After a long hiatus, I recently returned to the Shri Krishna Muth in Udupi, Karnataka. What a joyous, uplifting experience it was getting darshan of BālaKrishna (child Krishna). The temple and seminary were founded by Sant Madhavāchārya, in the late 13th century; it has since become the center of Krishna bhakti and Dvaita Philosophy. It is here that Krishna showed us his grace. One night as Kanak Dās sat outside the temple singing the glories of Krishna, the mischievously smiling child Krishna was overcome by the soul-stirring music and turned to listen to his devotee. Thus turned, he stands today. A tiny stone grill is cut in the granite side wall from which we get darshan.
I jostled in the long line, which had snaked around the temple and water tank outside. As I got to the window, I peered inside. The garba griha is a tiny dark cell about 6 ft square and bare walls. In the glow of the oil lamps, you see BālaKrishna standing with a butter churner as tall as he is. There stood the child who delighted his adopted parents, vanquished the evil tyrant king Kamsa, and dispatched the poisonous snake Kāliyā to the sea. Most importantly, he imparted to his dear friend Arjuna (and the rest of humanity) the sermon: Bhagavad Gītā. You’d think this supreme conductor of the Universe would have more luxurious quarters, surrounded by an army of sycophants. But there he stands in the bare dark cell, smiling. There are no intermediaries, just him and us.
In the Bhagavad Gītā, Krishna tells Arjuna,
Though I am unborn & changeless, Lord of all beings,
subjugating my divinity, I manifest myself in this material world (for your sake).
Think of all the indignities of human birth he suffered, just so he could shower us with his grace. He took birth in a prison cell, never got to drink his mother’s milk, was thrown in a basket and rushed out in the storm across the raging Yamuna river. In Gokul he was left with foster parents Yashoda and Nanda. There too Pūṭanā tries to kill the baby with her poisoned milk and Bakasura (the giant crane) tries to swallow him. He suffered all this and more, for us.
In the Bhagavad Gītā he only asks us to control our wandering senses, and harness our minds and intellect to recognize our true divinity within. Yet unsure of our own capabilities we throng to his temples for brief inspiration.
Each darshan of Krishna at any temple, or home shrine is unique. Here it’s a child Krishna in a dark cellar. In the Krishna Mandap, Mamallāpuram, it’s a larger that life Krishna holding mount Govardhan above his head, providing relief to the weary villagers of Gokul. Of the several Krishna forms in our home, one is this exquisitely carved Venugopal (flute playing krishna) with Radha resting as his feet – as he watches Meera’s antics. Wherever, however you earn his grace, he touches that special place in your hearts, inspiring all to invite him in.