California, USA — January 11th, 2013
The Hidden Treasure
The Bhagavad Gita is a very powerful book. When I first began reading Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad's Bhagavad Gita, As It Is in 1981, I started reading from Chapter Two, "Contents of the Gita Summarized." By the time I read Krishna's concise explanation of the transmigration of the soul in Verse 13, I was convinced; I was ready to try to devote the rest of my life to the pursuit of Krishna consciousness.
I had never heard of Krishna consciousness or met any devotees before reading Bhagavad Gita, so you can see just how powerful this book is, at least in my humble experience.
After I came to the lotus feet of Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj at our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Navadwip, I was introduced to His Divine Grace's own translation of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, and was astonished to find that Srila Guru Maharaj takes us even deeper into this transcendental conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, to reveal The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute (PDF).
With so many translations of Bhagavad Gita to choose from, it is easy to become confused — to think that one copy is the same or as good as the other — but if we want to understand Krishna's message, we must read the versions presented by His pure devotees, not the self-serving concoctions of ambitious scholars, empirical philosophers, or envious impersonalists.
Bhagavad Gita can only have such a powerful effect — we can only discover The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute — when it is presented As It Is by the pure devotees of Lord Krishna, and read under the guidance of a senior Vaishnava mentor. These two copies of Bhagavad Gita — the aforementioned volumes by Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Prabhupad — are my constant companions.
When we read Bhagavad Gita, we should not think that because this conversation takes place thousands of years ago on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, it is ancient history. Although ostensibly speaking to Arjuna, Krishna is really speaking to us:
Bhagavan Sri Krishna mercifully gave His divine glance to everyone through His lecture to Arjuna, and He distributed the essence of the Vedas and all the scriptures for the spiritual evolution of everyone.
Krishna is waiting to talk to us whenever we choose to open the pages of Bhagavad Gita. It is a living conversation that we can have, right now, with God.
Krishna gives us so much hope in Bhagavad Gita!
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto / mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te / pratijane priyo 'si me
—Bhagavad Gita (18:65)
"If you always think of Me (man-mana), devote yourself to Me (bhava mad-bhakto), worship Me (mad-yaji), and give yourself completely to Me (mam namaskuru), your ardent search for Me (mam evaisyasi) will ultimately be successful (satyam te). This I guarantee (pratijane), My dear friend (priyo 'si me)."
sarva-dharman parityajya / mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo / moksayisyami ma sucah
—Bhagavad Gita (18:66)
"Ignore all the scriptures (sarva-dharman parityajya) that don't teach that your only duty is to love Me and to serve Me exclusively (mam ekam saranam), like the Gopis of Vrindavan (vraja), because anything not done solely for Me (aham tvam sarva) is sinful (papebhyo), really. If you do this, I will take responsibility for your actions (moksayisyami), so don't be afraid (ma sucah)."
In Chapter 11, Spiritual Revolution, of Srila Gurudeva's Amnaya Tattva — Revealed Truth, His Divine Grace, alluding to the first of these verses, shows how the evolution of consciousness culminates in Krishna consciousness,
In Srimad Bhagavad Gita Krishna explains the evolution of consciousness. Krishna explains how the conditioned souls can advance from irreligious life into yoga, and how their yoga practice as buddhi-yoga can evolve from karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, etc., into bhakti-yoga.
and then expresses his constant astonishment at the revolution of consciousness contained in the second verse:
By Krishna's will the Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishads, eighteen Puranas, etc., appear in this world, and all of their teachings gradually lead everyone towards worshiping Krishna... However, Krishna Himself always knocks the Vedic channel [path]; He Himself always minimizes the teachings of the Vedas.
This is miraculous! I am surprised by this, and not only temporarily, I am permanently surprised by this... Krishna's dismissal of the Vedic teachings must be surprising to almost everyone. It must be surprising to hear that the final advice of the Vedas is to ignore the general line of progress the Vedas teach!
...Krishna is a revolutionary. Krishna makes the rules and Krishna breaks the rules. And why? For Himself. "Reality is by Itself and for Itself." Krishna is the Absolute Reality, by Himself and for Himself — everything is really only for His play and satisfaction — and the jiva-souls who realize this revolutionary ideal experience the supreme joy of Krishna consciousness.
