To know Krishna full well is more than knowing the entire universe. It is an idea in the Bhagavad Gita. "I exist, supporting this whole world by one part of myself." [Bhagavad Gita 10:42]" Given that premise and some others, going for knowing your Self is good. Juan Mascaró writes:
Brahman in the Universe, God in his transcendence and immanence is also the Spirit of man, the Self in every one and in all, Atman. Thus the momentous statement is made in the Upanishads that God must not be sought as something far away, separate from us, but rather as the very inmost of us, as the higher Self in us above the limitations of our little self. In rising to the best in us we rise to the Self in us, to Brahman, to God himself. Thus when the sage of the Upanishads is pressed fora definition of God, he remains silent, meaning that God is silence. When asked again to express God in words, he says: 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'; but when pressed for a positive explanation he utters the sublimely simple words: 'TAT TVAM ASI', 'You are That'.
If you don't know your Self, you don't know Krishna all the way through. And how is your Self? The First Shankaracharia, Adi Shankara, tells:
Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati says succinctly: "Spiritual teachings . . . cannot throw light on the inner Self, for the Self is Light."
The gist of it: You don't get it before you reach it. After you experience it, you are free to describe it by allegories or metaphors too, but the main thing to bear in mind is that words will not suffice.
A word to the wise will suffice: "Sit down, keep on." For:
Out of many thousands of men hardly one endeavours for the perfection of self-realization, and of those so endeavouring hardly one has achieved the perfection of self-realization and of those hardly one knows me in truth. - Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita 7:3
What is held to be Krishna's old capital Dwarka (Dvaraka) was found under water in the early 1980s. It gave rise to
marine archaeological investigations conducted by the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography and the Government of Gujarat. The final inference of these marine under water investigations is that "there was really a city which got submerged in Dwarka in 1500 BC and that the "architectural evidence and antiquities such as a seal and inscriptions go to indicate that it was the city of Mahabharata age". [WP, "Dwarka"]
The submerged city has something in common with the Troy of the Iliad by Homer in that was supposed to belong to tales and not be there.
There is also a many-sided artistic "Krishna production" in the world. There are good teachings in some of the tales and teachings.
The basic sources of Krishna's mythology are the epic Mahabharata and its appendix from the 400s, the Harivamsa; and the Puranas, particularly Books 10 and the Uddhava Gita (Book 11) of the Bhagavata-Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam). The Mahabharata with the Bhagavad Gita in it is another source.
In the old Upanishads, there are only a few slender lines about Krishna. Poets and others later made a lot about him, as the Bhagavatam lays bare. Here is a briefing based on Dimmitt and Buitenen [Clh 101-5]: As a child, Krishna is beguiling and naughty, steals milk and butter, overturns wagons, and kills his wicked nurse maid by sucking her.
After puberty he gets noted for great charm and amorous adventures. The youth sings and plays seductive and irresistible music on his flute to lure the cowherd women out of their beds at night to come and dance with him, lost in love, each getting their desires gratified. His love-play and the act of love with his favourite partner among them, Radha, is described in affectionate detail.
Then he leaves her and all the others to go and kill his evil uncle. With his brother Balarama he sets off on his heroic duty, working wonders such as straightening out a hunchback girl on his way. After killing his uncle, Krishna kidnaps a wife, Rukmini, for himself, and then 16,000 or 18,000 more apsara wives [sources differ], and becomes the father of a horde of sons. But he allows the members of his own family and clan by to kill each other towards the end of his life. Soon after he gets accidentally shot in the foot by a hunter in his one vulnerable spot, the heel, and dies. Last of all the ocean floods and submerges his city Dvaraka at the end of the story.
The exploits of Krishna in the Bhagavatam look different from those of Krishna the king in the Mahabharata, but, "If they have anything in common, it is a tendency to trickery and deceit," writes Dimmitt and Buitenen. The trickster and lover conceals his purposes through charm, and may ignore rules. [Clh 102, 105].
Further, after the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, the Srimad Bhagavatam is the most authoritative of the Hindu scriptures. The teachings poem Uddhava Gita is found there (in Book 11). The Wisdom of God [Sl] by Prabhavananda contains interesting portions of the Bhagavatam in paraphrase, but also the whole Uddhava Gita, which consists of teachings of Krishna to his disciple Uddhava. Aldous Huxley has said, "The Bhagavatam . . its Eleventh Book . . . expresses the essence of Indian religion almost as forcefully as does the Bhagavad Gita . . . [Sl BC]"
Now there are many other translations and abbreviated versions of these three books also.
To what degree is Sri Krishna a product of art which is laden with symbolism? It is difficult to tell:
Professors Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen assess that many stories of the Hindu tradition may be difficult to understand for the non-specialist. [Clh xi, 3-11 ff, passim].
To find out what is true, or at least best, eat mangoes, says Ramakrishna:
PASUPATI: "What do you think of the solar plane, the lunar plane, the stellar plane?"
Aha: Subramaniam, Kamala, tr. Mahabharata. Bombay: Bharatiya Book University, 1982.
Bvg: Sivananda, Swami, tr. The Bhagavad Gita. Shivanandanagar: The Divine Life Trust Society, 2003. [2 Bhagavad Gita versions online]].
Clh: Dimmitt, Cornelia, ed., and J. A. B. van Buitenen, tr. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1978.
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2014 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2013.
Hrv: Dutt, Manmatha Nath. A Prose English Translation of Harivamsha. Calcutta: M. N. Dutt, 1897. ——— The first book of Harivamsa Parva describes the creation of the cosmos and the legendary history of the kings of the Solar and Lunar dynasties leading up to the birth of Krishna. Vishnu Parva recounts the history of Krishna up to the events prior to the Mahabharata. Bhavishya Parva, the third book, includes two alternate creation theories . . . and provides a description of Kaliyuga. While the Harivamsha has been regarded as an important source of information on the origin of Visnu's incarnation Krishna, there has been speculation as to whether this text was derived from an earlier text and what its relationship is to the Brahma Purana, another text that deals with the origins of Krishna. [WP, "Harivamsa"]
Kas: Bryant, Edwin F., ed. Krishna: A Sourcebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Mmw: Ganguli, K., tr. The Mahabharata, Vols 1-12. 4th ed. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981.
Rap: Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Tr. Swami Nikhilananda. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942. Online.
Sf: Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism. 3rd ed. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 2007.
Sh: Raghunathan, N., tr. Srimad Bhagavatam, Vols 1-2. Madras: Vighneswara, 1976.
Sl: Prabhavananda, swami, tr. The Wisdom of God. New York: Capricorn/Putnam, 1968.
Spo: Avalon, Arthur (Sir John Woodroffe). The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga. 7th ed. New York: Dover, 1974.
Srm: Prabhupada, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Srimad-Bhagavatam. 18-Volume Set. Alachua, Fl: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1974.
Tas: Ramakrishna. Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974.
Tog: Woodroffe, Sir John, tr. Tantra of the Great Liberation (Mahanirvana Tantra). New York: Dover, 1972.
Tu: Juan Mascaró, tr. The Upanishads: Translations from the Sanskrit. London: Penguin, 1965.
Wa: Nikhilananda, swami, tr. The Bhagavad Gita. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.
Wy: Tuxen, Poul, tr. Bhagavadgita. Herrens Ord. København: Gyldendal, 1962.
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