Spirituality

ALLEGORICAL MILIEU OF KRISHNA SAGA

Sunday, 29 July 2018 | Dr Asha Goswami | in Agenda– Each episode in Hindu God Krishna’s many lilas carries a lesson for human beings within it. It helps him guide his devotees, writes Dr ASHA GOSWAMI With the main objective to impress the people with certain ideologies and philosophic notions, the authors of The Mahabharata and The Puranasreinvented the old Krishna saga by adding into it religious, allegorical and poetical legends. With the result in later age, it grew into a mytho-religious allegory, a conglomeration of country’s myths and religious or philosophical allegories during 10th-12th centuries. During this period mythic, religious and philosophical notions were linked with Krishna with the purpose to make these more popular. Some myths like those of Putana, the trees Yamal-Arjuna, Kaliya serpent etc, were construed in the Krishna saga to show that such cults were suppressed by the Krishna cult. With this result, Shri Krishna grew into a mythical personae and the historical Krishna saga became a mythological treat for the masses. Besides, varied legends related to Krishna reveal that these are associated with Him with the aim to preach certain principles. They have hidden meaning — of symbolic and allegorical. The events in the Krishna saga which are full of spiritual colourings fall in the category of allegorical milieu. The same clue applies to those events of the Krishna saga in which His divinity is vindicated by attributing to Him one or the other miracle. Such an allegorical milieu was worked out in the Krishna saga by the Vaishnavas later, when they accepted Krishna as God Vishnu Himself. During Mathura and Dwarika lilas, Shri Krishna is held to act as an avatari or an incarnated personae who at each step introduces a new era in the spiritual arena of the universe where endowed with all majesty and all glory, he takes his divine birth in the form of God Vishnu’s incarnation from Vasudeva and Devaki who are stated to be the incarnations of Sage Kashyap and Aditi. Krishna’s role as an avatara of God Vishnu was thus construed for preservation of the world by destroying Kamsa, Kalayavan, Jarasamdha, Shalwa, Narak, and many others who are also considered symbolic representations of some vices. Moreover, His bala lilas are mostly held as parables or poetic legends. His Vrindavan lilas are similarly held as spiritualised narratives, as these are treated to happen on a non-physical plane where Shri Krishna and His associates play their roles in non-physical bodies. Hence, these are not to be regarded as historical or practical events. The allegorical milieu of Krishna saga be traced to such narratives which relate to Krishna’s lilas (encounters) with a cart demon which being overturned by child Krishna allegorically suggests how human body possessed by a jiva from the time of the birth and the dangers accruing from this combination which are termed as demon when being overturned by the jiva through yoga sadhanamakes him free of such obstacles in his spiritual journey. It is also suggested that the jiva is the Lord of the gross physical body which is none other than the chariot which has to be kept clean of its triple (lust, greed, anger) impurities. To achieve this, body has to be shaken and overturned. Similar allegory may be traced in Putanavadh event that Almighty in the form of child Krishna is superior to all and the savior of humans from every type of disease. The best instance of allegorical milieu in the Krishna saga be cited in Krishna’s Govardhan lila wherein he is depicted as lifting the huge mount Govardhan for protecting the gopas and their cows from the heavy rains. Firstly, it is suggestive of the allegory surrounding the superiority of God Krishna over the Vedic God Indra and secondly that ‘the nature worship promulgated by Shri Krishna is more superior to Indra’s cultic worship, and also that Aryan customs and systems of worship were abolished by Shri Krishna and instead pastoral profession in lieu of old agricultural profession was introduced by him. Moreover, this episode allegorically also suggests that fusion of two cultures in India with prominence of the one over the other. Besides, the Govardhan hill construed in this episode allegorically indicates the accumulated acts of the jivas, as the pious acts always nourish (ie vardhanam) the cows like senses of a person (ie a jiva). Hence, a mountain is stated to be the source of nourishment/food of the ‘Go’ or nourishing place of the cows like jivas. Thus, the karmic hill in the form of Govardhana that nourishes the cows or the jivas was upheld by God Krishna for lifting or slowing the burden of his devotees’. Karmas with very little effort and he is thus stated to bear the mountain.When actually he bears the pious acts of his devotees and then only the other divine powered working against them get suppressed. The episode recounting the killing of Kamsa and his attendants by Krishna allegorically suggests Shri Krishna’s victory over certain vices like egoism, dislike, envy, arrogance. Similar allegorical milieu lies hidden in the narratives of Shri Krishna’s Dwarika lila. The erection of Dvaraka by Krishna suggests the allegory that “spiritual centre on earth or the gate-way leading to final redemption/moksha was thus created by God Himself for performing His lilas and fulfilling His mission on earth. The writer is a noted Indologist and an authority on Krishnaite Studies

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