Krishna – Christos
David M. Grossman – USA
Krishna and Christos or Christ are names that reverberate across countries and civilizations deep into the fabric of human history; names that today resonate in the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of people, east and west, names that represent divine incarnations to many, names that bring peace, inspiration and meaningful direction to people’s lives.
We know two of the world’s great religions revolve around Krishna and Christos, the latter referred to as Jesus the Christ or Jesus Christ. The term Christos was around long before it was conflated and made synonymous with Jesus. Some Gnostics spoke of Jesus as a great prophet who was overshadowed or illuminated by the Christos.
As Jesus answered the Pharisees when asked when will the Kingdom of God come? He answers in Luke 17:20, “God does not come with observation,…For indeed the kingdom of God is within you.”
In Isis Unveiled under the page heading “WHEN A ‘GOD’ BECOMES INCARNATE” H.P. Blavatsky writes, “The ancients never entertained the sacrilegious thought that such perfected entities were incarnations of the One Supreme and ever invisible God. No such profanation of the awful majesty entered into their conceptions.”
Christianity is the largest in numbers of all the religions, Hinduism whom Krishna is connected with, the 3rd largest and considered the oldest religion. Within both religions there are those that see them respectively as God, having more or less the personal God idea, which, as is pointed out so well in Theosophical writings, limits, dwarfs the real Majesty of the unnamable, unspeakable essence of life.In terms of what these beings represent, the inspiration and teachings they have given us are synonymous in purpose and intent. Great beings are often connected with the Winter Solstice, the time of the yearly rebirth of the sun, Surya, the central life giving force of our solar system, which represents the source and sustainer of life, the power of being, and the illuminating flame of consciousness. These great beings, teachers and inspirers of mankind are truly solar beings who come onto the scene from time to time to illuminate the rest of us, to encourage us as Krishna encouraged Arjuna to carry on even or maybe especially, in the darkest of times.
The Winter Solstice, which is the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere also represents the hope of a New Year, a new cycle of life, manifesting so beautifully in nature during the arrival of spring. On the occult or interior side it is the time we learn when the Astral Light is young. It is no coincidence that the new year is a time to make resolutions, start new impulses because between now and the vernal equinox, spiritual, mental and psychic energies put forth have an added force to them. This is an example of working with the laws of nature on the inside.
HPB pointed this out in the Jan.1888 issue of Lucifer where she stated: “let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfill them consistently.”
We all know December 25th is celebrated by Christians as the birth of Christ the Savior. HPB points out in the same article that “It is also on December the 25th, Christmas, the day with the Christians on which the “Savior of the World” was born, that were born, ages before him, the Persian Mithra, the Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Bacchus, the Phoenician Adonis, the Phrygian Attis.”
We can and should go further and link other names, such as Buddha, Mohamed, Quan Yin, Lao tzu, Pythagoras and others who have been and still are teachers and inspirers of humanity along its journey into higher realms of being, collectively and individually. As we are uplifted by these shining ones, we help, or should we say are capable of helping to uplift the lives that make up the lower kingdoms evolving towards the human state in the somewhat distant future. There is a reciprocity at work between all beings and kingdoms. We as humans are supported by the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms as they make up and support our physical instruments, sometimes referred to as the “temple of the soul.”
Aside from much darkness that seems to surround the life on our planet, we also live in a time full of knowledge and uncountable possibilities. To think just a few centuries ago most people were illiterate and now we have the power to communicate with our fellow beings instantaneously, where not only is language less and less a barrier but also time.
Even more wonderful is the fact that we have the teachings from a succession of these great ones available to us from different eras and cultures, and thanks in part to the 2nd object of the Modern Theosophical Movement, we have a key that shines a light on the fact that there is the selfsame spiritual river that flows beneath and within the great religions, philosophies and sciences, sometimes referred to as the perennial philosophy.
Take arguably the best self-help book ever written where we are introduced to the Bhagavad Gita, the wisdom of Krishna himself, a treatise thousands of years old but only available in the English language since 1785, thanks to the typographer and orientalist Charles Wilkins who translated it. It was he who introduced it through publication to Emerson and Thoreau who then helped spread the word concerning this philosophical gem.
