(The Song of God)
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With Introduction, A Lucid Modern English Rendition with many new features such as: Audio Gita in English, Illustrations with 12 full color images, Explanation of selected Verses
Paragraph Headings, Guide for the Beginners,
A 5-minute Gita, Verses from 29 other Vedic Scriptures, Sayings of Saints and Sages of major Religions as well
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Ramananda Prasad, Ph.D.
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...I am very interested in your translation of Gita. Though I have many English translations, I think your translation is the best one. So far, there are 5 versions in China, and I hope we could translate your "Gita" into Chinese too. Could you grant the Chinese translation rights......
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.... I would like to include the translation of the Gita by Dr. Ramananda Prasad in my site. I am interested in representing India fairly, and I fear that the translation of the Gita by Sir Edwin Arnold that is distributed all over the net will do more to turn students away rather than introduce them fairly to the text .
Prof. Anthony Beavers, University of Evansville, Indiana.
. A wonderful translation. It's about time that we get a new translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Dr. Prasad takes a much more low-key approach, simply translating the Gita to the best of his ability and allowing the reader to make sense of it. More accurate than most other translations and rendered into modern prose, . Gsibbery, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.
.American Gita Society now offers a translation, rendering thought provoking delicacy for the scholar, and at the same time provides unbiased commentaries that can be easily understood by the layperson. This rendition does not endorse, propagate, or oppose any causes, and delivers a translation that is devoid of all personal motivation and speculation
Douglas Remington, Los Angeles, 1997
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The International Gita Society
(Formerly: American Gita Society)
Founded in 1984, the International Gita Society (IGS) is a registered, non-profit, tax-exempt, spiritual institution in the United States of America under Section 501(c) (3) of the IRS Code. Membership is free of charge and open to all. The Aims and Objectives of IGS include:
1. Publish and distribute, The Bhagavad-Gita in simple and easy to understand languages, to anyone interested in the Gita.
2. Spread the basic Non-sectarian Universal teachings of Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita and other Vedic scriptures in easy to understand languages by establishing branches of the Society in other countries.
3. Provide support and guidance in establishing Gita Study and Discussion (Satsang) Groups, including a free Gita correspondence course.
4. To provide inspiration, cooperation, and support to persons and
non-profit organizations engaged in the study and propagation of
5. To break the barriers between faiths, and establish unity of races, religions, castes, and creeds through the immortal non-sectarian universal teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Ramayana, as well as other world scriptures; and to promote the Universal Brotherhood.
Readers interested in promoting the ideals of the
society are invited to correspond with the
The International Gita Society
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Prasad is a charter member of several non-profit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. He founded the American/ International Gita Society whose aim is to serve the humanity through the teachings of the holy Bhagavad-Gita and other Vedic scriptures, and to establish unity amongst all cultures, races, religions, and faiths of the world through the immortal teachings of all great masters, and major world scriptures.
He is a 1959 graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He obtained his M.S. degree from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois in1966. Dr. Prasad has worked in research, teaching, engineering consulting, as well as State and Federal Governments, including U.S. Navy and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at San Francisco, California.
At present he is a professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the San Jose State University, California and an adjunct professor of Religion and Psychology at the Graduate College of the Union Institute of Cincinnati, Ohio.
ABOUT THIS RENDITION
This lucid rendition allows the average person and the scholar an easy entry into a vast ocean of transcendental knowledge. The important verses are printed in red for the convenience of the first-time readers and concise commentaries are made only on key verses that enable a reader to get directly to the point. This work is intended for advanced English speaking readers who have no knowledge of Sanskrit language or Eastern philosophy. The sayings of saints and sages of major religious denominations as well as world leaders and scholars are included.
Quotations from 29 Vedic scriptures such as: the Vedas, Upanishads, BrahmaSutra, YogaSutra, BhaktiSutras, Puranas, ManuSmriti, Yoga Vashishtha, Ashta Vakra Gita, Viveka Chudamani, Ramayanas, Mahabharata, as well as other major scriptures of the world have been incorporated to highlight the basic unity of all religious views and help propagate the Universal Fellowship of humankind.
Copyright © International Gita Society
511 Lowell Place, Fremont, CA 94536
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may
be copied in any form only for non-commercial
use provided the credit is given to the
International Gita Society.
01. AiU AitareyoPanishad 2 verses
02. AVG Ashtavakra Gita 1
03. AV Atharvaveda 7
04. BP Bhagavata MahaPurana 39
05. BrU BrihadaranyakoPanishad 11
06. BS BrahmaSutra 9
07. ChU ChandogyoPanishad 7
08. DB Devi Bhagavatam 4
09. IsU IshavasyoPanishad 2
10. KaU KathoPanishad 15
11. KeU KenoPanishad 2
12. MaU MandukyoPanishad 1
13. MB Mahabharata 57
14. MS Manu Smriti 10
15. MuU MundakoPanishad 11
16. NBS Narada BhaktiSutra 1
17. PrU PrashhnoPanishad 1
18. PYS Patanjali YogaSutra 8
19. RV Rigveda 21
20. SBS Shandilya BhaktiSutra 3
21. ShU ShvetashvataroPanishad 4
22. SV Samaveda 1
23. TaU TaittiriyoPanishad 2
24. TR Tulasi Ramayan 29
25. VC Vivekachudamani 5
26. VP Vishnu Purana 6
27. VR Valmiki Ramayanam 6
28. YV Yajurveda, Vajasaneyi Samhita 4
29. YVa YogaVashishtha 3/ 275
The Bhagavad-Gita is a doctrine of universal truth. Its message is sublime, and non-sectarian although it is a part of the scriptural trinity of Sanātana or Universal Dharma---the book of universal spiritual principles---commonly known as Vedic culture of ancient India. The Gita is very easy to understand in any language for a mature mind. A repeated reading with sincere attitude of reverence and faith will reveal all the sublime ideas contained in it. A few abstruse statements are interspersed here and there, but they have no direct bearing on practical issues or the central theme of Gita. The Gita deals with the most sacred metaphysical science. It imparts the knowledge of the Self and answers two universal questions: Who am I, and how can I lead a happy and peaceful life in this world of dualities? It is a book of yoga, the moral and spiritual growth for mankind, based on the cardinal principles of Universal Dharma. The Bhagavad-Gita is the essence of Vedas and a part of Mahābhārata. It teaches the universal spiritual philosophy regarding the metaphysical science of the highest Reality. The Gita gives a non fear based knowledge of the higher Self. It's a book of wisdom that inspired Thoreau, Emerson, Einstein, Gandhi and many others. The Bhagavad-Gita teaches one to equip oneself for the battle of life. A repeated study with faith purifies our psyche and guides us to face the challenges of modern living leading to inner peace and happiness.
Gita teaches the spiritual science of Self-realization based on the essence of Upanishads and Vedanta. The prime message of the Gita is that the ultimate purpose of life is to realize ones essential nature and become one with the supreme Self within. It assures spiritual progress for all humans, and how to be one with the supreme. Its teachings are subtle, profound, universal, uplifting, and sublime. Gita explains basic principles of the spiritual science in a very clear and inspiring manner. Inviolable relationship between the Cosmic Reality and the individual soul is well established in the Gita. If one lives in the spirit of even a few verses of the Gita, ones life will be transformed into divinity.
The philosophy of action, devotion and Self-knowledge is wonderfully synthesized and harmonized in the Gita---without creating any conflict among them---to give the reader eternal bliss, everlasting peace and perennial joy in life. It awakens Cosmic Consciousness and stimulates life with spirituality in aspirant.
Spirituality deals with the knowledge of the Absolute. Religions have limitations, because they only focus on one aspect of Truth. That is why they are always clashing with one another. They all think they are the sole master of the Truth. Religion tends to create a wall of division and conflicts along religious lines, whereas spirituality unites people by breaking those walls. A spiritual person is a friend of all and a foe of none, because he considers all creatures---living or non-living---as part and parcel of the cosmic body of the Absolute.
The message of the Gita came to humanity because of Arjunas unwillingness to do his duty as a warrior because fighting involved destruction and killing. Nonviolence or Ahimsa is one of the most fundamental tenets of spiritual culture. All lives, human or non-human, are sacred. This immortal discourse between the Supreme Lord, Krishna, and His devotee-friend, Arjuna, occurs not in a temple, a secluded forest, or on a mountain top but on a battlefield on the eve of a war and is recorded in the great epic, Mahābhārata. In the Gita Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to get up and fight. This may create a misunderstanding of the principles of Ahimsa if the background of the war of Mahābhārata is not kept in mind. Therefore, a brief historical description is in order.
In ancient times there was a king who had two sons, Dhritarāshtra and Pāndu. The former was born blind; therefore, Pāndu inherited the kingdom. Pāndu had five sons. They were called the Pāndavas. Dhritarāshtra had one hundred sons. They were called the Kauravas. Duryodhana was the eldest of the Kauravas.
After the death of king Pāndu, the eldest son of Pāndu became the lawful King. Duryodhana was a very jealous person. He also wanted the kingdom. The kingdom was divided into two halves between the Pāndavas and the Kauravas. Duryodhana was not satisfied with his share of the kingdom. He wanted the entire kingdom for himself. He unsuccessfully planned several foul plots to kill the Pāndavas and take away their kingdom. He unlawfully took possession of the entire kingdom of the Pāndavas and refused to give back even an acre of land without a war. All mediation by Lord Krishna and others failed. The big war of Mahābhārata was thus inevitable. The Pāndavas were unwilling participants. They had only two choices: Fight for their right as a matter of duty or run away from war and accept defeat in the name of peace and nonviolence. Arjuna, one of the five Pāndava brothers, faced the dilemma in the battlefield whether to fight or run away from war for the sake of peace.
Arjunas dilemma is, in reality, the universal dilemma. All human beings face dilemmas, big and small, in their everyday life when performing their duties. Arjunas dilemma was a big one. He had to make a choice between fighting the war and killing his most revered guru who was on the other side, very dear friends, close relatives, and many innocent warriors; or running away from the battlefield for the sake of preserving the peace and nonviolence. The entire seven hundred verses of the Gita are a discourse between Lord Krishna and the confused Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra near New Delhi, India, about 3,100 years BCE. This discourse was narrated to the blind king, Dhritarāshtra, by his charioteer, Sanjaya, as an eyewitness war report.
The main objective of the Gita is to help people---struggling in the darkness of ignorance---cross the ocean of transmigration and reach the spiritual shore of liberation while living and working in society. The central teaching of the Gita is the attainment of freedom or happiness from the bondage of life by doing ones duty. Always remember the glory and greatness of the Creator and do your duty to the best of your ability without being attached to or affected by the results, even if that duty may at times demand unavoidable violence. Some people neglect or give up their duty in life for the sake of a spiritual life while others excuse themselves from spiritual practices because they believe that they have no time.
The Lords message is to sanctify the entire living process itself. Whatever a person does or thinks, ought to be done for the glory and satisfaction of the Maker. Not too much effort or cost is necessary for this process. Do your duty as a service to the Lord and humanity, and see God alone in everything in a spiritual frame of mind. This spiritual state of mind can be gradually attained with personal discipline, austerity, penance, good conduct, selfless service, meditation, worship, prayer, rituals, and study of scriptures. The company of holy persons, pilgrimage, yogic practices, chanting of the holy names of God, and Self-inquiry also helps to purify the body, mind, and intellect. One must learn to give up lust, anger, greed, and establish mastery over the mind and five senses (hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell) by the purified intellect. One should always remember that all works are done by the energy of nature and that one is not the doer but only an instrument. One must strive for excellence in all undertakings but maintain equanimity in success and failure, gain and loss, and pain and pleasure.
The ignorance of metaphysical knowledge---not knowing our real identity---is humanitys greatest predicament. A scripture, being the voice of transcendence, cannot be translated. Language is incapable and translations are defective to clearly impart the knowledge of the Absolute. In this rendering, an attempt has been made to keep the style as close as possible to the original Sanskrit poetry and yet make it easy to read and understand. An attempt has been made to improve the clarity by adding words or phrases, within parentheses, in the English translation of the verses. Key verses are printed in red for the convenience of beginners. We suggest all our readers to ponder, contemplate, and act upon these verses. The beginners and the busy executives should first read and understand the meaning of these key verses before delving deep into the bottomless ocean of transcendental knowledge.
According to the scriptures, no sin, however heinous, can affect one who reads, ponders, and practices the teachings of Gita any more than water affects the lotus leaf. It is said that there is no human mind that cannot be purified by a repeated study of the Gita---just one chapter a day. One who practices the teachings of Gita with faith shall attain Nirvana.
This book is dedicated to all my gurus whose blessings, grace, and teachings have been invaluable. It is offered to the greatest Guru, Lord Krishna, with love and devotion. May the Lord accept it, and bless those who repeatedly read this with peace, happiness, and the true knowledge of the Self.
OM TAT SAT
The war of Mahābhārata had begun after all negotiations by Lord Krishna and others to avoid it failed. Sage Vyasa, the author of Mahābhārata, wanted to give the blind King (Dhritarāshtra) the boon of eyesight so that the King could see the horrors of the war for which he was responsible. But the King refused the offer. He did not want to see the horrors of the war; but preferred to get the war report through his charioteer, Sanjaya. Sage Vyasa granted the power of clairvoyance and clairvision to Sanjaya. With this power Sanjaya could see, hear, and recall the events of the past, present, and future. He was able to give an instant replay of the eye-witness war report to the blind King sitting in the palace.
Bhishma, the mightiest man and the commander-in-chief of the Kauravas army, is disabled by Arjuna and dying on the battleground on the tenth day of the eighteen-day war. Upon hearing this bad news from Sanjaya, the blind King loses all hope for victory by his sons. Now the King wants to know the details of the war from the beginning, including how the mightiest man, the commander-in-chief of his superior army---who had a boon of dying at his own will---was defeated in the battlefield. The teaching of the Gita begins with the inquiry of the blind King, after Sanjaya described how Bhishma was defeated, as follows:
NOTE 1: We have purposely postponed a discussion of this very important opening verse here. The purport of this verse is given in verse 13.01 and should be read after a reader has studied the Gita and has a better understanding.
The King inquired: Sanjaya, please, now tell me in detail, what did my people (the Kauravas) and the Pandavas do in the battlefield of Kurukshetra before the war started? (1.01)
Sanjaya said: O King, after seeing the battle formation of the Pandavas army, your son approached his guru and spoke these words: (1.02)
NOTE 2: Beginners should not become lost in the jungle of historic proper nouns, or the names of the characters of Mahābhārata in this chapter and the Sanskrit names of various celestial controlling forces (Devas) in Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad-Gita. These names have no bearing on the main theme of the Gita; therefore, these names are either omitted or substituted by generic names in this rendition.
O Master, behold this mighty army of the Pandavas, arranged in battle formation by your other talented disciple! There are many great warriors, valiant men, heroes, and mighty archers. (1.03-06)
Also there are many heroes on my side who have risked their lives for me. I shall name a few distinguished commanders of my army for your information. He named all the officers of his army and said: They are armed with various weapons and are skilled in warfare. (1.07-09)
The army protecting our commander-in-chief is insufficient, whereas my archrival on the other side is well protected. Therefore all of you, occupying your respective positions, protect our commander-in-chief. (1.10-11)
The mighty commander-in-chief and the eldest man of the dynasty, roared as a lion and blew his conch loudly, bringing joy to your son. (1.12)
Soon after that, conches, kettledrums, cymbals, drums, and trumpets were sounded together. The commotion was tremendous. (1.13)
After that, Lord Krishna and Arjuna, seated in a grand chariot yoked with white horses, blew their celestial conches. (1.14)
Krishna blew His conch; then Arjuna and all other commanders of various divisions of the army of Pandavas blew their respective conches. The tumultuous uproar, resounding through the earth and sky, tore the hearts of your sons. (1.15-19)
Seeing your sons standing and the war about to begin with the hurling of weapons, Arjuna took up his bow and spoke these words to Lord Krishna: O Lord, please stop my chariot between the two armies until I behold those who stand here eager for the battle and with whom I must engage in this act of war. (1.20-22)
I wish to see those who are willing to serve and appease the evil-minded Kauravas by assembling here to fight the battle. (1.23)
Sanjaya said: O King, Lord Krishna, as requested by Arjuna, placed the best of all the chariots in the midst of the two armies facing Arjuna's grandfather, his guru and all other Kings, and said to Arjuna: Behold these assembled soldiers! (1.24-25)
Arjuna saw his uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, and other comrades in the army. (1.26)
After seeing fathers-in-law, companions, and all his kinsmen standing in the ranks of the two armies, Arjuna was overcome with great compassion and sorrowfully spoke these words: O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen standing with a desire to fight, my limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry. My body quivers and my hairs stand on end. (1.27-29)
The bow slips from my hand and my skin intensely burns. My head turns, I am unable to stand steady, and O Krishna, I see bad omens. I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle. (1.30-31)
I desire neither victory nor pleasure nor kingdom, O Krishna. What is the use of the kingdom or enjoyment or even life, O Krishna; because all those---for whom we desire kingdom, enjoyments, and pleasures---are standing here for the battle, giving up their lives? (1.32-33)
I do not wish to kill my teachers, uncles, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relatives who are about to kill us, even for the sovereignty of the three worlds, let alone for this earthly kingdom, O Krishna. (1.34-35)
O Lord Krishna, what pleasure shall we find in killing our cousin brothers? Upon killing these felons, we shall incur only sin. (1.36)
Therefore, we should not kill our cousin brothers. How can we be happy after killing our relatives, O Krishna? (1.37)
Though they are blinded by greed and do not see evil in the destruction of the family or sin in being treacherous to friends, why should not we, who clearly see evil in the destruction of the family, think about turning away from this sin, O Krishna? (1.38-39)
Eternal family traditions and codes of moral conduct are destroyed with the destruction of (the head of the) family in a war. And immorality prevails in the family due to the destruction of family traditions. (1.40)
And when immorality prevails, O Krishna, people become corrupted. And when people are corrupted, unwanted progeny are born. (1.41)
This brings the family and the slayers of the family to hell because the spirits of their ancestors are degraded when deprived of ceremonial offerings of love and respect by the unwanted progeny. (1.42)
The everlasting qualities of social order and family traditions of those who destroy their family are ruined by the sinful act of illegitimacy. (1.43)
We have been told, O Krishna, that people whose family traditions are destroyed necessarily dwell in hell for a long time. (1.44)
Alas! We are ready to commit a great sin by striving to slay our relatives because of greed for the pleasures of the kingdom. (1.45)
It would be far better for me if my cousin brothers kill me with their weapons in battle while I am unarmed and unresisting. (1.46)
TOUGH ONES GET DELUDED
Sanjaya said: Having said this in the battlefield and casting aside his bow and arrow, Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot with his mind overwhelmed with sorrow. (1.47)
Thus ends Chapter 1
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Sanjaya said: Lord Krishna spoke these words to Arjuna whose eyes were tearful and downcast and who was overwhelmed with compassion and despair. (2.01)
Lord Krishna said: How has the dejection come to you at this juncture? This is not fit for a person of noble mind and deeds. It is disgraceful, and it does not lead one to heaven, O Arjuna. (2.02)
Do not become a coward, O Arjuna, because it does not befit you. Shake off this trivial weakness of your heart and get up for the battle, O Arjuna. (2.03)
AGAINST THE WAR
Arjuna said: How shall I strike my grandfather, my guru, and all other relatives---who are worthy of my respect---with arrows in battle, O Krishna? (2.04)
Arjuna had a valid point. In Vedic culture, gurus, the elderly, honorable personalities, and all other superiors are to be respected. One should not fight or even joke or speak sarcastically with superiors, even if they hurt you. But the scriptures also say that anyone who is engaged in abominable activities or supports misdeeds against you or others, is no longer to be respected, but punished.
It would be better, indeed, to live on alms in this world than to slay these noble personalities because by killing them I would enjoy wealth and pleasures stained with their blood. (2.05)
We do not know which alternative---to fight or to quit
---is better for us. Further, we do not know whether we will conquer them or they will conquer us. We should not even wish to live after killing our cousin brothers who are standing in front of us. (2.06)
Arjuna was unable to decide what to do. It is said that expert guidance of a guru, the spiritual counselor, should be sought during a moment of crisis or to overcome the perplexities of life. Arjuna now requests Krishna for guidance.
NOTE: 'Dharma' may be defined as the eternal law governing, upholding, and supporting creation and the world order. It is the eternal relationship between the creator and His creatures. It also means way of life, doctrine, principle, prescribed duty, righteousness, right action, integrity, ideal conduct, custom, virtue, nature, essential quality, commandments, moral principles, spiritual truth, spirituality, spiritual values, and a function within the scriptural injunction or religion.
I do not perceive that gaining an unrivaled and prosperous kingdom on this earth, or even lordship over all the celestial controllers, will remove the sorrow that is drying up my senses. (2.08)
Sanjaya said: O King, after speaking like this to Lord Krishna, the mighty Arjuna said to Krishna: I shall not fight, and became silent. (2.09)
O King, Lord Krishna, as if smiling, spoke these words to the distressed Arjuna in the midst of the two armies. (2.10)
THE PHYSICAL BODY
People meet and depart in this world as two pieces of wood flowing down the river come together and then separate from each other (MB 12.174.15). The wise, who know that the body is mortal and the Spirit is immortal, have nothing to moan about (KaU 2.22).
NOTE: The Self (or Atmā) is also called soul or consciousness and is the source of life and the cosmic power behind the body-mind complex. Just as our body exists in space, similarly our thoughts, intellect, emotions, and psyche exist in the Self, the space of consciousness. Self cannot be perceived by our physical senses because Self is beyond the domain of the senses. The senses were designed only to comprehend physical objects.
The word Atmā has been also used in the Gita for the lower self (body, mind, and senses), psyche, intellect, soul, spirit, subtle senses, oneself, ego, heart, human beings, Eternal Being (Brahma), Absolute Truth, individual soul, and the supersoul or the supreme Self, depending on the context.
There was never a time when these monarchs, you, or I did not exist, nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future. (2.12)
Just as the soul acquires a childhood body, a youth body, and an old-age body during this life, similarly the soul acquires another body after death. This should not delude the wise. (See also 15.08) (2.13)
The contacts of the senses with sense objects give rise to the feelings of heat and cold, and pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent. Therefore, one should learn to endure them bravely. (2.14)
Because a calm person---who is not afflicted by these sense objects and is steady in pain and pleasure---becomes fit for salvation. (2.15)
Nothing can hurt one if the mind can be trained to withstand the impulse of the pairs of opposites---joys and sorrows, pains and pleasures, loss and gain. The phenomenal world cannot exist without the pairs of opposites. Good and evil, pain and pleasure will always exist. The universe is a playground designed by God for the living entities. It takes two to play a game. The game cannot continue if the pairs of opposites are altogether eliminated. Before one can feel joy, one must know sorrow. Both negative and positive experiences are needed for our growth and spiritual development. Cessation of pain brings pleasure and cessation of pleasure results in pain. Thus, pain is born in the womb of pleasure. Peace is born in the womb of war. Sorrow exists because the desire for happiness exists. When the desire for happiness disappears, so does the sorrow. Sorrow is only a prelude to happiness and vice versa. Even the joy of going to heaven is followed by the sorrow of coming back to the earth; therefore, worldly objects should not be the main goal of human life. If one chooses material pleasures, it is like giving up nectar and choosing poison instead. Ones agony is reduced a little by speaking of it to a trusted friend.
Change is the law of nature---change from summer to winter, from spring to fall, from the light of the full moon to the darkness of the new moon. Neither pain nor pleasure last forever. Pleasure comes after pain, and pain is followed again by pleasure. Reflecting like this, one must learn to tolerate the blows of time with patience and learn not only to endure, but also to expect, welcome, and enjoy both the joys as well as the sorrows of life. Sow the seed of hope in the soil of sorrow. Find your way in the darkness of the night of adversity with the torch of the scriptures and faith in God. There would be no opportunities if there were no problems. Destiny is born out of crisis. Einstein said: Opportunity lies in the middle of difficulties.
The unreal (Asat, body, creation) has a temporary (or Mithyā) existence and the real (Sat, Atmā) always exists. The reality of these two is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth. (2.16)
The Self exists everywhere and at all times---past, present, and future. The human body and the universe both have a temporary existence, but appear permanent at first sight. Webster defines Atman or Atmā as the 'World Soul', from which all souls derive and the Supreme Abode to which they return. Atmā is also called Jivātmā or Jiva, which is the ultimate source of all individual selves. We have used the English words: Self, Spirit, spirit, soul, or individual soul interchangeably for different aspects of Atmā (or Sat). Everything, except Atmā, is considered second order of Reality, Asat (Mithya), changeable or unreal.
Our physical body is subject to birth, growth, maturity, reproduction, decay, and death; whereas the Self is eternal, indestructible, pure, unique, all knower, substratum, unchangeable, self-luminous, the cause of all causes, all pervading, unaffectable, immutable, and inexplicable. The material body or the world is unreal and transitory; it undergoes changes, and the soul is real.
Know that Spirit (Atmā) by which this entire universe is pervaded is indeed indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable Spirit. (2.17)
The physical bodies of the eternal, immutable, and incomprehensible Spirit are mortal. Spirit (Atmā) is immortal. Therefore, as a warrior, you must fight, O Arjuna. (2.18)
The Spirit is neither born, nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being nor cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. (2.20)
O Arjuna, how can a person---who knows that the Spirit is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and immutable---kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed? (2.21)
Just as a caterpillar takes hold of another object before leaving an object, similarly the living entity (or soul) obtains a new body before or after leaving the old one (BrU 4.4.03). The physical body has also been compared to a cage, a vehicle, an abode, as well as a garment of the subtle body that needs to be changed frequently. Death is the separation of the subtle body from the physical body. The living entity is a traveler. Death is not the end of the journey of the living entity. Death is like a rest area where the individual soul changes vehicles and the journey continues. Life is continuous and endless. Inevitable death is not the end of life; it is only an end of a perishable, physical body.
