Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – śrī-bhagavān uvāca
Śrī-bhagavān uvāca means “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said”.
Bhagavān is how Lord Krishna is addressed by Srimad Bhagavad Gita. It means one who has the six opulences, namely Wealth, Strength, Fame, Beauty, Knowledge and Renunciation, unlimitedly. If you read the list carefully, you will see that almost all so-called celebrities of this world are known for having the opulences stated above, one or more at any time. But even they do not compare to Bhagavān, who is the Lord of everything that is and has all the opulence in unlimited quantity.
In my last article, we saw how Arjuna is overcome by grief and refuses to take up arms against his kinsmen. Being such a ‘nice person’, one would have thought that Lord Krishna, as God, would have been very happy and said “Arjuna, I am so proud of you! You are non-violent! That’s just great!”
Did he? NO. Krishna, in fact, scolds Arjuna in the strongest of words. Here it is, Bhagavad Gita Chapter 02, verse 2-3:
kutas tvā kaśmalam idaḿ
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.
klaibyaḿ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha
naitat tvayy upapadyate
O son of Pṛthā, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.
I do not think that Krishna’s words need any explanation here.
Arjuna is shocked! He asks Krishna how can he encourage slaying men worthy of worship, being his teachers. He declares it’s better to live of begging than to live at the cost of these great souls. Then he accepts that he is confused with miserly weakness and that he is now Krishna’s disciple and then requests Krishna to dispel his grief. Then he says “Govinda, I shall not fight” and became silent.
What comes next is a very, very important section of Bhagavad Gita. The Supreme Lord begins his instruction to his surrendered devotee. Since his instructions carry the essence of the entire Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 02 is termed as a summary of the contents of the Bhagavad Gita. This will be quite a long article if I were to address all the instructions, so I will summarize on the main topics that are being addressed.
Lord Krishna begins with the explanation of the soul or atma by reprimanding Arjuna and calling him unwise for speaking like a learned man (because he made so many emotional arguments) but grieving for things that don’t deserve grief and also that the wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead. The very next statement he makes to Arjuna on this topic is this:
na tv evāhaḿ jātu nāsaḿ
na tvaḿ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” – BG2.12
This statement is a damning rebuttal of the theory which states that all souls merge in to the brahma-jyoti, losing their identity, and also of the theory where individuality is said to be an effect of illusion or Maya. In a way, it also is a statement that refutes the theory of evolution, where life is proclaimed to come from matter and has no purpose or prior or future existence. The next statement explains the core principle of Transmigration of the Soul:
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraḿ yauvanaḿ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” – BG2.13
So, what are the characteristics of this spirit soul? In Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verses 16-25, this is described clearly. A spirit soul is eternal, indestructible, cannot be cut in to pieces, cannot be burnt by fire, cannot be moistened by water or withered by wind, immutable, invisible and inconceivable.
And so, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna that he shouldn’t lament for the person who dies, since it’s only the body that is slain. After that, Krishna explains why Arjuna must fight, by telling how people would speak ill of Arjuna if he didn’t do his duty, and how the generals would think him to be weak. Krishna also begins talking about how Arjuna should do his duty for the sake of doing it, without considering the result. This, Lord Krishna says, would let Arjuna avoid sin.
He also conveys to Arjuna that what he has heard till now was only from the analytical point of view. So, Krishna begins explaining the same principles in terms of working without fruitive results. It is in this section he speaks the famous verse 47 in Chapter 02 (made popular, thanks to the Mahabharata serial on TV and countless pseudo-philosophers who claim this as the essence of Bhagavad Gita)
karmaṇy evādhikāras te
mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr
mā te sańgo ‘stv akarmaṇi
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”
The Acharyas explain that the Lord is talking about prescribed duties here, but we normally, wrongly, take this to mean that Krishna is talking about day to day mundane activities. So, one must do his prescribed duty, without attachment to success or failure. Allow me to deal in this a bit more. Lord Krishna does not say here that results are to be ignored or that we should carry out our duties carelessly. Since the Supreme Lord is the proprietor of everything, he owns the results too. We must understand that our self is just one of the five factors that influence action. This is from Chapter 18, verse 14.
adhiṣṭhānaḿ tathā kartā
karaṇaḿ ca pṛthag-vidham
vividhāś ca pṛthak ceṣṭā
daivaḿ caivātra pañcamam
“The place of action [the body], the performer, the various senses, the many different kinds of endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul — these are the five factors of action.”
So, unless the results are dedicated to the Supreme Lord, Krishna, then that work causes bondage and suffering. How we should understand this is simply that as a spirit soul, we have to be engaged in activity. We have capacity for work and are intermediate causes, but material nature creates result and it is controlled by Lord Krishna. This is mentioned in Chapter 09, verse 10.
