THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
Jai: The Gita reports
what was spoken on the battlefield,
but who wrote it, Grandma?
teachings of the Gita are very old.
They were first given to the Sun-god
in the beginning of creation by Lord
Krishna. Over time, this knowledge got
lost. The Gita in its present
form is the teaching by the Supreme
Lord, Krishna, to Arjuna about 5,100
Jai: So is Lord Krishna
the author of the Gita?
Lord Krishna is the author of the Gita.
It was put together by sage Vayasa who
also edited the four Vedas. Sage Vayasa
had the power of recalling events of
the past and future, but he could not
do the work of both recalling the Gita
spoken by Krishna on the battlefield
as well as writing it down. He needed
a helper to write the Gita. Lord Ganesha,
the lord of wisdom, offered to do the
work of writing.
The Gita was first translated from
the original Sanskrit poetry to Sanskrit
prose and fully explained in Sanskrit
by great guru Adi Sankaracharya in the
year 800 A.D.
Jai: Why is Lord
Krishna so important?
Krishna is considered the eighth incarnation
of the Supreme God. The Supreme
God comes to earth in different forms
from time to time whenever the forces
of evil try to disturb and destroy the
world peace. Lord comes to set everything
right. He also sends prophets and teachers
to help mankind. His birth and activities
are divine and each incarnation (Avataras)
has a purpose. The Shrimad Bhagavatam
(or the Bhagavad-Purana) gives details
of all ten major Avataras of God. Lord
Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad and saints
and sages of other religions are also
considered minor incarnations of God.
At the end of the present time period,
known as KaliYuga, the Kalki incarnation
will happen in the very distant future.
Jai: Will Lord Krishna
give us whatever we want in prayer or
Lord Krishna will give what you want
(Gita 4.11), such as success in your
study, if you worship Him with faith.
People may worship and pray to God by
using any name and form of God. The
form of God is called deity. One can
also worship God without the help of
Jai: Will we still
have to study if we want to do well
you must do the work. Do your best and
then pray. The good Lord will not work
for you. You will have to do your own
work. Your work should be free from
selfish desires, and you should not
hurt anybody. Then you will not earn
Jai: What is Karma,
Sanskrit word Karma means action. It
also means the results of an action.
The word Karma is most commonly mispronounced
as Karma. Every action produces a result
called Karma, which can be good or bad.
If we do our work only to enjoy the
results ourselves, we become responsible
for the results. If our action harms
anyone, we get bad Karma, called sin,
and we will have to suffer in hell for
it. If we do good to others, we earn
good Karma and get rewarded by a trip
Our own Karma is responsible
for our rebirth to enjoy or suffer the
results of our deeds. Karma is like
depositing money in the form of good
and bad action in the bank. We do not
take birth when all our Karma is used
up. This freedom from the cycles of
birth and death is called liberation,
Nirvana, Moksha or Mukti. In Mukti one
becomes one with God.
Jai: How can we avoid
Karma when we live and work in society?
best way not to earn any Karma is not
to do anything just for yourself, but
do it for the good of society. Always
keep in mind that Mother Nature does
everything; we are not the real doer
of any action. If we strongly believe
this and work as a servant of God, we
will not earn any new Karma, and all
our past Karma will be wiped out by
Self-knowledge. When all Karma is finished,
we become liberated. This method of
uniting with God is called the path
of selfless action (KarmaYoga).
Jai How do we get
rid of the Karma from our past lives?
A very good question! True knowledge
of the Self (or God) acts like fire
that burns away all Karma from our past
lives. (Gita 4.37) Selfless service
(KarmaYoga) prepares one to receive
Self-knowledge. A KarmaYogi automatically
gets Self-knowledge in due course of
time. (Gita 4.38) One who has true knowledge
of the Self or God is called a Self-realized
or a God-realized person.
Jai: Are there other
ways to get liberation, Grandma?
Jai, there are different methods or
ways to reach God. These methods are
called spiritual practices or Sadhana.
Any action that is beneficial to society
is also called Yajna, Seva or sacrifice.
Different types of Yajna are: (1) giving
money as charity for a good cause, (2)
doing meditation, worship and yogic
exercises, (3) reading the scriptures
to gain knowledge of God, and (4) having
control over the mind and other five
senses. (Gita 4.28)
Lord is pleased by those who
sincerely perform any one of these Yajna
and gives them the gift of Self-knowledge
to reach God. Such a person becomes
happy and peaceful. (Gita 4.39)
Jai: How about those
who just worship a deity everyday? Can
they also reach God?
those who worship the deity with full
faith also get whatever they want. (Gita
4.11-12) Most Hindus worship God in
the form of a chosen deity to fulfill
their desires. This path is known as
path of worship and prayer. There is
a story in the Mahabharata of a devoted
KarmaYogi and an ideal student who worshipped
his guru and got what he wanted.
4. Ekalavya, the
Guru Dronacharya (or Drona)
was the military teacher (guru) appointed
by grandfather Bhishma for all the Kaurava
and Pandava brothers. Many
other princes also took military training
under him. Drona was very much pleased
by Arjuna’s personal service and
devotion to him, and he promised him:
“I will train you to be the best
archer in the world.”
One day a very gentle boy named Ekalavya
from a nearby village came to Drona
and wanted to learn archery from him.
He had heard from his mother about master
archer Dronacharya, who was the son
of the sage Bharadwaja and a disciple
of sage Parashurama.
