Bhagavad Gita,  Chapter IV: Krishna is the Creator,
Sustainer and Destroyer of the World
This week’s discussion centers on Krishna’s discourse on the history of the world’s origins. Though Arjuna has come to believe in Krishna’s divinity, the warrior still doubts whether Krishna is the original Creator who also maintains and revives material Earth, or an imposter seeking to uproot the religious consciousness that has guided Hindus since the last millennial.
Read the previous post in this series: Chapter III: “Satisfaction in Self Alone”
Arjuna queries if Krishna is the original Creator of the world and not merely an imitation or illusion of the All Mighty. Is Krishna the true successor to Vivasvat, the progenitor of humanity according to Hinduism’s earliest recorded writings or a trickster god attempting to fool the world for his own pleasure or amusement?
Krishna assures Arjuna of the authenticity of His teachings, stating that they are the original scriptures ordained since the beginning of time; unfortunately, however, because their relevancy has been “lost” for contemporary civilization, the Creator must reincarnate in a human form to reinstate these eternal principles (4.2). Thus, Krishna is not merely a successor to Vivasvat, but is literally Vivasvat, as well. However, in His current reincarnation, the Lord assumes the human form of Krishna.
Krishna further explains to Arjuna that He, the Lord, is also the Sustainer of the universe, and it is the Divine’s creative force that propels humans to action. Therefore, the human who insists on keeping all fruits and benefits of actions is destined to return to Earthly existence repeatedly and to suffer continuously from the constant drudgery and incessant desires of material existence. Because the Eternal is unchangeable and immovable, the Lord performs all actions through the world’s creatures. Hence, as human beings, we must never claim ownership for consequences—whether beneficial or misfortunate—of the Highest Lord’s labor, but must offer everything to the Lord. Krishna powerfully asserts, “[t]his world is not for him who performs no sacrifice—much less the other [world]” (4.31).
Chapter Four also speaks to the free will of humans. While all actions derive from the Divine source, it is the individual’s spiritual responsibility to recognize the divinity underlying all actions, and thus, to renounce all fruits of one’s labor, offering all results to the benevolent Creator and Sustainer of the universe. While wise yogis honor such allegiance, many individuals, alternatively, demand the fruits of their labor for the creation of personal wealth and fame. And, though many may live in material abundance resulting from their works, these individuals must continuously return to the suffering of Earthly life due to their attachments to material possessions and egoic eminence.
Additionally, Krishna tells Arjuna that when He incarnates in a human form, such as this time, His duty is to restore justice and fairness to a world now devoid of such virtues. Hence, in this capacity, Krishna assumes the role of creation’s Destroyer, whose actions will manifest through the warrior’s battles. Through such divine manifestation, humans must often perform “hard penances” (4.10) to prove their devotion to the Holy One. Furthermore, when one doubts the wisdom of the self, one also doubts the existence of Divine wisdom, thereby, doubting the manifested presence of the Lord, Himself (4.40).
Although Krishna has expounded the holy teachings to Arjuna, the warrior still doubts His magnificence. This partly stems from their shared familial history—Arjuna cannot comprehend how he grew up alongside Krishna, yet never realized his cousin’s Holiness.
Please join us next week when the warrior asks Krishna to reveal His identity, thereby proving finally that He is the Highest God.
Zaehner, R. C., trans. The Bhagavad Gita London: Oxford University Press, 1973  Photo Credit copyright © Eileen M. Sembrot – All rights reserved.