DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA “SRI KRISHNA AVATARAM”
by Mantra & shlokas on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 3:19pm
Naathayaiva namaH padam bhavathu nas chitrai: charitra kramai:
BhooyObhi: bhuvanani amooni kuhanaa gOpaaya gOpaayatE /
KaaLindhee rasikaaya kaaLiya paNi spaara spaTaa vaatikaa
Ranga utsanga visanka chankrama dhuraa paryaaya charyaa: yathE //
“ Let our obeisance be only for the Supreme Lord KrishNa
- who protects the world with His most wonderful acts
- who enjoys and relishes His association with the river Yamuna
- who performed a dance fearlessly making the broad hoods of the KaaLinga
serpent as His stage and
- who accomplished numerous such impossible but
- who nevertheless disguised Himself the garb of a simple cow-herd”
As in the case of RAMA AVATAR, most of our readers would be familiar with the story of Krishna, his childhood pranks and exploits and his role as GEETHACHARYA at the battlefield of KURUKSHETRA. We do not propose to give the details of this AVATAR. We, however, highlight some of the less known aspects of this well-known AVATAR.
1. Do you know who is the most favorite Avatara for Swami Desika? He answers this question saying “My obeisance is ONLY for Krishna” -“Naathayaiva namah padam bhavathu”
2. As in the case of other Avataras, SD mentions only the Kaalinga narthana incident and says” Numerous such other feats” (Dhuryaa Paryaaya charyaa yathE’. What is the big deal about this? Krishna’s favorite playground was
the banks of river Yamuna. The way the small kid jumped on the hoods of the ferocious multi-headed serpent and what is more danced on it brings out the Paratvam and Soulabhyam of the Lord all at once. This incident also brought forth the intimate nexus between Naataka (drama) and Naatya (Dance). It is said that in Krishnavatara, there are 700 varieties of leelas and 7 kinds of dances, one of which is this Chaaree nrithyam
3. One of the popular notions about the lifting of the GOVARDHAN mountain is that Sri Krishna was holding it as a pyramid with his little finger at the base. According to Bhagavatha Purana, this is not so. He made of the mountain an inverted pyramid and was holding the mountain's tip by his little finger.
4. Another aspect of Lord Krishna, which draws lot of criticism, is about the episode in which he concealed the dresses of the Gopis sitting on top of a tree and asking them to come out of the river in the nude. These critics read too much into this and try to impute motives imagining him to be a vile youth. This is not correct. It should be remembered that this episode happened when he was an adolescent and constituted a childhood prank as indeed so many other pranks played by him at that age. And, Bhaagavata PuraaNa explains that this reminded the Gopis that they should not bathe totally naked as such bathing is prohibited in the Sastras.
5. "As for young Krishna's erotic exploits that have been the subject of much of the romantic literature, a discerning critic would recognize a faint but definite religious element ..... Invariably, however, the love of God for the cowherds' wives is interpreted as symbolic of the love of God for the human soul. The notes of Krishna's flute, calling the women to leave their husbands' beds and dance with him in the moonlight, represent the voice of God, calling man to leave earthly things and turn to the joys of divine love. So Jews and Christians alike have interpreted the 'Song of Songs' and so many mystical poets of all religions have depicted their spiritual experience. Despite its luxuriant eroticism, the legend of the
divine cowherd produced great religious poetry and inspired many pious souls"
6. "In a story often cited, 60,000 sages wanted to become united with Vishnu in his incarnation as Rama. Rama tells the sages that he cannot oblige them in his present role, for as Rama he is sworn to monogamy. But he will oblige them in his next incarnation as Krishna; the sages can all be reborn as cowherd women (Gopis) and unite with him in love. In this view, all devotees are felt to be feminine; the Lord is the supreme male- the lover"
7. " Vishnu, in his incarnation as Krishna, is above all, a God of love and the ideal becomes intimate union and communion with the incarnate God, both in His timeless essence and in His ceaseless beneficent activity in the world of action. After the Gita, popular Hinduism becomes predominantly a religion of love"
8. It is asked by some that if Krishna himself could indulge in such erotic orgies, what is wrong if we do the same thing. As Krishna himself has said that what great people do, others would follow and Krishna's activities with the Gopis would seem to confer a license of sorts for others to follow. Lord Krishna himself advises "What great men do, others less endowed or less evolved would follow their example"
9. And again he explains why he is carrying out his duties: 'If I do not carry out my duties, even those desirous of following their Dharmic duties will give them up following my example and I will be responsible for spoiling them. That is why even though I as Bhagavaan need not be bound by formalities laid for humans, I do observe them'
10. His marrying Rukmini and Satyabhama, his amorous pranks with Radha and the Gopis - all happened during his boyhood days. It should be remembered that in those eras, child marriage was the order of the day and it is not
correct to impute any sexual misdemeanor either to Krishna or to his partners.
11. Also, we have to understand that Krishna's union with the Gopis was not on base, blase, banal, physical level but on a sublime, spiritual, platonic plane with none of the carnal inhibitions which we in our limited, myopic perception would like to associate with. Also, even granting just for the sake of argument that the union was of the kind we have ' in our mind', we can also imitate him provided we are capable of imitating all other acts of his like sucking life out of the breasts of Puthanai, the demoness, or lifting on the little finger the huge mountain of Govardhan, or dancing on the hoods of the hydra-headed serpent Kaalinga or proclaiming such lofty themes like Bhagavad Gita or even following them at the least. So long as we cannot even imagine doing such miracles, we have no right to question the deeds of Krishna from a mere mundane level.
12. In our own times, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa while walking on the road with one of his disciples stopped to drink some liquor on a wayside grove. The disciple thought that he could also do the same. After sometime, they found molten iron in the boiling cauldron of a blacksmith. Without any hesitation, Ramakrishna drank of the liquid as easily as one would gulp down water. The disciple realized that he could not repeat the feat. The moral is that we should follow what great people advise and not try to do what they do.
13. We hear of Krishna right up to his boyhood days. There is a big gap in the story of his life until he reappears on the scene as the friend, philosopher and guide of the Paandava princes by which time he was past 40 years of age. It is then that he went as a messenger of Paandavas, joined the Paandavas in their battle against the Kauravas and preached the gospel of BHAGAVAD GITA to Arjuna.
14. The name of Christ resembles that of Krishna. Except for the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, nothing was known about his boyhood days. All his exploits, encounters etc. took place during this period and unto about 40 years of age when he was crucified- the interregnum significantly obscure in the life history of Sri Krishna. Some scholars are tempted to believe that Krishna it was who appeared as Christ and on resurrection reappeared as the friend, philosopher and guide of the Paandava princes. They adduce another similarity like both being born in humble surroundings like prison and the cattle shed and like Krishna tending cows and Christ tending sheep - the belief is reinforced. This cannot be correct because Lord Krishna was in the Dvapara Yuga some 6000 years back, while Jesus Christ lived less than 2000 years back and the belief is definitely baseless and represents a pathetic belabored attempt to integrate the two religions.
15. Almost all the ALWARS had enjoyed the innumerable episodes in the life of Lord Krishna. Swami Vedanta Desika calls him "KREEDA VALLABHA" to show that his impossible feats and the miracles were done as if in a sport. The
magnum opus is his Bhagavad Gita that stands supreme as the essence of Hindu Philosophy and accepted as such the world over.