Salutations to Lord Sri Krishna, the sweetest manifestation of the Supreme Being! Sri Krishna is regarded as the Purna-Avarata of God. He was perfect in every respect. God is all-pervading; Sri Krishna’s life-on-earth, too, was all-comprehensive. Study Srimad Bhagavatam and the Mahabharata. You will understand what a multifaceted diamond Sri Krishna was. He was a wonderful child, divine boy, resplendent youth, dearest friend, mighty warrior, wise administrator, sweet comrade, master of diplomacy, protector of the meek, death of the wicked, preserver of Dharma, clever strategist, humble servant, obedient pupil, dutiful son, loving husband and Supreme Guru. These and countless others are but aspects of His Immanence as Krishna. Above all these, He is God who, in his own transcendental nature, is the Lord of lords, the father and mother of all creation, the very Soul of all that exists. He is the substratum of all existence. He is the Reality, immortal, eternal, infinite and absolute. He is not only immortal but He is Immortality Itself.
It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that the scripture that He propounded should partake of all these great virtues that characterised His Divine Manifestation and His transcendental Nature. His Gospel is so comprehensive that everyone can draw inspiration and guidance from it, whatever his social status may be, whatever his profession and in whatever stage of spiritual evolution he may be. For, in his Gospel the Lord has woven a beautiful and universal pattern of ethics that would appeal and apply to all. The grand edifice of the ethics of his Gospel has been built on the eternal corner-stones of (1) Immortality of the Soul, (2) Immanence of God, (3) Impermanence of the world and (4) Immediacy of liberation. Because these truths are universal, the ethics of his Gospel also have universal application.
Existing as He does as the very Immortal Principle in all-beings, Lord Krishna proclaims with unimpeachable authority, the immortality of the Soul. Being manifest here in this world as the very life and soul of all beings, He reveals the immanence of God. Being the witness of the actions of Prakriti (Nature) and the interplay of the Gunas (qualities), and in the perfect knowledge of the nature of this play of the Gunas. He declares that the objects of the world are evanescent, that all that is born must die and that all that is created must perish. Being the One who is conscious of the one imperishable, indivisible Truth which is never affected by the illusory play of Prakriti in which the Jiva (individual) which is essentially one with that Supreme Being, dreams that he is dumb-driven and bound, the Lord asserts that liberation is possible here and now.
Though the thundering revelation of the Immortality of the Soul Sri Krishna warns man not to deceive himself by trying to ignore the law of Karma, the law of rebirth, and the law of retribution. The Soul within him does not die with the death of the body; and, so long as it does not liberate itself by attaining Jnana, it is bound to reap the harvest of the seeds it has sown in its several births. The Jiva which imagines that it is the doer of an action is bound to it by an invisible thread called attachment. The action is a rubber-ball with a long rubber-band attached to it which is given to the children to play with. One end of the band is tied to the finger of the child and it throws the ball on the ground; and the ball promptly rebounds to the child’s hand. Similarly, every action performed by you with the idea that you are doing it and with a desire to attain a certain end, is bound to rebound on you sooner or later, in this birth or in another. Death itself is but going from one room to another; and so long as the band of attachment is not broken by the knife of non-attachment and the knot of desire born of ignorance is not loosened, the ball of action is bound to come back. One who realises this will do no evil. It is ignorance of the immortality of the Soul and the inevitable working of the law of action and reaction that makes the wicked man go his evil way. The wise man dismisses the misfortunes that may befall him as the working out of the evil Karmas of a previous birth and is indifferent to them; and he is active in cultivating goodness and in doing good, convinced, in the words of Sri Krishna, "that the doer of good never comes by evil" and that in the life to come; he will not only be free from misery and misfortune, but will also get greater opportunities of progressing more rapidly towards the goal, viz., Jnana (wisdom). The doctrine of the immortality of the Soul is, therefore, the most important corner-stone in his Gospel.
The next is the revelation of the immanence of God. God is not a cruel monarch or just a benevolent deity sitting on a golden throne in a far-away city depending for his knowledge of your actions on agents and spies. He is the indweller of everyone. He is the witness of your thoughts. People around you watch your actions and hear your words; God watches not only your actions, but the motives that prompt them; He hears not only your words but also the whisper of your heart’s intentions. It is therefore that Lord Jesus, too, said: "thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." The doctrine of the immanence of God exposes, too, the hypocrite who pretends to worship God in a shrine, ignoring the Lord walking bare-bodied on the road with a begging bowl in hand, who is writhing in pain, groaning under subjection and groping in the darkness of ignorance—the disguises assumed by Him to test your sincerity and to give you a chance to worship Him truly and to attain Him here and now. Look up, and see your Lord watching you through the eyes of everyone you meet. Have you got the sincerity to recognise Him? Then you are fit to realise God and your own Immortality. He is here, near you; and in order to bring this fact graphically before you, Sri Krishna describes himself as the several manifestations set forth in the Vibhuti Yoga of the Bhagavadgita.
