The Sun, Moon, Stars and Bhagavad-Gita


Question

In Bhagavad-Gita 10-21 it is said:
“Of the Ādityas I am Viṣṇu, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Marīci, and among the stars I am the moon.”
In the Purport Srila Prabhupada says:
“Among the stars, the moon is the most prominent at night, and thus the moon represents Kṛṣṇa. It appears from this verse that the moon is one of the stars; therefore the stars that twinkle in the sky also reflect the light of the sun. The theory that there are many suns within the universe is not accepted by Vedic literature. The sun is one, and as by the reflection of the sun the moon illuminates, so also do the stars. Since Bhagavad-gītā indicates herein that the moon is one of the stars, the twinkling stars are not suns but are similar to the moon.”
Is our position that when we look up at the sky at night, all the twinkling luminaries are only reflecting the one sun’’s light?

Answer

H.D. Goswami Profile Picture
Here are some points that may be relevant:
  1. The relevant Sanskrit of this verse is naksatranam aham sasi. “Among naksastras, I am the moon.”
    In the standard Sanskrit-English dictionary, ‘naksatra’ first means, “a star or any heavenly body.” It also means “an asterism or constellation through which the moon passes, a lunar mansion.”                                                                      
  2. If we study the many “identity” verses of Gita Ch 10, we find that the chief member of a group, with which Krishna identifies, is not necessarily identical in all important features to other members of the group. Here are some examples from the same Gita verse 10.21:
    a. Krishna says that He is Vishnu among the Adityas. Yet Vishnu belongs to a fundamentally different category, He is Vishnu-tattva, whereas the other Adityas are jiva-tattva.
    b. Krishna says that He is the sun among lights (jyotisam). Yet by Prabhupada’s logic, this would mean that all lights, (jyotisam includes fires on earth and all other lights) would have to be suns, since they are mentioned in the same category with the sun.
    c. In the very next Gita verse, 10.22, Krishna says that of the senses, He is the mind. Note that the mind is not directly like the other five senses, it is, well, “mental,” whereas the other senses are sensorial. Krishna Himself makes this clear distinction in Gita 3.42, where He says that “the mind is above the senses!” Yet by the logic of the 10.21 purport, it would follow that the five senses are mental organs, but Krishna directly contradicts this.
  3. I think the conclusion is clear and relevant to our discussion of hermeneutics. It does not follow from the Gita that in Chapter 10, all the members of a category must be equal in all important features with the chief of that category, with which Krishna identifies. Thus it does not follow logically that the naksatras or stars must be reflecting bodies like the moon.