The Srimad Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, narrated in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata. It comprises eighteen discourses of a total of 701 Sanskrit verses.
On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna, during the course of His most instructive and interesting talk with Arjuna, revealed profound, sublime and soul-stirring spiritual truths, and expounded the rare secrets of Yoga, Vedanta, Bhakti and Karma. Since the Bhagavad Gita encapsulates most of the important aspects of the knowledge of the Vedas, it is also called the Gitā Upaniṣhad.
The Gita is a boundless ocean of nectar. It is the immortal celestial fruit of the Upanishadic tree. In this unique book one will find an unbiased exposition of the philosophy of action, devotion and knowledge, together with a wonderfully woven synthesis of these three. The Vedic scriptures are vast, but three of them have traditionally been called the Prasthān Trayī (three points of commencement for understanding Vedic thought). These are the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita.
The Knowledge that helps a person resolve immediate problems is one kind of enlightenment, while knowledge that dispels the root of ignorance to solve all problems in one strike is another kind of enlightenment. The Bhagavad Gita aims at the second kind of enlightenment by destroying the darkness of ignorance that has enveloped the soul since endless lifetimes.
The Vedas states that: “ekasmin vijñāte sarvamidaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati” – One who comes to know the Absolute Truth attains knowledge of everything. The science of knowing the Absolute Truth is called “Brahma Vidyā.” The purpose of the Bhagavad Gita, above everything else, is to impart Brahma Vidyā, the science of God-realization.
Discourse in the Kurukshetra Battle Field
The great Mahabharata war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas took place on the holy plain of Kurukshetra. After the failure of Lord Krishna’s peace mission, when He Himself went to Hastinapura as the emissary of the Pandavas, there was no other alternative for the Pandavas but to engage in war for their rightful share of the kingdom.
Lord Krishna arrived on the scene in a magnificent chariot yoked by white horses. He was to act as the charioteer of Arjuna, one of the Pandava princes.
The din of hundreds of conches, blaring forth suddenly, announced the commencement of the battle. Arjuna blew his conch “Devadatta”, while Bhima, his brother, sounded the “Paundra”. All the other great warriors blew their respective conches. As the two armies were arrayed, ready for battle, Arjuna requested Krishna to place his chariot between them so that he might survey his opponents.
First Discourse – Arjuna’s Grief
Arjuna was bewildered by the scene before him, for he beheld on both sides, fathers and grandfathers, teachers and uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, relatives and comrades.
Confusion reigned in Arjuna’s mind. Should he participate in this terrible carnage? Was it proper to destroy one’s relatives for the sake of a kingdom and some pleasures? Would it not be much better for him to surrender everything in favour of his enemies and retire in peace? As these thoughts rushed into his mind, a feeling of despondency overtook Arjuna. He had no enthusiasm to engage in this battle. Letting his bow slip from his hands, Arjuna could do nothing but turn to Lord Krishna for guidance and enlightenment.
Arjuna said: Seeing these, my kinsmen, O Krishna, arrayed, eager to fight, My limbs fail and my mouth is parched up, my body quivers and my hairs stand on end! My limbs fail and my mouth is parched up, my body quivers and my hairs stand on end! O Kesava! I do not see any good in killing my kinsmen in battle. For I desire neither victory, O Krishna, nor pleasures nor kingdoms! Of what avail is a dominion to us, O Krishna, or pleasures or even life? (B.G. C.I; V.28-32)
Arjuna Said: Teachers, fathers, sons and also grandfathers, grandsons, fathers-in-law, maternal uncles, brothers-in-law and relatives, These I do not wish to kill, though they kill me, O Krishna, even for the sake of dominion over the three worlds, leave alone killing them for the sake of the earth! (B.G. C.I; V.33-35)
Arjuna Said: Therefore, we should not kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, our relatives; for, how can we be happy by killing our own people, O Madhava (Krishna)? Though they, with intelligence overpowered by greed, see no evil in the destruction of families, and no sin in hostility to friends. Why should not we, who clearly see evil in the destruction of a family, learn to turn away from this sin, O Janardana (Krishna)? (B.G. C.I; V.37-39)
Second Discourse – Samkhya Yoga
Sri Krishna Said: In this crisis O Arjuna, whence comes such lowness of spirit, this dejection which is unworthy of thee, disgraceful, and which will close the gates of heaven upon thee, O Arjuna? Yield not to impotence, O Arjuna, son of Pritha! It does not befit you. Cast off this mean weakness of the heart. Stand up, O scorcher of enemies! (B.G. C.II; V.1-2)
Arjuna said: How, O Madhusudana, shall I fight in battle with arrows against Bhishma and Drona, who are fit to be worshipped, O destroyer of enemies? My heart is overpowered by the taint of pity, my mind is confused as to duty. I ask Thee: tell me decisively what is good for me. I am Thy disciple. Instruct me who has taken refuge in Thee. (B.G. C.II; V.5-7)
Since Sri Krishna has discovered that the deep-seated delusion and grief of Arjuna cannot be removed without the knowledge of Reality, He immediately starts his discourse on the immortality of the Soul.
Sri Krishna Said: O Arjuna, you have been grieving for those that should not be grieved for, yet you speak words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. (B.G. C.II; V.11)
Sri Krishna Said: Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor these kings of men. Never will there be a time hereafter when any of us shall cease to be. Just as in this body the embodied (soul) passes into childhood, youth and old age, so also does he pass into another body; the wise men does not bewildered by this. Sri Krishna Said: O Arjuna, you have been grieving for those that should not be grieved for, yet you speak words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. (B.G. C.II; V.12-13)
Sri Krishna Said: Notions of heat and cold, of pain and pleasure, arise, only from contacts of the senses with their objects. O son of Kunti, they come and go; they have a beginning and an end; they are impermanent; endure them bravely, O Arjuna! (B.G. C.II; V.14)
What, then, is that which is always real?
Teaching: Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna the imperishable nature of the Atman, for which there is no past, present and future. The Atman never dies, as It transcends the five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether, It cannot be cut, burnt or dried. It is unchanging and eternal.
The Self (Atman) pervades all objects like ether. Even if the pot is broken, the ether that is within and without it cannot be destroyed. Similarly, if the bodies and all other objects perish, the eternal Self that pervades them cannot be destroyed; It is the living Truth.
Sri Krishna Said: That calm men who remains unchanged in pain and pleasure, whom these cannot disturb, alone is able, to attain immortality O greatest of men. These bodies of the embodied Self, which is eternal, indestructible and immeasurable, are said to have an end. That by which all this is pervaded know to be imperishable. None can cause the destruction of that which is immutable. Therefore, fight, O Arjuna! (B.G. C.II; V.15-16)
Why is the Self Immutable?
Sri Krishna Said: Self is never born, nor does it ever die. It is unborn, eternal, permanent and primeval. Just as a man casts-off worn out clothes and puts on new ones, so also the embodied Self casts off worn-out bodies and enters others that are new. (B.G. C.II; V.20-22)
The Self is part less. It is infinite and extremely subtle. So the sword cannot cut It, fire cannot burn It, wind cannot dry It. Birth is inevitable to what is dead and death is inevitable to what is born. The physical body is a combination of the five elements. It is perceived by the physical eye only after the five elements have entered into such combination. After death the body disintegrates and all the five elements return to their source. This is the law of Nature. Therefore, one should not grieve. (B.G. C.II; V.24-26)
Sri Krishna concludes the topic;
Sri Krishna Said: This, Self or Atman, is the Indweller in the body of everyone, is always indestructible, O Arjuna! Therefore, you should not grieve for any creature. Further, having regard to thy own duty, thou should not waver, for there is nothing higher for a Kshatriya (warrior) than a righteous war. Having made pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat the same, engage yourself in battle for the sake of battle; thus you shall not incur sin. This which has been taught to you, is wisdom concerning Samkhya. (B.G. C.II; V.30-39)
Samkhya: The true nature of the Absolute Reality. This wisdom refers to Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge, which teaches discrimination between the Real and the unreal and urges renunciation of the unreal. The knowledge of the Reality directly destroys ignorance, which is the cause of birth and death in the relative world, and of the grief and delusion inevitably associated with it.
Karma Yoga: The path of action. The follower of this path engages in action without any desire for or attachment to the result. He regards himself as an instrument of God. It is desire and attachment that create the subtle impressions in the mind which are the seeds of future action. Action performed without attachment or care for the result does not create new karma, but leaves the will free to devote him/her self to the achievement of Self-realization. This is the secret of Karma Yoga.
Sri Krishna said: In this there is no loss of effort, nor is there any harm (the production of contrary results or transgression). Even a little of this knowledge (even a little practice of this Yoga) protects one from great fear. In Karma Yoga (selfless action) even a little effort brings immediate purification of the heart. Purification of the heart leads to fearlessness. (B.G. C.II; V.40)
In this – that is to say; Karma Yoga, is characterized by devotion to God and firm conviction that Self-realization will be achieved through his Grace. Selfish action motivated by a desire for enjoyment of happiness, such as is described in the ritualistic section of the Vedas, is condemned.
Sri Krishna Said: Your right is to work only, but never with its fruits; let not the fruits of actions be your motive, nor let your attachment be to non-action. Perform action, O Arjuna, being steadfast in Yoga, abandoning attachment and balanced in success and failure! Evenness of mind is called Yoga. (B.G. C.II; V.47-48)
Teaching: Actions done with expectation of its rewards bring bondage. If you do not thirst for them, you get purification of heart and ultimately knowledge of the Self. Actions done with evenness of mind is the Yoga of wisdom. Actions performed by one who expects their fruits are far inferior to the Yoga of wisdom wherein the seeker does not seek the fruits. The former leads to bondage, and is the cause of birth and death.
Yoga: The state of being an instrument in the hands of God, having given up even the desire that through our action we shall please him. Only thus can one remain unconcerned as to success and failure.
Attachment: The notion that arises when a man regards himself not as the instrument but as the doer of an action. An action performed with a view to the result is of very inferior value.
How does Karma (action) lead to liberation (Mukti)?
Sri Krishna Said: The wise, possessed of knowledge, having abandoned the fruits of their actions, and being freed from the fetters of birth, go to the place which is beyond all evil. (B.G. C.II; V.51)
Teaching: Clinging to the fruits of actions is the cause of rebirth. Man has to take a body to enjoy them. If actions are done for the sake of God, without desire for the fruits, one is released from the bonds of birth and death and attains to immortal bliss.
What are the characteristics of one who has attained wisdom through Samadhi?
Arjuna Said: O Krishna, is the description of him who has steady wisdom and is merged in the Samadhi (Superconscious State)? How does one of steady wisdom speak? How does he sit? How does he walk? (B.G. C.II; V.54)
Steady wisdom – The wisdom that makes a man realize that he is Brahman (Supreme Truth). Merged in Samadhi – fully conscious of his identity with Brahman.
Sri Krishna Said: O Arjuna, When a man completely casts off, all the desires of the mind and is satisfied in the Self by the Self, then is he said to be one of steady wisdom! He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom. He who is everywhere without attachment, on meeting with anything good or bad, who neither rejoices nor hates, his wisdom is fixed. When, like the tortoise which withdraws its limbs on all sides, he withdraws his senses from the sense-objects, then his wisdom becomes steady. The objects of the senses turn away from the abstinent man, leaving the longing (behind); but his longing also turns away on seeing the Supreme. (B.G. C.II; V.55-59)
Teaching: All the pleasures of the world are worthless to an illumined sage who is ever content in the immortal Self.
The very thought of sense objects causes future misfortune;
Sri Krishna Said: When a man thinks of the objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment desire is born; from desire anger arises. From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination; from the destruction of discrimination he perishes. (B.G. C.II; V.62-63)
If thinking of objects leads to suffering, what leads to peace?
Sri Krishna Said: The self-controlled man, moving amongst objects with the senses under restraint, and free from attachment and repulsion (hate), attains serenity of mind (peace). The man attains peace, who, abandoning all desires, moves about without longing, without the sense of mine and without egoism. (B.G. C.II; V.64)
What does one attain through serenity?
Sri Krishna Said: The man attains peace (serenity of mind), there is an end of all sorrows, who, abandoning all desires, moves about without longing, without the sense of mine and without egoism. (B.G. C.II; V.65)
Teaching: The desire less person alone attains eternal peace. This is the Brahmic state (Eternal state). Attaining it, one is no longer deluded. Being established therein even at the end of life, one attains oneness with Brahman.
Third Discourse – The Yoga of Action
In order to remove Moha or attachment, which was the sole cause of Arjuna’s delusion, Sri Krishna taught him the imperishable nature of the Atman, the realization of which would grant him the freedom of the Eternal. A doubt therefore arises in Arjuna’s mind as to the necessity of engaging in action even after one has attained this state.
Arjuna feels confused by the Lord’s praise of both the righteous war and the knowledge of the Brahman (Supreme Truth)
Arjuna Said: If it be thought by Thee that knowledge is superior to action, O Krishna, why then, do you ask me to engage in this terrible action? With these apparently contradictory words, O Lord! You seem to confuse my understanding. Therefore tell me definitely that one way by which I shall reach the Highest goal. (B.G. C.III; V.1-2)
Seem to confuse: There is no confusion in the Lord’s words; but to the dull understanding of Arjuna it seem confusing
Sri Krishna Said: In this world there is a two fold path, as I said before, O sinless one, the path of knowledge of the Sankhyas and the path of action of the Yogis! Not by merely abstaining from action does a man reach the state of actionlessness, nor by mere renunciation does he arrive perfection. (B.G. C.III; V.3-4)
Teaching: An aspirant should perform his duties, determined by his birth and position in the society, until he achieves purity of mind and becomes competent to follow the path of knowledge. There cannot be any knowledge of Brahman unless the mind is pure.
Renunciation: Abandonment of action before fitness to pursue the path of knowledge has been achieved.
Why does a person not attain perfection by mere renunciation unaccompanied by knowledge?
Sri Krishna Said: He who restrains his organs of action, but continues to dwell in his mind on the objects of the senses, deludes himself and is called a hypocrite. But he who controlling his senses by the mind and engages himself in Karma Yoga with the organs of action, without attachment – he, O Arjuna, is indeed superior. (B.G. C.III; V.6-7)
Teaching: A true Karmayogi engages in outer action but is inwardly detached from its result. It is not the action itself, but the greediness of the mind for the result, that strengthens our bondage to the world.
Sri Krishna Said: You perform your bounden duty, for action is superior to inaction. And even the bare maintenance of your body will not be possible if you remain inactive. The world is bound by actions other than those performed for the sake of sacrifice; do you, therefore, O son of Kunti, perform action for the sake of Lord alone, free from attachment! (B.G. C.III; V.8-9)
Teaching: If anyone does actions for the sake of the Lord, he is not bound. His heart is purified by performing actions for the sake of the Lord. Where this spirit of unselfishness does not govern the action, such actions bind one to worldliness, however good or glorious they may be.
Sri Krishna Said: All actions are performed in all cases by the qualities of Nature only. But he whose mind is deluded by egoism thinks: “I am the doer”. (B.G. C.III; V.27)
Teaching: Prakriti or Nature is that state in which the three Gunas exist in a state of equilibrium. When this equilibrium is disturbed, creation begins and the body, senses and mind are formed. The man who is deluded by egoism identifies the Self with the body, mind, the life-force and the senses, and ascribes to the Self all the attributes of the body and the senses. In reality the Gunas of nature perform all actions.
How should duties be regarded by those who seek liberation but are still attached to the Gunas?
Sri Krishna Said: Surrendering all actions to Me, with the mind intent on the ‘Self’ free from hope and egoism, and from (mental) fever, do thou fight. (B.G. C.III; V.30)
Under the misguidance (senses & intellect), a man may mistake another’s duty for his own. This generally happens when one’s own duty becomes trouble with suffering & pain.
