Bhagavad Gita, ch. 11

Krsangi Dasi - December 11, 2004 8:05 pm

Dear devotees


We had our eleventh Bhagavad Gita evening last week. Bhrigu, Guru-Nistha, Jani, Kamalaksa and I began the meeting together, and Eija showed up later, after waking up from her afternoon nap.


As you can see in the attached photo we've started a new system of rotating kirtan leaders, so Bhrigu had to give over the red chair to yours truly. Next time it will be Guru-Nistha's turn to impress us with his singing skills.


Bhagavad Gita, chapter eleven: Yoga of theophany


In the beginning of this chapter Arjuna's asking Krishna to show him his universal form. It's a form that can neither be described by words nor paintings, it's a form unimaginable and unbearable for us. Upon seeing it Arjuna first glorifies it, but then asks Krishna to return to his original, human-like form.


People often demand that God should show himself to them, and state that they won't believe in him before they've seen him, but mot of us would probably be quite shocked and terrified if Krishna actually suddenly presented himself to us. In the end of this chapter Krishna reveals that devotion is the only way to attain him and to see him in his sweetest form, Vraja Krishna.


The universal form of Krishna is very foreign for me personally, as it's a frightening, terrible form, devouring living beings. It makes me think of the God of the Christians' Old Testament. In his universal form Krishna tells Arjuna that he should fight, because Krishna actually has already killed everyone on the battlefield.


We had quite a lengthy discussion on the war and violence in Bhagavad Gita. Bhrigu felt that it's necessary to use such a harsh example as war against your own relatives to bring forth the point of the Gita that service to Krishna is our ultimate mission in life. For me it's hard to think of it as a real war, I prefer to think about it as a play where the players really put their souls into the play but at the end of the day go home and wash off the fake blood.


We found that our ideas of war are quite different: when Bhrigu and Kamalaksa think about war the remember their childhood, when they threw pine cones at their friends pretending that they were grenades. The things I associate with war are quite different: I think of the unimaginable cruelties and human rights violations I've read about that still are happening in wars all over this world: soldiers raping women, cutting off children's hands, torturing prisoners and so on. I just can't stand the thought of Krishna encouraging Arjuna to take part in an act as hideous as war. Even if it was a "vedic war" with the soldiers putting down their weapons and sitting down for a civilised chat in the evening there would be soldiers with sword and arrow wounds that would have to be treated in primitive conditions: amputations and other operations would have to be done without anesthetics.


So it seems that I'm imprisoned by my mind in this matter: I can't think of the Kuruksetra war as a real war but as a play and a metaphora of a person's inner struggle with his or her material attachments. Bhrigu pointed out that if Krishna was urging Arjuna to do something nice or just mildly unpleasant it wouldn't be as touching as the scenario of war is, and I completely agree that it's a compelling setting for a discussion philosophy, but still...


I'd like to hear other's comments on this, to see if there would be a way to settle my vivid imagination and enable me to concentrate on the essence of the Gita.


Your stubborn servant



Swami - December 11, 2004 9:19 pm



Good to see you leading the class. Regarding the war, have you read this article?



Krsangi Dasi - December 13, 2004 1:52 pm

Dear Swami


Thank You so much for the link! No, I hadn't read the article, even though someone mentioned it at our Gita meeting. It was very helpful, but I think I'll have to re-read it a few times before I'll fully understand it. Maybe I'll get back to the subject then, with more doubts and questions...


Your servant


Swami - December 13, 2004 2:47 pm

I am glad the article was helpful. Do read it again. Otherwise, the 11th chapter is perhaps most significant for us becasue it emphasizes the supremacy of Sri Krsna's two armed form. This is quite interesting, given that ostensibly it is about his universal form and thus a faorite chapter for impersonalists. Just see how Sri Krsnacandra can satisfy opposing parties with the same teaching! When we read the Gita, we should try to get to know its speaker personally, to love and appreciate his qaulities. Yes, he is time and time destroys all, but he exsits beyond time as well in a land free from death and overflowing with affection. Jai Sri Krsna!