Devotion to Shri Krishna

by Shyamdas |
August, 2017
Devotion to Shri Krishna: Jivamukti Yoga
bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya aham evamvidho arjuna
jñātum drashtum ca tattvena praveshtum ca paramtapa.

Only by unalloyed devotion can one actually see and understand the form and reality of Krishna.

Bhagavad Gita XI.54

Bhagavad Gita XI.54 chanting by Rima Rani Rabbath

The primordial nature is Shri Krishna. He is the supreme Being. Etymologically, krish means “being,” and na means “bliss.” Shri Krishna is the “all-attractive One,” and He tells Arjuna in the Gita, “O Arjuna, nothing is superior to Me …I am even greater than that impersonal form of Brahman.

Shri Vallabhacharya says, “The Supreme Brahman is Shri Krishna alone.” Shri Krishna is the Supreme Person and eternally manifests all divine qualities. Shri Krishna is also ras (pure nectar), and can respond to the loving devotion of His bhaktas (devotees).

Shri Krishna is a dancer, a player, an actor, a husband, a cow herder, a friend, and a lover, as well as a flute player. He is an expert in abhinaya, that is, in exhibiting the meaning of what He depicts. He is so good that anyone who has contact with Him or His lila (divine drama) has an unforgettable experience. Love, attachment and obsession are the results.

Shri Krishna and his worship is pure divine drama (lila). He plays and directs at the same time, all for an awakening in those whose time has come. His bhaktas have various constitutions, yet share the common virtue of attachment. Their hearts are fired by His melody and contain the rush of His ras. It is all consummated in Vrindavan, where Shri Krishna plays his flute.

It is Shri Krishna’s sheer confidence that allows Him to establish overwhelming attachment to Himself in whoever He chooses. In Vrindavan everything is a combination of Him. Trees and animals fall under His spell and become enlightened. In Vrindavan everything manifests for the blissful purpose of lila. Shri Krishna sounds His flute to awaken the woods.

Shri Krishna is proficient in appearing and appealing to the bhaktas, all according to their individual temperaments. Shri Krishna comes here and manifests sacred creation. Lila makes Shri Krishna comprehensible. Some bhaktas are sattvic (pure in nature), some are rajasic (passionate) while others are tamasic (obstinate.) Bhaktas of every disposition are accepted by Shri Krishna. Once every virtue is directed towards Him, then every emotion can be useful in His worship. The bhakta’s dispositions are but various devotional fuels that propel him or her to God. Since it is too difficult of a journey, Hari descends into the world of matter and plays with the soul according to it’s nature.

Concerning practice, Shri Vallabhacharya is concise: “The attainment of Shri Krishna can never be dependent upon any formula. If God could be captured by a particular formula, that prisoner could not be God. Shri Krishna, whose mood is always perfect, is attained through the precise emulation of those who have already attained Him.” And so, as the gopis of Vrindavan are the ones who attained Shri Krishna, they are the grace-filled gurus of the path of grace.

The practice of devotion to Shri Krishna is transforming. Like gutter water that spills into the Ganga becomes Ganga, similarly in the path of grace, once all things are offered, they become like Shri Krishna: free of bondage. In the devotional process, everything leads to the Blessed Lord. First, there arises the subtle and blessed understanding that Shri Krishna is Brahman, and therefore, he deserves ultimate adoration. Then, a desire for a specific relationship with Him arises, followed by practice. When Shri Krishna responds, the fruit is attained.

Shyam Das (excerpted from The Path of Grace pages 51-54)

– Selected by Sharon Gannon

Teaching Tips

(Contributed by Rima Rani Rabbath)

  1. Through call and response singing, notice the different moods experienced in the room according to the melody of the chant, the intonation, the inflection, the cadence and the myriad of accents. Allow the mood established to set the tone for that day’s practice.
  2. Invite the students to inquire and investigate what or whom they are truly devoted to, or to what or to whom they allocate most of their energy. Encourage them to explore how this investigation can give them clarificaiton as to whether their actions are in sync with their aspirations
  3. Emphasize the gazing point or driṣti of the asanas you are teaching. So much energy we waste through our eyes. When our vision is single-pointed, our devotion becomes single-minded.
  4. Krishna’s nature is playful. He likes to appear to his devotees in many forms. Invite students to practice “seeing feelingly” the different shapes and forms they are placing their bodies. Can they sense the placement of their back leg in a Warrior pose and tell whether it is extended or not without looking back?
  5. The nature of Krishna is pure love – a love that makes us feel that every aspect of our being is in place like in sacred geometry. Apply the principles of alignment and basic geometry to the asanas and help students visualize the asanas through illustrations of circles, squares, triangles, lines, etc.
  6. Teach how one can understand which of the three gunas (tamas, rajas, sattva) is dominant at any given moment according to how one is approaching a particular asana.