Chapter 2: Krishna is Complete and whole,

Question 4



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Question 4


There is no other reason but one, and that is total emptiness. Whosoever is empty is whole. Emptiness is the foundation of wholeness. Rightly said, emptiness alone is whole. Can you draw a half emptiness? Even geometry cannot draw a half zero; there is no such thing as a half zero. Zero or emptiness is always complete, whole. Part-emptiness has no meaning whatsoever. How can you divide emptiness? And how can it be called emptiness if it is divided into parts? Emptiness is irreducible, indivisible. And where division begins, numbers begin; therefore, number one follows zero. One, two and three belong to the world of numbers. And all numbers arise from zero and end in zero. Zero or emptiness alone is whole.

He is whole who is empty. And it is significant that Krishna is called whole, because this man is absolutely empty. And only he who is choiceless can be empty. One who chooses becomes something. he accepts being somebody, he accepts "somebodiness". If he says he is a thief, he will become somebody; his emptiness will be no more. If he says he is a saint, then also is his emptiness destroyed. This person has accepted to be something, to be somebody. Now "somebodiness" has entered and "nothingness" is lost.

If someone asks Krishna who he is, he cannot answer the question meaningfully. Whatever answer he gives will bring choice in, and it will make something or somebody of him. If one really wants to be all, he must be prepared to be nothing.

Zen monks have a code, a maxim among themselves. They say, "One who longs to be everywhere must not be anywhere." One who wants to be all cannot afford to be anything. How can he be something? There is no congruity between all and something; they don't go together. Choicelessness brings you to emptiness1 to nothingness. Then you are what you are, but you cannot say who you are, what vou are.

It is for this reason that, when Arjuna asks Krishna who he is, instead of answering his question, he reveals himself, his real being to him. In that revelation he is all and everything. The deepest significance of his being whole lies in his utter emptiness.

One who is something or somebody will be in difficulty. His very being something will become his bondage. Life is mysterious; it has its own laws. If I choose to be something, this "something" will become my prison.

There is a beautiful anecdote from the life of Kabir. Every day a number of people gather at Kabir's place to listen to his words of wisdom. At the end of the satsang, Kabir always requested them to dine with him before going home.

One day the matter came to a head. Kabir's son Kamal came to him and said, "It is now becoming too much. We can no longer bear the burden of feeding so many people every day. We have to buy everything on credit, and we are now heavily in debt." Kabir said, "Why don't you borrow more?"

"But who is going to repay it?" Kamal asked.

Then his father said, "One who gives will repay it. Why should we worry about it?"

Kamal could not understand what his father meant. He was a worldly man. He said, "This answer won't do; it's not a spiritual matter. Those who lend us money ask for repayment, and if we fail to repay them we will prove to be dishonest."

To this Kabir simply said, "Then prove to be so. What is wrong with it? What if people call us dishonest?"

Kamal could not take it. And he said, "It is too much. I can't put up with it. You just stop inviting people to dinner, that's all."

Kabir then said, "If it comes to this, so be it."

The next day people came to satsang again, and as usual Kabir invited them to eat with him. His son reminded him of his unfulfilled promise to stop feeding the visitors. Kabir said, "I can't give you my word, because I don't want to bind myself to anything. I live in the moment. I let what happens in the moment, happen. If some day I don't ask them to stay to dinner, it will be so. But as long as I happen to invite them, I will invite them."

Kamal then said in desperation, "It means that I will now have to resort to stealing, because nobody is prepared to give us credit any more. What else can I do?"

Kabir said grinning, "You fool, why didn't you think of this before? It would have saved us the trouble of borrowing."

Kamal was simply amazed to hear his father say this. He was known as a wise man, a sage, who always gave people profound advice. "What is the matter with him?" he wondered. Then he thought that maybe his father was just playing a joke, so he decided to put it to a test.

Late in the night when the whole village was asleep, Kamal awakened his father and said, "I am going to steal. Will you accompany me?"

Kabir said, "Now that you have awakened me, I should go with you." Kamal was startled once again; he could not believe his father would agree to steal. But he was Kabir's son, and he did not like beating a hasty retreat, so he decided to see the whole of this joke, or whatever it was, through to the end.