“This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.”
So, we don’t really have a claim over results which are actually created by something which is not under our control. If we align our freewill through actions based on the Lord’s instructions, it does not cause any bondage.
One other important point to be noted from Krishna’s response is how he explains the root cause of all problems. Let’s hear it from him directly, shall we?
Lord Krishna says in Chapter 02, verses 62-64:
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool. But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.”
So, Lord Krishna declares that attachment and the lust that arises from it to be the real problem. The senses must be engaged in some real activity, and if they are not used in the service of the Supreme Lord, then they will be engaged in service of materialism. But for a person who is devoid of attachment or aversion and follows the regulative principles properly, he can achieve the highest state of becoming conscious of the Supreme Lord. Artificial renunciation won’t help when the desire to enjoy is still present in the mind and even the slightest agitation of the mind will pull down a person who is even on the verge of the ‘liberation’ often spoken about as the goal of life.
I will end this article with one of the verses which has influenced me in my personal life very much. Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 02, verse 66:
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
“One who is not connected with the Supreme [in Kṛṣṇa consciousness] can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?”
This relates directly to how I started writing this sequence of articles, on request from our very own Lakshmi Rajan. I started off by saying everyone wants to be happy, forever. And above is the clear solution to that! Without the mind being peaceful, there can be no happiness. And for the mind to be peaceful, one must be on the devotional platform.
So, how does Arjuna respond to Lord Krishna and what question he put forth to the Lord? What does Lord Krishna say about Karma Yoga? These I will address in the next article, which should be ready by early next week.
This completes the brief summary of Chapter 02 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. I have tried to compress the whole chapter of 72 verses in to less than 1800 words. So if I have missed out on any important aspects or given incomplete explanations, it is only due to my fault and oversight, for which I pray forgiveness and understanding from my teachers as well as the readers. Please do not hesitate to ask for any clarification as required and I will try to clarify to the best of my ability.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Arjuna’s Dilemma
In my previous article, we saw the 5 main topics that Bhagavad Gita deals with. That forms the foundation for understanding the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Now, let us see why Arjuna loses his composure just before the battle began and what his dilemma was about. This article mainly covers Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 01 – Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. This sets the scene for the Krishna’s response to Arjuna’s questions.
The first chapter of Bhagavad Gita begins with the blind King Dhrtarashtra enquiring to his charioteer, Sanjaya, as to what the Pandavas and his own sons, the Kauravas, did after assembling at the pilgrimage site of Kurukṣetra with the desire to fight. It is significant that the King mentions the holy nature of Kurukṣetra, since he knows Lord Krishna is on the side of the Pandavas, and he was wondering if these factors would influence his sons in to a compromise, which he did not want.
Sanjaya, who was blessed by Sage Vyasadev with divine sight, could view the happenings on the battlefield and narrates them to his King. Sanjaya assures the King that his sons did not ask for any compromise, by terming Duryodhana, the eldest son as ‘Raja’ or ‘King’. Then he describes what Duryodhana speaks to his teacher, Dronacharya. At the end of the talk with Drona, the Grand Sire of the Kuru dynasty, Bhisma blows his conch-shell, signalling the start of the war. His call is drowned by the transcendental sounds of Lord Krishna blowing his own conch-shell, Pancajanya and that of other Pandava warriors.
Then Arjuna, in a chariot with the flag of Hanuman on its spire, with Lord Krishna as his charioteer, takes his bow, looks at the army assembled on the other side and suddenly makes a request.
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 verse 21-22
senayor ubhayor madhye
rathaḿ sthāpaya me ‘cyuta
yāvad etān nirīkṣe ‘haḿ
kair mayā saha yoddhavyam
“Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.”
It is explained that Arjuna was put in to illusion by Krishna at this crucial moment for the benefit of the world, so that Krishna himself can speak out his instructions. Though the Pandavas were dragged in to this Great War by their evil cousins, their assent for the war was based on consultation with many saintly persons and finally with Lord Krishna himself. Arjuna wanted to have a good look at his family members who were assembled against him, but he was overwhelmed by grief at the thought of the deaths that were to ensue. It was the best moment for spiritual instruction. And seeing the great warrior and his transcendental charioteer engaged in a discussion in the middle of the battlefield, the generals of both sides held their ground and watched with respect and curiosity.
From the middle of the battlefield Arjuna saw his grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers, friends, teachers, sons, grandsons and well wishers all arrayed on the opposing side. Compassion filled him. His body began quivering, hair stood on its end, mouth dried up, skin felt like burning and his mighty bow, Gandiva, slipped from his grip. Then he addresses the Lord.
He asks of what use are a kingdom, happiness or even life when all those for whom it is desired for are now arrayed on this battlefield. He also says he is not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth.
