Krishna is a loving person and many men and women loved him while he was alive. Prof Lata Jagtiani wrote in one of her article “I would like to think not, Hindu culture being somewhat dominated by a God called Krishna, who loved to flirt and play Holi with gopis and other men’s wives”
Was Krishna flirting? Flirting in Webster English dictionary is described as ‘a frivolous or playful love affair’ and in Longman Modern English Dictionary as ‘ to show amours interest without any depth of feeling.” In general calling some one who loves to flirt is a derogatory remark. Is this a befitting remark for Krishna? Does Krishna reserve deserve being called a God who loved to flirt and play Holi with gopis and other men’s wives? To many like me it is painful to hear that. The persons who think and believe Krishna as such will say, Truth hurts.
I do not and cannot claim to understand Krishna better than thou. But, one thing is very clear. Krishna is hard to understand. He must be the most misunderstood person that walked on this earth. Rama is easy to understand. He is an Aadarsh (ideal) purush (person)..He is predictable. He is willing to send Sita away on the verbal questioning of a dhobi (washer man). What a sacrifice! What happened to Sita is not a question. How will his and her sons be raised is not of concern. The morality was so important to Rama. Gandhi was so fascinated by Rama that when he dies he utters the words, ‘Hey Ram.’ Gandhi himself was a man of moral perfection. He was also a man of discipline. He can also be understood and appreciated by the general crowd.
Krishna on the other hand is unpredictable. There are two aspects in this relation that I would like to address. First of all we generally tend to judge others from our moral standards of our time and our space. Even today, there are different moral standards practiced in different parts of the same country, and in different sects of the same religion. Some of us find acts of Krishna unacceptable today. People who wrote Mahabharata have simply written what happened. They did not pass judgment as to whether what Krishna or Arjuna did was wrong. There are no judgment calls. This point is important to understand. There was no fear to write, they could have said what an amoral character Krishna is or was who indulged in this kind of act. More than likely, a raas Lila in those times was no more than a garba of today; as accepted as a Dandia is today. The contemporary society did not have any problems with his behavior.
The second point to understand is that Krishna is a life affirmative person. He is unique in this respect. He is not going to leave his house and go begging. He teaches a working Sanyas. He is going to accept life as it is. When he is a child, he is an active and assertive child. Soordas has captured his childhood the most. “Maiya mori main nahi makhan khayo“ as expressed by Anup Jalota, is one of most prominent stories of his childhood. He lived fully like a child. When he grows to a adult he lives like an adult. He is not going to choose a serious life. When you see a young Krishna in a photograph, he is a young bubbly character. He is not choosing it, he is living it.
When we start saying that Krishna loved to flirt with gopis, it says more about us than about Krishna. On the surface, he is doing the same thing that 99 percent of people who flirt do. From the outside it is difficult to differentiate. It is easy to see a Sadhu standing on one feet for years in Ganges, or a Buddha sitting down in meditation under a banyan tree. They stand out as different. Krishna is doing the same thing as any one else. It is difficult to see the qualitative difference. It is difficult to see that Krishna is not attached. You can see a lotus flower and its leaves. Water on lotus leaves are present but not attached. Krishna appears to be doing the same thing but his state of existence is totally different. A man who has no attachment; how can he have an amorous relationship.
I am going to quote below from a book by Osho called “The Search.” These are from his talks on the Ten Bulls of Zen. The poem is about the last bull. The first one is the ‘Search of the Bull’. The eighth is ‘Both Bull and Self Transcended.’ The ninth is ‘Reaching the source and the tenth is back ‘In the World.’ So the tenth poem reads as follows:
Barefooted and naked of breast
I mingle with the people of the world.
My clothes are ragged and dust laden and I am ever blissful
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the trees become alive
Where ever Krishna is, Love flows, he does not love to flirt; Love flows out of him it is different matter that such a man or divine finds the whole world in love with him.
I recall a saying of Kabir.
Boond samani hai samunder mein, janat hai sab koi
Samunder samana boond mein, bujhe birla koi
बूँद समानी है समुंदर में, जानत है सब कोई |
समुंदर समाना बूँद में, बुझे बिरला कोई ||
When a drop merges into the ocean, everyone understands it
When the ocean merges into the drop,
seldom does anyone understand it
Every one can understand when a drop mingles in the ocean but how can you understand when the ocean mingles in a drop. And that drop is Krishna. It so happens that Arjuna was lucky to see the ocean (viraat rupa) as well.
It so happens that even though we do not understand Krishna very well we say that he is the only one who is a full incarnation with 16 kala. Whatever that means, he gets the highest ranking. The other thing that is also very interesting is that Krishna is perhaps the only character on earth so far who showed the three gunas, sat, raj and tama at the same time.
Krishna is a mystery, he is respectable, he is loving but I would not say that he loved to flirt.