Kamal walked to the back of a farmer's house, his father following him, and he began to break through the wall of the house. Kabir was standing silently near him. Kamal still expected his father to call off the whole thing as a joke. And at the same time he was afraid. Kabir said, "Why are you afraid, Kamal?"

"What else can I be when I am going to commit theft?" he retorted. "Isn't it ironical to suggest I should not be afraid while stealing?"

Kabir said, "It is fear that makes you feel guilty, that makes you think you are stealing; otherwise there is no reason to think that you are a thief. Don't fear, do your job rightly; otherwise you will needlessly disturb the sleep of the entire family."

Somehow Kamal drilled a hole in the wall, still hoping his father would call it quits. Then he said, "Now let's enter the house." And Kabir readily joined him and went inside the house. They had not gone there to steal money, they only wanted grain, and so they picked up a bag of wheat and left the house.

When they were out again, Kabir said to his son, "Now that dawn is at hand, it would be good if you went and informed the family that we are taking a bag of wheat away with us."

This startled Kamal once again and he exclaimed, "What are you saying? We are here as thieves, not as merchants."

But Kabir said, "Why make them worry unnecessarily about this missing bag of wheat? Let them know where it is going."

Followers of Kabir have completely ignored this odd episode. They never mention it because it is so inscrutable. In the light of this event it would be difficult to decide whether Kabir was a sage or a thief. Undoubtedly a theft has been committed, hence he is indictable as a thief. But his being wise is equally indisputable, because first he asks Kamal not to fear and then to inform the family about it so they are not put to unnecessary trouble.

Kamal had then warned Kabir, "But if I inform the family, we will be known as thieves."

And Kabir had very innocently said, "Since theft has happened, we are thieves. They will not be wrong to think of us as thieves."

Kamal had again warned, "Not only the family concerned, but the whole village will come to know that you are a thief! Your reputation will be in the mud. No one will come to visit you again."

And Kabir had said, "Then your troubles will be over. If they don't come, I will not have to ask them to eat with us."

Kamal could not understand it the whole episode was so paradoxical.

Krishna is complete in another sense: his life encompasses all there is to life. It seems impossible how a single life could contain so much -- all of life. Krishna has assimilated all that is contradictory, utterly contradictory in life. He has absorbed all the contradictions of life. You cannot find a life more inconsistent than Krishna's. There is a consistency running through the life of Jesus. So is Mahavira's life consistent. There is a logic, a rhythm, a harmonic system in the life of Buddha. If you can know a part of Buddha you will know all of him.

Ramakrishna has said, "Know one sage and all sages are known." But this rule does not apply to Krishna. Ramakrishna has said, "Know a drop of sea water and all the sea is known.'i But you can't say it about Krishna. The taste of sea water is the same all over -- it is salty. But the waters of Krishna's life are not all salty; at places they can be sugary. And, maybe, a single drop contains more than one flavor. Really, Krishna comprises all the flavors of life.

In the same way, Krishna's life represents all the arts of existence. Krishna is not an artist, because an artist is one who knows only one art, or a few. Krishna is art itself. That completes him from every side and in every way.

That is why those who knew him had to take recourse in all kinds of exaggeration to describe him. With others we can escape exaggeration, or we have to exaggerate a particular facet of their lives, but we find ourselves in real difficulty when we come to say something about Krishna. Even exaggeration doesn't say much about him. We can portray him only in superlatives we cannot do without superlatives. And our difficulty is greater when we find the superlative antonyms too, because he is cold and hot together.

In fact, water is hot and cold together. The difficulty arises when we impose our interpretation on it: then we separate hot from cold. If we ask water itself whether it is hot or cold, it will simply say, "To know me you only have to put your hand in me, because it is not a question of whether I am hot or cold, it is really a question of whether you are hot or cold." If you are warm, the water will seem to be cold, and if you are cold the water will seem to be hot. Its hotness or coldness is relative to you.

You can conduct an experiment. Warm one of your hands by exposing it to a fire, and cool your other hand on a piece of ice, and then put both hands together into a bucket of water. What will you find? Where your one hand will say the water is cold, the other will say the contrary. And it will be so difficult for you to decide if the water, the same water, is hot or cold.

