Quote 5: The historicity and reality of Krishna

“Much time has been wasted to prove whether Krishna or Jesus had historicity, or were mere myths. A lot of literature is available on the point to carry on the debate till the end of time, but this sort of quest seems to me futile. A story goes that someone had asked Meera; “Is Krishna real?” And she replied, “Yes, I believe. For me He is more real than anything else.” She was right. Important point is the probability of His coming, and the credibility and creditworthiness of all that He said or did. Millions and millions never doubt His reality in their lives He has real presence for them. It is great that nobody before the Allahabad High Court, hearing the famous Ayodhya Dispute Case, questioned the reality of Sri Rama (by implications, of Krishna) Justice S.U. Khan, in his Judgment of Oct. 30, 2010 noted the sagacity of the litigants observing:

“At this juncture, it may also be noted that Sri Zafaryab Jilani, learned counsel for Waqf Board and other Muslim parties …categorically stated that his parties did not dispute that Lord Ram was born at Ayodhya (previously this was also an area of dispute between the parties).”

 Besides, nothing turns on the issue of ‘historicity’ (whether of Krishna or Jesus). With deep insight, Aacharya Rajneesh (also known as ‘Osho’) said: “How does it matter if there had been no Krishna?…. The probability of the existence of Krishna is a matter of internal coherence. This probability exits, or it exists not.” We have danced with Krishna with ecstatic joy. We have drawn help and inspiration from Him when we feel depressed and our ways lost. We have received succour when all hopes are gone. Our burdens vanish when we think of Him. He helps us face the blizzards of existence. He helps us how to live, and also how to die. My grandmother would have been terribly shocked if I would have questioned the ‘reality’ of Krishna, who had for her an immanent living presence. When I was born, songs praising Him were sung by the ladies assembled to celebrate my birth. It is customary in our society to sing such songs of joy when a child is born. I wish when I die I should go praying, in the words of Tagore, ‘maran re, tunhu mamo Shyam-saman’ (O Death, Thou art like Krishna) seeking ‘mrityu-amrityu korey daan’ (grant me immortality through death). In my childhood, I heard His stories from my parents; and thereafter I have read them in the Bhagavad Mahapurana, and the Mahabharata over the years enjoying them at different levels of my awareness of life. When someone raises the issue of Krishna’s ‘reality’, the words of Zeno (who lived sometime in the fourth century B.C.) come to mind:

‘Zeno began by asserting the existence of the real world. “What do you mean by real?” asked the Sceptic. “I mean solid and material. I mean that this table is solid matter.” “And God,” asked the Sceptic, “and the soul?” “Perfectly solid,” said Zeno, “more solid if anything, than the table.” “And virtue or justice or the Rule of Three: also solid matter”? “Of course,” said Zeno, “quite solid”’ .

It matters little if the historicity of Krishna is doubted. It is enough for me that Krishna is the richest and greatest cultural construct of mankind. They say He was the poetic creation of the great epic poet Vyasa. If that be so, then Vyasa was Krishna Himself as without acquiring ‘Krishna consciousness’ the Mahabharata (and its illustrious segment the Bhagavad-Gita), could not have been composed. Krishna katha (Krishna’s stories) are true. But their truth is both poetical and philosophical. The poetic truth has the greatest fidelity but it cannot be referential. “Richards denied to poetry any truth of reference and argued that ‘truth’, as applied to a work of art, could mean only the ‘internal necessity’ or ‘rightness’ of the work of art: that is, whereas scientific truth has to do with correspondence to the nature of reality, artistic “truth” is a matter of inner coherence.” When all is said, our oriental culture, the Hindu or the Muslim, is profoundly endowed with the gift of creative imagination.

For centuries and centuries our seers and poets have conceived in their most exalted cultural consciousness the personality of Krishna. India’s creativity at its most conscious point finds expression in Him. It seems to me that through the events of His life, our finest and deepest thoughts of abiding significance have found most efficacious expression. I intend focusing on some of the ideas which are contextually called for by the subject-matter of the Book III of this Memoir.”

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 20 at pp. 263-265

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