The Song Celestial
by Ganesh V. Burde
"I am the father, mother, brother, protector, Vedic hymn, husband, Lord, birth, and death. Some pray for heaven and enjoy heavenly bliss. I carry the welfare of the devotees. I accept anything given with devotion fruit, flower, leaf and (even) water. Whatever you do, whatever sacrifice you perform, offer them onto me. I have no friend, no enemy. All are equal before me. A person going astray but going to the praying path may be considered to have selected well. He will get better day by day. He will not get damned because he is my devotee. No devotee of mine faces destruction. Lowborn devotees will be blessed. What of devoted warriors like you!"
To satisfy the desire of Arjuna to know particularly the glories of Shri Krishna, he answers that God is the presiding deity of every kind of persons as also of superman appearances. He declares "I am the precursor of the gods. I reside in all creatures; I am the beginning, middle and end." Then he gives examples of leaders of various categories saying that their capacity is due to him only. For instance, he is Brihaspati, famous for wisdom, chief of the priests. He is Kumar, son of Shiva, commander of gods, who knew no defeat. He is the ocean of the seas, Ashwaththa or Banyan tree, which has roots above and branches below rooting all around the main trunk and then stopping short, declares that the world stands at the behest of a small part of his capacity.
This chapter captures the cosmic appearance of Shri Krishna in all His glory. With the special sight vouchsafed by the Lord, Arjuna sees myriad shapes, strange to admire and terrific to behold. Frightened, Arjuna prayed to Krishna to resume his human shape. The Lord complies with the request with a remark that only loyal devotees can see such a spectacle, giving rise to the next chapter on devotion.
This is like the display of his divinity as Christ by the body Jesus to the Magi on 6th of January centuries later. This is the subjective thought of the author of the Gita. The brilliance that Krishna shone remains a great reminder of the Lord's form to any reader .
It is said that a scientist (Robert Oppenheimer of the Manhattan Project -Ed) after seeing the ferocity and power of an atom bomb explosion, exclaimed the verses of Gita that revealed the identity of Krishna.Sir Edwin Arnold has translated this chapter into a fine piece of poetry. Some excerpts:
...the God stood displaying
This deals with the personal god of the devotee. Sentimental people get bored by the Upanishadic descriptions of an abstract idea of god, who can neither be seen nor heard, who does not interest himself in our worldly goddess. Christians are seeing many in divine power. Goddess Durga is both benign and belligerent. Arjuna asks which devotee is more effective of God with form or one without it. But Krishna gives importance to the devotees faith, which would be advisable in both cases. "Both are dear to me -- who restrain their senses and are engaged in public welfare." It is difficult to concentrate the mind on the unseen. Without any selfish motive, the God should be worshipped; that is all.
The Knower of the field is God; the catalyst that effects changes remaining Himself unchanged. Only the field that is man undergoes changes. Compare spirit and matter. The former is called the Purusha in the Vedas, who resides in every human being, short like a thumb; this idea makes all human beings, brothers and sisters, who are responsible for their actions which god looks on unconcerned. "Man represents Prakrit or nature, with all its gunas or qualifications, a ready tool which he uses for good or evil. Some approach God with meditation, some by action; some by hearing about Him through others; all these will attain perfection by practice, thinking of Me only."
The three qualities of goodness (satva), emotion (rajas) and sluggishness (tamas) inhibit a person, but only one will predominate. These three are like three strands of a rope that bind the man to the world. Satva or goodness stands for pure, Rajas for emotion, and Tamas for sluggishness. Satva spells purity stands for goodness; Rajas or Emotion leads to desire for more and Tamas denotes darkness mental and physical. The Brahman, supreme deity, is the womb in which I plant my seed and the world is born to life; without any of the three human qualities, sans friend or foe. It will be seen that real greatness is to be like god himself, who remains pitiless when Harishchandra suffers for truth and seemingly unfair things happen to holy people. It will be moksha or freedom from all ties without desire for rebirth to attain Brahma Nirvana, or the extinction of worldly life.
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