Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Krishna delivered Bhagavad Gita to Arjun not to someone else?


Why Arjun? Why not Yudhisthir or Bhim or Karna or anyone else, there were so many brilliant characters in Mahabharat so why Krishna chose Arjun for delivering one of the important scriptures in human history. I used to get this question in my mind many times while reading about Bhagvad Gita. People believe that because Arjun was like his discipline and he favored or liked him among all pandavas that’s why Krishna delivered Gita to him. I think both of them were very good friends with mutual respect and admiration for each other and it’s not because of their relationship but particular situation during that battle which resulted delivery of Gita to Arjun. Significance of this message is great largely due to that situation.

First thing we should understand that Arjun was very celebrated warrior at that stage, neither war was a new event for him nor killing his enemies, he did that numerous occasions before. After seeing all his loved ones as opponents on the battle field he became weak and got confused. He got in real dilemma on the day of battle and started thinking why is he fighting? Is it worth killing his own relatives for a piece of land? What is he going to achieve after all this? Even if they win the war is that victory worth after so many deaths and destruction? These were all very genuine and relevant questions. Arjun was warrior and his duty was to fight because of his confusion so many doubts and concerns originated in his mind and he started deviating from his true nature. That’s why I think Gita is delivered for people who are searching for answers and Arjun was such a person on that day. We all are like Arjun at some stage of our life. Gita is not for people who are not looking for the answers or who already have their answers. Other characters of Mahabharat standing on that battlefield have already decided their stand. They had their reasons to be there and very well convinced why and for whom and why they were fighting that war, so there was no point in giving them any advise because they didn’t need it and were already on their selected path. Krishna’s advice to them would have fallen on deaf ears. They were pretty convinced about their path and principles that’s why he didn’t try to advice them like he did to Arjun.

We all face similar situations like Arjun in our life, it presents us with situations where it’s tough to choose, where it’s difficult to understand which way to go? What is right and what is wrong (its called dharmasankat)? That’s why it’s been delivered to Arjun and no one else and I think he was the only person who had capability to understand it and grasp it because his doubts were genuine and questions were honest. As I said before its not for people who already have their answers, and believe me there are many people like that, on Kurukshetra battlefield itself except Arjun everybody had their answers with them.

If Gita was supposed to be the guide to teach how to live life then Krishna would have delivered it to Arjun or to whole society well before the battle so that Arjun won’t be in any confusion during the battle, why did he wait till that day to deliver it? According to me Gita makes more sense to you if you are looking for some answers, unless you have any questions Gita won’t appeal to you and would sound like some heavy dose of preaching or any other book. It’s significance increases drastically if you are in dilemma and facing very difficult situation at any stage of life like Arjun. Arjun is not just a person here it’s a stage of mind; it’s a symbol of a person who is really confused at very important juncture of his life, in serious dilemma. It can be me, you or anyone else; we all are Arjun if we are in that stage.

Mahabharat is an amazing story which you can read at any stage of your life and will find something new every time you read it (depending on what stage of life you are reading), but Gita is not like that you have to be seeking answers to understand it that’s why I think normally it’s studied or read separately. We need to find our Krishna to get our Gita and it can come in any form like any book, person or any source from where you get your Gita delivered to you. All these great religious scriptures (For example Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Quran and many others) were delivered for people who are seeking answers, who needed some guidelines, you can find answers for many or all of your questions in them. Arjun can be a single person or entire society and if you have not found your answers yet then keep on searching your Gita may come in any form so be prepared to recognize it and grasp it and use it as your inspiration and guide.
Thanks for reading and please share your comments.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

12 comments:

  1. Good post Vinay.. You got a new member to your blog...

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  2. I was a bit skeptical while reading this post regarding which way you are heading, but the real discussion started only after it was through mahabharat story you mentioned. You have put it in such a nice way that i am wondering why you started writing so late, but nways, glad its late than never.

