WISDOM OF GEETAA'S TEACHINGS AND BIBLE'S PREACHINGS
Sri Krishna revealed himself as Bhagawan in Bhagavadgeeta (Narayana) and taught his ardent and intelligent disciple Arjuna, who was Nara, assuming the role of a Guru. Virtually Bhagawan was the virtual author of Bhagavadgeeta at the delivering end with support from Bhishma, the wise, Arjuna being at the receiving end, Sanjaya being the narrator and the blind king Dhritarashtra, the frustrated listener. The compiler was the great sage Vedavyasa ably assisted by Lord Ganesha as the scriber, who gifted the Celestial Song to the humanity. Lord Krishna revealed his cosmic form (Vishwaroopa) to a limited few in his scintillating stay in this world –Yashodha, Arjuna, Bheeshma, Duryodhana, Shishupala, Dhritarashtra etc.
Jesus Christ revealed himself as the Son of God and preached his apostles mostly drawn from the lowest rung of the human society and the general masses of all complexities. He himself was not the author of the holy Bible but his apostles later compiled all that Jesus had said and preached from their understanding, noting and hearings. Holy Bible contains most of Christ's preaching and words of wisdom.
Holy Geeta, Holy Bible and other holy scriptures are open to all. Just like sciences are open to everyone, so are all religions. Geeta conveys that the world needs different religions, cults, and deities to meet the vastly different needs of individuals. Sri Krishna of Nandagokula gave the Geeta and Jesus of Nazareth the Bible, who were responsible for their gift to the humanity, to give the benefit of their wisdom and advice. They are available today in every corner of this planet with the added explanations and elucidations from the learned gurus. Holy Bible went through several changes before it got finally adopted by religious authorities as the official version, called St. James's Version. Nobody made bold to do any such house cleaning for the Geeta which is now available in its original form as compiled by the great sage Vedavyasa including the grammar of its divine language kept in tact.
Wisdom contained in the Geeta and the Bible existed long before the arrival of Sri Krishna or Jesus Christ in the human arena as Eternal Tradition and the Universal Truth. They came to remind us of the diminishing or forgotten wisdom to give us the tranquility, happiness and equanimity.
Vedas state: "prajaapati vai idam agre aaseet (In the beginning was Prajaapati, Brahman); Tasya vag dwiteeyam aaseet (with whom was the Word); Vag vai parama Brahma (and the word was verily the Supreme Brahman). Lord Krishna refers to this in his discourses in Geeta and says: "Among the great sages, I am Bhrigu, in speech the single-syllable OM (AUM), I am the Self located in the inner psyche (Consciousness) of all created beings. I am also their origin, middle and final end (Geeta X-25 and 20).
John 1:1 states: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God". Bible refers to the mystic sounds like AMEN or AUM here.
Truth is one; it is Eternal; it is Sanatana; it is Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Tradition). Therefore, Jesus could not have preached anything other than what Sri Krishna told to Arjuna. Sri Krishna spoke to his wise and intelligent student; Jesus preached to masses of all complexities. Therefore, the difference prevails in the approach and presentation of the same subject. Geeta existed at least 3000 years before the arrival of the Bible. The wisdom contained therein existed as Eternal Tradition before its revelation in Geeta.
All through the Bhagavadgeeta Sri Krishna says, "I am the way" and "come to me". In the Holy Bible, Jesus Christ revealed himself as the Son of God and made similar statements several times. Sri Krishna and Jesus Christ spoke in the same manner because both came as Infinite Power in Finite Form.
Vedas say: "Let noble thoughts come from all quarters (Rigveda 1.89.01)". Sometimes reading of various scriptures helps our vision and power of understanding. To understand the deeper meaning of the words of Christ spoken to simple folks needs the help from the Bhagavadgeeta and other scriptures spoken to limited and enlightened audience. For example, Jesus said, "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body should be cast into hell and if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish and not thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew 5:29-30; Mark 9:45—47). Bhagawan, in verses 58—70 of Chapter II of Geeta says: "all senses (indriyas) have love affairs with sense objects. Just like a tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell when it perceives danger, so too wise men withdraw their senses from sense objects when they see that the senses are losing themselves in the sense objects. Without the proper control of the senses, nobody can realize the Absolute Truth". This is what Jesus meant when he said that one should cut off his limb.
