SHREEMAD BHAGAVAD GEETA – MAHATM
Hari is Lord Krishna in Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta, our sacred living scripture in which He teaches us how to connect to timeless reality. That reality is the Lord Himself. By our nature and by being part of His illusory creation, we are always in a moral quandary fighting many battles in our minds. Shreemad Bhagvad Geeta, the “Poem Supreme”, deals with dharma which is defined by Lord Krishna as Knowledge that connects our “conscious higher self” with Him, “the Highest Self“. This connection, He says, is by no means easy.
Seeing our “self” by knowing ourselves is the prerequisite for connection with Hari, the ultimate reality. Knowing ourselves is a prerequisite to good dharma, which is vital to selfless karma. One can know oneself only by eating right, resting properly and acting ethically. Good, selfless karma necessitates renunciation of materialistic intent with focus on dharma. A Karmayogi with faith in Hari and friendship with humanity at large can connect with Him easily. Our Hindu Temple of Wisconsin propagates the ideal of dharma being central to Indian life. We have to uphold it and help others uphold it. We have to heed the message of our sages; we have to carry forth the moral legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. Geeta presents a process for spiritual uplift by union with God away from Maha Prakriti, the great creation. Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta is emblematic of metaphor, simile, and symbolism in narrating the life and the events of the time.
SHRIMAD BHAGAVAD GEETA ON LIVING AND WORKING
Week 1: Karma Yoga is not possible without Gyan Yoga of controlling our mind.
Skilled work, good karma, is possible only by a controlled mind, a mind that can filter and direct its perceptions (of smell, taste, sound, touch, and sight) and that can secure equanimity as Satvic Disposition for living with due respect to Time, the Brahman Himself. (SMG 2-39, 45, 50, 51, 60, 66)
We find in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra that
- Yoga is controlling and integrating the mind (1.2),
- equanimity and transparence are the essence of mind control (1.21, 1.41),
- our God is not conditioned in time because He is time (1.26), and
- our day to day worldly experience is an uncontrolled and unmitigated play of our senses (2.18).
We chant and pay respect to Lord Hanuman as ” Jitendriyam buddhimataam Varishdam”. Concentration, we find from stories in High Physics, can accomplish unknowns close to the Divine. Einstein conceives at the age of 16 that if he were to travel at the speed of light, he should see it as a frozen electromagnetic field oscillating in space and this Controlled Thought Experiment led him to the Special Theory of Relativity. Current readings on quantum Superposition as it relates to our daily nutrition and physiology, is actually the story of Schrodinger’s Cat on the simultaneous nature of being dead and alive. A thought experiment which reflects Patanjali’s conundrum (4.21) as to the impossibility of “being a perceiver” and “being perceived” is about the brain in a vat containing life sustaining soup depicting a duality of direct experiences from the brain and the simulated set of experiences based on the output of electrodes connected to the soup in the vat.
Shreemad Bhagvata Geeta, we find, offers instructions on “how to do good deeds by controlled and equipoised minds amidst terrible turbulence of senses”. To be Manasvi and Jitendriya is to be human and it is ingrained in our culture. We find Shreemad Bhagavata Geeta to be a Divine Thought Experiment sumptuously revealed to Arjuna.
Week 2: Communion by Selfless Action
The original Karma Yoga was performed by Prajaapati, Lord Brahma, when He created this universe. Lord Krishna describes it as the Sacrificial Karma of Yoga (SMG 3.10, 11, 12, 13). He tells Arjuna that He also needs to work or else ruin comes to all (3.22). For a human being, Karma Yoga is about being mindful and controlling one’s sensory organs as they discharge their prescribed duties in line with their nature or psychologically pertinent Dharma (3.30) without Kaam (lust) or Krodha (anger) (3. 36, 40). Lord Krishna says that the Vedas are Brahma-Vaakyas (God’s dictates) designed to perpetuate our good Karma (3.15).
Although we have to work for our basic metabolism (Shareer-Yatraa), declares omniscient Lord Krishna to Arjuna (3.8), real Karma Yoga for Lokasamagraha (benefit of the world) requires self-realization, mind control, dedication and steady mindfulness (3.25). He cites Janaka as a KarmaYogi who found salvation without contemplative meditation (3.20). Further, we find Mars (who is known to Lord Agni of Rig Veda) to be a Karma Yogi of transformation.
Other examples of morally and spiritually uplifted Karma Yogis are Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi. One might like to read Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow’s novel “Mr. Sammler’s Planet”, a great treatise on Sreemad Bhagwad Geeta’s chapters 1 through IV. The answer to the perennial perplexities of life is to deal with the here and now through selfless action. Our parents do it, our good friends do it and truly great leaders do it.
Week 3: Brahmayoga through Knowledge and Karma
Lord Krishna is very precise in His instructions and teachings to Arjuna. He recounts His gift of Gyanyoga to Surya Dev (Sun) who gifted it to Manu who gifted it to his son Ikshvaku (1) and then to the royal sages, one after another (2); and finally to Arjuna in the field of action (3). Krishna said that He did so by His avatara (4-7) and by His own Yogas for establishing dharma and protecting Creation (8). He advises Arjuna to take refuge in Him (10) and follow His path (11); to not succumb to actions for short term solutions and advantage (12). Arjuna should work without desire for gain (13), without attachment (14) and follow divine mentors of the past (15). Action and inaction, says the Lord, are the one and the same (16-18) for one unbound by desires (19-20) and in control of fleeting senses (21). He clarifies that to be free of jealousy, content with the present and remain equipoised in pain and pleasure (22), is to be in a Brahmi state of total dissolution (23). We will then see and realize Brahman is everywhere and in all things – the offering, the oblation, the fire and the Yagya itself (24).
Lord Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, ends chapter four of Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta by asking Arjuna to
- Sacrifice the functions of his senses in order to be at peace in silence (26, 27)
- Do Praanayam and regulate his diet (30)
- Learn from the learned (34)
- Secure knowledge for purity of mind and seek enlightenment by good deeds (35, 38)
- Control his senses (39)
- Have deep faith (40)
- Dedicate his actions to Him (41)
- Become a Karmayogi (42)
Sacrifice, says the Lord, is a matter of mind and mind control and the beauty in living is to see Brahman in everyone and everywhere. The continuum of transcendence of sacrifice from the Creator Lord Brahma to the deities and divinities, to Arjuna and finally to all of us is ordained by God. One strives to learn, fulfill one’s responsibilities as a householder while doing maximum public good. One has to teach the science of the soul to all one meets and greets. All this should be done selflessly. Being focused only on the conscious (routine mind) and ignoring the “subconscious” which stores more knowledge of truth and reality, is mistreatment of our soul. A good Hindu is a “Thought Experimentalist”. A Karmyogi must thoughtfully explore his subconscious and let his or her genes and environment make decisions ahead of the mind that itself works through prior recollections. This is what Norman Vincent Peale might have meant by saying, “When you affirm big, believe big, and pray big, putting faith into action, big things happen”.
Week 4: Global Gospel of Selfless Action
Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta is a knowledge centered divine instruction on selfless action that begins with the body and its sensory organs. The body is meant to do karma and dharma. The motto of the All India Institute of Medical sciences in New Delhi is Shariramaadhyam khalu dharmsaadhanam (Kalidas in Kumar Sambhava, 5.33) meaning “this body is an instrument for practicing eternal religion with best possible karma”. Our sensory organs must work, we must foster good intent, and then do our karma. The karma concept is in Veda (Rig 10.78.8), Lord Krishna says to Arjuna. Further, it is delineated in Saptapath Brahman (126.96.36.199 and 10.1.4.1), Brihadaaranyak Upanishad (3.2.13), and Mahabhaarata (XII 291.22 and XIII 10 and 19). Yogeshvara Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that He knows all these things and He has imbued all mankind with these values and taught these lessons to others before him, as eternal mantras for living and sustaining social order.
The gospel went global to Pythagoras (570-495 B.C.), Socrates (Socrates known as Suqrat in India, 469-399 B.C.), Plato known (Aflatoon in India, 487-348 B.C.), and Aristotle known (Arastu in India, 384-322 B.C.). The moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Albert Schweitzer during Europe’s post renaissance period derives its meaning from Lord Krishna’s divine instruction.
We experience this world through our senses: electromagnetic fields and their intensity through the eyes, sound waves through the ear, the taste of food through the tongue, molecular vibrations of fragrance through the nose, heat and cold through our skin. We have nociceptors for pain, equilibrioceptors for coordination, and propiosensors for gravity and we can sense motion. We sense sound in a millionth of a second, pressure as low as 0.00004 inches, and light as far as 30 miles. We recognize some 300,000 color patterns, taste 0.42 parts per million of salt, and smell perfume up to 40 feet away. There is a divine purpose behind it all. We have intuition and we can reason. Our perception of time is based on a distributed system linked to our brain. A nerve cell is connected to another by synapses that function by transmitters using chemicals. The overall process of communication involves stimulation, transduction, conduction, and translation and the system turns our mind into a computer of creative capacity for knowledge and stable wisdom – but only when under control.
A controlled mind permits us to act, to live, and further to concentrate to be tranquil. Mindfulness is about sensory control with the goal of processing sensory signals from the body to the mind, and then to the intellect. It is about mastering vibrations and oscillations within our body – the intra and intercellular world of the entire body, including the mind. Directed mind-body connection, however, is achievable only by concentration. A lot happens temporally in defined spaces in milliseconds when we concentrate and act. The DNA in the nucleus of the cell unbundles, it gets decoded, genes are expressed synchronously, enzymes and chemicals are made and sent to the brain via receptors and synapses. So you see we need to have the intent and the will for good action, serene wisdom, and super consciousness.
Only a life lived in nobility, honor, and virtue can produce good actions by serene wisdom. To explore reality and realize Brahman, we need to explore a difficult to fathom subatomic to macrocosmic universe. This may happen almost instantaneously to those of serene wisdom because consciousness, call it mind over matter, transcends the speed of light.
All knowledge and karma begins with our senses and the Karma doctrine is fundamental to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Its moral impact went global centuries ago. Superficial actions are harmful, sinful, and bad. Only a planned and selflessly executed karma (moral sense) builds societies and nations. As a matter of fact this universe is a product of our mind and the purpose of the moment is to commit to sensing vibration in the body before expressing intent (mansaa), speaking (vaachaa), and acting.
Good intent is the foundation of good karma and the karmic cycle is eternal. The message of mindfulness in Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta has now become a clinical tool in psychotherapy for conflict resolution and freedom from stress and chronic disease. Almost every Ivy League school is a serious and sincere proponent of its value. Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta is already transforming health care practice in Europe and North America. It was already the foundation stone of common law by defining intent (abhipraya by mind, mansaa), expressing (vaachaa), and committing (karmanaa) actions (as well as sins that can ruin a society). Our maker ordains that we be ever mindful and restrained.
