The view of the presence of personal uniqueness as explained by Bhagavad Gita
Does individuality exist according to the Bhagavad Gita? From the onset of the text, Arjuna is placed as a limited mortal and Krishna as the supreme infinite other. These dualisms are a leitmotif throughout the text and offer light into the definition of one’s individuality in the context of a larger presence. From these dualism in the text, human beings are made self-aware of their own individuality, and it is in this “individuality” that lies the basis of the concept of a supreme infinite spirit and it’s distinct relationship between itself and the true infinite spirit. This true individualistic essence of the “self” is essential to the validity of the Bhagavad Gita and provides a dualistic approach to the text that reflects the hierarchical difference between Krishna and the individual “self.”
To define individuality in a living being is to assign a it a distinct essence that is distinguishable from other being, for a lack of a better term – a “self.” In the Bhagavad Gita, this idea of a “self” is described as a double spirit, one that is “transient and eternal” and the other as “the supreme spirit of man” (125, 15.16). Outside of the individual “self” that each living being encases, is a larger spirit that is manifested as Krishna. Krishna describes himself and his vast being as the “seed-giving father” (119, 14.3) from which all forms had come to be. Granted that this manifestation of Krishna defends this transcendent idea of a supreme infinite spirit, it challenges a dualistic reading of the Bhagavad Gita and the “individuality” of every living being. Is Krishna inherently synonymous with the “self” or are they separate?
Should the Bhagavad Gita suggest that the individual “self” is inherently synonymous with the supreme infinite spirit Krishna, it poses a large contradiction to the foundation of the Bhagavad Gita and challenges the validity of Krishna’s expanse and power. If the “self” and Krishna are synonymous, then by extension, every living being holds a part of the deity and divine essence within, and is therefore deified to a level of Krishna, or close to. This not only invalidates the influence and power of Krishna, but it also questions the “beginningless” of the divine spirit. Krishna claims that “since I transcend what is transient/and I am higher than the eternal,/I am known as the supreme spirit of man/in the world and in sacred lore” (126, 15.18). This claim serves as a huge ellipses that Krishna is the manifestation of the Divine. Yet this portrayal is a double-edged sword. Granted that this manifestation of Krishna defends this divine infinite spirit, it challenges the idea and extent of every living being’s individuality. If there is a portion of Krishna in all beings, and the ultimate goal, according to the Bhagavad Gita, is to become detached from our physical bodies and mind in order to free our “self” into the Divine, then it is suggestive of there being a true beginning-a time where Krishna existed as a large expanse before dividing parts of itself to be infused into all beings-and an end-a time when each living being has reached nirvana and returned back to the infinite spirit. This interpretation also demolishes the religious purpose of the Bhagavad Gita as a religious text.
By assuming that a nondualistic, rather monistic, reading of the text is an incorrect interpretation, one can only then assume that people have an innate individuality to their self. This allows the idea for a Diving being, like Krishna, to exist and a spiritual hierarchy and division to exist between Krishna and living beings. This distinction between the Krishna and the “self” is expressed when Krishna says to Arjuna, “I am not in them, they are in me” (74, 7.12). With a dualistic perspective to the Bhagavad Gita, it allows the text to be fully read and understood as an education guide for living beings to progress and evolve out of their dualistic state to a nondualistic existence with the infinite spirit. Arjuna is a limited being, while Krishna is the infinite spirit. Attachment to sensual attachments lead to delusion while devotion to Krishna leads to nirvana. It is in the dualisms, that the larger concept of nirvana is able to be sustained. One cannot possibly understand the existence of this infinite spirit through temporal means, but rather through disciplined action. To reach Krishna, one must see “the self through the self” (116, 13.24) somehow elevating one’s being from a dualistic relationship between the “self” and the infinite spirit, to one where the “self” can transcend reality and become synonymous with the Divine. This eventual nondualism between a living being and the Divine is based on a union, but not on an interchangeable level. However by acknowledging this initial individuality is the beginning of developing a greater consciousness.
Individuality must exist for the Bhagavad Gita to function as a religious and philosophical guide for a larger “truth.” The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes a movement of consciousness from a dualistic perspective to a nondualist perspective where the text begins on the premise of individuality and serves as a guide to attain oneness with the infinite spirit. “Human” and “supreme infinite spirit,” for “self” and “Krishna,” cannot and will not, be interchangeable terms, but the substance of their essential nature is one.
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