Krishna, Tom Joad and the Gospel of John

In a previous post I made several connections between the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Bhagavad Gita. Here I’d like to make a few other connections for the Gita, with the Gospel of John and “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Compare this passage in the “Gita” –

I am the Unborn and Eternal.  I am the Lord of everything.  When there is a dearth of righteousness in the world, when there is a danger of lawlessness becoming prevalent in the world, I appear:  I incarnate myself.  I am born yuga after yuga [age after age] to protect the good: to destroy the wicked: to establish and propagate Dharma.

[Gita IV, 6-8, as found in Kamala Subramanian’s abridgement of The Mahabharata, the large epic in which the Gita is included]

– to this passage, in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”:

Tom laughed uneasily, “Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one— an’ then ”

“Then what, Tom?”

“Then it don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where – wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build, why, I’ll be there.”

Compare this passage in the “Gita” –

I am impartial to all creatures,
and no one is hateful or dear to me;
but men devoted to me are in me,
and I am within them.

[Barbara Stoler Miller, IX, 29]

– to these passages from John’s Gospel (KJV) (14:20 and 15:4-7):

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you….

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

The John/Gita comparison has surely been made by others, and probably a lot more often than the connections I usually highlight in my posts in this category. I may even have seen the connection made, back when I was studying the Gita closely. But that’s going on twenty years now. So this comparison just makes the cut, if for no other reason than the limits of my memory!

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