Week 5: Karmayoga & Renunciation
The universe is a divine weave whose contents never pass away. The sins slide off our selfless actions and conscience when dedicated to the Almighty Brahman, the ultimate reality and the truth (10).
The paths of Karmayoga and Renunciation (Sanyas) are convergent, says Lord Krishna (2). This unification is a realization of God or being one with the Brahman. The truth is that renunciation is a prerequisite to “easy to perform” Karmayoga (3). Samkhya’s Gyanyoga which involves renunciation of actions and Karmayoga which involves performing “nature-bound” actions, are one and the same (4, 5, 6). Understand, says Lord Krishna to Arjuna, that a karmayogi of pure intelligence, through deliberate control of his senses and his mind, can self-realize and ultimately realize God (7) because he avoids getting tangled with the actions per se. The key is concentration and mindfulness through control of sensory activities that control the body (8,9). Dedicating actions to the Almighty makes it sinless (10), helps unite the “Self” with the Ultimate Soul of Brahman for peace (11,12), and brings happiness (13). Unlike material “nature”, the consciousness “Supreme” doesn’t engage in action (14) and thus stays sinless (15).
Knowledge of the self by Gyanyoga cleanses us of any delusions and makes the union with the Ultimate consciousness possible (16). Like a gyanyogi of faith fixed on the Almighty while meditating on the “self” (17). To such a gyanyogi there is no difference in the soul of a Brahmin competent in vedic knowledge and the rest of living souls in this universe (18). He has mastered equanimity and perfect vision (19), finds no difference in pain and pleasure (20), upon merger with Paramaatma (21). The spiritually intelligent people take no delight in pleasures born of their senses (22) because they have physical, mental, and emotional control over their urges and, as such, are self-realized and happy (23). To be happy is to be immersed in the “self” and finally to merge with the Ultimate Consciousness of the Brahman (24).
It all begins with knowing yourself or self-realizing. And then stay determined with the spiritual welfare of all that lives by aiming for your own liberation (25). A sustained practice of vyayam and pranayam is necessary for liberation, even for a renounced and self-realized gyanyogi (26, 27).
Lord Krishna concludes by saying to Arjuna, “I am the beneficiary of all austerity and sacrifice, I control all existence in the universe, I breathed life into the firmament, causing – and I am the cause of – the celestial revolution. Be at peace and be merciful to My creation” is His grand message for the entire human race (29).
Week 6: The Science of Self-Realization
( आत्म संयोग )
(Raj-Yoga, Dhyaan Yoga or Ashtaang Yoga)
Communion with God, call it transcendence or experience beyond the physical, is possible only when we meditate on the Almighty with a restrained mind, in peace and solitude and free from distraction or turbulence. This is possible by Ashtaang Yoga which includes Yam or moral code, Samyama (ethics of restraint, nonviolence, search for truth, celibacy and shunning greed or the temptation to steal), Niyam or discipline (ethical personal codes of purity, endurance, satisfaction and self-study), Aasana ( posture), Pranayam, Pratyahar (sense withdrawal), Dharana or Ekagrata (focus), Dhyaan (meditation) and Samadhi (integration). Lord Rama’s brother Bharat is known to have controlled his nature by exercising strict Niyam, Sam (integration, togetherness leading to samadhi) and Dam or Vigor (Tulsi Ramayan, Chhanda before Doha 326). Ashtaang or Raj Yoga is a technical tool for uniting the self with the ultimate reality, the Brahman. This union is a state of perfection attainable only by mastering the mind and conditioning the soul. We owe our gratitude to the great seer Paatanjali for directing us on the path of Atma Sanyog ( आत्म संयोग ), the science of self-realization. Salutation to Paatanjali:
Yogen chittasya, padena vachaan, malam shareerasya ch vaidyakena I
( योगेन चित्तस्य, पदेन वाचां मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन )
Yo’paakarot tam pravaram muneenaan, Paatanjilam praanjalir aanato’smi II
(योऽपाकरोत् तं प्रवरं मुनीनां पातञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिर् आनतोऽस्मि ॥)
We salute Paatanjali, the greatest of munis, for giving us the means to control our mind by Yoga, our speech by grammar and disease by medicine – (Adi Shankara)
Yoga is a physical and mental exercise in introspective mediation for spiritual communion. The key is selfless and detached action and not just by doing away with ‘havan’ (giving up ‘havan sacrifice ’ in sacred fire) or giving up action altogether (1). Any disciplined work for others is Yoga. Both Sanyaas and Karma require renouncing desire (2). Selfless action (by detaching from the senses and renouncing thoughts of this world) is the stepping stone to Karmayoga (3, 4). You yourself are your best friend but only by winning and controlling your body, your senses and your mind (5, 6). The Supreme Nirgun Brahman and Sagun are manifest in Divinity because nature resides in the controlled minds of only the serene (7, 8) ones who see well-wishers and neutrals, friends and foes, the virtuous and the sinful without preconceived notions, harboring hate for none (9).
For attaining bliss, a Yogi should always engage his mind in mediation (10) by staying calm, pure and fearless and concentrating on Lord Krishna by meditating in a proper posture (11-15). An Ashtaang Yogi must regulate his diet and sleep as prescribed in Verse 16, 17 and also by modern medicine. Regulated diet and recreation are in accordance with the dictates of Karma otherwise the very purpose of living is defeated.
One is established in Yoga only through disciplined union with God (18, 19), by creation of a still mind with subtle reason (20) for sensing eternity and absolute reality (21) away from the deepest of sorrows (22). This yogic creativity comes only to a stable and fully restrained mind (23, 24). Howsoever gradual the practice of fixing our minds onto God may be, it produces tranquility (25, 26). A Yogi identifies with the Brahman, the embodiment of Truth, Knowledge and Bliss to become happy, serene, and sinless (27). What is gradual at first becomes permanent (28) as part of the Supreme Consciousness and the Yogi begins to see the “Self” in everyone and everywhere (29). Once this happens, says Lord Krishna, he never loses Me, and I never lose sight of him. He abides in Me, no matter what (30, 31). A great Yogi perceives oneness in all, whether they be fellow beings or feelings. Joy and sorrow cease to be different (32).
“A restless, unsteady, and turbulent mind with its power and tenacity to wander hither and thither always destabilizes Yoga, which is a problem, my Lord”, says Arjuna. The Lord teaches Arjuna to exercise dispassion and to meditate deeply for curbing the mind (35). The key is mind control by sustained practice (36). As to Arjuna’s questions about imperfect Yoga and failure to attain divine bliss by faith alone (37, 38, 39) and his need for additional clarity, the Lord says, “Strive for God-Realization and you shall not meet evil destiny” (40). He adds that even those fallen from Yoga in current birth can attain heaven (41) or be born in the family of another enlightened Yogi (42). The Yogi can strive again for perfection and God-Realization (43) and benefit from the latency of commitments in prior births (44, 45). A Yogi is superior to those who act with vested interests. He is even superior to the ascetics versed in sacred lore. “Arjuna!” says the Lord, “worship Me devoutly and become a Yogi “ (46, 47).
According to Adi Shankara, self-realization is knowing your nature, character and personality; and having faith in God in order to stay free from the tentacles of passions. Have a will power (Chhandyoga Upanishad). Know that self-realization stretches over a huge psychological arena and that there is a big difference between the “Self” of Brahman and the personal “self” which is a miniscule part of the Almighty. There should be no hesitation in doing so because good karmas are carried forth from birth to birth on the road to God-Realization. The purpose is much bigger than the present life.
Uninterrupted search and quintessential duty do help us meet Our Maker if we commit to learning the secret and the mystery of our existence. We must do our best to connect with the world and its Creator, the Lord Almighty, in our present life until death. We need to love our soul; we need to self-uplift and motivate ourselves, inspire ourselves, work selflessly, respect all life, have an all-inclusive vision and remain determined to know Our Creator. To do all this, we should take advice from:
- The 17th century philosopher Benedict Spinoza who liked and lived with the grand idea of detachment as a means to self-realization.
Early 20th century physicist and mathematician Dr. Einstein who said, “… when I read the Bhagavad Geeta and reflect on how God created this universe, everything else is so superfluous”. It appears that Yoga is beyond Einstein’s mathematics but within us all.
Week 7: Knowledge of the Absolute & Manifest Brahman
All natural philosophy is about the Yogamaya of Brahman, i.e., about us, the world and the matter it is made of. The Brahman Himself, however, is beyond time, matter and cosmic processes. Lord Krishna educates Arjuna about His non-material and material aspects, proclaiming that He is the material substrate from which the universe originates and into which it dissolves. The Brahman is Adi Shankara’s Advaita and Sripad Ramanujacharya’s Vishishtadvaita philosophy of Hinduism. Sripad Ramanujacharya declares Lord Krishna to be the Supreme Truth, the Supreme Cause and the force behind the sustenance of this universe. Souls that surrender to Him in steadfast devotion become part of Him.
Our non-material self, the Atman, is a fraction of the non-material “Supreme Self”, the cosmic soul or transcendental Brahman. The Gunas came from the Nirgun Brahman when creation began and thence emerged the Universe. They retreat to Nirgun upon dissolution, described as Pralaya. A citation from Shreemad Bhagavatam 11.88.5 explains Nirgun as:
हरिरहि निर्गुणः साक्षात पुरुषः प्रकृतिःपरा, सा सर्वदृग् उपद्रस्ता तम भजम निर्गुणो भवेत्।
(Hari is the non-material cosmic Self personified. He is Nirgun, beyond Purush and the material Prakriti (Nature) bound by three Gunas. Lord Krishna is the all perceiving, the Almighty Nirgun Brahman. To worship Him is to be free from all material modes or Nirgun. The words to this effect in the Vedas are Shabda Brahman are sound vibrations or ‘Vach’ (Rik X.114.8; Shaptapatha Brahman XI.21.36). In the Upanishads it is the divine syllable AUM (also spelled as OHM, OM and ॐ).
Lord Krishna continues explaining to Arjuna that He is the Universal Soul, the repository of all power. He is the Para Brahman Nirguna as described in Rik 1.9.5-6, 6.15.13. He is Knowledge and to know Him, Arjuna must love Him exclusively and practice Yoga with absolute allegiance to Him (7.1); understand the science of Brahman (Gyan) and the science of Brahman manifest or Vigyan (7.2). Thousands aspire to know Him but only a rare one comprehends His reality (7.3).
Lord Krishna says that His material nature and energy is eightfold: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Mind, Reason and Ego. Such is His nature which sustains the universe. His higher nature is the “life-principle” itself (7.4- 5) or the soul of all that lives. This world, He says, springs forth from and recedes back into Him (6). There is nothing beside and beyond Him (7.7).
