The year was 3067 BC, as the mighty Pandava and Kaurava armies were sizing each other up on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjuna asked his charioteer to take him to the middle of the battlefield, so that he could get a good view of his opponents, and what he saw overwhelmed him so much that with quivering sweaty hands, he set his bow down. And thus the scene was set for the manifestation of Sri Krishna’s Divine Song, the Bhagavad Gita, which reinvigorated Arjuna leading him to a glorious victory. And this timeless wisdom is as relevant today, as it was back then.
You would typically associate grandiose and luxury with an avatar, but Krishna was born in a jail on the 8th dark, stormy, dimly lit night of the waning moon in the month of Shravan. His best friends were the common cowherd boys and girls of Vrindavan, where he grew up, taking delight in polishing off the butter that the gopis would arduously churn, a metaphor for the soul-churning one has to go through to please the Lord.
“Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata Abhythanamadharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham”, the Lord comes forth himself whenever there is a decay in morality and wickedness becomes prevalent. Krishna appeared on the eve of the Kal Yuga that we live in today, where our lives and attention spans are far less than those of our Vedic ancestors. The message that he imparted was for the welfare of humankind in these turbulent times, when emulating the life of sacrifice that Sri Rama lived may seem difficult.
Perhaps the most well known and widely adopted teaching of the Gita are the verses concerning Karma Yoga. We are born into the world of work, where each one has to fend for themselves, and it is in this modern battlefield that the divine knowledge comes into its own. “Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarman”, meaning you only have the right to execute your action, don’t get attached to the fruits of your action, nor to inaction. In other words, this is the modern prescription for liberation, as our actions help us exhaust our vast bundle of karma, and when executed without attachment, identification or entitlement, we can minimise the trail of karma that we create in this lifetime.
Whether you’re of the Karma Yoga persuasion or Bhakti Yoga floats your boat, the Gita has you covered. So if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to delve into this ocean of practical wisdom, then there can’t be a better one than today, when the cosmic flute player, the most complete of yogis, Sri Krishna, has just appeared on planet earth. Hare Krishna!