3 Yogis Interpret The Gita
Revered by Emerson and Thoreau; endorsed by Gandhi as “his eternal mother;” the most widely read scripture in India, exalted as a love song to the ultimate truth—remains the subject of millennium-long debate over certain passages in the years since it has been published.
Right off the bat, confusion arises from Krishna’s advice to Arjuna.
Arjuna, frozen before a battle, surveys the scene with utter repulsion and dread. He expresses his desperation to Krishna, the god disguised as his charioteer, pleading for guidance. Arjuna’s concerns are completely understandable: he can’t possibly imagine a positive outcome to come from the destruction the battle will cause. Krishna’s surprising response? He must fulfill his duty as a warrior and fight.
“One believes he is the slayer, another believes he is the slain...Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to slay?” (2:16-2:21).
This passage, where the ultimate proponent of ahisma seemingly advocates for war, is the subject of endless debate. So, I spoke with three NYC-based yoga teachers to find out: Why does Krishna tell the distraught warrior to fight in war? Is there truth to be gleaned from his words, even in modern times?