Myths related to the Bhagavada Gita
Bhagavada Gita, in brief, is not just a conversation between Arjun and Lord Krishna. It is a spiritual knowledge imparted by Krishna to Arjun, who in despair seeing his relatives, teachers and friends as his enemy, was confused and shattered. Gita, imparts the knowledge of karma yoga, importance of gyana yoga, consciousness and the truth about the ultimate reality.
Myth 1 : Krishna is the only god (Usually advocated by the people who identify the ultimate reality with a human form and a name ‘Krishna’)
The ancient Indians only believed in the concept of ultimate reality which is called by various names and symbology. They never used words like monotheism or polytheism. They believed that the different aspects of the nature like fire, wind, sun etc are all parts of the nature. Hence in Vedic hymns one can find reveration to the individual elements of the nature in a metaphorically personified form. E.g fire, personfied as agni-dev and sun as surya-dev. The Upanisadic texts proclaim that the Brahman is the one and only Godhead, in the Kathopanisad it is called Visnu and in the Mandukyopanisad it is called Sivam. So it is said in the Vedas: “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti”, which means that the truth is called by different names. The chapter 10 of Bhagavada-Gita alone teaches of the various conceptions about the ultimate reality idenitifed by different names.
BG 10.20: I am the Supersoul, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.
BG 10.21: Of the ?dityas I am Vis?n?u, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Mar?ci, and among the stars I am the moon.
BG 10.22: Of the Vedas I am the S?ma Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force [consciousness].
BG 10.23: Of all the Rudras I am Lord ?iva, of the Yaks?as and R?ks?asas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera], of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of mountains I am Meru.
BG 10.24: Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Br?haspati. Of generals I am K?rtikeya, and of bodies of water I am the ocean.
BG 10.25: Of the great sages I am Bhr?gu; of vibrations I am the transcendental om?. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa], and of immovable things I am the Him?layas.
BG 10.26: Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am N?rada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.
BG 10.27: Of horses know Me to be Uccaih??rav?, produced during the churning of the ocean for nectar. Of lordly elephants I am Air?vata, and among men I am the monarch.
BG 10.28: Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi. Of causes for procreation I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am V?suki.
BG 10.29: Of the many-hooded N?gas I am Ananta, and among the aquatics I am the demigod Varun?a. Of departed ancestors I am Aryam?, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death.
BG 10.30: Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahl?da, among subduers I am time, among beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garud?a.
BG 10.31: Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am R?ma, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.
BG 10.32: Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.
BG 10.33: Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahm?.
BG 10.34: I am all-devouring death, and I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.
BG 10.35: Of the hymns in the S?ma Veda I am the Br?hat-s?ma, and of poetry I am the G?yatr?. Of months I am M?rga??rs?a [November-December], and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.
BG 10.36: I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.
BG 10.37: Of the descendants of Vr?s?n?i I am V?sudeva, and of the P?n?d?avas I am Arjuna. Of the sages I am Vy?sa, and among great thinkers I am U?an?.
BG 10.38: Among all means of suppressing lawlessness I am punishment, and of those who seek victory I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am the wisdom.
BG 10.39: Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being — moving or nonmoving — that can exist without Me.
Myth 2 : Krishna was egotistical as he asked to worship him (Usually propagated by the anti-hindus)
This kind of criticism is usually done by the anti-hindus. In Gita, there are several places where Lord Krishna articulates with pronouns like “I am, Me”. The most critical part in that understanding is as to what that “I, Me” actually refers to? This is the explanation given in the whole of Bhagvada-Gita. It is the explanation of ultimate reality which consists of spiritual energies, knowledge, material manifestations etc, every thing that emanates out of that ultimate reality or that definition behind “I, Me” (BG 12.3-4, 12.5-7, 10.2-3, 10.12-13, 9.4, 9.10-11, 10.8). This further explains the concept of avatar in Hinduism. An avatar is simply a divine and living manifestation of the supreme reality according to hinduism.
Gita is a divine knowledge and nowhere Lord Krishna force Arjun to acknowledge his words. He only says, it his opinion.
BG 6.36: For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion.
BG 18.63: Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
It was only Arjun who asked Krishna to help him as he was depressed and disturbed to see his relatives, teachers and friends in the battlefield (as explained in chapter 1 and 2). Krishna was only trying to help him.
By Prashant Saxena