Meditation on the radiant forms

16 The Light Experiences sutra 55 or (by) the sorrowless radiant (mental perception) Shankara explains this as a much more important practice, and many teachers make it the first step, omitting the previous ones. The centre of attention (dharana) is the ‘heart centre’, roughly where the ribs meet. Some yogis put a dab of sandal paste there before sitting; the fragrance rising helps them to keep attention centred. Two hours is not too long for the practice, says the teacher Swami Mangalnath in the Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching. When the yogi can hold attention steadily at that spot, he generally becomes aware of something like a lotus, made of light, and he meditates on it. Many Westerners have only a hazy idea of what a lotus looks like, having only seen them from a distance. Like many of these traditional similes, this one has been chosen carefully to …

Read moreMeditation on the radiant forms

Meditation on a mind free from passion

17 Passionlessness sutra 1.37 Or (by) meditation on a mind free from passion Some commentators explain the practice as meditation, ultimately with a sense of identity, on some saint who is free from passion. One way is to live through incidents in his life vividly through meditation. Shankara gives a different practice, which is to consider the idea of ‘freedom from passion’, and he instances a well-known Indian example, how even the most passionate man feels his lust subside in the presence of one woman, namely his mother. There are other examples; one given by Dr Shastri was that there are certain fruits in the Himalayas which have a very attractive appearance, and the hungry pilgrim finds his mouth watering as he sees them. But when the guide explains how poisonous they are, the desire disappears. Their beauty is still appreciated, but the desire to eat them has gone. The …

Read moreMeditation on a mind free from passion

Knowledge of dream and of dreamless sleep

18 Dream and Sleep sutra 1.58 or on the knowledge of dream and of (dreamless) sleep One commentator understands the first part of this sutra as meaning that when a man awakens from a dream of a god, he should remain as long as possible in the memory of that dream; the dreamless sleep he understands as the sleep of a man in whom the doshas are very attenuated. These meditations, made on awakening, are thought to give knowledge. Shankara, however, though he does not necessarily deny such an interpretation, takes it to mean meditating on the subtle analysis of dream and sleep. ‘Knowledge of dream’ does not mean knowledge of any object in a dream; the mind meditates on its own essence, by means of consideration of dream. The yogiis to meditate on knowledge as it is in itself, apart from any objects. Knowledge in itself is illumination, and …

Read moreKnowledge of dream and of dreamless sleep

Meditation on the chosen form

19 The Chosen Form sutra 1.59 or (by meditation) on the chosen form The word for meditation is dhyana, which is the second step of the three stages of meditation. The first was dharana, ‘sup-porting’, ‘maintaining’, where the attention has to be repeatedly brought back to the location of the meditation. In the second step, which comes about after repeated practice of the first, there is a flow of related thoughts and feelings towards the same object, like a stream of oil being poured from one pot to another. The word for ‘chosen’ means literally something which specially appeals. It is not unheard of for a teacher to use unexpected things as subjects for meditation in order to teach a particular thing. A man who was an expert in the game called Mah-jong used to visit a Zen teacher once a week, and complained that he could not stay awake …

Read moreMeditation on the chosen form

Mastery in Samadhi is when the mind can be steadied

 20 samadhi Sutra 1.40 Mastery is when the mind can be steadied on anything from the ultimate in smallness to the ultimate in greatness The Upanishadic verses quoted in the Chapter of the Self describe Brahman: Subtle, finer than a lotus-fibre, he stands covering all; Greater than the earth, firm, he stands supporting all. These are the two extremes, and the Lord is ultimately found in each of them. All the other exercises in training the mind refer to objects between these limits. Shankara sums up by saying that he has mastered the practice who is not interrupted by any opposing thought in his experience of the very small or the very great, or what lies between them. He also adds an interesting comment that all the practices are really the same; it is a question of mastering one and then the others also are accessible easily. These are all …