About a century later W.Q. Judge rendered the Gita into English in a very comprehensible form with valuable notes to accompany it which has also helped to spread the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita within theosophical circles and beyond.
An awareness of this amazing and beautiful reciprocity, interconnection and root oneness of all humanity and life, expressed in the ever present Wisdom Tradition, can only help to heal the psychic wounds and distortions caused by what HPB called the dire heresy of our time, “Separateness.” We forget at times just how interconnected we really are even with those we least relate to.
We are reminded in The Voice of the Silence:
Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean.
So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.
The Voice of the Silence: The Seven Portals, pg. 49, TUP edition
W.Q. Judge in his Letters That Have Helped Me, makes the statement: “a long chain of influence extends from the highest spiritual guide who may belong to any man, down through vast numbers of spiritual chiefs, ending at last in the mere teacher of our youth. Or, to restate it in modern reversion of thought, a chain extends up from our teacher or preceptors to the highest spiritual chief in whose ray or descending line one may happen to be. . . . This chain of influence is called the Guruparampara chain. . . .”( Letters That Have Helped Me, pg.42-43, Theos. Co. edit.)
At least in a relative sense Krishna-Christos represents the top of the chain, the bright fully unfolded human Soul illuminated by Atman, our Spiritual Center. They are not meant to be objects of worship but rather subjects of inspiration.
It is through the collective memory of evolving humanity we find the stories of these shining ones whether symbolic or actual, mythic or historical, expressing a pattern of truth sometimes referred to as the Savior Archetype.
Unfortunately there seems to be a kind of flaw in the lower human psyche that basically says “My truth is better than your truth. There can only be one true expression of what is real. Others must be false.”
We lack the moral imagination all too often to realize that from the one white light comes all the colors of manifestation. We feel we need to have a corner on truth, meaning, “We have the only true teaching,” “We have the only true way.” What we don’t realize is, that the central teaching and teacher or Messiah shows more depth not less, through the same or parallel expressions in other religions, myths and philosophies. We could argue that there are no singular events in nature. Life unfolds through cycles, this day the result of a previous one and this life the result of previous incarnations.
Aside from the universal teachings connected with both Krishna and Christ, such as in the Bhagavad Gita and the Sermon on the Mount found in the Gospel of Mathew, there are many stories about them, the mythos or mythoi built around them, if not identical, are very similar as if to let us know there are layers of meaning within them. The fact is stressed in Theosophical writings that all truly universal symbols actually have seven keys to them.
One parallel that has caused partisan arguments between the two religions of Hinduism and Christianity from time to time is the similarity in the two names. Since Krishna was around long before Christ some have always said early Christians built the Jesus story around Krishna and there have been Christians who tried to show Krishna to be much more recent than he was and took the name from Christ. This has been disproved as mention of Krishna, is to be found in the sixth century BCE, in the Chandogya Upanishad , referring to Krishna as a sage and a preacher among other BC references. The most agreed upon scholarship today points out that the two names are derived from two distinctly different languages; Christos and Christ from Greek and Krishna meaning dark or dark blue from Sanskrit.
In Isis Unveiled H.P. Blavatsky has other thoughts on the subject. But since most theosophists don’t tend to believe in coincidence it might be better to call it an interesting kind of synchronicity for the moment.
The biographical parallels of these two Avatars, benefactors of humanity, during the Kali Yuga cycle we find ourselves in, are quite interesting. Below are a few comparisons:
1. Both are considered Divine Incarnations by the adherents of Hinduism and Christianity. Hindu philosophy teaches the philosophy of the periodic incarnations of Avatars, Krishna being one. Many Hindus today treat Jesus as one also.
2. Each is a divine incarnation from a triune god. Both represent the 2nd place of their respective trinities, Krishna the 8th incarnation of Vishnu, as in Brahma Vishnu and Shiva, and Jesus, “The Son as in the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Hinduism teaches the doctrine of the periodic incarnations of Avatars, who come to help along evolving humanity. Many Hindus we are told, consider Christ to actually be one such Avatar.
3. Both Krishna and Jesus are said to have had miraculous births and both were predicted to come.
4. Both Krishna and Jesus were under threat of being killed as infants due to the fear of Herod that this “King of the Jews” would usurp his power, and it was predicted that Devaki’s 8th child, who was Krishna would kill the wicked Kamsa who was also his uncle. Both were hidden and survived. In the Hindu mythology it did come to pass.
