Amma on Lord Shiva

This is a select collection of sayings on Lord Shiva taken from Amma’s messages, talks and books.

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sivjiSome believe that Lord Shiva is at Kashi alone or Lord Krishna is only in Brindavan. Dear children, do not think that God is confined to the four walls of a temple or a place. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. He can assume any form of His choice.

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If our beloved deity is Krishna, we should be able to behold Krishna everywhere, in every temple whether it is Lord Shiva’s temple or Devi’s temple. Children, do not think that Shiva might be angry if we don’t worship Him in a Shiva temple or that the Divine Mother will withhold Her blessings if we don’t praise Her while going to a Devi temple. One and the same person is called ‘husband’ by the wife, ‘father’ by the son and ‘brother’ by the sister. The person sees no change even if other people address him differently. Each of us sees God in a particular form and name Him according to our innate tendencies and imagination.

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The image of Shiva represents that non-dual aspect of the Supreme that purifies aspirants of their sins and bestows renunciation and discrimination.

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The Shiva represents the aspect of Brahman, which cleanses us of all impurities. Brahman alone can remove all our impurities. In the Puranic story, it was Shiva who took the prarabdhas of others and swallowed them Himself. Shiva is the divine filter that receives the prarabdhas and impurities of the people, thereby making them pure.

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Devotee of Lord Shiva

Ravana was a devotee of Lord Shiva, but his devotion was only a means to increase his material power. The spiritual aspect was totally missing in him. In other words, he had no renunciation. He was intensely desirous of accumulating, possessing and enjoying as much as he could. Although he was strong and courageous, he had no love or compassion. Just like any other dictator, he was a power-monger, a person who cared only about himself and his own security. His power, which he derived from the Lord, made him so egotistic and blind that he even tried to lift Mount Kailas, Lord Shiva’s abode.

Without renunciation and humility one cannot be content. A true devotee has both of these qualities. A person who lacks renunciation and humility can never be content because he still craves material prosperity. His desires are countless and insatiable. He is never satisfied with what he has. Instead he thinks about accumulating more wealth, more money, a bigger house, a better car, more and more comfort.

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Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva create, nourish and destroy desires respectively. Man creates and nourishes desires but does not destroy them. Children, destruction of desire is what is needed.

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Amma likes the Lord of Death more than Lord Shiva. Isn’t it because of their fear of death that people call out to Shiva? Otherwise who would take refuge in Shiva?

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Shiva’s third eye is the eye of jnana, supreme knowledge.

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Ganga & Shiva

Modern science has proven that the river Ganges has the power to destroy germs. Likewise, there is a Ganges within us which has the power to purify our mind. That is why it is said that Ganges flows from the head of Lord Shiva. When we reach perfection through meditation, we become Him, the possessor of Ambrosia. The pure Ganges rises up from within. That is what is depicted as the Goddess Ganga hiding in the matted hair of Lord Shiva. Goddess Ganga represents the Kundalini Shakti and its endless flow is the flow of the Ganges. From Lord Shiva, the Perfect One, it flows pervading everything and purifies the whole universe.

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The Creation
Children, vibration arose in Brahman from Primordial Resolve. From this came the three gunas (qualities), sattva, rajas and tamas. These three are represented as the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. All these are within oneself. What we see existing in the Universe in truth exists within.

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sivasaktiBefore creation, Shakti (the Primordial Nature, Cosmic Energy) heard an ethereal voice. It said, “There is only sorrow in creation. You should not try to do it.” It was the voice of Shiva (Pure Consciousness). Shakti replied, “No, it needs to be done.”

After creation, Shiva, the Pure Consciousness aspect, moved away. He went and hid. In reality, He has nothing to do with all these things happening around. Later, Shakti went running to Him, complaining, “I have no peace. Look here, the children are scolding Me. They blame Me for everything. Nobody takes care of Me.”
Shiva said, “Hadn’t I told you at that very same time that it was going to be like this and that you should not pursue that (creation)? Now you created an uproar, having pursued that. Aren’t you the one who is responsible for all this that has happened? There was no problem when it was I alone, was there?”