Read moreMastery in Samadhi is when the mind can be steadied

Meditation is the immediate precursor of Knowledge

Knowledge In his Gita, commentary and elsewhere, Shankara declares repeatedly that meditation is the immediate precursor of Knowledge. Verse 8 in the Chapter of the Self runs: The yogi who practises realization of that in everything, and always holds to firmness in that, Will see that which is hard to see and subtle, and rejoice in heaven. In the commentary, Shankara defines Ignorance as taking the Self to be limited by such things as mind and body, and Knowledge as knowing the Self as universal, ‘a binding of the Knower to Brahman’. He sees it through ‘great skill’ in samadhi, and the word for skill means the same as the word which occurs in the Patanjali Yoga sutra on samadhi, ‘when there is skill in the higher (samadhi), there comes undisturbed inner calm’. In the commentary on the next verse, Shankara says that the man of Knowledge sees this first …

Read moreMeditation is the immediate precursor of Knowledge

Knowledge yoga in the Chapter of the Self

Knowledge-yoga In the Chapter of the Self, there is first an instruction to perform yoga to purify and steady the mind. Then come the verses on the Self, indicating it from two directions: the king of the city, hidden among his ministers in the innermost apartment, and the creator, sustainer and withdrawer of the universe. It is said that the Self is first known in meditation (verse 9). This is now realization of everything in the Self and the Self in everything, and he who is seeing thus is Brahman, glorious in the highest heaven and in everything. And yet in verse 11, as explained by Shankara, it is only when the doshas have been thrown off that this pandit who knows the Self is fully liberated. The point comes up again and again in his commentaries, in various forms. In many places in the Gita commentary it is said …

Read moreKnowledge yoga in the Chapter of the Self

The universal Self moving the body and mind

Freedom Analogies, inferences, illustrations, instances – these can never be more than encouragement to faith and practice. They may seem to give certainty, but that is only while circumstances remain favourable. Religious communities without real experience, as Hakuin pointed out, can be like trees with interlacing branches which have died at the root, but which support each other. They seem firm, but when a gale comes everything goes down. To try to discuss freedom in words and concepts which are products of individuality-experience becomes self-defeating. Human beings inevitably think of a ‘liberated man’ as somehow like themselves, but with perhaps some ‘insight’ or ‘change of view-point’. The thought that there is no individual man there at all, but the universal Self moving that body and mind, can indeed be verbalized; but then somehow it is supposed that there must be an individual watching the activity going on, like a man …

Read moreThe universal Self moving the body and mind

The Chapter of the Self of the Apastamba Law-book

The significance of the Chapter of the Self of the Āpastamba Law-book in the history of early Vedanta is discussed in detail in Professor Hajime Nakamura’s Shoki Vedanta Tetsugaku-shi (History of Early Vedanta Philosophy), the first volume of which covers Vedanta before the Brahma-sūtras. Professor Nakamura has kindly agreed to the inclusion here of a translation of the relevant section as follows (notes giving references are largely omitted): In India from early times a great number of law-books were composed. They lay down, from a Brahminical standpoint, structures, customs and daily activities of society, concentrating on such problems as the systems of four castes and the four stages of life (āśrama). At first they were written in the comparatively concise sūtra style and their contents also were brief and simple, but later on elaborate law-books containing also civil and criminal law were produced. These were compiled and edited by the …

Read moreThe Chapter of the Self of the Apastamba Law-book

The Shankara commentary on the Chapter of the Self

In a note in his Shoki Vedānta Tetsugaku-shi (History of Early Vedanta Philosophy), Professor Nakamura remarks that the commentary on the Adhyatma-patala attributed to Śaṅkara is in his style, quoting only the older Upanishads, and the thought ds consonant with his authentic works; he concludes that it is either by Śaṅkara himself or by some thinker of similar ideas who lived about the same time. Professor Sengaku Mayeda of the University of Tōkyō has made a special study of the authenticity of important works attributed to Śaṅkara (defined as the author of the Brahma-sūtra commentary); he has not published a separate analysis of this Adhyātma-patala commentary, but in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Śaṅkara, where he summarizes his con¬clusions, he states that it is a genuine work. In the monumental work on the history of the Dharma-Śastra Kane notes in passing that in style and content it is probably a …

