In the whole galaxy of religious luminaries Krishna is the sole exception who fully accepts the whole of life on this earth. He does not believe in living here for the sake of another world and another life. He believes in living this very life, here on this very earth. Where moksha, the freedom of Buddha and Mahavira, lies somewhere beyond this world and this time – there and then – Krishna’s freedom is here and now. Life as we know it never received such deep and unconditional acceptance at the hands of any other enlightened soul.
In times to come there is going to be a considerable reduction in the hardship and misery of life in this world and a corresponding increase in its comfort and happiness. And so, for the first time, the world will refuse to follow those who renounced life. It is always an unhappy society that applauds the creed of renunciation; a happy society will refuse to do so. Renunciation and escape from life can have meaning in a society steeped in poverty and misery, but they hold no appeal for an affluent and happy society. A man can very well tell an unhappy society that since there is nothing here except suffering and pain, he is going to leave it – but he cannot tell the same thing to an affluent society; there, it will make no sense.
Religions believing in renunciation will have no relevance in the future. Science will eliminate all those hardships that make for life’s sufferings. Buddha says that life from birth to death is a suffering. Now pain can be banished. In the future, birth will cease to be painful both for the mother and for the child. Life will cease to be painful; disease can be removed. Even a cure for old age can be found, and the span of life considerably lengthened. The life span will be so long that dying will cease to be a problem; instead people will ask, “Why live this long?”
All these things are going to happen in the near future. Then Buddha’s maxim about life being an unending chain of suffering will be hard to understand. And then Krishna’s flute will become significant and his song and dance will become alive. Then life will become a celebration of happiness and joy. Then life will be a blossoming and a beauty.
In the midst of this blossoming the image of a naked Mahavira will lose its relevance. In the midst of this celebration the philosophy of renunciation will lose its luster. In the midst of this festivity that life will be, dancers and musicians will be on center-stage. In the future world there will be less and less misery and more and more happiness. That is how I see Krishna’s importance ever on the ascent.
Up to now it was difficult to think that a man of religion carried a flute and played it. We could not imagine that a religious man wore a crown of peacock feathers and danced with young women. It was unthinkable that a religious man loved somebody and sang a song. A religious man, of our old concept, was one who had renounced life and fled the world. How could he sing and dance in a miserable world? He could only cry and weep. He could not play a flute; it was impossible to imagine that he danced.
It was for this reason that Krishna could not be understood in the past; it was simply impossible to understand him. He looked so irrelevant, so inconsistent and absurd in the context of our whole past.