September the 3rd was celebrated as Sri Krishna’s birth. While outwardly it is the commemoration of an event dear and sacred to devotees of Sri Krishna across the world, there is indeed an inner significance of his Divine Birth. Today’s talk is dedicated to this mystery of Sri Krishna’s birth and his central message.
from ‘My Friend and my Master’
by Charu Chandra Dutt
In 1906, I said one day to him, “You give so many nice things to others. I have a request to make today for myself. Let me have an old copy of the Gita, one that you have handled for some time.” He said nothing at the time but when he came to me again he brought me a very well-thumbed copy of the Gita. He gave it to me very lightly and I took it from him very lightly too. But the real meaning of this giving and taking appeared to me forty years later. When, in 1908, I burnt all his letters and destroyed all books bearing his name, I managed to preserve this Gita, though it has in it some writing in Devanagari. The book is very old and the pages brittle. So we have never touched it except just to do a pranam occasionally. In 1946, one morning, I don’t know why, I said to the Mother, “Ma Mère, Sri Aurobindo gave me a copy of the Gita forty years ago. I want you to keep it.” Next morning I handled the book over to her. Soon after this, there came on a Darshan day. After the ceremony was over, at 5 P.M., Nirod came to our house carrying something inside his scarf. He called out from the gate. “What will you give me, Sir?” I replied, “Anything you desire.” He came forward and put the old Gita in my hand saying solemnly, “I am repeating Sri Aurobindo’s words, Sir — ‘I gave you the Gita in 1906 and asked you to keep it. I give it to you again today and ask you to keep.’” Thus he gave me this priceless book twice — once as my friend, the second time as my Lord and Master, showing clearly that both were the same.
I found my Kanu again in 1940. He was wearing the divine peacock feather on his head. But, as I have stated already, I could cast but one stolen fleeting glance at him, during the first Darshan. In the August Darshan my wife was with me. We gazed at him to our hearts’ content. On the morrow, Purani came to us and said, “Do you know what Sri Aurobindo said yesterday? — ‘This time I had a good look at Charu, and I recognised Lilavati quite easily’.”
I have omitted to relate an experience which I had on my return to Calcutta after the first Darshan. Let me tell the story fully. It may have a subtle meaning. As I saw Sri Aurobindo, that first time, there was a sky-blue radiance about him and he had a peacock feather on his head. I have already mentioned this. Everyone does not see him like this, but I certainly did. And there was a subtle reason for it. In 1937, I was in bed, for several weeks, with severe pain in my knees. When I recovered, a sister-in-law of mine said to me, “Brother, during your illness, I made a vow to my Govindaji, that you would after recovery put a Bakul garland round his neck twice a year — on Dol Purnima and Ras Purnima. Have I acted wrongly?” I said with some hesitation, “You should have taken my permission first, sister. But never mind. I shall fulfil your vow in your name.” Accordingly, I garlanded the deity several times on the specific days. To my knowledge, I did it mechanically without even bowing down to the image. But who knows what was happening subconsciously! In another way, too, I was in close touch with the image of the divine Flute-Player. At that period, for some years, I used to paint Dhyan images of our Gods and Goddess, in the Indian way. I never got to be good at it, but I pursued the art very diligently. My favourite subject was Krishna the flute-player, and I had done over twenty-five pictures of Him. All this might have something to do with my first view of Sri Aurobindo in February, 1940. My understanding is too crude to account for it. But what happened a few days later cannot, by any means, be called an affair of the mind. My nephew received me at Howrah on my return from Pondicherry in March and took me straight on to their shrine of Govindaji, saying that it was Dol Purnima day and I had to garland the Deity. As usual, I approached Govindaji with the garland of bakul. But it was no earthen image that I saw this time. Govinda opened his eyes with a gentle smile, and looked at me, exactly as Sri Aurobindo had done at Pondicherry. The resemblance was truly striking! I took two handfuls of the festive red powder and smeared his cheeks saying “If this is what you willed to do, why did you make me wait so long!” There was a crowd of devotees present who shouted out “Jai Govindaji”. I did not, however, continue garlanding our household deity for long. My sister, the devotee of the God, gave me my release a year later, saying, “You have now got your own Govindaji, Dada!”
