Who is Krishna of the Bhagavad Gita ?

But who is He, Arjuna’s contemporary explaining these minute details of Yoga, in truth ? He declares, 4. 1 – 2 : This Imperishable Yoga I had declared to Vivasvat (Sun God); Vivasvat taught the same to Manu (the Lawgiver); Manu initiated Ikshvaku (who started the Sun worshipping dynasty) into the same path of Yoga. Thus, this knowledge and discipline was transmitted in succession to the royal sages. This Yoga decayed over time, fell into disuse, and was subsequently forgotten and lost to the world. The declaration itself however configures Arjuna’s awareness, and of everyone who hears or reads the passage, for receptivity in total awe and surrender. Krishna is no more a mere mortal teacher and a contemporary but He is at the very origin of Yoga. He is the Immortal Dispenser of All Knowledge in the worlds.

The later verse asserts even more clearly Krishna’s superiority over the entire pantheon of Vedic Gods, as He explains to bewildered Arjuna, 4. 5 – 6 : Many are the births taken by you and me, O Arjuna. I know them all while you know not. Though I am unborn, imperishable, the One Lord of all beings, I subjugate my Prakriti (Gunas) and incarnate using my own infinite power.

Overall, the Gita says that gunas and karmas, or gods, are no excuse for individuals to wallow in ignorance and misery, display unacceptable behaviour, and commit evil deeds. There are ways to summon the individual power latent in his Atman through practice of Yoga, to empower his mind and keep his discriminating faculty sharp, and gain control over his unruly senses. That, it can be done : we can strengthen our moral values, cultivate noble virtues, sound reasoning, clear insight, good judgement, and remember lessons through our experience.

3. 7 : He excels, Arjuna, who, restraining the Senses by the Mind, unattached to wealth, power and heaven, willfully directs his organs of action to the path of selfless work.

And then, to the knower of the Self, the Lord declares, the Vedic rites are entirely redundant, 3. 17 – 19 : But the man who rejoices in Atman, is satisfied with Atman, and is centered in Atman, for him verily there is no obligatory rite to be performed. For him, there are no objects to be acquired by performing a sacrificial act nor is there any loss by not performing the act; nor has he to depend on anybody (gods or priests) for anything he may want or desire in truth. Therefore, Arjuna, constantly perform your obligatory duty without attachment (to fruits), for by doing so a man verily obtains the Supreme (Brahman).

Rely on yourself, that is the Gita’s message to man, 3. 42 : The Senses are said to be superior to the body and sense objects; the Mind is superior to the Senses; the Intellect is superior to the Mind; and what is superior to the Intellect is He (Atman).

And, 3. 37 – 40 : It is Kama (lust for sense objects), it is Krodha (jealous rage) begotten by the Rajas Guna; this all consuming, all sinful Kama is the foe here on earth. As smoke envelops fire, as dust covers mirror, as womb surrounds an embryo, so is this (Knowledge of Atman) covered by that. Knowledge (of Atman) is covered, O son of Kunti, by this insatiable fire of desire, the constant foe of the wise. The Senses, the Mind and the Intellect are said to be its seat; by these it deludes man by veiling his Knowledge (of Atman).

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