Were Sree Rama and Sree Krishna Prophets?
Divine revelation is acquired by the great sages through years of meditation. Can't it happen today also?
Divine revelation cannot be acquired through senses or meditation. It is acquired neither by desire nor by efforts. It is a very subtle phenomenon and lies beyond any material analysis. The knowledge one gets through dream is neither acquired knowledge nor knowledge as per ones will. However the knowledge through dream may be right or wrong. Though divine revelation can be compared to it, the revelations to the prophets can never be wrong. It is free of all infallibilities.
Prophethood is the gift of God. He chooses whom He likes as His messengers. He appoints them for the guidance of humanity. Here man's desires or efforts have no role. Allah says ''And thou hadst not expected that the Book would be sent to thee except as a mercy from thy Lord: Therefore lend not them support in any way to those who reject (God's Message) (28:86)
"Such is the Bounty of God, which He bestows on whom He will" (62:4)
The prophet had no prior knowledge of revelation or the Book as revealed in the Quran. "And thus have we, by our command, sent Inspiration to thee: thou knewest not (before) what was revelation, and what was Faith; but we have made the (Qura'n) a light, wherewith we guide such of our servants as we will; and verily thous doest guide (men) to the straight way'' (42:52).
Then why did Prophet Muhammad, before the prophethood, stay lonely in the cave Hira?
The person who is to receive divine revelation must be worthy of it, and ready for it in all ways. Like all other prophets, Prophet Muhammad too had been brought up in such a way that will make him worthy of receiving the divine message. He was also blessed with the essential qualities for the divine message. So prophet Muhammad grew up as one who was totally free from all bad habits, sins and he was a man of supreme virtues. His life was free of blames, that he came to be called the trustworthy. By the age of forty, responding to the divine instinct, he abandoned the vicious social atmosphere and stayed lonely in the Hira. By this lonely stay he was acquiring the human perfection which was necessary for prophethood. In other words God was preparing the person to be appointed as his last messenger, so as to make him worthy and suitable in every way. The meditative life of the prophet in the Hira was only part of this preparation.
How do we know whether one is a messenger of God or not?
The messenger of God will have a distinct individuality, which can be recognised by every truthful individual of the society. His life is pure. He never lies or does anything contrary to truth. He is pure in his nature, who never utters a dirty word or does any evil deed. He not only exhorts others of truth, justice and good deeds, but also practices them in his own life. No single instance can be seen where his words contradicted his deeds. He always resorts to methods which are ever straight, transparent, pure, dignified and above suspicious. He is completely free of all self interests. He will not harm others by words or deeds. He will not rob others rights. He is the best model for all times in virtues like truthfulness, sacrifice, noble thoughts, and observance of good. However hard one tries, imperfections cannot be noticed in the life of God's messenger.
A poet is understood through his poems, and an artist through the illustrations. Similarly a prophet is understood through his revelations from God. Things easily occur to the minds of God's messenger, which others cannot even imagine. Later people realize the truths of his words, and in this way all messengers of God are recognised by the good ones in the society.
Sree Rama and Sree Krishna
Based on the above criteria and according to the Islamic view, were Sree Rama and Sree Krishna prophets?
Islam has clearly said that there was no community or people to whom a prophet had not been appointed. Allah says ''For we assuredly sent among every people an apostle'' (16:36)
''Verily we have sent thee in truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and as a warner: And there never were a people, without a warner having lived among them (in the past)'' (35:24)
There is no doubt that in India, with a history of thousands of years, prophets have been appeared and divine messages were revealed. However no authentic documents are available to inform us as who were these prophets? And where were they appointed? And at what time? We have some legends, myths and unbelievably exaggerated descriptions about some great souls of the past, existing in the country. These legends and myths are so complicated that it is impossible to distinguish truth from falsehood; the legends about Sree Rama, Sree Krishna and Sree Budha are no exceptions. Many things said about these souls are not likely to be true. So with the existing impressions it cannot be said with conviction whether they were prophets or not. At the same time they may be prophets, and one cannot categorically reject this thought. It will be a big achievement if we could distinguish the real history of the great souls of the past, from the myths and legends which were made by their followers and opponents alike. If the true life of these great souls are revealed through impartial studies and research, and if it is convinced that they were really prophets, all, and especially the Muslims in India, will feel very happy. Such a study and research is very much desirable.