Then Arjuna begins to substantiate his claims with what he thinks will happen if he goes with the war. He says that “With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition gets vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion. When irreligion is prominent in the family the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood comes unwanted progeny. An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped. “
Arjuna continues, saying that he has heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell and so it is better for him if the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, weapons in hand, were to kill him unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield. And thus, Arjuna cast aside his bow and arrows, and sat down in the chariot.
It is to be noted that such a compassionate and soft-hearted soul, like Arjuna, is fit to receive self-knowledge. There are a couple of significant points to be noted in Arjuna’s lament. He points out that if the women of a family are not protected and the chastity of women is not maintained, it will bring down the entire family line in which they live in.
Arjuna’s laments hold a lot of relevance in these days, when it has become fashionable to be ‘broad minded’ and ‘progressive’ in every sense. I don’t think this point needs any further elaboration since I believe anyone reading these blogs can understand it clearly.
Arjuna also mentions that he has gained knowledge through a disciplic succession. This is a prime requirement to ensure that the knowledge is passed on unchanged! Imagine there is a mango tree with ripe mangoes at the top. At different heights, on branches, there are people seated and all are relishing the ripe mangoes! How? The person on the topmost part is plucking the mangoes and passing it down carefully. Now, you go to the tree and wish to get some of the mangoes. What do you do? There are several choices. One, you can take some stones and try to hit some of the mangoes and collect them from the ground, in whatever shape they are in after falling through. Or request the person in the lowermost branch for a mango, and he shares what he is getting from the top.
The first case, where you throw stones, is akin to the way people are trying to get scientific knowledge. You may or may not get the mango and even if you do, you will not find the mango intact. The second case, where you get the mango by the mercy of the person on the lowest branch, is akin to the disciplic succession. You get the mango properly and intact. Consider the mangoes to be Knowledge and people in the tree as the guru-disciple line… you get the idea. (Don’t even think of climbing the tree yourself… it indicates time!)
Therefore, one has to stress on the importance of hearing from a bonafide sampradaya or disciplic succession. The specialty in our Vedic system is that nothing is taken for granted. A philosophical theory is not just accepted on whim and wish. It has to be verified by the standard checks and balances, namely acceptance by one’s Guru, other Sadhus and then by the final anchor, Sastra.
Although anyone and everyone can claim to be enlightened, using the flowery words of the Vedas or by putting forth pure speculation as a philosophy, one must enquire about which parampara or sampradaya such a person belongs to… just like you don’t accept any tom, dick and harry to be a doctor or an engineer! Accepting someone as a Guru is no simple task. It is not a sentimental activity involving blind faith. One has to enquire in to the qualifications of such a person, his spiritual background, what is the siddhanta he follows, does he compromise on his philosophy to earn cheap adoration, is the philosophy he advocates or his modifications accepted or endorsed by other bonafide Sadhus and Sastra etc. For that, one must have some basic understanding on who can be considered as a Guru or Acharya.
The fact that the even Lord Krishna in, his Lila, also accepted a Guru, even though he is the fountainhead of all knowledge, demonstrates the importance of a Guru. Krishna also mentions this in Chapter 04, verse 34. As well, Arjuna demonstrates this again in the middle of the battlefield by accepting the Supreme Lord as his Guru.
So, how did Lord Krishna respond to such a grief stricken plea? How did he begin to clear Arjuna’s doubts? These I will address in my next article.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Main Topics of Srimad Bhagavad Gita
In my previous article, I had concluded stating that if we want our understanding of the Bhagavad Gita to be perfect, one must understand it as Arjuna understood it. We now begin our journey through the vast ocean of knowledge that is the Bhagavad Gita.
There are five basic truths that Bhagavad Gita addresses
They are as below:
1. Īśvara – Supreme Lord, the supreme controller, the supreme soul
2. Jīvas – the living beings that are controlled, spirit souls.
3. Prakṛti – the material nature
4. Kāla – Time
5. Karma – Activity
Can anyone point the odd one out in the above? No? Well, it so happens that the Supreme Lord, the spirit souls, material nature as well as Time are all eternal. Karma, activity, is the only one which is temporary. (Amusing, isn’t it? It takes 4 eternal entities to create something that is temporary!)
Now, let’s see how these topics are addressed.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita establishes the superiority of Īśvara above everything else. And Lord Krishna is established as the Supreme Controller of everything that is there, throughout Gita. Krishna himself declares it in Chapter 10, verse 8:
ahaḿ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaḿ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māḿ
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.”
In fact, Arjuna understood this perfectly. And that is the reason why we should try to understand Bhagavad Gita in a submissive mood, as a devotee of Lord Krishna, accepting him as the Supreme God (even if just theoretically), because otherwise the import of his teachings will be lost. We will see this in detail when I start addressing the chapter contents later on.