Sri Krishna Said: Better is one’s own Dharma (duty), though imperfectly performed, than the Dharma of another well performed. Better is death in the doing of one’s own dharma: the dharma of another is fraught with peril. (B.G. C.III; V.35)
Teaching: Arjuna’s desire to hold back from fighting, which is the duty of Kshatriya, and to follow the peaceful and calm life of a hermit, is due to natural instinct to shun the disagreeable and accept what is momentarily more acceptable to the senses.
Arjuna said: But under what compulsion does a man commit sin though against his wishes? O Krishna and driven, as it were, by force? (B.G. C.III; V.36)
Man can discriminate between good and evil. He wants to do good; but he does evil, as though against his wishes. He seems to be constrained by an outside force.
Sri Krishna said: It is desire, it is anger which is born of quality of Rajas. Know that this is our enemy here, all devouring and the cause of all sin. (B.G. C.III; V.37)
Teaching: Desire – desire alone is the enemy of the whole world. The cause of all evil. Anger – Desire, being obstructed, takes the form of anger, born of Rajas which is the cause of evil & suffering. Sattva overcomes Rajas and keeps desire under control.
How is desire our enemy?
Sri Krishna Said: As fire is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion, so is knowledge concealed by ignorance. O Arjuna, wisdom is enveloped by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is insatiable as fire! The senses, mind and intellect are said to be its (desires) seat; through these it deludes the embodied soul by veiling his wisdom. (B.G. C.III; V.38-40)
Insatiable fire – ‘Desires can never be satisfied by the gratification of desires. The more they are enjoyed, the more they grow, as fire by the pouring into it of butter’.
Where should one stand in order to cast off desires?
Sri Krishna said: They say that the senses are superior (to the body); superior to the senses is the mind; superior to the mind is the intellect; and one who is superior even to the intellect is He—the Self. Thus, knowing Him (Self) who is superior to the intellect and restraining the self by the Self, slay thou, O mighty-armed Arjuna, the enemy in the form of desire, hard to conquer! (B.G. C.III; V.38-42-43)
Teaching: Restrain the lower self by the higher Self. Subdue the lower mind by the higher mind. It is difficult to conquer desire because it is of a highly complex and incomprehensible nature. But a man of discrimination and dispassion, who does constant and intense Sadhana, can conquer it quite easily.
Fourth Discourse – The Yoga of Wisdom
Arjuna is given the most heartening assurance that divine wisdom liberates even the most sinful. When knowledge of the Self dawns, all actions with their results are burnt by the fire of that knowledge, just as fuel is burnt by fire. When there is no idea of egoism, when there is no desire for the fruits of one’s actions, actions are no actions. They lose their potency. In order to attain divine wisdom one must have supreme faith and devotion. Faith is therefore the most important qualification for a spiritual aspirant. The doubting mind is always led astray from the right path. Faith ultimately confers divine knowledge, which removes ignorance once and for all.
Mere intellectual knowledge does not lead to liberation. It cannot grant one supreme peace and freedom. When one has achieved complete self-mastery and self-control, when one has intense faith and devotion, then true knowledge dawns within and one attains liberation and freedom from all weaknesses and sins.
The Lord concludes by emphasizing that the soul that doubts goes to destruction. Without faith in oneself, in the scriptures and in the words of the preceptor, one cannot make any headway on the spiritual path. It is doubt that prevents one from engaging in spiritual Sadhana and realizing the highest knowledge and bliss. By following the instructions of the Guru and through sincere service, one’s doubts are rent asunder and divine knowledge manifests itself within. Spiritual progress then goes on at a rapid pace.
When does the Lord assume a body?
Sri Krishna Said: Whenever there is a decline of dharma (righteousness), O Arjuna, and rise of adharma (unrighteousness), then I manifest Myself! (B.G. C.IV; V.7)
For what purpose?
Sri Krishna Said: For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of dharma (righteousness), I am born in every age. (B.G. C.IV; V.8)
Sri Krishna Said: Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the fire of knowledge, many have attained one with My Being. (B.G. C.IV; V.10)
Philosophy of action & inaction is very subtle !
Sri Krishna Said: He who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, he is wise among men; he is a Yogi and performer of all actions. Having abandoned attachment to the fruit of the action, ever content, depending on nothing, he does not do anything though engaged in activity. (B.G. C.IV; V.18 & 20)
Teaching: It is the idea of agency, the idea of “I am the doer” that binds man to worldliness. If this idea vanishes, action is no action at all. It does not bind one to worldliness. This is inaction in action. But if a man sits quietly, thinking of actions and that he is their doer, he is ever doing actions. This is referred to as action in inaction.
Sri Krishna Said: Content with what comes to him without effort, free from the pairs of opposites and envy, even-minded in success and failure, though acting, he is not bound. To one who is devoid of attachment, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who works for the sake of sacrifice (for the sake of God), the whole action is dissolved. (B.G. C.IV; V.22-23)
How is it that the action of such a man melts away without producing any result?
Sri Krishna Said: To him Brahman (Supreme) is the offering and Brahman is the oblation, and it is Brahman who offers the oblation in the fire of Brahman. Brahman alone is attained by him who thus sees Brahman in action. (B.G. C.IV; V.24)
Teaching: After attaining the knowledge of Brahman, a man sees Brahman in everything. He sees Brahman in every part of the action: the instrument, the doer, the result, and the action itself. These have no existence apart from Brahman, just as the mirage has no existence apart from the desert. What appears to be water to the ignorant, is nothing but the desert. Likewise, what appears to the unenlightened as the instrument of action, the doer, and so on, is realized by one who is endowed with the knowledge of Brahman itself. To him everything is Brahman.
Sri Krishna Said: Superior is wisdom; the knowledge sacrifice is superior to all material sacrifices, O Arjuna, All actions in their entirety, culminate in knowledge ! (B.G. C.IV; V.33)
How does one gain that exalted knowledge?
Sri Krishna Said: Learn it by prostration, by inquiry, and by service. The wise, who have seen the ‘Truth’ will teach you that knowledge. When you have known it, O Arjuna, you will not again fall into delusion; and through it you will see all beings in your ‘Self’ and also in ‘Me’. (B.G. C.IV; V.34-35)
Prostration: The symbol of humility & reverence. Inquiry: The disciple should ask the Master about bondage and liberation and about ignorance & knowledge.
Sri Krishna Said: Verily there is no purifier in this world like knowledge. Man who is perfected in Yoga finds ‘it’ within himself in course of time. The man who is full of faith, who is devoted to it, and who has subdued all the senses, obtains (this) knowledge; and, having obtained the knowledge, he goes at once to the supreme peace. (B.G. C.IV; V.38-39)
Sri Krishna concludes the Chapter by saying;
Sri Krishna Said: Therefore, with the sword of knowledge (of the Self) cut asunder the doubt of the self, which is born of ignorance, and residing in your heart, and take refuge in Yoga; arise, O Arjuna!
Fifth Discourse – The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
In spite of Sri Krishna’s clear instructions, Arjuna still seems to be bewildered. He wants to know conclusively which is superior, the path of action or the path of renunciation of action.
Ajuna Said: You praise, O Krishna, the renunciation of work, and also yoga. Tell me for certain which of these two is better? (B.G. C.V; V.1)
Sri Krishna Said: Renunciation and the Yoga of action both lead to the highest bliss; but of the two, the Yoga of action is superior to the renunciation of action. He who neither hates nor desires is known as Sannyasin; O Arjuna, who is free from the pairs of opposites, is easily set free from bondage! (B.G. C.V; V.2-3)
Teaching: A man does not become a Sannyasin (who is practicing renunciation) by merely giving up actions due to laziness, ignorance, some family quarrel or calamity or unemployment. A true Sannyasin is one who has neither attachment nor aversion to anything. Physical renunciation of objects is no renunciation at all. What is wanted is the renunciation of egoism and desires.
Sri Krishna Said: It is children, and not the wise, speak of path of knowledge and the Yoga of action as though they are distinct and different; he who is truly established in one obtains the fruits of both. (B.G. C.V; V.4)
How can a man follow one path and obtain the result of both?
Sri Krishna Said: The state reached by men of renunciation is reached by men of action too. He who sees that the way of renunciation and the way of action are one – He truly sees. (B.G. C.V; V.5)
State – state of liberation (Mukti or Moksha)
Sri Krishna Said: But renunciation of action, O Arjuna, is hard to attain without performance of action; the Sage, purified by devotion to action, quickly reaches the Brahman (Supreme). (B.G. C.V; V.6)
Action generally creates bondage; how then, can one have devoted to action attains Brahman?
Sri Krishna Said: He who is devoted to the karma yoga, whose mind is pure, who has conquered the body, mind, who has subdued his senses and who has realized his Self as the Self in all beings – he is undefined though he is acts. (B.G. C.V; V.7)
Karma yoga – Selfless action Undefined – not bound by action. He is free from all taint of ego.
Sri Krishna Said: “I do nothing at all” thinks the Yogi, the knower of the Truth; for him, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting, in walking, breathing and sleeping; In speaking, letting go and seizing, in opening and closing the eyes, he is assured that it is only the senses moved among the sense-objects. (B.G. C.V; V.7&8)
Teaching: A man endowed with the Knowledge of the action-less Self sees inaction in action; for he realizes that in all works the senses occupy themselves with their objects and that the Self remains witness. He may be said to have renounced action, for he sees no action as performed by himself.
But the man who has not yet attained Self-Knowledge may also be remain untainted by the result of action.
Sri Krishna Said: He who works without attachment, resigning his actions to Brahman, is not tainted by sin as a lotus leaf by water. Yogis, having abandoned attachment, perform actions only by the body, mind, intellect and also by the senses, for the purification of the self. (B.G. C.V; V.10 &11)
Resigning actions – He offers all his works to God
How is it that the same action binds some and liberates others?
Sri Krishna Said: A unselfish man who has renounced the fruit of his action attains eternal peace, born of steadfastness. But the man who is Selfish, who is impelled by desire and attached to the fruit, and therefore bound. (B.G. C.V; V.12)
Sri Krishna Said: Neither agency nor actions does the Supreme Lord create for the World, nor does ‘It’ bring about union with the fruit of action. It is the ‘Nature’ that does all this. (B.G. C.V; V.14)
Agency – The Soul, being perfect by the Nature, does not of itself urge anyone to action. Nature – Prakriti or maya whose essential character is inscrutable to the unenlightened mind
Sri Krishna Said: The Lord accepts neither the demerit nor even the merit of any; knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded. But, to those whose ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of the Self, like the sun, knowledge reveals the Supreme (Brahman). Fixing their minds in Him (Lord), at one with (Him), abiding in Him, realizing Him alone as the Supreme goal, they reach a state from which there is no return, their sins having been destroyed by their Knowledge. (B.G. C.V; V.15-17)
Knowledge of the Self – The knowledge that discriminates between Self and non-Self.
Sri Krishna Said: The Sage see the same in all – whether it be a Brahmin endowed with learning & humility, or a cow or an elephant or a dog or an outcast. Even here (in this world) birth (everything) is overcome by those whose minds rest in equality; Brahman is spotless indeed and equal; therefore, they are established in Brahman. (B.G. C.V; V.15-18-19)
Sri Krishna Said: With the self unattached to the external objects he discovers happiness in the Self; with the self engaged in the meditation of Brahman he attains to the endless happiness. For the enjoyments that arise from contacts are only sources of pain. They have a beginning and an end, O son of Kunti, and the wise find no delight in them. (B.G. C.V; V.15-21&22)
Teaching: The happiness from the enjoyment of outer objects is transitory; the Bliss of Brahman is eternal; therefore, the former should be renounced in order to attain the latter. Through self-control a void is created in the heart; then this is filled with Bliss through contemplation on Brahman.
Lust and anger are the two greatest enemies of the path to Bliss;
Sri Krishna Said: He who is able to withstand the force of lust and anger even here before he quits the body – he is a Yogi, he is a Happy man. He who is ever happy within, who rejoices within, who is illumined within, such a Yogi attains absolute freedom or Moksha, himself becoming Brahman. (B.G. C.V; V.23&24)
Such a Yogi, while still living in the body, enjoys absolute freedom because of his awareness of his identity with Brahman.
Sri Krishna Said: Absolute freedom (Supreme bliss) exists on all sides for those self-controlled ascetics who are free from desire and anger, who have controlled their thoughts and who have realized the Self. (B.G. C.V; V.26)
SIXTH DISCOURSE – THE YOGA OF MEDITATION
Sri Krishna emphasizes once again that the Yogi or Sannyasin is one who has renounced the fruits of actions, not the actions themselves. The performance of actions without an eye on their fruits brings about the purification of the mind. Only a purified mind, a mind free from desires, can engage itself in constant meditation on the Atman. Desire gives rise to imagination or Sankalp, which drives the soul into the field of action. Therefore, none can realize permanent freedom and tranquility of mind without renouncing desires.
The lower self must be controlled by the higher Self. All the lower impulses of the body, mind and senses must be controlled by the power of the higher Self. Then the higher Self becomes one’s friend. He who has perfect control of the body, mind and senses and is united with God, sees God in all objects and beings. He sees inwardly that there is no difference between gold and stone, between friends and enemies, between the righteous and the unrighteous. He is perfectly harmonized.
Sri Krishna Said: He who performs his bounden duty without depending on the fruits of his actions – he is a Sannyasin and a Yogi, not he who is without fire sacrifice and without action. (B.G. C.VI; V.1)
Sri Krishna Said: When a man is not attached to the sense-objects or to actions, having renounced all thoughts, then he is said to have attained to Yoga. (B.G. C.VI; V.4)
Sri Krishna Said: To him who has conquered himself by the Self, his own Self is a friend, but to him who has not conquered himself, his own self is hostile, like any external enemy. (B.G. C.VI; V.6)
Teaching: He who is self-controlled, who has brought his body mind under control, is his own friend. But in the case of a man who has no control over himself, his self injures him, like any external enemy.
Sri Krishna Said: The Yogi who is satisfied with the knowledge and the wisdom (of the Self), who has conquered the senses, and to whom a clod of earth, a piece of stone and gold are the same, is said to be harmonized (that is, is said to have attained the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi). (B.G. C.VI; V.8)
Sri Krishna Said: He who is of the same mind to the good-hearted, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the neutral, the hateful, the relatives, the righteous and the unrighteous, excels. (B.G. C.VI; V.9)
The directions for the practice of Dhayna (Meditation) Yoga;
Sri Krishna Said: Let the Yogi try constantly to keep the mind steady, remaining in solitude, alone, with the mind and the body controlled, and free from hope and greed. In a clean spot, having established a firm seat of his own, neither too high nor too low, made of a cloth, a skin and kusha grass, one over the other. Sitting there, having made the mind one-pointed, restraining the activities of his mind and senses, he should practice yoga for the purification of the self. (B.G. C.VI; V.10&11)
The posture of the Body;
Sri Krishna Said: He should sit firmly, holding his body, neck, and head erect and perfectly still, and gazing steadily at the tip of his nose, without looking around. Completely serene and fearless, steadfast in the vow of Brahmachari, disciplined in mind, and ever thinking on Me (Lord), he should sit in yoga, having Me as his Supreme goal. (B.G. C.VI; V.13&14)
The fruit of Dhyana Yoga;
Sri Krishna Said: Thus, always keeping the mind balanced, the Yogi, with the mind controlled, attains to the peace abiding in Me, which culminates in liberation. (B.G. C.VI; V.15)
When does a man attain yoga?
Sri Krishna Said: When the perfectly controlled mind rests in the Self only, free from longing for the objects of desire, then it is said: “He is attained yoga (Union with the God)”. As a lamp placed in a windless spot does not flicker -to such is compared the Yogi of controlled mind, practicing Yoga in the Self (or absorbed in the Yoga of the Self). (B.G. C.VI; V.18&19)
Teaching: Without union with the Self neither harmony nor balance nor Samadhi is possible.