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Can Lord Shiva be called “Mother”?
Amma: Yes, of course, He can be called so. It is said that the “I” has become the father, mother, child, brother, sister and all. Everything is Him alone. You call Him, giving any name. One will say “palu,” another will say “milk,” and yet another will say something else. Whatever the name, there is no difference either in the color or taste of the milk. God can be called both as Father and Mother. You were told that He is the Father, weren’t you? He is the real Father who disciplines you by removing the ego and correcting you, and He is also the real Mother who looks after and protects you lovingly, compassionately and affectionately. Both are two different facets of the same God. Both aspects are unique. That is what manifests through a Perfect Master (Satguru), the perfect balance of both Divine Fatherhood and Motherhood. Everything is pervaded by the Supreme Self. He who has realized this can manifest any aspect at any time by Self-will.

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Why the Shiva linga

We can not understand why some people ridicule and insult the divine symbols and images in Hindu faith. The Shiva linga is not a symbol of one particular religion; it actually stands for a scientific principle.
Today scientists say that the universe is egg-shaped. In India, for thousands of years, the universe was referred to as Brahmandam, meaning the ‘great egg.’ Brahman means the absolute greatest.  The Shiva linga is a microcosm of that vast cosmic egg. When we worship the Shiva linga, we are, in fact, worshipping the entire universe as the Auspicious Form and as the Divine Consciousness, This is not the worship of a God who sits somewhere beyond the sky. This teaches us that any selfless service rendered to the universe, including to all living beings, is worship of Shiva.

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Absolute Reality, is the Source and Support of everything. It is devoid of attributes, qualities, and form. How can the attributeless be described? In this difficult context, the sages found a symbol to represent that initial stage between Brahman and creation: the Shiva linga. It signifies the creation of the universe out of Brahman. The Shiva linga is the symbol the Rishis used to reveal the truth they experienced in a way ordinary people could understand.
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lingaThe word Shiva means “auspicious”. Auspiciousness doesn’t have a form. By worshipping the Shiva linga, which is a symbol of auspiciousness, the worshipper receives that which is auspiciousness.

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The meaning of linga is not phallus; for not even fools would pray to a male’s sexual organs for protection!

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Q: Some people describe the Shiva linga as obscene. Is there any basis for this?
Amma: My children, people talk that way only because they do not understand the principle behind the Shiva linga. Each individual sees either good or bad in everything depending on that person’s inner tendencies.
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Shiva burnt Kama ( lust and desires) with his third eye. In that state of Supreme Bliss, there is no female and male, mine and yours. Shiva linga helps us grasp this principle and frees us from lust. That is why the Shiva linga is worshipped by both men and women, the old and the young, the Brahman and the outcaste.

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Q: It is said that Shiva dwells in funeral grounds. What is the meaning of this?
Amma: Desire is the cause of suffering. At the cremation grounds, the body with all its material desires are reduced to ashes. And there, where desires are absent and there is no body consciousness, Lord Shiva dances in bliss. That is why he is called the resident of the cremation grounds. The meaning of this is not that bliss comes to us only after death. Everything is within us. We and the universe are one. We are automatically filled with bliss, when in the fire of Self-awareness the attachment to the body dies.

Shiva’s body is decorated with ashes from the funeral pyres. This is the symbol of having conquered all desires.

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Tantric Sadhana

Tantric sadhana is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted paths. In the name of tantric sadhana people start drinking, engaging in sex and other licentious and irresponsible behavior. They say that they are offering it to the Divine Mother, but ultimately such people get totally carried away by such indulgence. Their ignorance about real sadhana becomes denser and denser, and so they argue that whatever they do is correct.

What is involved in tantric worship is an offering. The fact is, the principle behind the worship is what is to be offered. This offering is not external; it is internal. You offer your individuality, or your ego, to the Divine. Furthermore, the references to sexual union in the worship are not to be taken as something to be done by a male person and a female person. It is the final union, the union of the jivatman (individual self) and the Paramatman (the Supreme Self). It is symbolic. It symbolizes the union or the integration of the feminine and masculine qualities – the union of Purusha and Prakriti, the merging of the mind into the Supreme Reality. It is the attainment of a perfect balance between the inner and outer natures of the sadhak. It is the experiencing of and becoming established in All-Pervasiveness, which ensues from the union of Shiva and Shakti.

In that state the sadhak transcends everything and merges with the Supreme Principle. That Supreme Oneness is the meaning of sexual union in tantric puja.