Read moreThe Shankara commentary on the Chapter of the Self

Commentary on the Adhyatma-patala attributed to Sankara

In a note in his Shoki Vedanta Tetsugaku-shi (History of Early Vedanta Philosophy), Professor Nakamura remarks that the commentary on the Adhyatma-patala attributed to Sankara is in his style, quoting only the older Upanishads, and the thought ds consonant with his authentic works; he concludes that it is either by Sankara himself or by some thinker of similar ideas who lived about the same time. Professor Sengaku Mayeda of the University of Tokyo has made a special study of the authenticity of important works attributed to Sankara (defined as the author of the Brahma-sutra commentary); he has not published a separate analysis of this Adhyatma-patala commentary, but in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Sankara, where he summarizes his conclusions, he states that it is a genuine work. In the monumental work on the history of the Dharmaastra Kane notes in passing that in style and content it is probably a …

Read moreCommentary on the Adhyatma-patala attributed to Sankara

How To Use Realization of the Supreme Self for Yoga Practice

You have to know enough theory for a working basis; there is no need to read the subtleties of the intellectual background yet. Establish a daily rhythm of study, meditation, self-discipline and devotion as explained in the readings. Get up one hour earlier to create space for the practices. Set apart a quiet place to do the meditation and study without fail at the same place and time. Choose one meditation text from Chapters 9 or 10 the six week period and focus on it for twenty minutes. Once the Line of Light has been established in the meditation period, it can be maintained during the day,at first at quiet moments, and then even in disturbance. It gives many advantages both physical and mental.

Experimental religion is the method of Self-realization

Experimental Religion Experimental religion is the method of Self-realization presented in the ancient sacred text called Bhagavad Gītā. Here faith is not blind. Its conclusions, provisional at first, are to be confirmed fractionally in the early experiments; on that basis, faith stretches out to further experiments, in the reasonable expectation that these too can bring confirmations. The method is called yoga, and one who practises it is a Gītā yogin. The practice centres round mind-control in outer life, and meditation within. In time, there is a general inner tranquillization; automatic reactions become fewer and fewer. Free from the tangle of fruitless associations, feelings are integrated, thought and action become clear-cut and effective. Yoga is a religion in that, at the beginning, God is a hypothesis, not known definitely as either existent or non-existent. He is revered on the authority of others, sometimes reinforced by an obscure inner stirring on rare …

Read moreExperimental religion is the method of Self-realization

Bhagavad-Gītā means literally ‘Sung by the Lord’

Bhagavad Gītā Bhagavad-Gītā means literally ‘Sung by the Lord’. What are sung are extracts from the Upaniṣad-s, early Indian mystical texts, here put into 700 verses of simple Sanskrit. The Upaniṣad-s had not been taught openly: in the Gītā the secrets are made available to all. It has been called the Bible of India, but corresponds rather to the Gospels, which contain teachings for everyone’s daily life, but also riddling indications of higher truth. What are these riddles? Surely the message of the Gītā should be simple and straightforward, as is Christ’s message of Love in the Gospels? Not so, and not so. In the Gītā the Lord says: ‘Though I have created all this world, know me as one who does no action.’ As always in the Gītā, the cosmic declaration has to be applied to the individual also: ‘He sees, who sees that all action is performed by …

Read moreBhagavad-Gītā means literally ‘Sung by the Lord’

The Two Traditions in the Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gītā (Song of the Lord) is an ancient Indian mystical poem, declaring that the world-process is a divine trick-of-illusion, into which the Lord himself has entered as the inner light of consciousness seemingly held fast in each individual self. He has set himself the problem of struggling free into his universal nature. The Gītā is a revelation from the Lord-in-freedom to the Lords-in-bondage, expounding the truth, and giving the practices for returning to freedom. The Mystical Tradition The earliest surviving texts are the Upaniṣad-s, some of them pre-600 BC. They declare the divine origin of the world, its illusory character, the divine manifestation in every element of it, the apparent bondage of the soul, and the methods for attaining freedom. These last are mainly independence of entanglements, search for the divine, leading to profound meditation, then transcendence of the mind in God-realization, culminating in freedom. The Upaniṣadic sages …

