SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 19 Chapter 5, Verses 1 to 10 – KARMA VAIRAGYA YOGA

In Chapter 5, Bhagavan Shri Krishna will explain the Karma Vairagya Yoga.  Bhagavan explained Karma Yoga in Chapter 3 while in this Chapter He talks about Karma Vairagya Yoga i.e. Renunciation of actions.  In essence Bhagavan is emphasising the need to renounce the results of fruitive actions.  In these ten verses, He explains how this can be achieved but starts with the postulate that both paths i.e. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga leads to self-realisation and Moksha. Arjuna is naturally perplexed and asks Shri Krishna to explain clearly as to which of these two paths is superior.  Bhagavan said, the renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of work. One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always as a renounced. Such a person, liberated from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

One can attain liberation by means of renunciation while in devotional service and therefore a person in devotional service views the path of Karma Yoga and the path of renunciation (Sanyasa) as one and the same.  Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, a mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy nor result in spiritual advancement. The sages, purified by works of devotion, achieved the Supreme without delay.

The person who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who has complete control over his mind and senses, who is equipoised, is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled as he is engaged in the divine consciousness.  Although seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all as all his acts are dedicated to the Supreme; such a person has no attachment, has no doer-ship, is equipoised and is therefore not affected by sin, just as a lotus leaf remains untouched by water.

5.1      Shloka 5.1

अर्जुन उवाच
संन्यासं कर्मणां कृष्ण पुनर्योगं शंससि।
यच्छ्रेय एतयोरेकं तन्मे ब्रूहि सुनिश्िचतम्।।5.1।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Sannyasam karmanam Krishna punar yogam ca samsasi  |
Yac chreya etayor ekam tan me bruhi su-niscitam ||5.1||
Meaning: Arjuna said, O’ Krishna, You asked me to renounce work, and now You are recommending to work with devotion. Now please tell me definitively which of the two is superior?

The words ‘sannyasyam karmanam’ means ‘renunciation of all actions’ and this contains the word ‘nyasa’ that denotes equanimity. Thus, all actions are recommended to be renounced with equanimity inferring that both Karma (performance of activities) and Sanyasa (renunciation of activities) are being recommended to be performed simultaneously.

Bhagavan had previously explained that actions performed without desire of rewards (Karma yoga) as a pre-eminent discipline.  He also stated that one in Jnana yoga need not perform any action. He further declared that the person who is immersed in ‘Atma or Soul’ has no need to perform Karma Yoga or Jnana Yoga. All these propositions appear to be conflicting, hence, Arjuna is confused and asks Bhagavan Krishna explain it clearly and definitively.

It is difficult for an aspirant of Moksha or liberation to determine if Karma Yoga or Jnana Yoga is more appropriate or is it possible to simultaneously perform both together.

Renunciation and the cultivation of knowledge is Jnana yoga. The performance of prescribed activities is Karma yoga. Bhagavan Krishna declared that Karma yoga was worthy to be followed by those seeking Moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in Chapter 2.  Constant engagement in Karma Yoga will lead to purification of the mind and rid it off all dross. As the mind becomes pure, Jnana yoga would naturally set in leading to knowledge about atma tattva. In Chapter 3, Bhagavan says Karma Yoga alone is enough for attaining Moksha.  Hence, Arjuna is now seeking clarity on which of these paths is superior.

5.2      Shloka 5.2

श्री भगवानुवाच
संन्यासः कर्मयोगश्च निःश्रेयसकरावुभौ।
तयोस्तु कर्मसंन्यासात्कर्मयोगो विशिष्यते।।5.2।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Sannyasah karma-yogas ca nihsreyasa-karav ubhau |
Tayos tu karma-sannyasat karma-yogo visisyate ||5.2||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of work.

A person can perform Karma yoga and renunciation of actions; but of the two, Karma yoga is preferable. While both are equally effective performing one’s duties with full devotion and faith and without the desire of rewards for those actions, it becomes superior.  It ultimately leads to self-realisation.

5.3      Shloka 5.3

ज्ञेयः नित्यसंन्यासी यो द्वेष्टि काङ्क्षति।
निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते।।5.3।।

Jneyah sa nitya-sannyasi yo na dvesti na kanksati   |
Nirdvandvo hi maha-baho sukham bandhat pramucyate ||5.3||
Meaning: One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, liberated from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

The attributes of Sanyasa are being described in this verse.  A person who is equipoised and free from aversion or attraction and free from all dualities is said to be a Sanyasi. The complete cessation of desire for the rewards of action as well as complete renunciation of the influence of all dualities such as happiness and distress, pain and pleasure etc. will lead to liberation.  In this position one is almost oblivious of the external world and has no urge to crave or hate anything and thus is also able to endure the dualities seeing them all as the same. Shri Krishna confirms that such a person easily performs karma yoga without effort and transcends Samsara or the cycle of birth and death.

5.4      Shloka 5.4

सांख्ययोगौ पृथग्बालाः प्रवदन्ति पण्डिताः।
एकमप्यास्थितः सम्यगुभयोर्विन्दते फलम्।।5.4।।

Sankhya-yogau prthag balah pravadanti na panditah   |
Ekam apy asthitah samyag ubhayor vindate phalam ||5.4||
Meaning: Only the ignorant speak of karma-yoga and devotional service as being different from Sankhya yoga, analytical study of the material world. Those who are learned say that anyone who applies himself to either of these paths achieves the results of both.

It is impossible to gain wisdom without renunciation of fruits of action and the relinquishment of enjoyment of the sense objects. Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that both are inherent in each other and not contradictory. One who observes yajna or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord is not sanctified due to its being performed for desires of the rewards upon its completion. But for the same yajna when performed without desires but solely for the propitiation of the Supreme Lord is considered the highest wisdom.

The renunciation can apply to the yogi who follows Sankhya Yoga as well. The ignorant and uninformed mistakenly see these two paths as separate and yielding divergent results; but this is not the case and is well understood by those who are self-realised.

Although karma yoga may go through the path of Jnana yoga it may also independently achieve atma tattva by its own merit. So as long as an aspirant firmly adopts either path with determination they are assured of success.

5.5      Shloka 5.5

यत्सांख्यैः प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते।
एकं सांख्यं योगं यः पश्यति पश्यति।।5.5।।

Yat sankhyaih prapyate sthanam tad yogair api gamyate |
Ekam sankhyam ca yogam ca yah pasyati sa pasyati ||5.5||
Meaning: One who knows that the position reached by means of renunciation can also be attained in devotional service and therefore views the path of karma and the path of renunciation as one and the same.

Both paths lead to the same result as a person performing actions diligently gains spiritual intelligence and achieves Atma tattvas (self-realisation). Grihastas (householders) should aim to perform activities without any desire for rewards. The continuous practice of renunciation of rewards will eventually lead one towards attaining spiritual knowledge.

By meditating on the ‘pranava’ or the primordial mantra AUM (OM), a seeker is assured of achieving liberation when they perform their duties with devotion and without any desire for rewards. But even among these there is a heightened bliss for those who perform actions in the service of  the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna or any of His incarnations.

Actions performed by the one who has renounced the rewards are called Karma that does not add to one’s baggage as these actions based on spiritual intelligence.  ‘Kar’ is understood as action and ‘ma’ is understood as wisdom. Thus, one doesn’t need to take ‘Sanyaas’ for gaining spiritual knowledge.  Even householders with family responsibilities can perform actions in renunciation, if they possess this wisdom or spiritual intelligence.  Hence, there is no difference between renunciation (Sanyasa) and Karma Yoga if the actions are performed as a matter of duty with no desire for the rewards from those actions

The renounced are followers of Jnana yoga or seekers of Vedic knowledge but the goal achieved by them is similar to the one achieved by the followers of Karma.

5.6      Shloka 5.6 

संन्यासस्तु महाबाहो दुःखमाप्तुमयोगतः।
योगयुक्तो मुनिर्ब्रह्म नचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।5.6।।

 Sannyasas tu maha-baho duhkham aptum ayogatah |
Yoga-yukto munir brahma na cirenadhigacchati ||5.6||
Meaning: Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy. The sages, purified by works of devotion achieve the Supreme without delay.

The means to Moksha is attain the state of equanimity and it is achieved through renunciation. The best form of renunciation is to dedicate the actions and rewards always as an offering to the Supreme Lord for His pleasure is true renunciation.  In the Agni Purana it is stated that without renouncing the desire of rewards for one’s actions whatever one might offer unto the Supreme Lord has no merit. Hence, renunciation is truly achieved with equanimity.

In the Nirvana Shatakam, Sri Adi Shankaracharya explains the attributes of the Pure Consciousness (Atma).  An excerpt from that on equanimity is given below:

Na Me Dvesha Raagau Na Me Lobha Mohau, Mado Naiva Me Naiva Maatsarya Bhaavah |
Na Dharmo Na Chaartho Na Kaamo Na Moksha, Chidaananda Rupah Shivoham Shivoham ||
Meaning: I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kama), nor even liberation (moksha). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss i.e. “Pure Consciousness”.

This raises a question then why not circumvent the path of Karma by straightaway renouncing all actions right from the beginning. Bhagavan Shri Krishna says that without karma yoga it is impossible to achieve purity of mind and in the absence of a pure mind it is very difficult and even perilous as the chance of disturbance and agitation are highly likely. Whereas the purified mind of the Sage endowed with equanimity who practices karma yoga, soon perceives the Brahman or realisation of the soul.

5.7      Shloka 5.7

योगयुक्तो विशुद्धात्मा विजितात्मा जितेन्द्रियः।
सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्मा कुर्वन्नपि लिप्यते।।5.7।।

 Yoga-yukto vishuddhatma vijitatma jitendriyah  |
Sarva-bhutatma-bhutatma kurvann api na lipyate ||5.7||
Meaning:  One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses, is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled.

By such worship one becomes ‘Visuddhatma’  meaning ‘purified intelligence’ and ‘Vijitatma’ meaning ‘of controlled mind being absorbed in such worship’ and by this absorption one is ‘Jitendriyah’ meaning ‘acquires control over senses’. Such a person is ‘Sarva-bhutama’ meaning ‘one who realise their own atma and perceive the same atma is in all beings in unlimited variegated forms. Such a person views all beings not by the manifest forms they exhibit in their lifetime; but rather the intrinsic nature of the eternal atma within which is the essential nature of all embodied beings. A person situated in this consciousness is never infatuated or deluded by the erroneous idea of thinking that a temporary material substance can ever by equated to the eternal soul. Such a person due to this understanding is never bound by the actions although performing activities and in a relatively short time achieves atma tattva or realisation of the soul. 

The first step is for a person to contemplate on the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna as the indwelling consciousness within the hearts of all beings as the primary form to achieve equanimity.  And knowing that all beings are under the Supreme Lord’s control is knowing Him as the Supreme Being. In the Agni Purana it states that one who knows the Supreme Lord is present as the indwelling consciousness in all beings, that one achieves purification of mind and realisation of the Atma.

If the Brahman is all pervading and omnipresent and transcends the Prakriti (5 element), then how is a person made of Prakriti possess those attributes of the Consciousness?   Lord Krishna answers this by affirming that those who practice Yoga (the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness) while being engaged in actions with a pure mind, with control over senses and body, and realising that the Atma exists equally in all beings, and is a well-wisher of all beings; such a Yogi having overcome the duality of activity and inertia is not bound by his actions. Having attained the Brahman, peaceful in mind, neither grieving nor desiring, and equipoised in all situations and to all beings, such a one obtains love of the Supreme.

5.8      Shloka 5.8

नैव किंचित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित्।
पश्यन् श्रृणवन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन्नश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपन् श्वसन्।।5.8।।

Naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit |
Pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan ||5.8||
Meaning: A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all.

This verse explains how practicing renunciation leads to achieving equanimity. Energised solely by the all-pervading energy of the Supreme, a person’s mind and body become active. The knowledge that every being is ever dependent on the Supreme Lord is an essential, eternal and absolute truth.

Thus, one is not subject to conceptions of doership, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching which are the functions of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. Moving is the function of the legs, speaking is that of the mouth, hearing that of ears and so forth. Breathing is a function of the vital force and includes all others as it sustains the entire body.

The purport is that one should live their life free from the ego of ‘I-ness’ and ‘my-ness’ and conceptions of doership, knowing that all actions are the functions of the organs and senses and are independent from the individual consciousness.

One who has realised this nature of the atma knows the reality. Such a person reflects that through the senses of perception such as eyes and ears, the senses of action such as the voice, the pranas or life breaths, the physical body functions with all its corresponding objects; but factually is separate as an individual consciousness from all these activities and virtually do not do any of these actions.

5.9      Shloka 5.9

प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्णन्नुन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ।।5.9।।

Pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
Indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan ||5.9||
Meaning: Because while speaking, evacuating, grasping, involuntary opening and closing of the eyelids, he always knows that it is only the material senses that are engaged with their objects and never does he think that he is doing any of them.

The conception of doer-ship is derived from contact with the senses which a living entity is coerced to accept due to actions from past lives. But this doer-ship is not an essential attribute of the Atma and thus it is not necessary to accept that all acts done by the sense organs are performed by the person. Thus, in this way by shunning the doer-ship one is situated in atma tattva or self-realisation.

5.10      Shloka 5.10

ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति यः।
लिप्यते पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा।।5.10।।

Brahmany adhaya karmani sangam tyaktva karoti yah |
Lipyate na sa papena padma-patram ivambhasa ||5.10||
Meaning: One who acts by dedicating all activities to the Supreme, giving up attachment; such a person is not affected by sin, just as a lotus leaf untouched by water.

Whosoever is properly situated in the state of equanimity is not affected by reactions due to karma yoga as one does not desire the rewards of their actions but instead dutifully offer the results of all their actions unto the Supreme Lord. The renunciation of rewards of actions is repeatedly emphasised by Shri Krishna as the method of performing spiritual practice which is the means to gain spiritual knowledge and self-realisation.

The desire for rewards of actions is the fundamental reason for all ego conceptions of being the physical body and also the root cause of bondage in Samsara resulting in the repeated cycle of birth and death. So to make spiritual progress, the desire for rewards should be immediately given up so that one does not get tainted with sinful reactions.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 18 – Chapter 4, Verses 31 to 42 – JNANA YOGA

Bhagavan Shri Krishna, in these twelve verses, explains the divine experience of those who practice Yajnas and likens it to that of tasting nectar.  He also mentions that those who do not perform sacrifices are not fit for this world let alone the heavenly world.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna goes on to elaborate on the different types of sacrifices performed by Yogis and others.  He also explains as to how one should seek knowledge (Atma Jnana) by approaching a spiritual master.  When a seeker learns the Truth, he will know that all living beings are but a part of Shri Krishna—and they are within Him.

As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all reactions to material activities. Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the Self, is not bound by actions and attains Moksha.

4.31      Shloka 4.31

यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्।
नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतो़ऽन्यः कुरुसत्तम।।4.31।।

Yajna-shishtamrta-bhujo yanti brahma sanatanam |
Nayam loko ‘sty ayajnasya kuto ‘nyah kuru-sattama ||4.31||
Meaning: Those who have tasted nectar as a result of performing sacrifice reach the eternal, Ultimate Truth. O’ Arjuna, one who does not perform any sacrifice is not fit for this world let alone the heavenly worlds. 

One should consider one’s life as the oblation offered to the Supreme Lord in full surrender following the injunctions recommended in the Vedic scriptures. In the Brahma Vaivartaka Purana it states that one should realise the Supreme Lord as the yajna and propitiate Him with body, mind and words.

When the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence has been perceived, then the relation between the performer, the activity performed, the recipient of the performance as well as the result of the yajna are not separate from the Supreme Lord.  One who is in such an evolved state will experience the actual presence of the Supreme Lord everywhere and in all situations.

But those who do not perform any yajna i.e. who are “ayajnasya”, such people will not even enjoy the meagre joys of this world let alone the heavenly worlds. They would have wasted a very precious opportunity as a human birth which is achieved after several cycles of rebirth.

Moksha is the true goal of all human endeavour and real purpose of human existence. The Bhagavad-Gita is about attaining Moksha which is the eternal “Summum Bonum” or greatest good eternally for humanity.

4.32      Shloka 4.32

एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे।
कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे।।4.32।।

Evam bahu-vidha yajna vitata brahmano mukhe |
Karma-jan viddhi tan sarvan evam jnatva vimoksyase ||4.32||
Meaning: All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated.

Lord Krishna has described the 12 different performances of yajna or offerings of worship in propitiation to the Supreme Lord that are the means of attaining Atma Tattva or soul realisation performed in Karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities. The words “vitata brahmano mukhe” means all details are mentioned in the Vedas.  All of the mentioned Yajnas earlier are performed by mind, by speech or by the physical body but their actions are of a transitory nature while the Atma or Soul is eternal. Thus comprehending this in reality one will be free from Samsara or the cycle of birth and death caused by actions.

4.33      Shloka 4.33

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप।
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते।।4.33।।

Shreyan dravya-mayad yajnaj jnana-yajnah parantapa |
Sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate ||4.33||
Meaning: O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice of knowledge is greater than the sacrifice of material possessions. O son of Prtha, after all, the sacrifice of work culminates in transcendental knowledge.

Actions by itself amounts to very little and hence they need to be performed with a spirit of sacrifice or offering to the Supreme. The culmination of Vedic actions is spiritual knowledge and actions find fulfillment in Self-realisation.

In the Mundaka Upanisad it states: That acts of yajna or offerings of worship are undoubtedly meritorious in themselves; but superior to them is spiritual knowledge where all doubts are dispelled and the need for all actions terminated.

Lord Krishna instructs that yajna or sacrifice of knowledge is far superior to yajnas performed with dravyam or material ingredients as these bestow only trivial rewards of a transitory material nature. The performance of the yajna of knowledge leads to spiritual knowledge.

In the Bhagavad Purana it is stated that: The performers of austerities, the makers of pilgrimages, the chanters of mantras, the givers of donations and others never reach the achievement of that being who has even one percentage of Vedic knowledge.

All activities culminate in transcendental wisdom if performed with directed intelligence with the objective of gaining spiritual knowledge.

4.34      Shloka 4.34

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया।
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः।।4.34।।

Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya |
Upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah ||4.34||
Meaning: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

By these questions and by being pleased by one’s sincere service such a self-realised being will guide and instruct one on matters related to the ultimate truth because they have direct experience and wisdom of this and thus will remove all doubts about:

  • Who am I?
  • Why was I born?
  • What is my purpose in life?

The self-realised being will dispel all these doubts by proper reasoning and evidence from the Vedic scriptures.  The practical experience from their effort of uniting the individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness, which is the goal of all existence, will also help to guide the seeker. All actions culminate in knowledge when instructed by a self-realised being.

The words “Jnaninah” means experts in the Vedic scriptures and “Darsinah” means those who have realised the Ultimate Truth denoting that all self-realised being will possess Spiritual Knowledge from whom one should seek to attain this knowledge.

4.35      Shloka 4.35

यज्ज्ञात्वा पुनर्मोहमेवं यास्यसि पाण्डव।
येन भूतान्यशेषेण द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि।।4.35।।

Yaj jnatva na punar moham evam yasyasi pandava |
Yena bhutany asesani draksyasy atmany atho mayi ||4.35||
Meaning: And when you have thus learned the Truth, you will know that all living beings are but a part of Me—and they are in Me, and Mine.

The word “atmani” refers to Bhagavan Shri Krishna’s exalted position as the “ParamAtma” or the Super Soul within all living beings by which one realises the oneness of all beings in creation.

Now regarding the situation on the battlefield, Lord Krishna is clarifying to Arjuna that by this knowledge he will no longer be deluded by the illusion of relatives, friends and preceptors dying and the infatuation of thinking that if they did he would not even want to continue living; because with spiritual knowledge he will realise his atma (soul) and will see the same soul in all beings and he will perceive that all souls are part of the Supreme Being.

That all these individual souls are pervaded by the Supreme Being and they are never independent from the Supreme Being in the state of bondage or in the state of liberation.  It can be perceived that the Supreme Being is identical with Lord Krishna. The difference in various beings is only in their outer physical form which is the product of primordial matter but the Atma is purely spiritual and eternal and not subject to any modification.  Thus it is equally situated and established in all beings who were naturally created from material nature. The Atma is not a different or separate entity from the Supreme Being.

By learning this spiritual knowledge, one will never be deluded again by maya or illusion.  One afflicted by Maya falls into the misconception that the Atma or Soul is the physical body causing ego consciousness of I-ness and my-ness. When disassociated from matter,  Atma is similar in all beings and possesses the attributes of the Supreme.

4.36      Shloka 4.36 

अपि चेदसि पापेभ्यः सर्वेभ्यः पापकृत्तमः।
सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि।।4.36।।

Api ced asi papebhyah sarvebhyah papa-krt-tamah |
Sarvam jnana-plavenaiva vrjinam santarisyasi ||4.36||
Meaning: Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge, you will be able to cross the ocean of miseries.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna states that understanding the greatness of this spiritual knowledge will redeem one of all sins. The words “api ced” meaning “even if” and indicates the powerful potency of this spiritual knowledge which can save the most incorrigible sinner.  To emphasise the power of spiritual knowledge, Bhagavan Krishna specifically states in this verse that even the most incorrigible sinner is redeemed if they acquire and apply spiritual knowledge in their consciousness, thereby cross the ocean of miseries (Samsara).

4.37      Shloka 4.37

यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन।
ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा।।4.37।।

Yathaidhamsi samiddho ‘gnir bhasma-sat kurute ‘rjuna |
Jnanagnih sarva-karmani bhasma-sat kurute tatha ||4.37||
Meaning:  As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all reactions to material activities.

Bhagavan Krishna states here that the boat of spiritual knowledge will destroy all reactions to actions both those leading to merit as well as demerit.  One might wonder why should one lose merit points. Unless one loses all merits and demerits, they will continue to be reborn. The merits get a life in heaven but as it diminishes with each day, one is bound to be reborn in lower worlds.   In order to attain Moksha or liberation one has to lose both merit and demerits, thereby purifying the Atma to a state of Sat-Chit-Ananda (eternal bliss).

4.38      Shloka 4.38

हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते।
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति।।4.38।।

Na hi jnanena sadrsam pavitram iha vidyate |
Tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah kalenatmani vindati ||4.38||
Meaning: In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has achieved this enjoys the Self within himself in due course of time.

In this world nothing is as purifying as spiritual knowledge. Then why is not everyone pursuing this? Lord Krishna explains that one must be qualified to gain this spiritual knowledge which comes from prolonged practice of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities that are to be performed without desire for rewards. Then in due course knowledge will arise leading to purity of heart after which Atma tattva or Soul realisation will be achieved.

4.39      Shloka 4.39

श्रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः।
ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।4.39।।

Shraddhaval labhate jnanam tat-parah samyatendriyah
Jnanam labdhva param santim acirenadhigacchati
Meaning: A faithful man who is absorbed in transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.

One might wonder if one can achieve purity of heart through karma yoga and thereby acquire knowledge then what is the necessity for a spiritual master as noted earlier? To address this potential doubt, Shri Krishna states the necessary qualification required to receive spiritual knowledge. A person may acquire knowledge by themselves but the qualities that are essential for such a person to succeed are explained in this verse.

The word “sraddhavan” means a person who has unflinching faith. But mere faith is not enough as it has to be followed up with sincere devoted service to the spiritual master while studying the scriptures under his tutelage. One must also avoid the association of those who are not following the Vedic injunctions as association with them may cause one to deviate from the path of knowledge. So one who is self-controlled attains spiritual knowledge and acquiring such knowledge neutralises the reactions from all extraneous activities.  Such a person perceives the Brahman pervading all existence and achieves Atma tattva or Soul realisation and from that plane attains Moksha or liberation from material existence.

4.40      Shloka 4.40

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति।
नायं लोकोऽस्ति परो सुखं संशयात्मनः।।4.40।।

Ajnas casraddadhanas ca samsayatma vinasyati  |
N
ayam loko ‘sti na paro na sukham samsayatmanah ||4.40||
Meaning: But the ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the scriptures do not attain God consciousness. For the doubting souls there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.

The word ‘ajnah’ means fool or one who is ignorant. The word ‘asraddadhahanah’ means one who has no faith even after being instructed. Bhagavan Shri Krishna speaks of the miserable fate of the ignorant who are devoid of faith. He uses ‘Ca’ twice to indicate that with the guidance of a spiritual master even an ignorant, having faith, can be liberated by performing following the instructions of the Guru.

But a person who has no faith will not engage in any practice or even if he engages may perform their duties without conviction and faith. Bhagavan says that for those who doub the authority of the Vedic scriptures, or the instructions of the spiritual Guru, there is no happiness in this world or the next. How is it possible for a person to become liberated if they doubt the very essence which is the cause of their existence.

The conviction that the Atma or Soul is eternal and the atma is distinct from the physical body is essential for spiritual progress. Whoever doubts the existence of the Atma or Soul or is not sure that it is eternal and hence cannot receive even the smallest percentage of spiritual bliss.

4.41     Shloka 4.41

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्।
आत्मवन्तं कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय।।4.41।।

Yoga-sannyasta-karmanam jnana-sanchinna-samsayam |
Atmavantam na karmani nibadhnanti dhananjaya ||4.41||
Meaning: Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the Self, is not bound by works, O conqueror of riches.

The dual paths of karma yoga or prescribed activities and jnana yoga or cultivation of spiritual knowledge are both concluded in this verse and the next.

Actions do not bind one to material existence who has renounced all desires. All actions offered or dedicated to the Supreme Lord are always renounced and superior. This is characterised by direct perception of the Supreme Lord and the conscious reality that one belongs exclusively to Him which arises only after the realisation of the Brahman that pervades all existence.

One whose mind is unassailable and unwavering, such a person has achieves an unshakeable certitude about the reality and eternity of the soul from the teachings received from the spiritual Guru. No actions performed by such a person in the present or the future can ever bind them.

4.42     Shloka 4.42

तस्मादज्ञानसंभूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनाऽऽत्मनः।
छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत।।4.42।।

Tasmad ajnana-sambhutam hrt-stham jnanasinatmanah |
Chittvainam samsayam yogam atisthottistha bharata ||4.42||
Meaning: Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with Yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.

The sword of knowledge that Lord Krishna is referring to is Atma tattva or Soul realisation and the yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.

All doubts should be completely uprooted from one’s heart and mind.  A person should follow the path that Shri Krishna has so clearly explained, which is to do one’s duty in life according to one’s dharma. Following this path one will acquire the spiritual knowledge that will enable them to cross over the Ocean (cycle of birth and death) and attain Moksha or liberation from material existence.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 17 – Chapter 4, Verses 21 to 30 – JNANA YOGA

Bhagavan Shri Krishna, in these ten verses, explains the various kinds of sacrifices (Yajnas) practiced by Sadhakas or seekers of Self-realisation.  He begins with emphasising that one has to engage in desireless action with a controlled mind and relinquish all sense of doer-ship, and accept with a sense of equipoise the rewards of actions as His blessings.  Such persons are said to be engaged in Karma Yoga and qualify themselves to achieve self-realisation.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna goes on to elaborate on the different types of sacrifices performed by Yogis and others.  He commences with artha-yajnas or offering of donations for worship and propitiation of the Supreme Lord and progresses to the Yajna of pranayama or breath control, and offering of food, different varieties of sacrifice are adopted persons according to their abilities and understanding. Practitioners of these Yajnas eventually realise the Atma or Soul within their heart and perceive the eternal Brahman (ParamAtma or Supersoul) that pervades all existence and leads one to the Supreme Lord.

4.21      Shloka 4.21

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः।
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिष।।4.21।।

Nirasir yata-cittatma tyakta-sarva-parigrahah  |
Sariram kevalam karma kurvan napnoti kilbisam ||4.21||
Meaning: A person who is devoid of desire, and is with a controlled in mind and intelligence having relinquished all sense of proprietorship over his possessions, and acting only for the sustenance of the body, is not affected by sinful reactions.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the word ‘nirasir’ meaning ‘bereft of expectancy or devoid of all desires for rewards’. The words ‘yata-cittatma’ means to control the mind and focus on the atma or soul, and keep the mind tranquil and equiposed that is free from agitation.  The words ‘tyakta-sarva-parigrahah’ means abandoning all longings for sense objects and pleasures. One should perform all actions dispassionately, as a matter of duty merely as a function of their body; actions performed in this manner will attract no sinful reaction and frees one from this samsara or bondage of birth, death and rebirth in the material existence.

If Karma Yoga is performed in this way by those seeking Moksha or liberation from this Samsara, this in itself is sufficient to lead one to ‘atma tattva’ or realisation of the soul.

4.22      Shloka 4.22

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः।
समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ कृत्वापि निबध्यते।।4.22।।

Yadrccha-labha-santusto dvandvatito vimatsarah  |
Samah siddhav asiddhau ca krtvapi na nibadhyate ||4.22||
Meaning: He who is satisfied with the gain that comes of its own accord, and he who is free from duality and harbours no envy, who is steady in both success and failure, is never entangled while performing actions.

One who is tranquil and is equipoised with the results that are enough to maintain one’s existence, is a person who has acquired knowledge of the Self and has reached beyond the dualities of material existence. Such a person is content and accepts pleasure and pain, acceptance or rejection, sadness or happiness in the same vein.

The word ‘vimatsarah’ means free from malice and envy. One who understands that the past Karma are the reasons for present situation, such a person is not envious of others and does not blame others for their adverse situation and experience.  They learn to accept it with equipoise. The words ‘siddhau-asiddhau samah’ means one who keeps their mind balanced and equipoised in success or failure while performing their duties.

Lord Krishna is saying is that if a person develops and practices this kind of attitude while performing activities they will not be bound to the Samsara or the cycle of birth, death and rebirth in the material world even though they may not be fully following the path of Jnana Yoga.

4.23      Shloka 4.23

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते।।4.23।।

Gata-sangasya muktasya jnanavasthita-cetasah  |
Yajnayacaratah karma samagram praviliyate ||4.23||
Meaning: One who is unattached to material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge, and performs all actions as a sacrifice unto the Supreme Being, all such actions are dissolved and the person merges entirely into transcendence.

Being free from all dependence means to take complete refuge in the Supreme Lord and to be totally under His protection. Liberated means to be free from all sense of pride.

Devoid of attachment to the rewards of actions due to one’s mind being firmly fixed in the bliss of the Atma or Soul and he who performs all actions as an offering of worship for the propitiation to the Supreme Lord will never be bound by the actions.

When one’s mind is always engrossed in contemplation of the Supreme, the attachment to worldly desires is naturally withdrawn. For such a person the sense of ownership and proprietorship are automatically abandoned. Such a person realises the Self and is in communion with the Supreme Being. Living such a life leads to every action performed as a yajna or worship and an offering to the Supreme Being.  For such a person, all the accumulated reactions from the past resulting from previous actions are completely evaporated without any residue.

4.24      Shloka 4.24

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्महविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम्।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना।।4.24।।

Brahmarpanam brahma havir brahmagnau brahmana hutam |
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma-karma-samadhina ||4.24||
Meaning: The sacrificial paraphernalia is the Ultimate truth; the sacrificial fire is the Ultimate truth; the offering of oblations and clarified butter by the Brahmana is the Ultimate truth; for him being fully absorbed in the Ultimate truth by spiritual activities; certainly the Ultimate truth is attainable.

The word ‘Brahmarpanam’ means the paraphernalia used to offer oblations in yajna or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord. All the accessories used in Yajna are also considered to be Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence, along with the offerings of ghee and grain, pulses, and the fire they are offered through as well as the performer of the offering.

Lord Krishna explains that everything used in Yajna can be considered as part of the Brahman. One who realises that the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is actually abiding in all actions, reaches the Brahman.  As everything in existence is factually within the Brahman it can be understood that everything is actually a form of the Brahman. The Brahman or spiritual substratum of reality is surely the destination to be achieved by those who are experiencing it, as it is eternal and permanent. Concentration in the Brahman is considered as a Yajna or propitiation to the Ultimate reality. This is the consciousness of the actions from an aspirant of Moksha or liberation where the Atma or Soul is understood to be non-different from the Brahman.

Consequently actions performed in this consciousness are all known to be spiritual and a person is situated in such perfect knowledge is known to have achieved Atma tattva or Self-Realisation, hence obviating any further need to practice Jnana yoga.

4.25      Shloka 4.25

दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिनः पर्युपासते।
ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति।।4.25।।

Daivam evapare yajnam yoginah paryupasate |
Brahmagnav apare yajnam yajnenaivopajuhvati ||4.25||
Meaning: Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some of them offer sacrifices in the fire of the Supreme Brahman.

In this way, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is draws the distinction between worship of the Devas and propitiation of the Supreme Brahman.  The results one achieves while being continuously immersed in the Brahman while performing every action as Yajna or offering and propitiation to the Supreme Lord is eternal bliss and superior to the transient benefits derived from the worship of the Devas. To show the superiority of this Yajna over all others, Bhagavan presents various types of Yajnas performed by different yogis or those striving to achieve self-realisation, in the next eight verses.

4.26      Shloka 4.26 

श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति।
शब्दादीन्विषयानन्य इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति।।4.26।।

Srotradinindriyany anye samyamagnisu juhvati
Sabdadin visayan anya indriyagnisu juhvati ||4.26||
Meaning: Some (Sanyasis) offer sacrificial oblations such as hearing process and the senses in the fire of the controlled mind, while others (grihistas or householders) sacrifice the objects of the senses, such as pleasing sound and sights in the fire as oblations.

In the fire of the Yajna, the offerings are usually ‘havis’ or ghee and grainseeds that are used in the paraphernalia to perform the Yajna.  In the form of Yajna, the goal of Yajna being the Supreme Lord is offered to Himself. Thus, everything becomes Brahman.

In the Vishnu Sahasranamam (Shloka 105), the significance of Yajna is explained:

Yajnabhrit Yajnakrit Yajni Yajnabhuk Yajnasadhanah      |
Yajnaantakrit Yajnaguhyam Annam Annaada Eve Ca ||105||
Meaning:  He bears the full brunt of the responsibility of taking the Yajna to its successful completion. As the creator, He also created Yajna as a means for devotees to reach Him. He is the Master of all the Yajnas and it is for Him that all the sacrifices are performed. It is He who consumes and enjoys the offerings made in the Yajnas. He is the One Who is sought through the Yajnas. He provides not only the inspiration to perform Yajnas but also the resources to perform the Yajnas. He is the One Who concludes the Yajnas fruitfully and He is the hidden underlying spirit of the noblest of Yajnas. He is eaten by all beings in His form as food and He is the Enjoyer of those who enjoy Him.

When these Yajnas are perfectly performed, there is no scarcity of supplies required for sustenance. Performance of yajnas has many benefits and they ultimately lead to liberation from bondage.

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.4.10), it states that the Brahman alone was in the beginning and it knew itself as the Brahman and manifested into all. Whosoever amongst the Devas becomes awakened to this consciousness indeed becomes this consciousness. It is the same for elevated beings and the same for sages and yogis and it is the same for humans.

The Yogis engage in the spiritual practice of renunciation and are desirous of attaining knowledge of the Brahman. They keep all their senses under control and away from sense objects, and offer these into the fire of self-discipline. Others, like the Grihastas or householders, engage in worldly affairs and indulge themselves in sense gratification but with a spirit of performing Yajna or worship by offering all their actions to the Lord.

4.27      Shloka 4.27

सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि चापरे।
आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते।।4.27।।

Sarvanindriya-karmani prana-karmani capare |
Atma-samyama-yogagnau juhvati jnana-dipite ||4.27||
Meaning:  Those who seek self-realisation, offer the functions of all their senses, as well as the vital force [breath], as oblations into the fire (symbolically) for purification of the mind by Yoga.

The compound words ‘atma-samyama-yogagnau’ means ‘into the fire of self-purification of the mind by Yoga’. This infers that due to spiritual wisdom and knowledge an intense self-restraint and determination is activated.  It is important to understand that a mere control of the senses will not bring the desired result, though this may be the starting point in the process of self-purification.

With constant practice, the mind achieves a state of wisdom when it is no longer a conscious effort to control the senses as the person develops a discriminative intellect wherein the senses are naturally restrained.  When a person reaches this state, they become qualified to unite with the Ultimate consciousness.

Some Yogis offer all the functions of the senses and all the functions of the prana or life breath along with the vital energy of the body in the fire of the purified soul ignited by knowledge. By this Bhagavan Shri Krishna means that such Yogis direct their efforts in disciplining the mind to refrain from the pursuit of sensual activities.

4.28      Shloka 4.28

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे।
स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतयः संशितव्रताः।।4.28।।

Dravya-yajnas tapo-yajna yoga-yajnas tathapare  |
Svadhyaya-jnana-yajnas ca yatayah samsita-vratah ||4.28||
Meaning: There are others who, enlightened by sacrificing their material possessions in severe austerities, take strict vows and practice the yoga of eight-fold mysticism; and study the Vedas for advancement of transcendental knowledge.

Those who donate wealth for Yajnas and also those who perform tapasya or austerities are considered to be offering oblations in Yajna. When such austere penances are offered as propitiation to the Supreme Brahman, the penance itself becomes the Yajna or sacrificial fire. Offering in wisdom is to attain the realisation that all knowledge is ultimately for the realisation of the Atma or Soul which unites with the Supreme.

Here Bhagavan reveals that those who donate wealth for the performance Yajna or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord and to feed the guests are said to be engaged in Artha Yajna.  Some perform austerities such as special fasting or perform Yajna by practicing the eight-fold yoga system such as Yama or forbearance, Niyama or restraint, Asanas or postures, Pranayama or breathing exercises, Pratyahara or withdrawal, Dharana or focused attention and Samadhi or complete absorption in meditation.  Others strive by observing austere penance and perform Yajna by intense study of the Vedic scriptures.

Some others perform Yajnas by going on a pilgrimage to holy places like Jagannatha Puri, Haridwar, Mathura, Kashi, Kanch etc. Some perform Svadhyaya Yajna or the study of the Vedic scriptures. The word ‘yatayah’ means diligent and refers to yatis who persevere to accomplish all the vows they undertake spiritually. The compound word ‘samsita-vratah’ means they who have firm resolve and fixed determination and refers to the Yatis.

4.29      Shloka 4.29

अपाने जुह्वति प्राण प्राणेऽपानं तथाऽपरे।
प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः।
अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति।।4.29।। 

Apane juhvati pranam prane ‘panam tathapare |
Pranapana-gati ruddhva pranayama-parayanah |
Apare niyataharah pranan pranesu juhvati ||4.29||
Meaning: And there are others who offer the outgoing breath into the incoming, and incoming breath into the outgoing; in this way they exercise breath control by checking the flow of both incoming and outgoing breath. This arduous practice is called pranayama i.e. control over breathing. Some of them curtail their eating process and offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice.

Continuing on, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that those who are devoted to practicing pranayama or regulation of the breath,  offer the prana or outgoing breath to the apana or incoming breath and the incoming breath to the outgoing breath. In this way they arrive at the stage of complete restraint of the breath and this is considered to be Yajna or offerings of worship.

Lord Krishna states that those practising the pranayama or breath control are of three levels -one called rechaka or exhalation for 16 beats, puraka or inhaling for 32 beats and kumbhaka or cessation of breath for 64 beats. For every breath the prana or outgoing breath is offered as Yajna or worship into the apana or incoming breath and the apana is offered into the prana. Some others observe fast and curtail their eating and offer that as a sacrifice. 

4.30      Shloka 4.30

सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः।
यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्।।4.30।।

Sarve ‘py ete yajna-vido yajna-ksapita-kalmasah |
Yajna-sistamrta-bhujo yanti brahma sanatanam ||4.30||
Meaning: All these persons are the knowledgeable of the principle of performing sacrifices, and hence become cleansed of sinful reactions, and having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice, they achieve the eternal and Ultimate Truth.

Yogis or those following the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness enjoy the ambrosial nectar of the remnants left over in the time period after the Yajna or offerings of worship are completed. The compound word sista-amrta refers to the remains of nectar after Yajna. Through purity of mind followed by acquisition of knowledge one realises the eternal Brahman.

The Skanda Purana reveals that there are two types of food suitable for eating. First, food that was duly offered to the Supreme Lord and the second is the remnants of the food partaken after the devotees of the Supreme Lord have eaten from His offerings. The third type of food is one which was not offered to the Supreme Lord before partaking,  and hence should never be eaten by one desiring their welfare.

Therefore, one should offer food to the Lord before partaking and such food becomes ‘Prasada’ and paves the path for realisation of the Brahman and the attainment of Moksha as every action is done while contemplating on the Supreme.

In summary, commencing with artha-yajnas or offering of donations for worship and propitiation of the Supreme Lord to the Yajna of pranayama or breath control, and offering of food, different varieties of sacrifice are adopted persons according to their abilities and understanding.  Practitioners of these Yajnas eventually realise the Atma or Soul within their heart and perceive the eternal Brahman (ParamAtma or Supersoul) that pervades all existence and leads one to the Supreme Lord.

 

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 16 Chapter 4, Verses 11 to 20 – JNANA YOGA

Summary

Bhagavan Shri Krishna in these ten verses explains the intricacies of various kinds of actions and inaction together with their implications.

Bhagavan says that He rewards everyone in accordance with their actions. As the ultimate dispenser of all rewards, He bestows rewards on everyone regardless of who they offer their homage to; although the rewards are in proportion to the intensity of their worship. He further explains that who seek material rewards, worship the demigods and get their temporary rewards as these manifest quickly.  Only a rare being aspires to attain Moksha and is situated in spiritual intelligence to get free from the cycle of Samsara and achieves liberation from the cycle of birth and death.  Lord Krishna says that even persons with discriminative intellect and knowledge are bewildered in determining the righteous actions and get confused.

If one is seeking liberation from material bondage, one has to understand the distinctions between action, inaction and forbidden actions. He explains that One who has mastered renunciation in action, and action in renunciation of activities, is spiritually intelligent among men.

Such a person is transcendentally situated and is a perfect performer of all actions.  Such a person is understood to be in perfect knowledge, whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. Such a person’s fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge and they are free from bondage of karma.

The nature of spiritual intelligence is to be always tranquil and ever content state. By acting in this way, one assumes the qualities of one in eternal equi-poise and in infinite bliss.

4.11      Shloka 4.11

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्।
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः।।4.11।।

Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham |
Mama vartma anuvartante manusyah Partha sarvasah ||4.11||
Meaning: All those who surrender unto Me in whatever way, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Partha.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (2.3.10) it says:
Akamah sarva-kamo va moksa-kama udaradhih
Tivrena bhakti-yogena yajeta purusam param
Meaning: Whether one is without desire (Dharma), or is desirous of all fruitive results (Artha, Kama), or is after liberation (Mumukshu), one should, with all efforts, worship the Supreme Lord.

“Tathaiva bhajamy” means in accordance with their intensity of faith and devotion.  Lord Krishna reciprocates rewards to all in proportion of their intensity of devotion. It would appear unfair, if Lord Krishna bestowed His benedictions only upon those who worship Him but not to those who are seeking material rewards. To dispel this notion, Bhagavan Krishna states in this verse that whoever approaches Him, whether with desires or without desires, direct or indirect, He rewards them accordingly.

Lord Krishna is the ultimate dispenser of all rewards to everyone, regardless of who they offer their homage to; although the rewards are in proportion to the intensity of their worship.

Lord Krishna’s divine nature is such that even realised saints and yogis find His sublime nature transcendental; yet for all those who are situated in righteousness worshiping any God of their choice, He manifests the way to receive their mode of worship while maintaining their faith.

4.12      Shloka 4.12

काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणां सिद्धिं यजन्त इह देवताः।
क्षिप्रं हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा।।4.12।।

Kanksantah karmanam siddhim yajanta iha devatah   |
Kshipram hi manuse loke siddhir bhavati karma-ja ||4.12||
Meaning: In this world, those who desire success in fruitive activities worship the various Devas, and they get results since it manifests very quickly.

Bhagavan explains that those who seek material rewards, worship the demigods and get their temporary rewards as these manifest quickly.  Only a rare being aspires to attain Moksha and is situated in spiritual intelligence to get free from the cycle of Samsara and achieves liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Only such a rare being would engage in Karma yoga or the performance of prescribed activities as a propitiation to the Supreme Being.

Sriman Narayana is the Moksha dhaata and hence those seeking the higher goal of Moksha worship Him.

“Manuse Loke” means the mortal world and persons in the mortal world are oblivious of the true purpose of human existence i.e. Moksha. Due to a vast accumulation of sinful reactions that have not been exhausted from previous births, they continue to desire immediate results for their actions causing them to accumulate more such reactions. Such people worship demigods for temporary material rewards and foolishly pursue transient material objectives.

In the Katha Upanishad 2.2.13, it says:
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam |
Eko bahunam yo vidadhati Kaman ||
Meaning: The Supreme Lord is eternal, and the living beings are eternal. The Supreme Lord is cognizant, and the living beings are cognizant. The difference is that the Supreme Lord is supplying all the necessities of life for the many other living entities.

The Supreme God is one and the demigods are delegated with powers to manage this material world. These demigods are all living entities (nityanam) with different grades of material power. They cannot be equal to the Supreme God—Narayana, Vishnu, or Bhagavan Shri Krishna.

“Iha devatah” means a powerful demigod while Lord Narayana, Vishnu, Rama or Krishna, are transcendental to material creation.

So, by worshipping the demigods, they get the results, but do not know that the results so obtained are temporary. This verse indicates that people are rarely interested in Moksha and seek mostly material enjoyment, and therefore they worship some other demigod.

Lord Krishna explains that most people perform myriads of actions as they seek material results from their efforts. These material benefits are beseeched in the forms of wealth, power, good health and such other things.  But for Moksha or liberation, the results do not come easy as this knowledge must be refined and perfected through many lifetimes. The purport is that most people worship various other entities because in their present life they have no knowledge and/or no intrinsic interest in Moksha.

4.13      Shloka 4.13

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः।
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम्।।4.13।।

Catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah |
Tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam ||4.13||
Meaning: The four divisions of human society were created by Me according to differences in the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them. And, although I am the creator of this system, know Me as the non-doer, being Immutable.

The Lord is the creator of everything. Everything is born of Him, everything is sustained by Him, and everything, after annihilation, rests in Him. He is therefore the creator of the four divisions of the social order.

The four orders result from a combination of the three Gunas viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Those with predominantly Sattva Guna (piety and noble) possess tranquillity and self- control. As Sattva decreases one’s ability and capacity to be righteous declines and they move further away to Rajas (Passion) and Tamas Guna (Sloth). Thus, these four divisions arise naturally due to the combination of these three Gunas and defines a person’s character and disposition.

The verse refers to the four social orders viz. the Brahmins – the priest and knowledge seekers and disseminators, the Kshatriyas – the Royal class, protector and warriors, the Vaishyas – trading class and merchants, and finally the Shudras – the working class. These were created according to the natural qualities of their prenatal disposition and classified initially accordingly to birth.   Through subsequent actions one can redefine oneself.

The determining factor for all beings is that they come into their various existences as a result of their own Karma. This is because all embodied beings accept a form in accordance to the inherent primal force of their past Karma.  However, one is not defined by birth alone and one’s present Karma can define them to be different.