Sri Krishna Said: That in which he (yogi) knows the boundless joy beyond the reach of the senses and grasped only by the understanding with pure intellect; established wherein he never departs from the Reality. (B.G. C.VI; V.21)
Sri Krishna Said: That which, having obtained (Union with the Self), he thinks there is no other gain superior to it; wherein established, he is not moved even by heavy sorrows. Let that be known by the name of Yoga, the severance from union with pain. This Yoga should be practiced with determination and with an undaunted mind. (B.G. C.VI; V.22&23)
Seeing the Self through the self – Seeing the supreme intelligence and the all resplendent Light by the Self, that is to say, by the mind purified through the practice of contemplation. By the understanding: Direct and immediate knowledge gained without the instrumentality of the senses. In deep meditation the senses do not function; they resolved into their cause (source) the mind. And when the mind becomes the steady and cognition alone functions, then the indescribable ‘Self’ is realized. Undaunted mind: There should be no relaxation of effort even though there is no quick result and the practice appears difficult.
The Supreme discipline regarding Dhyana Yoga;
Sri Krishna Said: Renouncing entirely all the desires born of the will, drawing back the senses by every direction by the strength of the mind, let a man little by little attain tranquility with the help of the Buddhi armed with fortitude. Once the mind is established in the ‘Self’ he should think of nothing else. (B.G. C.VI; V.24&25)
Strength of the mind: Endowed with discrimination
The result of Yoga of Meditation;
Sri Krishna Said: Thus, making his self ever steadfast, the yogi, freed from sins, easily enjoys the infinite bliss of contact with Brahman (the Eternal). With the mind harmonized by Yoga he sees the Self abiding in all beings and all beings in the Self; he sees the same everywhere. He who sees Me (Lord) everywhere and sees everything in Me, to him I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me. (B.G. C.VI; V.28-30)
Teaching: The Lord describes here the effect of oneness. The Self of the yogi and the Self of the Brahman have become One.
The best among the yogis;
Sri Krishna Said: Him I hold to be the Supreme Yogi, O Arjuna, who looks on the pleasure and pain of all beings as he looks on them in himself. (B.G. C.VI; V.32)
Teaching: This verse is the golden rule of Hinduism. The highest yogi sees that whatever is pleasant to him is pleasant to all others, including non-human beings, and that whatever is painful to him is painful to all others. Therefore, he cannot cause pain to any. He leads a life of complete non-violence. The highest yogi is he who is devoted to right knowledge and who, in action, is harmless to all.
Arjuna thinks that such a state of yoga is hard to attain;
Arjuna Said: This Yoga of equanimity taught by Thee, O Krishna, I do not see how it can be long endured, because of the restlessness of the mind! The mind verily is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding, O Krishna! It seems to me, it is as difficult to control as to control the wind. (B.G. C.VI; V.33)
Teaching: The mind ever changes its point of concentration from one object to another. So, it is always restless. It is not only restless but also turbulent and impetuous, strong and obstinate. It produces agitation in the body and in the senses. That is why the mind is even more difficult to control than to control the wind.
The Lord indicates the way to control the mind;
Sri Krishna Said: Undoubtedly, O mighty-armed Arjuna, the mind is difficult to control and restless; but, by practice and by detachment it can be restrained! (B.G. C.VI; V.35)
Arjuna Said: A man who is endowed with faith, but not with steadfastness, and whose mind has wandered away from yoga – what end does he gain. O Krishna, having failed to obtain perfection in yoga? (B.G. C.VI; V.37)
Does he attain neither heaven nor liberation?
Arjuna Said: Fallen from both, does he not perish like a riven cloud, support less, O mighty-armed (Krishna), deluded on the path of Brahman? You should completely dispel, O Krishna, this doubt of mine; for no one but You can destroy such a doubt. (B.G. C.VI; V.38&39)
Sri Krishna Said: O Arjuna, there is no destruction for him either in this world or the next; no evil, My son, befalls a man who does good. The man who has fallen away from yoga goes to the worlds of the righteous. Having lived there for everlasting years, he is reborn in the home of the pure and the prosperous. Or he is born in a family of even the wise Yogis; verily a birth like this is very difficult to obtain in this world. There he comes in touch with the knowledge acquired in his former body and strives more than before for perfection, O Arjuna! (B.G. C.VI; V.40-43)
Lord concludes the chapter by saying;
Sri Krishna Said: And among all the Yogis, one who worships Me with faith, and with his inner self merged in Me, he is deemed by Me, to be the most devout. (B.G. C.VI; V.47)
Teaching: Sri Krishna here extols the yogi who loves God with all his heart and soul. Love of the God is the easiest and best form of yoga. The sixth chapter ends with a note of emphasis on the path of Bhakti (Devotion).
SEVENTH DISCOURSE – THE YOGA OF WISDOM AND REALISATION
Sri Krishna ended the sixth chapter by describing the Supreme yogi as one who, with his inmost self-abiding in him, adores the Lord. Arjuna will now be taught the nature of the Lord Himself, who is the object of the yogi’s unwavering devotion.
Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the supreme Godhead has to be realized in both its transcendent and immanent aspects. The Yogi who has reached this summit has nothing more to know. This complete union with the Lord is difficult of attainment. Among many thousands of human beings, very few aspire for this union, and even among those who aspire for it, few ever reach the pinnacle of spiritual realization.
The Lord has already given a clear description of the all-pervading static and infinite state of His. Now He proceeds to explain His manifestations as the universe and the power behind it. He speaks of these manifestations as His lower and higher Prakritis (Natures). The lower Prakriti is made up of the five elements, mind, ego and intellect. The higher Prakriti is the life-element which upholds the universe, activates it and causes its appearance and final dissolution.
Sri Krishna Said: O Arjuna, hear how you shall without doubt know Me fully, with the mind intent on Me, practicing Yoga and taking refuge in Me! (B.G. C.VII; V.1)
Teaching: If you sing the glories and attributes of the Lord, you will develop love for Him and then your mind will be ever fixed on Him. Intense love for the Lord is real devotion. With this you must surely get full knowledge of the Self.
The knowledge of the Lord is extolled;
Sri Krishna Said: I shall declare to thee in full this knowledge combined with direct realization, after knowing which nothing more here remains to be known. (B.G. C.VII; V.2)
Knowledge & Experience: The awareness that the Lord exists and that He is inmost Spirit of all is knowledge. One acquires this knowledge through study of scriptures and reasoning about their contents. But to realize the Lord in oneself and in all beings and to act according to that realization is experience (Vijnana).
Lord describes his Nature;
Sri Krishna Said: Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and egoism—thus is My Nature divided eightfold. (B.G. C.VII; V.4)
The manifestation of the Lord described above is of the nature of matter and therefore inferior, impure, and harmful. It constitutes the bondage of Samsara. There is a higher manifestation of the Lord, which is now revealed;
Sri Krishna Said: This is My lower nature. But, different from it, know, O mighty Arjuna, My higher nature – the Indwelling Spirit by which the Universe is sustained. Know that these two (My higher and lower Natures) are the womb of all beings. So, I am the source and dissolution of the whole universe. There is nothing whatsoever higher than Me, O Arjuna! All this is strung on Me as clusters of gems on a string. (B.G. C.VII; V.5-7)
Teaching: There is no other cause of the universe but Me. I alone am the cause of the universe.
Sri Krishna Said: I am the savour of water, O son of Kunti, I am the radiance (light) of the sun and moon; I am the syllable Om in all the Vedas, the sound in ether, the virility in men. (B.G. C.VII; V.8)
Savour – This is the essence of water.
Om – Om is the most sacred word of the Vedas and may be compared to the Word referred to by St. John in the opening of the Fourth Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. According to Hindu Philosophy, the whole of this universe has both name and form (nama-rupa) as the prerequisite of its manifestation. The form is its outer crust, of which the name or idea is the inner essence or kernel. The name is inseparable from a word or sound. The universe perceived by the five senses is the form, behind which stands the eternal, inexpressible sphota or Word. This eternal sphota, the essential, beginning-less material of all ideas or names, is the power through the Lord creates the universe; nay, the Lord first becomes conditioned as the sphota by his own maya, and then evolves Himself as the more concrete sense-perceived universe. The symbol of the sphota is Om, also written as Aum. Om is the true symbol of God.
Teaching: The Lord exists in all beings as their essential quality. That which is real and essential in water is the Lord; and this is true of all objects and beings.
Sri Krishna Said: Know Me, O Arjuna, as the eternal seed of all beings (all things that exists); I am the intelligence of the intelligent; the splendor of the splendid objects ! (B.G. C.VII; V.10)
The world does not know the Lord, who by nature is eternal, pure, intelligent, and free; who is the Self of all beings; and who, through His grace, redeems all creatures from the unending chain of birth and death, caused by maya.
Sri Krishna Said: Deluded by three folds gunas (Satva, rajas & Tamas) constituting Nature, this whole world fails to recognize Me, who am above the gunas and immutable. Verily this divine illusion of Mine made up of the qualities (of Nature) is difficult to cross over; those who take refuge in Me alone cross over this illusion. (B.G. C.VII; V.13&14)
Maya – a concept of Vedanta philosophy, explains the relative universe. According to the Non-dualistic Vedanta, Brahman is the only Reality. It alone exists, its nature is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. It is birth less, deathless, eternal, and immortal. Brahman is beyond cause and effect. Hence, from the standpoint of Brahman, there is neither creation of the universe nor destruction. But from the relative standpoint the fact of creation cannot be denied, though the act of creation cannot be proved. Vedanta, in order to explain the universe, makes use of the concept of maya, which is generally translated as ‘illusion’. Through ignorance/illusion we superimpose the characteristics of one object upon another, though the superimposed characteristics do not in anyway change the substratum. Illusions such as seeing a snake in a rope, a mirage in the desert, and silver in a sea shells are often cited in the Vedanta Texts to prove this. As these illusions do not in any way affect the real nature of the rope, the desert, and the shells. Likewise, through illusion, or maya, Brahman appears as the universe. The ideas of time, space, causality, name and form are superimposed upon the Pure Consciousness (Brahman). But they do not alter the nature of Brahman. This power of creating illusion is inherent in Brahman itself and is unknowable to the human mind, which itself is a product of maya. One cannot inquire into the cause of a dream as long as one is dreaming.
Maya is intangible: Maya cannot be grasped by reason, for reasoning itself is in maya. To try to prove maya by reasoning is like trying to see darkness by means of darkness. Again, maya cannot be proved by knowledge, for when Knowledge is awakened there remains no trace of maya. Hence it will remain for ever inscrutable to the human mind.
Maya consists of the three gunas: Sattva, rajas, and tams. They constitute maya and are present in everything that exists in nature. Maya is beginning-less, for the very conception of time is due to maya. But it has an end. The Knowledge of Brahman ends it. Under the influence of maya the Self, which is the same as the immortal Brahman, regards itself as an embodied being and experiences the suffering and misery of the world. With the help of maya, but retaining control of it, Brahman appears as an Avatar or Incarnation, in order to subdue the power of inquiry and establish righteousness. The goal of spiritual discipline is to get rid of maya and realize one’s divine nature.
Sri Krishna Said: Four kinds of virtuous men worship Me, O Arjuna! They are the distressed, the seeker of knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the men endowed with wisdom, O Great one of the Bharatas! Noble indeed are they all; but the man endowed with wisdom I deem to be My very Self. For, steadfast in mind, he remains fixed in Me alone as the Supreme Goal. (B.G. C.VII; V.16&18)
Virtuous men – Anyone seeking the Lord, whatever his motive, is a fortunate and righteous soul.
Noble indeed; The three others, who have motives behind their worship, are also dear to the Lord. The Lord always loves His devotees, whether their devotion to Him is selfish or unselfish.
Rare indeed is the man endowed with divine wisdom;
Sri Krishna Said: At the end of many births the wise man comes to Me, realizing that all this is Vasudeva is all (the innermost Self); such a great soul (Mahatma) is very hard to find. (B.G. C.VII; V.19)
The Lord helps those, who worship other deities;
Sri Krishna Said: Whatever may be the form a devotee seeks to worship with faith – in that form alone I make his faith unwavering. Endowed with that faith, he engages in the worship of that (form), and from it he obtains his desire, these being verily ordained by Me (alone). (B.G. C.VII; V.21&22)
What is the cause of this ignorance?
Sri Krishna Said: I am not manifest to all (as I am), being veiled by the Maya. This deluded world does not know Me, the unborn and imperishable. I know, O Arjuna, the beings of the past, the present and the future, but no one knows Me. (B.G. C.VII; V.25&26)
Maya– Maya, which conceals the real nature of the Lord, belongs to the Lord Himself. Keeping this maya under His control, the Supreme Lord appears as Krishna and the other incarnations.
I Know – Because maya is under the control of the Lord.
Sri Krishna Said: By the delusion of the pairs of opposites arising from desire and aversion, O Bharata, all beings are subject to delusion at birth, O Parantapa! Those who take refuge in Me to gain release from old age and death – they will come to know Brahman, they will come to know all about the individual soul, and all about action as well. (B.G. C.VII; V.27&29)
Take refuge in Me – Devoted only to the Lord, whose nature is immortal.
Lord concludes the Chapter;
Sri Krishna Said: Those who know Me as the One that underlies all the elements, as the One that underlies all the gods, and as the One that sustains all the sacrifices, will, with steadfast mind, know Me even in the hour of death. (B.G. C.VII; V.30)
Teaching: The practice of the knowledge of God throughout life enables one to remember Him in the hour of death. If one gives up the body with the knowledge of God, one attains liberation.
EIGHTH DISCOURSE – THE YOGA OF THE IMPERISHABLE BRAHMAN
Arjuna here asks Lord Krishna about the meaning of the different terms referred to by Him in the last two verses of the previous chapter. He wishes to know what is the Supreme Being, what is Karma or action that He refers to, and what is the meaning that pertains to this spirit, the elements and the Centre of all things within this human body.
Arjuna Said: What is that Brahman? What is the individual soul? And what is action? O Supreme person? What is that is said to underlie all the elements?
And what is it that is said to underlie all the gods? And who, O Madhusudhana, sustains all the sacrifices here in the body? And in what way? And how, again, are You to be known at the time of death by those who have practiced self-control? (B.G. C.VIII; V.1&2)
In the last two verses of the seventh discourse, Lord Krishna uses certain philosophical terms. Arjuna does not understand their meaning. So, he proceeds to question the Lord.
Sri Krishna Said: Brahman is the Imperishable, the Supreme; His essential nature is called Self-knowledge; the offering (to the gods) which causes existence and manifestation of beings and which also sustains them is called action. (B.G. C.VIII; V.3)
Sri Krishna Said: That which underlies all the elements is the perishable entity; and that which underlies all the gods is the Purusha, the Cosmic Spirit. And He who sustains all the sacrifices is Myself, here in the body, O best of men. And whosoever, leaving the body, goes forth remembering Me alone at the time of death, he attains My Being; there is no doubt about this. (B.G. C.VIII; V.4&5)
Purusha – That by which everything is filled, or That which lies in the body. It is the Cosmic Spirit (Hiranya garba), or Universal Soul, that manifests Itself as the controlling Deity of the sun and also as the consciousness that functions through the eyes and other sense organs.
Teaching: The most prominent thought of one’s life occupies the mind at the time of death. It determines the nature of the body to be attained in the next birth.