Weapons do not cut this Spirit, fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. The Spirit cannot be cut, burned, wet, or dried. It is eternal, all-pervading, changeless, immovable, and primeval. (Spirit or Atmā is beyond time and space.) (2.23-24)
The Spirit is said to be unexplainable, incomprehensible, and immutable. Knowing the Spirit as such, you should not grieve for the physical body. (2.25)
In the previous verses Krishna asked us not to worry about the indestructible spirit. A question may arise: Should one lament the death of (the destructible body of) our near and dear ones at all? The answer comes:
If you think that the physical body takes birth and dies perpetually, even then, O Arjuna, you should not grieve like this because death is certain for one who is born, and birth is certain for one who dies. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable death. (2.26-27)
One should not lament the death of anybody at all. Lamentation is due to attachment, and attachment binds the individual soul to the wheel of transmigration. Therefore, the scriptures suggest one should not mourn, but pray for several days after the persons death for salvation of the departed soul.
The inevitability of death and indestructibility of the soul, however, do not and cannot justify lawful but unnecessary killing of any creature, unjust war, or even suicide. The Vedic scriptures are very clear on this point in regard to killing human beings or any other living entity. The scripture says: One should not commit violence towards anyone. Unauthorized killing is punishable in all circumstances: A life for life. Lord Krishna is urging Arjuna to fight---but not to kill wantonly---in order to establish peace and law and order on earth as a matter of a warrior's duty.
MIND AND SPEECH
Some look upon this Spirit as a wonder, another describes it as wonderful, and others hear of it as a wonder. Even after hearing about it, very few people know what the Spirit is. (See also KaU 2.07) (2.29)
O Arjuna, the Spirit that dwells in the body of all beings is eternally indestructible. Therefore, you should not mourn for anybody. (2.30)
THE DUTY OF A WARRIOR
Considering also your duty as a warrior, you should not waver because there is nothing more auspicious for a warrior than a righteous war. (2.31)
Only the fortunate warriors, O Arjuna, get such an opportunity for a righteous war against evil that is like an open door to heaven. (2.32)
The righteous war is not a religious war against the followers of other religions. The righteous war may be waged even against our own evil-doer kith and kin (RV 6.75.19). Life is a continuous battle between the forces of evil and goodness. A valiant person must fight with the spirit of a warrior---with a will and determination for victory---and without any compromise with the forces of evil and difficulties. God helps the valiant who adhere to morality. Dharma (righteousness) protects those who protect Dharma (morality, justice, and righteousness).
It is better to die for a right cause and acquire the grace of sacrifice than to die an ordinary but compulsory death. The gates of heaven open wide for those who stand up to vindicate justice and righteousness (Dharma). Not to oppose an evil is to indirectly support it. Very similar ideas are expressed in other scriptures of the world. There is no sin in killing an aggressor. Whosoever helps and supports an aggressor is also an aggressor. Thus, all those who supported Kauravas were basically aggressors and deserved to be eliminated.
If you will not fight this battle of good over evil, you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation as a warrior, and incur sin (by not doing your duty). (2.33)
People will talk about your disgrace for a long time. To the honorable, dishonor is worse than death. (2.34)
The great warriors will think that you have retreated from the battle out of fear. Those who have greatly esteemed you will lose respect for you. (2.35)
Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful to you than this? (2.36)
You will go to heaven if killed in the line of duty, or you will enjoy the kingdom on the earth if victorious. Therefore, get up with a determination to fight, O Arjuna. (2.37)
Lord Krishna says here that even the violence done in the line of duty with a proper frame of mind, as discussed in the above verse, is sinless. This is the starting verse of the theory of KarmaYoga, the main theme of the Gita.
The wise should wholeheartedly welcome pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, without becoming discouraged (MB 12.174.39). Two types of people are happy in this world: those who are completely ignorant and those who are truly wise. All others are unhappy (MB 12.174.33).
The science of transcendental knowledge has been imparted to you, O Arjuna. Now listen to the science of God-dedicated, selfless action (Sevā, KarmaYoga), endowed with which you will free yourself from Karmic bondage, or sin. (2.39)
No effort is ever lost in selfless service, and there is no adverse effect. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from great fear of birth and death. (2.40)
The selfless action is also called Sevā, KarmaYoga, sacrifice, yoga of work, science of proper action, and yoga of equanimity. A KarmaYogi works with love for the Lord as a matter of duty without a desire for the fruits of work or attachment to the results, and becomes free from all fear. The word Karma also means duty, action, deeds, work, endeavor, or the results of past deeds.
A KarmaYogi has resolute determination for God-realization only, but the desires of one who works to enjoy the fruits of work are endless. (2.41)
AND SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF LIFE
The ignorant ones who delight in the melodious chanting of the Vedas---without understanding the real purpose of the Vedas---think, O Arjuna, there is nothing else in the Vedas except the rituals for the sole purpose of obtaining heavenly enjoyment. (2.42)
They are dominated by material desires and consider the attainment of heaven as the highest goal of life. They engage in specific rites for the sake of material prosperity and enjoyment. Rebirth is the result of their action. (2.43)
The resolute determination for God-realization is not possible for those ignorant ones who are attached to pleasure and power and whose judgment is obscured by ritualistic activities for fulfillment of material desires. (2.44)
Self-realization is to know ones relationship with the Supreme Lord and His true transcendental nature. The promise of material benefits of Vedic rituals is like the promise of candy to a child by the mother to induce him or her to take the medicine of detachment from the material life; it is necessary in most instances. Rituals must be changed with time and backed up by devotion and good deeds. People may pray and meditate anytime, anywhere, without any ritual. Rituals have played a great role in spiritual life, but they have been greatly abused. Lord Krishna and Lord Buddha both disapproved the misuse of Vedic rituals, not the rituals as such. Rituals create a holy and blissful atmosphere. They are regarded as a heavenly ship (RV 10.63.10) and criticized as a frail raft (MuU 1.2.07).
A portion of the Vedas deals with three modes---goodness, passion, and ignorance---of material Nature. Rise above these three modes, be ever Self-conscious and free from the tyranny of pairs of opposites. Remain tranquil and unconcerned with the thoughts of acquisition and preservation of material objects. (2.45)
To the enlightened person, who has realized the true nature of the Self within, the Vedas become as useful as a small reservoir of water when the water of a huge lake becomes available. (2.46)
A scripture is like a finite pond that derives its water from the infinite ocean of Truth. Therefore, scriptures become unnecessary only after enlightenment in much the same way that a reservoir of water has no use when one is surrounded by floodwater. One who has realized the Supreme Being will not desire the attainment of heaven mentioned as the fruits of performing Vedic rituals. Scriptures, such as the Vedas, are necessary means, but not the end. Scriptures are meant to lead and guide us on the spiritual path. Once the goal is reached, they have served their purpose.
You are entitled to perform your respective duty only, but have no control or claim over the results. To enjoy the fruits of work should not be your motive, and you should never be inactive. (2.47)
This key verse of the Gita has confused some commentators and common people who interpret it to mean that one should work without expecting a fruit. This would mean that Lord Krishna should not expect Arjuna to understand and follow His teachings! No one can perform action without expecting some result. This verse means that we should not expect only favorable results of our choices and should accept all results as Prasāda (Grace) from God. This is called Prasāda Buddhi, BuddhiYoga, KarmaYoga and surrendering to His Will. (See also ).
The right outlook on life develops when we fully understand that we have the ability to put our best effort into all endeavors, but we cannot pick the results of our work. We have absolutely no control over all the factors that determine the results. The affairs of the world would not run if all were given the power to choose the results of their actions or to satisfy all their desires. One is given the power and the ability to do ones respective duty in life, but one is not free to choose the desired results. To work without expecting success or good results would be meaningless, but to be fully prepared for the unexpected should be an important part of any planning. Swami Karmananda says: The essence of KarmaYoga is to go to work just to please the creator; mentally renounce the fruits of all action; and let God take care of the results. Do your duty in life---to the best of your ability---as Gods personal servant without any regard for the personal enjoyment of the fruits of your work.
Fear of failure, caused by being emotionally attached to the fruits of work, is the greatest impediment to success because it robs efficiency by constantly disturbing equanimity of mind. Therefore, duty should be performed with detached attachment. Success in any undertaking becomes easier if one works hard without being bothered by the outcome. Work is done more efficiently when the mind is not bothered continuously---consciously or subconsciously---with the outcome, good or bad, of an action. Stress is produced when fruit or goal becomes more important than the work itself due to ego.
One has to discover this fact personally in life. A person should work without any motive as a matter of duty for a greater cause of helping humanity rather than just helping oneself, one's children, or a few individuals. Equanimity and spiritual progress result from selfless service, whereas work with selfish motives create the bonds of Karma as well as great disappointments. Dedicated selfless service for a greater cause leads to everlasting peace and happiness here and hereafter.
The boundary of ones jurisdiction ends with the completion of duty; it never crosses the garden of fruit. A hunter has control over the arrow only, never over the deer. Harry Bhalla says: A farmer has control over how he works his land, yet no control over the harvest. But he cannot expect a harvest if he does not work his land.
When one has no desire for the pleasure of victory, one is not affected by the pain of defeat. Questions of the pleasure of success or the pain of failure do not arise because a KarmaYogi is always on the path of service without waiting to enjoy the fruit or even the flower of work. He or she has learned to enjoy the joy of service. The myopia of short-term, personal gain, caused by ignorance of metaphysics, is the root of all evils in society and the world. The bird of righteousness cannot be confined in the cage of personal gain. Dharma and selfishness cannot stay together.
The desire for fruit takes one to the dark alley of sin and prevents ones real growth. Acting only in ones own self-interest is sinful. The welfare of the individual lies in the welfare of society. The wise work for all of society, whereas the ignorant work only for themselves or their children and grandchildren. One who knows the Truth does not let the shadow of personal gain fall on the path of duty. The secret art of living a meaningful life is to be intensely active without any motive, as stated below:
Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. Equanimity of mind is called KarmaYoga (because equanimity leads to union with God). (See also 6.03-04) (2.48)
KarmaYoga is defined as doing ones duty while maintaining equanimity under all circumstances. Pain and pleasure, birth and death, loss and gain, union and separation are inevitable, being under the control of ones past deeds or Karma, like the coming of day and night. Fools rejoice in prosperity and mourn in adversity, but a KarmaYogi remains tranquil under all circumstances (TR 2.149.03-04). The word yoga has also been defined in the following verses of the Gita: 2.50, 2.53, 6.04, 6.08, 6.19, 6.23, 6.29, 6.31, 6.32, and 6.47. Any practical technique of understanding the Supreme Reality and uniting with Him is called spiritual practice, or yoga.
Work done with selfish motives is inferior by far to selfless service. Therefore, be a selfless worker, O Arjuna. Those who work only to enjoy the fruits of their labor are unhappy (because one has no control over the results). (See also 2.48, 6.03, 10.10, and 18.57) (2.49)
A KarmaYogi or the selfless person becomes free from both vice and virtue in this life itself. Therefore, strive for selfless service. Working to the best of ones abilities without becoming attached to the fruits of work is called KarmaYoga or Sevā. (2.50)
Peace, composure, and freedom from Karmic bondage await those who work for a noble cause with a spirit of detachment and do not seek any personal reward or recognition. Such persons enjoy the joy of selfless service that ultimately leads them to the bliss of salvation. KarmaYoga purifies the mind and is a very powerful and easy spiritual discipline that one can practice while living and working in society. There is no religion better than selfless service. The fruits of vice and virtue grow only on the tree of selfishness, not on the tree of selfless service.
Generally, it is thought that one works harder when one is deeply interested in, or attached to, the fruits of work. Therefore, KarmaYoga or selfless service may not be very conducive to the material progress of the individual or society. This dilemma can be solved by developing a hobby of selfless service to a noble cause of ones choice, never letting greed for the fruits dilute the purity of action. Dexterity or skillfulness in work lies in not getting bound by the bonds of ones Karma or worldly duty.
KarmaYogis are freed from the bondage of rebirth due to renouncing (attachment to) the fruits of all work, and they attain a blissful divine state of salvation or Nirvana. (2.51)
When your intellect shall completely overcome the mire of delusion (regarding Self and non-Self), then you will become indifferent to what has been heard and what is yet to be heard (from the scriptures). (2.52)
Scriptures become dispensable after enlightenment. According to Shankara, this verse means one who has completely removed the veil of ignorance and realized the Truth, becomes indifferent to the Vedic texts that prescribe details of performing rituals for the attainment of desired fruits.
When your mind, which is confused by hearing conflicting opinions and doctrines, shall stay steady and firm on the Supreme Being, then you shall become united with God in deep meditation. (2.53)
Non-scriptural reading or reading of different philosophical writings is bound to create confusion. Ramakrishna said: One should learn from the scriptures that God alone is real and the world is illusory. A beginner should know that only God is eternal and everything else is temporal. After Self-awareness, one finds God alone has become everything. Everything is His manifestation. He is sporting in various forms. In trance, or the superconscious state of mind, the confusion arising from conflicting views ceases, and mental equipoise is attained.
Different schools of thought, cults, systems of philosophy, ways of worship, and spiritual practices found in the Vedic culture are different rungs in the ladder of yoga. Such a wide choice of methods does not exist in any other system, religion, or way or life. Peoples temperaments are different due to differences in their stages of spiritual development and understanding. Therefore, different schools of thought are necessary to suit different individuals, as well as the same individual as he or she grows and develops. The highest philosophy of pure monism is the topmost rung of the ladder. The vast majority cannot comprehend it. All schools and cults are necessary. One should not be confused because different methods are not meant to confuse, but one should choose wisely.
Arjuna said: O Krishna, what are the marks of an enlightened person whose intellect is steady? What does a person of steady intellect think and talk about? How does such a person behave with others, and live in this world? (2.54)
The answers to all of the above questions are given by Lord Krishna in verses 2.55-59 of this chapter.
Lord Krishna said: When one is completely free from all desires of the mind and is satisfied with the bliss of knowing the Supreme Being, then one is called an enlightened person, O Arjuna. (2.55)
According to mother Sarda, desires for knowledge, devotion, and salvation cannot be classed as desires because they are higher desires. One should first replace the lower desires with higher desires and then renounce the highest desires also and become absolutely free. It is said that the highest freedom is the freedom from becoming free.
Attachment to people, places, and objects takes away the intellect, and one becomes myopic. People are helplessly tied with the rope of attachment. One has to learn to cut this rope with the sword of knowledge of the Absolute and become detached and free.
The mind and intellect become steady in a person who is not attached to anything (but Self), who is neither elated by getting desired results nor perturbed by undesired results. (2.57)
True spiritualists have a peaceful and happy look on their faces under all circumstances.
When one can completely withdraw the senses from sense objects, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into the shell for protection from calamity, then the intellect of such a person is considered steady. (2.58)
When a person learns to control or withdraw the senses from sense objects, as a tortoise retracts its limbs inside its shell in time of danger and cannot be forced to extend its limbs again until the trouble is over, the lamp of Self-knowledge becomes lighted, and one perceives the self-effulgent Supreme Being within (MB 12.174.51). A Self-realized person enjoys the beauty of the world, keeping the senses under complete control like a tortoise. The best way to purify the senses and control them perfectly like a tortoise, is to engage them in the service of God at all times.
The desire for sensual pleasures fades away if one abstains from sense enjoyment, but the craving for sense enjoyment remains in a very subtle form. This subtle craving also completely disappears from one who knows the Supreme Being. (2.59)
The desire for sensual pleasure becomes dormant when one abstains from sense enjoyment, or incurs physical limitations imposed by disease or old age. But the craving remains as a subtle mental impression. Those who have tasted the nectar of unity with the Supreme Being no longer find enjoyment in the lower-level sensual pleasures. The subtle craving lurks like a robber ready to rob the striver at the appropriate opportunity, as explained below:
Restless senses, O Arjuna, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection. (2.60)
The wise always keep vigilance over the mind. The mind can never be fully trusted. It can mislead even a wise striving seeker (BP 5.06.02-05). One has to be very alert and closely witness the wanderings of the mind. Never relax your vigilance until the final goal of God-realization is reached. Mother Sarda said: It is the very nature of the mind to go to lower objects of enjoyment, just as it is the nature of water to flow downwards. The grace of God can make the mind go towards higher objects, just as the suns rays lift the water to the sky.
The human mind is ever ready to deceive and play tricks. Therefore, discipline, constant vigilance, and sincere spiritual practice are needed. The mind is like an unruly horse that needs to be broken in. Never let the mind roam unwatched into the realm of sensuality. The path of spiritual life is very slippery and has to be trodden very carefully to avoid falls. It is not a joyous ferryboat ride, but a very difficult path to tread like the sharp edge of a sword. Many obstacles, distractions, and failures come on the path to help the devotee become stronger and more advanced on the path, just like iron is turned into steel by alternate heating, cooling, and hammering. One should not get discouraged by failures, but carry on with determination. steadfast
Delusion or wrong ideas arise from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down from the right path when reasoning is destroyed. (2.63)
CONTROL AND KNOWLEDGE
A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects with senses that are under control and free from attachments and aversions, attains tranquility. (2.64)
Real peace and happiness are achieved, not by sense gratification, but by sense control.
All sorrows are destroyed upon attainment of tranquility. The intellect of such a tranquil person soon becomes completely steady and united with the Supreme. (2.65)
There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception for those who are not united with the Supreme. Without Self-perception there is no peace, and without peace there can be no happiness. (2.66)
A person without control over the mind and senses drifts like a ship without its rudder, becomes a reactor instead of an actor, and develops negative Karma.
Greed for the pleasure of enjoying the light leads bugs to destruction; similarly desire for the enjoyment of sensual pleasures keeps one away from Self-knowledge and leads into the net of transmigration (MB 3.02.69).
Therefore, O Arjuna, ones intellect becomes steady when the senses are completely withdrawn from sense objects. (2.68)
A yogi, the person of self-restraint, remains wakeful when it is night for all others. It is night for the yogi who sees when all others are wakeful. (2.69)
Ascetics keep awake or detached in the night of mundane existence of life because they are in quest of the highest truth. One is considered awake when one is free from worldly desires (TR 2.92.02). A yogi is always aware of the Spirit about which others are unaware. A sage who sees is unaware of the experience of sense objects about which others are aware. The life of an ascetic is entirely different from the life of a materialistic person. What is considered real by a yogi is of no value for a worldly person. While most people sleep and make dream plans in the night of the illusory world, a yogi keeps awake because he or she is detached from the world while living in it.
ll that one can see or hear or imagine are rooted in ignorance, nothing exists in reality. Just as in a deam a king becomes beggar, or a pauper becomes king of heaven, yet on waking one does not gain or loose anything, so must one look upon this world. But ones happiness or sorrow does not end till one wakes up. Maya comes in between Brahman and the world. Mind which is the other name of Maya creates this phenomenal world of illusion out of Brahman. Thus nothing is really real in the creation. All are sleeping in the night of delusion and ignorance and while asleep they see all kinds of dreams and one does not even know that its a dream world. Such is the delusive power of Maya! Ony Jnāna can remove this delusion.
One attains peace when all desires dissipate within the mind without creating any mental disturbance, just as river waters enter the full ocean without creating any disturbance. One who desires material objects is never peaceful. (2.70)
Torrents of the river of desire can carry away the mind of a materialistic person as a river carries away wood and other objects in its path. The tranquil mind of a yogi is like an ocean that takes in the rivers of desire without being disturbed by them because a yogi does not think about personal gain or loss. Human desires are endless. To satisfy a desire is like drinking salt water that will never quench thirst, but will increase it. It is like trying to extinguish a fire with gasoline.
Trying to fulfill material desires is like adding more wood to the fire. The fire will go out if no more wood is added to it (MB 12.17.05). If one dies without conquering the great enemy---desires---one has to reincarnate to fight this enemy again and again till victory (MB 12.16.24). One cannot see ones face in a pot of water that is disturbed by the wind, similarly one is unable to realize ones true Self when the mind and senses remain perturbed by the winds of material desires (MB 12.204.03).
One who abandons all desires and becomes free from lust and the feeling of I and my, attains peace. (2.71)
O Arjuna, this is the superconscious state of mind. Attaining this state, one is no longer deluded. Gaining this state, even at the end of ones life, a person attains the very goal of human life by becoming one with God. (2.72).
The Supreme Being is the ultimate Reality and truth, knowledge and consciousness, and is limitless and blissful (TaU 2.01.01). The individual soul becomes blissful and filled with joy after knowing God. The giver of bliss is nothing but the bliss itself like the giver of wealth must have wealth. That from which the origin, sustenance, and dissolution of this universe are derived is called the Absolute (BS 1.01.02, TaU 3.01.01). Knowledge is not a natural quality (Dharma) of the Absolute; it is the intrinsic nature of the Absolute (DB 7.32.19). The Absolute is the substratum, or material as well as efficient cause of the universe. It is both the source and the sink of energy in one. It is also called the Unified Field, Supreme Spirit, Divine Person, and Total Consciousness that is responsible for the sense perceptions in all living beings by functioning through mind and intellect.
The word Salvation in Christianity means deliverance from the power and penalty of sin. Sin in Hinduism is nothing but the Karmic bondage responsible for transmigration. Thus, salvation is equivalent to the Sanskrit word Mukti in Hinduism---the final emancipation of the living entity from transmigration. Mukti means the complete destruction of all impressions of desires from the causal body. It is the uniting of the individual soul with the Supersoul. Some say that the all-pervading Supersoul is the causal body who is conducting everything and remains compassionately detached. The Sanskrit word Nirvana in Buddhism is thought to be the cessation of worldly desires and ego. It is a state of being in which worldly desires and personal likes and dislikes have been absolutely extinguished. It is getting out of body-consciousness and attaining a state of Self-consciousness. It is liberation from attachment to the material body and achieving a state of bliss with God.
Thus ends Chapter 2
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Arjuna asked: If You consider acquiring transcendental knowledge is better than working, then why do You want me to engage in this horrible war, O Krishna? You seem to confuse my mind by apparently conflicting words. Tell me, decisively, one thing by which I may attain the Supreme. (3.01-02)
Arjuna was in the mode of delusion; he thought that Lord Krishna meant a contemplative life (BuddhiYoga) was better than doing ones normal duty in life in verse 2.49. Some people are often confused and think that salvation is possible only by leading a life devoted to scriptural study, contemplation, and acquiring Self-knowledge. Lord Krishna clarifies this by mentioning two major paths of spiritual practice---depending on the nature of the individual---in the following verse:
Lord Krishna said: In this world I have stated a twofold path of spiritual discipline in past---the path of Self-knowledge (for the contemplative ones) and the path of unselfish work (Sevā, KarmaYoga) for all others. (3.03)
Sevā or KarmaYoga means sacrifice, selfless service, unselfish work, meritorious deeds, giving away something to others. Some people often get confused like Arjuna and think that leading a life devoted to scriptural study, contemplation, and acquiring transcendental knowledge may be better for spiritual progress than doing ones worldly duty.
A God-realized person does not consider oneself the doer of any action, but only an instrument in the hands of the divine for His use. It should be further pointed out that both metaphysical knowledge and selfless service are means to attain the Supreme Being. These two paths are not separate, but complementary. In life a combination of these two modes is considered the best. Carry both selfless service and a spiritual discipline of acquiring Self-knowledge with you as stated in the following verses:
One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma by merely abstaining from work. No one attains perfection by merely giving up work because no one can remain actionless even for a moment. Everything in the universe is driven to action---helplessly indeed---by the forces of Nature. (3.04-05)
It is not possible for anybody to completely abandon action by thought, word, and deed. Therefore, one should always be active in serving the Lord by various means of ones choosing, and never be without work because an idle mind is the devils workshop. Performing action till death with a desireless frame of mind is better than abandoning work and leading the life of an ascetic---even after God-realization---because even an ascetic cannot escape the impulse of action.
The ignorant one, who restrains the organs of action but mentally thinks of sense pleasures, is called a pretender. (3.06)
Ones growth comes from working selflessly rather than giving up work and practicing sense-control before one is naturally ready for it. Bringing the mind under control is difficult, and spiritual life becomes a mockery without mastery over the senses. Desires may become dormant and rise again to give trouble, just as a sleeping person wakes up in due course of time.
The four goals of human life---doing one's duty, earning wealth, material and sensual enjoyment, and attaining salvation
---were designed in the Vedic tradition for gradual and systematic growth of the individual and the progress of society. Success in spiritual life does not come from prematurely wearing saffron clothes just to maintain an Ashram or livelihood without first conquering the six enemies---lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, and envy. It is said that such pretenders do a great disservice to God, society, and themselves and become bereft of happiness in this world and the next (BP 11.18.40-41) A pretending monk is considered sinful and a destroyer of the ascetic order of life.
Perform your obligatory duty because working is indeed better than sitting idle. Even the maintenance of your body would be impossible without work. (3.08)
Human beings in this world are bound by work (Karma) that is not performed as a selfless service (Sevā, Yajna). Therefore, becoming free from attachment to the fruits of work, do your duty to the best of your abilities as a service to Me (for the good of humanity). (3.09)
COMMANDMENT OF THE CREATOR
In the ancient time, the Creator created human beings together with selfless service (Sevā, Yajna, sacrifice) and said: By serving each other you shall prosper, and the sacrificial service shall fulfill all your desires. (3.10)
Help the celestial controllers with selfless service and they will help you. Thus helping each other, you shall attain the Supreme goal. (3.11)
The celestial controllers, being nourished and pleased by selfless service, will give you all desired objects. One who enjoys the gift of celestial controllers without sharing with others is, indeed, a thief. (3.12)
A celestial controller or guardian angel means a supernatural ruler, a celestial person, an angel, an agent of God, the cosmic forces that control, protect, and fulfill desires. Even the gates of heaven shall be closed to those who try to enter alone. According to the ancient scriptures, helping others is the best meritorious deed one can do. The wise seek to serve themselves in the service of others while the ignorant serve themselves at the cost of others. To serve each other is the original or first commandment of the creator that has been restated by Lord Krishna in the Gita. God has given us talents to help us serve, and in serving others we grow spiritually. We take birth to help each other, to understand, care, love, give, and forgive each other. Actually, we serve ourselves by serving others. Giving makes the world a better place for all humanity. According to Muniji Giving is Living.
