Chapter 17: Don’t Imitate, Just Be Yourself
At the same time there is nothing egoistic about Krishna when he seeks the support of the old seers and their sayings.
Questioner: Krishna, in chapter ten of the Gita describes himself to be the Ganges among the rivers, the spring among the seasons, the lion among the beasts, the garuda or eagle among the birds, the eirawat among the elephants, the kamdhenu among the cows, vasuki among the snakes, and so on. Does it mean that he is trying to declare himself to be the best and the greatest in all creation? Does it also mean that he refuses to represent all that is lowly and base? Why does he exclude the meanest of us all? And where does the meanest belong?
It is a significant question. And there are two beautiful aspects to it.
Firstly, Krishna declares himself to be the best among all things - of all the seasons he is the spring, of all the cows he is the kamdhenu, of all the elephants he is the eirawat. And secondly - and this is more significant - he finds his peers even among the lowliest of creatures like cows and horses. Both things should be taken together. While he declares himself to be the best among different classes of creatures, he does not distinguish between one class and another. Even when he claims to be the eirawat among elephants, he remains nonetheless an elephant. Even when he claims to be the best among the cows he remains a cow. Similarly he is quite at home among snakes and reptiles. He does not exclude the meanest categories as you think. He chooses to be the best even among the meanest creatures of this universe. And there is a reason. But why does he declare him self to be the best and the greatest among us all?
On the surface it seems to us to be an egoistic declaration, because we are so much involved with our egos that everything we see appears egoistic. But if we go deep into it we will know what a great message is enshrined in Krishna’s declaration. When he says that he is the eirawat among the elephants, he means to say every elephant is destined to be an eirawat, and if one fails to be eirawat he fails to actualize his best and highest potential. Similarly every season has the potential to grow into a spring, and if one fails to attain to the highest in its nature, it fails its nature. And if a cow fails to be the kamdhenu, it means she has gone astray from her nature. In all these declarations, Krishna says only one thing: that he is the culmination, the perfection of nature in everything. Whoever and whatever attains to the sublime reflects godliness. This is the central message of this declaration. Please understand its deeper significance.