In this page we’ll collect Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comments on Krishna. For Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Bhagavad Gita, see this article.
- Almost the same circumstances which gave birth to Buddhism in India surrounded the rise of Krishna. Not only this, the events of that day we find happening in our own times.[Source]
- In Krishna we find … two ideas [stand] supreme in his message: The first is the harmony of different ideas; the second is non-attachment. A man can attain to perfection, the highest goal, sitting on a throne, commanding armies, working out big plans for nations. In fact, Krishna’s great sermon was preached on the battlefield.[Source]
- In the Krishna Incarnation He says that the root of all sorts of misery is Avidyâ (Nescience) and that selfless work purifies the mind. But ” what is no-work” (Gita).[Source]
- Krishna did everything but without any attachment; he was in the world, but not of it. “Do all work but without attachment; work for work’s sake, never for yourself.”[Source]
- [Krishna says :] “You cannot die nor can I. There was never a time when we did not exist. There will never be a time when we shall not exist. As in this life a man begins with childhood, and [passes through youth and old age, so at death he merely passes into another kind of body]. Why should a wise man be sorry?” And where is the beginning of this emotionalism that has got hold of you? It is in the senses. “It is the touch of the senses that brings all this quality of existence: heat and cold, pleasure and pain. They come and go.” Man is miserable this moment, happy the next. As such he cannot experience the nature of the soul. …[Source]
- Krishna talks of himself as God, as Christ does. He sees the Deity in himself. And he says, “None can go a day out of my path. All have to come to me. Whosoever wants to worship in whatsoever form, I give him faith in that form, and through that I meet him. ….[Source]
- Our Krishna — you know, the Hindu prophet — he is very mythological. A good deal of his life, and everything about him, is written only by his disciples; and then there seem to be, sometimes, three or four men, who all loom into one.[Source]
- Shri Krishna ought to be painted as He really was, the Gita personified; and the central idea of the Gita should radiate from His whole form as He was teaching the path of Dharma to Arjuna, who had been overcome by infatuation and cowardice…. Look here, thus does he hold the bridle of the horses — so tight that they are brought to their haunches, with their forelegs fighting the air, and their mouths gaping. This will show a tremendous play of action in the figure of Shri Krishna. His friend, the world – renowned hero, casting aside his bow and arrows, has sunk down like a coward on the chariot, in the midst of the two armies. And Shri Krishna, whip in one hand and tightening the reins with the other, has turned Himself towards Arjuna, with his childlike face beaming with unworldly love and sympathy, and a calm and serene look — and is delivering the message of the Gita to his beloved comrade. Now, tell me what idea this picture of the Preacher of the Gita conveys to you.[Source]
- The ancient message of Krishna is one harmonising three — Buddha’s, Christ’s and Mohammed’s. Each of the three started an idea and carried it to its extreme. Krishna antedates all the other prophets. [Yet, we might say,] Krishna takes the old ideas and synthesises them, [although] his is the most ancient message. His message was for the time being submerged by the advance wave of Buddhism.[Source]
- The central figure of the Gita is Krishna…. Krishna, perhaps, has a large number of followers in India than any other Incarnations of God. His followers hold that he was the most perfect of those Incarnations. Why? ‘Because’, they say, “look at Buddha and other Incarnations : they were only monks, and they had no sympathy for married people. How could they have? But look at Krishna: he was great as a son, as a king, as a father, and all through his life he practised the marvellous teachings which he preached, ‘He who in the midst of the greatest activity finds the sweetest peace, and in the midst of the greatest calmness is the most active, he has known the secret of life.” Krishna shows the way how to do this— by being non-attached: do everything but do not get identified with anything. You are the soul, the pure, the free, all the time; you are the witness. Our misery comes, not from work, but by our getting attached to something. Take for instance, money : money is a great thing to have, earn it, says Krishna, struggle hard to get money, but don’t get attached to it. So with children, with wife, husband, relatives, fame, everything; you have no need to shun them, only don’t get attached. There is only one attachment and that belongs to the Lord, and to none other. Work fro them, love them, do good to them,sacrifice a hundred lives, if need be, for them, but never be attached. His own life was the exact exemplification of that.
- The Gita no doubt has already become the Bible of Hinduism, and it fully deserves to be so; but the personality of Krishna has become so covered with haze that it is impossible today to draw any life-giving inspiration from that life. Moreover, the present age requires new modes of thought and new life.[Source]
- There may be many historical discrepancies, there may be interpolations in the life of Krishna. All these things may be true; but, at the same time, there must have been a basis, a foundation for this new and tremendous departure. Taking the life of any other sage or prophet, we find that that prophet is only the evolution of what had gone before him, we find that that prophet is only parching the ideas that had been scattered about his own country even in his own times. Great doubts may exist even as to whether that prophet existed or not. But here, I challenge anyone to show whether these things, these ideals— work for work’s sake, love for love’s sake, duty for duty’s sake, were not original ideas with Krishna, and as such, there must have been someone with whom these ideas originated. They could not have been borrowed from anybody else. They were not floating about in the atmosphere when Krishna was born. But the Lord Krishna was the first preacher of this; his disciple Vyasa took it up and preached it unto mankind…[Source]
- This was the great work of Krishna : to clear our eyes and make us look with broader vision upon humanity in its march upward and onward. His was the first heart that was large enough to see truth in all, his the first lips that uttered beautiful words for each and all.
