krishna-arjuna

We arrive at the concluding chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā, of Krishna’s eighteen yoga teachings. This chapter is the longest in the Gītā (slightly longer than chapter 2). It serves partly as a reiteration and re-emphasis of previously expressed ideas, but also as an elaboration on important principles in terms of the three modalities of nature. It is also here that we find a dramatic crescendo near the chapter’s end, in Krishna’s final exhortation to Arjuna (and to all would-be yogīs) to find refuge and ultimate yoga success in him, yogeśvara, the master of yoga.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

Krishna mentions sacred texts at the end of the previous chapter, and this prompts Arjuna to ask for more details. What is the situation of persons who practice sacrificial rites but do not follow the prescriptions for such rites provided in the sacred texts? Arjuna frames his question in terms of the three modalities—illumination, passion, and darkness—so Krishna’s response, comprising most of this chapter, is also in these terms, constituting a further elaboration on the modalities from Chapter 14.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

Throughout the Gītā, Krishna helps Arjuna to deepen his relationship of friendship with Krishna by encouraging him to pursue the practice of yoga. “Yoga” can mean “connection”, and Krishna makes very clear that the particular connection to be made, or reaffirmed, is with himself as bhagavān, puruṣottama, the original and ultimate person. That a relation is already existing between the living being and the ultimate person has already been established (for example, in 15.7), and Arjuna is an exemplar of such relationship.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

Themes and concepts that are essential to the proper understanding and practice of yoga are introduced briefly in early chapters of the Bhagavad-gītā; then in later chapters these same themes receive elaboration. This we have seen in particular with the principles of sāṅkhya (analysis) and dhyāna (meditation). Similarly, we have already been introduced to the notion of bhagavān (literally, the possessor of plenitude) in earlier chapters, and this notion is dramatically and graphically demonstrated to Arjuna in Chapter 11. Now again in this fifteenth chapter (or fifteenth discourse on yoga), attention is directed to bhagavān, here referred to as puruṣottama, the ultimate person, to fill out the notion of spirit-as-person in important ways.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

Krishna inspires Arjuna to understand more deeply about the subjects of the previous chapter, noting that understanding them can bring the highest state of yoga perfection. This chapter elaborates on a principle introduced in the previous chapter, namely, the concept of “modality” (guṇa). To be attuned to the ways that nature functions through the three modalities constitutes an important yoga practice. It alerts the yogī to the necessity to make good, conscious choices for elevating oneself from lower to higher modalities, leading to freedom from the modalities altogether.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

We have already seen in Chapter 2, “The Yoga of Analysis,” an introduction to the practice of distinguishing matter and spirit. There, the specific issue is the difference between the physical (and mental) body, and the atemporal self. This is a crucial understanding that draws on an ancient Indian philosophical tradition called Sāṅkhya. Indeed, the title of Chapter 2, sāṅkhya-yoga, points to this tradition. Here in Chapter 13 Krishna elaborates on aspects of Sāṅkhya philosophy not mentioned in Chapter 2, and there will be further aspects of this philosophical tradition explained in Chapters 14, 17, and part of Chapter 18.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

This short chapter (20 verses) highlights the practice of yoga as focus on the personal feature of spirit (bhagavān) as the method for progress in yoga, superior to the effort to hold attention on the impersonal aspect of spirit (brahman). Krishna also provides a graded typology of possible ways to progress in yoga, depending on temperament and ability; and he concludes the chapter with a list of qualities in a yogī that win Krishna’s affection and favor. It is also here, in featuring the principle of bhakti (devotion), that bhagavān highlights his devotion for his bhakta, one who practices devotional yoga.
Read more

krishna-arjuna

Thus far, the Bhagavad-gītā has been predominantly constituted of bhagavān Śrī Krishna’s discourses on yoga, prompted by the pertinent questions of his dear friend, Arjuna. And in these discourses, it becomes increasingly obvious that comprehending the identity of Krishna himself is crucial to the successful practice of yoga. Indeed, in the present chapter, he will be referred to explicitly as the master, or lord, of yoga (yogeśvara).
Read more