The Lord expounds this with practical examples of Sagun attributes, proclaiming that He is the sapidity of water, the purity of odor, the light of the Moon and the Sun and the brilliance of Fire. He is the sacred syllable ॐ of the Vedas, the sound (Shabda) in Ether. He is the seed, the life and energy in all beings. He is the austerity in seers, intelligence of the intelligent, the glory of the glorious, the might of the mighty; even the sexual desire and the passion for propagation (7.8-11). Sattva, Raajas and Taamas, the three attributes of nature, constitute My Yogmaya which evolves from Me, He says: I do not, however, exist in the Gunas and neither do they in Me (7.12). We ought to understand that the three Gunas are essential for different combinations, variety and pluralism in this universe otherwise it would sink into monotony. His Yogmaya is the divine potency also known as Maha Maya or Prakriti. One who worships the Lord can penetrate and go beyond His Yogmaya (7.14). Seekers of knowledge and wisdom, the afflicted and the anguished, even the seekers of worldly possessions adore Him (7.16). The seekers of wisdom, He says, are the best and most dear to Me because they merge with Me (7.17-18); but such enlightened souls are very rare (7.19).
A distracted soul worships other deities (20) but even that worship I stabilize, says the Lord (7.21). Only those of poor understanding fail to come to Me. My Supreme Nature is Truth, Knowledge and Bliss (7.22-24). Yogmaya simply deludes the untrained (7.25). Arjuna! I know all beings and I know the past, present and the future. I remain unknown to the faithless (26) because of their infatuations, desires, hatred and delusions of pain and pleasure (7.27). The virtuous worship Me with steadfast mind (7.28). Those who seek deliverance from old age and death strive for refuge in Me. They need to know Me by understanding the Adhidaiva Brahma as my integral being; the Adhyaatma, Karma, Aadhibhuta and Aadhiyagya which is Me. (7.29-30). The Adhidaiva and Aadhiyagya is described more elaborately in Chapter 8.4.
आदिभूतम्क्षरः भावः पुरुषःच आदिदैवतम्। आदियज्ञः अहम्एव अत्र देहे देहभृतां वर ।। 8.4
(Aadhibhuta pertains to the perishable nature and Purush is the Aadhidevata or Cosmic Conscience. I am the Aadhiyajna, embodied in your body as the inner witness, O Arjuna!)
The power of Nirgun worship is explained to Arjuna at the end of the mighty Mahabharata war. Arjuna asks Lord Krishna about Ashwatthaama‘s superiority for the simple reason that he might have been better taught by his father, Dronacharya, who was Arjuna’s ‘Guru’ as well. Lord Krishna contradicts it by explaining that Ashwatthaama had worshiped the Sagun identity of God in his prior birth. Arjuna had worshipped the Nirgun, hence Arjuna would excel and triumph. Those who do not understand the Nirgun fall behind and so would Ashwatthama.
The Hindu belief is that Lord Krishna is this material world, He is its energy and He is the non-material Nirgun Brahman. We surrender to Him for deliverance. While Guru Nanak, Kabir and Namdeo propagated Nirankar (Nirgun), Surdas, Tulsidas, Mirabai, and Chaitanya preached the Sakar (Sagun) Brahman. There is a profound mix of the two beliefs in our day to day religious practices. Attention and reflection on each word of the daily prayers, whether:
ॐ Jay Jagdish Hare…..
ॐ योऽपां पुष्पं वेद । पुष्पवान् प्रजावान् पशुमान् भवति ।
चन्द्र मा वा अपां पुष्पम् । पुष्पवान् प्रजावान् पशुमान् भवति ।
य एवं वेद । योऽपामायतनं वेद । आयतनवान् भवति ॥ १॥
He who knows the flower of the waters,
Becomes endowed with the flower, people, and animals.
Moon is the flower of the Waters.
He who knows this
Becomes endowed with the flower, progeny, and animals.
He who knows the support of the waters
Becomes endowed with the support.
Week 8: Brahmayoga
The indestructible, all pervading and Almighty Brahman is the supreme truth and reality as the “Cosmic-Self“. To know the Brahman we must understand the Vedic time scale described to Arjuna by Lord Krishna, albeit in passing. Let us begin with some detail.
There have elapsed six Manvantara, 27 complete Mahayugas of current 7th Manvantara, three elapsed Yugas of 28th Mahayuga and 5,017 solar years of the current Kaliyuga. One Manvantara is 71 cycles of Chaturyugas and we are in the 28th Manvantara. Lord Brahma’s life span is 311 X 1012 solar years or Brahma’s 100 years encompassing 1000 Mahayugas. This is a much bigger time-scale than what current science in cosmology stipulates. The Vedas describe it as ‘Kalo gatinivrtti sthiti samadadhati’ or कालो गतिनिवर्त्ति स्थिति समदाधाती (SankhyayanAranyaka 7.20) relating to consciousness. This non-linear and multi-directional time scale is in consonance with the modern space-time concept. Just imagine that only two Kalpas, one each spanning the day and night of Lord Brahma, is 8.4 billion years, a time closest to the modern cosmological estimate (Carl Sagan) of age 13 billion years of our universe. Subatomic to cosmic space-time continuum is a matter of movement of heavenly bodies in the cosmos and Hindu time is based on these movements. Solar and lunar rhythms do dictate the master clock in our brain and our general chronobiology. Nature bound with three Gunas, call it the Sagun Almighty, is manifest much better during Uttarayan (the winter solstice) as opposed to Dakshinayan (the summer solstice). Lord Krishna points it out to Arjuna in relation to life, death, and rebirth. Just the enormity of this time scale itself perhaps makes our merging with the Almighty very difficult; but again, the Lord Himself is Time.
We can only sense God by our mind, our sixth sense. A refined and sustained feeling is Anubhuti (अनुभूति). Other means of sensory perception do not come to our aid. Think of an electron of material Prakriti which makes our being and the rest of the universe possible. It spins 100 times faster than the speed of light. Think further that two electrons of the same spin cannot stay together yet they are part of Sagun Brahman. The Nirgun or the cosmic spirit described as Nirankar, Nirvikalp and Anant is beyond these electrons, beyond time and beyond any mathematical deduction.
The science underlying Brahmayoga is sovereign and secret. Our soul is a matter of Divine Conscience and Divine Will. Divinity, we should clearly understand, reveals itself only to those with a controlled and super conscious mind.
The Brahmayoga described by Lord Krishna in chapter eight of Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta is about Nirvana or enlightenment that leads to the merger of our Atma with our maker, the Paramaatma. The Lord tells Arjuna that the Brahman, the Cosmic Self or the Adhidaiva is Akshar or indestructible. Adhyatma is about our own “self”, Adhibhut is perishable material object, Adhiyagya is the Lord Himself, and Divine Karma is the discharge of spirits (Visarga) or creation of this universe. Shabda Brahma also connotes creation (2- 4). At the time of death, only those with Me in their minds attain My State, says Lord Krishna (5, 6). Think of Me, he instructs Arjuna; fix your mind on Me and fight. Fear not, for you will come to Me (7). Know that I am beyond routine human conception and comprehension. Others have come to Me only by sustained concentration and meditation on Me and by crossing over My Yogamaya (8, 9, 10).
Know also that God is an embodiment of Truth, Knowledge and Bliss. “He is indestructible”, proclaim the Vedas (11) and the Upanishads (Katha II.15). He is attainable by practice of concentration and meditation (12, 13, 14). The Lord asks Arjuna to concentrate and meditate on the single syllable OM. Having thus come to Me, the Lord says, beings are set free from transient rebirth (16). They are freed from sorrow. He further tells Arjuna that unlike time bound and transitory Brahmaloka, He is beyond time (16) and beyond the dance of electrons in matter as we know it.
Brahma, as manifest in the Lord Himself, has day and night of 1000 Mahayuga each. All embodied souls evolve at dawn and go back to Him at nightfall on dissolution (17, 18, 19). The day-night cycle of Lord Brahma spans 8.6 billion years. The Supreme is beyond Brahma (the creator) and Supreme does not perish at nightfall. The Supreme, says Lord Krishna, is Me (21, 22) attainable only by exclusive and unswerving devotion. There is no return to this world once one is part of Me.
The Lord advises Arjuna about celestial interventions as well. Yogis attain the Supreme Brahman during the long day light and the bright fortnight of the Uttarayan or winter solstice (24) but during the Dakshinayan of shorter days and dark fortnights even the Yogis may return to this world (25). Arjuna! Know of these two time paths. Strive constantly and always for My realization (27) like Yogis who have renounced successfully and gone far beyond Vedic injunctions (28).
The Brahman is surely beyond time. He monitors the flow of energy in a straight line and matter (nature, life) recycling in the Milky Way Galaxy. This galaxy of 100,000 light years in diameter is only a spot in the firmament which turns only once in 200 million years. Every atom in the firmament is caught up in the whirling of the galaxy. We are truly like dancers on the planet earth moving with it at a speed of 1,674 kilometers per hour in specific response to the movement of other heavenly bodies in the firmament. We, the matter part of the Almighty, do not understand it but the Almighty does, for sure. We are a product of His Consciousness and Will. We must seek to merge with the Almighty by consolidating and sharpening our conscience. We should live with the belief that the conscience of the Atman and that of the Brahman are connected and must be amplified.
We know that the eagle can spot its prey over three square miles from a height of 1000 feet; a dog can interpret his world by his powerful sense of smell and a pigeon can navigate by magnetic sensing. Just dare to speculate what this world would look like if we could see through the entire spectrum of the sun’s light. Gamma rays will spot celestial bodies only; X-rays will show our friends walking around in their skeletal form only. Ultra violet will help us see the Milky Way Galaxy only as a faint glow; infra-red rays will spot us in cold winter only as a streak of light. However, our body cells use infra-red rays every second of our existence. The big question is as to what the “Cosmic Self” would look like if we had such a power of vision and a mind which could interpret such a sight. Lord Krishna had to give Arjuna Divya Drishti (Divine Sight) so that he could see His Visva-Swaroop through the entire spectrum of the sun’s light.
Week 9: Yoga of Sovereign Science & Sovereign Mystery
Science of the Nirgun and Sagun Brahman
Lord Krishna, the Brahman Himself, teaches us through Arjuna in Chapter 9 of Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta that He presides over the material energy (8) and that all living and non-living matter is the product of His nature, conscience, and will (22). Our goal in life is to raise our consciousness so as to unite with His and thus realize Him for Moksha via a refined Anubhuti (अनुभूति). There are no limitations because He loves us all, be it the well accomplished Brahmin, a Vaisya, a Shudra, a woman, an illegitimate child or even a demon seeking reformation and redemption (29-31). What we need is a steadfast faith and unshakable devotion to His Nirgun or Sagun forms and His message. We should always remember that our soul is part of His Divine Conscience and Divinity reveals itself only to the super conscious amongst us. Both metaphysical and scientific knowledge paths are complementary in refining Anubhuti and conscience in an endeavor to realize Him.
