The Ultimate Knowledge – Gita VII

 

Gita Chapter VII – Jnana Vijnana Yoga – Ultimate knowledge

Bhagavad Gita from chapter one to six, the discourse was about individual, the issues and dilemmas facing him, the need to engage in action, the ways to do it, the importance of knowledge and renunciation and how all of them work together. We also understood that we are beyond this body, mind and intellect and are eternal atman. That being our identity the next step is about awakening the self, the inner being.

The journey from now on is of spiritual journey of a man. It is moving away from Individual consciousness to consciousness that pervades the world, the source of all consciousness the ultimate reality. That we call by many names, Brahman, Param-atma, God, Supreme soul, Universal Consciousness, Krishna consciousness and so on. From 7th chapter onwards the gear shifts and the direction is towards understanding this world, reality, universal consciousness or God, worshiping a godhead and aspects related to it. That from this chapter Gita becomes highly conceptual is may be why few attempts to talk or write about it.

Godhead, Manifestation of God and Devotion

All of us from time and again have a question, especially when we embark upon a journey to understand universe. Is there a God. Who is He or She. What defines God. What are the attributes. Why and how should I pay reverence to God. And related questions there off. Why there are as many gods in the world as there are beings in the world. And we have the limitations imposed by our body, senses, mind and intellect in trying to comprehend that which is beyond these instruments of ours. Within this constraint we try to understand when Krishna goes about explaining the God Consciousness.

Ultimate Knowledge

The ultimate knowledge is knowing that God is everything and in every being and he is the ultimate reality of what world is made up of. He is omniscient, omni present, Nature – one who does the functions of creator, sustainer, destroyer where all the three are necessary for evolution. He is life personification, essence of everything and anything, controller and illuminator. To put it in nutshell, nothing moves without him.

The World:

And what is world. It is made up of Elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether, intellect, ego and mind. Apart from this there is the universal soul, of higher nature, that is present in everything, matter and life in this world and it supports it. All beings that are born have two components, matter and energy. Soul, and Godhead is the source of all origin and dissolution.

Excellence in everything

Godhead is the source code of everything and everyone, for no animate or inanimate energy can exist without matter and consciousness necessary for that state of existence. And what we call as matter, plant, animal or body is the coming together of elements of earth, fire, air, and water, and when they disintegrate the body dissolves.  And the seed of intelligent is from ether that creates our mind, ego and intellect. In essence, not even an atom moves without God consciousness.

Nature of Godhead

God is the substratum of everything ever born and also the one in which everything dissolves. He is immutable, un-manifest, unsurpassed, veiled by illusion and controls the world. He is the essence of everything. He is the basis of the flavor and fluidity of water, the heat and light behind the sun, moon and fire, the vibration behind the sound, the elements of atmosphere, the solidity and fragrance of earth. He is present in all life forms. He is the prowess personified in the valiant, as strength in the powerful and life force in everyone. But the challenge is while he is all pervading, manifest in everything, present at all times – past, present and future, he is not easily comprehensible by sense organs, mind and intellect for he is beyond all that.

Purpose of Worship

Why do one pray. There are two types of people. One who do not believe in prayer being helpful and the others who believe prayer is a great source of inspiration.  All our prayers fall within these four types. When we are suffering, grieving and sad and need help we pray to God asking him to alleviate our suffering.  Or we ask for wealth, success, fame, promotion, college admission essentially those aspects which make one seem successful in the eyes of the world. The third type ask for knowledge for knowing that everything becomes easily attainable. And fourthly the wise pray to god, not for seeking in any of the above, for he is free of dualities, illusions and delusions that affect the world but to attain liberation for this is considered as ultimate in prayer and Krishna holds him to be the dearest.

By worshiping God, by taking refuge in God, practicing yoga one will know God in Full. When one worships with complete indifference to the fruits of actions, comprehend with the aids of mind and intellect – gather from outside and by going inside, by intuition and meditation one reaches perfection.

World as a playground

Worship for deliverance from suffering because of dualities – birth/death, pain and suffering. We take birth in this world of experience, illusionary world as long as the soul has desire. We have inherent tendencies accumulated from various births and led by them we seek our experience in the world. Each birth is a step towards soul’s evolution. And this is directed by the consciousness in us, desire, knowledge and action and our nature of rajasik, satwik or tamasic.  And it is the god who drives us in this world to fulfill out right desires, that is desire as per the state and stage in life. So, we understand that wish fulfillment is not denounced as long as it is right.

And we understand the futility of materialistic nature of the world. It dawns on us that we come from God, play in this world for some time and go back to the God. And the stay in this world is like crossing of the ocean, full of challenges and dualities. Knowing this world, the elements, the God consciousness, transitory nature of our life the wise seek liberation and merges with consciousness.

