Essays on the Gita

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The first aspect is the presence of Sri Krishna as a historical Avatar, but emphasizing the spiritual significance of the inner Avatar; that is the first aspect. The second aspect is that through His actions in the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna tells us how normally God works in the world, how He acts in the world; and the third significance is Sri Krishna's companionship with Arjuna, the divine Teacher in his relationship with the human disciple, this is also symbolic, typical. We can say from this symbolism that in every situation we can look upon ourselves as the disciple of God. It is up to us, but He is always present, the Lord is always present with us as a teacher, we are always human disciples; so, if you act as human disciples of the Lord, then what happened to Arjuna in the war can happen to us at every time, whenever we take this attitude that we are the pupils of God Himself directly. He is in our chariot, moving with us as our charioteer, conducting us through the war and battle, and ready to give us the right advice at the right moment. This double aspect of God and the disciple, God as a teacher and the disciple, a human being as a  disciple,  is a symbolism in Indian tradition right from the Vedic times. In the Vedic times we have the concept of two birds(R–V 1,164,20) sitting on the same branch of the tree, one who is eating the fruit and the other who is watching from above. The same symbolism appears again in the Upanishads. There is also the story in the Veda (RigVeda) of Indra and Kutsa both travelling together in the chariot. Indra as representative of the Lord and Kutsa is the pupil. And then Kutsa it is said according to the story that he accompanies Indra, and Indra is the real warrior not he but Indra is the real warrior and who  kills all the enemies and comes to a conquest and gives knowledge to Kutsa. And it is said also that Kutsa while travelling with the Lord, with Indra, in the chariot becomes so much like Him that when they arrive at the home of Indra it was difficult to discern between who was Indra and who was Kutsa, both having become so much alike with each other, only Sachi, the wife of Indra could recognize Indra as distinguished from Kutsa.

And such is the possibility of all of us while travelling with Sri Krishna or with the Lord, we become like Him so much that to distinguish one from the other would be difficult. This is the third significance of the symbolism of Sri Krishna as a teacher and Arjuna as a disciple.

Once again, I should like to read this paragraph since it is concerning what I said just now, so that all that becomes much clearer.

Question: Which Upanishad is it 'Indra and Kutsa'?

Answer: It is in the Veda, Rig Veda. I will get you the exact words, all right?

Page 17, in "Essays on the Gita".

"Secondly, there is the typical, almost the symbolic significance of the human Krishna who stands behind the great action of the Mahabharata, not as its hero,..."(because Arjuna is the hero, Krishna is not the hero of Mahabharata) "... not as its hero but as its secret centre and hidden guide. That action is the action of a whole world of men and nations, some of whom have come as helpers of an effort and result by which they do not personally profit, and to these he is a leader, some as its opponents and to them he also is an opponent, the baffler of their designs and their slayer and he seems even to some of them an instigator of all evil and destroyer of their old order and familiar world and secure conventions of virtue and good; some are representatives of that which has to be fulfilled and to them he is counselor, helper, friend. Where the action pursues its natural course or the doers of the work have to suffer at the hands of its enemies and undergo the ordeals which prepare them for mastery, the Avatar is unseen or appears only for occasional comfort...

...and aid, but at every crisis his hand is felt, yet in such a way that all imagine themselves to be the protagonists and even Arjuna, his nearest friend and chief instrument, does not perceive that he is an instrument and has to confess at last that all the while he did not really know his divine Friend. He has received counsel from his wisdom, help from his power, has loved and been loved, has even adored without understanding his divine nature; but he has been guided like all others through his own egoism and the counsel, help and direction have been given in the language and received by the thoughts of the Ignorance. Until the moment when all has been pushed to the terrible issue of the struggle on the field of Kurukshetra and the Avatar stands at last, still not as fighter, but as the charioteer in the battle–car which carries the destiny of the fight, he has not revealed Himself even to those whom he has chosen.

"Thus the figure of Krishna becomes, as it were, the symbol of the divine dealings with humanity. Through our egoism and ignorance we are moved, thinking that we are the doers of the work, vaunting of ourselves as the real causes of the result, and that which moves us we see only occasionally as some vague or even some human and earthly fountain of knowledge, aspiration, force, some Principle or Light or Power which we acknowledge and adore without knowing what it is until the occasion arises that forces us to stand arrested before the Veil. And the action in which this divine figure moves is the whole wide action of man in life, not merely the inner life, but all this obscure course of the world which we can judge only by the twilight of the human reason as it opens up dimly before our uncertain advance the little span in front. This is the distinguishing feature of the Gita that it is the culmination of such an action which gives rise to its teaching and assigns that prominence and bold relief to the gospel of works which it enunciates with an emphasis and force we do not find in other Indian Scriptures. Not only in the Gita, but in other passages of the Mahabharata we meet with Krishna declaring emphatically the necessity of action, but it is here that he reveals its secret and the divinity behind our works.”

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