Springingtiger's Blog

Corrupting God

Krishna, allegedly, gave the world the sublime Bhagavad Gita, which I consider almost as highly as the Siva Sutras and the Ashtavakra Samhita in terms of value to me. However sublime the teachings of the Gita, as a role model Krishna is a very different person. Although Krishna is a popular focus of worship, his conduct leaves much to be desired, his one great virtue was his protection of his devotee the dishonest and licentious Arjuna.

As a child Krishna was disobedient to his mother, he was also a thief and stole butter despite being ordered not to, and led his friends into mischief. All small boys can be naughty, but the fact remains that Krishna was a liar, a thief and disrespectful of his mother, hardly a fitting role model.

He was also sexually incontinent and disrespectful of women. We have already seen his lack of respect for his own mother. He also treated other women badly, when the girls of the village were bathing, Krishna stole their clothes and forced each of them to stand naked and humiliated before him, despite custom decreeing that only a husband should see his wife naked. Krishna seduced the women of his village and later had many wives. One sees in the modern disregard for women that can allow a young girl to be raped on a bus, the consequences of the example bequeathed by Krishna.

In the Great War of the Mahabharata, Krishna is so determined that his devotees will win, he actively encourages them to cheat and lie. The Pandava princes’ guru Dronacharya led their opponent the Kaurava king, and their cousin, Duryodhana’s army and it was impossible to beat him fairly, Drona’s only point of weakness was his equally undefeatable son Ashwatthama, so Krishna devised a plan to use this against him. Because Ashwatthama could not be killed, Bhima — one of the Pandava princes — killed an elephant called Ashwatthama and announced it loudly. Drona could not believe his son was dead and asked Yudhisthira — who was known never to lie — if it were true that Ashwatthama had been killed, Yudhisthira replied that Ashwatthama had been killed and added sotto voce “I am not certain whether it was a human or an elephant” this caused Drona to lay down his arms at which point he was murdered. It was said that because of his adherence to truth Yudhisthira’s chariot floated a couple of inches above the ground, but at this point it sank to the ground because he had made it acceptable for a king to sacrifice integrity to expediency.

The five Pandava princes, unknown to them, had an elder half brother Karna, or Radheya who — because, despite being the son of Surya the Sun God, was brought up in the house of a charioteer — the Pandavas, especially Arjuna, treated with contempt setting an example of caste discrimination which still continues to this day. Krishna knew that Radheya was a better warrior than Arjuna and that he had a weapon — the Vasava Shakti — that he intended to use against Arjuna. Krishna persuaded Ghatotkacha, Arjuna’s demon son by one of his many wives, to use his magical powers against Duryodhana’s army, because Krishna knew the only way Radheya would be able to stop him was by using the Vasava Shakti. Unlike Krishna and his devotees Radheya kept his word, and he had promised the Pandavas’ and his mother that he would use the weapon only once. Krishna’s sacrifice of Ghatotkacha who despite being a Rakshasa, behaved somewhat more honourably than his father and the other princes on whose behalf he fought — saved Arjuna from facing Radheya’s most powerful weapon. When Radheya and Arjuna finally met on the battlefield, Arjuna was incapable of defeating him, indeed at one point Arjuna collapsed and while unconscious, not only would Radheya not take advantage, but he protected Arjuna from the King of serpents who wanted revenge on him for the murder of his children . Unfortunately Radheya’s chariot wheel became stuck and although the rules of engagement entitled him to expect the courtesy of being allowed to release it, as he did so, with his back to Arjuna, Krishna persuaded Arjuna to fire on Radheya; even then because of his accumulated virtue he was not easy to kill.

After the battle Duryodhana the last of the Kauravas intended to fast to death, but the Pandavas found him while he was in meditation. Yudhisthira gave Duryodhana the choice of which Pandava he would fight and with what weapon. Duryodhana was a master of the mace having learned from Krishna’s brother Balarama and could easily have beaten any of the brothers with the mace except Bhima. Duryodhana chose to fight Bhima, who had also studied with Balarama. Gradually Duryodhana got the upper hand, but before Bhima was defeated Krishna signalled him to strike Duryodhana’s leg. Bhima did as Krishna ordered, although it was against the rules. So Duryodhana died, but not before pointing out that the Pandavas’ victory had only been secured by cheating and lies.

In the other great epic the Ramayana, Rama, his brother Lakshmana and their allies behave with honour except, possibly, for one incident, but Krishna’s tutelage of the Pandava brothers establishes a precedent for rulers to use dishonesty as a tool. The corruption of politicians, the abuse of decency in war and the readiness of those in power to embrace corruption are the legacy of the example Krishna gave his devotees, never since has a king’s chariot floated above the earth as witness to his devotion to truth and honest conduct.

There are few activities as pointless as comparing Gods qualitatively, except perhaps comparing creation myths. However I may point out that it appears to be that when we anthropomorphise God then, whatever we call him or her, as well as the virtues the less pleasant traits of humanity become visible in the worshipped God, and this is as true of any religion as of the followers of krishna. Those believers who can devote themselves to God without form, existing before worship and belief, and needing neither are blessed. They have no need of rules and rituals, only the experience of being, they live beyond worship and belief, they alone are free. Those believers, on the other hand, who need Gods they can worship, and a society based on those rules, are little better than any other animal, controlled with whips or with treats and fussing. They are condemned to have their personalities formed by their faith, however corrupt their God, or worse, his priests and prophets. Their lives and their ends are shaped accordingly. I do have a God and he is very like me.


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