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The Way of Meditation – Gita VI

The Way of Meditation – Gita VI

Man, to succeed in life, excluding the external factors beyond his control, from his individual self, need to have co-operation from his body, mind, intellect, ego and consciousness. When any one of these are out of control, then energies are frittered away and then one has to concentrate and work to bring the energies that are off under control. Of these mind is challenging. It controls the sense organs and when not in tune is controlled by sense organs. It often flirts from one subject to another thereby hampering focus which is essential for any action to succeed.  In this chapter 6 of Gita, Krishna shows the way of bringing mind under control by Meditation, the techniques there off and how this meditation is likely to lead one to freedom.

Krishna elucidates, the qualities of a meditator/yogi, the ideal physical environment for meditation, the food, attitude, practice requirements for meditation , for if any one of these is not ideal one is likely to be disturbed and  concentration becomes difficult. And ends it up with importance of meditation and the benefits there off. There by in this chapter Krishna shows us the way for our emancipation through the practice of meditation.

Let the man be lifted by his own self:

Man is his best friend and worst enemy. Self help is the best help. A man’s own self, and his discriminative knowledge is the only friend. Any external object, event, person that one gets attached creates attachment and bondage. But the man who has not control over himself, his self injures him, like any external enemy and for such a person there is no need for an external enemy. He who has conquered himself and is serene in mind is constantly absorbed in supreme self, alike both in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, in honour and dishonor is wise. Yoga of meditation helps man to uplift himself and one who accomplishes meditation becomes a Yogi.

Qualities of a Yogi:

Yogi is one whose heart, through knowledge and realization, is filled with satisfaction, who having conquered his senses, never vacillates, and to whom a clod, a stone, and gold are the same.  Yogi is one who has equal regard for well-wishers, friends and foes; for those who are related or indifferent to him, for the impartial and the malicious and even for the righteous and sinful. Now how does one get to that state of inner poise.

Way of Meditation

For some people meditation happens naturally. They can sit, pull their senses away from external objects, quieten the mind and turn consciousness inward with least resistance. Such people are also able to function effectively in the outer world.  They are able to organize their life, have purposeful life and carry calm demeanor not impacted by the happening around them. They can renounce their thoughts -all thoughts of imagination, planning for future and dreaming and be in the here, now.  Such a person is called Yogi.  Others need practice.

For meditation to happen one should always try to concentrate his mind, retiring into solitude and living alone, having subdued his mind and body and got rid of his desires and possessions. He must purify the mind the of past impression, agitations, ego-centrism and integrate the mind.

The Seat: In a clean spot having fixed his seat, a firm seat that is neither too high nor too low and being comfortable and sitting there, restraining the activities of his mind and senses and bringing his thoughts to a point, he should practice yoga for the purification of the self.

The posture: one should sit firm, holding his body, neck and head erect and still, and gaze steadily at the tip of his nose without looking around. When the eyes are withdrawn from sense objects, the mind becomes steady and the eye balls are still and the gaze is directed as it were to the tip of the nose. His breathing has to be measured.

Serene and fearless, chaste and celibate, with disciplined mind thinking of Brahman creator he has to meditate.

The Food: Yoga is for one who neither eats too much nor for him who eats too little. It is not for one who sleeps too much nor for him who sleeps too little. It is for one who maintains moderation in eating, sleeping and in every activity, he undertakes. Simply put no extremes. Body well provided for and under control. When that happens the bodily disturbances and distractions disappear and so also the thoughts of presence or absence of body.

Controlling the Mind: Mind by nature is restless and difficult to control. It is a friend if one has controlled it, else it is one’s enemy. The uncontrolled mind runs behind the pull of sense objects. Controlling one’s mind is the first step towards one’ release and not easy.  However, this can be achieved by practice and by detachment. Austerity, continence, discrimination and faith are also helpful. And last but not least one should persevere despite failures for control of mind being difficult is not likely to happen in the very first attempt or few attempts. So persistence is imperative.  An understanding that sensory enjoyments are likely to lead one to short time happiness with another side being pain and sorrow effort must the taken to detach oneself from engaging in excess of sensory pleasures and entertainment.

Success in Yoga –  When the well controlled mind practices meditation, resting on self, free from longing for objects – seen or unseen, belonging to this world or the next, then one is said to have attained yoga.  Yoga is not possible for one who cannot control himself. And the test of Yoga’s validity lies in one’s seeing results through actual experimentation.  Thus by practice alone can one attain Yoga. And the path being difficult, if one fails in his path, he would still be benefited. For having tried, the knowledge stays with him.  And by virtue of his practice he can take it up from there towards perfection anytime in this life or here after.

Benefits of yoga of Meditation – Yoga is a unique state of self-realization. When meditation is practiced thus, with subdued mind, one attains the peace and subsequently freedom and bliss. The mind is completely tranquil, passions are quieted, free from stress and strains and becomes one with Brahman.