It is believed that selfishness saps our natural health and immune system also. When we take steps to move ourselves away from self and think about the needs of others and how to serve them, a physical healing process seems to set in motion. This is especially true if we personally help a person we may never meet again in life.
One who makes no sacrifice, but grabs everything without helping others, is like a thief. It is said that celestials are pleased when people help each other. The capacity of the giver increases by the grace of God, fulfilling all desires to give. The spirit of cooperation---not competition or confrontation---between human beings, between nations, and between organizations seems to be hinted here by the Lord. All the necessities of life are produced by dedicated sacrificial services of other people. We are created to depend on each other. The world has been called a cosmic wheel of cooperative action by Swami Chinmayananda. Cooperation, not competition, is more conducive to overall progress of the individual, as well as society. Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without cooperation and help from others. The world would be a much better place if all inhabitants cooperated and helped each other, rather than fight or compete with each other. It is the selfish motive that prevents cooperation even between spiritual organizations. One who can truly say all organizations, temples, mosques, and churches are our own, is a true leader and a real saint.
The righteous who eat after sharing with others are freed from all sins, but the impious who cook food only for themselves (without first offering to God or sharing with others), in fact, eat sin. (3.13)
Food should be cooked for the Lord and offered first to Him with love before consuming. Children should be taught to pray before taking food. The house rule should be: No food before prayer and thanking the Lord. Lord further states that helping others is divine:
Living beings are sustained from food grains; grains are produced by sacrificial work (or duty performed by farmers and other field workers) and rain. Duty is prescribed in the scriptures. Scriptures come from the Supreme Being. Thus the all-pervading Supreme Being or God is ever present in selfless service. (3.14-15)
Saints, human beings, trees, rivers, and earth are for the use of others. However, there is no prescribed duty for the enlightened ones as explained below:
For one who rejoices only with the Supreme Being, who is satisfied with the Supreme Being, and who is content with the Supreme Being alone, for such a Self-realized person there is no duty. Such a person has no interest, whatsoever, in what is done or what is not done. A Self-realized person does not depend on anybody (except God) for anything. (3.17-18)
All duties, obligations, prohibitions, regulations, and injunctions are meant to lead one to perfection. Therefore, a perfect yogi who has Self-knowledge, detachment, and devotion has nothing more to gain in this world by doing worldly duty.
In no other scripture, written before the Bhagavad-Gita, has the philosophy of KarmaYoga---unselfish devotion for the welfare of humanity---been so beautifully expounded. Lord Krishna has elevated the idea of altruism to the highest form of worship and spiritual practice. By altruism, one obtains grace, by grace one gets faith, and by faith the ultimate Truth is revealed. One immediately feels better by helping others and comes one step closer to perfection. Swami Vivekananda said: Work done for others awakens the subtle and dormant divine power, Kundalini, within our body. An example of attaining Self-realization by persons while doing their worldly duties is given below:
King Janaka and many others attained perfection of Self-realization by selfless service (KarmaYoga) alone. You also should perform your duty with a view to guide people and for the welfare of society. (3.20)
Those who do selfless service are not bound by Karma and attain salvation (VP 1.22.52). Nothing is beyond the reach of those who have others interest in mind. Swami Harihar says: Selfless service to humanity is the true service to God and the highest form of worship.
Because whatever noble persons do, others follow. Whatever standard they set up, the world follows. (3.21)
People follow whatever great persons do (BP 5.04.15). A leader is obliged to set higher ethical, moral, and spiritual standards for the general population to follow. If the leader fails in this regard, the quality of the nations life declines, and the progress of society is greatly hampered. Therefore, leaders have a great burden on their shoulders. The life of a true leader is the life of service and sacrifice. Leadership should not be an enterprise for becoming rich or famous.
A political leader or the head of a state uses negotiations, bribery or gift, physical force, and division. These are the four noble pedestals on which welfare and defense of a country stands, according to the Vedas.
O Arjuna, there is nothing in the three worlds---heaven, earth, and the lower regions---that should be done by Me, nor there is anything unobtained that I should obtain, yet I engage in action. (3.22)
If I do not engage in action relentlessly, O Arjuna, people would follow the same path in every way. These worlds would perish if I did not work, and I would be the cause of confusion and destruction. (3.23-24)
The ignorant work with attachment to the fruits of work for themselves, and the wise should work without attachment for the welfare of the society. (3.25)
The wise should not unsettle the minds of the ignorant who are attached to the fruits of work, but should inspire others by performing all works to the best of ones abilities (without attachment to results). (See also 3.29) (3.26)
Doing ones duty without a personal, selfish motive is an exalted state given only to the enlightened ones. This may be beyond comprehension of ordinary people. The mark of genius lies in the ability to handle two opposed ideas and paradoxes, such as living in the world with detached attachment. Most people work hard only when they have some motivating force, such as enjoyment of the fruits of work. Such persons should not be discouraged or condemned. They should be introduced slowly to the beginning stages of selfless service. The excessive attachment to possessions, not the possessions themselves, becomes the source of misery.
Just as one has to pray and worship with single-minded attention, similarly one should perform worldly duties with full attention, even while knowing full well that the world and its affairs are transitory. One should not live thinking only of God and neglecting ones duty in the world. Yogananda said: Be as earnest about meditation as about earning money. One should not live a one-sided life. The importance of controlling the senses and ways to combat ego are given below:
All actions are performed by various forces (or Gunas) of Nature, but due to delusion of ego or identity confusion people assume themselves to be the sole doer. (See also 5.09, 13.29, 14.19, and 18.14) (3.27)
Indirectly, God is the doer of everything. The power and the will of God do everything. One is not free even to kill oneself. One cannot feel the presence of the omnipresent God as long as one feels: I am the doer. If one realizes---by the grace of God
---that one is not the doer, but just an instrument, one at once becomes free. A Karmic bondage is created if we consider ourselves the doer and enjoyer. The same work done by a Self-realized master and an ordinary person produces different results. The work done by a Self-realized master becomes spiritualized and produces no Karmic bondage because a Self-realized person does not consider oneself the doer or the enjoyer. The work done by an ordinary person produces Karmic bondage.
One who knows the truth about the role of the forces of Nature (Gunas) in getting work done, does not become attached to work. Because such a person knows that it is Gunas that get their work done by using our organs as their instruments. (3.28)
Those who are deluded by the illusive power (Maya) of Nature become attached to the work done by the forces of Nature (Gunas). The wise should not disturb the mind of the ignorant whose knowledge is imperfect. (See also 3.26) (3.29)
The enlightened one should not try to dissuade or detract ignorant ones from performing selfish actions that they do, deluded by the forces of Nature, because doing work---and not the renunciation of work in the initial stages---will ultimately lead them to realize the truth that we are not the doers, but divine instruments only. Working with attachment also has a place in the development of society and in the life of common people. People can easily transcend selfish desires by working for a noble goal of their choice.
Those who always practice this teaching of Mine---with faith and free from criticism---become free from the bondage of Karma. But those who find fault with this teaching and do not practice it, should be considered ignorant, senseless, and confused. (3.31-32)
All beings follow their nature. Even the wise act according to their own nature. (as If we are but slaves of our nature) Then what is the value of sense restraint? (3.33)
While we cannot and should not suppress our nature, we must not become victims but rather controllers and masters of the senses by using the discriminative faculties of human life for gradual improvement. The best way to control the senses is to engage all our senses in the service of God.
THE PATH OF PERFECTION
Attachments and aversions for sense objects abide in the senses. One should not come under the control of these two because they are, indeed, two (major) stumbling blocks (on ones path of perfection). (3.34)
'Attachment' may be defined as a very strong desire to experience sensual pleasures again and again. 'Aversion' is the strong dislike for the unpleasant. The search for peace of mind, comfort, and happiness is the basis of all human endeavors, including the acquisition and propagation of knowledge. Desire
---like any other power given by the Lord---is not the problem. We can have desires with a proper frame of mind that gives us control over attachments and aversions. If we can manage our wants, most of the things we possess become dispensable rather than essential. With a right attitude, we can get mastery over all our attachments and aversions. The only necessity is to have a frame of mind that makes most items unnecessary. Those who have knowledge, detachment, and devotion have neither likes nor dislikes for any worldly object, person, place, or work. Personal likes and dislikes disturb the equanimity of mind and become a hindrance on the path of spiritual progress. Likes and dislikes are another form of fulfilled and unfulfilled desires respectively. Desires must be kept under proper control.
One should act with a sense of duty without being strongly influenced by personal likes and dislikes. Selfless service is the easiest austerity to practice in this age by which anyone can reach God while living and working in modern society without going to the mountains and jungles.
Everybody benefits if work is done for the Lord, just as every part of the tree gets water when water is put at the root of the tree rather than on individual leaves. Attachments and aversions are destroyed in a noble person at the onset of Self-knowledge and detachment. Personal likes and dislikes are two major obstacles on the path of perfection. One who has conquered attachments and aversions becomes a free person and attains salvation by doing ones natural duty as stated below:
Ones defective, imperfectly performed, natural work is better than faultless, perfectly performed, unnatural work. Even death in carrying out ones natural duty is useful. Unnatural work produces too much stress. (See also 18.47) (3.35)
One who does the duty ordained by nature is freed from the bonds of Karma and slowly rises above the worldly plane (BP 7.11.32). One who takes on work that was not meant for him or her certainly courts failure. One evolves by the work best suited to ones own nature or inborn tendencies. There is no perfect occupation. Every occupation in this world has some faults. One should keep oneself free from concern over the faults of one's duty in life. One should carefully study one's nature to determine an appropriate occupation. Natural work does not produce stress and is conducive to creativity. Occupations that go against ones natural tendencies is not only more stressful but also less productive, and it does not provide opportunity and leisure time for spiritual growth and development. On the other hand, if one follows a very easy or artistic path, one may not be able to earn enough to satisfy the basic necessities of (family) life. Therefore, lead a simple life by limiting unnecessary luxuries, and develop a hobby of selfless service to balance the material and spiritual needs of life. The balanced life is a happy life.
Arjuna said: O Krishna, what impels one to commit sin or selfish deeds as if unwillingly and forced against ones will? (3.36)
The mode of passion is the absence of mental equilibrium leading to vigorous activity to achieve desired fruits. Lust, the passionate desire for all sensual and material pleasures, is the product of the mode of passion. Lust becomes anger if it is unfulfilled. When the attainment of fruits is hindered or interrupted, the intense desire for their achievement turns into fierce rage. Hence, the Lord says that lust and anger are two mighty enemies that can lead one to commit sin and turn one astray from the path of Self-realization, the supreme goal of human life. Actually, mundane desire compels a person to engage in sinful activities in spite of his or her will. Control your wants because whatever you want wants you. Lord Buddha said: Desire is the root of all evils and misery.
As a fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion, similarly Self-knowledge gets covered by (different degrees of this insatiable) lust, the eternal enemy of even the wise ones. (3.38-39)
Lust and Self-knowledge are eternal enemies. Lust can be destroyed only by Self-knowledge. Where lust resides and how one should control the senses to subjugate lust, are given below:
Therefore, by controlling the senses first, kill this devil of material desires (or lust) that destroys Self-knowledge and Self-realization. (3.41)
Lust arises at three different levels: At the physical level in any one of the ten senses, at emotional level in the mind or at the thought level in the intellect. Therefore, one must carefully guard all three doors through which lust can enter and control our life. This mighty enemy enslaves the intellect by using the mind as its friend and senses and sense objects as its soldiers. These soldiers keep the individual soul deluded and obscure Absolute Truth as a part of the drama of life. The success or failure of our role in action depends on how we handle our individual role and reach our destiny.
All desires cannot---and need not---be eliminated, but first selfish desires and motives must be eliminated for spiritual progress. All our actions by thought, word and deed, including desires, should be directed to glorify God and for the good of humanity. The scriptures say: The mortal, when freed from the captivity of desires, becomes immortal and attains liberation even in this very life (KaU 6.14, BrU 4.04.07).
The senses are said to be superior to the body; superior to senses are the sense objects; superior to sense objects is the mind; superior to mind is the intellect; superior to intellect is the Self-Knowledge; and the Self is the highest. (See also KaU 3.03-11, 6.7-8 and MB 12.204.10) (3.42)
(Note: This translation is based on above referenced verses in KaU, MB, and the Gita.)
Thus, knowing (your true nature as) the Self to be the highest, and controlling the mind by the intellect (that is purified and made strong by Self-knowledge), one must kill this mighty enemy, lust (with the sword of true knowledge of the Self), O Arjuna. (See also KaU 3.10-11) (3.43)
Uncontrolled worldly desires will ruin the beautiful spiritual journey of life. The scriptures provide ways and means of keeping the desires born in the mind under proper control. The body is compared to a chariot (KaU 3.03-09) upon which the Super soul---the owner of the chariot---is sitting as the driver as well as the passenger (in the form of individual soul) in the chariot and is riding on a grand spiritual journey towards the Supreme Abode.
This chariot is made up of eight basic elements (Gita 7.04). Selfless service (KarmaYoga) and Self-knowledge are the two wheels (Gita 5.01) of the chariot, with devotion as its axle. Dharma (righteousness) is the road, and the divine qualities (See 16.01-03) are the milestones. The scriptures are the guiding lights to dispel the darkness of ignorance. Sense objects are the roadside green grasses; likes and dislikes for sense objects, people, and places are the two major stumbling blocks on the path (See 3.34); and lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, and envy are six major roadside plunderers born out of passion (Rajo Guna). Friends, neighbors, and relatives are fellow travelers whom we temporarily meet during the journey.
Intellect is the driver of this chariot. The five senses are the horses. The success of the spiritual journey depends largely on the strength and skill of the driver, the intellect, to control the mind and five sense-horses. Sense objects leave a deep footprint on our mind that is very hard to erase even after fulfillment of desires. Sense objects are more powerful than the senses.
In the hierarchy, the more powerful controls the less powerful. Thus, the senses can be controlled by the mind, because mind is the King of all senses. Mind is the sixth sense. The mind is certainly very difficult to control, but it can be controlled by steady practice and detachment (See 6.33-36). Steady practice and detachment may be compared to two chords of the rein to control the mind. Also the whip of moral restraints and regulative principles (See Yama and Niyama in PYS 2.30-32) is used to subdue the senses.
If intellect is not powerful enough to control the mind, the passenger will not reach the goal. Self-knowledge is superior to the intellect. The intellect yoked with the Self through Self-knowledge and contemplation becomes pure and strong to control the mind and the mind will control the senses. Thus it can be seen that Self-knowledge is essential for the success of the spiritual journey. Self-knowledge provides the power to purify the mind (See 4.37-38). Scriptures supply necessary tools (the rein and the whip) and techniques to the intellect to be able to control the mind.
The sense-horses must be kept under control of the mind, and the mind under control of the intellect at all times. A single moment of carelessness may lead the seeker to a downfall. A weak intellect will not be able to control the mind and senses. If intellect is weak, desires for sensual pleasures and the sense objects will control the mind instead of mind controlling the senses. The mind and senses will attack and take control of intellect, the weak driver, and lead the passenger away from the goal of salvation into the ditch of transmigration (See 2.67).
Finally, one must cross the river of illusion (Maya, ignorance) by using a toll-bridge and paying the toll of ego to reach the spiritual shore. Those who cannot control the senses and renounce the ego will not be able to cross the river and attain Self-realization, the goal of human birth (Gita 18.66). Such a person gets into the cycles of births and death.
One must not spoil oneself by wrongful temporary pleasures of the senses. One who can control the senses can control the whole world and achieve success in all endeavors. Passion cannot be completely eliminated, but is subdued by Self-knowledge. The intellect becomes polluted during the youthful years, just as the clear water of a river becomes muddy during the rainy season. Keeping good company and setting a higher goal of life prevent the mind and intellect from becoming tainted by the distractions of sensual pleasures. Those who cannot control the senses may not also be successful in studies and attain career goals.
PATH OF KARMA-YOGA WITH SELF-KNOWLEDGE
Lord Krishna said: I taught this KarmaYoga, the eternal science of right action, to King Vivasvan. Vivasvan taught it to Manu; Manu taught it to Ikshvaku. Thus, the saintly Kings knew this science of proper action (KarmaYoga), handed down in succession. After a long time, this science was lost from this earth. Today, I have described the same ancient science to you because you are my sincere devotee and friend. This science is a supreme secret indeed. (4.01-03)
KarmaYoga, discussed in the previous chapter, is declared by the Lord as the supreme secret science of right action. According to Swami Karmananda, a practitioner of KarmaYoga, unless Lord Himself reveals this secret science, no one can practice or even understand it.
Arjuna said: You were born later, but Vivasvan was born in ancient time. How am I to understand that You taught this science in the beginning of the creation? (4.04)
Arjuna questions how Krishna, a contemporary of Arjuna, could have taught this science of KarmaYoga to King Vivasvan, who was born earlier in ancient times, long before Lord Krishna. The doctrine of Bhagavad-Gita is not just five thousand years old; it is primeval. Lord Krishna restated it in the Gita for the benefit of humanity. All great masters come to rekindle the fire of forgotten Truth. Different people have said everything we hear or read at different times.
Lord Krishna said: Both you and I have taken many births. I remember them all, O Arjuna, but you do not remember. (4.05)
Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord (Ishvara) of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, Yoga-Maya. (See also 10.14) (4.06)
Yoga-Maya (Divine Light, Brahma-jyoti, Noor) is the creative power (Ananda-shakti) of Lord Krishna. Mahā-Maya is the fractional reflection of Yoga-Maya. Kāla-Maya is the reflection of Mahā-Maya. And the illusory energy (Maya) is the supernatural, extraordinary, and mystic power of Eternal Being (Brahma). Mahā-Maya, Kāla-Maya, and Maya are also called Adi Prakriti; and Prakriti, the material Nature, is considered the reflection of Maya. Thus Yoga-Maya is the origin of both Maya and Prakriti. Guru Nanak said: He has created Maya that deceives and controls us. The word 'Maya' also means unreal, illusory, or deceptive image of Reality. Due to the power of Maya, one considers the universe existent and distinct from Eternal Being (Brahma). The Eternal Light (Brahma-jyoti, Noor, Yoga-Maya) is the invisible potential energy; Maya is kinetic energy, the force of action of Brahma. They are inseparable like fire and heat. Maya is also used as a metaphor to explain the visible world to common people. The sense of I and mine, you and yours is Maya which holds control over all individual souls.
Whenever there is a decline of Dharma (Righteousness) and a predominance of Adharma (Unrighteousness), O Arjuna, I manifest Myself. I appear from time to time for protecting the good, for transforming the wicked, and for establishing world order (Dharma). (4.07-08)
The Supreme Being is both divine and human (AV 4.16.08). Prophets appear from time to time as divine dispensation sees the need for the welfare of society. Whenever miscreants are born to destroy world order (Dharma), the good Lord, Vishnu, incarnates to put everything in proper balance (VR 7.08.27). His compassion is the main reason for Lords incarnation (SBS 49). There are other reasons besides the protection of righteousness (Dharma), for the Lords incarnation. The cause of Lords incarnation cannot be defined rigidly. There could be many causes, some of them unknown to human mind. Actually there is no difference between the Brahman with and without attributes. In the same way as water is not different from water vapor, snow and ice. Saint Tulasidasa said: Though devoid of material attributes, unattached, and immutable, yet for the love of His devotees, the Lord assumes a form with attributes (TR 2.218.03). The Supreme Being, which is beyond birth and death, incarnates in human form through a great soul on earth to satisfy the longings of devotees who want to see Him and be in His personal presence.
Lord performs many ordinary, human, and also uncommon or controversial pastimes just to please His devotees or to set things right. Ordinary human beings cannot understand the reasons behind these pastimes and, therefore, should not pass judgment on Lord's activities when He incarnates. Great personalities and incarnations are sometimes known to be acting contrary to the scriptural rules, just as a King has the freedom to break certain rules. These acts are done for a very good purpose and with a reason beyond human comprehension. One should neither criticize nor follow such acts.
God has granted us free will, but He does not stand aside letting us to abuse the freedom and destroy world order (Dharma). Whenever Adharma increases by the abuse of freedom and the world gets in great trouble, He manifests to set things right. Saints and sages also reincarnate by the will of Krishna as needed. Ramakrishna said that he would live in a subtle body for three hundred years in the hearts and minds of his devotees. Yogananda said: So long as people in this world are crying for help, I shall return to ply my boat and offer to take them to heavenly shores.
One who truly understands My transcendental appearance and activities of creation, maintenance, and dissolution, attains My Supreme Abode and is not born again after leaving this body, O Arjuna. (4.09)
One develops love for Krishna by studying and listening to the transcendental birth and sportive acts of the Lord as narrated by the saints and sages in the scriptures. True understanding of the transcendental nature of Lords form, His incarnation, and His activities, is the Self-knowledge that leads to salvation.
Many have become free from attachment, fear, anger, and attained salvation by taking refuge in Me, by becoming fully absorbed in My thoughts and by getting purified by the fire of Self-knowledge. (4.10)
With whatever motive people surrender to Me, I fulfill their desires accordingly. People worship Me with different motives, O Arjuna. (4.11)
Lords nature is to reciprocate our love for Him. God loves those who love him. Ask, and you will get; seek God, and you will find. It is due to divine illusion (Maya) that most people seek temporary material gains, such as health, wealth, and success, and not Self-knowledge and devotion to His lotus feet.
Those who long for success in their work here on earth worship the celestial controllers, Devas. Success in work comes quickly in this human world. (4.12)
No one, including all Devas, and Brahma, has his or her own power. They all derive their powers from the Supreme Being, ParaBrahma.
In prayer one asks the Lord's help in getting what one needs; in worship one adores, glorifies, and thanks Him for what one has. One should first be aware of and contemplate one's plight, feel helpless in getting out of the difficulty, then seek divine help
---through prayer---in a state of helplessness with intense faith. Lord will take the first step if you know your plight and seek His help for transformation. Show yourself---open up, confess
---to the Lord as you are in prayer; be specific in what you ask; and cry for His help.
All prayers are answered, but prayers for the benefit of others are given first priority. Lord actually knows our needs at all times and is simply waiting to be asked for help due to our free will. Meditation is listening to God by stilling the mind and assuming a receptive posture in order to hear Lord's instructions, insights, and revelations. For example, embrace the attitude: Thank You for answering my prayers and for all You have given me, but now what do You want me to do with what You have given? Then, having said that, be still and alert, and just try to listen. Pray so that you can talk to God and tell Him how you are and what you have been doing. Meditate so that God can effectively tell you what you are supposed to do.
APTITUDE OF PEOPLE
I created the four divisions of human occupation based on the ability of people. Though I am the author of this system of division of labor, one should know that I do nothing (directly), and I am eternal. (See also 18.41) (4.13)
Work or Karma does not bind Me because I have no desire for the fruits of work. One who fully knows Me thus (and practices this truth) is also not bound by Karma. (4.14)
All works, including prayers, should be undertaken for a just cause, rather than just for personal gain.
The ancient seekers of salvation also performed their duties without concern for the fruits. Therefore, you should do your duty as the ancients did. (4.15)
Even the wise are confused about what is action and what is inaction. Therefore, I shall clearly explain what is action, knowing which you shall be liberated from the evil (of birth and death). (4.16)
The true nature of action is very difficult to understand. Therefore, one should know the nature of attached action, the nature of detached action, and also the nature of forbidden action. (4.17)
Attached action is selfish work, done in the mode of passion that produces Karmic bondage and leads to transmigration. Detached action is unselfish work, done in the mode of goodness that leads to salvation. Detached action is considered to be inaction because from the Karmic viewpoint, it is as if no action was performed. Action forbidden by the scriptures, done in the mode of ignorance, is harmful to both the doer and society. It creates misfortunes here and hereafter.
THE KARMIC LAWS
All acts are the acts of Eternal Beings (Brahmas) Divine Light (BrahmaJyoti), the inactively active actor. The wise perceive the inactive, infinite, and invisible reservoir of potential energy of the Supreme as the ultimate source of all visible kinetic energy in the cosmos, just as invisible electricity runs a fan. The urge and power to do action come from the Supreme Being. Therefore, one should spiritualize all work by perceiving that one does nothing at all and everything is done by the energy of the Supreme Being, using us only as an instrument.
One whose desires have become selfless by being roasted in the fire of Self-realization, is called a sage by the wise. (4.19)
One who has abandoned attachment to the fruits of work and remains ever content and dependent on no one (but Krishna), such a person, though engaged in activity, does nothing at all (and incurs no Karmic reaction). (4.20)
One who is free from desires, whose mind and senses are under control, and who has renounced all ownership, does not incur sin---the Karmic reaction---by doing bodily action. (4.21)
A KarmaYogi---who is content with whatever gain comes naturally by His will, who is unaffected by pairs of opposites, and free from envy, tranquil in success and failure---is not bound by Karma. (4.22)
All Karmic bonds of a KarmaYogi---who is free from attachment, whose mind is fixed in Self-knowledge, and who does work as a service to the Lord---dissolve away. (4.23)
The divine Spirit (Brahma or Eternal Being) has become everything. Divinity (Brahma, Self or Spirit) shall be realized by one who contemplates everything as a manifestation and an act of Brahma. (Also see 9.16) (4.24)
Life itself is an ever-burning fire where sacrificial ceremony is going on constantly. Every action must be thought of as a holy sacrifice, a holy act. Everything is not the Eternal Being (Brahma), but Brahma is the root or basis of everything. One attains salvation and becomes one with Brahma, without losing ones identity, when one perceives Brahma in every action, perceives the things one uses as a transformation of Brahma, and realizes that the very process of all action is also Brahma. Thus salvation or Mukti is not the destruction of individual soul (Jeeva), but the realization of ones true nature that Jeeva is like Brahma.
