Who is Krishna?

How can we understand this most colourful and attractive incarnation of the Divine? His exhalation is the Gita and his inhalation is the Leela, as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev puts it. If we want to understand the nature of life, we must study the Gita but if we want to know the essence of Krishna, we must become his inhalation. We must approach with the devotion of Radha and Meera writes Shruti Bakshi.

Rath Jatra (Yatra) in pictures

The Rath Jatra (Chariot Festival) is one of the most colourful, enigmatic and important festivals in India and one of the oldest of its kind, finding mention in the ancient Puranas. It is an annual festival held at the Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) temple at Puri in the state of Orissa, India which is considered to have its origins in tribal culture (tribal art shows itself in the depictions of the deities of the temple) . The English word ‘juggernaut’ meaning an unstoppable force, derives from Lord Jagannath and the massive force of the Rath Jatra procession.

The festival involves the idols of the three deities of the temple – Lord Jagannath (form of Vishnu), his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra – along with the Sudarshana Chakra (celestial wheel) being taken out of the temple in a huge procession, to the Gundicha temple (at a distance of ~2km) where they remain for 9 days before being returned to the main temple.

The chariot (rath) of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosha. It has 16 wheels and 832 pieces of wood are used in its construction.

This year the festival took place between 25 June and 3 July. Below are a few glimpses (credit to @shrijagannatha for the tweets).

The first day of the Rath Jatra (25 July this year) is traditionally marked by a frenzy of festivities including song, dance and rituals. Both classical Odissi and tribal dance and music is performed side by side.

https://twitter.com/shrijagannatha/status/878967338669715456

The idols are carried out of the temple amid an explosion of festivities.

The ISKCON Hare Krishna movement was instrumental in making the Rath Jatra an international event that happens every year in over 108 cities around the world in the US, Canada, Europe, Russia and South East Asia.

The festival includes several rituals. One of the most important of these is the Chhera- Pahanra. This ritual is performed once the deities are brought from the sanctum of the temple, to their chariots (raths). It is part of ritual for the king of the region to come to pay respects to Lord Jagannath, perform aarti, fan the deities with a golden hand fan, offer flowers and fragrant sandalwood water and sweep the chariot with a golden broom. It is believed that the chariot cannot budge unless the king performs this ritual which symbolises humility through the complete submission to the Lord of the Universe by the lord of the land.

The Chhera-Pahanra is performed by diverse peoples, from Hindu royalty to Muslim leaders and tribal chiefs – in a spirit of universality.

Around the grand chariots are the  lesser-known Gods, Parshwadebatas, such as Harihara (composite form of Vishnu and Shiva), Ganesha (son of Shiva and Parvati and the remover of obstacles), Bhubhaneshwai (Goddess of the world), Goddess Bimala (presiding deity of Puri and identified with one of the 4 Shakti Peeths), Varahi (feminine counterpart of Lord Vishnu’s boar or varaha reincarnation), Madhusudana (Vishnu as the vanquisher of the demon Madhu), Banadurga (a form of Goddess Durga), Tantric Goddess Chamunda, Chintamani (benevolent Krishna) and Gajantaka (form of Shiva that destroyed the elephant demon Gajasura).

On the 9th day, Lord Jagannatha returns from the Gundicha temple on the day of Bahuda Jatra, culminating the festival. This was on 3 July this year.

Art, Cosmology and the Divine | Part V

Main photo (above) is a Basohli illustration to the Gita Govinda, ‘Hail, Keshava, Hail! Ruler of Wave and Wood!’, c.1730

The penultimate part of this six-part series (Read earlier parts: Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV) in which distinguished scientist, academic and Vedic scholar Subhash Kak shows how traditional Indian art is not only aesthetically sublime, but is a reflection of the cosmos and of the Divine itself. In Part V we see how the stories of Krishna, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, reflect a harmony between materiality and spirit.

Part V: Krishna’s dance

Krishna, the divine flute player

 

 

Read this article in the LivingWise Project Digest.

