Krishna and Me

26 01 2009

Part II: The Baby Butter Thief and the Quest for a Western Bhakti

A few days after my visit to the Hare Krishna temple here in Berkeley, I received in the mail the first installment of an Indian miniseries on the “life” of the deity Krishna. This is religion Bollywood style. To say that the the movie is, well, unique, is a bit of an understatement. Like many Indian movies, the acting is exceptionally bad. If you are looking for cheesy renditions of scenes from ancient Hindu mythology, this is the film for you. Not only that, but I think you will have your hands full; there are about twenty discs in the series, so knock yourself out. The eighth incarnation of Vishnu led a long and exciting life, don’t you know?

The first episode is actually the most informative and sort of an overview of the rest of the series. It reveals how important Krishna is to the Hindu religion; he occupies almost the same place as Jesus in ours. The stories of his birth and life are equally miraculous: he was the eighth child of his parents, and destined from birth to smash the power of the evil demon king who was holding his parents and the world hostage. Meditation on his life and deeds, according to many of the sages portrayed in the movie, is the secret of bhakti yoga. People in India during the feasts of Krishna reenact scenes from his life in dramatic plays. As the Hare Krishna leader said during the Bhagavad Gita class, all things must be done for Krishna: the incarnation of God on earth.
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