Mahaabhaarat | Geetaa
Where was Geetaa told to Arjun?
In Kuru Kshetra. Kuru Kshetra the holy pilgrimage in which 360 places of pilgrimage related to the Mahaabhaarat (MBH) can be seen. It is one of those holy towns that have borne the imprint of Lord Krishn's footsteps. Kuru Kshetra is referred to as “Dharm Kshetra" is the place in Haryaanaa state in India where the epic MBH battle took place between the Paandav and the Kaurav. Indian government has named the state as Haryaanaa which in local language means: Hari ka Aanaa (Coming of Hari). Tradition holds that the great 18-day battle between the Paandav and Kaurav was fought on the plains of Kuru Kshetra. Kuru Kshetra lies on the Delhi-Ambala stretch of the National Highway 1. Kuru Kshetra has been a symbol of sanctity and holiness for centuries. The founder of this land was King Kuru who practiced austere penance to make this land righteous that is why in the first verse of the Geetaa, Kuru Kshetra prefixed with an epithet Dharm Kshetra.
History of Kuru Kshetra:
King Kuru selected this land on the bank of the sacred river Saraswatee for spiritual culture and cultivation of 8-fold virtues. King came here on his golden chariot and utilized its gold for making a plough for cultivation. He took bull of Shiv and buffalo of Yam on loan and started plowing the land. Indra, the king of heaven, came and asked Kuru as to what he was doing? King replied that he was preparing the land for growing 8-fold virtues of religious austerity (Tap), truth, forgiveness, kindness, purity, charity, yoga and continence (Brahmacharya). Indra asked him to where he would get the seed of these virtues. King replied that the seed was in his possession. At this Indra laughed and went away.
After the King had cultivated land for several days, Vishnu appeared before him and asked as to what he was doing? King replied in the same manner as he had done when questioned by Indra. Vishnu asked Kuru to give Him the seed and that He would sow it for him. At this Kuru put forward his right arm and the same was cut into 1000 pieces with the Chakra of Vishnu and sown in the field. In the same way king Kuru's left arm, his 2 legs and then his head were offered by him to Vishnu for sowing.
This act of Kuru pleased Vishnu very much and He blessed him. Indra also appeared at this stage and told that he was very much pleased with his sacrifice and told him to ask for any boon from him. Kuru there-upon begged of him 2 boons: one, that this land would forever remain a holy land named after himself, and the other, that anyone dying here would get relieved of cycle of birth and death irrespective of his sins or virtues. Thus King Kuru with wealth of his state and his austerities established at Kuru Kshetra an extensive institution of spiritual culture for humanity as a whole.
Shreepaad Madhwaaachaarya, a great Vaishnav Aachaarya, who is also the third son of Vaayu (after Hanuman and Bheem) visited here around 1250 AD. During his visit he dug-up a certain piece of land in Kuru Kshetra and found the mace (club or Gadaa) used by Bheem on the battle of Kuru Kshetra. Later after showing this to his disciples he again kept it back to the place where Bheem had originally kept it after the battle.
Kuru Kshetra is a 2-hour journey from New Delhi by Train and about 3hours journey by Bus. Vrindaa Van to Kuru Kshetra is about 5-6 hour journey by train via Mathura-New Delhi route. While traveling by bus there is a stop called “Pipli" on Kuru Kshetra by-pass. From there catch an auto-rickshaw to reach ISKCON Main Bazaar temple and then see the holy places with the assistance from the local devotees, or at a nominal cost one can take the auto-rickshaw to visit all the important places to be seen in and around Kuru Kshetra.
The tree is full of birds and squirrels which adds to the mystic aura of that place. This place is eternally peaceful despite amidst coming and going of pilgrims throughout the day. Doing the Parikramaa or Circumambulation of the tree is considered as a very auspicious. There is also a small chariot in a glass and marble case below the banyan tree where one can see Krishn and Arjun speaking to each other. There is also another chariot nearby much bigger entirely in glass casing where both Krishn and Arjun are seated. In the same courtyard of the Geetopadesh Sthal is a Ved Paathshaalaa, rooms containing different characters of MBH like Gangaa, Bheesm, Krishn-Arjun etc There is also an ancient Shiv temple which is sheltered by the Banyan Tree. This temple is a witness to foreign invasions. Then there are also several other temples for other divinities. There is a small water body in front of the Geetopadesh Sthal. Jyotisar lies on Pehowa Road, 5 km from Kuru Kshetra.