There are inscriptions in Pali language in Tibet and a book by a Russian author who visited Tibet about a saint named Isa or Issa. Some believe that the saint Issa was Jesus Christ and that he was in India during the unknown years of Christ. Of course we have no conclusive proof. Nevertheless, what intrigues us most is the striking similarity between certain aspects of Christianity and Hinduism, though not a surprise to a vedantin.
Swami Vivekananda says: "I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them all; I shall enter the Christian's church and kneel before the crucifix", in his address to the world gathering in USA. "Watch and pray, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, which means purify your mind and you be ready! And the spirit never dies" says further Vivekananda. Of course, Swami Vivekananda had in his mind the holy Geeta and the holy Bible in his mind while he spoke these words to the world gathering.
There is more value in sharing spiritual practices than in getting people to assume different identities. This has been the objective of the great Hindu spiritual and political leaders like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Dr Annie Besant, and Mahatma Gandhi, who were themselves deeply engrossed in Sanatana Dharma. The present lecture in learning the wisdom from, the teachings in the Geeta and preaching in the Bible focuses on this point. Let us review both the Bible and the Geeta with this perspective:
Talking on the subject of transcendental knowledge, Bhagavan Sri Krishna in II-22 of Geeta says: "The soul goes on taking an endless number of bodies, until the soul exhausts all karmas attached to the soul. This process is known as Reincarnation". In the holy Bible, Christ said: "But I say unto you that Elias is come already, and they know him not (Matthew 17:12)" and "Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist (Matthew 7:13)". Jesus says in Matthew 10:28: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul". Through these lines Christ is declaring to the world that the beheaded John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elias. The teachings of reincarnation were expunged from the Bible in the 6th century by the Second Council of Constantinople as anathema, finally, though originally found in the Bible, in the process of several house cleanings.
Talking on the subject as above, in II-33 of the Geeta, Bhagawan says: "But if you do not fight this righteous battle, you have failed in your duty, lost your honor and incurred sin". It is better to die for a right cause and acquire the grace of sacrifice than to die an ordinary but compulsory death. Matthew 5:10 in the Bible says: "Happy are those who suffer persecution because they do what God requires. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them".
Talking on the subject of Karma Yoga, Geeta III-16 says: "The one who does not help to turn the wheel of creation in motion by sacrificial duty is full of sin and the life of him who is slave to the senses is worthless". John 12:24 in the Bible says: "A grain of wheat is a simple grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. Saints, trees, rivers and earth are for the use of others.
Geeta III-21, talking on the same subject as above says: "whatever a great man does is also done by ordinary people. The world follows whatever norm he sets". Christ says in John 13:15: "I have set an example to you, so that you will do just what I have done for you".
In Geeta IV-11, talking on the subject of the path of renunciation with knowledge, Bhagawan says: "I satisfy all, whatever the form of worship. My path all follow, in different ways". Christ says: "Ask, and you will receive it; seek and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened (Luke 11:09)".
In Geeta IV-14, talking on the same subject as above, Bhagawan says: "Works do not bind me, nor do I crave for the fruits. He who knows me in this light is free and not bound by action". All works including prayer should be undertaken for a just cause, rather than for personal gain. Christ says in Mark 10:44, "Whoever wants to be first must place oneself last and be the servant of all".
In IV-34 of Geeta, talking on the same subject again Bhagawan says: "Bear in mind that the wise who have seen the Truth will instruct you in knowledge if you show humility in reverence, inquiry and service. Christ in the same context cautioned his followers while choosing a Guru—"Watch out for false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but they are really like wild wolves on the inside (Matthew 7:15)".
In IV-37 of Geeta, talking on the same subject again Bhagawan says: "As a flaming fire consumes logs into ashes, so knowledge consumes Karma". Jesus too says: "You shall know the Truth (knowledge) and the Truth shall make you free (meaning from all bonds of Karmas)" in John 8:32.
