In a prosaic conversation with my brother the other day, he suddenly brought up a question – “Do you believe Lord Krishna and Lord Rama lived on earth?” In other words, were those incarnations actual historical events, as opposed to being only mythological?
I was initially taken aback by the question. Not because of any doubts, but because of the abruptness. I told him that it’s difficult to say what exactly occurred. My thinking has always been that there’s a reason we call the Ramayana and the Mahabharata “mythologies.” Proving the occurrence of the events mentioned therein is a formidable task, if not downright impossible.
So I said that maybe they did live but many of the events that we read about were created in the fecund minds of the authors of the age when these epics were written. He gave examples of the submerged Dwarka city and the stones floating in the ocean between India and Sri Lanka that are thought to be from the Setu (bridge) that Shri Rama used to reach Lanka. I said maybe they were created after the tomes were written, maybe earlier. He took that as a sign of my lack of belief in the existence of Lord Vishnu’s avatars (reincarnations). I told him that I did believe — spiritually — that the two lived, but maybe their existence is tougher to prove to the scientific part of my brain.
Then I thought about it.
I feel that it doesn’t really matter to me whether the two were real human beings or just figments of the imaginations of Messrs. Valmiki and Ved Vyas respectively.
To me, the idea of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama mattered more than the incarnations.
The values the two Gods stand for, and the teachings they left behind for us to follow, are the real deal. Lord Krishna has given us many teachings through the Bhagawad Gita as to our conduct and way of life. Lord Rama is called the Maryaada Purshottam (The one who always follows the rule). They’ve taught us to live righteously, help the needy, not be consumed by vices and never back down from a fight when your cause is just.
Following these dictums, and imbibing the values the two stand for, is what matters to me. Though to be frank, I’m a man after all, and I do stray from The Path at times. Well, it’s our weaknesses that make us human. Or else, we’d all be gods, wouldn’t we?
So, the question remains, did they really live? The answer is, does it really matter? 😊
I’d leave you with these two quotes from the Bhagawad Gita :
The senses are higher than the body, the mind higher than the senses; above the mind is the intellect, and above the intellect is the Atman. Thus, knowing that which is supreme, let the Atman rule the ego. Use your mighty arms to slay the fierce enemy that is selfish desire.
Reshape yourself through the power of your will; never let yourself be degraded by self-will. The will is the only friend of the Self, and the will is the only enemy of the Self.
I’d love to hear your views on this topic in the comments section. Thanks for reading.