Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Bhagavad Gita and the Isa Upanisad

Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna on the Bhagavad Gita at the battlefield of Kurukshetra can be seen as a revival of the knowledge that he had taught long ago to Vivasvan, the Sun God. Krishna reveals this in verse 4.1 of the Bhagavad Gita: “I taught this eternal science of Yoga to the Sun-god, Vivasvan, who passed it on to Manu; and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” Vivasvan is believed to be the teacher of Yajnavalkya, the sage of the Shukla Yajur Veda. Thus, the disciple of Krishna is the teacher of Yajnavalkya. The connection between Krishna and Yajnavalkya through Vivasvan is often seen as the cause of the similarities in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and the Isa Upanisad, which is the final chapter of the Shukla Yajur Veda. There are eighteen chapters in the Bhagavad Gita, and the Isa Upanisad contains eighteen verses—devotion to Krishna is the theme of both texts. Here’s the famous first verse of the Isa Upanisad: “All this, everything that moves in this moving world must be pervaded by the lord. Enjoy what has been renounced, but do not desire the wealth of others.”

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