Why does Krishna refer to someone else as the object of surrender in the Gita 18.62?
Transcribed by: Argha Maji
Question: Why does Krishna refer to someone else as the object of surrender in the Gita 18.62?
Answer: Krishna’s focus in the Bhagavad Gita is to provide a progressive philosophical education and he gives a conclusion based on various levels at different places in the Gita. So, if we look at the preceding verses, Krishna is providing a particular thought flow over there. Basically Krishna uses the third person when he wants to talk about material nature and controller of the nature. When he wants to differentiate between paramatma and Bhagavan.
So when he wants to talk about the Paramātmā, he often uses the third person, that Soul who is the controller of the material nature, you surrender unto him. When he wants to talk about Bhagavan, he refers to himself directly in the first person. So in 18.58, He has said,
atha cet tvam ahańkārān
na śroshyasi vinańkshyasi ( BG 18.58)
If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.
Now how we will be lost that is now described from 18.59 onwards. 18.59 and 18.60, basically say how we are all under the control of material nature.
yad ahańkāram āśritya
na yotsya iti manyase
mithyaisha vyavasāyas te
prakritis tvām niyokshyati ( BG 18.59)
So here what Krishna is telling is, you can hear me, the ultimate controller. If you don’t hear me, then you will be controlled by material nature, you will have to act according to the way they pull you, prakritis tvām niyokshyati.
Material nature will engage you. Why material nature will engage you, because we are bound by our nature, that is 18.60,
nibaddhah svena karmanā
kartum necchasi yan mohāt
karishyasy avaśo ‘pi tat
Krishna is telling Arjuna that now you are telling you will not fight but if you act as a mendicant, if you ask for alms and somebody refuses you, then immediately your sword will come out. Why? Because you are a Kshatriya , you will be bound to act as per your nature.
So Krishna has given the alternative of surrendering unto him in 18.58, now he explores the other options, don’t surrender, you will be controlled by material nature.
Now what is the way to be free from control of material nature?
hrid-deśe ‘rjuna tishthat ( BG 18.61)
All the living beings are wandering in the machine made of matter, but there is īsvarah who is controlling. So, we are controlled by our bodily machines, because we act according to material nature, but this machine is controlled by all pervasive controller and therefore in 18.62, Krishna says surrender unto that controller.
tam eva śaranam gaccha
sarva-bhāvena bhārata ( BG 18.62)
So, here Krishna has already explored the option of surrendering unto him and for those, who are not ready to do that, he is telling the consequences, you will be bound by material nature. If you don’t want to be bound, then you have to surrender to the controller of material nature. Now, Krishna has earlier told in 9.10, that he is the controller of material nature, mayādhyakshena prakritih. But here he is primarily giving the philosophical analysis.
After this Krishna says in 18.63,
iti te jñānam ākhyātam
guhyād guhyataram mayā
yathecchasi tathā kuru
Now deliberate deeply and decide what you want to do. So the acaryas describe at this point, Arjuna gets deeply lost in thought. Krishna has given so many levels of instructions at different levels, so what should I do. And seeing this Krishna’s heart overflows with compassion. Krishna tells, O Arjuna I will tell you the most clearly what is the best for you. I will give you the most confidential knowledge.
śrinu me paramam vacah (BG 18.64)
And what is that knowledge? That is told in 18.65 and 18.66, man-manā bhava mad-bhakto and
mām ekam śaranam vraja.
So he says surrender unto me. So basically Krishna when he wants to talk in a philosophical sense about matter and controller of matter to people who are not devotionally inclined, who are not yet ready to surrender to him, for them he gives them a third person analysis to help them understand that even they have to surrender. For example, the jnanis and yogis, they do not understand who the Absolute truth is. So if we look at other places in the Bhagavad Gita also, Krishna uses the third person reference, primarily when he is talking about the controller of material nature, Paramātmā.
So he uses this for two purposes, to differentiate between himself and Paramātmā, whenever that is needed in the philosophical context and secondly to guide seekers on paths other than Bhakti yoga, who are not yet ready to surrender to him, to convey to them that there is still a controller to whom they have to devote themselves. So the philosophical context of the Gita makes the third person reference clear.
On my website, there is a full class on this topic, Understanding Gita’s Third person references to Krishna and you can find there an analysis of almost all third person references.( the classes are https://www.thespiritualscientist.com/2013/05/understanding-krishna-first-person-and-third-person-references-in-the-gita-part-1/
But essentially, this is the understanding, based on the philosophical context and based on the contextual purpose that Krishna is serving over there he uses sometimes third person and sometimes first person. Thank you. Hare Krishna