While Bhagavan is the origin of all creation but He also reveals that He is a non-Doer, meaning its one’s own Karma that defines what they become. He also says that He is not originated from any source. He is independent in Himself and not created from anything.

4.14      Shloka 4.14

मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति मे कर्मफले स्पृहा।
इति मां योऽभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न बध्यते।।4.14।।

Na mam karmani limpanti na me karma-phale sprha |
Iti mam yo ‘bhijanati karmabhir na sa badhyate ||4.14||
Meaning: There is no work that implicates Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me, such a person does not get entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the words ‘mam karmani’ meaning ‘actions do not bind Me’ and further emphasises with ‘mam abhijanati’ meaning ‘One who knows this truth about Me’, does not get entangled.

A question arises as to how is it possible for Bhagavan Shri Krishna to be not implicated by any of the actions and that none of the reactions to His actions are applicable to Him? We can draw a parallel by looking at this analogy. Although fruits, grains or pulses are undoubtedly supported by rain showers, the rain has no attachment not has any desire for tasting and enjoying the fruits. Similarly, in the Creation of various beings, possessing good and evil propensities, performing righteous or unrighteous actions and receiving the bestowal of their reactions, it is the Bhagavan Shri Krishna who sanctions these rewards without any of it implicating Him.

But there is no partiality or injustice coming from Him. Every human being creates their own karma or reactions to actions as defined by the actions they have been performing in life after life since time immemorial.

Lord Krishna confirms here that even those who know Him as the origin of Creation, know that He is not implicated by any activity being transcendental to prakriti or material nature; such individuals also are not bound by their actions having abandoned the fruits of their actions.

The following verse reaffirms it:
Nimitta-matram evasau srjyanam sarga-karmani |
Pradhana-karani-bhuta yato vai srjya-saktayah ||
Meaning:  In the material creations, the Lord is only the Supreme Cause. The immediate Cause is the material nature by which the cosmic manifestation is visible. The created beings are of many varieties and all of them are subject to the reactions of their past good or bad activities. The Lord only gives them the proper faculties for performing their activities but He is never responsible for their past and present activities.

4.15      Shloka 4.15

एवं ज्ञात्वा कृतं कर्म पूर्वैरपि मुमुक्षुभिः।
कुरु कर्मैव तस्मात्त्वं पूर्वैः पूर्वतरं कृतम्।।4.15।।

Evam jnatva krtam karma purvair api mumuksubhih  |
Kuru karmaiva tasmat tvam purvaih purvataram krtam ||4.15||
Meaning: All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding and attained liberation. Therefore, you should adopt the actions performed by the ancient authorities.

Bhagavan says that ancient Seers understood that He was completely delineated although performing such magnificent activities as Creation of all Beings.  They performed their activities free from desire and attachment and thus attained Moksha or liberation.

Bhagavan is encouraging Arjuna to perform Karma Yoga just like the ancient seers such as Vivasvan. Therefore, He recommends that Arjuna act like the Sun-God, who learned this art from the Lord.

4.16      Shloka 4.16

किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः।
तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात्।।4.16।।

Kim karma kim akarmeti kavayo ‘py atra mohitah |
Tat te karma pravaksyami yaj jnatva moksyase ‘subhat ||4.16||
Meaning: Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what action is and what inaction is. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all sins.

Bhagavan says that even persons with discriminative intellect and knowledge are bewildered in determining the righteous actions and get confused.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna now promises to dispel all delusion in the intricacies of this subject.

What is the purpose of performing actions as a matter of duty? The satisfaction consists in the knowledge of knowing why the duty is to be discharged. The knower is the person who performs works aspiring for Moksha. The one who performs work for sense gratification is ignorant (or Baddha Jiva).

4.17      Shloka 4.17

कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं विकर्मणः।
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः।।4.17।।

Karmano hy api boddhavyam boddhavyam ca vikarmanah |
Akarmanas ca boddhavyam gahana karmano gatih ||4.17||
Meaning: The intricacies of action are to be understood and the actions that are forbidden should also be understood.  The subject of renunciation of action is even harder to comprehend.  Therefore, one should know properly understand the intricacies of action, forbidden action and inaction.

The nature of karma or prescribed actions performed for attaining Moksha or liberation from material existence should be understood. Actions which are ‘nitya’ (regular) are to be performed without any attachment or desire. Actions that are ‘naimittika’ (occasional) that are performed for sense enjoyment and/or with a desire for material rewards is known as ‘vikarma’ or ‘improper actions’.  The absence of action known as ‘akarma’ (inaction) is also not an option and this should also be comprehended.

Therefore, the path of Karma is not easily discernible for those seeking Moksha. As the rewards are varied for each type of action, it should be clearly understood by an aspirant of Moksha.  It is important to perform actions with an attitude of renunciation while maintain discipline, equipoise and dispassion.  It is also important to abstain from certain actions and knowing when to act and when to abstain in critical.

4.18      Shloka 4.18

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि कर्म यः।
बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्।।4.18।।

Karmany akarma yah pasyed akarmani ca karma yah |
Sa buddhiman manusyesu sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krt ||4.18||
Meaning: One who has mastered renunciation in action, and action in renunciation of activities, is spiritually intelligent among men. Such a person is transcendentally situated and is a perfect performer of all actions.

There are two categories of persons:

  • The person who performs actions while continuously contemplating on the Atma – this is a stage where one is seeking realisation of the Self
  • The person who immersed within the Atma and perceives the Atma to be performing all actions taking on the role of an Observer – this is a person who has attained Self-Realisation (a Jnani or a Jeevan Mukt)

No one can escape performing actions. In Chapter 3 Verse 22, Bhagavan says there is no prescribed for Him and yet He is engaged in actions to set the right examples for others to follow.

So, it is important to understand what the righteous actions are and how they are to be performed.  Having a dispassionate attitude while performing actions is like ‘Inaction in Action’. Similarly, in certain circumstances abstaining from an action is a conscious choice, for e.g. Observing fast on auspicious days is like ‘Action in Inaction’.  One who practices the above achieves Self-realisation and becomes liberated.

In Narada Purana, it states that the Supreme Lord Krishna is never bound by Cause and Effect as all His actions are to be understood as inaction.

All material actions are visible to the living beings, but what is not visible is the karma or reactions that come with the actions. This results in repeated performance of such actions which keeps them in worldly bondage. Out of compassion, Lord Krishna states the truth of action, inaction and prohibited actions.

4.19      Shloka 4.19

यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः।
ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः।।4.19।।

Yasya sarve samarambhah kama-sankalpa-varjitah |
Jnanagni-dagdha-karmanam tam ahuh panditam budhah ||4.19||
Meaning: One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. The Sages say that such a worker’s fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.

The person performing karma or actions accrues reactions by his attachment to the results and hankering for rewards. This is delusional as desires are imagined and fantasised even before enactment. Lord Krishna explains that the spiritually intelligent person approaches action and inaction with a sense of dispassion and equipoise. Their actions are free from desires and hankering for rewards, and hence their actions are incapable of sprouting reactions.  Such fruitive actions are purified by the fire of perfect knowledge.  And only a person in perfect knowledge can understand that eternal service of the Lord can burn the effects of such fruitive results.

Whoever performs Karma in this manner while constantly contemplating and meditating on the Self, is a person of spiritual intelligence situated in Atma tattva or Self-realisation. For such a person all reactions to their myriads of past actions are singed by the fire of knowledge. 

4.20      Shloka 4.20

त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः ।
कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः।।4.20।।

Tyaktva karma-phalasangam nitya-trpto nirasrayah |
Karmany abhipravrtto ‘pi naiva kincit karoti sah ||4.20||
Meaning: Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.

Whoever has completely given up all desires and attachments for rewards of actions, and is also ‘nitya-trypto’ or ‘totally content and immersed’ in the Atma or Soul, self-satisfied with no dependence on anything for material existence, such a person although seen to be intently performing various prescribed actions is in reality performing no action (inaction in action) that has any binding effect. Such a person might appear to be performing various activities externally but internally that person is cultivating spiritual knowledge, thus is exempt from any binding effect from results.

The nature of spiritual intelligence is to be always tranquil and ever-content state. By acting in this way, one assumes the qualities of the eternally equipoised and enjoys infinite bliss.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna! 

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 15 Chapter 4, Verses 1 to 10 – JNANA YOGA

In the first three verses of this fourth Chapter, Bhagavan Shri Krishna sums up the Karma Yoga from the last Chapter before moving on to Jnana Yoga.  Bhagavan says, “I handed down this imperishable Supreme Discipline, which has decayed over course of time, to the shining Sun, even though this has not always been well preserved.” 

Surprised, Arjuna asks, “Later was your birth, and earlier was the birth of the Sun, then how did you teach the sun?” Then, Shri Krishna says:
“Whenever sacred duty (Dharma) decays and chaos (Adharma) prevails, I incarnate myself. I’ve incarnated myself several times, and you’ve taken several births, I know all of them but you don’t remember them.”

It is good to do one’s own duty honestly, but at the same time, one should aim at purification of the heart and mind as well. If work is done by completely surrendering to God, then that work becomes a Supreme Action. The course of action is very deep and secretive; therefore, intelligent people become free of the bondage of action by understanding the subtle nature of action properly. Unattached action becomes a sacrificial action.

Emphasizing on the fact that all actions done to realize this Supreme Knowledge are the best of actions, Shri Krishna says to Arjuna:
You go to the great men who have realized the True Self to understand this Supreme Knowledge. These great men will shower upon you the sacred knowledge of True Self, if you seek for this Knowledge from them humbly, bow with due respect in front of them, and serve them with a devoted heart. Nothing can purify your heart and mind more than this True Knowledge. By seeking shelter in this Knowledge, destroy the doubt arising in your heart out of ignorance with the sword of Knowledge. Arise for the battle performing disciplined action and keeping your mind stable.

The man who is full of faith (Shraddha), who is devoted, and who has subdued the senses, obtains this Knowledge. Having obtained Knowledge, he at once experiences Supreme Peace. The ignorant, the faithless, the doubting self goes to destruction; there is happiness in neither this world, nor the other for the doubting.”

To become a Sannyasi, it requires mature mind and a contemplative disposition that cannot be gained overnight.  Also knowledge is something that is gained from a Guru who is well accomplished.  It is also important to understand that when the word “Yoga” is used in the Bhagavad Gita, it refers to “Jnana-Yoga” for a Sannyasi and “Karma Yoga” for others.  Both lead to the same destination of gaining “Moksha” when properly practiced with the right attitude and commitment with a spirit of renunciation of results of action.

4.1      Shloka 4.1

श्री भगवानुवाच
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम्।
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत्।।4.1।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam  |
Vivasvan manave Praha manur iksvakave ‘bravit ||4.1||
Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna says, “I instructed this Imperishable Science of Yoga (uniting the individual consciousness with the Absolute Consciousness) to the Sun God, “Vivasvan”, and Vivasvan instructed it to his son Vaivastava Manu, who in turn passed on the knowledge to his son King Iksvaku”.

Bhagavan Krishna begins the fourth chapter by giving context to the origination of the Jnana Yoga. He explains that He Himself gave instructions in the past to Vivasvan, the Sun God, on how to master the science of uniting the individual Consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness.  Lord Krishna taught this imperishable yoga for the benefit of the humans and for the preservation of Universal order. The Sun God, Vivasvan, passed on this knowledge to his son Vaivastava Manu who later gave it to his eldest son Iksvaku.

4.2      Shloka 4.2

एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदुः।
कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप।।4.2।।

Evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh |
Sa kaleneha mahata yogo nastah parantapa ||4.2||
Meaning: In this way the saintly Kings mastered this Supreme Science received through the line of disciplic succession; but during the course of time this knowledge of uniting the Individual Consciousness with the Ultimate was scattered and lost, O’ the conqueror of enemies (Arjuna).

Lord Krishna mentions the great tradition of passing on the knowledge through disciplic succession from one generation to the next.  But with efflux of time and degradation of human intelligence, the number of qualified recipients of this great knowledge dwindled and the knowledge was lost.

4.3      Shloka 4.3

एवायं मया तेऽद्य योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातनः।
भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम्।।4.3।। 

Sa evayam maya te ‘dya yogah proktah puratanah |
Bhakto ‘si me sakha ceti rahasyam hy etad uttamam ||4.3||
Meaning: This very ancient science of uniting the Individual Consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness, which is a supreme secret, is being instructed by Me to you because you are My devotee and a dear friend.

Lord Krishna confirms that the same ancient Yoga or the Science of uniting the Individual Consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness, which He imparted aeons before to Vivasvan, emphasising it as a Supreme secret, is now being instructed to Arjuna because he is His devotee and dear friend Arjuna.

Bhagavan Krishna saw Arjuna as qualified to receive this Yoga, because Arjuna had surrendered unto Lord Krishna as a disciple. As this Yoga is highly confidential it should not be revealed to those who have no faith nor to those who are unqualified.

The Bhagavad-Gita as it is the essence of the sublime wisdom of all the Vedas and encapsulates the mysteries of Vedanta and no one other than Bhagavan Krishna could have delivered this.

4.4      Shloka 4.4

अर्जुन उवाच
अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वतः।
कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति।।4.4।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Aparam bhavato janma param janma vivasvatah  |
katham etad vijaniyam tvam adau proktavan iti ||4.4||
Meaning: Arjuna said: You were born after the Sun-God Vivasvan, who is senior to you by birth. How am I to understand your statement that You instructed this science to Sun God in ancient times?

While this is a legitimate question on the anachronism in Shri Krishna’s statement, what is notable is the phrasing of the question by Arjuna.  He approaches it in a polite manner and by way of seeking to understand rather than reject it outright as preposterous.  While Arjuna is a devotee, disciple and a friend of Shri Krishna, this did not preclude him from asking questions of the Lord.

The purpose of inquiry from men of wisdom, as given in the Agni Purana, has a dual purpose. First is reconfirmation of the knowledge of eternal principles that they already possess. Second is that their explanations offer additional clarification.

Arjuna was not a novice bereft of Vedic knowledge. He had received instructions from his father Indra, the chief of the celestials, and had a good understanding of Bhagavan Krishna’s supreme position.

The reason Arjuna asked such a question was to get clarification on Bhagavan’s previous manifestations. He was seeking answers to several questions such as:

  1. Are avatars real or illusory?
  2. Under what circumstances does Bhagavan manifests as avatar?
  3. What is the nature of the body the avatar assumes?
  4. Are all the avatars expanding from Lord Krishna?
  5. Are all the avatars omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent?
  6. Are all avatars transcendental to the cycle of birth and death?
  7. Are all avatars able to fulfill all desires?
  8. What is the time schedule which avatars manifest themselves?

Bhagavan Krishna gives explanations in subsequent verses that answers the above questions.

4.5      Shloka 4.5

श्री भगवानुवाच
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन।
तान्यहं वेद सर्वाणि त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप।।4.5।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava carjuna  |
Tany aham veda sarvani na tvam vettha parantapa ||4.5||
Meaning: Bhagavan says, Many births of Mine and also of yours have passed, O’ Arjuna; I can remember all of them, but you cannot!

In the Brahma-Samhita (5.33), it states:
Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca
Vedesu durllabham adurllabham atma-bhaktau govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami.
Meaning: “I worship Govinda, the primeval God, who is the original person—absolute, infallible, without beginning, although expanded into unlimited forms, still the same original, the oldest, and always youthful. Such eternal, blissful, all-knowing forms of the Lord not easily accessible through the Vedas but is obtainable by pure unalloyed devotion of the soul.  He is one, without a second”. 

Ramadi murttisu kala-niyamena tisthan nanavataram akarod bhuvanesu kintu
Krishnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami (Brahma Samhita 5.39)
Meaning: I worship Lord Govinda, the primeval Lord, who manifested Himself personally as Kṛiṣhṇa and the different avatars as Rama, Nṛsimha, Vamana, etc., as His subjective portions.

In the Vedas also it is said that the Lord, although one without a second, nevertheless manifests Himself in innumerable forms. All those multi-forms are understood by the pure, unalloyed devotees, but not by a mere study of the Vedas- “Vedesu durllabham adurllabham atma-bhaktau”. 

The difference between the Bhagavan Krishna and Arjuna is that the Bhagavan remembered all the prior incidents, whereas Arjuna could not remember. While Arjuna is addressed herein as the mighty hero who could subdue the enemies, he is however unable to recall the incidents from his past births. Therefore, a living entity, however great in material estimation, can never equal the Supreme Lord.

Though Arjuna is a devotee of the Lord, he sometimes forgets the nature of the Lord, but by the divine grace of the Lord, a devotee can at once understand the infallible condition of the Lord.  Whereas a non-devotee cannot understand this transcendental nature and consequently these descriptions in the Bhagavad Gita cannot be understood by non-believers.

Devotees like Arjuna are constant companions of the Lord, and whenever the Lord incarnates, the associated devotees also appear in order to serve the Lord in various capacities. Arjuna is one of those devotees, and in this verse it is to be understood that some millions of years ago when Bhagavan Krishna imparted the secret knowledge to Sun God Vivasvan, Arjuna was also present although in a different capacity. Anyone who is a constant companion of the Lord is certainly a liberated person, but is not and cannot be equal to the Lord. The Lord is described in the Brahma-samhita as infallible (acyuta), which means that He never slips, even though He is in contact with the material world.

Bhagavan is advaita, which means there is no distinction between His body and Himself. Everything in relation to Him is spirit—whereas the conditioned soul is different from his material body. And, because the Lord’s body and self are identical, His position is always different from the ordinary living entity, even when He descends to the material platform.

What the Lord is confirming is that His present incarnation is as real as Arjuna’s present life reincarnation and that the ones from the past are real as well, subtly implying that there is a fundamental difference between the two of them. The nature of the avatars, and how they manifest together with their purpose for incarnations is given in the next few verses.

4.6      Shloka 4.6

अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन्।
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय संभवाम्यात्ममायया।।4.6।।

Ajo ‘pi sann avyayatma bhutanam isvaro ‘pi san  |
prakrtim svam adhisthaya sambhavamy atma-mayaya ||4.6||
Meaning: Although I am birthless and My transcendental body is Imperishable, and I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in My original transcendental form by my internal potency.

The Lord has spoken about the unique nature of His birth, Although He may appear like an ordinary person, yet He remembers everything of His many, many past “births”, whereas a common man cannot remember what he has done a day or a week before.

Here, Bhagavan explains His prakrti or His form. Prakrti means nature as well as svarupa, or one’s own form. The Lord says that He appears in His own body. He does not change His body, as the common living entity changes from one body to another. The conditioned soul may have one kind of body in the present birth, but he has a different body in the next birth. In this verse the words “ajo pi sann avyaya atma” meaning He is unborn having an imperishable body.

Whenever He appears, He does so by His internal potency. Despite the fact Lord Bhagavan Krishna grows from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth, astonishingly enough He never ages beyond youth. We never see a picture of Bhagavan in old age because He never ages like us, although He is the oldest person in the whole creation. Neither His body nor His intelligence ever deteriorates or changes. Therefore, it is clear that in spite of His being in the material world, He is the same unborn, eternal form of bliss and knowledge, changeless in His transcendental body and intelligence.

His appearance and disappearance are like the Sun’s rising, moving before us, and then disappearing from our eyesight. His appearance and disappearance are completely different from that of any ordinary, common living entity, it is evident that He is eternal, blissful knowledge and He is never contaminated by material nature.

The forms and places where the Supreme Lord resides as described in the Vedic scriptures:

  1. He is the spirit who luminously resides in the interior of the Sun
  2. He is the spirit who luminously resides in the etheric region of the heart
  3. He who is immortal and eternal
  4. He who manifested all the Devas and humans
  5. He who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent
  6. He who is resplendent and all pervasive
  7. He who is transcendental to prakriti or material nature
  8. He who by His omniscience knows the actions and qualities of all beings

4.7      Shloka 4.7

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदाऽऽत्मानं सृजाम्यहम्।।4.7।। 

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata  |
Abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham ||4.7||
Meaning: Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.

The use of “srjami” is significant in this Shloka as it means that the Lord manifests Himself as He is and is not be understood as creation. He appears by His own will whenever there is a predominance of “adharma” or atrocities. Principles of righteousness are laid down in the Vedas and as righteousness diminishes Bhagavan chooses to appear to re-establish Dharma and protect the noble people.

In Srimad Bhagavatam, the principles of dharma, or righteousness, are the direct orders of the Supreme (dharmam tu saksat-bhagavat-pranitam). These principles are clearly indicated throughout the Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavan directly orders, at the end of the Bhagavad Gita, that the highest principle of dharma is to surrender unto Him only, and He undertakes to protect and rid one of all sins.

He can advent Himself anywhere and everywhere, and whenever He desires to appear. In each and every incarnation, He speaks as much about Dharma as can be understood by the particular people under their particular circumstances. But the mission is the same—to lead people to the practice of Dharma and grant them salvation.

4.8      Shloka 4.8

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय दुष्कृताम्
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ।।4.8।। 

Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam |
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ||4.8||
Meaning: For the protection and deliverance of the devotees and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of dharma (righteousness), I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

The words “Paritranaya Sadhunam” means protecting the virtuous and such protection applies to specifically for the devotees like Prahlada, who was a great devotee of the Supreme Lord even as a child.  The saintly devotees, the eminent Vaishnavas who diligently seek refuge in Bhagavan every moment and in everything they do. These persons feel that without perceiving the Supreme Lord, without chanting His names, without continuously reminiscing over His phenomenal leelas and without meditating on Him there lives are devoid and empty and they find it difficult to even carry on their existence. For these devotees even a single moment of absence from the Lord is like a lifetime.

The word “duskrtam” applies miscreants and represents the lowest of mankind who engage in acts of cruelty and inflict misery on Lord’s devotees. The Lord has many agents who are quite competent to vanquish demons. But the Lord especially descends to appease His unalloyed devotees, who are harassed by the demons. Although Prahlada Maharaja was the son of Hiranyakashipu, he was nonetheless persecuted by his father; although Devaki, the mother of Bhagavan Krishna, was the sister of Kamsa, she and her husband Vasudeva were persecuted. Therefore it is said here that to deliver the devotee and vanquish the demon miscreants, the Lord appears in different incarnations.

There are various kinds of avatars, such as Purusa avatars, Guna avatars, Leela avatars, Saktyavesa avatars, Manvantara Avatars and Yugav avatars—all appearing at various points of time.  Bhagavan descends for protecting His pure devotees and to re-establish Dharma.

The Supreme Lord is complete within Himself so there is nothing to be gained for Him by any action; yet and still He still performs unlimited activities. The word “glanir” in the previous verse does not mean decline as is often translated but it means obscure. What happens is that dharma becomes obscure to the masses due to material influences on the mind, agitated by the effects of sense gratification by the onslaught of maya or illusion. When such times arise the purpose of human existence becomes distorted and consequently the activities of humans become more and more degenerated and humans become degraded. At this time, Dharma of human beings is said to be glanir or obscured.

Bhagavan is also designated as Brahman which means eternal in time and dynamic in creativity and is the all-pervading luminosity of His effulgence. It is not inert or passive. The word Brahman which is derived from the root ‘brh’ means to grow, to burst forth which infers constant, continuous creativity, perpetually manifesting. That which is dynamic and creative cannot remain static and passive. The dynamic, spontaneous, creative impulse is what is known as the Supreme Lord Leela or divine pastimes. In this verse, Bhagavan explicitly reveals that He comes to protect the righteous and to vanquish the sinful miscreants and to personally re-establish dharma or eternal righteousness. Sam-sthapana-arthaya infers to establishing one’s true nature. The Lord’s divine nature assumes His divine form.

So, in summary the following reasons of Lord Krishna’s avatars or incarnations is for:

  1. protecting the virtuous
  2. destroying the wicked
  3. re-establishing dharma or eternal righteousness which had become obscured.

The words “Yuge Yuge” means from millennium to millennium and indicates that Bhagavan may appear at any time and his incarnation is not limited to any particular Yuga.

4.9      Shloka 4.9

जन्म कर्म मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः।
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन।।4.9।।

Janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah |
Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna ||4.9||
Meaning: O’Arjuna, One who knows the transcendental nature of My birth and activities does not take his birth again in this material world upon relinquishing his body, and such a person attains My eternal abode.

One who can understand the truth of the appearance of Bhagavan is already liberated from material bondage, and therefore he returns to the abode of God immediately after quitting the present material body. Liberation of the living entity from material bondage does not come easy. Even the yogis attain liberation only after great penance and many births. But a sincere devotee, simply by understanding the transcendental nature of the Lord, attains the abode of the Lord after ending this body and is freed from the material bondage.

In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that the Lord has many, many forms and incarnations: advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Although there are many transcendental forms of the Lord, they are still one and the same Supreme Brahman. One has to understand this fact with conviction, although it is incomprehensible to mundane scholars and empiric philosophers.

As stated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Atharva Veda:
eko devo nitya-lilanurakto bhakta-vyapi hrdy antaratma iti ca ||
Meaning: The one Supreme Personality is eternally engaged in many, many transcendental forms in relationships with His unalloyed devotees.

One can attain the perfect stage of liberation from birth and death simply by knowing the Supreme. It should be clearly understood that the mere knowledge of the facts and details of the Supreme Lords appearance and divine pastimes will not enable one to attain liberation from the material existence without having first applied this learning fully into one’s life and all that one’s life encompasses.

Put more succinctly such a person possessing accurate discriminative knowledge from disciplic succession regarding Bhagavan’s incarnations and divine pastimes becomes free from all sins which stand in the way of coming to Him. Such a person will attain Him by placing implicit reliance and full faith in Him in the manner described in previous verses.  By keeping Him at the centre of all their activities, by making Him the be all and end all of their lives, they makes themselves extremely dear to the Lord which qualifies their existence for attaining Him.

4.10   Shloka 4.10

वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः।
बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः।।4.10।। 

Vita-raga-bhaya-krodha man-maya mam upasritah |
Bahavo jnana-tapasa puta mad-bhavam agatah ||4.10||
Meaning: Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purifled by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.

In the previous verse, Lord Krishna declares that those that truly know Him attain Him. Now in this verse, Bhagavan is laying out the necessary requirements for attaining Him and states, “vita-raga-bhaya-krodha” meaning completely freed from passion, fear and anger.

Passion is obsessive attachment to sense objects and material world. Fear is abhorrence of frightening situations due to lack of faith in God. Anger is a state of mind that blows up when one’s ardent desires are frustrated by obstacles.

To get free from these three, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by a bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of the devotional life is called bhava, or transcendental love. This clearly indicates that jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge is essential for the mind to control the senses.

According to Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, the science of devotional service:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya
tato ‘nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah||
Meaning: In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In next stage one becomes initiated by an accomplished spiritual master, and under his instruction the devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a burning desire for hearing about the Lilas of the Supreme Lord. This desire matures into Bhakti bhava, and later turns into an eternal love for God in the form of prema, the highest and perfect stage of life. In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

So, by beginning with devotional service, under the guidance of the bonafide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations, one can ultimately attain to the abode of the Supreme Lord.

The devotees of the Supreme Lord, who desire Him alone and who serve Him with love and devotion, only they can truly comprehend the sublime transcendental mystery of His divine appearances, pastimes, forms, abode and nature.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 14 Chapter 3, Verses 31 to 43 – KARMA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna, through these final verses of Chapter 3, explains the powerful influence of Kama or lust. In these verses, Lord Krishna explains the priority of the faculties humans possess starting from the physical body to the senses to the mind to the intellect to the Atma.  The senses are superior to the physical body because if the senses are agitated they will transfer this agitation to the physical body and knowledge will not arise in the mind. The mind is superior to the senses and can stop them but if the mind is intent on sense gratification then knowledge will not arise.

Now in conclusion Lord Krishna establishes the fact that one should try to their utmost to destroy the powerful enemy known as Kama or lust. Knowing that Kama is the mightiest enemy, one must destroy it by withdrawing the senses, keeping the mind steady and the intellect resolute in Sattva Guna (the mode of goodness).

Thus ends the Third Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita covering the Karma-yoga, or the Discharge of One’s Prescribed Duty as an offering to Bhagavan Krishna, and conquer lust through constant contemplation of the Lord.

3.31     Shloka 3.31

ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः।
श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः।।3.31।।

Ye me matam idam nityam anutisthanti manavah       |
Sraddhavanto ‘nasuyanto mucyante te ‘pi karmabhih ||3.31||
Meaning: One who executes his duties according to My injunctions and who follows this teaching faithfully, without envy, becomes free from the bondage arising from their actions.

Bhagavan Krishna explains that it is important that one should execute the prescribed duties with complete faith, without harbouring any envy, and dedicate the fruits of such actions to the Supreme Being.  Such a person is assured to be liberated from the bondage of this Samsara.

3.32     Shloka 3.32

ये त्वेतदभ्यसूयन्तो नानुतिष्ठन्ति मे मतम्।
सर्वज्ञानविमूढांस्तान्विद्धि नष्टानचेतसः।।3.32।।

Ye tv etad abhyasuyanto nanutisthanti me matam  |
Sarva-jnana-vimudhams tan viddhi nastan acetasah ||3.32||
Meaning: But those who, out of envy disregard these teachings and do not practice them regularly, are deluded and bereft of all knowledge. They are deviated from the purpose of human existence and devoid of spiritual consciousness, and are doomed to ignorance and bondage.

Those who perform prescribed Vedic activities while renouncing the results of their actions gradually gain spiritual knowledge and attain Moksha.

In this verse, Bhagavan Krishna points out that those persons who disrespect, ignore and refuse to follow the injunctions of scriptures, are fools bereft of spiritual knowledge and in such a state of ignorance all their activities are fruitless and they are hopelessly entangled in the cycle of birth and death, ad infinitum.

Spiritual intelligence is what determines the light of knowledge in the material existence. In the absence of spiritual knowledge, darkness and ignorance prevails, and knowledge becomes flawed resulting in permanent entanglement in this Samsara.

3.33     Shloka 3.33

सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेर्ज्ञानवानपि।
प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति।।3.33।।

Sadrsam cestate svasyah prakrter jnanavan api  |
Prakrtim yanti bhutani nigrahah kim karisyati ||3.33||
Meaning: Even a knowledge person acts according to his own nature as all living entities are controlled by their own nature. What can repression accomplish?

If it is so beneficial to follow the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita, then why is not everyone following them? As an answer to this question, Bhagavan Krishna explains that a person acts according to their own nature as determined by Samskaras or impressions from past lifetimes, and because of the influence of prakriti or material nature interacting with the three Gunas, or the modes of Sattva (goodness, constructive, harmonious), Rajas (passion, active, confused), and Tamas (darkness, destructive, chaotic).

Even persons of wisdom in Vedic knowledge are hostage to their own nature. So what to say of the ignorant? The purport is that although it may be possible for such persons to abandon desires and attachment, the necessary purity of mind does not manifest to evoke feelings of dedication to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

With the overpowering influence of these deep rooted habits how can the words of the Vedic scriptures impose restraint on such a person? One is helplessly carried away by the forceful current of past life actions and impressions.

The objects of the senses are perceived through the sense organs. For e.g. hearing is perceived by the ears through sound, seeing is perceived by the eyes through sight, smelling is perceived by the nose through smells and so on. For each of the senses, one has affection and the desire to enjoy through them. But the same senses operate depending upon attraction or aversion to the sense objects. For sense objects that are pleasing one has attraction for pleasure and for sense objects that are displeasing one has aversion to displeasure. All these habits are conditioned from ancient predilections of past life reminisces. Such dualities of attraction and aversion obstructs one who would want to succeed in jnana yoga by subjugating their sense. These dualities which can be understood as different degrees of love and hate, hold a person in an iron grip and forcefully drive them to commit actions that are in conformance with the attributes of one of the three gunas of goodness, passion or sloth to which one’s nature adheres to from past life impressions. Thus, one is being constantly diverted from the real purpose of human existence, that of atma tattva or realisation of the soul and their precious human life is wasted in pursuing sense objects.

3.34     Shloka 3.34

इन्द्रियस्येन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ।
तयोर्न वशमागच्छेत्तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ।।3.34।।

Indriyasyendriyasyarthe raga-dvesau vyavasthitau   |
Tayor na vasam agacchet tau hy asya paripanthinau ||3.34||
Meaning: Attraction and repulsion for sense objects are felt by embodied beings, but one should not fall under the control of senses and sense objects because they are stumbling blocks to the path of self-realisation.

The senses are constantly being drawn by the force of attraction and aversion. Although Bhagavan Krishna is emphasising that the effect of restraining the senses has a temporary effect only still, by exercising restraint regularly, it opens up the possibility of slowly dampening the desires and may eventually develop a lasting effect. Of course, past life impressions have a deep rooted influence on all living entities, even in the case of Brahma and others, but there is still the possibility to modify the impact by practising restraint in a regulated manner.

If everyone must act according to their nature and no living being is void of their nature then the purpose of teaching the Vedic scriptures by the spiritual master could be deemed futile and unnecessary. To emphasise this point Bhagavan Krishna repeats the word ‘indriyasya’ twice to underline all the senses.

One who is fortunate to hear through the ears the holy words of the Vedic scriptures from the spiritual master should never come under the influence of attraction and aversion because they are two great obstacles on the path of Moksha. These two, Raga and Dvesha, act as obstacles and deviates them to the false path of desires, attachment and enjoyment of sense objects.

The spiritual master teaching the Vedic scriptures rescues an aspirant from being under the influence of the dualities of attraction and aversion and guides them in the right path of offering one’s actions as yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord which is the best and surest way to attain liberation. So learning the Vedic scriptures from the spiritual master is never futile and is highly beneficial and essential.

Lord Krishna confirms that a person who embarks upon the path of jnana yoga or the cultivation of spiritual wisdom should not fall again under the influence of dualities of raga and dvesha as they undermine all efforts. The dualities of love and hate, attraction and aversion are a person’s most potent enemies and they completely frustrate one’s attempts for higher understanding.

3.35     Shloka 3.35

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्।
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः।।3.35।।

Sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah para-dharmat sv-anusthitat     |
Sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah para-dharmo bhayavahah ||3.35||
Meaning: It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though they may be faulty, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, as performing duties of others is fraught with danger.

In this verse, Lord Krishna is emphasising the fact that one should perform the duties one is designated or assigned to do. Arjuna was a Royal Prince educated, trained and having the might to uphold and protect dharma. Although war enacts terrible suffering it was necessary and appropriate for Arjuna, as a Kshatriya, to engage in it.

It should not be presumed that a person abstaining from their prescribed duty and take up an ascetic life is a superior choice. What is the purpose of a warrior if not to fight on the battlefield to protect and defend Dharma.

The essence of Karma Yoga is to perform one’s prescribed duties with commitment and dedication, and with a spirit of renunciation of results.  The path of karma yoga is performed by one most easily as it naturally befits the person skills who is performing it.  Bhagavan Krishna emphasises that performing one’s duty, even if badly, is far superior to perform another one’s duty with perfection as it is fraught with danger.

3.36     Shloka 3.36

अर्जुन उवाच
अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुषः।
अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः।।3.36।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Atha kena prayukto ‘yam apam carati purusah |
Anicchann api varsneya balad iva niyojitah ||3.36||
Meaning: Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrsni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?

A living entity, as part and parcel of the Supreme, is originally spiritual, pure, and free from all material contamination. Therefore, by nature it is not subjected to the sins of the material world. But when it comes into contact with the material nature, it acts in many sinful ways without hesitation, and sometimes even against its will.

As such, Arjuna’s question to Bhagavan Krishna is very pertinent and he seeks to know the reason for a person to do sinful acts against it’s will. When a living entity despite fighting with itself to not sin, ends up in sinful acts as if impelled by a force not within its control.

There are numerous reasons why a person may be compelled to engage in sinful activities. The word ‘atha’ denotes what factors with which one is influenced to act in sin. Arjuna is keen to understand the underlying reasons or forces that strongly provokes someone to to act in an unrighteous manner even when the person knows that its not in his best interest to act that way.

Arjuna beseeches Krishna to tell him the reasons so that if he could understand the causes, it would be possible for him to develop strategies to counter it.

3.37     Shloka 3.37

श्री भगवानुवाच
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः।
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम्।।3.37।।

Sri-Bhagavan Uvaca
Kama esa krodha esa rajo-guna-samudbhavah |
Mahasano maha-papma viddhy enam iha vairinam ||3.37||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: It is lust which when unsated turns into anger, arising from the mode of passion; Know this lust to be insatiable, extremely sinful which is all-devouring and the greatest enemy in this world.

Bhagavan Krishna, in this verse, explicitly confirms the root cause and great impeller of sins to be “Kama” or “Lust” which is known to forcefully compel one’s senses to race impetuously towards sense objects. When lust is impeded and desires are frustrated it turns into anger, hence “Krodha” or anger is also a form of Kama as they both arise out of Rajo Guna or the mode of passion.

This suggests that to control lust one has to increase one’s Sattva guna or the mode of goodness.  The effects of Rajas can be decreased with conscious focus on Sattva that can lead to a decreased level of desires. By controlling desires one can control lust and by controlling lust one can controls anger. Thus, one should note that both lust and anger are interconnected but by controlling lust one can control anger. But Kama is extremely difficult to control once it has been stimulated because it is insatiable. It does not get sated even after enjoying all forms of wealth and pleasure.  The desires increase much like a fire when oil is poured on it. It rages out of control rapidly and when it is impeded it explodes into anger destroying everything in its path like a devastating forest fire.

Bhagavan Krishna says that Kama and Krodha are the greatest enemies and the forces that impel one to perform sinful acts.

3.38     Shloka 3.38

धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निर्यथाऽऽदर्शो मलेन च।
यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम्।।3.38।।

Dhumenavriyate vahnir yathadarso malena ca  |
Yatholbenavrto garbhas tatha tenedam avrtam ||3.38||
Meaning: As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, similarly, the knowledge is covered by this lust.

Bhagavan gives three examples of layers that act as barriers to knowledge and represents the degrees of covering of the living entity by which the pure consciousness is obscured. This covering is nothing but lust under different forms like smoke enveloping the fire, dust on the mirror, and the womb encasing the embryo.

When lust is compared to smoke, it is understood that the fire of the living spark can be perceived. In other words, when the living entity performs his duties though not consistently, he may be likened to the fire covered by smoke. Although fire is necessary for smoke, there is no overt manifestation of fire in that early stage.

The dust on the mirror refers to the need for a cleansing process of the mirror of the mind which can be achieved by meditation and chanting of Lord’s Namas.  The embryo encased by the womb is an analogy that illustrates the helplessness of the child and its total dependence for everything. This stage of living condition can be compared to that of inanimate objects that they are devoid of all consciousness.

It is clear from Bhagavan Krishna’s examples that that everyone is afflicted by Kama to some degree in this world.  When the senses are excited, Kama or lust manifests itself explosively completely covering the Atma, which is why Kama is such a formidable adversary. Kama covers the Atma in a thick envelope rendering it difficult to be perceived.

3.39     Shloka 3.39

आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा।
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च।।3.39।।

Avrtam jnanam etena jnanino nitya-vairina  |
Kama-rupena kaunteya duspurenanalena ca ||3.39||
Meaning: Thus, a man’s pure consciousness is covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire.

Lust is never sated just as fire is never extinguished by a constant supply of fuel.  Therefore, this lust is the symbol of ignorance by which the living entity is kept within the material world. While one enjoys sense gratification, it may be that there is some feeling of happiness, but actually that so-called feeling of happiness is the ultimate enemy of the sense enjoyer.

One on the path of jnana yoga knows from the scriptures that moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death can never manifest itself until first attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation.

The word ‘Kama-rupena’ means in the form of lust and the word ‘duspurena’ means ‘it is never satisfied’. The word ‘analena’ means ‘like a fire’ which denotes the burning fire of Kama which is never satisfied and is insatiable. When the object of its desires has been acquired and the senses fully gratified then at once Kama wants more and looks for something new. It is never satisfied.

It is said that Kama covers the Atma as smoke covers fire, as dust prevents one from seeing a reflection in the mirror.  This Kama prevents one from perceiving their Atma and keeps a person imprisoned in material existence just as a womb envelops the embryo and keeps it dependent.

Therefore, Kama or lust is an eternal adversary, and to achieve self-realisation one has to overcome lust.

3.40     Shloka 3.40

इन्द्रियाणि मनो बुद्धिरस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते।
एतैर्विमोहयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम्।।3.40।।

Indriyani mano buddhir asyadhisthanam ucyate  |
Eetair vimohayaty esa jnanam avrtya dehinam ||3.40||
Meaning: The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust, which veils the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.

Mind is the centre of all the activities of the senses, and thus the mind is the reservoir of all ideas of sense gratification; and, as a result, the mind and the senses become the repositories of lust. Next, the intellect becomes ingrained with such lustful propensities.  Lust filled intellect influences the spirit soul to acquire the false ego and identify itself with matter, and thus with the mind and senses. The spirit soul becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakes this as true happiness.

This false identification of the soul is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:

Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
Sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma idyadhih
Yat-tirtha-buddhih salite na karhicij
Janesv abhijnesu sa eva gokharah [S.B. 10.84.13]
Meaning: A human being who identifies this body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of birth as worship able, and who goes to the place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is no better than a cow or an ass.

The senses becoming excited and agitates the mind and the mind becoming engrossed and envelops the intellect with this Kama. By revealing where Kama or lust covertly resides, Bhagavan Krishna is giving knowledge and guidance to control it.

The senses, the mind and the intellect which controls the discriminatory faculty, is where Kama or lust covertly resides and exercises its dominion over the Atma or Soul. Through Kama, the senses, the mind and the intellect become addicted to craving for sense objects. Kama seizes hold of the embodied beings and beguiles them by clouding their intellect and then Kama covers and envelops the Atma or Soul.

3.41     Shloka 3.41

तस्मात्त्वमिन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ।
पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञाननाशनम्।।3.41।।

Tasmat tvam indriyany adau niyamya bharatarsabha  |
Papmanam prajahi hy enam jnana-vijnana-nasanam ||3.41||
Meaning: Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.

Bhagavan Krishna advises Arjuna to regulate the senses from the very beginning so that he could curb the greatest sinful enemy i.e. lust, which destroys the urge for spiritual progress, and specifically, the yearning for knowledge of the Self. 

‘Jnanam’ refers to knowledge of the Self or in other words, knowledge that the Soul is distinct and not the body.  ‘Vijnanam’ refers to specific knowledge of the spirit soul and knowledge of one’s constitutional position and its relationship to the Supreme Soul.

It is explained thus in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
Jnanam parama-guhyam me yad-vijnana-samanvitam
Sarahasyam tad-angam ca grhana gaditam Maya || [S.B. 2.9.31]
Meaning: The Knowledge of the Self and of the Supreme Self is very confidential and mysterious, being veiled by Maya.  It has to be realized in conjunction with devotional service and the necessary process is being explained by Me. You may take it up carefully.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is the maintainer and energiser of everything in Creation.  Srimad Bhagavad-Gita gives us that knowledge, specifically knowledge of the Self. The living entities are part of the Lord, and therefore they are simply meant to serve the Lord.

But Kama envelops the mind and the intellect and is an obstacle to achieve Atma tattva or Soul realisation; but even after the Atma tattva is achieved, Kama is so powerful that it is able to influence even the jnanis.  We see this in many Puranic stories where the even the like of great Sage Vishwamitra is afflicted by Kama. Kama is never sated and thus vigilance is required at all times before moksha or complete release from the material existence is attained.

Now Lord Krishna explains how to restrain Kama or lust which is so terrible and destructive to the development of a human being and which is the root of all evils because it obscures true knowledge.

The teachings of the spiritual master leads to inner wisdom that arises from meditation and reflection on the Supreme Lord. One must, therefore, withdraw the senses away from the sense objects from the very beginning and should remain resolute with a steady mind.

Bhagavan Krishna emphasises the need to vanquish this great enemy known as Kama, which is so terrible, that destroys both Jnana (Knowledge of Self) and Vijnana (Knowledge of the Supreme).

3.42     Shloka 3.42

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः।
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः।।3.42।।

Indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah  |
Manasas tu para buddhir yo buddheh paratas tu sah ||3.42||
Meaning: The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.

The senses are the outlets for the activities of lust. Lust resides within the body, but it manifests itself through the senses. Therefore, the senses are superior to the body as a whole. But the mind is superior to the senses as it is active even when the body may be silent and at rest—as it does during dreaming. But, above the mind there is the determination of the intelligence, and above the intelligence is the soul. These outlets are suspended when there is superior consciousness. Therefore, when the soul is directly engaged with the Supreme, naturally all other subordinates, namely, the intelligence, mind and the senses, will be automatically engaged in the Supreme.

In the Katha Upanishad (1.3.10), it says:

इिन्द्रयेभ्यः परा ह्यथार् अथभ्यश्च परंमनः।
मनसस्तुपरा बुद्धबुर्द्धेरात्मा महान्परः॥

Indriyebhyaḥ para hy artha, arthebhyash ca param manaḥ |
Manasas ca para buddhir buddher atma mahan paraḥ  || (1.3.10)
Meaning: Beyond the senses are the rudiments of objects, beyond these rudiments is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, and beyond the intellect is the great Self.

Therefore, if the mind is directly engaged in the service of the Lord constantly, then there is no chance of the senses becoming engaged in other ways.

Lord Krishna explains the priority of the faculties humans possess starting from the physical body to the senses to the mind to the intellect to the Atma. The senses are superior to the physical body because if the senses are agitated they will transfer this agitation to the physical body and knowledge will not arise in the mind. The mind is superior to the senses and can stop them but if the mind is intent on sense gratification then knowledge will not arise. The intellect is superior to the senses and the mind but if the senses are passive and the mind is not agitated; then if the intellect decides contrary and is inclined to enjoy, it will overrule the senses and the mind and directs them both to pursue pleasure. So knowledge will not arise there as well but when the senses are withdrawn from the sense objects this impulse subsides. So what is more powerful than the intellect? We see that it is Kama or lust that is greater. When Kama takes over, the mind becomes clouded and the intellect is obscured by it.  The intellect reflects and contemplates actions that will gratify the senses veiling the true Knowlegde of the Atma. So, Kama is the greatest enemy of the human being because it obscures knowledge of the eternal soul.

The five senses are the main impediments to spiritual development and are arranged in a hostile formation against it. As long as the senses are primarily occupied in the pursuit of pleasure and delight in sense objects, the realisation of the Atma will never manifest.

What happens if all three aspects – the senses, the mind and the intellect were tranquil and passive? The unwavering answer is that Kama or lust which arises from desires, covertly resides deep within the heart and is always craving for sense gratification. This Kama is so powerful that it will assert its mastery over all of them and has a domineering effect by driving them to pursue actions and seek sense gratification, thereby obscuring the light of knowledge and the realisation of the Atma.

However, that which is the most powerful with its domain in the spiritual marvel is the Atma and is designated by the pronoun ‘sah’.