Sri Krishna Said: With the mind not moving towards any other thing, made steadfast by the method of habitual meditation, and constantly meditating, one goes to the Supreme Person, the Resplendent, O Arjuna! (B.G. C.VIII; V.8)
Sri Krishna Said: Whosoever meditates on the Omniscient, the Ancient, the ruler (of the whole world), minute than an atom, the supporter of all, of inconceivable form, effulgent like the sun and beyond the darkness of ignorance, At the time of death, with unshaken mind, endowed with devotion and by the power of Yoga, fixing the whole life-breath in the middle of the two eyebrows, he reaches that resplendent Supreme Person. (B.G. C.VIII; V.9&10)
Sri Krishna Said: He who closes all the doors of the senses, confines the mind within the heart, draws the prana into the head, and engages in the practice of yoga, uttering Om, the single syllable denoting Brahman, and meditates on Me – He who so departs, leaving the body, attains the Supreme Goal. I am easily attainable by that ever-steadfast Yogi who constantly remembers Me, O Arjuna. (B.G. C.VIII; V.12-14)
Teaching: Constantly remembering the Lord throughout one’s life is the easiest way of attaining Him. Complete liberation, attended by the cessation of birth and death, is possible only for a man who has realized his identity with Brahman. All other worlds, whether subhuman or superhuman, are places of enjoyment where men, departing this earth, experience the fruit of their action.
One can directly attain liberation through love of God alone, without having to wait for the dissolution of the universe.
Sri Krishna Said: But beyond this unmanifested there is yet another Unmanifested Eternal Being, who does not perish when all beings perish. What is called the Unmanifested and the Imperishable, That they say is the highest goal (path). They who reach It do not return (to this cycle of births and deaths). That is My highest abode (place or state). (B.G. C.VIII; V.20-21)
Not return – To the relative existence. The knower of Brahman never again falls under the spell of maya or ignorance.
Teaching: Another unmanifested Eternal refers to Para Brahman, which is distinct from the unmanifested (primordial Nature), and which is of quite a different nature. It is superior to Hiranyagarbha (the creative Intelligence) and the unmanifested Nature because It is their cause. It is not destroyed when all beings from Brahma down to a blade of grass are destroyed.
The means of attaining the Supreme Abode;
Sri Krishna Said: That Supreme Purusha, in whom all beings abide and by whom the entire universe is pervaded, can be attained, O Partha, by whole – souled devotion directed to Him alone. (B.G. C.VIII; V.22)
Whole-souled devotion – Bhakti or Love of God, is the same as knowledge of Him. It proceeds from the realization that noting exists except the Lord.
Sri Krishna: No yogi who understands the two paths is ever deluded. Therefore, O Arjuna, at all times be steadfast in yoga. (B.G. C.VIII; V.28)
Two paths – The wise yogi knows that, of the two paths, the one leads to samsara and the other to Moksha or liberation. Therefore, he rejects the former and takes up the latter.
The glory of yoga;
Sri Krishna Said: The yogi who knows this transcends all the rewards laid down for the study of the Vedas, for sacrifices, for austerities, for making gifts; he reaches the Supreme, Primal Abode. (B.G. C.VIII; V.28)
This – The answers to the seven questions of Arjuna, given in the eight chapter of the Gita. One must not merely understand, but also follow, the teachings implied in the answers.
NINGTH DISCOURSE – THE WAY OF THE SOVEREIGN WISDOM AND SOVEREIGN MYSTERY
Observing that Arjuna was a qualified aspirant and endowed with faith, Krishna declares to him the sovereign knowledge and sovereign secret that is to be known by direct experience. He adds that without faith in this knowledge man fails to reach God and is reborn to suffer.
The eight chapter of Gita has dealt with emancipation by stages through the process of meditation. But this indirect way is not the only means of emancipation. The direct way is described in the ninth chapter.
Sri Krishna Said: I shall now declare to you who does not carp, the greatest secret, the knowledge combined with experience (Self-realization). Having known this, you shall be free from evil. (B.G. C.IX; V.1)
In Praise of this knowledge;
Sri Krishna Said: It is the sovereign science, the sovereign mystery, and the supreme purifies. It is perceived by direct experience, it accords with dharma, it is easy to practice and it is imperishable. (B.G. C.IX; V.2)
Lord formulates the sovereign wisdom;
Sri Krishna Said: All this universe is pervaded by Me in My un-manifest aspect; all beings exist in Me, but I do not exist in them. (B.G. C.IX; V.4)
Me- The Supreme Lord and the ultimate Cause of all, Un-manifest aspect – Pure Consciousness, which is imperceptible to the senses. Pervaded – Nothing can exist unless the Lord, or Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, forms its substratum. It is said in the Upanishads that the Lord, after creating objects, entered them as their indwelling Consciousness. All beings exist in Me – Beings may be linked to a piece of cloth, and the Lord to the thread comprising its warp and woof. The cloth cannot exist without the warp and woof. I do not exist in them – Because Brahman is incorporeal and hence unconnected with any object.
Teaching: The two forms of the Lord, the manifested and the un-manifested, have been described in the seventh chapter of the Gita (VII, V.4-5). The illusory and unreal world appears to be real and tangible on account of the reality of the Lord forming its substratum. No change can be perceived without the background of changelessness. The illusion of a mirage is not seen without the background of the desert. The continuity in a moving picture cannot be perceived without the background of the unmoving screen; it is the fixed screen that makes the separate and disjoined pictures appears as a continuous story. Likewise, the presence of the Lord as the immutable Consciousness creates the appearance of continuity and history in an ever changing, illusory universe. If He, as Existence, did not form the basis of the universe, nothing would be perceived to exist. Therefore, all existent entities are pervaded by the Lord’s existence, which itself is imperceptible to the senses. A thing devoid of inner reality cannot exist or be an object of experience.
The Lord is the inner reality of everything. The reality of the Lord makes real everything in the world. But the reality of the Lord does not depend upon the world. He always exists, whether the universe of names and forms exist or not. The Lord is incorporeal and therefore has no real contact with the material world. He cannot be contained in any object. He is self-existent and self-luminous. Only a fraction of His majesty illumines the sun, the moon, and the universe; but He Himself, in His purest essence, is transcendental.
Sri Krishna Said: And yet the beings do not dwell in Me – behold, that is My divine mystery. My Spirit, which is the support of all beings and the source of all things, does not dwell in them. (B.G. C.IX; V.5)
Do not dwell in Me – Because the Self is not attached to anything. “Devoid of attachment, He never enters into relationship with anything. Divine Mystery – The Lord is all-pervasive and yet free from contact with any object. Source of all things – Only from the relative standpoint. In reality the Lord is not the cause of anything, for nothing exists besides Him.
Teaching: The infinite Lord cannot be contained in a finite universe. But why cannot the universe and its beings’ dwell in Him? The Lord, in reality, is neither the container nor the contained. In Him there is not the slightest trace of duality. In His purest essence He is above the law of cause and effect. In the final realization, the object and the subject become one; the whole universe merges in the Lord. In that state the Lord remains as One without a second, a homogeneous concentration of Consciousness. The concepts of container and contained, cause and effect, apply to the realm of manifestation, or maya. Even though the Lord manifests, through maya, the tangible relative universe, and appears to be its cause and support, yet He is always One without a second, transcendental, incorporeal, and unattached. This is His eternal mystery.
Sri Krishna Said: As the mighty wind, moving everywhere, rests always in the Akasha (space), know thou that in the same manner, all beings’ rests in Me. (B.G. C.IX; V.6)
All beings rest in Me – Without affecting the Lord in any way. Good and evil, pain and pleasure, and the other traits of this great universe do not touch the Lord, because from His standpoint they are illusory, and also because He is entirely Spiritual in nature. He can never be touched by anything happening in time and space. As a light cannot be affected by the good or evil deed done with its help, so the soul, which in its essence is one with the Lord, cannot be affected by the good and evil action of the body and mind.
Though the Lord is incorporeal and unattached, His maya is the cause of the creation and dissolution of all beings;
Sri Krishna Said: At the end of a cycle all beings, O son of Kunti, enter into My Prakriti, and at the beginning of a cycle I generate them again (B.G. C.IX; V.7)
Teaching: The whole process of creation, preservation and destruction is due to the Lord’s maya. He is unaffected by it. Vedanta philosophy recognizes the fact of creation (from the standpoint of maya), but not the act of creation. The Lord, devoid of ego and motive, does not create. Creation implies un-manifested desires. But as long as one is subject to maya, one cannot deny the fact of creation. It is like our dreams. A dream cannot be denied as a fact as long as we dream. But, actually, we never become what we see in dreams. Maya, or the inferior nature of the Lord, projects out of itself all the names and forms at the time of creation. Consciousness, or the higher nature of the Lord, endows them with life. At the end of cycle the names and forms of the manifested universe go back into the seed state and remain merged in Prakriti, and Prakriti itself remains in a state of equilibrium of the three gunas. When the balance is lost, creation takes place. This process of creation and destruction is without beginning. Better terms to express creation and destruction, in agreement with the Hindu way, are manifestation or evolution, and mergence or involution. The Lord in His pure essence remains unaffected by the activities of His maya, though the insentient maya is actuated by His proximity.
Sri Krishna anticipates the question. How does the Lord, who is immutable and detached, create the world?
Sri Krishna Said: Controlling My own Prakriti, I send forth, again and again, all this multitude of beings, helpless under the sway of maya. (B.G. C. IX; V.9)
Controlling My own Prakriti – The Lord, with the help of Prakriti, manifests the universe. Because of His very proximity, insentient Nature acts. He is only a witness. Maya, or Prakriti, is under His control. But the jiva, or created being, is under the control of maya. (B.G. C.IX; V.8)
Teaching: The Lord, in His purest essence, is unattached. He does not create; for creation serves no purpose of His. In this universe, which is conjured up by maya, all beings are governed by the law of karma. Since the creation is falsely superimposed upon the Lord, therefore what is perceived to be the universe existing in time and space is, from the standpoint of Reality, noting but the Lord Himself. In the illusion of a rope appearing as a snake, the falsely perceived snake is, in reality, nothing but the rope.
There is an apparent contradiction in the two statements of the Lord that He generates all beings (B.G. C. IX; V.7) and that He is unconcerned about creation (B.G. C.IX; V.9). It is thus resolved;
Sri Krishna Said: Prakriti, under My guidance, gives birth to all things, moving and unmoving; and because of this, O son of Kunti, the world revolves. (B.G. C. IX; V.10)
Prakriti – Maya, consisting of the three gunas.
Teaching: It is absurd to ask the purpose of creation. The enjoyment of the Lord surely cannot be the purpose; for He is devoid of desire and does not enjoy. He is Pure Consciousness and a disinterested witness. And there is no other enjoyer; for there is no other Consciousness; none but a conscious being is capable of enjoyment. The question regarding the purpose of creation cannot be asked if one remembers that creation is maya, or an illusion.
The position of the Lord with reference to creation is explained in verses 7-9 by a method that gradually trains the student to grasp a subtle point. The Lord begins by stating that He projects all beings at the beginning of evolution: Prakriti is only an instrument in His hands. Next, He says He is not affected by that act, since He sits by as one neutral, perfectly unattached. Lastly, the Lord leads up to the final Truth that really, He does nothing and that Prakriti, animated by His proximity, produces the universe. It is His light that lights up Prakriti and makes it live and act. That is the only relationship between the Lord and His Prakriti.
Sri Krishna Said: Fools disregard Me when I assume a human form; for they are unaware of My higher nature as the Supreme Lord of all beings. (B.G. C. IX; V.11)
Teaching: From time to time the Lord assumes a human form so that men may attain a godly nature. In that state the Lord acts outwardly like a human being, though always remaining in full possession of the knowledge that He is unattached to any material thing and that He is the very Self of all beings. The deluded only see Him acting as a man and therefore disregard Him, as an ordinary human being.
Sri Krishna Said: I am the Goal and the support; the Lord and the Witness; the Abode, the Refuge, and the Friend. I am the origin and the dissolution; the ground, the storehouse, and the imperishable Seed. (B.G. C. IX; V.18)
Imperishable Seed – The Lord is the seed of the universe and its living beings. As the universe is eternal, so the Lord is the imperishable seed. Or, unlike an ordinary seed, the Lord is the eternal seed, for He exists even when the universe is dissolved.
People free from desires and endowed with right knowledge attain the Supreme Goal of life;
Sri Krishna Said: Those beings who worship Me, meditating on their identity with Me and ever devoted to Me – to them I carry what they lack and for them I preserve what they already have. (B.G. C. IX; V.22)
Meditating on their identity with Me – They totally lose their individuality in the Lord and look upon Him as their own Self. Or the word ‘annanyah’ in the next may mean ‘without any other (thought)’. In that case the translation should be: Those beings who worship Me, never harboring any other thought.
Teaching: The Lord promises complete protection to those who love Him with all their body, heart, and soul. A devotee, totally absorbed in the Lord, may forget his own safety and security, but the Lord never forgets him. All men, no doubt, receive from the Lord never forgets him. All men, no doubt, receive from the Lord what they need; but as long as they themselves think of their own welfare, they must earn it by their own effort. But the Lord Himself carries the necessaries of life to those who, lost in the thought of Him, cannot take care of themselves.
Sri Krishna Said: Whoever offers Me, with devotion and a pure mind (heart), a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a little water—I accept (this offering). Therefore, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give away, and whatever you practice in the form of austerities, O son of Kunti – do it as an offering to Me. (B.G. C. IX; V.26&27)
Teaching: No outward worship is necessary to please the Lord. Every action of man may be transformed into worship if the Lord is constantly kept in mind. Since the One and the manifold are two manifestations of the same Reality, one can adore God through both work and meditation. If an action is not egocentric it becomes an act of worship.
The result of such worship:
Sri Krishna Said: Thus, shall you be free from the bondage of actions, which bear good or evil results. With your mind firmly set on the yoga of renunciation, you shall become free and come to Me. (B.G. C. IX; V.28)
Yoga of renunciation – The offering of all works to the Lord constitutes the yoga of renunciation. The followers of this yoga perform their duties but do not seek the result of their action. Therefore, this method combines both yoga (karma yoga) and sanyasa (renunciation).
Sri Krishna Said: The same am I to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion are in Me and I am also in them. (B.G. C. IX; V.29)
Teaching: The nature of the Lord may be compared to fire, which gives heat to all. Those who are near the fire feel the heat, and those who are away do not feel it. Those who love the Lord and perform their duties in a selfless manner become pure in heart. The pure in heart dwell in the Lord. Thus, they feel His grace.
Sri Krishna Said: Even if the most sinful worships Me, with devotion to none else, he too should indeed be regarded as righteous, for he has rightly resolved. Soon he becomes righteous and attains to eternal peace; O Arjuna, know thou for certain that My devotee is never perishes! (B.G. C. IX; V.30&31)
Teaching: Ordinary spiritual disciplines, unless well practiced, do not produce perfect results. But sincere love of God brings imperishable peace to the devotee.
Right resolution – To give up the evil way of life. If a man believes that devotion to the Lord is the way to liberation and acts accordingly, then he is said to have made a noble resolution.
How should one worship the Lord?
Sri Krishna Said: Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, sacrifice to Me, bow down to Me. Having thus disciplined yourself, and regarding Me as the Supreme Goal, you will come to Me. (B.G. C. IX; V.34)
Teaching: Human birth is conducive to the practice of spiritual discipline. But it is not easy to be born in a human body. The world is transitory and its happiness is unreal. Therefore, every man should direct this whole attention to the realization of the Lord, which alone brings imperishable happiness. The aim of human life is the attainment of jivanmukta or liberation in this very life.
As the rivers, following their different courses, ultimately merge in the ocean and give up their names and forms, so the devotees, losing their names and forms, become one with the Supreme Reality.
TENTH DISCOURSE – THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
Krishna tells Arjuna that even the Devas and highly evolved souls fail to understand how He projects Himself as the universe and all its manifestations. He goes on to describe the various qualities that beings manifest according to their Karmas. All these qualities—wisdom, truth, contentment, etc.—originate from Him.
