* श्लोक ४ *
अर्जुन उवाच ।
अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वत: ।
कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति ॥ ४॥
Here, Arjuna has a question.
Arjuna tells भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: that I know about your birth and life, but विवस्वान् was born a very long time ago, so Arjuna thinks, how is it possible that भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: taught विवस्वान् ?
Arjuna, may have been wondering~ is everything okay with You श्री कृष्ण:? We pray to सूर्य भगवान्, so how is this possible? Where is the proof that You indeed taught this to विवस्वान् ?
* श्लोक ५ *
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन ।
तान्यहं वेद सर्वाणि न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप ॥ ५॥
भगवान् responds that indeed there have been many births (जन्मानि-plural for birth); that so many lives have passed for you and me. In this way भगवान् references rebirth.
भगवान् says- And I happen to know all of my lifetimes/manifestations,
but, त्वं न वेत्थ ~ you(परन्तप- Arjuna, the scorcher of all enemies) don’t know.
Our mind is so caught up dealing with memories of this lifetime, imagine how difficult life would be if we remembered all prior lifetimes?!
So here भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: is hinting that He is भगवान् |
* श्लोक ६ *
अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन् ।
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय सम्भवाम्यात्ममायया ॥ ६॥
Here, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: says-
I am अज: ~ I was never born,
I am अव्ययात्मा ~ my knowledge does not change/reduce/decline,
I am ईश्वर: ~ ऐश्वरस्य भाव: i.e. overlordship- the one who doesn’t have a boss.
I am the causeless cause, the Lord of all भूत (beings); both the material and the intelligence is भगवान् |
My own प्रकृति I wield and use this material cause as an instrument for सम्भवामि (to come into manifestation).
आत्ममायया ~ I am not born as a result of कर्म, but by my own creative power.
So, for the Magician, there is no magic. The Magician knows the sleight of hand used in performing the trick. But to the onlooker/experiencer, it seems as if it is magic. For the Magician, he wields his own power.
In this way, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: refers to Himself as भगवान् |
So we see from श्लोक १- ८ that स्तुति/glory is done of the गीता with:
– स्तुति/glory of the परम्पर,
– reference to the manifestation called as अवतार |
So here भगवान् is leading up to why He comes on this Earth.
So, Arjuna’s question in श्लोक ४ is a valid question because in Arjuna’s mind, he knows भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: in this lifetime.
But when भगवान् says, I am भगवान्, it is not a statement of arrogance, it is a statement of Truth.
I am भगवान्, I was never born, I oversee all that happens. माया is my शक्ति and I wield it.
So the question comes- why is all this?
Arjuna may have had that question- why did भगवान्, the Lord of all beings who wields प्रकृति & माया, come here?
So, then श्लोक ७ & ८ come which are famous verses which refer to being an अवतार |
अवतार is an incarnation/manifestation of भगवान् |
So, भगवान् says-
* श्लोक ७ *
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥ ७॥
यदा यदा- Whenever,
धर्मस्य ग्लानि: भवति- there is a decline in धर्म,
भारत् ~ Arjuna (descendent of भारत्),
अभ्युत्थानम् अधर्मस्य ~ when there is an increase in अधर्म, with wrong living everywhere,
तदा ~ then,
आत्मानं सृजामि अहम् ~ I bring myself into a particular incarnation.
श्लोक ८ further describes the purpose of अवतार –
* श्लोक ८ *
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥ ८॥
So, the purpose of अवतार is to protect the साधु-s/good people i.e. the one’s aligned with/committed to धर्म |
One’s commitment to धर्म shows as one being a धर्मी i.e. one lives धर्म |
सामान्य धर्म includes:
– अहिंसा ~ causing the least injury,
– दया ~ compassion,
– दान ~ giving what I have,
– इन्द्रियनिग्रह ~ mastery of the sense organs.
In values, there is always scope for one to improve and grow more.
– With the value of सत्यम्, people know that they can depend on me. If I give my word, they know that I will honor it, and that I will speak the Truth. This is because one is aligned to functional reality. One is focused on what is, instead of what is not and what I do not have.
– शौचम् ~ value for cleanliness both external and internal. So internally one does not nurse a lot of regret/guilt.
But, one has so much hurt/guilt. So, one should deal with it by either processing it or throwing it out, but one should not carry it forward.