3.43     Shloka 3.43

एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना।
जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम्।।3.43।।

Evam buddheh param buddhva samstabhyatmanam atmana |
Jahi satrum maha-baho Kama-rupam durasadam ||3.43||
Meaning: Thus knowing the individual consciousness to be superior to the intelligence, O’ the mighty armed one, steady the mind by self-realisation and conquer this insatiable and formidable enemy known as lust.

In the immature stage of material existence, philosophical speculations and artificial attempts to control the senses by the so-called practice of yogic postures can never help a man toward spiritual life. One must be engaged in continuous contemplation of the Lord while performing one’s prescribed duties to gain spiritual intelligence.  However, that in itself is not a guarantee in attaining self- realisation as the powerful effect of lust needs to be firmly uprooted to gain Atma tattva.

Now in conclusion Lord Krishna establishes the fact that one should try to their utmost to destroy the powerful enemy known as Kama or lust. Knowing that Kama is the mightiest enemy, one must destroy it by withdrawing the senses, keeping the mind steady and the intellect resolute in Sattva Guna (the mode of goodness). It is important to slay this enemy Kama which will attack the mind and senses in various ways causing one to fall into delusion before one becomes powerless to resist. Kama is extremely difficult to overpower and is tenacious and formidable, yet if one dedicates all actions to Lord Krishna with their mind fixed on Him they can overcome it.

So the knowledge of Vedic wisdom and meditation on the Supreme Lord are combined as panacea to neutralise Kama from its location in the senses, mind and intellect and then destroy the great enemy.  This path of selfless action unattached without conception of rewards should be practiced according to one’s capacity and knowledge as a means of gradually achieving renunciation.

So it should understood that Kama or lust is able to dominate even the intellect and thus is antagonistic to jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic spiritual knowledge. So one must, with firm resolve, restrain the senses right from the very beginning and keeping the mind resolutely established in the Atma, and destroy this powerful enemy known as Kama by firmly uprooting it.

Thus ends the Third Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita covering the Karma-yoga, or the Discharge of One’s Prescribed Duty as an offering to Bhagavan Krishna, and conquer lust through constant contemplation of the Lord.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 13, Chapter 3, Verses 21 to 30 – KARMA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna, through these ten verses, explains the importance of performing actions without desire or attachment to the results. In these verses, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains the importance of performing actions even by the spiritually awakened in order to set examples for other to follow.  Actions performed in the spirit of sacrifice or Yajna results in the purification of the body, mind and intellect. When the mind is sanctified, one can contemplate on the path of liberation, and all these collectively lead to purification of the Soul (Atma), thus paving the path for liberation. Bhagavan instructs Arjuna to surrendering all his actions works unto Him, with the mind intent on Him, and free from desires for gain, without Doership, Egoism, and lethargy to pick up his weapons and fight.

3.21     Shloka 3.21

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः।
यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते।।3.21।।

Yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah |
Sa yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate ||3.21||
Meaning:  Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world follows.

The word ‘Sresthah’ means great personality or a leader. Whatever actions a great person performs others will try to emulate them. People look for inspiration and often look up to a role model or a leader and they try to follow them.  A leader cannot ask his or her followers to adopt high standards if they do not lead by example and practice those high standards. Hence, great personalities should always act in an exemplary manner to set the standard for the rest of the people.

An Acharya or a teacher should follow what he preaches to gain credibility, respect and followership. The Guru’s teaching should be based on the principles set out in the scriptures and practiced by other great Gurus.

3.22     Shloka 3.22

मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन।
नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव कर्मणि।।3.22।।

Na me parthasti kartavyam trisu lokesu kincana  |
Nanavaptam avaptavyam varta eva ca karmani ||3.22||
Meaning: O’ Son of Prtha, there is no duty prescribed for Me within all the three worlds. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I need to obtain anything—and yet I am engaged in work.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna is clarifying that, although He is the Supreme Bhagavan Shri of all, there is no activity prescribed for Him, He has no needs as He already possesses everything but He still performs activities to set examples so that all the world will benefit from it.

In the Svetasvatara Upanishad, it says:
tam isvaranam paramam mahesvaram tam devatanam paramam ca daivatam |
patim patinam paramam parastad vidama devam bhuvanesam idyam ||6.7||

tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate |
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate sva-bhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca ||6.8||

Meaning: The Supreme Bhagavan Shri is the controller of all controllers, and He is the greatest of all the Devas. Everyone is under His control. All entities are delegated with particular power only by the Supreme Bhagavan Shri; they are not supreme themselves.  He has nothing to achieve for Himself, nor has He any bodily form like that of an ordinary living entity. No one is equal or superior to Him. His great power alone is described in in the Vedas to be of various kinds, and His knowledge, strength and action are described as inherent in Him.

Without any objective whatsoever the Supreme Bhagavan Shri Krishna according to His creative impulse performs all actions perpetually.

3.23     Shloka 3.23

यदि ह्यहं वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः।
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः।।3.23।।

Yadi hy aham na varteyam jatu karmany atandritah |
Mama vartmanuvartante manusyah partha sarvasah||3.23||
Meaning:
For, if I did not engage in activities, O Partha, certainly all men would follow My path in all respects.

People cite examples of noble men and leaders to justify their actions as legit. If Bhagavan Shri Krishna, the son of King Vasudeva from the Vrishni dynasty the foremost of the righteous, failed to perform activities then so many others would follow in His footsteps citing Him as an example. Bhagavan Shri Krishna is stating that He would be at fault for leading them in the wrong way if He disengaged from all activities.

3.24     Shloka 3.24

उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका कुर्यां कर्म चेदहम्।
सङ्करस्य कर्ता स्यामुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः।।3.24।।

Utsideyur ime loka na kuryam karma ced aham |
Sankarasya ca karta syam upahanyam imah prajah ||3.24||
Meaning: If I cease to perform My activities, then all the inhabitants of all worlds would ruin. And I would become the cause of an unvirtuous population, and would destroy all living entities.

The word ‘Sankarasya’ means ‘unwanted or not a virtuous population’ and such a populace will disturb the peace and it will eventually lead to chaos in the society. To avoid this decay, duties or dharma is prescribed for everyone which when followed will ensure peaceful and orderly life while creating the path for spiritual progress in life.

The purport is that great harm would come to people if Bhagavan Shri Krishna were to refrain from performing His actions and so He always carries out His actions for the welfare of the world.

When Bhagavan Shri Krishna took birth as the son of the great righteous King Vasudeva, He conducted Himself in a manner befitting his position in the society i.e. as a prince of the Royal Kshatriya or warrior class. If Bhagavan Shri Krishna were to act in any other manner, all of mankind would begin to imitate Him thinking that such actions were virtuous and worthy actions. Bhagavan Shri Krishna is explaining that if He failed to perform activities, everyone would misinterpret this and would try to emulate it or follow His example.  This could lead them down the wrong path causing anarchy and drive them away from the path of Self-realisation.  This would be considered as a serious offence and Bhagavan Shri Krishna would be faulted for setting a wrong example.

The subtle message to Arjuna is that as a great warrior, who is famous for never having been defeated in battle and famed for his righteousness, should not shy away from the battle.  He should fight to protect dharma and lead by example for the other noble Kshatriyas who would be inspired by him and follow him. Thus, it can be understood that for specially qualified people, the prescribed activities become assume greater significance and these must be performed by them as they set the standards for the rest of the world to follow.

3.25     Shloka 3.25

सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत।
कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्िचकीर्षुर्लोकसंग्रहम्।।3.25।।

Saktah karmany avidvamso yatha kurvanti Bharata |
Kuryad vidvams tathasaktas cikirsur loka-sangraham ||3.25||
Meaning: O’ Arjuna, even as the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned must act, but without attachment, for the welfare of the world.

A person established in spiritual consciousness should also perform prescribed actions, but without attachment, in order to guide the masses towards the path of virtue. Those devoid of knowledge, work with attachment totally engrossed in their actions. But the person with spiritual wisdom, being able to discriminate between the Atma (Soul) and the physical body, is not perplexed. Such a person should perform the prescribed duties without attachment, in an exemplary manner that inspires the public, as a matter of duty.

3.26     Shloka 3.26

बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम्।
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन्।।3.26।।

Na buddhi-bhedam janayed ajnanam karma-sanginam |
Josayet sarva-karmani vidvan yuktah samacaran ||3.26||
Meaning: Let not the wise disrupt the minds of the ignorant who are attached to fruitive action. They should not be encouraged to refrain from work, but to engage in work in the spirit of devotion.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna states that a person of Vedic spiritual wisdom should impart knowledge to other in a simplified manner.  More importantly they should not disturb their routine and confuse them with teachings that might lead them to abandon their duties. The spiritually wise should merely encourage the ignorant to continuously perform their daily activities as a matter of duty but without attachment to results and with full devotion and commitment.

Those who have desires and are attached to performing actions to obtain the fruits of such desires and hence, are unable to master Jnana yoga, that requires rigour and disciplined approach.

For a vast majority of people, following karma yoga as a means to achieve self-realisation (Atma-tattva) is recommended.  Let the wise act and behave like one performing karma yoga and set an example by their actions. In this manner the great souls can inspire the whole society to perform righteous activities so that eventually their minds will become purified and they can advance spiritually and attain Atma-tattva. 

3.27     Shloka 3.27

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः।
अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताऽहमिति मन्यते।।3.27।।

Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah |
Ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate ||3.27||
Meaning: The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.

The difference between the actions of a person of wisdom and those who are ignorant is explained in this verse. The person of wisdom recognises that the whole material existence is influenced by the three Gunas or the modes of material nature (Sattvic, Rajas or Tamas).  

The one who is ignorant is dominated by the senses assuming that they are the Doer’s and cause of their actions and thus stricken with false ego they perform all actions with attachment and desires. On the other hand, a person of wisdom recognises that all actions are but the result of the interaction of the three Gunas and performs all actions as a matter of duty remaining detached and free from desires.

A question may arise as to why should the spiritually wise perform actions that are usually performed by the ignorant men? What then is the difference between a spiritually awakened soul and an ordinary person?  Bhagavan Shri Krishna clarifies this point with the word ‘prakriteh’ which means that the actions are impelled through the medium of the three Gunas.  One who is perplexed by false ego believes that they are the physical body and that the physical body is the doer of all their actions.  While the spiritual person performs the actions with no attachment to results and with equanimity.

The Vedas explain that the Atma (Soul) is the doer but this is only experienced when Moksha or liberation from material existence is attained. The impressions of the Atma expresses itself through the medium of the physical body in proportion to the purity of the mind. Yet the ignorant perceive their physical body as the doer of all their actions while in actuality all actions are performed by the interaction of material nature, the three Gunas and the false ego. Because of this misconception, the ignorant person believes that they are their physical bodies and hence doer of their actions.

3.28     Shloka 3.28

तत्त्ववित्तु महाबाहो गुणकर्मविभागयोः।
गुणा गुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा सज्जते।।3.28।।

Tattva-vit tu maha-baho guna-karma-vibhagayoh |
Guna gunesu vartanta iti matva na sajjate  ||3.28||
Meaning: One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed, does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for fruitive results.

Who is a Tattva-vit?  According to Srimad Bhagavatam, Tattva-vit is one who knows the Absolute Truth. That person of Vedic spiritual wisdom knows the exact distinction between prakriti or material nature and the Gunas along with their agents – the five senses.  Such a person does not get attached or is beguiled into thinking that they are the doer of their actions.

The tattva-vit is competent in discerning in all activities the properties and influences of the three Gunas as they manifest themselves through one’s actions. The one who becomes proficient in discerning the manifestation of the three Gunas in all their actions will not commit the error of assuming that they are the Doer.

3.29     Shloka 3.29

प्रकृतेर्गुणसम्मूढाः सज्जन्ते गुणकर्मसु।
तानकृत्स्नविदो मन्दान्कृत्स्नविन्न विचालयेत्।।3.29।।

Prakrter guna-sammudhah sajjante guna-karmasu |
Tan akrtsna-vido Mandan krtsna-vin na vicalayet ||3.29||
Meaning: Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of knowledge.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna says that one should not disturb the minds of the ignorant who are still deluded by Prakriti (Nature) and the spiritually awakened should let them continue to perform their duties.  Although attached to the results of their actions, they are at least doing their daily duties.

One should contemplate and reflect on the Atma and its essential nature which is purely spiritual. The Atma performs no material activity but has association with actions through the Gunas due to its union with Prakriti (Nature). Thus, in its association with Prakriti (Nature), there is doer ship but where the actions are performed without attachment to results and with an attitude of equanimity, there is none.  

The attributes of nature are those that are abducted by the senses thus delusion arises and the conception of false ego enjoying the sense objects impels a reaction. Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the word ‘Guna-karmasu’ meaning that the reactions from actions influenced by the modes of Sattva (Goodness), Rajas (passion) and Tamas (sloth).  It should be understood that the impulses that come from the sense objects are secondary attributes and they have reactions that bind one to Samsara, the cycle of birth and death.  Such ignorant persons are not qualified for Jnana yoga but are competent for karma yoga or performing their duties. Eventually in the course of their lifetime there will be a glimmer of comprehension of the utter futility for attachment for such actions.

The conclusion is that one situated in Vedic wisdom and is a prominent leading figure in society should also perform prescribed Vedic activities in Karma yoga even though such a person is a knower of Atma-tattva. By acting in this way and performing Vedic activities without attachment lesser men will follow his example and perform in a like manner.

3.30     Shloka 3.30

मयि सर्वाणि कर्माणि संन्यस्याध्यात्मचेतसा।
निराशीर्निर्ममो भूत्वा युध्यस्व विगतज्वरः।।3.30।।

Mayi sarvani karmani sannyasyadhyatma-cetasa |
Nirasir nirmamo bhutva yudhyasva vigata-jvarah ||3.30||
Meaning: Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with mind intent on Me, and without desire for gain and free from egoism and lethargy, fight.

This verse clearly expresses the purpose of the Bhagavad Gita. In this verse, Bhagavan Shri Krishna orders Arjuna to fight as if He was his Commander.  While Arjuna was also reflecting on how he would be accruing myriads of sins by fighting and slaying all the warriors in the battle. Now he is being instructed by Shri Krishna to cheerfully join the fray and perform his prescribed duties as a “Yagna” or offering in Karma Yoga.

The words ‘adhyatma-cetasa’ means ‘with the mind absorbed in the Atma within the heart’. So dedicate the mind and all activities to the Supreme Being in the heart represented by the eternal atma. The word ‘nirasih’ means one who is free from desires, free from hankering for the rewards of all actions while eschewing all vanity. The word ‘nirmamah’ means without a sense of ego, and by prohibiting all ego constructs of I-ness and my-ness, and relieved from the fever of mental delusion, discharge the duties at once without attachment. Thus, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is instructing the warrior Arjuna on how he get about to fight his enemies.

The person who performs their activities in this ordained manner is automatically exempted from all reactions when performed with dedication but with no attachment.  The Supreme Being accepts such actions as offerings to Him and takes complete responsibility of the surrendered devotee freeing them from bondage. This is the quintessence of Karma Yoga.

In the Svetavatara Upanishad (6.2) it says, It should be known that energy assumes various forms such as  earth,  water, light, air and  ether  at  the  command  of  Him,  who is the master of Gunas and  the maker of time, who is omniscient, who is Pure Consciousness itself , and by whom all this is ever enveloped.

Even the Yagna offered to Him is possible only with His mercy and grace. Devotion to the Supreme is its own reward and bequeaths His mercy and grace perpetually.  With this attitude of performing one’ duties as a service to Him and without any attachment to the results, one is relieved of bondage to actions.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 12; Chapter 3, Verses 11 to 20 – KARMA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna, through these next ten verses, explains the importance of performing actions without desire or attachment to the results. In these verses, Lord Krishna explains the importance of performing yajna for the purification of the body, mind and intellect. By performing yajnas and offering the food as oblation, one’s food is sanctified, and by eating sanctified food, one’s very existence becomes purified; by the purification of existence, the mind becomes sanctified, and when mind is sanctified, one can contemplate on the path of liberation, and all these collectively lead to purification of the Soul (Atma), thus paving the way for liberation.

3.11      Shloka 3.11

देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु वः।
परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ।।3.11।।

Devan bhavayatanena te deva bhavayantu vah |
Parasparam bhavayantah sreyah param avapsyatha ||3.11||
Meaning:
The Devas, being pleased by the sacrifices, will also please you; thus nourishing one another, there will reign general prosperity for all.

The Devas are empowered administrators, supplying air, light, water and all other benedictions for maintaining the body and soul of every living entity. Their pleasures and displeasures are dependent on the performance of yajnas by the human being. Some of the yajnas are meant to satisfy the Ishta (chosen) Devas; but even in so doing, Lord Vishnu is worshiped in all yajnas as the ultimate benefactor.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Bhagavan Shri Krishna say that He is the beneficiary of all kinds of yajnas: bhoktaram yajna-tapasam.  In Chapter 9 Verse 24 Shri Krishna says, ‘aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta ca prabhur eva ca – I am the enjoyer of all sacrifices and the Ultimate Lord’.

In the Vishnu Sahasranamam (Shloka 105), the importance of Yajna is explained:

Yajnabhrit Yajnakrit Yajni Yajnabhuk Yajnasadhanah      |
Yajnaantakrit Yajnaguhyam Annam Annaada Eve Ca ||105|| 

Meaning:  He bears the full brunt of the responsibility of taking the Yajna to its successful completion. As the creator, He also created Yajna as a means for devotees to reach Him. He is the Master of all the Yajnas and it is for Him that all the sacrifices are performed. It is He who consumes and enjoys the offerings made in the Yajnas. He is the One Who is sought through the Yajnas. He provides not only the inspiration to perform Yajnas but also the resources to perform the Yajnas. He is the One Who concludes the Yajnas fruitfully and He is the hidden underlying spirit of the noblest of Yajnas. He is eaten by all beings in His form as food and He is the Enjoyer of those who enjoy Him.

When these Yajnas are perfectly performed, there is no scarcity of supplies required for sustenance. Performance of yajnas has many benefits and they ultimately lead to liberation from bondage. By performance of yajnas, all activities become purified, as it is stated in the Vedas:

Ahara-suddhau sattva-suddhih sattva-suddhau |
Dhruva smrtih smrti-lambhe sarva-granthinam vipra-moksah ||
Meaning:
By performing yajnas, one’s food is sanctified, and by partaking the sanctified food, one’s very existence becomes purified; by the purification of existence, the mind is sanctified, and when the mind is sanctified, one becomes ready to contemplate the path of liberation, and all these collectively lead to purification of the Soul (Atma), thus paving the way for liberation.

3.12      Shloka 3.12

इष्टान्भोगान्हि वो देवा दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः।
तैर्दत्तानप्रदायैभ्यो यो भुङ्क्ते स्तेन एव सः।।3.12।।
Istan bhogan hi vo deva dasyante yajna-bhavitah  |

Tair dattan apradayaibhyo yo bhunkte stena eva sah ||3.12||
Meaning: As Devas are entrusted with providing the various necessities of life, they being satisfied by the performance of yajnas [sacrifice], bestow all necessities to man. But he who enjoys these gifts, without offering them to the Devas, is certainly a thief.

One should understand that all the necessities of life that the human society requires are supplied by the Devas who act as agents of the Lord. Take, for example, all the eatables of human society. These eatables include grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, etc., none of which can be manufactured by men. None of the essential things such as heat, light, water, air, etc., which are necessary for sustenance of life—none of them can be manufactured by humans. Without the Supreme Lord, there can be no Sunlight, Moonlight, rainfall, breeze, etc., without which nothing can thrive. Obviously, our life is dependent on the supplies from the Lord.

We should make proper use of all the resources to keep ourselves fit and healthy for the purpose of self-realization, leading to the Ultimate goal of life i.e., liberation from the material struggle for existence. This aim of life is attained by performance of yajnas. If we forget the purpose of human life and simply take supplies from the agents of the Lord for sense gratification and become more and more entangled in material existence, we become thieves, and therefore we are punished by the laws of material nature. A society of thieves can never be happy because they have no aim in life. The gross materialist thieves have no ultimate goal of life. They are simply directed to sense gratification; nor do they have knowledge of how to perform yajnas.

The words yagna-bhavitah means honoured by worship. The worship of pleasing the Devas in whom Bhagavan Krishna resides as the inner-soul or Atma, will confer prosperity and abundance on those who perform the yajnas.

But if one should try to enjoy the gifts granted by them without first offering them back, such a person is a thief – ‘Stena eva sah’ means ‘such a person is certainly a thief’.

3.13      Shloka 3.13

यज्ञशिष्टाशिनः सन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषैः।
भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात्।।3.13।।
Yajna-sistasinah santo mucyante sarva-kilbisaih |
Bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pacanty atma-karanat ||3.13||

Meaning: The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is first offered to the Devas to propitiate them. Others, who prepare food for their own consumption, those sinners eat only sin.

The devotees of the Supreme Lord are called santas or virtuous. Such devotees always perform yajnas through different modes of devotional service, such as Sravanam (listening to Lord’s glory), kirtanam (singing kirtans of the Lord), smaranam (contemplating on Him), arcanam (offering mantras), etc., and while performing these forms of yajnas, they always keep themselves aloof from all kinds of contamination of sinful association in the material world. They partake in the food only after offering it to the Devas. Therefore, those that eat food after it has been offered in yagna are faultless.

Those who prepare food from funds honestly acquired with the sole objective of worshipping the Supreme Lord Krishna who resides as the inner-soul within themselves as well as within all the Devas and every living entity; and those who only partake of such duly consecrated food become absolved of all sins accumulated over time.

But those sinful victims who do not first offer to the Supreme Lord what was gifted to them and instead prepare and eat it appropriating it for themselves eat only sin. The word ‘agham’ means ‘sin’ denoting the grave consequences for such wilful actions.

It should be clearly understood that the observance of yagna is essential for one’s spiritual advancement and liberation from the material world.

3.14      Shloka 3.14

अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः।
यज्ञाद्भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः।।3.14।।

Annad bhavanti bhutani parjanyad anna-sambhavah |
Yajnad bhavati parjanyo yajnah karma-samudbhavah ||3.14||
Meaning:
All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.

Production of food is dependent on rain and rain is dependent on yagna which is dependent upon the activities performed by the Brahmins as prescribed in the Vedas. It has been presented in another way: the oblations offered into the fire ascend to the sun, from the sun comes clouds and rain, from rainfall food is grown and from food beings come into existence.

The Supreme Lord, who is known as the ‘yajna-purushah’, or the personal beneficiary of all sacrifices, is the master of all Devas. When Lord Vishnu is worshipped, all other Devas are also automatically worshiped. So, food offered to Lord Vishnu and then taken by us enables us to counteract all reactions of past material infections, which are impediments to the progress towards self-realization.

3.15      Shloka 3.15

कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षरसमुद्भवम्।
तस्मात्सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम्।।3.15।।

Karma brahmodbhavam viddhi brahmaksara-samudbhavam |
Tasmat sarva-gatam brahma nityam yajne pratisthitam ||3.15||
Meaning:  
Activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme Lord. Consequently, all-pervading Absolute Truth is eternally situated in performing sacrifice unto the Supreme Lord.

It should be known that actions have its origins in the Brahman i.e. the Vedas. Lord Krishna by stating Brahman wants to emphasise that the all-pervading substratum of all existence is revealed in the Vedas.  Transforming from the mantras into actions as prescribed by the Vedas, one performs yajnas for the forces of nature, sun, moon, clouds and rain etc. for food. Although nature is seen as a force of action, it is actually supported fully by the underlying energy of the Supreme Brahman.

The words ‘sarva-gatam’ means all-pervading or indestructible. The soul is known to be indestructible and all pervading. Through the auspices of the soul the physical body through the manifestations of nature partakes food and gains strength becoming fit for performing actions authorised by the Vedas. The word ‘udbhavan’ means ‘originate from’ and is used to illustrate that this fitness comes from the source that is nature. Therefore, the all-pervading and indestructible atma or soul utilises a physical body which is its substratum, in the same way as the material nature, to perform sacrifices eternally unto the Supreme Lord.

3.16      Shloka 3.16

एवं प्रवर्तितं चक्रं नानुवर्तयतीह यः।
अघायुरिन्द्रियारामो मोघं पार्थ स जीवति।।3.16।।

Evam pravartitam cakram nanuvartayatiha yah |
Aghayur indriyaramo mogham partha sa jivati ||3.16||
Meaning:
My dear Arjuna, a man who does not follow the prescribed duties in the scriptures certainly leads a life of sin wasting their life in pursuit of material gains and are trapped in sense gratification.

The word ‘agha-ayuh’ means ‘full of sin’, and this can be due to someone living a life perpetuated by sin. Food eaten that was not first sanctified by being consecrated in yagna or offering of worship beforehand ignites rajas or passions in one and incites tamas or darkness of intellect. A person in whom these dispositions are prominent becomes hostile to achieving an even rudimentary level of spiritual illumination, let alone self-realisation of the soul. Such a person only pursues actions to pleasure or gratify their senses.

Blessed with the gift of a human body, that is suitable for offering divine worship in yagna, one must nourish it with sanctified food duly consecrated, thus fulfilling the purpose of existence. If one errs and fails to honour and respect this eternal cycle given in the Vedic injunctions, then any hope of spiritual realisation will not be fulfilled and all their efforts are destined to fail thereby rendering the entire life to go to waste.

So, from this it can be understood that performing yagna as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures are essential.

3.17      Shloka 3.17

यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्मतृप्तश्च मानवः।
आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टस्तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते।।3.17।।

Yas tv atma-ratir eva syad atma-trptas ca manavah |
Atmany eva ca santustas tasya karyam na vidyate ||3.17||
Meaning:
One who is, however, remains satisfied within the Self, who is illumined in the Self, who rejoices in and is satisfied with the Self, fully satiated—for him there is no duty.

In this verse ‘trupti’ means ‘satisfied’ by how things come on their own accord, and the word ‘santustah’ means ‘fully content’. The delight which arises from being satisfied is complete contentment. One who has attained atma-tattva is no longer delighted by external events, and such a person is self-satisfied internally. The one who finds self-realisation is content and nothing else can be a cause of joy for them.  Their satisfaction and contentment is based solely on their realisation of their eternal soul within and the glories of the Supreme Lord.

For the one who has attained such a state, there are no prescribed duties as such a person is self-satisfied. In this world only human beings have the potential to achieve atma- tattva. The word ‘manavah’ means mankind and it’s only humans who can strive for self-realisation.

Lord Krishna has explained that those who possess endless desire for the enjoyment of sense objects must offer the food they eat in yagna or worship to purify themselves to perform prescribed Vedic activities.  As such a person makes spiritual advancement, they make progress and eventually can achieve Atma-tattva or soul realisation.  They are then freed from all material desires and become faultless even by not performing prescribed Vedic actions. For such a self-realised soul who has already attained the goal of human existence, no ordinances of the Vedic scripture are required of them.

3.18      Shloka 3.18

नैव तस्य कृतेनार्थो नाकृतेनेह कश्चन।
न चास्य सर्वभूतेषु कश्िचदर्थव्यपाश्रयः।।3.18।।

Naiva tasya krtenartho nakrteneha kascana |
Na casya sarva-bhutesu kascid artha-vyapasrayah ||3.18||
Meaning: 
A self-realized man has no purpose to gain from fulfilling his prescribed duties, neither any sin is incurred for non-performance of duties. Nor has he any need to depend on any other living being.

A self-realized man is no longer obliged to perform any prescribed duty, save and except activities in the service of the Lord. For one situated is atma-tattva or soul realisation, there are no demerits accruing for not performing the prescribed actions. One who is in rapt meditation on the soul within, as in a state of Samadhi, there are no dangers of incurring any demerits.

Lord Krishna has declared previously that the performer of yagna prospers and flourishes but now confirms that the knower of atma-tattva has no necessity for performing any action; nor is there any fault or defect in the omission of any such action. Such a person is perfectly equipoised and is indifferent to everything except the eternal soul which is the only medium to the Supreme Lord. Thus, completely satisfied from within, such a person has no dependence on any living being because such a person has no desire for anything from any being.

3.19      Shloka 3.19

तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर।
असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्नोति पूरुषः।।3.19।।

Tasmad asaktah satatam karyam karma samacara |
Asakto hy acaran karma param apnoti purusah ||3.19||
Meaning:  
Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act constantly as a matter of duty; for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.

For all those who have not achieved atma-tattva (as was Arjuna at this point), performance of prescribed actions is mandatory. Therefore, desireless, unattached action is necessary for those who are yet to realise the Self.

A person who has not attained atma-tattva or self-realisation must perform activities without desire and remain unattached to the results for spiritual advancement. This illustrates that aspirants for Moksha who are not qualified to tread the path of jnana yoga can pursue the highest goal of Moksha through Karma Yoga.

3.20      Shloka 3.20

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादयः।
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि संपश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि।।3.20।।

Karmanaiva hi samsiddhim asthita janakadayah |
Loka-sangraham evapi sampasyan kartum arhasi ||3.20||
Meaning:  
Even kings like Janaka and others attained complete perfection by performing prescribed duties. Therefore, you should perform your work for the sake of the benefit and welfare of the world.

Lord Krishna emphasises Karma by giving examples of men who attained atma-tattva while performing actions. It also infers that by performing prescribed actions in an unattached manner one can gain wisdom. It is important to note that even after attaining moksha (liberation) these men continued to perform activities, primarily for the benefit and welfare of the people and to inspire others.

One could argue that if a person has attained atma-tattva and is free from rebirth (i.e. liberated), what is the necessity for such a person to perform any activity. Lord Krishna anticipating this says that one should consider the welfare of the people in general and perform prescribed actions to protect and to inspire them. This is important for the maintenance of the world and the preservation of creation. That is why one should still perform prescribed activities even though such actions have no further impact for the one who is a realised Soul.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 11 Chapter 3, Verses 1 to 10 – KARMA YOGA

Bhagavan Shri Krishna, in Chapter 2, explained briefly about both Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga. He elucidated the superiority of a person situated in spiritual transcendence (Jnana Yoga).  Understandably, Arjuna is confused and therefore begins Chapter 3 with a question asking Bhagavan to explain which of the two paths will accrue the greatest benefit for him.  Also, why is He encouraging him to fight if he thought spiritual knowledge was better than work seeking rewards.

Krishna then explains ‘karma-yoga’, is a way for reaction-free righteous work and it is a necessary first step.  When work is performed as a yagna (sacrificial offering) to the Bhagavan, it frees the person from bondage of karmic reaction and leads to purification of mind and the person gains spiritual intelligence. He also explains that everyone must engage in some sort of activity in this material world and even to maintain the body one has to work. But as actions can either bind one to this world if performed without the spirit of sacrifice and hence for liberation one has to perform actions and offer it to Shri Krishna (Sarvam Shri Krishnarpanam Astu).

By performing actions with a spirit of sacrifice to the Supreme, without selfish motives, one can be liberated from the law of karma (action and reaction) and attain transcendental knowledge of the self and the Supreme.

Krishna explains that Arjuna should fight, for avoiding sinful reactions and doing one’s duties is better than attempting to escape reactions though renouncing work (Sanyaasa).

Chapter three firmly establishes the Karma Yoga is a necessary first step for all Grihastas. The performance of prescribed duties is obligatory for everyone.  In this Chapter Bhagavan Shri Krishna categorically and comprehensively explains how it is the duty of each and every member of society to carry out their functions and responsibilities in their respective stage of life.

In these first 10 verses, Bhagavan explains that actions performed without attachment and with a spirit of sacrifice does not cause bondage and frees one from karmic reactions, thus freeing one from the repeated cycles of rebirth. 

When one is able to:

  • control the senses and the mind,
  • offers the work as a yajna to the Lord
  • contemplates on the Lord constantly,
  • performs actions diligently without attachment to the results/rewards

such a person becomes pure and attains spiritual intelligence leading up to Self-realisation and liberation.

3.1       Shloka 3.1

अर्जुन उवाच
ज्यायसी चेत्कर्मणस्ते मता बुद्धिर्जनार्दन।
तत्किं कर्मणि घोरे मां नियोजयसि केशव।।3.1।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Jyayasi cet karmanas te mata buddhir Janardana |
Tat kim karmani ghore mam niyojayasi Kesava ||3.1||
Meaning:  Arjuna said: O’ Janardhana, If spiritual intelligence is considered by you to be better than desirous actions, why are you urging me to engage in this ghastly warfare, O’Keshava?

In this verse, Arjuna is expresses his confusion arising from the instruction on the two different paths (Karma and Jnana Yoga while Bhakti was fleetingly mentioned but fully explained in Chapter 7) explained by Shri Krishna in Chapter 2. He is seeking clarity on the most suitable path for him as he was instructed on the merits of both Karma (action) and Jnana (spiritual intelligence).  In verse 2.39, Arjuna was instructed that he had the right to perform actions but not be desirous of the fruits of action. This was further emphasised in 2.47 and 2.48 where he was instructed not to be attached to fruits of actions as well as not to resort to inaction.  He was advised to perform duties with diligence and accept the fruits as God’s grace with equanimity.

He was further instructed on how to train the mind to attain a state of equanimity in 2.53. The rest of the Chapter 2 explains the process to develop spirituality and the superiority of spiritual knowledge which leads to the realisation of the ultimate truth.

Despite the elaborate instructions on spiritual intelligence, Arjuna was still being instructed to rise up and fight. These seemingly contradictory instructions caused confusion in Arjuna’s mind and he was keen to have the Supreme Lord Keshava to dispel his doubts.

3.2       Shloka 3.2

व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन बुद्धिं मोहयसीव मे।
तदेकं वद निश्िचत्य येन श्रेयोऽहमाप्नुयाम्।।3.2।।

Vyamisreneva vakyena buddhim mohayasiva me        |
Tad ekam vada niscitya yena sreyo ‘ham apnuyam ||3.2||
Meaning: My intelligence is bewildered by your equivocal instructions. Therefore, please tell me decisively the path by which I may obtain the greatest benefit.

Arjuna was bewildered with the two set of instructions one explaining the benefits of the Karma Yoga (the path of duty and righteous actions) and another explaining the superiority of Jnana Yoga (the path of spiritual intelligence). Bhagavan did not specify which of these paths are suitable for Arjuna and whether he was qualified for that yet.

Arjuna is seeking a definitive instruction from Shri Krishna as he is confounded by these seemingly conflicting instructions.  It was well explained that jnana yoga or the cultivation of spiritual knowledge is the means to accomplish self-realisation of the soul. So Arjuna is seeking clarity on why he is being directed to take up arms and fulfil his duty as a Kshatriya. Arjuna now wants a single, unequivocal instruction to determine for certain exactly what course he should embark to achieve the highest good.

3.3       Shloka 3.3

श्री भगवानुवाच
लोकेऽस्मिन्द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ।
ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम्।।3.3।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Loke ‘smin dvi-vidha nistha pura prokta mayanagha  |
Jnana-yogena sankhyanam karma-yogena yoginam  ||3.3||
Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: O’ sinless one, I had explained this earlier that in this world, there are two kinds of faith. Some yogis are inclined to understand Him by empirical, philosophical and mental contemplation while other yogis seek to realise the ultimate truth through the path of righteous action.

Lord Krishna’s reply begins with O’ sinless one, implying that Arjuna is fit to be instructed. Lord Krishna states that in this world these are the two paths aspirants can take which lead to moksha or liberation. But they both depend upon qualification of the person, as jnana yoga is suitable for some while karma yoga is suitable for others.  Bhagavan explains that Sankhya-yoga is the analytical study of the nature of spirit and matter, and is the subject matter for persons who are inclined to contemplate and understand things by philosophical thinking and experiential knowledge.  This method promotes spiritual knowledge and hence known as jnana yoga.

Men of action, although some may be possessing spiritual knowledge, because of the predominance of their worldly activities are known as karma yogis. 

The word ‘nishta’ means unflinching faith and with proper guidance of a Guru such persons attain liberation.

There is a distinction to be found in this verse, and Bhagavan says that there are yogis who have also cultivated knowledge while performing their activities and realised the soul by sheer dint of their desireless actions. Their minds becoming pure when they perform their actions meditating on the Supreme Lord within their heart without desire for rewards.  Only when the mind has become purified and is completely free from all desires by performing karma yoga without any desire for reward does one become qualified.

Lord Krishna is telling Arjuna that he has not clearly understood what has been previously spoken by Him. He clarifies to Arjuna that, in this world abounding in diversity, there are two paths for two types of humans. Not all humans in this world are born with the ambition for moksha or liberation. Neither are all humans able to embark upon the path of knowledge directly. But all of them must engage in actions at all times and they cannot stop these but must perform them without attachment to fruits. Performing actions in this way humans erase their inauspicious qualities lurking in their minds and hearts, and the senses give up their turbulence and become calm and peaceful.

3.4       Shloka 3.4

कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते।
संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति।।3.4।।

Na karmanam anarambhan naiskarmyam puruso ‘snute     |
Na ca sannyasanad eva siddhim samadhigacchati            ||3.4||
Meaning: A person can never achieve freedom from reaction by merely abstaining from performing prescribed duties. Nor can one attain perfection by simply renouncing them.

A question arises, if the absence of desire for reward is the means for Moksha,  why not give up actions altogether giving no opportunity for the fruits to manifest? In this verse, Bhagavan clarifies by saying ‘na ca sannyasanad eva’ meaning ‘not just by renunciation’. So, it should be understood that not by mere absence of desires or even the absence of actions can liberation be achieved.

If one can attain Moksha merely by abstention of actions or abandonment of all actions, then liberation would be possible for all inanimate things. So, neither by the failing to perform duties nor by renouncing all actions can Moksha be achieved. It can only be achieved by one who is completely free from all desires. Actions when performed as an offering to the Supreme Lord with no desire or expectation for any reward (Nishkaama Karma) leads to perfection. The renounced order of life can be taken up after getting purified by discharging the prescribed form of duties.

As an analogy, when the rain water drops from the cloud, it is pure and uncontaminated, but as soon as it hits the ground it becomes muddy and discoloured. Similarly, we are pure original souls with a pure spirit when we are born, and a part of the Supreme Soul of Shri Krishna. But due to the conditioned life that is engaged in material pursuits, the living entities struggle through life and get contaminated. So, to purify ourselves we have to perform our prescribed duties diligently without any desire for the rewards and develop an attitude of equanimity. This will result in gradually purifying our mind and soul. Without this purification process, it is not possible to attain success merely by renunciation (Sanyaasa).  Only one with a pure heart, free from desire and attachment is known as one situated in spiritual knowledge.  Therefore, even when one is engaged in activities the mind should be fixated on Him and not waver.

3.5       Shloka 3.5

हि कश्िचत्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत्।
कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः     ।।3.5।।

Na hi kascit ksanam api jatu tisthaty akarma-krt   |
Karyate hy avasah karma sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih ||3.5
Meaning: No one can refrain without engaging in activity at any time, even for a moment; all men are helplessly compelled to act according to the attributes endowed by material nature (Gunas).

No living being in the material existence can remain inactive even for a moment without initiating or pursuing some activity or another.  If one should steadfastly determines to perform absolutely nothing, still one would be compelled by the qualities of the three Gunas, namely Sattva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (indolent), all from prakriti, material nature.

It is the nature of the soul to be always active. Without the presence of the spirit soul, the material body cannot move. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in good work, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by the senses.

Thus, by adhering to Karma yoga, the yoga of actions without desires, one’s accumulated sins will gradually dissolve and mastery over the Gunas and prakriti is achieved and the mind becomes pure and one attains spiritual knowledge or jnana yoga. Otherwise as Lord Krishna states anyone attempting to pursue jnana yoga in lieu of this is a charlatan and all their attempts is merely a charade.

3.6       Shloka 3.6

कर्मेन्द्रियाणि संयम्य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन्।
इन्द्रियार्थान्विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचारः उच्यते।।3.6।।

Karmendriyani samyamya ya aste manasa smaran  |
Indriyarthan vimudhatma mithyacarah sa ucyate ||3.6||
Meaning: One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.

He who makes a show of being a yogi, while actually searching for the objects of sense gratification, must be called a charlatan, even though he may sometimes speak of philosophy. Such knowledge has no value because such a person’s mind is always impure, and therefore the yogic meditation acquires no merit whatsoever.  A person acting in such a manner is only deceiving himself and surely will never succeed in realising the eternal soul.

One who is able to restrain the body from sense objects, may still find their mind wandering towards sense objects. The mind cannot be free from attachment to sense objects unless there is perfection in karma yoga.  It is not possible to gain spiritual knowledge without first gaining mastery over the senses and control over the mind.

3.7       Shloka 3.7

यस्त्विन्द्रियाणि मनसा नियम्यारभतेऽर्जुन।
कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगमसक्तः विशिष्यते।।3.7।।

Yas tv indriyani manasa niyamyarabhate ’rjuna  |
Karmendriyaih karma-yogam asaktah sa visisyate ||3.7||
Meaning: But anyone who controls the senses with the mind and engages in performing actions without attachment to the results is far superior.

Lord Krishna previously spoke of the pretensions of the pretenders renouncing all actions with great effort by forcefully subjugating the desires of the mind. Now to show the predominant role of the mind in influencing our thoughts, he uses the word ‘manasa’. Karma yoga, the yoga of actions, is about performing actions without attachment or desires. By diverting the senses from sense objects by controlling the mind one begins the process of contemplation of the self which when unattached to the desire for anything,  gradually leads one towards self realisation. So, the discipline of karma yoga, the practice of selfless actions, is essential for spiritual development.

3.8       Shloka 3.8

नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मणः।
शरीरयात्रापि ते प्रसिद्ध्येदकर्मणः।।3.8।।

Niyatam kuru karma tvam karma jyayo hy akarmanah |
Sarira-yatrapi ca te na prasiddhyed akarmanah        ||3.8||
Meaning: Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction. A man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.

One should note that by the use of ‘tvam’ Lord Krishna is asserting that Arjuna should be detached from his actions and perform his duty. Action is superior to inaction because by performing righteous actions one expends ‘prarabdha karma’. Realistically not performing actions is also not practical because without actions one is not able even to maintain the physical body.

3.9       Shloka 3.9

यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः।
तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसंगः समाचर।।3.9।।

Yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah |
Tad-artham karma kaunteya mukta-sangah samacara  ||3.9||
Meaning: This whole world is bound by actions except for actions that are offered as a yajna (sacrifice) to the Supreme Lord. Therefore, O’ Son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and that way you will always remain unattached from karmic reactions and remain free from bondage.

Since, one has to work even for the maintenance of the body, the prescribed duties have to be fulfilled. Yajna means Lord Vishnu, and also sacrificial performances. All sacrificial performances also are meant for the satisfaction of Lord Vishnu – ‘yajno vai Vishnuh’.  Any other work done in this material world will be a cause of bondage, for both good and evil work have their reactions, and any reaction binds the performer. Therefore, one has to have a spirit of sacrifice while performing actions and renounce the fruits of their actions.

Lord Krishna uses the word sanga which means attachment will be there when the action is undertaken for self-service but as an offering to the Supreme Lord one is free from such bondage.  The Supreme Lord recognising such devotion, will mitigate all the sins and the merits from such offered actions which bind one to receiving punishment or rewards that result in an unending cycle of rebirth and death, and grant salvation.

3.10     Shloka 3.10

सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः।
अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक्।।3.10।।

Saha-yajnah prajah srstva purovaca prajapatih |
Anena prasavisyadhvam esa vo ‘stv ista-kama-dhuk ||3.10||
Meaning:  In the beginning of Creation, Prajapati (Brahma) after producing all beings by performing a sacrifice for Lord Vishnu, blessed them by saying, ‘May you evolve and prosper by this yajna [sacrifice] and let it bestow upon you all desirable things.’

All living entities within the material creation are conditioned by material nature because of their forgetfulness of their relationship to the Supreme.  The Lord says ‘Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah’ meaning that the purpose of the Vedas is to understand Him.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami describes the Lord as pati in so many ways:
Sriyah-patir yajna-patih praja-patir dhiyam patir loka-patir dhara-patih
Patir gatis candhaka-vrsni-satvatam prasidatam me bhagavan satam patih (Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.20)
Meaning: May the Lord, who is the consort of Lakshmi, who is the object of all Yajns for all devotees, the protector of all and glory of all the Kings like Andhaka and Vṛṣṇi of the Yadu dynasty, the leader of all living entities, the controller of all intelligence, the proprietor of all planets, spiritual and material, and the supreme incarnation on the earth (the Supreme all in all), be merciful upon me.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam a special reference is made to the Sankirtana-yajna:
Krishna-varnam tvisakrsnam sangopangastra-parsadam  |
Yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah ||BG 11.5.32||
Meaning: In this age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of sankirtana-yajna.

In this age of Kali, but the Sankirtana-yajna is easy and sublime for all purposes.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 10 Chapter 2, Verses 61 to 72 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna explains the attributes of a wise man i.e. who is a ‘Sthitha-prajna’.  In these twelve verses, Bhagavan explains how a ‘sthitha-prajna’ acts, talks or engages in various activities, thus providing a user guide for spiritual advancement.

With these twelve verses, Bhagavan concludes Chapter 2 on Sakhya Yoga. A brief summary of the key messages from Chapter 2 is given below:

Summary of Chapter 2 – Sankhya Yoga

Lord Krishna explains that the state of consciousness is achieved by one who performs all actions unattached and is equipoised based on the knowledge of the eternal nature of the immortal soul. This process has for its goal the attainment of transcendent meditation. It is ‘Brahmi’ or that which leads to Brahman, the ultimate truth.

Thus, the following doctrine is to be understood from Chapter 2:

  • That the immortal soul is eternal (‘na hanyate hanya mane sharire’ – 2.20)
  • All activities should be performed as a matter of duty devoid of desire for reward (2.47)
  • There should be no proprietorship or doer-ship (2.47)
  • Engage in devotional service – (yogah karmasu kausalam – 2.50)
  • One should control their mind which will result in control of the senses (2.58);
  • One should perform actions without attachment or aversion (2.64)
  • One should be equipoised (2.68)
  • Constantly contemplate and engage in meditating on the Lord (2.70)
  • One who is spiritually intelligent of illuminated consciousness understands that through either jnana-yoga or karma-yoga, the goal of transcendent meditation can be attained but devotion to the Supreme is essential for realisation of the Supreme. (2.71)

Liberation from the material existence and realisation of eternal bliss (sat chit Ananda) can be achieved through the above process. In essence this results in relinquishment of both the physical body and the subtle body, after which one becomes qualified to realise their spiritual body and experience the sublime bliss of uninterrupted devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

  • The primary way of attaining God realisation is certainly pure devotion unto God, whereas self-realisation or soul-cognition, although extremely exalted, is secondary. Devotion to GOD is primary ‘means’ (Upaya) as well as the ‘goal’ (Upeya) to be attained.
  • Through the process of intense devotion one becomes relieved from all unhappiness and free from attachment. Over time they gain spiritual intelligence and become completely equipoised in transcendent meditation attaining the bliss of the Supreme.

These spiritual truths have been revealed in the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita for curing ignorance and dispelling delusion.