Some yogis perform the service of worship to celestial controllers (Devas), while others offer sacrifice of selfless service to the fire of the Eternal Being. (4.25)
Some offer their hearing and other senses as sacrifice in the fires of restraint; others offer sound and other objects of the senses (as sacrifice) in the fires of the senses. (4.26)
Others offer all the functions of the senses and the functions of the five bioimpulses (life forces, Prānas) as sacrifice in the fire of self-restraint that is kindled by Self-knowledge. (4.27)
Others offer their wealth, their austerity, and their practice of yoga as sacrifice, while the ascetics with strict vows offer their study of scriptures and knowledge as sacrifice. (4.28)
Some are engaged in controlling the breathing process by breathing in (Prāna), then stopping the breath for a while (called in-Kumbhak) before breathing out (Apāna) and then stopping the breath after breathing out (called out-Kumbhak) using yogic breathing techniques. (4.29)
Deep spiritual meaning and interpretation of the practical yogic techniques mentioned in verses 4.29, 4.30, 5.27, 6.13, 8.10, 8.12, 8.13, 8.24, and 8.25 cannot be explained here. They should be acquired from a qualified teacher and practiced under supervision to avoid hidden dangers of meditation.
The breathing process can be slowed down by: (1) watching the breath going in and coming out as one watches the ocean waves going up and down, (2) practicing of diaphragmatic (or deep yogic) breathing, and (3) using yogic techniques and KriyaYoga. The aim of yogic practice is to achieve the superconscious or breathless state of trance by gradually mastering the breathing process.
Others restrict their diet and reach the breathless state of trance by concentrating on the breath. All these people are performing sacrifices, and their minds become purified by the sacrifice or the spiritual practice. (4.30)
Those who perform selfless service obtain the nectar of Self-knowledge as a result of their sacrifice and attain the Supreme Being. O Arjuna, if even this world is not a peaceful place for the non-sacrificer, how can the other world be? (See also 4.38, and 5.06). (4.31)
Many types of spiritual disciplines are described in the Vedas. Know that all of them are the action of body, mind, and senses prompted by the forces of Nature. Understanding this, one shall attain Nirvana or salvation. (See also 3.14) (4.32)
In order to attain salvation, spiritual discipline or sacrifice should be performed as a duty without any attachment and with full understanding that oneself is not the doer.
Acquire this transcendental knowledge from a Self-realized master by humble reverence, by sincere inquiry, and by service. The empowered ones, who have realized the Truth, will give you this knowledge. (4.34)
Contact with great souls who have realized the truth is very helpful. Reading scriptures, giving charity, and doing spiritual practices alone may not give God-realization. Only a God-realized soul can awaken and kindle another soul. But no guru can give a secret formula for Self-realization without His grace. The Vedas say: One who knows the land gives direction to the one who does not know and asks (RV 9.70.09). It is also said that Self-realization is a pathless land, it comes at the right time by the grace of God, and not by personal effort alone. But, one must perform spiritual practices very sincerely.
The Vedas prohibit the sale of God in any form. They say: O mighty Lord of countless wealth, I will not sell thee for any price (RV 8.01.05). The role of a guru is that of a guide and a giver, not of a taker. Before accepting a human guru, one must first have---or develop---full faith in the guru and leave the gurus human frailties out of consideration, take the pearls of wisdom and throw away the oyster shells. If this is not possible, it should be remembered that the word guru also means the light of Self-knowledge that dispels ignorance and delusion; and the light comes, automatically, from the Supreme Being, the internal guru, when ones mind is purified by selfless service, spiritual practice, and surrender.
There are four categories of gurus: (1) A false guru, (2) Guru, (3) Self realized guru, and (4) The Divine guru. In this age too many false gurus are coming to teach or just give a mantra for a price. These false gurus are the merchants of mantra. They take money from disciples to fulfill their personal material needs without giving the true knowledge of the Supreme Being. Saint Tulasidasa said that a guru who takes money from disciples and does not remove their ignorance, goes to hell (TR 7.98.04). A guru is one who imparts true knowledge and complete understanding of the Absolute and the temporal. A Self realized guru is a Self-realized master mentioned in this verse here. A Self realized guru helps the devotee maintain God-consciousness all the time by his or her own vested spiritual power. God is the Divine guru.
When the mind and intellect are purified, Supreme Lord, the divine guru, reflects Himself in the inner psyche of a devotee and sends a guru or a realized guru to him or her. A real guru is a giver. He never asks any money or a fee from a disciple because he depends on God only. A real guru would not ask anything from a disciple for personal or even for organizational gain. However, a disciple is obliged to do the best he or she can to help the cause of the guru. It is said that one should not accept any fee from a pupil without giving full instruction and understanding of the Absolute, divine kinetic energy (Maya), temporal material Nature, and the living entity (BrU 4.01.02).
The Spirit within us is the divine guru. Outside teachers only help us in the beginning of the spiritual journey. Our own intellect---when purified by selfless service, prayer, meditation, worship, silent chanting of Lords name, congregational chanting of holy names, and scriptural study---becomes the best channel and guide for the flow of divine knowledge (See also Gita 4.38, and 13.22). The Divine Being within all of us is the real guru, and one must learn how to tune in with Him. It is said that there is no greater guru than ones own pure mind. A pure mind becomes a spiritual guide and the inner divine guru leading to a real guru and Self-realization. This is expressed by the common saying that the guru comes to a person when he or she is ready. The word guru also means vast and is used to describe the Supreme Being---the divine guru and internal guide.
The wise spiritual master disapproves the idea of blind personal service, or the guru cult, which is so common in India. A Self-realized (SR) master says that God only is the guru, and all are His disciples. A disciple should be like a bee seeking honey from flowers. If the bee does not get honey from one flower, it immediately goes to another flower and stays at that flower as long as it gets the nectar. Idolization and blind worship of a human guru may become a stumbling block in spiritual progress and is harmful to both the disciple and the guru.
After knowing the transcendental science, O Arjuna, you shall not again become deluded like this. With this eye of knowledge you shall see all in your own Self and thus within Me, the Supreme Self. (See also 6.29, 6.30, 11.07, 11.13) (4.35)
The same life-force of the Supreme Being reflects in all living beings to support and activate them. Therefore, we are all part and parcel of the cosmic energy of Brahma, the Self, and connected with each other. At the dawn of enlightenment, one merges with the Absolute (Gita 18.55), and all diversities appear as nothing but the expansion of the higher Self.
Even if one is the most sinful of all sinners, one shall cross over the river of sin by the raft of Self-knowledge. (4.36)
Know the Truth, and Truth shall make you free from bondage. The fire of Self-knowledge burns all accumulated (Sanchita) Karma or the total Cosmic debt---the root cause of the souls transmigration---just as fire instantly burns a mountain of cotton. The present action does not produce any new Karma (Kriyāmāna Karma) because the wise know that all work is done by the forces of nature, and we are not the doer. Thus, when Self-knowledge dawns, only a part of the accumulated Karma, known as fate (Prārabdha) that is responsible for the present birth, has to be exhausted before freedom from transmigration is attained by an enlightened person.
The physical body and mind generate new Karma. The causal body is the outermost body that covers the Self. The causal body is the warehouse storage for the accumulated Karma. Karmas are projected from causal body into the subtle body and then into the physical body as fate for dissipation. Karma produces body, and body generates new Karma. Thus, the cycle of birth and death continues indefinitely. Only selfless service can break this cycle, and selfless service is not possible without Self-knowledge. Thus, transcendental knowledge breaks the bonds of Karma and leads to salvation. This knowledge does not manifest to a sinful person---or to any person whose time to receive the spiritual knowledge has not come.
Loss and gain, life and death, fame and infamy lie in the hands of ones Karma. Fate is all-powerful. This being so, one should neither be angry nor blame anybody (TR 2.171.01). People know virtue and vice, but ones choice is ordained by fate or Karmic footprints because the mind and intellect are controlled by fate. When success does not come in spite of best efforts, it may be concluded that fate precedes endeavor.
REVEALED TO A KARMA-YOGI
Truly, there is no purifier in this world like the true knowledge of the Supreme Being. One discovers this knowledge within, naturally, in due course of time (when one's mind is purified by any sincere spiritual practice(s)). (See also 4.31, 5.06, and 18.78). (4.38)
The intense fire of devotion to God burns all Karma and purifies and illuminates the mind and intellect just as sunlight illumines the earth (BP 11.03.40). Selfless service should be performed to the best of ones ability until purity of mind is attained (DB 7.34.15). True knowledge of the Self is automatically reflected in a pure consciousness (Chitta). KarmaYoga cleanses the dirt of selfishness from the mind and prepares it to receive Self-knowledge. Selfless service (KarmaYoga) and Self-knowledge are thus the two wings to take one to salvation.
One who has faith in God, is sincere in yogic practice, and has control over the mind and senses, gains this transcendental knowledge. Having gained this knowledge, one quickly attains supreme peace or liberation. (4.39)
The fires of mental grief and sorrows, born of attachment, can be completely extinguished by the water of Self-knowledge (MB 3.02.26). There is no basis for right thought and action without Self-knowledge.
The irrational, the faithless, and the disbeliever (atheist) perish (or transmigrate). There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for a disbeliever. (4.40)
KARMA-YOGA ARE NEEDED
Work does not bind a Self-conscious person who has renounced work---by renouncing the fruits of work---through KarmaYoga and whose confusion (with regard to body and Spirit) is completely destroyed by Self-knowledge, O Arjuna. (4.41)
Therefore, cut the ignorance-born confusion (with regard to body and Spirit) by the sword of Self-knowledge, resort to KarmaYoga, and get up for the war, O Arjuna. (4.42)
Thus ends Chapter 4
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Arjuna asked: O Krishna, You praise the path of transcendental knowledge, and also the path of selfless service (KarmaYoga). Tell me, definitely, which one is the better of the two paths? (See also 5.05) (5.01)
Renunciation means complete renouncement of doership, ownership, and motive behind an action, not the renunciation of work or worldly objects. Renunciation comes only after the dawn of Self-knowledge. Therefore, the words renunciation and Self-knowledge are used interchangeably in the Gita. Renunciation is considered the goal of life. Selfless service (Sevā, KarmaYoga) and Self-knowledge are the necessary means to achieve the goal. True renunciation is attaching all action and possession---including body, mind, and thought---to the service of the Supreme.
Lord Krishna said: The path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service both lead to the supreme goal. But of the two, the path of selfless service is superior to path of Self-knowledge (because it is easier to practice for the beginners). (5.02)
A person should be considered a true renunciant who has neither attachment nor aversion for anything. One is easily liberated from Karmic bondage by becoming free from the pairs of opposites such as attachment and aversion. (5.03)
The ignorant---not the wise---consider the path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service (KarmaYoga) as different from each other. The person who has truly mastered one, gets the benefits of both. (5.04)
Whatever goal a renunciant reaches, a KarmaYogi also reaches the same goal. Therefore, one who sees the path of renunciation and the path of unselfish work as the same, really sees. (See also 6.01 and 6.02) (5.05)
But true renunciation (the renunciation of doership and ownership), O Arjuna, is difficult to attain without KarmaYoga. A sage equipped with KarmaYoga quickly attains Nirvana. (See also 4.31, 4.38, 5.08) (5.06)
Selfless service (KarmaYoga) provides the preparation, discipline, and purification necessary for renunciation. Self-knowledge is the upper limit of KarmaYoga, and renunciation of doership and ownership is the upper limit of Self-knowledge.
A KarmaYogi, whose mind is pure, whose mind and senses are under control, and who sees one and the same Spirit in all beings, is not bound by Karma, though engaged in work. (5.07)
ONESELF AS THE DOER
The wise who know the truth think: "I do nothing at all. In seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking, giving, taking, as well as opening and closing the eyes; the wise believe that only the senses are operating upon their objects. (See also 3.27, 13.29, and 14.19) (5.08-09)
Senses need not be subdued if the activities of the senses are spiritualized by perceiving that all work, good or bad, is done by the powers of God.
A KarmaYogi does not work with selfish motives and therefore does not incur any sin. Selfless service is always sinless. Selfishness is the mother of sin. One becomes happy, peaceful, purified, and enlightened by performing one's prescribed duties as an offering to God while remaining detached inwardly.
The KarmaYogis perform action---without attachment---with their body, mind, intellect, and senses only for the purification of their mind and intellect. (5.11)
A person, who has completely renounced the attachment to the fruits of all work from his or her mind, dwells happily in the City of Nine Gates, neither performing nor directing action. (5.13)
The human body has been called the City of Nine Gates (or openings) in the scriptures. The nine openings are: Two openings each for the eyes, ears, and nose; and one each for the mouth, anus, and urethra. The Lord of all beings and the universe who resides in this city along with the individual soul or the living entity (Jiva) is called the Spiritual Being (Purusha) performing and directing all action. (See also 13.22)
The Lord neither creates the urge for action nor the feeling of doership nor the attachment to the results of action in people. The powers of material Nature do all these. (5.14)
The Lord does not take responsibility for the good or evil deeds of anybody. The veil of ignorance covers Self-knowledge; thereby people become deluded and do evil deeds. (5.15)
God does not punish or reward anybody. We ourselves do this by the misuse or the right use of our own power of reasoning and free will. Bad things happen to good people to make them better.
Transcendental knowledge destroys the ignorance of the Self and reveals the Supreme Being, just as the sun reveals the beauty of objects of the world. (5.16)
Persons whose mind and intellect are totally merged in the Eternal Being, who are firmly devoted to the Supreme, who have God as their supreme goal and sole refuge, and whose impurities are destroyed by the knowledge of the Self, do not take birth again. (5.17)
Just as a person does not consider parts of the body, such as arms and legs, different from the body itself, similarly a Self-realized person does not consider any living entity different from all pervading Eternal Being (BP 4.07.53). Such a person sees God everywhere, in everything, and in every being. After discovering the metaphysical truth, one looks at everything with reverence, compassion, and kindness because everything in the material world is part and parcel of the cosmic body of Lord Vishnu.
Everything has been accomplished in this very life by one whose mind is set in equality. Such a person has realized the Supreme Being because the Supreme Being is flawless and impartial. (See also 18.55) (5.19)
To have a feeling of equality for everybody is the greatest worship of God (BP 7.08.10). Those who do not have such a feeling discriminate. Therefore, the victims of injustice and discrimination should feel sorry for the discriminator and pray to the Lord for a change of the discriminators heart rather than get upset, angry, or vengeful.
One who neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant nor grieves on obtaining the unpleasant, who has a steady mind, who is undeluded, and who is a knower of the Supreme Being---such a person eternally abides with the Supreme Being. (5.20)
Such a person who is in union with the Supreme Being becomes unattached to external sensual pleasures by discovering the joy of the Self (through contemplation) and enjoys transcendental bliss. (5.21)
Sensual pleasures are, in fact, the source of misery (in the end) and have a beginning and an end. Therefore, the wise, O Arjuna, do not rejoice in sensual pleasures. (See also 18.38) (5.22)
The wise constantly reflect on the futility of sensual pleasures that inevitably become the cause of misery; therefore, they do not become victims of sensual cravings.
One who is able to withstand the impulses of lust and anger before death is a yogi and a happy person. (5.23)
One who finds happiness with the Supreme Being, who rejoices with the Supreme Being within, and who is illuminated by Self-knowledge---such a yogi attains Nirvana and goes to the Supreme Being. (5.24)
Seers whose sins (or imperfections) are destroyed, whose doubts about the existence of the Universal Self have been dispelled by Self-knowledge, whose minds are disciplined, and who are engaged in the welfare of all beings, attain the Supreme Being. (5.25)
Those who are free from lust and anger, who have subdued the mind and senses, and who have realized the existence of the Self, easily attain Nirvana. (5.26)
A sage is, in truth, liberated by renouncing all enjoyments, focusing the eyes and the mind between the eye-brows, equalizing the breath moving through the nostrils by using yogic techniques, keeping the senses, mind, and intellect under control, having salvation as the prime goal, and by becoming free from lust, anger, and fear. (5.27-28)
The invisible astral channels of flow of energy in the human body are called Nadis. When the cosmic currents---flowing through Nadis in the astral spinal cord---are separated by the opening of the main Sushumna Nadi by the practice of yogic techniques, breath flows through both nostrils with equal pressure; the mind calms down; and the field is prepared for deep meditation leading to trance.
One attains everlasting peace by knowing Me, the Supreme Being, as the enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities, as the great Lord of the entire universe, and as the friend of all beings. (5.29)
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PATH OF MEDITATION
Lord Krishna said: One who does not perform the prescribed duty just to enjoy its fruit is both a renunciant and a KarmaYogi. One does not become a renunciant merely by not lighting the fire, and one does not become a yogi merely by abstaining from work. (6.01)
O Arjuna, renunciation (Samnyasa) is the same as KarmaYoga because, one does not become a KarmaYogi who has not renounced personal motive behind an action. (See also 5.01, 5.05, 6.01, and 18.02) (6.02)
For the wise, who seek to attain yoga of meditation or the equanimity of mind, KarmaYoga is said to be the means. For one who has attained yoga, equanimity becomes the means of Self-realization. A person is said to have attained yogic perfection when he or she has no desire for sensual pleasures or attachment to the fruits of work and has renounced all personal motives. (6.03-04)
Yogic perfection can be achieved only when one does all activities just to please the Supreme Lord Krishna in the spirit of total surrender. KarmaYoga or selfless service produces tranquility of mind. When one performs action as a matter of duty without any motive, the mind is not disturbed by the fear of failure; it becomes tranquil, and one attains yogic perfection through meditation. The equanimity of mind necessary for Self-realization comes only after giving up all motives and desires. Selfishness is the root cause of other impure desires in the mind. The desireless mind becomes peaceful. Thus KarmaYoga is recommended to persons desiring success in yoga of meditation. Perfection in meditation results in control over the senses, bringing forth tranquility of mind that ultimately leads to God-realization.
AS THE WORST ENEMY
One must elevate---and not degrade---oneself by ones own mind. The mind alone is ones friend, as well as ones enemy. The mind is the friend of those who have control over it, and the mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it. (6.05-06)
There is no enemy other than an uncontrolled mind in this world (BP 7.08.10). Therefore, one should first try to control and conquer this enemy by regular practice of meditation with a firm determination and effort. All spiritual practices are aimed towards the conquest of the mind. Guru Nanak said: Master the mind, and you master the world. Sage Patanjali defines yoga as control over the activities (or the thought waves, Chitta Vritti) of mind and intellect (PYS 1.02). Firm control of the mind and senses is known as yoga (KaU 6.11). Control of the mind and senses is called austerity and yoga (MB 3.209.53). The purpose of meditation is to control the mind so that one can focus on God and live according to His instructions and will. The mind of a yogi is under control; a yogi is not under the control of the mind. Samkhya definition of meditation is effortless control of extrovert tendency of mind going towards sense objects and making it introvert by tuning it with the Supreme. A one-pointed, relaxed, introvert mind of a yogi is the most powerful and creative mind---it can do anything.
The mind, indeed, is the cause of bondage as well as liberation of the living entity. The mind becomes the cause of bondage when controlled by modes of material Nature, and the same mind, when attached to the Supreme, becomes the cause of salvation (BP 3.25.15). The mind alone is the cause of salvation as well as bondage of human beings. The mind becomes the cause of bondage when controlled by sense objects, and it becomes the cause of salvation when controlled by the intellect (VP 6.07.28). Absolute control over mind and senses is a prerequisite for any spiritual practice for Self-realization. One who has not become the master of the senses cannot progress towards the goal of Self-realization. Therefore, after establishing control over the activities of the mind, one should take the mind away from the enjoyment of sensual pleasures and fix it on God. When the mind is disengaged from sense pleasures and engaged with God, sense impulses become ineffective because the senses obtain their power from the mind. The mind is the ruler of the other five senses. One who becomes master of the mind becomes master of all the senses.
One who has control over the lower self---the mind and senses---is tranquil in heat and cold, in pleasure and pain, in honor and dishonor, and remains ever steadfast with the supreme Self. (6.07)
One can realize God only when the mind becomes tranquil and completely free from desires and dualities, such as pain and pleasure. However, people are rarely completely free from desires and duality. But one can become free from the bonds of desire and duality if one uses the mind and senses in the service of the Lord. They who master their mind get the spiritual wealth of knowledge and bliss. Self can only be realized when the lake of the mind becomes still, just as the reflection of the moon is seen in a lake when the water is still. (See also 2.70)
A person is called yogi who has both Self-knowledge and Self-realization, who is tranquil, who has control over the mind and senses, and to whom a clod, a stone, and gold are the same. (6.08)
A yogi, seated in solitude, should constantly contemplate the Supreme Being only; after bringing the mind and senses under control and becoming free from desires and proprietorship. (6.10)
The place of meditation should have the serenity, solitude, and spiritual atmosphere of odor-free, noise-free, and light-free caves of the Himalayas. Massive, gorgeous buildings with exquisite marble figures of celestial controllers are not enough. These often come at the expense of spirituality and help religious commerce only.
The eight steps of meditation based on Patanjalis YogaSutras (PYS 2.29) are: (1) Moral restraints, (2) Regulative principles, (3) Right posture and yogic exercises, (4) Yogic breathing, (5) Sense withdrawal, (6) Concentration, (7) Meditation, and (8) Trance or superconscious state of mind.
One must follow these eight steps, one by one, under proper guidance to make progress in meditation. Use of breathing and concentration techniques without necessary purification of the mind and without sublimation of feelings and desires by moral conduct and spiritual discipline (See 16.24) may lead to a dangerous, neurotic state of mind. Patanjali says: The sitting posture for meditation should be stable, relaxed, and comfortable for the individuals physical body (PYS 2.46).
Yogic breathing is not the forcible---and often harmful---retention of breath in the lungs as is commonly misunderstood and wrongly practiced. Patanjali defines it as control of the Prana ---the bioimpulses or the astral life forces---that cause the breathing process (PYS 2.49). It is a gradual process of bringing under control or slowing down---by using standard yogic techniques, such as yogic postures, breathing exercises, locks, and gestures---the bioimpulses that activate the motor and sensory nerves that regulate breathing, and over which we normally have no control.
When the body is supercharged by the huge reservoir of omnipresent cosmic current flowing through the medulla oblongata, the need for breathing is reduced or eliminated and the yogi reaches the breathless state of trance, the last milestone of the spiritual journey. The Upanishad says: No mortal ever lives by breathing oxygen in the air alone. Mortals depend on something else (KaU 5.05). One does not live by food, water, and air alone, but by the cosmic energy that comes from God. The cord of breath ties the living entity (soul) to the body-mind complex. A yogi unties the soul from the body and ties it with the Supersoul during the breathless state of trance.
The withdrawal of the senses from the sense-objects is a major obstacle in the attainment of the goal of a yogi. When sense withdrawal has been accomplished, concentration, meditation, and Samadhi become very easy to master. The mind should be controlled and trained to follow the intellect rather than let it be drawn towards and controlled by gross sense objects, such as hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell. The mind is restless by nature. Watching the natural flow of breath coming in and going out, and alternate breathing help to make the mind steady.
The two most common techniques of sense withdrawal are these: (1) Focus your full attention on the point between the eyebrows. Perceive and expand a sphere of white, rotating light there, (2) Mentally chant a mantra or any holy name of the Lord as quickly as possible for a long time and let the mind get completely absorbed into the sound of mental chanting until you do not hear the ticking sound of a nearby clock. The speed and loudness of mental chanting should be increased with the restlessness of the mind, and vice versa. In meditation, one may tap the power of subconscious mind to achieve a noble desired goal in life.
Concentration on a particular part of a deity, on the sound of a mantra, on the flow of breath, on various energy centers in the body, on the mid-brows, on the tip of the nose, or on an imaginary white light of God inside the heart, stills the mind and stops it from wandering.
One should sit on his or her own firm seat that is neither too high nor too low, covered with grass, a deerskin, and a cloth, one over the other, in a clean spot. Sitting there in a comfortable position and concentrating the mind on God, controlling the thoughts and the activities of the senses, one should practice meditation to purify the mind and senses. (6.11-12)
A yogi should contemplate any beautiful form of God until the form becomes ever present in the mind. Short meditation with full concentration is better than long meditation without concentration. Fixing the mind on a single object of contemplation for twelve (12) seconds, two and one-half (2.5) minutes, and half an hour is known as concentration, meditation, and trance, respectively. Meditation and trance are the spontaneous result of concentration. Meditation occurs when the mind stops oscillating off the point of concentration.
In the lower stage of trance (Savikalpa Samādhi), the mind becomes so centered on a particular part of the deity---such as the face or the feet---that it forgets everything. This is like a dream in a wakeful state where one remains aware of ones mind, thoughts, and the surroundings. In the highest stage of trance (Nirvikalpa Samādhi), the body becomes still and motionless, and the mind experiences various aspects of the Truth. The mind permanently loses its individual identity, the ego, and becomes one with the cosmic mind.
The superconscious state of mind is the highest stage of trance. In this state of mind, the normal human consciousness becomes connected to (or overpowered by) cosmic consciousness; one reaches a thoughtless, pulseless, and breathless state and does not feel anything except peace, joy, and supreme bliss. In the highest state of trance, the energy center (Chakra) on the top of the head opens up; the mind is merged into the infinite; and there is no mind or thought, but only the feeling of His transcendental existence, awareness, and bliss. A person who reaches this state is called a sage.
Attaining the blissful state of trance seems difficult for most people. Muniji gives a simple method. He says: When you are immersed in Him and His work is flowing through you, you become ever happy, ever joyful, and ever blissful.
Lord Krishna in Meditation
One should sit by holding the waist, spine, chest, neck, and head erect, motionless and steady; fix the eyes and the mind steadily on the front of the nostril without looking around; make your mind serene and fearless; practice celibacy; have the mind under control; think of Me, and have Me as the supreme goal. (See also 4.29, 5.27, 8.10, and 8.12) (6.13-14)
My Kriya Guru, Swami Hariharananda, suggests keeping pinpointed attention penetrating four inches deep between the eyebrows near the master gland---the pituitary. Fixing the gaze on the nose tip is one of the gestures of KriyaYoga recommended by Swami Sivananda to awaken the Kundalini power located at the base of the spine. After a little practice each day, the eyes will become accustomed and slightly convergent and see the two sides of the nose. As you gaze at the nose tip, concentrate on the movement of breath through the nostrils. After ten minutes, close your eyes and look into the dark space in front of your closed eyes. If you see a light, concentrate on it because this light can completely absorb your consciousness and lead you to trance according to yogic scriptures. The beginner should first practice fixing the gaze at the mid-brows, as mentioned in verse 5.27, or at the cerebrum, as hinted in verse 8.12, before learning to fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. The help of a teacher and use of a mantra is highly recommended.