What is Bhagvad Geetaa?
Out of so many human beings who are suffering, there are only a few who are actually inquiring about their position, as to what they are, why they are put into this awkward position and so on. Unless one is awakened to this position of questioning his suffering, unless he realizes that he doesn't want suffering but rather wants to make a solution to all suffering, then one is not to be considered a perfect human being. Humanity begins when this sort of inquiry is awakened in one's mind. In the Brahm Sootra this inquiry is called, Athato brahm jigyaasaa (the desire to learn about Brahm). Every activity of the human being is to be considered a failure unless he inquires about the nature of the Absolute. Therefore those who begin to question: As why they are suffering or where they came from and where they shall go after death are proper students for understanding Geetaa. The sincere student should also have a firm respect for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a student was Arjun.
The subject of the Geetaa entails the comprehension of 5 basic truths: Eeshwar (the Supreme Lord), Jeev (the living entity), Prakriti (nature), Kaal (eternal time) and Karm (activity) are all explained in the Geetaa. Out of these five, the Lord, the living entities, material nature and time are eternal. The manifestation of Prakriti may be temporary, but it is not false. Some philosophers say that the manifestation of material nature is false, but according to the philosophy of Geetaa, this is not so. However, the Karm, is not eternal. We are suffering or enjoying the results of our activities from time immemorial, but we can change the results of our Karm, or our activity, and this change depends on the perfection of our knowledge. We are engaged in various activities. Undoubtedly we do not know what sort of activities we should adopt to gain relief from the actions and reactions of all these activities, but this is also explained in the Geetaa.
When we are materially contaminated, we are called conditioned. False consciousness is exhibited under the impression that I am a product of material nature. This is called false ego. One who is absorbed in the thought of bodily conceptions cannot understand his situation. Geetaa was spoken to liberate one from the bodily conception of life. One must become free from the bodily conception of life; that is the preliminary activity for the transcendentalist. One who wants to become free, who wants to become liberated, must first of all learn that he is not this material body. Mukti means liberation from the contaminated consciousness of this material world and situation in pure consciousness. All the instructions of Geetaa are intended to awaken this pure consciousness. Purified consciousness means acting in accordance with the instructions of the Lord. This is the whole sum and substance of purified consciousness. Consciousness is already there because we are part and parcel of the Lord, but for us there is the affinity of being affected by the inferior modes. But the Lord, being the Supreme, is never affected. That is the difference between the Supreme Lord and the small individual souls.
What is this consciousness? This consciousness is “I am." Then what am I? In contaminated consciousness “I am" means “I am the Lord of all I survey. I am the enjoyer." The world revolves because every living being thinks that he is the Lord and the Creator of the material world. Material consciousness has two psychic divisions. One is that I am the creator, and the other is that I am the enjoyer. But actually the Supreme Lord is both the creator and the enjoyer, and the living entity, being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, is neither the creator nor the enjoyer, but a co-operator. He is the created and the enjoyed. For instance, a part of a machine cooperates with the whole machine; a part of the body cooperates with the whole body. The hands, legs, eyes, and so on are all parts of the body, but they are not actually the enjoyers. The stomach is the enjoyer. The legs move, the hands supply food, the teeth chew, and all parts of the body are engaged in satisfying the stomach because the stomach is the principal factor that nourishes the body's organization. Therefore everything is given to the stomach. One nourishes the tree by watering its root, and one nourishes the body by feeding the stomach, for if the body is to be kept in a healthy state, then the parts of the body must cooperate to feed the stomach. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is the enjoyer and the creator, and we, as subordinate living beings, are meant to cooperate to satisfy Him. This cooperation will actually help us, just as food taken by the stomach will help all other parts of the body. If the fingers of the hand think that they should take the food themselves instead of giving it to the stomach, then they will be frustrated. The central figure of creation and of enjoyment is the Supreme Lord, and the living entities are co-operators. By cooperation they enjoy.
