Krishna’s pastimes are the trailer and the trail
The Bhagavad-gita (04.09) asserts that those who understand Krishna’s pastimes in truth attain liberation. How can liberation, elusive even for renunciates performing prolonged austerities, be attained just by understanding Krishna’s pastimes?
Because on the spiritual path, these pastimes serve an extraordinary double role – they are the trailer and the trail.
Trailer: Love is our deepest aspiration; we all desire to love and be loved. However, due to the temporary nature of things in this world, our longing for love is frustrated – inevitably and repeatedly.
Krishna’s pastimes are enactments of the love that is never frustrated – pure spiritual love between the all-attractive Supreme and his devotees that goes on eternally in the spiritual world. When Krishna descends to this world, he performs some of those pastimes here, giving us tantalizing glimpses of an arena where our longing for love can be eternally and perfectly fulfilled.
Thus, his pastimes serve as trailers meant to attract us to the spiritual world.
Trail: Those with superficial understanding of Krishna’s pastimes think of them as stories meant for entertainment, similar to movies. But those who understand these pastimes in truth know that they are not meant to entertain; they are meant to be entered into – they occur in that eternal spiritual reality to which we as souls, parts of Krishna, belong.
To enter that reality, we need to redirect our heart from the world to Krishna. For this redirection, Krishna’s pastimes provide charming and purifying subject matter that we can contemplate, churn, recollect and relish. The more we thus think about Krishna, the more our heart becomes attracted to him and the more we progress on the path towards him.
By providing us substance for turning our heart to him, Krishna’s pastimes comprise the trail that leads to him.