This union of Shiva (Supreme Consciousness) and Shakti (Primordial Energy) happens when the sadhak’s purified semen, which has transformed into ojas (pure vital energy) reaches the top of the head where the thousand petalled lotus is located. The use of sexual imagery as symbolic imagery in tantric sadhana is an external, figurative depiction of this inner transformation. Sexual union is the closest symbol that can give the idea about this eternal union of Shiva and Shakti. Both aspects, Supreme Consciousness and Primordial Energy are within us.

All human beings are sexual, and therefore, all are familiar with the experience of sexual desire, the longing for union with the opposite sex. Thus by employing something that everybody can understand, that is, the terms and symbols of sexual union, to express the essential quality and process of eternal union, the sages have tried to give us an idea of the process of inner union. But human minds are so crude and lowly that they misinterpret the whole thing and bring it all down to a vulgar level, misusing it or using it as an excuse for licentious behavior and illicit actions that can cause harm to others as well as themselves. Tantric sadhana must not be practiced without the guidance of a Perfect Master.

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When a man and a woman move forward together with love, mutual understanding, and a willingness to be flexible to the other’s needs, what develops is not equality between them, but union—the union of Shiva and Shakti. That is the world of joy. The man and the woman become one, forgetting all differences.
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For 6000 euros, could you hatch an egg?

5 December 2005 – Amritapuri

“If someone were to say to you, ‘I will give you 6,000 euros if you can hatch this egg for me right now,’ would you be able to do it?” Amma asked. “Or what if they were to give you a flower bud and then tell you that they will give you such and such amount of money if you could make it blossom?”

Amma was making the point that Self-realization cannot be given; it has to come from a gradual blossoming of the heart due to effort on the part of the seeker and Guru’s grace. It cannot be forced.

“When we first started teaching IAM Meditation some people suggested that we should charge for it, because in today’s world only when you charge do people feel that they are getting something of value,” Amma said. “If you give something for free, people don’t have that feeling. But charging would be like adding water to milk. When someone sells milk, they often add water in order to make more profit. If the business aspect enters into it, it becomes diluted. When a mother breastfeeds her child, she does so only out of her love. In this way, Amma didn’t want to charge anything for IAM Meditation.”

Amma went on to explain how in some places people are charging 2000 dollars for a mantra or 6000 euros for “realization.”

“If you take an unripe fruit and press it and hit it, it will start to appear soft and ripe, but still when you eat it, it won’t be sweet,” Amma explained. “The man at the fruit-stand may benefit from it when he gets the money, but the person who buys it doesn’t get anything of value.”

Amma went on to say that in India the tradition exists where one offers something when they meet a Mahatma or a Guru, but that it should spring forth from the reverence in their heart. Amma then gave the example of how in the Upanishads it says that one should make offerings of samit, the special types of woods needed for fueling sacrificial fires. Samit is symbolic of our attachments and shows our desire for the Guru to help us go beyond these and become free.

This was one point among many that Amma was making in order to illustrate just how necessary it is for us to understand not only the essence of spirituality, but the logic behind it, as well as the manifold facets of our tradition. People who truly understand the role meditation plays in spiritual life, the concept behind offerings, and the nature of Self-realization, can never be misled by such conman and spiritual entrepreneurs.

But, alas, Amma lamented, “Ninety-eight percent of people don’t understand the principles of Sanatana Dharma.”

Other traditional practices that Amma shed light upon included why we light oil lamps before the deity in temples, why we light firecrackers during festivals, the value of Prasad, and the benefits of chanting the Vedas.

Amma also went into detail regarding the symbolism behind the forms of various Hindu gods, specifically God in the form of the elephant, Lord Ganesha, and God in the form of the monkey, Hanuman.

“These particular forms of worship arose out of the sankalpa of the Rishis,” Amma said. “So there is a particular meaning behind each and every one. If you understand Hanuman’s reverence for Sri Rama–his attitude of surrender, love and friendship–then you understand the principle that a person who cultivates these bhavas can become God. Also, just as a normal monkey jumps from one branch to another, our mind jumps over continents, even up into outer space. It can go from here to the moon in just one second.” Amma’s point was that, just like Hanuman, a human being who properly tames and trains his or her mind can come to realize their oneness with God.

Amma then explained some of the symbolism behind the form of Lord Ganesha. “The elephant’s trunk can pick up the smallest of things,” Amma said. “Like when Amma gives Ram or Lakshmi [the two Ashram elephants] a biscuit and they drop a small piece, the trunk can reach down and pick up even that. At the same time, it can also lift the heaviest of logs.”

