“The Lord is not directly concerned with the maintenance and sustenance of this material manifestation. Sometimes we see a picture of Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders; he seems to be very tired, holding this great earthly planet. Such an image should not be entertained in connection with Krishna’s upholding this created universe. He says that although everything is resting on Him, still He is aloof.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.5 Purport)
As Bhagavad-gita has been revered, studied, held in high-esteem, pondered, memorized, and recited for thousands of years, there are bound to be various interpretations and teachings stemming from the deep and profound philosophy. Something like the following might be a common explanation:
“It is not Krishna the person that must be worshiped. It is the Krishna inside of all of us. We are part of the one Brahman, the singular spiritual energy. The perfection of living is realization of this position, that we are entirely spiritual and have nothing to do with the body. Krishna is the embodiment of that Brahman, and Arjuna is the symbol of our position as disciple. We must elevate our consciousness to be on the same level of Brahman as Krishna has found.”
Setting aside for the moment that Bhagavad-gita only exists because of the presence of distinct and unique personalities, Krishna and Arjuna, there are specific words and phrases used in the verses that contradict the above conclusion.
The Sanskrit words “mat”, “mama”, and “aham” reference the personal. When I say to someone, “me” or “myself”, there is no ambiguity. The other person knows of whom I speak. They would never mistake my reference to be of a general energy or an identity-less entity.
In one shloka Krishna describes how He is the source of everything. Though He creates everything, that creation is not a part of Him. The meaning is that the byproducts of His work do not define Him. If we were to eliminate the cosmic manifestation, Shri Krishna would not be affected. He would maintain His position as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Under the cheating, speculative interpretation, if there really is no Krishna the person, the burden falls to us. That is to say if I one day achieve Brahman realization, then I would be justified in uttering the same words to another disciple, who would be a prospective Brahman-elevated person.
I would be able to tell them that the creation is due to me and that I am above it. The many universes are my handiwork, but I am not impacted by what goes on. Whether a communist leader rises to power through a stolen election, conducted in cooperation with the opposing party, or if everyone is happy living under a protective and caring ruler makes no difference to me. I am above it all, though I am responsible for the presence and placement of the requisite energies.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is Brahman-elevated but never claims to be God Himself, explains that Shri Krishna does not get tired in sustaining the universe. The juxtaposition is to the image of Atlas. We can certainly relate to that picture, since we carry so many burdens in the journey through life. We are exhausted through taking care of a single child; imagine if we had to hold up the entire universe.
This is precisely why we can never become Bhagavan. There is no equivalence in that sense, though we are intimately related due to the similarity in essence, of our underlying nature as spirit. If God were merely a formless, attribute-less energy, then we would be able to one day sustain the universes. We would have to do so without tiring. No signs of fatigue, and no indications of slipping from the responsibility.
Shri Krishna is the lone person responsible and capable for such an amazing feat. Bhagavad-gita is for connecting with Him, who is a person and not a concept. The proper pursuit aligns with our constitutional position as servant of the Almighty, as we are part and parcel of His amazing spiritual energy. Arjuna was in such a role, and He served through the great conflict known as the Bharata War. Our struggle is with the illusion of maya, which attacks in so many ways, including through bogus philosophies and conclusions presented erroneously in the name of Bhagavad-gita.
Cheaters flowery words to use,
In bogus interpretation to choose.
Where original meaning to lose,
And the population to confuse.
But from Sanskrit words direct,
Presence of personality to detect.
Only God the universes could sustain,
Responsible for everything they contain.