult of Krishna in an ordinarily understood language to the people of the world, to the people in the political, in the cultural, and social spheres, Krishna, the Lord, has come in the ordinary human form.
When we think of the situation in the world today, we see that it is a very diverse and a complicated situation. We are trying to create a new society in the name of socialism wanting to make all human beings come to the same level and wanting all human beings to be exactly the same in regard to their food, requirements, wealth, etc. We are regarding this as socialism, but truly this aspect cannot be called socialism. There is no support in our history or in our traditions to call this socialism. Today, we may be ready and in a position to distribute the wealth and property and to distribute the houses equally among all human beings, but we are not in a position to distribute the totality of desires of all humanity equally between all human beings.
Only when all the human beings have the same desires, can we say this. In fact, all the material wealth, earthly possessions, etc., will be distributed automatically if the desires of all human beings are the same. The process of equitable distribution between all people from the worker to the agriculturist, really started with the French revolution. With this original concept as the starting point, the feeling has arisen that, with every individual, there must be a position of authority. It has given rise to desires, and the feeling grew that authority and power should not be concentrated in the hands of a few people, but that it should be distributed equally among all men. Gradually this concept underwent several changes; and when it took a distorted form, it acquired the name of Communism.
During both these revolutions, the ideas that gave birth to them are indeed good and sacred and are worth accepting; but in practice, the original concept and the ideals got distorted. As a result of this, the revolutions were unsatisfactory.
These basic ideas of giving equal opportunity and of distributing wealth equally amongst all human beings are being regarded as something new and novel, but this is not correct. Fifty centuries ago, Krishna, in fact, did these very same things and started these ideals. This historic figure, whom we call Krishna, really established the root of what we, today, call the new society of Bharath. This great figure in our history brought the worker, the agriculturist, and the educated person to the same level and exposed the political hypocrisy which the rulers of the country showed even at that time; and brought them to understand these concepts well. He ruled like an uncrowned king. From ancient times, we have had the sacred idea of referring to Krishna as Gopala. In the word Gopala, we have traditionally come to regard Go as representing a cow or an animal. This is not correct. In the historic times, everything that gave us prosperity and happiness we regarded as Go. We now regard Go as meaning an animal; but in reality whoever looks after the happiness of humanity and provides for the prosperity of humanity should be regarded as Gopala.
In those days, Krishna propagated the view that what gives prosperity to the world is the Cow. Man, today, is ignorant and is unable to recognise what is true wealth and what gives true prosperity to humanity. We are now in an unfortunate position of looking at currency notes and thinking that they constitute prosperity or wealth. Krishna pushed aside the foolish concept that these artificial printed notes constituted wealth. This is not wealth; and he regarded the cow which gives us milk as wealth, and this wealth was distributed equally among the people. Not only do we get milk, ghee, butter, curds, and other food material from the cow, but from the cow emanate the cattle; and we use these for purposes of agriculture. We generate all the food that we need from the cow and the cattle. When we talk about the harvest and the milk and the curds, these are in two different categories. The requirements of humanity are essentially of two kinds. One is the milk and related products and the other is the agricultural harvest. These were distributed between the two brothers. Gopala looked after the milk and other related products and the cows; and Balarama, symbolised by the plough, looked after the agriculture and the various products that come through agriculture. Truly the prosperity of the human race depends on the harvest and the milk and milk products. These requirements of the people do not drop from the sky nor do they generate out of the earth of their own accord. They must come through the cattle and the land.
Balarama and Krishna were examples who showed that they do not care about their own physical strength and that they would sacrifice everything. They were willing to do hard work and showed through hard work that prosperity can be achieved by sincere hard work. The Lord Krishna was all-knowing, all-powerful, and divinity incarnate, and yet he worked as a charioteer for Arjuna. Krishna was one who recognised the importance of service to the community; and by his own practice and by setting an example to others, he showed that service to others was important. After the battle of Mahabharatha, these were the people who took the horses to the river, washed them and tended their wounds and applied medicines. They thereby demonstrated that hard work and compassion to all living beings constitute the duty of all human beings. These two people set such an example in those days.