Celibacy helps to still the mind and awaken the dormant Kundalini. Celibacy and certain breathing exercises cleanse the subtle body. The subtle body is nourished by seminal and ovarian energy, just as the gross body needs food for nourishment. Sarada Ma warned her disciples not to be intimate with persons of the opposite gender even if God came in that form. The role of celibacy in spiritual life is overlooked in the West because it is not an easy task for most people. The individual should choose the right life partner for a successful spiritual journey if celibacy is not possible. It is very dangerous to force celibacy on oneself or disciples who are not ready for it. The scripture says: Just as a King, protected by castle walls, wins over the enemy, similarly those who want victory over the mind and senses should try to subdue them by living as a householder (BP 5.01.18).
Sublimation of the sex impulse precedes enlightenment (AV 11.05.05). One sense organ, attached to its object, can drain the intellect, just as one hole in a water pot can empty the water (MS 2.99). One commits sin by engaging senses to sense objects and obtains yogic powers by controlling the senses (MS 2.93). Transmutation of the life force of procreative energy leads to yoga. It is difficult but possible to transcend sex by beholding the presence of the divine in the body of all human beings and mentally bowing down to them.
Thus, by always practicing to keep the mind fixed on Me, the yogi whose mind is subdued attains the Supreme peace of Nirvana and unites with Me. (6.15)
This yoga is not possible, O Arjuna, for one who eats too much or who does not eat at all, who sleeps too much or too little. (6.16)
The yoga of meditation destroys all sorrow for the one who is moderate in eating, recreation, working, sleeping, and waking. (6.17)
The Gita teaches that extremes should be avoided at all costs in all spheres of life. This moderation of the Gita was eulogized by Lord Buddha who called it the middle path, the right way, or the noble path. A healthy mind and body are required for successful performance of any spiritual practice. Therefore, it is required that a yogi should regulate his daily bodily functions, such as eating, sleeping, bathing, resting and recreation. Those who eat too much or too little may become sick or fragile. It is recommended to fill half of the stomach with food, one fourth with water, and leave the rest empty for air. If one sleeps more than six hours, one's lethargy, passion, and bile may increase. A yogi should avoid extreme indulgence in uncontrolled desires as well as the opposite extreme of yogic discipline---the torturing of the body and mind.
A person is said to have achieved yoga, union with the Self, when the perfectly disciplined mind becomes free from all desires and gets completely united with the Source in God consciousness. (6.18)
The lamp (of mind) in a spot sheltered (by wall of the Self) from the wind (of desire) does not flicker. This simile is used for the subdued mind of a yogi absorbed in Self-consciousness. (6.19)
The sign of yogic perfection is that the mind remains always undisturbed like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.
When the mind, disciplined by yogic practice, becomes steady and quiet, one becomes content with the Self by beholding the Self (everywhere and in everything) with purified intellect. (6.20)
The self is present in all living beings as fire is present in wood. Friction makes the presence of fire in the wood visible to the eyes, similarly meditation makes the Self, residing in the body, perceivable (MB 12.210.42). A psychophysical transformation (or the superconscious state) of mind in trance is necessary for God-realization. Each of us has access to the superconscious mind that is not limited by time and space.
One cannot comprehend the Infinite by reason. Reason is powerless to grasp the nature of the beginningless Absolute. The highest faculty is not reasoning but intuition, the comprehension of knowledge coming from the Self and not from the fallible senses or reasoning. Self can be perceived by the intuitive experience in the highest state of trance or by any other means. Yogananda said: Meditation can enlarge the magic cup of intuition to hold the ocean of infinite wisdom.
One feels infinite bliss that is perceivable only through the intellect, and is beyond reach of the senses. After realizing the Absolute Reality, one is never separated from it. (6.21)
After Self-realization (SR), one does not regard any other gain superior to SR. Established in SR, one is not moved even by the greatest calamity. (6.22)
The state of severance from union with sorrow is called yoga. This yoga should be practiced with firm determination, and without any mental reservation. (6.23)
Yoga is attained after long, constant, vigorous practice of meditation (or any other Sādhanā) with firm faith (PYS 1.14).
One gradually attains tranquility of mind by totally abandoning all desires, completely restraining the senses by the intellect, and keeping the mind fully absorbed in Self-perception by means of a well-trained and purified intellect and thinking of nothing else. (6.24-25)
When the mind is freed with the help of spiritual practices from the impurities of lust and greed born out of the feeling of I, me, and my, it remains tranquil in material happiness and distress (BP 3.25.16).
The mind plays tricks to wander and roam in the world of sensuality. The meditator should keep the mind fixed on the Self by always pondering that one is the soul, not the body. Just watch and laugh at the wanderings of the mind and gently bring it back under the supervision and control of the intellect and Self-awareness.
The natural tendency of the mind is to wander. We know from personal experience that the mind is very difficult to control. To control the mind is an impossible task like controlling the wind. The human mind can be subdued by any sincere spiritual practice such as meditation and detachment (Gita 6.34-35). Most commentators, however, have stated that the mind should be restrained and brought back under the control of the Self when it starts to wander during meditation. We know that restraining the mind is like restraining the wind.
Atmā is considered superior to the body, senses, mind, and the intellect. (Gita 3.42). Thus we can use the awareness of the Atmā to subdue the mind. Swami Vishvas has developed a meditation technique based on a slightly different interpretation of verse 6.26. This Method of meditation, based on the theory: Never let the mind wander unsupervised, is described below:
Assume the meditative posture given in verse 6.13. It is a very good practice, before starting any work, to invoke the grace of the personal god of your choice that you believe in. Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna or ones guru should be also invoked by Hindus.
The main aim of meditation, or any spiritual practice, is to get oneself out of the outer world and its activities, start the journey within, and become an introvert. Always keep in mind that you are not the body nor the mind nor the intellect, but Self (Atmā) that is separate and superior to the body-mind-ego (BME) complex. Detach your Self from the BME and make the Self a witness during meditation. Withdraw your mind from the outside world and fix your gaze at any one center of your choice (pituitary gland, the sixth Chakra, front of the nostrils, the heart center, or the naval center) where you feel most comfortable. Witness the activities of the mind without becoming judgmental ---good or bad---about the thoughts coming to your mind. Just relax, take a joy ride in the back seat of the vehicle of mind, and watch the wanderings of mind in the thought-world. The mind will wander because this is its nature. It will not remain quiet in the beginning. Do not be in a hurry to slow down, pressure, control, or try to engage the mind in any other way, such as by chanting a mantra, concentrating on any object or thought.
Detach yourself completely from your mind and watch the play of Maya, the mind. Do not forget that your job is to see your (lower) self, the mind, with the (higher) Self, the Atmā. Do not get attached or carried away by the thought waves (Vritti) of the mind; just witness or follow it. After serious and sincere practice, the mind will start slowing down when it finds out that it is being constantly watched and followed. Do not add anything to the process of witnessing the inner world of thought process (Chitta-vritti). Slowly, your power of concentration will increase; the mind will join the inward journey as a friend (Gita 6.05-06); and a state of bliss will radiate all around you. You will go beyond thought to the thoughtless world of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Practice this for half an hour in the morning and evening or at any other convenient, but fixed, time of your choice. The progress will depend on several factors beyond your control, but just persist without procrastination. Always conclude the meditation process with the triple sound vibration of Aum, and thank God.
WHO IS A YOGI
Supreme bliss comes to a Self-realized yogi whose mind is tranquil, whose desires are under control, and who is free from faults or sin. (6.27)
Such a sinless yogi, who constantly engages his or her mind and intellect in Self-awareness, enjoys the eternal bliss of contact with the Self. (6.28)
Yogananda said: In the absence of inward joy, people turn to evil. Meditation on the God of bliss permeates us with goodness.
A yogi who is in union with the Supreme Being sees every being with an equal eye because of perceiving the omnipresent Supreme Being (or the Self) abiding in all beings and all beings abiding in the Supreme Being. (See also 4.35, 5.18) (6.29)
Perception of oneness of the Self in every being is the highest spiritual perfection. Sage Yajnavalkya said: A wife does not love her husband because of his or her physical satisfaction. She loves her husband because she feels the oneness of her soul with his soul. She is merged in her husband and becomes one with him (BrU 2.04.05). The foundation of Vedic marriage is based on this noble and solid rock of soul culture and is unbreakable. Trying to develop any meaningful human relationship without a firm understanding of the spiritual basis of all relationships is like trying to water the leaves of a tree rather than the root.
When one perceives ones own higher Self in all people and all people in ones own higher Self, then one does not hate or injure anybody (IsU 06). Eternal peace belongs to those who perceive God existing within everybody as Spirit (KaU 5.13). One should love others, including the enemy, because all are your own self. "Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you" is not only one of the noblest teachings of the Bible, but is an elementary idea common to all paths leading to God. When one realizes that his or her very self has become everything, whom shall one hate or punish? One does not break the teeth that bite the tongue. When one perceives none other than ones own Lord abiding in the entire universe, with whom shall one fight? One should not only love the roses, but love the thorns also.
One who sees One in all and all in One, sees the One everywhere. To fully understand this and to experience the oneness of individual soul and the Supersoul, is the highest achievement and the only goal of human birth (BP 6.16.63). In the fullness of ones spiritual development, one finds that the Lord, who resides in ones own heart, resides in the hearts of all others---the rich, the poor, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, the persecuted, the persecutor, the saint, and the sinner. Therefore, to hate a single person is to hate Him. This realization makes one a truly humble saint. One who realizes that the Supersoul is all-pervading and is none other than ones own individual self, bereft of all impurities collected over various incarnations, attains immortality and bliss.
A Self-realized person sees Me in the entire universe and in oneself and sees the entire universe and oneself in Me. When one sees Me pervading everything, just as fire pervades wood, one is at once freed from delusion. One attains salvation when one sees oneself different from body, mind, and the modes of material Nature and non-different from Me (BP 3.09.31-33). The wise see their own higher Self present in the entire universe and the entire universe present in their own higher Self. True devotees never fear any condition of life, such as reincarnation, living in heaven or in hell, because they see God everywhere (BP 6.17.28). If you want to see, remember, and be with God at all times, then you must practice and learn to see God in everything and everywhere.
The non-dualists, who adore Me abiding in all beings, abide in Me irrespective of their mode of living. (6.31)
One should consider all creatures as ones own children (BP 7.14.09). This is one of the qualities of a true devotee. The sages consider all women their mother, others wealth a clod, and all beings as their own self. Rare is a person whose heart melts by the fire of grief of others and who rejoices hearing the praise of others.
Arjuna said: O Krishna, You have said that the yoga of meditation is characterized by equanimity of mind, but due to restlessness of mind, I find it difficult to perceive it as steady. Because the mind, indeed, is very unsteady, turbulent, powerful, and obstinate, O Krishna. I think restraining the mind is as difficult as restraining the wind. (6.33-34)
Lord Krishna said: Undoubtedly, O Arjuna, the mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by any constant vigorous spiritual practice---such as meditation ---with perseverance, and by detachment, O Arjuna. (6.35)
Detachment is proportional to ones understanding of the baselessness of the world and its objects (MB 12.174.04). Contemplation without detachment is like jewels on the body without clothes (TR 2.177.02). Anything can be achieved by years of deliberate practice (See more in verse 17.03).
Yoga is difficult for one whose mind is not subdued. However, yoga is attainable by the person of subdued mind who strives through proper means. (6.36)
Arjuna said: What is the destination of the faithful who deviate from the path and fail to attain yogic perfection due to an unsubdued mind, O Krishna? (6.37)
Do they not perish like a dispersing cloud, O Krishna, having lost both the heavenly and the worldly pleasures, supportless and bewildered on the path of Self-realization? (6.38)
O Krishna, only You are able to completely dispel this doubt of mine because there is none other than You who can dispel such a doubt. (See also 15.15) (6.39)
Arjuna asked a very good question. Because the mind is very difficult to control, it may not be possible to achieve perfection during one's lifetime. Does all the effort get wasted? The answer comes:
Lord Krishna said: Spiritual practice performed by a yogi never goes to waste either in this life or in the next life. A transcendentalist never takes a birth lower than the present one, My dear friend. (6.40)
The less evolved unsuccessful yogi is reborn in the house of the pious and prosperous after attaining heaven and living there for many years. The highly evolved unsuccessful yogi does not go to heaven, but is born in a spiritually advanced family. A birth like this is very difficult, indeed, to obtain in this world. (6.41-42)
The unsuccessful yogi regains the knowledge acquired in the previous life and strives again to achieve perfection from the point where he had left, O Arjuna. (6.43)
The unsuccessful yogi is instinctively carried towards God by virtue of latent Karmic impressions (Samskāra) of yogic practices of previous lives. Even the inquirer of yoga (or union with God) surpasses those who perform Vedic rituals (for material gains). (6.44)
The yogi who diligently strives becomes completely free from all imperfections after becoming gradually perfect through many incarnations and reaches the Supreme Abode. (6.45)
One must be very careful in spiritual life, or there is a possibility of being carried away by the powerful wind of bad association created by Maya, and one may abandon the spiritual path. One should never get discouraged. The unsuccessful yogi gets another chance by starting over from where he or she leaves off. The spiritual journey is long and slow, but no sincere effort is ever wasted. Normally it takes many, many births to reach the perfection of salvation. All living entities (souls) are eventually redeemed after they reach the zenith of spiritual evolution.
The yogi is superior to the ascetics. The yogi is superior to the Vedic scholars. The yogi is superior to the ritualists. Therefore, O Arjuna, be a yogi. (6.46)
And I consider the yogi-devotee---who lovingly contemplates Me with supreme faith and whose mind is ever absorbed in God consciousness---to be the best of all the yogis. (See also 12.02 and 18.66) (6.47)
Meditation or any other act becomes more powerful and efficient if it is done with knowledge, faith, and devotion to God. Meditation is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for spiritual progress. The mind should be kept ever absorbed in thoughts of God. The meditative mood is to be continued during other times through scriptural study, Self-analysis, and selfless service. It is said that no single yoga alone is complete without the presence of other yogas. Just as the right combination of all ingredients is essential for preparation of a good meal, similarly selfless service, chanting of Lord's name, meditation, study of scriptures, contemplation, and devotional love are essential for reaching the supreme goal. Some seekers prefer just to stick to one path. They should try all other major paths and see if a combination is better for them or not. Any path can become the right path if one has completely surrendered to God. The person who meditates with deep devotional love of God is called a yogi-devotee and is considered to be the best of all yogis.
Before one can purify one's psyche by a mantra or meditation, one has to reach a level whereby one's system of consciousness becomes sensitive to a mantra. This means one's mundane desires must be first fulfilled---or satisfied---by detachment, and one has practiced the first four steps of Patanjalis YogaSutra. It is just like cleaning jewelry first before gold-plating it.
Thus ends Chapter 6
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SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND ENLIGHTENMENT
THE ULTIMATE KNOWLEDGE
I shall impart to you both the transcendental knowledge and the transcendental experience or a vision, after knowing that nothing more remains to be known in this world. (7.02)
Those who have transcendental experience become perfect (RV 1.164.39). Everything becomes (as though) known when the Supreme Being is heard, reflected, meditated upon, seen, and known (BrU 4.05.06). The need to know all other things becomes irrelevant with the dawn of the knowledge of the Absolute, the Supreme Spirit. All articles made of gold become known after knowing gold. Similarly after knowing the Supreme Being (ParaBrahma), all other manifestations of the Eternal Being (Brahma) become known. It is said: One who knows Lord Krishna as the Supreme Being (ParaBrahma), is considered to have known all, but one who knows everything, but does not know Krishna, does not know anything. The intent of the above verse is that knowledge of all other subjects remains incomplete without ones understanding of who am I?
Scarcely one out of thousands of persons strives for perfection of Self-realization. Scarcely one among those successful strivers truly understands Me. (7.03)
Few are fortunate enough to obtain knowledge of, and devotion to, the Supreme Being.
The mind, intellect, ego, ether, air, fire, water, and earth are the eightfold division of My material Nature. (See also 13.05) (7.04)
'Material Nature' is defined as the material cause or the material energy out of which everything is made. Material Nature is the original source of the material world, consisting of three modes of material Nature and eight basic elements out of which everything in the universe has evolved, according to Sankhya doctrine. Material Nature is one of the transformations of divine power (Maya) and is the material cause of creation of the entire universe. Matter is thus a part of Lord's illusory energy, Maya. Material Nature is also referred to as perishable, body, matter, Nature, Maya, field, creation, and manifest state. That which creates diversity as well as the diversity itself, and all that can be seen or known, including the universal mind, is called material Nature.
Two types of material Nature are described in verses 7.04 and 7.05. The eightfold material Nature described in verse 7.04 is called lower energy or material energy. This is commonly known as material Nature or Prakriti. It creates the material world with the help of consciousness. The other higher Nature mentioned in verse 7.05, is also called the higher energy or the spiritual energy (Purusha). This is derived from consciousness, the Supreme Spirit (or Spirit). Purusha with the help of Prakriti creates and sustains the entire universe. Spirit is immutable; and material Nature, born of Spirit, is mutable. Purusha (or spirit) observes, witnesses, enjoys as well as supervises material Nature.
The Supreme Spirit is the efficient cause of creation of the universe. The material Nature and Spirit (Purusha) are not two independent identities but the two aspects of the Supreme Spirit. The Supreme Spirit, Spirit (Purusha), and material Nature are the same, yet different as the sun and its light and heat are the same as well as different.
The water and the fish that is born in and sustained by the water, are not one and the same. Similarly the Spirit and the material Nature that is born out of Spirit, are not one and the same (MB 12.315.14). The spirit is also called soul when spirit enjoys the modes of material Nature by associating with the senses. The Spirit and soul are also different because Spirit sustains soul, but the wise perceive no difference between the two (BP 4.28.62).
Some of the terms---such as the Supreme Spirit, Spirit, material Nature, and soul---have different definitions in different doctrines and also take different meanings, depending on the context. In this rendering, the nonsectarian word God stands for the one and only Lord of the universe---the Supreme Being---whom Hindus prefer to call by various personal names such as Rama, Krishna, Shiva, and Mother. Different terminology does confuse a reader who has to learn---preferably with the help of a teacher---full connotation, usage, and hierarchic relationships between these and various other expressions as one progresses on the path of spiritual journey.
One and the same Spirit is present in cows, horses, human beings, birds, and all other living beings just as the same thread is present in the necklace made of diamond, gold, pearl, or wood (MB 12.206.02-03). The entire creation is permeated by Him (YV 32.08).
O Arjuna, I am the sapidity in the water, I am the radiance in the sun and the moon, the sacred syllable AUM in all the Vedas, the sound in the ether, and potency in human beings. I am the sweet fragrance in the earth. I am the heat in the fire, the life in all living beings, and the austerity in the ascetics. (7.08-09)
O Arjuna, know Me to be the eternal seed of all creatures. I am the intelligence of the intelligent and the brilliance of the brilliant. (See also 9.18 and 10.39). I am the strength of the strong that are devoid of lust and attachment. I am the lust or Cupid in human beings that is not only for sense gratification and is in accord with Dharma (for the sacred purpose of procreation after marriage), O Arjuna. (7.10-11)
Know that three modes of material Nature---goodness, passion, and ignorance---also emanate from Me. I am neither dependent on, nor affected by, the modes of material Nature; but the modes of material Nature are dependent on Me. (See also 9.04 and 9.05) (7.12)
Human beings get deluded by various aspects of these three modes of material Nature; therefore, they do not know Me, who am eternal and above these modes. (7.13)
DIVINE POWER (MAYA)
This divine power of Mine called Maya, consisting of three modes of Nature, is very difficult to overcome. Only those who surrender unto My Will, easily pierce the veil of Maya and know the Absolute Reality. (See also 14.26, 15.19, and 18.66) (7.14)
When one fully dedicates one's life to the Supreme power and depends on Him under all circumstances, just as a small child depends on its parents, then Lord personally takes charge of such a devotee. And when He takes charge of you, there is no need to be afraid of anything or to depend on anybody else for anything---spiritual or material---in life.
The evil doers, the ignorant, the lowest persons who are attached to demonic nature and whose power of judgment has been taken away by divine illusive power (Maya), do not surrender to My Will. (7.15)
Four types of virtuous ones worship or seek Me, O Arjuna. They are: the distressed, the seeker of Self-knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the enlightened one (who has experienced the Supreme Being). (7.16)
Whatever a person does is the product of desire. Nobody can ever do anything without the desire for it (MS 2.04). Desires cannot be completely wiped out. One should first transmute the lower forms of selfish desires. Desire for salvation is a higher or noble form of desire. Desire for devotional love of God is regarded as the highest and the purest form of all human desires. It is said that advanced devotees do not even desire salvation from God. They long for loving devotional service to God, life after life.
The lower desires of devotees who approach Him for fulfillment become like roasted seeds that cannot sprout and grow into a big tree of desire. What really matters is the deep concentration of mind on God through feelings of devotion, love, fear, or even for material gain (BP 10.22.26).
Among them the enlightened one, who is ever united with Me and whose devotion is exclusive, is the best. Because I am very dear to the enlightened and the enlightened is very dear to Me. (7.17)
Knowledge of God without devotion---the love of God---is a dry speculation, and devotion without knowledge of God is a blind faith. Bhakti (devotion) is the flower of Self-knowledge (Jnāna) and enlightenment is the fruit. Jnāni is called the best of all yogis or Bhakta in the above verse. Bhakti remains incomplete without Jnāna. Saint Tulasidasa, a proponent of the path of Bhakti, even has said: Jnāna brings faith, without faith there can be no love of God, without love, devotion and detachment will not abide, any more than the lubricity of water (TR 7.88.04). An enlightened person does not want anything from God and is considered the best devotee. Also see the commentary of verse 15.19.
All these seekers are indeed noble, but I regard the enlightened devotee as My very Self (ParaBrahma) because one who is steadfast becomes one with Me and abides in My supreme abode. (See also 9.29) (7.18)
After many births, the enlightened one surrenders to My Will by realizing that everything is, indeed, My manifestation. Such a great soul is very rare. (See also 7.07, 18.66) (7.19)
GOD IS ALL
The other seven
Sanskrit verses of the Vedas, called great sayings are: (1) All this is, of
course, the Spirit because everything is born from, rests in, and merges into
the Spirit (ChU 3.14.01). (2) All this is Spirit. The Spirit is everywhere.
All this universe is, indeed, Supreme Brahman (MuU 2.02.11). The Bible also
says: You are gods (John 10.34). The Vedas and Upanishads declare: (3)
Consciousness is Spirit (AiU
The firm understanding---that the entire creation and every order of Reality are nothing but another form of divinity
---is true Self-knowledge. The same Atman is viewed as individual soul from micro (or Vyashthi, Jeeva, unreal i) level, is also the Universal soul from macro (or Samashthi, Virāt, Real I level. In other words, the Universe is the same as Brahman. (Read verse 18.66 for a more detailed commentary of this key verse.)
The male musk deer, after a vain search for the cause of the scent of the musk, at last will have to find the musk in himself. After God-realization, one sees that it is the Spirit of God (or Consciousness) that has become the universe and all living beings. Everything is consciousness. Creation is like countless waves appearing in the ocean of consciousness by the wind of divine power (Maya). Everything, including the primordial divine energy called Maya, is nothing but part and parcel of the Absolute.
Persons whose discernment has been carried away by desires impelled by their Karmic impression, resort to celestial controllers and practice various religious rites for fulfillment of their material desires. (7.20)
WORSHIP OF DEITY IS ALSO WORSHIP OF GOD
Whosoever desires to worship whatever deity---using any name, form, and method---with faith, I make their faith steady in that very deity. Endowed with steady faith, they worship that deity and obtain their wishes through that deity. Those wishes are, indeed, granted by Me. (7.21-22)
The power in the deities comes from the Supreme Lord as the aroma in the wind comes from the flower (BP 6.04.34). God is the bestower of fruits of work (BS 3.02.38). God fulfills all desires of His worshippers (BP 4.13.34). One should not look down upon any method of seeking God because all worship is worship of the same God. He fulfills all sincere and beneficial prayers of a devotee if He is worshipped with faith and love. The wise realize that all names and forms are His, whereas the ignorant play the game of holy war in the name of religion to seek personal gain at the cost of others. All deities are one; they are different aspects of the Absolute.
It is said that whatever deity a person may worship, all his or her obeisance and prayers reach the Supreme Being just as all water that falls as rain eventually reaches the ocean. Whatever name and form of divinity one adores is worship of the same Supreme Being, and one gets the reward of deity-worship performed with faith. Desired results of worship are given indirectly by the Lord through one's favorite deity. Human beings live in the darkness of the prison cells of pairs of opposites. Deities are like icons or a medium that can open the window through which the Supreme may be perceived. However, the worship of deities without full understanding of the nature of the Supreme Being is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.
But such material gains of these less intelligent human beings are temporary. The worshipers of celestial controllers go to celestial controllers, but My devotees certainly come to Me. (7.23)
Those who worship deities or celestial controllers are under the mode of goodness or passion; and those who practice other, much lower grades of worship, such as the worship of evil spirits, ghosts, black magic, and Tantra---also known as idolatry---to get progeny, fame, or to destroy their enemies are under the mode of ignorance. Lord Krishna advises against such lower grades of worship and recommends worship of the one and only Supreme Lord, using any one name and form. The devotees of Krishna may sometimes worship Krishna in other forms also. In Mahabharata, Lord Krishna Himself advised Arjuna to worship a much gentler mother form of God, known as Mother Durga, just before the start of the war for victory. This is like a child going to ask something from Mother instead of Father. The Lord is actually both mother and father of all creatures.