You come upon the same kind of difficulty when you try to understand Krishna. It depends on you, and not on Krishna, how you see him. If you ask a Radha, who is in deep love with him, she will say something which will be entirely her own vision of Krishna. Maybe she does not call him a complete god, or maybe she does, but whatever she says depends on her, not on Krishna. So it will be a relative judgment. If sometimes Radha comes across Krishna dancing with another woman she will find it hard to accept him as a god. Then Krishna's water will feel cold to her. Maybe she does not feel any water at all. But when Krishna is dancing with Radha, he dances so totally with her that she feels he is wholly hers. Then she can say that he is God himself. Every Radha, when her lover is wholly with her, feels so in her bones. But the same person can look like a devil if she finds him flirting with another woman. These statements are relative; they cannot be absolute. For Arjuna and the Pandavas, Krishna is all-god, but the Kauravas will vehemently contest this claim. For them Krishna is worse than a devil. He is the person who is responsible for their defeat and destruction.

There can be a thousand statements about who Krishna is. But there cannot be a thousand statements about who Buddha is. Buddha has extricated himself from all relative relationships, from all involvements, and so he is unchanging, a monotone. Taste him from anywhere, his flavor is the same. Therefore, Buddha is not that controversial; he is like flat land. We can clearly know him as such-and-such, and our statements about him will always have a consistent meaning. But Krishna belies all our statements. And I call him complete and whole because he has disaffirmed all our pronouncements on him. No statement, howsoever astute, can wholly encompass Krishna; he always remains unsaid. So one has to cover the remaining side of his life with contrary statements. All these statements together can wholly cover him, but then they themselves seem paradoxical.

Krishna's wholeness lies in the fact that he has no personality of his own, that he is not a person, an individual -- he is existence itself. He is just existence; he is just emptiness. You can say he is like a mirror; he just mirrors everything that comes before him. He just mirrors. And when you see yourself mirrored in him, you think Krishna is like you. But the moment you move away from him, he is empty again. And whosoever comes to him, whosoever is reflected in his mirror thinks the same way and says Krishna is like him.

For this very reason there are a thousand commentaries on the GEETA. Every one of the commentators saw himself reflected in the GEETA. There are not many commentaries on the sayings of Buddha, and there is a reason for this. There are still fewer on the teachings of Jesus, and they are not much different from each other. In fact, a thousand meanings can only be implanted on Krishna, not on Buddha. What Buddha says is definite and unequivocal; his statements are complete, clear cut and logical. There may be some differences in their meaning according to the minds of different commentators, but this difference cannot be great.

The dispute over Mahavira was so small It only led to two factions among his followers. The dispute between the Shwetambaras and the Digambaras is confined to petty things like Mahavira lived naked or did not live naked. They don't quarrel over the teachings of Mahavira, which are very clear. It would be difficult to create differing sects around the Jaina tirthankara.

It is strange that it is as difficult to create sects around Krishna as it is around Mahavira. And it is so for very contrary reasons. If people try to create sects around Krishna. the number will run into the tens of thousands, and even then Krishna will remain inexhaustible. Therefore in the place of sects, around Krishna thousands of interpretations arose. In this respect too, Krishna is rare in that sects could not be built around him. Around Christ two to three major factions arose, but none around Krishna. But there are a thousand commentaries on the GEETA alone. And it is significant that no two commentaries tally: one commentary can be diametrically opposed to another, so much so they look like enemies. Ramanuja and Shankara have no meeting point, One can say to the other, "You are just an ignoramus!" And what is amazing is that in their own way both can be tight; there is no difficulty in it. Why is it so?

It is so because Krishna is not definite, conclusive. He does not have a system, a structure, a form, an outline. Krishna is formless, incorporeal. He is limitless. You cannot define him; he is simply indefinable. In this sense too, Krishna is complete and whole, because only the whole can be formless, indefinable.

