Blessed is whoever approaches the Bhagavad Gita with sacred reverence, an open mind and an open heart.
It might mean the starting of a new life.
How to summarize the profound Song of God? It has been solace even for non-Hindus who have found in those pages the Divine imprint through the words of wisdom of this sacred scripture. It is said that the whole wisdom of the Vedas is comprised in 701 Slokas only in the 18 Chapters of the Gita. It contains a variety of teachings, from detachment to the various yogas, karma, reincarnation, Brahman… And it has many layers of understanding, as all the hindu sasthras. It is a part of the Mahabharata, from the Puranas or Old Scriptures, and it starts when the warrior Arjuna is in the battlefield hesitant about participating in a war against the adharmic forces that for the pain of his heart are embodied in many of his loved ones: his own Guru, his cousins, etc. The Bhagavad Gita is NOT encouraging war, as some biased western scholars have interpreted. What it counsels is the compliance with Dharma no matter how difficult the situation is. Bhagavan in the form of Shri Krishna then teaches Arjuna how to overcome the own fears and doubts and how to abide by the Dharma. Bhagavan is setting Dharma through making Arjuna understand the truth of the situation he is facing: the war is already waged, the enemies are already dead, because whatever is bound to happen, it will happen. Arjuna only needs to accept his role in the battle, because in any case, it is also bound that he will finally understand, accept, and do his dharma.
Here we learn that the atman never kills and never dies. And the atman is the One and Only in all, the One who takes the role of each and everyone in both sides of the war, as well as in the whole Universe and its multiple different APPARENT forms. Because atman is Brahman. And EVERYTHING IS Brahman.
One has to see the precedent situation till this moment comes, where for years the adharmic forces in the form of greed, lust, abuse, injustices, etc have got to install in the kingdom. If the war was evitable, Lord Krishna Himself said it would have been avoided. But we are in front of a turning point in which either war was waged, or total destruction would come to the kingdom.
We all live throughout our life with both dharmic and adharmic tendencies inside of us. The inside is a reflect of what is called “the outside”, the world, the Universe. We need to permit Krishna inside of us to take the command of the horses, no matter what, like in the kurukshetra, and lead us to a Dharmic life towards the Divine.
ONE OF THE POSSIBLE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE GITA
There are infinite things to reflect about in the Bhagavad Gita, It gives us the possibility to approach to it by different slopes to reach the top of the mountain of knowledge. It is so nuanced that can be understood as both a purely dvaitic scripture in which Lord Krishna stands as the Ultimate Divine, or the summum and summary of the advaitic scriptures in which He clearly states that He is Brahman, the Ultimate.
I arrived at this following conclusion and not sure whether I was making a blunder in my understanding, I consulted an Acharya, and he told me to my surprise that this was one of the traditional interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita, the advaitic (non-dual) one.
So I proceed to share with you my thought process in the joy of this path that allows us Sanatan Dharmis to happily disagree with each other, while respecting each other´s views, as long as they comply with the shastras . In fact, I don´t regard this thought process as my “own”, but as if I was guided.
I would like to touch a question on which I have been reflecting for long. Two ideas found in the Gita: “in whatever Form you worship Me, it will reach Me”. This has been used for long for some staunch vaishnavas to prove the superiority of Shri Krishna “over any other Form”. I listened in the past things like “Shiva is a ´demigod`(half god in western mythology), it is clear by the words of Krishna”, they say.
Well, I would say, I don´t need to cite from any shivaite scriptures the superiority of Shiva. It would be childish, though I know this conflict between vaishnavism and shaivism has been there for long. It is simply that Shiva came to me Himself and He is my Ishta Devata, but I bow in front of both of them and of all the Forms as the representation of the Unique Ultimate Truth. And I feel that the “no superiority (nor inferiority)” of Bhagavan Krishna is proved in Gita itself.(daring?) How?
There is another statement in the Gita in which Shri Krishna says “I am Brahman” . Obviously, if we stop ONLY in this statement, it is clear that Krishna is Brahman. But there are other possible interpretations if we relate simply these two slokhas of the Gita. Let´s see:
“in whatever Form you worship Me, it will reach Me” + “I am Brahman” = “Me” is “Brahman”.
If “Me” is “Brahman”, and in whatever Form you worship Me (Brahman) it will reach Me (Brahman) , is it not clear enough that in whatever Form we worship Brahman it will reach Brahman?? It can be infered here that all Forms that the Ultimate Brahman takes as Devatas are equally important. Moreover…..after the dissolution of the Universe in each kalpa, only formless and attributeless Brahman will remain.
I remember reading about my revered Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa walking up and down the corridor, Walking towards one direction he was seen as Shiva and coming back he was seen as Kali by an astounded Mathur Babu….I remember reading about my revered Shri Ramakrishna awakening one lost Mathur Babu stubborn in worshipping only Shri Krishna and not bowing down in front of Kali. With Ramakrishna´s gentle touch he could see Krishna in Divine´s Mother murti.
So the two apparently diametrically opposed interpretations, the advaitic and the dvaitic approaches of the Gita, respectively followed by Vaishnavites and Advaitins can be equally admitted as valid understandings of the Gita: depending on what slope of the mountain one is, one will describe differently the top of the mountain, and that is what we shall ultimately reach. In this case:
– for dualistic Vaishnavites, they will find Shri Krishna at the top of the mountain and for them Moksha will be to melt with Him without fully loosing the individual identity, remaining that duality of devotee-object of the devotion
– for advaintins, non-dualistic, they will find the formless eternal Brahman at the top of the mountain and for them Moksha will be to fully become One with that Divine, or rather, acknowledge and experience what we already are: that Divine.
In Sanathan Dharma it is said that what you wish and what you think about, you will get. This truth has been acknowledged in the Vedas much earlier than in the West they came up with books and movies like “The Secret” or the “Law of Attraction”. But these books and movies lack the profoundity of this truth by restricting this natural power we all have to the deceitful materialistic realm of material achievements and temporary relationships.
Therefore, to command our life, we better keep a control over our own thoughts and desires:
– thoughts that most occupy our mind will decide our future, till the extent that it is recommended to keep remembering the name of Bhagavan constantly. Doing japa or repetition of the Divine Name of our preference has multiple benefits, like focusing our mind more on Him, purifying our mental pattern, creating a shield of protection especially if the Name has been got through diksha or initiation given by the Guru, etc. The Name of Bhagavan IS Bhagavan Himself. And the most definitive benefit is that our most repeated thought all along our life will most likely be our last thought before death, and will lead us to die in the highest spiritual stage possible.
– desires are the responsible agent of our next birth: whatever we desire, will give form to the circumstances of our next birth. And eventually, whatever we wish and focus as our ultimate destiny in Moksha, that will happen, when our moment for Moksha is due with the grace of Bhagavan and after the exhaustion of our karmas: be it remaining with our Istha Devata, or be it realising the oneness with Brahman.
The study and the understanding of the Bhagavad Gita is a lifelong journey itself. Or rather many lives journey. It guides both for practical matters in life as well as for philosophical spiritual questions. All doubts can be clarified through its study, if possible guided by a Guru. I am convinced that when one gets to understand it fully, enlightenment will be near!. But of course, intellectual understanding is only the first step; the final will be the REALIZATION of the Ultimate Truth with the grace of Bhagavan.
Om Namah Shivaya
Jai Shri Krishna!