As an aside, we learn in the Torah, that Moses too was hidden at birth for three months due to the edict by the Pharaoh to kill all Hebrew male babies at the time. The rest is Jewish history so to speak concerning Moses as a key spiritual teacher and channel from the highest delivering the Ten Commandments as well as the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
5. There are stories of both Krishna and Jesus being challenged and attacked by Satan and or, demons, There is the well-known biblical happening when after his baptism, then fasting on the desert for 40 days Jesus is confronted and tempted with the proverbial three temptations by Satan.
Krishna was confronted and attacked by various demons during his life coming out victorious each time. The earliest when just a baby, Putana a demoness who was sent by Kamsa to appear in the form of a beautiful woman to kill baby Krishna by breastfeeding him poison, but who was killed by the deity when he sucked her life-force out, and was granted liberation. There are many other stories of the young Krishna waring and being victorious with a number of demons.
6. Each of these avatars performed what are referred to as miracles. Students of Theosophy would say they performed unusual acts that are actually explainable with an understanding of the occult laws of nature reflected in the various inner planes of nature beyond the gross physical one that we are most familiar with and often ignorantly accept as ultimate reality.
7. Both Jesus and Krishna predicted their own deaths.
Some of the parallels just mentioned and more can be found in an interesting chart in Isis Unveiled, Bk. 2 pgs. 537-539 titled “Legends of 3 Saviors.” Here Krishna, Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth are compared.
Next to other parallels we could list, without a doubt, the most important are the teachings themselves, attributed to both Krishna and Jesus through Their words and lives that are still with us today.
Each teacher comes at a particular time and to a particular culture to begin with, their teachings having a certain emphasis and form of expression deemed to be most needed and helpful to people at the point. There is also an underlying universal aspect that is powerful and useful to evolving humanity across time.
As mentioned previously, although the Bhagavad Gita has been around for thousands of years it has only been available to us, that is the English speaking world, for a mere 200 plus years. It has an amazing impact really when one realizes that there have been nearly 300 English translations and the Gita is now printed in over 75 different languages. And the Mahabharata as a whole was only fully translated into English in the late 19th century.
Here are a few parallels from the teachings of Christ found in what is usually referred to as the New Testament and teachings of Krishna found mainly in the Bhagavad Gita & Anu Gita, both hidden pearls within the epic Mahabhata:
BG 10:20: Krishna: “O Arjun, I am seated in the heart of all living entities. I am the beginning, middle, and end of all beings.”.
Revelation 1:8 King James Version: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
BG 8:17: “One day of Brahma (kalp) lasts a thousand cycles of the four ages (mahā yug) and his night also extends for the same span of time. The wise who know this understand the reality about day and night.”
Bible — 2 Peter 3:8: “Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
BG Ch. 6 pg. 48-49 Judge rendition: “He who seeth me in all things and all things in me looseneth not his hold on me and I forsake him not. And whosoever, believing in spiritual unity, worshipeth me who am in all things, dwelleth with me in whatsoever condition he may be.”
John 17:21 — “that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
BG Ch. 2 pg18. Judge rendition: “When in every condition he receives each event, whether favorable or unfavorable, with an equal mind which neither likes nor dislikes, his wisdom is established, and, having met good or evil, neither rejoiceth at the one nor is cast down by the other. He is confirmed in spiritual knowledge, when, like the tortoise, he can draw in all his senses and restrain them from their wonted purposes.”
An echo of this is found in: Matthew 6:6 KJV: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
There are those who can’t understand, at least at first, why the spiritual teachings of a great avatar like Krishna, an example of love and compassion, why his teachings would be delivered on a battlefield, to encourage his disciple to slaughter the nearest and dearest to him; it can seem contradictory to a spiritual vision. Likewise we hear the distraught words of Arjuna at the opening of the Bhagavad Gita, see below.
