The Story of the Bhagavad-Gita


It was five thousand years ago, under this sun,
near the end of a chivalrous age
when the world and its kingdoms were one
and the Emperor wise as a sage.

That’s when forces of evil took birth on the earth.

Though in royal disguise, they were driven by greed;
they held hatred in common, in secret agreed
to defeat what is pure and to challenge with sword
and black magic the rule of the Lord.

Even more enigmatic, one warrior and prince
known as Krishna appeared, and took part in events.

Drawn like moths to a flame, those too proud of black arts
thought they’d kill Him (like foolish upstarts).
Flaunting powers, they hurtled to their own demise.
Other demons found politics their enterprise.
Building armies and power they thought themselves wise.

In foregone generations the good was upheld
by one dynasty faithful to God, unexcelled.
Continuity now had come under dispute:
One king blind, next one dead, the debate was acute.




As the politics thickened, dividing lines formed.
Evil princes who plotted had gathered behind
the ambitious Duryodhana, whose heart raged and stormed
with desire to preside on the Emperor’s throne --
though by rights it was meant for his cousin to do,
his own cousin so qualified, pious, and true.

All the kings of the earth had to choose who to aid.
Due to sinister plots all diplomacy failed
till vast armies amassed on the battlefield, poised
in battle formation with weapons upraised.

Each man was bound by his honor to fight to his death
in a war between cousins, while the world held its breath:
Would the future be ruled by the dark or by light?
By cruel envy and greed, or by kings who did right?




Dearmost friend of great Yudhisthira, heir to the throne,
life and soul of Arjuna his brother besides,
nevertheless Krishna was playing a role of His own –
somehow still kept connections with kings on both sides.

His promise was thus: to abstain from the fight,
to forego use of weapons, restraining His might,
instead offering each cousin His presence alone,
OR His army without Him; each make his choice known!

Wasn’t hard to predict Durydhana’s choice.
Quintessential materialist, greedy for gain,
he grabbed Krishna’s army and gloated (in vain).
But Arjuna and Yudhisthira loved Krishna pure,
could not live life without Him no matter the price,
saw Him greater than armies, and chose Him for sure.

Only love without motive can conquer His heart.
This mysterious Krishna, Whom nobody knows,
called Arjuna His friend, and to relish the part,
He forgot royal codes; lowly service He chose.

Though His prowess with weapons was known far and wide –
in fact He controls how the atoms collide –
all He wanted to hold in His lotus-like hands
were the reins of the chariot Arjuna commands.





The red light of the dawn, that most fateful of days,
glinted off thousands of helmets and shields in dust-haze,
revealed elephants, horses, and men full-arrayed
in vast battle formations.
Now the challenge was made!

Eerie note of the conchshell, first sound of the war,
pierced the air. Others joined, a tumultuous roar!
They were answered in kind when a holier blast
from our heroes struck fear, their sure victory forecast.

But the shout to attack was stalled in its tracks:
On the plea that he’d see what the enemy lacks,
kind Arjuna asked, “Please, draw my chariot between
the two sides.” And from there he surveyed the sad scene.

What he saw simply quailed his good heart, and in doubt,
filled with anquish, compassion, for he was devout,
knowing well his own strength and that of his foes,
he envisioned all bloodshed and death – and he froze.

“She who grants worldly fortune in none but Your wife –
so please tell me, O Krishna, where’s good from this strife?
You maintain the society – what if it’s ruined
by the loss of strong men, like a vast mortal wound?
Where’s enjoyment for me in the death of my kin?
It’s for certain that I’d go to hell for this sin!”
Throwing down his great bow, he then slumped in his seat.
“I’ll not fight in this war! Best accept my defeat.”




Unperturbed, smiling Krishna just chided His friend,
“Don’t submit to this weakness. It’s battle; contend!”
He was calm, full of wisdom, and somewhat amused,
but Arjuna was helpless, his mind all confused.

“I don’t know what is best! I surrender to You.
Now that I’m Your disciple, I ask You, my guru,
what’s the meaning of life? Please instruct what to do!”

So as spiritual master, compassionate Krishna began
to describe the pure soul, going on to explain
the whole truth in five topics, and duty, and paths,
then revealing the highest conclusion at last.

Letting history wait, He dispelled His friend’s doubt,
taking time to give answers as questions came out.
In the Bhagavad-Gita these teachings are found.
Called the “Song of God,” down through time it’s renowned.




With these six kinds of opulence one can be crowned:
“Bhagavan” means one to whom all six belong,
in full measure, complete. The word “Gita” means song.
The name “Krishna” denotes all-attractiveness, so:
What is opulence? That which attracts. We can know
that this Krishna is God by the evidence shown.

Who can claim he owns all of the wealth, for all time?
(Although others grab riches awhile and cry “mine!”)
He’s the source of creation, of all incarnations,
sole proprietor, owner of all emanations!

He could run the whole war by Himself as the Lord,
display glory and fame in the eyes of the world,
and amaze non-believers! But no. He renounced,
gave the fame to His friend, played the role of a servant instead.

Who can know all the knowledge, eternal and base,
understand the deep feelings behind every face?
Who can know every detail where beings have trod?
Who’s most beautiful, famous, and strong? HE is GOD.

And, should anyone doubt Krishna’s qualification,
He gave proof He is God in one huge demonstration:
showed the universe, time, even death as His form,
a colossal unfolding, devouring storm!

And this war? To kill all, by the Lord’s own desire!
(Save Arjuna and his brothers – they’re spared from the fire.
Spared by love for their Krishna, author of death
and of life, secret friend of each soul that draws breath!)



Perfect knowledge results when one hears
from a pure perfect source, with pure ears.
Fully satisfied, ignorance gone,
all illusion removed, now Arjuna
is ready to fight, his bow drawn.

The highest truth, that which brings perfect peace, was expressed
at the start of a great bloody war, the worst test.

In our lives we face battles as well;
by this knowledge our fears we can quell.
Our deep questions find answers at last
in five topics, with words unsurpassed.

Who am I? is the first.
Jiva (soul) quenches that thirst.

And then, What is this world that I’m in?
It’s called prakrti – energy formed
for a while; in illusion we spin!

We cry, why am I bouncing from pain to reward?
Every action results in some karma we can’t disregard!

Tell me, how am I stuck in the passage of time?
Covered souls bound by kala, we pay for our crime!

Is there help? Who is God, and is He in control?
Yes, and Ishvara ‘s the term, Supreme Controller and goal.

We can reach Him by paths He defines
and surrender; the conclusion now shines!



All content within © 2003 Madhava Priya Devi Dasi