Lord Krishna expounds to Arjuna that Gyan and Vigyan do lead to Moksha (1) and direct realization of the Supreme is possible by knowledge of the Supreme (2) but only to souls with faith (3). He emphasizes that He is this world, He is omniscient and transcendent and He supports all beings while uninfluenced by nature or Prakriti. He is Purusha(4-5).
All created beings are situated in Him (6). The beings return into His nature after one Kalpa of 4.3 billion years when Brahma’s day ends. He regenerates them after His 4.3 billion year long night and this cycle continues (7). Unbound to His actions, He generates and regenerates by presiding over cosmic energy. The level of created beings, however, depends on their prior nature and Karma (8-9). He supervises all material manifestation over and over again (10).
The Asur (असुर) beings of demonic nature do not understand the Me as the all controlling reality. They deride Me and My human incarnation (11-12). The great souls take refuge in Me, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, because they know My imperishability and commit to eulogizing My glory for eternal realization (13-14). The great souls know of My dual (Sagun) and non-dual (Nirgun) realities (15).
Lord Krishna further affirms that He is the Vedic ritual; He is the Balidaan (sacrifice), the Pindadaan (offering to the departed), Aushadhi (medicine) and Aahara (food grains). He is the sacred formula; Ghrit (clarified butter), Agni (fire). He is verily the act of offering oblation into the Yagyagni (sacred fire) (16). He reveals that He is the Father, the Mother, the Grandfather, the syllable OM; the Rik, Sam and Yajur Vedas (17). He is the Supreme Goal, the Supporter, Supreme Witness, Abode, Refuge, Well Wisher. He is the heavenly store house, the imperishable seed; the origin and the end; the heavenly refuge and final resting place to which all created beings return. He is all these but seeks nothing in return (8). He is sun’s heat, rain and water; immortality and death and both being and non-being (19). He tells Arjuna that those who perform Vedic actions, drink herbal Soma and worship Me, can purge their sins and attain Indra’s paradise where they are entitled only to celestial pleasures as reward for their virtuous deeds (20). They return to the mortal and material world graded in terms of their deeds and repeat the cycle of birth and death (21). My devotees, the Lord affirms, love none other. They focus on Me, think constantly about Me and worship Me selflessly. They are united in thought with Me. To them I assure full security and attend personally to their needs (22). Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that even devotees with vested interest but with profound faith worship Me when they think that they are worshiping other deities (23). They fall and return to life on earth because they fail to understand that I am the Lord of all, the recipient of their adulation (24). When one worships other deities or prays to his ancestors, one’s concentration and focus is divided. It is no longer one’s single minded dedication to Me. Focusing on Me alone is the only way to become one with Me and be set free from the cycle of birth and death (25).
Profound love for the Almighty and His creation has the utmost spiritual value. When My devotee offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, I appear in person and partake of it. Arjuna! says Lord Krishna, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation to the sacred fire, whatever you bestow as gift and whatever you offer as penance, you offer it all to Me (27). Commit to the Yoga of renunciation and you will be freed from the bonds of Karma. You will attain Me (28). I am present in all beings and I reveal Myself to those who worship Me devoutly (29). Even the vilest sinner can come to Me once resolute and faithful to Me (30). My devotees never fall. They attain everlasting peace (31). Brahmins, Vaisyas, Shudras, women, and even illegitimate children can find refuge in Me and attain supreme bliss (32). Brahmins and royal sages caught up in their joyless and transient life constantly worship Me (33). Fix your mind on Me Arjuna, be devoted to Me, worship Me, pay obeisance to Me and depend on Me. You will thus attain Me (34).
Week 10: Vibhutiyoga of Manifestation
To know God is to know Timeless Reality
Rishi Paatanjali describes in his Samadhi Paad still awareness condensed beyond thought and sound as Ishvara and paths to His realization by faith, vital energy, mindfulness, integration and wisdom. Still awareness, capable of omniscience, resides in consciousness. Also, discipline, self-study, orientation and a good detail of Ashtaang (अष्टांग) Yoga is covered in Sadhan Paad of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. What is more relevant to understanding Lord Krishna’s Vibhutiyoga is Paatanjali’s third Vibhuti Paad, a concise and terse summary which seems almost necessary for understanding Vibhutiyoga.
God oversees our welfare but remains apart and away from the supervisory activity. Devotion (भक्ति) based on the inner sense (आत्मभाव) destroys ignorance, illuminates intellect and helps reveal God. It thus leads to knowledge (ज्ञान) necessary for seeing the manifest reality within.
Concentration, claims Paatanjali, locks consciousness on a single point and meditation aligns perceptual flow to essential objects of nature. The three together lead to consciousness which, in return, leads to wisdom. What a practicing Yogi must do is to:
- Internalize concentration, absorption, and integration.
- Become still and dwindle distractions so that consciousness can move from points of tranquility to tranquility and new and old perceptions can intermingle freely.
- Control time, form and condition parameters of consciousness as substrates
- Change permitting patterns of consciousness to emerge, allowing simultaneous access to past, present and the future. Words, meanings and perceptions must integrate into a single descriptor. Try to recall latent impressions by controlling consciousness without regard to objects.
The eyes may be disengaged and taste, smell, touch and sound perceptions may be suspended altogether. One may thus gain insight of near death condition. Such a control of consciousness may allow one to have power of an elephant simply by thinking of an elephant. A focus on sun leads to seeing the world and a thought of moon and polestar allows one to see stars and their movements. The Yogi may feel truth, friendship, equanimity and reality, all at the same time. His mind is illuminated and he gets insight into the subtle and the distant. He sees his body by focusing on his navel and he can eradicate hunger and thirst by focus on the throat. He can focus on the heart and bring in pre-awareness. His insight enhances senses and he can avoid distractions quite easily. Once detached, he can communicate to other bodies, can get divine hearing, can master the flow of energy for walking on water and nails; he can travel through space. With evils gone, he can master the elements that make the world. The transient physical laws pose no impediment to him and he can shrink to the size of an atom.
The Yogi has to be steady and see light in himself to be able to see perfect beauty, grace and strength elsewhere. Once the “self” is identified and the mind is mastered, pure awareness prevails in such a way that a Yogi can pull apart and de-structure continuity of the phenomenal world. In other words, he can see through and not just see. The notion of pure awareness is a little redundant because awareness is always pure. Whereas consciousness is about reading these words right now and understanding them (Francis Lucille), awareness is being conscious of this conscious act. Awareness thus refers to a fuller body of knowledge permitting consciousness to loom over the universe almost instantly (Mindful Awareness Research Center and Norman Cousin Center for Psychoneuroimmunology). Ordinary mortals can thus perceive Arjuna’s quandary and bemusement when he hears directly from the Lord about awareness, time and again. What Arjuna is not aware of is the truth that:
“God standing by him is imminent and transcendent”.
Week 11: Vision of the Cosmic Form
We are part of a very large and extensive cosmos; call it “the electromagnetic echo of the Lord’s Creation”. We do see our sun, moon, the stars and other planets in the space without a telescope. The twinkling stars, in particular, are many times bigger than our sun in the Milky Way Galaxy and, to the best of our knowledge, light from them has been travelling for 42 billion years in the 3-D space of our cosmos, 3 times the 14 billion year age of our planet Earth. A modern telescope, like the one in Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, could quickly shake even Galileo Galilee’s view of the Heavens. It is truly amazing that the absence of mass takes us to infinite energy which is light: the light of the cosmic man. Our Vedic seers revealed eons ago that Brahman is “Self-Luminous”. He is the energetic Principle. He is the light in this Universe (विश्वज्योति) and He is the cosmic law (ऋतु). He is our life. What does God look like in view of the fact that electrons and protons make up 99.999 percent free space? Such a vision of God is revealed earlier in RikVeda X.90. 1-16, the first hymn of Purush Sukta (पुरुषसूक्त) being:
सहस्त्रशीर्षापुरुषःसहस्राक्षसहस्रपाद, सभूमिमविश्वतो बृत्त्वात्यंतिष्ठदशाङ्गुलम
(The cosmic man has 1000 hands, eyes and feet and He envelops the universe with ten fingered palms all around. The Chhandogya Upanishad VII.25 declares His Omnipresence).
Mundaka Upanishad, known for “सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं“ (only Truth wins, not falsehood), also reveals that the Brahman is cosmic power. It is possible that Arjuna does not know of the Cosmic Vision of Vedas. He does not know that consciousness, a state of matter called perceptronium by modern physicists, and cosmic vision is beyond his comprehension and he entreats the Cosmic Man, Lord Krishna, with streams of questions.
What Lord Krishna reveals to Arjuna (11.32) was seen only grossly by J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1945 right after the Trinity Nuclear Test Explosion in New Mexico. A Sanskrit scholar and a staunch believer in Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta, the father of atomic bomb cried out loud and repeated verse 32 in exclamation, watching an energy of 20,000 tons of TNT (trinitrotoluene) explode from a few pounds of plutonium atoms:
कालोस्मिलोकक्षयकृत्प्रबृद्धो, लोकानसमाहर्तुमिः प्रवृत्तः।
ऋतेपित्वांन भविष्यन्ति सर्वे, येवस्थिताःप्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः ।। ३२।।
(Kalo ‘smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddho, lokan samahartum iha pravrttah ।
Rte’pi tvam na bhavisyanti sarve, ye ‘vasthitah pratyanikesu yodhah ।। 32।। )
Lord Krishna said: “Time (death) I am, the destroyer of the worlds. I have come to remove all conflict. Even without your participation, Arjuna, those arrayed in the two warring factions will be slain!”
Arjuna is bemused and wants to see Lord Krishna. He begins by saying that although my delusions have disappeared after receiving Your kind words of wisdom about evolution and dissolution of beings and about Your Glory (1), I want to see You in all Your wisdom, glory, energy, strength, valor and effulgence, My Lord (2, 3). O Lord of Yoga! Show me Your imperishable Cosmic Form (4).
Behold Arjuna! My multifarious divine forms different in colors and shapes (5). Behold in Me the twelve sons of Aditi, all eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, the two Asvinikumara physicians, forty nine wind God Marutis and witness My other forms never seen before (6). Arjuna! Behold all animate and inanimate creation concentrated in My Body and whatever else you wish to see (7). I have to give you Divya-Chakshu (दिव्यचक्षु) or quantum eyes to enable you to see Me which your human eyes simply cannot do (8).
Duryodhan, the son of the sightless Kaurav patriarch Dhritrashtra, is pitted against Arjuna, the son of Dhritrashtra’s brother Pandu, the patriarch of the Pandavas. Sanjay is Dhritrashtra’s war messenger and informs him that Lord Krishna has shown Arjuna His glorious form as Ishvara (9). Arjuna has beheld His many mouths and eyes, His supreme vision divinely attired, ornamented, garlanded and wielding many weapons. His multidirectional faces are besmeared all over with chandan (sandal-wood) paste (10, 11). The wondrous splendor of the Lord exceeds the effulgence of thousand suns (12). The glorious vision of entire universe concentrated in Him (13) has overawed Arjuna into total obeisance (14).