GOD DOES NOT MANIFEST TO THE IGNORANT
The ignorant ones---unable to completely understand My immutable, incomparable, incomprehensible, and transcendental form and existence---believe that I, the Supreme Being, am formless and take forms or incarnate. I do not manifest Myself to the ignorant whose Self-knowledge is obscured by My divine power (YogaMaya) and does not know My unborn, eternal, and transcendental form and personality (and consider Me formless). (See also 5.16) (7.24-25)
The Sanskrit word Avyakta has been used in verses 2.25, 2.28, 7.24, 8.18, 8.20, 8.21, 9.04, 12.01, 12.03, 12.05, and 13.05. It takes different meanings according to the context. It is used in the sense of unmanifest, material Nature and also in the sense of Spirit. Supreme Being---the Absolute Consciousness---is higher than both unmanifest Nature and Spirit. Avyakta does not mean formless; it means unmanifest or a transcendental form that is invisible to our physical eyes and cannot be comprehended by the human mind or described by words. Everything has a form. Nothing in the cosmos, including the Supreme Being, is formless. Every form is His form. Supreme Being has a transcendental form and Supreme Personality. He is eternal, without any origin and end. The invisible Absolute is the basis of the visible world.
The meaning of verse 7.24 also seems to contradict the common belief that Lord incarnates, as mentioned in verses 4.06-08, and 9.11. It is said here that the Supreme Being is ever unmanifest, and, as such, He never becomes manifest. In a true sense, the Supreme Being or Absolute does not incarnate. He actually never leaves His Supreme Abode! It is the intellect of the Supreme Being that does the work of creation, maintenance, incarnation, and destruction by using His innumerable powers. The deep meaning of this verse may be understood if one seriously studies the peace invocation of Ishopanishad that states: The invisible is the Infinite, the visible too is infinite. From the Infinite, the infinite universes manifest. The Infinite (Absolute) remains Infinite or unchanged, even though infinite universes come out of it. People do not know the transcendental and imperishable nature of God and wrongly think that God also incarnates like an ordinary person. He does not incarnate, but manifests using His own divine potencies. His birth, activities and form are transcendental or out of this world.
The transcendental Being is beyond the human conception of form and formless. Those who consider God formless are as wrong as those who say God has a form. The argument whether God is formless or has a form has nothing to do with our worship and spiritual practice. We can worship Him in any way or form that suits us. A name, form, and description of the imperceptible, all pervasive, and indescribable Lord has been given by saints and sages for cultivating the love of God in the hearts of common devotees. A name and a form are absolutely necessary for the purpose of worship and to nurture devotion. God appears to a devotee in a form in order to make his or her faith firm if one believes in God with a form. He does not appear to those who believe only in a formless Brahma. It is necessary that one should respect all forms of God (or deity), but establish relationship and worship one form only.
I know, O Arjuna, the beings of the past, of the present, and those of the future, but no one really knows Me. (7.26)
All beings in this world are in utter ignorance due to the delusion of pairs of opposites born of likes and dislikes, O Arjuna. But the persons purified by unselfish deeds, whose Karma has come to an end, become free from the delusion of pairs of opposites and worship Me with firm resolve. (7.27-28)
When the Karma of a person comes to an end, only then one can understand the transcendental science and develop love and devotion to God.
Those who strive for freedom from the cycles of birth, old age, and death---by taking refuge in Me---fully comprehend Brahman (or Brahma, Spirit, Eternal Being, Eternal Brahman) and the true nature and creative powers of Brahman. (7.29)
The steadfast persons who know Me alone as the basis of all---mortal beings, Divine Beings, and the Supreme Being---even at the time of death, attain Me. (See also 8.04) (7.30)
No human being can know God or Brahman. But those, who know God to be the governing principle of the whole creation and the underlying basis of all, are blessed. The creation is not in Brahman (or Atmā) or created by Brahman, but creation is Brahman Itself. Jiva (individual soul), Jagat (the cosmos) and Jagadish or the God are not three separate entity, but One and the same. In other words, there is nothing other than Atmā or God in the universe. Since Atmā is invisible and creation is visible; human eyes cannot see the invisible connection between Atmā and the creation. And our mind makes us believe that the creator is other than and separate from the creation.
Thus, creation appearing separate from the creator is just an illusion, similar to a dream, created by the mind. Actually Jiva and Jagat do not exist, only Brahman exists. We have to recondition our mind that Atmā and physical bodies or creation are one and the same and nothing else but Brahman exists in all different forms. Creation---including our body, mind and ego---is just another form of Consciousness and integral part and parcel of God. All is nothing but Brahman (verses 7.07 and 7.19). One should always practice to see Brahman in all (verse 6.30) with the firm understanding that all is Brahman. This is called constant remembrance of God and is much easier to practice than Japa, meditation or any other spiritual practice. The goal of any spiritual practice is to achieve this state of mind where there is no duality. This practice leads one from body consciousness to God consciousness and equanimity of mind. All human weaknesses such as likes and dislikes, attachment etc. disappear, leading one to Nirvana.
The creation is not in Brahman (Atmā, Atma), but it is Brahman that exists in the form of creation. Creation is the visible part of the cosmic body of Brahman. Because we cannot see Brahman, the mind makes us believe that creation is separate and different from Brahman. Thus appearance of duality (or the world) is nothing but a creation of mind or Maya like a dream world is a creation of mind. This appearance of duality creates ego or ignorance due to which we think ourselves different and separate from Atmā and other beings and go through the cycles of transmigration. Only Self-knowledge can break this cycle. A simple method of Self-realization is presented below:
One should always contemplate: I am neither this body, nor the mind or the intellect; but I have my body, mind and intellect. I am That all-pervading Brahma, because there is nothing other than Brahma in the universe. I, being the eternal Atmā, have no birth and death and I am free. Its the physical body---the abode of Atmā---that takes birth and dies. This is the gist of Vedantic teachings and Self-realization.
Thus ends Chapter 7
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THE ETERNAL BEING
Arjuna said: O Krishna, who is the Eternal Being or the Spirit? What is the nature of the Eternal Being? What is Karma? Who are the mortal beings? And who are Divine Beings? Who is the all pervading Supreme Being and how does He dwell in the body? How can You, the Supreme Being, be remembered at the time of death by those who have control over their minds, O Krishna?
AND INDIVIDUAL SOUL
Lord Krishna said: The eternal and immutable Spirit of the Supreme Being is called Eternal Being or the Spirit. Basic nature, powers, and expansions of Eternal Being are called Adhyātma or the nature of Eternal Being. The creative power or urge of Eternal Being that causes manifestation of the living entity is called Karma. (8.03)
Spirit is also called Eternal Spirit, Spiritual Being, Eternal Being, or God in English; and Brahma, or Eternal Brahma (Note: Brahma is also spelled as: Brahm, Brahman but is different from Brahmā) in Sanskrit. Spirit is the cause of all causes. The word God is generally used for both Spirit, and the Supreme Spirit (or the Supreme Being), the basis of Spirit. We have used the word Eternal Being for Spirit; and Supreme Being, Absolute, and Krishna for the Supreme Spirit in this rendering.
The subtle body consists of six sensory faculties, intellect, ego, and five vital forces called bioimpulses (Life forces, Prāna). The individual soul (Jiva) is defined as the subtle body sustained by Spirit. The individual soul is enshrined in the physical body. The subtle body keeps the physical body active and alive by operating the organs of perception and action.
Mortal beings, made up of the five basic elements, are changeable or temporal. Various expansions of the Supreme Being are called Divine Beings. I, the Supreme Being reside inside the physical bodies as the Divine Controller and Supreme Enjoyer (Ishvara), O Arjuna. (8.04)
One who remembers Me exclusively, even while leaving the body at the time of death, attains the Supreme Abode; there is no doubt about it. (8.05)
Whatever object one remembers as one leaves the body at the end of life, that object is attained. Thought of whatever object prevails during one's lifetime, one remembers only that object at the end of life and achieves it. (8.06)
Ones destiny is determined by the predominant thought at the time of death. Even if one has practiced devotion and God-consciousness during ones lifetime, the thought of God may or may not come at the hour of death. Therefore, God-consciousness should be continued till death (BS 1.1.12). Sages continue their efforts in their successive lives, yet at the moment of death they may fail to remember God. One cannot expect to have good thoughts at the time of death if one has kept bad company. Keep the association of perfect devotees and avoid the company of worldly-minded people for success in spiritual life. Whatever thought one nurtures during life, the same thought comes at the time of death and determines ones future destiny. Therefore, life should be molded in such a way that one should be able to remember God at the time of death. People should practice God-consciousness in everyday life from childhood by forming a habit of remembering God before taking any food, before going to bed, and before starting any work or study.
Therefore, always remember Me and do your duty. You shall certainly attain Me if your mind and intellect are ever focused on Me. (8.07)
The supreme purpose of life is to always remember a personal God one believes in; so that one can remember God at the time of death. To remember the absolute and impersonal God may not be possible for most human beings. A pure devotee is able to experience the ecstasy of Lord's personal presence within and reach His Supreme Abode by always remembering Him. Live in a state of constant spiritual awareness.
By contemplating Me with an unwavering mind that is disciplined by yogic practice, one attains the Supreme Being, O Arjuna. (8.08)
One gets spiritual awakening and the vision of God by constantly thinking of God in meditation, silent repetition of the holy names of God, and contemplation. The endeavor of our whole life shapes our destiny. Spiritual practices are meant to keep the mind absorbed in His thoughts and fixed at His lotus feet. Ramakrishna said that when you desire anything, pray to the Mother aspect of God in a lonely place, with tears of sincerity in your eyes, and your wishes shall be fulfilled. He also said that it might be possible to attain Self-realization within three days. The more intensely one practices spiritual disciplines, the more quickly one attains perfection. The intensity of conviction and belief, combined with deep yearning, restlessness, intense longing, and persistence, determine the speed of spiritual progress. The real practice of HathaYoga is not only the yogic exercises taught in modern yoga centers, but also the consistence, persistence, and insistence in ones search for the Supreme Truth.
Self-realization is not a simple act but a process of gradual spiritual growth, starting with resolve, proceeding gradually to vow, divine grace, faith, and finally realization of Truth (YV 19.30). The Supreme Being is not realized through discourses, intellect, or learning. It is realized only when one sincerely strives for it with vigorous effort. Sincere effort brings divine grace that unveils the Supreme Being (MuU 3.02.03-04). God helps those who help themselves. Also read more about divine grace in verse 9.29. How to meditate on God at the time of death is described in the two verses:
One who meditates at the time of death with steadfast mind and devotion on the Supreme Being as the omniscient, the oldest, the controller, smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest, the sustainer of everything, the inconceivable, self-luminous like the sun, and transcendental (or beyond the material reality) by causing the breath (life forces, Prāna) to enter between the eyebrows by the power of yogic practices; attains Me, the Supreme Being. (See also verses 4.29, 5.27, 6.13) (8.09-10)
Now I shall briefly explain the process to attain the Supreme Abode that the knowers of the Veda call immutable, into which the ascetics, freed from attachment, enter; and desiring which people lead a life of celibacy. (8.11)
AT THE TIME OF DEATH
When one leaves the physical body, by controlling all the senses, focusing the mind on God and the bioimpulses (Life forces, Prāna) in the cerebrum, engaged in yogic practice, meditating on Me, and uttering AUM---the sacred monosyllable cosmic sound power of the Spirit---one attains the Supreme Abode. (8.12-13)
Scriptural knowledge has its place, but it is through direct realization that the inner core can be reached and the outer shell discarded. Meditation is the way to inner realization and should be learnt, personally, from a competent teacher. Realization of the true nature of mind leads to meditation.
A simple technique of meditation is described here: (1) Wash your face, eyes, hands, and feet and sit in a clean, quiet, dark place, using any comfortable posture, with head, neck, and spine straight and vertical. No music or incense during meditation is recommended. The time and place of meditation should be fixed. Follow the good principles of living by thoughts, words, and deeds. Some yogic exercises are necessary. Midnight, morning, and evening are the best times to meditate for 15 to 25 minutes every day. (2) Remember any name or form of the personal god you believe in and ask His or Her blessings. (3) Close your eyes, tilt head slightly upward, and take 5 to 10 very slow and deep breaths. (4) Fix your gaze, mind, and feelings inside the chest center, the seat of the causal heart, and breathe slowly. Mentally chant So as you breathe in and Humm as you breathe out. Think as if breath itself is making these sounds So and Humm (I am That Spirit). Mentally visualize the breath going in and coming out through the nostrils. Be alert, and feel the sensation created by the breath in the body as you watch the breath. Do not try to control or lead your breathing; just watch your natural breathing. (5) Direct the will towards the thought of merging yourself into the infinite space of the air you are breathing. If your mind wanders away from following the breaths, start from step (4). Be regular, and persist without procrastination.
The sound of OM or AUM is a combination of three primary sounds: A, U, and M. It is the source of all sounds one can utter. Therefore, it is the fittest sound symbol of Spirit. It is also the primeval impulse that moves our five nerve centers that control bodily functions. Yogananda calls AUM the sound of the vibration of the cosmic motor. In the beginning was the word of God (OM, Amen, Allah) and the word was God. This cosmic sound vibration is heard by yogis as a sound, or a mixture of sounds, of various frequencies.
The Omnic meditation, mentioned here by Lord Krishna, is a very powerful, sacred technique used by saints and sages of all religions. Briefly, the Omnic method entails getting the mind permeated by a continuous, reverberating sound of AUM. When the mind gets absorbed in repeating this divine sound, the individual consciousness merges into the Cosmic Consciousness.
A simpler method of contemplation is given below by Lord Krishna for those who cannot follow the conventional path of meditation discussed above.
It is not an easy task to remember God regularly till death. One must have a basis to remember God all the time. This basis could be an intense love of God or a passion to serve Him through the service of humanity.
After attaining Me, the great souls do not incur rebirth in this miserable transitory world because they have attained the highest perfection. (8.15)
Human birth is full of suffering. Even the saints, sages, and God in human form cannot escape the sufferings of the human body and mind. One has to learn to endure and work towards salvation.
The dwellers of all the worlds---below the domain of Brahma---are subject to the miseries of repeated birth and death. But after attaining Me, O Arjuna, one does not take birth again. (See also 9.25) (8.16)
THE CYCLIC OF CREATION
Those who know that the duration of creation lasts 4.32 billion years and that the duration of destruction also lasts 4.32 billion years, they are the knowers of the cycles of creation and destruction. (See also 9.07) (8.17)
All manifestations come out of the subtle body of Brahmā (or Prakriti) during the creative cycle, and they merge into the same during the destructive cycle. (see also 9.07, 15.18) (8.18)
Thus, one complete creative cycle of Brahmā lasts 8.64 billion solar years. This consists of one day and one night of Brahmā, the Creator. The duration of partial dissolution, during which all heavenly planets, the earth, and the lower planets are annihilated and rest within Brahmā, is 4.32 billion years and is called Brahmās night or Kalpa. Complete dissolution takes place at the end of Brahmā's (or creative cycle's) full life-span of 100 solar years, or 8.64 billion years x 360 days/year x 100 years = just over 311 trillion solar years called one MahāKalpa (See also BP 12.04.01-43), according to Vedic astrology. At this time, the complete material creation, including the modes of material Nature, enters into one of the four main, partial manifestations of the Absolute (See also 15.18)---called Avyakta Brahma or Adi Prakriti, the source and sink of the total material energy---and is annihilated. During the complete dissolution at the end of a MahāKalpa, everything is said to take rest in the abdomen of Avyakta Akshar Brahma (See verse 15.16) until the beginning of the next cycle of creation. In the first phase of the cycle of creation, Lords energies enter into all the universes to create and support diversities. And in the next phase, the Absolute is diffused as the all-pervading supersoul in the universes and remains present within the atoms and every cell of everything---visible or invisible.
The Will power of the Cosmic Mind of Brahma is called Brahmā, the creator (YVa 11.2-3). Entire creation is created by this power of Mind. The domain of Brahmā lies below the domain of Brahma mentioned in verse 8.16. This domain is also known as the world or domain of Maya or Mind.
According to the Vedas, creation is a beginningless and endless cycle, and there is no such thing as the first creation.
There is another eternal transcendental existence (Purusha or Spirit). This is higher than the changeable material Nature, Prakriti, and does not perish when all created beings perish. This is also called the Supreme Abode. Those who attain the Supreme Abode do not take birth again. (8.20-21)
FROM THE WORLD
O Arjuna, now I shall describe different paths departing by which, after death, the yogis do or do not come back to the mortal or temporal world. (8.23)
Verses 8.23-26 are considered to be the most mysterious and misunderstood verses in the Gita. What appears to refer to the auspicious times of departure of the living entity during death in verses 8.24 and 8.25, actually refers to the presiding deities of various astral planes during gradual passage of the soul after death. This is made clear in verse 8.26. It should be noted that ones final destination and the corresponding path leading to the destination has to be earned and may determine the time of death. Eligibility to tread the path, and not the time of departure as is sometimes commonly misunderstood, determines the path of departure.
Lord explains in verses 8.24-25 that there are two goals in life which people seek. These two goals are achieved by two different paths guiding the two types of seekers to their destinations. One is called the path of no return (verse 8.24), and the other is the path of return (verse 8.25). These two paths are renamed in verse 8.26 as the path of light and the path of darkness, the path of Moksha and path of coming and going, the path of the seekers of spirituality and seekers of materialism, path of the light of knowledge and of darkness of ignorance.
Passing gradually after death, through celestial controllers of fire, light, daytime, the bright lunar fortnight, and the six months of the northern solstice of the sun, yogis who know the Self attain supreme abode (and do not come back to earth). (8.24)
The path of no return, described above, is also called the path of gods (Devayāna), the path of light of Self-knowledge, the northern path, the solar path, and the path of slow and gradual development (Krama-mukti), the ascending path of evolution. This path is blocked for the ignorant and persons devoid of the necessary qualities such as austerity, abstinence, faith and knowledge. Those who have above mentioned qualities will walk this path. It is also said that this path is closed during the six months of southern solstice of the sun as mentioned in verse 8.25.
Following the path of spiritual advancement and knowledge on the earth, the individual soul advances to several higher and higher soul planes (five planes mentioned in verse 8.24) in the spirit world; finally reaching a level until it has developed enough to merge back to Brahma where we came from.
Fire, light, day-time, the bright fortnight and the six months of the northern solstice of the sun indicate deities presided over by the Sun. It is said in the Upanishads (ChU 4.15.05, BrU 6.2.15) that those who qualify for the northern path after death reach the celestial ruler of fire, light, from there to the celestial ruler of the day, from there to the celestial ruler of the bright fortnight, from there to the celestial ruler of the six months during which the sun travels northwards, from there to Sun, and from there to lightening. Then a Superbeing, created from the mind of Brahmā, comes and leads them to the world of Brahmā. Becoming perfect at each stage, they stay in the world of Brahmā till the end of the cycle of creation or a MahāKalpa; at that time they merge in Brahma together with Brahmā.
The northern path described above is open to those who know Brahma but are not completely Self-realized. Such persons have some trace of dormant desires (or Vāsanā) left. When all desires born of ego are completely eradicated by Self-knowledge, one instantly merges in Braham in this very life after death (Gita 5.26, 18.55, BrU 4.4.07, MuU 3.2.09, YVa 39.122). This is called Jeevan-Mukti or Brahma Nirvana. Time of death does not matter for such souls.
Passing gradually after death, through celestial controllers of smoke, night, the dark lunar fortnight, and the six months of southern solstice of the sun, the righteous person attains heaven and comes back to earth again. (8.25)
The destination of righteous persons, who work to enjoy the fruits of their labor, is described in the above verse. Those who leave the world after spending their lifetime in doing good and performing rituals and worship to enjoy the results so accrued, travel by the southern path. This path is also called the path of darkness of ignorance, the path of return, the path of ignorance, the path of ancestors, lunar path and the path of materialism. This path is presided over by the Moon god, representing the world of matter and sense enjoyment. Those who qualify for this path, after death, reach the celestial ruler of smoke, from there to the celestial ruler of the night, from there to the celestial ruler of the dark fortnight, from there to the celestial ruler of the six months during which the sun travels southwards, and from there to heaven. Such yogis return to the mortal world, after enjoying heavenly pleasures for a period of time, when the fruits of their virtuous deeds are exhausted.
The path of light of spiritual practice and Self-knowledge and the path of darkness of materialism and ignorance are thought to be the worlds two eternal paths. The former leads to salvation, and the latter leads to rebirth as human beings. (8.26)
The path of transmigration may be included in the path of reincarnation, or it may be called the third path. The Upanishads describe this third path as the path of lower creatures, such as animals and insects. Unrighteous ones, who do not qualify for the two paths mentioned in verses 8.24 and 8.25, transmigrate into lower wombs, such as animals, birds, and insects (BrU 6.02.15-16). The immortal soul wanders endlessly through the ocean of transmigration, made up of 8.4 million different species of life on this planet. The good Lord, out of His sweet will known as The Law of Grace, bestows the precious gift of the human body that is like a raft to carry one across the ocean of transmigration (TR 7.43.02-04). Consider what we are is Gods gift to us, and what we become is our gift to God. It is also said that human birth, faith in God, and the help of a real guru come only by His grace. Our present life provides the opportunity for preparation for the next life. According to the activities in this life, one can either get a promotion or salvation, a demotion or transmigration, or another chance for salvation by reincarnating as a human being.
Knowing these two paths, O Arjuna, a yogic practitioner is not bewildered at all. Therefore, one should be resolute in attaining salvation---the goal of human birth
---at all times. (8.27)
One who knows all the knowledge (discussed in this Chapter) goes beyond getting the benefits of the study of the Vedas, performance of sacrifices, austerities, and charities; and attains salvation. (8.28)
Thus ends Chapter 8
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THE BIG MYSTERY
Lord Krishna said: Since you have faith in My words, I shall reveal to you the most profound, secret, transcendental knowledge, together with transcendental experience. Knowing this, you will be freed from the miseries of worldly existence. (9.01)
KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUPREME IS THE
This Self-knowledge is the king of all knowledge, is the most secret, is very sacred, can be perceived by instinct, conforms to righteousness (Dharma), is very easy to practice, and is timeless. (9.02)
O Arjuna, those who have no faith in this knowledge do not attain Me and follow the cycles of birth and death. (9.03)
Everything is possible for the person who has faith in God. Faith in the Supreme power holds the key to unlock the gates of salvation.
This entire universe is an expansion of, or pervaded by, My unmanifest aspect. All beings depend on Me (like a gold chain depends on gold and milk products depend on milk). I do not depend on---or become affected by---them because I am the source of all. (See also 7.12, 15.18) (9.04)
There are two ways of looking at the Eternal. From a dualistic viewpoint, waves depend on the ocean; the ocean does not depend on the waves. But from a monist point of view, as stated in verse 9.05 below, the question of wave abiding in the ocean or the ocean abiding in the wave does not arise because there is no wave or ocean. It is water only. Similarly everything is a manifestation of the Spirit only (Gita 7.19).
(In fact, the gold-chain does not depend on gold; the gold-chain is nothing but gold. Also, matter and energy are different, as well as non-different).
The wave is water, but the water is not wave. The water has become the vapor, the cloud, the rain, the ice, as well as the bubble, the lake, the river, the wave, and the ocean. These are nothing but names of different forms (or transformations) of water. From a monist viewpoint, there is no ocean, no wave, and no lake, but water only. The monist viewpoint does not dismiss the perception of duality, but dismisses only the reality of duality. However, a wave is a wave as long as it does not realize its true nature---that it is not a wave but water. As soon as a wave decisively realizes that it is not a wave but water, the wave no longer remains a wave, but becomes water without delay. (Also see verse 18.55). Similarly when one realizes that he or she is not this physical body---but the Eternal Being in the form of Spirit residing inside the physical body---one transcends physical body and immediately becomes one with the Spirit without undergoing any physical change. As a physical body, one is mortal, limited by a form, with color, gender, and temperament. But as a part of the Spirit, one is free, immortal, and limitless. This is called Nirvana, or salvation.
Gross objects, such as planets and stars, remain in the subtle space without any visible connection at all. Similarly the entire universe, including space itself, abides in the unified field called Consciousness. Time has no access to space; similarly Consciousness is everlasting, indivisible, and unaffected by everything going on in its field, just as clouds do not make the sky wet.
All beings merge into My primary material Nature at the end of a cycle of creation (lasting just over 311 trillion solar years called MahāKalpa), O Arjuna; and I create them again at the beginning of the next cycle. (See also 8.17) (9.07)
As a spider spreads out the web from within, plays in it, and again draws the web into itself, similarly the Eternal Being (or Spirit) creates the material world from itself, plays in it as living entity, and takes it into itself during complete dissolution (BP 11.09.21 and 12.04.01-43). All manifestations are born, sustained, and finally merge in Spirit as bubbles of water are born, sustained, and merge in water. Spirit manifests itself into the universe by using its own internal power without the help of any external agent. It is possible for one Spirit---by virtue of possessing diverse powers---to be transformed into multiplicity without any outside help. Spirit (or the Eternal Being) is thus both the efficient and the material cause of creation.
I create the entire multitude of beings again and again with the help of My material Nature. These beings are under control of the modes of material Nature. (9.08)
These acts of creation do not bind Me, O Arjuna, because I remain indifferent and unattached to those acts. (9.09)
The divine kinetic energy (Maya)---with the help of material Nature, Prakriti---creates all animate and inanimate objects under My supervision; thus, the creation keeps on going, O Arjuna. (See also 14.03) (9.10)
IGNORANT ARE DIFFERENT
Ignorant persons disregard Me when I take Avatar in human form because they do not know My transcendental nature as the great Lord of all beings (and take Me for an ordinary human being), and because they have false hopes, false actions, false knowledge, and delusive (Tāmasika) qualities (See 16.04-18) of fiends and demons (they are unable to recognize Me). (9.11-12)
When Lord Krishna was here on this earth, in spite of accomplishing many transcendental and extraordinary feats, only a few people were able to recognize Him as an incarnation of the Supreme Being. Even a highly evolved soul, such as King Yudhishthira, was quite surprised to learn from sage Narada that his (Kings) cousin brother, Krishna, is the Supreme Being in human form (BP 7.15.79). The moral is that the Supreme cannot be known without ones good Karma and His personal grace.