2.61     Shloka 2.61

तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य युक्त आसीत मत्परः।
वशे हि यस्येन्द्रियाणि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता।।2.61।।

Tani sarvani samyamya yukta asita mat-parah      |
Vase hi yasyendriyani tasya prajna pratisthita ||2.61||
Meaning: One who restrains his senses and fixes his consciousness upon Me is known as a man of steady intelligence.

In the previous few verses, Bhagavan Shri Krishna had stated that the senses are too powerful to subdue by our own efforts. Yet effort should be made regardless and so, in this verse, he suggests that we subdue our senses by engaging in total devotion to Him. The word ‘yuktah’ and mat-parah’

The words ‘yukta asita mat-parah’ is most significant in this verse.  It means one who is self-controlled, established and meditating on Me. It indicates that devotion to Lord Krishna, with one’s mind firmly established and attuned to Him is the only way to control the senses and maintain it. As Hrishikesha, He is the Lord of the senses, and is the ultimate object of all meditation.

In the Vishnu Purana, it begins with ‘yatha adniruddhata-sikhah’ and explains that just as a blazing fire fanned by blowing wind burns up dry wood, in the same way when Bhagavan Krishna is established in the heart, all sins are burnt. Spiritual intelligence is confirmed in those whose senses are under control. When our minds evolve to realise that Bhagavan Vishnu is the Supreme Absolute Reality, all impurities are eradicated and the mind is purified and clear, free from all desires.

Maharaja Ambarisha’s life is good example on how one can become ‘mat-parah’:
“mad-bhakti-prabhavena sarvendriya-vijaya-purvika svatma drstih sulabheti bhavah”
Meaning: The senses can be completely controlled only by the strength of devotional service to Bhagavan.

Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.18 – 20) describes how Maharaja Ambarisha was able to control his senses:

Sa vai manah Krishna-padaravindayor vacamsi vaikuntha-gunanavarnane  |
Karau harer mandira-marjanadisu srutim cakaracyuta-sat-kathodaye     ||9.4.18||
Meaning: King Ambarisha was always engaged and his mind was focussed meditating upon the Lotus feet of Kṛiṣhṇa, his words in describing the glories of the Lord, his hands in cleansing the Lord’s temple, and his ears in hearing the words spoken by Kṛiṣhṇa or singing glories of Kṛiṣhṇa.

Mukunda-lingalaya-darsane drsau tad-bhrtya-gatra-sparse’nga-sangamam   |
Ghranam ca tat-pada-saroja-saurabhe srimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite ||9.4.19||
Meaning: He engaged his eyes only to see the Deity or the divine temples of Mukunda in places like Mathura and Vṛindavan. He engaged his sense of touch by serving the Lord’s devotees, he engaged his sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasi offered to the Lord, and he engaged his tongue in tasting the Lord’s prasada (offering).

padau hareh ksetra-padanusarpane siro hrsikesa-padabhivandane  |
kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya yathottamasloka-janasraya ratih ||9.4.20||
Meaning:  He engaged his legs to walk to the holy places and temples of the Lord, his head in bowing down before the Lord, and all his desires in serving the Lord, all the time. Indeed, Maharaja Ambarisha never desired anything for his own sense gratification. He engaged all his senses in devotional service, in various engagements related to the Lord. This is the way to increase attachment for the Lord and be completely free from all material desires.

All these attributes made him fit to become a ‘mat-parah’ devotee of the Lord and the Lord protects such devotees. When Sage Durvasa wanted to punish Ambarisha, it was Lord’s Sudharsana Chakra that came to protect him and made Sage Durvasa seek pardon from Kind Ambarisha and made the Sage realise his misplaced arrogance towards the Lord’s devotee.

 

Because the uncontrolled senses are the cause of all disturbance, one with spiritual intelligence seeking transcendence should make it their priority to control their senses. Having duly controlled the senses, one should firmly establish their mind by meditating on Bhagavan for maintaining this control. This will lead to the mind slowly becoming free from all desires. The mind, along with the senses completely under control, is then capable of self-realisation and ready for union with the Ultimate Consciousness.

2.62     Shloka 2.62

ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते।
सङ्गात् संजायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते।।2.62।।

Dhyayato visayan pumsah sangas tesupajayate            |
Sangat sanjayate kamah kamat krodho ‘bhijayate ||2.62||
Meaning: While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

Bhagavan Krishna states that one who contemplates sensual objects like form and touch develops in the mind an attachment towards them.  This manifests in the form of lust and deludes one into believing such objects to be the root cause of happiness. From this attachment springs desire and when one is able to gratify by enjoying these sense objects, it leads to attachment to these desires ultimately enslaving the person.  When controlled by these desires any obstruction in sating these desires leads to frustration and anger. 

2.63     Shloka 2.63

क्रोधाद्भवति संमोहः संमोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः।
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति।।2.63।।

Krodhad bhavati sammohah sammohat smrti-vibhramah     |
Smriti-bhramsad buddhi-naso buddhi-nasat pranasyati    ||2.63||
Meaning: From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one perishes.

The word ‘Sammoha’ denotes an illusionary perception of knowledge. Even if the knowledge is right, one will be deluded and recall it incorrectly. Due to wrong perception, the judgement will be compromised and the actions that follow are terrible.

The debilitating effect created by a magnetic attraction to desires for sense objects becomes more and more extreme. From this extreme desire springs lust when this lust is denied it leads to Krodha or anger.  Krodha is the frustrated outrage one feels against that which stands in the way of obtaining the gratification of ones senses.

Bhagavan Krishna explains that anger emerges from delusion which is the lack of discrimination on what righteous actions are to be performed and what actions are to be avoided. From this delusion comes confusion which is the bewilderment of intelligence and forgetfulness of the scriptures that contains knowledge of Dharma. This confusion leads to misinterpretation of scriptures and lack of discriminative intellect in determining the true nature of reality. From such illusory knowledge one is completely ruined and loses focus on the goal of material existence and the core purpose of human life which is to engage in the service of the Lord by serving his devotees. Thus, it must be understood that controlling one’s mind and senses is the most important first step to self-realisation.

2.64     Shloka 2.64

रागद्वेषवियुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन्।
आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति।।2.64।।

Raga-Dvesa-vimuktais tu visayan indriyais caran |
Atma-vasyair vidheyatma prasadam adhigacchati ||2.64||
Meaning: But one who controls his senses by practicing the regulated principles and is completely free from attachment and aversion, attains the mercy of the Lord.

Bhagavan Krishna reveals how if one is able to bring their mind under firm control, then senses also come under firm control which will help them to succeed in their pursuit of self-realisation.  And such persons are bestowed with the ultimate coveted ‘prasadam’, i.e. they attain the mercy of the Supreme Lord.

This answers the last question – How does a person who is ‘sthitha-prajna’ walk or act? The self- controlled aspirant who has his mind firmly under control while experiencing various sense objects through disciplined approach which are free from attachment or aversion, achieves placidity and tranquillity of mind. This way the mind becomes purified.

Rejecting all desires for sensual objects with a mind firmly under control, one achieves lucidity of mind along with inner purity and blissful state.

2.65     Shloka 2.65

प्रसादे सर्वदुःखानां हानिरस्योपजायते।
प्रसन्नचेतसो ह्याशु बुद्धिः पर्यवतिष्ठते।।2.65।।

Prasade sarva-duhkhanam hanir asyopajayate  |
Prasanna-cetaso hy asu buddhih paryavatisthate ||2.65||
Meaning: When one attains the precious mercy of the Ultimate personality, the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such a happy state, one’s spiritual intelligence soon becomes steady.

Bhagavan Krishna now explains that when the mind is placid and pure it has achieved for itself the cessation of all miseries arising from materialism. ‘Prasanna-chetah’ refers to that delightful one whose mind is removed of all impediments that hinders it from realising the eternal soul while bestowing the spiritual intelligence needed for illumination. Thus when the mind has been purified all sorrows are terminated.

One may wonder how sorrows are destroyed on attaining the state of satisfaction. Bhagavan Krishna explains that by achieving tranquillity of mind the intellect becomes established in connecting to the ultimate reality. ‘Prasade’ indicates that by the mercy of the Supreme Lord one neutralises the tendency to gravitate towards experiencing objects of the senses.

By achieving a state of mental placidity all ones physical as well as other sorrows of the aspirant come to an end. The fruition of sorrow and pain is inevitable for one attached to sensual objects. But in the case of one who has purified their mind the sorrows and pains are easily neutralised. By the word ‘hi’ meaning certainly, Bhagavan Krishna is emphasising that such a person becomes firmly established in transcendent consciousness.

2.66     Shloka 2.66

नास्ति बुद्धिरयुक्तस्य चायुक्तस्य भावना।
चाभावयतः शान्तिरशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम्।।2.66।।

Nasti buddhir ayuktasya na cayuktasya bhavana         |
Na cabhavayatah santir asantasya kutah sukham ||2.66||
Meaning: One with an uncontrolled mind cannot gain spiritual intelligence; one devoid of spiritual intelligence does not meditate on the Ultimate Reality and for one who never meditates on the Supreme, there is no peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?

In order to strengthen the points made in the previous verse, Bhagavan Krishna cites all the contrary results that can accrue when one is unable to control the mind. One who is unable to concentrate and focus their mind in meditation on Lord Krishna is known as ayukta, one devoid of spiritual intelligence. One who has not subdued their senses by controlling their mind is bereft of resolve. The intellect of one with spiritual intelligence determines the truth as set out in various scriptures. It is not possible for an undisciplined living entity to have belief of the calibre necessary to contemplate on matters relating to the ultimate truth.

Without having an understanding or devotion of the God, there can be no peace.  And attachment for sensual objects remains. In such a state there can be no happiness.  Thus without being able to comprehend and contemplate on the nature of the eternal soul there can be no tranquility.

2.67     Shloka 2.67

इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते।
तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि।।2.67।।

Indriyanam hi caratam yan mano ‘nuvidhiyate           |
Tad asya harati prajnam vayur navam ivambhasi ||2.67||
Meaning: Whichever among the various senses the wandering mind is engrossed with, that sense certainly leads his intelligence astray just like the wind snatches away a boat on the water.

Unless all of the senses are engaged in the service of the Lord, even one of them engaged in sense gratification can deviate the devotee from the path of transcendental advancement. As mentioned in the life of Maharaja Ambarisha, all of the senses must be engaged on the Lord, for that is the correct technique for controlling the mind.

In this verse Lord Krishna compares the uncontrolled mind that is servile to the senses gives to that of a boat on water being swept away by strong winds. One may ask the question that don’t the senses perform the activities energised by the Supreme Lord? This is only partly true because wisdom is an essential ingredient of meditation and when one is pursuing the senses then wisdom is lost and one is out of control like a boat in a storm causing the senses to lose their essential purpose.

Lord Krishna declares that one who is unable to control their mind and senses cannot be in possession of a discriminative intellect. This is because any one of the rambling senses which the mind attaches itself to in pursuit of sense objects has the power to deviate one away from their pursuit of gaining spiritual intelligence.

2.68     Shloka 2.68

तस्माद्यस्य महाबाहो निगृहीतानि सर्वशः।
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता।।2.68।।

Tasmad yasya maha-baho nigrhitani sarvasah              |
Indriyanindriyarthebhyas tasya prajna pratisthita ||2.68||
Meaning: Therefore, O mighty-armed, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence.

Lord Krishna is declaring that only by control of the senses in all respects can wisdom be achieved. Therefore, whosoever achieves communion with Him, the most exalted reality for meditation, will surely in every way have their senses under control and completely oblivious to the objects of the senses. Thus, so qualified they gain wisdom and become fit to attain the eternal Soul.

2.69     Shloka 2.69

या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी।
यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः।।2.69।।

Ya nisha sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami     |
Yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisha pasyato muneh  ||2.69||
Meaning: What is night for all beings is the time when the self-controlled is wakeful; and the time in which all living beings are awake, it is night for the introspective Sage.

There are two classes of intelligent men. The one is intelligent in material activities for sense gratification, and the other is introspective and awake to the cultivation of self-realization. Activities of the introspective Sage, or thoughtful man, are night for persons materially absorbed. Materialistic persons remain asleep and it’s like a night due to their ignorance of the Self (Atma). The introspective Sage remains alert in the “night” of the materialistic men. The Sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual awareness, whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in this ignoramus condition. They see nothing except what they can experience with their senses. This is due to being captivated by their senses and unable to concentrate their mind in meditation. The introspective man is always indifferent to materialistic happiness and distress. He goes on with his self-realization activities undisturbed by material reaction.

One situated in transcendent meditation has no connections to their senses whatsoever; but such a being cannot be perceived. As the functions of the senses such as seeing, hearing, and tasting of an ordinary person are the exact same to one situated in transcendent meditation, How is it possible to properly understand what this means?

Here Lord Krishna indicates that the operation of the senses to one situated in transcendent mediation are completely different from an ordinary being. This is because those whose minds are inclined towards sense objects are unqualified to realise the soul, their intellect is likened to the darkness of night. Whereas the self-restrained living entities with their sense organs fully controlled remains awake and realises the essence of the eternal soul and realises the eternal truths of the Vedic scriptures.

2.70     Shloka 2.70

आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठं समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत्।
तद्वत्कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे शान्तिमाप्नोति कामकामी।।2.70।।

Apuryamanam acala-pratistham samudram apah pravisanti yadvat     |
Tadvat kama yam pravisanti sarve sa santim apnoti na kama-kami ||2.70||
Meaning: That Sage achieves peace who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires and sense objects— like the rivers entering into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still, and not the man who strives to satisfy such incessant desires.

The Ocean is full unto itself and always maintains the same form even though countless rivers enter into it. Whether the rivers enter or do not enter, the ocean is unaffected. Similarly when a person is in transcendent meditation and comes in contact with sense objects, such a person remains peaceful and maintains an equipoise state of consciousness. Bhagavan Krishna says that this state can never be attained by one who is a ‘kamakami’ full of desires or is controlled by the senses, for such a being can never achieve peace.

All desires are not contrary to liberation nor are all desires opposed to liberation. In the absence of desires, it is not possible to live a normal life. Although they may be experienced, they are not powerful enough to generate any change or deviation internally. Thus such a person who has attained peace in the form of liberation from extreme joy as well as misery because the actions that cause of all types of miseries are terminated but the devotedness to the Supreme does not deviate and does not terminate.

Contrarily one who hankers after sensual enjoyments can never find peace and incessantly revolves in the material existence buffeted hither and thither by the negative and positive reactions of their own desires.

2.71     Shloka 2.71

विहाय कामान्यः सर्वान्पुमांश्चरति निःस्पृहः।
निर्ममो निरहंकारः शांतिमधिगच्छति।।2.71।।

Vihaya kaman yah sarvan pumams carati nihsprhah      |
Nirmamo nirahankarah sa santim adhigacchati         ||2.71||
Meaning: Whosoever has given up all material desires for sense gratification, lives free from attachment, false ego and sense of proprietorship; that person attains peace.

In answer to the question, Who is qualified for this yoga which bestows such a great reward? Lord Krishna states ‘yah vihaya’ meaning whomsoever is able to renounce desires. The use of the pronoun ‘yah’ is to emphasise that there are no restrictions of class, gender, age, caste, education etc. for engaging in this process of self-realisation which is preceded by abandoning attachment to all sense objects. Abandoning fully all desires for sense gratification, free from attachment and hence free from egoism, devoid of doer-ship and ownership.

Due to the firm knowledge about the eternal soul being distinctly different from all of these material designations, wherever and whatever such a one engages themselves they are always situated in a state of perfect peace.

The living entity cannot be desireless or bereft of the senses, but he does have to change the quality of the desires. A person with no material desires certainly knows that everything belongs to Bhagavan (isavasyam idam sarvam), and therefore he does not falsely claim proprietorship over anything. This transcendental knowledge is based on self-realization—namely, knowing perfectly well that every living entity is the eternal part and parcel of the Supreme in spiritual identity. Rejecting egotism in all its forms is understood to be under the control of the Supreme Lord Krishna. This is the goal to fully strive for.

2.72     Shloka 2.72

एषा ब्राह्मी स्थितिः पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति।
स्थित्वाऽस्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृच्छति।।2.72।।

Esa brahmi sthitih partha nainam prapya vimuhyati       |
Sthitvasyam anta-kale ‘pi brahma-nirvanam rcchati ||2.72||
Meaning: O’ Partha, having gained the realisation of the Ultimate Truth, one is never again deluded and even at the moment of death, being situated in this state, liberation from the material existence and attainment of the Ultimate Consciousness is assured.

Nirvana means ending the process of materialistic life.  And ‘brahmi-sthitih’ is liberation from material bondage. Brahman is just the opposite of matter and therefore, brahmi sthitih means “not on the platform of material activities.”

If one is a ‘sthitha-prajna’ and is devoted to the Lord, he at once attains the stage of Brahma-nirvana. There is no difference between the kingdom of God and the devotional service of the Lord.

Lord Krishna extolling the virtues of the process of spiritual knowledge concludes Chapter two with this verse enunciating the performance of actions by being unattached to their rewards. This state of consciousness leads to self-realisation and ‘brahmi’, the ultimate truth. Having achieved this one never again deluded by the material energy.

When one becomes established in this state, even at the last moment when death comes they achieve the eternal spiritual attainment.

Lord Krishna concludes chapter two by revealing the state of consciousness achieved by one who performs all actions unattached and equipoised based on knowledge of the eternal nature of the immortal soul. This process has for its goal the attainment of transcendent meditation. It is ‘brahmi’ or that which leads to Brahman, the ultimate truth.

 

Thus, the following doctrine is to be understood from Chapter 2:

  1. That the immortal soul is eternal (‘na hanyate hanya mane sharire’ – 2.20)
  2. All activities should be performed as a matter of duty devoid of desire for reward (2.47)
  3. There should be no proprietorship or doer-ship (2.47)
  4. Engage in devotional service – (yogah karmasu kausalam – 2.50)
  5. One should control their mind which will result in control of the senses (2.58);
  6. One should perform actions without attachment or aversion (2.64)
  7. One should be equipoised (2.68)
  8. Constantly contemplate and engage in meditating on the Lord (2.70)
  9. One who is spiritually intelligent of illuminated consciousness understands that through either jnana-yoga or karma-yoga, the goal of transcendent meditation can be attained but devotion to the Supreme is essential for realisation of the Supreme. (2.71)

Liberation from the material existence and realisation of eternal bliss (sat chit Ananda) can be achieved through the above process. In essence this results in relinquishment of both the physical body and the subtle body, after which one becomes qualified to realise their spiritual body and experience the sublime bliss of uninterrupted devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

  • The primary way of attaining God realisation is certainly pure devotion unto God, whereas self-realisation or soul-cognition, although extremely exalted, is secondary. Devotion to GOD is primary ‘means’ (Upaya) as well as the ‘goal’ (Upeya) to be attained.
  • Through the process of intense devotion one becomes relieved from all unhappiness and free from attachment. Over time they gain spiritual intelligence and become completely equipoised in transcendent meditation attaining the bliss of the Supreme.

These spiritual truths have been revealed in the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita for curing ignorance and dispelling delusion.

Aum Tat Sat iti Srimad Bhagavad Gitasu upanishadsu brahmavidyayam yoga shastre Shri Krishna Arjuna samvaade Sankhya Yogo Nama dvitiyo adhyayah|  

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Aum Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 9 Chapter 2, Verses 51 to 60 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna explains that those who acquire spiritual intelligence take refuge in the Supreme and renounce the fruits of their action.  Arjuna wants to know the attributes and characteristics of such a wise man.

Bhagavan explains that a person who is ‘Sthitha-prajna’ has total control over his sense and is not disturbed by miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger.  Such a Sage is known as steadfast in consciousness i.e. Sthitha-prajna.

In these ten verses, Bhagavan explains the qualities and attributes of a wise man. He also explains the process to attain spiritual intelligence and how can seek to realise the Self (Atma) and experience the union with Ultimate Consciousness. Krishna also cautions that the senses are so strong and impetuous that they can forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is vigilant and endeavouring to control them.

2.51     Shloka 2.51

कर्मजं बुद्धियुक्ता हि फलं त्यक्त्वा मनीषिणः।
जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः पदं गच्छन्त्यनामयम्।।2.51।।

Karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi phalam tyaktva manisinah             |
Janma-bandha-vinirmuktah padam gacchanty anamayam ||2.51||
Meaning:  Endowed with spiritual intelligence, the wise men, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they attain tranquillity and get beyond all miseries.

Those who are factually situated in spiritual intelligence perform activities as a matter of duty free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards. They are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms.

The liberated living entities seek that place where there are no material miseries. Srimad Bhagavatam says:
Samasrita ye padapallava-plavam mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh |
Bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam param padam yad vipadam na tesam || (SB 10.14.58)
Meaning: For those who have accepted the boat of the Lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation, and is famous as Murari, the destroyer of Demon Mura, for them the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof print. Their goal is Parama padam, or Vaikuntha, the place where there are no material miseries. This is not a place there is danger in every step of life.”

One who wrongly thinks that the living entity’s position and the Lord’s position are on the same level is ignorant and therefore unable to engage himself in the devotional service of the Lord. He assumes to be a Lord himself and thus is destined to the repeated cycles of birth and death. But one who, understanding that his position is to serve, engages himself in the service of the Lord, and at once becomes eligible for Parama Padam or Vaikuntha.

Liberation from the material existence is the direction to strive for and attaining the blissful state of the spiritual worlds described in the Upanishads as Vaikuntha which is free from all miseries. The conclusion is that in order to attain the unlimited bliss of boundless joy in the spiritual world one must abandon the fruits of meritorious deeds as well or else they will bestow trivial material rewards.

2.52     Shloka 2.52

यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति।
तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च।।2.52।।

Yada te moha-kalilam buddhir vyatitarisyati            |
Tada gantasi nirvedam srotavyasya srutasya ca ||2.52||
Meaning:  When your spiritual intelligence overcomes the myriads of delusion, you shall become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.

There are many examples in the lives of the great devotees of the Lord who became indifferent to the rituals of the Vedas and were engaged in the devotional service to the Lord (e.g. Gora Kumbhar, Sena Nai, Sant Tukaram etc.).

When a person develops deep devotion and firmly establishes his relationship with Bhagavan, he naturally becomes completely indifferent to the rituals of fruitive activities.

The word ‘nirvedam’ means indifferent and here it is to be understood that in the process acquiring wisdom by spiritual intelligence one becomes indifferent to mundane pursuits. As one’s devotions become well established and focussed, that person advances with spiritual intelligence and develops greater awareness of the Self (Atma) and mundane desires wane. Bhagavan is very attracted to devotees possessing these attributes.

2.53     Shloka 2.53

श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला।
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि।।2.53।।

Sruti-vipratipanna te yada sthasyati niscala                |
Samadhav acala buddhis tada yogam avapsyasi ||2.53||
Meaning: When your mind is no longer influenced by the actions for fruitive results as prescribed in the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realisation, then you will achieve a pure spiritual state and unite with the Ultimate Consciousness.

To say that one is in Samadhi is to say that one has fully realised Brahman, ParamAtma or Bhagavan. ‘Shruti vipratipanna’ means not being influenced to perform rituals for rewards as given in the Vedic scriptures.

‘Shruti’ refers to Vedas and scriptures and implies ‘Sravanam’ or learning through hearing them. By listening to Vedic instructions, the mind evolves and begins to reflect and contemplate on the Infinite and subtle nature of the eternal soul. When this consciousness is firmly rooted within the mind and is steadfast and stable, it purifies the mind of all dross and selfish thoughts. One reaches a state of equanimity and the fruit of equanimity is the gradual experience of the soul itself. This eventually leads to achieve yoga and realise enlightenment.

Hearing this Arjuna next desires to understand the components of this unique consciousness. Is it achieved by willpower, by yoga, by knowledge of the soul, by detachment or is it a combination of all of the above?

2.54     Shloka 2.54

अर्जुन उवाच
स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव।
स्थितधीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम्।।2.54।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Sthita-prajnasya ka bhasa samadhi-sthasya kesava    |
Sthita-dhih kim prabhaseta kim asita vrajeta kim ||2.54||
Meaning: Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is situated in perfect knowledge? How does a person in such a spiritual knowledge speak and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?

When the mind becomes fixed remaining steadfast on the Supreme, then equanimity arises. One with spiritual knowledge in transcendent meditation realises the ultimate truth perceiving God within.

Arjuna wants to know the characteristics of a person who has perfect knowledge, is steadfast and is Equanimous. He asks Bhagavan Krishna to describe such a person and wants to know how does such a person speak, sit and walk.

2.55     Shloka 2.55

श्री भगवानुवाच
प्रजहाति यदा कामान् सर्वान् पार्थ मनोगतान्।
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते।।2.55।।

Shri Bhagavan Uvaca
Prajahati yada Kaman sarvan partha mano-gatan          |
Atmany evatmana tustah sthita-prajnas tadocyate ||2.55||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: O’ Partha, when a man gives up all varieties of sense gratifications that arise in the mind, and when his mind finds satisfaction in realisation of pure Self (Soul), then such a person is said to be in perfect knowledge.

In order to answer Arjuna’s four questions Lord Krishna begins from this Shloka and continues till the end of this chapter.

Bhagavan answers the first question by explaining that when one completely abandons all cravings of the mind one is ‘Sthitha-prajna’ i.e. one who is situated in transcendental consciousness. What is the indication that one has abandoned all cravings of the mind? Lord Krishna explains that such a being is immersed in the Soul and is completely satisfied by the Soul. The stability of one’s mind can be known when one becomes pleased and satisfied by the resultant purity of the mind after completely abandoning all desires and lust. Such a transcendentally situated person has no material desires and remains always happy in his natural position of eternally serving the Supreme Lord.

2.56     Shloka 2.56

दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः।
वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते।।2.56।।

Duhkhesv anudvigna-manah sukhesu vigata-sprhah    |
Vita-raga-bhaya-krodhah sthita-dhir munir ucyate ||2.56||
Meaning: One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, that Sage is known as steadfast in consciousness.

A ‘sthita-dhi-muni’ mentioned herein by the Lord, is one who has surpassed the stage of mental speculations and has come to the conclusion that the Supreme Lord is everything. Such a person is undisturbed in sorrow.

There are three types of sorrow or pain:

  • Adyatmika (Physical) – pain of the body and pain of the mind. The pain of the body is diseases and ailments attacking it such as fever, gout, diabetes etc. The pain of the mind is due to insult, jealousy, shame and the like.
  • Adhi-daivika (Supernatural) – misery caused by natural calamities such as drought, flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
  • Adhi-bhautika (Natural) – pain caused by demons, animals, ghosts, etc.

Those whose minds remain unperturbed by these afflictions as they have become devoid of expectations and desires in whatever the results as they are free from passion, fear and anger. Passion is the extreme mental attachment to objects cherished with intense desire with the intention of never letting these objects to be dispossessed. Fear is the pain caused by the approaching agony arising from separation from what is cherished. Anger is a specific mental attitude which appears in one who experiences separation at the time of loss of cherished objects. These three passion, fear and anger all arise due to the lack of discrimination regarding the eternal nature of the soul. By gradually developing this discrimination one becomes free from these three impediments and with constant contemplation one becomes steadfast with equanimity.  Such a being is a ‘sthitha-dhi-muni’ or one with a steady and profound contemplation of the soul. This being is known as ‘Sthitha-prajna’, one who is situated in perfect knowledge of transcendental consciousness.

2.57     Shloka 2.57

यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम्।
नाभिनन्दति द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता।।2.57।।

Yah sarvatranabhisnehas tat tat prapya subhasubham  |
Nabhinandati na dvesti tasya prajna pratisthita         ||2.57||
Meaning: He who is without attachment, who does not rejoice when he obtains good, nor laments when he obtains evil; he is firmly established in perfect knowledge. 

There is always some commotion in the material world due to good or evil outcomes. One who is not agitated by such material outcomes and is unaffected by good and evil is to be understood to be established in perfect knowledge, technically called Samadhi.

Forming no attachment in any situation means to be indifferent or unconcerned attitude. Lord Krishna is instructing not to be overjoyed by pleasant outcomes nor become despondent over the unpleasant results. One who can successfully be equipoised is said to be a Sthitha-prajna, situated in the perfect knowledge of transcendental consciousness.

Thus, the characteristic of a Sthitha-prajna is such that he uses his words sparsely, praises no one and blames no one. Because such a person possesses neither love nor hatred for any living being he is not afflicted by any sense desires and is said to be situated in transcendental consciousness.

2.58     Shloka 2.58

यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः।

इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता।।2.58।।

Yada samharate cayam kurmo ‘nganiva sarvasah         |
Indriyanindriyarthebhyas tasya prajna pratisthita ||2.58||
Meaning: When one can completely withdraw his senses from the sense objects, just like the tortoise withdrawing its limbs within its shell, he is said to be firmly established in perfect knowledge. 

The test of a yogi or a self-realized soul is that he is able to control the senses according to his will. Most people, however, are subservient to their senses and are thus directed by the strong desires of the senses. The senses are compared to serpents which want to act without restriction. The yogi, or the devotee, must be very strong to control the senses—much like a snake charmer controlling the serpents.

Lord Krishna gives the analogy of a turtle which withdraws its limbs within its shell. Similarly, when one is able to control their senses from pursuing sensual objects of mundane pleasure and consciously reflect upon the soul within, such a person is Sthitha-prajna, one who is situated in the perfect knowledge. There are four stages in developing to this plane each of which develops on its preceding stage. 

Lord Krishna answers the question, ‘How does such a one sit’, with the word ‘yada’ meaning when. When one is in meditation they do not let their senses go out, for e.g. mobile message beeps and controls the organs of action to perform only the basic functions of utmost necessity.

2.59     Shloka 2.59

विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिनः।
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते।।2.59।।

Visaya vinivartante niraharasya dehinah                       |
Rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya param drstva nivartate ||2.59||
Meaning: The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, even this desire for sense enjoyment ceases for one who has realised the Ultimate Consciousness.

Sensual objects of enjoyment are fuel for the senses. Unless one is transcendentally situated, it is not possible to cease from sense enjoyment. Lord Krishna states that the desire for these sensual objects departs when one starves them by restraining the senses from indulging in them. Although the action is restrained, the craving remains subtly entrenched within the mind. Rasa is taste and raga is attachment. So the craving for taste of sense objects remains. Lord Krishna states that this taste can only be terminated by spiritual intelligence and by the attainment of Sthitha-prajna transcendental meditation.

In the Vedic scriptures it has been stated that the wise master their senses by abstaining from feeding them. But this verse illustrates abstinence alone is not enough because even when abstaining attachment to them continues to grow.

However, when the eternal nature of the soul is realised in all its glorious splendour and it is seen that it is infinitely more attractive than the most delightful sense object. At that time all desire for sense objects completely vanishes along with the residue of craving.

One who realises the Supreme soul within is no longer attracted to the trivial, mundane objects of the material world. The word Param in this verse denotes ParamAtma the Supreme soul in every living entity, the source of eternal bliss, devoid of all material attributes and thus is the exclusive goal of meditation.

2.60     Shloka 2.60

यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्िचतः।
इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मनः।।2.60।।

Yatato hy api kaunteya purusasya vipascitah              |
Indriyani pramathini haranti prasabham manah ||2.60||
Meaning: The senses are so strong and impetuous, O’ Arjuna, that they can forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is vigilant and endeavouring to control them. 

There are many learned sages, philosophers and transcendentalists who try to conquer the senses, but in spite of their endeavours, even the greatest of them sometimes fall victim to material sense enjoyment due to the agitated mind. Even Vishvamitra, a great sage and a perfect yogi, was misled by Menaka into sense enjoyment, although the yogi was endeavouring for sense control with severe penance and yoga. Lord Krishna use of the word ‘pramathini’ meaning ‘turbulent’ to emphasise the force with which it sweeps some away.

Until and unless self-realisation is attained by direct soul cognition the cravings and attachments for sensual experiences will never entirely cease to exist subtly or physically.

The control over the senses is essential for stabilising the mind. The senses are so strong that they forcibly invade the mind, disrupt this meditation and forcibly overpower the mind and indulge it in contemplating sense gratification and bodily attachment. How is it possible that the senses can carry away one’s mind while they are intently striving? It is because the senses are so restless and turbulent that they totally disregarding all efforts in discrimination, besieging the mind they direct it towards sensual objects that will gratify these senses by engaging the mind in sense contemplation.

Thus, the conquest of the senses is ultimately dependent upon realisation of the eternal soul and the perception of the soul is dependent upon control of the senses. Lord Krishna alludes to the difficulty in striving for soul cognition following jnana-nishta by knowledge only. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the mind and the senses without being fully devoted to the Supreme Lord. Without engaging the mind completely in Krishna, one cannot overcome the draw of the sense objects.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 8 – Chapter 2, Verses 41 to 50 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna explains the essence of Karma Yoga in these ten verses. The path of Yoga is to practiced with a single minded purpose and resoluteness.  Bhagavan Krishna explains in the verse 2.47 to Arjuna thus – “You have the right to perform your prescribed activities but never to the fruits of those actions. You should never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and nor should there be any attachment to not doing your duty. You have a right to perform your prescribed activities but never to the fruits of those actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and nor should there be any attachment to not doing your duty.”

Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, and the resultant good birth, power, and so forth.

All actions performed from the platform of spiritual intelligence are not binding and the mind is preserved in a perfectly equipoised state which can be compared to a state of a blissful state (Sat Cit Ananda).

2.41     Shloka 2.41 

व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन।
बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम्।।2.41।।

Vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana |
Bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam ||
Meaning: Those who are on this path of Yoga with a focused mind are resolute, and their aim is one. O’ beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are full of material desires is has unlimited diverse branches.

 The Caitanya-caritamrta states:
‘sraddha’-sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya |
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya ||
MeaningFaith means unflinching trust in something sublime. When one performs actions while constantly meditating on Bhagavan, he need not endeavour for good results in his activities.  All activities performed in that spirit are not subject to dualities of good and bad. The highest perfection is renunciation of the material pursuits of life. This state is achieved by constant meditation of Bhagavan.

A person acting based on the knowledge –“Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah” – realises the Self (Atma)There is a huge difference between the mentality of one who is involved in actions seeking fruitive rewards and the mentality of one who is spiritually evolved who is engaged in selfless actions not seeking rewards and is devoted to Lord Krishna which brings great happiness. It is single pointed because its aim is solely for the service and devotion of the omnipotent, omniscient, Supreme Lord Krishna, the controller and dispenser of all rewards and the sole destination of all those seeking liberation.

Thus Lord Krishna uses the word ‘vyavasa’ or resolute, to emphasise that the purpose for actions must be resolute. One should perform actions with the thought that it is for the ultimate satisfaction of Lord Krishna, thinking that their action will please Him and not for any other reason. This resolute intelligence gives one the realisation that they will be liberated by the Lords grace, from the samsara of birth and death.

Those of fragmented intelligence who have not perceived reality and whose endless desires for fame, wealth, power, etc. and who by their actions are dictated by procuring and accumulation, work and reward. Their intelligence is fragmented into endless directions each unique unto itself and of diverse types all leading to misery. These things can only be perceived by direct experience.

2.42     Shloka 2.42

यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्िचतः।
वेदवादरताः पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिनः।।2.42।।

Yam imam puspitam vacam pravadanty avipascitah     |
Veda-vada-ratah partha nanyad astiti vadinah          ||2.42||
Meaning: Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, and the resultant good birth, power, and so forth.

Some scholars who have studied the Vedas so fastidiously fail to possess the resolute intelligence. This is because their lack of comprehending the essence of the Vedic scriptures and consequently they have misunderstood the true essence of the Vedas. Lord Krishna emphasises this with the word ‘avipascitah’ meaning the ‘ignorant who are not knowledgeable’ are attracted to flowery descriptions in the Vedas, even as a beautiful flowery creeper may be attractive although it is poisonous. But these living entities are ignorant and not actual scholars of Vedanta because they are only devoted to those parts of the Vedas that help them secure material opulence in this life and the next.

People in general are not very intelligent, and due to their ignorance they are most attached to the fruitive activities recommended in the karma-kanda portions of the Vedas. But all these pleasures are transient as ‘kshine punye martya lokam visanti’ – after they exhaust their positive karmas, they return to the mortal world.

2.43     Shloka 2.43

कामात्मानः स्वर्गपरा जन्मकर्मफलप्रदाम्।
क्रियाविशेषबहुलां भोगैश्वर्यगतिं प्रति।।2.43।।

Kamatmanah svarga-para janma-karma-phala-pradam  |
Kriya-visesa-bahulam bhogaisvarya-gatim prati           ||2.43||
Meaning: Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.

So all their activities in this life are enacted solely for the sake of accruing benefits in order to reside in the heavenly spheres where they can enjoy and enjoy for a seemingly unlimited time span. But when their merit expires after enjoying the delights of heaven in various wonderful ways to their hearts content they will again take birth on earth in a rich and learned family who also are following the flowery phrases of the Vedas and they will again follow this path and in the end transmigrate to the heavenly planets once again to enact the process. By being born into situations of opulence and prosperity allows one ample means and facility to perform the various prescribed rituals to obtain the maximum result. Thus, they transmigrate from body to body, again and again, continuously revolving like a waterwheel. In special situations Indra, the ruler of the Devas sometimes appoints one of them as a Gandharva celestial musician or as an Aspara celestial damsel among the Devas for the duration of time their merit warrants.

2.44     Shloka 2.44

भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम्।
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिः समाधौ विधीयते।।2.44।।

Bhogaisvarya-prasaktanam tayapahrta-cetasam |
Vyavasayatmika buddhih samadhau na vidhiyate ||2.44||
Meaning: In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination of devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.

Samadhi means having a ‘fixed mind’. Samadhi is never possible for persons interested in material sense enjoyment, nor for those who are bewildered by such temporary things. They are more or less condemned by the process of material energy.

The actions of those who are not resolute are not in conformity with the Vedic scriptures; but those who are resolute possessing spiritual intelligence never act contrary to the Vedic scriptures.

Those who revel only in the words of the Vedas are known as Vedavad-ratah. However, some have a poor comprehension of these and they speak only of revelling in the pleasures derived from actions. Those who are influenced by such words, doctrines and philosophies which are contrary to the Vedic scriptures, consider that the fulfilment of desired objects is the purpose of life. Enjoying whatever pleasures they have managed to manipulate for themselves they are repeatedly born again and again cast down into the material existence or depending upon the method of how they acquired their material opulence even hurled down to be born again in the material world. For these persons spiritual intelligence and comprehensive discrimination does not manifest itself in the form of an equanimity.

The essence and the objective of the Vedic scriptures is knowledge of the Ultimate, which is the Supreme Lord, who is very pleased by those who are devoted to Him. The instructions and injunctions within the Vedic scriptures should be known to be applicable solely to the Supreme Lord and no other. It is the knowledge of the Supreme Lord that is to be sought and understood. This is what is to be achieved by all living entities to make their life in this world purposeful.

2.45     Shloka 2.45

त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान्।।2.45।।

Trai-gunya-visaya veda nistrai-gunyo bhavarjuna                 |
Nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-ksema atmavan ||2.45||
Meaning: The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O’ Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties of acquisition and preservation, and be established in the Self.

If there was no material goal to pursue what would people strive for?  They would lose interest and faith in spiritual knowledge and ritualistic practices and thus they would lose both chances bequeathed to them. So it is justly so that the Vedic scriptures deal with the three modes of material nature as they explain the rituals that bring benefits for all those subject to the influence of these modes.  

All material activities involve actions and reactions in the three modes of material nature. They are meant for fruitive results, which cause bondage in the material world. The Vedas deal mostly with fruitive activities to gradually elevate the doer from the field of sense gratification to a position on the transcendental plane. Bhagavan Shri Krishna advises Arjuna to raise himself above the three gunas to the transcendental position by attaining a mental state of equipoise.

It is quite possible that one may become indifferent to the heavenly delights but the basic requirements for human existence such as food, clothing and shelter which are also actual modifications of the three modes of material nature and are impossible to ignore.  It’s hard to become indifferent to that.

Lord Krishna explains one has to be free from dualities like praise and blame, heat and cold, pleasure and pain. Being free from them means being unattached to them. How can this be done? By enduring them and becoming established in pure spiritual consciousness. Its characteristic is patience and endurance uninfluenced by passion or covered by ignorance. One should always be tempered by patience. As anyone without patience is easily overpowered by passion and ignorance and becomes uncontrolled and fearful in situations involving the three modes of material nature. So we should overcome the hindrances of passion and ignorance and maintain a balanced state of equilibrium.

One may wonder how they can may maintain themselves in the material nature. To this Lord Krishna reiterates niryoga-kshema i.e. become free from the desire of acquisition and preservation.  When Lord Krishna speaks about being free from gain and preservation, this does not mean to deny the things one needs to survive and flourish but relates only to curb the desire or obsession for acquisition of possessions.

But how then would one sustain their lives? By being ‘Atmavan’ meaning firmly established in spiritual consciousness of the Soul. The essence is to understand that the Supreme Lord as the fulfiller and bestower of all desires. So one should only seek His refuge and accept His shelter. Never fear nor seek any other form of succour from any other source for the Supreme Lord will provide all sustenance and maintenance to those who understanding Him fully surrender unto Him.

Continuous remembrance of the Supreme Lord Krishna is ever present within. The full acceptance of the Supreme Lord within one’s own-self effectively to realisation of the Ultimate Truth.

2.46     Shloka 2.46

यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः संप्लुतोदके।
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः।।2.46।।

Yavan artha udapane sarvatah samplutodake        |
Tavan sarvesu vedesu brahmanasya vijanatah ||2.46||
Meaning: All purposes that are served by a well of water is better served by a vast lake. Similarly, all the purposes of the Vedas are realised to he who knows the Ultimate Truth (Supreme Brahman).

Whatever benefit is for a person seated in the knowledge of Brahman, the same benefit is available to one who is knowledgeable in Vedic scriptures; however, for the one who has realised the Ultimate Truth, all the meanings of the Vedic scriptures are revealed to him by Bhagavan.

During the course of universal dissolution, whatever rewards are ordained by the Bhagavan Shri  Krishna, who is full of all attributes, independent from any support and transcendental to time; the same fruits are available for one who has knowledge of the confidential meanings in the Vedic scriptures.

2.47     Shloka 2.47

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।।2.47।।

Karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana |
Ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango ‘stv akarmani ||2.47||
Meaning: You have a right to perform your prescribed activities but never to the fruits of those actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and nor should there be any attachment to not doing your duty.

This is one of the more popular Shlokas in the Bhagavad Gita in which Karma Yoga is encapsulated. Prescribed duties refer to activities performed while one is in the modes of material nature. And inaction means not performing one’s prescribed duties. Bhagavan Krishna advises Arjuna to perform his prescribed duties without being attached to the results (Nishkama Karma). One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. Thus he is the enjoyer or sufferer of the result of such actions.

As far as prescribed duties are concerned, they can be classified into routine work, emergency work and desired activities. Routine work, in terms of the scriptural injunctions, is done without desire for results. As one has to do it, obligatory work is action in the mode of goodness. One who performs actions without desirous of the rewards develops equipoise and does not get attached to the fruits of their actions.  It is also important to understand that it is not that the person will not receive the rewards thereof. To the contrary they will certainly receive rewards as well but the difference is they do not let reward be the reason for the motivation of their activities. We must perform all of our actions without being motivated by the fruit.  Everyone has his proprietary right to perform prescribed duties, but they should act without attachment to the result; such dispassionate obligatory duties doubtlessly lead one to the path of liberation.

Arjuna was therefore advised by the Lord to fight as a matter of duty without attachment to the result. His non-participation in the battle is also another form of attachment. Such attachment never leads one to the path of salvation. Any attachment, positive or negative, is cause for bondage. Hence, there should be attachment for doing nothing as Inaction is sinful.

The question may arise that if one is seeking liberation from the material existence should not one acquire firmness in spiritual knowledge and ignore all forms of actions. To this Lord Krishna instructs that everyone has the right to perform actions in order to purify ones existence and advance in spiritual knowledge. But one should not cultivate the mind to think that with the right to perform actions one is entitled to receive rewards. This mentality is destructive to spiritual advancement because then one will get attachment to the actions and then subsequently to the rewards. So Lord Krishna emphasises never be attached to the rewards of actions or even consider the rewards because this attachment will keep up locked in the material existence.

Therefore, fighting as a matter of duty was the only auspicious path of salvation for Arjuna.

2.48     Shloka 2.48

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते।।2.48।।

Yoga-sthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya         |
Siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga ucyate ||2.48||
Meaning: O’ Dhananjaya, be steadfast in yoga, perform your duties giving up any attachment and be equipoised in both success and failure. This equanimity is known as the science of uniting the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. 

Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that he should act in Yoga. Yoga means to concentrate the mind by controlling the ever-disturbing senses by focusing on the Supreme. As Bhagavan Himself is telling Arjuna to fight, Arjuna has nothing to do with the results of the fight. Loss or victory is Krishna’s concern; Arjuna is simply advised to act according to the diktat of Krishna.

What should one do? Lord Krishna states here to remain balanced and in equipoise. Discard the attachment, be in a state of  equipoise in both victory and defeat and perform your duties. Yoga is explained by Lord Krishna Himself as being in the state of equanimity.

2.49     Shloka 2.49

दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय।
बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः।।2.49।।

Durena hy avaram karma buddhi-yogad dhananjaya      |
Buddhau saranam anviccha krpanah phala-hetavah ||2.49||
Meaning: O Dhananjaya, with spiritual intelligence, rid yourself of all fruitive activities which are certainly abominable, and surrender fully to that consciousness. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.

One performing actions with the thought of receiving rewards may get the desired results. This appears to be positive but it is repeatedly denounced. Why? Because actions performed for selfish motives are inferior to actions performed with selfless motives. Selfless motives are balanced in equanimity. Equanimity possesses a determinate consciousness. Because of this reality, one should seek the shelter of evenness of mind in equanimity. Arjuna had acquired so many riches before naturally following his duty, so why should he try to avoid his duty worrying about success or failure. Those motivated to perform activities craving only to get a reward for their actions are inferior and wretched.

One who has actually come to understand this and performs actions while constantly meditating on the Lord is said to be in Yoga. As already explained, buddhi-yoga means transcendental loving service to the Lord. Such devotional service is the right course of action for the living entity. Only misers desire to enjoy the fruit of their own work just to be further entangled in material bondage.

All activities performed with the desire of fruitive results are abominable because they continually bind the performer to the cycle of birth and death. One should therefore never desire to be the cause of work and everything should be done in the spirit of offering to Bhagavan Krishna.

Misers do not know how to utilise the riches which they acquire by good fortune or by hard labour. Like the misers, unfortunate persons do not employ their human energy in the service of the Lord. Phala-hetavah are those who sole motivation is dictated by the prospect of reward. It should be understood that such living entities are ‘kripanah’ or ‘misers’ or ‘pitiable’ as acting in this way they are trapped in the material existence, hence unable to attain spiritual knowledge.

For all living entities the Supreme Lord is the only refuge. When this realisation finally dawns upon the intellect of a living entity whether they are ignorant, wise or liberated they surrender unto the Supreme Lord without reservation. Those who live in delusion consider themselves the same as the Supreme Lord who is distinctly different due to His inconceivable potencies and transcendental attributes.