Sri Krishna Said: He who knows Me as unborn and beginning less, as the great Lord of the worlds, he, among mortals, is undeluded; he is liberated from all sins. (B.G. C. X; V.3)
Teaching: As the Supreme Being is the cause of all the worlds, He is beginning less. As He is the source of all the gods and the great sages, so there is no source for His own existence. As He is beginning less, He is unborn. He is the great Lord of all the worlds.
Ignorance of the Lord is the cause of sin. When a man does not know that he, in reality, is the pure Brahman, then he conjures up the vision of the universe with its opposites. He becomes conscious of good and evil, dharma and adharma. He participates in the activities of the world. The awareness of multiplicity impels him to hatred for disagreeable things and create attachment to the agreeable. But the knowledge of the Lord as his inmost Self, untouched by relativity, destroys ignorance and its effect. Thus, he is freed from all sins. The penances prescribe by religion do not destroy the cause of sin, which is ignorance; hence they cannot liberate the bound soul. Knowledge of the Lord, alone gives liberation.
Sri Krishna Said: Intellect, wisdom, non-delusion, forgiveness, truth, self-restraint, calmness, happiness, pain, birth or existence, death or non-existence, fear and also fearlessness, Non-injury, equanimity, contentment, austerity, fame, beneficence, ill-fame—these different attributes of beings arise from Me alone. (B.G. C. X; V.4&5)
The result of knowing these glories of the Lord:
Sri Krishna Said: He who knows in truth these glories and power of Mine acquires unshakable devotion; of this there is no doubt. (B.G. C. X; V.7)
Glory – The vast extent of the Lord’s being. The knowledge of the Lord is infinite.
Worship of the Lord through Love:
Sri Krishna Said: With their minds and lives entirely absorbed in Me, enlightening each other and always speaking of Me, they are satisfied and delighted. On those who are ever devoted to Me and worship Me with love, I bestow the yoga of discrimination, by which they come to Me. (B.G. C. X; V.9&10)
Teaching: The realization of the Lord is possible only through His grace, which He bestows on those who worship Him with whole hearted love. As a result of His grace their hearts become pure, and, being pure in heart, they attain God. Men can never know the true essence of the Lord through their worldly minds or their power of reasoning. The attainment of true understanding, by which the Lord can be known and which comes through His grace alone, is the purpose of all spiritual endeavor and discipline.
Arjuna Said: I hold as true all that You have said to me, O Kesava. Verily, neither the gods nor the demons, O Lord, know your manifestations. You should indeed tell me, in full, of Your divine powers, whereby You pervade all the worlds and abide in them. How may I know You, O Yogi, by constant meditation? In what various things, O Lord, are You to be contemplated by me? (B.G. C. X; V.14-17)
The whole universe is the manifestation of the Lord’s glory. All objects reflect His glory. He is the reality immanent in all things. But some objects, high in evolution and endowed with more power and wisdom, reflect the Lord’s glory more than others. Though all objects reflect light, yet it is seen more in a mirror than in a piece of wood. It is easy for devotees to meditate on God through those objects in which His glory is most manifest. Hence Krishna will describe some of the prominent manifestations of the Lord in the universe.
The foremost manifestation of the Lord:
Sri Krishna Said: I am the Self, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all beings! I am the beginning, the middle and also the end of all beings. (B.G. C. X; V.20)
Teaching: All beings have come from the Lord, they are sustained by Him, and in the end they all merge in Him.
Sri Krishna Said: Among the (twelve) Adityas, I am Vishnu; among the luminaries, the radiant sun; I am Marichi among the (seven or forty-nine) Maruts; among stars the moon am I. Among the great sages I am Bhrigu; among words I am the monosyllable Om; among sacrifices I am the sacrifice of silent repetition; among immovable things the Himalayas I am. Among purifiers I am the wind; of warriors I am Rama. Of fishes I am the Ganges. Among created things I am the beginning and the end also the middle, O Arjuna. Among creations I am the beginning, the middle and also the end, O Arjuna! Among the sciences I am the science of the Self; and I am logic among controversialists. (B.G. C. X; V.21-32)
The Lord summarizes His glories:
Sri Krishna Said: And that which is the seed of all beings – that am I, O Arjuna! There is no being, whether moving or unmoving, that can exist without Me. There is no end of My divine manifestations, O dreaded Arjuna. This is a brief statement by Me of the multiplicity of My attributes. Whatever glorious or beautiful or mighty being exists anywhere, know that it has sprung from but a spark of My splendor. (B.G. C. X; V.39-41)
Teaching: The Lord is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. Anything that is without the Lord is void. He alone pervades all. There is no end- As the Lord is infinite, His manifestations are infinite in number.
Lord concludes the chapter by saying;
Sri Krishna Said: But what need is there of your acquiring this detailed knowledge, O Arjuna? With a single fragment of Myself I stand supporting the whole universe. (B.G. C. X; V.42)
Teaching: One can never fully know the Lord through His manifestations in time and space. It is enough to know that the whole universe represents only a particle of the Lord’s glory. He transcends the universe.
ELEVENTH DISCOURSE – THE VISION OF THE COSMIC FORM
Arjuna’s doubts having been removed through a clear description of the nature of the Atman and the origin and destruction of all created things, he is now ready to behold the Cosmic Vision.
Arjuna Said: Out of compassion for me You have spoken words of ultimate profundity concerning the Self, and they dispelled my delusion. The origin and the destruction of beings verily have been heard by me in detail from You, O lotus-eyed Lord, and also Your inexhaustible greatness! Now, O Supreme Lord, as You have thus described Thyself, O Supreme Person, I wish to see Thy Divine Form! (B.G. C. XI; V. 1-3)
Teaching: After hearing the glories of the Lord, Arjuna has an intense longing to have the wonderful Cosmic Vision.
Sri Krishna Said: Behold My forms, O Partha, by the hundreds and the thousands – manifold and divine, various in shape and hue. Now behold, O Arjuna, in this, My body, the whole universe centred in the one—including the moving and the unmoving—and whatever else you desire to see! (B.G. C. XI; V. 5-7)
Teaching: Sri Krishna is about to reveal to Arjuna the most staggering vision: the vision of the One in the many, the many in the One, the vision that shows that all are the One. This vision alone explains and justifies the apparent contradictions of the relative world and reconciles the antinomies of justice and mercy, fate and free will, suffering and divine love. It reveals all that was, is, and shall be. It relates and unifies the diversity of the world. Seeing God in all and all in God, man overcomes all doubt and perplexity and submits to the divine will. Thus, even the most terrible thing world loses its terror and even the most hateful thing becomes a mode of the Lord’s manifestation.
Sanjaya Said: Having spoken thus, O King, Hari, the great Lord of Yoga, revealed to Arjuna His supreme form of Iswara! If the splendor of a thousand suns were to blaze out at once in the sky, that would be the splendor of that mighty Being (Lord). Then, Arjuna, filled with wonder and with hair standing on end, bowed down his head to the Lord and spoke with joined palms. (B.G. C. XI; V. 9-14)
Arjuna Said: I behold all the gods, O God, in Thy body, and hosts of various classes of beings; Brahma, the Lord, seated on the lotus, all the sages and the celestial serpents! I see Thee of boundless form on every side, with many arms, stomachs, mouths and eyes; neither the end nor the middle nor also the beginning do I see, O Lord of the universe, O Cosmic Form! (B.G. C. XI; V. 15&16)
Teaching: Arjuna can endure this dazzling vision because he is endowed with the divine eye. Ordinary consciousness is blasted by such radiance.
Arjuna Said: Thou art the imperishable, the Supreme Being to be realized; Thou art the Supreme support of the universe; Thou art the undying guardian of the Eternal Dharma; Thou art, in my belief, the Primal Being. I behold Thee as one without beginning, middle, or end; with infinite arms and immeasurable strength; with the sun and moon as Thine eyes; with Thy face shining like a blazing fire; and burning with Thy radiance the whole universe. The space between the earth and the heaven and all the quarters are filled by Thee alone; having seen this, Thy wonderful and terrible form, the three worlds are trembling with fear, O great-Mighty Being! (B.G. C. XI; V. 18-20)
Teaching: The Universal form of the Lord revealed to Arjuna the terrible, as well as the beautiful, aspect of the creation; both are necessary to complete the picture. The Lord manifests Himself in the relative world through both good and evil, pain and pleasure, life and death, and the other pairs of opposites; whereas, in His inmost essence, he can be described only as Peace and Blessedness.
Arjuna Said: It is right, O Krishna, that the world rejoices and delights in glorifying Thee; the demons fly on all sides in terror, and the hosts of Siddhas (sages) all bow to Thee in adoration. And why should they not, O Mighty Being, bow to Thee who art greater (than all else), the primal cause even of (Brahma) the creator, O Infinite Being! O Lord of the gods! O abode of the universe! Thou art the imperishable, the Being, the non-being and That which is the Supreme (that which is beyond the Being and non-being). (B.G. C. XI; V. 36&37)
The Supreme – That which lies beyond Being and non being and is their basis. A timeless eternity is the characteristic of the Absolute, of which time is only a manifestation in maya.
The Lord is the inmost essence of all the gods:
Arjuna Said: Thou art Wind and Death and Fire and Moon and the Lord of Water. Thou are the great Grand-Father and the Great-grandsire. Salutations, salutations to Thee a thousand times, and again and yet again salutations, salutations unto Thee! (B.G. C. XI; V. 39)
The Lord Said: O Arjuna, this Cosmic Form has graciously been shown to thee by Me by My own Yogic power; full of splendor, primeval, and infinite, this Cosmic Form of Mine has never been seen before by anyone other than thyself. (B.G. C. XI; V. 47)
How can one see the Lord’s Universal Form?
The Lord Said: Neither by the Vedas, nor by austerity, nor by gift, nor by sacrifice, can I be seen in this form as thou hast seen Me (easily). But by devotion to Me alone may I be known in this form, O Arjuna, realized truly, and entered into, O dreaded prince. (B.G. C. XI; V. 53&54)
Devotion to Me alone – Love that seeks nothing but the Lord and that makes the devotee see the Lord alone through all the senses. Such unswerving love removes all distinctions between the devotee and the Lord and enables the former, if he desires, to enjoy the Knowledge of Brahman.
Entered into – The devotee attains final liberation in the Lord after giving up the body.
The essential teaching of the Gita, which leads to the highest Bliss, is now summed up:
The Lord Said: He who does My work and looks on Me as the Supreme Goal, who is devoted to Me, who is without attachment and without hatred for any creature-he comes to Me, O Pandava. (B.G. C. XI; V. 55)
Teaching: This is the essence of the whole teaching of the Gita. He who practices this teaching attains supreme bliss and immortality. Such a one realizes Lord and enters into His Being, becoming completely one with the Lord. This verse contains the summary of the entire Gita philosophy.
TWELFTH DISCOURSE – THE YOGA OF DEVOTION
Aspirants can meditate on the God in two ways. The devotees of the Impersonal Brahman regard It as the imperishable, indefinable, formless, relation less, action less, featureless, attribute less, and transcendental Absolute. The devotee of the Personal God regards the Godhead as the Lord of the universe, the Supreme Person, the creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, the Omniscient and Omnipresent Lord, endowed with the Universal Form and possessed of the great powers of yoga. The Absolute never puts on any form, abstains from all action, enters into no relation with the universe, and is eternally silent and immutable; but the Personal God is our Lord and Master, the Source and Origin of all beings as their inmost Self. Both these aspects of Godhead have been described by Krishna in the Gita. Now Arjuna asks which of the two methods of worship is better; meditation on the Impersonal or worship of the Lord through work and love.
Arjuna Said: Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship Thee and those also who worship the Imperishable and the Unmanifested—which of them are better versed in Yoga? (B.G. C. XII; V. 1)
The Lord Said: Those who, fixing their minds on Me, worship Me, ever steadfast and endowed with supreme faith, these are the best in Yoga in My opinion. (B.G. C. XII; V. 2)
The Lord Said: Those who worship the imperishable, the indefinable, the unmanifested, the omnipresent, the unthinkable, the eternal and the immovable, having restrained all the senses, even-minded everywhere, intent on the welfare of all beings—verily they also come unto Me. (B.G. C. XII; V. 3&4)
But the path of the Personal God is easier for the majority of men:
The Lord Said: Greater is their trouble whose minds are set on the Unmanifested; for the goal—the Unmanifested—is very difficult for the embodied to reach. (B.G. C. XII; V. 5)
The embodied—those who identify themselves with their bodies. The imperishable Self is very hard to reach for those who are attached to their bodies. Their restless minds will not be able to get fixed on the attribute less Self.
The Lord Said: But to those who worship Me, renouncing all actions in Me, regarding Me as the supreme goal, meditating on Me with single-minded concentration. To those whose minds are set on Me, O Arjuna, verily I become ere long the savior out of the ocean of the mortal Samsara. (B.G. C. XII; V. 6&7)
Teaching: The disciplines of the followers of the Absolute consist in discrimination and renunciation, and also in learning the Truth from the teacher and the scriptures, and reasoning, and contemplation. The devotees of the universal Form worship the Lord with Love, dedicate all actions to Him, and meditate on Him with unswerving devotion. These latter, through the Lord’s grace, very soon attain liberation from the suffering and death of mortal life.
The Lord Said: Fix thy mind on Me only, thy intellect in Me, (then) thou shall no doubt live in Me alone hereafter. If you are unable to fix your mind steadily on Me, then by the Yoga of constant practice do thou seek to reach Me, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XII; V. 8&9)
Teaching: If devotee finds it difficult to fix his mind on the Universal Form, he is asked to worship a tangible symbol, such as an image of God, and meditate on it in his heart, and thus through repeated practice acquire a steadiness of thought that can be directed to the Lord.
The Lord Said: If you are unable to practice even this Abhyasa Yoga, be thou intent on doing actions for My sake; even by doing actions for My sake, thou shalt attain perfection. If thou art unable to do even this, then, taking refuge in union with Me, renounce the fruits of all actions with the self-controlled. (B.G. C. XII; V. 10&11)
Surrender the fruit – If the devotee does not intent on the fruit of action, his mind remains free to remember the Lord.
The Lord Said: Better indeed is knowledge than practice; than knowledge meditation is better; than meditation the renunciation of the fruits of actions; peace immediately follows such renunciation (B.G. C. XII; V. 12)
Renunciation of the fruit- When a devotee, practicing self-control and seeking refuge in the Lord, renounces the fruit of action, he immediately attains inner calm and peace. For one tranquil in heart the cessation of ignorance comes without delay.
Teaching: The abandonment of the fruit of action, taught as a means to Divine Bliss, applies to an ignorant person who, unable to follow the paths recommended before, engages in work. This abandonment is extolled in the text because the path of action is intended to be taught here. The renunciation of desires brings peace immediately to the ignorant person engaged in the work, and also to the enlightened aspirant who is steadily devoted to meditation. Therefore, the renunciation of desires is a common factor in the attainment of peace both for the ignorant and for the enlightened, and hence is extolled by Sri Krishna.
The Lord Said: He by whom the world is not agitated and who cannot be agitated by the world, and who is freed from joy, envy, fear and anxiety—he is dear to Me. He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil, and who is full of devotion, is dear to Me. (B.G. C. XII; V. 15&17)
Teaching: He does not rejoice when he attains desirable objects nor does he grieve when he parts with his cherished objects. Further, he does not desire the unattained.