In deep meditation sense object are pulled in and merge with mind. With mind also rested and calmed becomes steady. In that state cognition alone functions and that is when self is realized. When mind is under control, focused, calm, seeing the real self one experiences boundless joy that is beyond the sensory perception can bring in. One is able to go beyond pain, transcends sorrows. As a result of this realization of Brahman and oneness with Brahmans, one attains a state where he is able to see himself in every one and in everything and vice versa. He realizes Unity, Brahman and oneness with Brahman. The result of this knowledge is liberation.

Thus is the way of Meditation, imparted by Krishna in sixth chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

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Knowledge – A Gateway to Freedom – Gita Chapter IV

Knowledge, Action and Renunciation – Way to Freedom

Freedom can be obtained by either following the path of Knowledge, Action or Renunciation and the path differs based on the individual’s latent tendencies.

Why birth:

As per Hindu philosophy, there is reincarnation. Everybody has had multiple births and death but are not aware of it. And that there is a definitive pattern behind taking birth. Natures decide the course. Everyone is born with certain tendencies and these latent characters of one decides one’s preferences and orientation in life. There also exists the reason behind everyone’s birth and the success is in knowing our purpose of being born, our areas of work, field of operation and tendencies which we must harness and fine tune so that our purpose in life can be fulfilled. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna states his life purpose as – “whenever there is decay of “Dharma” – morality, virtue, righteousness – and there is rise of “Adharma” – decay, decadence, injustice, wickedness, – I am born in this world; for the protection of good people, for the destruction of evil-doers, for re-establishing the right.” Only different being his birth and ours is that his is not guided by the desires and karma but by his own determination and based on the needs of time. He is not bound by the life-death cycle which we are. And the ultimate freedom for a human being is supposed to be getting liberated from this cycle.

Knowledge as-a-way to freedom:

Krishna says – Those who know me, my action, my birth obtains freedom. Those who can get rid of desire, fear and anger, worship me, get purified in the fire of wisdom, or whichever way they reach out to me get liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Ways of Action and Organizing Society:

Men are endowed with different temperaments and tendencies. All are not equal and each one has some tendencies that are prominent. Action is the easiest way to achieve material success in this world. For this purpose, the society and people working are divided into four divisions, based on the energy requirements for effective functioning, each function being complementary. The four castes or varnas are created, are aligned with types of tendencies and actions, being the tendency for knowledge acquisition and exposition, for warrior-ship, for commerce and business and for production involving ground level work. Four division of labors, based on their tendencies and capability, each meant for specific purpose or excelling in certain works to express themselves to fulfill societal functions. There is no work that is low or high and all are equally important for the effective functioning of the society. This division helps in one expressing themselves freely based on their inherent tendencies. It is not that others cannot do it but something like the economic concept of comparative advantage. This we find still prevalent in organizations and more akin to consultant, architects, authors, teachers forming intellectual class, Military, Police, CEOs, Controllers, Sales and Marketing, forming part of warrior clan.  And Business, trading, Farming and producing class constituting the third section and service oriented work forming the other sections of the society.  It is important to note here, that as Krishna says in the opening verses of this chapter, these knowledges has however deteriorated and collapsed in the course of time, when being handed over from generations to generations and societal imperfections that this has becomes the most mis-interpreted concept in Hinduism and India currently.

Way of doing work:

Do work without doers-ship. Do without enjoyer-ship. Work. Engage.  Be amidst work. But do not think that you are doing it. Because the nature that is present in the world does it. Circumstances make it happen. It is a collective action.  To understand this better, if you have put a seed to grow, for it to start giving fruit, in addition to you, the sun, water, nutrients from soil, may be birds for pollination need to work together for the tree to start giving fruit. And when it starts fruiting may be the enjoyer could be somebody else. In the same manner, your duty is just to work without bringing into thinking that it is who you are doing and you are the enjoyer. When engaging in action, understanding that the circumstances and my inherence tendencies is making me do this, without getting impacted by the ego, you are free from the sorrow of individuality and not bound by the suffering born out of work.

Action, Inaction, Prohibited Action

In familiar parlance action means movement and inaction is absence of movement. Any action against law is prohibited action. Life means activity, a way to evolve, is dynamic and cannot even for a second cease to work. When life cases death occurs. So, action is inevitable.

Action is imperative if one lives. One cannot renounce action. Every action has a reaction and one has to bear the fruit of their karma.  However, any action that is performed without attachment, that I am the doer or for the fruits of action does not bind the soul.  Work is needed for purification of the self. Even if one is high up in the ladder in the society and can do without performing any work, it has to be done so that no wrong precedent is set for others still in the lower spectrum of evolution.

