Bhagavad Gita

(Sanskrit: "Song of God"), one of the greatest and most beautiful of the Hindu scriptures. It forms part of Book VI of the Indian epic the Mahabharata ("Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty") and is written in the form of a dialogue between the warrior Prince Arjuna and his friend and charioteer, Krishna, who is also an earthly incarnation of the god Vishnu. The poem consists of 700 Sanskrit verses divided into 18 chapters.

The dialogue takes place on the field of battle, just as the Great War between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is about to begin. The two armies stand opposing each other, and, on seeing many of his friends and kinsmen among those lined up on the other side, Prince Arjuna hesitates. He considers whether it would not be better to throw down his arms and allow himself to be slain by the enemy rather than to engage in a just, but cruel, war. He is recalled to his sense of duty as a warrior by Krishna, who points out to him that the higher way is the dispassionate discharge of his duty, performed with faith in God, and without selfish concern for personal triumph or gain.

The Bhagavad-Gita goes far beyond the ethical question with which it begins to consider broadly the nature of God and the means by which man can know him. The greatness of the scripture lies in its description of both the end and the means. It gives a synopsis of the religious thought and experience of India through the ages. It is a predominantly theistic work, with God identified with Krishna.

The avatar concept (God coming into the world in the form of a man) in Vaishnavism is the influence of Christianity. The various avatars are later additions. For example, the various versions of the Ramayana identify Rama with Vishnu as another incarnation. However, this is not so in its oldest form written by Valmiki. The next version was Kambar’s Ramayana in Tamil where Rama is made an incarnation. After this other versions in various languages were written with Rama as an incarnation.

In BG VIII:4, Krishna states,

The basis of all created things is the mutable nature: the basis of the divine elements is the cosmic spirit. And the basis of all sacrifices, here in the body is Myself, O Best of embodied beings (Arjuna)

In BG X:3, Krishna states,

He who knows Me, the unborn, without Beginning also the mighty lord of the worlds, he, among mortals is undeluded and freed from all sins.

And in X:8 Krishna states,

I am the origin of all; from Me all (the whole creation) proceeds. Knowing this, the wise worship Me, endowed with conviction.

Scholars have pointed out many other similar doctrines such as God indwelling man, Trinity, etc. For example Y. Masih in his book titled, "Shankara's Universal Philosophy of Religion" writes about the striking similarity between the lives of Krishna and Jesus,

The phenomenon of 'Krsnajanmastame' in which the child Krishna is represented as a suckling at the mother's breast. Nanda, the foster-father of Krishna had gone to Mathura to pay his taxes (just as Joseph had gone to Bethlehem for census). Krishna was born in a cow-shed (Gokula exactly as Jesus was born in a manger); massacre of infants of Mathura by Kamsa (just as was the massacre of infants by Herod); Krishna (like Jesus) had raised the son of a window from the dead; Kubja anointed Krishna just as Mary had done with precious ointment.

I was recently speaking to a Brahmin who was a teacher of the Bhagavad Gita. He knowing that I was a missionary discussed the similarities between the two faiths with respect to the Gita. He pointed out the parallels in the doctrines of sacrifice, salvation by faith, and total surrender to God. However he quietly went on to say that the Gita was written several hundred years before Christ and probably even Christ might have read the Gita!

God says in His Word that He gives us weapons to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Nirad Chaudhuri in his book on Hinduism points out that 'the Gita is written in good classical Sanskrit, and epigraphic evidence clearly shows that the Gita could not have been written before the second century A.D.'

'The earliest epigraphic evidence on languages employed in India comes from the inscriptions of Asoka inscribed in third century B.C. Asoka took care that his messages were intelligible to all and he used a particular kind of Prakrit. He even translated his messages to Greek and Aramaic. But, there are no inscriptions in Sanskrit. The first evidence of Sanskrit is seen around A.D.150 and from the fifth century A.D. classical Sanskrit is seen to be the dominant language in the inscriptions.'

I pointed this out to my Brahmin friend and concluded that the doctrines of God coming into the world in the form of a man, He being our sacrifice, salvation by faith in Him, and our response of total surrender to God as a living sacrifice are the doctrines of Christ and these have influenced the writer of the Bhagavad Gita.

Nirad Chaudhuri points out that 'the Hindu religious texts with the exception of the Vedas and their ancillary treatises, are all in classical Sanskrit. He says that in their present form none would be earlier than the fourth century A.D'. The Vedas seem to be written in what he calls archaic Sanskrit , but the X mandala of the Rgveda is written later. It is in the X mandala that we see the divine and human aspects of the Prajapati and His sacrifice of himself for us.

Several Indian scholars have recently established beyond a shadow of a doubt the existence of early Indian Christianity from the days of the first apostles. South India had excellent trade relations with the Roman empire evidenced by the Roman coins found in excess in various parts of South India. When there are trade relationships, cultural and religious exchanges take place. When we study the development of religion and worship in India, before and after Christ, we can see that Christ and Christianity totally transformed religion and worship in India from the first century AD. Saivism first developed as a monotheistic doctrine and Siva was first called Isa which is the name for Jesus in the North. The avatar concept (God coming into the world in the form of a man) in Vaishnavism is the influence of Christianity.

Hindus in India consider Christianity as a foreign religion. However they do not realize how much early Indian Christianity has developed and molded their own religion, and, the revealed truths in their own faith point to Jesus Christ. I pray that we the Christians in India would take time to understand where the heart of every Hindu is, and, help guide them to The Truth in Christ Jesus by gently removing the barriers and obstacles without syncretism.

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