“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)
पवित्रम् इदम् उत्तमम्
सु-सुखं कर्तुम् अव्ययम्
pavitram idam uttamam
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam
Friend1: Shri Krishna is nava-yauvanam.
Friend2: Ever fresh and new. He never gets old. Not even on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where at least one hundred years had passed since He emerged from the womb of Devaki in the prison cell in Mathura.
Friend1: I have never seen a picture where He is depicted as an old man.
Friend2: Because jara, old age, is a defect of the material living condition. It is an unwanted aspect of life following birth. Its effects are unseen but certainly verifiable. As an example, I can’t eat in my forties the way I did in my twenties.
Friend1: Sugary drinks. Late night snacking on pizza.
Friend2: In other words, whatever you want; without discrimination. Stomach problems, skin issues, cholesterol, blood pressure and the like are genuine issues of concern as the body ages.
Friend1: As Krishna is ever fresh and new, so are the books glorifying Him.
Friend2: No doubt about it. The Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, Ramayana and Puranas bring you closer to Him. It’s like reading someone’s diary from thousands of years ago. You can travel straight back in time. And as you read repeatedly, the closeness increases. You will feel like Arjuna and the Pandavas are your friends. Shri Rama and family are looking out for you, and Narada Muni is the coolest person ever.
Friend1: I’ve heard it said that reading the same works repeatedly brings new benefits.
Friend2: Yes. Of course. The amazing thing is that those works can be read again and again. You can’t really do the same with anything else. Take a biography of a famous personality or a work describing a historical incident. You can read those maybe a few times, but spread out over many years.
Friend1: Even that is a stretch. Most of the time we read a book and then put it aside. It becomes part of the library, something for others to consult if they so choose.
Friend2: Yeah, and researchers may take an interest if they are writing a book on the same subject matter.
Friend1: If I read Bhagavad-gita again and again, I will get new meanings? That seems pretty cool.
Friend2: We have to make a distinction here.
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: Between “new” and “additional.”
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: The meanings don’t change. For instance, when Krishna says that the body continues to shift, from boyhood all the way to old age, there is no way to alter the meaning. If you do, you are a cheater.
Friend1: I see. Then what is so great about reading over and over?
Friend2: You get additional meanings.
Friend1: Oh, sorry. I forgot. Please explain further.
Friend2: As a youth reading that verse, there is a specific significance. As I get older, the same verse, which has the same meaning, now has an additional relation to me. I get an additional meaning out of reading it, versus a new one.
Friend1: Because new could mean change. As in the meaning of the verse has changed since the time it was first written.
Friend2: Exactly. New connotes replacing, like when you trade in the old car for a new one. You don’t want to do that here. It is a form of cheating, and so many people are expert at it. Rather than author their own work based on mental speculation, they use the Bhagavad-gita as a foundation. Then they twist the meanings to suit their purpose. It was for this reason that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada boldly and triumphantly added the “As It Is” suffix to his translation of Bhagavad-gita.
Friend1: It really is a shot in the face to everyone else who published prior. He’s basically saying that your translations and commentaries are not authorized.
Friend2: Everyone else had a chance to use the same title, but none of them would because they lacked the authority to do so.
Friend1: I should read these works again and again because I get additional meanings. Alright, so what do I do with those meanings?
Friend2: You gain confidence in the path. It is something like a person becoming a parent for the first time. They have a whole new perspective on children. They now understand the difficulties in supporting a family while working. Responsibilities increase and there is more respect for other people. In the same way, the more a person relates to Bhagavad-gita and other important works of Vedic literature, the more appreciation that person will have for the vishva in general.
Friend1: The entire creation.
Friend2: From the tiny ant to the creator himself, Lord Brahma. This extended vision of appreciation is known as Brahman realization, and it is an important step in escaping ignorance for good. More importantly, there is increased closeness to Bhagavan in the process. That is the real purpose of initiation with the spiritual master. It is coming closer to a representative of God, who can in turn deliver Krishna’s presence in such a way that He never leaves.
When gift of guru to receive,
Getting Krishna to never leave.
Closer to Him to come,
Because of proper study done.
Applicable through lifetime entire,
For boyhood and when to retire.
Just like Bhagavan ever fresh and new,
Brahman-lens Vedic literature through.