5.9 THE NON-DUAL KRISHNA
(Dedicated to all Krishna-bhaktas)
The questions that motivate me to write this post are the following ones that occur now and then
Was Krishna real or allegorical/
If non-duality is only the ultimate truth and not the worldly (‘vyAvahArika’) truth, what do we gain by discussing it in this pluralistic world?
If Krishna lived in this pluralistic world as part of all duality how can he declare himself to be ‘I am the beginning,; I am the end’, etc.? (10th chapter)?
If Krishna himself is part of the world of mAyA, shall we say that his ‘Vishwa-rUpa’ (11th Chapter) is like the tiger in the dream ?
I am not going to attempt to answer the questions. Because any answer you give can again raise some more questions in the same style. It is the total comprehension of ‘Non-duality in spite of duality’ that will explain how Krishna can be the non-dual Brahman, and can also be Ishvara with all the mAyic powers (of Creation etc.) that Ishvara is said to control and which Krishna exhibited in His life (as well as in the ‘death’ of the form).
Let me go to a series of nine consecutive names of the Lord in Vishnu Sahasranama.
“atIndriyo mahAmAyo mahotsAho mahAbalaH /
mahA-buddhir mahAvIryo mahAshaktir-mahAdyutiH//
I consider this to be the secret of Krishnavatara in the Vishnu Sahasranama. (Incidentally the secret of every avatara is there!). And I consider this also to be the explanation of ‘Non-duality in spite of Duality’.
For the meanings of the above nine names, I go to Shankara’s Bhashya on them.
‘atIndriyaH’ : As per the Vedic statement ‘ashabdaM-asparshaM’ He is beyond the sense of touch, sound, etc. So he transcends all sense-perception.
‘mahAmAyaH’: He can mystify even those who are capable of mAyic activities. (Recall the stories of Krishna fooling Lord BrahmA, Indra etc. in His life-story). Recall the words of the Lord: ‘My mAyA is incomprehensible’ (7th chapter)
‘mahOtsAhaH’: He is greatly involved and enthusiastic as shown by His Creation of the World, Sustenance of it and Dissolution of it. (Recall the endless discussion about creation vis-à-vis advaita on the advaitin list)
‘mahAbalaH’: He is stronger than the strong ones.
‘mahAbuddhiH’: He is more intelligent than the intelligent ones
‘mahAvIryaH’ His power is the root source of the Unmanifested First Cause ‘mahat’ and this ‘power’ is the defining characteristic (‘lakshaNa’) of ‘avidyA’ (Cosmic Ignorance).
‘mahAshaktiH’ His energy is supreme
‘mahAdyutiH’: He is Himself the Splendour, He is the Light of all Lights. According to these scriptural statements, He is most resplendent, both inward and outward.
Where is the secret of Krishnavatara in all this? That is the secret of the whole thing. All this that has been described is in the world of Plurality. In spite of all this duality, He is non-dual. And that is coming up in the ninth name “anirdeshya-vapuH”:
‘anirdeshya’ means that which cannot be indicated as ‘this’ or ‘that’. That is His ‘form’ (vapuH), if at all He can be described with any form.
Thus Krishna is neither this nor that. That is why at one time He shows up here and at the same time He shows up in another place. He opens His mouth and Yashoda sees the entire universe in it where She expected to see only some mud supposed to have been ‘eaten’ by Him. He shows His Vishva-rUpa to Arjuna, his foremost devotee, as confirmation of the fact that ‘Every thing is in Him’. From these mAyic confirmations we have to go to the conviction that ‘He is in everything’. Not only that. He is everything. More, there is nothing but He. In spite of the duality of Krishna, his ‘birth’ and ‘death’ , we should aim at the non-duality of Brahman which is He Himself!