Next in line come the Jīvas, the living entities or spirit souls. While the subject of Īśvara is dealt in detail only at a later stage, the subject of the spirit soul is dealt with by Krishna in Chapter 02, verses 11 to 31. It is explained in Bhagavad Gita, as well as by the Acharyas, that each of us is a spirit soul (atma), infinitesimal sparks that are qualitatively the same as Īśvara, God. But just as a water droplet from the ocean of water cannot compare to the ocean itself even though being qualitatively same, we cannot compare ourselves to God in any manner. We are subordinate to the Supreme Lord and as such do not have the capabilities attributed to him.
Then we come down to Prakṛti or material nature. Bhagavad Gita clearly establishes that material nature is completely controlled by the Supreme Lord.
In Chapter 09, verse 10, Krishna states this:
“This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.”
Previously, he also states in Chapter 07, verses 4 and 5:
bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ
khaḿ mano buddhir eva ca
ahańkāra itīyaḿ me
bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego — all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.”
apareyam itas tv anyāḿ
prakṛtiḿ viddhi me parām
yayedaḿ dhāryate jagat
“Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”
Here, Krishna states that he is the Lord of the material nature and makes a clear distinction between himself and his energy. He also states that the living entities, the Jivas, are part of his superior energy whereas material nature is part of his inferior energy. Now, since the Jivas are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, they have the tendency of trying to lord over the material nature. The only problem is that they are not the Supreme Lord and hence cannot exercise full control over it.
While we stay on the topic of material nature, I wish to clarify an important point. What we are in, is part of material nature. It is real. But because material nature continually manifests and unmanifests itself under the effect of yet other energy of the Lord, Eternal Time, its manifestation is considered to be temporary. But its manifestation, this world and countless others, is never illusionary or false.
So, that brings us neatly to our next item: Time. Krishna mentions in Chapter 10, verse 30 that “kālaḥ kalayatām aham”, meaning “of the subduers I am Time”. As energy of the Supreme Lord, Time wears down everything. We see time only in relation to existence and movement in the material nature, whereas it does not have an end or a beginning. Since this is very difficult to understand at the outset, we will deal with this as and when we encounter it during the course of our study.
Last in line is Karma or activity. It is not activity performed just now. It includes everything from time immemorial, and by the laws of which our enjoyment and suffering are determined. Karma is affected by all the eternal entities. Activities arise due to the effect of combinations of 3 mode of Material nature (Goodness (Sattva), Passion (Rajas) and Ignorance (Tamas)), along with the influence of time. Karma, though its effects can stretch across millennia, is still temporary as we do have the ability to change our karma and hence the reactions to our Karma, based on perfection of our knowledge. Chapter 05 of Bhagavad Gita talks about Karma and Karma Yoga in detail and I will present that in due course of time.
(Phew, that was a heavy dose? Well, that is required as a foundation to proceed further. So, I will take a more relaxed pace from now.)
So, the next question anyone should ask is
How does one go about getting this knowledge perfectly?
If you want to learn or earn a degree in physics or nuclear medicine, I think you would pretty much know how to go about it. One has to go through 14 years of schooling, 4 years of college, another 2 years as post grad, and probably a Ph.D, before one can be considered as an expert in that field. Now, it so happens that for learning Spiritual science, there is a process to be followed. One must be humble in searching for the truth, must be able to identify a bonafide Guru, render service to him and inquire from him submissively. If you are wondering “Oi… hold it! That’s all? Are you sure you aren’t making this up?” well, here’s what Krishna says in Chapter 4, verse 34:
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaḿ
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”
There. Satisfied? But note that I never said this is easy, since most of us (including me) fail miserably in the first criteria, which is humility. It is only by the mercy of our teachers that we are somehow dragged in to a higher level of understanding, regardless of whether we are taught modern science or Spiritual science.
(For a detailed description on the process of gaining knowledge in the Vedic methodology, please have a look at the article “Descending Knowledge” which I posted on my blog a while back.)
What made Arjuna lose his composure before the battle? What did he lament about? How does that relate to our current times? These I will address in the next article.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Introduction to Srimad Bhagavad Gita
What is happiness?
If you ask anyone, ‘what is happiness?’ I am sure that the answers that you would get from most people would be similar. Good health, nice family, enough money, time to enjoy the little pleasures of this world, love, peace… it is not hard to imagine what would make people happy. Everyone in this world aspires to be happy all the time. The only problem is what WE define and seek as happiness, once gotten, doesn’t last forever. A few hours or days at best, that’s all. And then the rigors of the material world seize and engage us.
We use so many tools to aid us in our search for happiness, good health and why, even immortality! As a result of that relentless endeavor, modern science has enabled us to do so many things seemingly better than before, compared to natural alternatives. Life has become so dynamic that many people started professing that ‘change’ is the only constant in this world.
