“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent there is no endurance, and of the existent there is no cessation. This seers have concluded by studying the nature of both.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.16)
नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः ।
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः ॥
nāsato vidyate bhāvo
nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ
“I don’t like to be one of those people who automatically dismisses information based on a particular characteristic. For instance, that television news anchor may be well-known for their fake stories, their inherent biases, and their aversion to the truth, but if they happen to inform me of an emergency, I cannot ignore their warnings without giving it some thought.
“Through the years there have been these movements calling for rejection of anything older than a certain date. You see, that was the past. This is the now. We have moved on from that antiquated way of living.
“Which brings me to Bhagavad-gita. It is about as ancient as you can get. They try to put the date of origin as five thousand years ago, give or take. I read somewhere that there is mention within Mahabharata of a certain constellation that rarely appears. Calculating through the past of when that would possibly take place provides some assurance as to the authenticity of the historical narrative provided.
“How has something so old stayed so relevant? Any honest person reading the work would have to have their mind opened. The more sober you are, the greater the awareness of the applicability to the present time period. How is it possible to write something down which people can consult thousands of years into the future?”
1. Because it was already old at the time spoken to Arjuna
It should be understood that Bhagavad-gita, as it is known today, was not something new. It did not spontaneously occur. The information did not flow from Shri Krishna due to a moment of Divine inspiration. It was not like the knowledge had never been shared before.
इमं राजर्षयो विदुः
स कालेनेह महता
योगो नष्टः परन्तप
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)
Saintly kings had heard the message in the past. There was the original iteration, so to speak, of Krishna instructing the sun-god. That started what is known as the disciplic succession. It is no different than someone born recently following traditions within the family.
Those traditions could have been started centuries ago. They were passed down through the generations. In the same way, Bhagavad-gita was already ancient, according to human understanding, by the time Arjuna arrived at the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
2. Because everyone faces doubts
Arjuna arrived with doubts. He was unsure over how to proceed. His choices would have a significant impact. War is serious for this reason. You are playing for keeps. You are killing people and breaking things; at least if you want to be successful.
Everyone can relate to Arjuna. We all face doubts. We are uncertain on what to do, especially with big decisions. Should I marry this person or not? Should I take that new job and move across the country? Should I continue to support the local politician, who is known for cheating and accepting bribes?
In an objective analysis, Arjuna’s case was most puzzling. He was afraid to shoot non-strangers. Friends and family fighting for the other side. The cause was just, but was it worth bloodshed to right the wrong? Was the price to pay for justice too high?
3. Because it is a science
The knowledge shared with Arjuna was the foundational principles of sanatana-dharma, which can accurately be described as a science. There are different rules and properties. There are cause-and-effect reactions. There is observation, without the requirement of experiment.
For instance, Krishna explains how the living entity is a spirit soul. This is their identity. Krishna did not say that only Hindus believe the individual is soul. He did not say that according to a specific religion the living entity remains the same, while the body changes on the outside.
देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
Such truths that make up the spiritual science will always be relevant. There is always applicability. A person living on earth in one thousand years will be just as much spirit soul on the inside. The truth of the changing body will not change.
4. Anything without substance will not last
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that anything without substance will not last. This applies to material life itself. Since there is no soul inside, it is essentially without substance. There is no endurance to the nonexistent.
The situations within material life are like scenes within a dream. As soon as we wake up, the dream is over. We cannot go back to where we were. The same applies in the experience that we go through when we are awake.
We cannot retrieve the childhood form. We cannot enter again our mother’s womb. Eventually, we will not be allowed to stay where we are. Not for one second longer.
5. Because Krishna is forever relevant
Bhagavad-gita is synonymous with Krishna consciousness. This has substance. This directly correlates with the existent. With the existent there is no cessation. This means that Bhagavad-gita, being an extension of Krishna, is forever relevant. It will be applicable to people in any time period and in any universe, in the same way that Krishna the person is nava-yauvanam.
Part of Mahabharata tale,
Never dry or stale.
With content fresh and new,
Extension of speaker who.
Arjuna the warrior guided,
Disciple in guru confided.
As if next to Krishna seated,
Maya’s illusion defeated.
Categories: the five