Bhagavadgita -Radhakrishnan 17

The Bhagavadgita -S. Radhakrishnan

5. Krsna, the teacher

Megasthenes (320 B.c.) states that Herakles was worshipped by the Saurasenoi (Surasenas) in whose land are two great cities, Methora (Mathura) and Kleisobora (Krsnapura). Heliodorus, the Greek Bhagavata from Taxila, calls Vasudeva, devadeva (god of gods) in the Besnagar inscription (180 B.C.). The Nanaghat inscription, which belongs to the first century before the Christian era, mentions Vasudeva among the deities invoked in the opening verse. Some of the principal personages like Radha, Yasoda and Nanda figure in Buddhist legends. Patanjali, in his Mahabhasya, commenting on Pammi, IV, 3, 98, calls Vasudeva Bhagavat. The book is called Bhagavadgita because Krsna is known in the Bhagavata religion as Sri Bhagavan. The doctrine which he preaches is the Bhagavata creed. In the Gita, Krsna says that he is not expressing any new view but is only repeating what has been preached by him to Vivasvan and by Vivasvan to Manu and by Manu to Iksvaku.[1] M.B. says that "the Bhagavata religion has been traditionally handed down by Vivasvan to Manu and by Manu to Iksvaku.'"'[2]The two traditions similarly propagated must have been the same. There are other evidences also. In the exposition of the Narayaniya or the Bhagavata religion, it is said that this religion was described by the Lord previously in the Bhagavadgita.[3] Again, it is declared that it "was taught by the Lord when, during the fight between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, both the armies had got ready for war and Arjuna had become depressed."[4] This is the religion of monotheism (ekantika).

In the Gita Krsna is identified with the Supreme Lord, the unity that lies behind the manifold universe, the change-less truth behind all appearances, transcendent over all and immanent in all. He is the manifested Lord,[5] making it easy for mortals to know, for those who seek the Imperishable Brahman reach Him no doubt but after great toil. He is called Paramatman which implies transcendence ; he is jiva-bhuta, the essential life of all.

How can we identify an historical individual with the Supreme God? The representation of an individual as identical with the Universal Self is familiar to Hindu thought. In the Upanisads, we are informed that the fully awakened soul, which apprehends the true relation to the Absolute sees that it is essentially one with the latter and declares itself to be so.


References and Context

  1. IV, I, 3.
  2. Santiparva, 348, 51-2
  3. kathito harigitasu. Santiparva, 346, 10.
  4. sarnupodhesvanikesu hurupandavayor mrdhearjune vimanaske ca gita haavatar svayam . santiparva, 348, 8.
  5. Above 12,1