All these attempts at improving our condition of life, all the progress that we made, ignore the four other constants that come by nature in material life: Birth, disease, old age and death. Whatever efforts we make to improve our lives, and to be happy, the four constants always manage to get the better of us. And with death, everything comes to a very efficient end.
An intelligent person begins to think as to why he is forced to suffer, when all he wants is to be happy. A natural progress of that thought process would lead to questions like where did I come from, what am I doing here, where I would go after death and culminates in asking the most fundamental question which forms the basis of Vedic philosophy:
‘Who am I?’
The Vedas and associated Vedic scriptures offer great insight in to life’s mysteries. These ancient treasure troves of wisdom and knowledge, being coeternal with God and infallible in their own right, direct us to change our attention from the temporary towards the permanent, from matter to spirit, from the body to the soul.
They teach us that our endeavors to be happy through gratifying our senses would lead to only misery. They also inform us about our original spiritual nature – that each of us are not the body but infinitesimal spiritual sparks, Spirit Souls, that are not of this material world and that the only way to have eternal happiness to revive our natural relationship with the Supreme Soul, God, of whom we are all part and parcel of, yet different.
The Vedic knowledge was primarily transmitted orally in the previous ages. In order to make the Vedic knowledge easily accessible to the people in the Kali Yuga (the present age), the great literary incarnation, Sage Vyasa, compiled the entire knowledge in to principally the 4 Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 18 Puranas and 2 Itihaasas (epics, namely Ramayana and Mahabharata).
Understanding the Vedas, which are compiled in exquisitely perfected Sanskrit, is a nightmare even for the most erudite scholar these days. Learning Sanskrit itself would take close to 12 years of study and then one has to study the various siddhantas (philosophies) and Bhashyas (commentaries) as expounded by the great Acharyas of the past, to grasp even the basics of complex texts like Vedanta Sutras.
Of the texts that form the Vedic scriptures, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, which is found in Mahabharata, is the most important section. It is the essence of all Vedic knowledge. It is also called Gitopanishad, and is the consolidated description of the most intense, hair-raising dialogue between the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and his dearest friend, the warrior-archer, Arjuna. Running in to 700 verses over 18 chapters, it is described in much simpler Sanskrit, which leaves absolutely no room for interpretation and logical debating which is allowed by the Vedanta sutras.
This dialogue starts with questions asked by Arjuna, who is feeling very confused, dejected and sad on the eve of a great battle against his cousins, the Kauravas and their army. Arjuna is one of the ‘Mahajanas’, and being a friend to the Lord, he is above all ignorance. But the Acharyas explain that he was put in to this situation specifically to enquire about problems of life so that Sri Krishna himself can explain it for the benefit for future generations, namely, us.
(It is to be noted that this great dialogue was spoken on the eve of battle, in the middle of two armies standing ready to fight. It lends credence to the practicality of such a philosophy, much against a common belief that any spirituality or philosophical pursuit is meant for practice only in peaceful times or in a forest away from common day to day works.)
The spirit with which one should hear and accept the teachings of Srimad Bhagavad Gita is shown by Arjuna in the course of his discussion with Lord Krishna. When a physician gives a medicine, you take it only by following his directions. Similarly, the instructions given in Bhagavad Gita are to be taken only as Lord Krishna means it and not as per one’s own whim and wish. The perfect example for such a proper acceptance is shown by Arjuna himself. In the second chapter, verse 7, Arjuna surrenders:
pṛcchāmi tvāḿ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ
yac chreyaḥ syān niścitaḿ brūhi tan me
śiṣyas te ‘haḿ śādhi māḿ tvāḿ prapannam
“Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.”
Here’s how Arjuna accepts Lord Krishna’s instructions, in chapter 10, verse 12 thru 14:
paraḿ brahma paraḿ dhāma
pavitraḿ paramaḿ bhavān
puruṣaḿ śāśvataḿ divyam
ādi-devam ajaḿ vibhum
āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaḿ caiva bravīṣi me
“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala, and Vyāsa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”
sarvam etad ṛtaḿ manye
yan māḿ vadasi keśava
na hi te bhagavan vyaktiḿ
vidur devā na dānavāḥ
“O Kṛṣṇa, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me. Neither the demigods nor the demons, O Lord, can understand Your personality.”
So, to conclude, one must understand the teachings of Bhagavad Gita as Arjuna understood it. Only then, that understanding is considered perfect. Only when one hears it in a submissive mood, in devotion to the Supreme Lord, one can understand the teachings of Bhagavad Gita as understood by Arjuna, which is to say, correctly and perfectly.
What do Arjuna and Lord Krishna talk about? What subject matters does Bhagavad Gita address? How does one go about getting this knowledge perfectly? These I will address in the next article.
