The ways of the World Teacher (HH 158)

A Talk by Alok Pandey from the “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)


By a strange but possibly significant co-incidence, the Sri Krishna Janamastmi (Birthday of Lord Krishna) fell this year on the Teacher’s Day observed in India on the 5th Sep. For Sri Krishna as the immanent Divine is indeed the World-Teacher, Jagadguru.  But His ways completely elude mankind and escape our human understanding. This talk and possibly the next one as well, is being dedicated to dwelling on some ways of ‘trickster boy, the mischievous Krishna’ who played a large role in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga as well until the two became one when Sri Krishna’s personality united completely with Sri Aurobindo on the 24th Nov 1926, thus clearing the way for the Descent of the Supermind.

Words of Sri Aurobindo

Ahana

Voice of the sensuous mortal, heart of eternal longing,
Thou who hast lived as in walls, thy soul with thy senses wronging!
But I descend at last. Fickle and terrible, sweet and deceiving,
Poison and nectar one has dispensed to thee, luring thee, leaving.
We two together shall capture the flute and the player relentless.
Son of man, thou hast crowned thy life with the flowers that are scentless,
Chased the delights that wound. But I come and midnight shall sunder.
Lo, I come, and behind me Knowledge descends and with thunder
Filling the spaces Strength, the Angel, bears on his bosom
Joy to thy arms. Thou shalt look on her face like a child’s or a blossom,
Innocent, free as in Eden of old, not afraid of her playing,
When thy desires I have seized and devoured like a lioness preying.
Thou shalt not suffer always nor cry to me lured and forsaken:
I have a snare for his footsteps, I have a chain for him taken.
Come then to Brindavan, soul of the joyous; faster and faster
Follow the dance I shall teach thee with Shyama for slave and for master.
Follow the notes of the flute with a soul aware and exulting;
Trample Delight that submits and crouch to a sweetness insulting.
Then shalt thou know what the dance meant, fathom the song and the singer,
Hear behind thunder its rhymes, touched by lightning thrill to his finger,
Brindavan’s rustle shalt understand and Yamuna’s laughter,
Take thy place in the Ras1 and thy share of the ecstasy after.

O immense Light and thou, O spirit-wide boundless Space,
Whom have you clasped and hid, deathless limbs, gloried face?
Vainly lie Space and Time, “Void are we, there is none.”
Vainly strive Self and World crying “I, I alone.”
One is there, Self of self, Soul of Space, Fount of Time,
Heart of hearts, Mind of minds, He alone sits, sublime.
Oh no void Absolute self-absorbed, splendid, mute,
Hands that clasp hold and red lips that kiss blow His flute.
All He loves, all He moves, all are His, all are He;
Many limbs sate His whims, bear His sweet ecstasy.
Two in One, Two who know difference rich in sense,
Two to clasp, One to be, this His strange mystery.

Words of the Mother

God is a great and cruel Torturer because He loves. You do not understand this, because you have not seen and played with Krishna.  – Sri Aurobindo

Krishna is the immanent Divine, the Divine Presence in everyone and in all things. He is also, sovereignly, the aspect of Delight and Love of the Supreme; he is the smiling tenderness and the playful gaiety; he is at once the player, the play and all his playmates. And as both the game and its results are wholly known, conceived, willed, organised and played consciously in their entirety, there can be room for nothing but the delight of the play. Thus to see Krishna means to find the inner Godhead, to play with Krishna means to be identified with the inner Godhead and to share in his consciousness. When you achieve this state, you enter immediately into the bliss of the divine play; and the more complete the identification, the more perfect the state.

But if some corner of the consciousness keeps the ordinary perception, the ordinary understanding, the ordinary sensation, then you see the suffering of others, you find the play that causes so much suffering very cruel and you conclude that the God who takes pleasure in such a play must be a terrible Torturer; but on the other hand, when you have had the experience of identification with the Divine, you cannot forget the immense, the wonderful love which he puts into his play, and you understand that it is the limitation of our vision that makes us judge in this way, and that far from being a voluntary Torturer, he is the great beneficent love that guides the world and men, by the quickest routes, in their progressive march towards perfection, a perfection which, moreover, is always relative and is always being surpassed.

But a day will come when this apparent suffering will no longer be required to stimulate the advance and when progress can be made more and more in harmony and delight.

