Śrīkṛṣṇa can be regarded as an inimitable symbol of the brāhma-kṣāttra harmony. Until his era, each of these ideals was represented by a separate person. Only Kṛṣṇa has shown us the ultimate pinnacle of excellence of brāhma and kṣāttra. It is perhaps for this reason that our tradition has extolled him as a Jagadguru and Pūrṇāvatāra.
Kṛṣṇa grew up in Gokula as the cynosure of the eyes of Yaśodā and Nandagopa, who were farmers and cattle-rearers by profession. Eventually, Kṛṣṇa distinguished himself as Vāsudeva, the leader of the Yādavas. He is the perfect illustration of how kṣattra can spring up from viśaḥ.
Later, Kṛṣṇa took tutelage under maharṣis, Sāndīpani and Ghora-āṅgirasa and perfected his learning. In the next stage, he internalized all this knowledge through experience and eventually rose to the unsurpassed peak as the Gītācārya. As before, he is also the perfect illustration of how brahma can spring up from viśaḥ and kṣattra.
At various stages in his life, Kṛṣṇa held the flute, conch, whip and discus. Thus, he also became a personification of the blossoming of all the three guṇas (sattva, rajas and tamas). This is why Vyāsa says that he is the mother-root of the tree called dharma.
Kṛṣṇa’s whole life is a profound commentary on the truth that anything that a completely selfless, sagacious and competent person does will inevitably benefit the world.
Kṛṣṇa was the sage who unambiguously announced to the world that if artha and kāma are pursued within the framework of dharma, such a rich life will invariably turn towards mokṣa.
Kṛṣṇa also harmonized the philosophical tenets of jagat (world), jīva (individual) and īśvara (divinity), without any internal contradiction. He holds the distinction of subordinating adhibhūta (the physical plane) and adhidaiva (the realm of belief and faith) to adhyātma (verifiable universal experience). He is the real mahātmā who instituted a specific way of life known as adhiyajña – life in its all-encompassing aspects as an offering to God.
Kṛṣṇa showed the most optimal and relevant application of the fourfold principles of statecraft, viz., sāma (peaceful negotiation), dāna (giving gifts), bheda (causing dissensions) and daṇḍa (military action). His own life is a practical demonstration of all this.
Kṛṣṇa also declared that punishment of evil and protection of virtue were two faces of the same coin known as dharma. In his behaviour and actions, we notice the exact place for values such as truth, non-violence, forgiveness and magnanimity. This is why our tradition respects him as the supreme teacher of samanvaya (synthesis).
In his sole endeavour to establish dharma, Kṛṣṇa was ruthless in his impartiality. He was responsible for the destruction of his own people who were wicked: Kaṃsa, Śiśupāla, Dantavakra, Vinda, Anuvinda and Jarāsandha. He did not spare even Duryodhana, who was the father of his daughter-in-law.
It does not follow from this that he was a bloodthirsty warmonger. He exhausted all his attempts at peaceful negotiations and only then resorted to war. But once war was declared, his firm goal was the victory of his side and the destruction of the opponent. Kṛṣṇa embraced even the progeny of his foes if he found that they were on the side of dharma: examples include Jarāsandha’s son Sahadeva and Śiśupāla’s son Dhṛṣṭaketu.
If this was not enough, he personally punished Yādavas who had fallen from dharma. He slaughtered his own sons and grandsons who had abandoned all values.
As long as our political leaders and kings had walked in Kṛṣṇa’s path, they had no confusion in values. Therefore, they did not have to suffer the ignominy of becoming slaves of foreigners. The moment we distanced from his vision, we were confronted with all kinds of calamities. Clearly, his ideals and values are our sole refuge to ward off these calamities.
We observe a brilliant example of the brāhma-kṣāttra harmony in the Bhagavān Cāṇakya and Samrāṭ Candragupta Maurya duo in what is known as the historical period. Both had internalized Kṛṣṇa’s ideals and values. Cāṇakya’s icchāśakti (power of conception), jñānaśakti (power of knowledge) and kriyāśakti (power of execution) were truly unparalleled in the way he sculpted Candragupta Maurya, a śūdra, into an undefeated kṣattriya.
The Maurya Empire that Cāṇakya shaped, and the Arthaśāstra that he authored are veritable commentaries on the life of Kṛṣṇa and the Bhagavadgītā. Cāṇakya does not merely remain a theoretician. He sowed the seeds of his ideals in the farm of reality and reaped a harvest of a highly fruitful life.
Cāṇakya perceptively realized that an India that was divided into warring Gaṇatantras (Republics) was incapable of fighting the Greek raiders as a unified force. In other words, these Gaṇatantras had no long-term future. Thus, an Imperial Empire that spanned the whole of India from the Himalayas till the Rāmasetu was the ideal political system for Bhāratavarṣa. Accordingly, Cāṇakya worked in that direction and met with success. This clearly reminds us of Kṛṣṇa who realized the same weaknesses of the Yādava Gaṇatantra System, and established a pan-India Empire through the Pāṇḍavas.
This principle of Cāṇakya made Bhāratavarṣa impenetrable to alien invaders, and ensured peace and safety of the citizens. We know from history how the Maurya Empire splintered into pieces the day it forgot Cāṇakya’s ideals.
Svāmī Vidyāraṇya, the sculptor of the grand Vijayanagara Empire, is the other radiant example that belongs to the rarefied hall inhabited by Kṛṣṇa and Cāṇakya. He also becomes important because he is relatively closer to our own time. In his pūrvāśrama (pre-ascetic life), he was renowned as Mādhavācārya.
His brother Sāyaṇācārya, younger to him by just a year, was almost his photocopy. The literary annals of that era have described the brothers as unequalled in both hava (yajña) and āhava (war). Both were learned in several subjects and were authors of numerous scholarly treatises. They had touched the skies in theory and practice of the ideal of brāhma. They spotted the quality of kṣāttra needed to revive Hindu-dharma in the five Saṅgama brothers: Harihara, Kampaṇa Bukka, Mārappa and Muddappa.
Hailing from the shepherd community, the five Saṅgama brothers wholeheartedly accepted the preceptorship of Mādhava and Sāyaṇa. They also followed their ministerial guidance and revived, protected and nourished Sanātana-dharma in an incomparable fashion.
Kṛṣṇa had fought against and vanquished the Kauravas who were Indians. Cāṇakya had fought with the alien Greeks and the evil Nine Nandas, who were Indians. Likewise, Svāmī Vidyāraṇya, with the aid of the Saṅgama brothers, battled and triumphed against the bigoted Muslims.
Compared to all other past victories, this was the most distinguished. This is because in all past wars, there were only the two dimensions of dharmavijaya (where the defeated king is reinstated on his throne upon accepting vassalage of the victor) and arthavijaya (where the defeated king is reinstated after his wealth is confiscated by the victor). However, the battles fought by Vijayanagara had the element of asuravijaya (where the vanquished king is killed, his whole wealth plundered and his whole family enslaved by the victor). This apart, there was also the demonic dance of forcible conversions in the wake of Islamic wars. Svāmī Vidyāraṇya’s distinction was the manner in which he fortified the Hindu Empire of Vijayanagara for several decades.
His great inspiration paved the way for the brāhma of Samartha Rāmadāsa and the kṣāttra of Chatrapati Śivāji.
In this manner, the fusion of brāhma and kṣāttra has protected and nurtured the Bhāratīya life. Unless we internalize these ideals once again, we as Hindus will have no future left.
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