Action in inaction and Inaction in Action:

Performing action with an understanding that it is being done by body and mind, not induced by once nature, one self and the soul is not involved in it is inaction though action is being done. Here action essentially means those actions that is needed to be done and not the ones impelled by one’s desires, likes and dislikes and circumstances.  Similarly, when one thinks no action is being performed while say sitting, sleeping etc., it means no perceptible bodily action is taking place. It needs to be understood that the bodily action of breathing, digesting, circulation of blood etc. is happening involuntarily. Our mind may be busy in thinking, dreaming, extrapolating and visualizing. So seemingly inactive one is active.

And the man whose work is devoid of desires and purposes to enjoy the result of action, and whose actions are based on knowledge he is called a sage by the wise. Such a man, even when involved in worldly action performs it because he had to do it and to set example for others rather than for fulfilling his desires or expecting any results. If he is a renunciate he works to maintain his bodily functions only. Free from desire, with the mind and the self-controlled, having relinquished all  possessions doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.

Satisfied with that which comes to him by chance, or in course of nature, rising above the dualities or like and dislikes, pleasure and pain, hot and cold etc., being equipoise both in success and failure, working with such frame of mind even though he is working he would not be bound by the actions.

That man from whom all attachment is gone, from whom all cause of bondage, right and wrong has fled away, whose mind is ever fixed in wisdom alone, who acts  with a view,  to  the  performance of a sacrifice, his action with  its result is reduced to  nothing meaning does not create bondage arising out of action. Thus, work not prohibited in scriptures, work performed with the right knowledge of doing, without the desire for its action and with a sacrificial mindset frees one from the bondage arising out of such actions.

Know that, Brahman is the “Real, Consciousness and the Infinite”. He is cognized by all and is the innermost self of all.  It is instrument of action. He is all pervading. He manifests himself as an instrument of action, and the five forms actions and its accessories.

Work as a Yagna-Sacrifice:

Sacrifice is not limited to fire sacrifice or yagna alone as known in the traditional circle. It includes all work done with restraint, focus and effort. Thus, there are multiple ways in which sacrifice is performed.  Controlling one’s senses, Imparting knowledge one had gained to others, charity by donating wealth, following austerity, sacrifices by way reading, writing, acquiring knowledge, following scriptural vows are of different ways of sacrifice. Essentially all works that require discipline, excellence and renunciation of something is what is meant as Yagna here. It is work for work’s sake and duty for duty’s sake.

Controlling food, sensory intake, engaging in pranayama – Controlling one’s incoming and outgoing breath, and performing the sacrifices one is said to obtain freedom.

The sacrifices performed with material objects produces material effects, whereas wisdom-sacrifice does not. Therefore, sacrifice where knowledge is involved is superior to the sacrifice performed with material objects.  For, wisdom, which is the means to moksha comprehends all action.

Superiority of Wisdom:

Wisdom being the means to one’s freedom, Krishna says that it should be the basis for all actions. Then he describes why, how, from whom, with what mindset one gets to acquire wisdom. And what is this wisdom and benefit of acquiring this wisdom.

Approach the Guru, the teacher who is a realized self, with a sense of humility, enquiry and respectful mindset and by providing him service. Enquire what is the cause of bondage and how to get relieved from it.  And What is wisdom (Vidya) and what is ignorance and mistaken belief (Avidya). Guru can then impart knowledge of action, renunciation and wisdom.

Once this wisdom is obtained, clarity sets in and one will not be confused again as one is now. One is also able to perceive that all beings, all manifestation say from self to grass is of same Creator (Brahma), consciousness and the whole universe exists in oneself and one in the universe. There is a oneness, a unity of all things and all beings which is essence of Upanishadic wisdom.

With the right knowledge one can cross this samsara. While prarabdah karma, responsible for this life, that has commenced has to run its course, the result of future action, accumulated karma from actions of previous life that has not commenced (sanchita karma), yet to start and yet to fructify can be nullified by right knowledge.

Thus, the seeker of freedom, who has perfected himself by practice in yoga of action, knowledge and renunciation will attain peace and spiritual wisdom. On the other hand, the man who knows not  the Self, the man who has no faith in the teachings of his Guru, the main whose mind is full of doubts is  ruined.

Therefore, the man by practice of Karma Yoga has all his doubts and ignorance cleared and by knowledge acquires wisdom.  Hence Krishna commands – Arise! O Arjuna! Fight.  And thereby energizing us also to get out despondency and perform in this world with knowledge and wisdom.

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25th April, 2017

Gita – Working your way through Life – Chapter III

Karma Yoga Chapter III

Knowledge or Action which is superior, what should one go after is the theme of Chapter III of Bhagavad Gita, which is the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, Krishna being the Guide. This is one question perplexing to us for it is generally seen that either one is good in execution or good in strategy, planning and design and there is a general mistrust between these two set of people. Arjuna was not an outsider to this. And like many of us he is lazy to contemplate and decide for himself and wants Krishna to give a directive answer. Let us see what are Krishna’s answer to this.

