June 5, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar
Commentary and Chapter 8, Brahma
The word Brahma in English is the translation of the Sanskrit nominative form of Brahman which designates God, the ultimate reality. It is also and separately the name of the Creator in the trinity of Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva the Destroyer who personifies humanized aspects of God.
In Chapter 8 of the Gita, Lord Krishna -an incarnation of Vishnu- explains Brahma as the absolute divine reality. Arjun opens this chapter asking a simple though formidable question, “What is Brahma?”
I find it interesting and significant that this question asks what, not who God is. We can, therefore, understand that Brahma is not humanized or even visualized. It is the idea of a permanent, eternal force that gives rise to and is the spirit within all physical existence.
Hinduism as a religion and as a philosophy views Brahma or Brahman as a fundamental principle. It is the cause of everything, it exists everywhere and always, even when nothing else exists. One could say believing that God is the ultimate reality works as both a religious and philosophical truth. A religious belief may require a leap of faith. Indeed, how can we assume that something in the nothingness that anticipated creation caused universes to come into being without this leap? On the other hand, we know that worlds did come into being out of emptiness, so philosophically it is reasonable and rational to presume that there was a cause for this effect and to name this cause God.
Lord Krishna tells Arjun that Brahma is the everlasting spirit of God and the origin of all things. He says that whoever dies thinking of God comes to Him and once again urges Arjun to think of Him and fight.
The Gita’s explanations or descriptions of God are a blend of concepts that we can relate to in terms of our human understanding and also accept in light of our awareness that God is beyond the grasp of the human mind. This, I think, is the way most of us who give thought to and believe in the reality or the possibility of God imagine Him or Her or It to be.
God is the wise everlasting ruler of all. He shines like the sun past the darkness of ignorance and He can be easily reached by those who think of Him at all times. Those who do can remain with Him and escape the cycle of birth and death.
This chapter of the Gita concludes with a beautiful portrayal of time as it relates to Brahma. His days last a thousand ages and His nights a thousand more. When His days begin, the world is born and when His nights begin it disappears. This happens over and over again. The wise alone understand this. As God Himself is everlasting, those who love Him are also everlasting and indestructible.
Chapter 8: Brahma
Arjun asked: Lord Krishna, what is Brahma?
Bhagvan answered: Brahma is the spirit of God. It is everlasting and the origin of all beings. Those who die thinking of Me come to Me and become everlasting. So think of me, Arjun, and fight!
I am God, the wise, the everlasting ruler of all.
God is beyond what your mind can understand. God shines like the sun far beyond the darkness of ignorance.
Arjun, I will tell you more about God. I can easily be reached by those who think of Me all the time. And if you reach Me, you will not need to be born again But you can stay with Me forever and ever.
Brahma’s day lasts a thousand ages and Brahma’s night lasts a thousand more. Only the wise know this truth about Time.
The world is born when Brahma’s day begins and it disappears when Brahma’s night begins. This happens over and over again.
But God is beyond this world which appears and disappears. God is everlasting. Those who love Him completely are also everlasting and past this world of birth and death.
God is permanent. He is not destroyed in the destruction of the world. God is the best resting place from which those who love Him do not have to return.
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