Extracts from Discourse 1: The Colophon of the Bhagavadgita, Commentary on the BhagavatGita by Sw Krishnananda. (Abridged)

brahma-vidyayam yoga-sastre sri-krishnarjuna-samvade: These three words occurring at the end of each chapter mean theory, practice, and realisation.

Brahma-vidya is the science of the Absolute – that system of thinking which is able to comprehend within itself at any time the total structure of things. To conceive the Absolute is to at once take into consideration, in our processes of thought, all things connected with the object of thought – not only the inner constituents of the object as such, but also the relations that the object bears to other objects. The reality of a particular thing is not only in itself. It is also in that which determines it, restricts it, influences it, conditions it, defines it, and makes it what it is.

Brahma-vidya is the art and the science of educating oneself in the manner of correctly perceiving the world as such, including one’s own self in the totality of relations, so that no partial vision of things can be regarded as a passport to the concept of the Absolute. Mostly – or always, I may say – our perceptions are partial. They are limited to certain conditions. It is a condition related to a marketplace or a railway station or a bus stand or an office or a factory or a house. These are the things that limit our thoughts – but we do not rise above the apparent outwardness of these conditions, or go inside to the relationship of these things to other things.

Brahma-vidya is an intricate subject. It is not just repeating some words of the Upanishads or the Brahma Sutras or even the Gita. It is the entry of the consciousness into the very import of the teaching, which is suggested in many of the verses of the Bhagavadgita.

Brahma-vidya is to be applied in Yoga Shastra, which is the daily application of our consciousness, our minds, our attitudes, to anything in the world in terms of the lesson that we have learnt through Brahma-vidya. What is the use of merely knowing things? This knowledge has to be applied in practical life. In a similar manner, this Brahma-vidya that is the knowledge of the integrality of things has to be put into daily implementation in our teacups, in our fountain pens, in our angry gestures, in our prejudices, in our desires, in our attractions, in our repulsions; in every situation, this Brahma-vidya has to be there. We have to be total and whole persons always. We cannot be whole only at some time, and a fraction at some other time. Will we be whole persons in our offices and only a percentage in our houses? We are whole everywhere, but if we behave in different ways at different times and convert ourselves into fractions of human personality, as it were, we are not living a wholesome life. It is not a holistic approach to things. 

What is the purpose of this practice of yoga in terms of the wisdom that we gain through Brahma-vidya? It is sri-krishnarjuna-samvade – the conversation of the soul with God. Sri-krishnarjuna-samvade is the conversation of the soul with the Absolute. The soul speaks to the Absolute. Arjuna’s envisaging the mighty Krishna is symbolic of the soul envisaging the Cosmic Being in its daily life.

Who can encounter the Absolute? Who can talk with God, unless we are flaming and blazing forth in the purity of our spirit as God Himself is? Unless we have transcended the limitations of flesh and bone and the limitations of the psyche which are conditioned socially, politically, etc. – unless we are able to lift our consciousness above these limitations, how will we converse with God? Who can dare approach God, when there is no communicating medium between ourselves and God? The wavelength of our individuality and the wavelength of God are in such a contrast that there is no mingling of these two factors. The radio station of God is sending messages. We are unable to receive any message from God because our receiving sets here have a very feeble wavelength and, therefore, no message is received. The Yoga Shastra, or the practice of yoga, is nothing but the tuning of the wavelength of our receiving sets to the wavelength of the message that comes from God’s broadcasting station.

So this is Yoga Shastra; and the purpose of this is to contact God directly. This is the import of the final teaching of the Bhagavadgita, where the soul communes with God in its realisation of the perfection that it has to achieve finally through the Yoga Shastra. This is the practice of the discipline necessary in this world in the light of the knowledge of Brahma-vidya, which is the theoretical education that we receive of how the world is made, finally.

First we have to know, then we have to do, and then we have to realise. It is not enough if we merely see and know, but we have to enter into it. It is necessary for us to enter into God in our daily life. It is not enough if we are merely thinking, as a kind of outward whitewash on our body. Then that will remain like a whitewash outside only. It will not be a part of our structure.

The entry into God’s existence every day is the living of the divine life, and we should not think that this is a very hard thing. Who can enter into God every day? Where is God? Is He in some unimaginable infinity? Outside God nothing exists. If that is the case, what is the distance between us and God? Distance is abolished. It is a distance-less, timeless contact. That is possible for us, provided that we open the gates of our personality, open the windows to the sunshine of the Supreme Being that is illuminating us perpetually, and melt our egos which affirm that “I also exist together with God”. The biblical fall of Satan is nothing but the story of the affirmation of the ego in the presence of God: “If you are there, I am also there.” The devotee says, “God Thou art, but I am also there to contemplate you.” That devotee should not be there at all. Let that devotee melt, and God possesses him; the ocean enters into the rivers, and the world melts into the consciousness which is a now and a here.

The Bhagavadgita is a Brahma-vidya, a Yoga Shastra, sri-krishnarjuna-samvade– theoretical understanding of the structure of the cosmos, practice of yoga, and daily contact with God in our practical affairs, which is true divine life.