Amma explained that this is symbolic of the need of a spiritual aspirant to cultivate an intellect capable of understanding both the gross and the subtle. Amma also said that the fact that Ganesha’s ears are wide open represents sraddha [attentive awareness] and receptivity.

“There are many deep hidden principals within these forms,” Amma said. “If we don’t understand these things, we will easily lose faith.”

Amma told every one how a human fetus goes through a stage where it looks like a monkey, and that evolution theory says that human beings have evolved from the monkey. “In the past 2000 years no one has seen a monkey turn into a human being, yet still we believe this. We cannot accept the scriptures which say that by worshipping a monkey-god you can actually become God.”

In response to such skepticism, Amma told everyone about something she had come across during her 2004 European Tour.

“In Ireland, Amma was at a devotee’s house, and there were all these paintings there. When I looked at them, they seemed very obscure. It looked like someone had just slapped some colours up with a broom. There were random points here and there. When I asked Lakshmi [Amma’s attendant], she explained to me that this black spot means this, and this line means that… Nobody would say that the painter is an idiot. In fact, those who recognize their artistry are respected as great intellectuals. Nobody asks questions like, ‘When so many poor people are starving, how can you spend so much on these paintings?’ The pictures were worth 200,000 or half-a-million or even one million dollars. They were so expensive that they had to have security cameras and personnel there to protect them. So if you can understand the obscure symbolism behind the complicated paintings, then why can’t you understand the symbolism behind Ganesha and Hanuman?

-Sakshi

Lord Ganesha: his birth story, symbolism meaning and practice

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The birth of Ganesha

One day Goddess Parvati was at home on Mt.Kailash preparing for a bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi, her husband Shiva’s Bull, to guard the door and let no one pass. Nandi faithfully took his post, intending to carry out Parvati’s wishes. But, when Shiva came home and naturally wanted to come inside, Nandi had to let him pass, being loyal first to Shiva. Parvati was angry at this slight, but even more than this, at the fact that she had no one as loyal to Herself as Nandi was to Shiva. So, taking the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathing life into it, she created Ganesha, declaring him to be her own loyal son.

The next time Parvati wished to bathe, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him he couldn’t enter his own house! Furious, Shiva ordered his army to destroy the boy, but they all failed! Such power did Ganesha possess, being the son of Devi Herself!

This surprised Shiva. Seeing that this was no ordinary boy, the usually peaceful Shiva decided he would have to fight him, and in his divine fury severed Ganesha’s head, killing him instantly. When Parvati learned of this, she was so enraged and insulted that she decided to destroy the entire Creation! Lord Brahma, being the Creator, naturally had his issues with this, and pleaded that she reconsider her drastic plan. She said she would, but only if two conditions were met: one, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods.

Shiva, having cooled down by this time, and realizing his mistake, agreed to Parvati’s conditions. He sent Brahma out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature he crosses that is laying with its head facing North. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva placed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesha to be his own son as well, and gave him the status of being foremost among the gods, and leader of all the ganas (classes of beings), Ganapati.

Meaning of the story of  Ganesh

At first glance, this story just seems like a nice tale that we might tell our children, or a myth without any real substance. But, it’s true mystical meaning is veiled. It is explained thus:

Parvati is a form of Devi, the Parashakti (Supreme Energy). In the human body She resides in the Muladhara chakra as the Kundalini shakti. It is said that when we purify ourselves, ridding ourselves of the impurities that bind us, then the Lord automatically comes. This is why Shiva, the Supreme Lord, came unannounced as Parvati was bathing.

Nandi, Shiva’s bull, who Parvati first sent to guard the door represents the divine temperment. Nandi is so devoted to Shiva that his every thought is directed to Him, and he is able to easily recognize the Lord when He arrives. This shows that the attitude of the spiritual aspirant is what gains access to Devi’s (the kundalini shakti’s) abode. One must first develop this attitude of the devotee before hoping to become qualified for the highest treasure of spiritual attainment, which Devi alone grants.

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After Nandi permitted Shiva to enter, Parvati took the turmeric paste from Her own body, and with it created Ganesha.. Yellow is the color associated with the Muladhara chakra, where the kundalini resides, and Ganesha is the deity who guards this chakra. Devi needed to create Ganesha, who represents the earthbound awareness, as a shield to protect the divine secret from unripe minds. It is when this awareness begins to turn away from things of the world, and toward the Divine, as Nandi had, that the great secret is revealed.