- You must worship the Self in Krishna, not Krishna as Krishna.[Source]
From notes taken down in Madras
In 1892–1893, Swami Vivekananda conducted a series of private classes in Madras.Parts of those lectures were published as Notes Taken Down In Madras, 1892-93 in the Complete Work Volume VI. The following quotes and comments of Krishna are taken from those notes—[Source]
- The God of Infinite Love and the object of Love sublime and infinite are painted blue. Krishna is painted blue, so also Solomon’s God of Love. It is a natural law that anything sublime and infinite is associated with blue colour. Take a handful of water, it is absolutely colourless. But look at the deep wide ocean; it is as blue as anything. Examine the space near you; it is colourless. But look at the infinite expanse of the sky; it is blue.
- Shri Krishna was God, incarnated to save mankind. Gopi-lila (his disport with cowherd maids) is the acme of the religion of love in which individuality vanishes and there is communion. It is in this Lila that Shri Krishna shows what he preaches in the Gita: “Give up every other tie for me.” Go and take shelter under Vrindavana-Lila to understand Bhakti. On this subject a great number of books is extant. It is the religion of India. The larger number of Hindus follow Shri Krishna.
- Shri Krishna is the God of the poor, the beggar, the sinner, the son, the father, the wife, and of everyone. He enters intimately into all our human relations and makes everything holy and in the end brings us to salvation. He is the God who hides himself from the philosopher and the learned and reveals himself to the ignorant and the children. He is the God of faith and love and not of learning. With the Gopis, love and God were the same thing—they knew Him to be love incarnate.
- In Dwaraka, Shri Krishna teaches duty; in Vrindavana, love. He allowed his sons to kill each other, they being wicked.
- Raganuga Bhakti is of five kinds:
(1) Shanta as illustrated by the religion of Christ;
(2) Dasya as illustrated by that of Hanuman to Rama;
(3) Sakhya as illustrated by that of Arjuna to Shri Krishna; (4) Vatsalya as illustrated by that of Vasudeva to Shri Krishna; (5) Madhura (that of the husband and wife) in the lives of Shri Krishna and the Gopikas.
- Was Krishna cunning? No, he was not cunning. He tried his best to prevent war. It was Duryodhana who forced the war. But, when once in the thing, you should not recede—that is the man of duty. Do not run away, it is cowardice. When in the thing, you must do it. You should not budge an inch—of course not for a wrong thing; this was a righteous war.
- In God all natures are possible. But we can see Him only through human nature. We can love Him as we love a man—as father, son. The strongest love in the world is that between man and woman, and that also when it is clandestine. This is typified in the love between Krishna and Radha.
- There is no idea of lust or sympathy in the love of Krishna and Radha. Radha says to Krishna, “If you place your feet on my heart, all lust will vanish.”
- Shiva is the sublime aspect of God, Krishna the beautiful aspect of God. Love crystallises into blueness. Blue colour is expressive of intense love. Solomon saw “Krishna”. Here Krishna came to be seen by all.
- The fault with all religions like Christianity is that they have one set of rules for all. But Hindu religion is suited to all grades of religious aspiration and progress. It contains all the ideals in their perfect form. For example, the ideal of Shanta or blessedness is to be found in Vasishtha; that of love in Krishna; that of duty in Rama and Sita; and that of intellect in Shukadeva. Study the characters of these and of other ideal men. Adopt one which suits you best.
Lov of the gopis
From Book: Lectures from Colombo to Almora Chapter: The Sages of India—[Source]I have told you just now that it is very difficult to understand the love of the Gopis. There are not wanting fools, even in the midst of us, who cannot understand the marvellous significance of that most marvellous of all episodes. There are, let me repeat, impure fools, even born of our blood, who try to shrink from that as if from something impure. To them I have only to say, first make yourselves pure; and you must remember that he who tells the history of the love of the Gopis is none else but Shuka Deva. The historian who records this marvellous love of the Gopis is one who was born pure, the eternally pure Shuka, the son of Vyâsa. So long as there its selfishness in the heart, so long is love of God impossible; it is nothing but shopkeeping: “I give you something; O Lord, you give me something in return”; and says the Lord, “If you do not do this, I will take good care of you when you die. I will roast you all the rest of your lives. perhaps”, and so on. So long as such ideas are in the brain, how can one understand the mad throes of the Gopis’ love? “O for one, one kiss of those lips! One who has been kissed by Thee, his thirst for Thee increases for ever, all sorrows vanish, and he forgets love for everything else but for Thee and Thee alone.” Ay, forget first the love for gold, and name and fame, and for this little trumpery world of ours. Then, only then, you will understand the love of the Gopis, too holy to be attempted without giving up everything, too sacred co be understood until the soul has become perfectly pure. People with ideas of sex, and of money, and of fame, bubbling up every minute in the heart, daring to criticise and understand the love of the Gopis! That is the very essence of the Krishna Incarnation. Even the Gita, the great philosophy itself, does not compare with that madness, for in the Gita the disciple is taught slowly how to walk towards the goal, but here is the madness of enjoyment, the drunkenness of love, where disciples and teachers and teachings and books and all these things have become one; even the ideas of fear, and God, and heaven — everything has been thrown away. What remains is the madness of love. It is forgetfulness of everything, and the lover sees nothing in the world except that Krishna and Krishna alone, when the face of every being becomes a Krishna, when his own face looks like Krishna, when his own soul has become tinged with the Krishna colour. That was the great Krishna!
- Swami Vivekananda’s Quotes On Mahabharata
- Swami Vivekananda On Bhagavad Gita
- The Mahabharata – Swami Vivekananda
- To Shri Krishna (English translation of “A song in Hindi”) from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume VIII