    Coming back to discussion, you have put it in so nice way that why religion is loosing its ground. Most of the people who call them selves religious never really started trying to find an answer because according to them proving their superiority and feeling happy about it is single most goal of their life, and on their way they start criticizing every thing which hinders their way. Very glad to have read this post as it clarifies why everything written must be respected because one might find answers to different questions in their life from different means and no amount of books are enough when one starts his or her journey. All books should be made available for everyones reading and they should be stopped from being associated with religion because the single most important thing in man's life is finding answers to his or her questions and all other things are secondary.

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  3. nice comment vishnu uncle... and books r awesome

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  4. Interesting thought about The Bhagvat Gita. Another analogy that I came across was like this.
    Gita has four characters: 1) The God himself 2) Arjuna (The dearest friend of god), Sanjaya (person with a devine vision at least during the period of gita), Dhrutarashtra (Blind king who depends on sanjaya to listen to gita). Only person of arjuna's caliber can receive it directly from god. If one has divine vision he can envision the core and importance of the message. Such person usually ends up delivering it to a blind king (most of the ordinary people), who can read the gita but may not understand its meaning to the deepest level and always need a mentor.

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    1. btw, there was a 5th person (hanuman sitting on the Chariot flag). Yes, what is heard (or appreciated) by each of the 4 is different based on what they were looking to get (or questions they had). The was we say, beauty is in beholders eyes, what eyes capture from an art is what they are looking for..

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    2. actually that is what we all do with all scriptures....some people use them to spread terror and kill innocents, some use them to suppress women or some class of society, some use them to do great social work, some dont need any of these scriptures to live life as nice person...so it all depends on person how they want to perceive and what they want to do...thanks for such a nice discussion, I really appreciate it.

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  5. Why Krishna delivered Bhagavad Gita to Arjun not to someone else? Great question!

    Interestingly, Krishna Himself answers this question in Bhagvad Gita:

    sa evāyaḿ mayā te 'dya
    yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ
    bhakto 'si me sakhā ceti
    rahasyaḿ hy etad uttamam (BG 4.3)

    "That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend and can therefore understand the transcendental mystery of this science"

    There are 2 things, which I would like to highlight about this verse.
    1. It tells us, what Gita essentially is - it is not just a reply to a question (or a set of questions) but "very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme" and a "transcendental mystery". Transcendental - because the subject matter deals with material nature (stuff within the reach of our comprehension) but also beyond it. Mystery- because it is unknown to most of the humanity.

    In my understanding, this is the case with all the scriptures - they are all a 'transcendental mystery' and they all talk of the "science of the relationship with the Supreme". The word 'supreme' suggests 'someone to whom no one is superior' (or one of its kind) and hence it may be concluded that all scriptures talk about the same subject matter. Method of delivery may vary according to the deliverer, the audience, time, place and circumstances.

    2. It tells us the eligibility to receive such knowledge: ".....because you are My devotee as well as My friend and can therefore understand....". Devotee word here indicates the transcendental nature of Krishna and friend word indicates that Arjuna had faith on Krishna. Hence there are 2 conditions to be eligible to understand this science:
    a) one must be a devotee of Krishna (CLARIFICATION: Krishna is one name of GOD, some may call him Allah, some Jehovah, Bhagwaan, God etc). This science would remain a mystery for atheists. When athiests try to understand the subject matter, the transcendental portion of knowledge is convoluted in some material idea. This is quite natural. I remember learning about the Newton's 3 laws of motion when I was in 9th standard. I did not understand those then but I crammed the equations for the sake of clearing the exam. However, they made so much sense when I read them again in 12th standard and mechanics is still one of my favorite subject. Had I thought that Newton and mechanics is all mythology, I would have never understood it. Hence, even artificially, one should start by believing that there is 'GOD' and with a mood of Devotion to him. Only then one could appreciate the 'transcendental' nature of this science.
    2nd qualification is to have faith on the message (on the scripture and the deliverer). Many people only partially trust the scriptures. There is a very natural and valid rationale behind the understanding that scriptures may have been edited by people in their own self interests. But the central idea discussed in the scriptures is 'transcendental, i.e. - relationship between us and God' and not material. Hence sections focusing on material dealings (vast portions of the 4 Vedas) may have been fiddled around for some material gains but it is impossible to change or alter the transcendental science (such as the Gita) by a materially motivated person. Also, doing so would not entail any material gains. Moreover, the central idea has been repeated and reinforced so many times across all the scriptures (someone who has read multiple scriptures such as Gita, Quran, Bible etc would be able to appreciate) that it is impossible to make changes in all the places.