In VI-13 of Geeta, talking about the Path of Meditation, Bhagawan says: "One must hold his body still, his head and neck erect, not let his eyes stray, but gaze only at the tip of his nose". In Matthew 6:22 Christ says, 'If your eyes are single your whole body will (seem to be) full of light. Christ was indicating the practice of popular yoga practice here. In the regular yoga practice, in the beginning it is necessary to fix the gaze at the mid-brows or at the chest center before learning to fix the gaze at the tip of the nose. The help of a teacher is highly recommended to achieve this and realize the light, mentioned by Jesus. Speaking on the subject of Self-knowledge and Enlightenment, in VII-03, Bhagawan says to Arjuna: "Out of thousands of men, hardly one attempt to reach perfection and among those who do successfully, hardly one gains the knowledge of me". In the Bible Jesus says: "Many are called but few are chosen"—(Matthew 22:14)
Talking about Eternal Being, Bhagawan says in Geeta, VIII-13: "He who reaches the Supreme goal, forsakes his body with the syllable OM on his lips, symbol of Brahman". The Bible says: In the beginning was the Word (OM, AMEN) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:01). This cosmic sound vibration of AUM and AMEN is heard by yogis as a sound or a mixture of sound, of various frequencies.
Talking on the subject of Supreme Knowledge and the big mystery to Arjuna, Bhagawan says in IX-22 of Geeta, "I personally look after the well being and security of those ever-steadfast devotees who always remember, adore and worship me, immersed in Yoga and single minded contemplation". Christ preached his followers: "Father in Heaven knows all of what you need. Give first place to His Kingdom, and what He requires. He will provide you everything (Matthew 6.32-33)". Of course the Lord chooses much better things for you if you let Him be your guide by surrendering unto His will.
Talking on the same subject as above, Bhagawan says in Geeta IX-29: "I am same towards all creatures. I hate none; but I am embodied in those who worship me with devotion and they are in me". In John 10:38 and 14:11, Christ says: "I am with the Father, and the Father is with me. Also in Matthew 7:07 he says: "Ask it shall be given; seek and you shall find". God's grace is just for the asking. The doors of devotion are open to all.
Continuing on the same topic Bhagawan says in Geeta IX-30: "Even if the most sinful person resolves to worship me with single-minded loving devotion (for example sage Valmiki), such a person must be regarded as a saint because of making the right resolution". The Bible says: "Every one who believes in Him shall have eternal life" (John 3-15). There are no unforgivable sinners or sins. Every saint had a past and every sinner has a future.
Talking about the manifestation of the Absolute, Bhagawan says in X-04-05; 11 of Geeta: "Self knowledge, non-delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control over the mind and senses, tranquility pleasure, pain, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, non-violence, equanimity, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, ill-fame, these diverse qualities in human beings arise from me alone. To bestow on those, who worship me with love, my care and concern, I enter their inner sense, destroying the darkness of ignorance with the glowing lamp of knowledge". Jesus preached in the Bible: "If you forgive others, your father in heaven will also forgive you (Matthew 6:14); Resist no evil with evil (Matthew 5:39); Love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you (Matthew 5:44)".
Talking on the same subject as above, Bhagawan says in X-10 of Geeta: "I enlighten them on metaphysical science and they come to me for they are devoted and steadfast". In John 1:12 the Bible says: Those who receive him and believe in him, he makes them come to the Father in heaven. Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter therein says Luke 18:17".
Continuing on the same theme Bhagawan says in X-41 of Geeta: "Whatever exists and imbued with glory, brilliance and power, know that to be a manifestation of a spark of my splendor. Christ says: "through the Word, his cosmic sound vibration, God made all things; not one thing in the creation was made without his cosmic energy (John1:03)"
Talking to Arjuna on the path of devotion Bhagawan in Geeta XII- 02 says: "Those who worship me single–mindedly as personal God and those who have unshakable faith in me are for me the most learned in Yoga. Jesus says in John 14:06. "I am the way; no one goes to the Father except through me".
Cosmic multi revelation (viswaroopa darshan) is made in chapter XI-12 of Geeta, which says: "If the splendor of thousands of suns were to blaze forth all at once in the sky even that would not resemble the splendor of that mystic cosmic multi-revelation divinity. John 10:9 says: "He came to tell all about light, the light that comes into the world and sustains everything". Robert Oppenheimer quoted this verse as he witnessed the explosion of the first atomic bomb in the Nevada desert having studied Samskrit in his college days.
