My Krishna has nothing to do with any historical person. I would refuse to bow my
head to the Krishna who would kill because his pride is hurt, or the Krishna
whom 'non-Hindus portray as a dissolute youth. I believe in Krishna of my
imagination as a perfect incarnation, spotless in every sense of the word, the
inspirer of the Gita and the inspirer of the lives of millions of human beings.
But if it was proved to me that the Mahabharata is history in the same sense
that modern historical books are, that every word of the Mahabharata is
authentic and that the Krishna of the Mahabharata actually did some of the acts
attributed to him, even at the risk of being banished from the Hindu fold, I
should not hesitate to reject that Krishna as God incarnate. But to me, the
Mahabharata is a profoundly religious book, largely allegorical, in no way meant
to be a historical record. It is the description of the eternal duel going on
within ourselves, given so vividly as to make us think for the time being, that
the deeds described therein were actually done by the human beings. Nor do I
regard the Mahabharata as we have it now as a faultless copy of the original. On
the contrary I consider that it has undergone many emendations.
In Hinduism, incarnation is ascribed to one who has performed some extraordinary
service of mankind. All embodied life is in reality incarnation of God, but it
is not usual to consider every living being an incarnation. Future generations
pay this homage to one who, in his own generation, has been extraordinarily
religious in his conduct. I can see nothing wrong in this procedure; it takes
nothing from God's greatness, and there is no violence done to Truth. There is
an Urdu saying which means, "Adam is not God but he is a spark of the Divine."
And therefore he who is the most religiously behaved has most of the divine
spark in him. It is in accordance with this train of thought that Krishna
enjoys, in Hinduism, the status of the most perfect incarnation.
This belief in incarnation is a testimony of man's lofty spiritual ambition. Man is
not at peace with himself till he has become like unto God. The endeavour to
reach this state is the supreme, the only ambition worth having. And this is self-realization.
God is not a person. To affirm that He descends to earth every now and again in the
form of a human being is a partial truth which merely signifies that such a
person lives near to God. In as much as God is omnipresent, He dwells within
every human being and all may, therefore, be said to be incarnations of Him. But
this leads us nowhere. Rama, Krishna, etc., are called incarnations of God
because we attribute divine qualities to them. In truth they are creations of
man's imagination. Whether they actually lived or not does not affect the
picture of them in men's minds. The Rama and Krishna of history often present
difficulties which have to be overcome by all manner of arguments.