But great souls, O Arjuna, who possess divine qualities (See 16.01-03), know Me as the imperishable and as the origin of beings, and worship Me with single-mindedly. (9.13)
Persons of firm resolve worship Me with ever-steadfast devotion by always singing My glories, striving to attain Me, and prostrating before Me with devotion. (9.14)
Some worship Me by acquiring and propagating Self-knowledge. Others worship the infinite as one in all (or non-dual), as the master of all (or dual), and in various other ways. (9.15)
OF THE ABSOLUTE
I am the ritual, I am the sacrifice, I am the offering, I am the herb, I am the mantra, I am the clarified butter, I am the fire, and I am the oblation. (See also 4.24). I am the supporter of the universe, the father, the mother, and the grandfather. I am the object of knowledge, the sacred syllable AUM, and the Vedas. I am the goal, the supporter, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the substratum, and the immutable seed. (See also 7.10 and 10.39) (9.16-18)
I give heat. I send, as well as withhold, the rain. I am immortality, as well as death. I am also both the eternal Absolute and the temporal, O Arjuna. (The Supreme Being has become everything. See also 13.12) (9.19)
The doers of the rituals prescribed in the Vedas, the drinkers of the nectar of devotion, whose sins are cleansed, worship Me by doing good deeds for gaining heaven. As a result of their meritorious deeds, they go to heaven and enjoy celestial sense pleasures. (9.20)
They again return to the mortal world---after enjoying the wide world of heavenly pleasures---upon exhaustion of the fruits of their good Karma. Thus, following the injunctions of the Vedas, persons working for the fruit of their actions take repeated births and deaths. (See also 8.25) (9.21)
Wealth and happiness automatically come to the righteous person, without that person asking for it, as the river automatically goes to the ocean (TR 1.293.02). Material wealth naturally comes to the virtuous person as river water naturally flows downstream (VP 1.11.24). Lord Rama said: I always take care of those who worship Me with unswerving devotion as a mother takes care of her child (TR 3.42.03). According to Shankara, this verse means gaining that which one does not possess (Yoga) and preserving what one has (Kshema). Yoga and Kshema could be also interpreted as transcendental knowledge (Jnāna) and the ultimate state of Self realization (Vijnāna), and path and the goal.
The worship of the Mother form of the Krishna is encouraged for the seekers of health, wealth, and knowledge. One who always thinks of God is considered to be God-conscious, Krishna-conscious, or Self-realized. Lord personally takes charge of one who remembers Him single-mindedly. His nature is to reciprocate the love of His pure devotees by fulfilling their desires.
The Source knows and gives all of what you need. Nothing is difficult to obtain when I am pleased, but a pure devotee whose mind is exclusively fixed upon Me does not ask anything from Me, including salvation, but the opportunity to serve Me life after life (BP 6.09.48). The Lord chooses much better things for you if you let Him be your guide by surrendering unto His will.
O Arjuna, even those devotees who worship the deities with faith, they also worship Me, but in an improper way. (See also 13.25) (9.23)
The ancient Vedic scriptures have authorized the deity form of worship of God because it cleanses the heart, mind, and the subtle and gross senses of the worshiper, and increases as well as sustains one's faith in God. Deity worship is fruitful if one worships the only One who manifests through the deity with firm faith. Worship without this understanding is called improper way of worship in this verse.
There is only one Absolute; the wise call Him and worship Him by various names (RV 1.164.46). The worship of the divine as Mother is also found in the Vedas where the sage longs to be a child of the divine Mother (RV 7.81.04). The Absolute has also manifested as celestial controllers---for sustaining creation---who are one with many names and forms (RV 3.55.01). The Supreme Being is a woman, a man, a boy, a girl, and an old person. He exists in all forms (AV 10.08.27). All deities, male or female, are representations of one divine. He is One in many and many in One. One should not worship material objects in creation, such as family, friends, and possessions; but one can worship the creator in material objects because God is in all rocks. The Vedic principle of celestial controllers does not diversify the Unity, but unifies the diversity. Deities are just different names and forms, or symbolic representations, of the energies of nature.
The deity is a conduit through which the water of divine grace can be made to flow by the power of conviction---expressed through worship and prayer---from the reservoir of infinite consciousness. However, the seedling of faith becomes the fruit tree of conviction only when it comes out of the ground of Self-knowledge and survives the frost of logic. We evoke the potential energy of cosmic forces by contemplating deities with faith. Faith really works. The power of faith in rituals or spiritual science works in the same manner as a placebo works by the power of faith in medical science. However, it is not very easy for intellectuals to develop a deep faith in the power of rituals. Joseph Campbell said: The images of myth are reflections of the spiritual potentialities of everyone of us, and deities stimulate divine love.
All different types of worship reach One and the same Lord as waters of all different rivers reach the same ocean. External worship with the help of an image or a symbolic representation of God is necessary for beginners. It is very helpful to develop a personal relationship with a deity of one's choice who can be consulted and counted upon for help during moments of crisis in life. Those who are against deity worship do not understand that all-pervading God can also exist within a deity. Such persons limit His supremacy.
The next step is the chanting of hymns and the repetition (Japa) of divine names. The next stage is meditation. The vision of Spirit-consciousness, or beholding the Spirit manifested through every individual, is the highest spiritual development.
Because I---the Supreme Being---alone am the enjoyer of all sacrificial services and Lord of the universe. But people do not know My true transcendental nature. Therefore, they fall into the repeated cycles of birth and death. (9.24)
Worshippers of the celestial controllers go to the celestial controllers; the worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors; and the worshippers of the ghosts go to the ghosts; but My devotees come to Me, and are not born again. (See also 8.16) (9.25)
It is said that whatever one worships, that destination one attains; or one becomes what one regularly thinks of.
OF LOVE AND DEVOTION
Offer Love and Devotion
Whosoever offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water with devotion, I accept and eat the offering of devotion by the pure-hearted. (9.26)
The Lord is hungry for love and the feeling of devotion. A dedicated heart, not complicated rituals, is needed to please God and obtain His grace. One should consume food after offering it to God first. God eats the food offerings to please His devotees. The mind becomes purified when one eats food after offering it first to the Lord.
O Arjuna, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation to the sacred fire, whatever charity you give, whatever austerity you perform---dedicate everything as an offering to Me. (See also 12.10, 18.46) (9.27)
It is neither necessary, nor sufficient that one should follow a certain routine, ritualistic offering of worship everyday to please God. Whatever one does per one's nature by body, mind, senses, thought, intellect, action, and speech, should be done with the thought that it is all for God only (BP 11.02.36). People have achieved liberation by performing only one type of devotional service, such as chanting, hearing, remembering, serving, meditating, renouncing, and surrendering. The love for fame is a fire that can destroy all yoga and austerity. The illusory power of divine kinetic energy (Maya) is formidable. It betrays everyone, including the yogis, unless one does everything for God.
You shall become free from the bondage, both good and bad, of Karma and come to Me by the yoga of renunciation. (9.28)
The Self is present equally in all beings. There is no one hateful or dear to Me. But those who worship Me with love and devotion are very close to Me, and I am also very close to them. (See also 7.18) (9.29)
Lord Krishna says here that one should not be partial, but should treat a faithful or a helpful person better then others. Lord is neither merciless nor partial to anyone. Lord loves no one and hates no one, but does give special preference to His devotees. He said: My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them (BP 9.4.68). To protect His devotee is His nature. Lord goes out of way to help and fulfill the desires of His sincere devotees. He also reciprocates by always thinking of those devotees who always think of Him and saves such devotees from all calamities and major problems. The best path of perfection---suitable to the individual's nature---is shown to His sincere devotees.
Gods grace is just for the asking. The doors of devotion are open to all, but the faithful and the dedicated ones who burn the incense of devotion in the temple of their heart become one with the Lord. A father loves all his children equally, but the child who is devoted to the father is more dear although he or she may not be very rich, intelligent, or powerful. Similarly a devotee is very dear to the Lord. Lord does not give everything
---such as both material and spiritual wealth---to everybody. One attains perfection---by the grace of God---through the practice of spiritual discipline. Both self-effort and grace are needed. According to the Vedas, the gods (Devas) help only those who help themselves (RV 4.33.11). Yogananda said: God chooses those who choose Him.
The grace of God, like rays of the sun, is equally available to all, but due to free will one must open the window of the heart to let the sunshine come in. It is said that divinity is our birthright; however, self-effort in the right direction is also necessary to remove hindrances brought about by our own past deeds. The grace of God comes expeditiously through our own effort. It is also believed that self-effort, fate and divine grace are one and the same. The grace of God is equally available to all of us, but one has to collect it by personal effort. The distribution of divine grace is also controlled by the same law of Karma that runs the affairs of God. There is no other impartial way to distribute divine grace. Self-effort promotes the process of God-realization as manure promotes growth of plants.
If even the most sinful person resolves to worship Me with single-minded, loving devotion, such a person must be regarded as a saint because of making the right resolution. (9.30)
There are no unforgivable sins or sinners. The fire of sincere repentance burns all sins. Yogananda used to say: A saint is the sinner who never gave up. Every saint had a past, and every sinner has a future. Acts of austerity, service, and charity, done without any motive, can atone for sinful acts, as darkness vanishes after sunrise (MB 3.207.57). If a devotee keeps his or her mind focused on God, there will be no room for sinful desires to mature, and a sinful person soon becomes righteous if he resolves never to commit the sin again as mentioned below:
Such a person soon becomes righteous and attains everlasting peace. Be aware, O Arjuna, that My devotee never fails to reach the goal. (See also 6.40-43) (9.31)
Anybody---including women, merchants, laborers, and the evil-minded---can attain the Supreme Abode by just taking refuge in Me, O Arjuna. (See also 18.66) (9.32)
A spiritual discipline should be commensurate with the faith, interest, and ability of the person. Some may be disqualified or not ready to receive the knowledge of the Supreme, but the path of devotion is open to all. No one is disqualified due to caste, creed, gender, or mental capacity to receive devotion. Most saints and sages consider the path of devotion the easiest and the best of all paths.
Then it should be very easy for the wise and devout sages to attain the Supreme Being. Therefore, having obtained this joyless and transitory human life, one should always worship Me with loving devotion. (9.33)
The living entity, under the spell of illusory power of divine kinetic energy (Maya), goes through the repeated cycles of birth and death. The good Lord, out of His grace, gives to a living entity a human body that is very difficult to obtain. The human body, created in the image of God, is the jewel of creation and has the capacity to deliver the soul from the net of transmigration to higher levels of existence. All other forms of life on the earth, except human life, are devoid of higher intellect and reasoning.
As a tiger suddenly comes and takes away a lamb from the flock, similarly death takes away a person unexpectedly. Therefore, spiritual discipline and righteous deeds should be performed without waiting for a proper time to come (MB 12.175.13). The goal and obligation of human birth are to seek Him. The search for God should not wait. One should continue this search parallel with other duties of life; otherwise, it may be too late. Lord Krishna concludes this chapter by giving practical ways to engage people in His devotional service below:
Thus ends Chapter 9
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MANIFESTATION OF THE ABSOLUTE
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, listen once again to My supreme word that I shall speak to you, who are very dear to Me, for your welfare. (10.01)
Neither the celestial controllers nor the great sages know My origin because I am the origin of celestial controllers and great sages also. (10.02)
One who knows Me as the unborn, the beginningless, and the Supreme Lord of the universe, is considered wise among mortals and becomes liberated from the bondage of Karma. (10.03)
Intellect, knowledge, non-delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control over the mind and senses, tranquility, pleasure, pain, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, equanimity, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, ill fame---these diverse qualities in human beings arise from Me alone. (10.04-05)
If you forgive others, God will also forgive you. Resist no evil with evil. Love your enemies, and pray for those who mistreat you. One should control anger toward the wrong-doer. The controlled anger itself punishes the wrong-doer if the wrong-doer does not ask forgiveness (MB 5.36.05). One who does wrong is destroyed by the same act of wrong doing if he or she does not ask forgiveness (MS 2.163). One who unconditionally forgives others is happy because the anger of the forgiver is exterminated. Progress in spiritual discipline is impeded if one's interpersonal relationship is full of hurt and negative feeling, even for a single living entity. Therefore, one must learn to forgive and to ask forgiveness.
Even virtue has its own vice. Forgiveness may often be construed as a sign of weakness; therefore, clemency is the strength of the strong and a virtue for the weak. A person should be forgiven if he or she has sincerely asked forgiveness, if it is the first offense, if the offense was not intentional, and if the offender has been helpful in the past. The tool of punishment may be used ---without any feeling of revenge---to correct and teach intentional and repeated offenders.
The conduct of the saint with divine qualities and the sinner with demonic qualities is analogous to that of the sandal tree and the axe. The axe cuts down the tree, but the fragrant sandal imparts its perfume to the very axe that cut it. A saint forgives the sinner thinking that its sinners nature and he or she cant do otherwise. (TR 7.36.04).
The seven great sages and also four Manus from whom all the creatures of the world were born originated from My mental power. (10.06)
One who truly understands My manifestations and yogic powers, is united with Me by unswerving devotion. There is no doubt about it. (10.07)
That which is One has become this all (RV 8.58.02).
My devotees remain ever content and delighted. Their minds remain absorbed in Me and their lives surrendered unto My Will. They always enlighten each other by talking about Me. (10.09)
Devotees are the well wishers of everyone and help others to advance on the spiritual path.
TO HIS DEVOTEES
I give the powers of analysis and reasoning to understand the metaphysical science---to those who are ever united with Me and lovingly contemplate Me---by which they come to Me. (10.10)
We are given powers of analysis and reasoning (Viveka) that can be used to understand the metaphysical science or Self-knowledge.
I, who dwell within their inner psyche as consciousness, destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the shining lamp of transcendental knowledge as an act of compassion for them. (10.11)
All other forms of Krishna can be achieved by different means of worship, but Krishna Himself can be achieved only by devotion and exclusive love. The lamp of spiritual knowledge and God-realization can be easily ignited by the intense spark of devotion, but never by intellect and logic alone.
Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Being, the Supreme Abode, the Supreme Purifier, the Eternal Being, the primal god, the unborn, and the omnipresent. All saints and sages have thus acclaimed You, and now You Yourself are telling me that. (10.12-13)
O Krishna, I believe all that You have told me to be true. O Lord, neither the celestial controllers nor the demons fully know Your manifestation. (See also 4.06) (10.14)
The Vedas left the final question of the origin of ultimate Reality unanswered by stating that nobody knows the ultimate source from where this creation has come. Sages went further by stating that perhaps even He does not know (RV 10.129.06-07). One who says that I know God does not know; one who knows the Truth says that I do not know. God is the unknown to a person of true knowledge; only the ignorant claim to know God (KeU 2.01-03). The ultimate source of cosmic energy is and will remain a big mystery. Any specific description of God, including a description of heaven and hell, is nothing but a mental speculation.
Therefore, only You are able to fully describe Your own divine glories or the manifestations by which You exist pervading all the universes. (10.16)
How may I know You, O Lord, constantly contemplating on You? In what form of manifestation are You to be thought of by me, O Lord? (10.17)
O Lord, explain to me again, in detail, Your yogic power and glory because I am not satiated by hearing Your nectar-like words. (10.18)
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, now I shall explain to you My prominent divine manifestations because My manifestations are endless. (10.19)
O Arjuna, I am the Supreme Spirit (or Supersoul) abiding in the inner psyche of all beings as soul (Atmā). I am also the creator, maintainer, and destroyer---or the beginning, the middle, and the end---of all beings. (10.20)
Spirit has no origin and is a property of the Supreme Being, just as sunlight is a property of the sun (BS 2.03.17). The Supreme Being and Spirit are like sun and sunlight, different as well as non-different (BS 3.02.28). Within living beings, Spirit is the controller. Spirit is different from the physical body, just as fire is different from wood.
The senses, mind, and intellect cannot know Spirit or universal consciousness because the senses, mind, and intellect get their power to function from Spirit alone (KeU 1.06). Spirit supplies power and supports the senses, just as air burns and supports fire (MB 12.203.03). Spirit is the basis and support behind every form of power, movement, intellect, and life in this universe. It is the power by which one sees, hears, smells, thinks, loves, hates, and desires objects.
I am the Vishnu. I am the radiant sun among the luminaries; I am the controller of wind; I am the moon among the stars. (10.21)
I am the Vedas. I am the celestial rulers. I am the mind among the senses; I am the consciousness in living beings. (10.22)
I am Lord Shiva. I am the god of wealth; I am the god of fire and the mountains. (10.23)
I am the chief of priests and the army general of the celestial controllers, O Arjuna. I am the ocean among the bodies of water. (10.24)
I am the great sage, Bhrigu. I am the monosyllable cosmic sound AUM among words; I am the silent repetition of mantra (Japa) among the spiritual disciplines, and I am the Himalaya among the mountains. (10.25)
A constant chanting of a mantra or any holy name of God is considered by saints and sages of all religions to be the easiest and most powerful method of Self-realization in the present age. The practice of this spiritual discipline with faith will drive sound vibrations into the deeper layers of mind where it works like a damper in preventing the rise of waves of negative thoughts and ideas, leading the way to inner awakening in due course of time. Meditation is the extended and higher stage of this process. One must first practice this before going into transcendental meditation. Swami Harihar says: There should be no desire to gain any worldly objects in exchange for the repetition of the divine name. The spiritual force of the divine name should not be applied even for the destruction of sin. It should be resorted to for divine realization only.
The form of the Lord cannot be known nor comprehended by the human mind without a name. If one chants or meditates on the name without seeing the form, the form flashes on the screen of the mind as an object of love. Saint Tulasidasa said: Place the lamp of the name of the Lord near the door of your tongue if you want the light both inside and outside. The name of God is greater than both impersonal and personal aspects of God because the power of the name has control over both aspects of God. It is said that the best of all spiritual efforts is to always remember and repeat the name of God.
I am the holy fig tree among the trees, Narada among the sages, and I am all other celestial rulers. (10.26)
Know Me as the celestial animals among the animals and the King among men. I am the thunderbolt among weapons, and I am Cupid for procreation. (10.27-28)
I am the water-god and the manes. I am the controller of death. I am the time or death among the healers, lion among the beasts, and the king of birds among birds. (10.29-30)
I am the wind among the purifiers and Lord Rāma among the warriors. I am the crocodile among the sea creatures and the holy Gangā river among the rivers. (10.31)
I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all creation, O Arjuna. Among knowledge I am knowledge of the supreme Self. I am logic of the logician. (10.32)
I am the letter A among the alphabets. I am the dual compound among the compound words. I am endless time. I am the sustainer, and I am omniscient. (10.33)
I am the all-devouring death and also the origin of future beings. I am the seven goddesses or guardian angels presiding over the seven qualities---fame, prosperity, speech, memory, intellect, resolve, and forgiveness. (10.34)
I am the Vedic and other hymns. I am the mantras; I am November-December among the months, I am spring among the seasons. (10.35)
Both good and bad are the product of divine power (Maya). Maya creates a multitude of merits and demerits that have no real existence. The wise do not attach too much importance to it. One should develop good qualities and get rid of bad ones. After enlightenment, both good and bad, virtue and vice, are transcended, just as darkness vanishes after the sunrise. Vice and virtue are not two things, but one, the difference being only the degree of manifestation. It is true that God also dwells in the most sinful beings, but it is not proper to hate them or associate with them. Gandhi said: Hate the sin and not the sinner.
One should view the marvelous cosmic drama, full of pairs of opposites in life, with ever-joyous heart because there is no good or evil, only different masks of the cosmic actor. The scriptures denounce the idea of growing rich by unfair means, such as gambling, gifts, and bribes. They recommend honest labor, sweat of the brow, such as cultivating a cornfield, that is good for society as well as the individual (RV 10.34.13).
I am Krishna, Vyasa, Arjuna, and the power of rulers, the statesmanship of the seekers of victory. I am silence among secrets and Self-knowledge of the Jnāni (10.37-38)
I am the origin of all beings, O Arjuna. There is nothing, animate or inanimate, that can exist without Me. (See also 7.10 and 9.18) (10.39)
A big tree---with many branches, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds---remains inside a tiny seed in unmanifest form and becomes manifest again and again into a tree. The tree again becomes unmanifest into the seed. Similarly all manifestations remain in the Absolute in unmanifest form and become manifest during creation and unmanifest during dissolution again and again. The fruit remains hidden in the seed and the seed in the fruit; similarly God is in human beings and human beings in God.
FRACTION OF THE ABSOLUTE
There is no end of My divine manifestations, O Arjuna. This is only a brief description by Me of the extent of My divine manifestations. (10.40)
The variety in the universe, from the highest celestial controllers to the smallest insects and even the inert dust, is nothing but a manifestation of One and the same Absolute.
Whatever is endowed with glory, brilliance, and power---know that to be a manifestation of a very small fraction of My splendor. (10.41)
Through His cosmic sound vibration, God made all things; not one thing in creation was made without His cosmic energy. This cosmic manifestation is non-separate from the Absolute just as sunshine is not separate from the sun (BP 4.31.16). The entire creation is a partial revelation and part and parcel of the Infinite. The divine manifests its glory through creation. The beauty and splendor of the visible universe are only a small fraction of His glory.
What is the need for this detailed knowledge, O Arjuna? I continually support the entire universe by a very small fraction of My divine power. (10.42)
Quantitatively, manifest creation is a very small fraction of the Absolute. The universe reflects the divine splendor for human beings to see the invisible Lord. One should learn to perceive God, not only as a person or vision, but also through His splendor as manifested in the universe and through His laws that govern and control nature and life. He is existence, goodness, and beauty.
Thus ends Chapter 10
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VISION OF THE COSMIC FORM
Arjuna said: My illusion is dispelled by the profound words of wisdom You spoke out of compassion for me about the supreme secret of the Self. (11.01)
O Krishna, I have heard from You in detail about the origin and dissolution of beings and Your immutable glory. (11.02)
AIM OF A SEEKER
O Lord, if You think it is possible for me to see Your universal form, then, O Lord of the yogis, show me Your transcendental form. (11.04)
There is no way to know God before experiencing Him. Faith in God rests on a shaky ground without a psychic vision of the object of devotion. All our spiritual discipline is aimed at this vision. The vision is essential to overcome the last bit of emotional impurity and any lingering doubt in the mind of the seeker because, to a human mind, seeing is believing. Therefore, Arjuna, like any other devotee, longs to see the transcendental form of the Lord.
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, behold My hundreds and thousands of multifarious divine forms of different colors and shapes. Behold all the celestial beings and many wonders never seen before. Also behold the entire creation---animate, inanimate, and whatever else you would like to see---all at one place in My body. (11.05-07)
No one can see Him with the physical eye. His transcendental form is beyond our field of vision. He is revealed through the faculty of intuition of the intellect that, residing within the inner psyche, controls the mind. Those who know Him become immortal (KaU 6.09). We, like color blinds, are not able to see the full range of cosmic color and light with human eyes. The divine vision, which is a gift of God, is needed to see the beauty and glory of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Sanjaya said: O King, having said this, Lord Krishna, the great Lord of the mystic power of yoga, revealed His supreme majestic form to Arjuna. (11.09)
Arjuna saw the Universal Form of the Lord with many mouths and eyes, and many marvelous visions with numerous divine ornaments, holding many divine weapons, wearing divine garlands and apparel, anointed with celestial perfumes and ointments, full of all wonders---the limitless God with faces on all sides. (11.10-11)
If the splendor of thousands of suns were to blaze forth all at once in the sky, even that would not resemble the splendor of that exalted being. (11.12)
O Lord, not even a million suns could match You (RV 8.70.05). Robert Oppenheimer spoke this verse as he witnessed the explosion of the first atom bomb.
Arjuna saw the entire universe, divided in many ways and standing as One in the transcendental body of Krishna, the Lord of celestial rulers. (See also 13.16, and 18.20) (11.13)
Having seen the cosmic form of the Lord, Arjuna was filled with wonder and his hairs standing on end, bowed his head to the Lord and prayed with folded hands. (11.14)
Arjuna said: O Lord, I see in Your body all supernatural controllers, Brahmā seated on the lotus and multitudes of beings, sages, and celestials. (11.15)
The Self is omnipresent, all pervading, beginningless and endless.
I see You with Your crown, club, discus, and massive radiance, difficult to behold, shining all around like the immeasurable brilliance and blazing fire of the sun. (11.17)
I believe You are the Supreme Being to be realized. You are the ultimate resort of the universe. You are the Spirit and protector of the eternal order (Dharma). (11.18)
I see You with infinite power, without beginning, middle, or end; with many arms; with the sun and the moon as Your eyes; with Your mouth as a blazing fire, scorching all the universe with Your radiance. (11.19)
COSMIC FORM of GOD
O Lord, You pervade the entire space between heaven and earth in all directions. Seeing Your marvelous and terrible form, the three worlds are trembling with fear. (11.20)
Hosts of supernatural rulers enter into You. Some with folded hands sing Your names and glories in fear. A multitude of perfected beings hail and adore You with abundant praises. (11.21)
All the celestial beings gaze at You in amazement. Seeing your infinite form with many mouths, eyes, arms, thighs, feet, stomachs, and many fearful tusks, the worlds are trembling with fear, and so do I, O mighty Lord. (11.22-23)
I am frightened and find neither peace nor courage, O Krishna, after seeing Your effulgent and colorful form touching the sky and Your wide open mouth with large shining eyes. (11.24)
I lose my sense of direction and find no comfort after seeing Your mouths with fearful tusks glowing like fires of cosmic dissolution. Have mercy on me, O Lord of celestial rulers, and refuge of the universe! (11.25)
All my cousin brothers, along with the hosts of other kings and warriors of the other side, together with chief warriors on our side, are also quickly entering into Your fearful mouths with terrible tusks. Some are seen caught in between the tusks with their heads crushed. (11.26-27)
These warriors of the mortal world are entering Your blazing mouths as many torrents of rivers enter into the ocean. (11.28)
All these people are rapidly rushing into Your mouths for destruction as moths rush with great speed into the blazing flame for destruction. (11.29)
You are licking up all the worlds with Your flaming mouths, swallowing them from all sides. Your powerful radiance is filling the entire universe with effulgence and burning it, O Krishna. (11.30)
Tell me, who are You in such a fierce form? My salutations to You, O best of all celestial rulers. Be merciful! I wish to understand You, O primal Being, because I do not know Your mission. (11.31)
Lord Krishna said: I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world. I have come here to destroy all these people. Even without your participation in the war, all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exist. (11.32)
WE ARE ALL HIS INSTRUMENTS
Do your duty without attachment to results and consider yourself to be a mere instrument of God and not the doer. This is My battle, not yours. I use you, O Arjuna, only as an instrument. I do everything through your body. One must remember at all times that all battles are His, not ours. We are a mere divine instrument and not the doer, and He is in charge of all things. The will and power of God do everything. No one can do anything without His power and will. It is God only who makes one restless for material life or spiritual life. Those who are not Self-realized mistakenly take their will as Gods will and do wrong things.