Action Vs. Inaction

There are two paths, path of knowledge and action each having its own virtue. Man, does not get freedom from action by not participating in it nor by renouncing it. And by nature of birth, man cannot be without performing action. On the other hand, by shunning physical action, sitting in meditation controlling the action of mind and sense organs, man can achieve perfection is sheer hypocrisy. But the one, while controlling his mind and senses, does his duty in this world, action in alignment with his Dharma is superior. Hence perform right action, for action is superior to inaction and that action is needed even if one must just maintain the physical body. (Even though it is not considered action in normal parlance, actions of breathing, eating, pumping of blood by heart, excretion etc. are the acts of maintaining the body also need some action from one though could be involuntary and when this stops the life ends.) the world is bound by action and as such one has to perform action free from desire, attachment and for the common good. For action, free from desire and attachment, both which is the cause and effect of calm mind, and results in superior result, gaining knowledge and excellence

The Action Cycle

Food is essential for man and he comes from food. Food comes from the bounty of rain gods for rain is needed for production of food which is followed by sacrifice and action. And action comes from knowledge that comes from consciousness that is eternal and all pervading. So for a man who participates in this wheel of action, not indulging in sense pleasures, content and rejoicing in self there is nothing to do. He is self sufficient that he does not depend on external ideas, objects or actions for his happiness. Hence please perform work without any attachment for therein lies freedom.

Role Model

People follow a role model. What a leader does everyone follows. Leaders set standards for other to follow. Krishna gives the example of self that though he is not going to gain anything from the work he performs (Creation, sustenance and destruction), he still has to continue for if he stops the whole world stops leading to destruction. Thus no body is exempt from working.

How to Work

An ignorant man acts with attachment to his work and a wise should act without attachment. And at the same time wise man should not denounce the act of ignorant ones who act with attachment. All actions follow the natural cause and yet man thinks that he is the doer. So each man performs work that is appropriate to his state, nature and knowledge. Thus a man who is superior in knowledge and experience does work according to his inherent nature, his evolutionary state and yet should not delude those who work in different stratum of hierarchy. For doing this would confuse them and hinder their work and the society. The wise many by virtue of his performance would anyway be able to lead them towards improvement.

Work within the Laws of Life

There are various laws existing – laws of nature, society, organization, political, economic, moral and ethical etc.- those who are aware of these laws and work within the framework of these laws appropriate as per the ground reality progress and prosper in this world and those who defy and break them come to grief and debasement.

Man by nature is varied in his disposition. One is introvert or extrovert, knowledge oriented or action oriented, thinking or intuitive and so on. And all his action would be in alignment with his nature. Each one is encouraged to evolve in line with his temperament. Attaining perfection in their way of action is the goal for him. For following ones nature aids in his growth and evolution and actions against their nature is not conducive for his welfare.

This leads to the next question – If one is to follow his own nature for freedom then what is the role of self-control and self-discipline. While working as per ones natural tendencies man gains and with the help of senses, mind and intellect understands reality, performs his action and leading to fulfillment, yet man has to learn to work controlling the senses rather than being controlled by it. By taming the senses, beyond likes and dislikes, man has to learn to work. And in work the best philosophy is each according to his own, that is doing one’s own duty is superior to performing duty of others however good one may be at it and pleasurable and adept at it.

What Induces man to commit sin?

Krishna says that desire, that is all consuming is the cause for sins or problems of the world. It is insatiable as fire and covers like smoke covers the fire, dust the mirror and water the fetus, meaning is not easily visible. The desire is created by senses, mind and intellect where in mind is greater than senses, and intellect that mind for each is subtler that the previous. But Atma, Brahman, Self or consciousness as you may call it is greater than all the three. Thus discriminating and being aware of the action created by desire, induced by sense, mind and intellect and transcending it restraining the self the man over comes the desire and attains freedom.

To summarize,

Thus Krishna advises  that Knowledge and action are both needed in this world. And when performing action, do your duty, as per your stature, nature, and instinct. Be you the president of country, rich, poor, leader, follower, lecturer, blue color worker, bachelor, married, monk, young, old does not matter. All have to work and carry out the responsibilities applicable to them. It may be varied yet they are the same. There is no escaping the fact.  Perform and acquire excellence through the directed, disciplined action using senses, mind and intellect yet not giving into their domination. Action is unavoidable for those who have born in this world. So work selflessly for only through work the world runs, and one attains perfection in their chosen course of work and work without being egged by likes and dislikes and with calm disposition to succeed in life. By controlling desire, sense organs, mind and intellect, performing ones duty one can attain freedom from the life. Each work according to his own.

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Way of Intelligent Life – Sankhya yoga – Gita II

In Gita, second chapter, Krishna after listening to the lamentation of Arjuna arising out of his fear, attachment, worry that makes him weak and ready to leave the battle field, shows him the glimpses of life and how one has to face it valiantly.

