Only yesterday, I read the 1992 Playboy interview of Robin Williams. There is a wonderful quote there by Robin:
“If you take the chance, sometimes you’ll find something so magnificent that it was worth dying for, and sometimes you’ll find nothing and have a horrible night. To go deeper with it, that’s the most interesting challenge.”
I flashed back today to the news of Robin Williams passing during our Geeta study class. We were reading verse 1-32, 33. In these verses, Arjuna laments his existential crisis. "Why must I fight, O Kṛṣṇa?", he asks. "With the death of my loved ones, what is the point of winning a kingdom and gaining pleasure? Indeed, what is the point of living this life?" (Note: This is free translation, full verse and translation below).
Robin Williams undoubtedly loved and was loved by his daughter, Zelda and wife, Susan and millions of fans. His accomplishments as a comedian and actor are legendary. Through the non-profit Comic Relief USA, he and partner Whoopi Goldberg, have raised more than US$ 80 million for charity. What torment, then, drove him to conclude that life was not worth living?
One can only speculate on how Robin Williams spent his last hours. In these words of Arjuna, I glimpse the anguish of a man who struggled with his demons.
I found myself wishing that Robin Williams had met his own Kṛṣṇa who could have inspired him in many different ways:
1. न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि - na tva.n shochitumarhasi, "do not grieve!" (2-27, 30)
2. त्यक्त्वोतिष्ठ - "Stand up" O Arjuna, and face whatever life brings! (2-3)
3. न तस्य विनााशः विद्यते - na tasya vinaashaH vidyate, "there is no destruction for him" (6-40)
On the one hand, it is true that even to understand and respond to Srī Kṛṣṇa's message, one needs a certain sense of mental self-possession. Yet, the takeaway for me is I must absorb, internalize and make this teaching my own, to overcome and avoid the existential sorrows that life may bring.
Arjuna was fortunate that Śrī Kṛṣṇa was at hand on the battlefield to help him overcome this crisis of confidence. I do not have to wait for that crisis. I need to find my Kṛṣṇa today.
Today is Krishna Janmashtami where we celebrate the birth of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. What better day to start the search?
Dear Robin - Find peace in in your new life, my friend! In 6-40, Sri Ksna categorically states: "Neither in this world, nor in the next world is there destruction for him. No one who strives to be good, my son, ever comes to grief." Go deeper and find your own challenge, again!
RIP, Robin! You will be missed!
Hari Om and Namaskaar until the next post
Geeta source for the verses referenced above:
न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च |
किं नो राज्येन गोविन्द किं भोगैर्जीवितेन वा ||१-३२||
na kāṅkṣe vijayaṃ kṛṣṇa na ca rājyaṃ sukhāni ca .
kiṃ no rājyena govinda kiṃ bhogairjīvitena vā ..1-32..
For, I desire not victory, O Kṛṣṇa, nor kingdom, nor pleasures. Of what avail is dominion to us, O Govinda? Of what avail are pleasures or even life itself? 1-32
येषामर्थे काङ्क्षितं नो राज्यं भोगाः सुखानि च |
त इमेऽवस्थिता युद्धे प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा धनानि च ||१-३३||
yeṣāmarthe kāṅkṣitaṃ no rājyaṃ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca .
ta ime.avasthitā yuddhe prāṇāṃstyaktvā dhanāni ca ..1-33..
They for whose sake we desire kingdom, enjoyment and pleasures stand here in battle, having renounced life and wealth. 1-33
पार्थ नैवेह नामुत्र विनाशस्तस्य विद्यते |
न हि कल्याणकृत्कश्चिद् दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति ||६-४०||
pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśastasya vidyate .
na hi kalyāṇakṛtkaścid durgatiṃ tāta gacchati ..6-40..
The Blessed Lord said:
O Partha, neither in this world, nor in the next world is there destruction for him; none, verily, who strives to be good, O My son, ever comes to grief.