Krishna and Radha

Swami Chinmayananda

Every aspect of Krishna and His deeds is pregnant with deep mystical symbolism, indicating the highest Truth. Consciousness is the pure Self, the sentient Life Principle which enlivens one's material equipment to function in their respective realms. Consciousness is the very Subject of all experiences and therefore cannot be objectively experienced.

In Sanskrit, the word Krishna means "dark", indicating the Supreme Consciousness. Pure Consciousness is said to be "dark", not as opposed to "light" but in the sense that it is unseen by or unknown to one as long as one remains rooted in earthly experiences, limited to the realms of perceptions, emotions, and thoughts gained through the physical body, the mind, and the intellect.

The incarnation of Krishna represents the descent of the infinite Brahman to the material world. The ever smiling Lotus - eyed Krishna, with a garland of flowers around His neck, is described as being blue in colour and wearing yellow clothes. Blue is the colour of the infinite and whatever is immeasurable can appear to the mortal eye only as blue, like the sky and the ocean. Yellow represents the earth. Anything buried in the earth gathers a yellow hue; and fire earth (mud silica) emits a yellow hue. Hence, the finite blue form of Krishna clothed in yellow appropriately suggests the pure infinite Consciousness. The one infinite Reality has become the world of endless forms. Therefore, every form in the universe, in a sense, is but a representation of a primeval Truth.

The infinite, all pervading Truth, donning the finite form of a human being, gives the impression that Truth is fettered and limited. This idea of the limitless Truth seeming to be limited, is well brought out by the fact that Krishna is said to have been born in prison. Kamsa, Krishna's maternal uncle and Chanura his minister, imprisoned his father and usurped the throne of Mathura. Their tyrannical rule caused confusion and chaos everywhere. Krishna destroyed the tyrants and restored peace and order in the land. Similarly, our bosom is usurped by two evil forces, namely, the ego and the egocentric desires, which cause agitations, worries, and anxieties within. When these two forces are conquered by one's higher nature, the original glory and splendour of the Self is restored.

Krishna, the beloved boy of Brindavan, is pictured amid the dancing gopis. Much criticism has been levelled against Krishna's association with milkmaids. Little do the critics realize that the Lord is ever an unconcerned and unaffected witness of the milkmaids' dance, even though He may be in their midst. Krishna is like the Consciousness within, which vitalizes one's thoughts (gopis) but remains unperturbed and unaffected by them. The Self is ever immaculate, uncontaminated by the thoughts in one's bosom. Thus, if the lives of such godmen are read without understanding their mystical symbolism one comes to wrong and, at times, absurd conclusions.

The gopis performed their obligatory duties throughout the day in constant remembrance of Krishna. Their limbs were ceaselessly engaged in activity while their minds were very attuned to the Lord. Thus, in essence, karma yoga is the dedication of one's actions to a higher altar while working without ego and egocentric desires. Such dedicated activities exhaust one's existing vasanas (inherent tendencies) and also prevent the formation of any new vasanas. Hence, Krishna is described as a thief stealing the butter which the gopis had carefully stored in their homes.

The most beautiful and most beloved of all gopis was Radha. The love of Radha and Krishna is symbolic of the eternal love affair between the devoted mortal and the Divine. In relation to God, it is said that we are all women. Radha's yearning for union with her beloved Krishna is the soul's longing for spiritual awakening -- to be united with the one Source of Peace and Bliss from which it has become separated. This long forgotten pain of separation is the root cause of all suffering. To rediscover our Oneness is the source of all happiness and fulfillment. In this sense, Krishna is the fulfillment of all desires.

Every human being is constantly seeking a share of peace and happiness, and since one does not know the real source of these, one seeks them in the midst of sense objects. But when, in devotion, one comes to turn one's entire attention towards the Higher and the Nobler, one experiences the Immortal, the Infinite, as intimately as one experienced the world and its changes earlier. Bhagavan Himself says in the Bhagavatam, "The mind that constantly contemplates upon the sense objects, irresistibly comes to revel in their finite joys, and the mind that learns to constantly remember Me comes to dissolve into Me." Radha represents this state of devotion and the consequent merging with the Lord.