Shiva is the Lord and Supreme Teacher. Ganesha here represents the ego-bound Jiva. When the Lord comes, the Jiva, surrounded as it is with the murky cloud of ego, usually doesn’t recognize Him, and maybe even ends up arguing or fighting with Him! Therefore, it is the duty of the Lord, in the form of the Guru, to cut off the head of our ego! So powerful is this ego however, that at first the Guru’s instructions may not work, as Shiva’s armies failed to subdue Ganesha. It often requires a tougher approach, but, eventually the compassionate Guru, in His wisdom finds a way.

Devi threatened to destroy the whole Creation after learning of Ganesha’s demise. This indicates that when the ego thus dies, the liberated Jiva loses interest in its temporary physical vehicle, the body, and begins to merge into the Supreme. The physical world is here represented by Devi. This impermanent and changeable creation is a form of Devi, to which this body belongs; the unchanging Absolute is Shiva, to which belongs the Soul. When the ego dies, the external world, which depends on the ego for its existence, disappears along with it. It is said that if we want to know the secrets of this world, which is a manifestation of Devi, then we must first receive the blessings of Ganesha.

Shiva restoring life to Ganesha, and replacing his head with an elephant’s, means that before we can leave the body, the Lord first replaces our small ego with a “big”, or universal ego. This doesn’t mean that we become more egoistic. On the contrary, we no longer identify with the limited individual self, but rather with the large universal Self. In this way, our life is renewed, becoming one that can truly benefit Creation. It is however only a functional ego, like the one Krishna and Buddha kept. It is like a thin string tying the liberated Consciousness to our world, solely for our benefit.

Ganesha is given dominion over the Ganas, which is a general term denoting all classes of beings, ranging from insects, animals and humans to the subtle and celestial beings. These various beings all contribute to the government of the Creation; everything from natural forces like storms and earthquakes, to the elemental qualities like fire and water, to functioning of the body’s organs and processes. If we don’t honor the Ganas, then our every action is a form of thievery, as it is unsanctioned. Therefore, instead of propitiating each Gana in order to receive their blessings, we bow to their Lord, Sri Ganesha. By receiving His grace, we receive the grace of all. He removes any potential obstacles and enables our endeavors to succeed.

Such is the greatness of Sri Ganesha! Jai Ganesha!

 

Sri Krishna, Amma & the cow

Symbolism of the cow

Due to the wise example and guidance of India’s ancient Rishis (Seers), who established the habit of honouring all aspects of life, cows, through their symbiotic relationship with people, were naturally given a high place in Indian culture. This high status was reinforced and high-lighted with the advent of Sri Krishna and His leelas, and is again receiving attention from Amma and Her teachings.

Amma Herself has always spoken in the highest regard for cows, making sure that the ashram cows are always lovingly cared for. Perhaps this is partly due to a remarkable relationship Amma had with one cow in particular, when She was young.

There was a time when She had been turned out by Her family, due to their intolerance of the inexplicable behaviour arising from Her profound mystical experiences. During that period, Amma would endure long stretches of time without eating or drinking anything, so absorbed was She in Her samadhi. One day a cow showed up, and stood nearby, waiting until Amma regained normal awareness. When Amma opened her eyes, this cow then moved close and allowed Amma to drink milk directly from her udders. The cow did this each day, and it soon became known that this cow had been selflessly walking over seven kilometers each way, just to feed Amma, and this even before feeding her own calf! All out of a deep universal sympathy she and Amma somehow shared.

From this it can be seen that cows are rightly honoured as a form of the Mother. Consider that this gentle creature offers such an abundance, despite taking so little. To begin with, cow’s milk and its by-products are taken as food in all parts of the world. In fact, many of us were raised on cow’s milk as a substitute for our own mother’s milk! And milk in turn can become so many things —cheese, butter, curd, cream, ghee, yogurt– much of which is used in a ceremonial context as well, such as pada puja and abhishekam. Even the waste products of a cow are beneficial. Cow-dung makes a superior manure, and the ash derived from burning dried cow dung is used in a sacred symbolic context. And both cow-dung ash, and cow urine are utilized for certain medicinal properties they possess.