The third—the doctrine of the impermanence of the world—is a stern warning against your setting too much store by the things of this world. The greatest treasure you acquire is but straw! The least that you do to the Lord immanent in all around you is the key to inexhaustible treasure. The things that you acquire are of this world which will pass away; but by the service you render to God immanent here, you are watering the plant of immortality. Remember; the things that you possess and the whole world, not only this world which is but a mere speck of dust in this universe, but the universe itself, not only this but countless universes that constitute creation—are but objects of a passing dream of the Supreme Being. Grabbing them is like catching hold of a cobra mistaking it for a rope to tie round the waist as belt. Great is the misery of one who takes the world as reality and runs after the pleasures of the world. Supreme Bliss is the prize that awaits one who, understanding the evanescence of the world, applies himself to Nama-Smarana, Japa, Kirtan selfless service, renunciation and meditation, in short, to the life divine.
To such a one liberation is promised here and now. One who, through knowledge of the immortality of the Soul, the immanence of God, and the impermanence of the world, casts off attachment to the world and the actions of Prakriti, attains liberation here and now. Not only that; the true devotee of the Lord attains Him quite easily. This doctrine of the immediacy of liberation, this doctrine of hope, is the great incentive to the diligent student of the Yoga of His Gospel.
True, Lord Sri Krishna killed many Asuras (demons) in a playful manner, even while He was a mere boy, and during His Life on this earth had rid it of diabolical people. He took his birth here with that specific purpose, and he achieved it in a spectacular manner. But, that was nothing compared to the transformation He has brought about in the heart of man. The greatest enemy of Dharma has always been in the heart of man. Dharma had to be rescued from the clutches of the demon of unrighteous heart.
No one who studies the Bala-Lilas of Lord Krishna would fail to be struck with wonder at the ingenuity displayed by this Divine Child in dealing with the Asuras. He was very clever, original and ingenious. Was he not God himself! Even in the case of restoration of Dharma He displayed super-divine cleverness.
It is very easy to deal with the rank materialist, the man of openly vicious nature, the human brute; his unrighteousness is patent and it is easy to convince people of the need to keep away from him. Such vicious people are not as many as those who are extremely vicious at heart, whose conscience is enshrouded in ignorance, and through whose veins flows the deadly venom of selfishness, greed, lust, anger and egoism, but who knavishly presume an authority to teach people, to guide people along "the path of righteousness." Often, the devil quotes scriptures; and it is to the common man to detect the tiger masquerading in the garb of a cow, before it is too late to save himself. It is by the rescue of Dharma from the clutches of these misleaders of mankind that the Lord has truly fulfilled the self-imposed task of restoration of Dharma. Mercilessly He exposes these hypocrites by defining Jnana in terms of ethics. He has given a completely revolutionary definition of Jnana: "Humility, unpretentiousness, non-injury, forgiveness, uprightness, service of the teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control, indifference to the objects of the senses, absence of egoism, perception of or reflection over the evil in birth, death, old age, sickness and pain, non-attachment, non-identification of Self with son, wife, home and the rest, constant even-mindedness on the attainment of the desirable and the undesirable, unswerving devotion unto Me by the Yoga of non-separation, resort to solitary places, distaste for the society of men, constancy in Self-knowledge, perception of the end of true knowledge—this is declared to be Knowledge and what is opposite to it is ignorance."
Repeatedly Lord Krishna extols righteousness. The greatest Bhakta is—not one who goes on rolling the beads, with selfishness, lust, anger and greed enshrined in his heart but—one who is endowed with all auspicious qualities, and who is devoted to the welfare of humanity. Lord Krishna does not define Jnana as scriptural erudition or an intellectual appreciation of philosophic truths or the capacity and cleverness to string words together and to indulge in vain debating. He defines Jnana as the sum total of the best of virtues. Read the thirteenth Chapter of the Bhagavadgita, you will understand this clearly.
The Lord says: watch for these qualities in a man. If they are present, he is a Jnani, a saint; you can safely follow him and adopt him as your spiritual guide. If they are absent, avoid him, even though he may be an expert in the play of words and has learnt the whole of the Vedas and Sastras by heart.
For, if you find that a tree is full of mango-fruits, you need not dig up the earth to see if the tree has sprung up from mango seed or from any other. "Know him by the fruits." If ignorance dwells in his heart, though the words appear to be words of wisdom, they are in fact the tentacles of the Adharma-octopus that dwells in the depths of his heart. How can a person pour out nectar from a jug that contains the deadliest poison? So, beware. All that glitters is not gold. Here is the touch-stone of true Wisdom-Ethics. Here is the easiest way of distinguishing the real flower from the paper-flower: fragrance! Ethics is the fragrance of wisdom.
May the blessings of Lord Sri Krishna be upon you all! May you all attain Liberation from bondage here and now!
Sri Swami Sivananda