Five Ways To Summarize Bhagavad-gita

[Arjuna and Krishna]“Man’s knowledge should be developed to explore the technology which deals with the difference between a living man and a dead man, a living body and a dead body. That spiritual knowledge was taught by Krishna in the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. Arjuna was talking to Krishna as a friend. Of course, whatever he was saying was right, but it was right only to a certain point. Beyond that point there are other subject matters of knowledge, which are called adhokshaja because our direct perception of material knowledge fails to approach them.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Reservoir of Pleasure)

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1. A friend in need

Arjuna needs help. He has doubts. He is at a crossroads. The choices are not tied to a trivial matter. There is more at stake than what kind of house to purchase, what kind of company to work for, or in which city to live.

Arjuna can see the future, at least in the immediate aftermath to action. He is worried what will happen with succession, with future generations. He is not ready for the chain reaction to commence, to be directly responsible for the decline of society.

उत्सन्न-कुल-धर्माणां
मनुष्याणां जनार्दन
नरके नियतं वासो
भवतीत्य् अनुशुश्रुम

utsanna-kula-dharmāṇāṁ
manuṣyāṇāṁ janārdana
narake niyataṁ vāso
bhavatīty anuśuśruma

“O Krishna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 1.43)

Arjuna is terribly unsure of himself. He cannot decipher right from wrong. The path of righteousness is well lit, but there are negatives attached. The path of unrighteousness should be avoided, but is that actually clear? Might there be positives to the perceived inaction of abandoning the battlefield?

2. A friend indeed

For a moment consider the great fortune of Arjuna. At the time of his greatest need, when he really needed guidance, he had someone close by to offer it. Arjuna did not have to flip through a rolodex, desperate to find anyone who would answer the phone.

He did not have to post a question on an online forum, where the various answers would get voted on by the community at large. Arjuna did not have to write down his questions, in order that they be preserved for a future time, when that proper guide would finally arrive.

Shri Krishna was a friend indeed. He was there at the time of greatest need for Arjuna. Krishna did not hang up on the caller, so to speak. He did not move on to something else. Krishna did not think that Arjuna’s issues were trivial or that they were mere childish ramblings.

[Arjuna and Krishna]Even if he thought as such, Krishna still played the role. He remained friendly. He later explained that this friendship is available to everyone, throughout the course of time. Anyone can take advantage. Anyone can find that friend indeed during the time of their greatest need.

समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्

samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

3. Justice delivered

Duryodhana and clan almost got away with it. They stole land. They tortured the rightful owners of the property. They tried their best to remove any opposition. Like the modern-day hostile takeover of a nation, where the group running a coup makes sure to eliminate the other political parties as soon as they assume office, Duryodhana was close to having something like a dictatorship.

Arjuna and his brothers were set to deliver justice, but it is difficult to proceed when the leading fighter is hesitant. The friend in need had a friend indeed, and so everything went back on track, eventually. Because Shri Krishna was there, justice would be delivered.

4. First learning how something works

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the spiritual science is learning how the universe works, along with the component pieces. This is in the context of discussing general science, wherein observation of nature takes place.

[Prabhupada]Within formal education, a student might learn how plants grow. They take a seed and put it in some soil. They offer water periodically, and they try their best to expose to sunlight. There is a gradual transformation, from the seed to the mature plant.

Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna includes knowledge of how the universe works. Everything in between, also. From the highest to the lowest. From the largest to the smallest. From the beginning to the end, and also the middle.

आ-ब्रह्म-भुवनाल् लोकाः
पुनर् आवर्तिनो ऽर्जुन
माम् उपेत्य तु कौन्तेय
पुनर् जन्म न विद्यते

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ
punar āvartino ‘rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

5. The song of God

This is one way to translate the Sanskrit title. The song has a lead singer. There is another participant, providing the appropriate responses. Shri Krishna happens to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is why many of the shlokas in Bhagavad-gita begin with the words shri bhagavan uvacha.

The animating spark within the temporarily manifest bodies is how everything works, so to speak. The bodies are part of the material energy known as prakriti. The work that takes place within this combination is known as karma, which is also known as the sequence of action and reaction.

The reactions manifest through the shifts in prakriti, which take place due to time. There is one controller overseeing all of this. Known as Ishvara, this is one window into the spiritual science, into understanding the Almighty.

In this way, a single work of the Sanskrit language has universal applicability, endless relevance, and profound wisdom. The position of Bhagavad-gita is supreme in all time periods, in all ages, and in all areas of influence. This is due to the nature of Krishna Himself.

In Closing:

For a friend in need,
There a friend indeed.

When lost in hesitation,
Guided to destination.

When knowledge to require,
Sacred conversation to transpire.

Bhagavad-gita for all of time,
Relevance in wisdom to find.



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2 replies

  1. Radhe Radhe ❣️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❣️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare
    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

  2. These posts are well written and reflect comprehensive understanding of our teachings. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and thankful for the love and time to teach us🕉🕉🕉

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