So, भगवान् says that I have come as an अवतार, so people can live a good life i.e. a life of धर्म |
One should recognize that there is goodness in me, and see the goodness elsewhere, and know that I do what I can to contribute to a lot of change. And this goodness & धर्म can be the basis for the pursuit of काम & अर्थ |
So, people doing good should be protected.
What about those doing अधर्म?
दुष्कृताम् विनाशाय ~ destroy those who are following अधर्म |
This should not be taken literally.
Some people, e.g. a terrorist may not be available for any transformation, and because they are killing civilians, they have to be destroyed i.e. they have to be killed. In this way हिंसा is as important as अहिंसा | But, one should note that the धर्म of the civilian is अहिंसा; हिंसा is reserved for the defense force, if required.
अधर्म can also ‘die’ when a person has a change of heart and no longer does actions that are अधार्मिक् |
For instance, laws can cause fear in people and so prevent अधर्म |
For example, in Saudi Arabia one’s hand can be chopped off for stealing. So, the fear of the consequence is the motivating factor that keeps the person in line.
But also, one should see the value of values.
सामान्य धर्म may be presented as moral injunctions. But we are naturally rebellious and so do not want to follow.
But if I see the value of values, e.g. दानम्, then I give as a person.
But one should not give as overcompensation. E.g. Karana from the Mahabharata was very denied and deprived in childhood. He took the value of दानम् to an extreme. He was born with armor, but he gave it away when it was requested of him because he wanted to uphold the identity that he did not refuse anyone who came to him. In this way he endangered his own life.
So, one should not take a value to the extreme; one should understand the context and apply it.
With respect to दानम्, one should see what giving does for me & others too.
When one lives a life of धर्म, one feels happy about it, and rests comfortably. And this is okay to feel happy about the good I did, knowing that I am definitely contributing to the happiness of others also.
So, the reason for divine incarnation is for धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय~ the purpose of establishing धर्म | It is to-
(i) Protect the people who are धार्मिक् |
(ii) Destroy/convert the people who are अधार्मिक् |
(iii) Establish धर्म |
Through the constitution/justice system, it enforces certain behavior based on crime & punishment.
But धर्म is a self-regulating framework, where by understanding the value of धर्म, everyone regulates themselves because of the understanding of the consequences of doing wrong.
E.g. Self-regulation for Kumbha Mela- though there are kilometers of people, there is no stampede with resultant death. The police on horseback move around the crowds and due to the fear of being trampled, everyone becomes organized and self-regulated.
धर्म is like this.
When one does not follow धर्म, e.g. if one hurts another, one regrets it, and it gnaws at one.
This is because धर्म lies in one’s heart. This is भगवान्’s gift so we are able to self-regulate due to this voice of धर्म |
This voice should be loud & clear, but sometimes we subdue and pacify this voice.
The more I create division in the way I think and act, e.g. I think something but do something else, then I am not together as a person. Then, I am not available for any pursuit.
And if there is this internal conflict, there is no harmony/happiness. Then, there is no more meaning left in life.
This is the disturbance in धर्म at an individual level.
Then, there is धर्म at the level of society, where what is good is rewarded. There are structures, guidelines and organizations that uphold ethics.
So, when भगवान् talks of the establishment of धर्म, He is talking of the establishment of धर्म at the level of society also.
So, in order to establish धर्म, in every युग, भगवान् takes अवतार |
Time is cyclical. One कल्प is 4 युग-s.
In the वराहपुराण, धर्म is presented metaphorically as a bull. (see Slack under Gita-amrtam channel for PDF on this)
The four legs of the bull represent सत्यम्, शौचम्, तपस् and दानम्, which are very important for धर्म |
(i) सत्ययुग – All 4 legs of the bull are present i.e. people practiced धर्म | At this time, the ऋषि-s had a lot of power so a mere utterance by Them could bring a curse or blessing.
(ii) त्रेतायुग – The bull stands on 3 legs, due to committed पापा |
(iii) द्वापरयुग – The bull stands on 2 legs, as people became more corrupt.
(iv) कलियुग – The bull stands on only 1 leg. So, there is complete decline of धर्म | There are many predictions of what is to come. Currently we are in the beginning/golden age of कलियुग, so this is not the terrible part of कलियुग |
So, भगवान् will come in every युग in order to establish धर्म |
This is not in the sense of Him being a Saviour.
It is to rekindle धर्म in one’s heart so that we self-regulate, and have ethical practices in our work & dealings with others, and so re-establish धर्म |