On Janmastami I was flooded by messages on whatsap and social media full of soppy songs on Krishna, who’s Birthday it celebrates.
The funny ones from irreverent friends spoke of his birth in Jail, history of crimes, murders, womanizing etc and admired him for reasons that would make Munnabhai proud.
But look at him critically, and he is a path breaking figure in the Epic.
He is a tough guy, as evident from the numerous battles and physical combats he wins, beating demons, champion wrestlers, and others, but there is no machismo about him. He happily spends time with the women and his music, chills out with friends, takes care of his looks; in fact, he is the first metrosexual man in history.
He is aware of his divine status, but doesn’t rub it in, preferring a mortal lifestyle. Moreover, except for the fabulous motivational speech set to poetry that’s the Geeta, which he uses as a last resort to kickstart the wimpish Pandavas, he doesn’t even sermonize at the drop of a hat.
He is comfortable with women and has a beautiful platonic relationship with Draupadi, establishing that men and women can be friends and equals, something that the other testosterone charged male characters did not display. His complete surrender to his lover, an older married woman Radha, beats all stereotypes. He is a true feminist.
He shuns the throne, and supports a republic. In fact, the Mahabharata could be seen as a battle between two political ideas, the republic of the Yadavas versus the Monarchy of Jarasandha, where the Kuru Pandavs were mere pawns. So we have a true democrat.
Despite being a masterly warrior, he prefers to change his capital rather than needlessly expose his citizens to war, preferring the ignominy of being called a coward, the Ranchode, to glory in battle. He was the original peacenik
He was extremely loyal to his friends, whether Sudama or Arjun or Draupadi, and could be the originator of the bro code.
He helps his sister elope with her lover, facing the wrath of his family for breaking her arranged marriage with a powerful king. How cool is that!
A very mischievous child, wild youth makes him very human, no goody goody milksop like his earlier Avatar Ram or a mad max like the even earlier Parasuram. He also lived a good life, enjoying material pleasures and generally chilled out lifestyle, not obsessing over his duties, whilst at the same time being the mastermind at all political games and providing exemplary governance to his people.
He manipulates the entire war, whilst apparently driving a chariot. The author of the Art of War should pay homage to him.
The greatest motivational speaker of all time, he gets Arjun to get over his last minute nerves and creates a masterpiece in the process. A poet cum Management Guru, can you beat that?
Finally he ends his life in obscurity, killed by a stray arrow, his family scattered. This shows that he didn’t believe in dynastic politics either.
Leaders today need to seriously learn from him, or the story, and not just pray at his temples