The entire vision is described by Arjuna himself:
Lord! I see in your body all Gods and a host of other beings. I see Brahma sitting on the lotus; I see Shiva and the Celestial Serpents (15). Lord! I see You with many arms, torsos, mouths, eyes and forms extended in all directions. I see neither the beginning nor the end of Your universal manifestation (16). I see You graced with diadems, clubs and discuses; I see You as a flaming mass hard to gauge or measure against the brilliance of fire and sun (17). You are indestructible; You are the ultimate refuge and You are the protector of eternal Dharma. I see You as the imperishable being (18). I see You without beginning, middle or end; possessing unlimited power with numerous arms and eyes as luminous as the moon and the sun. The blazing fire in your mouth could scorch the entire universe (19). You straddle the entire space between Heaven and Earth. I see Your transcendent and fearsome form, O Soul of the World! All the three Urdhva, Madhya and Adho worlds are greatly alarmed (20). I see gods merging into You, their hands raised in salute to Your glory. There are Maharishis and Siddhas extolling You in prayer for peace (21). Eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas, eight Vasus; the Saddhyas, Visvedevas, the two Asvinikumaras, forty nine Maruts, the ancestors of Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras and Siddhas behold You in awe and amazement (22). They are terror-struck, my Lord, as they see Your form (23)! Your effulgent and multi-colored form reaches the Heavens and I am no longer in control of myself as I behold your blazing eyes (24). Your face looms with frightful teeth as though dissolution has come, and bewilders me. Be merciful to me, O Lord, the receptacle of celestials (25). All the sons of Dhritrashtra and the hosts of kings are entering You. Bhishma, Drona, and Karna, although sympathetic to us, are being sucked into Your mouth; some stuck and even crushed in gaps between Your teeth (26, 27). Mortal warriors are gushing into Your mouth much like the rivers entering the ocean (28). They are entering Your mouth to meet their doom like insects consumed by a blazing fire (29). Your terrific splendor is burning the Universe with radiance (30). My obeisance to You, O Supreme God! Be merciful and reveal to me who You truly are in forms so terrifying. I need to know You and Your purpose (31).
Lord Krishna answers: I am the Time-Spirit Kal, the destroyer of the worlds. I am going to exterminate the evil minded even if you chose not to pick up arms (32). (Dr. Oppenheimer remembered this verse fully at the time of the Trinity Nuclear Test Explosion). Therefore Arjuna! Rise and conquer your foes, win your glory, and be happy ruling your kingdom. These warriors have met their destiny, I have slain them already. I have slain Drona, Bhishma and Jayadratha. Be you just an instrument (33). Fear not and fight; you will be triumphant (34).
Sanjay relates to Dhritrashtra that Arjuna trembles as he hears these words from Lord Krishna. Still torn by indecision, he pleads his deep anguish in prayer (35):
My Lord! The Universe is filled with love by chanting your many names. It is elevated counting Your virtues and glories. The Rakshasas (demons) are fleeing while Siddhas are bowing to You (36). You, my Lord, are the progenitor of Brahma Himself. O Lord of Celestials! You are the Home of the Universe. You are Satya (reality), Asatya (falsehood or illusion) and all that is beyond both. You are the indestructible Brahman (37). You are the ancient Prime Deity, the ultimate resort of this Universe; the Gyaata (knower) and the Gyaan (knowledge). You pervade this Universe and You assume endless forms (38). You are the Moon, Vayu (the Wind God), Agni (the God of Fire). You are Brahma (the God of Creation) and Yama (the God of Death). You are truly Brahman, the Father of Brahma. Hail to you 1000 times and salutations over and over again (39). O Lord of Infinite Prowess, I salute all Your facets. O Soul of the Universe! My obeisance to all Your Forms! Dear Lord! You are the Almighty and You pervade all (40). Lord! I have been importunate and I have misjudged our close bond. I never fully comprehended Your greatness. I pray to Thy Infiniteness: Pardon my misbehavior, no matter when and where (41, 42). You are the Father, the greatest Teacher in this Creation. None can equal Your might and reach (43). I prostate myself and proclaim You the ruler of all. Embrace me as your son and friend (44). Now that I have seen your cosmic form, I feel joy and awe. Reveal to me your Vishnu Manifestation. Be gracious, O Lord of Celestials and the Home of the Universe (45). Appear again with the diadem on Your head and Your mace, the discus in Your hands. O Lord of the Universe! Please appear in Your simple human form (46).
I am pleased with you Arjuna, says the Lord. I showed you My primal and infinite cosmic body by My Yogamaya. None have seen this form before (47). Fearsome as the vision might be, do not be perturbed or perplexed. Behold Me in the form you want to see (48).
Sanjay continues his eye witness account to Dhritrashstra:
Krishna has re-appeared in his benign four-arm form and is reassuring Arjuna (50). Arjuna has gained his composure (51). The Lord is telling him that even His four-armed human form is exceedingly difficult for others to visualize. Even celestial beings are eager to see My four-arm form, the Lord is saying (52). Vedic study, penance, charity and rituals may not empower many but you, Arjuna, see Me now (53). You can then see and even enter into Me, but only with single minded devotion (54). Only those who perform their duties towards Me without attachments and malice and remain steadfastly devoted to Me and dependent upon Me can see Me (55).
The last two shlokas, 54 and 55, are quintessential.
भक्त्या त्वनन्या शक्य अहम एवं विधोर्जुन ।
Devotion unswerving possible in this way, Arjuna!
ज्ञातुं द्रष्टुं च तत्वेन प्रवेष्टुं च परन्तप ।। ५४ ।।
To know My true nature, To be see Me and enter in Me, Scorcher of enemies
मत्कर्मकृत मत्परमो मद्भक्तः संगवर्जितः ।
One who continues doing my work without distractions, One who perceives Me as the goal,
निर्वैरः सर्वभूतेषु यः स मामेति पाण्डव ।। ५५ ।।
Without antagonism towards fellow beings, comes to Me, O! Pandava
The Purusha (पुरुष) discloses the Supreme Truth and says “Arjuna! In performing all your duties towards Me single mindedly and in total surrender to Me, with no strings attached and malice towards none, you will know My quintessence and see My Cosmic Form. You will even be able to become one with Me.
We, the mortals, may also realize Him, but only with a higher level of consciousness. No consciousness implies no Universe. For a higher level of consciousness, we need to understand the integration of light with time and, according to Einstein, the two cannot exist without each other. Something we do here can be linked to something which transcends space. The link between Time and Space being the Light Divine. The empirically sound physicists call it Quantum Entanglement. It is now postulated that our minds work by quantum entanglement. Simply stated, a quantum state can be teleported. Such an understanding will come only by seeing and knowing beyond Oppenheimer’s 67.60 billion BTU heat equivalent from only 1 Kg of atomic (परमाणुवीय) Uranium and even Einstein’s thought equation of Energy = mc2. Just dare think about hypnotizing yourself and you are on your way to a higher level of consciousness which is possible only with arbitration by the non-material God capable of giving us the vision.
Week 12: Bhaktiyoga
Meditating on the Absolute Brahman (निर्गुण) or the Manifest God (सगुण) is one and the same, says Lord Krishna. One should choose a path that suits his or her temperament and bent of mind. The scriptures use the Sanskrit word क्लेश for difficult when it comes to controlling our senses and mind which is vital for reconciliation with the Absolute. Comprehending the Absolute is difficult and arduous.
Un-manifest Nirgun has many Sanskrit equivalents such as Avyakta, Akshar and Nirankar expounded by the Lord in chapters 8.3. 9.11, 11.18, 11.15, 11.55 and at the end in 18.54. So is Sagun in chapters 8.20 and 13.20 and in Bhagavatam XI.2.36. Both Nirgun and Sagun are the Absolute Brahman.
Yoga of Devotion
Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, “Who among your Nirgun and Sagun devotees know Yoga better”? (1). The Lord replies that He considers those devotees the best who unite with Him through concentrated meditation in supreme faith (2). He elaborated further that even minded devotees in full control of their senses and mindful of the welfare of others, those who adore the unthinkable, omniscient, indestructible, indefinable, eternal and un-manifest changeless Brahman as their own self, come to Me (3, 4). Keep in mind, though, that reconciliation with the un- manifest Nirgun (निर्गुण) is arduous, difficult and demanding (5).
Paths to Realizing Brahman
On the other hand, those who are devoted to Me, constantly meditate on Me with single minded devotion and surrender their actions to Me are released from the cycle of birth and death (6, 7). Therefore, fix your mind on Me and establish your intellect in Me alone. Indubitably, you will come to abide in Me solely (8). If you cannot fix your mind in Me and be My devotee, then seek to attain Me by the repeated practice of Yoga (9). Work for Me if you lag behind in pursuit of repeated Yoga and you will attain perfection as My Realization (10). If you cannot do any of these, simply relinquish the fruits of all actions (11). Know that knowledge is better than practice without discernment; meditation on God is superior knowledge. Renunciation of the fruit of actions is even superior to meditation because peace is a direct product of renunciation (12).
Qualities of a True Devotee
My devotees who harbor malice towards none, are compassionate in friendship to all, are of controlled mind and senses, balanced in joy and sorrow, devoid of all ego, forgiving by nature, resolute and contented and surrender to Me, are in union with Me and very dear to Me(13, 14). Dear to Me are the ones free of envy and delight and free of perturbation and fear; who annoy and vex no one (15). Devotees dear to Me are internally and externally pure and free of all desire, as emphasized in our daily prayers (संध्या-उपासना): (बाह्य अंतराभ्याम शुचि). They are impartial and resourceful (दक्ष), unattached, undistracted and devoid of all worry and self-centeredness सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी (16). They neither hate nor rejoice, neither desire nor grieve. They renounce good and bad actions for Me in full faith (17).
My even minded (समदर्शी) devotees treat friends and foes, honor and ignominy, heat and cold, pleasure and pain, praise and reproach with equanimity. They are free from attachment, are contended with any and all means of subsistence and free from the sense of subjectivity (‘me’ or ‘mine’) (18, 19). Those who partake of this wisdom in a disinterested way and are devoted to Me in firm faith become most dear to Me (20).
Our goal is to be kind to all creatures of God, the world as we see it. The Lord bestows upon us a stress-free life when we see ourselves in everything and willfully surrender to him in true faith (श्रद्धा) and in continuous meditation (उपासना).