The Lord Said: He who is the same to foe and friend, and in honor and dishonor, who is the same in cold and heat and in pleasure and pain, who is free from attachment, who is unaffected by praise and blame; who is silent, content with whatever he has, homeless, firm of mind, and full of devotion – that man is dear to Me. (B.G. C. XII; V. 18&19)
The Lord concludes the chapter by saying;
The Lord Said: Exceedingly dear to Me are they who regard Me as the Supreme Goal and, endowed with faith and devotion, follow this Immortal Dharma. (B.G. C. XII; V. 20)
The Immortal Dharma – The law of life that confers upon its follower the boon of Immortality, and that has been describes above, beginning with Chapter XII, 13.
Teaching: The twelfth discourse indicates that the path of devotion is easier than the path of knowledge. In this path the aspirant worships God in His Cosmic Form of the Supreme Personality. He develops a loving relationship with Him, adores Him, remembers Him and chants His glories and Name. He thus effects union with the Lord and attains not only His formless aspect but also the Lord as the manifest universe.
THIRTEENTH DISCOURSE – THE DISCRIMINATION BETWEEN MATTER & SPIRIT
In this discourse we have one of the most significant, most illuminating, most inspiring and most mystical portions of the Bhagavad Gita. The Lord gives us a wonderfully revealing insight into the human individual. It is the metaphysics of man, the unknown. The immortal Soul, with its physical embodiment, is the main theme of this discourse. The supreme transcendental Spirit, which is the eternal substratum beyond both, is also described in a wonderful manner.
Arjuna Said: Prakriti & Purusha, the Field and the Knower of the Field, Knowledge and that which is to known – all this, O Kesava, I desire to learn. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 1)
The Lord Said: This body, O Arjuna, is called the Field, and he who knows it is called the Knower of the Field by those who describe them. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 2)
Field- The word in the text is ‘kshetra’, which signifies both ‘body’, and ‘matter’. The body is called ‘field’ because the fruits of action are reaped in it as in a field, or because it is subject to decay.
Knower of the Field– The word in the text is ‘Kshetrajna’, which means the individual soul, which is, in reality, one with the Supreme Soul.
The Lord Said: And know that I am the Knower in all Fields, O Arjuna! and Knowledge of both the Field and the Knower of the Field is regard by Me to be the true knowledge. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 3)
Teaching: We see innumerable living beings, ranging from the highest Cosmic Person, or Brahma, to the meanest worm, dwelling in numberless bodies or ‘fields. They are the knowers of their respective bodies. These living beings perform various actions, good or bad, and experience their results. They are subject to bondage; through spiritual discipline they ultimately attain liberation. But according to Vedanta the individual soul is really one with the Supreme Lord. Though the Supreme Lord, as the Knower of the Field, dwells in all bodies, yet He is not affected by the traits of these bodies, such as birth, growth, decay, death, and so on; for the idea of His being associated with the body is due to ignorance. Not a single grain of sand in the desert is made wet by all the waters of the mirage one sees there through ignorance. The terms ‘bondage’ and ‘liberation’ cannot be ascribed to the Lord, though it is He alone who dwells in the body. They are used with reference to the individual soul, who is created by ignorance.
The Field is described:
The Lord Said: The great elements, I-consciousness, intellect, and the unmanifested; the ten senses, the mind, the five objects of the senses; Desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the aggregate (body), intelligence, and the fortitude – this, briefly seated, is the Field together with its modifications. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 5&6)
Teaching: Great elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether are so called because they pervade all modifications of matter. The ten senses are: the five organs of knowledge (ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose), and the five organs of action (hand, feet, mouth, anus and generative organ). The five objects of the senses are sound, touch, form colour, taste and smell.
Aspirants must cultivate certain virtues in order to be qualified for the knowledge of the Lord, who alone is the object of knowledge. These virtues, described below are designated as knowledge because they are the means of attaining Knowledge.
The Lord Said: Humility, modesty, non-violence, forbearance, and uprightness; service to the teacher, purity, steadfastness, and self-control, dispassion toward sense-objects, absence of ego. And, unswerving devotion to Me through constant meditation on non-separation, resorting to solitude, aversion to the society of men; Constantly in the knowledge of the Self, and an insight into the object of the knowledge of Truth-this is declared to be knowledge, and all that in contrary to it is ignorance. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 7-11).
All that is contrary- Such as pride, hypocrisy, cruelty, impatience, insincerity, and the like. All this is ignorance and therefore should be avoided as tending to the perpetuation of samsara.
The Lord Said: Supreme Being (Brahman) whines through the functions of all the senses, and yet It is devoid of senses. It is unattached, and yet It sustains all. It is devoid of gunas, and yet It enjoys them. It is without and within all beings. It is unmoving and also moving. It is incomprehensible because It is subtle. It is far way, and yet It is near. It is indivisible, and yet It is, as it were, divided among beings. That knowable Brahman is the Sustainer of all beings, and also their Devourer and Generator. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 15&16).
One who understands the Field, knowledge, and the object of knowledge knows the whole doctrine of the Vedas and the Gita.
The Lord Said: Know thou that Nature and Spirit are beginning less; and know also that all modifications and qualities are born of Nature. Prakriti (Nature) is said to be the cause of the generation of the body and the organs, and Purusha (Soul) is said to be the cause of the experience of pleasure and pain. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 20&21).
Purusha– It is synonymous with jiva (the individual soul), Kshetrajna (the Knower of the Field), and bhoktra (the enjoyer). Obviously the Purusha does not here signify the Paramatman, or Highest Self. It is here an intelligent principle and a conditioned being.
Teaching: Purusha and Prakriti are seated to be the cause of samsara, or phenomenal existence. Prakriti transforms itself into body and senses, as also into pleasure, pain, and so on, and Purusha experiences pleasure and pain. This conjunction between Purusha and Prakriti-due to ignorance-makes relative life possible. Even though the Purusha, the Soul, identifies Him-self with the body and appears to experience pleasure and pain, yet in reality He remains unchanging. It is this apparent experience which constitutes His illusory world, or samsara, and which makes Him a samsara, or phenomenal being.
How does the birthless and immutable Atman experience pleasure and pain?
The Lord Said: The soul seated in Nature experiences the qualities born of Nature; attachment to the qualities is the cause of his birth in good and evil wombs. The Supreme Soul in this body is also called the witness, the Approver, the supporter, the enjoyer, the Sovereign Lord and the Supreme Self. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 22&23).
Teaching: Avidya, or ignorance, and karma, or attachment to the gunas, together constitute the cause of samsara, or relative existence. The aspirant seeking liberation should avoid them both. Ignorance is to be removed by knowledge, the knowledge of the Field and the Knower of the Field. Attachment is to be destroyed by cultivating dispassion.
The result of Self-knowledge:
The Lord Said: He who thus knows Purusha (Spirit) and Prakriti (Matter), along with the gunas (qualities), in whatever condition he may be, he is not reborn. Some by meditation (Raja Yoga) behold the Self in the Self by the Self, others by the Yoga of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), and others by the Yoga of action (Karma Yoga). (B.G. C. XIII; V. 24&25).
The Lord Said: Wherever a being is born, whether it be unmoving (inanimate) or moving (animate), know thou, O best of the Bharatas (Arjuna), that it is from the Union between the Field and its Knower. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 27).
Union- What is the nature of this union between the Field and the Knower of the Field, matter and Spirit, body and Soul? Matter and Spirit are entirely opposed to each other in nature; Spirit is incorporeal. Hence the union between them is not like the union between two material objects. Vedanta philosophy describes the relationship between matter and Spirit, or object and Subject, by the term ‘adhyasa’, which means ‘false superimposition of one thing upon another’. The attributes of matter are superimposed upon Spirit and vice versa. This superimposition is due to maya, or absence of discrimination. It is like the illusion of a snake in a rope, or a mirage in the desert. In such illusions of the attributes of the snake or the mirage are superimposed upon the rope and the desert. This unreal relationship, created by ignorance, conjures up before our vision the manifold of the relative world.
The Lord Said: He who sees that all actions are done only by Prakriti (Nature) and that the Self is action less – verily, he alone sees. Having no beginning and possessing no gunas (qualities), this supreme and imperishable Self, O son of Kunti, neither acts nor is stained by action even while dwelling in the body. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 30&32)
Teaching: If the Spirit dwelling in the body does not act and is not tainted by the result of action, then, it may be asked, who is the agent of the action and the reaper of its fruit? There is no embodies self distinct from the Supreme Lord, and the Supreme Lord is action-less. The answer is: It is Prakriti that acts. (V.14) Through illusion arises the idea of the action, the doer, and the result of action. No action really exists in the Supreme Lord. From the standpoint of Reality there exists neither good nor evil. When the knowledge of the unity of the Lord and the universe is veiled by ignorance, there arises the idea of the pairs of opposites, and also the idea of action characterized by agency, instrument, and result.
A man attains to unity with the Supreme when he knows or realizes through intuition that all these manifold forms are rooted in the One. Like waves in water, like rays in the sun, so also all forms are rooted in the One.
The Lord Said: As the all-pervading Akasa (space) is not tainted because of its subtlety, so the Self seated everywhere in the body, is not tainted. Just as the one sun illumines the whole world, so also the Lord of the Field (the Supreme Self) illumines the whole Field, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XIII; V. 33&34)
Teaching: The akasa, or ether, is so subtle that it pervades all things without obstruction and is not affected by the good or evil qualities of the objects it pervades. Likewise, the Supreme Self, dwelling in the bodies of gods and angles, men and animals, plants and stones, is not affected by their natural qualities.
Sri Krishna concludes the Chapter;
The Lord Said: They who perceive with the eye of knowledge (wisdom) this distinction between the Field and the Knower of the Field, and also the deliverance from Prakriti, the cause of all beings-they attain the Supreme. (B.G. C. XIII; V. 35)
Teaching: They who know through the eye of intuition opened by meditation and the instructions of the Guru and the scriptures, that the Field is insentient, the doer, changing and finite, and that the Knower of the Field is pure Consciousness, the non-doer, unchanging and infinite, and who also perceive the non-existence of Nature, ignorance, the Unmanifested, the material cause of being,—they attain the Supreme.
FOURTEENTH DISCOURSE – YOGA OF DISCRIMINATION OF THE THREE GUNAS
Knowledge of the three cosmic qualities or Gunas, namely, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas is now given through this discourse. The knowledge of these three Gunas, which hold the entire universe and all creatures under their sway, is of vital importance to each and every one for their progress and happiness in life. Without this knowledge one will be forever bound by sorrow. In this knowledge we have the secret of success in worldly life as well as in spiritual life. Therefore, one should acquire this precious knowledge.
The Lord Said: I will again expound (to thee) that Supreme Knowledge, the most exalted of all forms of knowledge, by gaining which all the sages have attained highest perfection after passing from this world. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 1)
The Lord Said: The gunas – sattva (purity), rajas (passion), and tams (inertia)- which are born of Prakriti, bind fast in the body the immortal, embodied soul, O mighty Arjuna. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 5)
Teaching: The three Gunas are present in all human beings. None is free from the operation of any one of the three qualities. They are not constant. Sometimes Sattwa predominates and at other times Rajas or Tamas predominates. One should analyze and stand as a witness of these three qualities.
The nature of sattva and the way it binds:
The Lord Said: Of these, Sattwa, being stainless, is luminous and healthy. It binds, by creating attachment to knowledge and to happiness, O sinless one!. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 6)
Teaching: A man under the influence of sattva becomes attached to happiness and knowledge and says, ‘I am happy; I have attained knowledge’. Happiness and knowledge are attributes of mind, which is a form of matter. They belong to the category of the object and pertain to the kshetra (Field). The Self, which is of the nature of freedom and totally unattached, becomes bound by identification with matter. This is how sattva binds a soul to the world.
The nature of rajas and how it binds:
The Lord Said: Know thou Rajas to be of the nature of passion, the source of thirst (for sensual enjoyment) and attachment; it binds fast, O Arjuna, the embodied one by attachment to action! (B.G. C. XIV; V. 7)
Action- Productive of visible and invisible results. It is thirst and attachment that impel a worldly person to action. Thirst is directed to an object not yet attained, and attachment, to what has already been attained.
Though the Self is action-less, yet rajas makes It feel, “I am the doer”
The nature of tamas and how it binds:
The Lord Said: And know further that Tamas to be born of ignorance, deluding all embodied beings; it binds fast, O Arjuna, by heedlessness, sleep and indolence! (B.G. C. XIV; V. 8)
Ignorance – The veiling power of maya. The other power of maya is the projecting power, which functions mainly through rajas. Maya is armed with these two powers. Under the influence of tamas one becomes inattentive, slothful, and inert.
The respective functions of the three gunas:
The Lord Said: Sattwa binds one to happiness, Rajas to action, O Arjuna, whereas Tamas, shrouding knowledge, attaches to heedlessness or inadvertence. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 9)
The respective functions of the three gunas:
The Lord Said: Sattva asserts itself by prevailing over rajas and tamas, O Arjuna; rajas asserts itself by prevailing over sattva and tamas; and tamas asserts itself by prevailing over sattva and rajas. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 10)
Teaching: When one of the gunas prevails over the other two, it produces its own effect. Thus, sattva produces knowledge and happiness, rajas causes attachment and impels one to action, and tamas veils discrimination and cause inertia and inadvertence.
What is the characteristic marks of predominant sattva:
The Lord Said: When, through gateways of (sense) the body, the wisdom shines, then it may be known that Sattwa is predominant. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 11)
Teaching: The cultivation of sattva is, no doubt, the highest virtue in the relative world. But it must not be mistaken for liberation, or the Highest Good, which consists in transcending all the gunas. If too much cherished, sattva soon degenerates into rajas and tamas, which are always present, in however small proportion, along with sattva.
What is the characteristic marks of predominant rajas:
The Lord Said: Greed, activity, the undertaking of actions, restlessness, longing—these arise when Rajas is predominant, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XIV; V. 12)
What is the characteristic marks of predominant tamas:
The Lord Said: Darkness, inertness, heedlessness and delusion—these arise when Tamas is predominant, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XIV; V. 13)
Life after death is influenced by the gunas:
The Lord Said: If the embodied one meets with death when Sattwa has become predominant, then he attains to the spotless realms of the knowers of the Highest. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 14)
Spotless realms – The exalted heavens where tamas and rajas can never assert themselves.
The Lord Said: If the embodies soul meets with death when rajas prevails, it is born among those who are attached to action; and if it meets with death when tamas prevails, it is born in the wombs of creatures devoid of reason. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 15)
A summary of the preceding verses;
The Lord Said: The fruit of good action, is said to be Sattwic and pure; the fruit of Rajas is pain, and ignorance is the fruit of Tamas. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 16)
Good action – An action characterized by sattva.
The gunas effects are summed up:
The Lord Said: Those who are stablished in sattva go upward; those who are moved by rajas remain in the middle; and those who are steeped in tamas, being weighted by the tendencies of the lowest guna, go downward. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 18)
Upward – Into the realms of higher beings. In middle – Among men. Downward – To the level of beasts
The Lord Said: When a man of insight beholds no agent other than the gunas, and also knows Him who is beyond the gunas, he attains My being. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 19)
No agent other than the gunas – It is the gunas that transform themselves into bodies, senses, and sense-objects. The agent, the instrument, and the result of action are only modifications of the gunas and belong to Prakriti.
Him – The Lord, who dwells in man as his inmost Self. He is the Witness of the gunas and their functions.