Sri Krishna also has a special connection with the divine bovine. Growing up in Brindavan, Sri Krishna was known as Gopala, which means one who looks after the cow, and it was during his daily tending to the cows in the field that some of His most unforgettable leelas were unfolded. What’s more, his most dedicated devotees were the gopis, or cowherd girls, who in their simple purity and innocence could easily see the divinity within this mischievous and mysterious blue-hued boy, who ran and sang and played and danced with them in the open fields, mesmerizing all with his flute-song.

Something else Sri Krishna is famous for is being an incorrigible butter-thief. He used to absolutely love butter and ghee (both gifts of the sacred cow), and would go to any lengths to partake of their sweetness. The small fact that they usually didn’t’t belong to Him never seemed to matter much at all! In fact, He seemed as interested in the act of stealing, as in that which He stole! But it wasn’t out of any uncontrollable craving, or criminal leanings that He did this, for Sri Krishna was beyond desires and negative tendencies. What we cannot afford to forget is that each and every action of divine beings such as Krishna or Amma, are always pregnant with deep spiritual meaning. But, we need subtlety of mind to perceive them.

Amma says, “The gopis were always thinking about their hoarded butter. By stealing it, Krishna diverted their attention to Him.” Thus the significance of stealing the butter is that the Lord will finally steal our minds.

May we all be so blessed.

Sri Krishna

In 3228 BCE in Mathura, India, a child was born who was destined to reshape the spiritual and temporal destiny of mankind—Sri Krishna. In his 125 years of life, Sri Krishna made an indelible impression upon mankind’s collective consciousness—re-educating the world about devotion and dharma as well as the ultimate reality. His life was a model for people in days past, the modern world and surely for those in ages to come. Seeing Krishna as a perfect personification of divinity, to this day hundreds of millions of people pray to him, chant his names, meditate on his form and try to put his teachings into practice. His life has inspired a treasure house of poetry, music, painting, sculpture and other fine arts. As Amma says, “His glory is unsurpassable. His story is a source of joy and inspiration for people from all walks of life.”

A child, a brother, a charioteer, a warrior, a disciple, a guru, a cowherd, a messenger, the beloved of the gopis… Throughout his life, Krishna enacted so many roles—the whole time never forgetting that they were just that, roles, and that his true nature was eternal, ever blissful consciousness. In this way, he was able to remain detached and thus perform flawlessly, never allowing the smile to fall from his face. This, Amma says, is perhaps his greatest teaching.

“There have been very few who have been able to rejoice both in victory and in defeat,” Amma says. “Sri Krishna is one who celebrated both life and death. That is why he was always able to give a big smile. He took birth with a smile on his face, lived with a smile, and left his body with a smile. The message that he conveyed through his life is that we should make life full of laughter.”

Krishna’s life was so full, it would be impossible to recount it all here. It is told primarily through Srimad Bhagavatam, Garga Samhita, Visnu Purana, Brahmavaivarta Purana, Mahabharata, Harivamsa and several other puranas. However, here are some of the broad strokes.

Krishna, in fact, took birth in a prison cell. A sage had told his egoistic uncle, King Kamsa, that he would be killed by his sister Devaki’s child. So Kamsa imprisoned Devaki and had each child she bore murdered. However, Devaki, and her husband, Vasudeva, finally were able to sneak one child off to safety. This was Sri Krishna. They sent Krishna off to Vraja, where he was raised by a foster mother, Yasoda. It was in Vrindavan, one of the villages of Vraja, that Krishna won the hearts of the gopis, the cowherds of the village. “By spending all his time with the gopis of Vrindavan—playing with them, joking with them, stealing their butter and milk, etc—what he actually was doing was stealing their hearts,” Amma says. It is from this that Krishna was given the name “Chitta Chora” [one who steals the mind].

Kamsa sent many assassins to kill Krishna, but none of them were able to do so. And in the end, Krishna returned to Mathura and killed Kamsa, restoring dharma to the land.

In fact, Krishna never returned to Vrindavan. The pain of separation was unbearable for the gopis. It drove their minds into a fever pitch, wherein their every thought was of Krishna. Through this, their minds were purified and they slowly became able to see their Beloved in all things: in the trees, in the rivers, in the mountains, in the sky, in all people, and animals—even in their own selves. This was the realization that Krishna had intended to bring about within them from the very beginning.

The devotional fervor Krishna created in the gopis is perhaps best exemplified by the rasa-leela dance, wherein each of hundreds of gopis perceived the eight-year-old Krishna to be dancing with them alone. Amma says, “The rasa-leela did not take place on the ordinary plane of the senses, the way people today interpret it. During the rasa-leela the gopis experienced the beatitude of the jivatma merging in the Paramatma. Because of their divine love, the Lord appeared to each of the gopis. With his power, he blessed each gopi with a vision of the Self.”

