DISCOURSE ON THE GIITÁ
The Meaning of the Word “Krśńa”
12 January 1980, Calcutta
We shall discuss one of the shlokas [couplets] of the Giitá today.
This particular shloka may be taken as the guiding or controlling shloka of the Giitá.
We will deal with the subject rather elaborately.
Here is the shloka – Dhrtaráśt́ra uváca [“Dhritarastra said”]:
Dharmakśetre Kurukśetre samavetá yuyutsavah;
Mámakáh Páńd́avashcaeva kimakurvata Saiṋjaya.
[“O Sanjaya, now that my children and the children of Pandu have gathered on the battlefield of Dharmakśetra, of Kurukśetra, eager to fight, what is taking place?”]
This is the first shloka of the Giitá, about which I have spoken to you before.
Today I will give you only an introduction.
The name of the book is “Giitá”.
The root verb gae means “to sing”.
Hence Giitá means “that which has been sung”.
It is in the passive voice. But the passive voice always carries a sense of something remaining inarticulate in the statement.
So it becomes necessary to make that implicit idea explicit.
Something has been sung.
Who then has sung it?
Yá Bhagavatá giitá, sá Giitá
“That which has been sung by Bhagaván, is Giitá”.
In this case, since that which has been sung by Shrii Krśńa is Giitá,
Bhagavatá means Krśńena, “by Krśńa”.
Who then is Krśńa?
That also should be explained in this introduction.
The word krśńa has three different interpretations.
The word can be derived from the root verb, one of the meanings of which is “to attract”, “to draw everything to one’s self”.
The root verb krś plus na gives us “Krśńa”; that is to say, the being which attracts everything of the universe towards its own Self, calling out:
“Come, come… come to me… you have nothing to worry about… come to me. I am your shelter. I will save you from all dangers. There is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to fear; I am here.”
The speaker of these words, who is attracting everybody towards Himself, is indeed Krśńa.
Our mind does not want to go to Him, but even then it runs towards Him.
A Vaishnavite poet had this to say:
Ucát́ana mana ná máne várańa,
Shudhu tári páne chut́e yáy.
[The restless mind defies restrictions, and runs only after Him.]
I do not have a mind to go to or to look at Krśńa, but even then, it is as if something keeps pulling me. Thus the word “Krśńa” means “the supreme attractive faculty”.
Again, krśńa has the meaning “black”.
The colour black has the greatest attraction for human mind.
Among all colours, our attention is drawn first by black. This is the reason why the colour black is called krśńa.
It should be remembered, however, that the complexion of the historical Krśńa who lived in Dvápara Yuga(1) was not black.
There is also a third meaning of “Krśńa” – krśi bhúh or krśibhúh.
The root verb krś means the feeling “I am”.
Don’t you all have a feeling such as this, “I exist”?
In fact every individual has the feeling “I am”, myáy hun, ahaḿ asmi.
Whenever that “I” feeling is struck a blow, people get irritated, worried, angry or frightened.
Now this feeling “I am” [is represented by] the root verb krś, and the meaning of the root verb bhú is “to be”.
Hence the meaning of the word “Krśńa” is “I am because He is.”
In other words, it is only because of Krśńa that the world exists and living beings exist.
If Krśńa had not been there, living beings and the world would not have been there either.
Krśńa is Parama Puruśa.
In the absence of Parama Puruśa, neither living beings nor the universe would have existed at all. The world is, only because He is. That is why He is called “Krśńa”.
My individual existence is dependent on His existence.
For instance, because Bengal is there, Calcutta is there. The existence of Calcutta as an entity is dependent on the existence of Bengal. Hence it may well be said that Bengal is the Krśńa of Calcutta. Similarly, because India is there, Bengal is there. Thus India is Krśńa to Bengal.
Or, because Asia is there, India is there. Thus Asia is Krśńa to India.
And because the world is there, Asia is there. So the world is Krśńa to Asia.
Then there is the solar system with the sun, the planets and the satellites – because it is there, our little world is there. Thus the solar system is Krśńa to the world.
And because Parama Puruśa is there, this solar system, the planets and satellites, stars and nebulae, and the milky way – all of these entities are there. Hence Parama Puruśa is Krśńa to the entire universe. This is the third meaning of “Krśńa”.
Krśibhúh – the existence of the root verb bhúh dependent on the existence of the root verb krś; that is, one existence dependent on another existence.
About 3500 years ago, in Dvápara Yuga, a great personality was born in Mathura. His father’s name was Vasudeva. Because He was a son of Vasudeva, one of his names was Vásudeva.
One of his uncles was Nanda, whose profession was cattle-rearing, and his father Vasudeva was a superintendent of jails in Mathura.
One elder brother of his father was Maharshi Garga.
When the child was born, Maharshi Garga noticed in a child, a number of extraordinary qualities, and after much thinking and cogitation, named that child has “Krśńa”.
The Krśńa whom we will discuss, that is, the Krśńa of the Giitá, is this Krśńa of Dvápara Yuga.
I will continue with an analysis of Krśńa’s three roles simultaneously, in order to demonstrate that ultimately they all coincide at a certain point and that the three Krśńas are one and the same.
As you know, Narottama Das Thakur composed Aśt́ottar Shatanám [“The One Hundred Eight Names”] of Krśńa.
In one place he says:
Ananta rákhila nám anta ná páiyá;
Krśńa nám rákhen Garga dhyánete jániyá.
[Failing to find any limit, Garga named the baby “Ananta” (“Limitless”); and, enlightened by his meditation, gave Him the name “Krśńa”.]