Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Krishna, The Gita, and Dharma

The Bhagavad-gita is considered by many sages and scholars to be the essence of all Vedic knowledge. It was spoken five thousand years ago by Lord Krishna to the warrior, prince Arjuna.  This  discourse is one of the most profound philosophical literatures in the canon of the world’s religious texts. It takes place  right before a monumental battle.  The whole story is very dramatic and is contained in the epic Mahabharata,  the classic of ancient India. The Mahabharata is eight times longer than the Iliad and Odyssey combined.  It tells about the rulers of those times and, in doing so, describes the qualities of genuine leadership and the importance of understanding Dharma.

Krishna had appeared  on the earth at the request of  Bhumi – Mother Earth – as well as the demi-gods,  in order to save the earth from the demoniac kings who sought to plunder this world.  Krishna had originality taught the principles of Dharma to the sun-god Vivasvan, millions upon millions of years earlier.  Now he had descended to the earth to re-establish those principles in the midst of turmoil.

Bhagavad gita means “The Song of God.”  Therein, Krishna describes to Arjuna  the various paths of yoga, and also the very goal of yoga. He describes karma yoga, jnana yoga, astanga yoga, and bhakti yoga. He describes the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) and their effect upon the living entities. He describes the divine and demoniac natures. Krishna describes the process of renunciation and transcendence. In the Gita, Krishna reveals that He is none other than the Supreme Godhead Himself.     

In one sense Arjuna is the proverbial everyman.  Krishna is offering this teaching to him as well as to all of us.  But why does Krishna specifically offer the teaching to Arjuna?  Because Arjuna is “not envious” and “seeks to be a friend to all living beings.”  In our lives, we also have to strive for this. In that way, we can turn jnana (knowledge)  into vijnana (realized knowledge).

In the end, Krishna tells  Arjuna – “I have given you this confidential knowledge, now reflect on it, and do what you think is best.”   Krishna goes on to expllain that anyone who studies and reflects upon this sacred text of Bhagavad Gita  worships God by the use of their intelligence.

Sankirtana Das (ACBSP) is a sacred storyteller, workshop leader and author of the  award-winning  Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest.  See  -