“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.68)
ya idaṁ paramaṁ guhyaṁ
bhaktiṁ mayi parāṁ kṛtvā
mām evaiṣyaty asaṁśayaḥ
The foundation of friendship is equality; both sides relate on the same level. The relationship is formed off a shared interest. If you’re playing for the same hockey team, it’s natural to become friends off the ice. If you work for the same company, you immediately share a common interest. The same goes for if you’re studying at the same school.
For analysis purposes let’s take a hypothetical conversation that follows the teacher-student paradigm. For a brief moment, you are no longer equals. You are giving instruction and your friend is listening. This is because they acknowledge your expertise in the particular area of importance. After the fact, you both realize that the dialogue was so meaningful that it should be recorded. It should be put down to paper in order to be consulted later on, sometime in the future.
Let’s say that someone happens to pick up the recorded version of your conversation. They read it and have absolutely no idea what you guys are talking about. Therefore they can only speculate. They’re not even sure it’s a conversation that actually occurred. Is it real or is it fake? They can’t tell. The questions and answers are so profound that they’re leaning more towards the side of fiction. “This must be the creation of a writer,” they think to themselves.
In this case the speculation won’t be helpful. The conversation had a particular tone, and it wasn’t meant to be heard by everyone. The same principle applies to the Bhagavad-gita, which is likely the most famous conversation of all-time. It took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago, and it dealt with the most important subject matter: life and death.
This wasn’t about prolonging life or even preventing death. It wasn’t a conversation revealing the secret to preventing disease through some exercise routine. It wasn’t about merely avoiding class distinctions and being nice to people. No, the Bhagavad-gita is about how to understand the reason for birth and death, and how to live life properly, wherever that life may be found. The fundamental truth contained in the work is the identity of the individual, who is spirit soul.
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
Knowledge of the soul is the starting point. Then comes information on karma, the material nature, and time. There is clarification on a highly misunderstood topic: the supreme controller. One who knows this controller in truth automatically knows the other topics. They have found the way to live through any situation.
That supreme controller is none other than the speaker of the Gita, the teacher. He is Shri Krishna, who is also known as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. Krishna delivered these words to the warrior Arjuna on the battlefield, and it was recorded in book form by Vyasadeva in the Mahabharata. The work was intended for a specific audience, who had an underlying culture of respect for the Supreme Lord and the laws He institutes for the proper governance of man.
At the end of the discussion, Shri Krishna says that one who explains the work to the devoted souls is very dear to Him. The explanation must be proper. An armchair speculation will not suffice. If the intended recipients should be devotees, then we can properly infer that the person explaining must be devoted as well. Monists, atheists, and those envious of Krishna do not qualify under this promise.
The issue may be raised of how to find devotees? If everyone around us is overtaken by the illusory material energy known as maya, how can the Bhagavad-gita be properly explained? There is no reason for concern on this issue, as in this age of Kali the Supreme Lord Himself has provided the way to find devotees. The method is the sankirtana-yajna, instituted by Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Chant the holy names of God in congregation, so that as many people as possible can hear. Through the sound of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, those who are receptive to the message of Divine Love can be found. Then to them explain the wonderful secret that was given to Arjuna.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu set the example, and those coming after Him in His spiritual line honor His example. They find the devotees and then explain the Bhagavad-gita to them. The philosophical discussion is not fit for the envious. For such souls it is better not to even hear the Bhagavad-gita, as the wrong conclusion will be reached. They will think that Krishna is not God or that He never existed in the first place. As the very foundation of the work is rejected by them, how can they derive any benefit?
The open-minded get the proper explanation from the acharya, who has the aforementioned, required culture. The acharya is a representative of Vyasadeva, who put the dialogue down into written form for a specific purpose. That purpose is fulfilled by those who are devoted to Krishna in the same way that Arjuna was. Both remain forever dear to the Supreme Lord.
Giving explanation true and clear,
To Shri Krishna to become most dear.
But only when to the devoted explaining,
Not to atheists who interest feigning.
Bearing this truth in mind,
How the devoted souls to find?
Lord Chaitanya the way for all showing,
Sankirtana for proper recipients knowing.