Living Versus Dead
Gaston Bachelard once wrote: “Every myth is a condensation of human drama. That is why every myth can so easily be used as a symbol for an actual dramatic situation.” Nancy Hathaway said: “Heracles was widely worshipped as a hero and as a god. The religion of the ancient Greeks is no longer living and perhaps for that reasons, we think of him only as a Disneyfied hero, not as a god. Krishna also became a god, but since Hinduism is entirely alive. The divine identification has stuck.”
Krishna is said to be one of the four incarnations of Vishnu, a blue-skinned, four-armed deity of Far Eastern mythology. Vishnu was called the Preserver and was known as a god of many names. Krishna was his eighth avatar. First came Matsya the Fish who, according to the legend, saved mankind from a great flood. (Remember, I told you every culture has a flood myth.) Next was Kurma, a tortoise, who reportedly assisted the gods in obtaining soma, said to be an elixir of immortality. Then there was Varaha, a boar responsible for the creation of the earth; Narasimha, a half man/half lion who once killed a demon; Vamana, a dwarf who sent all the demons to hell and then created the world from his belly; and Rama-with-an-Ax, not surprisingly known for using said ax to behead his mother and kill everyone in the working class. Just before Krishna, Vishnu appeared as Rama and, after Krishna, as Buddha and the finally Kalki, the avatar of the future.
Krishna is unique, though, because a great deal is known about his childhood. He was mischievous, loud, and known for playing tricks on people. “I am the taste of living waters and the light of the sun and the moon. I am OM, the sacred word of the Vedas, sound in silence, heroism in men…I am the Father of this universe, and even the source of the Father. I am the Mother of this universe, and the Creator of all….I am the Way.” This excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita might sound similar to you as it echoes various passages in the Bible.
That is not the only similarity Krishna has with other deities among the mythologies of mankind. Remember his blue skin? He is probably the best known of all such blue-hued deities but there are others. Here are just a few: the Greek Poseidon, god of the Sea; the Sumerian Nanna, a moon god with the body of a bull and a beautiful blue beard; the Scottish blue-faced goddess of winter, Cailleach Bheur; the “master of the headband”, the Egyptian god Amun, a blue-skinned deity who wore two feathers on his head. There is also the Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli and the Brazilian Curupira, as well as the Navajo Blue God.
Hindu mythology is supported by a vast amount of literature which might even surpass those of the Greeks. While the Greek literature has fallen from being considered religious to simply literary, the Hindu works are still considered religious texts today. Faith is nothing more than words until it is put into action. As we begin the work week, perhaps we should pause to plan our spiritual or faith week.
What will I do today to illustrate my beliefs? How will my behavior reflect that which I hold to be true? What is apparent as my moral compass when viewed through the reflection of my actions? It takes courage and guts to be a believer – of most anything except ego. Our humanness often gets in the way of our humanity. When that happens, then our faith dies a little.
Krishna, like any hero, did meet his eventual end, his death. One day he was resting, having laid down in a field near a stream. A hunter approached, a hunter named “Jaras”, who mistook the soles of Krishna’s feet for the ears of an antelope. He raises his bow and lets his arrow fly straight, straight into the Achilles heel of Krishna which caused his instant death. While the story is somewhat reminiscent of a Greek tale we discussed, it also offers a word of warning to us all. You see, Jaras translates as “Old Age”.