When Shiva joined Krishna’s Raas Leela

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Sadhguru tells the story of Krishna. At 16 he left Radha, took Sanyas from the age of 16-21, and from then on Krishna's endeavour was make spiritual process a mainstream process. Krishna was also known for his Raas! Sadhguru tells the captivating story when Shiva joined Krishna's Raas Leela.


Duration: 11 min


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7 min read

When Shiva joined Krishna’s Raas Leela

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Today is a special day, today is Krishna Janmashtami. When we say Krishna – there are too many misconceptions about Krishna, but we must understand that his butter business was all till he was six years of age or eight years of age.

At the age of sixteen, when his guru Sandipani made him realize what is the purpose of his life – first of all, he left Vrindavan, never again came back. Never again came back to see any of his relatives or the girls or boys of his area. That was the end of it. At sixteen he left. When he was leaving – today, if we say Krishna, we say Radhe Krishna, Radhe comes ahead of Krishna. Because their love, their intimacy, their romance caught the imagination of a whole culture, in the entire subcontinent in such a way, that we don’t say Krishna Radhe, we say Radhe Krishna. But at the age of sixteen, he saw her for the last time and never again saw her.

And at the age of sixteen, when he was leaving, he said, “I played this flute for you. Now I’m going and not coming back. So, as an offering to you for the love that you are, I am going to give this flute to you, and never again play the flute again.” And he never again played the flute. From then on it was Radha who played the flute. He never played flute after sixteen. From sixteen to twenty-one he lived as a Brahmachari – he took sanyas, lived as a Brahmachari, went through severe sadhana. After that his entire life was committed to marry political life, political process and the spiritual process. These things are never spoken off.

In the Northern plains of India, he set up over one thousand ashrams, because he wanted spiritual process not to be a separate thing. He wanted spiritual process to be a part of life, as we live, as we brush our teeth in the morning, we meditate. He wanted to bring spiritual process not as a fringe thing, but as a mainstream life, particularly to the rulers of the country, of those many countries that India was at that time. So, he lived an absolutely dedicated and committed life. But generally, people think all he did was eat butter, play flute and dance with the girls. No, that’s not what his life was. But that was also an important aspect.

There’s a very beautiful story – today being Krishna Janmashtami, I think I should tell you this story. Krishna was known for his raas. The word raas literally means “Juice.” The biggest problem with most people in their life is, they don’t have juice, they have hormones, they don’t have life juices in them. There is no life. There is no intensity of life. So, raas means the juice of life, not of the body, but of life. Because body’s juices will vary. It will fluctuate from time to time. But he is talking about the juice of life. So, the dance that happened on the full moon night was referred to as “Raas”, because this dripped of life. This is not a hormonal party in the night. This is not a party of drunkards. This is not a party of lustful people. This is a party of people who’re dripping with life, the ecstasy of life. So, this was referred to as the raas.

The reputation of this raas spread. People who participated or who’s witnessed, they spoke about it and it started spreading. Shiva, who was in the Himalayan region heard about this, that something fantastic is happening on the banks of Yamuna. So, he wants to see – because he is not the raas kind, he is tandav. If he closes his eyes, he doesn’t know who is around him. Because when he dances, nobody is around him. No man, no woman. They cannot be. That’s how he dances. So, when he heard about this new kind of dance, which is dripping with ecstasy, he wanted to see.

He came to the banks of Yamuna, and he wanted to cross the river. The boatman who was there looked at him – because Shiva is man, man. Probably, not probably, Shiva is the most athletic God on the planet. Yes! In the lore, in the yogic lore, it says he was nine feet tall. Why are they saying this is, when he came down south to southern India, they say he was twice the height of an average woman. So, they were, generally in Southern India at that time, women were somewhere between four-and-a-half to five feet. So, it is assumed he is somewhere between eight-and-a-half to nine feet tall. So, he is a man, all man, the man.

So, the boatman looked at him and said, “You are too much of a man, you can’t go to raas like this.” There, there is only one purusha, one man. Krishna is the only man. This kind of man cannot go there. Shiva – “What am I supposed to do?” He said, “At least dress up as a woman, and go.” He was, “What? Me dressing up as a woman and going!” He said, “Otherwise, there’s no raas for you.” Then he said, “Where do I get woman’s clothes?” Then he said, the Boatman said, “I will ask my wife to give her clothes to you. You wear and go. You must participate in the raas appropriately, as a feminine not as masculine.”

So, Shiva decided to borrow the boatman’s wife’s clothes, which she was wearing. I mean, it’s a poor family. Then he looked, it is not even spare clothes. He’s asking him to wear clothes that she’s wearing right now. There’s a beautiful painting in some places, which are the Madhubani kind of thing, where a woman’s hand has come out of the door and Shiva is receiving like this [bowing down] and went to raas.

This story is in appreciation of Krishna, where if you want to experience this, you must know the feminine, otherwise you will not know raas. This is ultimate appreciation of the feminine, you understand. This is a most fabulous appreciation of the feminine, not female, feminine – because in this culture, we always saw that unless masculine and feminine play an equal role, there will be no beauty to life.

Today we are building a world where feminine is being massacred. Even if a woman wants to be successful, she has to be like a man, otherwise, there is no way she will succeed in today’s world. Feminine is being massacred. See, its already happening – you go sit anywhere in the world, no more are people in normal conversations, are people even discussing weather as they used to do in the past. The only thing every idiot on the planet talks about today is economy. Yes? Wherever you go, “How is the economy doing? How’s the stock market doing?” Nobody is asking, how’s the monsoon doing? Everybody is only talking about how’s the economy doing, how’s the stock market doing? This means masculine has taken over.

Survival has been raised to heaven. Economics means what? Simple survival. Yes? Survival complicated. Yes, or no? Process of survival – how to procure food, how to do this, how to do that, how to build this. This is all survival – building the home, eating, wearing your clothes, doing a little bit of shopping, is survival, isn’t it? Now survival is the only thing we’re talking about, because feminine is largely banished. At least in your homes you must keep it. Out in the society is largely gone. Masculine is everything.

So, today is Krishna Janmashtami. Here he’s making a point saying that, if the feminine is not on in a society, there is no real life. We are not talking about men and women, we are not talking about male and female, we are talking about two fundamental qualities called masculine and feminine. So, Krishna’s life is about celebrating the feminine, because masculine will anyway manifest, that is the nature of the masculine. But feminine has to be nurtured, otherwise, it will go away. Anyway, the rocks will be there, but flowers won’t be there, you have to nurture them, isn’t it? Yes? In the land rocks will be anyway there, nothing will happen whatever kind of weather, whatever the temperature, rocks will be there. Flowers have to be nurtured. If you don’t nurture them, there will be no flowers left. With rocks we can build. What can you do with flowers? Nothing. It is just that, life doesn’t happen just because of utility.


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