2.50     Shloka 2.50

बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते।
तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्।।2.50।।

Buddhi-yukto jahatiha ubhe sukrta-duskrte                     |
Tasmad yogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam ||2.50||
Meaning: One endowed with spiritual intelligence can get rid of both positive and negative reactions even in this very life. Therefore, be engaged in Yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work. 

Since time immemorial each living entity has accumulated the various reactions of good and bad work. As such, he is ignorant of his real purpose of life. One’s ignorance can be removed by the instruction of the Bhagavad-gita which teaches one to surrender unto Lord Shri Krishna in all respects and become liberated from the eternal bondage of action and reaction, birth after birth. Arjuna is therefore advised to be in Yoga (be equipoised and act with a spirit of surrender), the purifying process of resultant action.

Those whose activities are inherently protected under the secure guidance of spiritual intelligence are released from the bondage of continuous rebirth in the material existence. Hence one should remain steadfast in spiritual intelligence. Although cultivating spiritual intelligence indeed takes enormous effort to achieve, once attained it is not difficult to maintain. All actions performed from the platform of spiritual intelligence are not binding and the mind is preserved in a perfectly equipoised state which can be compared to a state of a blissful state (Sat Cit Ananda).

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 7 Chapter 2, Verses 31 to 40 – Sankhya Yoga

Bhagavan Krishna further elaborates the importance of doing one’s prescribed duties or follow their Sva-dharma in these ten verses.  Arjuna, as a Kshatriya, is duty bound to engage in a battle to protect Dharma.  Shri Krishna explains that by not choosing to fight, he will not only incur sins but also lose his fame as he will not be lauded as a kind and benevolent. Bhagavan says that he would be ridiculed by his enemies and his people as a coward and for an honourable person like Arjuna that would be worse than death. Lord Krishna makes his final argument that if Arjuna fought and is killed he will get heavenly planes while if he was victorious, he would enjoy in this world and either ways, he had nothing to lose.

Bhagavan has now set the scene for explaining the discipline of Karma Yoga in his next set of verses.

2.31     Shloka 2.31


स्वधर्ममपि चावेक्ष्य न विकम्पितुमर्हसि।

धर्म्याद्धि युद्धाछ्रेयोऽन्यत्क्षत्रियस्य न विद्यते।।2.31।।
Sva-dharmam api caveksya na vikampitum arhasi
Dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo ‘nyat ksatriyasya na vidyate ||2.31||
Meaning: Considering your specific duty as a Kshatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation.

Svadharma means specific or ordained duties. The of “Varna-Ashrama Dharma” defines specific duties in terms of the specific modes of one’s field of specialisation. Kshatriyas are warriors and hence duty bound to take up arms to protect and maintain rule of law.  Brahmins are ordained to acquire and impart knowledge and are required to lead a life of austerity. Discharging one’s specific duty in any field of action in accordance with Varna-Ashrama Dharma serves to elevate one to higher planes of life.

Following of Svadharma is ordained by the Lord and this is elaborated in the Fourth Chapter. Until the attainment of “Jivanmukti” or liberation, one has to perform the duties in accordance with the “varna” principles in order to achieve liberation.

‘Kshat’ means hurt and one who gives protection from harm is called Kshatriya (trayate—to give protection).  Bhagavan Krishna responds to Arjuna’s question of what is the highest good with the explanation of “Svadharma” or the principles of righteousness. For a Kshatriya there is nothing more righteous than to engage in a battle to protect dharma.

2.32     Shloka 2.32


यदृच्छया
चोपपन्नं स्वर्गद्वारमपावृतम्।
सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ लभन्ते युद्धमीदृशम्।।2.32।।
Yadrcchaya copapannam svarga-dvaram apavrtam              |
Sukhinah kshatriyah partha labhante yuddham idrsam ||2.32||
Meaning: O’ Partha, happy are the Kshatriyas who get such opportunities to engage in a righteous battle that comes on its own accord, thereby opening the doors of the heavenly planes for them.

As Supreme teacher of the world, Lord Krishna censures the attitude of Arjuna who said, ‘I do not find any good in this fighting as it will cause perpetual habitation in hell.’  For a Kshatriya, it is his prime duty to engage in a battle to protect dharma. In the Parasara-smriti, Sage Parasara (father of Vyasa) states:
Kshatriyo hi praja raksan sastra-panih pradandayan |
Nirjitya parasainyadi ksitim dharmena palayet ||
Meaning: A Kshatriya’s duty is to protect the natives from all kinds of harm, and for that reason he has to engage in violent acts where required to maintain law and order. Therefore he has to conquer hostile kings and govern righteously.

Considering all aspects, Arjuna had no reason to refrain from fighting. If he should conquer his enemies, he would enjoy the kingdom; and if he should die in the battle, he would be elevated to the heavenly planes whose doors will be wide open for him.  Either ways, there was no reason for him to lament.

The words ‘Yadrcchaya upapannam’ means ‘arrived at on its own accord’; Bhagavan is emphasising that this opportunity has presented itself and any Kshatriya would embrace it with glee.  It is only the most fortunate among Kshatriyas who get such unsolicited opportunities. For a Kshatriya who fights bravely, a war brings fame and opulence in this life and the next. By engaging in battle for a righteous cause exhibiting outstanding valour one’s glory is guaranteed. But what happens to those who are slain in battle? Here Lord Krishna confirms that for the valorous who fall in battle there is an open door directly to the heavenly planes, the same as for the yogis who fall short of achieving liberation.

2.33     Shloka 2.33


अथ
चैत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं संग्रामं करिष्यसि।
ततः स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि।।2.33।।
Atha cet tvam imam dharmyam sangramam na karisyasi      |
Tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca hitva papam avapsyasi       ||2.33||
Meaning: If, however, you do not fight this righteous war, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.

Arjuna was a brave warrior who attained fame by fighting many great adversaries. After fighting Lord Shiva, who was in the guise of a hunter, Arjuna pleased the Lord and received Pashupata-Astra as a reward. Everyone knew that he was a great warrior and even Dronacharya gave him the special weapon, the Brahmastra (which Drona didn’t even teach his son, Ashwatthama). But if he abandoned the battle, he would not only neglect his ordained duty as a Kshatriya, but he would lose all his fame and good name and incur sins.

Now Bhagavan Krishna responds to Arjuna’s distress of not wanting to slay his kins such as Bhishma and Drona but instead is willing to be slain by them. The use of the word ‘atha’ is to emphasise another point of view that if Arjuna declines to fight this righteous war and chooses to disregard the instruction he will neither be happy this world or the world beyond.

2.34     Shloka 2.34


अकीर्तिं
चापि भूतानि कथयिष्यन्ति तेऽव्ययाम्।
संभावितस्य चाकीर्तिर्मरणादतिरिच्यते।।2.34।|
Akirtim capi bhutani kathayisyanti te ‘vyayam
Sambhavitasya cakirtir maranad atiricyate ||2.34||
Meaning: People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who is honoured, dishonour is worse than death.

Both a friend and philosopher to Arjuna, Lord Krishna now gives His final view on Arjuna’s refusal to fight. The Lord says, ‘Arjuna, if you leave the battlefield, people will call you a coward and taunt you.   For an honourable man like you, infamy is worse than death’.

By abandoning this war of righteousness, Arjuna would not only lose his excellent reputation but great misfortune would also befall on him. Bhagavan Krishna uses the word ‘akirtim’ meaning ‘infamy’ to emphasise that for an honourable man is worse than death. Instead of being called a valiant warrior, Arjuna, the wielder of the intrepid ‘Gandiva’ bow, would be known as a timid and meek person who fled the battlefield. Not only will happiness and fame elude him but the people will chastise him and speak of his act of cowardice openly.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is telling Arjuna that forever history will brand him for his cowardice. If Arjuna was to reply that public opinion is of no consequence to him, the Supreme Lord neutralises that by stating that for a person of honour possessing the qualities of heroism, determination, strength, courage etc., to accept infamy is worse than death. If he was to acquire disgrace of this kind death for him would certainly be much better.

2.35     Shloka 2.35


भयाद्रणादुपरतं
मंस्यन्ते त्वां महारथाः।
येषां त्वं बहुमतो भूत्वा यास्यसि लाघवम्।।2.35।।
Bhayad ranad uparatam mamsyante tvam maha-rathah |
Yesam ca tvam bahu-mato bhutva yasyasi laghavam ||2.35||
Meaning: The great generals who held you in high esteem will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear; thus they will consider you a coward and you will fall into disgrace.

Bhagavan Krishna continued to give His discourse to Arjuna: ‘Do not think that the great generals like Duryodhana, Karna, and other contemporaries will think that you have left the battlefield out of compassion for your brothers and grandfather. They will think that you have left out of fear for your life. And thus their high opinion of your personality will be ruined’.

Arjuna would belittle himself in front of all the mighty warriors headed by Bhishma, Drona and Karna if he was to leave the battlefield exhibiting grief.  All the warriors on both sides would think he left the war out of fear. As a Kshatriya never refuses to engage in battle.

2.36     Shloka 2.36


अवाच्यवादांश्च
बहून् वदिष्यन्ति तवाहिताः।
निन्दन्तस्तव सामर्थ्यं ततो दुःखतरं नु किम्।।2.36।।
Avacya-vadams ca bahun vadisyanti tavahitah     |
Nindantas tava samarthyam tato duhkhataram nu kim ||2.36||
Meaning: Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful than that?

Arjuna should properly fortify his mind and prepare for war with the firm conviction that embarking on the course of a righteous war is the guaranteed means for him to achieve moksha or final salvation.

2.37     Shloka 2.37


हतो
वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम्।
तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चयः।।2.37।।
Hato va prapsyasi svargam jitva va bhoksyase mahim |
Tasmad uttistha kaunteya yuddhaya krta-niscayah ||2.37||
Meaning: O’ son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planes, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight with determination.

Even though there was no certainty of victory for Arjuna’s side, he still had to fight; for, even being killed there, he could be elevated into the heavenly planes. Arjuna is called as Kaunteya to remind him that such conduct is indeed expected from him as the son of the great Queen Kunti.

In this verse, Bhagavan emphasises the word ‘hata’ meaning ‘slain’ that there is benefit in both scenarios i.e. if slain in the line of duty, he would be elevated to heavenly plane and if he was victorious he can enjoy the kingdom in this world. As both results give benefit,  Arjuna should rise up and fight.

2.38     Shloka 2.38


सुखदुःखे
समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ।
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि।।2.38।।
Sukha-duhkhe same krtva labhalabhau jayajayau       |
Tato yuddhaya yujyasva naivam papam avapsyasi ||2.38||
Meaning: Being equipoised in happiness and distress, profit and loss, victory and defeat; thereafter prepare for the battle with that mind-set and, by so doing, you will never incur sin.

That everything should be performed as a righteous duty with equipoise and without attachment to the results, so that there is no sinful reaction. He who acts for his own sense gratification, either in goodness or in passion, is subject to the reaction, good or bad. But he who has completely surrendered all the activities in the name of the Lord, that person no longer accrues any karmic reaction from the course of his activities. It is said:
Devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam na kinkaro nayamrni ca rajan    |
Sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato Mukundam parihrtya kartam ||(SB 11.5.41)
Meaning: O’ King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full refuge of the lotus feet of Mukunda (who offers shelter to all), is not indebted to the Devas, the great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord’s service has no need to serve such persons separately.

Now Lord Krishna refutes Arjuna previous worry about accruing sin by killing his kins with the words ‘sukha’ and ‘dukha’ meaning happiness and sorrow. Although the pleasure of happiness and the pain of sorrow in fighting this righteous war is inevitable; it must still be considered as pertaining to the body only and not to the soul which is distinctly different from the physical body. Profit and gain, victory and defeat even without considering the goal of heaven, Arjuna should prepare to fight for the sole purpose of exclusively fulfilling his duty. Thus fixed in this determination with proper understanding if he slays anyone he will not incur sin. By doing so, Arjuna will avoid the sin he would otherwise incur by refraining from the battle and not performing his duty.

2.39     Shloka 2.39


एषा
तेऽभिहिता सांख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां श्रृणु।
बुद्ध्यायुक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि।।2.39।।
Esa te ‘bhihita sankhye buddhir yoge tv imam srnu |
Buddhya yukto yaya partha karma-bandham prahasyasi ||2.39||
Meaning:  Thus far I have explained to you the spiritual knowledge of Sankhya philosophy. Now listen to the knowledge of Karma Yoga which will bestow you with spiritual intelligence when you perform actions without fruitive desires. This will completely release you from the bondage of reactions arising from actions.

The use of the word ‘Sankhya’ in this Shloka denotes proper understanding. The principle of Soul as the eternal, immortal and unchanging must be understood properly and once Arjuna comprehends it fully, he would know that there is no cause to grieve as the soul is immortal.

The word ‘Yoga’ in this Shloka denotes ‘Karma Yoga’ which is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness through desire-less actions. It is to be understood that the spiritual intelligence acquired by following the yoga of actions when based on Sankhya or proper understanding of the knowledge of the soul is the path that leads to salvation. Imbibing the wisdom from it will cut asunder the bonds of karmic reactions.

It is important to draw the distinction between ‘Sankhya’ mentioned in this Shloka and the Sankhya philosophy of Sage Kapila which is atheistic. The Sankhya mentioned here takes an analytical approach to explain the distinction between the body and the soul. Bhagavan Shri Krishna gives a description of the soul to make Arjuna understand it from a different perspective.

Having instructed the true knowledge of the soul as being distinctly different from the physical body and seeing that this knowledge has still not been firmly embedded in Arjuna’s heart, Lord Krishna reiterates this truth again in order to illustrate that this knowledge never becomes firmly embedded without practice of the means which is yoga. To do this He introduces the yoga path of selfless actions as the means to this end.

Thus, the reality is to perform all actions under the direction of one’s mind well nurtured with spiritual knowledge. Bhagavan explains that the performance of actions by the renunciation of the rewards, Arjuna will be completely free from transmigration in the material existence.

2.40     Shloka 2.40


नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति
प्रत्यवायो विद्यते।
स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात्।।2.40।।
Nehabhikrama-naso ‘sti pratyavayo na vidyate |
Sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat ||2.40||
Meaning: In this endeavour there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.

While one should strive to achieve a complete state of equipoise and perform duties without desiring fruitive results, even a small advancement towards such a path is better than engaging in actions purely for material gains. Bhagavan basically is saying “well begun is half done” and even if such pursuits are not fully completed, it will protect one from the gravest of fears. In the case of Ajamila, while he performed his duty in some small measure early in his life, he still benefited from it in the end by the grace of the Lord.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam, it states:
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer bhajan na pakko ‘tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vabhadram abhud amusya kim ko vartha apto ‘bhajatam sva-dharmatah ||SB 1.5.17||
Meaning: If someone gives up material pursuits and occupation and then falls short on account of not being able to fully complete it, what unfavourable thing can happen to him (i.e. nothing is lost)? And, what can one gain if one performs his material activities perfectly?” 

All actions executed by a living entity as a Yoga, by surrendering the results to the Supreme, it leads to attaining salvation, which is the science for the Soul (Self) to attain communion with the Ultimate Consciousness.

The essence of this verse is that all ordained daily duties (nitya karmas) and all occasional rites (naimittika karmas) for specific times as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures shall be performed with the sole aim of ultimate salvation. Although each rite individually is capable of giving its own temporary material reward; but all such rewards are to be accepted with humility (as ‘Ishwara prasada’) while holding focus solely on salvation.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 6 – Chapter 2, Verses 21 to 30 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan continues with his explanation on the immortality and immutability of the Soul.  He explains that the Soul is sub-atomic, subtler than the subtlest, that which cannot be cut or burnt nor destroyed.  It is incomprehensible, unimaginable, immeasurable, eternal and a wonder.  For a knower of this, there is no cause for lamentation and hence Bhagavan says ‘na tvam socitam arhasi’ meaning there Arjuna should not despair over the physical body and do his duty as a Kshatriya, as the physical body will decay and cease to exist one way or another.  Bhagavan Krishna says, even if he thought the soul will perish with the body, the universal law is that anything born will die and will be reborn again.  So even if it perished, it will come back again and hence, even with this (mis)understanding there was no cause for lamentation.

The Lord now concludes His instruction on the immutability of the Soul.

2.21     Shloka 2.21

वेदाविनाशिनं नित्यं य एनमजमव्ययम्।
कथं स पुरुषः पार्थ कं घातयति हन्ति कम्।।2.21।।
Vedavinasinam nityam ya enam ajam avyayam   |
Katham sa purusah partha kam ghatayati hanti kam ||2.21||
Meaning: O’ Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, unborn, eternal and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?

A person who is situated in complete knowledge develops a wisdom to know when and where to apply apply that knowledge. For e.g. a punishment to hang a terrorist is in the larger interest of the society. Similarly, when Bhagavan Shri Krishna orders Arjuna to fight, it must be concluded that the violence is justified as it is to restore Dharma.

One who understands that the eternal soul is incapable of being destroyed, knows that it cannot be slain. The word ‘avinasinam’ means indestructible, ‘nityam’ means eternal and therefore by its own inherent nature the soul is imperishable and immortal. Therefore, it is ignorance of the eternal nature of the soul is the cause of all grief.

2.22     Shloka 2.22

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।।2.22।।
Vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ‘parani       |
Tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navani dehi ||2.22||
Meaning: As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

Transference of the atomic individual soul to another body is made possible by the grace of the Supersoul. The scriptures, like the Mundaka Upanishad and the Svetasvatara Upanishad, compare the soul and the Supersoul to two friendly birds perched on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual soul – JivAtma) is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird (Supersoul – ParamAtma) is simply observing His friend. Of these two birds—although they are the same in quality—one is captivated by the fruits of the material tree, while the other is simply witnessing the activities of His friend.

The JivAtma is struggling very hard on the tree (metaphor for the material body). But as soon as the Jiva surrenders to the other bird as the Supreme spiritual master—as Arjuna agreed to voluntary surrender unto Bhagavan Shri Krishna for instruction—the subordinate bird immediately becomes free from all lamentations.

Both the Katha Upanisad and Svetasvatara Upanisad confirm this:
Samane vrkse puruso nimagno ‘nisaya socati muhyamanah
Justam yada pasyaty anyam isam asya mahimanam iti vita-sokah
Meaning: Although the two birds are in the same tree, the eating bird is fully engrossed with anxiety and moroseness as the enjoyer of the fruits of the tree. But through some way or the other if it turns its attention to his friend (the ParamAtma), even for a fraction of time, and knows His glories—at once the suffering bird becomes free from all anxieties.

Arjuna has now turned his attention towards his eternal friend, Bhagavan Shri Krishna, and is gaining knowledge from Him. One who lays down his life in the line of one’s duty, is at once cleansed of bodily reactions and promoted to a higher planes of life. So, there was no cause for Arjuna to lament.

While it can be understood that the soul is indestructible and not to be lamented for; the physical body is destructible and any attachment to it leads to despair. With the termination in battle of the physical body of a very dear one such as preceptor or the loved ones, the separation will undoubtedly cause deep lamentation. To clarify this Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that just as there is no grief when one discards old worn out garments and there is joy in accepting new garments, in the same way the embodied soul discarding old worn out bodies joyfully accepts new ones.

2.23     Shloka 2.23

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः।।2.23।।
Nainam chindanti sastrani nainam dahati pavakah      |
Na cainam kledayanty apo na sosayati marutah      ||2.23||
Meaning: The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

All kinds of weapons, swords, flames, rains, tornadoes, etc., cannot to destroy the Atma. Nor was it ever possible to cut the individual souls from the original Soul.

Although only one use of the word ‘na’ meaning ‘never’ would have been sufficient to establish the premise of utter futility in trying to destroy the soul, it is used four times to emphasise that there is not even the slightest iota of doubt about this indestructability of the Soul (Atma).

2.24     Shloka 2.24

अच्छेद्योऽ यमदाह्योऽ यमक्लेद्योऽ शोष्य एव च।
नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुरचलोऽयं सनातनः।।2.24।।
Acchedyo ‘yam adahyo ‘yam akledyo ‘sosya eva ca     |
Nityah sarva-gatah sthanur acalo ‘yam sanatanah ||2.24||
Meaning: This individual soul is unbreakable, insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

Weapons are powerless to inflict any injury by cutting or piercing, fire is powerless to burn, water is powerless to wet and air is powerless to dry the eternal soul. The soul having the propensity of pervading everything being capable by its nature of interpenetrating all substances. It is subtler than any substance and no substance can penetrate it. The effects of cutting, burning, soaking, drying and others which takes place by weapons, fire, water, air and the rest penetrate the object which is the focus of their direction; but due to its impregnable nature the soul is uninfluenced being beyond the scope of the material substratum. Hence the eternal soul is unchangeable, immovable and everlasting.

The word ‘Sarva-gatah’ meaning ‘all-pervading’ is significant because there is no doubt that living entities are God’s creation. They live on the land, in water, in the air, within the earth and even within fire. The belief that they are sterilized in fire is not acceptable, because it is clearly stated here that the soul cannot be burned by fire. Therefore, there is no doubt that there are living entities also in the Sun with suitable bodies that can live there. If the Sun is uninhabited, then the word ‘Sarva-gatah’ becomes meaningless.

Being all pervasive the soul is extremely subtle, tinier than atoms. Being the subtlest of the subtle it is ‘sthanuh’ or unchangeable as it is incapable of being modified in any way. As it is ‘acalah’ or permanent it is devoid of any change and is constant. As it is constant, it is ‘sananatah’ or ancient and eternally existing.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is stating that just as He is indestructible, so is the eternal soul within the living entities born from the womb of a female that was born from the womb of a female.

This existence never ceasing to exist is known as immovable and because He is identified by the primal sound Om He is eternally resonating and perennial. The Vishnu Purana states that the immortal soul is eternally existing under the control of the Bhagavan. Therefore, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is saying to Arjuna that he need not lament because He always redeems them.

2.25     Shloka 2.25

अव्यक्तोऽ यमचिन्त्योऽ यमविकार्योऽ यमुच्यते।
तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि।।2.25।।
Avyakto ‘yam acintyo ‘yam avikaryo ‘yam ucyate    |
Tasmad evam viditvainam nanusocitum arhasi   ||2.25||
Meaning:  It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.

The word ‘avyaktah’ means invisible or imperceptible this is because the eternal soul being totally transcendental to the material existence cannot be practically examined as can objects which possess qualities of a physical nature.

The word ‘acintyah’ means inconceivable because the eternal soul is impossible to perceive by the mind and the senses being in every way transcendental to the material substratum which is what the consciousness of the living entities base their understanding on. The eternal soul differs from all other existences and levels of existence is in transcendence. Therefore it is ‘avikaryah’ or unchangeable and immutable. The Supreme Lord Krishna instructs that by knowing the eternal soul to be immortal there is no cause for grief (nanu’socitum arhasi).

It might be questioned that if the Supreme Lord is all pervading, then why is He not visible? The reason for this is that because He is inconceivable and invisible with the five senses that we have been endowed with. Whatever form He exhibits, He alone manifests in them fully. The words like ‘enam’ and ‘ayam’ indicate the eternal soul in living entities has the same qualitative attributes as the Supreme Lord but is infinitesimal quantitatively.

The Supreme Being is known to be both possessing a body and devoid of body. This is because He possesses a spiritual transcendental body and not a physical body. Because His body is not constituted of the elements of material nature, it is said to be a-dehah. The head, the feet, the arms and other parts of this spiritual, transcendental body are made up of the Supreme Lord Himself. There exists nothing which is distinctive from this spiritual, transcendental nature which can be called His body, therefore He is called a-dehah without body. He Himself is His form and this spiritual, transcendental form is eternally existing beyond the scope of material existence.

2.26     Shloka 2.26

अथ चैनं नित्यजातं नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम्।
तथापि त्वं महाबाहो नैवं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.26।।
Atha cainam nitya-jatam nityam va manyase mrtam       |
Tathapi tvam maha-baho nainam socitum arhasi        ||2.26||
Meaning: If, however, you think that the soul is perpetually born and always dies, still you have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed.

There is always a class of philosophers who do not believe in the separate existence of the soul beyond the body. So, even if Arjuna did not believe in the existence of the soul there would still have been no cause for lamentation as it will be born again.

2.27     Shloka 2.27

जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च।
तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.27।।
Jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur dhruvam janma mrtasya ca     |
Tasmad apariharye ‘rthe na tvam socitum arhasi        ||2.27||
Meaning: For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

For one who is born death is certain. This is because of the reality of a fixed time limit of the existence of the physical body. The fact that this reality is inevitable.  Rebirth is due to the nature of activities performed in one’s previous existence which causes one to be continuously connected to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, it does not befit someone like Arjuna to grieve over the unavoidable cycle of birth, death and rebirth which is dependent on prior actions. 

One has to take birth according to one’s activities of life. And, after finishing one term of activities, one has to die to take birth for the next. In this way the cycle of birth and death is revolving, one after the other without liberation. This cycle of birth and death does not, however, support unnecessary murder, slaughter and war. But at the same time, violence and war are inevitable factors in human society for keeping law and order.

The Battle of Kuruksetra, being the will of the Supreme, was an inevitable event, and to fight for the right cause is the duty of a kshatriya. Why should Arjuna be afraid of or aggrieved at the death of his relatives since he was discharging his proper duty? By avoiding the discharge of his proper duty, he would not be able to stop the death of his relatives, and he would be degraded due to his selection of the wrong path of action.

Therefore understanding the reality of the existence of birth and death there should be no delusion.

2.28     Shloka 2.28

अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत।
अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना।।2.28।।
Avyaktadini bhutani vyakta-madhyani bharata        |
Avyakta-nidhanany eva tatra ka paridevana       ||2.28||
Meaning: All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?

In this verse the Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains the fact that here on Earth whatever happened before birth is unknown by the use of the word ‘avyaktadini’. Living entities like human beings though eternally existing due to the auspices of each one’s eternal soul have an unknown origin before birth, a manifest condition from birth to death and proceed again to an unknown existence at the termination of the physical body. Such alternations constitute material existence and are a natural law. This then gives no cause to grieve. Having just shown that even if one erroneously was under the misapprehension that the physical body itself and the eternal soul are the same; there is still no reason to grieve.

If we were to accept our origin as being non-existent, because it is subatomic it is imperceptible, it is still existing then we can accept that all things appear from the five material elements for e.g. a giant tree emerging from a tiny seedling. Therefore in the matter of the existence of living entities, the unmanifest that is imperceptibly subtle, transforms itself into the manifest by modification which is known as birth and after some time again transforms itself into the unmanifest which is known as death. So when the correct understanding of birth and death is realised then what possibly is the necessity for lamentation? This is not befitting for one who is situated in spiritual intelligence.

It should not under any circumstances be erroneously assumed or mistakenly believed that from a non-existent condition the existent was produced and that because of the cause being non-existent then the effect is non- existent and thus the world is also non-existent. How can it be reconciled that the something can be produced from nothing?  That is a preposterous hypothesis that existence can manifest from the non-existent.

2.29     Shloka 2.29

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्िचदेन माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः।
आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः श्रृणोति श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्िचत्।।2.29।।
Ascarya-vat pasyati kascid enam ascarya-vad vadati tathaiva canyah       |
Aascarya-vac cainam anyah srnoti srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit ||2.29||
Meaning: Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.

The soul is always referred to as being eternal. This is because it is immutable by nature. The soul is extremely difficult to realise due to its supra-subtlety but it does not become perceptible simply because it is different from the physical body. So the soul is referred to in this verse as being amazing. It is those beings out of millions of beings who by devotion to Lord Krishna have received the mercy to be free from physical attachment and purify their hearts in order to perceive their soul, they see the soul as amazing. In what way is the soul amazing? The soul is more amazing than anything experienced previously because it is transcendent to everything experienced in the material existence.

It is not only amazing to the one who perceives the soul as amazing but also to the preceptor who describes the soul as amazing and to the disciple who learns from the preceptor that the soul is amazing as well. There is nothing in material existence that the soul can be compared with. So some others although hearing about the soul are still unable to comprehend it. The understanding is that the perceiver of the soul, the preceptor who describes the soul and the disciple who learns about the soul are all exceedingly difficult to gain association with in life.

In the Katha Upanishad, it states:
sravanayapi bahubhir yo na labhyah srnvanto ‘pi bahavo yah na vidyuh |
ascaryo vakta kusalo ‘sya labdha ascaryo jnata kusalanusistah ||
Meaning:  The fact that the soul that is sub-atomic is within the body of a gigantic animal, in the body of a gigantic banyan tree, and also in the microbe sized germs, millions and billions of which occupy only an inch of space, is certainly very amazing. Men with poor knowledge and men who are not austere cannot understand the wonders of the individual atomic spark of spirit, even though it is explained by the greatest authority of knowledge.

Owing to a gross material conception of things, most cannot imagine how such a small particle can become both so great and so small. So men look at the soul proper as wonderful either by constitution or by description.

In the Vishnu Sahasranamam, Bhagavan is described in extreme contrasts in Shloka 90:
Anur Brihat Krishas Sthulo Gunabhrin Nirguno Mahaan |
Meaning:  He is Atomic, Gigantic, Thin, lightweight, Oversized and heavy, having all contrasting attributes making Him Incomprehensible to the human faculties.

Quite similarly, the Atma is all of the above (though a tiny part of the Supersoul) and cannot be comprehended with the five senses that humans possess.

In the Brahma Tarka it is stated thus:
Amazing indeed is the Supreme Lord and it is not possible to find any other comparable form to Him. Therefore wisdom about Him is very similar to perceiving Him. 

2.30     Shloka 2.30

देही नित्यमवध्योऽयं देहे सर्वस्य भारत।
तस्मात्सर्वाणि भूतानि न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.30।।
Dehi nityam avadhyo ‘yam dehe sarvasya bharata     |
Tasmat sarvani bhutani na tvam socitum arhasi    ||2.30||
Meaning: O’ descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore, you need not grieve for any creature.

The Lord now concludes His instruction on the immutability of the Soul. In describing the immortal soul in various ways, Lord Bhagavan Shri Krishna establishes that the soul is immortal and the body is temporary. Therefore Arjuna as a khsatriya should not abandon his duty out of fear that his grandfather and teacher—Bhishma and Drona—will die in the battle.

In the Padma Purana it states:
Establishing Himself within the heart of every living entity the Supreme Lord protects each and every living entity eternally. Permanent objects like the immortal soul are protected eternally and impermanent objects such as the physical body are protected temporarily. In His manifested form or in His unmanifest presence, appearing or not appearing, throughout the material existence the Bhagavan Shri Krishna maintains and sustains all living entities for their highest good.

The eternal soul embodied within the physical body regardless whether it is a human earthly body or the physical bodies possessed by the demigods in the heavenly spheres; the immortal soul is eternally invulnerable even though the body perishes. Hence, understanding this principle as fundamental and the existence of Soul in all diverse forms of bodies ranging from humans to the animal species and the fish species and even the immovable plants and trees is important.

The soul is all pervasive and is abiding therein whatever the bodily form and is eternal, whereas the physical body is transient. The soul is immortal and hence Arjuna need not lament as it is always entering into various external forms until liberation is finally achieved.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 5 – Chapter 2 (Verses 11-20) – Sankhya Yoga

Now the teaching begins as Bhagavan starts to explain to Arjuna about ‘Atma Jnana’ or Knowledge of the Self.  Bhagavan explains to Arjuna that the ‘Soul or Atma’ is eternal, it always existed and never dies.  The body is just an encasement that is subject to decay over time and hence a perishable for which he need not grieve, as it will perish sooner or later.

2.11     Shloka 2.11

श्री भगवानुवाच
अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे  
गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः  ।।2.11।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase |
Gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah  ||2.11||
Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.

Bhagavan at once took the position of the teacher and chastised the student, calling him, indirectly, a fool. Bhagavan said, you are talking like a learned man, but you do not know that one who is learned—one who knows about the body and the soul— does not lament for the body at any stage, neither in the living nor dead.

In order to evoke the power of discrimination between the physical body and the soul, Shri Krishna rejecting Arjuna’s contention and replied that he was grieving for those who should not be grieved for. Shri Krishna responds to Arjuna’s statement in chapter 1, verse 32 where he says: Of what use is the kingdom, this fabulous wealth and enjoyments or even living if it is to obtained by killing one’ kins.

The body is born and is destined decay and vanish sometime in the future, lamenting for something known to be a perishable is foolish.  One who knows that the Atma is ‘Nitya’ or eternal is actually the learned man, and for him there is no cause for lamentation, regardless of the condition of the gross body.

Those who are illumined due to realization are ‘prajnah’ or wise and knowledgeable. ‘Avadah’ means they who are opposed to the Vedic injunctions. Whatever the wise and knowledgeable proclaim is always in conformity with the Vedic injunctions. Whatever is contrary to the Vedic injunctions on any level of consciousness is not worthy of contemplation.

The Mundaka Upanishad states that one who has realised the Ultimate Truth, whose heart is calm and whose senses are under control, such a person who is enlightened should compulsorily impart the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth to others by which they can also become self-realised.

Those with spiritual intelligence do not grieve for the dead or the living. The root word of ‘panditah’ is ‘panda’ meaning ‘learned’ or one endowed with the power of discriminative intellect. Those who possess such discrimination are considered wise. The wise never lament for the physical body.

Encompassing all that exists, internal and external is the Supreme. Everything existing is manifested from Him. One who is peaceful and tranquil should propitiate and worship under all circumstances. Under the control of the Supreme the whole cosmic manifestation functions.

In the Katha Upanishad, it says:
Bhayaad asya agnis tapati bhayaat Tapati Suryah |
Bhayaat Indrashcha Vaayushcha Mrityur Dhaavati Panchamah || K.U. 2.6.3
Meaning: Out of Fear for Him the fire burns, for fear of Him shines the Sun, for the fear of Him do Indra, the wind (Vaayu) and Death (Yama), the fifth proceed with their respective functions’. In other words the Nature obeys His laws unquestioningly and with total commitment as though out of fear of him.

We have a similar Mantra in the Taittriya Upanishad (2.8.1):
Bhisha asmad vatah pavate bhishodeti Suryah
Bhisha asmad agnish cha indresh cha Mrutyurdhavati panchama iti |
Meaning: Out of fear of Him the wind blows; Out of fear of Him the Sun rises; Out of fear of Him burns the Fire, as also Indra and Death, the fifth proceeds to their respective duties.

The all-pervading, omnipresent, soul of all being and of the nature of being eternally, simultaneously one and distinctly different.

2.12     Shloka 2.12

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ।।2.12।।

Na tvevaham jatu nasam Na tvam neme janadhipah |
Na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param ||2.12||
Meaning: 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.

Bhagavan is explaining that the Atma is eternal and always existed and it is the body that takes different forms.

In the Katha Upanishad it says:
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati Kaamaan   |
Tam atmastham ye ‘nupasyanti dhiras tesam santih sasvati netaresam ||K.U. 2.2.13||
Meaning: The Eternal among the non-eternals, the Intelligence among the intelligent, who, though one, fulfils the desires of many—those dhiras (persistent, brave and calm) who perceive Him as existing within their own self, to them belong eternal peace and to none else.

Atman is described in a few significant phrases:
एको वशी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा, नित्योऽनित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानाम् |
eko vashi sarvabhutAntarAtma, nityo’nityaanaaṃ cetanas cetananaam |

एको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान्                |
Eko bahunaaṃ yo vidadhaati kaamaan |

The Supreme One who is the Controller of all, who is Antaryami – the inner Self of all beings, the Eternal among the non-eternals, the Intelligent among the intelligent, and who, though One, fulfils the desires of the many. 

The same Vedic truth given to Arjuna is given to all persons in the world who pose themselves as very learned but they actually have very poor knowledge. It is not that they did not exist as individuals in the past, and it is not that they will not remain eternal persons. Their individuality existed in the past, and their individuality will continue in the future without interruption. Therefore, there is no cause for lamentation for anyone.

Bhagavan does not deal with the liberation the individual soul here and says that it existed in the past and will do so in the future as well, as confirmed in this Upanishad.

When we begin learning we move from a basic level to intermediate level and finally to the advanced level.  Hence the concept of salvation or Moksha will be introduced in the later Chapters.

The Skanda Purana contains the following:

There is no possibility of any destruction of the Ultimate Consciousness of the Supreme.  The same applies to the individual consciousness of all living entities as the Lord is the Antaryami (inner self). The connection and disconnection from the physical body is known as birth and death. This is the reality for all living entities.

So this explains and puts into the proper perspective the dissolution of the material manifestation at the time of universal destruction. By negating the origin and destruction of the soul, its very existence is proven in all three stages of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution. All souls are immortal and hence should never be grieved for.

2.13     Shloka 2.13

देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा 
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति  ।।2.13।।

Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara      |
Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati      ||2.13||
Meaning: As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realised soul is not bewildered by such a change.

Since every living entity is an individual soul, each is changing every moment, manifesting sometimes as a child, sometimes as a youth, and sometimes as an old man. Yet the same spirit soul is there and does not undergo any change. This individual soul finally changes the body at death and transmigrates to another body; and since it is sure to have another body in the next birth—either material or spiritual—there was no cause for lamentation by Arjuna on account of death, neither for Bhisma nor for Drona, for whom he was so much concerned.

As Bhishma and Drona, being noble souls, were surely going to have either spiritual bodies in the next life, or at least life in heavenly bodies for superior enjoyment of material existence. So, in either case, there was no cause for lamentation.

Any man who has perfect knowledge of the constitution of the individual soul, the Supersoul, and nature—both material and spiritual—is called a dhira or a most sober man. Such a man is never deluded by the change of bodies.

The body is just the container and when the soul departs, the body has no further identification with the soul and returns to its elements. While the soul remains within the physical body in all three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, it is possible to perceive the existence of the soul as an independent consciousness.

The soul cannot be destroyed. Hence the statement ‘dehinah’ meaning the soul being the occupier of the deha. With the deterioration and demise of the body comes the acceptance of a new body.  Therefore if perceived as a further modification of the body after old age, there is no justification for sorrow.

2.14     Shloka 2.14

मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत  ।।2.14।।

Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah      |
Agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata                 ||2.14||
Meaning: O’ Son of Kunti, the interaction of the senses and the sense objects give cold, heat, pleasure and pain. These are temporary, appearing and disappearing from time to time, therefore O’ Bharata, learn to tolerate them.

The two different names to address Arjuna are also significant. To address him as Kaunteya signifies his proximity of blood relations from his mother’s side; and to address him as Bharata signifies his greatness from his father’s side. He has a great heritage from both sides and that brings with it responsibility to properly discharge duties; therefore, he cannot avoid fighting.

‘Matra’ (Tanmatras – Touch, Sound, Speech, Taste and Smell) means sensuous experience and ‘sparsas’ means contact with them thus matra-sparsas is the interaction of the senses with the sense objects. Although it is the body that actually experiences these things, anyone with lack of sufficient knowledge who considers that they are their body automatically classifies the soul as the body as well and this misconception is the cause of all sorrow.

Since it is evident that contact with the senses is experienced only in the waking state and not in any other state; it is clear that only when there is contact with the physical body which includes the mind, is there an effect and this proves that the individual consciousness itself is not affected.

Consequently when the individual consciousness is deluded into relating to itself as the body, pleasure and pain is experienced; but when the individual consciousness sees itself as separate from the physical body then the sorrow arising from the death of friends and relatives would not arise.

Therefore one should just tolerate them with discrimination, patience and fortitude for they will disappear in due course of time. So the one who attain this spiritual intelligence that the soul is eternal they neither lament nor are they deluded.

2.15     Shloka 2.15

यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ 
समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते  ।।2.15।।

Yam hi na vyathayanty ete purusam purusarsabha           |
Sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram so ‘mrtatvaya kalpate ||2.15||
Meaning: O best among men [Arjuna], that person who is of wise judgment is equipoised in happiness and distress, who is steady and not be disturbed by these is certainly eligible for liberation.

Anyone who is steady in his determination for the advanced stage of spiritual realisation and is equipoised in distress and happiness is certainly a person eligible for liberation. In the varna ashrama institution, the fourth stage of life, namely the sannyasa (renounced life) is a painstaking stage. But one who is serious about making his life perfect adopts the sannyasa order of life in spite of all difficulties.

The difficulties usually arise from having to sever family relationships, to give up the connection of wife and children. But if anyone is able to tolerate such difficulties, surely his path to spiritual realisation is complete. Similarly, in Arjuna’s discharge of duties as a khsatriya, he is advised to persevere, even if it is difficult, to fight with his family members or similarly beloved persons.

When one has relinquished all conceptions of being the physical body one becomes naturally filled with the spiritual attributes that are inherent of the soul. Fixed in this awareness one is known as a Purusha, and the word ‘pura’ in purusha signifies full or complete, so complete with noble attributes and full in wisdom, the meaning of the word Purusha is ‘illuminated’.

2.16     Shloka 2.16

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः  |
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः  ।।2.16।।

Nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah                 |
Ubhayor api drsto ‘ntas tv anayos tattva-darsibhih ||2.16||
Meaning:  In the unreal there is no duration and in the real there is no cessation; indeed the distinction between both of these have been analysed by the knowers’ of the truth and established conclusively by them.

The body undergoes physical changes but is not enduring. But the spirit or the soul exists permanently, remaining the same despite all the changes to the body and the mind. That is the difference between matter and spirit.

In the Vishnu Purana it is stated that Sri MahaVishnu and His abodes all have self-illuminated spiritual existence – ‘Jyotimsi Vishnur bhavanani Vishnuh’. 

The statement ‘nasato vidyate bhavo’ is specifically used to emphasise a spiritual truth. For e.g. a flower to be offered to the Lord which blossomed today, did not exist last week and will perish by next week but is utilised while available. While the existence of the flowers is real appearing as real it’s not durable and hence ‘asat’ or ‘mithya’.

Sri RamanujAcharya states that which is known to be asat or material cannot be made to be sat or spiritual and that which is sat or spiritual cannot be made to be asat or material. To those established in truth, the ultimate nature of both are matters discerned by the direct perception of observation.

The literal meaning of ‘anta’ means end and in this verse it means the summation or conclusion of the essential natures of sat and asat. The authoritative conclusion arrived by great sages in this matter is that the nature of the physical body is asat being temporary and that the nature of the spiritual soul is sat being eternal.

That which is asat is therefore known by its perishable nature and that which is sat is known by its imperishable nature. Hence it is clear that what is indicated by satva and asatva are the soul and the body.

The Vishnu Purana states: knowledge of the ‘atma or soul’ is indeed satyam or truth and everything else is ‘not truth’. That which is imperishable is the highest truth and that which is derived by means of perishable things is undoubtedly perishable as well.

The nature of the duration and cessation of things in this world cannot be learnt by one lacking spiritual intelligence.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises the point that the reality of the duration and cessation in the material existence has been perceived by those elevated souls who have attained the Ultimate Truth. The eternal reality of the immortality of the soul is revealed in the Vedic scriptures and this has been realised by those who have achieved this understanding.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that due to his improper understanding of the difference between the perishable nature of the Body and the imperishable nature of the Soul, he is needlessly grief-stricken.

2.17     Shloka 2.17

अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम्  
विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्िचत् कर्तुमर्हति  ।।2.17।।

Avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam        |
Vinasam avyayasya na kascit kartum arhati   ||2.17||
Meaning: Know that which pervades the entire body (Consciousness or Soul) is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.

This verse more clearly explains the real nature of the soul, which is spread all over the body in the form of consciousness. Everyone is conscious of the pains and pleasures of the body and hence this spreading of consciousness is limited within one’s own body. Therefore, each and every body is the embodiment of an individual soul, and the symptom of the soul’s presence is perceived as individual consciousness. This soul is described as one ten-thousandth part of the upper portion of the hair point in size. The Svetasvatara Upanishad confirms this:
balagra-sata-bhagasya satadha kalpitasya ca     |
bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate ||5.9||
Meaning: That individual soul is as subtle as a hair-point divided and sub-divided hundreds of times. Yet He is potentially infinite and has to be known.

Therefore, the individual particle of spirit soul is a spiritual atom smaller than the material atoms, and such atoms are innumerable. This very small spiritual spark is the basic principle of the material body, and the influence of such a spiritual spark is spread all over the body as the influence of the active principle of some medicine spreads throughout the body. This current of the spirit soul is felt all over the body as consciousness, and that is the proof of the presence of the soul. Any layman can understand that the material body minus consciousness is a dead body, and this consciousness cannot be revived in the body by any means of material administration. Therefore, consciousness is not due to any amount of material combination, but to the spirit soul.

In the Mundaka Upanisad the nature of the atomic spirit soul is further explained:
eso ‘nuratma cetasa veditavyo yasmin pranah pancadha samvivesa |
pranais cittam sarvam otam prajanam yasmin visuddhe vibhavaty esa atma ||3.1.9||
Meaning:  The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.”

The hatha-yoga system is meant for controlling the five kinds of air encircling the pure soul by different kinds of sitting postures—not for any material gain, but for liberation of the minute soul from the entanglement of the material atmosphere.

When a hammer strikes an object with excessive force an extreme vibration produces a molecular disruption which causes the destruction of the object. But in the case of the soul there is no potential for destruction. For e.g. when light penetrates a glass jar, the light is not destroyed when the glass is broken; similarly the soul is like light in relation to the body, thus imperishable.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises the definitive position of the soul with the word ‘avyayasya’ meaning indestructible. The pervasiveness of the Soul is so extremely subtle that it is impossible for anything to cause the destruction because whatever would be attempting to destroy it is also completely pervaded by it as well.

2.18     Shloka 2.18

अन्तवन्त इमे देहा नित्यस्योक्ताः शरीरिणः 
अनाशिनोऽप्रमेयस्य तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत  ।।2.18।।

antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririnah                  |
anasino ‘prameyasya tasmad yudhyasva bharata ||2.18||
Meaning: The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible, immeasurable and infinite. Only the material body is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O’ descendant of Bharata.

The material body is perishable by nature. It may perish immediately, or it may do so after a hundred years. It is a matter of time. But the spirit soul is indestructible and is so minute that that no one has any idea of how to measure it. So from both viewpoints there is no cause for lamentation because the living entity (Soul) cannot be destroyed and the material body cannot be protected forever.

In the Vedanta-sutras the living entity is qualified as light because he is part and parcel of the Supreme light. As Sunlight maintains the entire universe, so does the light of the soul which maintains this material body. As soon as the spirit soul is out of this material body, the body begins to decompose; therefore it is the spirit soul that maintains the body. The body itself is unimportant, hence, Arjuna was advised to fight.

In the Taittiriya Upanisad it is stated :

One who knows the Supreme Lord as the Ultimate Truth, as what is real, as what is knowledge and as what is infinite; simultaneously existing within the heart of all living entities as well as in the eternal spiritual world has realised all there is that needs to be known.

Transcending to that state of awareness which consists of total bliss, descending and ascending in various worlds, assuming the form one desires, all actions manifesting according to one’s desires, one sings and chants the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna in sublime ecstasy. Attaining this transcendental state of affinity to the Supreme Lord, being completely protected in this state, the individual soul resides blissfully in full consciousness.

