Krishna: Expert Dancer, Uninhibited Lover

"I would believe in a God who could dance", said German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. During his time, God was generally portrayed as a frozen perfection, remote, static, and wholly unsociable. No wonder he was disillusioned by this stereotypical idea of God.

Nietzsche would have been pleasantly surprised had he heard of Krishna, who danced expertly on the hood of the venomous serpent Kaliya. He also danced to the tune of his mother just to get butter, and he danced with gopis in celebration of divine love, in rasa-lila. He is Vrindavana-natabara, dancer par excellence in the pastoral paradise of Vrindavana.

All theistic traditions assert that God is great. In Krishna, that greatness is graphically demonstrated. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives a glimpse of his awe-inspiring greatness through his vishva-rupa darshana, which is one of the greatest mystical visions in world literature. Arjuna saw within the Universal Form - within Krishna - everything and everyone in existence. He saw all the planets, stars and universes as well as all living beings: celestial, terrestrial and subterranean. Krishna also exhibited his omnipotence by effortlessly over- powering numerous demons, who were the scourges of the universe.

Most endearingly, Krishna delights, not in the magnificence of godhood, but in the sweetness of uninhibited love. Krishna expresses his sweetness in His lila as a prankster who steals butter from the homes of elderly gopis. Krishna as God is self-satisfied and doesn't need anything for his enjoyment. Moreover, when everything belongs to him, where is the question of his stealing anything? Yet just to reciprocate love with those devotees who love Him in a parental mood (vatsalya-bhava), Krishna plays the role of their darling child and speaks and behaves mischievously. The disarming hospitality that Krishna extended to Sudama and the subsequent generous benedictions that he bestowed upon his poor gurukula-friend are also eloquent testimony to Krishna's personal warmth and sweetness.