A classical text on spiritual practice

Caste and Action in the Bhagavad Gita

"The action in accordance with one's innate disposition, O son of Kunti, though accompanied with imperfections, One should not give up; For all undertakings are surrounded by imperfection, As afire with smoke." This Gita text is addressed directly to the disciple...

Shri Shankara’s commentary on 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...

Many famous people received a shock from this great cry

In the great battle of Kurukshetra, which lasted several days, the key figure on the Pandava side was the general Arjuna. He was invulnerable to ordinary weapons, but one of the opposing warriors named Kama possessed a celestial arrow which could not be checked by any...

The future is partly determined and partly undetermined

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...

The mystical tradition and the intellectual tradition

The Bhagavad Gita (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...

Morality and The Gita

The Gita is a book of Yoga practice, but there has to be a basis, a basic knowledge of the philosophy of the Gita – not elaborate – but definite and clear. Someone who practises without studying the traditional philosophy ends up not simply practising without a...

Meditations on God felt as within the body

The practice of the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita 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...

In the bhagavad Gita the secrets are made available to all.

Bhagavad-Gita means literally ‘Sung by the Lord’. What are sung are extracts from the Upanisad-s, early Indian mystical texts, here put into 700 verses of simple Sanskrit. The Upanisad-s had not been taught openly: in the Gita the secrets are made available to all. It...

Commentary on Bhagavad Gita verse II.22

As the wearer casts aside worn-out clothes, And puts on himself others which are new, Even so, casting off worn-out bodies, The body-wearer passes on to new ones. Bhagavad Gita II.22 This great verse on reincarnation comes at the beginning of the teachings, and it...

Ordinary experience is based on a sort of illusion

Why is it that the Gītā so often puts the texts of the two paths close together? It is because ordinary experience is based on a sort of illusion. Some of the classical examples of this kind of illusion are outside our normal experience, and make no impact on a...

Even a little of this Dharma relieves from anxiety

Using jewels to stone the crows Myteacher used to quote verse 40 of Chapter II of the Gita. "Even a little of this Dharma relieves from anxiety". Here the word dharma refers to the practice of karma yoga and the word translated here as anxiety is bhaya, fear.   But he...

The human weakness of trying to cover up failure

Self deception    My teacher used often to cite Confucius, who said ‘when the archer misses the target he doesn’t blame the target, he blames himself’.   A humorous extension of this is the idea, 'Yes, I did miss the target, but the target was not worthy of my...

Dharmas, the right courses of conduct, can conflict

In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is a warrior general who is about to give the signal for the beginning of a great battle. The forces of justice, of which side he is one of the main supports, are against forces of oppression who are nevertheless assisted by some great and...

The Spiritual Teacher in the Bhagavad Gita

The Gita is a teaching for crisis. In many ways it is quite different from the situations in the Upanishads, where a seeker after truth attends on a teacher. The Upanishadic procedure is, however, described in a group of Gita verses beginning with IV.34, in the context of Knowledge:

Qualities to be cultivated by a seeker of Knowledge

Bhagavad Gita 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...

How to know exactly what the Bhagavad Gita text says

The Gita 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...

Nature and the mind are moved by the one and same force

There are two books which we must read with great interest and attention. They are nature and your heart. To remain united with nature is to remain in touch with infinity and a ready source of inspiration. When you are tired, when your mind is restless, when the...

That offering I accept, lovingly made with pious will

“ Whoso shall offer Me, in faith and love, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, water poured forth, that offering I accept, lovingly made with pious will.” Song Celestial, Chapter 9, Verse 26 Throughout the long history of religious thought, stress has been laid on the...

Bhagavad Gita means “the Song of the Lord ”.

It is the name of a celebrated mystical poem in the great Indian epic called the Mahabharata. The Gita was given about three thousand years ago to an Indian prince by Shri Krishna, an incarnation of God. Its teachings are universal and do not belong to any particular...

The uniqueness of the Bhagavad Gita

Let us have a few remarks about the uniqueness of the teachings of the Gita. In the Gita Shastra the first personal pronoun used by Shri Krishna indicates the all-pervasive Lord of the universe; but also “Shri Krishna is verily the Lord Himself”. The word T in the...

