It is difficult to say when exactly did mankind first embark upon the journey of the intellect. One may trace its glimpses in the Vedic scriptures. Albeit, the exact date of the origins of the Vedas has till today remained a matter of great debate-it could be predated anywhere from four thousand to four hundred thousand years BC. The Vedas are unquestionably the most ancient texts of thought and intellect, however it will be a great fallacy to state that they are the first to have dealt with the subject. There are enough evidences to support this argument for instance, there is a frequent use of phrases such as "in the ancient times", "our ancestors" and others which certainly proves that whatever has been conveyed to us by the preceptors of the Vedas had its sources in the intellectual derivations of their ancestors.
The Vedic ideology is the ideology that balances the importance of karma (action) and gyan (wisdom). Karma without gyan is nothing but a wild goose chase and gyan without karma is nothing but a redundant piece of information. The essence of the Vedas further developed into an independent doctrine or theory in the form of the Upanishadic thought. Eventually this doctrine evolved into what is better known as the Vedantism. These two traditions germinating from the Vedas found for the first time a more concrete and canonical form in Sri Krishna's teachings. Krishna's life is a classic example of what one may refer to as a perfect synthesis of karma and gyan.
The world has time and again been blessed with a number of great thinkers who carried out independent studies on the interdependent relationship between karma and gyan and its impact on an individual. These thinkers have walked through this earth in many forms: as Abraham or Moses; Lord Buddha or Lord Mahavira; Jesus Christ or Confucius; Gorakhnath or Ramkrishna Paramhansa; Adi Shankaracharya or Mohandas Gandhi. Interestingly, each one of them left their strong impact on the lives of their contemporaries. In due course of time while a part of their contemplations evolved into various methodological ideologies, the rest of them receded to the level of being almost wiped out.
This monograph aims to make a humble attempt to examine and compare the ideologies of two great men with extraordinary qualities who enjoy a distinct position in the shinning galaxy of prophetic luminaries-Sri Krishna and Mahatma Gandhi. Amongst all the luminaries who till date continue to shower mankind with their benign grace and benefaction, there seems to be a discerning kind of similarity existing between Sri Krishna and Gandhi. Inadvertently, the thinkers or seers prior to Sri Krishna have not so far attained the kind of historicity as he had. They were more of the kind of seekers of knowledge (for the attainment of emancipation). Sri Krishna, on the other hand, seems to be the pioneering figure who stands as a confocal point synthesizing gyan and karma in his life. Of course, such akin forces have evolved time and again at different locations in the history of the mankind. However, if Sri Krishna is considered to be one of the pioneering figures among these forces, Gandhi can be placed as a more recent name in the contemporary times. Sri Krishna compiled as well as executed upon the intellectual derivations attained by his predecessors. Any derivation when examined in terms of its practical implications invites the danger of facing a real test in terms of its literal connotations. The real challenge lies in retaining these connotations even while one deals with them on the grounds of emotional or sentimental values. Such an exercise demands more precision than the one required for the actual process of acquiring intellectual derivations. Krishna valiantly took up this difficult challenge. The whole mission was undertaken not for the benefit of one or two individuals but for the larger benefit of the mankind. The act was better known in his times as an act of public welfare. From Gokul to Mathura and thereafter up to the battle of Kurukshetra and beyond that till his fatal end beneath the ashwatha (Peepal) tree situated on the banks of the confluence of the rivers Hiran and Kapila, Krishna made continuous efforts to maintain a balance between karma and gyan in all his ventures, thereby leaving a profound impression on the whole of the Aryavarta. Be it Radha, Arjuna, Udhhava, Draupadi or his adversaries like Kansa, Bhaumasura, Jarasandh or Shishupala, they could not at any point of time in their lives afford to ignore Krishna.
The same can be said for Gandhi in the context of the twentieth century. Gandhi contemplated on a wide range of issues right from brahma (the Absolute) to brahmacharya (celibacy). All these contemplations that he made were of course firmly grounded on the ideologies and actions of his predecessors but it is remarkable that he did not stop there. He went a step forward. Having first implemented those ideas into his personal dealings, he intermittently extended them more comprehensively into the social spheres. He spent more than six decades of his life in conducting these experiments as a result of which he left a powerful influence on his contemporaries in the same manner as Sri Krishna did. One of the striking similarity between Krishna and Gandhi is that both of them left a similar kind of impact on their respective ages although each one of them carried out their karmic actions geared by their own ideologies. Gandhi also had as many adversaries as Krishna had. These adversaries-be it Veerawala or Mohammed Ali Jinnah, General Smuts or Winston Churchill-could never afford to ignore Gandhi in their official proceedings. Thus, this was the kind of influence Krishna and Gandhi had on their contemporaries.
