In many religious and philosophical works, a common thread appears. There are many sayings in the Bhagavad-Gita that can be found also in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, while Jesus, also, is one of the foremost prophets mentioned in the Koran as Isa ibn Maryam, which means “Jesus, the son of Mary.” In the Koran, Jesus upholds many of the ideals espoused by Krishna to Arjuna in the Gita: he lived a life of nonviolence, showed a fondness for human beings and animals, lived without material possessions, and abstained from sin. This reflects a body of Buddhist work as well, perhaps most notably the Dhammapada, wherein the Buddha advocates such values as a means for attaining enlightenment and conquering Mara. There is a thread that is woven by these men and philosophers, religious leaders, and men of genius, as though they were the same person to teach the same thing to different eras and different people. Confucius held similar views regarding the nature of man and has stated, in the analects, ‘the higher type of man is not a machine.’ Many statements in the Qur’an are in the same vein of the teachings of Jesus found in the New Testament. An example:
Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another. You are brothers.
— The Final Sermon of Muhammad.
— A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
— John, 13:34-35
A young man should serve his parents at home and be respectful to elders outside his home. He should be earnest and truthful, loving all, but become intimate with humaneness
— And be constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues; for, whatever good deed you send ahead for your own selves, you shall find it with God: behold, God sees all that you do.
— Surah 2:110 of the Qur’an
Such statements are found as well in the Gita and other Hindu literature, the same expression being always the same: be at peace to others, and you can find peace in yourself; allow others to be right, and others to be wrong, but demand no more from yourself than you would from others; be prepared to fail, but from it learn and live with that lesson, and always, in every aspect, be kind to the animals and men of the Earth.
Each of these doctrines are, I think, meant to lead us from one side of the river to the other, the first of which our birth, the water our life, and death the other shore. Krishna appeared to Arjuna in a time of great struggle, during a time of war, and gave him the words needed to continue the struggle against the torments and tortures of the world. Muhammad too appeared before, and within, the midst of a torn and feudal society to offer to human beings a peace of mind, a way by which their struggles could be understood, and lived with. This is the same struggle that led the Buddha, as a young prince in Kapilavastu, to look for a way to go beyond the suffering of the ‘transient worlds of sorrow,’ as Krishna called it, four sights that sent him to the Bodhi tree, where he became enlightened, where he went beyond the pain and suffering of the world and behind him laid the road map for other people to follow his course. The above quotation by Confucius alludes to the Middle Path that Siddhartha eventually adopted after encountering a man trying to tune his sitar. And these prophets and wise men, such as the Buddha and Confucius, also strongly advocate moderation for the same purpose.
The thing in common with all of these men, these visionaries and geniuses, is that all of them advocate the decency of man, the kindness of one to another, and offer to them a way of peace, a path to understanding, be it heaven, be it nirvana or wisdom.
These speakers out of history say and preach many similar things to others, but what would they say to each other? If Krishna and the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad and Confucius got together to play cards, what would they say to one another? Let’s take a look:
“Would you like some more wine, Siddhartha?” Jesus asked, holding forth his goblet. “I’ve got a lot of it. Ha!”
In quiet hesitation, the Siddhartha shook his head, then thanked him for his offer. With one of his many arms, Krishna seized the opportunity to take the wine from Jesus.
“What does it matter?” Krishna. “Do what you will; life and death will pass away. You will shed this body, as one sheds an evening jacket.”
Confucius sat in the corner, clad in a colorful evening robe, and listened to the others talk.
“Who are we?” Muhammad asked. “Arjuna? We’re trying to play cards. Drink your wine, if you must, but keep religion out of this. I tried to correct the mistakes of your followers, and this is how you repay me? With eloquent diatribes on the nature of life and death? We’ve heard this before from you, Krishna. Remember that night at Sammy’s?”
