When Krishna Got A Stomach Ache

There is a story about Krishna getting a stomach ache. The only supposed cure for it was to gently rub on his stomach, the dust off the soles of the feet of his devotees. Rukmani withheld herself from doing so, for though she loved and worshipped Krishna, such a ‘disrespectful’ act would surely send her floundering into seven hells. Radha, in contrast, happily obliged, for she felt that if any act of hers could relieve her beloved of his suffering, she would gladly suffer even a thousand hells.


Rukmani thought only of herself... but for Radha, her respect for Krishna, for the greater good, were more compelling motives. For Rukmani, the operating force was her conscience, but for Radha, the operating force was her consciousness.
When we choose to live only in our own world, keeping our conscience clear is an imperative, for we have only ourselves to live with. In the larger picture, however, we are answerable to God’s judgement, not ours; we have to live with God, not ourselves. In this living, a conscience that makes us conform expands into a consciousness that makes us transform. We, thereby, escape the confines of our limited selves and enter the infinite realm of God where ego and selfishness being shed, love and compassion take charge. Fearlessness and freedom are the hallmarks of such a consciousness, taking us ‘beyond good and evil’.
Krishna’s flexuous gait is a metaphor for what should be our own way in the world, living, not as stoics who dogmatically toe the line, but remaining pliant. Keeping only the Absolute in focus, we should be able to ‘bend it like Beckham’ whenever necessary, to score the one single goal of salvation for ourselves.
Krishna amply demonstrates the scoring of such a goal, upholding dharma, in the Mahabharata war. He breaks his vow of not picking up any weapon, jumping off the chariot and rushing threateningly towards Bhishma, menacingly waving the Brahmastra at him if only to instigate the weak-willed Arjuna to fight the Pitamah more forcefully. And again, at his instigation, flouting the established norms of warfare, Bhima hits Duryodhana below the belt; Arjuna kills Karna when the latter is weaponless. Yudhishtira, too, is urged, much against his grain, by Krishna to lie about the death of Ashwathama, in order to enervate the mighty Dronarcharya.
Thus, all is fair in love and war but in our own little selfish dramas, fair can often be foul and foul is sometimes fair. Bhishma, Karna and Dronarcharya were going against their inner conviction of truth and of justice by aligning with Duryodhana. Of course they had their reasons — Bhishma had vowed to protect the ruler of Hastinapur, whatever he may be, just or unjust; Karna had promised never to be disloyal to his friend Duryodhana; Dronarcharya dared not betray the Kauravas because he had ‘eaten their salt’. In following their own private agendas, they clearly demonstrated that immortal Shakespearean writ, “Reason, thy viceroy in me, me hath imprisoned.”


A kind of rigor mortis overtakes us when we, as Pink Floyd sings in The Dark Side Of The Moon, “hang out in quiet desperation.” In The Remains Of The Day, Kazuo Ishiguro’s hero, Stevens, unable to disentangle himself from the concocted notion of what an ideal butler ought to be, ignores not only the pull of Miss Kenton’s attraction, but also becomes blind to the dangers posed to the public by his Nazi-sympathiser boss.
Becoming blind, escaping the joy and vibrancy of life, we may score our goals all right, but such goals, to use the language of football, are like those scored when a player pushes the ball into the post of his own team. They are atmagatti, suicidal.



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Thought of the day

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
William Shakespeare