    Hence, being a devotee of Krishna (God) (to begin with - even artificially) and having firm faith on the message delivered in Gita are the only qualifications to receive this knowledge. Since, Arjuna had these qualifications, Krishna delivered this knowledge to him.

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    1. Your analysis is very interesting Ankur, but I think just because he was devotee and friend shouldn't make Arjun eligible to receive this message. There were many on that battlefield who were Krishna's devotee, friend but they were not confused. I think main reason Arjun received this message was his confusion and genuine questions. If you read different commentaries on Gita, you can see how different people interpreted it differently based on their needs and mentality.
      If we dont understand anything then it might sound mystery to us but even after understanding and analyzing we have questions then I think they are worth pursuing. I think everyone in this world is materially motivated person some accept it some don't, they try to give different name to it but ultimate aim is to satisfy your mind.
      Good thoughts, keep them sharing.

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    2. OM. with due respects and greetings to the readers, here are my thoughts on the topic. Someone just brought my attention to the blog very recently, though very late, I thought share my ideas on the topic. Pardon me if I am late.

      Let me start with a thank you note to Vinay for starting the blog. Thoughts of this sort mature over discussions, appreciate giving us a forum for open discussion.

      Agree with Ankur that these conversation have to account for concepts what Ankur is calling transcendental science. Here are a few more of such meta concepts that we see in our daily lives. The difference between a lady and mom (for that matter any relationship). Its nothing but the affectionate thoughts (bhavana) we frame in our minds (chittam). We can choose restrict only to what is visible to physical eye (lady part of the mom) or choose to acknowledge the mom imposition part on the lady, the meta concept. Similarly, when you see a painting, you could see spilled color paints or the meta concept of artist's intention at various levels of depth. I suppose you get the drift that Krishna can be a physical form of a human or the meta physical concepts he embodies.

      Now if Bhavanas are the meta concepts, how to conceive God in these frames? I find Energy to be a simple frame. Energy cannot be perceived physically but can only be felt (like meta part of the Bhavana - i.e., affection element of mom's thoughts or aggression element of an enmity). Energy has no existence beyond the physical objects that contain the energy. Also, energy can only transform but always remains constant in an entropy (universe). Examples that we learn going back to 9th standard like Ankur are, that the objects (like water) gains potential energy when moved up, changes to kinetic energy when starts flowing down and can become electric energy using a turbine etc.

      How many forms energy exists? Innumerable. Energy of knowledge (Saraswathy), Energy of wealth (Lakshmi), Energy of Sidi/Buddhi (Ganesha) so on. Now, you probably get the drift of multiple forms of God.

      With the thesis laid above, all of our puranas (the story forms of Vedas - general truths) are stories articulated by Shiva (Jeevathma energy - meta physical form) in response to a question from Parvathi (prakriti - the physical form). All the characters in puranas are forms of different energy, like Krishna - orchestrator is the jeevathama himself. Karna - son of Sun, ultimate source of self generating energy and most generous in universe but rarely recognized to be the one, Karna does not hold back in giving away the kavacha kundalas and rarely acknowledged as a warrior. Yudhishtara - son of Yama (the imposer of just), Bhima son of vayu (the medium of strength), Arjuna (son of Indra), Nakula and Sahdev (children of Aswini).

      Now, coming to the discussion laid above, of why Arujuna. Any flow (in or out) of a human body happens through Indrias. And hence the teaching has to be done to son of Indra

      in my humble opinion.

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  6. Reminds me of a book I read some 10 years back called 'Aapan Saare Arjun' by Va. Pu. Kale.

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    1. I did not read this book yet, will try to get it one next trip to India and read it...Va Pu is one of my favorite authors...thanks for sharing the information about the book.

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  7. Ya its appealing discussion..like it

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