If we hear of Krishna or Balarama, we immediately think that they were just ordinary sons of either Yasoda or Devaki. This kind of feeling is on an ordinary human level. But if we look at the root meaning of the name Krishna, we understand that “One who is an object of attraction to everyone is Krishna.” There is another meaning for this and we can say Karshayateethi Krishna. According to this, Krishna is one who ploughs the field. Of course, we must realise that the field that Krishna ploughs is the field of your heart. By this ploughing of your heart, he produces the fruits of peace and distributes them amongst the human beings. Krishna symbolises the great person who planted the seeds of peace in the hearts of the people, and he distributed the fruits of peace among human beings. Such is the ideal picture of Krishna which we should form in our mind. He used to talk to great people and tell them that this represents the thinking of the great sages of this country, Bharath. There is another aspect to this. He made a sacred determination that he would bring peace and happiness to all human beings by setting an example. He was unmindful of the obstacles that came his way and was always showing a happy and blissful life. Such was the life of Krishna.
He had the nature by which he radiated happiness, irrespective of whether he was in a battlefield, or a cremation ground, or in a peaceful place. This was a great quality of his. This is the reason why even in the midst of a battlefield, he taught the Gita to Arjuna. Gita means and stands for a song. We sing only in our happy moments, but Krishna was singing even in a battlefield and was radiating happiness. He was permanently in bliss and he was permanently happy. This is the reason why he was also called Sath-chithananda (Being awareness bliss).
As a human being, the divine power that was present in him can be seen more in the Mahabharatha than in the Bhagavatha. In a story of Bhagavatha, he was simply showing some childlike leelas (Divine sport), but in the Mahabharatha he exhibited a unique combination of human nature and divine nature. In order to proclaim and establish dharma from time to time, he himself stated in the Gita that he will come again and again. It has been said that he will appear and reappear every time that dharma declines. He appears in order to save the good people and punish the bad people and re-establish declining dharma.
Here we should understand what dharma is. If dharma is destructible, then why should the embodiment of dharma, God, reappear to establish dharma. If dharma can disappear like all other destructible things, then it will not be dharma at all. Dharma is not something which can be destroyed or weakened. If dharma is not destructible, then where is the question of dharma sthapana (establishment of dharma)? We should interpret this as the establishment of the practice of dharma and not the establishment of dharma itself. What is declining is the practice of dharma, but not dharma. When we look in the traditional way, we see that dharma in the earliest times, in the Kritha Yuga, was on all four legs, and we believe that later in the Thretha Yuga, dharma was standing only on the three legs. Still later in the Dwapara Yuga, it was only on two legs; and it is believed that in the Kali Yuga it is standing only on one leg.
We are also learning from our Puranas and sacred texts that dharma was declining in the Kritha Yuga and that Rama came to save dharma and re-establish dharma in the Thretha Yuga. But if Rama re-established dharma in the Thretha Yuga, what is the meaning of saying that dharma had only three legs in Thretha Yuga? Once again, as dharma was declining, we believe that Krishna came in the Dwapara Yuga to re-establish dharma, and yet we believe that in Dwapara Yuga, dharma stood on two legs only. What is the meaning in saying that one leg has disappeared in the Dwapara Yuga in spite of Krishna coming to save it. Krishna came in the Dwapara Yuga and came for the purpose of re-establishing dharma and yet we say that in the Kali Yuga, dharma has only one leg. If this is so, what is the great thing that Krishna has done in Dwapara Yuga for the protection of dharma? These legs have to be interpreted as relating to the practice of dharma.
These Avatars never come to re-establish dharma— dharma was never destroyed—but the practice of dharma went on decline. In the Kali Yuga, only one way of practising dharma remained and that is Namasmarana (Remembering God through the Name), and hence we say that there is only one leg in the Kali Yuga. When man is born, he is born on two legs. After a few months he walks on four legs. After a few more months he gets back to the use of two legs. When he gets old, he walks on three legs as he uses a stick. All these legs cannot be called legs. They are simply supports to enable him to move his body in the daily life and do his duty. They are instruments which enable him to fulfil his life. So also, as Yugas went on, in order that dharma might be practised by people, various methods have been introduced, and these methods have, from time to time, been described as legs which enable him to carry on in his life.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba