यतो धर्मस्ततो कृष्णः यतो कृष्णः ततो जयः।
Where there is Dharma, there is Kṛṣṇa,
Where there is Kṛṣṇa, there is victory.
“Put down the truest word you know, you will be the greatest writer.”
– Ernest Hemingway
How do we respond when what we had built and what built us, breaks down? How do we equip ourselves to build?
In December 2021, I was at the great Chennakeshava Temple at Belur, reflecting on the nature of change. The situation was personal but the yearning was for a universal principle.
I knew the transition was imminent as the fabric that held the bond was broken. My ego pushed me to totally disengage from what I saw (and still do) as unfair but the temple reminded me that my ancestors built, they did not break.
Breaking things down is a luxury that responsibility does not afford.
I prayed to the lord, went back to my room and penned a note. I made a sincere attempt to reason one last time with the people concerned and left the outcome to HIM.
As things turned out, change was inevitable and there was not going to be any reconciliation. The question then was about the next move. How do you know the source of your motivation, how do you know it is not momentary. How do you know that you know?
My friend and co-founder, Pankaj Saxena suggested that I visit the Veera Narayana temple at Belavadi – ‘’suggested” is a bit misleading. He insisted and was more excited about me visiting that temple than I have ever seen him about anything else and he generally approaches life with excitement.
I reached the temple around noon and went in, self-absorbed. There was no one else, except the genial arcaka. He embodied the kind of contentment that can only come from becoming an instrument to a higher force. I had a small chat with him to understand the tradition, lore, iconography and the history but nothing prepared me for what I saw next.
After the darśana of the Yoga Narasiṃha, the arcaka took me to the abode of Veṇugopāla Svāmī.
As he drew the curtain and Lord appeared, my ‘self’ became absorbed in HIM. The answer revealed itself.
The most exquisite vigraha you will ever see, Lord Śri Kṛṣṇa playing the flute and under his shadow, you see the ṛṣis, the gopikās, the cattle, the flora and fauna. Everything in its place and a place for everything.
The responsibility of the entire world shouldered with effortless grace. The creation and the Pālanahāra.
It is at that moment that I received a small glimpse of the Śri Kṛṣṇa Tattva. As of now, I am yet incapable of describing it and so I seek refuge in the words of our spiritual preceptor – Shri Ramachandra Roddam ji to explain what it really is.
Śri Kṛṣṇa Tattva – The MIND that Moves Like Water.
One of the features of the mind is imagination. Kalpanā. It is this facet of the mind that is used by manuṣya, consciously or unconsciously, to navigate and experience life. Note it is imagination, kalpanā, not imaginary – kālpanika.
Weak mind means a weak imagination. Weak imagination can lead to all sorts of apprehensions, insecurities in dealings of life. It’s the abode of all sorts of phobias.
Mind helps navigate tracks of life which are contextual. Tracks which are subject to relationships. Here a sense of anticipation is essential. Mind fully knows that it never fully KNOWS. Hence this moving in anticipation is essential. When anticipation or imagination is filled with phobias, jealousy etc it leads to wrong assessment of the situation which in turn leads to some or the other form of Duḥkha.
Is there someone whom we look up to who had this inexplicable capacity to navigate realms of relative and contextual life. Yes, that is Śri Kṛṣṇa. A robust and splendid mind is a robust moon in all its facets. That’s why he could leverage Duryodhana’s insecurities. He could channel Bhīma’s anger. He could address Arjuna’s conflicts. He was endearing to his friends, threatening to his enemies, and respectful to elders. All of this at once. This cannot come from intellectual understanding. It can only come from a splendid mind. Which can move like a stream of water that overcomes all obstacles.
So today is Aṣtamī. A day for Devī, a day for Bhairava, who is the greatest capacity for worshiping Devī. Is there someone who has the capacity to worship Śakti like Bhairava and integrate the Śakti thus generated? That is Kṛṣṇa. So today is Kṛṣṇa Aṣtamī also.
Śri Kṛṣṇa Tattva – Controlled Explosion of our Limitations
Controlled explosion of our limitations is Śri Kṛṣṇa. Power of attachment is but derived from more fundamental power of attraction. As individuals we attract and we get attracted. It is this power that binds us to things. Some amount of binding is must in Life, else one does not get anything done.
The Bīja Akṣara: that encrypts this power of attraction is shared by both these forces of Mā Kālī and Śri Kṛṣṇa. But Kṛṣṇa is the one who is the epitome of opposing force of attachment which is non-attachment conferred by pure vairāgya. He is the one who defines clearly what is the ‘some amount’ of binding and how it can be cultured consciously by the individual.
That is why he too is bound to people but not as blindly as Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He too is attached to vows but not as irrationally as Bhīṣma. He too is attached to his promises but not as despondently as Karṇa. He too is abiding in Dharma but not as attached to its outward forms and outcomes as Dharma Rāja. In essence, He knew where exactly to draw the line. This is the intelligence born out of inherent non-attachment, vairāgya. It is this peak level practice of vairāgya that defines freedom embodied by Śri Kṛṣṇa.
So, the question of ‘how do we respond’ when things break down – We respond by building, by turning the moments that test us in our lives into opportunity to be in the service of a larger good. We do that not as a burden but by submitting ourselves to HIS līlā, that is liberated action.