The Bhagavad-gītā is Lord Krishna’s teaching to Arjuna. This basic fact is extremely significant.
One day, a person came up to me and said, “Swamiji, I am familiar with the Gītā – the Holy Book that Arjuna taught to Krishna!
“No,” I corrected him, “it is the other way around.”
“What difference does it make – who taught whom!” he retorted
True, as far as the knowledge is concerned, the identities of the teacher and taught, to a certain extent, are inconsequential. However, in the case of the Bhagavad-gītā, it is of the utmost importance. We cannot say Arjuna taught Sri Krishna.
Let us see why this is so and what makes the Gītā so special and unique.
A Divine Dialogue
Firstly, let us begin with the Gītā Dhyāna Ślokas that offer salutations to the divine powers and point out the relationship between the Gītā and the Upanishads. The Ślokas are normally recited before beginning a study of the Gītā. The very first verse states:
Om pārthāyapratibodhitāḿ bhagavatānārāyaṇenasvayam- ́
vyāsena grathitāḿ purāṇa-muninā madhye mahābhāratam
advaitāmṛta-v- arṣiṇīḿ bhagavatīm aṣṭādaśādhyāyinīḿ
am- batvāmanusandadhāmi bhagavad-gīte bhavadveṣiṇīm
Here, the Gita is addressed as ‘Amba’ – Mother. “O affectionate and divine Mother Bhagavad-gītā, the destroyer of rebirth…I constantly meditate on you.”
When the Bhagavad-gita, is addressed as ‘Mother’ the implication is that, above all, a mother has love for her children; she is concerned about them and continually worried about their welfare. Similarly, the Gītā has love for all of us and is only interested in our happiness and well-being.
The next line – Om pārthāya pratibodhitāḿ bhagavatā nārāyaṇena svayaḿ – categorically affirms thatNarayana Bhagwan, the Lord Himself taught the Gītā to Partha, Arjuna. Also, – vyāsenagrathitāḿ purāṇa-muninā madhye mahābhāratam – it was the great sage VedVyasa who composed the Gītā, in the form of poetry, and placed it in the middle of the great epic, Mahabharata.
Now, here is a point of interest. In Chapter X of the Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord declares that He is the source of everything (X/8), but wherever and whenever we see something glorious, spectacular and powerful – it is His special glory; it is His very exclusive manifestation – Vibhooti(X/41). Sri Krishna points out that among the Pandavas, He is Arjuna; among the great sages, He is Vyasa; and among the Vrishnis, He is Vasudeva Sri Krishna. These are His exceptional manifestations and glories.
Who is the teacher of the Gītā? Bhagwan Himself. Who is the student? Bhagwan in another form – Arjuna – who, as already pointed out, was His own glory. Who is the composer? VedVyasa Rishi, another manifestation of the Lord’s beauty and brilliance. Bhagwan is speaking of His glory to His own glory and the whole phenomenon is narrated by Sanjaya, an eminent devotee of the Lord.
When the Gītā was first translated in English it was called ‘The Song Celestial.’ Logically, if Divinity is everywhere, the resultant song (gīta) can only be divine. This is the first speciality of the Bhagavad-gītā: since the speaker/teacher, the student, the composer and the writer were all divine, the consequent creation is, naturally, very divine. Therefore, the Gītā is divine knowledge given by Divinity Incarnate.
The Author is the head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide.