Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book four, verses 1-3

Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book four, verses 1-3 April 26, 2017

We are doing a scripture study together: reading along through some scriptures and discussing the passages. Here are all of the posts on the previous verses for the Gita: Bhagavad Gita Study

From the Winthrop Sargeant translation of The Bhagavad Gita

1 The Blessed Lord spoke:
I proclaimed this imperishable yoga to Vivasvat;
Vivasvat communicated it to Manu,
And Manu imparted it to Ikshvaku.

2. Thus received by succession,
The royal seers knew this;
After a long time here on earth,
This yoga has been lost, Arjuna.

3. This ancient yoga is today
Declared by Me to you,
Since you are My devotee and friend.
This secret is supreme indeed.

Notes on the Sanskrit

I’ve never heard of some of these people mentioned. I’ve heard of Manu! According to the Sanskrit notes in this book, “Vivasvat” is the father of Manu Vaivasvata, who was the seventh out of a total of fourteen Manus! Also, apparently the “Noah” of Hinduism and the progenitor of the human race (that I’ve heard before, though I didn’t know there were so many people with the same name). Then it seems that Ikshvaku is Manu’s son. So in verse one it is father to son and then that son to his son. Vivasvat is also referred to as the Sun God (I have not heard that before. Surya is the only sun God I am familiar with).

Yoga is the actual word used. The root of the word “yoga” means “yoke” but it most often means a practice or an ongoing discipline, as it does here.

“Blessed Lord” is Sri Bhagavan.

Commentaries From the Gurus

The commentary says that this wisdom/yoga/teaching that was known in the past is the teaching of the Vedas.

It says that Krishna imparted this same wisdom to the Sun “in the beginning of creation in order to confer strength on the Kshatriyas (warriors/rulers).” It was with the strength of this yoga that they were able to protect their citizens. (Or, rather, to protect the brahmins/scholars, and between the two of them they could protect everyone).

“This yoga is immutable as its fruit does not decline…emancipation…is unfailing.” 

Unedited the sentence is: “This Yoga is immutable as its fruit does not decline; for, the fruit of this Yoga, namely, emancipation characterized by the discipline of right perception, is unfailing.”

Bhagavad Gita Bhaasya of Sri Shankaracharya

My Thoughts

This explanation all fits with the general timeline of Hinduism. Basically that important knowledge used to be understood but over time the Earth has run down, chaos in the system has expanded, and knowledge of the supreme Truth has been lost or mostly lost. (“Things that should not have been forgotten” as it says in Lord of the Rings). Krishna was the one who began this knowledge, back in ancient times giving it to the Sun. Now he has come back to reiterate it again.

Does this mean Manu has some legitimacy? Darn it. If Sri Krishna respects the guy, maybe I have to too. Maybe.

The last sentence just makes me think of the whole The Secret thing! And actually, I think the knowledge in the Gita is part of The Secret that that book and other media is about.

It is sweet and touching in a way, hearing Lord Krishna tell Arjuna that he is sharing this knowledge with him because he is a friend, because He cares about him.

Scripture Study: Bhagavad Gita, book three verses 42-43


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