We are all like Arjuna, in dire need of guidance, redemption from the conflict, sorrow and having to fight every step of the life and for us Knowledge is the only way out. Understanding, knowledge and action is that which can pull up the man from misery. The person who fights, gets up every time falls, bold, gives up cowardice is respected. Weakness is never appreciated. This and other world is for the one who is strong, fights a righteous war, strong of body, mind and intellect. Strength is life and weakness is death. Weak cannot achieve anything in this life and bold person can do wonders.

Grief is Meaningless:

Grief is meaningless. Keeping mind constant in all eventualities is the way of wise.  Wise are not tossed by the ups and downs of life. He who harmonizes his thoughts, word and deed is able to maintain his integrity and character. These are necessary quality to avoid conflict and disharmony.

Regarding death, people come and go but the atman/soul is eternal. Like a baby is born, becomes youth, then middle age, old age follows ending in death. During these times the body changes – baby dies, youth is born and so on at every stage. But the identity of the person remains the same. The change is to the body and not to the atman. Thus, birth and death is for the body only and atman is eternal.

Sense organs are the organs of pleasure and pain and that originates from what one sees, hears, eats, does, smells and understands with mind. These pleasures of bodily origin start and ends with body. And they also change with time, and place that what is enjoyable once many not be other times. And the fact that body is perishable so also joy and sorrow. understanding this and training the mind to treat both equally is what makes one healthy and competent.

Correspond this with soul the indweller in the body. It is eternal. Was there before we were born and will be there after our death. And through birth, childhood, youth, middle age, old age and death it remains unchanged and unaffected. It has taken this body to experience this world made of sense objects and body. Understanding this and leading the life removes one from ignorance and pain and pleasure. Life is a series of experiments where we are born again and again to learn until our liberation.

Body is only an agglomeration of elements hence as good as nonexistent. It is like water that remain in states of water, waves in ocean, ice berg, vapor, rain clouds and so on. But the wateriness is common. So change is natural. And what changes cannot give everlasting pleasure. What is born is sure to die. So grieve not. And as one discard the old cloth and gets a new one, atman acquires bodies.

Atman is awareness. Pure consciousness, it is untouched by time, space and causation, states of mind such as sleep, dream, wakefulness are beyond it. Consciousness is ultimate reality. It is unaffected by all changes that happen to the body. The body changes but atman does not. This is similar to the sky that remains unaffected by all the movement of clouds, electricity in it. Atman is unborn, eternal, constant and ancient. It is not killed when the body is slain. Weapons do not cleave the atman, fire burn it not, water does not wet it and so does wind not dry it. Essentially meaning that it is beyond elements. Hence it is eternal. Hence unmanifested, unthinkable and immutable. Therefore Grieve not. Many people come in to our life midway and go away some time same way. Hence, no point in lamenting for the changes that are bound to happen.

Death is certain of Birth and birth of that which is dead. Do your duty. Like Warriors is to fight a rightful war. And fighting war, being your duty is better than renouncing and walking off.

Grieve not for death. one has to do his duty to the best of his ability. While doing his duty thus, time comes when he becomes successful. When the time is right little effort becomes appropriate and leads to great results. No matter what, diffidence and despondency should be avoided. Pursue the right course of action. Between what one likes and what is good, and when they are contradictory, follow what is good. For the tide of fortune and the opportune time comes to one and all consistent with law of growth and evolution. Fame and honor are for those who lead a righteous life in this world. So also, that ill will, misfortune and dishonor comes to those who forsake their duty.  And dishonor and ill-fame is worse than death. So withdrawing from war front is not advisable for generations will talk ill about this and there is no way that can be remedied.

Be fearless. Don’t Be a weakling:

A man given to fear does not achieve anything in this world and any deed done out of fear will cause the need for repentance in future. If you avoid fight now, you will be scorned as one who ran out of fear. And your enemies will slander and ridicule you which could be worse than fighting the war and facing the consequences thereof. To explain further, people who have been praising one hitherto for valour, courage, strength, capability, achievement, success etc., when find that one has withdrawn fearing setbacks will talk ill about the same person at the back.  So, don’t give into this. Either way, if you win you will enjoy this earth and if you perish fighting then will reach heaven. So, get up and fight.

In pain and pleasure, gain and loss, victory and defeat engage in work be equipoised that way you would be successful. Not to rejoice in pleasure, gain, victory as it is done in the mundane world and on the contrary slump when things do not go in one’s way. Doing work during all times, is the way to prosperity.

Be firm of mind. Be concentrated. Don’t dissipate energy in multiple directions. Understand the purpose of life is not to enjoy life but attain perfection. Be beyond the three Gunas that favor knowledge seeking, action orientation and languishing in darkness. Be free from the pairs of opposites, ever balanced, unconcerned with getting and keeping and centered in the self.