Understanding the Concept of God – Part 11 ( Moralization of the 6 bad qualities )
The 6 major bad qualities are strong desire (passion), anger, miserliness, immoral sexual passion, vanity & vengeance. All these qualities arise only when one is in beta level, as normally everybody will be in this level due to their constant thinking of some matters or problems that come across their life. The level swings from beta to alpha according to our thoughts & emotions. So it is in our hands to see that we don’t go beyond a certain level. (To know further about various levels read part 7)
The six qualities, if we are aware of , can be changed into 6 good qualities & they are satisfaction, patience, charity, chastity, equality & forgiveness. If one is satisfied in life with what they have, they will not feel jealous with others, out of greediness for more money & many unwanted happenings can be avoided. That doesn’t mean one should not have ambitions. Once you achieve or earn a lot of money, one should not go on for more money or increasing their properties. Until one knows about himself he will not have satisfaction in life. His expansion goes in hoarding money, increasing knowledge & gathering more & more properties. Once he knows his true self, outward requirements becomes little. Then satisfaction comes in life all the other good qualities comes automatically & we know the way to lead a peaceful & enjoyable life.
Strong desire changes into satisfaction.
Anger into patience.
Miserliness into charity.
Immoral sexual passion into Chastity.
Vanity into equality.
Vengeance into Forgiveness.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 10 (Eradication of worries)
Worries should be completely eradicated as it slowly kills you. It is a slow poison. When we have lots of expectations & desires in life & if they are not fulfilled, first it turns out as disappointment & when we keep on thinking about the same thoughts, it gets stagnated & turns into a physical disease & mental worry. There will be an imbalance in the energy level because of the thoughts. The chewing of the same thoughts which affects you , will avoid the flow of fresh energies & the body becomes too weak to be active even to do the daily routines. We won’t feel hungry & slowly the body becomes diseased.
There are many kinds of problems that we come across.
Problems that can be inborn: For example child born with deformity. One can’t do anything other than accepting it.
Problems that could be ignored: For example nagging from elderly people. Just ignore them.
Problems to be kept in abeyance , knowing the fact that they will be solved by the society or by the law of nature in due course: Under this category comes most of the problems. These problems cannot be solved by an individual effort but by nature & community when the time comes. One simple example is marriage of a girl being delayed. Only time will answer or solve to certain problems & we have to wait patiently instead of brooding over the matter.
Problems that could be solved immediately: For example buying loan & decision to take at the time of operation. Decisions should be taken at once as the conditions should not worsen by delaying.
If one can keep the mind calm always , then any problem could be solved effectively before it turns out into a worry. If the mind is well balanced you can understand the circumstances, accept the situation & then face the reality without hurting your body & the mind. So, for everything, whether it be desires, anger or worries, the best solution is meditation & introspection.
I would like to conclude this chapter explaining about how I eradicated my worry of not having a child. Actually my spiritual journey started before this problem taking shape into a worry. I had an expectation that I might get a child because of my interest in spirituality & practicing the sadhanas regularly. The more I went deep in spirituality, I felt that to be without a child is not at all a big issue to be worried. I knew that the purpose of life is not to give birth to children alone but to put an end to ones karma & get back to the original place from where the conscious started its journey.
If I had taken this as a life long worry, then I wouldn’t have progressed in spirituality & I would be physically & mentally diseased. I totally understood this & I accepted my situation & I faced it rather happily. Also I always enjoy with my relatives’ & friends ‘ children thinking they are my own & I experienced “detached attachment”. I would be very attached to them but at the same time detached, so that I don’t worry later about their not being with me always.
I enjoy myself with my cooking, reading spiritual books, watching programmes in TV spending time surfing the net , visiting friends & relatives & I never feel bored. All the while I keep watching myself so that my harmony within me is not at all disturbed. If I get disturbed I at once introspect & get rid of any unwanted thoughts.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 9 (Neutralization of Anger)
Anger is an emotion, where a large part of your energy is being wasted from your body. You tremble, face becomes red, gives a lot of pressure to your body, your heart beats fast, your energy whirls very fast & it converts into enormous amount of magnetic waves & goes out of the body . The result is -your body becomes very weak.
What happens to the thought waves which are magnetic waves sent out at the time when you express anger? For this you have to know about “The theory of Waves”. Any wave will first clash with another wave, which comes from the person with whom you are angry, then it reflects, refracts, interpenetrate & interact with the other wave which it comes in contact . The thought waves that one sends first affects his body & then the waves reflects on the person & the refracted waves goes to the persons with the same frequency thoughts & affects them. The waves goes within the person (interpenetrates) & there will be a wave which will always be interacting between the two persons.