Radha is said to have been the most devoted of the gopis. Theirs was the highest love—a love to inspire mankind forward on the path to God. Amma has even said: “Krishna’s lifting of the Govardhana Mountain as a child was not the real miracle; the real miracle was the gopis’ love for Krishna.”

The next major role in Krishna’s life was as a friend to the Pandavas, five devoted and dharmic brothers whose kingdom was usurped by their 100 half-brothers, the egoistic and adharmic Kauravas. In the eventual war between the two, Krishna served as the charioteer of the Pandava Arjuna. And it was also to Arjuna that he advised the 701 verses of The Bhagavad-Gita (the centerpiece of The Mahabharata). It is the Gita that stands as Krishna’s most important gift to the world. In fact, some people believe that the whole purpose of Krishna’s birth was to deliver this “Song of the Divine.” It comprises Krishna’s advice to Arjuna on the cusp of the Mahabharata War. The Gita delivers the essence of spirituality in a way that the common man can understand. As the great Swami Chinmayananda often said, “With the Gita, Sri Krishna took the knowledge of the Upanishads down from the Himalayas and into the marketplace.” Here was a true handbook for life delivered by the Lord himself. Amma herself says, “One studies the Gita to become Krishna.”

“Lord Krishna’s teachings are suitable for everyone,” Amma says. “He didn’t come just for the sake of a particular section of society. He showed everyone—even prostitutes, robbers and murderers—the path toward spiritual progress. He urges us to live according to our true dharma, to remain steadfast in it, and thus advance in life toward the ultimate goal.”

Krishna’s instructions were not just for monks. He advised everyone to his capacity. His instruction to Arjuna, in fact, was to remain in the world, performing his dharma. “His life was a perfect example of how to remain unscorched in the midst of worldly fire,” Amma says. “It is like keeping a piece of chocolate on your tongue without salivating. … He shows how to succeed in life while remaining in the midst of obstacles. The Lord doesn’t advise us to turn away from our relationships in order to attain Self-realization. He explains that we should be free from all attachments while still maintaining loving relationships and upholding our family responsibilities.”

Lord Krishna left his physical form at 125 at the hands of a hunter. But he died as he was born and as he lived—with a beatific smile upon his face. In fact it is said that his final act was to bless the hunter who had accidentally shot him. Such was his love.

Amma says, “Throughout his life, Lord Krishna had to face different crises that arose like waves, one after the other. Even then, not once was his countenance clouded by sorrow. He faced every difficulty under the sun, but there was no place for sorrow in Sri Krishna’s presence. He was the embodiment of bliss. In his company everyone rejoiced, forgetting all else. In his presence they tasted the bliss of the Self. Even now, after all this time, doesn’t the mere thought of him fill us with bliss?”

—Vedarat

Timeline of  Sri Krishna’s life

Age Incidents

Birth Appearance at midnite of Sravana, Rohini star, Ashtami of Krishna paksha (July 19/20), year 3228 BC to Devaki
taken by Vasudeva from Mathura to Nanda and Yasoda in Gokula
Garga muni performs the naming ceremony and names the baby as Krishna.
till age 3 lived in Gokula
killed Putana, Sakatasura, Trinivarta demons
from 3-6 moved to Vrindavana
killed Bakasura, Aghasura, Dhenuka
moved to Nandagrama
from 7-10 Brahma steals and returns cowherd boys
Govardhana puja & lifted mount Govardhan

played rasa-lila with the gopis
invited to Mathura for wrestling match
killed Canura and Balarama killed Mustika
killed Kamsa and Balarama killed his brothers

from 10-28 lived in Mathura
Intiated with into chanting Gayatri by Gargamuni
Instructed with Balarama in the sixty four arts by Sandipani Muni
Protects Mathura from many demons
from 29-83 establishes kingdom in Dwaraka
marriage to Rukmini and 7 others
rescues 16,100 princesses from the kingdom of Narakasura
161,080 childrens born to Krishna
from 84-125 delivers Bhagavad-Gita at Kuruksetra Battle (3138 BC)
saves King Pariksit in the womb
instructs Uddhava Gita

    at 125 Swargarohana – leaving the body on February 18th 3102 BC