Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 12 – Br. Shankara

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Sri Krishna & ArjunaArjuna is warrior-chief of the Pandava clan, and a disciple of Sri Krishna. Yet, Arjuna and Krishna are also close friends and comrades-at-arms. So, when Krishna tells Arjuna that he taught the truths of Bhagavad Gita to Vivaswat, a very early Hindu deity, Arjuna quite naturally objects, “Vivaswat was born long before you. How am I to believe that you were the first to teach this yoga?”

Krishna’s answer begins His self-revelation: “I am the birthless, the deathless … In every age I come back to deliver the holy, to destroy the sin of the sinner, to establish righteousness …” He goes on to describe His Divine manifestations and attributes, and concludes, “Whatever in this world is powerful, beautiful or glorious, that you may know to have come from a fraction of my power and glory.”

Arjuna believes what he has heard, yet is not fully content. He says, “O Supreme Lord, you are as you describe yourself to be: I do not doubt that. Nevertheless, I long to behold your divine Form.”

Krishna is pleased that his student yearns to go beyond mere hearing; He allows Arjuna to see His Universal Form. Sanjaya, the Gita’s narrator, says, “Suppose a thousand suns should rise together into the sky: such is the glory of the Shape of Infinite God.”

After a time Arjuna pleads, “I have seen what no man ever saw before me: Deep is my delight, but my dread is still greater. Show me now your other Form, O Lord … Show me now the Shape I knew of old …” Sanjaya reports, “The Great-Souled One, assuming once more his mild and pleasing form, brought peace to (Arjuna) in his terror.”

Krishna then reassures Arjuna about what he has seen. Yet, what He says is just ambiguous enough to cause Arjuna to ask this question, which opens Chapter 12: “Some worship you with steadfast love. Others worship God the unmanifest and changeless. Which kind of devotee has the greater understanding of yoga?”

Sri Krishna’s straightforward answer is the subject of this talk.