Anger rises within a person & chemical reaction takes place in the body. It affects the internal organs like the heart, pancreas & due to it diseases connected to those organs can be diagnosed. So the root cause of diseases are tension & anger & worry. Normally we get angry with persons in close circles, mostly with family members.. Anger doesn’t stop with one person alone, it continues with persons & form a chain. e.g.
When a person gets angry at home with his wife & goes to the work place, it will continue there & he will show it to his staff & he in return will go to his house & shouts at his wife & the wife shows it to her child. Thus the waves affect so many persons. It gets linked with so many persons & we cannot blame anybody.
A person who becomes a terrorist is not to be blamed as so many thought waves which express violence in some form induces the person who is sensitive to such waves & makes him a terrorist. In the same way a person who commits suicide also is induced to such depressed waves & in a fraction of a second he commits suicide. Since we are all linked together not only through thought waves but with energy & conscious, the reason for certain bad happenings none is to be blamed. That’s why we are asked to think good always.
Waves move fast & affect the whole world. Now, find out how each one of us are the cause for things happening around us. Can any particular person be blamed after knowing this fact? So each one of us should take the responsibility for whatever is happening around & change ourselves to become a better human being & change this world into a better living place. Thought pollution is worse than the air pollution.
The only way to have a nice relationship with any person is to bless the person. Bless them when you are peaceful, that will have a good effect & slowly you will have a harmonious relationship with the person. If you practice meditation, bless them after the meditation.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 8 (Introspection, thoughts and desire)
In introspection we have:
1. Analysis of thoughts,
2. Moralization of desires,
3. Neutralization of anger,
4. Eradication of worries.
Under analysis of thoughts one should know the 10 steps of thoughts. They are:
- zeal or effort,
- realization &
Any thought, that arises first is due to some kind of a feeling physically or mentally. Once the feeling forms, for e.g. If it is a physical feeling, it might be hunger, thirst, pain or even sexual feeling & that is due to an imbalance in the body energy , the need for satisfying it comes to balance the energy level. Then we take an effort to fulfill it which automatically will lead to do an action & we know the result after the action is performed as enjoyment, which becomes an experience. So when we think back it is a research & through it we know the solution for the feeling & that is the conclusion we make.
So, now through experience we know that when we are hungry we have to get something to eat, which should be something healthy, instead of something tasty. What we do is, eat just to fill up the stomach. Again if we have a strong desire to get things like buying a car or building a house. we first think in terms of need & then make effort as to what one should do & then we put in action to fulfill it. If we have fulfilled it without getting loans, the result will be enjoyment. Instead if we buy loan then the result will not be enjoyment until the loan is over. This is how one should analyze the thoughts. Thoughts come as desires, when not fulfilled it leads to anger & worry. That’s why we need to introspect.
Normally it is said that desires had to be eradicated, but it is not so. One cannot live without desires. It should only be moralized.
How do you moralize you desires? Let’s analyze this with an example. Your desire is to buy a car. To fulfill this desire one has to see that no problems occur to self, or anybody in the present or in the future. This is a very important point one should bear in mind always. If one buy loan & and not able to pay the loan, then there is problem for both the persons. This will lead to the other person’s anger & sometimes lead to enmity . These are simple examples that any normal person on the safer side will see that such things doesn’t happen. Desires increase day by day & all the desires will not be fulfilled in this life time. So in that case we have to keep desires that can be fulfilled & will not harm anybody . This is how we can keep our mind free of unwanted desires.
In the next chapter we will deal with Neutralization of anger.
Understanding the Concept of God – Part 7
So far, it’s all about understanding Who or what is God? – God is the space or conscious, or Intelligence.
In all these chapters I haven’t mentioned anywhere about love. We say God is love & love is God. Where does this quality come in space?
I had said that this Consciousness has another quality – Totality or wholeness or oneness other than Force & Intelligence. It is this totality which is omnipresent & binds together everything in the Universe . This quality is love. If there isn’t this binding, love cannot be felt in the human beings. I have many a time put this question to myself why on earth did this Intelligent evolved? Why can’t it simply stay like that? The answer I got is there is the force which made it to evolve. If there isn’t intelligence & if there is only force, then this Universe would have functioned without any control & the Universe itself would be in a total collapse.
My Guru explains how we are bound in the space with a simple example. When a sponge is put in the water, the sponge absorbs the water & there is water in and around it. In the same way the whole Universe with all the living beings is soaked in space. A scientific truth is that 99.00001 % of all the living beings are space, i.e Intelligence is a whole lot in the physical appearance & the body is only a tiny part. We are ignorant of this & use the physical body to the maximum in a wrong manner & make it worn out soon. So it is in our hands to take care of the body & use the intelligence fully to solve problems, take the right decisions without unnecessarily getting tension, needn’t fear, needn’t be dependent on any one ,except to the intelligence which protects & guides us all the time.
