Here is something beautiful from Osho on Krishna’s words in the Gita about his being the best in everything.
QUESTIONER: KRISHNA, IN CHAPTER TEN OF THE GEETA DESCRIBES HIMSELF TO BE THE GANGES AMONG THE RIVERS, THE SPRING AMONG THE SEASONS, THE LION AMONG THE BEASTS, THE GARUDA OR EAGLE AMONG THE BIRDS, THE AIRAVAT AMONG THE ELEPHANTS, THE KAMDHENU AMONG THE COWS, VASUKI AMONG THE SNAKES, AND SO ON. DOES IT MEAN THAT HE IS TRYING TO DECLARE HIMSELF TO BE THE BEST AND THE GREATEST IN ALL CREATION? DOES IT ALSO MEAN THAT HE REFUSES TO REPRESENT ALL THAT IS LOWLY AND BASE? WHY DOES HE EXCLUDE THE MEANEST OF US ALL? AND WHERE DOES THE MEANEST BELONG?
It is a significant question. And there are two beautiful aspects to it.
Firstly, Krishna declares himself to be the best among all things – of all the seasons he is the spring, of all the cows he is the Kamdhenu, of all the elephants he is the Airavat. And secondly – and this is more significant – he finds his peers even among the lowliest of creatures like cows and horses.
Both things should be taken together. While he declares himself to be the best among different classes of creatures, he does not distinguish between one class and another. Even when he claims to be the Airavat among elephants, he remains nonetheless an elephant. Even when he claims to be the best among the cows he remains a cow. Similarly he is quite at home among snakes and reptiles. He does not exclude the meanest categories as you think. He chooses to be the best even among the meanest creatures of this universe. And there is a reason. But why does he declare himself to be the best and the greatest among us all?
On the surface it seems to us to be an egoistic declaration, because we are so much involved with our egos that everything we see appears egoistic. But if we go deep into it we will know what a great message is enshrined in Krishna’s declaration. When he says that he is the Airavat among the elephants, he means to say every elephant is destined to be an Airavat, and if one fails to be Airavat he fails to actualize his best and highest potential. Similarly every season has the potential to grow into a spring, and if one fails to attain to the highest in its nature, it fails its nature. And if a cow fails to be the kamdhenu, it means she has gone astray from her nature. In all these declarations, Krishna says only one thing: that he is the culmination, the perfection of nature in everything. Whoever and whatever attains to the sublime reflects godliness. This is the central message of this declaration.
Please understand its deeper significance.
It is not that an elephant who does not become the Airavat is not a Krishna, he too is a Krishna, but a backward Krishna; he has failed to be the Airavat which is his potential. Krishna says he reflects the innate potentiality of each being come to its completion, that each being can grow into Krishnahood, god-hood. Krishna symbolizes the actualized form at its best, the highest of each one’s possibility.
Every being, everything is capable of attaining to Krishna-hood. And if one fails to realize himself fully, it simply means that he has betrayed his innate nature, he has deviated from it. There is not even a trace of egoism in Krishna’s declaration. This is his way of saying that one cannot attain to godliness unless he becomes like the lion among animals, like the spring among the seasons, like the Ganges among the rivers. One comes to God only when one attains to one’s own fullest flowering, not otherwise.
By way of these illustrations Krishna persuades Arjuna that if he flowers to the maximum as a warrior which is his innate nature – he will become a Krishna in his own right. Had Krishna been born two thousand years later he would have said, “I am Arjuna among the warriors.”
When Krishna declares his being, he is not claiming greatness. To claim greatness he need not compare himself with beasts and birds, snakes and reptiles. Claims to greatness can be made directly, but Krishna really does not claim any greatness for himself. He Is speaking about a law of growth, a universal law which is that when you draw out the best in you, when you actualize your highest potential you become God.
One of the Sanskrit names of God Is Ishwar, which is derived from aishwarya, meaning affluence.
It means when you attain to the peak of affluence as a being, you become God. But we never pay attention to this aspect of godliness, which is affluence in every respect. So to be the lion among the animals, the kamdhenu among the cows, and the spring among the seasons is to attain to godliness, to God. When there is no difference whatsoever between your potentiality and actuality, you become God. When the highest possibility of your life is actualized you attain to Godhood.
If there is a distance between your potential and actual states of being, it means you are yet on the way to your destiny. And godliness is everybody’s destiny; it is really everyone’s birthright. When that which is hidden in you becomes manifest, you are God. Right now you are part hidden and part manifest, you are on the way to flowering. You have yet to burst into a full spring, you have yet to become God. If Krishna happens to visit our garden here and says that he is the most blossomed one among all the flowers of this garden, what does he mean by it? He means to say that other flowers have the potential to achieve this flowering, and they are on the way to it.
It is right that Krishna does not relate himself with flowers yet hidden in their buds or in their seeds.
He connects himself only with those that have fully flowered. And there is a reason for it. He is speaking to Arjuna who is depressed and confused, and he is not only trying to revive him but also to inspire him to blossom fully as a warrior, to actualize his potential as a warrior. Then alone, Krishna says, can he attain to God, to the utmost peak.
Here Krishna is having to play a double role. Because Arjuna is his friend, he cannot be too hard with him. He has to speak as a friend but all the time he is aware that he has to help Arjuna come to the same flowering of being which he embodies in himself. Therefore, from time to time he gives glimpses of his own flowering, of his own fullness, so that these glimpses gently seep into Arjuna’s awareness.
Krishna will be of no use to Arjuna if he remains only his friend, but if he reveals his godliness indiscriminately, Arjuna may be so frightened that he runs away. So all the time he has to strike a balance between the two roles he is playing. While he continues to be Arjuna’s friend he also declares his godliness from time to time. Whenever he finds Arjuna is relaxed, he declares his godliness. And when Arjuna is assailed with doubt and confusion he returns to his friendly approach.
His task is very delicate, and very few Buddhas have had to deal with such a situation as Krishna faces in the war of the Mahabharata.
Buddha does not have to deal with such a delicate situation. He knows his people clearly; he knows who is who and what they want. His people have come to sit at his feet to learn truth from him, so communication with them is easy and straight. Mahavira too, has no such difficulties with his listeners. Krishna’s difficulty with Arjuna is real, he has to play a double role.
It is really difficult to teach a friend, to be his teacher. It is difficult even to be an advisor to an intimate friend. If you try he will say, “Shut up, don’t show off your wisdom.” Arjuna can say to Krishna, “Keep your sage advices to yourself, I know how much you know, since we grew up together from childhood.” Arjuna can run away in such a situation. So Krishna on the one hand placates him with phrases like “O great warrior,” and on the other he tells him ”You are an ignoramus, you don’t know the reality.”
If you bear in mind this aspect of the GEETA, you will have no difficulty understanding it.
From: Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy, by Osho