Is the Bhagavad Gita Timeless?
With over 23 million people watching Game of Thrones, it should not be a question if people would be interested in reading about outdated battle scenes or ways of living. Of course, the ancient scripture, Bhagavad Gita, is not meant for entertainment, but to share a story that awakens people to their highest possibilities in an entertaining way.
The Bhagavad Gita depicts the conversation between Krishna, who represents God, and Arjuna, the Pandava brother who represents the third chakra, the seat of will power. The five Pandava brothers, representing the first five chakras, and their 100 cousins, the Kauravas, who represent what are deemed to be negative qualities, battle each other for the throne of their kingdom.
Just before the battle begins Arjuna asks his charioteer, Krishna, to drive between the armies to get a good look at the scene. As if he is in the center of a spine with upward moving energy on one side and downward moving energy on the other side he slackens his bow and asks how he could possibly fight his relatives. Thus ensues the conversation where Krishna tries to explain to him it is the right thing to do and how that relates to all actions that activate our highest potential.
Many people take to the Bhagavad Gita like it is their bible and others stray as far away as possible worried about getting too caught up in dogma. The real question is, are these spiritual lessons still applicable to all people today?
In stanzas 4:1,2 Krishna makes the claim, “I gave this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat (the sun-god); Vivasvat passed on the knowledge to Manu (the Hindu law-giver); Manu taught it to Ikshvaku (founder of the solar dynasty of the Kshatriyas). Thus, handed down in orderly succession, the Rajarishis (royal rishis, or sages) knew it. With the long passage of time, however, O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna), this knowledge of Yoga has become greatly diminished on Earth.”
The first thing he is saying is that he shared this wisdom about 120 million years ago before humans even existed. He is implying this wisdom is timeless.
Then he states this “knowledge of Yoga has become greatly diminished on Earth.” He is likely referring to the concept of the Yugas. The Yugas are four stages in a 24,000 year cycle of rising and lowering consciousness. The Bhagavad Gita happened around 900 BC during the decline of consciousness. When consciousness declines, truth gets distorted. It will still be about another 1900 years until our consciousness increases to the point that the Gita happened. Thus it is possible our interpretation today may not be representing the highest intention of these messages.
I do not know Sanskrit well enough to tell you if the interpretations available to us represent a true definition of what we currently have in writing in Sanskrit, which could also be distorted.
What I have noticed, is that the Bhagavad Gita takes you through a voyage of what could be stages on the spiritual path. I went through much of this book disagreeing with some of what I was reading. What I learned is that if I am patient for long enough, the Bhagavad Gita will state the opinion that I do have and trump the previous wisdom.
Many religions and spiritual leaders showed up at a time when it was helpful to create a shift. Moses revealed the ten commandments when the Jews, just freed from slavery, had no guidance to follow. Jesus came when Jews were getting caught in the rules and not thinking for themselves to remind them to seek the same wisdom from within. Buddha came when people were very dependent on their outward rituals.
Maybe the Gita only came for a time period when people needed to define good and bad habits and learn to conquer the negative ones. Or could this be the thing that is timeless when many other religions have claimed to be timeless? Or could this book just be words on a page as described by one of the spiritual teachers I respect? Well, that is up to you to decide.
What I can do, whether or not my interpretations are accurate, is offer you thoughts that feel relevant to today...in next week’s blog. Please stay tuned! I am making the five following claims and will explain them next week:
There is no right and wrong.
Judgement does not equal love.
You are God.
Focusing on overcoming karma, keeps you trapped in karma.
One day, meditation will be considered a drug.
If you want to review these discussions, you are invited to watch the recordings from the Bhagavad Gita in the New Age online book study group.
There is some evidence that there really was a war and that the five Pandava brothers existed. Nevertheless, the whole battle is a fascinating allegory whether you agree with it or not. When you have time, I highly recommend Asha Praver’s free audio clips of the full story called the Mahabharata.