Work, Not in anticipation of results:

The most repeated, famous and misunderstood verse of Gita – You have right to your duty and not to the fruits there off. Be you not the producer of action so also of inaction. Work has multiple aspects and participants to it. One cannot control every aspect of it. You can do your duty to the best of your ability according to the prevailing circumstances. Having done that whatever be the result, you would not be affected by it. So also by not focusing on the results, not worried about it you can gather all his energy and focus it on the execution. Clarity, understanding and efficiency increased there by producing superior results inevitably.   So be active. Shun inaction. And when you work, work righteously without worrying about the fruits of action.

When work is done despite ones likes and dislikes of a mind in equilibrium new Karma does not accrue to him and old bad karma vanishes. And one who works likes that acquires perfection in mind. Slowly indifference to the world of actions sets in. and when ones intellect, till then tossed about various dualities of pain and pleasure, likes and dislikes, conflict of ideas and opinions has become poised and reaches equilibrium such a man reaches yoga and nearer to godhead.

Being  a steadfast man

Arjuna asks Krishna about the quality of man who is steadfast, wise, and in Samadhi. How does one with these attributes walk, sit and speak. How does one understand the eternal consciousness. Self on its own, when contented gives one happiness. However when a man reaches outside for sense objects and presumes that it gives him happiness, he needs to understand that it is verily the self, the atman, the indweller in every one that gives happiness. Thus shunning desire helps one to avoid pain and related pleasure that accrues from it. Remaining self satisfied and not running after world outside is the first step towards steady state of mind.

A man of steadiness is of calm mind where all his sorrows have been destroyed. He is in a state of equilibrium, unaffected by joys and sorrows and anchored in intellect.

Pacifying the mind

He whose mind is not perturbed by adversity, who does not crave for happiness, free from attachment, fear and anger is the man of constant wisdom. One has to face endless problems, trials, tribulations, adversities, untoward events in life. some have it more and some are lucky to have their life untouched by these events. The man of wisdom is one who remains unperturbed by these happening, view them as unavoidable and ignore them. If not ignored then man ends up adding fuel to the fire and worsens the scene and ends up increasing the volume and intensity thereby getting affected more.

Detrimental Effect of Anger

Once senses are brought under control, conflicting thoughts are arrested in its initiation state itself and thus mind is subjugated. Then focusing on eternal power, leads to wisdom. Alternatively giving way to sensual pressures leads to attachment to them and from the attachment comes the desire to have more and when the desire leads to expectation and the failure of fulfilling it leads to anger. From anger arises delusion, which in turn results in confused memory which becomes the cause of ruin and one’s ultimate fall. Two things that are noteworthy. Anger. Anger is temporary insanity. When the mind is occasionally upset it results in anger and when permanently affected it is lunacy. Both results in delusion. State of mind given to anger obscures thought, reasoning and vision resulting feeling is confusion.one loses the power of discriminating good from the bad resulting in delusion leading to indiscriminate violence  paving way for self-destruction.

Control Mind for Peace:

There is no wisdom in fickle minded, nor is quietness. To the unmeditative mind there is no peace and without peace no joy or happiness. Hence disciplining the mind becomes essential.  Uncontrolled mind, the mind that runs after sense objects results in lack of discrimination and dispersion of mind power. Like a rudderless ship we cannot predict where the mind would take one to. Thus the mind that follows sense objects leads one to astray away from desired result. To avoid this use of senses should be under the control of mind rather than mind running behind the senses. Rather than man who desires desire, the one who works with equanimity would attain peace. When the sense organs brings contact with the outside world the man of steadfastness, is able to work on them consciously thereby preventing the changes to the desire from resulting in unwanted feelings, longings, aversion etc. and does not allow them to affect his mind. This steady state of mind leads to liberation. His state of mind produces peacefulness on those who come in contact with them. Thus the man who lives devoid of “I”, and “Mine”, free from desires is said to live a peaceful life.

Viewed from worldly point:

Chapter II of Gita that proposes the way to intelligent life is makes an interesting reading, profound in its impact. Yet if one is to ask a question, is it practical, implementable the answer would be easier said than done. While it is difficult but not impossible. And all things that are said impossible at one time, it means it takes longer time to accomplish.  The first step in any redemption effort is the knowledge of how it is done. once the understanding is reached, constant contemplation will pave way for actionizing and that we start following it. To start with may be one out of ten time you remember and that is o.k., to start with.  both in sorrow and joy I should be same and maintain my equanimity, that would be successful. Then slowly by discipline, practice, constant repetition in mind one start internalizing it and follow the teachings of Gita. Therein lies the way to freedom.