In the BrihadAranyaka Upanisad it is stated:

In that state of liberation there is no seeing although everything is seen. Because of attaining the transcendental state, becoming imperishable in consciousness, there is nothing perceived other than the transcendental state which permeates everything and which the Self is. Thus there is nothing separate from the Self which can be differentiated and in this way everything can be seen as transcendental, as Brahman.

If by liberation the individual consciousness ceases to exist then what is the purpose of deliverance? The reverend sage Yajnavalkya eradicated this doubt by clarifying that in this transcendental state all the mundane academic perceptions of empirical knowledge cease to exist being replaced by the transcendental perception and realisation of the Ultimate Truth. How could it ever be possible that cessation of mundane perceptions of empirical knowledge could simultaneously cause cessation of the Soul? It is not possible nor can it ever be possible. The eternal Soul being independent from the mind and body is not subject to cessation.

Essentially the Bhagavan is different from the creation of the material manifestation. Because the Universe is dependent upon creation it is said to be different as it is. In regard to enjoyment of the senses of smell, sight etc. they are known to be perceived only due to the potency generated by the presence of the Soul. Thus the empirical experience of the Self is similar to the realisation of the Supreme Lord. There is nothing else is to be known when one realises one’s Soul one as he/she realises the Supreme Brahman.

When the soul does not see anything as different from its own Self then there is no perception of separateness from anything and there is oneness with everything, in the same way the Supreme Lord does not see anything as separate from Himself.  When one attains this state of perception there is no separateness between the individual consciousness and the Ultimate Consciousness and there is no delusion ever regarding knowledge of the Supreme.

Neither liberated souls nor the material substratum can be superior to Bhagavan. But by knowledge of Him, by knowledge of His name and form, by having knowledge of His sagacious instructions, by the knowledge of His pastimes, qualities and associates all living entities can experience the essence of the Supreme Lord according to their abilities. When one attains communion with the Supreme Lord how can there be any difficulties? How can there be any ignorance? How can there be any bewilderment? It is not possible for one to be liberated without the grace of the Supreme Lord.

From ‘aheya’ the word ‘aham’ has been derived which symbolises the immutable Supreme Lord Krishna. Because He possesses all attributes He is known as ‘Para Brahman’. He is known as ‘asmi’ because he destroys all evil and is existing eternally. Being resplendent He is known as ‘tvam’. All these words intimating activity, intimating elements and intimating attributes refer solely to the Supreme Lord. Because He is the foremost among all performers of activities He is known as yushmat. Because He abides in the heart of all living entities with His potencies He is known by the word asmat and because He is imperceivable He is known by the word tat. On attaining self- realisation one will understand that all these indications represent only His predominant role.

The Story of Svetaketu

The greatest of the great mahavakyas ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ (‘That Thou Art’ or ‘You Are That’) originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad (c.600 BCE) in the dialogue between Sage Uddalaka Aruni, the father and his son Svetaketu where the father explains the relationship between the individual and the Absolute.  Svetaketu is more like a disciple than a son, and Uddalaka more like a Guru than a father.

‘Tat’ is the Brahman and ‘tvam’ the divine self, the Atman that resides in all beings. ‘Asi’ is an affirmation that harmonises the Brahman and Atman.  The statement is frequently repeated in the sixth chapter as the father who is also the teacher instructs his son regarding the nature of Brahman, the supreme reality. 

Sage Uddalaka was deeply concerned about his young son Svetaketu. His son had just returned home full of pride in his Vedic learning after 12 years from an eminent guru. Having studied all the Vedas the Sage Svetaketu becoming extremely conceited, arrogantly assumed because he was so knowledgeable that he was not human but a partial manifestation of the Supreme Lord Himself. Thinking thus, he became disrespectful to his own father.

His father said to him: ‘Svetaketu, I know you have learned a lot, can you tell me by which we hear the unhearable, perceive the unperceivable, know the unknowable?’

‘Sir, I am not aware of that knowledge,’ said Svetaketu. ‘I request you to please teach me that essential thing by which everything else becomes known?’

Uddhakala Aruni answered the question himself.

‘That is Brahman, the truth, the subtle essence of all and the Self. Son, you are aware of the fact that there are many products made out of clay, but the clay is the real thing. Likewise there are also different forms of gold ornaments but the real thing is the gold.

Even if the forms and names are lost, the essence of the article is revealed as clay or gold. That essential nature is the ultimate truth. Forms and names are immaterial to know the Reality, which is the Supreme Being’.

‘Son, by knowing the material cause (gold/clay) all its effects (ornaments/pots) are known. This universe with all its myriad forms and features was earlier with the One and the real Brahman.   That Brahman is the material and intelligent cause of this Jagat or this World.

 It is the ultimate reality, but it did not create anything, everything is projected out of its own being– but not as a separate entity, for, son, Brahman is within everything as its own Reality, as its Self, as its subtle essence, and that, my dear Svetaketu, That Art Thou’. 

Svetaketu says, “My Gurus did not appear to have understood all these things. They never taught me these things,” says the boy to the father. “If they had known this, why should they have not told this to me? I have never heard these things up to this time. I have studied the four Vedas, I have studied the Shastras, but nothing of this kind was heard from any quarter. What is this? Please, sir, I want to know more about this Self.’ 

Uddlaka Aruni began to explain to his son, “My dear boy, there was only a single Reality existing in the beginning. There was no variety of life forms. It was one, without a second. There was nothing outside it; nothing external to it, to compete with it, to equal it or to be different from it. There is no conceivable reality in this world of this nature. Whatever be the stretch of your imagination, you cannot conceive of something outside which nothing is. At least space would be there, time would be there, something would be there. But even space and time are objects, externals, effects that came afterwards in the process of creation. And, therefore, they too are negated in the case of this reality. That alone was.”

Uddalaka went on further, “there are some people who think that, originally, Non-Being as an origin of things under peculiar conditions. But how can Being come from Non-Being? Has anyone seen such a phenomenon? But how can something out of nothing? We have never heard of such a possibility.

So Uddalaka says: “My dear boy, though it is true that there are people who hold the doctrine that Being proceeded out of Non-Being as an effect, but this is not a practicability. It is inconceivable. Non-Being cannot be the cause of Being. Nor can we say that Being is the cause of Being. It is a tautology of expression. ‘A is the cause of A’—you cannot say that. It is a meaningless way of speaking. If Being is also not the cause of Being, then what is the cause of Being?

No cause. There cannot be a cause for Being. So it must be a causeless Being. If it has a cause, we must explain what that cause could be, and the cause should be either Being or Non-Being. There cannot be a third thing. Being cannot be the cause of Being; Non-Being also cannot be the cause of Being, so there is No cause for Being. It is causeless existence.

If there is no cause then you have to say that there is no such thing as an effect. But if there is no such thing as an effect, how comes the creation? If creation has to be explained, the nature of an effect has to be explained; but you cannot understand what an effect is. And therefore you cannot understand what creation is.

But there was creation. So, there must be a Creator. How can there be creation without a Creator? The Creator was the Absolute Being. This is what I posit as the Ultimate Reality. And what would be the process of creation and the cause for creation? The intention of the Creator is the cause of creation. The will of the artist is the cause of the manufacture of the effect or the product in the form of sculpture, architectural piece, painting, etc. The intention, the will, the original meditation or tapas, as sometimes it is called, of the Supreme Being is the cause of creation. IT WILLED.

Uddalaka said, “In the beginning of creation, O child, the Sat or True Being alone existed. It had neither an equal nor a second. It thought, ‘Let me multiply myself and create beings.’ He first created Tejas or fire god. The fire god wanted to multiply himself. He created the water god. That is why whenever anybody weeps or perspires, water comes out. The water god wanted to multiply himself and created the food god. Then the True Being thought, ‘I have now created these three gods. Now I shall enter them as Jivatma and assume name and form!’ 

‘Later on, the True Being thought, ‘I shall now make each of them enter into the other.’ “Having thus entered them with His living spirit, It assumed names and forms like Agni, Indra etc. The True Being made them enter into one another, again. 0 child, now learn what each became thereafter. Whatever was fire showed as red. Whatever was water showed as white and whatever was food showed as black. Thus you will see the word Agni vanishes in fire. This change has only been in name. The three primary forms Tejas, Apas or water and Annam or food are the only true forms. 

The red colour of the Sun is Tejas; its white colour is water; its black colour is the food or the earth. Thus the name Aditya for Sun should vanish. It is only a conventional name. “You have now learnt from me, child, how every deity and element is descended from the three primary forms of the True Being.”

“He or the Sat alone is all-name, because every name is His name. He alone is all-power, because every power is His. All the forms that belong to others are reflections of His form. He is the only one without an equal or second. He is the best of all. He being the Chief, He is called Sat or the True Being. Knowing Him we know everything else.

When a man sleeps soundly, he comes into contact with the Sat. When man dies, his speech merges in the mind, the mind in his breath, his breath in the fire and the fire in the Highest God, the True Being. Thus the soul or Jiva-Atman is deathless. All the universe is controlled by the Sat. He pervades it all. He is the destroyer of all. He is full of perfect qualities. O Svetaketu, you are not that God. 

The whole universe has That as its soul. That is Reality, That is the Self, and That is you, Svetaketu.

 ‘Please, sir, tell me more about that subtle essence which is the supreme reality’ said the son.

Uddalaka said, “The bees, my child, collect the honey from different flowers and mix them in the hive. Now, honeys of different flowers cannot know one from the other. 

“My child, the rivers that run in the different directions rise from the sea and go back to the sea. Yet the sea remains the same. The rivers, while in the sea, cannot identify themselves as one particular river or another. So also creatures that have come from Sat know not that they have come from that Sat, although they become one or the other again and again.” 

‘O.k’, said the father, ‘Bring a fruit of that Nyagrodha [Banyan] tree’.

Uddalaka then asked his son to bring a fig fruit. When he did so, Uddalaka asked him to break it. He broke it. 

Uddalaka: “What do you see in it?” 

Svetaketu “I see small seeds.” 

Uddalaka “Break one of the seeds and say what you see.” 

Svetaketu “Nothing Sir.” 

Uddalaka: “You are unable to see the minute particles of the seed after breaking it. Now, the big fig tree is born out of that essence of that particle. Like that, the True Being is the essence of all creation.”

Uddalaka asked his son to bring some salt and put it into a cup of water and bring the cup next morning.  Svetaketu did so. 

Uddalaka: “You put the salt into the water in this cup. Can you take the salt out? 

Svetaketu “I am unable to find the salt; for it has dissolved.” 

Uddalaka “Taste a drop from the surface of this water.”

Svetaketu “It is saltish.” 

Uddalaka “Now taste a drop from the middle of the cup.” 

Svetaketu “It tastes the same, saltish.” 

Uddalaka: “Now taste a drop from the bottom.” 

Svetaketu “It is saltish all the same.” 

Uddalaka “Now child, you do not see the salt, although it is certainly in the water. Even so, the True Being is present everywhere in this universe, although you do not see Him. He is the essence of all, and the desired of all. He is known to the subtlest intellect.” 

Svetaketu became humble thereafter, and became a great rishi himself in course of time. Then the father said, “Here likewise in this body of yours, my son, you do not perceive the True; but there, in fact, it is. In that which is the subtle essence, all that exists has its self.

That is the Truth, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That – Tat Tvam Asi.”

Therefore Arjuna is being instructed to unsnare himself from his delusion and do his duty.

2.19     Shloka 2.19

य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम्  
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते  ।।2.19।।

Ya enam vetti hantaram yas cainam manyate hatam      |
Ubhau tau na vijanito nayam hanti na hanyate           ||2.19|| 

Meaning: He who thinks that the Soul is the slayer and he who thinks that the Soul is slain; both of them are ignorant and wrong; the Soul neither slays nor is slain.

When an embodied living entity is hurt by fatal weapons, it is to be known that the living entity within the body is not killed. The spirit soul is so small that it is impossible to kill that by any material weapon. Nor is the living entity killable because of its spiritual constitution. What is killed, or is supposed to be killed, is the body only. This, however, does not at all encourage killing of the body. The Vedic injunction is, “mahimsyat sarva-bhutani” never commit violence to anyone. Nor does the understanding that the living entity is not killed encourage animal slaughter. Killing the body of any being without authority is abominable. Arjuna, however, is being engaged in killing for the principle of Dharma, and not whimsically.

The soul being of an eternal nature can never be destroyed by anything nor can the soul ever destroy anything. Not being able to fathom the intrinsic nature of the soul they cannot realize that the soul is never the instigator of any action nor is the soul ever the recipient of any action.

2.20     Shloka 2.20

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि न्नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः 
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे  ।।2.20।।

Na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah     |
Ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire      ||2.20||
Meaning:
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Qualitatively, the small atomic fragmental part of the Supreme Spirit is one with the Supreme. He undergoes no changes like the body. Sometimes the soul is called the steady, or kutastha. 

The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its form in the womb of the mother’s body, is born, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into the oblivion. The soul, however, does not go through such changes. The soul is not born, but, because it takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth, and the soul does not die. Because the soul has no birth, it therefore has no past, present or future. It is eternal, ever-existing, and primeval—that is, there is no trace in history of it coming into being.

In the Katha Upanishad we find a similar passage which reads:
na jayate mriyate va vipascin nayam kutascin na vibhuva kascit
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire ||1.2.18||

The meaning and purport of this verse is the same as in the Bhagavad-gita, but here in this verse there is a special word, ‘vipascit’, which means learned or with knowledge.  The soul is full of knowledge, or full always with consciousness. Therefore, consciousness is the symptom of the soul. Even if one does not find the soul within the heart, where he is situated, one can still understand the presence of the soul simply by the presence of consciousness. Sometimes we may not find the Sun in the sky due to the presence of clouds, but the light from the Sun is always there, and we are, therefore, convinced it is daytime. Similarly, since there is some consciousness in all bodies—whether man or animal—we can understand the presence of the Soul. This consciousness of the Soul is, however, different from the consciousness of the Supreme because the Supreme Consciousness is all-knowledge—past, present and future. However, the consciousness of the individual Soul is prone to be forgetful.

There are two kinds of souls—namely the minute particle soul (anu-atma) and the Supersoul (the vibhu-atma). This is also confirmed in the Katha Upanishad in this way:
anor aniyan mahato mahiyan atmasya jantor nihito guhayam  |
tam akratuh pasyati vita-soko dhatuh prasadan mahimanam atmanah ||1.2.20||
Meaning: The Atman that is subtler than the sublest, and greater than the greatest, is seated in the cavity of the heart of each living being. He, who is free from willing and wishing, with his mind and senses composed, beholds the majesty of the Self and becomes free from sorrow.

Both the Supersoul [Paramatma] and the atomic soul [jivatma] are situated on the same tress of the body within the same heart of the living being, and only one who has become free from all material desires as well as lamentations can, by the grace of the Supreme, understand the glories of the soul.

In the Mundaka Upanishad, it says:

द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते । 
तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्यो अभिचाकशीति ॥

dva suparṇa sayuja sakhaayaa samaanaṃ vṛkṣaṃ pariṣasvajaate | 
tayoranyaḥ pippalaṃ svaadvattyanashnannanyo abhicaakashiti || 3.1.1 ||
Meaning: Two inseparable companions of fine plumage perch on the self-same tree. One of the two feeds on the delicious fruit. The other not tasting of it looks on.

The two birds are the Jiva and Isvara, both existing in an individual compared to a tree. They exist together as the reflection and the original. They both manifest themselves in different ways in every individual. The body is compared to a tree because it can be cut down like a tree. This tree is also called the Kshetra or the field of manifestation and action of the Kshetrajna (the Knower of the field). The body is the field of action and experience and it is the fruit of actions done already. The fruits enjoyed by the Jiva are of the nature of pleasure and pain, i.e., they are all relative experiences born of non-discrimination. The experience of Isvara is eternal and is of the nature of purity, knowledge and freedom.

The eternal soul is also permanent but the eternal soul never exists independently; it has limited power, limited knowledge, incomplete in itself, dependent upon the transcendental energy of the Supreme Lord. In juxtaposition to that are the sublime attributes of the Supreme Lord who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Therefore the holy sages and rishis designated them both as ‘sasvatah’ or permanent. Thus in the Visnu Purana because the living entity is embodied in countless bodies from the beginning of time it is known as puranah meaning ancient. The word purana means ancient. Etymologically it stems from purapi navah meaning old yet new illustrating that the eternal soul although ancient is experienced with every birth as ever new. Thus it has been clarified that the physical body only perishes but never can the eternal soul perish.

The imperishable soul which pervades the physical body of all living entities is aja or unborn and thus it is known to be eternal and constant only changing its external embodied form. The two characteristics of being eternal and constant denote that like the material substratum known as prakriti even the most subtle and infinitesimal modifications in the stage preceding manifestation has no ability in any way to affect the eternal soul.

The living entity and the Supreme Lord are both irrevocably established as unborn, eternal and indestructible. The Supreme Lord possessing a spiritual body does not come into existence by being associated with the material manifestation; but is eternally existing independently. Death correctly comprehended is merely the separation of the embodied soul from the physical body leaving it lifeless.

The soul is never born and never dies at any time. How can this be? The soul exists eternally but opting the experiences of the material existence accepts a physical body. What did not exist in the past but is manifested only in the present is called conceived and that which exists now but will cease to exist eventually is called dead. But the soul is not conceived as it eternally exists and it will never die because it is immortal.

With the two words ‘ajah’ meaning ‘unborn’ and ‘nityah’ meaning eternal, it is made clear that the modifications of birth and death are not applicable with regards to the soul. The modification of any growth of the soul is neutralised by the word ‘puranah’ meaning ancient, that it always existed as it is. The soul is bereft of any of the six modifications of the physical body and hence can never be destroyed and it is only the physical body that is destroyed.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 4 – Chapter 2 (Verses 1-10) – Sankhya Yoga

Introduction to Chapter 2

At the end of Chapter 1, we saw Arjuna was disillusioned and miserable.  Bhagavan did not even utter a word in the entire Chapter 1 while Arjuna was lamenting, thereby underlining the importance of listening without interrupting or getting judgmental. Something for the TV News anchors to take note!

The first Chapter was the preparatory for the actual teachings of Gita to begin.  The Second Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is called “Sankhya Yoga”. Sankhya means number and Yoga means Union, hence Sankhya Yoga means the Union of Numbers. The numbers are with regard to the number of realities (tattvas) that are present in existence.  Samkhya Yoga deals with the union or the combination of a number of hidden realities, which manifest the existential reality.

It is important to note the difference between the Sankhya Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita and the Sankhya philosophy of Sage Kapila.  Sage Kapila attempted to classify the world into different categories such as matter, the sense organs, the mind, the intellect etc. It states that the Universe is a combination of: Prakriti (Matter) and Purusha (Spirit). There is no reference to a God in the Sankhya school of philosophy.  Thus, the Sankhya school of Kapila is quite similar to the modern theories of evolution, which consider the world and life as products of chance. Their theory is based on the premise that live manifested when right conditions presented themselves.

Sankhya in the Bhagavad Gita has blended the key elements of the classical Sankhya Yoga while retaining the existence of a Supreme Being.

The 2nd Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita covers the following aspects:

  • The first ten verses describe the disturbed state of Arjuna’s mind and his emotional state. Finally, Arjuna surrenders to the Lord and seeks his guidance (Arjuna Saranagati – Verse 2.7)
  • Verses 11 to 38 cover Jnana Yoga, also called Sankhya Yoga
  • Verses 39 to 53 covers Karma Yoga
  • Verses 54 to 72 explains the quality of Stithapragna (one who is equipoise, steady and single pointed)

Shri Krishna makes Arjuna to recognise the reasons for his unsteady mind, and explains how he can cultivate equanimity using his intellect.

From a philosophical perspective, the Sankhya Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita lists Ishvara Tattva (God), Atma tattvas (Soul), Body, Senses, Mind, Ego, and intellect. Of them, the first two are pure (Shuddha) and eternal realities (Nitya tattvas), and the rest are impure (Ashuddha) and finite (Anitya). The chapter also briefly mentions the Gunas or modes of Nature which governs the behaviour, attitudes and actions of beings.

Let us now examine the teaching in the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.

2.1       Shloka 2.1

सञ्जय उवाच
तं तथा कृपयाऽविष्टमश्रुपूर्णाकुलेक्षणम्।
विषीदन्तमिदं वाक्यमुवाच मधुसूदनः।।2.1।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Tam tatha krpayavistam asru-purnakuleksanam      |
Visidantam idam vakyam uvaca Madhusudanah ||2.1||
Meaning:  Sanjaya said: Seeing Arjuna full of compassion and grief-stricken, his eyes brimming with tears, Madhusudana, spoke:

 Arjuna is a mighty warrior and tears in the eyes of a mighty warrior was unsightly. The philosophical way of looking at this is, when one’s eyes are full of tears the vision is blurred and obstructed and thus it refers here to Arjuna’s inability to see the situation with a clear perspective. As a Kshatriya he was duty bound to fight and desisting from the battle was due to his ignorance.

The use of Madhusudhana in this verse to address the Lord is significant.  This shows that Arjuna is seeking help from the Lord to destroy the demon of his ignorance and misunderstanding, just like the Lord destroyed Demon Madhu.

Having heard Arjuna’s justifications for desisting from the battle, due to the fear of receiving sin for the slaying of relatives, Dhritarashtra was relieved of the fear for his sons and he desired to know what happened next.

2.2       Shloka 2.2

श्री भगवानुवाच
कुतस्त्वा कश्मलमिदं विषमे समुपस्थितम्।
अनार्यजुष्टमस्वर्ग्यमकीर्तिकरमर्जुन  ।।2.2।।

Shri Bhagavan Uvaca
Kutas tva kasmalam idam visame samupasthitam |
Anarya-justam asvargyam akirti-karam Arjuna  ||2.2||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planes, but to infamy.

The meaning of the term ‘Bhagavan’ is explained by Parasara Muni, the father of Veda Vyasa, as the Supreme Personality who possesses all the six Kalyana Gunas namely, Jnana (Knowledge), Balam (Strength), Aishwaryam (Sovereignty or Opulence), Shakti (Infinite Power), Veeryam (Courage), and Tejas (Splendour). Besides these six auspicious qualities, Bhagavan also possesses infinite compassion (Sausheelya) and is easy to access (Saulabhya).

The Vishnu Purana in 6.5.74 states:
ऐश्वर्यस्य समग्रस्य धर्मस्य यशसरिश्रयः।
ज्ञानवैराग्ययोश्चैव षण्णां भग इतीरणा ।। VP 6.5.74
Meaning: Complete Splendour, Virtue, Glory, Opulence, Knowledge and Dispassion – these six are known as ‘Bhaga’. One who possess these Bhaga is known as Bhagavan.

He is the primeval Lord, or Bhagavan, known as Govinda, and He is the supreme cause of all causes. Srimad-Bhagavatam explains the Absolute Truth as:
Vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam  |
Brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate         ||1.2.11||
Meaning: Learned souls who know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance as Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan.

In the presence of the Supreme Being, Arjuna’s lamentation for his kinsmen is ungainly, and therefore Shri Krishna expressed His surprise with the word ‘Kutas’ meaning ‘wherefrom’? Shri Krishna desiring enquires Arjuna the source for delusion in the hour of action. Although Arjuna was a Kshatriya, he was deviating from his prescribed duties by declining to fight.

2.3       Shloka 2.3

क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते।
क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परन्तप ।।2.3।।

Klaibyam ma sma gamah partha naitat tvayy upapadyate   |
Ksudram hrdaya-daurbalyam tyaktvottistha parantapa  ||2.3||
Meaning: O son of Prtha, 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.

By addressing Arjuna as Partha (son of Prtha), Shri Krishna reminds Arjuna by referring to his mother Kunti who by worshipping Indra, was endowed with Arjuna, a warrior with extraordinary might and valour just like Indra.

Shri Krishna instructs Arjuna not to yield to this impotence as it does not befit him and that he should discard this weakness of heart.  By using the vocative ‘Parantapa’ meaning chastiser of enemies Shri Krishna is reinforcing the thought in Arjuna’s mind that he was destined to conquer all enemies.  While Arjuna wanted to give up the fight due to his magnanimity for the respected elders like Bhishma and his relatives, Shri Krishna advises that such magnanimity is misplaced and not in accordance with Kshatriya Dharma.

2.4       Shloka 2.4

अर्जुन उवाच
कथं भीष्ममहं संख्ये द्रोणं च मधुसूदन  ।
इषुभिः प्रतियोत्स्यामि पूजार्हावरिसूदन ।।2.4।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Katham Bhismam aham sankhye Dronam ca Madhusudana    |
Isubhih pratiyotsyami pujarhav ari-sudana                                  ||2.4||
Meaning: Arjuna said: O’ killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhishma and Drona, who are worthy of my worship?

Respectable superiors like Bhishma, the grandfather and Dronacharya, the Guru are always worthy of worship. Even if they attack, Arjuna feels that they should not be counterattacked.

It is general etiquette that one should not engage even in a verbal duel with elders. Then, how is it possible to counterattack them, asks Arjuna?

Arjuna is asking why they should engage themselves in this battle being aware of the great sins accruing from disregarding superiors and showing aggression against the preceptor which results in the perpetrator becoming a ghostly demon known as a Brahma-Rakshasa, as declared in the Vedic scriptures.

2.5       Shloka 2.5

गुरूनहत्वा हि महानुभावान् श्रेयो भोक्तुं भैक्ष्यमपीह लोके ।
हत्वार्थकामांस्तु गुरूनिहैव भुञ्जीय भोगान् रुधिरप्रदिग्धान् ।।2.5।।

Gurun ahatva hi mahanubhavan sreyo bhoktum bhaiksyam apiha loke           |
Hatvartha-kamams tu gurun ihaiva bhunjiya bhogan rudhira-pradigdhan ||2.5||
Meaning: It is better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though they are avaricious, they are nonetheless superiors. If they are killed, our spoils will be tainted with blood.

According to scriptural codes, a teacher who engages in an abominable action and has lost his sense of discrimination is fit to be abandoned. Bhishma and Drona were obliged to take the side of Duryodhana because of their bounden duty to Kind Dhritarashtra, although they should not have accepted such a position of power under a King who is unrighteous. Under the circumstances, they have lost their dignity. But Arjuna nevertheless thinks they remain his superiors who are to be respected, and therefore to enjoy material gains earned by killing them would mean to enjoy spoils tainted with blood.

Arjuna says that it is better to live in this world by begging alms as no sin will be incurred by this than to kill the respected elders. But Bhishma’s statement that, due to accepting wealth and position offered by Dhritarashtra, he was controlled by the Kauravas.

So when one who is controlled by wealth and not righteousness, slaying such a person does not incur any sin. But Arjuna states enjoying pleasures would be tainted with blood as they are derived from the sin of slaying the elders.

2.6       Shloka 2.6

न चैतद्विद्मः कतरन्नो गरीयो यद्वा जयेम यदि वा नो जयेयुः
यानेव हत्वा न जिजीविषाम स्तेऽवस्थिताः प्रमुखे धार्तराष्ट्राः ।।2.6।।

Na caitad vidmah kataran no gariyo yad va jayema yadi va no jayeyuh     |
Yan eva hatva na jijivisamas te ‘vasthitah pramukhe Dhartarastrah       ||2.6||
Meaning: We do not know what is better for us – whether we conquer them or they conquer us. Those sons of Dhritarashtra, whom if we killed, we would not desire to live, are now standing before us on this battlefield.

All these considerations by Arjuna definitely prove that he was not only a great devotee of the Lord but was very compassionate. His desire to live by begging, although he was born in the Royal lineage, is another sign of detachment, compassion and humility. He was truly virtuous, as these qualities, combined with his faith in Shri Krishna (his spiritual master) confirm this. We can see that Arjuna had all the necessary qualities for surrender and quite fit for liberation.

It can be questioned that as a Kshatriya how can Arjuna abandon his duty to fight as is prescribed in the Vedic scriptures. How  could he decide that begging was better? Finally, in his state of confusion he says that he does not know which one is better, whether to be victorious or be vanquished. In either situation he sees sorrow and did not see a clear path to deal with this paradox.

2.7       Shloka 2.7


कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढचेताः।
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्िचतं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्।।2.7।।

Karpanya-dosopahata-svabhavah prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah                             |
Yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me Shisyas te ‘ham shaadhi mam tvam prapannam ||2.7||
Meaning: My natural attributes are besieged by weakness and am bewildered about what is my righteous duty and am unable to think clearly. I am asking You to tell me definitively what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, surrendered unto You, please instruct me.

This is a very important Shloka in this Chapter where  Arjuna unconditionally surrenders unto the Lord as a disciple and seeks his clear and definitive guidance.

In the previous verse Arjuna had determined that life would not be worth living even if he won the battle.  As he is unable to deal with this paradox he determines that the best course of action for him was to unconditionally surrender to Shri Krishna.  In his mind, this was the greatest panacea than any other means prescribed in Vedic scriptures.

Those who seek shelter of the Supreme Lord Krishna are never deluded. Lord Krishna is known as Janardhana meaning He who always removes the ignorance of His devotees. Arjuna has lost the power of discrimination and so realising this he surrenders to Shri Krishna who is an ocean of qualities.

According to Vedic scriptures one who dies in this world without becoming self-realized is a miser (Karpanya). One is called a miser, who is destitute of knowledge of the nature and qualities of their immortal soul. In worldly parlance one is known as a miser who is extremely stingy. Miserliness in this context is the affliction of weakness regarding ones spiritual identity and integrity. Discriminatory power weakened by delusion which bewilders the intelligence. Arjuna unconditionally surrenders to Shri Krishna with the words ‘tvam prapannam’ meaning ‘surrender unto You’ and asks the Lord for spiritual guidance as confirmed by the words ‘shaadhi mam’ meaning ‘instruct me’. Arjuna also expresses his readiness to receive these instructions from Shri Krishna by saying the words ‘Shishyah te aham’ meaning ‘I am your disciple’.

One should not, therefore, remain in material perplexities but should approach a spiritual master. This is the purport of this verse.  Who is the man in material perplexities? It is he who does not understand the problems of life. In the Garga Upanisad the perplexed man is described as follows:

‘yo va etad aksaram gargy aviditvasmal lokat praiti sa krpanah’

He is a miserly man who does not solve the problems of life as a human and who thus quits this world like the cats and dogs, without understanding the science of self-realization.

This human form of life is a most valuable asset for the living entity who can utilise it for solving the problems of life; therefore, one who does not utilise this opportunity properly is a miser.  The krpanas, or miserly persons, waste their time in being overly affectionate and are bonded by attachments in the material conception of life.

Although Arjuna could understand that his duty to fight was awaiting him, still, on account of miserly weakness, he could not discharge his duties. He is therefore asking Shri Krishna to give him a definite answer.

2.8       Shloka 2.8

न हि प्रपश्यामि ममापनुद्या द्यच्छोकमुच्छोषणमिन्द्रियाणाम्   ।
अवाप्य भूमावसपत्नमृद्धम् राज्यं सुराणामपि चाधिपत्यम्  ।।2.8।।

Na hi prapasyami mamapanudyad yac chokam ucchosanam indriyanam    |
Avapya bhumav asapatnam rddham rajyam suranam api cadhipatyam   ||2.8||
Meaning: I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to destroy it even if I win an unrivalled kingdom on the earth with sovereignty like that of the Devas.

Although Arjuna was putting forward so many arguments based on knowledge of the principles of religion and moral codes, it appears that he was unable to solve his real problem without the help of the spiritual master, Lord Shri Krishna.

He could understand that his knowledge was not helping him to drive away his problems and it was impossible for him to solve such perplexities without the help of a spiritual master like Shri Krishna.  

The problems of material existence—birth, old age, disease and death—cannot be counteracted by accumulation of wealth and economic development. In many parts of the world which are economically developed and wealthy are not without the problems of material existence.  If economic development and material comforts could drive away one’s lamentations for family, social, national or international inebrieties, then Arjuna would not have said that even an unrivalled kingdom on earth or supremacy like that of the Devas would not be able to drive away his lamentations.

He therefore sought refuge in Shri Krishna for right path for peace and harmony. Even elevation into a higher planes is impermanent. The Bhagavad-Gita states: ‘ksine punye martyalokam visanti’ (BG9.21) – When the results of pious activities are finished, one falls down again from the peak of happiness to the lowest status of life.

Therefore, if we want to curb lamentation for good, then we have to take shelter of the Lord, as Arjuna is seeking to do. So Arjuna asked Shri Krishna to solve his problem definitely.

Arjuna’s understanding is that even if he was to win the kingdom of unrivalled prosperity free from enemies, he still could not see any means of alleviating the grief that was drying up his senses. By the use of the word ‘hi’ meaning ‘certainly’, the conviction that he could not see any solution to his grief is reinforced, indicating that only the Lord is fit to instruct him and guide him on the right path.

2.9       Shloka 2.9

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्त्वा हृषीकेशं गुडाकेशः परन्तप।
न योत्स्य इति गोविन्दमुक्त्वा तूष्णीं बभूव ह।।2.9।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam uktva Hrsikesam Gudakesah parantapah            |
Na yotsya iti Govindam uktva tusnim babhuva ha ||2.9||
Meaning: Sanjaya said: Having spoken thus, Arjuna, the chastiser of enemies, told Shri Krishna, ‘Govinda, I shall not fight’, and fell silent.

Dhritarashtra’s expectancy to know what happenned next was answered by Sanjaya which would have been music to Dhritarashtra’s ears as Arjuna was not going to fight and was instead contemplating leave the battlefield and preferred to live by seeking alms.

By addressing Lord Shri Krishna as Govinda, Arjuna is seeking His protection as Govinda protects His herd and He who controls everyone’s senses.

2.10     Shloka 2.10

तमुवाच हृषीकेशः प्रहसन्निव भारत।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये विषीदन्तमिदं वचः।।2.10।।

Tam uvaca Hrsikesah prahasann iva Bharata                 |
Senayor ubhayor madhye visidantam idam vacah ||2.10||
Meaning: O’ descendant of Bharata, thereafter situated between both the armies, Shri Krishna, as if smiling,  spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.

Arjuna and Krishna, being cousins were intimate friends and both of them were at the same level, but one of them voluntarily became a student of the other.  Shri Krishna was smiling because His friend had chosen to become His disciple.

As Lord of all, He is always in a superior position as the master of everyone, and yet He accepts one who wishes to be a friend, a son, a lover or a devotee, or who wants Him in such a role. But when He was accepted as the master, He at once assumed the role and talked with the disciple like the master—with gravity, as is required.

Lord Krishna with a subtle smile on his face then spoke to Arjuna. The word ‘prahasan’ meaning ‘smiling’ is used to subtly indicate sarcasm due to the nature of the situation where the two armies were face to face ready for the battle while Arjuna, a mighty warrior, was reluctant. This subtle smile is used to remove any lingering vestiges of pride that Arjuna might have had about his knowledge, intelligence and prowess.

The first ten verses covered Arjuna’s delusion and lamentation culminating with his surrender unto Lord Shri Krishna.  We will now see Lord Shri Krishna’s response to Arjuna’s request for giving him definitive instructions and guidance and he offers himself as a disciple to Shri Krishna.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 3 – Chapter 1 (Verses 21-46) – Arjuna Vishada Yoga

In the first part of Chapter 1, we saw the vivid description of the battlefield by Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana insinuating Drona to fight with vigour and offer no concessions to his favourite disciples.  In this part, we will see the state of Arjuna’s mind as he prepares for this Maha-Bharata war and this sets the prelude to the conversation between him and Bhagavan Shri Krishna. 

1.21     Shloka 1.21

अर्जुन उवाच
हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत ।।1.21।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthapaya me ‘cyuta ||1.21||

Meaning:  Arjuna said: O’ Achyuta, please draw my chariot between the two armies. 

Arjuna instructs the Shri Krishna to take his chariot between the two armies. He addresses Bhagavan as “Achyuta” meaning “the infallible one”.  Though Shri Krishna is the Supreme Being, because of His “Sausheelyam” (affection) for His devotees, He readily acts on the instructions of Arjuna, without showing any hesitation.

1.22     Shloka 1.22

यावदेतान्निरीक्षेऽहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान् ।
कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन्रणसमुद्यमे ।।1.22।।

Yavad etan nirikse ‘ham yoddhu-kaman avasthitan             |
Kair maya saha yoddhavyam asmin rana-samudyame ||1.22||
Meaning: Arjuna says, So I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle.

Arjuna was anxious to see who the leading persons in the battlefield to assess who he had to contend in this battle.

1.23     Shloka 1.23

योत्स्यमानानवेक्षेऽहं य एतेऽत्र समागताः।
धार्तराष्ट्रस्य दुर्बुद्धेर्युद्धे प्रियचिकीर्षवः।।1.23।।

Yotsyamanan avekse ‘ham ya ete ‘tra samagatah               |
Dhartarastrasya durbuddher yuddhe priya-cikirsavah ||1.23||
Meaning: Arjuna said, let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.

Though Arjuna had full confidence in Himself, more so with Shri Krishna on his side, he wanted to see the enemy army closely to see evil Duryodhana’s allies.

1.24     Shloka 1.24

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्तो हृषीकेशो गुडाकेशेन भारत।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये स्थापयित्वा रथोत्तमम्।।1.24।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam ukto hrsikeso gudakesena bharata   |
Senayor ubhayor madhye sthapayitva rathottamam ||1.24||
Meaning: Sanjaya said: O’ descendant of Bharata, as instructed by Gudakesa (Arjuna), Hrisikesha (the controller of all senses) drew up the fine chariot in the midst of both the armies.

Dhritarashtra is addressed here by Sanjaya as O’ descendant of Bharata, thus subtly stressing that Dhritarashtra is born in the exalted lineage of the righteous and noble King Bharata.  It appears that Sanjaya is attempting to appeal to the conscience of Dhritarashtra to make a last ditch effort to review his foolish and ill thought out decision of forcing this conflict.

In this verse Arjuna is referred as Gudakesa. ‘Gudaka’ means sleep, and one who conquers sleep is called Gudakesa.  So Arjuna had conquered both sleep (also means ignorance) because of his association with Bhagavan Shri Krishna.  A devotee of Shri Krishna can conquer ignorance simply by constantly meditating on Him.

1.25     Shloka 1.25

भीष्मद्रोणप्रमुखतः सर्वेषां च महीक्षिताम्।
उवाच पार्थ पश्यैतान्समवेतान्कुरूनिति।।1.25।।

Bhishma-Drona-Pramukhatah Sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam  |
Uvaca Partha pasyaitan samavetan Kurun iti              ||1.25||
Meaning: In the presence of Bhishma, Drona and all other Kings of the world, the Bhagavan Shri, said, behold Partha (Arjuna), all the Kurus who are assembled here.

And the word Partha, or the son of Kunti or Prtha, is to emphasise the closeness between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. He wanted to comfort Arjuna that as he was the son of Prtha, the sister of Shri Krishna’s father Vasudeva. What did Shri Krishna mean when He told Arjuna to ‘behold the Kurus’?

Placing the chariot in front of Bhishma and Drona between the two opposing armies, Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: O Partha observe all these Kauravas and see those who are favoring them. Bhagavan Shri Krishna could understand what was going on in the mind of Arjuna. The use of the word Partha was to emphasise the affection for Arjuna, as he was the son of Kunti who was the sister of Vasudev (Shri Krishna’s father).  This was to give confidence to Arjuna that He will engage Himself by accepting the position of Arjuna’s charioteer.

1.26     Shloka 1.26

तत्रापश्यत्स्थितान्पार्थः पितृ़नथ पितामहान्।
आचार्यान्मातुलान्भ्रातृ़न्पुत्रान्पौत्रान्सखींस्तथा
श्वशुरान्सुहृदश्चैव सेनयोरुभयोरपि ।।1.26।।

Tatrapasyat sthitan parthah pitrn atha pitamahan
Acaryan matulan bhratrn putran pautran sakhims tatha      |
Svasuran suhrdas caiva senayor ubhayor api                     ||1.26||
Meaning: There Arjuna saw, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers-all present there.

He could see Bhurisrava and grandfathers from the same generation as his grandfather Bhishma. The teachers like Drona and Kripa, maternal uncles like Salya, brothers like Bhima and Duryodhana, sons are like the age of his own son Abhimanyu, grandsons like Lakhsmana and friends like Asvatthama and others.

1.27     Shloka 1.27

तान्समीक्ष्य स कौन्तेयः सर्वान्बन्धूनवस्थितान्
कृपया परयाऽऽविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत्। ।।1.27।।

Tan samiksya sa kaunteyah sarvan bandhun avasthitan        |
Krpaya parayavisto visidann idam abravit                            ||1.27||
Meaning: When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and struck with grief, he spoke thus:

The reference to Arjuna as Kaunteyah, the son of Kunti, is to denote his natural afflictions of the mundane world. He is struck by grief and compassion that accompanies the attachments one develops in this Samsara.  The word ‘Krpaya’ signifies Arjuna’s nature of being compassionate and the word ‘paraya’ denotes that this compassion is only for his own soldiers but also for the enemy soldiers.  The word ‘visidan’ connotes all the symptoms of being grief stricken, like shedding of tears, shuddering, choking, etc. and Arjuna exhibited these as he began to speak (showing all signs of ‘Vishada’).

1.28     Shloka 1.28

अर्जुन उवाच
दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम्।
सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति ।1.28।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Drstvemam sva-janam Krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam  |
Sidanti mama gatrani mukham ca parisusyati                     ||1.28||
Arjuna said: ‘My dear Krishna, seeing all my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, the limbs of my body are quivering and my mouth is completely parched’. Arjuna, after seeing his kinsmen, friends and relatives on the battlefield, was at once overwhelmed by compassion for them foreseeing their imminent death. That thought made his limbs quiver, and his mouth dry.

Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to fear or weakness but because of his kindness, a quintessential characteristic of a pure devotee of the Bhagavan Shri.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (5.18.12) it says:
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah     |
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih   ||5.8.12||
Meaning: One who has unflinching faith in the Supreme and has utmost devotion, that person is blessed by God with all the good qualities that make it endearing to Him. But one who merely engages in seeking knowledge without Bhakti such knowledge is of little value. Knowledge without Bhakti is useless tinsel.

1.29     Shloka 1.29

वेपथुश्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्च जायते
गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते। ।।1.29।।

Vepathus ca sarire me roma-harsas ca jayate                |
Gandivam sramsate hastat tvak caiva paridahyate ||1.29||
Meaning: My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. 

Arjuna is losing his composure as he feels his hair standing on its end, his heart racing, his skin burning and his famous bow Gandiva slipping out of his hand.  All of this is happening to him not because of the fear of the battle but out of his compassion for all those assembled and their kins.

1.30     Shloka 1.30

न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः
निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव। ।।1.30।।

Na ca saknomy avasthatum bhramativa ca me manah    |
Nimittani ca pasyami viparitani kesava                             ||1.30||
Meaning: I am now unable to keep my composure. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon.

Arjuna was unable to stay focussed and was losing control of senses as he was overwhelmed with grief. Bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah: such fearfulness and loss of mental equilibrium takes place in persons who are too attached to the material world. Arjuna envisioned only unhappiness in the battlefield—he would not be happy even by gaining victory over his foes as he saw his cousins, uncles, gurus and grandfathers among them.

The use of the word ‘nimitta’ is significant.  Nimittani is used to mean inauspicious omens but not as an indication or sign of what might happen but as the result.

1.31     Shloka 1.31

न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे
न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च।  ।।1.31।।

Na ca sreyo ‘nupasyami hatva sva-janam ahave           |
Na kankse vijayam Krishna na ca rajyam sukhani ca ||1.31||
Meaning: I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor do I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.

Arjuna thought that his victory in the battle would only be a cause of lamentation for him and says he does not desire the Kingdom that is obtained by killing his kinsmen. He sees the consequences of war presenting conflicting results. Arjuna says that even if he were victorious in the battle and obtains the Kingdom he would not feel any satisfaction or happiness, on the contrary he would be remorseful.

1.32     Shloka 1.32

किं नो राज्येन गोविन्द किं भोगैर्जीवितेन वा।
येषामर्थे काङ्क्षितं नो राज्यं भोगाः सुखानि च। ।1.32।।

Kim no rajyena Govinda kim bhogair jivitena va                   |
Yesam arthe kanksitam no rajyam bhogah sukhani ca ||1.32||
Meaning: O’Govinda! What need do we have for a Kingdom or what need of enjoyments and livelihood, if for those whom we desire the Kingdom and happiness for are all here?

By addressing Shri Krishna as Govinda, Arjuna is appealing to the compassionate virtues of the Lord. Arjuna explains that he does not desire the Kingdom that is to be won in a battle in which the destruction of one’s kins’ is certain. Hence, he says, it is a fruitless desire to engage in a battle where all kinsmen will perish.

1.33     Shloka 1.33

त इमेऽवस्थिता युद्धे प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा धनानि च।
आचार्याः पितरः पुत्रास्तथैव च पितामहाः  ।1.33।।

Ta ime ‘vasthita yuddhe pranams tyaktva dhanani ca       |
Acharyah pitarah putras tathaiva ca pitamahah             ||1.33||
Meaning: All of these men in this battlefield will be giving up their lives and riches. Amongst them are Acharyas, Fathers, Sons, as well as grandfathers.

Arjuna appears to have even forgotten the moral codes for a kshatriya. It is said that two kinds of men, namely the Kshatriya who dies directly in the battlefield under Shri Krishna’s personal command and Sanyasi, a person in the renounced order of life who is absolutely devoted to spirituality, are eligible to enter into the Surya mandala, which is so powerful and dazzling.

Arjuna is reluctant to kill even his enemies, let alone his relatives. He was not willing to fight as he was overcome by grief at the thought of killing so many of them.

1.34     Shloka 1.34

मातुलाः श्चशुराः पौत्राः श्यालाः सम्बन्धिनस्तथा।
एतान्न हन्तुमिच्छामि घ्नतोऽपि मधुसूदन। ।1.34।।

Matulah svasurah pautrah syalah sambandhinas tatha      |
Etan na hantum icchami ghnato ‘pi madhusudana        ||1.34||
Meaning: O’ Madhusudana, even if I am killed, I do not wish to kill my maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and all relatives for the sake of a Kingdom.

1.35     Shloka 1.35

अपि त्रैलोक्यराज्यस्य हेतोः किं नु महीकृते।
निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन 1.35।।

Api trailokya-rajyasya hetoh kim nu mahi-krte                    |
Nihatya dhartarastran nah ka pritih syaj Janardhana ||1.35||
Meaning: I am not prepared to fight with them even if I get all three worlds in exchange, let alone this world. O’ Janardhana, the maintainer of all living entities, what happiness shall we derive by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra?

Arjuna’s deep affection and compassion for the community and his family members comes to the fore. Arjuna is addressing Shri Krishna by his various names as Govinda, Madhusudhana and Janardhana and is appealing to compassionate virtues of the Lord to relieve Him of his agony.

Janardhana means ‘One Who destroys the ignorance of His devotees’. Thus, Arjuna is appealing to Bhagavan Shri Krishna to destroy his ignorance as well in this verse.

