Every mighty oak tree was once a nut that stood its ground, they say. For eight years, Krishnadas has diligently occupied his spot at one of Mumbai’s busiest intersections – Juhu Circle. Standing there every morning and evening, he was faced with his fair share of naysayers. In different words, these detractors all said the same thing – “Krishnadas is wasting his time."
If you haven’t heard of him yet, watch this short video to make your day more mindful.
Krishnadas is inadvertently a victim of what is perhaps spirituality’s biggest fallacies, confusing the messenger for the message. To set the record straight, we got in touch with him for an open-minded conversation. It went much better than expected.
Very little is known about your early life. Could you tell us about those years?
My family named me Krishna Avatar. I was born as a Hindu in Moradabad and spent my childhood in Uttarakhand. I lived what most would consider a perfectly ordinary life. However, within me I had an acute sense of how people often don’t do what they think would be wise. This started to greatly concern me when I saw my beloved family members act without love for each other. I left home in 1984 and moved to Gangotri, Uttarakhand.
There, I studied every religion I could. It soon occurred to me that there were a lot of similarities. The basic teachings of every religion are the same – truth, love, and compassion. It was an obvious recurring theme across every religious text.
Was this the insight that sparked your spiritual journey?
It wasn’t until 1998, when I attended the World Religion Conference organised by my Guru – Morari Bapu Ji – that I found my calling. His discourses rekindled my thoughts about similarities shared by every religion. His sermons were secular, they didn’t give importance to any faith over another. There, I saw a message for humanity. From that point I focused on spreading this message which had come to me.
I spoke to everyone I knew, they all seemed concerned. They said only a fakir or a sadhu could spread this message. So I renounced all my worldly possessions and started living like I do till this day.
When did you realize that this may be the most efficient way to spread your message?
I traveled across the country with whatever daan (charity) I got. I spoke to many different people. And over the years, it became clear to me that this was not my message. It was the truth within all of us, I just had to bring it out.
I arrived in Mumbai, bought a notebook with pages that were 1-foot long. I wrote on these pages and scattered them across Juhu beach. Some people looked at them and were amused, some were not and carried on...
I visited many great temples across the city, spoke with many devotees, even adopted silence ( maun ) for some periods.
A guru’s job is to plant seeds of thought and give them the right conditions to bloom into actions. I noticed I wasn’t planting enough seeds. So one day, I just wrote the message on a board and stood with it at Mumbai’s busiest junction.
In the early days, I would stand at Juhu Circle for up to 18 hours every day. I wasn’t tired at all, it must have been the Almighty’s blessings, His energy being channeled through me. It has kept me standing there, smiling at all times.
Till this day, I smile whenever I stand there. A most sincere feeling of bliss takes over me whenever people read the message and greet me.
There are many people who stop by to speak with me, but I couldn’t remember them by name, even if I tried. I just remember their face. I occasionally visit my native place, where my brother would turn on the TV and I’d spot a familiar face.
If it wasn’t for his TV or the huge movie posters across Juhu, I might not have realised that some of my friends were celebrities. I’ve spoken to Hritik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Govinda, Om Puri and many others; but I didn’t realize it then. Some of the stars I grew up watching have come to greet me.
Some even offered me a role in their movies. I had to politely decline. I’m not sure, but once I spoke with someone who might have been Rajat Kapoor. A few months later, people told me that he made a movie based on me.
A still from Rajat Kapoor's film - Aankhon Dekhi
I’m blessed that I can still experience the same feeling of absolute joy, talking to everyone I meet.
Some people still doubt your motives. How do you deal with your detractors?
At first it used to sadden me, but after meeting crores of people I have developed the strength to deal with criticism. I’ve realized that every human being thinks differently and if we were to focus on our differences it would only lead to more misunderstandings and conflict.
Instead, the best way to resolve conflict is to find a positive common ground that two people can agree upon. That is the true meaning of ‘ sat-sang’, to find things that are good and common.
It is important to adjust in society and act as is tolerable – even with people who don’t believe in your ways. I just smile and try to be tolerable.
What actions can people take to immediately implement your advice?
There are two ways in which people can ‘love everyone’. Firstly, by being mindful. Smile, and be nice to everybody you meet. This should be comparatively uncomplicated. Secondly, is by surrendering in situations of conflict.
Often conflicts are settled by either satsang – as defined earlier – or demonstrating to your ‘enemy’ why they are wrong. I’ve found this to be a lot more effective than simply telling the enemy that they are wrong, which almost always makes matters worse. Nobody wants to hear that they are wrong, unless they realize it themselves. When people realize their mistakes, the often smile and correct themselves.
Love is contagious, so is the opposite of love. An unhappy society can only produce more unhappiness and illnesses. Hence I smile, and I am happy when most people smile back.
In what ways have you seen the people of Mumbai change over the years?
I found this platform about 8 years ago, and I’ve seen the city change for the better. The change is subtle, but it’s undeniably there. I’ve noticed Mumbaikars smile more often, become more spiritually inclined.
The city is home to a lot of film stars, TV personalities, and other creative professionals. Their work is just a little bit more optimistic, socially aware than before. By extension they convey this mindset to their audience across the country. They might receive a subtle hint of happiness and spiritual inquiry which is not religiously motivated. These subliminal intentions may even be lost upon many.
All I do is watch this city from my corner and I see positive change. I am happy here because I haven’t done this, God has done this, through my being.
Sab bhagwaan ki kripa hai. [Translation: It's all God's grace.]Please note: This interview was done in Hindi, however we have taken great care to accurately translate it. Thanks to Harshvir Oberai and Karunesh Talwar for helping us get in touch with Mr. Krishnadas. Feature image courtesy Kindnessblog.com