This verse from Bhagavad Gita is indeed revolutionary. As Srila Guru Maharaj explains in his Commentary on Verse 18:66, in Srimad Bhagavad Gita — The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute:
Here, the glory of the hidden purpose in the Bhagavad Gita is sung (gita-gudartha-gauravam):
"Give up all engagements and come to Me. You won't have to repent, Arjuna, because I am everything to you, and you are everything to Me. This is the most hidden of all hidden truths. What more can I say? And you will find this in Vraja."
There is a literary ornament in Sanskrit called dhvani (echo), by which a word echoes (suggests) an additional meaning. Here, such a hint is given:
mam ekam saranam 'vraja'*
*In the verse, vraja means 'go,' and Vraja is also a name of Vrindavan.
"You may 'go' to 'Vraja,' and there you will find the most hidden of all hidden truths (sarva-guhyatamam). The deepest secret of the inner loving heart has been fully revealed there: I am beyond all conceptions of religion, society, friends — everything. My position is above everything, and in the heart of the heart of everything. In the eternal land of Vraja, you will experience the whole conception of beauty. Dismiss all other engagements and prospects, and come to Me alone. Your inner hankering will be fulfilled beyond your expectations. You will find such dignity in Me that you will be beyond reaction and repentance."
This is the deepest meaning of the highest glory. If one comes to this conception, everything else will be seen as sin:
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo / moksayisyami
Everything conceived of as duty or purity in this material world will be seen as sinful, and all conceptions of religiosity will be reduced to the level of sin. In the absolute plane, everything and everyone belongs wholly to Krishna, and the slightest deviation from this ideal is no better than committing sin.
In this world, every action (good or bad) not performed exclusively for Krishna's enjoyment, is more or less sinful (wrong or misguided) because it delays liberation (moksha): it causes a reaction that must be rewarded or punished within the confines of this material world.
Mere self-forgetfulness leads to impersonalism and culminates in deep slumber. But self-forgetfulness (sarva-dharman parityajya) in Krishna's service (mam ekam saranam vraja) is positive and living. It is the full, absolute plane of life. The hidden treasure attracts our hearts. We have been deprived of our heart's deepest interest. Though we have a natural claim to it, it has been hidden from us (srutibhir vimrgyam).
In an unparalleled way, Sri Gita considers all these aspects and directs us to the correct meaning and conclusion of all the Upanishads. From this point, the Srimad Bhagavatam begins.
Bhagavad Gita is such an immensely powerful scripture because it is, literally, "The Word of God." In the Brahma Samhita we are told that in the kingdom of God, every word is a song (katha ganam). This conversation between Krishna and His friend Arjuna is therefore described as "The Song (Gita) of God (Bhagavan)."
So before we read Bhagavad Gita, we should pray,
"O Krishna, please let the melodious vibration of Your voice — the sweet flute-song emanating from Your lotus-lips — resonate, like sonar, in the sea of selfishness that fills my heart, and reveal the hidden treasure of selfless devotional service that is buried so deeply in its murky depths,"
because it is impossible to locate this treasure without help — and without an unselfish desire to serve Krishna's agent, the guardian of this secret inheritance that we have been deprived of for so long.
If we wish to discover The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute that Krishna covertly reveals to Arjuna in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, we have to follow the same method that Krishna gives to Arjuna:
tad viddhi pranipatena / pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam / jnaninas tattva-darsinah
—Bhagavad Gita (4:34)
According to our sincerity and the intensity of our prayer (to quote from a previous blog), if we are exclusively surrendered and attentive to our guru (pranipatena), if we are honestly seeking an answer from him (pariprasnena) not for our own selfish reasons, but only with the desire to serve him (sevaya), we will be able to uncover, to some degree, this hidden treasure (tad viddhi) of the Sweet Absolute.
Only our gurus, who are completely and exclusively surrendered to Krishna (jnaninas), can unearth this hidden treasure, because only they are in tune with Krishna's divine voice (tattva-darsinah).
With Srila Guru Maharaj as our interpreter and our guide, we can begin to decipher some of the clues (upadeksyanti te jnanam) to The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute concealed in the timeless advice that Krishna gives to Arjuna in Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
Tags: Bhagavad Gita
Layout by iMonk — January 11th, 2013.