Krishna overcomes Kaliya the dreaded, multi-hooded snake in the River Yamuna and begins to dance on its several hoods. When the heels of Krishna strike the hoods, some break off and then get replaced by new ones. All the while Krishna keeps playing his sweet flute.
Snake Kaliya with its numerous hoods symbolises the numerous desires we have. When one desire gets fulfilled, another arises, like the new hoods of Kaliya. The hoods keep breaking and forming, but Krishna is unperturbed. He keeps playing His flute, denoting the power of discrimination, of wisdom, of the focus on the bliss of Self. The wife of Kaliya prays to Krishna, that is, her prayer in which she desires her husband to come back whole leads to re-creation of the hoods.
Kaliya questions Krishna: “O Lord! You are the Creator. You have created venomous snakes like me; you have also created gods who drink nectar. What is my fault in this? I am poisonous because nature has made me so.” The Srimad Bhagvatam says that on hearing this, Krishna falls silent.
Krishna accepted Kaliya’s words of discrimination. Krishna is the true embodiment of wisdom. He replies: “Alright, I shall not kill you, but please leave this place. You are causing distress to many. My nature is to shower bliss and your acts are an obstruction to that.” Krishna spares Kaliya’s life. He does not kill him or snatch his venom from him, but asks him to go to another place, where perhaps he would learn to use venom only when absolutely necessary, in self-defence.
In the same way, I do not ask you to eliminate desire, anger, greed and delusion that trouble you, but to change their course. You desire to obtain something or the other. Let this yearning be turned to attain God, to obtain inner peace, to yearn for silence and solitude or if you wish to enter public life, yearn for the welfare of the people. The orientation of your yearning, when changed, can lead you to God. The yearning for kama will get sublimated to attainment of Rama. In this manner, your wisdom will be put to good use. The same applies for anger. For how long will you try to suppress it? Just re-channelise it in a different direction. If greed overpowers you, then channelise it towards greed for doing more japa, more meditation, more acts of benevolence and acquiring more divine knowledge. The same goes for other attachments and passions. Sant Tulsidas has said: “Develop attachment towards the Lord, and equanimity towards the world.”
“O Lord, I have experienced these worldly pleasures, now have mercy…” –
Such a prayer shows your discrimination. However great may be the amount of praise, pleasures and comforts you attain – how long will they last and what will remain in the end? Therefore, yearn for real joy, the bliss of Self, the Atman.
Your real Self, the Atman, is bliss personified. If there is sorrow, worry or fear, it is due to lack of discrimination. Keep awakening your power of discrimination. As you grow in discrimination, you will also grow in dispassion and gain the shat-sampatti, the six spiritual wealth of shama or mind control, dama or sense control, titiksha or forbearance, samadhan or freedom from doubt, shraddha or faith and Ishwar-pranidhan or concentration of mind on God.
Then the yearning for moksha or liberation will automatically arise. Moksha means liberation from all sorrows forever and attainment of Supreme Bliss.
(Satsang: Asaram Bapu)