The births of Christ and Krishna

When King Herod heard that Jesus, King of the Jews, had been born in Bethlehem, he was greatly troubled and wanted to destroy the child. In a dream, an angel warned Joseph of Herod’s plans and advised him to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.

Knowing that his sister, Devaki’s, eighth child (Lord Krishna) would cause his death, King Kamsa threw Devaki and Vasudeva, her husband, into prison and killed their first seven children. When Krishna was born, with the blessing and guidance of the Lord, Vasudeva was able to leave prison and carry the infant Krishna to safety in Gokula.

It’s interesting, the parallels—Jesus being born in a manger and Krishna being born in a prison and both having to flee the kings who were out to kill them. We see in both these stories that the world fights the Divine. In both cases, we find King Herod and King Kamsa wanting to destroy the divine incarnation.

Those who are not in tune with what is good will fight it. And this will be true any time you find people or individuals trying to do great things, noble things. People will try to fight that because it’s a lot easier to tear that down than to change oneself. There will always be an opposition between light and darkness and we can’t change that fact.

Christ and Krishna: divine warriors

When we think of Jesus coming into this world, we think of him as an incarnation of peace and love. In fact, He was and so was Krishna. But we must also bear in mind that that love is a very powerful love, a love that doesn’t accommodate itself to evil in the name of being sweet and loving.

People sometimes have said, “Oh, well, Krishna took up the sword but Jesus didn’t.” But the fact is that Jesus was every bit as much a warrior in his way as Krishna was.  Remember how he scolded the Pharisees? He said, “You are children of your father, the devil!”  He took up a whip and scourged those moneychangers out of the temple. It took considerable force of character and a lot of power to stand up in the crowd and make all those men run helter-skelter out of his way.

All too many ministers make Jesus out to be only gentle, meek, and mild. He was certainly that when the occasions called for it.  But He also said, “Don’t think that I came into this world to bring peace.” Imagine, the incarnation of peace making a statement like that!  He said, “I didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. I came to set father against mother, and father against son, and brother against brother.”  What did he mean?  Was he trying to sow disruption in this world?  Certainly not. He was saying that when we make a stand for what is right, that has to be an absolute stand on our part. 

Stand up for what is right

There is going to be a battle between light and darkness in this century in which we’re living. And let us understand that we must fight for the good. Fight with love. Love is the strongest force of all. Jesus could afford to express anger because he knew that he was free from anger. Paramhansa Yogananda could afford to express anger because anger wasn’t in him. But, unless you are really sure in your heart, it’s wise not to express anger because then the ego comes in and you reinforce those delusions you’re trying to get out of.

Be strong in your love, be strong in your conviction that what you’re doing is right, and don’t worry about what other people say. Jesus was very unconventional. Jesus didn’t fight the Mafia of his day. He fought the priests. They were the ones who fought him, I should say.  Why? Because he was muscling in on their territory.

The people who tell you that you are doing something wrong will rarely say that it’s wrong for the right reasons. They will come up with some sort of false reason and usually it will be. “Well, it isn’t done.” Discriminate in your heart and always be ruled by dharma, by what is right, and you will find that God will support you.

The courage to love

I remember saying to a brother disciple years ago once, “What courage it takes to love.”  And he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was so surprised. To me it takes the greatest courage in the universe to love—to love without thought of self. This type of love won’t let you alone once you’ve taken it up.  It will tell you: “I am the only reality and you have to leave everything else.”

That is the kind of love that Christ demands of us. It requires that we take up the sword of discrimination and slay the demon of ignorance within ourselves. It requires that we be courageous. Unless and until we can come up with that kind of courage, and with that kind of love, we will never be satisfied.

The soul’s hunger for love

This hunger for love is the hallmark of our souls. We can’t kill it by laughter; we can’t kill it by partying. It’s always there, shining silently like the stars. And for most people, just as distant. But it’s still there and it won’t leave us alone. It can’t leave us alone because that love is who and what we really are.

I’d say that Herod was probably the smartest of all the worldly people living at Christ’s birth because he knew there was something fighting him. Most people don’t. It comes like a thief in the night. People don’t know that it’s there until it’s got them by the throat. It may take incarnations, but it won’t let you alone until you finally say, “Okay, I surrender.” Why not surrender now?

Sometimes popular songs have beautiful meanings, especially if you tune out some of the words and just hear the basic message. I remember one time hearing out of a music store in Los Angeles a song that was popular from the 40s, “I Surrender, Dear.” And it was really an inspiring song: “We played a game of stay away, but it costs more, far more than I can pay.” I don’t remember the words exactly but something like, “I can’t stay this way, I surrender, dear.”

That kind of feeling is what we must feel in our hearts. I would like to see us all feel this Christmastime that we’ve played these games of stay away all too long. Let’s say, “Now I know that I can’t get away from it any longer so I surrender.  I give my love and all my aspirations to Thee and I don’t want anything else.”

Excerpted from “Christ and Krishna,” a talk given by Swami Kriyananda on December 23, 1979.  To order a CD or MP3 of these talks, click here or call Treasures Along the Path, 530 478-7656.

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