Very, very few human beings ever get to be placed in as complex situations as Krishna was placed. In one human being’s life, going through the variety of situations that he went through is, generally it doesn’t happen to most, most human beings. And in all these situations that he was faced with, the clarity of vision that he exhibited and the certainty about his ability to discern as to what is true and what is not true, the clarity that he brought to people around him, people began to experience him Godlike.
So he was proclaimed as an incarnation, and a complete incarnation. For those of you who are familiar with this, they talk about nine incarnations. I want you to understand this is, what I’m going to say now is much before Charles Darwin came.
So the first incarnation was Matsya avatara. That means god appeared in the form of a fish. And you know Charles Darwin went about proving the first form of life on the planet were water life – fish. And the next incarnation is Koorma avatara. That means it’s a turtle. It’s an amphibious animal – half water, half land. Charles Darwin said this also. The third incarnation is Varaha avatara which is in the form of a pig, a gross mammal. And the fourth incarnation is Narasimha avatara, that is half man and half animal. The next one is Vamana avatara a dwarf, human form but a dwarf.
The next one is Parashu Rama. A full grown man, but an extremely violent man. A great fighter. We will meet him shortly, here also. Krishna meets him so he’s still alive. So Parashu Rama is a fighting man. He even lopped off the head of his own mother, a very violent man. The next one is Ramavatara. A very peaceful one, a very gentle one but very uni-dimensional kind of man.
The next is Krishnavatara, a very multi-dimensional human being. So Krishnavatara was considered as a complete avatara, or a complete incarnation of God, not just one aspect. As a tribute to the multi-dimensional nature of who he was, and though he himself never claimed it, even if he had not claimed it people around him naturally identified him as divine. In this identification that people attached to him, the whole culture evolved around this identity of Krishna being a complete incarnation of the divine.
When we say Krishna, the essence of who he is – he is an irrepressible child, a terrible prankster, an enchanting flute player, a graceful dancer, an irresistible lover, a truly valiant warrior, a ruthless vanquisher of his foes, a man who left a broken heart in every home, an astute statesman and kingmaker, a thorough gentlemen, a yogi of the highest order, and the most colorful incarnation. Krishna is seen and perceived and understood and experienced in many, many different ways by different people.
Duryodhana, through the eyes of Duryodhana, for those of you who do not know the background, I will be [explaining later], because unless you understand the whole tapestry of the story and the situation in which he existed, many aspects of who he is will be missed. So we will go into it, but right now: Duryodhana is a man, because of certain situations into which he was placed – insecure, angry, jealous, greedy, and feeling wronged all his life. And because of actions which came forth from his greed and anger, he became the key for destruction of his whole race. In Duryodhana’s words, “He’s a smiling rouge, if there was ever one. He can eat, he can drink, he can sing, he can dance, he can make love, he can fight, he can gossip with old woman, play with little children. Who says he’s God?” That’s Duryodhana’s perception.
Shakuni, the very embodiment of deception and cunning, Shakuni says, “Let us suppose he is God, so what? What can a God do? God can only please those devotees, who please him. Let him be God. I don’t like him. And when you don’t like somebody, you must praise them.” That’s deceit.
Radhe his childhood lover, a milkmaid, a simple woman of the village, but with such unfaltering love and devotion she has become so big, that today you cannot talk of Krishna without Radhe. We don’t say Krishna Radhe. We say Radhe Krishna. She has become, a simple village woman, she has become as significant as Krishna, or a little more significant than him. She said, “Krishna is with me. He’s always with me wherever he is, whoever he’s with, he’s still with me.” That’s her perception.
Vainteya, a youth who was the Garuda chief’s eldest son, living on the mountains of Gomantak. A sprightly youth, because of a certain ailment became totally crippled. This crippled youth after he met Krishna, Krishna made him walk. So Vainteya said, “He is god. He is god. He is god.”
Akrura, an uncle of Krishna, a wise and saintly being expressed his perception of Krishna this way, “Krishna, when I look at him, this strange young boy, I see the sun, the moon, and the seven stars whirling around him. When he speaks he sounds like the voice of the eternal. He is the hope. If there is hope in this world, he is the hope.”
Shikandin, a tortured human being, because of a certain situation within himself, right from his child. This is an absolutely tortured soul. So Shikandin said, “Krishna never gave me any hope, but when he is there the breeze of hope touches everybody.”
I can go on like this. Different people saw different facets of who he is. For some he’s God. For some he’s a crook. For some he’s a lover. For some he’s a fighter. So many things he is. If we want to taste an essence of what it means when we say Krishna, the consciousness that we refer to as Krishna, if we have to be touched by this we need Leela.
Here we are for the Leela. Leela means it is the path of the playful. This is not for the serious types. Are you? Because when I say playfulness we are not here just to play, we are here to explore the most profound and the most serious aspect of life but playfully, conducted playfully. Otherwise Krishna won’t be there.
The reason why the most profound dimensions of life have been missed by the vast population of the world is because they do not know how to be playful. If you want to explore this path playfully, if you want to be playful you need a heart full of love, a joyful mind, and a vibrant body. Otherwise there is no Leela. If one has to explore the most profound dimensions of life in a playful way, they must be willing to play with their awareness, with their imagination, with their memory, with their life, with their death. They’re willing to play with everything, only then Leela.
Leela does not mean just dancing with somebody. You’re willing to dance with death. You’re willing to dance with life. You’re willing to dance with your enemy. You’re willing to dance with the one whom you love. You’re willing to dance the last moment of your death. Only then there is Leela.