Week 13: Kshetra-Kshetragya Bibhag Yoga
Lord Krishna reveals that our body and mind are part of the nature and are controlled by nature. This we can see. The unseen we know not much about is the soul or spirit, which is a fraction of the absolute Brahman or Purusha (पुरुष) in all animate and inanimate existences. We are capable of uniting with Him. The Vedas, Upnishadas, and Shreemad Bhagavat Geeta describe Purusha as the Cosmic man, the Consciousness, the Self, or the Universal Principle. Our body is the Kshetra (the field) and the Nirgun Purusha is the Kshetragya (the knower). Our soul and God are connected. Knowing the Kshetragya or Lord Krishna who is Brahman, is true Knowledge.
The Field and Its Knower
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that this body that the sages call field or the Kshetra (क्षेत्र) and its Knower (क्षेत्रज्ञ) is “I“, the individual soul in all bodies. The knowledge of matter with all its evolutes and the spirit is what “I” call wisdom (1, 2). Let Me tell you Arjuna, He says, about the glory of the Kshetragya and about the evolute Kshetra (3). The Vedas and Brahmasutras talk about it (4). The body or the kshetra includes the five elements (क्षिति, जल, पावक, गगन, समीरा), the ego, the intellect, the unmanifest primordial matter (the dormant Prakriti), the ten organs of perception and action, the mind, and five sense objects (sound, touch, color, taste, and smell in particular). Add to this desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, the physical body, consciousness, and firmness as part of kshetra (5, 6).
In other words the hierarchy of physical body, our action and sense organs (कर्म और ज्ञान इन्द्रियां) , our mind, our intelligence, the consciousness, and all that we feel and express is Kshetra (क्षेत्र). Never mix the knower, the subject, with the objective worldly things, because mixing them up is simply ignorance. We are to suffer and to fight our true nature.
Knowledge and Means of Knowledge 7-11
The knowledge is comprised of absence of pride, freedom from hierocracy, non-violence, forbearance, straight body posture, speech and mind, devout service of the guru, internal and external purity, steadfast mind controlled by body and senses that ultimately control dispassion and detachment, and absence of ego and repeated pondering over birth and death in this world and the next, (7, 8). Understand that the absence of attachment includes attachment to wife, to son, to home, and to equanimity under good and bad conditions (9). Much more important constituent is an unflinching devotion to Me and living in holy places with least contact with those who might distract (10). Acquiring knowledge and focusing on God as the object of all knowledge is the goal. All else is ignorance (11). Practice of moral virtues makes us divine. The vernacular “अरे वो तो देवता हैं ” has become integral to our culture from Shreemad Bhagvad Geeta.
The object of Being Known
Let Me tell you Arjuna, the meaning of true knowledge, necessary for attaining Bliss. Know that the Supreme Brahman, the Lord of beginning-less entities, who created it all, is neither Sat (सत्) nor Asat (असत ). With hands, feet, eyes, ears, feet, head, and mouth in all direction and all around, “It” pervades the universe (13). Unattached, and attribute-less, existing within and without all animate and inanimate creation “It” speaks, sustains all, and enjoys all, i.e., all three gunas of sattva, rajas, and tamas. This subtle and incomprehensible Brahman is very far and at the same time very near (14, 15). Immutable and mutable at the same time, the subtle and incomprehensible is integral like space divisible into inanimate and animate beings.
Discovery of One’s Identity, The Knowledge
The subtle and incomprehensible is the Godhead and the Trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh (16). It is the light beyond Maya seated in our hearts and it is the true knowledge (17). My devotees who know so easily enter into Me (18). The incomprehensible Godhead as Purusha and Prakriti are beginning-less. The three gunas are constituted in and born of Prakriti (19). The Supreme is eternal and so is His Prakriti, which brings out the evolutes and the soul. The Purusha experiences the objects of three gunas, say pain and pleasure. The soul in nature enjoys the modes born of nature. It is the attachment to the modes that is responsible for birth and death in good or bad wombs (20, 21). Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta, unlike Samkhya, treats Purusha and Prakriti one and the same. The Spirit dwelling in the body is the same as the Supreme Overlord and the witness (22). To avoid birth again and again, we need to know the Purusha or the Spirit and the Prakriti as the extension of Purusha with her three attributes – sattva, rajas, and tamas (23).
Anyone of the yogas of Karma, gyana, or meditative Bhakti, permit union with the Supreme (24). Although ignorant of the details, others hear in devotion about the possibility of this union by anyone of the paths of yoga and cross the cycle of birth and death (25). Arjuna! Know that all evolves from the union of the Kshetra and kshetragya (26). The true seeing is seeing the Lord Almighty to be omnipresent in all inanimate and animate beings (27). God lives and endures beyond space-time boundaries. The “self” does not injure the “Self” if the former sees the latter to be omnipresent Brahman (28). The Self is the non-doer. It is Prakriti that performs (29). The moment of true bliss and consciousness dawns when we realize that beings are rooted in the Supreme (30). Arjuna! The Supreme Spirit dwells in the body but does nothing but witness and is never contaminated (31). The attribute-less soul remains untouched by the body, it never suffers from any taint (32). Just like the sun illuminates the universe, the Atma (soul) illumines the body or the kshetra (33). Perceive Arjuna! the Kshetra and Kshetragya with the eyes of wisdom and you shall be liberated from Prakriti’s three gunas (34).
Let us travel through developments in physics with spiritual purpose. Mechanics came around, then came the atom, Michel Farraday invented electricity, naked atoms more or less embodied quantum mechanics, then came the particle accelerators and Higgs Boson. It is this Boson particle behind invisible energy that connects to all particles with mass. This particle can break spontaneous symmetry. It is beyond space, time, and even before time. Nobel Prize winning physicist Leon M. Lederman called it God Particle and Stephen Hawking says that it is this particle that can destroy the universe. It appears that the Brahman of Shreemad Bhagavat Geeta is beyond the Boson (photon) described by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein. God is simply beyond physics and our Vigyan is far behind Gyan. It is very apt though that the physicists called the force carrying Boson after Dr. Bose who might have been closer to most forceful Almighty Brahman of Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta.
Week 14: The Three Qualities of Material Nature
Shreemad Bhagavat Geeta had a great influence on Tulsi Das, the composer of Ramayana. He summarized the elements of body beautifully by (क्षिति जल पावक गगन समीरा पञ्च रचित यह अधम शरीरा) meaning that this low grade material body is made up of the earth, water, fire, sky, and air or भूमिरापो अनल वायुह ख़म in Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta (7.4 ). Let us note that earth is solid, water is liquid, and air is gas. Add to these, fire, the plasma or the composite of panchbhuta. Socrates, Plato, Lord Buddha, the Babylonians, and Sicilian Empedocles got the idea of five elements, it appears, from Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta. We know that we can’t exist without oxygen (air) for more than three minutes, without water (hydrogen) for more than three days, and without food (earth based carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, potassium, sodium, and other micronutrients), for more than 30 days. The Brahman permitted our evolution with most dangerous gas oxygen and only He knows why “this danger by oxygen” is the basis for functions of our immune system and of our living and survival. The qualities and material nature of our body would have to then depend of necessity on these five elements howsoever grossly stated, including mental acuity, intelligence, and consciousness.
Let us learn from the Lord Himself as to what these life giving elements are? How to act upon them? How to transcend them? How to divinize ourselves and become transcendent with a firm belief in that Prakrit (प्रकृति) Brahman’s innate power of creation and procreation?
Go for the Highest Knowledge
Lord Krishna begins to tell Arjuna about the best knowledge and wisdom that helped sages and seers reach perfection (1) and that helps us behave like nature as a free spirit conscious of the Almighty (2). Lord Krishna explains further that Brahma (प्रकृति, हिरण्यगर्भ) is His womb and that He is the seed that gives birth to all that lives (3). This world is a play of the infinite on and over the finite. Arjuna! repeats Lord Krishna, that whereas great Brahma is the womb of all beings He is the father (4). The Almighty impregnates matter for life and He has the eternal vision for all. In other words Prakriti is the mother and He is the father. Since nature (प्रकृति) is His yogamaya, He is both the mother and father. This Lord Krishna pointed out firmly is the supreme knowledge. The Lord is present in all matter but Arjuna, you and I are matter impregnated by the Lord.
The Three Gunas of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas
Lord Krishna continues and says to Arjuna that the three gunas born of nature (प्रकृति) bind the imperishable to the body (5). Human beings are a blend of purity (सत्त्व), the passion (राजस्), and dullness and inertia (तामस) and a soul is on the road to eternity (त्रिगुणातीत) once well identified with three gunas. Arjuna, says Lord Krishna again, know that purity (सत्त्व) or sattva attached to happiness and knowledge gives rise to illumination and health (6), passion (राजस्) engenders attraction and attachment (7), and dullness and Inertia (तामस) engender indolence, ignorance, negligence, and sleep (8). Sattva attaches to happiness, rajas to action, and tamas to negligence (9). One or the other predominates in each soul: sattva for the light and knowledge, active rajas for restlessness and desire, and tamas for darkness and diminutive mind (10). Light and knowledge flow through the body as goodness of sattva increases (11), greed, activity, and unrest prevail when rajas dominates (12), and dull nature of tamas simply leads to inactivity and negligence (13). Sattva takes us to the Brahman upon dissolution (14), passion leads to activity, and dullness prevents even the attributes of passion post dissolution (15). Good action leads to goodness, passion to pain and pleasure, and tamas brings in ignorance (16). To repeat sattva stands for knowledge, passion for greed, and tamas for ignorance (17). So is the underlying psychology of the three gunas. One rises with goodness. Passion keeps one entangled in the middle and dullness simply pushes one down to destruction (18). The soul evolves through stages of ignorance, struggle for enjoyment, and pursuit of knowledge. Even the noble people have constant problems of rajas and tamas intervening here and there. They have to do their best to become “beyond the gunas” or गुनातीत. Arjuna! When a seer perceives these three gunas and heads beyond, he comes to Me (19).
Beyond the Three Gunas
Marks of freedom from gunas are the same for steadfast devotees, for people of established wisdom (स्थितप्रज्ञ), and those free from the deadly cycle of birth and death (जीवमुक्त).
For sure, a soul above the gunas is eternal and free of plain-pleasure and cycles of birth and death (20). Arjuna asks the Lord about the marks of gunas, about how to get free from them, and about the process of exit (21).
Lord Krishna declares further and says that those who
- Neither abhor illumination, activity, and illusion when they arise nor long for them when they cease (22)
- Are unconcerned and unperturbed by gunas, know that gunas kick us around (23)
- Stay equipoised with firmness of mind in pain and pleasure, with gold or with stone, pleasant and unpleasant, and blame and fame (24)
- Behave same in honor and dishonor, friends and foes, and renounce action (25)
are above and beyond the grip of gunas. They worship Me, says Lord Krishna, in unfailing devotion. They become free from gunas and meet their true maker, the Brahman (26). That immortal, unutterable, unthinkable absolute Brahman of bliss and eternal law is Me.