We shall find, therefore, in Geetaa that the complete whole is comprised of the supreme controller, the controlled living entities, the cosmic manifestation, eternal time and Karm, or activities, and all of these are explained in this text. All of these taken completely form the complete whole, and the complete whole is called the Supreme Absolute Truth. The complete whole and the complete Absolute Truth is only Shree Krishn. All manifestations are due to His different energies. He is the complete whole. It is also explained in the Geetaa that impersonal Brahm is also subordinate to the complete Supreme Person (Brahmano hi pratishthham). Brahm is more explicitly explained in the Brahm Sootra to be like the rays of the sunshine. The impersonal Brahm is the shining rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Impersonal Brahm is incomplete realization of the absolute whole, and so also is the conception of Paramaatmaa. In the 15th Chapter of Geetaa, it shall be seen that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Purushottam, is above both impersonal Brahm and the partial realization of Paramaatmaa. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is called Sat-Chid-Aanand Vigraha. The Brahm Sanhita begins in this way: Eeshwarah paramah Krishnah Sat-Chid-Aanand vigrahah/ anadir dir govindah sarv Kaaran Kaaranam - "Govind, Krishn, is the cause of all causes. He is the primal cause, and He is the very form of eternity, knowledge and bliss." Impersonal Brahman realization is the realization of His Sat (eternity) feature. Paramaatmaa realization is the realization of Sat-Chit (eternal knowledge). But realization of Krishn, is the realization of all the transcendental features: Sat-Chid-Aanand (eternity, knowledge, and bliss) in complete Vigraha (form).
People with less intelligence consider the Supreme Truth to be impersonal, but He is a transcendental person, and this is confirmed in all Vaidik literatures. Nityo nityam Chetanas Chetananam. (Kath Upanishad 2.2.13) As we are all individual living beings and have our individuality, the Supreme Absolute Truth is also, in the ultimate issue, a person, and realization of the Personality of Godhead is realization of all of the transcendental features in His complete form. The complete whole is not formless. If He is formless, or if He is less than any other thing, then He cannot be the complete whole. The complete whole must have everything within our experience and beyond our experience, otherwise it cannot be complete. The complete whole, Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies (parsya Shaktir vividhaiva shruyate). How Krishn is acting in different potencies is also explained in Geetaa.
This phenomenal world or material world in which we are placed is also complete in itself because the 24 elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation, according to Saankhya philosophy, are completely adjusted to produce complete resources which are necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. There is nothing extraneous, nor is there anything needed. This manifestation has its own time fixed by the energy of the supreme whole, and when its time is complete, these temporary manifestations will be annihilated by the complete arrangement of the complete. There is complete facility for the small complete units, namely the living entities, to realize the complete, and all sorts of incompleteness are experienced due to incomplete knowledge of the complete. So Geetaa contains the complete knowledge of Vaidik wisdom.
In the Geetaa, worship of different demigods or rendering service to them is not approved. It is stated in Geetaa 7:20 - "Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures." Here it is plainly said that those who are directed by lust worship the demigods and not Krishn. When we mention the name Krishn, we do not refer to any sectarian name. Krishn means the highest pleasure, and it is confirmed that the Supreme Lord is the reservoir or storehouse of all pleasure. We are all hankering after pleasure. Aanand mayobhya sat (Vedaant Sootra 1.1.12). The living entities, like the Lord, are full of consciousness, and they are after happiness. The Lord is perpetually happy, and if the living entities associate with the Lord, cooperate with Him and take part in His association, then they will also become perpetually happy.
In the 15th Chapter of the Geetaa, the real picture of the material world is given. Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. If one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down. The branches go downward and the roots upward. Similarly, this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there are substance and reality. In the desert there is no water, but the mirage suggests that there is such a thing as water. In the material world there is no water, there is no happiness, but the real water of actual happiness is there in the spiritual world. The Lord suggests that we attain the spiritual world in the following manner (Geetaa 15.5): That Padam Avyayam, or eternal kingdom, can be reached by one who is nirmana-moha. What does this mean? That we are not the body, but the spirit and soul, and realizing this is the first stage in spiritual realization. We are associated with the three modes of material nature (Tamo Gun, Rajo Gun, Sato -Gun), but we must become detached from these through devotional service to the Lord. If we are not attached to devotional service to the Lord, then we cannot become detached from the modes of material nature.
Designations and attachments are due to our lust and desire, our wanting to Lord it over the material nature. As long as we do not give up this propensity of lording it over material nature, there is no possibility of returning to the kingdom of the Supreme, the Sanaatan Dhaam. That eternal kingdom, which is never destroyed, can be approached by one who is not bewildered by the attractions of false material enjoyments, who is situated in the service of the Supreme Lord. One so situated can easily approach that supreme abode. One must desire and hanker after that supreme kingdom, for when one attains that kingdom, he does not have to return to this material world.