Read moreThe Two Traditions in the Bhagavad Gita

Translation of verses from the Bhagavad Gita by Trevor Leggett

The Translation The Gītā is a book of practical mystical instruction. Though there are descriptions of the world-scheme, it is not an argued metaphysical treatise. The text is in beautiful but simple Sanskrit verse, easy to memorize, and arousing devotion, energy, intuition, and finally peace in the memorizer. To know exactly what the Gītā text says, read the 1913 Harvard University Press The Bhagavad Gita by Franklin Edgerton, a great scholar who made a special study of this text. He set himself (for the sake of students of Sanskrit) to follow the exact pattern of the original verses, so that each line of the English corresponds to that line of the Sanskrit. In spite of some oddities of English construction, the translation still reads reasonably: in its own terms, it is a masterpiece. Students of the present book are recommended to get the 1972 paperback edition (which omits the Sanskrit). …

Read moreTranslation of verses from the Bhagavad Gita by Trevor Leggett

The Setting of the Bhagavad Gita

The Setting Queen Kuntī has been given the boon of a night visit in successive years by six gods of her choice. By them she has six sons who are thus half-brothers. Five of them are adopted by her husband King Pāṇḍu, and thus called Pāṇḍavas. The eldest, Yudhiṣṭhira, is to inherit the kingdom. The next two are the fierce Bhīma, and Arjuna who becomes a master archer, and later the disciple in the Gītā. The last two Pāṇḍavas play no part in the Gītā. The other infant, who will be the heroic Karṇa, is abandoned, but found and adopted by a charioteer. This is an important point. The cousins of the Pāṇḍavas, headed by the cruel Duryodhana, trap Yudhiṣṭhira into a gambling match against a dice sharper; he loses the kingdom to Duryodhana. The Pāṇḍavas are exiled, pursued by the new king’s murderous hate. The noble Bhīṣma the commander-in-chief, …

Read moreThe Setting of the Bhagavad Gita

Arjuna reinforces his refusal to fight in the Bhagavad Gita

The Smile Arjuna reinforces his refusal, or rather inability, to fight by gilding it with moral sentiments. He presents himself as seeing things from a higher standpoint; from that elevation, he condemns what he had till now wanted to do, but suddenly finds he does not want to do. He had been enthusiastic about the righteousness of the battle, and boasted about what he would do in it. In reliance on his skill and bravery, others had joined his side. Compassion for the members of his family on the other side had not worried him then, any more than it worries his brother Bhīma now. But here he is: I.38 Even if they, blinded as they are by greed, do not see The sin of conflict within the family And the crime of striking at a friend, 39 Yet we should know enough to draw back from this wickedness, When …

Read moreArjuna reinforces his refusal to fight in the Bhagavad Gita

Final knowledge is already there but not recognized

The usual way of teaching a subject is to build up information to higher and higher levels, each resting on the lower ones, which cannot be dispensed with. It could be called Teaching Up. But there is another method, Teaching Down, for cases where the final knowledge is already there but not recognized. The method is used extensively in the Gītā, and by Śaṅkara following the Gītā. In the Gītā as a whole, first the highest truth of the Self is presented. It is not accepted by Arjuna (as is shown in IV. 4 when he queries the immortality of the Self). Now karma-yoga is given, in very uncompromising form. It has three main elements: (1) enduring patiently the pairs of opposites; (2) performing well directed skilful actions with evenness of mind in success or failure; (3) bringing the mind to complete one-pointedness in samādhi meditation. The whole programme is …

Read moreFinal knowledge is already there but not recognized

The Supreme Self Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2

Chapter II Supreme Self The Gītā is a poem, which sets out the practice for realization of the Supreme Self. That Self is all-pervading, one, unchanging, imperishable, and beyond the grasp of thought. Though it is ever-present, man clings to personal identity, namely restrictions which he thinks are his self. Clinging to limited personality obstructs awareness of the universal Self. Sometimes it is supposed that a poem, however beautiful, can do little more than create a mood; it cannot give accurate information. This is not so. To take a example from the West: a few years ago, a meteorologist analysed Shelley’s poetic masterpiece ‘Ode to the West Wind’ and concluded that it gave an accurate account of a storm in the Alps, which his own science could not better. Most of the Gītā consists of instructions given by Kṛṣṇa, who in the fourth chapter – but not at first – declares …

Read moreThe Supreme Self Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2

Karma Yoga the yoga of action

Karma-Yoga The yoga of action, karma-yoga, has three elements: (1) stoical endurance of changes in the world; (2) performance of right actions without laying any claim to their further results (technically called ‘fruits’); (3) practice of the profound samādhi meditation, in which mind is focussed and still, undisturbed by anything external or internal. No efforts in yoga are ever lost, Kṛṣṇa tells him. (This is another piece of instruction which Arjuna does not really accept, as will appear later.) The first element, brave endurance of the opposites like heat and cold, pleasure and pain, honour and disgrace, is a constant Gītā theme. It is shortly referred to in II.14: It is the contacts with material things that cause heat and cold, pleasure and pain. They come and go, impermanent as they are; do you endure them bravely II.38 Then treating alike pleasure and pain, gain and loss, Success and defeat, …

Read moreKarma Yoga the yoga of action

Yoga of the Self Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3

Chapter III Yoga-s of the Self The third chapter has more on the two paths, and particularly action, including self-interested righteous action which is not yogic at all. Near the beginning there is a description of the principles of performing largely ritual sacrifices as worship of the gods, in the justified expectation that they will make a return in the form of blessings and prosperity. This is the assumption that underlies the Book of Job, but is transcended in the final vision. The Gītā refers in a number of places to such beliefs, sometimes with guarded approval. (The present day recognition of ecology, and even the Gaia hypothesis, are belated acknowledgement of the importance of reverence for nature.) But it points out that they are not yoga. They lead only to improvement of outer circumstances and sometimes of inner ones also. They do not free from the prison of individual …

Read moreYoga of the Self Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3

Arjuna’s Disbelief

Arjuna’s Disbelief In typical traditional pictures of the Gītā scene, Arjuna is shown with palms joined in reverence, looking at Kṛṣṇa in an attitude of devotion and faith. But this is not what is described by the Gītā itself, in which Arjuna shows from the very beginning that he does not really recognize Kṛṣṇa as a teacher or as a god. For a long time he has little confidence in what he is told. There is a series of indications, which can, however, easily be overlooked. It is a great advantage to readers today that the doubts are brought out so clearly. There is a tendency to think: ‘Oh, in those times they had absolute faith in what they were told: of course that’s not true for us today.’ In ancient times there was just as much scepticism as today. Already in the time of the Buddha (fifth century BC) …

Read moreArjuna’s Disbelief

How Arjuna Addresses Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

How Arjuna Addresses Kṛṣṇa in the Gītā In XI.41 Arjuna begs forgiveness for (among other things) having used familiar language in addressing the Lord: ‘Kṛṣṇa’ ‘Yādava’ (descendent of the Yadu tribe, equivalent to ‘Scotty’, etc.) This, and the change after seeing the Universal Form, are illustrated by the terms in the Gītā itself. I.21 Acyuta = firm one (also lit. not leaking away, not falling, etc.) 22 Kṛṣṇa (lit. black) 31 Keśava (lit. hairy) 32 Govinda – cow-herd Kṛṣṇa 35 Madhu-sūdana – slayer of demon Madhu 36 Janārdana – jana (men) ardana (distributer); excitant, stimulator, nuisance, gadfly 37 Mādhava: related to spring, vernal; descendant of Madhu 39 Janārdana 41 Kṛṣṇa Vārṣṇiya – Vṛṣṇi clansman II.4 Madhu-sūdana 34 Keśava III.1 Janārdana 31 Vāṛṣṇiya V.1 Kṛṣṇa VI.33 Madhu-sūdana 34 Kṛṣṇa 37 Kṛṣṇa 39 Kṛṣṇa VIII.1 ‘Best of men’, Puruṣottama (no Śankara comment: not supreme Spirit here) X.13 Supreme Brahman, supreme Light, supreme …

Read moreHow Arjuna Addresses Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

Action Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4

Chapter IV Action The chapter begins with a statement by Kṙṣṇa that the ancient yoga has now been taught. Elaborating on a single word – purā, of old – in III.3, he gives briefly its history. He taught it to the first king, and it was handed down through king-sages (not through priests, an important point). This account Arjuna immediately pronounces impossible. The first king-sages were in the distant past, but Kṙṣṇa is here now, so he could not have taught it to them. How can I make sense of this? he demands. Kṙṣṇa replies that he has had many births, and so has Arjuna also. I know them all; you do not know, because (adds Śaṅkara) your natural omniscience is obstructed by your binding acts of right and wrong. This interchange shows that the Gītā does not teach narrow worship of Kṙṣṇa, that being merely one birth out of many. …