No interpretations of the GEETA interpret Krishna, they only interpret the interpreters. Shankara finds corroboration of his own views from the GEETA: he finds that the world is an illusion. From the same book Ramanuja discovers that devotion is the path to God. Tilak finds something else: for him the GEETA stands for the discipline of action. And curiously enough, from this sermon on the battlefield, Gandhi unearths that non violence is the way. No body has any difficulty finding in the GEETA what he wants to find. Krishna does not come in their way; everyone is welcome there. He is an empty mirror. You see your image, move away, and the mirror is as empty as ever. It has no fixed image of its own; it is mere emptiness.

Krishna is not like a film. The film also works as a mirror, but only once: your reflection stays with it. So one can say that a particular photo is of so and so. You cannot say the same about a mirror; it mirrors you only as long as you are with it. What does it do after you move away from it? Then it just mirrors emptiness, It mirrors whatsoever faces it, exactly as it is. Krishna is that mirror. And therefore I say he is complete, whole.

Krishna is whole in many other ways too, and we will come to understand this as we go on with this discussion. Someone can be whole only if he is whole in every way. A person is not whole if his wholeness is confined to a particular dimension of life. In their own dimensions Mahavira and Jesus are whole. In itself the life of Jesus is whole, and it lacks nothing as such. He is whole, as a rose is whole as a rose and a marigold is whole as a marigold. But a rose cannot be whole as a marigold, only a marigold is whole as a marigold. Similarly, a marigold cannot be whole as a rose. So Buddha, Mahavira and Jesus are whole in their own dimensions; in themselves they lack nothing.

But the wholeness of Krishna is utterly different. He is not one-dimensional, he is really multi-dimensional. He enters and pervades every walk of life, every dimension of life. If he is a thief he is a whole thief, and if he is a sage he is a whole sage. When he remembers something he remembers it totally, and when he forgets it he forgets it totally. That is why, when he left Mathura, he left it completely. Now the inhabitants of that place cry and wail for him and say that Krishna is very hard-hearted, which is not true. Or if he is hard-hearted, he is totally so.

In fact, one who remembers totally also forgets totally. When a mirror mirrors you it does so fully, and when it is empty it is fully empty. When Krishna's mirror moves to Dwarka it now reflects Dwarka as fully as it reflected Mathura when it was there. He is now totally at Dwarka, where he lives totally, loves totally and even fights totally.

Krishna's wholeness is multidimensional, which is rare indeed. It is arduous to be whole even in one dimension it is not that easy. So it would be wrong to say that to be multidimensionally whole is arduous, it is simply impossible. But sometimes even the impossible happens, and when it happens it is a miracle. Krishna's life is that miracle, an absolute miracle.

We can find a comparison for every kind of person, but not for Krishna. The lives of Buddha and Mahavira are very similar they look like close neighbors. There is little difference between them. Even if there is any difference, it is on the outside; their inside, their innermost beings are identical. But it is utterly improbable to find a comparison for Krishna on this planet. As a man he symbolizes the impossible.

It is natural that a person who is whole in every dimension will have disadvantages and advantages both. He will not compare well with one who has achieved wholeness in a particular dimension, in so far as that particular dimension is concerned. Mahavira has exerted all his energy in one dimension, so in his own field he will excel Krishna, who has diversified his energy in all dimensions. Christ will also excel him in his own field. But on the whole, Krishna is superb. Mahavira, Buddha and Christ can not compare with him; he is utterly incomparable.

The significance of Krishna lies in his being multi-dimensional. Let us for a moment imagine a flower which from time to time becomes a marigold, a jasmine, a rose, a lotus and a celestial flower too -- and every time we go to it we find it an altogether different flower. This flower cannot compare well with a rose which, through and through, has been only a rose. Where the rose has, with single-mindedness, spent all its energy being a rose, this imaginary flower has diversified its energy in many directions. The life of this imaginary flower is so pervasive, so extensive that it cannot possibly have the density there is in the life of a rose. Krishna is that imaginary flower: his being has vastness, but it lacks density. His vastness is simply endless, immense.

So Krishna's wholeness represents infinity. He is infinite. Mahavira's wholeness means he has achieved everything there is to achieve in his one dimension, that he has left nothing to be achieved as far as this dimension is concerned. Now, no seeker will ever achieve anything more than Mahavira achieved in his own field; he can never excel Mahavira. Therefore, Krishna is whole in the sense that he is multidimensional, expansive, vast and infinite.