Talking on the subject of path of devotion Bhagawan says in XII-05 of Geeta: "But the difficulty faced by those who focus their minds on the Imperceptible is greater; for the Imperceptible is perceived with difficulty by those with physical bodies". Jesus once said: "The kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and people do not see". Talking on the subject of Creation and the Creator Bhagawan says in XIII-17 of Geeta: "Parabrahman (the Supreme) is the source of all radiance among radiances shining through the darkness. It is the only knowledge, worth the knowledge. It is located in the inner psyche (consciousness) of everyone. In Bible Jesus says: "I am the light (or knowledge) of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light and will never be in the darkness (of ignorance)—(John 8:12)".
Talking on the subject of creation and the Creator Bhagawan says in Geeta XIII-25 and 26: "Some through the devotion see the Self (Atman); others through the path of knowledge; still others follow the path of action. Others unaware of this worship by hearsay; those are also saved, for they have faith". Jesus says in John 20:2: "Blessed are they that have not understood, yet have believed"; "If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for" in Matthew 21:22. It is not necessary to completely understand God to obtain his grace, to love him and attain him.
Talking about the three characteristics (gunas) of nature Bhagawan says to Arjuna in the Geeta XIV: 04: "Remember, whatever form of birth there is in this world, the great Prakriti (Brahma) is the womb and I am the seed giving father". Jesus said often that our father is in heaven. Jesus should obviously be referring to the one and the same Father for he is one.
Talking about the divine and demonic qualities Bhagawan says in XVI-24 of Geeta: "Therefore, let the scriptures be your authority in determining what should be done and what should not be done. You should perform your duty following the scriptural injunctions". –The Ten Commandments of Hinduism according to Sage Patanjali given in Yoga Shastra are:1) Ahimsa or non-violence 2) Thoughtfulness 3) Non-stealing 4) Celibacy or sense control 5) Non-greed 6) Purity of thought, word and deed 7) Contentment 8) Austerity or renunciation 9) Study of scriptures 10) Surrender to God with faithful loving devotion. The Bible has a parallel in Ten Commandments—1) Thou shall not kill 2) Do not lie 3) Do not steal 4) Do not commit adultery 5) Do not covet 6) Do not divorce your wife 7) Do for others what you want them to do for you 8) Honor your mother and father 9) Love your neighbor as yourself 10) Love thy Lord with all thy heart. Different religious teachings are but different expressions of the Supreme. They are to be respected and not regarded as instruments of division.
Talking on the subject of threefold faith (satva, rajas and tamas gunas), Bhagawan says in XVII-15 of the Geeta: "Speaking that which does not offend, what is true, welcome and beneficial as well as habitual reading of the Vedas aloud are termed as the penance of speech or austerity of the word". In Matthew 15:11 Jesus says: "It is not what goes into a person's mouth that makes one unclean, what comes out of it".
In Geeta 20, 21 and 22, continuing on the same subject, of Chapter XVII, Bhagawan says: "Satvik charity is giving for the sake of giving, that expects no return, giving at the time to right person. Rajasik charity is reluctant giving, giving that expects return, giving that looks for reward. Tamasik charity is giving to the wrong person at the wrong time, giving without any concern, giving with contempt". Jesus said: " When you give something to a person do not make a big show of it, but when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it" (Matthew 6:02-03).
Talking about Moksha (liberation) through renunciation, Bhagawan says in Geeta XVIII-09: "Obligatory work performed as duty, renouncing selfish attachment to the fruit of action, is alone regarded to be sacrifice in the mode of goodness. Christ said: "If you want perfection, give everything you have, and then follow me (Matthew 19:21). No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and mammon, the material desires (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Christ himself did not hesitate to sacrifice his own life for the noble teachings.
Talking on the same subject of liberation Bhagawan says in the Geeta XVIII-55: "By devotion one truly understands what and who I am in essence. Having known me he becomes one with me or merges with me". Jesus said: "The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21). No one can enter the kingdom of God unless one is born again (by realizing that one is not in this body, but the spirit behind the body)—John 3:03". "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never go there (Mark: 10:15)". "The Father and I are one (John 10:30)". Eternal being can be realized by faith and devotion not by logic and reasoning, like the cowherd girls (gopees) and boys (gopas) of Brindavan.