Understanding this is the 1st step. To put it into practice in our life is the 2nd step.
How do we put into practice?
Its only meditation which helps to bring the mind under control. The mind is a chatter box, non stopping going into the past or to the future. Why can’t it be in the present for a while.
Meditation helps us to be in the present. How does this happen in meditation?
Thoughts are of 4 frequencies. They are Beta wave, Alpha wave , Dheeta wave & Delta wave.
Beta wave – the normal conscious mind, frequency will be between 13 to 40 cycles /sec. Normally any person will be in this frequency & when one is angry it will slowly rise to 20 & above. At this state the outward situation easily traps anyone to get angry, tensed, irritated & they will always be stressful.
Alpha wave – sub conscious mind, between 8 to 12 cycles/sec. It is the peaceful state in 8 & if one is in this state for a very long time there is chance of one to go below. If one is above 10, there is chance of him to go to beta wave. It’s again in our hands to maintain in the peaceful state where our intelligence will function in better way.
Dheeta wave – unconscious mind, it is in this level all the previous births & whatever is done unconsciously is recorded & it is between 5 to 11 cycles/sec.
It is very difficult to pass this state & go beyond to reach the delta wave as once we do meditation & go deep the imprints below come above as it is stimulated. Only then do we see so many sufferings in one’s life & we say God is testing & we have to face such situations with patience. Once we transcend this it will be easy to experience the no mind state.
Delta wave – super conscious mind, between 1 to 4 cycles/sec. This is the place where the enlightened persons are almost with the Totality, showing love & fully in aware of what is happening around them very clearly. When one is in 0, they are in total awareness, pure conscious & this is the no mind state. Normally when one is in this state, either the person is dead or in coma, but a man under meditation can be in this state in full awareness. This is the real samaadhi state, where he is sama means equal to aadhi ( beginning).
Even though one experience the different levels one cannot sustain in it very long as the outward situations will stimulate & one will be pushed again to the alpha level. When one is not at all affected by any situations & is very calm, then he can stop all his sadhanas. He will know the secrets of this life & he is said to be a self realized person. In the next chapter we will deal with how thoughts arise & the different steps of mind & which will help in introspection.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 6
The 5 states of consciousness:
1. Static state – non-functioning, pure consciousness & Intelligence.
2. Functioning state – expression is energy particle (Sakthi), Universal magnetism & Panchaboothas.
3. First sense to the fifth sense – from plants to the animals & the conversion of magnetism into feeling, light, sound, smell & taste.
4. Sixth sense – mind, finding the root of it as God, Self realization.
5. Reunion with God – to be always one, with God.
Through the evolution process a perfect human being comes into existence, with all the panchaboothas, which are the same energy particles. The energy particles within the body keeps rotating with its centre in the mooladhar chakra – sexual gland(earth).The centre for the blood circulation is heart & for the air circulation it is the lungs & for the body heat, the centre is the brain.
Through the 5 senses the energy particles transforms as magnetic waves & passes through the body & we get (feeling) touch sense, light waves through the eyes – eye sight, sound waves through the ears, smell through the nose & taste in the tongue. The excess of magnetic waves passes through the brain & comes as thought or mind. So the extension of the energy particles as magnetic waves is mind.
I had already said that energy particle records everything. So whatever is our experience that we sense, see, hear, taste & smell is recorded in the particle & get stored in the centre, which is the genetic centre or nucleus, space, intelligence& conscious. Since the recorded particles keeps rotating &touches the genetic centre & comes above, it brings whatever is stored there as magnetic waves & goes through the brain as thoughts.
In the genetic centre, the whole evolution process is recorded. So our ancient Rishis found out the truth that reaching that place is only through the divine process, meditation. In the beginning they start the meditation in the agna chakra, – pituitary gland between the eye brows. It is the master gland which controls the other glands or chakras. The centre which is in the mooladhar has to be brought to the pituitary gland. It takes approximately 12 yrs.
In between there are the other chakras, swathishtana – adrenal glands(water), manipooraha – pancreas(fire), anaahatha – thymus(air), vishukthi – thyroid(akash).
Through strong penance, following chastity & pranayama they bring the energy centre to the higher chakras. It takes 2 yrs to bring the energy from one centre to the next centre. Some might fall sick & die. Only very rare Rishis cross all these & bring it to the agna & thuria – pineal gland. What one calls us Kundalini Sakthi is nothing but these energy particles. Though some quantity keeps rotating & circulates all over the body, the majority lies dormant.
When this Sakthi awakens & goes through the tiny hole that is in the centre of the back bone to come up to the agna chakra .It is like a cobra spreading its hood. That’s why snakes play an important place in Hinduism & is worshipped.