man-mayā mām upāśritāḥ
pūtā mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became puriﬁed by knowledge of Me – and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me. Bhagavad Gita 4.10
This verse points to the middle path, avoiding the two extremes. On one extreme are those who believe that they should enjoy life mindlessly through their senses. On the other are those who detach themselves from whatever this world consists of, be it people or things. While the pleasure-seeking people hanker after short-lived titillating experiences, those on the other extreme become dry, and they confuse the dryness of their hearts with inner peace. In this verse, Krishna says be free of attachment, fear, and anger and channel all the energy toward Him. He says we should become absorbed in Him and take refuge in Him. Why is He pulling us from attachments of this world and then asking us to become attached again, to Him. Is it not like being out of the frying pan and into the fire? Doesn’t it sound like all those rebound relationships we have had in the past (some of us still pass through them)?
As the God of everything, Krishna knows who we are. Krishna knows that we want happiness and love. No, we want happiness from love. He knows that we don’t understand how it works. In the scarcity of love, we stuff our lives with things, positions, money, and dry philosophies. None of it makes us happy forever. In fact, the residual effect of this glutting is indigestion of suffering. Krishna suggests that we become attached to Him. But can He make us happy? Srimad Bhagavatam says, just as by watering the root of a tree, its branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits are nourished, by channeling our love toward Krishna, we give our love to every being because we all are parts and parcels of Krishna. There is nothing more fulfilling than the love we give to Krishna.
Krishna says don’t bother about watering each leaf and branch. The water of love will reach them when we water the root. He says that many beings in the past have been purified by doing what he’s suggesting. A very fine example is of Dhruva; the child who was insulted by his step mother, and refused the throne of his father that he so rightfully deserved. He left for the forest to perform severe austerities. He wanted to please Narayana. He wanted the throne. Narayana appeared before Dhruva. Before He could bestow Dhruva with the pleasure of the throne, Dhruva went into ecstasy. His heart was purified and filled with divine love. He felt fulfilled, and he realized what an inferior goal he had set for himself and how blessed he was to experience the highest truth: divine love. Narayana created a planet for Dhruva and made it immune to annihilation. The universal annihilation can’t do any harm to Dhruvaloka. Krishna wants us to experience the highest happiness. And for that we have to create a clean space in our hearts. Bhakti purifies us. It ignites the dormant love in our heart. Becoming absorbed in Krishna, doing that which pleases Krishna is bhakti. To please Krishna, we don’t renounce the world and worldly things, but we use them in His loving devotional service.
Just a couple of days ago I was chatting with an ex-colleague about his daughter who studies at Rajghat Besant School, Varanasi. Rajghat is not a mainstream school. It teaches human values to children. Its children live simple and meaningful lives. He has dared to give his daughter a lifestyle that only a handful of modern parents can even think of. But higher than the human values is God-centered consciousness. That’s what Krishna teaches us in Bhagavad Gita. God-centered consciousness is replete with human values and compassion because such a consciousness knows that everything belongs to God.
My colleague and I were discussing this point, but from a different perspective. The Rajghat Besant School is managed by Krishnamurti Foundation. Jiddhu Krishnamurti maintained that there was no God. In Lives of Alcyone, C.W. Leadbeater, Krishnamurti’s master, describes the whole Aryan/Manu lineage. Leadbeater has spotlit Krishnamurti as a key soul in Lives of Alcyone. Krishnamurti was a disciple of Buddha in his last life. Krishnamurti, through his lectures and books, may have been preaching those souls who are not ready for God-realization. That’s what Buddha appeared to do: to bring less-evolved souls to a level where they become mind-conscious. But, someone who is already at the level where he can feel God’s hand in everything, a dip in Krishnamurti or Buddhist philosophy is like stepping back, instead of going up on the ladder, with the intention to reach the top. A lack of guidance can do this to us.
I was Googling for something which I couldn’t find, but my search landed me on a page in Osho’s library. On this page, Osho was discussing why Krishnamurti failed. We don’t need Osho to tell this to us who himself failed. But the example he cited caught my attention. A disciple of Krishnamurti would always parrot that there is no God, there is no God. At the age of 80, he had a tryst with death which scared the hell out of him. In the fear of losing the temporary body, he started chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Osho asked him what happened to his philosophy of no God. Don’t say a word, the man said. What if there is God. Let me chant… The man survived. Osho asked him if he still thought that there was no God. The old boy said no no, there is none.
Until we take a refuge in Krishna, we spend lives after lives swinging between pleasure and pain. Our journey begins with gross pleasure and pain, and we experience their subtle variations through the dry philosophies that mollycoddle the mind but kill the soul. When these philosophies and the knowledge of the Vedas can’t bring us the highest truth, we wonder what else there could be. When we find ourselves in dire straits, and we pray helplessly, a messenger of God appears through whom Krishna holds our hands.
It has happened with me. It can happen with you, too.
I met with J.Krishnamurti in British Council Library in New Delhi, in 1996, through a book he had written. It was an instant connection. It was an epiphany, too. Here was someone who could articulate my thoughts and feelings so precisely that I couldn’t do myself. It felt like a past life connection. Krishnamurti had a special place in my heart. But he couldn’t steal my faith in God. He only shook it for some time. His philosophy couldn’t give me what I desired so deeply. I gave up on it and gave it up after many setbacks that I experienced over a span of 22 years.
In 2008, I gave away my beautiful Radha Krishna brass idol to a friend and the glass painting to a colleague. There was one Krishna in brass that I couldn’t part with. I wanted to throw them all away, like the girl in a Small Miracles story who threw away Jesus Christ’s idol from her second or third floor apartment. A priest had gifted this idol to her, and he had inspired this girl to chant the holy name of Jesus for 3 months until she found her soul mate. She chanted religiously. Three months ended. The soul mate didn’t show up. In a fist of fury, she threw the idol of Jesus from her balcony. After a few minutes someone rang her door bell. A man of 30-something was bleeding in his forehead. Jesus found the girl her soul mate.
I lived in disgust of God for a couple of years until He inspired me from within to pray intently and intensely for my highest good. He made me realize that I didn’t know everything. And at this point, Krishna held my hand. Krishna had never left me. He reminded me of Him in ways that appeal to my nature. Once I was thinking about the meaning of Krishnamurti, that He’s Krishna’s reflection or avatar (wrongly speaking). As soon as this thought completed, I saw a car racing ahead of our cab. It had a white Chant Hare Krishna and Be Happy sticker on its rear glass. But I couldn’t understand. Or, I didn’t want to. Krishna didn’t give up on me. Through The Bhagavad Gita As It Is and The Journey Home and through many other synchronicities He brought me home to learn the art of absorbing myself in Krishna.