Last night, Jeff and I were talking about the Gita. Specifically, we were talking about the 10th chapter where Krishna is defining His opulence. You know, stuff like, “of wielders of weapons, I am Rama” and “of immovable things I am the Himalayas.”
We joked a bit about it, “of hokey players, I am Wayne Gretzsky.” (Though Jeff said Mario Lemieux.) And then I pulled out my favorite: Of secret things, I am silence. He certainly dug it as much as I.
So here’s a comparison of the four Gitas that I have and how they handle this verse.
Chapter 10, Verse 38
Among punishments I am the rod of chastisement, and of those who seek victory, I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am wisdom.
Of punishers I am the rod of chastisement; of victors I am the guidance they follow. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am wisdom.
Among those who dispense justice, i am the rod of chastisement, and among seeks of victory, I am policy. Of secrets I am silence, and I am the wisdom of the wise.
I am the taming rod
among those who tame;
I am moral conduct
among those who seek victory.
I am the silence of secrets;
I am knowledge
among those who have knowledge.
I don’t remember when I first heard “Of secret things I am silence.” But I know that it’s always hit me a certain way. I can’t at all describe it, but it’s just… deep.
The other ones I get pretty easily. They make a lot of sense. But “Of secret things I am silence” is a bit of a head scratcher.
Tripurari Maharaja keeps the last half of the verse exactly the same as Srila Prabhupada’s. I think that’s really neat and it makes me wonder if he too was taken by “secret things.”
Narayana Maharaja’s verse is much different than the other three. In my opinion, it’s less poetic, though, that may be the point. I don’t get “among those who seek victory I am policy.” I just don’t get it. In his word-for-word translation, he defines the sanskrit word “nitih” as “morality,” just like Prabhupada’s and Garuda’s.
And speaking of Garuda’s, I have to admit, though I like the wording to “Of secret things I am silence,” I think I like his “I am the silence of secrets” almost as much.
The only one that has a substantial purport is Srila Prabhupada’s. He devotes one sentence to “silence.”
“Among the confidential activities of hearing, thinking and meditating, silence is the most important because by silence one can make progress very quickly.”
Of the twenty-six qualities of a devotee, silence is the 26th. But devotees are anything but silent. We loudly dance and chant pretty much all the time. However, Vaisnava philosophy states that “silence” also means speaking only of things that have to do with Krishna consciousness.
“Nonsense talk breeds nonsense thought, breeds nonsense action, breeds birth, death, old age and disease.” – Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
That covers “silence,” but what of “secret things”? Secret things are confidential. The knowledge that Krishna imparted to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita was confidential knowledge. Bhagavad-gita 18.65 states: “Because you are My very dear fried, I am speaking to you the most confidential part of knowledge.”
This most confidential part of knowledge is that:
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart… and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy… surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode. Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
Seriously, the Gita is full of this stuff. Pick up a copy and delve into it.