From a god whom you can cuddle to one you can befriend, from the saviour who is accessible to the manifest that is inexplicable, from being a son, brother, playmate, pal, lover, husband, father to being detached from all and everything, Krishna played the entire gamut.
Vishnu began the act of saving humanity in bestial forms (Matsya, Kurma and Varaha), underwent a transitioning Narasimha, and then started refining the human from Vamana to Parashurama to Rama and finally Krishna. The refinement or evolution notwithstanding, every violent manifestation is intimidating, awe-inspiring and so overbearing that it obscures the other aspects of the avatara.
A Prahlada pleads to pacify Narasimha. An inconspicuous dwarf presses the mightiest king of the time to patala. A Brahmin wipes Kshatriyas out of existence 21 times from the face of the earth. A Kshatriya acts so vulnerable that Shakti is misled into believing this couldn’t be God and then the same polite, demure, docile man, the pliant son whose obedience had cost him his kingdom turns invincible as he finishes the most powerful Brahmin demon of the epoch. But finally when He is Krishna, the limitation of every human definition of God gets exposed.
As He says after reducing to the four-armed form following the assumption of Vishwaroopa to Arjuna, “This isn’t Me. This isn’t all about Me. This isn’t the whole of Me. It is your visualisation for your convenience.”
That sequel to the incomprehensible divinity, however, ends up defining our faith. That is where Krishna is even beyond Vishnu. That is where you see God as Shiva or Shakti or any other form not because that is God in His/Her entirety, but because that is the form you relate to the most. That was why the Shaktas who challenged Chaitanya Mahaprabhu found the Mother Goddess when they barged into the sanctum inside the devotee’s house. That was why Vaishnavas saw Vishnu when they went to visit Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s Kali. And that is why we bow before innumerable forms and yet we have just one god ― with everything being merely one of His infinitely possible manifestations.
Krishna endeared to us and endured in our imagination, fancy as well as real life also because this form of godhood did not merely sermonise. Through His life, He demonstrated what He preached. There wasn’t a problem He couldn’t solve. What makes Srimadbhagavadgita convincing is more than the words in the session of 18 lessons; it is Srimadbhagavatam. Since He did all that He said must or should be done, it gives us hope it is doable, as we strive to attain that perfection. While we fail and we will always fall short of Him, the effort that rides on hope makes us better in every succeeding attempt.
Janmashtami marks the birth of the possible. By showing the faint probability of impeccability in you, it makes you push your boundaries. Krishna’s exhortation to seek the solution within makes you independent.
The article was published originally on the Facebook wall of the author in 2017