A person who is whole in one dimension is going to be a total stranger in so far as other dimensions are concerned. Where Krishna can even steal skillfully, Mahavira will be a complete failure as a thief. If Mahavira tries his hand at it there is every chance of his landing in a prison. Krishna will succeed even as a thief. Where Krishna will shine on the battlefield as an accomplished warrior, Buddha will cut a sorry figure if he takes his stand there. We can not imagine Christ playing a flute, but we can easily think of Krishna going to the gallows. Krishna will feel no difficulty on the cross. Intrinsically, he is as capable of facing crucifixion as of playing a flute. But it will be a hard task for Christ if he is handed a flute to play. We cannot think of Christ in the image of Krishna.

Christians say Jesus never laughed. Playing a flute will be a far cry for one who never laughed. If Jesus is asked to stand like Krishna, with one leg on the other, a crown of peacock feathers on his head and a flute on his lips, Jesus will immediately say, "I prefer the cross to this flute." He is at ease with the cross; he never felt so happy as on the cross. From the cross alone could he say, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing." He meets his death most peacefully on the cross, because it is his dimension. He finds no difficulty whatsoever in fulfilling his destiny. What was destined to happen is now happening. His journey's direction is now reaching its culminating point.

Jesus is rebellious, a rebel, a revolutionary, so the cross is his most natural destination. A Jesus can predict he is going to be crucified, If he is not crucified it will look like failure. In his case crucifixion is inevitable.

Krishna's case is very different and difficult. In his case no prediction is possible; he is simply un predictable. Whether he will die on the gallows or amid adulation and worship, nobody can say. Nobody could predict the way he really died. He was lying restfully under a tree; it was really not an occasion for death. Someone, a hunter, saw him from a distance, thought a deer was lying there and hit him with his arrow. His death was so accidental, so out of place; it is rare in its own way. Everybody's death has an element of predetermination about it; Krishna's death seems to be totally undetermined. He dies in a manner as if his death has no utility whatsoever. His life was wholly non-utilitarian; so is his death.

The death of Jesus proved to be very purposeful. The truth is, Christianity wouldn't have come into existence had Jesus not been crucified. Christianity owes its existence to the cross, not to Jesus. Jesus was an unknown entity before his crucifixion. Therefore, crucifixion became significant and the cross be came the symbol of Christianity. The crucifixion turned into Christianity's birth. Even Jesus is known to the world because of it.

But Krishna's death seems to be strange and insignificant. Is this a way to die? Does any one die like this? Is this the way to choose one's death, where someone hits you with an arrow, without your knowing, without any reason? Krishna's death does not make for an historical event; it is as ordinary as a flower blooming, withering and dying. Nobody knows when an evening gust of wind comes and hurls the flower to the ground. Krishna's death is such a non-event. It is so because he is multi-dimensional. Nothing can be said about his goings-on; none can know how his life is going to shape itself.

Lastly, let us look at it in another way. If Mahavira has to live another fifty yeats it can certainly be said how his life will shape up. Similarly, if Jesus is given an extra span of fifty years, we can easily outline on paper how he is going to spend it. It is predictable; it is within the grasp of astrologers. If Mahavira is given only ten years, the story of how he will live them can be written down here and now. It can be said precisely when he will leave his bed in the morning and when he will go to bed at night. Even the daily menus for his breakfast, lunch and dinner can be laid out. One can reduce to writing what he is going to say in his discourses. What he will do in ten years will be just a repetition of what he did in the preceding decade.

But in the case of Krishna, not only ten years, but even ten days will be as unpredictable. No one can say what will happen in the world in that ten days' time; no repetition whatsoever is possible in his case. This man does not live according to a plan, a schedule, a program; he lives without any planning, without any programming. He lives in the moment. What will happen will happen. In this sense too, Krishna is an infinity. He does not seem to end anywhere.

Now I will give you the ultimate meaning of Krishna as a complete incarnation It is that he alone is complete who does not seem to be completing, to be concluding. What completes itself comes to its end, is finished. This will seem to be paradoxical to you. Ordinarily we believe that to be perfect means to reach the point of culmination beyond which nothing remains to be done, where one is finished with oneself If you think so, this is really the idea of one-dimensional perfection. Krishna's wholeness is not like that which concludes itself, comes to an end and finishes itself, his completeness means that no matter how long he lives and journeys through life he is never going to come to a finish, he is going to go on and on and on.

