Krishna: Expert Dancer, Uninhibited Lover
The following is an article published by the Times of India, as part of their “Speaking Tree” philosophy section. It was written by ISKCON devotee Chaitanya Charan Dasa.
“I would believe in a God who could dance”, said German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. During his time, God was generally portrayed as a frozen perfection, remote, static, and wholly unsociable. No wonder he was disillusioned by this stereotypical idea of God.
Nietzsche would have been pleasantly surprised had he heard of Krishna, who danced expertly on the hood of the venomous serpent Kaliya. He also danced to the tune of his mother just to get butter, and he danced with gopis in celebration of divine love, in rasa-lila. He is Vrindavana-natabara, dancer par excellence in the pastoral paradise of Vrindavana.
All theistic traditions assert that God is great. In Krishna, that greatness is graphically demonstrated. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives a glimpse of his awe-inspiring greatness through his vishva-rupa darshana, which is one of the greatest mystical visions in world literature. Arjuna saw within the Universal Form – within Krishna – everything and everyone in existence. He saw all the planets, stars and universes as well as all living beings: celestial, terrestrial and subterranean. Krishna also exhibited his omnipotence by effortlessly over- powering numerous demons, who were the scourges of the universe.
Most endearingly, Krishna delights, not in the magnificence of godhood, but in the sweetness of uninhibited love. Krishna expresses his sweetness in His lila as a prankster who steals butter from the homes of elderly gopis. Krishna as God is self-satisfied and doesn’t need anything for his enjoyment. Moreover, when everything belongs to him, where is the question of his stealing anything? Yet just to reciprocate love with those devotees who love Him in a parental mood (vatsalya-bhava), Krishna plays the role of their darling child and speaks and behaves mischievously. The disarming hospitality that Krishna extended to Sudama and the subsequent generous benedictions that he bestowed upon his poor gurukula-friend are also eloquent testimony to Krishna’s personal warmth and sweetness.
For the demoniac, Krishna’s sweetness gives way to his greatness. Krishna went as a shanti-duta (peace messenger) to dissuade Duryodhana from war with sweet words. But when the arrogant prince tried to arrest him instead, Krishna foiled the attempt by manifesting the gigantic universal form. But for devotees, Krishna is sweetness. During the rasa-lila, Krishna disappeared and reappeared as the majestic four-armed Vishnu. When his most beloved consort Radha offered him obeisance and asked him where Krishna had gone, He tried to point in a false direction. But seeing her selfless love and her intense anxiety caused by separation, Krishna could no longer maintain his guise. His two extra hands disappeared and Radha beheld before her the sweet Lord of her heart.
The laws of karma impartially and unerringly deliver everyone of their karmic dues sooner or later. But if we turn to Krishna with devotional love, He manifests his sweetness as a forgiving father: “Abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto me. I will free you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear”.
We can easily surrender to Krishna by chanting his holy names, which manifest both his greatness and sweetness. The holy name has the great power that even nuclear weapons don’t have: the power to destroy all our negative habits and tendencies. Janmashtami is a reminder that our right to enjoy divine sweetness is beckoning us. Krishna is ready for us. Are we ready for him?