1.36     Shloka 1.36

पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिनः
तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान्
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव  ।।1.36।।

papam evasrayed asman hatvaitan atatayinah
tasman narha vayam hantum dhartarastran sa-bandhavan
sva-janam hi katham hatva sukhinah syama Madhava        ||1.36||
Meaning: Sin will accrue if we slay such aggressors. Therefore, it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra and our friends. What would we gain, O’ Madhava, the consort of Maha Lakshmi, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?

According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors:

  • a who poisons
  • one who commits arson
  • one who attacks with deadly weapons without just cause
  • one who plunders riches
  • one who occupies another’s property, and
  • one who kidnaps someone’s wife.

Such aggressors can be slain without instantly without accruing any sin and as mentioned in Vedic injunctions – ‘Atatayinam ayantam hanyad’ meaning ‘Without hesitation such aggressors may be slain as there is no sin in killing them’. The sons of Dhritarashtra have committed these heinous acts of aggression against the Pandavas.

Although there is no reward in this world or the next for such an action, a responsible King of a State is required to be righteous and should not be cowardly. However, one should consider in the case of Arjuna, the aggressors were his own relatives viz. grandfathers, Gurus, friends, sons, grandsons, etc.

Arjuna considered that rather than kill his kinsmen for political gains, it would be better to forgive them. So, he reasoned that such killing is not worthwhile or legitimate for acquiring temporary enjoyments. After all, Kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk salvation by killing his own kinsmen?

Arjuna’s reasoning is based on Dharma Shastra which states ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ meaning ‘Non-violence is the ultimate obligation’ while the moral codes of Niti Shastra states one can rightfully kill his aggressors. Since Dharma Shastra is superior to Niti Shastra, Arjuna reasoned that killing of revered elders such as Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and others can only accrue sin.

Arjuna addresses Shri Krishna as Madhava, reinforcing the aspect that He is the consort of Maha Lakshmi who is the controller of all wealth and opulence, to stress his point that why is the Lord who is the consort of the Goddess of fortune asking him to fight a battle in which there will be blood, gore, death, and devoid of wealth and opulence.

 

1.37     Shloka 1.37

यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतसः
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम्।।1.37।।

Yadi api ete na pasyanti lobhopahata-cetasah             |
Kula-ksaya-krtam dosam mitra-drohe ca patakam ||1.37||
Meaning: These men, overtaken by greed in their heart, do not see any fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends.

Arjuna begins with ‘yadi api ete na pasyanti’ to underscore the reason for the Kauravas to be engaged in this war was out of greed. As we don’t have this greed there is no need for a battle.

1.38     Shloka 1.38

कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभिः पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम्।
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन ।।1.38।।

Katham na jneyam asmabhih papad asman nivartitum  |
Kula-ksaya-krtam dosam prapasyadbhir Janardana ||1.38||
Meaning: O’ Janardana, although these men are unaware, why should we engage in the destruction of a dynasty with full knowledge of the sin? 

Being a devotee of the Bhagavan Shri Krishna, who is the propounder of dharma or righteousness, Arjuna addresses Him as Janardhana meaning ‘the remover of ignorance’ and asks Why should they not refrain themselves from such ignorance being aware of the implications of unrighteous acts?

1.39     Shloka 1.39

कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः।
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत ।।1.39।।

kula-ksaye pranasyanti kula-dharmah sanatanah                   |
dharme naste kulam krtsnam adharmo ‘bhibhavaty uta ||1.39||
Meaning:  With the destruction of dynasty, the spiritual family tradition is destroyed forever, and when spiritual practices are destroyed, unrighteous acts predominate the entire society. 

There are many principles of religious traditions to help members of the family to attain spiritual values. The elder members are responsible for such purifying processes in the family, beginning from birth to death. But on the death of the elder members, such family traditions may stop, and the remaining younger family members may develop unrighteous habits and thereby lose their chance for spiritual salvation. Therefore, for no purpose should the elder members of the family be slain.

Arjuna now describes the evil consequences of war in detail with this verse beginning kula-ksaye pranasyanti. The compound word ‘kula-dharmah’ means ‘the righteous family traditions prescribed in Vedic rites such as the agnihotra (yagna)’. Arjuna argues that due to the destruction of the dynasty there will be lack of qualified family members knowledgeable enough to guide the younger members on the path of dharma. When dharma or righteousness is absent then adharma or unrighteousness takes hold and the remaining dependants along with the whole family will destroy the foundations of society.

1.40     Shloka 1.40

अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रियः।
स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्करः।।1.40।।

Adharma abhibhavat Shri Krishna pradusyanti kula-striyah       |
Strisu dustasu varsneya jayate varna-sankarah        ||1.40||
Meaning: When unrighteousness is prominent in the family, O Shri Krishna, the women in the family are sullied, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.

As the society degenerates without proper spiritual guidance, Arjuna opines that the female of the family become easily accessible and are placed in conditions of compromise. From this polluted and degraded position arises undesirable progeny. The purpose of Arjuna addressing Bhagavan Shri Krishna by the vocative Varsneya is to remind Him that He took birth in the exalted royal Vrsni dynasty and as such should be fully aware of these things.

1.41     Shloka 1.41

सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च।
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः।।1.41।।

Sankaro narakayaiva kula-ghnanam kulasya ca        |
Patanti pitaro hy esam lupta-pindodaka-kriyah ||1.41||
Meaning:  When there is an increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors. 

According to the traditions, there is a need to offer periodic oblations of food and water to the departed forefathers of the family. This offering is performed by worship of Vishnu, because eating the remnants of food offered to Vishnu can deliver one from all kinds of sinful actions.

However, one who is engaged in the devotional life is not required to perform such actions. Simply by performing devotional service, one can deliver hundreds and thousands of forefathers from all kinds of misery. It is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.41):
Devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam na kinkaro nayamrni ca rajan  |
Sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato mukundam parihrtya kartam ||
Meaning: Anyone who has taken shelter of the Lotus feet of Mukunda, the bestower of salvation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the Devas, Sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers. Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by engaging in devotional service of God.

1.42     Shloka 1.42

दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः।
उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः।।1.42।।

Dosair etaih kula-ghnanam varna-sankara-karakaih        |
Utsadyante jati-dharmah kula-dharmas ca sasvatah ||1.42||
Meaning: Due to the evil deeds of the destroyers of family tradition, all kinds of spiritual traditions are eradicated and the nobility of the family devastated.

Arjuna describes the misery experienced for those who are responsible for causing this destruction of the family traditions. Due to these evils, the essential duties prescribed in the Vedic scriptures that are faithfully instructed by holy sages and spiritual gurus are all forsaken.

1.43     Shloka 1.43

उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन।
नरकेऽनियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम।।1.43।।

Utsanna-kula-dharmanam manusyanam Janardhana  |
Narake niyatam vaso bhavatity anususruma                 ||1.43||
Meaning: O Janardhana, maintainer of the people, I have heard from the learned that those people whose family traditions have been destroyed always reside in hell.

Arjuna is supporting his argument by affirming that he has heard from respectable sources in Guru Parampara, that those who are responsible for destroying righteousness reside permanently in hellish existence. Therefore this decision to fight is not the wisest of choices.

1.44     Shloka 1.44

अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम्।
यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः।।1.44।।

Aho bata mahat papam kartum vyavasita vayam    |
Yad rajya-sukha-lobhena hantum sva-janam udyatah ||1.44||
Meaning: Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness. 

It is a sinful act even to think about the killing of friends and relatives. As Arjuna has surmised in the previous verse that it is not in his best interest to fight according to his understanding. Now he is seen repenting that as such an act would bring only evil consequences. Thinking that his intelligence must be marred by delusion he sorrowfully speaks the words: ‘aho bata’ – alas how ironic it is. It is ironic to him that he has committed himself to great sin by his intention to slay friends and kinsman in the pursuit of royal pleasures and enjoyments.

1.45     Shloka 1.45

यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः।
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत्।।1.45।।

Yadi mam apratikaram asastram sahastra-panayah            |
Dhartarastra rane hanyus tan me ksemataram bhavet ||1.45||
Meaning: I would consider it better for me for the sons of Dhritarashtra to slay me in the battlefield unarmed and unresisting, rather than fight with them.

It is the custom—according to Kshatriya fighting principles—that an unarmed and unwilling foe should not be attacked. Arjuna, however, in such an enigmatic position, decided he would not fight if he were attacked by the enemy. All these symptoms are due to kind-heartedness resulting from him being a great devotee of the Bhagavan Shri Krishna.

Bhishma and the Kauravas will certainly attempt to kill Arjuna as they are eager to engage in this war. To answer this, Arjuna is speaking this verse beginning ‘yadi mam apratikaram’ – being not resistant is my atonement.  Ksemataram means much better, since the atonement will wash away all sins. Bhishma and the others fighting on the Kaurava side will not be able be able to escape the result of that sin.

Arjuna states that even if the sons of Dhritarashtra being devoid of wisdom and obsessed by greed would slay him unarmed and unresisting, this would still be more preferable than perpetuating sin by slaying friends and kinsman and permanently going to hell as a result. Arjuna feels that if he refrains from fighting, then after the death of his physical body there would be no feelings of guilt or repentance from committing such a sin.

1.46     Shloka 1.46

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्त्वाऽर्जुनः संख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत्।
विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः।।1.46।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam uktvarjunah sankhye rathopastha upavisat         |
Visrjya sa-saram capam soka-samvigna-manasah ||1.46||
Meaning: Sanjaya said, Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Sanjaya spoke that Arjuna whose mind was agitated by grief cast aside his bow and arrows and sank down despondently in the back of the chariot.

Summary of Chapter 1

Chapter 1 explains the problems of this Samsaara. They arise from attachment (Raga), grief (Soka) and delusion (Moha). When one is not happy with oneself, one seeks happiness from external sources. This leads to dependence and attachment to those external sources. Since the conditions of the external factors are unpredictable, therefore happiness from such sources is unsustainable leading to losing of one’s peace of mind.  A disturbed mind can only make erroneous judgments which would complicate things further. This, in short, is the problem of Samsaara.

The main topics of this chapter are:

  • Verses 1 to 20 – These verses contains a vivid description of the armies and their formations. After a brief inspection followed by instruction by Duryodhana to his commander Drona, Bhishma blows the conch to please Duryodhana.  This is followed by blowing of conch by Shri Krishna, Arjuna, and others, signaling the commencement of the battle.
  • Verses 21 to 25 – Arjuna instructs Shri Krishna to place his chariot in the middle of the armies to scrutinize the enemy-forces. The Lord brings the chariot in front of Bhisma and Drona and asks Arjuna to survey the army.
  • Verses 26 to 27 – Arjuna, looking at the army sees his grandfather Bhishma, his Guru Dona, his uncles, cousins and relatives and has a change of mind arising from his attachment (Raga). In a moment of weakness, Arjuna slips down from reason to relation. Instead of seeing the violators of dharma, he sees his beloved kith and kin. Arjuna is overpowered by attachment which is followed by its twin offshoots grief and delusion.
  • Verses 28 to 34 – Arjuna’s expresses his intense grief (Soka) which shakes him completely. This indicates the extent of his attachment.
  • Verses 35 to 45 – Arjuna’s veiled by attachment loses his discriminative power and he commits a series of false judgments from his delusion (Moha). Interestingly, Arjuna quotes the scriptures to bolster his unjustifiable stand.

Arjuna finds himself in the deep sea of attachment, sorrow, and delusion.  He sincerely wants to get out of this predicament where he is overcome by grief due to his attachment and compassion. In his mind, it is better to die without fighting than kill his kinsmen for the sake of Kingdom and enjoyment that comes with it. At the same time, he has not realized that the problem is so deep for him to solve independently with an unclear head.

In a confused state of mind, Arjuna casts his bow and arrow aside and drops down on the chariot in grief.

Conclusion

Om Tat Sat iti Srimad Bhagavad Gitasu Upanishatsu Brahma Vidyayam Yoga Shastre
Shri Krishna Arjuna Samvade Arjuna Vishaada Yogo Naama Prathamo dhyaayah||

Meaning: Om Tat Sat. This Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishad, is for gaining knowledge of the Brahman, the Yoga Shastra, is a conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna.  The first chapter is called Arjuna Vishada Yoga (Arjuna’s despondency).

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!


Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 2 Chapter 1 (Verses 1 -20) – Arjuna Vishada Yoga

Chapter 1 of the Bhagavad Gita is called the “Arjuna Vishada Yoga” meaning Arjuna’s despondency which is interestingly called a “Yoga”. It is paradoxical to call an expression of sorrow or despondency as a “Yoga”.

Yoga means “union” but the question arises as to union with what? Why should Arjuna become despondent having come to the battle field to wage a war and why is this even a Yoga?

As Arjuna requested Krishna to take the chariot to the center of the battlefield to survey the ranks of his enemies—he saw his own kith and kin including his grand-father Bhishma and his Gurus Dronacharya, Krupacharya and many other elders. He was overcome by grief and shuddered at the thought of killing his relatives and his preceptors for the throne.

Arjuna not wanting to fight, expresses words of wisdom by saying – “Ahimsa paramo Dharmaha” – Non-violence is the best policy or prime duty. It is important to note that Arjuna was not a coward to run away from the battlefield.

His despondency arose from a sudden realisation which made him introspect and question what will be the use of a Kingdom that is gained by killing one’s cousins, elders and Gurus.  What is the value of such success? This pain and sorrow, when it arises not for personal well-being but for the larger good, is transformed into what we may call as “VISHADA YOGA”.

The ‘VISHADA’ or sorrow leads to a state of Sanyasa Yoga, which is the bedrock of detachment. We have read this in the lives of the great Nayanmars and Azhwars where this type of sorrow and suffering for the larger good is described.  Similarly, Arjuna’s grief is slowly turning into that of a grief for larger good and he is on the verge of doing a total Surrender or “Saranagati” to Lord Shri Krishna. Thus VISHADA, true and sincere, is a first step for union with GOD!

Swami Krishnananda explains this scenario with an analogy of a person taking a vaccine to protect against a severe disease.  While the vaccine is to prevent a severe ailment, the after-effects of a vaccine typically causes a temporary period of illness. He compares Arjuna’s despondency as this temporary state of illness before Arjuna makes himself ready to receive the wisdom and knowledge from Lord Shri Krishna. In this sense, the state of Arjuna’s despondency is seen as Vishada Yoga.

The Bhagavad Gita begins with the verse, “Dharmakshetra, Kurushetra”, indicating a conflict between one’s righteous duties and one’s heart’s desire….there is constant battle between wisdom and ignorance that is present in the mind of each being. This battle to overcome ignorance to gain wisdom, and become detached from what is impermanent and perishable leads to eternal bliss.

Having set the context, let’s begin with Chapter 1 which mainly is a description of the battlefield and the state of Arjuna’s mind and his despondency.

1.1          SHLOKA 1.1

धृतराष्ट्र उवाच |

धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः |
मामकाः पाण्डवाश्चैव किमकुर्वत सञ्जय ||1.1||

Dhṛitarashtra Uvaca

Dharma-kṣhetre kuru-kṣhetre samaveta yuyutsavaḥ      |
Mamakaḥ Paṇḍavashchaiva kimakurvata Sanjaya      ||1.1||
Meaning:  Dhritarashtra said: O’ Sanjaya, What are my sons and Pandava’s sons doing after assembling for the battle on the virtuous land of Kurukshetra?

King Dhritarashtra, apart from being blind from birth, was also bereft of spiritual wisdom.  His attachment to his own sons made him deviate from the path of virtue and usurp the rightful kingdom of the Pandavas.  He was conscious of the injustice he meted out to his nephews, the sons of Pandu.  His guilt worried him about the outcome of the battle, and he inquires Sanjaya about the events on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where the war was about to commence.

Dhritarashtra’s question was superfluous as it was obvious that they had assembled in the Kurukshetra battlefield with the sole purpose of waging a war.  His doubt can be discerned from the words he used—dharma kṣhetre, the land of dharma (virtuous conduct).  Kurukshetra was a sacred land.  Dhritarashtra apprehended that the influence of the holy land of Kurukshetra may have an impact on the result which could lead to victory of the Pandavas, though he had great faith in the army of the Kauravas led by Bhishma. At the same time, he was uncertain of the consequences of the war, and wished to ascertain the fate of his sons.  As a result, he asked Sanjaya about the goings-on at the battleground of Kurukshetra, where the two armies had assembled.

1.2          SHLOKA 1.2

सञ्जय उवाच

दृष्ट्वा तु पाण्डवानीकं व्यूढं दुर्योधनस्तदा
आचार्यमुपसङ्गम्य राजा वचनमब्रवीत् २॥

Sanjaya Uvaca:

Drstva tu Pandavanikam vyudham Duryodhanas tada    |
Acaryam upasangamya Raja vacanam abravit              ||1.2||
Meaning: Sanjaya said: O King, after looking over the army gathered by the sons of Pandu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and began to speak the following words (next Shloka).

Sanjaya informed King Dhritarashtra that his son, Duryodhana, after seeing the military forces of the Pandavas, at once went to the commander-in-chief, Dronacharya, to take stock of the situation on the ground. Duryodhana’s egoistic veneer could not disguise the fear he felt when he saw the military arrangement of the Pandavas.

1.3          SHLOKA 1.3

पश्यैतां पाण्डुपुत्राणामाचार्य महतीं चमूम्
व्यूढां द्रुपदपुत्रेण तव शिष्येण धीमता ३॥

Pasyaitam Pandu-putranam acarya mahatim camum    |
Vyudham Drupada-putrena tava sisyena dhimata      ||1.3||
Meaning: O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple, the son of Drupada.

Duryodhana, wanted to point out the flaws of Dronacharya and very subtly brings up the rivalry of Dronacarya with King Drupada by referring to the son of Drupada.

As a result of a clash with Dronacharya, in which Drupada was humbled, Drupada performed a great sacrifice, by which he received the benediction of having a son who would be able to kill Dronacharya. Even though Dhristadyumna, son of Drupada, was the prophesied killer of Drona, he was accepted as a student by the benevolent Drona, and he learned advanced military arts. Now, on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, Dhrstadyumna took the side of the Pandavas, and he has arranged their military phalanx, after having learned the art from his Guru Dronacharya.

Duryodhana pointed out this blunder of Dronacharya’s so that he might be alert and uncompromising in the battle. By mentioning this he also wanted to point out that he should not be similarly lenient in the battle against the Pandavas, who were also Dronacharya’s affectionate students. Arjuna, especially, was his most affectionate and hence, Duryodhana warned Dronacharya that any leniency in the battle could lead to defeat.

1.4          SHLOKA 1.4

अत्र शूरा महेष्वासा भीमार्जुनसमा युधि
युयुधानो विराटश्च द्रुपदश्च महारथः ४॥ 

Atra sura Mahesv-asa BhimArjuna-sama yudhi           |
Yuyudhano viratas ca Drupadas ca Maha-rathah  ||1.4||
Meaning: Here in this army there are many heroic bowmen equal to the might of Bhima and Arjuna, such as Satyaki, King Virata, Drupada  and other great fighters.

Duryodhana’s use of the words ‘atra surah’ in addressing Drona is an insinuation and he says to Dronacharya that If you are thinking that because the Pandavas army commanded by Dhristadyumna are less than ours and they can be easily defeated, and there is nothing to worry about, then you are mistaken. These warriors are all mighty bowmen just like Bhima and Arjuna, and the arrows from whose bows are as vicious as they come. The warriors such as Yuyudhana (who is also known as Satyaki), Virata and Drupada are distinguished as ‘maha-rathi’ meaning ‘the mightiest of chariot warriors’.

1.5          SHLOKA 1.5

धृष्टकेतुश्चेकितानः काशिराजश्च वीर्यवान्
पुरुजित्कुन्तिभोजश्च शैब्यश्च नरपुङ्गवः ५॥

Dhrstaketus cekitanah kasirajas ca viryavan                |
Purujit Kuntibhojas ca saibyas ca nara-pungavah ||1.5||
Meaning: There are also great, heroic, powerful fighters like Dhrstaketu, Cekitana, Kasiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Saibya.

Duryodhana continues to enlist the warriors in the enemy camp to ensure that Dronacharya does not get complacent and that he prepares for the battle in the right earnest.

1.6          SHLOKA 1.6

युधामन्युश्च विक्रान्त उत्तमौजाश्च वीर्यवान्
सौभद्रो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्व एव महारथाः ६॥

Yudhamanyus ca vikranta uttamaujas ca viryavan        |
Saubhadro draupadeyas ca sarva eva maha-rathah ||1.6||
Meaning: There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters.

Duryodhana goes on further with his list of other warriors so that Dronacharya feels offended enough to prove him wrong by showing his full might in the battlefield.

1.7          SHLOKA 1.7

अस्माकं तु विशिष्टा ये तान्निबोध द्विजोत्तम
नायका मम सैन्यस्य संज्ञार्थं तान्ब्रवीमि ते ७॥

Asmakam tu visista ye tan nibodha dvijottama                  |
Nayaka mama sainyasya samjnartham tan bravimi te ||1.7||

Meaning: O’ the best of the dvijas (Brahmanas), for your information, let me tell you about the captains who are especially qualified to lead my military force.

Receiving not much of a response from Dronacharya to his long speech and to make amends for his censuring him, Duryodhana changes tack and begins to enumerate the names of the warriors on his side, also exaggerating their qualities, in order to look self-confident and hide his nervousness.

1.8          SHLOKA 1.8

भवान्भीष्मश्च कर्णश्च कृपश्च समितिञ्जयः
अश्वत्थामा विकर्णश्च सौमदत्तिस्तथैव ८॥

Bhavan Bhishmas ca Karnas ca Krpas ca samitim-jayah     |
Asvatthama Vikarnas ca Saumadattis tathaiva ca        ||1.8||
Meaning: There are personalities like yourself, Bhishma, Karna, Kripacharya, Asvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurisrava, who are always victorious in battle.

Duryodhana mentioned the exceptional heroes all of whom were ever-victorious. He lists Bhishma, Karna, Kripacharya, Ashvatthama (son of Dronacharya), Vikarna (brother of Duryodhana), and Saumadatti, or Bhurisrava (son of the King of the Bahlikas).

1.9          SHLOKA 1.9

अन्ये बहवः शूरा मदर्थे त्यक्तजीविताः
नानाशस्त्रप्रहरणाः सर्वे युद्धविशारदाः ९॥

Anye ca bahavah sura mad-arthe tyakta-jivitah          |
Nana-sastra-praharanah sarve yuddha-visaradah ||1.9||
Meaning: There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my cause. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science.

Duryodharana goes on further to assert that there are many others – like Jayadratha, Krtavarma, Salya, etc.— who are all determined to lay down their lives in support of his cause.

1.10        SHLOKA 1.10

अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम्
पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम् १०॥

Aparyaptam tad asmakam balam Bhishmabhiraksitam        |
Paryaptam tv idam etesam balam Bhimabhiraksitam ||1.10||
Meaning:  Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhishma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited.

In his estimation of comparative strength Duryodhana thinks that the strength of his armed forces is immeasurable, being specifically protected by the most experienced general, Grandfather Bhishma. On the other hand, the forces of the Pandavas were limited being protected by a less experienced general Bhima when compared with that of Bhishma.  Duryodhana was always envious of Bhima but at the same time, he was confident of his victory on account of the presence of Bhishma, who was a far superior general.

1.11        SHLOKA 1.11

अयनेषु सर्वेषु यथाभागमवस्थिताः
भीष्ममेवाभिरक्षन्तु भवन्तः सर्व एव हि ११॥ 

Ayanesu ca sarvesu yatha-bhagam avasthitah              |
Bhishmam evabhiraksantu bhavantah sarva eva hi ||1.11||
Meaning: Now all of you must give full support to Grandfather Bhishma, standing at your respective strategic points in the phalanx of the army.

Duryodhana, after praising the prowess of Bhishma, went on to praise others so that they do not think that he considered them less important, and hence chose to add to the list of warriors on his side. He emphasized that Bhishma was undoubtedly the greatest hero, but he was old.  So everyone must hold their positions and offer cover to him from all sides as he gets engaged in the fight. It was important that other warriors should not leave their strategic positions and not allow the enemy to break through the phalanx.

Duryodhana clearly felt that the victory of the Kurus depended on the presence of Bhishma. He was confident of the full support of Bhishma Pitamaha and Dronacharya in the battle because he knew well that they were bound by a sense of duty to the King, although they had some affinity for the Pandavas.

1.12     SHLOKA 1.12

तस्य सञ्जनयन्हर्षं कुरुवृद्धः पितामहः
सिंहनादं विनद्योच्चैः शङ्खं दध्मौ प्रतापवान् १२॥

Tasya Sanjanayan harsam Kuru-vrddhah Pitamahah  |
Simha-nadam vinadyoccaih sankham dadhmau pratapavan ||1.12||
Meaning: Then Bhishma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly, like the roar of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy.

The legend of the Kuru dynasty, Bhishma, could understand the anxiety of his grandson Duryodhana, and out of his natural compassion for him, tried to cheer him up by blowing his conch-shell very loudly, befitting his position as their leader.

1.13        SHLOKA 1.13

ततः शङ्खाश्च भेर्यश्च पणवानकगोमुखाः
सहसैवाभ्यहन्यन्त शब्दस्तुमुलोऽभवत् १३॥ 

Tatah sankhas ca bheryas ca panavanaka-gomukhah
Sahasaivabhyahanyanta sa sabdas tumulo ‘bhavat    ||1.13||
Meaning: After that, the conch-shells, bugles, trumpets, drums and horns were all suddenly sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous.

1.14     SHLOKA 1.14

ततः श्वेतैर्हयैर्युक्ते महति स्यन्दने स्थितौ
माधवः पाण्डवश्चैव दिव्यौ शङ्खौ प्रदध्मतुः १४॥

Tatah svetair hayair yukte mahati syandane sthitau |
Madhavah Pandavas caiva divyau sankhau pradadhmatuh ||1.14||
Meaning: On the other side, both Lord Shri Krishna and Arjuna, stationed on their divine chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conch-shells.

In contrast with the conch shell blown by Bhishma, the conchshells in the hands of Shri Krishna (Panchajanyam) and Arjuna (Devadattam) are described as transcendental.

The impact of the sound of these transcendental conch shells indicated that there was no hope of victory for the other side – “Jayas tu pandu-putranam yesam pakse Janardanah” – Victory is always with persons like the sons of Pandu because Shri Krishna was on their side.

And whenever and wherever the Lord is present, the Goddess of fortune is also there because the She is inseparable from the Lord – I refer to Sri NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (6.10.10) – “Agalagillen iraiyum en alarmel mangai  urai marba” meaning “O Lord, you bear the inseparable Lotus-dame Lakshmi on your chest!”

Therefore, victory and fortune were awaiting Arjuna, as indicated by the transcendental sound produced by the conch-shell of Shri Krishna. Besides that, the chariot on which both of them were  seated was donated by Agni (the fire-god) to Arjuna.  This indicated that this chariot was capable of conquering all sides, wherever it was drawn over the three worlds.

1.15        SHLOKA 1.15

पाञ्चजन्यं हृषीकेशो देवदत्तं धनञ्जयः
पौण्ड्रं दध्मौ महाशङ्खं भीमकर्मा वृकोदरः १५॥ 

Pancajanyam Hrshikesho Devadattam Dhananjayah     |
Paundram dadhmau maha-sankham Bhima-karma Vrkodarah ||1.15||
Meaning: Then, Shri Krishna blew His conch-shell, called Pancajanyam; Arjuna blew his conch, the Devadattam; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of Herculean tasks, blew his terrific conch shell called Paundram.

Shri Krishna is referred as Hrshikesha in this verse because He is the owner and controller of all senses. All the living entities are part and parcel of Him, and, therefore, the senses of these living entities are also part and parcel of His senses.  The Lord, situated in the hearts of all living entities, directs their senses. But in the case of a pure devotee He directly controls the senses.

On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the Lord directly controls the transcendental senses of Arjuna, and thus the use of His particular name of Hrshikesha. The use of Hrshikesha assumes significance as He gives directions to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Arjuna is referred to as ‘Dhananjaya’ in this verse because he helped King Yudhistra in fetching wealth by conqueiring kingdoms when it was required for the Rajasuya Yagna. Arjuna blew his conch called Devadattam.

Bhima is also known as Vrkodara because he could eat as voraciously as he could perform Herculean tasks such as killing the demon Hidimba.  Vrkodara also means wolf waisted or wolf-bellied, referring to Bhima’s six pack abs.  Bhima blew his conch called Paundram.

1.16     SHLOKA 1.16

अनन्तविजयं राजा कुन्तीपुत्रो युधिष्ठिरः
नकुलः सहदेवश्च सुघोषमणिपुष्पकौ १६॥

Anantavijayam raja Kunti-putro Yudhisthirah         |
Nakulah Sahadevas ca sughosa-manipuspakau ||1.16||
Meaning: King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conch shell, the Anantavijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa and Manipuspaka.

1.17     SHLOKA 1.17

काश्यश्च परमेष्वासः शिखण्डी महारथः
धृष्टद्युम्नो विराटश्च सात्यकिश्चापराजितः १७॥

Kasyas ca paramesv-asah sikhandi ca maha-rathah       |
Dhrstadyumno viratas ca satyakis caparajitah          ||1.17||
Meaning: That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter Sikhandi, Dhrstadyumna, Virata and the unconquerable Satyaki,

1.18        SHLOKA 1.18

द्रुपदो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्वशः पृथिवीपते
सौभद्रश्च महाबाहुः शङ्खान्दध्मुः पृथक्पृथक् १८॥

Drupado Draupadeyas ca sarvasah prthivi-pate |
Saubhadras ca maha-bahuh sankhan dadhmuh prthak prthak ||1.18||
Meaning: Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the son of Subhadra, greatly armed, all blew their respective conch-shells.

So, the different types of conch-shells blown by the different personalities from the Pandavas camp, beginning with the Lord’s Panchajanyam, were all very encouraging to the fighting soldiers.

1.19        SHLOKA 1.19

घोषो धार्तराष्ट्राणां हृदयानि व्यदारयत्   
नभश्च पृथिवीं चैव तुमुलोऽभ्यनुनादयन् १९॥

Sa ghoso Dhartarastranam hrdayani vyadarayat            |
Nabhas ca Prthivim caiva tumulo ‘bhyanunadayan ||1.19||
Meaning: The tumultuous sound of these different conch-shells vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, pierced the hearts of the sons of Dhritarashtra shattering their confidence.

When Bhishma and the others on Duryodhana’s camp blew their respective conch-shells, there was no heart-break on the part of Pandavas or their army. But in this particular verse, it is mentioned that the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarashtra were shattered by the sounds vibrating from the Pandava camps conch-shells.

Sanjaya informed King Dhrtarashtra very tactfully that his policy of deceiving the sons of Pandu to enthrone his own sons on the seat of the kingdom was neither wise nor righteous. These were ominous signs of destruction of the whole Kuru dynasty beginning with the grandsire, Bhishma, down to the grandsons and others—including Kings from many states—who were all present there, were doomed. The great catastrophe was about to unfold which was as a result of King Dhrtarashtra’s prejudice, envy, sense of entitlement and greed.

1.20        SHLOKA 1.20

अथ व्यवस्थितान्दृष्ट्वा धार्तराष्ट्रान् कपिध्वजः
प्रवृत्ते शस्त्रसम्पाते धनुरुद्यम्य पाण्डवः २०॥

atha vyavasthitan drstva dhartarastran kapi-dhvajah      |
pravrtte sastra-sampate dhanur udyamya pandavah ||1.20||

Hrshikesham tada vakyam idam aha mahi-pate

Meaning: O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, stood up raising his bow and spoke to Hrshikesha these words (to be covered in next part).

The stage has been set and the battle is just about to begin. The sons of Dhrtarashtra were more or less disheartened by the unassailable arrangement of the military force of the Pandavas, who were guided by Lord Shri Krishna on the battlefield.

As Arjuna stood up in his chariot and picked up his bow, he spoke to Shri Krishna the following words;  which turned out to be the beginning of a long dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna (the Krishna-Arjuna Samvada), that gave us the great Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

 

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 1 INTRODUCTION

Invoking the blessings of Sri Swami Desikan and Shri Krishna, I embark on this journey of gaining a deeper understanding of this great source of knowledge for the human kind – “Srimad Bhagavad Gita”!

As I began with this introduction, a friend came in to deliver me “Prasadam (Laddoo)” from Tirupati, signifying a divine blessing to begin this journey! With that, I begin my quest for gaining a deeper meaning of the purpose of our life.

The word “Gita” means song and Bhagavad Gita means the God’s song. The Bhagavad Gita is a spiritual text composed by Maharishi Veda Vyasa as revealed to him by Shri Krishna,  It comprises of a 700-verses and forms part of the great epic ‘Mahabharata’.

Gita is a quintessential part of the Prasthana Trayam, the holy books of Sanatana Dharma,. Prasthana trayam, literally, three sources (or axioms), or texts of Hindu philosophy, especially of the Vedanta schools:

  1. The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasthana (injunctive texts), and the Shruti Prasthana (the starting point or axiom of revelation), especially the Principal Upanishads.
  2. The Brahma Sutras, known as Nyaya Prasthana or Yukti Prasthana (logical text or axiom of logic)
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, known as Sadhana Prasthana (practical text), and the Smriti Prasthana (the starting point or axiom of remembered tradition)

Srimad Bhagavad Gita speaks about “the way of living, the nature of things and provides many paths to attain self-realisation.” It speaks about humanity, Reality and our place in that Reality, as well as the actions we are to take to find inner peace. It emphasizes the various forms of Yogas — ways in which humans can deal with the challenges of the ever-changing world and the constant vacillation of emotions of the mind. It deals with the path to wisdom and the relationship of self (Atma) with that of the ultimate Reality (ParamAtma).

The essence of the Gita is that it establishes a person’s right to question every aspect of life.  Sanatana Dharma (ancient wisdom) thrives on “tarka” or debate to explore and find “truth”.  There are many paths that lead to the Absolute truth and each path, followed with utmost faith and devotion, leads to Self-realisation and Salvation.

The Bhagavad Gita is set as a dialogue between a human, namely, Arjuna, and the God Reality, Shri Krishna. The dialogue between the two establishes the principle to question life and gain a true understanding.  Shri Krishna answers Arjuna’s many questions that clarify the confusions and doubts clouding Arjuna’s mind.

The core principles of Srimad Bhagavad Gita are:

  • The consciousness that exists in the macrocosm and the consciousness that exists in each one of us is one and the same. If one understand what upholds one’s being, one can understand the consciousness that sustains and upholds the Cosmos.
  • Everything is composed of matter (that which forms matter) called “Prakriti”, and Spirit or Consciousness called “Purusha”.
  • The life on Earth has only one purpose – to know the spiritual foundation that sustains and upholds the cosmos and all that is there.
  • Humans are capable of this self-realisation, which is knowing the Absolute.

The knowledge found within the Bhagavad-Gita is incomparable as it gives specific information regarding the purpose of human existence, the immortality of the soul and our eternal relationship with God. This information applies to each and every one of us without exception. Without realization of our divine relationship with the God it is impossible to establish our eternal relationship with Him.

There are three paths which lead directly to establishing a relationship with God. According to the Bhagavad-Gita these paths have been designated as the yoga of perfect actions, the yoga of perfect devotion and the yoga of perfect knowledge. These three paths have been fully explained in the Bhagavad-Gita, within chapter 23 to 40 in the Bhishma-Parva of Mahabharata.

The Bhagavad-Gita consists of 18 chapters and each chapter is called a Yoga. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. So each chapter is a specialized yoga revealing the path of attaining realization of the Ultimate Truth.

The first six chapters have been classified as the Karma Yoga section as they deal with the realisation of the Ultimate Consciousness through actions.

The middle six chapters are known as the Bhakti Yoga as they principally pertain to the path of devotion to attain communion with the Ultimate Consciousness.

The final six chapters are regarded as the Jnana Yoga as they explain the science of the attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness through the intellect.

Aum ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya |
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah ||
Meaning: I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.

जय श्री कृष्णाJai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

Bhakta Kavi Jayadeva Goswami

Bhakta Kavi Jayadeva Goswami, was a Sanksrit poet during the 12th century. He is most known for his epic composition Gita Govinda which vividly describes Shri Krishna’s love for Gopikas in general and Radha in particular.

The Gita Govinda is organized into twelve chapters. Each chapter is further sub-divided into twenty-four divisions called Prabandhas. The Prabandhas contain couplets grouped into eights, called Ashtapadis. The poem presents the view that Radha is greater than Shri Krishna, is considered an important part of the Bhakti movement, in which Jayadeva describes Lord Shri Krishna’s yearning for Radha!

The poems also elaborates the eight moods of the Heroine, the Ashta Nayika, which has been an inspiration for many compositions and choreographic works in Indian classical dances.

Sri Jayadeva – Ashtapadi reveals the  True Essence of Love between Radha and Shri Krishna.  Sri Gita Govinda Mahakavyam declares the beautiful blend and unison of JivAtma with ParamAtma.

The twelve chapters of Gita Govinda vividly describes the different facet of Shri Krishna:

  1. Samoda Damodaram (Exuberant Krishna)
  2. Aklesha Keshavam (Blithesome Krishna)
  3. Mugdha Madhusudanam (Winsome Krishna)
  4. Snigdha Madhusudanam (Tender Krishna)
  5. Sakankṣa Puṇdarikakṣham (Passionate Krishna)
  6. Dhrṣta Vaikuṇṭa (Audacious Krishna)
  7. Nagara Narayanah (Dexterous Krishna)
  8. Vilakṣya Lakṣmipatih (Apologetic Krishna)
  9. Mugdhada Mukunda (Unpretentious Krishna)
  10. Chatura Chaturbhujah (Tactful Krishna)
  11. Sananda Damodaram (Joyful Krishna)
  12. Suprita Pitambaraj (Exultant Krishna)

Jayadeva’s birth

jayadevaJayadeva was born to Kamalabai and Narayana Sastri, a very pious Brahmin couple. Kamalabai was very devout and longed for a child. She prayed to the Lord to be blessed with a child.  One night, Lord Krishna appeared in his dream and told him that his wife’s prayer would be fulfilled and they would soon be blessed with an illustrious son. Soon, Kamalabai gave birth to Jaya Deva.

Jaya Deva was very devoted to Shri Krishna from his childhood and his Upanayanam ceremony was performed when he was only five years old.  He learnt the scriptures at a very young age and was incessantly lost in prayers of Shri Krishna.  His parents left for Vanaprastha after sometime and Jayadeva led a nomadic life with no fixed abode.

One day, he had a divine visualization and went into an ecstatic state. In his divine vision, he saw the Yamuna River flowing through four Blue Mountains. Beside the river bank, under a tree, Lord Shri Krishna was playing his flute delightfully. The vision of Krishna and His music enthralled Jayadeva so much that he composed a Shloka extempore. This gave birth to the famous epic, ‘Gita Govinda’, validating the words ‘Poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings and emotions’.

Jayadeva described Sriman Narayana’s Dasha Avataar in his first Astapadi ‘Jaya Jagadeesha Hare! He had a visualisation of these ten avatars and was in a trance as he witnessed the vast ocean which depicted the presence of God in His vast creation. He prayed to the Lord and sought his blessing.  Later, he went to Jagannath Puri Temple with his friend Parasara and spent all his time in prayer, meditation and chanting the name of the Lord.

Deva Sharma, a Brahmin in Puri, had a daughter by the name Padmavathi.  As he was keen to get his daughter married, he prayed to Lord Jagannath for His blessings. The Lord appeared in Deva Sharma’s dream and advised him to perform her marriage with His ardent devotee Jayadeva.

Accordingly, Deva Sharma and his wife went in search of Jayadeva.  When they found him they told him of Lord’s wish. Jayadeva refused to marry as he was leading the life of Sanyasi and said he was unfit for Grihastadharma. But Deva Sharma refused to accept that and since it was Lord Jagannath’s order, he could not go against it.  Jayadeva was forced to oblige as he too wouldn’t oppose the Lord’s wishes. He married Padmavathi and came back to his village Kendybilva and they lived happily there and prayed to Radha Madhav in their house regularly.

After sometime Jayadeva went on a pilgrimage. On his way he met King Lakshmana Sena who was very much impressed with Jayadeva and forced him to stay with him and accepted him as his Guru. Later, Padmavathi joined Jayadeva, and the King was surprised to learn that his Guru was a Grihasta.

Jayadeva explained to the King that one can be a Sanyasin even as a Grihasta if one is performs one’s duties without attachment to the fruits. He explained that renunciation meant gaining control over the mind and all the senses. Jayadeva’s life is an example to the world that God-realisation can be had even as a Grihasta. Several other Saints such as Swamy Desikan, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa have gained self realisation while leading the life of a Grihasta.

Padmavathi was a perfect match for Jayadeva as she too was a pious lady and was inspired by her husband’s faith, treated him like a God. She spent her hours in spiritual discourses to other ladies in the court. The Queen too was one of her disciples but unknowingly had the pride of a royal family that propped up every now and then.

Once Padmavathi was discussing Sati Sahagamanam with the Queen. She opined that ‘whoever dies on her husband’s funeral pyre is not a great lady. A true wife is one who breathes her last, the minute she hears of her husband’s demise.’  The Queen wanted to test Padmavathi on her assertion, so she decided to play a practical trick on her.

The next day she informed Padmavathi, with tears in her eyes, that Jayadeva was killed by a lion while accompanying the King in the forest. As soon as she completed her statement, Padmavathi fell unconscious and upon close examination the Queen discovered that Padmavathi had breathed her last! The Queen was shocked and remorseful of her action and was worried how Jayadeva and the King would react to her foolish behaviour. While the King got furious, Jayadeva was not perturbed and he picked her up and prayed to God.  Within no time Padmavathi woke up as if from sleep and she too joined their prayer. The Queen was relieved and humbly acknowledged the Bhakti of Jayadeva and the pious nature of Padmavathi.

After some time Jayadeva came back to his village and while residing here, he composed his famous  “Gita Govinda”.

Gita Govinda

jayadevas_gitagovindaJayadeva wrote poem Gita Govinda which celebrates the glorious divine love of Radha and Krishna. The Gita Govinda comprising of Sanskrit songs describes Shri Krishna’s courtship of Radha. With lucid and tender lyrics, the Gita Govinda explored many aspects of love and passion.

At a mundane level, it narrates the love of Radha and Krishna as simple cowherds, but at a spiritual level the poem describes the union of JivAtma with ParamAtma.

 

One day while Jayadeva was composing the Ashtapadi, he got the inspiration to write the beautiful lines ’Smara Garala  Kandanam Mama Shirsi Mandanam Dhehi Padha Pallavam Udharam ….’

Meaning
O’ love, place the tender-leafy foot of yours on my head as it is an antidote to the venom of Love God…

But as soon as he penned these lines, he rubbed it off immediately and felt extremely guilty. He threw away his pen and with a wavering mind got up from his seat.  His eyes welled with tears as he lamented, ‘What sin have I committed… Apacharam…Apacharam.  How could I write these lines? How can a devotee (Radha) place her feet on Lord Krishna’s head?

Jayadeva felt very restless and could not stop thinking of the sin he had committed.  He walked out of the house towards the river bank.  After seeing her husband’s restlessness Padmavathi prayed to Lord to help her husband complete the compositions of Ashtapadi without any break.

Padmavathi expressed her surprise and went to get the shlokas and the stylus.  Jayadev said ‘I was struck with the poem but got flash with wonderful lines to complete the poem and so I came back.’

He completed the poem as below:
Smara-Garala-Khandanam Mama Shirasi Mandanam
Dehi Pada-Pallavam Udaaram
Jvalati Mayi Daruno Madana-Kadanaruno
Haratu Tad-upahita-vikaram ||19.8||

Meaning:
O’ Dear Radha, your tender-leafy foot is an antidote to the venom of Love God. Please place it on my head, and make it my motif and my glory… for that scorching fire of Love God is burning me intolerably… hence, tread my body to tread on that Love God, to tread out his fire and its abnormalities.

After that he asked Padmavathi to arrange water for his bath and his bath, he offered nivedanam to God and had food and dozed off comfortably on his bed.

A little while later, Padmavathi began to eat, but there was a knock on the door again.  She was shocked and confused to see Jayadeva standing before her. Jayadeva was even more than surprised and questioned her ‘What’s wrong with you today? Have you ever dined before offering food to the Lord or before I had my food? I have never seen such a thing before!’

Padmavathi was even more shocked and stammered, “but you came back from a little while ago, took the poem, and completed it. After that had your bath, did prayers, had food and were resting. Jayadeva immediately knew what might have transpired and rushed into the room. But nobody was there in the room. He asked Padma to bring the Shloka to see how it was completed. He had guessed it right! The Lord Himself came to complete the poem and had written the same words as Jayadeva had originally composed it.

Jayadeva was ecstatic at one level that his composition was accepted by the Lord but at another level felt sad that he missed Lord’s Darshan.  He thought, how lucky Padmavathi was as she saw the Lord and served Him personally. He cried unto the Lord. O’ Prabhu, O’ Krishna! What wrong have I done that you did not grace me your Darshan? You left me out and blessed Padmavathi alone.’ He grabbed the food from Padvamathi’s leaf since it was the food enjoyed by the Lord Himself! He did not care for Padmavathi’s protest that he was eating from her half-eaten leaf.

After this incident, Jayadeva completed his Gita Govindam with renewed vigour. He was deeply involved in his songs and sang them wholeheartedly. The Lord followed him, invisibly and wholeheartedly, to listen to his rendition.

The Ashtakas are sung before Lord Jagannath during the annual festival. People were struck with the splendid music and poetry of Gita Govinda and praised it highly. The fame of Jaya Deva reached far and wide.

ggOnce a woman was singing the Gita Govinda beautifully in the forests as she was collecting fruits for her daily trade. Lord Jagannath was very pleased with her singing and He began to wander in the forest after her to hear her rendition. The Lord’s garment was torn to pieces while He was running all over the forest, as it was caught in the thorny bushes of the forest.  Next morning, the priest of the temple and the King saw the Pitambara of the Lord in rags. They were not able to find the reason for the torn condition of the Pitambara. They prayed to the Lord to make them know the reason.

The Lord appeared in their dream and said, ‘A woman was singing Gita Govinda in the forest. I ran in the forest to hear her song. When I ran, the Pitambara was torn to pieces by the thorns.’

The Lord becomes a slave of His devotees and will do anything for the sake of His devotees.  The King honoured the Lady for her devotion.

Jayadeva’s last days

Jayadeva had taken a vow that he would take bath in the Ganga till the end of his life. As he became old he became indisposed. The King offered a palanquin to Jayadeva but he declined to accept it. Due to his tapas, Ganga herself appeared with lotus flowers in the well of Jayadeva’s house.  Finally, Jayadeva attained the Lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna.

Every year on Sankranthi day, a big event is organised in memory of Jayadeva in his village Kendubilva and devotees chant Gita Govinda.

Such was the glorious life of Jayadeva, one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shri Krishna.  He led a simple, humble, unpretentious life with no possessions, and always found joy and happiness in meditating on Lord Shri Krishna, and was a perfect embodiment of forgiveness.

