In this 9th Dialogue Krishna is looking far ahead of his time. The issue He discusses here is a hot issue, a burning issue to this day. Is God Nirguna, beyond all qualities; or, Saguna, having qualities? Is God Transcendent and Unmanifest, or Immanent and Manifest?
To this day the followers of these two doctrines are constantly at each other’s throats. It is not about the followers of two or more different belief systems, but about two different outlooks towards life.
This is why Krishna is discussing the subject in the middle of the battlefield and emphasizing, “Arjuna, having known the secret of this, you shall be free from the evil consequences of worldly existence. This, indeed, is the secret of secrets…”
How do We Understand This? What is the connection between the imminent war and this, what seems to be a pilosophical debate?
What do the actors do before performing on the stage? Don’t they have their discussions and rehearsals? Don’t they try to understand the characters that they would be playing?
Someone given the role of an antagonist could be a very gentle and kind person. Having played the role, does he become an antagonist in real life? No, well ideally so.
However, there are exceptions. Some actors get carried away by the roles they play. They begin to manifest such characteristics in their real life. This is not desirable. Krishna is trying to make Arjuna understand this point.
He is Given the Role of a Warrior who must fight to uphold dharma – righteousness, justice. Whereas, his opponents are given the role of warriors defending adharma – unrighteousness, injustice.
Krishna explains, “Arjuna, I too am in this very same battlefield, you may think that I am standing by you, and your opponents may think that I am standing against them. I am not affected by such conclusions and opinions. I am performing My role to uphold dharma, righteousness, justice. So, too, Arjuna, play your role…”
He emphasizes: “Arjuna, people having no faith in dharma, failing to reach Me,” – that is failing to play our role as effectively, as beautifully as the Master Player, Shri Krishna does, “continue to revolve in the path of the world of birth and death.” In other words, until then the rehearsals continue… The rehearsals continue until we are able to perform our role as effectively and as beautifully as it is meant to be.
Krishna Explains the Drama of Life, this existential play of creation, as the play of the Supreme Self. All of us are but sparks of that Supreme Self. Our Individual I, therefore, can not but have the same quality as that of the Supreme Self. We are all sparks of the Supreme Self.
We can not see those sparks. We can neither see the spark within us, or the sparks enveloping us. Yet, our existence depends upon those sparks emanating from the Supreme Self. This is the Nirguna aspect, the Transcendent and what we understand to be Unmanifest.
So, Nirguna is the basis for Saguna. The Unmanifest Transcendent is the Truth behind the Manifest Immanent universe, nay universes, this entire existence and all of us.
Similarly, Unseen to the Viewers, rehearsals define the performance on the stage. We do our best on the stage… But, let us not be so impacted by our role that we forget our true identity.
Krishna, the Master Performer says: “Arjuna, those actions, however, do not bind Me, unattached as I am to such actions and standing apart, as it were.” He is playing His role, and He is very good at it. Yet, He is not affected by it. He remembers His True Identity. This, then, is the way to bliss.
The ignorant can never ever experience bliss, because of their limited vision. They consider the play and their role in the play as the only truth. Thus, they become the cause of their suffering.
Time and Again Krishna Reminds Arjuna that it is the Supreme Self, the Light of Consciousness within and enveloping each one of us that governs the entire existence. Yet, that Light of Consciousness is not affected by whatever is happening upon the existential stage of life.
In order to understand this… The stage is laid, all set, the players are ready to perform their roles – but, if there is no light, if it is all dark, how can anyone see the play? How will the players play their roles? The light that brightens the stage is the single most important factor. There can be no play without the light.
Yet, the light is not affected by whatever is going on the stage. The births and deaths – the celebrations, festivities, famine, drought, floods, wars – nothing whatsoever affects the light. This, then, is the sovereign secret science, the realization that can free us from all delusions, from mistaking our role as our sole reality. Let us play our roles as finely, as graciously as we can… Let us give a good performance… Yet, let us not forget that the role is not our reality, thus ends the 9th dialogue of the Bhagavad Gita.