My reverence & deep respect for the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the greatest, most profound books ever written. Anyone who reads this ancient sacred text realizes that the Gita possesses a unique level of wisdom rarely expressed in our times.
It is my understanding that the consciousness in the Gita is that of the Dvapara Yuga, the cycle of time that precedes our current Kali Yuga, the Age of Conflict and Confusion. Therefore the ideas, circumstances, and characters in the Gita - which is an integral part of the great Indian epic, The Mahabharata - give us a glimpse into human potential, meaning what is possible and also what was perhaps normal before our consciousness became ‘cooked-by-time’ in the dense frequencies of the Kali Yuga.
My relationship with the Bhagavad Gita goes back to the 1960s and throughout my life I read the Bhagavad Gita and attempted to grasp its subtle meaning. Each reading of these powerful words always left me feeling somehow lifted, my consciousness purified. However, I did not truly understand. Still I knew an invaluable treasure lay within this book and I was not to be discouraged. I would stubbornly say, “Someday, I will understand this.” I am now 60.
In the summer of 2004, I was reading the Chicago University Press J.A.B van Buitenen translation, The Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata. I recommend this translation as a first time read because it is very accessible, especially to all who have a western mindset. The forward written by Haven O’More rather shockingly states that J.A.B. van Buitenen’s translation is “... Raw. It means without bullshit, without mystification.” At first I felt this was a bit harsh for academia; but as I read numerous other translations, I realized that many are nothing more than various teachers bending Krishna’s words to reflect their own belief systems or cults. With J.A.B. van Buitenen, the reader has a chance, without indoctrinating filters, to make his or her own beginning at understanding this profound text - which does have the power to enlighten.
I remember so well those hot summer days in 2004 reading on the screen-porch in the dappled shade of cedars, maples, and pine trees. Day after day I would listen with my heart to Krishna’s words of wisdom to his friend Arjuna, and I would cry and cry and cry the sweetest tears. Tears come easily when you feel the presence of God. I felt as if I were being given the eyes-to-see and the ears-to-hear. Even now when I think of that time, tears can pool in my eyes and my heart is filled with joy and gratitude. Krishna is my guru!
It is in the spirit of a deeply sincere humility and out of a love that can never be described or expressed that I set out here to share with you my understanding of this remarkable and magnificent text. We do have India to thank for the safekeeping of the Bhagavad Gita in her sacred language Sanskrit. Eternal India is a boundless reservoir of wisdom, beauty, brilliance, and complexity. What a legacy she has kept protected throughout time for the rest of the world.
Before one can begin to understand the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu concepts of Purusha and Prakriti, and the 3 gunas - raja, tamas and sattva - must be assimilated. I will cover this topic separately and I highly recommend René Guenon’s books ‘Studies in Hinduism’ and ‘Man and His Becoming According to Vedanta’ which are both in depth studies in basic metaphysics. Guenon is brilliant and your mind will be clearly expanded by anything he wrote. There are also some excellent books on the gunas in Samkhya from India, such as ‘The Concept of Apavarga in Samkhya Philosophy’ by Dr. K.P. Kesavan Nampoothiri.
My recent years have been solely devoted to reading the Sanskrit texts, to absorb and become these teachings, and to do that I have been a bit of a hermit. I will always cherish these tender reclusive years. However it was the arrival of the great Indian scholar Krishna Chaitanya/K.K. Nair, into my life that brought everything I had learned into clarity. Unfortunately his primary book on the Bhagavad Gita, ‘The Gita for the Modern Man’ is out of print and in spite of Herculean efforts, I have not been able to obtain a copy. But luckily for me, there is quite a good concentration of his thoughts on the Gita in two of his other books: ‘The Betrayal of Krishna’ and ‘The Mahabharata, A Literary Study.’
I have written four articles on ‘The Betrayal of Krishna’ and praised Krishna Chaitanya/K.K. Nair properly to the high heavens, because it is a rare miracle to find a mind so clear, immense, and fine that it can encompass all knowledge east and west. The only comparable I can think of is Arthur Koestler, or perhaps Noam Chomsky. But our Indian scholar has the advantage of India and Sanskrit. Krishna Chaitanya/K.K. Nair has not only absorbed all the creative thoughts of the western world, but he also has an overview of the Sanskrit texts and the historical progression of Indian thought that will really knock your socks off!
In my own words and as simply as I can say it, Krishna Chaitanya/K.K. Nair’s summing up of the Bhagavad Gita is this:
We all have God dwelling within our Heart. We can realize that God not only dwells within us, but within everything. God is ALL!
VASUDEVAH SARVAM ITI
Each of us has the opportunity to align our consciousness with the God within, or we can reject this ‘partnership’ and go our own way. This is the intriguing and somewhat mysterious freedom that God has given mankind.
If we choose to align with the God-within us, something wonderful happens: This realization generates within us as individuals, a deeper sense of connection and communion with others. (Bh.G. VI.31) This is not the instinctual bond of clan or tribe, but this is the product of our own earned enlightenment. Our inner illumination that God pervades All and the Knowledge that we are One with the universe, moves us to identify our own ‘self’ with the world and all creatures.
This gives Karma Yoga a new meaning. Empowered by real Knowledge (Jnana Yoga), we now have the spontaneous and joyous impulse to venture forth and work for the well being of this world. We are free to act without entrapping our consciousness in the spider-like webs of the holographic matrix. Krishna does not assure us that we will succeed. We will in fact be met by the warp-and-weave of the acts others have already set into motion. But in the adamantine knowledge of the God-within us, we will act selflessly and without attachment to the results of our work to hold the world together. (Bh.G. III.25)
The future of our world appears grim at best. Those of you who are reading this are well aware of the condition of the environment and the changing weather patterns, which can only be a tragic reflection of the human heart. These days are dark and on the deepest level of our being, we all sense the world to be moving ineluctably towards some as yet unknown and terrible events. After years of studying the evidence in terms of the lies, the greed, and what can only be an utterly blind arrogance by those who are in power, I decided that my only recourse was to retire for a time and be alone to make a connection to ‘a greater power.’ It is my hope that this website will encourage you to do the same.
I would not say these have been easy years and yes, there were days when self-doubt or indolence overwhelmed me and I fell off my path. But as Krishna says, the happiness that springs from knowledge and the serenity of your inner spirit, at first seems like poison, but with perseverance becomes nectar, AMRTA, the elixir of Immortality (Bh.G. XVIII.37). This has been my experience.
Out-of-control consumption is leading the Earth to her final days. Shallow pleasures are ephemeral and leave a bitter emptiness. Finding God within you lasts forever. Finding God within gives you the courage to work for the well-being of the world. I offer this study of the great Bhagavad Gita, the Song of God, in true humility in the hope that these words will open its resplendent doors to your heart.
We Meet in the Heart
V.Susan Ferguson / 2006