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Arjuna’s Dilemma – Gita I

“Vande Guru Paramparam”

The Bhagavad Gita, “Song Celestial” has been a guiding force for man. It is born out of quandary, in the war zone, amidst action, inaction and numbness. Arjuna the great archer the world has ever produced, eulogized for his valor is at loss: How can he fight a war – a war with his relatives, teachers, kinsman; with whom he is to enjoy his kingdom when he wins the war and when he wins the war it would be at their demise. What do one do with kingdom, luxuries and life thus obtained? If such a war is won is it worth it. At what cost: when this thought comes to his mind he is in a dilemma. He wants to stop the war and call a truce. To fight or not to fight is the raging war on his mind. He is putting forth his doubts and questions that plague his mind to Sri Krishna.

Gita is a dialogue that happens then between prince Arjuna and Krishna who is to be the charioteer to him in the Mahabharata war being fought between Kauravas and Pandavas. The conversation is mind opening dialogue where the profound philosophy of life is enumerated in 18 chapters and 700 slokas. The Gita is supposed to have answers to all the ills that plague the mankind. It has also had profound impact on western philosophers, scientists and vedantins. The question that arises is can a song advised to a warrior in the battle ground be applied to ordinary folks. What are the lessons that Gita proposes for ordinary human beings to lead a healthy life? This is the doubt that arises in common man.

The first chapter of Gita known as “Arjuna Vishada Yoga” discusses the questions that arises in the mind of Arjuna. While Arjuna laments about not needing to fight the war considering the consequences of it and leaving the warfront, the central theme of issues raised by him are generally faced by each one of human being, whatever be their place, role, status, time etc. For aspiration, desire, Loss, illness, pain, suffering, sorrow- No one is immune to it. No vaccine for that has been found yet. But yet life must continue. For the sake of living, dead and living dead.  Do one continue to wallow in their personal misery, debating who is big, yours or mine, or get over it, face it boldly and overcome it.  This depends on how we respond to sorrow. Some overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, grieves, mourns, laments, beats his breast and becomes bewildered. Or one overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, comes to search outside. This was exactly the scenario in which Arjuna finds himself to be and raises the questions to Krishna for answer.

Some of the questions that Arjuna addresses to Krishna explains the scenario of every one of us faces in life. That is what makes the Gita the first philosophy and psychology book.

  1. How do we face the obstacles, problems, sorrow, suffering that we face in doing our duty and living in this world, whatever may be our age, role, status, aspirations, field of operation and country to name a few?
  2. How do we address the conflicting, emotions, desires, thoughts that rage war in our minds? How do we control the mind that runs riot?
  3. What happens when the problems that we face or not due to any external enemy from across the border, or even our house, ourselves but our own – starting from body, mind, intellect, our possessions, family and relations.
  4. What happens when one has to face demonic qualities of hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, and harsh speech of our own or our enemies. What is the effect. How do we handle it?
  5. How do we keep our spirits high or rather remain in equanimity in all circumstance, good and bad and indifferent?
  6. Do I allow my senses to run free? And when that happens mind follows senses and intellect the mind and all of them creating havoc. How do I rein them in and keep them in control?
  7. How can we remain fit enough to fight the battle? As weak man is not capable of fighting the battle
  8. How do we battle between compassion and justice? Should our enemy be vanquished or do be become nonviolent and let him go especially when compassion is more as a sign of run-away emotion.
  9. It is known that dejection has to fill the heart before compassion can enter. How do one handle the transformation state.
  10. How do one decide? Does one go after what you desire or what is good?
  11. What should one do in the mental state of dejection be it cause of physical, mental, or intellectual reasons.
  12. How do one purify mind and intellect. How to overcome weakness. Become bold.
  13. Will I succeed is overcoming sorrow. How do I vanquish the mental anguish of having to fight a war with my near and dear?
  14. How do we overcome ambiguous thinking, and gain knowledge and the discriminative capacity – the capacity to judge what is right and what is wrong
  15. How do we equip ourselves to execute our appropriate duties that we face in life effectively?

For a man action, struggle, effort, engagement, work and striving decides the life, growth and evolution. Without these one is in a state of inertia, a comfort zone where status quo is maintained. In comfort no growth happens. Yet in a state of movement life is a constant struggle and uncertain. And evolution is to happen whether one wishes or not. Under these condition how does one live. How does one be and what is the purpose of this life is what Gita teaches.

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P.S: This is the first in series of article where I try to write my understanding of Gita. And Gita being profound, subjective is the reason why it has attracted many philosophers and commentaries. Nothing is like original. So I would recommend you read the original. Following are some of the References that I would be using.

  1. Sri Gita Rasa Ratnakar, by Swami Akhandananda Saraswatiji Maharaj, Satsahita Prakasan Trust
  2. Commentary on Bhagavad Gita, Swamy Krishnananda, The Divine Life Society
  3. Bhagavad Gita, Swamy Nikhilananda, Ramakrishna Vivekananda Central
  4. Holy Gita, Swami Chinmanayananda
  5. Gita Home Study Course, Swamy Dayananda Saraswati
  6. The Bhagavad Gita, Swami Chitbhavananda, Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam