No one is concerned with Ashtavakra, because to accept Ashtavakra you are going to have to drop yourself – unconditionally. You cannot bring yourself along. Only if you stay behind can you come near him. With Krishna you can bring yourself along. With Krishna there is no need to transform yourself. With Krishna you can fit just as you are.
Hence the founders of each tradition have written commentaries on Krishna’s Gita – Shankara, Ramanuja, Nimbaraka, Vallabha – everyone. Each has extracted his own meaning. Krishna has said things in such a way as to allow multiple meanings; hence I call his Gita poetic. You can draw out any meaning you like from a poem.
Krishna’s statements are like clouds surrounding you in the rainy season: you see in them whatever you want. Someone may see an elephant’s trunk, someone sees the whole body of Ganesha, the elephant god. Someone may not see anything. He will say, “What nonsense! They are clouds, vapor – how is it you see forms in them?”
In the West, psychoanalysts use the ink blot test: just pour some ink onto blotting paper and ask the person to say what he sees in it. The person looks carefully and sees something or other. There is nothing there, only an ink stain on blotting paper – randomly thrown, not thrown with any design, just poured from the bottle. But the person looking at it finds something or other. What he finds is in his mind, he has projected it.
You must have seen lines made by rain falling on a wall. Some-times a man’s face is seen, sometimes a horse’s face is seen. You project onto it what you want to see. In the dark of night, clothes hanging on a line seem like ghosts.
Krishna’s Gita is just like this – you will be able to see whatever is in your mind. So Shankara sees knowledge, Ramanuja sees devotion, Tilak sees action – and each returns home in a cheerful mood thinking that what Krishna says is the same as his belief.
Emerson has written that once a neighbor came and borrowed the works of Plato from him. Plato lived two thousand years ago and is one of the world’s rare, unique thinkers. Weeks later Emerson reminded him, “If you’ve read the books please return them.” When the neighbor returned them Emerson asked, “How did you like them?”
The man said, “This man Plato’s thoughts are in complete agreement with mine. I felt many times: how has this man come to know my thoughts?” Plato lived two thousand years earlier and this fellow suspects that Plato has stolen his thoughts!
This kind of suspicion often arises with Krishna too. Centuries have passed and commentaries on Krishna keep on coming. Each century finds its own meaning, each person finds his own meaning. Krishna’s Gita is like an ink blot…it is the statement of the perfect politician.