Read moreAction Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4

Knowledge Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5

Chapter V Knowledge Readers are advised that Śaṅkara in this chapter uses technical terms and concepts to establish his position on knowledge. On a first reading it does not have to be studied in detail. The Lord has said in IV.3 that the highest secret of yoga has now been taught. Nevertheless he has to continue to explain it in different ways because Arjuna has not fully accepted it. As is said at the very end, the Gītā will continue till Arjuna can understand, and incorporate it into his own being. At the beginning of the chapter Arjuna asks one of his questions, which show he has no clear idea of what he has been told. This time it is about the Two Paths. Kṛṣṇa answers that for one who has not yet seen the truth, the path of action is better, meaning (says Śaṅkara) that it is more feasible for …

Read moreKnowledge Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5

Formal meditation posture

The Thinker, East and West It has been an axiom for thousands of years in the Eastern traditions that the body reflects the mind, as the mind reflects levels deeper than itself. Rodin’s ‘Thinker’ is here side by side with the 8th Century clay figure of a Chinese Lohan or Buddhist saint. Both of them have been thinking, but what a great difference! In fact, the wonderful technique of Rodin conceals the unnaturalness of the posture. Most people, asked to sit like the famous ‘Thinker’, put their right elbow on the right knee. They are quite surprised to find out that it should be on the other knee, an uncomfortable position that cannot be held for more than a short time. The knuckles of the right hand are pressed so hard against the mouth that the lips are pushed out of shape. In spite of the apparent calm of the …

Read moreFormal meditation posture

Meditation Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6

Chapter VI Meditation Chapter VI is on meditation technique. It speaks both to the karma- yogin, the man of action for whom samādhi is only one of the three parts of his training, and then to the Knowledge-yogin, for whom it is the main part. In fact, for the Knower it is natural that mind remains in samādhi while life lasts; the only effort for that mind (but it can be a considerable one) is to keep away from following mirages of past associations. The whole tenor of the chapter is self-effort: ‘let one raise himself by himself, let him not degrade himself’ (verse 5). But there is a difference in the means for the two stages: VI.3 For him who is still trying to attain yoga, acting is said to be the means; for the same, when he has attained yoga, quietening is said to be the means. Before he has …

Read moreMeditation Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6

The Lord Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7

Chapter VII The Lord Chapter V and VI have been mainly on samādhi-meditation. For karma-yogins, it was described as performed by individual effort: for Knowledge-yogins, it is a natural continuation of their realization. The four chapters that follow, VII to X, are mainly for karma-yogins who cannot find the resources in themselves to control their passion or inertia. They are to regulate the feelings by concentrating them on the Lord, whose perfection will naturally attract and refine them. At the beginning of Chapter VII, the Lord states that the revelations now given are to be understood theoretically, and then experienced practically in yoga meditation. What is first a matter of faith must become direct experience. An example is this. The Lord describes his projection of the world, and says that he is its dissolution too. He continues: VII.7 There is nothing higher than I On Me all this is strung, like chains of …

Read moreThe Lord Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7

Yoga Power Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8

Strength of Yoga The practice of the eighth chapter presents mainly meditations on the Lord felt as within the body. First the mind and the prāṇa currents of vital energy are focussed at a centre in the heart. Then the focussed attention moves up with them to a point on the forehead roughly between the eyebrows. People who try this soon find that the concentration becomes confused. They are not sure when they have enough concentration to begin the move upward, and become indecisive. The Gītā explains that it is done, and can only be done, by what it calls the ‘strength of yoga’. Śaṅkara explains that this strength is in fact the after-effects of long practice, repeated till the saṃskāra-impressions have been formed strongly in the causal part at the root of the mind. The process is then accomplished spontaneously, so to speak, independent of the discursive mind. Repeated …

