Bhagavad Gita, ch. 12

Krsangi Dasi - January 23, 2005 8:30 pm

Dear devotees


I've got something to confess: We had our twelfth Gita meeting before Christmas but I didn't have time to write about it then because of all the Christmas fuss. Then followed the New Year fuss, followed by the beginning of January fuss. But now our next meeting is coming up soon so I have to post this to avoid being ridiculed by the rest of the Finns.


Our twelfth meeting was quite small (because it was really close to Christmas), there were just four of us present: Bhrigu, Guru-Nistha, Kamalaksa and I. But we had the nicest time sitting around our kitchen table peeling potatoes and talking about the different approaches to Krishna conscious presented in the twelfth chapter.


We also spoke at some lenght about the basics of Advaita philosophy, noting that many devotees speak disparagingly about "Mayavada" without having a clue of what it is all about.


Bhagavad Gita, chapter 12: Yoga of devotion


This chapter begins by Arjuna asking Krishna a question which made me spontaniously say: Your honor, he's leading the witness! He asks whether it's better to worship Krishna with love or to worship his impersonal form. It seems to me that Krishna wants to really make sure everyone understands this point so he's put Arjuna under a state of illusion and made him ask this question so it will be clear to all the readers of the Gita which kind of worship Krishna prefers.


Krishna then assures Arjuna that both kinds of worship lead to him, but that loving worship is much easier. A devotee should just fix his or her mind exclusively on Krishna and will then surely attain him. Now follows one of my favorite parts of the Gita where Krishna gradually explains all the different levels of devotion that one can be engaged in, even if unable to surrender completely. No one can really say that they're completely unable to serve Krishna in any way, as some of the alternatives presented here don't require anything more than a little desire to do something for him.


There seemed to be a contradiction between the methods of worship presented in verses 9-11 and verse 12. In verses 9-11 it's stated that a devotee who's unable to fix his or her mind on Krishna can practice fixing the mind on him, or do some practical service, and if unable to do that, renounce the fruits of his work, giving them to Krishna. But in verse 12 it's said that knowledge is better than action, and meditation better than knowledge, and from meditation comes renunciation from the fruit of action, from which peace arises. We tried to understand whether renunciation of the fruits of one's work actually was the lowest or second highest stage of devotion but our only conclusion was: We'll have to ask Swami about this.


The chance to ask Swami came in about a week, as he came to visit us right after Christmas. Swami replied that when Krishna here speaks about giving up the fruits of work as the highest of all, he changes his tone. Instead of giving the highest siddhanta, he is here specifically adressing Arjuna. "For you", he says, "Arjuna, giving up the fruits of your work is the best, for that will call your progress". He said more also, but we will have to listen to the CD's to really catch all of it.


In the following verses Krishna lovingly describes his devotee who has all the good qualities imaginable, arising from his or her love for Krishna. We noticed that there still are some missing in us...


We also spoke about how different Gaudiya commentators sometimes give completely opposite meanings, while both are considered "bona fide" and the "absolute truth". That is a bit confusing. Our academic heretic Bhrigu suggested that the commentaries may not always be the "absolute truth", rather, the commentators are trying to approach Krishna and his words in new ways, to get new insights and inspiration. There may sometimes also be some humour involved, as when

Visvanatha explains the statement of the Bhagavatam that Sukadeva was born in the "beginning" of Dvapara yuga (instead of at the end as we generally hear) as meaning "end", since the beginning and end of something depends on from which side you look at it! The conclusion is always the same, while the details may differ. After all, as Guru Maharaja says, one can never say enough about Krishna.