Names of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in Bhagavadgitā : An Appeal for Awakening (Part-I)

Prof. C.L.Prabhakar

Bhagavadgitā is Ever Fresh. It is ocean of Guidance. It provides hope and solace for the life issues to all at all ages.  Bhagavadgitā is Mother extending grace and concern over people’s duty of paying attention to Dharma. Gitā is guide for spiritual sādhanā moves and sights. Therefore, there are several expressions praising Gitā and its eternal use. But the same is not availed for benefit for many. Keeping this in View many missions and associations came up to impress the value, validity of Gitā. It is said:

Gitā sugitā kartavya kamanyaih sastra vistaraih|

                                 Yat svayam padmanabhasya mukha padmat vinisrutam||  

(Gitā-mahatmya 4)

Gitā has to be well followed. What else is the use of other large amount of Sāśtras. This statement has come out from the mouth of Padmanābha Kṛṣṇa who is a teacher of teachers. This supports the Eternity of the value and validity of Gitā. Thus is the talk by Kṛṣṇa while Arjuna was sole recipient of the awakening set of yogas and instructions.

Pārthaya pratibodhitam  Bhagavata narayanena  svayam

                   vyasena grathitam purana munina madhyat Mahabharatam!

                        advaitamruta varshinim Bhagavatim ashtadhasaadhyaini…..

                                             … gite bhavadveshini

(Gitā Dhyana 1)

Gitā is the nectar of Advaita covering eighteen chapters disdaining the material comfort only and the incidence of rebirth.

Wholly knowledge of yogas has come out to answer the Arjuna viśāda yoga.  At chapter one, Arjuna expresses his fear of sin and so refused to fight. But Kṛṣṇa comes up with Karma, Bhakti and Jñana yogas to instill courage and clear the doubts in him. He even risked showing his Universal form when doubts and unfaith in talk lurked in the mind of Arjuna. While this famous dialogue between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna there are addresals to Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna done by each mutually. That would be our enough effort to draw message and appeal hidden in them. At the same time awaken the sense of duty and right for execution. Kṛṣṇa says:

samvādamāvayoh jnāna  yajñena’

(Gitā 18.70)

Sanjaya said as he remembered the dialogue, he gets elated and happy. Further the dialogue is ‘adbhutaṁ’, ‘roma harshanaṁ’, ‘param guhyaṁ’ and ‘punyaṁ’. Sanjaya terms it as: one emerging out of significant dialogue of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna and adds that he felt elated very much (18.75). The same could be experience to anyone who followed the dialogue with diligence.

II

Let us enlist the names with which Arjuna called Kṛṣṇa at first. It is interesting to note that Acyuta is the constant address to open dialogue and conclude the dialogue.  In 18th chapter of the Gitā, Kṛṣṇa is Hṛṣīkeśa althrough while Arjuna is ‘Pārtha’ and Gudākeśa just to differentiate the difference between the Narāyana and Nara, the Arjuna. They mean just opposites namely Kṛṣṇa has control of senses while Arjuna is with in the grip of senses. So only the introductory stanza goes thus: saying that Narāyan imparts the teachings to Pārtha at the crisis. This is knit together by Vyāsa, the Purana Muni in the mid point of the body of Mahābharata. The teaching amounts to Advaita and it is amṛta showered on the ambiguous mind of Arjuna. The amṛta-varśa dispelled the doubts and suspicions and superstitions from the mind of Arjuna. Arjuna is made very happy forgetting his mental status touched when Kṛṣṇa showed him the viśvarupadarśana (the universal Form imbibing any and everything of the creation), the final mode of solving the lurking rather impeding confusion in the mind. It is to clear the Vimudhatva in Arjuna who is liable for change and understanding resulting in right action. Kṛṣṇa said ‘Act as you please’

‘yathecchasi tathā kuru’

(Gitā 18.63)

The decision was he was made to get rid of the cowardice, diffidence and moha. He got the light of truth and the real memory of Jāti and Kula Dharma became activated. He considered that he would not be sinner when Kṛṣṇa has done what he has to do in reality.  It is to the show of the world outside. In essence the dialogue gave rise to appeal and awakening on either side to ignite right action.  War was only solution for Kṣatriyas to resolve the Dharma. It is so because the ruling goes yato dharmah tato jayah (Mahābhārata). Success is always inclined at the reach of Dharma. Kṛṣṇa’s target was Dharma-samsthāpanā namely to establish Dharma only however.  Lord Viṣṇu descends to set right the Right.

III

The names of Kṛṣṇa with which Arjuna addressed Kṛṣṇa look very suggestive of his nature and powers. They stand to appeal to the Lord to guide him relevantly.  He is seen looking at Kṛṣṇa in many angles, forms and ultimately as friend and God. In like manner, Kṛṣṇa too looked upon Arjuna as a capable hero but disturbed momentarily at the sight of the opposite Army that contained his kith and kin too. Basically Arjuna was gripped by emotions and sentimental feelings.. That was a matter of viṣāda in him.