Read moreYoga Power Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8

Glories Bhagavad Gita Chapters 9 & 10

Chapter IX and X Glories In these two chapters, there is a flood of pictures for meditation and devotion. The aspects of the Lord are not restricted in time or place. There are some Indian references, but they are incidental; the main presentation is in terms of the whole world. This is not worship in a Kṛṣṇa cult. There are no accounts of incidents in the life of Kṛṣṇa as a personal avatar, such as are needed for the basis of a cult of one particular divine incarnation. Important verses are IX.17 and 19: 17 I am the father of this world, the mother, the establisher, the grandsire, The aim of knowledge, the purifier, the syllable OM, and sacred hymns and chants. 19 I give heat, I hold back and send rains. Both immortality and death, the existent and non-existent, am I. Verse IX.19 refers to the so-called laws of nature. …

Read moreGlories Bhagavad Gita Chapters 9 & 10

Face to Face Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11

Chapter XI Face to Face The chapter begins with Arjuna’s confident belief that his delusion has been dispelled. He has by now heard the supreme mystery of adhyātma, in the Lord’s declarations of his own glories. Arjuna has forgotten that in Chapter VIII the adhāyatma was explained as the self-nature (sva-bhâva) in every man, not only the Lord outside. Again, he has heard the Lord say (X.20) ‘I am the Self in the heart of all beings, ‘but he could not incorporate that into his experience. There was an unspoken reservation: ‘but not in me.’ He could not apply the divine adhyātma glory to his own inner self. Similarly in II.17 it is said that the Self is everywhere: but in nearly all hearers there is an inner whisper: ‘Yes, but not exactly here.’ Arjuna asks to see the universal form of the Lord directly. He assumes that what he will see …

Read moreFace to Face Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11

Devotion Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12

Chapter XII Devotion This short chapter, which follows the overwhelming vision of the universal form, is important for practice. The Supreme, as Kṛṣṇa, answers Arjuna’s question: is it better to practise yoga samādhi on the universal form, or on Self alone without attributes? Through the mouth of Kṛṣṇa, that Great Self replies that in general it is more feasible to meditate on form, that is on the Lord-with-attributes, because to meditate truly on the pure Self means dropping body-consciousness. Many students of the Gītā, in the East and West, claim to take to the yoga of the attributeless, as based on pure Knowledge. They say that the Gītā itself places this higher, inasmuch as all forms of the Lord, like other forms, are associated with māyā, namely display-of-illusion. So worship and meditation on the Lord-with-attributes is in fact reinforcing illusion. They do not usually realize that Identificative meditation on the absolute …

Read moreDevotion Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12

The Field Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13

Chapter XIII The Field Chapter XIII is said by Śaṅkara to be mainly a Knowledge-chapter. It begins with the knowledge of the Field (body, mind, also the deep causal layer that holds them together) and the Field-knower, which is the witness-consciousness that sees and is not affected or bound by what it sees. The Gītā itself states that this doctrine comes from the Upaniṣad-s: ‘set out in the sūtra-s on Brahman, well reasoned and definite’ As in many Upanisad-s, the world is first taken as provisionally real, but ultimately with no independent existence of its own. This chapter elaborates the brief description of the Self in Chapter II. II.17 But know: that is indestructible by which this all is pervaded; This imperishable one, nothing can destroy. 24 Neither can He be cut nor burnt, nor wetted nor dried; Eternal, present everywhere, fixed, immovable, everlasting is He. 25 Unmanifest is He, unthinkable is He, …

Read moreThe Field Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13

The Gunas Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14

Chapter XIV The Guṇa-s The doctrine of the three guṇa-s or basic elements of the cosmos is presented in the Gītā. It is not a central Upanisadic doctrine. The Gītā prescribes a knowledge of them as an aid to practice in daily life. The treatment is mainly in Chapters XIV and XVII, with a group of verses in Chapter XVIII. Chapter XIV in fact begins with one of the analogies of the world- process, which come in several places in the Gītā. It is represented in terms of fertilization of Nature by the Lord. A major point of the analogies is, that the world-appearance is a conscious divine projection; delusive and a source of suffering when not recognized as such, it is bliss when realized as the Lord. The Lord must be realized not only externally, but as the Self, the Knower of the Field. Each analogy is intended as a stimulus to …