“Don’t bring that up again,” Krishna said. “Had it not been for Jesus here, we’d have never been that hammered. I’ve been trying to get him to go into the wine business with me; this gig as an avatar hasn’t been working out. Our wine would be the purest in the world, with only one ingredient. Pure profit, that’s what that tastes like.” He smiled at Prince Siddhartha, who still sat calmly, with both eyes closed, with an impassive look on his face.
“You try to mock me,” he said, “because I never claimed divinity. What good is religion or philosophy if it can’t apply to everyone? You guys just duped a bunch of primitives into believing you were without flaw.”
“I was born to a virgin,” Jesus said, slurring his speech a bit. “That has to be good enough to be respected.”
“Respect is one thing,” Confucius say. “Worship is another. One cannot walk on water with holy feet.”
“An epigram,” Jesus said, turning to the corner, “I might have known.”
“Can we just play a game of cards?” Siddhartha asked. “Or do we have to resort to bickering over religion and philosophy too? Stop acting like humans. Just because you can turn water into wine, Jesus, that doesn’t mean you should. How many glasses have you had now? Eighty seven? Ninety? Krishna has had at least fifty.”
“Then why haven’t you done it?” Krishna asked. “You say and do everything else I do. That whole thing about reincarnation in your teachings, yes I’ve read them, came straight from me. Straight from the Gita. And you, Jesus, you’re not without blame here either. ‘I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ I said that quite a many years before you appeared on the Earth. Of course, I had passed out of physical existence then. Those ideas were old news by the time you hit Jerusalem, a long time before Muhammad here retreated to his cave.”
“Religious types,” Confucius say, “you’re all the same. Don’t you see that? All of you are variations of the same song. The Buddha conquered the devil, an internal demon named Mara, under the Bodhi tree, after expanding to a new generation on the teachings of the Gita and Upanishads. Jesus was tempted in the desert by the same demon, this time by a different name, and survived. Muhammad sought to refine the teachings of Jesus, so all of you are linked together. Muhammad was a mighty fine merchant, Jesus was a mighty fine carpenter, Krishna could play the hell out of those little flute things, and Siddhartha was as skilled in archery as Arjuna himself.”
“And you?” Krishna asked.
“I’m just awesome,” Confucius say. “But still, a wise man is inferior to a foolish god.” ”
You’re calling me silly?” Krishna demanded, much to Siddhartha’s amusement. “All these arms aren’t just for playing flutes, you know.”
He cast an evil grimace, and his eternal form was displayed before the room. Those in the room saw Krishna in his infinite form, in countless visions of wonder: eyes from innumerable faces, numerous celestial ornaments, and numerous heavenly weapons; celestial garlands and vestures, forms anointed with heavenly perfumes. The infinite divinity faced all sides, all marvels in him containing. If the light of a thousand suns at once arose in the sky, that splendor might be compared to his radiance. And when those in the room saw in that radiance the entire universe, in all its infinite variety, standing together in the body of the god of gods, they spoke thus:
“Could you stop doing that?” Confucius asked. “I mean, it was cool the first fifty thousand times or so.”
Buddha neither flinched, nor moved, yet remained there, impassive, eyes closed, in the lotus position, in perfect calm.
“Yeah, man,” Jesus said. “You knocked over my wine. It’s all over my clothes. Do you think I established a major worldwide religion wearing rags like these?”
“Yeah!” Muhammad agreed. “We will not tolerate your infinite form. If you do it again, you have to go home.”
“But I was…” Krishna tried.
“You was ruining my tent. I have to pay the lease on this tent, and every time you do that, you destroy it. We get it, Krish. You’re cool. Stop destroying my tent, please.”
In the corner, Confucius chuckled. Muhammad stood at the end of the rubble of their small tent, picking up shreds of what had been his home beyond the Earth.
“Bickering is bad for gods as well,” Confucius say. “Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are prophets and gods equal to one another. No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another. You are brothers.”
In union, Jesus, Siddhartha, Muhammad, and Krishna, yelled to him: “Blasphemy!”