Now the respective names of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are taken to discussion briefly-  

The meanings of the names get understood relevant to the addressals done by each other. It is the nāma mahimāthat kindles the sense of appeal and awakening.  Besides that the personality traits, build of character and suitable action are suggested. The way name is called out supports the action warranted thereafter. Arjuna is looked upon more times as Pārtha meaning quite, materialistic and terrestrial.  He seemed to be elevated to the sense of duty at that critical juncture as a warrior best and care for the duty of a kṣatriya.  

Acyuta: this is the standard name to Kṛṣṇa at all times, meaning he never shakes nor looses courage and confidence. It is derived thus: ‘na cyutih, nasah yasya sah acyutah. In other words, all others in the creation are liable for ruin and disappearance. It is ‘cyuti’ meaning nasa. Finally Arjuna calls him Acyuta. Assenting to the appeal by Kṛṣṇa to war. He said ‘Naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtirlabdhā tvatprasādānmayācyuta’ (18.73). All the way memory and extra love sentimental bothered Arjun althrough.

Ananta : Infinite. All in all, endless.

Apratima Prabhava :  Matchless, valor and influence. Unfailing in plans and desires.

Arisudana : victor over enemies. Slays wicked enemies.

Adyah : He is erstwhile in existence before anyone. Kṛṣṇa is God who exits before anything came into the being.

Bhagavān : means possessor of all that characterizes of Bhaga. Bhaga implies ability in the features like creation, destruction etc. that belong to people and nature.

Bhutabhavanah : He thinks of the beings and attests their thinking and connectedly supportive.

Bhutesah : He is the leader of all beings irrespective the category known.

Devadeva : the leader of such Brilliant gods (the Viṣṇu). In a feeling of over joy Arjuna calls Kṛṣṇa at a stretch with several names especially when Kṛṣṇa showed his universal form (viśvarupa).  

Devavarah : well elected and best of all the brilliant people like bright righteous people, gods etc.

Devesa : the commander of   workers  to make the good to happen.

Govinda : He makes the land and people happy. He is the custodian of Knowledge and Happiness.

Hṛṣīkeśa : Who has hold on Indriyas. They never drop down. They remain standardized and never swerving in the circumstances. Indriyanigraha is a great feat but it is natural to him.

Janārdana : means Protector of people indifferent to their differences and distinctions like sun and Moon. Janārdana is everybody’s protector. So, Arjuna calls Kṛṣṇa at right situation. Kṛṣṇa was promoting war with the Kauravas and kill them. As Janārdana it is sin prompting him to do pāpakarma. It was the suggestion to Kṛṣṇa when he called him thus.

Jagannivasa : though he is elsewhere fixed, he is not away from the creation and situations. Involved in the crisis and solution of the orders.

Jagatpate : He is lord of Jagat the combination of mobile and immobile objects in creation. He is inseparable and identical with all.

Kamala Patraksha : his eyes are beautiful as beautiful as the lotus flower. Here the looks are pleasant and attractive that fear is dispelled at his sight.

Kṛṣṇa : He is the Attractor  ‘aa karshati iti Kṛṣṇah’ He pulls attention of all towards him.

Kesava : connected to creation that comes out of Water. No creation is possible without water, the divine support. The first appearance of the Lord is in waters lying in restful state.

Kesinishudana : He killed another demon by name Kesi and this demon was a special kind of rākṣasa but a bhakta. His name he took in is fame.

Madhusudana : ‘Madhu’ is a Demon by name.  The slayer of that demon is Kṛṣṇa. A queller of Evil and Negativity.

Mahabaaho : Strong shoulders meaning skilled in war and courage to face any inimical person or circumstances.

Mahatmā :  Great soul able to get elevated outlook of his own self.

Paramesvara : There are many overlords, the leader and monitor of all of them to keep the work well organized.

Purushotthama : He is Puruṣa, one with the creation but ranks always high. Looked upon by people for help and suggestion. In Puruṣa sukta of  RV Narāyana is Puruṣa.

Prabhu  : He is one controlled by himself over his own being and actions.

Sarvesah : He is monitor of any and everything in the creation.

Sahasra bāhu : His strength is number with the thousand shoulders, hands. It bespeaks his war skill and never failing in exerting physical strength. Bahu is symbolic of power and potency.

Yādava : He belongs to the Yādava community, which is known for service to society.

Yogeśvarah : The teacher and mentor of Yoga that joins the individual to make him enhanced of powers and hope.

Varsheya :  He belongs to the clan of Vrushni and it a natural identity to him as he is mānava avatara too besides divine inset in  his personality.

Vāsudeva : Son of Vāsudeva.

Viśvamurti : He is figure of all.  All forms are his own.  He is in everybody.

Viśvesvara :  He is overlord of  the Universe and every object.

Viṣṇu : He is present any and everywhere all the three times.

Yogi : Focused person a Disciplinarian.

In all these names we notice the mention of power and ability and vested capacity in Kṛṣṇa that He would be good Guide par excellence. Further the names have special intonation with reference to his talk made to arjuna and arjuna responding in dialogue.

Prof. C.L.Prabhakar, President, Bangalore Chapter, WAVES-India.  

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