Life’s greatest challenge is to master resilience away from stressful conditions and controlling the emotional life of our brain due to constant interplay of senses. Modern psychology and psychiatry gurus advise us to have belief, to analyze potential causes of stress, to stay positive, to learn something new each day, to stay mindful, to do yoga and exercise, and never beat ourselves up if we want to stay resilient and neurologically balanced. Go a little deeper and you will realize that the advice is about managing the three gunas that bind our soul to the body, nay managing gunas that bind consciousness to our daily physiology. The proof is in how well lie-detector test and hypnosis are accepted today. There are counsels for keeping a healthy married life and upgrading life of the depressed, for one or the other reason. Ironically, we don’t associate these practices with the balance of sattva, rajas, and tamas in our day-to-day life. This is the biggest spiritual folly, instructs Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta, to humanity at large.
Week 15: Tree of Life And The Cosmic Man
The tree of life in Hinduism is a great metaphor on the evolutionary process supervised by the imperishable Brahman. The metaphor portends that the world is a living organism united with the Supreme. ” I am the originator of the World Tree”, describes the Taittireeya Upanishad (I. 10). The plants live off matter in the earth, they convert sun’s light into food that human and animal life depends on, and thus the tree is a connection between the inanimate and the animate. Katha Upanishad describes this tree to be eternal with its roots above or in the Almighty who is up there in the Heavens. The tree is Lord Krishna Himself.
Lord Krishna said that the knower of Vedas ought to know the imperishability of the Cosmic Tree (पीपल, the Asvattam, the tree has no tomorrow and its today is not the same as tomorrow) whose branches, ever nourished by the three gunas and the senses, extend below and above and whose roots are up and above. The leaves that sustain the tree are Vedas and our actions are rooted in the roots of this tree of life (1, 2). The problem in life is that we perceive and understand not the foundation, form, beginning or the end of the Tree of Life. Complete detachment, however, is the sure way to know and perceive the tree of life (3). We need to seek our way to the Supreme Primal Person from Whom evolves this world (4). Those of stilled desire and devotion to the Supreme and those who stay free from delusion and pride, evils of attachments, and pain and pleasure duality do find their eternal state (5).
The Manifest Living World is Only a Part of Me
The sun, the moon, and fire don’t illuminate Me, and to My Supreme abode once one reaches, one returns not (6). Katha Upanishad (V 15) and Mundaka Upanishad (II, 2-10), serve as great citations to this divine verity. A fragment of Myself, having become a living eternal soul in the world of life, draws five senses and the mind to itself. The rest is nature (प्रकृति) (7). We need to believe that the individual is a movement of the Supreme as a focus of one great life system and that the reality of our soul is Divine, which we are incapable of bringing out. Let us live by believing that the image of the Almighty in us is the bridge between Heaven and Earth.
When the Brahman takes up a body and also when He leaves it, He takes the senses and the mind with him (8). The Brahman is the consumer and enjoyer of all senses and the mind (9). The deluded don’t, but those with the eye of wisdom do see the Almighty dwelling in their souls. The truth is that the Brahman departs, stays, or experiences the three gunas (10). The sages strive and learn that I am established in their “self” but the unintelligent and undisciplined souls do not (11).
Lord Krishna summarizes His presence in the plant and animal kingdom, especially in humans with sense organs and mind capable of learning Vedas that He created. Mine is the splendor that is in the sun, the moon, and the fire (12). I enter the earth and support all beings by My vital energy, and I nourish all herbs, the soma included (13). I am the energy for the living, I am mixed in the inhaled and exhaled air, and I help digest food as Vaisvanar (वैश्वानरः, the digestive energy) (14). I reside in every one’s heart. From Me ensue the memory and knowledge as well as their loss. I am the One knowable through study of Vedas and I am the knower and author of Vedanta (15). Verses 12-15 state the immanence of the divine in oneself and in all nature.
Purushottama, The Supreme Cosmic Man
The created world of plants and animals is perishable but the soul (जीवात्मा) changes not. The soul is imperishable (16). Other than these two is the Supreme Spirit, who enters into and sustains the world (17).
I surpass the perishable, says Lord Krishna. Actually I am even higher than the imperishable as the Supreme Person, declare the Vedas (18). Mundaka Upnishad (II, I, 1-2) describes the Supreme Person as “beyond destruction” or “अक्षरात परतः परः पुरुषः“. Those who stay devoid of delusion, worship Me with all their spirit as the all knowing highest person (19). “That I am the Highest person Purushottama”, Arjuna! is the most secret doctrine of wisdom and of karma (20). The tree is a great analogy for uncertainty in the transmigratory cycles in this world as evolutes of nature. Humans notwithstanding their power of senses and the mind fail to understand the Supreme Being and to grasp the extremely transient nature of life. A good human being should never forget that a fraction of the almighty is in all of us and in everything and everybody around us. We need to detach with the created and attach to the creator and therein lie the values of meditative contemplation and power of concentration for a Yogi.
Week 16: The Divine And The Demoniacal
The gods and their dark opponents of Rik Veda, the low and high cultures of Ramayana, the Pandavas steadfast in dharma and power hungry Kaurawas in Mahabharat war, are great examples of divinely good on the one hand and damnably fallen and disgraceful on the other. These opposites are born of Prajapati (प्रजापति), described in Chhandogya (छान्द्योग्य) Upanishad. Shreemad Bhagvad Geeta says that we need to promote divinity in and among us and shake off the demonic in order to get close to the Brahman who is the best guide in matters of duty, law, and use of instincts for living a perfect life.
The Divine Nature
Lord Krishna enumerates the divine attributes and qualities as fearlessness, purity of mind, wise use and appropriation of concentration and knowledge, charity, self-control and sacrifice, study of scriptures, austerity, and uprightness (1). He adds non-violence, truth, freedom from anger, renunciation, tranquility, aversion to fault finding, compassion for all, freedom from covetousness, gentleness, modesty, steadiness, vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, freedom from malice and excessive pride – to the list as attitudes that support our divine nature (2, 3).
The Demoniacal Nature
The Lord declares that attributes of ostentation, arrogance, excessive pride, anger, harshness, and ignorance are associated with people of demoniacal nature (4).
Whereas the divine endowments with which you are born lead to deliverance and the demonic lead to bondage (5). The Demoniacal Asuras are clever and energetic but suffer from exaggerated egoism. On the contrary, the “Godly” state of life is valued highly in Hinduism symbolized by the cliché “अरे वो तो देवता हैं“. Arjuna! Of the two, l should tell about the demoniacal first (6) who know not the ways of action and renunciation, purity, and good conduct, and behavior in truth (7). The demoniacal claim that the world is unreal, without causal basis, and actually without the Lord (8). These are lost souls with a false and feeble understanding who destroy humanity by their bad and cruel deeds (9). Their desire is insatiable, they practice hypocrisy, they have pride and arrogance, and they have impure resolve and wrong views (10). Lord Krishna concludes that the demoniacal fall and end up with death (11). Yielding to their lust, they want wealth and quick fame by unjust means (12). Their present and future life centers around running around after their desires (13). They want to kill their foes and become the Lord for all (14). This is the greatest sin. ” I am rich and known and I shall rejoice” is their slogan in false happiness and false pride (15). Delusional, addicted to instant gratification, and bewildered, the demoniacal fall into a foul hell (16). They follow no rules but exhibit ostentation in false sacrifices and they are self-conceited, obstinate, and arrogant and unduly proud (17). The malicious demons given to pride, lust, anger, and self-conceit deride Me and My dwelling in their bodies and bodies of others (18). I cast these evil, cruel, hateful to all, and worst of men, again and again into the wombs of demons (19). Arjuna! They do not attain Me but are condemned to the lower states (20).
The door to immortality, however, is open to even the worst sinner if he chooses the path of the divines (6.30).
The Triple Gates of Hell
We must abandon lust, hunger, and greed, the soul-ruining gates to hell (21). Lord Krishna affirms to Arjuna that those released from the darkness of lust, anger and greed, who practice doing what is good for their soul, can be redeemed to a higher state (22). But those who defy the law in scriptures and act only for fulfilling their desire, attain neither perfection nor a higher state (23). Therefore let the scriptures be the source of authority on “what to do”. Arjuna! Do what the scriptures call for (24).
The message for today is not to fall prey to temptations of the day but, by securing knowledge for the right action and right meaning of life, regulate and direct our daily conduct for higher good. Simply speaking, we should never become a liability to the life next door and the rest of the world. This we can secure by relying on the divine within us.
Week 17: Shraddhatray Bibhag Yoga
A temple is something you are and not somewhere you go. Our faith, as a product of our self-realized mind, is what we are. We need to secure an inward sense of truth and command our soul in order to succeed in inculcating faith. We need to remember that earnestness itself can lead us to eternity. A sentence of “public service” to the demoniacal by a judge today simply means: “go out there and train your brain to become earnest”. Let us learn from Arjuna’s inquiry and Lord Krishna’s answers.
Dear Lord Krishna! May I now be briefed on the nature of faithful sacrifice and its categorization into pure, passion, or ignorance (1).
Three Kinds of Faith
The blessed Lord said: Arjuna ! Hear now about the pure (सत्त्व), passionate (राजस्), and dull (तामस). One’s faith depends on his/her nature (2). The man is what his community-building and restructuring faith is (3). Good people worship the Gods, the passionate worship the Demigods, and the demons worship the ghosts (4). Vain and conceited people, impelled by lust and passion, who perform violent austerities not prescribed in the scriptures and suppress elements in their body and Me dwelling in the body as well are dull (तामस) (5,6). Even foods are of three modes (7).
Three Kinds of Food
Arjuna! Hear now the details on kinds of food. Foods that promote life, vitality, strength, health, joy, and cheerfulness and foods that are sweet, soft, and nourishing, are good foods (सात्त्विक) (8). Foods that are bitter, sour, salty, very hot, pungent, harsh, burning, and capable of producing pain, grief, and disease are passionate (राजस्) (9). Foods that are spoiled and putrid, tasteless and stale, and unclean are liked by the dull (तामस) (10). To behave well, therefore, is to eat well in quality not just quantity.
Three Kinds of Sacrifice
Duty bound sacrifice without expectation of rewards, as prescribed in the scriptures, is good (सत्तिक) (11). Arjuna! Know that sacrifice offered in display and with expectation of rewards is passionate (राजस्) (12). Sacrifice not in conformity with dharma, as law laid down in scriptures, stripped of prayers and faith, is dull (तामस) (13)
Three Kinds of Penance
Worship of Gods, purity, uprightness, continence and non-violence, respect to the Brahmins and teachers, and to the wise, is penance of the body (14). We should never allow our lips to slip because reciting Vedas and scriptures, speaking the truth, and non-offensive one-to-one conversation, is penance of speech (15). Penance of mind is serenity, gentleness, silence, self-control, and pure thinking (16). Pure threefold penance, therefore, without expectation, is good (सात्त्विक) (17). Penance aimed at gaining false fame, name, honor, and reverence is passion (राजस्) (18). Penance aimed at self-torture and injury to others is dull (तामस) (19).