Events leading to the Battle of Kurukshetra

The Lord of the universe appeared as Shri Krishna in order to re-establish the rule of righteousness, Dharma, in the world. At that time the north of India was ruled by the dynasty of the Kurus. There were two brothers of the same house who were destined to be...

Verses from Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita

“ He attains -peace who, self-controlled, approaches objects with the senses devoid of love and hatred and brought under his own control. “ In peace there is an end of all miseries; for the reason of the tranquil minded soon becomes steady. “ There is no wisdom to the...

The essential conditions of spiritual illumination.

As the jiva (the soul), dissatisfied with sense-perception as the instrument of realization of Truth or Self, on which depends blissfulness and conscious immortality, treads the path of knowledge, called Jnana Marga, it must cultivate ethical discipline. The mind must...

Reflections on Chapter 18 of the Bhagavad Gita

Mountains, hills and moors may be very lovely but, shrouded in mist, they can barely be seen and if the mist is thick they cannot be seen at all. So a man may walk the countryside and see little or nothing of its beauty. Because he has not seen or known that beauty,...

Is the world around us real ?

Most of us may have wondered at one time or another —Is the world around us real ? Or is it a dream, a mere illusion ? To this question Adhyatma Yoga gives a clear-cut answer, albeit an answer which is liable to be misinterpreted on a superficial view. The world of...

A taste for desirelessness does not come automatically.

Is desire the only obstacle to liberation? The mind balks at the question immediately. What about anger, lust, envy, sloth and all the rest? Why does desire merit more attention than they? Where does one start in such a maze? Yet what is anger but frustrated desire,...

Non-dualism and conservation of energy

The conservation of energy may sound too practical a subject to have any spiritual significance. But here, straight away, we come on one of the principal tenets of the philosophy of non-dualism, namely that there is nothing whatsoever which has not got some spiritual...

A study of the three Gunas -Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas

It is generally held that the man of today is pre-eminently a questioner and a researcher, that he must have a reason for everything and that he will never be satisfied to take things on trial or on faith. But from what we can gather from the classics of the East,...

Self-deception bolsters itself with reasons

Self-deception begins in childhood, as a way of escaping a sense of failure. When small children lose at some game, some of them say: "Well I wasn't really trying. It's a silly game and I don't want to play it." When they get older, the self-deception bolsters itself...

Action is the teaching of the karma yoga

A string of jewels, a string of pearls, is an image used in the Gita. The fact is that if pearls individually and scattered all over the place in dusty corners, have no beauty.    They are of no ornamental value, and of little other value.  But when they are brought...

The Imperishable Asvattha Tree

“ They speak of the Imperishable Asvattha as having its root above and branches below. Its leaves are the Vedas and he who knows this he knows the Vedas ” (xv. i). HERE is a picture of a tree with its roots in the air and its branches spreading downwards bearing...

Technical Appendices to Realization of the Supreme Self

Introductory 1 Translation of Śaṅkara’s Introduction to the Gītā 2 Jñāna-Yoga 3 Niṣṭhā 4 Three Terms: Paripāka Avasāna Anubhava 5 Karma-Yoga 6 Saṃnyāsa 7 Exceptions to Formai Saṃnyāsa Except where otherwise stated, the reference to a Gītā verse is in fact to Śaṅkara’s...

Causality underlying the causality of the world

Yoga sees another causality underlying the causality of the world. A stage play has its own causal sequence: within the play, daggers kill, kings are honoured, the mother loves a baby. But there is a deeper causal sequence which is quite different: the daggers do not...

The Experimental Basis of Yoga

XIII.24 By meditation, some see the Self in the self by the self. VI.27 Supreme bliss comes to the yogin who is pure, passion laid to rest, his mind stilled; he becomes Brahman. The Gītā is a textbook of yoga (a word which has also the sense of ‘method’ and...

Knowledge-Stance: Jnana-Nistha

Following on Right Knowledge of the identity of the true Self and Brahman, Śaṅkara presents two more means to release, though they are really stages in clarity of Knowledge: (1) saṃnyāsa or casting away action, (2) what he calls jñāna-niṣṭhā, or Standing on Knowledge....

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15 -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...

Knowledge of the body, mind, also the deep causal layer

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...

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