When we say Krishna, the essence of who he is, he is an irrepressible child, a terrible prankster, an enchanting flute player, a graceful dancer, an irresistible lover, a truly valiant warrior, a ruthless vanquisher of his foes, a man who left a broken heart in every home, an astute statesman and kingmaker, a thorough gentleman, a yogi of the highest order, and the most colorful incarnation.
Krishna has been seen, perceived, understood and experienced in many different ways by different people. For example, in Duryodhana’s words, Krishna is a “smiling rogue if there ever was one. He can eat, he can drink, he can sing, he can dance. He can make love, he can fight, he can gossip with old women, and play with little children. Who says he’s God?” That was Duryodhana’s perception.
Krishna’s childhood lover Radhe, who became so big that you cannot talk of Krishna without Radhe – we don’t say “Krishna Radhe,” we say, “Radhe Krishna” – she said, “Krishna is with me. He is always with me wherever he is. Whoever he is with, he is still with me.” That was her perception.
Shikandin, who because of a certain situation within himself was an absolutely tortured soul right from his childhood said, “Krishna never gave me any hope. But when he is there, the breeze of hope touches everybody.”
I could go on like this. Different people saw different facets of who he is. For some, he is God. For some, he is a crook For some, he is a lover. For some, he is a fighter. He is so many things. If we want to taste an essence of what it means when we say Krishna, if we want to be touched by the consciousness that we refer to as Krishna, we need Leela.
Leela means, it is the path of the playful – we explore the most profound and the most serious aspects of life, but playfully. Otherwise Krishna won’t be there. The reason why the most profound dimensions of life have been missed by a vast population of the world is because they do not know how to be playful.
To explore this path playfully, you need a heart full of love, a joyful mind, and a vibrant body. Only then there is Leela. To explore the most profound dimensions of life in a playful way, you must be willing to play with your awareness, with your imagination, with your memory, with your life, with your death. If you are willing to play with everything, only then there is Leela. Leela does not mean just dancing with somebody. It means you are willing to dance with life. You are willing to dance with your enemy, you are willing to dance with the one whom you love, you are willing to dance at the moment of your death. Only then there is Leela.