The Supreme Secret of Giving: Bhagavad Gita Chapter Four

Chapter Four of the Bhagavad Gita begins with the teacher speaking to the pupil, saying, in effect:

I gave these teachings to the first people, who passed them on in succession. In time, these teachings were lost. Now, I am giving them to you, who are my devotee and friend. This is the supreme secret. [4: 1-3]

The pupil replies, understandably, that the teacher was born long after the first people, so what does it mean that he taught this at the beginning? The teacher replies that:

I have had many births, and so in fact have you. I know of them but you do not. Though I am in my true nature unborn and imperishable, and the ruler of all beings, yet by my own mysterious power I take birth. [4: 4-5]

So here we are to understand that the one who speaks is in fact the supreme Being, appearing in the form of the teacher, addressing the pupil, and that we, the readers, are witness to this communication.

How are we to take this? Is it mythology? Is it literally true? What is important from our point of view is that it is best to read the Gita with a sense that its teachings are directly relevant to ourselves personally, and that they do originate from the source of Being itself.

Is this plausible? Let us remember that ultimate reality, the Supreme Being, cannot be grasped by our minds, which are limited instruments. All we can say with confidence is that there is an ultimate Truth and we depend on that. As we can cannot know total reality with our minds, we cannot fully understand how that manifests in the world.

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This article is from the Autumn 2017 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.