Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, Sloka 4

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath
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Sloka 4

ARJUNA UVACHA

APARAM BHAVATO JANMA PARAM JANMA VIVASWATAHA
KATHAM ETAD VIJANEEYAM TVAM ADAU PROKTAVAAN ITI

Arjuna asked,

Later was your birth, earlier the birth of Vivaswan. How then am I to understand that you taught him in the beginning?

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This question is to unravel the mystery of who Krishna really is.

It appears Arjuna is questioning the validity of the authority of Krishna’s statement. How could the friend he knew for so many years say that He is prior to Vivaswan? Sage poet Veda Vyasa has made Arjuna come out with this question on behalf of mankind who would also entertain the same doubt.

The facial expression on Arjuna must have made Krishna realise that it was a genuine question. The reply from Krishna that comes in the next Sloka makes it clear that Krishna considered it as a question from a genuine seeker in the spiritual path.

If we recollect the story of Mahabharata, we will find that Yudhistira, elder brother of Arjuna conducted Rajasuya Yaga. During the proceedings, Krishna was insulted by the prince Shishupala. Krishna assumes a divine form and uses his wheel and beheads Shishupala. For some reason, Arjuna did not question who Krishna was at that time. Arjuna must have known that Krishna is the Lord Supreme of the universe. It must have appeared as a mystery and the events in the battlefield made him come out with the question. He wished, for the sake of the common man, that the Lord Himself should unravel the mystery.

We, the humans have an evolved physical body and with that we can have three planes of vision of the world and the objects in it depending upon our spiritual maturity. The three planes from lower level to the highest level of maturity are as follows:

a)  The physical external plane of vision. With the assistance of the sense organs, we can fathom the form, colour, complexion and shape of the object/person. This is external appearance only. This is deha drishti.

b)  Using the mind and intellect, he is able to consider the character, quality and nature of the object/person. This is mano drishti.

c)  Using the highest spiritual entity in him, he can visualise the Atman within all forms of life. This is Atma drishti.

The first two are relative truths from the physical and mental plane of vision and the third is Absolute truth from the spiritual plane of vision.

The entire Gita and the Vedic philosophy are to assist the seeker to develop the spiritual plane of vision and see the Absolute Truth of the Atman/Parabrahman in the entire universe.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK. 
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at “snath@btinternet.com“.

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