BG Ch 1, pg. 6 Judge rendition: “When I shall have destroyed my kindred, shall I longer look for happiness?” “I wish not for victory, Krishna; I want not pleasure” ………
“Having killed the sons of Dhritarâshtra, what pleasure, O thou who art prayed to by mortals, can we enjoy? Would we destroy them, tyrants though they are, sin would take refuge with us. It therefore behooveth us not to kill such near relations as these.”
We know later on Krishna tells Arjuna, “Fight” for the higher life.
Similarly there is the statement by Jesus that has been very confusing to many Christians coming from the one who tells us to turn the other cheek, (Matthew 5:38) and To love thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:39). And rightly so if we take the words of Jesus always literally. As in the Gita we need the key which shows this war to be within every person on his or her own Kurukshetra, the battlefield of form and duality, of personality vs spiritual individuality.
Matthew 10:34-39 KJV:
 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
 “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, …………”
 “And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: …………”
 “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
The irony in both cases can be, to a great extent, resolved by the attempt to understand the dual nature of mind (Manas) in the human being. The “lower mind” identifies with the material evanescent life of the senses while the “higher mind” or higher consciousness is illuminated by and aligns with the “monad” our true spiritual identity.
Yet the fact remains: “When we call for the light we also call on the darkness.” Another way to put it; when truth is declared, the status quo, the false structures, both personal and societal, based on materialism and personal self-interest, are threatened and hold on for dear life.
A case in point; when H. P. Blavatsky made her first major theosophical foray into the world of contemporary thought; religious, philosophical and scientific with the publication of Isis Unveiled, she could see the storm clouds forming around her and inevitable backlash, when the entrenched ideas of the day were challenged. And thus she ends the preface to Isis Unveiled with the Salute of the Roman Gladiator to Caesar: Moriturus Te Salutat!; “We the dying salute you” or “Death we salute you.”
Just as HPB challenged many of the orthodoxies of the day, then and now. Krishna-Christos challenges us with the vision of what a human being can be and with an inspired alternative for conducting ourselves with our fellow beings.
Although to some degree, life is suffering, but as the Buddha tells us, mostly we suffer from ourselves and that we have the power to alleviate it.
One can think of no better example than someone who embraced the spirit of Krishna-Christos than Mohandas Ghandi known as Mahatma Gandhi. He embraced both the teachings of Jesus and Krishna. He tells us the powerful effect The Sermon on the Mount had on him; "The spirit of the Sermon on the Mount competes almost on equal terms with the Bhagavad Gita for the domination of my heart." His philosophy of Ahimsa (non-violence) which includes thought as well as action was greatly influenced by the teachings of Jesus and he felt The Sermon On The Mount (Gospel of Matthew, 5-7) should be applied by all in everyday life and were not meant just for the disciples gathered there.
The Gita presents a spiritual path for the common man in the world and shows that one does not have to abandon the world and go to “the mountain top” to cultivate the spiritual life. This is, as has been pointed out by various Gita commentators part of the great gift of the Bhagavad Gita; it presents those truths that we can each cultivate and apply wherever we find ourselves in life.
A young Gandhi
Gandhi’s long practice and application of the teachings presented by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita are well known; but although born to a Hindu family Gandhi did not know the book as such until, as a young man in England, he began to study it with theosophical friends and was thus guided by its teachings from a relatively young age during his active and tumultuous life. Ghandi was a quiet warrior in the spirit of Krishna-Christos and has had a continuous positive impact in the world by way of example, and the teachings he left us.
Krishna-Christos is essentially the Spiritual Soul, the Atman, the shining light deep within every human being, gently pressing forward to manifest itself in each of our lives. If we take the theosophical vision that all beings throughout all the kingdoms of nature, visible and invisible, are on a spiritual journey, and that a point comes when each individual begins to take up this path consciously, it is then that the neophyte, the disciple, begins the process of transformation and initiation into the Christos, like when after throwing down his bow and arrows, Arjuna picks them back up once more and works toward becoming one with Krishna.
To conclude an excerpt drawn from the opening page of Part 1, Bk. 1 of The Secret Doctrine entitled Cosmic Evolution, quoting from the ancient Rig Veda:
“Who knows the secret? who proclaimed it here?
Whence, whence this manifold creation sprang?
The Gods themselves came later into being —
Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
That, whence all this great creation came,
Whether Its will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it — or perchance even He knows not.”