hmm... the trouble is, although I have declared Krishna to be my hero, I don't know who he was! Well, I'm obviously dismissing the Krishna of the Kamsa killer-Dwaraka King-Charioteer-God schema as bakwaas!
Is it a coincidence that the birth stories of Moses and Krishna (also Jesus and Karna) are almost the same. (King Ramses - Kamsa, infants are killed, this child is rescued across a river, grows on to kill the King.) Who cares who copied from whom, its just a story!
So this great king Krishna (who incidentally is God!) could help the Pandavas only as a Charioteer? I think people in those days would have fought like rats over resources and every able hand would have been helpful. Even otherwise, why was Krishna there in Mahabharata? Did he do any damn thing that was relevant to the story?
The Vedas are mostly hymns with four major themes - Gods, Sacrifices, Music and Magic. We ofcourse know them as Rig, Yajur, Sama and the Atharvana. Each group of Vedic texts includes Samhitas (hymns), Brahmanas (rituals), Aryankas (ramblings!) and Upanishads (philosophy).
Well, its fairly obvious that the Upanishads are the most relevant, because they explain the vedas (hymns) and expound on Hindu Philosophy formed over thousands of years. Bhagwad Gita is one extraordinary work which gives the essence of these Upanishads. Some call it an Upanishad in itself. Do you know who wrote that? Krishna! Obviously!! But who was he?
Veda Vyasa is regarded as the author of the Mahabharatha. But more importantly he was a very influential vedic scholar, who supposedly divided the vedic texts into four groups. [Vyasa - splitter. Veda Vyasa - Splitter of the Vedas.] Supposedly, because Vyasa might have been a generic name for all the scholars who accomplished this work.
Then there was this uninteresting land-dispute between some stupid cousins. Five guys sharing a wife (they still do in some tribes of Himachal Pradesh), a gullible girl who got herself into pre-marital pregnancy, kings (rather chiefs) gambling on land and their women. yeah, stupid people! But they happened (or were fabricated) to have fought a great war in Kurukshetra, a very significant place(?!) according to Indian Astronomy or rather Astrology.
So if Vyasa wanted to sell the most sublime work in Hindu Philosophy, namely the Bhagwad Gita, all he had to do was, to make a pot-pouri of the Gita, its author Krishna overblown as God, some random stories about his birth, childhood, girlfriends, kingdom etc, the Pandava-Gaurava nonsense and the Kurukshetra war. Bingo! an epic was born.
And it so happened that Veda Vyasa's original name was Krishna Dvaipayana. (Krishna - Black, Dvaipayana - Island born). Did Vyasa play a prank on the readers by superimposing himself as God Krishna in Mahabharata? No. There was a more interesting rishi called Krishna in the Upanishads.
One Mystic Fire recently pointed me to the following verse in the Chandogya Upanishad of the Sama Veda texts:
III-xvii-6: Ghora Angirasa expounded this well-known doctrine to Devaki’s son Krishna and said, ‘Such a knower should, at the time of death, repeat this triad – "Thou art the imperishable, Thou art unchangeable, Thou art the subtle essence of Prana". (On hearing the above) he became thirstless. There are these two Rik stanzas in regard to this.
So here we have the Devakiputra Krishna learning some of the salient points of the Bhagwad Gita from Rishi Ghora who himself was a descendant of Rishi Angirasa. Looks as though I have found my hero! Guess I should learn more about him.
Well, yes. God may have come, born as Krishna, killed Kamsa, learnt that he himself was God from Ghora, preached it to Arjuna (copyright violation!) and promised us all that he will be born again and again to take on evil. But then, I'm atheist. And guess what, this Rishi Krishna propagates atheism in the Bhagwad Gita!
Happy Saraswathi Puja!