Glory to Jayadeva Goswami whose life inspires us all!

ADAIKKALA PATTHU

Swami Desikan composed 10 verses on “Saranagati” (absolute surrender) in his “Adaikkala Patthu” wherein he seeks refuge of Lord Varadarajar of Kancheepuram for Moksha (Liberation).  Swami Desikan has also composed ‘Nyasa Dasakam’ in Sanskrit which has a similar set of Shlokas for Saranagati.

Before we delve into the meanings of Adaikkala Patthu or the approach to Saranagati, let’s understand the rationale of our Acharyas preferring Saranagati as a means to attain Moksha as opposed to the Jnana Marga or the Bhakti Marga as detailed in the Bhagavad Gita, both of which were available to them.  In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 12 Verse 1) Arjuna asks Bhagavan Sri Krishna this very question, which is seeking Bhagavan’s view on Jnana Marga and Bhakti Marga:

Arjuna Uvaca:
Evam satata-yukta ye bhaktas tvam paryupasate
Ye capy aksaram avyaktam tesam ke yoga-vittamah ||12.1||
Meaning: Arjuna asks: Which is considered to be more perfect, those who are properly engaged in Your devotional service, or those who worship the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?

Bhagavan Sri Krishna, true to his nature, does not give a straight answer but instead lays out the paths to ‘Realisation’ and the rigour required for each of these paths.

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca:
mayy avesya mano ye mam nitya-yukta upasate
sraddhaya parayopetas te me yuktatama matah ||12.2||

ye tv aksaram anirdesyam avyaktam paryupasate
sarvatra-gam acintyam ca kuta-stham acalam dhruvam ||12.3||

sanniyamyendriya-gramam sarvatra sama-buddhayah
te prapnuvanti mam eva sarva-bhuta-hite ratah ||12.4||

kleso ‘dhikataras tesam avyaktasakta-cetasam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham dehavadbhir avapyate ||12.5||

Meaning:
Bhagavan Sri Krishna says – He whose mind is fixed on My personal form, always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by Me to be most perfect.

But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, fixed, and immovable-the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth-by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last attain Me.

For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.

ye tu sarvani karmani mayi sannyasya mat-parah
ananyenaiva yogena mam dhyayanta upasate ||12.6||

tesam aham samuddharta mrtyu-samsara-sagarat
bhavami na cirat partha mayy avesita-cetasam||12.7||

Meaning: For those who worships Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who have fixed their mind upon Me, O son of Prtha, for them I am the swift deliverer from the Samsara of birth and death.

Hence, Bhagavan clearly explains that both the Jnana Marga and the Bhakti Marga lead to salvation but require great rigour and discipline. However, even Sri Adi Sankara, who propounded the Advaita philosophy (Jnana Marga), composed the famous Bhaja Govindam song emphasising the need for Bhakti.

Finally, in Chapter 18 of the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan says there is an easier approach to reach Him:
Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru
Mam evaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyo ‘si me ||18.65||

Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah ||18.66||

Meaning:
Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus, you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.

Relinquish all forms of righteous actions, just surrender unto Me exclusively. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not despair.

Bhagavan gives his assurance to Arjuna that by simply surrendering unto Him exclusively, He guarantees Moksha.

Our Acharyas led a life of austerity with discipline and rigour. They followed the path of Dharma as well as engaged in staunch Bhakti which would have made them eligible for liberation under either of those two Margas (Jnana or Bhakti).  Yet, they chose Saranagati (Absolute Surrender) as an approach to gain Moksha.  This was mainly to show the path to liberation to the followers out of their compassion as they knew that following the Jnana or the Bhakti Marga which requires rigour and discipline would be extremely difficult for the common folks who are caught in this Samsara.

Ashtanga Yoga

Before we go into Saranagati, let’s also understand Yoga as a means of attaining liberation.  Patanjali begins his treatise by stating the purpose of Yoga sutra by defining the word “yoga” in his second sutra of Book:

योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
yogah citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ — Yoga Sutras 1.2

This terse definition means ‘Yoga is the restraint (nirodhaḥ) on the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta). Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as ‘Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)’.

Yoga essentially consists of meditative practices culminating in attaining a state of consciousness free from all modes of active or latent thought, and of eventually attaining a state where consciousness is unaware of any object external to itself, that is, is only aware of its own nature as consciousness unmixed with any other object.  Yoga has eight different stages or ‘Angas’ and hence called as the “Ashtanga Yoga”. They are described by Patanjali as: Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (Realisation).

Since it is difficult to practice Yoga to perfection, Bhagavan Sri Krishna offers unconditionally the ultimate option of Saranagati for release from the cycle of Samsara.

There are many ways of performing Saranagati.  For example:

  1. Pranava Mantra: AUM iti Atamanam yunjita (Narayana Upanishad 147.8)
  2. Dwaya Mantra (as shown by Sri Ramanuja Acharya in Gadya Trayam):
    Sriman Narayana charanau Saranam prapadye
    Srimathe Narayanaya Namah
    Meaning:  Sriman Narayana, I surrender at your feet, Sriman Narayana, my obeisance to you. I hold Sriman Narayana’s feet, who is forever associated with the compassionate Goddess Sri Lakshmi, as the object of my surrender.
  1. Venkatesa Prapatti: Shree Venkatesha charanau Saranam Prapadhye
  2. Part of Nitya Karma:
    Shankha Chakra Gadha paane Dwaraka NilayAcyutah
    Govinda Pundarikaksha Rakshamaam Sharanagatam
    Meaning: O’ Acyuta, who resides in Dwaraka, holding a Conch (Shanku), Discus (Chakra) and a Mace (Gadha) in his hands (paane), O’ Govinda, who has Lotus-like eyes (Pundarikaksha), please protect me, for I have come to you seeking your refuge.

Saranagati (Prapatti) consists of three steps:

  1. Firstly, surrender one’s Atma (self) — Recognize that this Atma is not independent but is subservient to the Lord. This is called Svarupa Samarpanam.
  2. Second, surrender the responsibility for our protection to the Lord — this is called Bhara Samarpanam or Bhara Nyasam.
  3. Finally, surrender all the fruits of our actions arising out of existence to Bhagavan with humility as if we had no part in it — this is called Phala Samarpanam.

In the first Shloka of Nyasa Daskam, Swami Desikan bring this out nicely – ‘aham, mad rakshana bharah, mad rakshana phalam tatha, na mama, Sripatereva iti, Atmanam nikshipet, budhah’.

Saranagati has five pre-conditions (Angas) that are to be embraced before offering oneself to Lord’s feet (Surrender) to serve Him:

  1. Accepting those things that are favourable for devotion to God (Anukulya Sankalpam)
  2. Rejecting those things that hinder righteous actions (Pratikulya varjanam)
  3. Considering God to be the protector in all circumstances (Maha Vishvasam or Raksishyati Vishvasah)
  4. Accepting God as one’s maintainer (Goptrtva Varanam)
  5. Cultivating a humble attitude (Karpanyam)
  6. Finally, the sixth one is called the ‘Angi’ which is the act of surrendering everything at the Lord’s feet (Atma-niksepam)

The five Angas of Saranagati, namely Anukulya Sankalpam, Pratikulya varjanam, Raksishyati Vishvasah, Goptrata Varanam and Karpanyam should be practiced along with the Angi namely ‘Atmaniksepa’. The Atmaniksepa is the act of Saranagati while the Angas precursors that prepare us and equip us for Saranagati.

Vibheeshana Saranagati – Illustrates all the Saranagati Vidhis

Ramayana is admitted as a practical guide and is considered as the Saranagati Veda in which Vibhishana’s Saranagati to Rama is regarded as the Upanishad. The surrender of Vibhishana illustrates the five ‘Angas’ of Saranagati and the ‘Angi’ the act of surrender as specified in the Saranagati Vidhi.

Vibhishana sought refuge in Rama, rebelling against the authority of his brother, who symbolised evil for him.  He requested his brother Ravana to set Sita free and return her safely to Rama and seek forgiveness. He expressed this in quite a number of times.

 

The Shloka in Ramayana states:
पुरा शरत् सूर्य मरीच्चि सम्निभान् |
नव अग्र पुन्खान् सुदृढान् नृप आत्मजः |
सृजति अमोघान् विशिखान् वधाय ते |
प्रदीयताम् दाशरथाय मैथिली || ६-९-२१
Meaning: Before Rama the prince discharges for your destruction, very strong and unfailing arrows equal to the rays of autumnal sun and provided with new heads and shafts, let Seetha be given away to Rama.

तदेवम् प्रस्तुते कार्ते प्रायश्चित्तमिदम् क्षमम् |
रोचये वीर वैदेही राघवाय प्रदीयताम् || ६-१०-२२
Meaning: O’ brave man! When the omens of evil forces are appearing this way, I would like you to atone for your sins by giving back Seetha to Rama.

This is an illustration of the first Anga namely, Anukulya Sankalpam, acts that are righteous and conducive to the devotion of the Lord.

Ravana’s refusal to heed to Vibhishana’s advice and the latter’s subsequent abandonment of Ravana when he rebukes Vibhishana can be interpreted as the avoidance of evils i.e., Pratikulya Varjanam.  This is further elaborated by his rejection of all the possessions including his sons, wife, friends etc. -‘परित्यक्ता मया लंका मित्राणि च धनानि च || ६-१९-५’. The very abandonment of Lanka shows this Anga.

The third Anga, namely Raksishyati Vishvasah or Maha Vishvasah, is indicated in the following verse of Vibhishana – Sarvalokesarnyaya Raghavaya Mahatmane which means Raghava is the refuge to all the living creatures in all the worlds.

The fourth Anga Goptrata varanam consists in Vibhishana’s faith as expressed in the words:
भवद् गतम् हि मे राज्यम् च जीवितम् च सुखानि च | ६-१९-५
Meaning:  I place my kingdom, life and happiness at your disposal.

The fifth Anga namely Karpanyam (humility or helplessness) is traced in the following utterances of Vibhishana when he introduced himself to Sugriva and others.

अनुजो रावणस्य अहम् तेन च अस्मि अवमानितः || ६-१९-४
Meaning: I am the younger brother of Ravana and I have been humiliated by him.  

The Angi, Atmaniksepa or surrender of the Self is expressed in:
निवेदेअयत माम् क्षिप्रम् राघवाय महात्मने |
सर्व लोक शरण्याय विभीषणम् उपस्थितम् ||६-१७-१७
Meaning: Inform immediately to high soul Rama, the protector of all the worlds, that Vibhishana, has come.

And then Vibhishana says: भवन्तम् सर्व भूतानाम् शरण्यम् शरणम् गतः | ६-१९-४ – I place my kingdom, life and happiness at your disposal.

Lord Rama declares that He is ready to admit into His fold even one who poses himself to be friendly and assures that He would not forget him even though there are defects in him. He states:
मित्र भावेन सम्प्राप्तम् न त्यजेयम् कथंचन |
दोषो यदि अपि तस्य स्यात् सताम् एतद् अगर्हितम् ||६-१८-३
Mitra bhavena sampraptam na tyajeyam katamcana I
Dosho yadyapi tasya syat satam etad agarhitam II
Meaning: I will never give up anybody who approaches Me with friendly attitude even if he is full of defects. This is the way of noble people.

Sri Rama further says:
Sakrdeva prapannaya tavasmi ca yacate |
Abhayam sarva bhutebhyo dadamy etad vratam mama ||18.33||
Meaning: He who seeks refuge in me just once, telling me that ‘I am yours’, I shall give him the assurance of safety against all types of beings. This is my solemn pledge. 

Now let’s look at Swami Desikan’s Adaikkala Patthu.

Adaikkala Patthu

Adaikkala Patthu (also written in Sanskrit by Swami Desikan as ‘Nyasa Dasakam’) elaborates on the approach to Saranagati (absolute surrender to the God), the main approach for the followers of Vishisht Advaitha philosophy. Bhara-nyasam, Bhara-Samarpanam, Prapatti or Saranagati are all acts of surrendering oneself to the service of the Lord and offering the fruits of all actions at the feet of the Lord.

Swami Desikan describes in 10 verses, the approach to Saranagati wherein he surrenders to the Lord Varadaraja of Kancheepuram, whose temple stands on a hill called Hastha Giri (also called Atthi giri in Tamil), and seeks Moksham or Liberation. Let’s now look at the verses:

Pasuram 1

பத்தி முதலாம் மவதில், பதி எனக்கு கூடாமல்,
எத்திசையும் உழன்றோடி, இளைத்து விழும் காகம் போல்,
முத்திதரு நகர் ஏழில் முக்கியமாம் கச்சி தனில்,
அத்திகிரி அருளாளற்கு, அடைக்கலம் நான் புகுந்தேனே ||1||

Patthi mudhalaam mavathil, pathi yenakku koodamal,
Yethisayum uzhandru odi ilaithu vizhum kakam pol,
Mukthi tharum nagar ezhil mukkiyamaam kachi thanil,
Athigiri arul aalarkku, adaikkalam naan pugundhene     ||1||
Meaning: I was not able to practice the path of devotion as there wasn’t any suitable place for Bhakti that allowed me to focus without distraction of the mind.  Just like the crow which scurried in eight different directions that got very tired in the end only to come back and fall at the Lord’s feet for mercy, I surrender to the blessed Lord Varadaraja presiding over Hasthagiri, who is in Kancheepuram, which is the greatest blessed towns among the Seven towns that lead to Salvation.

In his opening line, Swami Desikan laments on the lack of a suitable place for praying to the Lord without distraction and single minded devotion.  He compares his condition to that of the Crow which scurried frantically in all eight directions seeking refuge from others but in the end fell at Lord’s feet.

Swami Desikan in this verse is referring to the Kakasura’s episode from Srimad Ramayana. Kakasura (Indra’s son in a crow form) committed a blunder by physically hurting and injuring Sita. This enraged Rama attacked Kakasura with a simple grass and ultimately fell at Rama’s feet helplessly. The crow’s father Indra abandoned him and so did the sages as they could not intervene against Rama’s arrow.  Kakasura wandered all the worlds and at last surrendered before Rama seeking his forbearance.  Valmiki lucidly narrates this in the following Shlokas:

Sa pitra ca parityahtah suraisca samaharscbhih,
trin lokan samparikramya tamova saranam gatah.
satam nipatitam bhumah sapranyah saranagatim,
vadhirhemepi kakutstah krupaya paryapalayat ||
Meaning: That Kakasura, having been disowned by his father the Gods and the Sages, wandered all the three worlds and took refuge in Rama. Kakasura deserved death but was protected because he took refuge in Rama and fell on the ground before Him. Sri Rama forgave him but plucked one of the eyes as a measure to thwart its wickedness by constantly reminding of the incident leading to loss of an eye.

Swami Desikan says after wandering many places, just like the Kakasura, I have come to you, O’Lord Vardaraja seeking your refuge.

In the third line of his Pasruam, Swami Desikan says of the seven holy places – Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi, Kanchi, Avanti (Ujjain) and Dwarkavati – that grant Liberation, Kanchipeerum is one of the important ones and hence I am seeking Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi, residing on top of Hastha Giri to grant me refuge.

Pasuram 2

சடை முடியன், சது முகன் என்று, இவர் முதலாம் தரம் எல்லாம்,
அடைய வினை பயன் ஆகி, அழிந்து விடும் படி கண்டு,
கடி மலராள் பிரியாத, கச்சி நகர் அத்திகிரி,
இடமுடைய அருளாளர், இணை அடிகள் அடைந்தேனே ||2||

Sadai mudiyan, chathur mukanendru, ivar mudhalaam tharam yellam,
Adaya vinai payanagi, azhindu vidum padi kandu,
Kadi malarial piriyatha, kachi nagar athi giri,
Idamudaya arulaalar, inay adikal adainthene ||2||
Meaning: I have seen the boons granted by Shiva, Brahma and other Gods, have a limited span and dilapidate over time. I have seen Shiva and Brahma seek Lord’s refuge to rid of their sins. Knowing this, I surrender to the twin feet of the great Lord of Hasthigiri of Kanchi with whom the Goddess Lakshmi is ever present, and seek his grace to grant me Moksha, the eternal bliss.

Swami Desikan refers to Lord Shiva seeking Lord’s help when he had incurred Brahmahatya dosham when plucked one of Brahma’s five heads. Brahma cursed Shiva for that act which resulted in the skull getting stuck to Shiva’s hand. Shiva was forced to seek alms with that skull in hand.  He cursed such that he can get rid of his sin only if the Kabaalam is completely filled-up with food.  Shiva went around the world on a pilgrimage to find salvation from the curse by begging for food with Brahma’s skull as the begging bowl. Every time someone filled the vessel with food, it vanished immediately to Shiva’s horror.

Finally, Shiva reached Goddess Lakshmi and appealed to her.  She filled the vessel with food ending Shiva’s hunger. However, to Shiva’s dismay, Brahma’s skull still lay fixed on his hand. Shiva did penance and offered His worship to Sriman Narayana. Vishnu answered Shiva’s prayer for salvation and asked him to bathe at Kandiyur Pushkarini. Shiva took a dip in the Pushkarini and with the Lord Kamalanathan’s blessing, the kapalam detached itself from his hand. As a result, the Bhagavan, at this temple, is known as Hara Saapa Vimochana Perumal and the Pushkarini is recognized as Kapaala Thirtham.  Hara is another name for Shiva.

Swami Desikan also refers to Brahma losing the Vedas to the two demons, Madhu and Kaitapa.  Once Lord Brahma was tired of his creative activities and took some rest. Given his fatigue, Lord Brahma yawned. All the four Vedas slipped out of his open mouth. The two demons Madhu and Kaitapa, who were nearby, stole the Vedas from Brahma.  Brahma was powerless in creating life anymore without the knowledge of the Vedas. Brahma approached Lord Narayana who took the form of Hayagreeva (A man’s body with a horse’s head) and slayed the demons and retrieved the Vedas. Since Lord Hayagreeva rescued the Vedas, which are the essence of all knowledge, we worship Hayagreeva as the God of Knowledge.

Swami Desikan emphasises that it is Lord Narayana who is the saviour and protector of all the worlds including that of Brahma and Shiva.  Hence, he is approaching Lord Varadaraja of Hastha Giri who is forever with Lakshmi Piratti, who is full of compassion, as the ultimate protector and grantor of Moksha.

Sri Thirumazhisai Azhwar says similarly:

சாக்கியம் கற்றோம், சமணம் கற்றோம், சங்கரனார் ஆக்கிய ஆகமநூல் ஆராய்ந்தோம்; பாக்கியத்தால் வெங்கடகிரியனை சேர்ந்தோம்.
Saakkiyam katrom Samanam katrom, Sankaranaar Aakkiya Agamanool arinthom bhaaghyataal Venkatkariyaaanai Sernthom
Meaning: We learnt Saakkiyam (Jainism), Samanam (Buddhism) and the Agamic Scriptures by Lord Shankara (Shiva) and due to sheer grace, we landed at the feet of Lord Thiruvengadathaan (Lord Venkateshwara).

Pasuram 3

தந்திரங்கள் வேரின்றித், தமது வழி அழியாது,
மந்திரங்கள் தம்மாலும், மற்றும் உள்ள உரையாலும்,
அந்தரம் கண்டடி பணிவார், அனைவர்க்கும் அருள் புரியும்,
சிந்துர வெற்பிரையவனார், சீலம் அல்லதறியேனே ||3||

Thanthirangal verindri thamathu vazhi azhiyaadhu,
Manthirangal thammalum, mathumulla urayalum,
Antharam kandu adi panivaar, anaivarkkum arul puriyum,
Sinthura verpu iraiyavanaar, seelam allathu ariyene ||3||
Meaning: After understanding the rigours of Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga to reach Him as prescribed in the Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures, and after appreciating the Saranagati vidhi as well; and seeing the differences between them, many may choose Prapatti to get His grace. Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi, whose unbounded compassion is beyond compare, blesses all of them with his Grace, no matter the path chosen by His devotee.

Pasuram 4

காகம் இராக்கதன், மன்னர் காதலி கத்திரபந்து,
நாகம் அரண் அயன் முதலா, நாகநகரார் தமக்கும்,
போகம் உயர் வீடு பெறப், பொன் அருள் செய்தமை கண்டு,
நாகமலை நாயகனார் நல்லடி போதடைந்தேனே ||4||

Kaagam irakkadhan, mannar kadali katthira bandhu,
Nagam aran ayan mudhalaa naga nakaraar thamakkum,
Bhogamyuar veedu pera ponnarul cheythamai kandu,
Naga malai nayakanar nalladi podadainthene. ||4||
Meaning: Seeing that that Bhagavan showered aishwaryam and granted moksham to Kaagam (Kakasura), Rakshasas (Vibheeshana), Mannar Kadhali (Draupadi), Kshatrabandhu (a sinner who gets liberated by chanting Govinda), Naagam (can refer to Gajendra or Kaliyan), Aran (Shiva), Ayan (Brahma) and to the Devas etc. I surrendered myself with full faith at the feet of the Lord of Hastha Giri, (the elephant mountain) and attained Him.

Pasuram 5

உகக்கும் அவை உகந்து, உகவா அனைத்தும் ஒழிந்து, உறவு குணம்
மிக துணிவு பெற உணர்ந்து, வியன் காவலன்  என வரித்து,
சகத்தில் ஒரு புகல் இல்லாத், தவம் அறியேன் மதிட்கச்சி,
நகர்க் கருணை நாதனை, நல் அடைக்கலமாய் அடைந்தேனே ||5||

Ugakkum avai ugandhu, ugava anaithum ozhindhu, uravu gunam
Miga thunivu pera unarnthu, viyan kavalen ena varithu,
Jagathil oru pugal illa, thavam ariyen mathitkacchi,
Nagar karunai nathanai, nalla adaikkalamai adainthene. ||5||
Meaning: Choosing those that are conducive to serve the Lord, and leaving out those actions that are hindering the path, Understanding the relation between Jiva and Paramatma with great courage, taking Him as one who protects and guards, and understanding that there is no greater glory than to serve Him, I surrender completely to the merciful Lord of Kanchi.

This Pasuram covers the Shad-vidha Saranagati:

  1. Anukulya Sankalpam – Ukakkum avai uhandhu
  2. Pratikulya Varjanam – Ukava anaithum ozhindhu
  3. Maha Vishvasam – Uravu guna Miga thunivu pera unarnthu
  4. Goptretva Varanam – viyan kavalan ena varithu
  5. Karpanyam – Jagathil oru pugal illa thavam ariyen
  6. Atmaniksepam – Kachi nagar karunai nadhanai nal adaikkalamai adainthene

Bhagavan has Shad Gunas of Jnana, Shakti, Veeryam, Balam, Aishwaryam and Tejas, but above all these are qualities like Karunyam (compassion), Vatsalyam (affection), Sausheelyam (excellent disposition) and Saulabhyam (affability or ease of access) are paramount. Without, compassion all other qualities would not be of much benefit to the devotee and Bhagavan has unbounded compassion. His compassion extends even to His enemies where He gave them time to reform (e.g. Ravana, Kakasura, Shishupala etc.).

Pasuram 6

அளவுடையார் அடைந்தார்க்கும், அதன் உரையே கொண்டவர்க்கும்,
வளவுரை தந்தவன் அருளே, மன்னிய மாதவத்தோர்க்கும்,
களவொழிவார் எமர் என்ன, இசைந்தவர்க்கும் காவலராம்,
துளவ முடி அருள் வரதர், துவக்கில் எனை வைத்தேனே ||6||

Alavudayar adaintharkkum, athan uraye kondavarkkum,
Valavurai thandhavan arule, manniya mathavathorkkum,
Kalavozhivaar amar yena, isainthavarkkum kavalaraam,
Thulava mudi arul varadar, thuvakkil yenai vaithene.  ||6||
Meaning: People with great knowledge of Prapatti surrender on their own (Sva Nishtai); some depend on their Guru who have great understanding of the scriptures and follow the instructions for surrender (Ukti Nishtai); for some the Guru performs the prapatti on their behalf (Acharya Nishtai) and some people benefit from the prapatti of great devotees who surrender to the Lord with a clear understanding that their Atma or Self belongs to the Lord.  Such devotees are dear to lord and those people who are with such great devotees gain salvation by their mere association (Bhagavatha Nishtai). I surrendered myself to Varadan who is adorned with Thulasi garland who gives boon of salvation to all those who surrender unto Him by any of the four methods.

Four kinds of Prapatti have been referred in this Pasuram:

  1. Sva Nishtai – This followed by those with knowledge. Such jnanis perform Prapatthi at the sacred feet of the Lord directly (e.g. Azhwars, Acharyas)
  2. Ukthi Nishtai: The Mumukshu (One who desires Moksham) repeats the Prapatti words as per Acharyan’s instructions.
  3. Acharya Nishtai: Acharyan performs prapatti for Mumukshu.
  4. Bhagavatha Nishtai: The Mumkshu is covered within the prapatthi performed by a Bhagavatha, who is not an Acharyan. (e.g. People who were associated with Koorathazhwan or accompanied Vibheeshana were liberated by mere association or Satsang).

Pasuram 7

உமதடிகள் அடைகின்றேன் என்று, ஒரு கால் உரைத்தவரை,
அமையும் இனி என்பவர் போல், அஞ்சல் என கரம் வைத்து,
தமது அனைத்தும் அவர் தமக்கு, வழங்கியும் தாம் மிக விளங்கும்,
அமைவுடைய அருளாளர், அடி இணைய அடைந்தேனே ||7||

Umadhu adikal adaikendren yendru oru kaal uraithavarai.
Amayum ini yenbavar pol, anjal yena karam vaithu,
Thamadhu anaithum avar thamakku vazhangiyum thaam miga vilangum,
Amaivudaya arulaalar adiyinayai adainthene. ||7||
Meaning: To the one who committed to surrender at His feet even once, He Kept His hand on them assuring them to be not be afraid, and as He becomes their protector. He gives them all the goodness and wealth and is delighted at that even as His Tejas and Aishwaryam keeps growing. I surrender at the feet of that great Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi.

Pasuram 8

திண்மை குறையாமைக்கும், நிறைகைக்கும் தீவினையால்,
உண்மை மறவாமைக்கும், உள மதியில் உகக்கைக்கும்,
தன்மை கழியாமைக்கும், தரிக்கைக்கும், தணிகைக்கும்,
வண்மையுடை அருளாளர், வாசகங்கள் மறவேனே ||8||

Thinamai kuryamaikkum, niraikaikkum thee vinayaal,
Unmai maravamaikkum, ula mathiyil ugakkaikkum,
Thanmai kazhiyamaikkum tharikkaikkukm, thanikkaikkum,
Vanmai yudai arulalar vachakangal maravene ||8||
Meaning: I seek His blessing so that my faith is not diminished, and grant me wisdom.  I seek his blessing so that I never forget the truth as a result of any sin committed by me.  I seek His grace to attain bliss as a result of my surrender, and for continuing with this state of mind without feeling inferior and free from the pains of this Samsara. I would never forget the teachings of the very powerful Lord of Kanchi.

Pasuram 9


சுரிதி நினைவிவை அறியும், துணிவுடையார் தூ மொழிகள்,
பரிதி மதி ஆசிரியர், பாசுரம் சேர்ந்தருக்கணங்கள்,
கருதி ஒரு தெளிவாளால், கலக்கம் அறுத்தத்திகிரி,
பரிதி மதி நயனமுடைப், பரமன் அடி பணிந்தேனே ||9||

Surithi ninivu ivai ariyum , thunivudayor thoo mozhigal,
Parithimathi aasiriyar pasuram chernthu arukkanangal,
Karuthiyoru theli vaalaal kalakkam aruthathathu kiri,
Parithi mathi nayanamudai paraman adi paninthene.  ||9||

Meaning: I learnt from those who knew the Vedas and the Smritis.  I gained knowledge from the Divya pasurams of great Saints, and from the wise words of great Sages having brains as bright as the Sun. I cut off my confusions and attained clarity of thought.  I surrendered at the feet of the Great Lord, who has Sun and Moon as His eyes, and who is the SarvaLokeswara.

Pasuram 10

திருமகளும், திருவடிவும், திருவருளும், தெள் அறிவும்,
அறுமை இலாமையும் உறவும், அளப்பரிய அடி அரசும்,
கருமம் அழிப்பளிப்மைப்பும், கலக்கம் இலா வகை நின்ற,
அருள் வரதர் நிலை இலக்கில், அம்பென நான் அமிழ்ந்தேனே ||10||

Thirumagalum, thiruvadivum, thiruvarulum, thellarivum,
Marumai ilamayum uravum, alappariya vadivarasum,
Karumam azhippu alippu amaippum, kalakkam ilaa vagai nindra,
Arul varadar nilai ilakkil, ambena naan amizhndene.  ||10||
Meaning: With Goddess Lakshmi, who has a very beautiful and charming form, with divine grace and knowledge, and Who is easily accessible to His devotees and having great association having an immense form, and accomplishing the duty of creation, sustenance and destruction with great precision; and standing with stability sans confusion, Lord Varada with divine grace is my steady aim and I attain and merge with him like an arrow released from a bow.

In the Mundaka Upanishad (2.4), it says:
Pranavo dhanuh sharo hi atma brahma tal lakshyam ucyate
apramattena veddhavyam sharavat tan-mayo bhavet ||
Meaning: Using AUM as the Bow (Dhanuh), the Self (Atma) as the Arrow and fixing the Supreme Being as Target, a seeker should reach Him like an arrow (Atma) to its target (Brahman).

Phalashruti

ஆறு பயன் வேறில்லா, அடியவர்கள் அனைவர்க்கும்,
ஆறும் அதன் பயனும் இவை, ஒரு காலும் பலகாலும்,
ஆறு பயன் எனவே கண்டு, அருள் ஆளர் அடியினை மேல்,
கூறிய நற்குண உரைகள், இவை பத்தும் கோதிலவே ||11||

Aaru payan verilla, adiyavarkal anaivarukkum,
Arum athan payanum ivai, oru kaalum pala kaalum,
Aaru payan yenave kandu, arul aalar adiyinai mel,
Kooriya narkunai uraigal, ivai Patthum kothilave.  ||11||

Meaning:
For all those devotees who do not have any other method, these ten pasurams would be useful to bring them peace.  Even if one surrenders once after understanding that these are going to be useful, they benefit forever. I attained Varada after reciting these ten verses at His Lotus feet.  Bhagavan is both Upaayam (path) and Upeyam (goal).

கவி தர்கா சிம்ஹைய கல்யாணி குண ஷாலினே,
ஸ்ரீமதே வேங்கடேசாய வேதாந்த குரவே நாம.
Kavi tarkika simhaya kalyana Guna shaline,
Srimathe Venkatesaya Vedantha gurave nama ||
Meaning: A Lion among poets and philosophers who is endowed with sublime, divine and auspicious qualities.  Our obeisance Lord Venkatesha and to the Vedanta Guru.

Swami Desikan Thiruvadigale Saranam

OM NAMO NARAYANAAYA

HARI OM TAT SAT

SWAMI VEDANTA DESIKAN’S VAIBHAVAM (GLORY)

On 21st September 2018, we will be commemorating the 750th birth anniversary of Swami Vedanta Desikan.

While it will require more than a life time to fully read and comprehend Swami Desikan’s works, this is a humble beginning to understand some of his works and will carry on over the next several months.  I begin with an overview of Swami Desikan’s life and works as a first in the first of the series on his works and offer this as a mark of reverence to this giant of a Vedanta Guru.

Swami Somayaji Ananthasuri and Tottarambha were leading an ideal householder’s life in their house at Thuppul. Years passed by and their desire to beget a son grew. They started on a pilgrimage and visited several divya desams and finally came to Tirumala (Tirupati). They bathed in the Pushkarini and paid obeisance to Lord Varaha and then went on to worhip Lord Srinivasa inside the temple.  They prayed to the Lord for a son and after their evening worship, they went back and retired. That night Lord Srinivasa appeared in their dream and gave them the divine hand bell (Ghantamani) from the Sanctum. Tottarambha swallowed it in her dream and next day at dawn they both felt invigorated and and shared their dream with each other feeling extremely happy.

At the Sanctum, the Bhattar (priest) of the Sannidhi came in to conduct the daily morning Aradhana. When he opened the door, he observed that the divine bell was missing and he immediately initiated his enquiries. Just at that time, the Tirumalai jeeyar appeared on the scene and said that he had a wonderful dream in which he saw the Lord Himself giving the divine Bell to the devoted pilgrim couple.

They decided not to replace the small bell and even to this day, the Big bell outside the sanctum is used for Thiruvaradhanam at the Tirupati Temple.

Anantasuri and Tottarambha took leave of the Lord after worshipping him and returned to Kanchi with great joy. Tottarambha was soon blessed with the divine child and day by day, her whole body shone with extraordinary lustre.

Swami Desikan was born as Venkatanathan in Thuppul in Kanchipuram in the Tamil month of Purattasi (mid-September to mid-October) under the Thiruvonam Star in 1268 CE as the ‘Amsam’ (form) of Sri Tirupati Venkateshwara’s Ghantam (Divine Bell).

Venkatanathan mastered the Vedas, Vedanta and Shastras under the guidance of Guru Appullar (brother of Tottarambha).

Sri Appullar taught Venkatanathan the sacred Garuda mantra. By the age of 20, he was well versed in all Shastras.

At the age of 21 (in 1289 CE), Venkatanathan was married to Kanakavalli.   He started his family life as ordered in the Shastras and was strictly performing all the duties required by a Srivaishnava, living on uncha vritti i.e. their daily supply of food provided by disciples or secured by seeking alms. A Brahmin is supposed to do Veda adhyayanam and teach every one in the village and their needs are taken care by the students and other residents who learn from him. Desika in Sanskrit means a ‘Guru or a spiritual teacher’ and hence Venkatanathan came to be known as Swami Desikan.

Some of the local people in Kachipuram felt bad that a great master like Swami Desikan was doing uncha vrutti i.e. seeking alms for grains. As Swami Desikan refused to accept money or Gold given as dakshina, the students and residents started mixing gold coins along with rice and offered him.

Swami Desikan did not notice this and gave the rice to his wife for making prasadam. She called Swami Desikan’s attention to the glittering coins and Swami Desikan promptly chucked all the coins out of the window saying they were vermins.

In the year 1317 CE, Swami Desikan and Kanakavalli were blessed with a son with the grace Sri Varadaraja Perumal, in the Tamil month of Avani (birth star Rohini), and they named the child as Varadhacharya.

Varadhacharya followed the footsteps of Swami Desikan and shone just like his father.

After the death of Sri Appullar Swami, Swami Desikan wanted to chant the Garuda mantra taught to him by Sri Appullar.  He observed fast for many days to receive the blessings of Garuda, as Garuda is known as Veda Swarupi. Swami Desikan went to Thiruvaheendrapuram and went up a small hill before he began to chant the Garuda Mantra. Garuda was pleased with his devotion and blessed him with the Hayagreeva mantra and instructed him to chant the Hayagreeva mantra continously to receive the blessings of Lord Hayagreeva.

 

As Swami Desikan continuously recited the mantra, Lord Hayagreeva was pleased and appeared before him.  Lord Hayagreeva blessed him and agreed to reside on the tip of Swami Desikan’s tongue as desired by him. Lord Hayagreeva gave a Vigraha (idol) of Himself to Swami Desikan for his daily worship. This Vigraham is still being preserved in the Devanatha temple in Thiruvaheendrapuram.

While in Thiruvaheendrapuram, Swami Desikan composed the ‘Hayagreeva Stotram’, Devanayaka panchashat in Sanskrit, Achyutha Satakam in Prakrut, and Mummanikkovai and Navamani maalai in Tamil.

Swami Desikan came back to Kanchipuram and composed various Stotrams explaining the concept of prapatti or surrender. These Stotrams are Nyasa Vimshati, Nyasa Dashakam and Nyasa tilakam in Sanskrit and Adaikkala pathu and Artha Panchakam in Tamil.

While in Kanchi, Swami Desikan was enchanted by the beauty of Varadharaja Perumal and composed fifty Shlokas on Him. He also wrote Stotrams on Perumal by visiting the various temples in and around Kanchi.

While in Srivilliputhur Swami Desikan composed the famous Godha Sthuthi. He was observing mounam (silence) befitting the occasion of the Pradhosham evening. He was planning to go to Sri Andal’s Sannidhi later for MangaLasasanam. When he heard the sounds of Koil Vaadhyams (percussion), he stepped out from the house and found to his greatest surprise and joy, the archa murthy of Sri Andal being carried by the devotees approaching.  While the normal processional route did not include the street where Swami Desikan was staying, but on this special day, there was some obstacle on the main street and hence the temple priests had re-routed the procession. Swami Desikan’s astonishment at this unexpected bhagyam and his Bhakthi for Sri Andal came out pouring the form of 29 Shlokas (Godha Sthuthi) in two beautiful Sanskrit poetic metres known as Vasantha Tilakam and Maalini.

Godha Sthuthi First Shloka:
Sri Vishnuchittha Kulanandana Kalpavalleem
Sri Rangaraja Harichandana yoga dhrusyam |
Saakshath Kshamam Karunaya Kamalamivanyam
Godham Ananya Sharana Sharanam Prapadhye ||
Meaning: Godha Piraatti is the wish-granting Kalpaka tree in flower garden of the clan of Sri VishNu Chitthar; She is most beautiful as She gives us Her darsanam as the Karpaka creeper united with Her Lord Sri Rangarajan standing majestically as the Harichandana tree in that Nandavanam; She is the incarnation of Bhumi Devi known for Her auspicious qualities of forbearance; Godhai is the embodiment of forbearance; When it comes to the quality of Her Mercy, Godhai is a veritable Maha Lakshmi (Kamala). I, who has no other refuge, seek Her as my sole refuge.

Later, Swami Desikan went to Tirupati and composed the beautiful Stotram called Daya Satakam.  Lord Srinivasa blessed Swami Desikan and he was conferred the title ‘Vedanta-Acharya’. Later, Swami Desikan went to Badrinath, Ayodhya, Kashi, Nepal and other places in North India on foot to visit the temples over there.

Swami Vedanta Desikan wrote extensively in Sanskrit and Tamil and some of his compositions are:

  • Desika-prabhandham which enjoys a status equal to that of the Azhwars’ Divya Prabhandham
  • Many Storams such as – Bhu Stuthi, Daya Satakam, Godha Sthuthi, Hayagreeva Stotram, Kamasika Ashtakam, Paduka Sahasram, Shodasha Ayudha Stotram, Sri Sthuthi, Sudharsana Ashtakam, Yathiraja Saptati etc.
  • Gadyams e.g. Raghuveera Gadyam (a.k.a. Mahveera Gadyam)
  • Dandakams e.g. Garuda Dandakam
  • Adaikkala Patthu, Artha Panchakam, Nyasam Vimshati, Nyasa Dashakam for Saranagati
  • Paramapada Sobanam (Way of Living)

He composed over 2000 Shlokas of exquisite Sanskrit poetry on a variety of religious themes mostly in praise of SriRangam Raganatha, Thiruvengadam (Venkateswara), Kanchi Varadar etc. His poetry flowed in an impressive variety of forms ranging ‘Stotras’, ‘Gadyams’ to ‘Dandakams’, in every known metric rhythm – from the simple ‘Malini’ metre to the long-winded ‘Saardulavikreedita’.

In his famous work praising the Lord Thiruvengadam, titled ‘Daya-Satakam’, Swami Desikan composed 108 Shlokas in 10 different metres each most appropriate to the underlying theme of the verse. He was known as ‘Kavi Kesari’, ‘Tarkika Simham’, ‘Kalyana Guna Shali’ and ‘Vedanta Guru’.

The following Thanian (prefatory verse honouring the Guru or Acharya) was composed by Swami Desikan’s disciple, Brahma-tantra-swatantrar Jeeyar (who established the Parakala Mutt), on the day of star of Hastham, the star of Varadharaja Perumal of Kancheepuram in the Tamil month of Avani.

This Thanian on Swami Desikan is recited before reciting Divya Prabandham:
Ramanuja-Daya-patram jnana-vairagya-bhushanam |
ShrImad-Venkata-natharyam vande Vedanta Desikam ||

Swami Venkatanathan is also revered through the following ‘Thanians’ that is recited at the beginning of all his works and again at the end:
Sriman Venkatanatharya Kavi-tarkika Kesari |
Vedantacharya varyome sannidhathaam sadahrudi ||
Meaning:  Sriman Venkatanathan, who is a Lion among poets and philosophers, May He ever reside in our hearts. Our obeisance to the Vedanta Acharya.

Kavi-tarkika Simhaya Kalyana Gunashaline |
Srimathe Venkatesheya Vedanta Gurave Namaha ||
Meaning: A Lion among poets and philosophers who is endowed with sublime, divine and auspicious qualities.  Our obeisance Lord Venkatesha and to the Vedanta Guru.

Let us now explore how Swami Desikan perfectly fits the four great attributes ascribed to him viz. Kavi Kesari, Tarkika Simham, Kalyana Guna Shali and Vedanta Guru.

  1.     Kavi Kesari

Swami Desikan’s poetry was enchanting that exhibited his genius. An interesting event happened one evening in Sri Rangam, where Swami Desikan lived and worked for many years. A rival poet disdainfully challenged him to compose poetry on a pair of common footwear, as a heap of insult. Next morning Swami Desikan astounded the rival, and the rest of the poets, with a poetic work of 1008 stanzas entitled ‘Paduka-Sahasram’.  Over one thousand stanzas in chaste Sanskrit, in praise of the sacred Sandals of Sri Ranganatha, composed within the course of one night!  Such was his genius!

In these verses, Swami Desikan brings the words to visual effect by the use of pure sound of the words to create vivid images.  In the ‘Paduka-Sahasram’, Swami Desikan demonstrates this with telling effect where seemingly meaningless words are woven to create enchanting sound. In his Verse 933, the Acharyan uses only two syllables:
paa paa dha paa paa dha paa paa paa dha paa dha dha paa dha paa |
dha paa dha paa paa dha paa dha paa dha paa dha dha paa dha paa ||933||

A mere reading of the above, if penned by someone of a lesser stature than Swami Desikan, would have invited derision for passing it off as poetry. But Swami Desikan’s genius shines through these seemingly senseless assemblages of the two syllables (Pa and Dha) when read as follows:
paapaadhapaa paadhapaapaaa paadhapaa dhadhapaadhapaa I
dhapaadhapaa paadhpaadha paadhapaa dhadhapaadhapaa II 

The above verse reveals the following sublime meaning:
The Paadhuka cleanses our sins; it bestows lustre to the Lord’s feet (It confers effulgence to individual souls, which are aspects of the Lord). Its water used to cleanse His Padhuka protects those who perform this service of respectfully and adorn it to the Lord’s feet. Those Paadhukas saved me from sins!

It is a profound construction of two syllables to say the least. One cannot but marvel at the genius of this great Acharyan who effortlessly intertwined sound and meaning that are tightly coupled to celebrate the glory of Sri Ranganatha Paadhukas. It is no wonder why Swami Desikan is hailed by all as ‘Kavi-Kesari’.

He was known as ‘Kavi-kesari’ also for his mastery over phonetics and linguistics. He could create beautiful sound out of words and words out of pure sound.  As an example of the first case, the two verses from the Kamasika Ashtakam are presented below. In these Stotrams, Swami Desikan evokes the fearsome, awe-inspiring image of ‘Jwala-Nrsimha’ Avataar of Sriman Narayana.

The Shlokas from the Kamasika Ashtagam have been composed with hard syllables to create guttural-sound, intended to deliver the effect of an angry roaring lion:
Vikaswara nakha swaru kshatha Hiranya vaksha sthalee,
Niragala vinirgalath rudhira Sindhu sandhyayithaa,
Avanthu madha nasika manuja Pancha vakthrasya maam,
Aham prathamikaa mitha prakatithaa havaa bhagava ||6||
Meaning: With his open claws, He tore open the chest of Hiranyakashipu, and the blood flowed non-stop like a river, which made his claws like that of a red thunderbolt. I worship the Man-Lion form of Kamasika, Whose hands compete with each other to protect His devotees and Who declares war on those who try to harm His devotees.

Sataa patala bheeshane, sarbha saa attahaso adbhate,
Sphurath kruthi parisphutath bruguti kepi vakthre kruthe,
Krupaa kapata kesarin dhaunuja dimba datha sthanaa,
Saroja dhrusaa adrusaa vyathi bhishajya they vyajyathe ||7||
Meaning: With fearsome thick mane and loud reverberating majestic laughter, brows brandishing immense anger but His lotus eyes dripping with mercy towards the child (Prahlada) of that Asura (Hirayakashipu), He appeared in form of a roaring Lion but with the true karunya guna of a mother.

His compositions in Sanksrit were peerless, perhaps only matched by Kalidasa. Even till this day, scholars find it arduous to sufficiently describe the power of his poetry that has so much depth and diversity. Hence, Swami Desikan is aptly known as ‘Kavi Kesari’, a Lion amongst Poets.

  1.     Tarkika Simham

Swami Desikan was not only a ‘Kavi Kesari’ but also a ‘Tarkika Simham’, a lion that struck dread in the hearts of ideological adversaries.  The word ‘tarka’ in Sanskrit refers to a highly technical method of reasoning based on complex and formal rules of ratiocination.  Tarka usually involves long debates (‘Vaadha’) and discourse between exponents of rival schools of philosophy.

During the 13th century CE some some extreme elements in the school of Advaitins, through aggresive polemics and propaganda, began to undermine the vast influence of VisishtAdvaita Vedanta wielded amongst its followers in its own bastion, the temple-town of Srirangam. These Advaitins began to seriously question the Vedic basis for the authority and validity of Sri Ramanuja’s ‘Siddhantha’.

Periya Vaachaan Pillai, Pillai Loka-Acharya and others sought the advise of the veteran Acharya Sudarsana Bhattar. Sudarsana Bhattar said that it was only Swami Desikan who could save the situation and sent a letter to Kanchi inviting Thuppul Pillai, Swami Desikan, to face the challenge from his opponents.

Swami Desikan left for Srirangam and on the way he visited Sri Perumpudhur, the birth place of Sri Ramanuja-Acharya, and composed a Stotra on Sri Ramanuja to seek his blessings for the debate. This Shloka is called Yatirja Saptati which glorifies all our Acharyas and Sri Ramanuja in particular.

In Srirangam the debate with schloars of other sampradayas went for 7 days and finally Swami Desikan demolished every argument of their philosophies. The scholars who had debated with Swami Desikan accepted defeat and become his disciples. This debate has been compiled as Satha dhudhani.

Lord Ranganatha was pleased with Swami Desikan’s intelligence and conferred him the title of ‘Vedantachariar’ through the temple priest.  Sri Ranganayaki thaayar conferred the title of ‘Sarva Tantra Swatantrar’ which means that he is master of all arts, crafts.

During the 50-odd years of his life in Sri Rangam, he authored some of the most profound and formidable works ever to be written in the annals of VisishtAdvaita Vedanta.

The philosophy of Sri Ramanuja, as authored in ‘Sri-Bashyam’ about two centuries earlier, found its fullest and most sophisticated expression in Desikan’s philosophical works, some of which were pure treatise and some counter-polemics. Swami Desikan’s most f