Chapter 5: Follow No One but Yourself
But we are not so purposeless. All of us are tethered to some purpose in life, and therefore we are unable to understand Krishna. We live with a goal in life, with a purpose, a motive. Even if we love some one we do so with a purpose; we give our love with a condition, a string attached to it. We always want something in return. Even our love is not purposeless, unconditional, uncontaminated. We never do a thing without motive, just for the love of it. And remember, unless you begin to do something without a cause, without a reason, without a motive, you cannot be religious. The day something in your life happens causelessly, when your action has no motive or condition attached to it, when you do something just for the love and joy of doing it, you will know what religion is, what God is.
Questioner: You said that Krishna’s birth is without a cause. But in the Gita Krishna himself says that “Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and rise in unrighteousness, I incarnate myself.” Please explain.
Yes, Krishna says that whenever there is a decline in religion, he has to come to the world. But what does he really mean to say?
Only a person who is absolutely free can make a statement like this. You cannot say you will come whenever you need to come. You cannot even say that you will not come if some conditions are not fulfilled. Your birth and death are subject to the law of cause and effect; you are fettered by a long chain of your past karmas. You cannot afford to give a promise like this. You dare not do so.
Krishna has the courage to make such a promise for the reason that he lives without cause, he lives with abandon, he lives just for the joy of living. And anything can spring out of this causeless bliss. Only a free consciousness is capable of giving such an assurance. And when Krishna comes, he comes, not because of a particular situation, but because of his freedom; he is free to come and go as he likes. He does not say that if certain conditions are there they will force him to incarnate himself. It is a promise. And who is capable of making such a promise?
I remember an extraordinary anecdote mentioned in the Mahabharata. It was a fine morning, and Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, was sitting on the verandah of his house when a beggar came asking for alms. Yudhishthira told him that since he was busy the beggar should visit him the following day. And the beggar went away. Bhima, one of Yudhishthira’s brothers, heard him say this. He quickly picked up a drum and ran shouting to the village. Yudhishthira was surprised to see him do this and asked, “What is the matter with you?”
Bhima said, “I am going to inform the village that my brother has conquered time, because he has made a promise for tomorrow. I really did not know you had become master of time, but your promise to the beggar tells me so. Are you sure you will live tomorrow? Are you sure this beggar will live tomorrow? Do you know for sure that tomorrow you will be in a charitable mood and give alms to the beggar? Is it certain that tomorrow this beggar will remain a beggar? And do you know that you and the beggar will see each other again tomorrow? It seems you have conquered time and I should tell the village about this great event. And I am in a hurry, I don’t want to delay, because I am not sure that if I miss this hour I will have it again.”