“ And now, can you guess whose horoscope this is ?” Swamiji’s deep and resonant voice rang out. There was pin-drop silence in the hall. The audience at India Habitat Center being completely mesmerized by Swamiji’s analysis of different horoscopes – from his own to that of JL Nehru and Bill Gates. Being a student of Jyotish, I remembered the chart – it was Sri Krishna’s Kundali. And what a chart it is -truly befitting of a God.

4 planets, Mercury (Budh) Mars (Mangal) Moon (Chandra) and Saturn(Shani ) are exalted (Ucchastha). Sun (Surya)is Swa-grahi or in its own Rashi in 4th house -signaling universal fame. Jupiter (Brihaspati) is Swagrahi too in 11th – indicating a multitude of wise friends and wealth that emperors would be envious of and Venus (Shukra )isSwagrahi in 6th.

It is not for nothing that Sri Krishna is considered the perfect and the most complete avatar amongst the Dashavataras (10 incarnations) of Sri Vishnu. He was supposed to Shodash Kala Sampanna ( the Master of 16Kalas(skills) – an irresistible lover ( thanks to the exalted moon in his Lagna), an indefatigable warrior (Exalted Mars )  who defeated the most powerful of emperors, an exalted yogi and a Jagadguru( Guru of entire cosmos). The architect of Mahabharata, the creator of SrimadBhagavadgita (truly a divine song)- no wonder, Sri Krishna is regarded as  Supreme God.

I thought Swami Ji would dwell on these points. Gods do indeed have perfect horoscopes, I thought to myself…..and that’s why they are Gods, not feeble humans like you and me. Sri Rama had a great one too, as did Ravana – but his chart has a few critical issues. But breaking my reverie, the next words coming from Swami Ji astounded me. Swami Ji said –“Look how embattled he was throughout his life. Always fighting and often getting involved in the struggles and battles of others.”

While my mind reeled for a second, suddenly Swamiji’s assertion seemed absolutely bang on. An infant whose siblings were murdered and who was whisked away as soon as he was born, to foster parents away from his own imprisoned parents- the very beginning of his life was full of disasters. Within a few days of his birth, he had to fight dreaded demons in disguise – Putna for example bent on killing him. As he grew up he battled Trinavarta ( the whirlwind demon), Kalia Nag, Bakasura (the crane demon) Kagasura ( the crow demon), Sakatasura, and more when he was just a kid. His own uncle Kansa conspired to have him killed and when none of the demons worked – he called Krishna to Mathura – to have him run over by an elephant. And have a fight to the death with Chanura the world-famous wrestler and himself.

Even as he freed his parents and the king of Mathura – Sri Krishna didn’t get time to sit down and enjoy his freedom and glory. He was packed off to a Gurukula – where again he took upon himself the battle of bringing back his Guru’s son Punardutta fighting demons, pirates like Panchjanya and other mystical creatures. He had to fight against Jarasandha – and defend Mathura 18 times against this powerful emperor – whose very name inspired terror.

Mahabharata wasn’t his battle. And even as he tried to protect the Pandavas by tricking Duryodhana, he was cursed by Gandhari – that he will witness the annihilation of his own clan.

But what we remember him for is, not the demons he defeated or the wars he fought – what we most remember him for is his playfulness( Leela) and his equanimity(Stithpragyta). The beloved Makhanchor Balgopal who got his friends together to steal butter and smiled when he got caught.The center point of Rasaleela whose flute mesmerized all creatures. The prankster who stole clothes to get his way.

Even as an astute statesman and King, he didn’t lose his humility and spirit of fun – when his poor friend Sudama came to visit him, Krishna washed his feet, bathed him in luxuries and yet  begged Sudama to give him a present  He played pranks with Arjuna in the midst of Mahabharata – for example in the battle with Jayadratha -only to remind Arjuna of the fallouts of rash vows and actions And  even with his wife Satyabhama – to destroy her ego during the Tulabhara( Weighing in gold episode)

He stayed equanimous when his son Pradyumna was kidnapped when he was accused of being a thief and murderer when Syamantak mani was stolen  and when towards the end of his life –  he saw his friends family destroy each other murderously

Amidst the dark clouds of most cruel and adverse circumstances that he came across,  what shines forth the most is his sense of purpose ( the victory of dharma) his equanimity,  playfulness, and cheerful spirit. His unbounded love for his devotees – Meera or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is again the subject of many bhajans.

So, despite the amazing horoscope he had, he faced more challenges and more adversity then probably anyone else in the entire pantheon of Gods or humans ever did -but there isn’t a single complaint uttered by him  Yet in each one of those calamities,  his response- poised, compassionate, playful and purposeful is what we remember him for.

And when you are playful and joyful – nothing -no matter how serious or worrying affects you and everything is taken in a stride and converted into yet another Leela. Godliness isn’t defined by planets – it’s defined by your responses to the challenges of destiny

Fast forward – 7 months. I was ruminating on life, cursing my fate and blaming the stars for the terrible combinations they have made resulting in the numerous challenges in my life – when I came across the workshop notes again. Reading them again leads to the proverbial aha! Moment. Swami Ji had shown me the light – that ray of hope amongst the dark clouds of depression

No matter what the circumstances in life (most of us would crumble if even a tiny fraction of what Sri Krishna faced hits us ) it is our response that counts. If we can take it playfully, one day at a time, responding consciously and with equanimity – no planet can take away the happiness, the joy, and freedom that we would hold inside of ourselves. This Janmashtmi onwards,  I have been trying this little experiment on myself of being kind and equanimous and reading the workshop notes whenever I feel down. While Sthitpragyta may be the forte of the enlightened yogis- a conscious response and remembering the stories of Sri Krishna definitely elevates every part of existence.  Jai Sri Krishna!

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