Offering various paths for spiritual progress and filled with wisdom and positivity, Gita acts as a beacon to the world, writes Radhanath Swami
love is one of the most spoken and least understood words in our daily vocabulary. love is commonly equated with sensual enjoyment, but does such superficial titillation offer substantial satisfaction to the heartIJ The suffering of the stomach hungry for food is well-recognised, but the agony of the heart hungry for love is often overlooked.
Krishna starts His message of love by enlightening Arjuna: “We are all souls, spiritual beings (Gita 2.13), entitled to rejoice in eternal love with the supremely lovable and loving God, Krishna.” When our loving nature is contaminated by selfishness, we start loving things more than persons, especially the Supreme Person. This misdirected love forges our misidentification with our temporary bodily coverings and impels us to exploit others for our self-centered desires.
In the Gita, Krishna offers a concise overview of the various paths for spiritual progress — karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. Simultaneously, throughout the Gita, he drops clues that there is a secret message; a secret that only a heart filled with love can fathom (Gita 4.3). That is why at the end of almost every chapter, He emphasises bhakti-yoga.
Towards the end of the Gita (18.64-66), however, Krishna bares his heart’s love in a disarmingly sweet revelation, “Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit. Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus, you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”
love: Concealed yet Revealed
Before the unequivocal finale, the message of love is both concealed and revealed. It is concealed because Krishna lovingly accommodates those not yet ready to love Him by delineating other paths for their gradual spiritual growth. But for those who are open-minded and willing to give up envy and accept the path of devotion, which is made easy by associating with His devotees, Krishna also reveals the supremacy of the path of love. Ultimately, Krishna is longing for our love because he knows that is the only way we can become fully and eternally happy.
Krishna advocates not sectarian religious belief but universal spiritual love. He not only teaches this love, but also demonstrates it. He happily accepts the menial role of a charioteer to assist His devotee Arjuna in the battle. The unique nature of the spiritual master-servant relationship is that just as the devotee serves Krishna, Krishna also serves the devotee.
His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in his commentary to the Gita, points out that this relationship is completely different from its exploitative mundane counterpart and is “the most intimate form of intimacy”. The culmination of this divine love is revealed in the Vrindavan pastimes, where Krishna happily takes a subordinate or intimate role to reciprocate love with his servitors.
The Doors of love Are Open
This world of love is not restricted only to the pure devotees. Krishna assures the sincere aspirants of pure love that He will guide them through this world of misdirected, short-lived love back home to the world of reclaimed, endless love: “To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (10.10-11) Thus, the Gita is essentially a revelation of divinity’s love for humanity as well as a love call for humanity’s reciprocal love for divinity. let us therefore tread the path of love revealed by Krishna. let us love and be loved.
Three paths of Yoga
Three paths are explained as yoga in Gita. The Sanskrit word “yoga” means connecting to the absolute, and it is in this context that the word yoga is used in the BG.The three paths given by Sri Krishna are Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga. The first six chapters primarily discuss Karma yoga, liberation by performing prescribed activities.A person situated in Karma yoga executes one’s prescribed duties. These duties are as prescribed by the Varnashrama system created By Krishna through the Vedas. According to one’s ability and inclination, a person may acquire a particular varna. He may become a Brahman (teacher, guide), Kshatriya (administrator, warrior), Vaishya (merchant, farmer) or Shudra (worker). According to his situation, he lives in one of the four ashrams: Brahamacari (student), Grahastha (married), Vanaprastha (retired), and Sannyasa (detached).
The path of devotion is described as the most confidential path back to Godhead. It is described as the “elevator” approach to Krishna as opposed to all the other “staircase” paths. Bhakti yoga does not mean inactivity. Indeed, a bhakta is most active, for he sees all his activities now in relation to the Supreme. In the Jnana section, Krishna elaborates about the five factors of existence: Isavara (God), jivatma (soul), kala (time), karma (actions), and prakriti (nature).
As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.”
The entire talk of lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita is encouraging, motivating and hope-giving. It is evident when Arjuna becomes ready to give up his negative notion about fight and shows his readiness to do the will of Krishna (Gita, 18.73). Thus, filled with love, positivity, inspiration and wisdom, Gita till date acts as a beacon to the world.
The writer is an ISKCOn spiritual guru