A remarkable feature that may be noted here is that not all great men have been able to have a great impact on their contemporaries. Be it Lord Mahavira or Jesus Christ or Adi Shankaracharya, they have undertaken serious contemplations and contributed a lot to mankind which till today have been the most inspiring guiding spirits to mankind. Yet, one has to accept the fact that they had a limited sphere of influence on their own contemporaries. Evidently, they all received a greater acclamation after thousands of years of their existence. This statement made by Sanskrit poet Bhavabhuti stands justified in their cases. Krishna and Gandhi are pleasant exceptions in this case. Their contemporary societies had unconditionally accepted them. They had contributed a lot to the social tendencies of their times which even their adversaries cannot deny. Apparently they are not the travelers treading on the same path but so far as their destination was concerned, they certainly proceeded in the same direction.
Krishna is not merely a great or an extraordinary man. He is an incarnation of God for millions of his devotees. It is beyond the reach of this writer to evaluate the divine attributes that Krishna possessed. This work is an attempt to examine and evaluate some of the remarkable traits of his personality as depicted in the available resources. Simultaneously, there is no dearth of the followers of Gandhi who sincerely believe that whatever Gandhi did or said was beyond any explanations. However, Gandhi's ideological grounds do remain confronted to evaluation and investigation.
Some of the tributes received at the time of Gandhi's death have become almost an integral part of his memories. Albert Einstein, the famous scientist had once commented that the coming generations would never ever believe that such a man of flesh and bones ever walked on this earth. George Bernard Shaw, the well-known English playwright said that it is dangerous to be too polite. Pearl S. Buck, another well-known literary figure of the same cadre said that Gandhi's death was the second crucifixion after Jesus Christ. Before a decade of Gandhi's death, in a manner befitting that of a tribute offered to the manes of a deceased relative, Rabindranath Tagore said that quite similar to Jesus and Buddha, Gandhi too, would not be successful in making the mankind a better race but he would be undoubtedly remembered forever by the human race.
Ram Manohar Lohia, a great freedom fighter and the well-known socialist, political leader paid his tribute to Gandhi by exclaiming. " (Today the Yamuna reciprocates its gratitude to Dwarka
What a great tribute! Lohia's words were indeed stupefying! He had connected the two polar ends of human history with a fine verbal knot. Amidst the agonizing trauma of Gandhi's murder, the manner in which Lohia blended history, civilization and spirituality in an embodied form was something that was unprecedented and outstanding. Even if one preferred not to shed tears, he would break into sobs with tears flowing down the cheeks and the heart filled with an inexplicable joy over the rhetorics of this statement. Thousands of years ago, a boy named Mohan was born who struggled all his life to work towards the welfare of the mankind but he was killed by man. Mohan who embarked upon this journey of bringing welfare to mankind from the banks of the river Yamuna anchored on the shores of the Hiran-Kapila confluence at Dwarka. Thousands of years later, on the other end of Dwarka yet another Mohan was born who continued the task left undone by his predecessor.
Thousands of years passed after the death of the earlier Mohan but mankind was in the same kind of shambles as before-the way in which the earlier Mohan had left it. Thereafter, the other Mohan too, walked on the same path but all his efforts were in vain. He too, met with a similar kind of an ill-fate; he was killed by man. The only difference was while the earlier Mohan was killed by an arrow, the later was hit by a bullet. The earlier Mohan born on the banks of the river Yamuna was fostered by the outskirts of Dwarka where his body rested in eternal peace; thousands of years later, the second Mohan born on the other end of Dwarka was laid to rest in eternal peace on the banks of the Yamuna. It was as if the holy waters of Yamuna repaid what she owed in gratitude to Dwarka! Dwarka had indeed performed an inevitable yet a praiseworthy task by taking the body of Krishna into her arms. Years later, the river Yamuna performed the same act-the act of taking Gandhi's dead body into her arms. Thus, both of them became free of any obligation towards each other.
But what about us?
Lohia's words shook me up from within. My impulses gave way to an irresistible urge to put my thoughts on both these seemingly different yet similar personalities into verbal expressions. No offence to anyone but this monograph was an outcome of that strong desire to express my views on the subject.
This monograph written originally in the Gujarati language has received a similar kind of overwhelming response for its Hindi as well as Marathi publications. I am thankful to Dr. Rajshree Parthivv Trivedi, the translator of this book and also the publishers Ocean Books Pvt. Ltd. without their cooperation, the book would not have come to light of publication.. I am greatly indebted to everyone, especially Chi. Pallavi who has always extended great support and cooperation for making my efforts reach to my readers.
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