Essays on the Gita

Track Running Track 407

And that is how they believe that actually speaking the value of the Bhagavad Gita is reduced because it was not a part of the original Mahabharata. Also, it is claimed that there would have been no time left at the time of the war, where Arjuna could have put this question and then Sri Krishna took him aside, and had the time and patience to give a discourse on such a very difficult subject, which even we would take years to understand, and that is supposed to have been done even before the war actually started, when all the warriors were ready to fight. So this question also has been raised. Now, this also can be answered in many ways. It can be said that the dialogue originally may be very short and afterwards the author wrote at length. Another is that there are many dialogues which take place internally, just as in a dream, your dream maybe only for two minutes, but it may take a look as if only two hours events can take place in two minutes dream that also is possible. Or it may be that really when you really write down what has happened it may look long but actually that conversation does not take so long. We know that if we write the minutes of a particular meeting, the minutes  may run into a hundred and fifty pages  but it may be an account only of one hour. Reading fifty pages may take you two, three hours but actually when it happens, it takes only one hour. It is quite possible that it also happened in the same way. But Sri Aurobindo says that all these questions are for us, not important.

What is important is whether what is contained in the Gita, the questions and answers which are recorded in the Gita whether they are significant questions and significant answers, whether these questions echo your questions, echo your questions arising out of your situation, arising out of your need, and whether the answers given give you any guidance to your questions. If this is so, it is enough for us to study the Gita and that is why we study the Gita. There is also a question whether Sri Krishna ever lived on the earth. That also is another question. Because people say that if Krishna never existed at all, the question of Mahabharata does not arise, the question of war does not arise, the question of questions does not arise, the question of answering his questions does not arise. The whole Gita seems to be only a kind of a literature, a dramatic fiction, which can be studied if you have leisure and time, but otherwise it has no significance. Just as the questions have been raised about Jesus. Reading the whole New Testament, many people ask the question whether Jesus ever existed, whether Jesus was born here or there at Bethlehem or Jerusalem, or wherever. Or whether He was really charged of sedition and ultimately was crucified. All these questions have been raised even about Christ. And Sri Aurobindo's answer is that even this question is not so relevant to us. The question again is whether a personality like Sri Krishna can really exist; whether he existed or not is a different question but whether such a personality can exist or not. Whether  Krishna described as Avatar can possibly exist or not; whether Avatar itself is a concept which is justified or not. And if Avatar ever exist – not Sri Krishna – but if anywhere, if Avatar existed or can come into existence, then by his actions he can explain to us, what is the purpose of Avatar and what is the role of Avatar in the history of the world, if at all there is any role. It is that inner question which is most important. And therefore when we turn to the Gita, we need not waste our time on these questions.

Sri Aurobindo points out one or two important facts, and He gives his own view, He says first of all that the Bhagavad Gita is not an interpolation. If you read the Bhagavad Gita, you find that it is so woven with the entire book, it does not look as if it were an outer organ and transplanted into the centre of the Mahabharata. Or he says that even if it is an outer thing, it is interwoven so powerfully that the occasion is constantly referred to in the Bhagavad Gita, the occasion of the war and the insistence of Sri Krishna that the war is on, and that he has to take part in it, reminding the reader, reminding Arjuna all the time of the occasion in which it arose. It is not as if somebody wrote some poem outside and then he juxtaposed it into it. Again Sri Aurobindo says that Sri Krishna was certainly a historical figure in the history of India. If you take for example the Chhandogya Upanishad, which is quite an independent source, there, there is a mention that a Rishi called Ghora Angirasa, he gave knowledge to Sri Krishna, the son of Devaki, it is clearly mentioned. In the same Upanishad the name of Dhritarashtra also occurs; so it means that historically these two personalities who were so closely associated with each other in the Mahabharata are independently corroborated in the Upanishad.

In fact, I thought that it might interest you to get an exact quotation from Chhandogya Upanishad, where this particular mention of Krishna is made.

What was the knowledge which you talked about which was given to Sri Krishna?

That is why I brought it here, precisely for the reason that you may like to know what was the knowledge that was given to Sri Krishna by Ghora. If you read page 115, verse n°6, this is taken from Chhandogya Upanishad.

"Ghora, son of Angiras, having explained this subject to Krishna, son of Devaki, said as follows:..."

Now what has gone before is explained, and which I am not at present reading out to you because it is a symbolic writing, and may require another kind of explanation and detailed understanding but we shall see later on, if necessary. But what is important now is this. He said:

"He, who knows this should at the time of his death repeat these three Yajurvedic mantras: 'Oh, thou art undecaying, thou art unchanging, thou art the true essence of life.' Hearing this, He [that is Sri Krishna] lost all desire for other knowledge, He was illumined."

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