The Upanishads' definition of wholeness is, therefore, tight. It says, "From wholeness emerges wholeness, and if you take away wholeness from wholeness, wholeness still remains." If we take away thousands of Krishnas from Krishna, this man will still remain; more and more Krishnas can still be taken from him. There is no difficulty. Krishna will have no trouble whatsoever, because he can be anything.

Mahavira cannot be born today. It will be utterly impossible for him to be born at the present time, because Mahavira reached wholeness in a particular situation, in a particular time. That dimension could be perfected only in that particular situation. In the same way Jesus cannot be born today. If today he comes at all, in the first place nobody will crucify him. No matter how much noise he makes, people will say, "Just ignore him." Jews have learned their lesson from their first mistake, which gave rise to Christianity. There are a billion Christians all over the earth today. Jews will not commit the same mistake again. They will say, "Don't get involved with this man again, leave him alone. Let him say and do what he likes."

In his lifetime Jesus could not get many people to become interested in him; after his death millions became interested. But of the hundred thousand people who had gathered to watch him being crucified, hardly eight were those who loved him. Eight in a hundred thousand! Even that handful of his lovers were not courageous enough to say "Yes" if they were confronted with the question as to whether they were Jesus' friends. They would have said, "We don't know him." The woman who brought the dead body of Jesus down from the cross had not come from a respectable Jerusalem family, because it was difficult for Jesus to reach the aristocracy and influence them. She who could gather courage to bring Jesus down from the cross was a prostitute. As a prostitute she was already at the lowest rung of the social ladder, what worse could society do to her? So it was a prostitute, not a woman of the aristocracy, who brought his dead body down. In my view, even today, no woman from a respectable family will agree to do so if Jesus comes and happens to be crucified a second time.

Jesus can be neglected, because his statements are so innocent.

There is another danger, in case people of today don't neglect him: they will take him for a madman. What was the bone of contention which led to his crucifixion? Jesus had said, "I am God; I and my father in heaven are one." Today we would say, "Let him say it. What does it matter?"

For Jesus to be born again it is necessary for the same situation to exist that was present in his time. That is why Jesus is an historical person. Please remember it is only the followers of Jesus who began writing the history of religion. No other people had done it. History begins with Jesus. It is not accidental that an era begins with Jesus. Jesus is an historical event, and he can happen only in a particular historical moment.

We did not write Krishna's history. The dates of his birth and death are not definitely known. And it is useless to know them: any dates would do. Particular dates and times are irrelevant in relation to Krishna: he can happen at any date and time; he will be relevant to any time and situation. He will have no difficulty whatsoever in being what he is; he will be the same in all times. He does not insist on being like this or that. If you have any conditions, you will need a corresponding situation for it, but if you say that anything will do, you can be at ease in every situation. Mahavira will insist on being naked, but Krishna will even put on peg-legged pants, he will have no difficulty. He will even say that had you made him this outfit earlier, he would gladly have worn it.

To live so choicelessly is to live in infinity. No time, no place, no situation can be a problem for him. He will be one with any age, with any period of human history. His flower will bloom wherever and whenever he is.

Therefore I say that where Mahavira, Buddha and Jesus are historical persons, Krishna is not. This does not mean that Krishna did not happen. He very much happened, but he does not belong to any particular time and space, and it is in this sense that he is not historical. He is a mythical and legendary figure. He is an actor, a performer really. He can happen any time. And he is not attached to a character, to an idealized lifestyle. He will not ask for a particular Radha, any Radha will be okay for him. He will not insist on a particular age, a special period of time; any age will suit him. It is not necessary that he only play a flute, any musical instrument of any age will do for him.

Krishna is whole in the sense that no matter how much you take away from him, he still remains complete and whole. He can happen over and over again.

We will have another question-and-answer discussion this afternoon. You can send in writing whatever questions arise in your mind.


Next: Chapter 3: Where Buddha Ends Krishna Begins, Question 1


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