Kill all these great warriors, who are already killed by Me. Do not fear. You will certainly conquer the enemies in the battle; therefore, fight! (11.34)
Sanjaya said: Having heard these words of Krishna, the crowned Arjuna, trembling with folded hands, prostrated with fear, spoke to Krishna in a choked voice. (11.35)
Arjuna said: Rightly, O Krishna, the world delights and rejoices in glorifying You. Terrified demons flee in all directions. The hosts of sages bow to You in adoration. (11.36)
Why should they not, O great soul, bow to You---the original Creator---who is even greater than Brahmā, the creator of material worlds? O infinite Lord, O God of all celestial rulers, O abode of the universe, You are both Eternal and Temporal, and the Supreme Being that is beyond Eternal and Temporal. (See also 9.19, and 13.12 for a commentary) (11.37)
You are the primal God, the most ancient Person. You are the ultimate resort of the entire universe. You are the knower, the object of knowledge, and the Supreme Abode. O Lord of the infinite form, You pervade the entire universe. (11.38)
You are the fire, the wind, the water god, the moon god, the Creator (Brahmā), as well as the father of the Creator (Brahmā), and the controller of death. Salutations to You a thousand times, and again and again salutations to You. (11.39)
My salutations to You from front and from behind. O Lord, my obeisance to You from all sides. You are infinite valor and boundless might. You pervade everything, and, therefore, You are everywhere and in everything. (11.40)
Considering You merely as a friend and not knowing Your greatness, I have inadvertently addressed You as O Krishna, O Yadava, and O friend merely out of affection or carelessness. (11.41)
In whatever way I may have insulted You in jokes while playing, reposing in bed, sitting, or at meals; when alone or in front of others, O Krishna, the immeasurable One, I implore You for forgiveness. (11.42)
You are the father of this animate and inanimate world and the greatest guru to be worshipped. No one is even equal to You in the three worlds; how can there be one greater than You, O Being of incomparable glory? (11.43)
Therefore, O adorable Lord, I seek Your mercy by bowing down and prostrating my body before You. Bear with me as a father to his son, as a friend to a friend, and as a husband to his wife, O Lord. (11.44)
Beholding that which has never been seen before delights me, and yet my mind is tormented with fear. Therefore, O God of celestial rulers, the refuge of the universe, have mercy on me and show me your four-armed form. (11.45)
I wish to see You with a crown, holding mace and discus in Your hand. Therefore, O Lord, with thousand arms and universal form, please appear in the four-armed form. (11.46)
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, being pleased with you I have shown you, through My own yogic powers, My particular supreme, shining, universal, infinite, and primal form that has never been seen before by anyone other than you. (11.47)
S. Radhakrishnan says: The vision is not the final goal of a seeker; in that case the Gita would have ended here. Even trance or Samādhi is neither the end nor the essential element of spiritual life as some people think. However, practice of meditation and Japa is recommended as a spiritual practice for the seeker. Samādhi is not the ultimate state of realization. The state of Self-realization or Turiyā state is far beyond Samādhi.
O Arjuna, neither by study of the Vedas nor by sacrifice nor by charity nor by rituals nor by severe austerities can I be seen in this cosmic form by any one other than you in this human world. (11.48)
AND THE HUMAN FORM
Do not be perturbed and confused by seeing such a terrible form of Mine as this. With fearless and cheerful mind, now behold My four-armed form. (11.49)
Sanjaya said: After speaking like this to Arjuna, Krishna revealed His four-armed form. And then assuming His pleasant human form, Lord Krishna, the Great One, consoled Arjuna, who was terrified. (11.50)
Arjuna said: O Krishna, seeing this lovely human form of Yours, I have now become tranquil and normal again. (11.51)
Lord Krishna said: This four-armed form of Mine that you have seen is very difficult, indeed, to see. Even celestial controllers are ever longing to see this form. (11.52)
No one attains the almighty Lord by good works alone (RV 8.70.03, AV 20.92.18). The omnipresent form of the Lord cannot be perceived by organs, but by the eyes of intuition and faith. The vision and yogic powers are the special gift and grace of God that may be granted, even without asking, when one is found fit by the Lord to use them in His service. According to Saint Ramdas, all visions of lights and forms have to be transcended before realization of the ultimate Truth. Yogic powers may become a hindrance on the path of spiritual journey.
But by unswerving devotion, I can be seen in this form, can be known in essence, and also can be reached, O Arjuna. (11.54)
One who dedicates all works to Me and to whom I am the supreme goal, who is my devotee, who has no attachment, and who is free from malice toward any creature---reaches Me, O Arjuna. (See also 8.22) (11.55)
Thus ends Chapter 11
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PATH OF DEVOTION
OR AN IMPERSONAL GOD?
Arjuna asked: Which of these has the best knowledge of yoga---those ever-steadfast devotees who worship Your personal aspect, or those who worship Your impersonal aspect, the formless Absolute? (12.01)
Lord Krishna explained the superiority of the path of spiritual knowledge in the fourth chapter (4.33, and 4.34). He explained the importance of worship of the formless Supreme (or Self) in verses 5.24-25, 6.24-28, and 8.11-13. He also emphasized the worship of God with form or Krishna in 7.16-18, 9.34, and 11.54-55. It was thus natural for Arjuna to ask which path is better for most people in general.
Devotion is defined as the highest love for God (SBS 02). True devotion is motiveless intense love of God to attain Him (NBS 02). Real devotion is seeking Gods grace and serving with love to please Him. Thus, devotion is doing ones duty as service to the Lord with love of God in ones heart. It is also said that devotion is granted by the grace of God. A loving relationship with God is easily developed through a personal God. The faithful followers of the path of devotion to the personal God in human form such as Rama, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad are considered the best. Some saints consider devotion superior to Self-knowledge (SBS 05).
All spiritual practices are useless in the absence of devotion, the deep love of God. The pearl of Self-knowledge is born on the nucleus of faith and devotion only. Saint Ramanuja said that those who worship the manifest reach their goal sooner and with less difficulty. Love of God and all His creatures is the essence of all religion.
They also attain Me who worship the unchangeable, the inexplicable, the invisible, the omnipresent, the inconceivable, the unchanging, the immovable, and eternal---restraining all the senses, even-minded under all circumstances, engaged in the welfare of all creatures. (12.03-04)
A person who is competent to worship the formless aspect of God must have a complete mastery over the senses, be tranquil under all circumstances, and be engaged in the welfare of all creatures. The path of personalism allows one to relish the name, form, and pastimes of the Lord as they happened when He manifested on the earth. The path of impersonalism is dry, full of difficulties, and advancement on this path is very slow as discussed in the next verse.
FORM OF GOD
One must be free from body-feeling and be established in feeling the existence of the Self alone if one wants to succeed in worship of formless Absolute. One becomes free from the bodily conception of life when one is fully purified and acts solely for the Supreme Lord. Attainment of such a state is not possible for the average human being, but only for advanced souls. Therefore, the natural course for the ordinary seeker is to worship God with a form. Thus the method of worship depends on the individual. One should find out for oneself which method suits one best. It is quite fruitless to ask a child to worship a formless God, whereas a sage sees God in every form and does not need a statue or even a picture of God for worship.
Loving contemplation and deity worship of a personal God is a necessary first step for realization of the impersonal Absolute. It is also said that devotion to the personal aspect of God leads one to the transcendental aspect. God is not only an extra cosmic, all-powerful Being, but the very Self in all beings. The worship of God as a person in the form of one's personal favorite deity stimulates divine love that rouses Self-consciousness and experience of unity in due course of time. God, the transcendent, is revealed in ones pure inner psyche after the loving contemplation of God, the immanent.
There is no real difference between the two paths---the path of devotion to a personal God and the path of Self-knowledge of the impersonal God---in their higher reaches. In the highest stage of realization they merge and become one. Other sages also consider the path of devotion easier for most people, particularly for beginners. According to Tulasidasa, the path of Self-knowledge is difficult to comprehend, to explain, and to follow. It is also very easy to fall down from the path of knowledge or retreat to the lower sensual plane of consciousness (TR 7.118.00). In the next two verses, the Lord says that the path of devotion is not only easier, but also faster than the path of knowledge.
The personal and the impersonal, the physical form and the transcendental form, are the two sides of the coin of ultimate Reality. Ramakrishna said: Image worship is necessary in the beginning, but not afterwards, just as a scaffolding is necessary during the construction of a building. The subconscious or meditative (Alpha) state of mind knows the language of pictures or visualization only. The conscious mind knows reasoning. A person must learn to fix thoughts and mind first on a personal God with a form and then, after succeeding therein, fix them upon the transcendental form. The highest liberation is possible only by realization of God as the very Self in all beings, (BS 4.3.15, ShU 3.07) and it comes only through maturity of devotion from a personal God to the impersonal Absolute. This realization is the second (or spiritual) birth that takes place by the grace of a Self-realized master. A combination of both deity worship and the knowledge of the Absolute may be more effective.
According to ancient scriptures, any spiritual practice becomes more powerful when it is done with knowledge, faith, and contemplation of a personal deity (ChU 1.01.10). Ascetic practice, prayer, charity, penance, performance of sacrifice, vows, and other religious observances fail to evoke Lords compassion to the same degree as unalloyed devotion does. The magnet of devotion easily attracts the Lord (TR 6.117.00).
But to those who worship Me meditating on My personal form with unswerving devotion, setting Me as their supreme goal, offering all actions to Me---I swiftly become their savior from the world that is the ocean of death and transmigration, O Arjuna. (12.06-07)
One can easily cross the ocean of transmigration with the help of the boat of unswerving love and devotion to a personal God with form (TR 7.122.00). The following verses explain four different methods of worship of God with or without the help of a form of God or deity.
People are born different. Anybody who prescribes one method for all is certainly deluded because there is no panacea. A single method or system cannot meet the spiritual needs of all. Hinduism, with its many branches and sub-branches, offers a very wide choice of spiritual practices to suit persons in any stage of spiritual development. All paths lead to salvation because they all culminate in devotion---the intense love of God.
This is the path of meditation and contemplation on the Absolute (See Chapter 6 for more details) for the contemplative mind. Thinking of God all the time is different from only worshipping a God with form, but both practices are the same in quality and effect. In other words, contemplation is also a form of worship.
If you are unable to focus your mind steadily on Me, then long to attain Me by practice of any other spiritual discipline, such as a ritual, or deity worship that suits you. (12.09)
This is the path of ritual, prayer, and devotional worship recommended for people who are emotional, have more faith but less reasoning and intellect (See also 9.32). Constantly contemplate and concentrate your mind on God, using symbols or mental pictures of a personal God as an aid to develop devotion.
If you are unable even to do any spiritual discipline, then dedicate all your work to Me (or do your duty just for Me). You shall attain perfection by doing your prescribed duty for Me (without any personal motive, just as an instrument, to serve and please Me). (12.10)
This is the path of transcendental knowledge or renunciation, acquired through contemplation and scriptural study for people who have realized the truth that we are only divine instruments. (See also 9.27, 18.46). Lord Himself guides every endeavor of the person who works for the good of humanity, and success comes to a person who dedicates his or her life to the service of God.
If you are unable to dedicate your work to Me, then just surrender unto My will with subdued mind and renounce (the attachment to and the anxiety for) the fruits of all work (by learning to accept all results with equanimity as God's grace). (12.11)
This is the path of KarmaYoga, the selfless service to humanity, discussed in Chapter 3, for householders who cannot renounce worldly activity and work full-time for God, as discussed in verse 12.10, above. The main thrust of verses 12.08-11 is that one must establish some relationship with the Lord---such as the progenitor, father, mother, beloved, child, savior, guru, master, helper, guest, friend, and even an enemy.
KarmaYoga, or the renunciation of attachment to fruits of work, is not a method of last resort---as it may appear from verse 12.11. It is explained in the following verse.
TO START WITH
Knowledge of scriptures is better than mere ritualistic practice; meditation is better than plain scriptural knowledge; renunciation of (attachment to) the fruits of work is better than meditation because peace immediately follows renunciation of all motives. (See more on renunciation in 18.02, and 18.09) (12.12)
When true knowledge of the Self increases, all Karma is gradually eliminated because one who is situated in Self-knowledge thinks he or she is not the doer but an instrument working at the pleasure of the creator. Such an action in God-consciousness becomes devotion---free from any Karmic bondage. Thus, there is no sharp demarcation between the paths of selfless service, spiritual knowledge, and devotion. Renunciation of attachments and desires is the backbone and the ultimate goal of any spiritual practice. Renunciation is also relatively easy to practice and is essence of the teachings of the Gita.
One is dear to Me who does not hate any creature, who is friendly and compassionate, who is free from the notion of I and my, who is even-minded in pain and pleasure, who is forgiving, who is ever content, who has subdued the mind, whose resolve is firm, whose mind and intellect are engaged in dwelling upon Me, and who is devoted to Me. (12.13-14)
To attain oneness with God, one has to become perfect like Him by cultivating moral virtues. Saint Tulasidasa said: O Lord, anyone on whom You shower Your favor becomes an ocean of perfection. The monstrous squad of lust, anger, greed, infatuation, and pride haunts the mind so long as the Lord does not abide in the inner psyche. Virtues and discipline are two sure means of devotion. A list of forty (40) virtues and values is given in verses 12.13-12.19 by describing the qualities of an ideal devotee, or a Self-realized person. All these noble qualities become manifest in a devotee.
One is also dear to Me who does not agitate others and who is not agitated by them, who is free from joy, envy, fear, and anxiety. (12.15)
Six enemies---lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, and envy ---reside in us as long as devotion and/ or Jnāna does not abide in us.
One who is desireless, pure, wise, impartial, and free from anxiety; who has renounced the doership in all undertakings---such a devotee is dear to Me. (12.16)
One who remains the same towards friend or foe, in honor or disgrace, in heat or cold, in pleasure or pain; who is free from attachment; who is indifferent to censure or praise; who is quiet, and content with whatever one has, unattached to a place, a country, or a house; who is tranquil, and full of devotion---that person is dear to Me. (12.18-19)
It is said that divine Controllers with their exalted qualities, such as the knowledge of God, wisdom, renunciation, detachment, and equanimity, always reside in the inner psyche of a pure devotee. Thus, perfect devotees who have renounced affinity for the world and its objects and have love for God are rewarded by the Lord with divine qualities discussed above and elsewhere in the Gita, and are dear to the Lord. But what about those who are imperfect, but trying sincerely for perfection? The answer comes in the next verse.
DEVELOP DIVINE QUALITIES
One may not have all the virtues, but a sincere effort to develop virtues is most appreciated by the Lord. Thus the striver is very dear to the Lord. The upper-class devotees do not desire anything, including salvation from the Lord, except for one boon: devotion to the lotus feet of a personal God, birth after birth (TR 2.204.00). Lower class devotees use God as a servant to fulfill their material demands and desires. The development of unswerving love and devotion to the lotus feet of the Lord is the ultimate aim of all spiritual discipline and meritorious deeds, as well as the goal of human birth. A true devotee considers oneself the servant, the Lord as the master, and the entire creation as His body.
Lord Rama said: Without devotion all virtues and blessings are as insipid as any quantity of condiments without salt. All are dear to Me, for all are My creation; but I like human beings the most. Among humans, those who follow the course of conduct prescribed in the Vedas; of these again, persons with an attitude of dispassion (Vairāgi) are My favorites and yet more those who have Self-knowledge (Jnāni); of these too I love best the Self-realized (Vijnāni). But dearest to Me is My devotee-servant who solely depends on Me only. (TR 7.83.03, 7.85.02-05).
The path of devotion is a better path for most people, but devotion does not develop without a combination of personal effort, faith, and the grace of God. Nine techniques for cultivating devotion---an intense love for God as a personal Being---based on Tulasi Ramayana (TR 3.34.04-3.35.03), are: (1) The company of the holy and wise (Satsang), (2) Hearing and reading the glories and stories of Lords incarnations and His activities of creation, preservation and dissolution as given in the religious scriptures, (3) Sevā or serving God through service to the needy, the saints, and society, (4) Congregational chanting and singing of the glories of God, (5) Repeating the Lords name and mantra with firm faith, (6) Discipline, control over the six senses, and detachment, (7) Seeing your personal God everywhere and in everything, (8) Contentment and lack of greed as well as overlooking others faults, and (9) Simplicity, lack of anger, jealousy, and hatred. The best thing a person should do is develop love of God. Lord Rama said that one needs to follow any one of the above methods with faith to develop love of God and become a devotee.
It is said that friendship, discussions, dealings, and marriage should be with equals or those who are better than oneself, not with persons of lower level of intellect (MB 5.13.117). Its a good saying that men should be fairly matched in love and war. If a lion were to kill frogs, will it be commendable? A person is known by the company he or she keeps. According to most saints and sages, the path of devotion is very simple and easy to perform. One can begin by simply chanting a personal mantra or any holy name of God. There is no restriction on the correct time or place for chanting the holy name of God. The process of devotional service consists of one or more of the following practices: hearing discourses, chanting the holy name of God, remembering and contemplating God, worshipping and praying to Him.
Five methods to attain Godhood are: (1) Serving humanity (Sevā, Voluntary social services), (2) Study of scriptures, (3) any suitable spiritual practice, (4) Satsang, and (5) Surrendering to His will. The power of analysis and reasoning or Viveka does not develop without regular Satsang over a long period of time. Without Satsang, one does not hear stories of the Lord and delusion will not go away; till delusion is dispelled, one cannot have unswerving devotion to Lord Ramas lotus feet (TR 7.61.00). Wisdom (Jnāna) is ruined by bad company and increased by the company of the wise (Satsang). It is said that all types of pleasures will not outweigh the joy of Satsang.
The four inter-connected paths of yoga discussed in the first twelve chapters of the Gita may be summarized as follows: The practice of KarmaYoga leads to purification of the mind from the stain of selfishness that paves the way for knowledge of God to be revealed. Knowledge develops into devotional love of God. Constantly thinking of God, the object of our love, due to devotion is called meditation and contemplation that eventually lead to enlightenment and salvation.
Lord Krishna has been talking about both manifest and unmanifest aspects of God in the previous chapters. Arjunas question has been answered in great detail in this chapter, but people still argue that one method of worship or certain religious practices are better than others. Such persons only understand half the truth. In our opinion, it is quite clear that the method of worship depends on the nature of the individual (BP 11.20.6-8). The person or the persons guru should find out which path will be most suitable for the individual, depending on the person's temperament. To force gurus personal spiritual practice on people is the greatest disservice a guru can do to disciples. Introverts should worship a personal God, whereas extroverts may contemplate the impersonal aspect. The important thing is to develop faith in and love of God. God has the power to manifest before a devotee in any form, regardless of the devotees chosen form of worship.
What has worked for one may not work for all, so what makes you think your method is universal? There was no need for the Lord to discuss different paths of yoga if there was one path for all. If the chosen path of spiritual discipline does not give one peace or God-realization, then it must be understood that one is not practicing correctly or the path is not right for the individual.
Thus ends Chapter 12
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CREATION AND THE CREATOR
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, this physical body, the miniature universe, may be called the field or creation. One who knows the creation is called the Creator (or the Spirit, Atmā, God, Ishvara) by the seers of truth. (13.01)
Whatever is here in the body is also there in the cosmos; whatever is there, the same is here (KaU 4.10). The human body, the microcosm, is a replica of the universe, the macrocosm. The body is called the field of activities for the soul where one reaps what one sows as Karma---good and bad. The body or creation is different from the soul or the Creator. To experience this difference is the metaphysical knowledge.
The two components of the field of our body-mind complex are: The field of righteousness and the field of unrighteousness as mentioned in the first verse of the Gita. Human body, that was given to us to realize our real nature or Dharma as to who we are, may be also called the field of Dharma. This Field of Dharma has been reduced to Kurukshetra, the field of conflict, by the mind or Maya. A constant war (or conflict) of Mahābhārata is also going on between good and evil tendencies of human mind. The Kauravas and Pāndavas represent the demonic and divine tendencies, respectively, in all human being as discussed in great details by Lord Krishna in Chapter 16.
The purpose of the Bhagavad-Gita is to resolve this conflict by realizing the true nature of all beings as Atmā.
The body (or creation) and Spirit (or the Creator) are distinct from one another. Yet, the ignorant are not able to distinguish between them. That knowledge is the true knowledge by which one is able to make a clear distinction between body and Spirit. Body is called the field (or the medium) of activities for the Spirit. The human body is the medium by which the individual soul enjoys the material world, gets entangled, and in the end attains liberation. The soul inside the body knows all the activities of its own body; it is, therefore, called the knower of the field of activities. The Supersoul knows all the bodies, whereas the individual soul knows only his own body. When one clearly understands the difference between the body, the individual soul inside the body, and the Supersoul, one is said to have real knowledge.
What creation is, what it is like, what its transformations are, where the source of creation is, who that Creator is, and what His powers are---hear all these from Me in brief. (13.03)
The seers have separately described the creation and the Creator in different ways in the Vedic hymns and also in the conclusive and convincing verses of other scriptures. (13.04)
The Gita also expounds on the truths of other scriptures. All scriptures, as well as saints and sages of all religions, draw the water of truth from the same ocean of Spirit. Their accent varies with the need of the individual and the society at the time.
The five basic elements, I consciousness or ego, intellect, unmanifest Nature, ten organs, mind, five sense objects, and desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the physical body, consciousness, and willpower---thus the entire field has been briefly described with its transformations. (See also 7.04) (13.05-06)
According to Sankhya doctrine (BP 3.26.10-18, 11.22.10-16), Spirit undergoes twenty-four basic transformations in the following manner:
Spiritual Being (Purusha, Chetanā, Ishvara) and the following twenty-three transformations of Total Energy (Prakriti, Mahat): Mind, Intellect, and the conception of individuality (ego); the five basic elements, or raw ingredients, in subtle and gross form (earth, water, fire, air and ether or subtle substance); five sense objects (smell, taste, sight, touch and sound) and corresponding five sense organs (nose, tongue, eye, skin and ear); and five organs of action (mouth, hand, leg, anus, and urethra).
The Supreme Intellect (or mind) is known by various names, based on functions performed in the body. It is called mind when it feels and thinks, intellect when it reasons, thought waves (Chitta Vritti) when it does the act of remembering and wandering from one thought to another, and ego when it has the feeling of doership and individuality.
The mind does many other tasks such as: remembrance, imagination, worry, happiness, frustration, lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, envy, right knowledge, ignorance or wrong knowledge due to delusion, likes and dislikes, boredom, obsessions, bitterness, desire, dream, and deep sleep, etc. The subtle senses consist of all four---mind, intellect, thought waves, and ego.
It is the Karmic footprints that make the final decision by controlling the mind and intellect. When the cosmic power does the functions of the body, it is called the cosmic bioimpulse (Vital life forces, Prāna). The main Prāna (or energy) and matter were both born of the Atman or Purusha, like the shadow is born of the body. It enters the body by the acts of the mind and engages other five main assistant Prānas (Prāna, Apāna, Udāna, Vyāna and Samāna) to separate activities in the body (PrU 3.03-04). From Prāna the entire creation---ether, air, fire, water, earth, the body, senses, mind, intellect, food, and the world came out (PrU 6.04).
The Supreme Spirit or Consciousness manifests Itself as both energy (Prāna) and matter. Matter and energy are nothing but condensed forms of Consciousness. According to Einstein, mind and matter are both energies (Prāna). Ramana Maharshi said: The mind is a form of energy. It manifests itself as the world.
THE FOURFOLD NOBLE TRUTH AS
Humility, modesty, nonviolence, forgiveness, honesty, service to guru, purity of thought, word, and deed, steadfastness, self-control, aversion for sense objects, absence of ego, constant reflection on pain and suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death. (13.07-08)
Verse 13.08 of the Gita formed the foundation of Buddhism. Contemplation of suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death are called the understanding of the Fourfold Noble Truth in Buddhism. The fear of disease and death etc. is due to body consciousness or ego and is removed when one becomes God conscious by Self-knowledge that I am not this body, but Atmā. A Self-realized (or God conscious) person is not bothered by any adversity. A disgust and discontent for the meaninglessness and unreality of the world and its objects become a necessary prelude to the spiritual journey. As birds seek the shelter of a tree when tired, similarly human beings seek the divine shelter after discovering the frustrations and joylessness of material existence.
Detachment with family members, home, etc.; unfailing equanimity upon attainment of the desirable and the undesirable and unswerving devotion to Me through single-minded contemplation; taste for solitude; distaste for social gatherings and gossips; steadfastness in acquiring the knowledge of the Self; and seeing the omnipresent Supreme Being everywhere
---this is said to be (the means of) Self-knowledge. That which is contrary to this is ignorance. (13.09-11)
Cultivating the virtues described in verses 13.07-11 will enable one to perceive the body as different from the Self. Thus, one will attain Self-knowledge. Therefore, these virtues are called knowledge. Those who do not possess these virtues cannot get the true knowledge of the Self and will remain in the darkness of body-consciousness or ignorance.
When one becomes firmly convinced that God alone is everything---father, mother, brother, friend, enemy, sustainer, destroyer, and refuge---and there is nothing higher than Him to attain, and one has no thought of any other object, one is said to have developed unswerving devotion to the Lord through single-minded contemplation. In this state of mind, the seeker and the sought-after become qualitatively one and the same.