“This Gitopanishad, Bhagavad-gita, the essence of all the Upanishads, is just like a cow, and Lord Krishna, who is famous as a cowherd boy, is milking this cow. Arjuna is just like a calf, and learned scholars and pure devotees are to drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gita.” (Gita-mahatmya, 6)
The greatest Vaishnava has his own tribute of the great work. Many sections of Vedic literature pass along a conversation between Lord Shiva and his beautiful, fair-complexioned, and chaste wife Parvati, daughter of the mountain king.
Their discussions are ideal in so many ways. The role of the husband is to protect. The greatest danger subsequent to taking birth is death. Upon reaching the end of life, another birth is imminent. A guardian who can prevent this near-guaranteed fate for their dependents has met their responsibilities.
As a most elevated being devoted to the personal God, Lord Shiva takes great pleasure in discussing Vishnu and His many avataras. Parvati takes delight in hearing these topics from her husband. One such discussion was about the Bhagavad-gita, a work dear to so many.
1. The Song of God
This is one literal translation. Gita means “song” and Bhagavad refers to Bhagavan, which is a more descriptive term for the Almighty than “God.” Bhagavan refers to the person who possesses all fortunes. They are present simultaneously and to the fullest degree.
The Bhagavad-gita is sung by Bhagavan to the dear friend named Arjuna. Bhagavan in this instance is in the transcendental form of Krishna. Not everyone properly recognized. Not everyone acknowledges even after being told.
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.11)
The song doesn’t take long to sing, but the words are so powerful. A person who can remember a few shlokas, or verses, can hold on to them as a sort of lifeboat that takes them safely across the ocean of suffering.
The Bhagavad-gita is sung by Bhagavan, but it is not merely an exercise in vocal vibrations. Though Krishna is the most artistic person, there is real substance to the words found in the beautiful song. There are questions and answers, making the song like a conversation.
Vedic literature includes the Puranas, the original Veda, the Ramayana, and other such works. It includes the Upanishads as well, so the Gitopanishad name characterizes the Bhagavad-gita as containing the essence of all Vedic literature.
Though generally considered the introductory work when learning the science of self-realization, the Bhagavad-gita has complete knowledge. Nothing more is required. The topics of the supreme controller, the living entities, time, fruitive activity, and the material nature are covered. Because God is speaking directly there are no deficiencies.
3. A cow
The Gita-mahatmya compares Bhagavad-gita to a cow, and Krishna is the person milking it. Arjuna, the worthy disciple, drinks the resultant milk like a calf. This is because he is closely associated with Krishna.
As with a normal cow, there is plenty of milk left over. Others can enjoy, too. In this case scholars and pure devotees enjoy the milk, which is nectar-like. This comparison is very nice since one of the properties of Bhagavan is that He is inexhaustible. The nectar never runs out. The Bhagavad-gita is this way because while a single reading does so much good, there is nothing lost the second or third time around. In fact, a person can spend an entire lifetime reading the work repeatedly and experience increasing pleasure. This is the meaning to transcendental; that which is beyond the limiting factors of a material existence.
As song of God is known,
Wisdom to disciple shown.
Gitopanishad since coming in line,
All relevant truths within to find.
Also like Krishna a cow milking,
Calf-like Arjuna then drinking.
Nectar still plenty to go around,
This way on Gita to expound.
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