Gita Daily Readings

22 August
Chapter XI: 39-40
Thou art Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varuna, the moon, the creator and the great-grandfather. Salutations, salutations unto thee a thousand times, and again salutations, salutations unto thee.

Salutations to thee, from front and behind. Salutations to thee on every side, Oh all. Infinite in power and prowess, thou pervadest all; wherefore thou art all.


The famous vaidika declaration is echoed here: God is one, sages call him variously as Indra, Varuna, etc. These are but the functional attributes of God. Even as the creator he is not to be limited to that function, for he is the "great-grandfather." Sometimes the creator is styled as grandfather (the father of my father). God is even the "father" of the creator, not only in the mythological sense, but because he is the original essence of which even the creator is but an aspect.

The omnipresent being has neither a front nor a back, but the allusion here is to the bright and the dark side of his divine nature. We should learn to admire and to adore both the front (glory) of God and the back (the dark or so-called evil side) of God. The two together constitute his nature. We are able to recognize the bright side only by comparison with the dark side. Suffering evokes compassion in us. Sickness in one offers another the opportunity to serve; one man's poverty is another's occasion for charity. Even national calamities like famine, earthquake, flood, and the worst of all - war - bring out great hidden, divine qualities in many. The suffering involved is, of course, occasioned by one's own karma.

Lastly, the appearance on the world-scene of mighty evil forces that are able to threaten goodness is but a trigger for the divine forces to intervene and restore the balance. Hence the advent of an avatara (cf IV:7). He who knows this keeps on the bright side of God, without hating the other side.

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