The Gita, Time and Oppenheimer

The Gita, Time and Oppenheimer

( – The Gita, Time and Oppenheimer

By Sankirtana Dasa (ACBSP)

Time is an important topic in the Bhagavad Gita. Actually it’s one of the Gita’s five main topics. These include: 1) isvara – the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna 2) the jiva – the minute living entity 3) prakrti – material nature 4) karma – our actions and reactions, and 5) kalah – eternal time.

For me, I didn’t detect how much there was about time in the Gita until recently. Now, time is all over the place. Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is instructing the warrior prince Arjuna. He explains His own connection to time as well as our connection.

For instance, in the 10th chapter of Bhagavad Gita Krishna explains it in a nut shell: “I am the beginning, the middle and end of all things” (10.20). Several verses later He makes two other points: 1) “of subduers, I am time” (10:30) 2) “I am inexhaustible time” (10:33).

Krishna also elaborates on our relationship to time and how it is calculated in the material world. If you read carefully, there are numerous references. Krishna explains how the yogis meditate on the inward and outward breath (4.29). That’s one calculation. We only have so many breaths and so many heart beats in this particular lifetime of ours. Krishna also explains that He is “the light of the sun and the moon” (7.8). He goes onto proclaim that He is “flower-bearing spring” (10.35).

Thus, there is day and night. There is the waning and waxing of the moon which create the seasons. The seasons turn into years. These are the ways we measure time. Krishna also explains time on a cosmic scale. Brahma’s day (kalpa) consists of a thousand human ages (8.17). The Vedas compare the duration of the universe to the life of Brahma, the creator and grandsire of the universe. Brahma’s life is calculated to be over 311 trillion years.

Another way we calculate time is by how quickly we achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Krishna states that He is the goal (9:18). So where are we in our progress towards our goal, or perhaps in our progress on some journey we undertake? Are we at the beginning, middle, or the end? These markers are all expressions of Krishna.

In Bhagavad Gita 18:54 , Krishna mentions another way to view time. The conditioned soul laments about the past: something we did and regret doing, or something we didn’t do but should have done. All of us lament in one way or other. And we hanker or worry about the future. Will our hopes and desires be fulfilled?

In this way we continually avoid being in the present moment, which is essential for self realization. Being attentive to the present opens up the brahma-bhūtaḥ stage of spiritual joyfulness, and helps us to rise to the platform of bhakti, loving service to the Supreme Lord.

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