Krishna, Jesus and the Path of Devotion
Q: When the meek person came to Krishna and explained how he perceived his dharma, that he took anything that came his way in total acceptance, Krishna said that his dharma is that of a coward, and he let him pass. Whereas Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” So what is the difference between the two?
Sadhguru: It is always very important that one perceives the kind of situation and the kind of social realities someone lived in and why they spoke the way they spoke. There is one aspect of the teaching which is of an eternal nature – whoever speaks it, speaks in the same terms. But there is another aspect of the teaching which is relevant to the people who are sitting there at that moment. That relevance keeps changing from generation to generation. Not only from generation to generation, but even within the generation from society to society, from group of people to group of people, from person to person, it is a different reality.
If we want to understand this aspect, we have to bring some kind of alignment to the social realities that Krishna lived in, the social realities that Jesus lived in, and the social realities that you live in right now.
Jesus sort of substantiated this aspect of being meek by saying, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” He was talking to his closest disciples before sending them out to spread his message. He said, “When you go out with this new message, if people come and slap you on one cheek, show the other.” But that is not the teaching for all of you. Can you live by those guidelines? Genuinely, how many of you are capable of this in your life? You are not capable of that.
Krishna lived in totally different conditions, and he spoke differently to different people. If you look at what Krishna spoke about bhakti or devotion, you would think it is very contradictory to this aspect [about the meek].
Another thing we need to understand is, Jesus was hugely restricted by the situation in which he existed. He had no real freedom of speech. He mostly lived like a fugitive. Here and there, he spoke to small groups of people. If he had said one more word, his life would have been finished, and it happened that way. The moment he picked up a little momentum, you know what they did to him. Krishna was a kingmaker. His friends were kings and emperors. He could call upon large armies to fulfill his purpose. So he was placed in a completely different situation.
“I am the Way”
When it comes to approaching the eternal, Jesus was just talking about the yoga of devotion, because that is his way. He was talking about one dimension of approaching the Ultimate. He was just saying, “Follow me.” This is devotion. Krishna also said the same things. He said, “I am the way.” Jesus said something like, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” But he went further somewhere else and said, “I and the Father are one.” In that part of the world, uttering such a thing was total sacrilege. If anybody claims “I and the Father are one,” it means, “I am God.” Such a claim immediately brought death penalty in that part of the world. But here in India, any number of yogis have said it, and people treated them and worshipped them as gods because they experienced the Divine in them. When Krishna said, “I am the Ultimate Divine,” people were not surprised or shocked. It was not a sacrilege because that was very much a part of people’s knowing. They were very happy he had come when they were alive.
Any number of yogis have said this. Well-known ones and very minor ones. When I say minor, I mean it in terms of social acknowledgement. They were great people within themselves, but socially, in the world, they were very small. Those people have been worshipped as gods. But for Jesus, it was totally out of place in that culture. Him saying, “Me and My Father are one” brought him death. With Krishna too, any number of times, people tried to kill him, but they tried to kill him not for his utterances; they tried to kill him for political and military reasons because he was involved in those affairs. Nobody ever tried to kill him because of the teaching he gave.
Editor’s Note: Find more of Sadhguru’s insights as he explores the realm of the enlightened in the ebook “Encounter the Enlightened.”