Three Kinds of Gifts
A Gift grounded in duty and with expectation of no reward, made to a deserving person, is a good gift (20). A gift to the poor is also good (सात्त्विक). Gifts are passionate (राजस्) if it hurts to give, or if there are strings attached to giving (21). Gifts made to the wrong person, in contempt, at the wrong time and wrong place, are dull (तामस) (22).
The Power of Utterance “Om Tat Sat”
“Om tat sat” is the threefold symbol of Brahman by which have been ordained the Vedas, the sacrifices, and the brahmins, the priests (23). Om signifies supremacy, Tat represents universality, and Sat represents reality of Brahman. Sat represents waking (जाग्रत), dream (स्वप्न), sleep (सुसुप्ती) and transcendental (तुरीय) states (Taittireeya and Mundak Upanishad), within and beyond the cosmic universe . Om is an act of sacrifice, gift, and penance combined (24). Tat is the act of sacrifice, giving, and penance that seekers of salvation use without any expectation of reward (25). Sat represents Reality, goodness, and praiseworthy acts (26). Sat also represents steadfastness in sacrifice, gift, and penance including the purpose in these actions (27). The scriptures guide that offerings made without faith are without value or avail, here or hereafter (28).
Week 18: Conclusion
To live well and to save the world is the basic teaching of Shreemad Bhagavat Geeta. Our God is the cosmic soul and in His reality we define our station or final abode, where we can get to, but only when we live in knowledge of the purity of purpose of our actions, in selflessness, and in discipline of body, mind, speech, duty to others, in penance, in charity, and in service to His created world. Living with a belief that consummation of wisdom simply means perfection and that perfection is the last stage of awakening can lead to union with the Brahman, the cosmic soul. Let us begin with verse 15.15.
सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि संनिविष्टो मत्तः स्म्रितिर्ज्ञान अपोहनम च, वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो वेदांतकृत वेद्विदेव चाहं I
“I am seated in every heart, I am source of memory and knowledge and even their loss, I am the only one worth knowing through the Vedas. I am the originator of Vedanta and I know the Vedas”
This chapter is the summary of the divine discourse of Lord Krishna with Arjuna. It ends with a summary by Sanjaya, the counselor to the king Dhritrashtra gone terribly tamas (तामस).
True Abandonment (1-12)
Arjuna asks Lord Krishna about the difference between Sanyas and Tyag (1) and the Lord replies. Some sages, He says, believe that sanyas is giving up actions rooted in desires and tyaga, think others, is relinquishing the fruits of action (2). The lord emphasizes that some sages believe that all actions have an element of evil in them and, therefore, should be given up while others think that acts of charity, sacrifice, and penance should never be given up (3). The Lord expounds His own opinion first about three behavioral types of Tyagas (4).
It is My considered opinion, says the Lord, that acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance should never be given up because they purify the actor and that such acts must be performed selflessly (5, 6). Renouncing acts of duty is delusional (rooted in मोह) and renunciation thereof is tamasik. Renouncing them out of fear of strain and discomfort is rajasik (7,8). A well-performed selfless action of duty is Sattvik (9). A man of true renunciation does not shrink from actions whether unpleasant or blissfully good; he acts resolutely in renunciation (10). Since the human body can’t exist without acting, the key is selflessness, characterized by giving up the fruits thereof (11). No matter what the consequence – good, bad, or mixed (12).
Overcoming the Bondage of Action (13-18)
The Lord continues and says that Samkhya describes five ways of neutralizing actions (13) including the seat and agent of action, the sense organs, different types of movements, and the destiny (14) performed by mind, speech, or body (15). It is a man of impure mind and perverse understanding who thinks that the doer is the untainted Self (16) and that one whose mind is free from the sense of acting is not bound by the sin in killing creatures (17). The knower, knowledge, and object are all motivating factors for action, and this then includes the doer, the organs, and the activity (18).
The Three Behavioral Attributes (19-39)
The three behavioral attributes, modes of nature, predominate in us (19): Satvika is the knowledge of the imperishable Brahman (20), Rajas is the knowledge that sees differences in existences (21), and Tamas is the knowledge that clings to ones body, that is irrational, and that is rooted in triviality without real object (22). Satvika engenders impartiality, freedom from prejudice, ego of doership, and any expectation of return (23). It is endowed with firmness and vigor, irrespective of failure or success (26). Egotistical actions done under strain, purely for expectation of enjoyment, are rajas (24), characterized by greed, oppression, ill conduct, swings of joy and sorrow (27). Actions out of sheer ignorance without regard to their effects on others and to oneself, are tamas (25), characterized by lack of piety, lack of self-control, theft and robbery, and downhearted and slothful behavior(28).
Lord Krishna impresses on Arjuna the threefold division and disposition of behavior in terms of intellect and understanding (29). He affirms that intellect that can determine what to renounce, decipher the difference between good and bad, fear and fearlessness, and bondage and liberation, is satvika (30). Inability to differentiate between dharma and adharma and between good and bad deeds, is rajasik (31) and the intelligence wrapped in ignorance that sees dharma in adharma and sees all things in their opposites, is tamasik (32). The very firmness by which a man controls the functions of his mind through meditative yoga, is satvika (33). An understanding by which a man seeks rewards for his actions and considers fondness for worldly possessions to be a virtue, is rajasika (34). The worst is tamasik who is firm in his evil-mindedness, sleep, fear, anxiety, and sorrow (35). Satvika, the practice of the adoration and worship of God, with placid mind in meditation for removing sorrow, becomes nectar-like in the end (37-37). Delight in immediate gratification and subjugation to one’s senses that feels like nectar in the beginning, becomes an ultimate poison for the rajasika (38). Tamasik simply stupefies the self in arrogance, indolence, obstinate behavior, and sleep (39).
The Attributes and the Character (40-44)
No one escapes the wrath of these three gunas, the mortals on the earth, those in the middle, or those in celestial region with Gods (40). Arjuna! says Lord Krishna, the duties of Brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras are classified accordingly (41).
A brahmin by his innate nature must meet his sacred obligations even under hardship, control his senses and mind, be pure externally and internally, be forgiving, play by the rules of Vedas and other scriptures as to life and death, stand for straight and upright behavior, and study and teach the methods of God-realization (42). Natural duties of a kshatriya are exhibition of valor, fearlessness, firmness, cleverness, steadiness in battle, and charity (43). Whereas a vaisya must by his natural makeup conduct honest businesses of agriculture of rearing cows, and exchanging merchandise, a sudra’s natural duty is to serve others (44). We have been told from childhood that service of others is a very difficult dharma, unattainable even by the best of yogis (सेवा धर्मो परम गहनों योगिनामप्यागम्यम).
Work is Worship (45-49)
A man can realize God simply by working out all that suits his nature to perfection. Arjuna! Hear from Me, says the Lord, about modes of performance by one’s nature (45). One can reach perfection by worshiping the creator who is all pervading (46), He says. One’s own duty embodied in his nature, even if devoid of merit, is better than another’s well-performed action (47). Arjuna! Never abandon your innate duty, howsoever tainted and blemished, because all undertakings are clouded by demerit (48). Totally unattached, desireless and self-controlled, one can achieve perfection of transcendence of work through renunciation (49).
Spiritual fulfillment (50-56)
Arjuna! Now learn from Me how one with perfect actionlessness with best of knowledge, reaches the Brahman (50). In order to unite with the Brahman who is Bliss, Consciousness, and Truth, one needs to have untarnished intelligence, light and regulated satvika food, clean place to live free of noise and chaotic sound, control of mind and speech, resolute and dispassionate, free of temptation, devoted to yogic meditation, free of anger, I-sense and ego, free of arrogance and lust, and a tranquil heart, (51-53). Such a man of knowledge (सम्ख्ययोगी) once with the Brahman, never grieves, he treats everybody well, and he is devoted to Me (54). He gets to know Me by unfailing devotion and he enters into Me and unites with Me (55). He returns not to this world.
The Karmayogi who depends on Me, even though performing all actions, receives My grace as the eternal imperishable state (56). Prepare your mind to resign all your duties to Me, commit to yoga with even-mindedness, devote yourself solely to Me, and Arjuna! always give your mind to Me (57). Thus you will overcome all difficulties by My grace, and if due to ego and pride you do not listen, you will get lost (58). “I will not fight” as a resolve is in vain because Nature will drive you to do just that (59). What you do not want to do out of ignorance, you will helplessly perform because it is so ingrained in your nature (60). God residing in all creatures, directs them by His illusive power, to resolve (61). Arjuna! Take shelter in Me with all that you are. You will attain supreme peace and eternal state by God’s grace (62). I reveal this wisdom to you. It is more secret than secrecy itself. Ponder over and do as you wish (63). Hear again My most esoteric of all truths. I offer you this advice for your own good because you are dear to Me (64). Give your mind to Me. Be devoted to Me. Worship Me. I promise you that you will come to Me because again you are very dear to Me (65). Resign all your duties to Me. Take refuge in Me. I will absolve you of all sins because I am the all-supporting and all-powerful Lord (66).
Relevance of the Divine Poem (67-68)
One lacking devotion and penance, incapable of hearing, and one who is busy finding faults with Me, is not to be imparted this Gospel (67). There is no doubt that those in love with Me and in devotion to Me will come to Me (68).
Divine Love for His Creation (69-73)
Most dear to Me are those who offer me the love of service (69). Those who read this Gospel as sacrifice of wisdom in reverence to Me shall come to Me (70) because such is My mind. All who hear this Gospel in reverence with pure and clean spirit will come to Me and be free of sin (71). Have you heard this Gospel with focus and concentration and Arjuna! is your delusion gone? (72). Arjuna responded to the Lord and said that his delusions are wiped out and he is wiser than before. And that he said, “I will do Your bidding” (73).
Summary by Sanjaya Narrated to Dhritrashtra (74-78)
Sanjay told Dhritrashtra that he heard the mysterious and thrilling Gospel (74). I have been able to learn the divine vision by grace of Vyasa (75). I am remembering the core of the Gospel again and again (76) and I remember Lord Krishna’s cosmic form (77). I believe that wherever is the Lord of Yoga, the Krishna, and Arjuna, the man of bow and arrow, for sure there shall be victory (78).
Heeding the message of this Spiritual Gospel, mastering our sattvik behavior, and teaching it all to others, is by-and-in-itself Samkhya or ज्ञान-योग. Good karma and unfailing devotion to the Almighty Brahman is equivalent to Samkhya or ज्ञान-योग.