*

Men are in love with sin; when they see one who is too high for vice or virtue, they curse him and cry, “O thou breaker of bonds, thou wicked and immoral one!” Therefore Sri Krishna does not live as yet in Brindavan. – Sri Aurobindo

As for Krishna, he came upon earth to bring freedom and delight. He came to announce to men, enslaved to Nature, to their passions and errors, that if they took refuge in the Supreme Lord they would be free from all bondage and sin. But men are very attached to their vices and virtues (for without vice there would be no virtue); they are in love with their sins and cannot tolerate anyone being free and above all error. That is why Krishna, although immortal, is not present at Brindavan in a body at this moment.

*

A Poem By Subramaniam Bharati

KANNAN MY DISCIPLE

A FREE RENDERING OF A TAMIL POEM
(In this poem Sri Krishna comes to the poet as his disciple and plays his usual tricks.)

HE who is the one and the many,
Who is the Lord of all existence,
Incarnate as the boy dark and resplendent,
The elusive enchanter of human hearts,
The peerless Player of .pranks enthralling,
KANNAN, the master-trickster,
As if inferior to me in wisdom,
As if with my help, through my grace,
Keeping my company, hearing my words,
He wished to elevate himself,
As if he very much admired, worshipped
My great wisdom, marvellous poetry,
Kannan, the mischief-master came to me
As disciple.
Oh God, how I was caught in that net,
How much I suffered day and night,
How sorely vexed in heart and mind,
All that to recount, oh, heavens,
Is a long, long tale,—a Mahabharata.
Fool that I was
Not changing my heart
To change others’ thought;
Not conquering my ego
I sought to fix my friends firmly in God,
Bliss everlasting ever eluding my clasp,
The thousand and one sorrows of mankind to wipe off I fought!
This great folly of mine,
Him it attracted; to teach
A good lesson he wanted;
He came to me of his own accord
And showered praises on me:
My wisdom, my character,
My genius, my poetry he admired,
“None like unto thee in all the world,
Fain would I become thy disciple,
None other can I call my guide,” he said.
So goes the familiar adage,
“You pat a man on his back,
His head swells instantly.”
So my swollen head getting more swollen
Greedily grasped the good chance.
To put him on the path of virtue,
To make him tread the way of the Vedas,
To help him climb to the summit of  glory,
To make of him a human god
I poured on him advices profuse and in plenty.
Tread this path only and not that,
Do this only and not that,
With such people only mix, avoid the others,
Such books alone read, shun the others,
Desire not the forbidden fruit,
Strive only for wisdom and truth
And so on and so forth.
Endlessly I laboured, on him,
Quoting Shastras profound, dharmas sacred,
Exhorted him.
Struggled with him, bored him through and through;
Preaching all my stock of book-knowledge,
Preconceived notions, mental ideas, moral precepts.
Well you know
That old story,
Where the wife always did
The exact opposite of what the husband said.
Such a one was this disciple mine
Who preferred the path easy and serpentine,
And went along merrily in his line,
Whilst the pathetic guru could only look and sigh in vain.
This petty self of mine,
For which name, fame, status.
Position, respect, dignity among men.
Were of importance supreme.
Seeing my Kannan, my own dear disciple,
From first to last, disobedient to me,
Not merely so,
But going to ruin down the paths
Forbidden by all men wise and pure,
And bringing on himself and on my inflated head
Infamy, hate, insult, wrath and ridicule of all men,
Felt sorely hurt and in mournful mood
Passed day and night in sorrowful plight,
But he went worse and worse.
And reached that stage when
All elders of the place, good men forsooth,
And ladies respectable, virtuous no doubt,
Looked down on him with contempt and revulsion
And said, “A madcap he has become now, no doubt.”
Such anguish and sorrow never have I felt before or after—
Torment of mind, pain of heart, misery of soul.
That the one disciple dear to my heart
For whom day and night I had toiled and wrought
Should become unworthy in all men’s thought,
Cut me deep, like a sword,
Now as a last resort,
I gathered up my wits at last,
Exhorted him to turn a new leaf;
With Shastras, Puranas, Scriptures old and new,
With sweet words, cajolery, wise words, threats,
To save him I exhausted all my breath,
Hoping that even if to the divine life he did not rise
He might not from the human state
Down the depths of degradation
To perdition go. So- with him I pleaded,