 

 

 

Read Part I: Introduction
Read part II: General equivalences
Read Part III: Temples and Gods
Read Part IV: Churning of the ocean
Read Part VI: Indian aesthetic in an age of war

The Bhagavad Gita – the essence of India and its profound message for the world

by David Frawley

Dharma is not a matter of dogma, but of adapting our principles to what is required according to the changing needs of time, place and person in order to further the higher forces in the world.

The Bhagavad Gita remains the book that can be best described as India’s national book. For thousands of years, up to the present, the Gita has been the most popular, commonly read, widely translated and commented upon teaching from India, far beyond any competing text, of which there are many wonderful depictions in the vast literature of the region.

One cannot know India, its essence and identity, without having first examined the Gita in depth and looked into its profound instruction about life, human interactions, the secrets of human psychology, and the keys to higher consciousness. The Gita reflects all the complexity, paradox, mystery and beauty of India/Bharat, its perennial search for the eternal and infinite, yet its ability to reflect the abundance of life on all levels as well.

Sri Krishna remains the figure who best represents India’s profound yogic culture and civilisation to the world. He is known as a Divine incarnation, a yogavatara, and a sage of the highest order, who was able to teach a variety of paths to all temperaments of people, motivating humanity to achieve its highest potential. Sri Krishna has a Divine personality with an incomparable charisma that serves to inspire the Divine within all of us, yet teaches us with great clarity and precision as well.

The way forward

The genesis of the Gita on the battlefield is one of its most compelling factors. All life is a battle or a struggle between the many dualities within and around us, both in nature and in humanity, particularly the forces of dharma and adharma. Yet life is not a simple faceoff between good and evil, delineated in black and white, a moralistic clash in which the right choice of action cannot be questioned.

Life is a struggle to go forward in a maze of competing forces moving in multiple directions, carrying contrary influences. Like Arjuna at the start of the Gita, it is easier for us to not want to fight in order to avoid the pain and complications, but this is to let life pass us by and condemns us to the limitations of what we have already become.

The Bhagavad Gita shows us how to achieve the best possible in less than ideal circumstances, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, which is among the worst and most complicated of all imaginable clashes, involving taking up arms against ones own kinsmen and gurus. Yet not to act would only allow the forces of negativity and inertia to prevail, and irreparably damage the society for long periods to come.

It is often easier to stand on the sidelines when there are no clear options without notable side effects. But life does not work that way. Pain, sorrow, disease, enmity are also challenges to the soul to grow beyond its outer limitation and discover its inner reality. If we do not face and overcome the difficulties of life, we remain weak and fail to discover the Divine within us.

Svadharma and the universal Dharma

Dharma is not a matter of dogma, but of adapting our principles to what is required according to the changing needs of time, place and person in order to further the higher forces in the world. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us our Svadharma or individual dharma. Yet this is not in modern terms a path of mere individual freedom and self-assertion. It is how we are connected to the whole, how the entire universe exists within and around us. We cannot find fulfilment at a personal level without serving our highest duty to the whole of life. The Gita shows us our individual essence but as part of the universal being that is Sri Krishna.

The Gita’s ultimate message is that there is no death. No one is truly born or dies. We are immortal in our inner Divine nature as pure consciousness. Birth and death only belong to the body and are no more than a mere change of clothes for the soul. It is not salvation we need but Self-knowledge, getting back to the core of our being that cannot be disturbed by any external forces.

The dilemma of Arjuna represents our essential challenge in life. We are all imperfect, but have the sense of a higher perfection that we can manifest with great effort. Getting Arjuna to arise within us is the key to our success in life, but it also requires that we seek the grace and guidance of Sri Krishna in his innumerable forms.

This article was first published on vedanet.com and has been republished here with permission.

Read also: Stress Out? Here’s 3 Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita

 

The Yoga of Poets

As has often been stressed on the Living-Wise Project, (e.g. see article What Yoga is Really About), yoga is not merely a set of physical exercises or postures. Yoga, meaning union, refers to any action that unites us with Consciousness. Many people may not be aware that there are four paths of yoga: …