….Let me tell one or two very short tales about a sadhak’s contact with his Master. I have already recounted how I smeared Govindaji’s image with the festive red powder in Calcutta. Subsequently, I was, once, seized with a keen desire to put some red Abir on the feet of my living Govinda. How could it be done? We discussed the question again and again at home. At last, when the day of the festival arrived, my wife solved the problem by going straight up to the Mother and laying our earnest desire at her feet. The Gracious Mother agreed at once to put some red Abir, on the Master’s feet, on our behalf. Next morning she gave us the powder sanctified by the touch of His feet.
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from ‘Forty years ago’
by Sahana Devi
This was sometime in 1932. The Mother then gave us the idea of a dance on Radha. Dilip was entrusted to compose the song for the dance and I was to translate it into a dance. There were four movements — first, a vast emptiness had enveloped Radha, within as well as outside — she was groping in the dark; the second — longing without finding what she was seeking; the third—the revelation of Krishna; the last—the surrender of Radha. Dilip composed a marvellous song for the dance much praised by both the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. I can hardly check myself from mentioning here two humorous remarks of Sri Aurobindo.
When the idea of showing the dance to the Mother was first mooted, we asked her to allot a particular room for practising, but in the room below resided a sadhak. Sri Aurobindo wrote in answer to our request: “He is too serious to be danced over”—while later when asked where could one practice the ‘Radha dance’, he indicated that very room. Much astonished I wrote mentioning about the sadhak: “You had written to say, ‘He is too serious to be danced over'”. He replied at once: “Perhaps before long he will cease to be too serious.”
“…the Dawn-dance is fairly easy, but I have not grasped why it is easy. As dance the inner vibration is becoming clear, as it were, I understand well an inner movement. I am writing to you to find out if there is any truth in it.” Sri Aurobindo replied: “To feel the vibration and develop from it the rhythm of the dance is the right way to create something true; the other way, to understand with the mind and work it out with the mind only or mainly is the mental way; it is laborious and difficult and has not got the same spontaneous movement.”
In spite of my efforts with the Radha-dance the result was not up to my expectations, it seemed the real thing was eluding me. I realised that I was following the second way of which Sri Aurobindo told me, that is, my mind was more at work. Although I met the Mother often who watched my dance with a lot of care and affection and eagerness too, encouraging me a good deal, yet I seemed to be in the same dark alley and was not able to open myself in the manner I wanted to and consequently what I wanted remained unexpressed. In the end I veered off towards the Dawn-dance leaving the Radha-dance in abeyance….
…when I was trying to shape the last movement of the Radha-dance I got a priceless letter from the Mother, written in her own hand. A letter like this one will show the manner of their help and explain how daily they are trying to raise us up, where and in what way…. This is what she wrote:
To complete what I told you yesterday about Radha’s dance I have noted down as an indication of the thought and feeling Radha must have within her when she stands finally in front of Krishna: ‘Every thought of my mind, each emotion of my heart, every movement of my being, every feeling and sensation, each cell of my body, each drop of my blood, all, all is yours, yours without reserve. You can decide my life or my death, my happiness or my sorrow, my ‘pleasure or my pain, whatever you do with me, whatever comes to me from you will lead me to Divine Rapture.”
12 January 1932
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Words of the Mother
O Thou whom at first sight I knew for the Lord of my being and my God, receive my offering.
Thine are all my thoughts, all my emotions, all the sentiments of my heart, all my sensations, all the movements of my life, each cell ofmy body, each drop ofmy blood. I am absolutely and altogether Thine, Thine without reserve. What Thou wilt of me, that I shall be. Whether Thou choosest for me life or death, happiness or sorrow, pleasure or suffering, all that comes to me from Thee will be welcome. Each one of Thy gifts will be always for me a gift divine bringing with it the supreme Felicity.
13 January 1932
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Krishna represents both the universal Godhead and the immanent Godhead, he whom one can meet within one’s being and in all that constitutes the manifested world. And do you want to know why he is always represented as a child? It is because he is in constant progression. To the extent that the world is perfected, his play is also perfected—what was the play of yesterday will no longer be the play of tomorrow; his play will become more and more harmonious, benign and joyful to the extent that the world becomes capable of responding to it and enjoying it with the Divine.