Next, one may raise the question of how one goes about approaching that abode of the Supreme Lord. Information of this is given in the 8th Chapter - Anyone who quits his body, at the end of life, remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature; and there is no doubt of this. [ Geetaa 8.5] One must remember the form of Krishn; if he quits his body thinking of His form, he surely approaches the spiritual kingdom. The Supreme Being is Sat-Chid-Aanand Vigraha [Brahm Sanhitaa 5.1] - that is, His form is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Our present body is not Sat-Chid-Aanand, it is A-Sat, not Sat. It is not eternal; it is perishable. It is not Chit, full of knowledge, but it is full of ignorance. We have no knowledge of the spiritual kingdom, nor do we even have perfect knowledge of this material world, where there are so many things unknown to us. The body is also Niraanand; instead of being full of bliss it is full of misery.
All of the miseries we experience in the material world arise from the body, but one who leaves this body thinking of Krishn, he at once attains a Sat-Chid-Aanand body. The Geetaa 8.6 also explains the general principle that makes it possible to enter the spiritual kingdom simply by thinking of Bhagvaan at the time of death: “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his present body, in his next life he will attain to that state without fail. Therefore, Hey Arjun, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishn and at the same time continue your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt. (Geetaa 8.7). He does not advise Arjun simply to remember Him and give up his occupation. No, the Lord never suggests anything impractical. If He doesn't practice remembering Krishn while he is struggling for existence, then it will not be possible for him to remember Krishn at the time of death. Lord Chaitanya also advises this. He says, "keertaniyah sadaa Harih: [Chaitanya Charitaamritaadi 17.31]. One should practice chanting the names of the Lord always. The names of the Lord and the Lord are non-different. So Lord Krishn's instructions to Arjun to remember Me and Lord Chaitanya's injunction to always chant the names of Krishn are the same instruction. There is no difference, because Krishn and Krishn's name.
How is this possible? The Aachaarya give the following example to prove this - If a married woman is attached to another man, or if a man has an attachment for a woman other than his wife, then the attachment is to be considered very strong. One with such an attachment is always thinking of the loved one. The wife who is thinking of her lover is always thinking of meeting him, even while she is carrying out her household chores. In fact, she carries out her household work even more carefully so her husband will not suspect her attachment. Similarly, we should always remember the supreme lover, Krishn, and at the same time perform our material duties very nicely. A strong sense of love is required here. If we have a strong sense of love for our Bhagvaan then we can discharge our duty and at the same time remember Him. But we have to develop that sense of love. Arjun, for instance, was always thinking of Krishn; he was the constant companion of Krishn, and at the same time he was a warrior. Krishn did not advise him to give up fighting and go to the forest to meditate.
Geetaa is a treatise which is especially meant for the devotee of the Lord. There are 3 classes of transcendentalists, namely the Gyaanee, the Yogee and the Bhakt; or the impersonalist, the meditator and the devotee. Geetaa is instructed to Arjun especially because Arjun was a devotee of the Lord, a direct student of Krishn. Therefore Geetaa is best understood by a person who has the qualities similar to Arjun's. That is to say he must be a devotee in a direct relationship with the Lord. As soon as one becomes a devotee of the Lord, he also has a direct relationship with the Lord. Arjun was in a relationship with the Lord as friend. Of course there is a gulf of difference between this friendship and the friendship found in the material world. This is transcendental friendship, which cannot be had by everyone here living in this world. Of course everyone has a particular relationship with the Lord, and that relationship is evoked by the perfection of devotional service. But in the present status of our life, not only have we forgotten the Supreme Lord, but we have forgotten our eternal relationship with the Lord. Every living being, out of the many, many billions and trillions of living beings, has a particular relationship with the Lord eternally. That is called Swaroop. By the process of devotional service, one can revive that Swaroop, and that stage is called Swaaroop Siddhi - perfection of one's constitutional position.
Krishn descends specifically to re-establish the real purpose of life when man forgets that purpose. Actually we are all swallowed by the tigress of nescience, but the Lord is very merciful upon living entities, especially human beings. To this end He spoke the Geetaa, making His friend Arjun His student.
Created by Sushma Gupta On 3/9/02
Modified on 09/06/12