“O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.3)Download this episode (right click and save)
The verses, which can be sung, are poetic in nature. The translation for the word gita is “song.” Bhagavad-gita is the song of Bhagavan, a word which translates to “Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
Bhagavan is a person; He is not simply an attribute-less light. He is more than a concept conceived by the contemplative mind. He is beyond comprehension, in fact. For these reasons and many more, Arjuna addresses Bhagavan, who is sitting right next to him, with many different names in that famous conversation.
One of those names is Janardana, and it suits the cousin and well-wisher of the five Pandava brothers.
1. Maintainer of the people
There is a general order to things. The superior force has responsibility over the inferior. Human beings keep animals as pets. The parents run the household. The local leader maintains the community. The leader of the nation is in charge of the general welfare.
For all living entities, for all people, there is Janardana. Under the illusion of maya, we think that we are the doer. After all, I make the decision to get off at the next exit while operating a motor vehicle on the highway. I choose what to put in my mouth for food on a daily basis. Who else is making these decisions?
Krishna is Janardana because He maintains the living entities. I have no way of creating food on my own. Even if I take to farming, I must use things already existing in nature to get the desired result. Everything that exists, which arrive in a predictable and reliable pattern, is provided for by the higher authority.
2. Controller of the people
There is a limitation on what I can do. The limitation is based on the body type accepted at the time of birth. There is no doubt that the body constantly changes; noted particularly from youth to adulthood. The same body changes completely at the time of death.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
Spirit soul is practically unlimited in its abilities, as it intrinsically has knowledge, eternality, and bliss. The body is something like a holding cell, imposing limitations. That body is part of the material energy. The source of both material and spiritual worlds is Shri Krishna.
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
The closest the living entity comes to removing these limitations in a mechanical way is mystic yoga. Even then, there are still limitations. A siddhi of yoga by itself does not guarantee liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Nor does it mean that a material body will never be accepted again. The controller of the material energy is Janardana, who by extension is the controller of the people as well.
3. Knower in all bodies
At the local level there is the combination of the field and the knower of the field. The Sanskrit words are kshetra and kshetrajna. The body is the field and the individual living within is the knower. This is important to understand because the kshetrajna in one field cannot be the knower in another kshetra. Outside help is required. Communication is necessary. Even so, there is no direct experience.
The Supreme Lord is different. He is supreme for a reason. He is the kshetrajna in all fields. He knows what everyone is thinking, doing, feeling, desiring. He knows this for every single living thing, past, present and future. He accomplishes omniscience through His expansion as the Supersoul. Each living body technically thus has two knowers: one active and one passive. The Supersoul does not interfere with decisions. He remains neutral and close by, waiting for the individual to ask for direction.
4. Maintainer of Arjuna
The conversation between Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra happened for real. It is a historical event. Since God has the most artistic mind, His activities have tremendous symbolism to them. The Bhagavad-gita represents many things simultaneously. Disciple and guru. Doubt and resolution. Fear and strength. Darkness and light.
There is also the full display of the potential of the relationship with the Supersoul. At first the individual soul goes at it alone. That can only take him so far. When he’s ready for higher knowledge, there is the guidance from without. The external guru is Janaradana’s representative in the material world. The chaitya-guru is Krishna, and His representative shows how to tap into the reservoir of mercy already available from the Supersoul. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna is simultaneously the external guru, the internal guide as the Supersoul, and the manifest object of service as Bhagavan.
From presence to Arjuna shown,
Reasons for Janardana as known.
All living entities maintaining,
This and other universes sustaining.
As Supersoul spread everywhere to go,
Living inside as Supreme one to know.
Chaitya-guru’s representative to give,
Instructions on how with Bhagavan to live.