Talking on the same subject of liberation Bhagawan says in Geeta XVIII-61: "The Lord dwells in the inner psyche of all beings, and by his divine (Consciousness) illusion makes all creatures whirl as if placed in a machine". Genesis 9:06 says: "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed". People cannot escape from the consequences of their deeds; for as we sow, so we reap. It is believed that all references to passages of Karma and Reincarnation were taken out of the holy Bible during the sixth century with the noble aim of encouraging people to strive hard for perfection during this very life, in other words Jeevanmukti. Those who believe in reincarnation must avoid laziness and procrastination, stress intense spiritual discipline and try to get self-realization in this very life itself as if there is no incarnation.
Talking on the same subject again, Bhagawan in Geeta XVIII-67 says: "And never repeat this wisdom to the cynical, the sensual, the blasphemous and faithless. Jesus says in the Bible: "Do not give what is holy to dogs. Do not throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will only trample them under their feet (John 6:44)".
Lord Krishna according to Puranas was killed by a hunter mistaking him to be a deer while struck with an arrow. Lord Krishna wanted to show to the world that he was actually obeying the unwritten Karmic Laws. In his last life, he had killed the hunter in a cunning manner—King Vaali and Lord Krishna was the great Lord Rama.
According to Hinduism, Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross to take care of the Karmic debts of all the apostles and devotees around him. Hindus do not believe that Christ took care of the Karmic debt of all humanity. If he had indeed done this, then there would have been no sickness or poverty in the world and the world would have been a living heaven. Both hell and heaven are seen in Hinduism as temporary after-life punishment or reward for all bad deeds or good deeds.
Thus both Lord Krishna and Lord Jesus Christ showed to the World that even God is bound by the Law of Karma once he desires to take to human form.
In Hinduism, tolerance is not simply a matter of policy but an article of faith. There is also no one authority to dictate any policy. It is an Eternal Tradition—Sanatana Dharma. Dharma may be defined as the eternal law governing, upholding and supporting the creation and the world order. A true Hindu never condemns any true religion for Vedas say: "Let noble thoughts come from all quarters" and "Eko vipraha bahuda vadanti"-- the one the wise call by many names. Swami Vivekananda said—"I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only universal tradition, but we accept all religions as true". Further quoting from Upanishads, he said: "As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different tendencies, various, though they appear crooked or straight, all lead to God".
Studying the Holy Geeta and the holy Bible closely, one comes to the conclusion that Christ incarnated again to reiterate and reestablish what Lord Krishna said in the holy Geeta,--"When Dharma reaches a low level again, to save and serve the good, transform the wicked and to re-establish the Eternal Law governing, upholding and supporting the creation and the world, I incarnate again and again".
The Geeta and the Bible prescribe no rituals. The Geeta doctrine is beyond Religious and National boundaries, as evidenced in the citations from holy Bible above. Its message is universal, sublime, and non-sectarian although it is a part of Hinduism. Holy Geeta was given to the world to give tranquility, equanimity and happiness, almost 3000 years before the birth of the holy Bible which preached again to the world many of the teachings of the Bhagawan to Arjuna.
This lecture has been prepared by N.R.Srinivasan for the Vedanta Class at the Sri Ganesha Temple by extracting, abridging and editing from the following literature sources:
1. Dr. Ramananda Prasad, The Bhagavad Gita, American Gita Society, Fremont, CA, USA.
2. P. Lal, The Bhagavad Gita, Roli Books Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
3. Professor Vrinda Nabar & Professor Shanta Tumkur, The Bhagavad Gita, Wordsworth Editions Limited, Hertfordshire, U.K.
4. Harry Bhalla, Beyond Religion, The Gita Doctrine, International Gita Society, Fremont, CA, USA.
5. Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Gita, Central Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai, India.
6. Swami Vivekananda,Vedanta, Advaita Ashram, Kolkata, India. .
7. The Holy Bible, St. James Version.