Read moreThe Gunas Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14

One and Many Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15

Chapter XV One and Many Chapter XV is a summary presentation of the Gītā teachings, as the chapter itself declares in the last verse. It is also one of the shortest chapters, only twenty verses. Anyone who seriously intends to practise the yoga of the Gītā must learn some central part of it by heart, in order to get some inner resources to meet difficult or bewildering situations. The twenty verses of XV make a firm basis for practice. It begins with one of the analogies of the world-process, this time as a tree. The analogy of the sacred fig-tree, called in Sanskrit asvattha, like others in the Gītā, is taken from an Upanisad. This time it is the Katha Upanisad, VI. 1. The Lord has already said in Gītā X.26: Among all the trees, I am the sacred aśvattha. The symbolic tree has its main root in heaven, showing that the …

Read moreOne and Many Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15

Passion Struggle Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16

Chapter XVI Passion-Struggle The chapter begins with a list of things innate in those in whom the impulse towards liberation is becoming strong: they are said to be of divine nature. Those who fear it, cling to their own individuality and hate competing individualities, are of demoniac nature. The chart below sets out the present list, alongside XIII.7–10 (qualities to be cultivated by a seeker of Knowledge), and the programme of Austerity in XVII, and XVIII 42–14 which identifies actions ‘natural’ to Brahmins, warriors, businessmen, and men of service. Many of them appear in more than one list; for instance, dhṛti or firmness is said to be natural to a warrior; nevertheless XIII says it is to be cultivated by Knowledge-seekers, and by all who desire liberation, according to XVI. It is clear that these ‘innate’ qualities, or actions as they are called in XVIII, are not self-sufficient. Compare a talent …

Read morePassion Struggle Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16

Faith is sattva rajas tamas

Faith XVII.2 Deep-seated in the nature of man is faith, which is threefold: of the nature of Light (sattva), of Passion- struggle (rajas) and of Darkness (tamas). 3 A man is what his faith is. As his faith is, so is he, undoubtedly. Dr Shastri says: ‘This chapter starts with a description of the basic tendency in the nature of each individual, which gives rise to, and colours, his thought and action. Our mental, emotional and physical activities are actuated by this deep mystic tendency which is called Faith. It is the aggregate of the subtle impressions left by our past lives on our causal body. Man can create, control and change this tendency; it is not an unalterable fate.’ The ‘subtle impression’ is what is technically called ‘saṃskāra’. We are familiar with this in ordinary life. If we touch an electrical appliance and get a shock, we thereafter approach …

Read moreFaith is sattva rajas tamas

Worship, Gift, Austerity Gita Chapter 17

Chapter XVII Worship, Gift, Austerity The main part of this chapter, and a good bit of the next (XVIII.18–45) are centred on the effects of the guṇa-s. What the Gītā calls man’s ‘selfnature (sva-bhāva) consists of tendencies he is born with, as an effect of the saṃskāra dynamic latent impressions laid down in previous births. A selection of some of them, which can consistently manifest together, come together as a block, so to say, determining the conditions of the present birth. It is not unalterable fate, but comparable to the physical make-up of the present body, which can be greatly modified by persistent effort, and by other means also. The state of the innate nature is reflected in what is technically called one’s Faith. This is what one really believes in, as distinct from surface attitudes. The super-nationalist’s belief in the divine mission of his group, for which he is willing …

Read moreWorship, Gift, Austerity Gita Chapter 17

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18 Conclusion

Chapter XVIII Conclusion Like II, this is said by some commentators to be a summary of the teachings of the Gītā. It begins by recalling the familiar distinction between (1) physically giving up (saṃnyāsa) actions, except for a few semi-automatic ones which preserve the body, and (2) energetically performing the actions proper to one’s role in life, but without any attachment to the action or to its fruits: this is called tyāga. The Lord selects worship, gift and austerity as the best of all actions, to typify righteous action in general. XVIII.5 Actions of worship, gift, and austerity must not be abandoned, but rather performed; Worship, gift, and austerity are purifiers of the wise. 6 But these actions must be done giving up attachment to them, and all claim on the fruits: This is My definite and final judgement. Then he repeats the point already made several times in the Gītā, …

Read moreBhagavad Gita Chapter 18 Conclusion

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!