The era of Mahabharata dates to a time when the civilization of the Indus valley was at its peak. The science was more advanced than today and the Rishis were the bearers of that knowledge. Each Rishi had his field of specialization. For example Drona and Kripa were the experts on weapons, and Vyasa himself was an expert gynecologist as well as a historian. When Rishi Vyas wrote the Mahabharata some five thousand years ago, his purpose was to immortalize a civilization that was rare in its knowledge and which he knew would not survive if a war of the magnitude of the Mahabharata occurred. His fears came true and as a result of that war and its aftermath, we completely lost touch with the amazing innovations of our ancestors.
For many centuries we got lost in the dark middle ages, where illiteracy was rampant and the country was so divided that it was easy for any invaders to attack, loot and rule. After our recent independence from the British, we are once again trying to establish our identity as a great nation.
We might have forgotten our history, but others have been taking full advantage of it. Today’s scientists take inspiration from the reference to the types of weapons and procedures that are discussed in these epics. It is even said that Einstein based his knowledge of the atomic power on his readings of ancient Indian books. We, as the children of such a pure and advanced civilization, owe it to ourselves to awake, arise and embrace the beauty of our great heritage wholeheartedly. But in order to do that we first need to have the true version of our history within the reach of the common man.
The current state of these epics is so distorted that it is difficult for the educated minds of today’s youth to accept them with pride. The current version of Mahabharta is inflated more than 10 times that of original.It consists of some 120,000 verses as against the 8,000 that Rishi Ved Vyas wrote. Most experts of Ancient Indian history agree upon this fact. At the root of this exuberant expansion, there are many superimposed myths and folk-tales that have made their way into the folds of this historic text and made a mockery of it.
Shri Krishna is the central character of this epic. He is the reason the book was written. He is the Yugpurush, the kind of hero who comes around once in many thousand years. And if we read carefully through the books that detail his life, namely ‘Jay-Bharta’ (also known as Mahabharata), Harivansh Puran and Bhagwat Puran, we come across a personality that is indeed complete and perfect in every sense. But we have to sift through a lot of rubble to reach the core of the truth. The rubble that connects him romantically to any and every woman that ever comes in contact with him, reducing him to a playboy rather than the very disciplined and deeply cultured man that he was. The rubble that converts his basic heroic deeds into miracles, thus reducing him to a myth rather than historical hero. The rubble that twists every episode by adding non-sensible details to simple events and depicts him as a cunning and immoral character rather than an upright and strictly moral person. In this article I am hoping to debunk all these myths to the best of my capability.
Let’s start at the very beginning, and explore his adventures in Vrindavan and the nature of his relationship with the Gopas and Gopis. To cut a long story short, when Akroor comes to fetch Krishna from Vrindavan to Mathura, basically marking the end of his stay there, it is mentioned that Krishna had not yet attained puberty. He was still a pre-adolescent boy of 12-13. How in the world is he supposed to have had romantic relationships with Gopis before that age? How is he supposed to have carried out all-night Raas-leelas as propagated by the so-called pandits?
If there was a relationship, it was of older ladies doting on a naughty and loving child who made their mundane lives cheerful and blissful. It was of Bhakti originating because of his heroic slaying of many evil-doers that frequented the region. It was that of hero-worship as he released them from the age-old frivolous customs like Indra-Puja and showed them that they should instead revere the environment (Govardhan), their means of livelihood (cows) and their teachers (Brahmanas) instead of the demigod Indra.
The myth of his relationship with Radha is most frivolous of them all. People often ask questions like, why he married Rukmini, when he loved Radha? Again, gross misinformation about the relation. Radha was much older and already married when she comes in contact with Krishna. She is in fact married to Arnav, an uncle of Krishna and thus his aunt through marriage. She is extremely fond of the child Krishna and visits Yashoda’s house often to meet him. A very plausible scenario as many newly-married aunts are fond of their child-nephews as they are themselves yet childless. In that context they become a pair, (similar in a way to Lakshmi-Ganesh, who are also Aunt and nephew). She is very devoted to Krishna and thus it is known that if you chant Radhe-Rahde you will please Shri Krishna (similar in a way to praying to Hanuman to please Shri Ram). But since she is a woman and people have one-track minds, over time they have been reduced to a romantic couple.
Paintings, folk-tales, songs have been dedicated to the fictitious relationship and over time the common man has come to believe it be the ultimate truth. People need to understand that an adult (or even teenage) Krishna never lived in Vrindavan, thus there was no way that he could have even indulged in romance. They need to realize that the beauty of his time in Vrindavan lies in his Bal-leela not Ras-leela.
Published in indiaopines blog