The theatrical Krishna takes us to the transcendental Krishna

We are naturally attracted to theatrical things – to things that are intriguing, entertaining, astonishing.

Channeling our attraction to the theatrical, Krishna performs dramatic pastimes when he descends to the material world. While still a baby, he outwits a witch and a wizard. As a preteen, he lifts up a huge hill, subdues a scary snake by dexterously dancing on it, and effortlessly bests deadly demons who come in forms ranging from ducks to horses to pythons. As a bare teenager, he overpowers a terrible tyrant who has overpowered powerful kings. By such theatrical pastimes, Krishna captures our attention, thereby stimulating our desire to know more about him.

Aiding us in our desire to understand him better, the same theatrical Krishna also speaks the philosophical tour de force, the Bhagavad-gita. And the Gita explains his supreme position as the ultimate transcendental reality, as the all-attractive supreme person, as the zenith of everything attractive. He is not just an object of entertainment; he is the objective of enlightenment. When we devote ourselves to him by practicing bhakti-yoga diligently, we realize that he is the safest shelter for our heart and the supremely satisfying object for our love.

However, if we lethargically avoid understanding Krishna philosophically, we get entertainment, but not enlightenment. Of course, Krishna’s pastimes are always transcendental. But if we see them as merely theatrical, we treat him like an ordinary entertainment character and don’t devote ourselves to him. Even if we have some bhakti, our bhakti-yoga practice stays largely sentimental and intermittent. And without firm commitment to bhakti, we can’t rise towards transcendence.

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (04.09) states that if we understand in truth the transcendence of Krishna’s activities, we become so attracted to him that we ourselves become transcendental – we transcend material existence and attaining eternal life with him.


Think it over:

  • How are Krishna’s pastimes theatrical?
  • How does Gita wisdom deepen our understanding of Krishna?
  • What happens if we avoid understanding Krishna’s position philosophically?

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