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Bhagavat-Gita: A message for freedom PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

We all know that Krishna was born in Jail. The locks of the Jail all broke. The doors were flung open. The guards fell asleep. The night was dark and it was raining outside. The birth of Krishna was a sign that freedom is here. Krishna’s birth appears to be synonymous with liberty in his times. His whole life is a living example of freedom. How can any one imprison a person like Krishna?

Krishna grows up as a child. He is like any other children in the village, free and wild. He likes his freedom to steal makkhan (butter). He loves his freedom to break the mutaki (containers) that the girls used to carry water. He goes as far as stealing the clothes of beauties bathing in Jamuna River. He grows up more and now he is a young boy. He loves to dance. He already is a fan of the flute. He is a attraction not only for fellow beings but also for the cows. Krishna is a cowboy with a difference. He does not carry guns, he does not ride on horses and he does not have a whip. The cows come to him when they hear his flute.

This denotes freedom of heart. The heart needs to express. Dance and music are great medium of expression for the heart. We all talk about ‘freedom of speech.’ Krishna stands for freedom to express. Krishna took part in raas leela. We all still do dandiya today and ask those who take part in it if they feel any expression from their hearts. Krishna let Arjun go and marry his sister even when his brother Balram was against it. They loved each other and they should be together. The heart needs its own space and Krishna was all for that.

Krishna loves peace. He did not want the Mahabharata war to happen. He goes to Duryodhana’s kingdom to talk about peace. Duryodhana plans to arrest Krishna. Yes, he really plans to arrest Krishna. Can he do it? We all know that he could not arrest him. Krishna stands for freedom. He cannot make this happen to himself. When Krishna is negotiating for peace, he asks for 5 villages for the Pandavas. Duryodhana denies the proposal. It is not a question of 5 or 10 villages it is a question of freedom. It is a question of independent existence. Duryodhana would have loved for Pandavas to live under his rule. He wanted an unopposed kingdom and could not settle for any one to have free and independent existence.

Krishna did face obstacles. There were others who did not want Krishna to survive. Krishna foiled all those attempts. There are two expressions in Sanskrit, Swatantrata (freedom of express) and Swachandata (freedom of disruptive expression). Krishna was definitely against the latter form of expression.

How do you then define what is freedom of expression and what is freedom of disruptive expression. There is an incidence in Krishna’s life when Shishupal comes and starts insulting Krishna publicly. Krishna lets him do it 1000 times but when Shishupal crosses the one thousand mark, Krishna kills him. Was Shishupal using freedom of expression or not? Why should Krishna kill Shishupal or any one else for freedom of his or her own expression?

This is a question we face today as well. Is terrorism an expression of freedom? Can one country go and rule over the other? Gita is a guide and Guru for this. Krishna wants a society of sthitapragyas to decide what is right and what is wrong. The state of being has to change. That is why Krishna talks about gyan yoga, Buddhi yoga and karma yoga. Buddhi yoga is the cornerstone here. The clarity, Ek-buddhi, and Nishcaltattva are important factors. Krishna is committed to freedom of expression. But he does put conditions on the leaders. Arjun needs to understand what is expected of him. It is not only to fight and win. Arjun needs to get to the clarity of Buddhi yoga as well.

He makes a statement in Gita:

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

Freedom is an important component of Dharma. If there is no freedom there is no dharma. It is not possible. That is one reason why Krishna emphasizes this point again and again. We need to understand, imbibe and live Gita through our lives. Others would not have ruled us, if we understood and followed Gita. It is important to know and practice coexistence with others but it is more important to understand that we do not get exploited in the name of coexistence. Vasudhaiva kutumbakam is a great concept but we need to understand that not every one understands or practices this concept. Pandavas were great but they could not get to understand the motives of Shakuni behind what was obvious. Gita is our core strength and we need to use it for our individual freedom. Individual freedom is only possible if we live in an atmosphere of freedom which means a society that allows freedom of expression (swatantrata).

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