World according to Krishna


A brief discourse on the background to the contributions of Purushottama

Navaratna Rajaram


About the creator
Dr. Navaratna Rajaram is an internationally known scholar who has attained distinction for his contributions in several disciplines, in science and technology as well as history and philosophy. In keeping with this varied background, Rajaram believes that the separation of science and humanities is superficial and both are part of Veda (knowledge) What we call physics is only philosophy of nature or natural philosophy as termed by Isaac Newton among others.

We can do no better than see how the peerless thinker and activist Sri Krishna lived and acted five thousand years ago. Though worshipped as an avatar of God Vishnu, he acted and lived his life as a human and claimed no divine powers. He is known therefore as purushottama, the best of men. Though a great teacher, he was an activist. So his teaching was no book knowledge which he possessed in abundance, but acquired as the result of his vast experience as a warrior, statesman and diplomat.

It can be argued that he was also a highly successful manager, especially skilled at crisis management. Without his managerial skills at crucial times the Pandavas would in all probability not have prevailed in their epic struggle against the hostile designs of their Kaurava adversaries. It might be noted that many of the basic management principles and practices today are the result of the experience gained in warfare. Field Marshal Montgomery always referred to his campaigns as battle administration. Nowhere else does once experience such challenges in logistics and management as in major battles.

While he valued knowledge acquisition and intellect, to Krishna, activism (or karma) was of the greatest importance. As he put it in the Bhagavadgita (3.3)

    Lokesmin dvividhaa nishthaa puraaproktaa mayaanagha|

   Jnaanayogena saankhyaanaam, karmayogena yoginaam. ||

Translated: In this world, as previously noted O Sinless One, there exist two kinds of devotees. Those devoted to learning or Saankhyaas (rationalists), and Yogis devoted to activism. From this it is clear that Krishna attached great importance to activism, virtually equating it with Yoga. It is important to recognize that Krishna uses the term karma to mean action or activism and never in the modern English usage (or misusage) of fate or destiny which he did not believe in.

What is Yoga: Like karma, yoga is also a Sanskrit term that is not fully appreciated, or understood in a limited way as being associated with practices like meditation and asasnas. More often the Gita uses it in the sense of method or disciple (as in karmayoga). It may also mean episode, as in Arjuna Vishadayoga meaning the episode of Arjuna’s sorrow. Hence the term must always be interpreted in the light of the context.

Yoga also can refer to excellence as in Yogah karmasu kaushalam, which means y yoga is excellence in action (or performance).

In the light of all this, there is great value to looking at life and actions of Krishna in studying his teachings. For, his teachings are rooted in his life filled with activism.




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