Christ and Krishna: aspiration and grace
and Krishna are archetype figures in the spiritual conceptions
from the West and the East (India); their teachings have molded
the spiritual thinking of both worlds.
figures emphasize the role of love, and both are considered to
be manifestations of divine love. Jesus teachings speak of love
as the highest value, and Krishna is considered to be a divine
incarnation that personifies the Divinity’s love and charm.
We get to Jesus’ Father, God, through love, and Krishna
can only be tied down with the ribbon of the devotee’s love.
which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “‘Love
the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your mind, (Matthew 22.36-37).
me your mind and your heart, dedicate all your offerings to me and
worship me; if you do this, I promise that you will come to me and
will be one with me, as I love you truly, (Bhagavad Gita
the life of Christ we see the devotee giving himself to God; through
his teachings and his example we see the effort in that surrender.
Jesus’ death in the cross represents the sacrifice of the
own ego when it surrenders to the Divine.
Krishna’s life we see, mainly, the Divinity giving itself
to the devotee. In the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam,
God, incarnated as Krishna, speaks in the first person. It is difficult
to find such a direct declaration of God himself in humanity’s
religious literature. Krishna, speaking from the point of view of
the Absolute, the “Father God” of Jesus, explains how
he acts in relation to the universe, to live beings and to devotees.
his words we see that the motivation in God's actions, when he intervenes
in his Creation, is to help his devotee. In the Hindu approach,
God does not reward or punish, because those are jobs for karma,
and one receives what one gives, be it good or bad.
declares that he has nothing to gain from the whole universe, but
continues to act without expecting anything, and he is with those
that are with him, without neglecting any of his devotees. The Divinity
will, in its love for them, even break the laws of karma, absorbing
whatever consequences there might be. The Divinity’s grace,
when love is involved, is unpredictable, beyond any human logic.
this two different approaches we can see that in the West, religion
emphasizes the individual’s effort to be better and more perfect,
whilst in the East it is more important the grace of God and us
opening up to it.
of these two postures would be more appropriate? Both of them, obviously:
adequate personal effort can take us to the Divine grace, can make
us receptive to it and even work with it.
six point star, formed by the combination of a triangle facing upwards
and another one facing downwards, is a significant symbol of the
Indian Sidha’s tradition. It represents the union with the
Divinity, the union between opposites, Shiva and Shakti (consciousness
and energy, masculine and feminine) or the union of the devotee
with the Divinity. The triangle facing upwards also represents the
devotee’s efforts to attain divine grace, his aspiration for
divinity. The triangle facing downwards represents the divine grace
descending toward him.
The good shepherd’s call
are more parallelisms between the lives of Christ and Krishna. When
he was Young, Krishna was a cows herder; “Gopala”, one
of the many names of Krishna, means “protector of the cows”.
Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd”:
am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the
sheep, (John 10.11).
is represented playing the flute. On hearing the sound, all creatures,
animals, men and women would stop what they were doing and would
be overcome by ecstasy, forgetting everything, even themselves:
“They look at Krishna, they listen to Krishna, and they do
not think of anything but Krishna" (Srimad Bhagavatam).
also represents that side of God which is seductive and alluring,
a side not recognized in the Western culture, except in the poems
about divine love written by mystics such as St John of the Cross
or the holy Sufis. The sound of Krishna’s flute represents
the Divine One’s call, which takes us away from our fascination
for the world and fills us with nostalgia for the divine, with longing
to return home. The same as Krishna would hide in the forest from
the devout shepherdesses, God hides in his own creation to give
his devotees the eternal joy of reencountering their Beloved.
is also said that, in the same way that the flute's tune guided
the cows back to the barn, the internal call of the aspiration must
guide our thoughts to our destination.
like Jesus and Krishna know their flock, they would go to those
destined to be their disciples. There is a relationship between
an spiritual aspirant and his teacher that goes beyond time and
beyond their lives, that the aspirant can recognize from the bottom
of his heart, that goes beyond reason, like the sound of the good
shepherd’s flute. The teacher appears (or rather, “makes
himself visible”) as soon as the disciple is ready to listen
to this internal call. This is what “being pure of heart"
means: when someone is able to hear and follow the voice of his
own heart, because he has freed himself from external mental conditionings,
from ways of reasoning and interests that are purely egotistic:
are the pure in heart, for they will see God, (Matthew
who can hear the voice of their hearts will be able to recognize
the Divine One when it walks next to them, whether it looks like
Jesus, Krishna, Rama, or a tramp. Perhaps this is the divine game,
to hide under the most unlikely guise. We can all recognize Jesus
now, but when he met his apostles he was but a neighbor from a nearby
village, Nazareth, who could cause "nothing more than grief."
Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked,
Jesus’ followers recognize him now if he came to us looking
different? Would they leave everything behind to follow this stranger?
A funny chapter of the Srimad Bhagatavam narrates how the gopis,
the shepherdesses of the priests, the brahmines, left them to their
religious rituals to meet Krishna in secret, to meet the Divine
One. The Pharisees and pontiffs from the temple, who presumably
where close worshippers of God (and the order they themselves had
established), were the ones to cause the death of Jesus.
gopis, those who have a pure heart, can hear the divine call, and
even bind the elusive Krishna with the ribbons of their aspiration.
This is the difference between following an established religious
pattern or following your own heart. But God does not accept rituals,
dogmas or theologies, he only accepts hearts. How did Jesus laugh
at the pontiffs, the alleged keepers of sanctity, socially recognized
(and also holders of influence and power):
I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering
the kingdom of God ahead of you, (Mateo21.31).
is like a gold merchant, he acquires melted images of different
representations of the Divinity. He does not mind whose image he
buys, the only think he looks at is the quality of the gold, if
it is pure or of low quality. In the same way, the Divine gives
his grace to the devotee, not because of the better or worse image
or concept the devotee has of Him, but because of the quality of
the gold of his aspiration and devotion.