If I cling to a thing, it means it has meaning for me. And if I renounce it, then also, in a negative sense, it has meaning for me, because I think I will suffer if I don’t give it up. I don’t say that the sannyas of Mahavira and Buddha arose from suffering. I don’t say so at all. Their sannyas flowed from a condition of happiness. They left this happiness in search of some higher kind of happiness. So in this matter there is a difference between them and Krishna.
Krishna does not renounce this happiness for the sake of some greater happiness; rather, he uses it as a stepping-stone to reach the other happiness we call bliss. He does not see any contradiction between the two kinds of happiness: the higher happiness is only the extension of the lower. Bliss, according to Krishna, is not opposed to the happiness of this world: it is the highest rhythm of the same music, the same dance. For Krishna, happiness contains some rudiments of bliss: one can have a little glimpse of bliss even in happiness. Happiness is the beginning of bliss; bliss is the climax of happiness.
It is from a situation of happiness that Buddha and Mahavira came to sannyas, it is true, but renunciation remains their stance: they renounce the world; they leave it. Renunciation has a place in their gestalt, and this gestalt assumes a good deal of importance in the eyes of masochistic people. Where Buddha and Mahavira left the world out of boredom, the masochists thought they had done so because of suffering and pain. Interpretations of Buddha and Mahavira were done by the masochists as well. Not only Krishna, even Mahavira and Buddha had to suffer at the hands of the masochists. Injustice – of course, in smaller measure – was done to these two luminaries in the same way it was done to Krishna.
We are unhappy, we are in misery. When we leave the world we do so because of our unhappiness. Buddha and Mahavira, however, left the world because of happiness. So there is a difference between us, on the one hand, and Mahavira and Buddha on the other, because the reasons for our renunciation are different.
Buddha and Mahavira are sannyasins of affluence; nonetheless there is a clear-cut difference between Buddha and Mahavira, on the one hand, and Krishna on the other. The difference is that where Buddha and Mahavira renounce happiness, Krishna does not renounce it. Krishna accepts that which is. He does not find happiness even worth renouncing, let alone indulging. He does not find happiness even worth renouncing. He has no desire whatsoever to make even a slight change in life as it is; he accepts it totally.
A fakir has said in his prayer, “O Lord, I accept you, but not your world.” In fact, every fakir says, “O Lord, I accept you, but not your world.” This is opposite to the position taken by an atheist. The atheist says, “I accept your world, not you.” Thus theists and atheists are two sides of the same coin.
Krishna’s theism is quite unique. In fact, only Krishna is a theist: he accepts what is. He says to God, “I accept you and your world too,” and this acceptance is so complete, so profound that it is difficult to know where the world ends and God begins. The world is really the extended hand of God, and God is the innermost being hidden in the world. The difference between the world and God is no more than this.