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Words of Sri Aurobindo
Renunciation means renunciation of desire, renunciation of selfishness. And to learn that renunciation one need not take refuge in solitude. That lesson has to be learnt through work in the field of work; work is the means to climb upon the path of yoga. This world of varied play has been created for the purpose of bringing delight to its creatures. It is not God’s purpose that this game of delight should cease. He wants the creatures to become his comrades and playmates, to flood the world with delight. We are in the darkness of ignorance; that is because, for the sake of the play the Lord has kept himself aloof and thus surrounded himself with obscurity. Many are the ways fixed by him which, if followed would take one out of the darkness, bring him into God’s company. If any one is not interested in the play and desires rest, God will fulfil his desire. But if one follows His way for His sake, then God chooses him, in this world or elsewhere as His fit playmate. Arjuna was Krishna’s dearest comrade and playmate, therefore he received the teaching of the Gita’s supreme secret….
He is the fit recipient of the knowledge given in the Gita who understands this world-movement as a sweet and mysterious game full of love and bliss, elects God as his playmate and can bind Him to himself in a tie of friendship. He is the fit recipient of the knowledge given in the Gita who realises the greatness and the power of God, the depth of His wisdom and even His awfulness, and yet is not overwhelmed and plays with Him without fear and with a smiling face….
Those who are frightened by the sorrows of the world, tormented by the distaste for life, vairÀgya, those who have lost interest in this play of God, are desirous of hiding themselves in the lap of Infinity and leave this play, theirs is a different path. No such feeling or desire was there in Arjuna, the mighty warrior and the bravest of heroic men. Sri Krishna has not revealed this supreme secret to a quiet ascetic or wise philosopher, has not elected any Brahmin vowed to non-violence as the recipient of this teaching; a Kshatriya warrior of tremendous might and prowess was considered to be the fit receptacle for obtaining this incomparable knowledge. He alone is capable of entry into the deepest secrets of this teaching who can remain undisturbed by victories or defeats in the battle of life. This Self is not to be won by one who lacks in strength: nÀyam-ÀtmÀ balahÈnena labhyaÕ. He alone who cherishes an aspiration to find God in preference to a desire for liberation, mumukØutva, can have a taste of the proximity of God, realize himself as eternally free in his true nature, and will be capable of rejecting the desire for liberation as being the last resort of the Ignorance. He alone is capable of passing beyond the modes of Nature, gunÀtÈta, who after rejecting the tamasic and rajasic forms of egoism is unwilling to remain bound even by an egoism of the sattwic type….
Such a person is an excellent receptacle for the Gita’s teaching. Arjuna was not the best among his great contemporaries. In spiritual knowledge, Vyasa was the greatest; in all kinds of worldly knowledge of that epoch, Bhishma was the best; in the thirst for knowledge king Dhritarashtra and Vidura led the rest; in saintliness and sattwic qualities Yudhishthira was the best; in devotion there was none equal to Uddhava and Akrura; his eldest brother Kama, the mighty warrior led in inborn strength and courage. And yet, it was Arjuna whom the Lord of the worlds elected; it was in his hands that He placed divine weapons like the Gandiva bow and gave to him eternal victory; it was through him that thousands upon thousands of India’s world-renowned fighters were made to fall; and he founded for Yudhishthira his undisputed empire as a gift of Arjuna’s prowess. Above all, it was Arjuna whom He decided as being the one fit recipient of the supreme knowledge given in the Gita. It was Arjuna alone who is the hero and the principal actor in the Mahabharata, every section of that poem proclaims the fame and the glory of him alone. This is no undue partiality on the part of the Supreme Divine or of the great Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata. This high position derives from complete faith and self-surrender. He who surrenders to the Supreme with complete faith and dependence and without making any claims, all responsibility for his own good or harm, weal or woe, virtue or sin; he who wants to act according to His behests instead of being attached to works dear to his own heart; who accepts the impulsions received from Him instead of satisfying his own propensities; who puts to use in His work the qualities and inspirations given by Him instead of eagerly hugging at the qualities admired by himself — it is that selfless and faithful Karmayogin who becomes the Supreme’s dearest friend and the best vehicle of His Power; through him is accomplished flawlessly a stupendous work for the world.