The Lord Said: When the embodied soul has risen above the three gunas of which its body is made, it gains deliverance from birth, death, old age, and pain and becomes immortal. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 20)
Arjuna Said: What are the marks of him who has crossed over the three qualities, O Lord? What is his conduct and how does he go beyond these three qualities? (B.G. C. XIV; V. 21)
The Lord Said: Light, activity and delusion, —when they are present, O Arjuna, he hates not, nor does he long for them when they are absent! He who, sitting like unconcerned, is unmoved by the gunas, who remains firm and never wavers, knowing that the gunas alone are active. He who dwells in the Self and regards alike pleasure and pain, to whom a clod of earth, stone and gold are alike, to whom the dear and the unfriendly are alike, firm, the same in blame and praise; He who is the same in honour and dishonour, the same to friend and foe, abandoning all undertakings—he is said to have crossed the gunas. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 22-25)
He who hates not – The man of right knowledge does not hate the effects of the three gunas when they clearly present themselves as objects of consciousness, nor does he long for them when they have disappeared. This answers Arjuna’s first question. These are marks that others cannot perceive; they can be perceived only by the individual in whom they appear. No man can perceive, the hatred or desire that presents itself no another man’s consciousness.
The gunas alone are active – Since the gunas transform themselves into body, senses, and objects, all actions are only the functioning of the gunas. The Self is the detached Witness.
How does one pass beyond the three gunas?
The Lord Said: And he who serves Me with unswerving devotion, he, crossing beyond the qualities, is fit for becoming Brahman. For I am the abode of Brahman, the immortal and the immutable, of Eternal Dharma and of Absolute Bliss. (B.G. C. XIV; V. 26-27)
I – The inmost Self, in whom Brahman, the Supreme Self, abides. Dharma – Righteousness.
FIFTEENTH DISCOURSE – THE WAY TO THE SUPREME SELF
This discourse is entitled “Purushottama Yoga” or the “Yoga of the Supreme Self”. Here Lord Krishna tells us about the ultimate source of this visible phenomenal universe from which all things have come into being, just like a great tree with all its roots, trunk, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers and fruits which spring forth from the earth, which itself supports the tree and in which it is rooted.
The Lord Said: They speak of an imperishable Asvattha Tree with its roots above and branches below. Its leaves are the Vedas, and he who knows the Vedas. (B.G. C. XV; V.1)
They – The scriptures.
Imperishable – The Tree of samsara, or cosmic existence, rests on a continuous series of births and deaths without beginning or end. This Tree cannot be cut down except by the knowledge and experience of man’s identity with Brahman.
The Lord Said: Above and below spread its branches, nourishes by the gunas. Sense-objects are its buds; and its clustering roots spread downward in the world of men, giving rise to action. (B.G. C. XV; V.2)
The Lord Said: Its form is not perceived here as such, neither its end nor its origin, nor its foundation nor resting place; having cut asunder this firmly-rooted peepul tree with the strong axe of non-attachment. (B.G. C. XV; V.3)
The Lord Said: Free from pride and delusion, having conquered the evil of attachment, ever devoted to the Supreme Self, with desires completely stilled, liberated from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, the undeluded reach that Immutable Goal. (B.G. C. XV; V.5)
The Lord Said: An eternal portion of Myself, having become a living soul in a world of living beings, draws to itself the five senses, with the mind for the sixth, which abide in Prakriti. (B.G. C. XV; V.7)
Teaching: The jiva, or individual soul, is that aspect of the Supreme Lord which manifests itself in everyone as the doer and the enjoyer, being limited by upadhis, or conditions, set up by avidya, or ignorance. But in reality, both the jiva and the Supreme Lord are the same. The individual soul is like the sun reflected in water; the reflected sun is only a portion of the real sun. On the removal of the water, the reflected sun returns to the original sun and remains one with it. The sun is the Supreme Lord, and the water is the mind, created by nescience. Or the individual soul is like akasa (space) in a jar, which is a portion of the infinite akasa; the akasa limited by the jar becomes one with the infinite akasa on the destruction of the jar, which was the cause of limitation. Afterwards it cannot again be separated from the infinite akasa. This explains the statement ‘from which they who have reached it never return’.
According to this description of the jiva, each soul is in reality divine, however partial the actual manifestation of Divinity may be in its physical environment. It is much greater than its present appearance, and its goal is to transcend material limitations. In reality, the infinite cannot have any parts. The appearance of the individual living soul is due to avidya.
At the time of cosmic dissolution or of deep sleep, the individual soul, no doubt, remains merged in Prakriti, or the Nature of the Lord; but this Prakriti is tainted by ignorance, or maya; it is not the pure essence of the Lord. Therefore, the soul returns from Prakriti to the world of the manifold at the time of a new evolution or of waking. And at that time, it brings with it the mind and the senses, which also have merged in Prakriti, for the enjoyment of the world. But the soul that merges in Brahman after the attainment of Self-knowledge does not come back to the mortal life.
No Self-knowledge is possible without yoga:
The Lord Said: Those who strive, armed with yoga, behold Him dwelling within themselves; but the undisciplined and the unintelligent do not perceive him, though they strive. (B.G. C. XV; V.11)
Teaching: Mere study of the scriptures, even aided by reason and reflection, will not be of much to those whose minds are impure and who cannot discriminate between the Real and the unreal.
The Lord Said: The light that is in the sun and illumines the whole universe, the light that is in the moon and is likewise in fire – know that light to be Mine. (B.G. C. XV; V.12)
The Lord Said: And I am seated in the hearts of all; from Me are memory and knowledge, and their loss as well. It is I alone who am to be known through all the Vedas; I am indeed the Author of Vedanta and the Knower of the Vedas. (B.G. C. XV; V.15)
The Lord Said: There are two beings in the world: The Perishable and the Imperishable. The Perishable comprises all creatures, and the Imperishable is said to be the Unchanging. But there is another Being, the Highest, called the Supreme Self, who, as the Immutable, pervaded and sustain the three worlds. (B.G. C. XV; V.16&17)
The Lord Himself is the Supreme Self;
The Lord Said: As I surpass the Perishable and as I am higher even than the Imperishable, I am extolled in the world and in the Vedas as the Supreme Self. He who, undeluded, knows Me thus as the Supreme Self – he knows all, O Arjuna, and he worships Me with all his heart. (B.G. C. XV; V.18&19)
Knows Me thus – That is to say, knows the individual soul as one with the Supreme Self.
He knows all – Because the Supreme Self is the Self of all beings.
The Lord Said: Thus, O sinless one, have this most profound teaching been imparted by Me. By knowing it a man becomes wise, O Arjuna, and fulfils all his duties. (B.G. C. XV; V.20)
Fulfils all his duties – Whatever duty one has to do in life will have been done when Brahman is realized.
SIXTEENTH DISCOURSE – THE DIVISION OF DIVINE AND DEMONIAC TREASURES
This discourse is important and very instructive to all persons who wish to attain happiness, prosperity and blessedness, and to seekers in particular, who wish to attain success in their spiritual life. Lord Krishna brings out quite clearly and unmistakably here the intimate connection between ethics and spirituality, between a life of virtue and God-realization and liberation. Listing two sets of qualities of opposite kinds, the Lord classifies them as divine and demoniacal (undivine), and urges us to eradicate the latter and cultivate the divine qualities.
The Lord Said: Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in Yoga and knowledge, alms-giving, control of the senses, sacrifice, study of scriptures, austerity and straightforwardness, Harmlessness, truth, free from anger, renunciation, peacefulness, absence of crookedness, compassion towards beings, un-covetousness, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness, Vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred, absence of pride—these belong to one born in a divine state, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XVI; V.1-3)
Teaching: A person endowed with these qualities enjoys happiness and peace.
A description of the demoniac qualities:
The Lord Said: Hypocrisy, arrogance, self-conceit, harshness and also anger and ignorance, belong to one who is born in a demoniacal state, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XVI; V.4)
The effects of the two natures described below:
The Lord Said: The divine nature is said to be for the purpose of liberation and the demoniacal for bondage. Grieve not, O Arjuna, for thou art born with divine treasures! (B.G. C. XVI; V.5)
The traits of demoniac persons:
The Lord Said: Men of demoniac nature know not what to do and what to refrain from doing. Purity is not in them, nor good conduct, nor truth. They said; ‘The world is devoid of truth, without a moral basis, and without a God. It is brought about by the union of male and female, and lust alone is its cause; what else’? (B.G. C. XVI; V.7&8)
Devoid of truth – As he life and dealings of demoniac persons are based on falsehood, so alone, they say, it is the very nature of the world.
The view of the materialists:
The Lord Said: Holding such a view, these lost souls of little understanding and fierce deeds rise as the enemies of the world for its destruction. Giving themselves up to insatiable desires, full of hypocrisy, pride, and arrogance, they hold false views through delusion and act with impure resolve. (B.G. C. XVI; V.9&10)
The Lord Said: Giving themselves over to immeasurable cares ending only with death, regarding gratification of lust as their highest aim, and feeling sure that that is all; Bound by a hundred ties of hope, given over to lust and anger, they strive to obtain by unjust means, to amass wealth for the satisfaction of their passions. ‘This has been gained by me today; this desire I shall obtain; this is mine and this wealth too shall be mine in future’. That enemy has been slain by me and others also I shall slay. I am the lord; I enjoy; I am perfect, powerful and happy. am rich and born in a noble family. Who else is equal to me? I will sacrifice. I will give (charity). I will rejoice,”—thus, deluded by ignorance. (B.G. C. XVI; V.11-15)
The Lord Said: Bewildered by many a fancy, entangled in the snare of delusion, addicted to the gratification of lust, they fall into a foul hell. Given over to egoism, power, haughtiness, lust and anger, these malicious people hate Me in their own bodies and those of others. These cruel haters, the worst among men in the world, —I hurl all these evil-doers for ever into the wombs of demons only. Entering into demoniacal wombs and deluded birth after birth, not attaining Me, they thus fall, O Arjuna, into a condition still lower than that! (B.G. C. XVI; V.16-20)
Teaching: The soul, under the influence of rajas and tamas, is deprived of light, sattva, and falls a victim to the perversities of its lower nature. If it does not abandon its ways of error, it is eventually born in a subhuman body, as an asura, endowed with demoniac attributes. Turning its vision away from Light and Truth, it goes on falling, because of the force of the misdirected divine power, till it finds itself in the lowest pit of the relative world, called hell. But since it is a portion of the Divine, nay, in reality one with the Lord Himself, it cannot be consigned for eternity to this state of self-forgetfulness. One day it understands and turns to Light. And then the other teaching of the Gita (IX, 30) comes in – that even the greatest sinner, through his spiritual fervour, may follow the path of sattva and ultimately attain perfection and freedom.
The three great demoniac attributes that are the cause of all evils:
The Lord Said: Three are the gateways of this hell leading to the ruin of the self – lust, wrath, and greed. Therefore, let man renounce these three. A man who is liberated from these three gates to darkness, O Arjuna, practices what is good for him and thus attains the Supreme goal! (B.G. C. XVI; V.21-22)
Teaching: When these three gates to hell are abandoned, the path to salvation is cleared for the aspirant. He gets the company of sages, which leads to liberation. He receives spiritual instructions and practices them. He hears the scriptures, reflects, meditates and attains Self-realization.
The scriptures are the authority as to what is to be given up and what is to be followed:
The Lord Said: He who, casting aside the ordinances of the scriptures, acts under the impulse of desire, attains neither perfection nor happiness nor the supreme goal. (B.G. C. XVI; V.23)
Scriptures – Here the word signifies the Vedas, which teach us the nature of God, the soul, the hereafter, and the relationship of man to man- all based on the intuitive experiences of the seers. Morality and ethics, taught from the standpoint of expediency or formulated by unaided reason, break down under the stress if circumstances. They must be based on such spiritual experiences as the realization of the divinity of the soul, the oneness of existence, and the Fatherhood of God, and then be formulated through reason.
The Lord Said: Therefore, let the scripture be the authority in determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done. Having known what is said in the ordinance of the scriptures, you should do your work in this world. (B.G. C. XVI; V.24)
Teaching: The duties laid down in the scriptures purify a man’s heart and enable him to acquire right knowledge and attain liberation.
SEVENTEENTH DISCOURSE – THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF FAITH
This discourse is termed the “Yoga of the Division of the Three Kinds of Faith”. The theme of this discourse arises out of the question asked by Arjuna in Verse 1 with reference to the final and closing advice of Lord Krishna in the previous discourse, contained in the last two verses therein (Verses 23 & 24).
Arjuna Said: Those who, setting aside the ordinances of the scriptures, perform sacrifice with faith, what is their condition, O Krishna? Is it that of Sattva, Rajas or Tamas? (B.G. C. XVII; V.1)
Teaching: At the end of the preceding chapter, Sri Krishna said that he who discards the scriptural injunctions and acts according to the promptings of his desires cannot attain the highest Knowledge. Arjuna asks about the fate of those who worship with faith but who do not know the scriptures or are indifferent to their rules.
The Lords Said: The faith of men, born of their individual natures, is of three kinds. It is characterized by sattva, rajas, and tamas. Here now concerning it. (B.G. C. XVII; V.2)
Born of their individual natures – The nature of man consists of latent tendencies created by his actions – good or bad – in his past lives. The faith of each man takes the shape, colour, and quality given to it by his nature (svabhava), the stuff of his being, his innate substance. Man acts according to his nature; he cannot easily change it. One can transform a worldly nature into spiritual nature only with the help of insight gained through the study of the scriptures and an indomitable determination.
The threefold faith:
The Lord Said: The faith of each is in accordance with his nature, O Arjuna! The man consists of his faith; as a man’s faith is, so is he. (B.G. C. XVII; V.3)
Teaching: The word ‘sraddha’, usually translated as ‘faith’ is not a mechanical belief in or acceptance of the words of a holy man or book. It is an affirmative and reverent attitude toward super sensuous truths. Through faith a man is intuitively convinced of the existence of the Reality underlying the universe, and his capacity for realizing that Reality. It is not imposed from outside, but it produced by tendencies that are the results of his past action. The intensity of this faith accounts for the passion with which he pursues an undertaking. This faith is a man’s appeal to himself, or to something potent and compelling in himself or in universal reality, for his way to fullness and perfection. So, a man is made of his faith; he is that faith and that faith is he. The truth he sees is determined for him by his faith. If a man’s innate tendencies are characterized by sattva, then his faith will direct him to the pursuit of knowledge and happiness. If they are characterized by rajas, then his faith will direct him to the pursuit of action, ending in pain and suffering. And if they are characterized by tamas, then his faith will lead him to ignorance and delusion.
The Lord Said: Those vain and conceited men who, impelled by the force of their lust and attachment, subject themselves to severe austerities not ordained by the scriptures. And, fools that they are, torture all their bodily organs, and Me, too, who dwell within the body – know that they are fiendish in their resolves. (B.G. C. XVII; V.5&6)
The Lord Said: Worship of the gods, the twice-born, the teachers and the wise, purity, uprightness, celibacy and non-violence—these are called the austerity of the body. Speech which causes no excitement and is truthful, pleasant and beneficial, the practice of the study of the Vedas, are called austerity of speech. Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, purity of nature, self-control—this is called mental austerity. (B.G. C. XVII; V.14-16)
Austerity – ‘Tapas’, the word in the text, refers to self-discipline, prescribed by religion in order to bring body and mind under control.
The austerities described above classified according to the three gunas:
The Lord Said: This threefold austerity practiced by steadfast men with the utmost faith, desiring no reward, they call Sattvic. The austerity that is practiced in order to gain respect, honour, and reverence, and for ostentation, is said to be of the nature of rajas. Its result is uncertain and transitory. The austerity that is practiced with a determination based on foolishness, by means of self-torture, or for the purpose of ruining another is declared to be the nature of tamas. (B.G. C. XVII; V.17-19)
The gifts characterized by the three gunas:
The Lord Said: That gift which is made to one who does nothing in return, knowing it to be a duty to give in a fit place and time to a worthy person, that gift is held to be nature of Sattvic. But that gift which is made with a view to receive something in return, or looking for a reward, or given reluctantly, is said to be Rajasic. And, the gift which is given at the wrong place and time to unworthy persons, without respect or with insult, is declared to be Tamasic. (B.G. C. XVII; V.20-22)
The Lord Said: ‘Om Tat Sat’ – this has been declared to be the triple designation of Brahman. By that were created formerly the Brahmanas, the Vedas and the sacrifices. (B.G. C. XVII; V.23)
Om – The Principal symbol of Brahman both as the personal God and as the Impersonal Truth. Each letter – A, U, M – indicates one of its three manifestations – gross, subtle, or causal – in ascending order, and the syllable as a whole indicates the transcendental state, Turiya, which is identical with the Absolute.
