Descent Of Divine Being On Earth……………………..…157
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 SanAtana 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 MahAbhArata. It teaches the universal spiritual philosophy regarding the metaphysical science of the highest Reality. The Gita gives a non-fearbased 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 one’s 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, one’s 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 Arjuna’s 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, MahAbhArata---containing over 100,000 verses. 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 MahAbhArata is not kept in mind. Therefore, a brief historical description is in order.
In ancient times there was a king who had two sons, DhritarAshtra and PAndu. The former was born blind; therefore, PAndu inherited the kingdom. PAndu had five sons. They were called the PAndavas. DhritarAshtra had one hundred sons. They were called the Kauravas. Duryodhana was the eldest of the Kauravas.
After the death of king PAndu, the eldest son of PAndu became the lawful King. Duryodhana was a very jealous person. He also wanted the kingdom. The kingdom was divided into two halves between the PAndavas 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 PAndavas and take away their kingdom. He unlawfully took possession of the entire kingdom of the PAndavas 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 MahAbhArata was thus inevitable. The PAndavas 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 PAndava brothers, faced the dilemma in the battlefield whether to fight or run away from war for the sake of peace.
Arjuna’s dilemma is, in reality, the universal dilemma. All human beings face dilemmas, big and small, in their everyday life when performing their duties. Arjuna’s 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, DhritarAshtra, 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 one’s 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 Lord’s 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 humanity’s 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. All 700 verses of the Gita are Italicized and key verses are highlighted for the convenience of first-time readers. We suggest all readers to ponder, contemplate, and act upon these key 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 the Gita.
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.
The war of MahAbhArata had begun after
all negotiations by Lord
Bhishma, the mightiest man and the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava’s 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:
The King inquired: Sanjaya, 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) ß Ch.&Verse #
NOTE: English translation of Gita Verses are printed in Bold Italics, as above. Commentaries of selected verses are printed in
“No Bold, no Italics”
NOTE 1: We have purposely postponed a discussion of this very important opening verse here. A 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.
Sanjaya said: O King, after seeing the battle formation of the PAndava’s 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 MahAbhArata 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 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.
ARJUNA WANTS TO INSPECT THE ARMY
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
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
Arjuna saw his uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, and other comrades in the army. (1.26)
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
The bow slips from my hand and my skin
intensely burns. My head turns, I am unable to stand steady, and O
I desire neither victory nor pleasure nor
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
Therefore, we should not kill our cousin
brothers. How can we be happy after killing our relatives, O
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
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
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
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)
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 the first chapter
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)
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.
My senses are overcome by the weakness of pity, and my mind is confused about duty (Dharma). Please tell me what is better for me. I am Your disciple, and I take refuge in You. (2.07)
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)
Lord Krishna said: You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief and yet speak words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. (2.11)
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 AtmA) 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 ‘AtmA’ 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. One’s 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 MithyA) existence and the real (Sat, AtmA) 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 AtmA as the 'World Soul', from whi
Our physical body is subject to birth,
growth, maturity, reproduction, decay, and death; whereas the Self is eternal,
indestructible, pure, unique, all knower, substratum, un
Know that Spirit (AtmA) 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 (AtmA) is immortal. Therefore, as a warrior, you must fight, O Arjuna. (2.18)
One who thinks that the Spirit is a slayer, and one who thinks the Spirit is slain are both ignorant because the Spirit neither slays nor is slain. (2.19)
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 person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones, similarly the living entity or the individual soul acquires other new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22)
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,
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 person’s 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 under all circumstances: A
life for life. Lord
All beings are unmanifest (or invisible to our physical eyes) before birth and after death. They manifest between birth and death only. What is there to grieve about? (2.28)
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)
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)
Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, and victory and defeat alike, engage yourself in the battle. By doing your duty this way, you will not incur any sin. (2.38)
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).