Harangued, argued, begged to my uttermost,
In so many words, in so many ways.
Alas, alas, all in vain.
Uncontrollable, savage, mad,
Naughty, no attachment, no interest in anything,
Careless of all consequences, of people’s opinion,
Like a monkey, like a bear, like a ghost on the tree-top,
An altogether strange being he stood—
My Kannan.
All my Himalayan efforts gone to waste,
My words of wisdom thrown to the winds,
With ego and self-respect deeply wounded
I took a formidable vow: Change this fellow I must,
Anyhow, by any means, at any cost.
Once should I fix him to a single spot,
Make him stick fast to a single job,
Then will he walk straight with a single mind,
Success then shall be mine, I thought
And waited for my time to come at last.
One day, in my house, I caught him—
“Great is thy love for me, my son,
My entire trust I place on that precious love of thine,
And from thee ask a boon which thou shalt not refuse,
But promise to give it for love of me.
Thou knowest well, my son,
That much depends on the company a man keeps
For all the good that he attains
And his onward progress on earth.
Oh how I wish I could spend all my time
(Except that much needed for earning bread)
In the good company of wise men,
Learned in logic, versed in Scriptures,
Steeped in poetry, preoccupied with Truth.
Such a one I know not any here
Who can spend the whole time with me,
But only thou. Therefore I pray,
Refuse not but stay
With me for a few days at least.
Now, without delay, give thy assent,
And set my heart at peace and rest.”
So I said and he replied,
“So be it, I agree,
But thou knowest well,
To remain idle the whole time
I loathe of all things most,
Stay with thee I shall, if only thou showest
Some work here for me to do.”
“Well then,” I said, well knowing him
And his talent and his skill,
“Take all these my innumerable scribblings,
Hastily done and disorderly kept.
I know that thou hast the capacity and the gift
To make of them good poetry and write them well.
This work thou shalt do day after day for me,
Who shun sloth in earnest,
And thou shalt have a work to do.”
“Good,” he said and waited for a trice,
Then up he rose and spoke, “Now! I’m going.”
Sharp was the pain I felt in my bosom, Oh the anguish!
The anger raging hot in my veins like fire
I curbed and snatched some old writings of mine and threw them into his hands,
And shouted, “Do it now!” He took them
As if very willing and very amenable, and waited
For a minute more only and said again,
“I’m going.”
Wrath in my blood rushing to my head
Made me roar like a wounded lion:
“What a fellow art thou,
This conduct of thine to say the least is despicable,
Of going back on thy promised sacred word.
True then, it is, what people say of thee,
Indeed thou art a madcap and even worse.”
“Tomorrow I shall do it,” he said.
“Here and now art thou going to do it or not?
Speak one word and no more.”
Sudden was the reply and curt:
“No.”
Fierce was the ire that rushed through my veins,
Blood-red became my eyes and my lips trembled,
Fire was in my speech and I blurted,
“Out, out, thou ghost; away from my sight.
Never more shalt thou show that fiendish face of thine.
God forbid I ever meet thee
Again in this world, Go, go, go.”
Mild like a lamb he got up and moved through the door softly,
Tears were in my eyes, a silence
Strange filled my breast.
Deep in my heart a tender voice addressed him:
“Go, my son, live thou long
And be happy, anywhere. May the gods
Protect Thee always. All I could, I did
For thee, to change thee, to set thee
On the narrow path of virtue
But failed utterly.
Go thou and be blessed!”
Kannan went, but came back in a twinkling
With a good pen in his skilful hand
And in a minute was the work given by me
And the work was the work not of one ordinary,
But of a poet divine, a born genius, an artist.
“Sir, give up all thy worry; I shall
From now on obey thee always,
Carry out all thy wishes in full.
Never again shalt thou come to grief through me.”
Such sweet words he uttered and with a sweet laugh disappeared
Only to reappear in my heart the very next moment,
With the self-same laughter, and that sweet voice spoke to me once again,
“Son, to create, to change, to undo a thing
All these are not in thine hands
Know this truth: and when thou sayst
That thou hast failed utterly,
Thou hast won already.
Do thou all thine works in the world,
But give up all thine desire, attachments and anger of old.
So shalt thou never become unhappy
And my best wishes with thee forever.”
And those words even now I hear.

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