Ekalavya was a jungle boy,
belonging to the hunters' community.
Then, and even today, such communities
were considered socially inferior. Drona
was worried how he could teach a jungle
boy along with the royal children. So
he decided not to keep the boy with
him there, and told him: “Son,
it will be very difficult for me to
teach you. But you are a born archer.
Go back to the forest and practice well
with deep interest. You too are my disciple.
May you master archery as you wish!”
Drona's words were a great
blessing to Ekalavya. He understood
his helplessness and felt confident
that the Master’s good wishes
were with him. He made a clay idol of
Dronacharya, installed it in a nice
place, and began to worship it respectfully
by offering flowers, fruits, etc. He
worshipped this idol of his guru everyday,
practiced the lessons in archery in
the Master's absence, and mastered the
Ekalavya would get up early in the
morning, bathe himself and offer worship
to the master’s idol. He cherished
the words, actions, and training methods
of Drona that he had seen at guru Drona’s
Ashram. He faithfully followed the instructions
and continued his practice.
While Arjuna had personally
mastered archery from Drona, learning
from him firsthand, Ekalavya achieved
equally impressive skill while worshiping
the Master from far away. If he could
not do a particular technique, he would
rush to Drona's image, present his problem,
and wait in meditation until a solution
appeared in his mind. He would then
The story of Ekalavya demonstrates
that one can achieve anything in life
if one has faith and works sincerely
to reach the goal. The story
The Kaurava and Pandava princes once
went to the forest on a hunting trip.
Their leading dog was running forward.
Ekalavya, a dark-skinned young man dressed
in a tiger skin and wearing strings
of conch-beads, was engaged in his practice.
The dog, on approaching him, began to
bark. Probably wishing to show off his
skill, Ekalavya sent down a series of
seven arrows in the direction of the
barking dog, and his arrows filled its
mouth. The dog ran back to the princes,
who were surprised at this skill in
archery and wondered who the archer
Arjuna, seeing this, was not only surprised
but also worried. He wanted to be known
as the world's best archer.
The princes went in search of the archer
who had hit their dog with so many arrows
in such a short time, and found Ekalavya.
Arjuna said: “Your skill in archery
is great. Who is your guru?”
“My guru is Dronacharya,”
replied Ekalavya humbly.
Arjuna was shocked at the mention of
Drona's name. Was this true? Could his
dear teacher teach so much to this boy?
If so, what about the Master's promise
to him? When did Drona teach the boy?
Arjuna had never seen Ekalavya before
in his class.
When Drona heard this story, he remembered
Ekalavya and went to see him.
Drona said: “Your learning
has been very good, son. I am deeply
satisfied. With devotion and practice,
you have done very well. May your achievement
become an example for all to follow.”
Ekalavya was very happy and said: “Thank
you, oh Gurudeva! I too am a disciple
of yours. Otherwise, I do not know whether
I could have done this much.”
Drona said: “If you accept
me as your Master, you must pay my fee
after your training. Think it over.”
Ekalavya smilingly replied: “What
is there to think over, Sir? I am your
disciple, and you are my guru. Please
say what you wish, Sir. I will fulfill
it even if I have to sacrifice my life
in the effort.”
“Ekalavya, I have to demand a
supreme sacrifice from you to fulfill
my word to Bhishma and Arjuna that nobody
would ever equal Arjuna in archery.
Pardon me, son! Can you give me the
thumb of your right hand as my fee?”
Ekalavya stared at Dronacharya for
a while. He could understand the Master's
problem. He then stood up, walked to
the Drona’s idol with determination,
placed his right thumb upon a stone,
and cut it off in an instant, using
his left hand and an arrow.
Drona, while feeling sorry for the
injury he had caused Ekalavya, was at
the same time deeply touched by such
great devotion. He hugged him
saying: “Son, your love for guru
is unmatched. I feel a sense of fulfillment
in having had a disciple like you. May
God bless you!”
Ekalavya got victory in defeat! With
the right thumb gone, he could no longer
use the bow effectively. But he continued
his practice using his left arm. By
virtue of his supreme sacrifice, he
received the grace of God and achieved
distinction as a left-handed archer.
He proved that nothing could stop a
totally sincere effort. By his actions
and behavior, Ekalavya, showed that
your inferior or superior status is
not determined by the community you
belong to but by your vision and qualities
of mind and heart.
Drona was a great guru, Jai. But there
are many false gurus in the world who
will try to cheat you.
Jai: Do we need a
guru to reach God?
We definitely need a teacher to learn
any subject, spiritual or material.
But to find a real guru is not so easy.
There are four types of gurus: the knower
of a subject or a teacher (guru), a
false guru, a SadGuru and a ParamaGuru.
There are many false gurus who just
pose as a guru. SadGuru is a God-realized
master and is very hard to find. Lord
Krishna is called the JagadGuru or ParamaGuru,
When you graduate from a college
and enter family life, you will need
to find a guru or a spiritual guide.
Meanwhile, follow your scripture and
culture and never accept defeat in life.
Chapter 4 summary:
Lord comes to earth from time to time
in a life-form to set things right on
the earth. The Lord fulfills the desires
of those who worship Him. There are
four types of spiritual practices or
Yajna. Both selfless service and Self-knowledge
free the soul from the bondage of Karma.
The Lord gives Self-knowledge to those
who do selfless service. Self-knowledge
burns all our past Karma and frees us
from the wheel or cycles of birth and