Tat – meaning ‘That’ the indefinable, which can only be indirectly described as ‘That’.
Sat – meaning Reality, the supreme and unchanging Existence.
The Lord Said: Therefore, with the utterance of “Om” are the acts of gift, sacrifice and austerity as enjoined in the scriptures always begun by the followers of Vedas. Uttering Tat, without aiming at the fruits, are the acts of sacrifice and austerity and the various acts of gift performed by the seekers of liberation. The word Sat is used in the sense of reality and of goodness; and so also, O Arjuna, it is used in the sense of an auspicious act! (B.G. C. XVII; V.24-26)
The Lord Said: Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and gift, is also called Sat, and also action in connection with these (or for the sake of the Supreme) is called Sat. (B.G. C. XVII; V.27)
Teaching: Imperfectly performed acts of sacrifice, austerity, and gift are made perfect by the utterance, with faith, of ‘Sat’, the name of Brahman.
But without faith everything is futile;
The Lord Said: Whatever is sacrificed, given or performed, and whatever austerity is practiced – it is called ‘Asat’, if it is done without faith. It is of no account here or hereafter. (B.G. C. XVII; V.28)
Asat – Whatever sacrifice, austerity or charity done without being dedicated to the Lord will be of no avail to the doer in this earthly life here or in the life beyond hereafter.
Teaching: The teaching of this chapter may be thus summed up; There are devotees who are ignorant of the scriptural injunctions and yet endowed with ‘sraddha’, or faith. Their faith, according to its nature, may be characterized as belonging to sattva, rajas, and tamas. The devotees should cultivate pure sattva by avoiding food, worship, gift, and austerity that are of the nature of rajas and tamas. They should be devoted to sattva alone. When their gift, worship, or austerity is found to be defective, it should be purified by uttering ‘Om’, ‘Tat’, and ‘Sat’. This will purify the minds of the devotees and gradually enable them to realize Brahman.
EIGHTEENTH DISCOURSE – THE WAY TO LIBERATION THROUGH RENUNCIATION
The eighteenth discourse, which is the conclusion of the divine discourse of Lord Krishna, is in many ways a summary of the foregoing portions of the Gita. It covers in brief numerous important points dealt with in the previous discourses. Here you behold the ultimate result or effect of the Lord’s discourse to Arjuna. The drama of Arjuna’s utter despondency and breakdown is finally resolved in triumphant self-mastery, strength and bold resoluteness.
Arjuna Said: I desire to know the true nature of Renunciation and tyaga, as distinguished from each other, O mighty Lord. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.1)
The Lord Said: The renunciation of work induced by desire is understood by the sages to be sannyasa, while the surrender of the fruits of all works is called tyaga by the wise. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.2)
The Lord Said: Acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be abandoned, but should be performed. For verily, sacrifice, gift and also austerity are the purify the wise. Even these works, however, should be done without attachment and desire for fruit. This, O Arjuna is My conclusive and final judgement. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.5&6)
Teaching: This is a summary of the doctrine of Karma Yoga already enunciated before. The defect in Karma is not in the action itself but in attachment and expectation of a reward.
Wise – Who perform actions without desiring any fruit.
The three kinds of renunciation:
The Lord Said: The renunciation of obligatory action is not proper. Its abandonment, from delusion, is declared to be the nature of tamas. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.7)
Obligatory action – Such as daily worship and devotions, which every aspirant must perform. It also includes, for the householder, such as feeding animals and showing hospitality to guests. Through the performance of these duties the aspirant’s heart becomes pure.
The Lord Said: He who abandons action on account of the fear of bodily trouble (because it is painful), he does not obtain the fruit of renunciation by doing such Rajasic renunciation. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.8)
The fruit of renunciation – That is to say, liberation. It is denied to him because his renunciation is not accompanied by wisdom.
The Lord Said: When a man performs obligatory action, O Arjuna, merely because it ought to be done, abandoning attachment and also the desire for reward, that renunciation is regarded as Sattvic! The wise man of renunciation, endowed with purity, intelligent and with his doubts are dispelled, does not hate a disagreeable work nor is he attached to an agreeable one. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.9&10)
Teaching: An aspirant performs his duties in the manner described above and gradually removes the impurities of his heart, as a result of which he comes to know that Self is birth less, deathless, and immutable. Gradually he renounces all actions in thought and becomes devoted to Self-knowledge. Thus, attaining freedom from action, he fulfils the purpose of karmayoga.
The Lord Said: It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to abandon actions entirely; but he who relinquishes the rewards of actions is verily called a man of renunciation. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.11)
Teaching: Nature, and your own body & mind, too, will urge you to do actions. You will have to abandon the idea of agency and the fruits of actions. Then no action will bind you. The renunciation of all actions is possible only for him who does not identify himself with the body and who knows his Self to be one with the action less Brahman.
The Lord Said: Whatever action a man performs by his body, speech and mind, whether right or the reverse, these five are its causes. That being so, the man perverted mind, who, on account of impure understanding, looks on the Self, the Absolute, as the agent – he sees not at all. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.15&16)
The Lord Said: He who is ever free from the egoistic notion, whose intelligence is not tainted by (good or evil), though he slays these people, he slayed not, nor is he bound (by the action). (B.G. C. XVIII; V.17)
Teaching: The teachings of the Gita may be said to conclude here. At the beginning Sri Krishna stated the proposition: ‘The Self slays not nor is slain’ (C-II, 19) and gave the immutability of the Self as the reason (C II,21) that an enlightened person is not compelled to engage in action and explained it in detail throughout the treatise. Now He concludes the text in the words that the wise man ‘slays not nor is he bound’. The essence of the teachings is this: A sannyasi is free from ‘I-consciousness’ (ego notion) and identification with the body; he renounces all action because it is brought about by ignorance of the true nature of the self. Therefore, the threefold fruit of action -good, evil, and mixed – does not affect him. It is only an unenlightened man that is affected by it.
The Lord Said: Knowledge, action and the doer are declared in the science of the Gunas (the Sankhya philosophy) to be of three kinds only, according to the distinction of the Gunas. Hear them as they are. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.19)
Teaching: Since knowledge, action, and the doer are characterized by the three gunas, they fall into the category of Prakriti Nature, or matter. They have no connexon with the Atman, or Self.
The knowledge characterized by sattva:
The Lord Said: That by which one sees the one indestructible Reality in all beings, not separate in all the separate beings—know thou that knowledge is of the nature of sattva (pure). (B.G. C. XVIII; V.20)
Teaching: With the help of the knowledge characterized by sattva one sees the non-dual Atman as forming the inner substance of everything, though there are differences in the degree of its manifestation.
The knowledge characterized by rajas:
The Lord Said: But that knowledge which sees in all beings’ various entities of distinct kinds as different from one another—know thou that knowledge if of the nature of rajas. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.21)
Teaching: Finding creatures happy or unhappy, wise or ignorant, ugly or beautiful, a man endowed with the knowledge characterized by rajas thinks that different soul’s dwell in different bodies.
The knowledge characterized by tamas:
The Lord Said: And the knowledge that is confined to one single effect as if it were the whole, and is without reason, without foundation in truth, and trivial – that knowledge is declared to be of the nature of tamas. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.22)
Teaching: The Atman is the all-pervading Spirit. A man endowed with the knowledge characterized by tamas finds the Atman confined to one body only. Similarly, he thinks of the Lord as confined to a single image or symbol.
The Lord Said: That which knows the path of work and renunciation, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation—that intellect is Sattvic, O Arjuna! (B.G. C. XVIII; V.30)
The Lord Said: That by which one incorrectly understands Dharma and Adharma, and also what ought to be done and what ought not to be done—that intellect, O Arjuna, is Rajasic ! (B.G. C. XVIII; V.31)
Teaching: That which is ordained in the scriptures is Dharma. That which hurls you into the abyss of ignorance is Adharma. The Rajasic intellect is not able to distinguish between righteous and unrighteous actions.
The Lord Said: That which, enveloped in darkness, views Adharma as Dharma and all things perverted—that intellect, O Arjuna, is called Tamasic! (B.G. C. XVIII; V.32)
The Lord Said: And now here from Me, O Arjuna, the three kinds of happiness: That in which a man comes to rejoice by practice and in which he reaches the end of pain, and that which is like poison at first but like nectar in the end – that happiness, born of the clear knowledge of the Self, is said to be of the nature of Sattvic. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.36-37)
Teaching: The source of this happiness is not in external things, but within the Self. The yogis enjoy it through their communion with the inmost Self.
The Lord Said: That pleasure which arises from the contact of the sense-organs with the objects, which is at first like nectar and in the end like poison—that is declared to be Rajasic. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.38)
The Lord Said: But that which deludes the soul at the beginning and even after its termination, which springs from sleep, sloth and error—such a pleasure is declared to be of the nature of Tamasic. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.39)
The topic is concluded:
The Lord Said: There is no creature here on earth nor among the gods in heaven, who is free from the three gunas (qualities) born of Prakriti (Nature). (B.G. C. XVIII; V.40)
The Lord Said: The duties of brahmins, kshatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras have been assigned according to the gunas born of Nature. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.41)
Teaching: The Gits lays the utmost emphasis on svadharma – the dharma, or duty, of an individual – as determined by this svabhava, his inner nature formed as a result of his own past actions. When a man’s outer action is determined by his svabhava, it is the right and healthful thing, the authentic movement of his soul. Arjuna is asked by Sri Krishna to fight because it is his svadharma, the very stuff of his kshatriya nature. One’s own dharma, however defective, is better for oneself than the well performed dharma of another. It is desirable to risk one’s life in the performance of one’s dharma; for to follow another’s dharma is dangerous to the soul and contrary to the natural way of evolution; it is a thing imposed from outside and therefore a hindrance to one’s achievement of the true nature of one’s spirit. Work undertaken at the bidding of one’s dharma should be laid as an offering at the feet of the Lord; the fruit of the work belongs to the Lord Himself. The ideal of svadharma determined by one’s svabhava and not imposed from outside is the philosophical basis of the Hindu cast-system, which is mainly responsible for the cohesion and integrity of Hindu society during the past several thousand years.
The Lord Said: Man attains high perfection by devotion to his own duty. Here from Me, O Arjuna, how perfection is attained by him ‘who is devoted to his own duty’. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.45)
But the mere performance of a duty does not bring perfection:
The Lord Said: By worshipping Him, from whom all beings proceed and by whom the whole universe is pervaded – by worshipping Him, through the performance of duty does a man attain perfection. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.46)
Him– The Supreme Lord, who is the inner guide of each soul and who pervaded the universe as Spirit and Energy.
Teaching: The veil of maya, creating the notion of duties, actions, and so on, separates man from the Lord. The working-out of one’s own karma, according to the law of one’s being, is the means by which the veil of maya can be rent and the Lord realized. Duty performed as an act of worship to the Lord, without desire for the result, accomplishes this end, through His grace.
The Lord Said: Better is one’s own dharma, though imperfect, than the dharma of another well performed. He who does the duty ordained by his own nature incurs no sin. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.47)
Teaching: As a poisonous substance does not injure the worm born in that substance, so he who does even an unpleasant duty ordained by his own dharma incurs no evil. That is the only real thing for him. All other duties are alien to his nature. Throughout all of Sri Krishna’s exhortation to Arjuna about duty it should not be forgotten that duty must be performed.
The Lord Said: Having abandoned egoism, power, arrogance, anger, desire, and greediness, free from the notion of “mine” —he is worthy of becoming one with Brahman. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.53)
The Lord Said: Having become Brahman and being tranquil in heart, he neither grieved nor desires. He treats alike all beings and attains supreme devotion to Me. By devotion he knows Me in truth, what and who I am; and knowing Me in truth, he directly enters into the Supreme Beings. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.54&55)
The liberation described above may also be attained through the performance of one’s duties:
The Lord Said: Even though engaged in all kinds of action (prescribed duties), a man who has taken refuge in Me reaches, by My grace, the eternal and imperishable Abode. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.56)
The Lord Said: Fixing your heart on Me, you will overcome every difficulty by My grace; but if from self-conceit you do not listen to Me, you shall perish utterly. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.58)
The Lord Said: The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, and by His maya causes them to resolve as though mounted on a machine. Take refuge in Him alone with all your being. By His grace you will gain Supreme peace and the everlasting Abode. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.61&62)
The Lord Said: Thus, has wisdom more profound than all profundities been declared unto thee by Me. Having reflected over it fully, then act as you will. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.63)
Act as you will – The scriptures serve the purpose of telling man what he should do and what he should not. It is up to man himself to choose the right and reject the wrong.
The Lord Said: Again, listen to My Supreme word, the profoundest of all. You are well beloved of Me; therefore, I will tell thee what is for your good. Fix your heart on Me, give your love to Me, worship Me, bow down before Me; so, shall you come to Me. This is My pledge to you, for you are dear to Me. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.64&65)
Teaching: The devotee who looks upon the Lord as his aim, means, and end is certain to reach the Lord. The Lord’s promise cannot but be fulfilled. Since liberation is the result of whole hearted devotion to the Lord, one should look upon Him alone as the highest and sole Refuge.
The teachings if the Gita are concluded. Now the Lord lays down the rules for their handing down:
The Lord Said: This wisdom never to be spoken to one who is devoid of austerities, to one who is without devotion, nor to one who does not render service, nor who does not wish to hear, nor to one who speaks ill of Me. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.67)
The merit of teaching the Gita to the Lord’s devotees:
The Lord Said: He who, with supreme devotion to Me, teaches this deeply profound philosophy to those who are devoted to Me shall without question come to Me. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.68)
Teaching: Devotion to the Lord is the condition for being a student or a teacher of the Gita.
The result of hearing the Gita:
The Lord Said: The man who hears this, with full of faith and free from malice – even he, liberated from sin, shall attain the happy worlds of those righteous deeds. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.71)
The Lord asks Arjuna at the end of his teachings:
The Lord Said: Has this been heard by you, O Arjuna, with one-pointed mind? Has your delusion born of ignorance, been destroyed, O Dhananjaya? (B.G. C. XVIII; V.72)
The Arjuna Said: My delusion is gone. I have regained my memory (knowledge) through Your grace, O Krishna. I am firm; my doubts are gone. I will act according to Your word. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.73)
Teaching: The purpose of the study of the scriptures is the destruction of delusion, which is at once followed by Self-knowledge.
The teaching of the Gita is over. The rest is only the conclusion of the main narrative.
Sanjaya Said: Thus, have I heard this wonderful dialogue between Krishna and the high-souled Arjuna, which causes the hair to stand on end. Through the Grace of Vyasa I have heard this Supreme and most secret Yoga direct from Krishna, the Lord of Yoga Himself declaring it. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.74&75)
The outcome of the battle can no longer be doubted:
Sanjaya Said: The side that has Krishna, the Lord of yoga, and the side that has Arjuna, the wielder of the Gandiva (mighty bow of Arjuna)– there surely will be fortune, victory, prosperity, and right conduct. Such is my conviction. (B.G. C. XVIII; V.78)
Here ends the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya!
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace be unto all!
—Om Tat Sat—
The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, causing all beings, by His illusive power, to revolve as if mounted on a machine. Fly unto Him for refuge with all thy being, O Arjuna! By His Grace thou shalt obtain supreme peace and the eternal abode.