GEMS FROM THE
OCEAN OF HINDU THOUGHT AND VISION AND
BEACH 10: Hinduism for the next
in a single capsule
We are now
going to talk about the Bhagavad-Gita in an elementary way. Bhagavan means the Lord Absolute. Gita means The Song. It is the Divine Song of the Lord. It
is a poem of 700 verses in Sanskrit. It occurs in the largest epic of the world,
known as the Mahabharata. The events described in this epic are historical
events that happened five thousand years ago. They were chronicled in the form
of an epic some time after that.
The latter half of the epic describes the Great War that took place, in
which almost every king in India and his army
were involved. Arjuna the foremost warrior of the
younger generation of the times and his four brothers and their allies were on
one side. On the opposite side were aligned the one hundred cousins of Arjuna, their allies, their massive armies, as well as their
grandfather-symbol Bhishma, the famous veteran whom
the entire country feared and revered. He was also the grandfather-symbol of
Arjuna. Preparations had been made for this war months
in advance and Arjuna himself had been getting ready
for this war years in advance. But at the crucial moment, almost at the time of
the blowing of the whistle, he decides to retreat. He says it is wrong to fight
with elders, the grandfather, the teachers, and all these relatives. Compassion
overwhelms him and he declares that he would rather retire to the forest as a
renouncer, than kill his own kith and kin and his
elders. Let me be killed by them, says he, and he throws away his bow and arrow.
Lord Krishna was his charioteer. He tries to put Arjuna back on the track by saying elementary things like:
Arjuna, this is not the time to retreat, people will
think of you as a coward, you are a great warrior, get up and fight. No, says
Arjuna, I won’t. Let me entreat you, Oh Lord, tell me
clearly what is good for me. To fight or not to fight, that is the question.
Teach me O Lord, as to what is right.
Krishna begins his
long sermon with a philosophical note. Do not grieve, Arjuna, over things which are perishable. The soul is
imperishable. It does not die. Nobody can harm it or damage it. What you see
before you is only the outer self of everybody. Only the outer self dies. The
inner Self is the imperishable soul. If you are in oneness with your Inner Self,
then no grief can affect you. No sin will touch you. Merits and demerits touch
only the outer self. Your outer self belongs to the warrior class. By nature you
are a warrior-king. Your duty is to fight on the side of justice. You know you
are on the side of justice. So you have to do your duty. Your duty now is to
fight. You cannot retreat from that duty. But while
doing your duty, let me tell you, never bring in any of the attitudes of the
outer self. Anger, hate, jealousy, attachment, all pertain to the outer self. Do not be angry, do not
hate, do not be clouded by attachment to things of the outer world, do not think
of revenge, but fight. Do your duty of fighting as if you are an actor on the
stage. What happens on the stage because of your action on the stage should not
worry the real you. The real you is your Inner Self. It is known as the Atman. Pleasure and pain, like and
dislike, happiness and misery, heat and cold, friend and foe, honour and dishonour– all these
dualities are only for the outer self.
Your Inner Self, namely, the Atman, is never affected by these dualities
of life or of the world.
Krishna goes on in
this fashion, Arjuna asks a relevant question: If I am
supposed to be in oneness with my Inner Self, why do you then ask me to
me go and sit quietly in oneness with my Inner Self. Krishna
says: That will never happen. Sitting
quietly, you will be thinking about all the happenings in your life. That is not
oneness with your Inner Self. No man can sit quietly without even thinking. If
you just make a show of physical renuciation, but keep
on mentally dwelling on everything of the world, then you are only a hypocrite.
What is wanted is mental renunciation. Though you are involved in all actions of
the world, you should be mentally away from them. This means you should not
attach yourself to any of your thoughts or actions. This is the great yoga of
action. Yoga means the most efficient way of doing things.
taught this yoga to the Sun-God long ago, says Krishna. Arjuna immediately jumps on him and says: Krishna, you were
born only two years before me; do you want me to believe that you taught this to
the Sun-God? At this point, namely the fourth chapter of the Gita, which has 18 chapters in all, the Lord begins to talk
in an inspiring style. Upto this point the Gita reads like a philosophical discourse, carefully
recorded by the recorder. But from here onwards it becomes a revealed scripture,
given out by the very Lord Absolute. Arjuna, says the
Lord, you do not know it, but I know, that you and I have taken many births and
I know them all. Every time Good suffers terribly and the Bad predominates
heavily, I come down on earth in person and manifest myself for the protection
of the good and the destruction of evil. Know that I am the Absolute. I created
this world and all the diverse varieties of nature. But
know also that nothing touches me nor am I attached to any of my
creations. You also be like Me. Be
in oneness with your Inner Self and do all of your duties; nothing will touch
you or pollute you. This living in identity with your Inner Self will give you
the attitude of equanimity. An equanimous view of everything that you come across, whether
it is men or material, is the ultimate goal of life.
To obtain a
firm hold of this equanimous view for ourselves, sit in meditation, says the Lord. But Arjuna points out: How can one control the mind and sit in
meditation? The mind is so fickle that it does not stay with one object
consistently. The Lord replies: Yes, you are right. The mind is fickle; it is in
fact villainous, it won’t obey you. Know therefore that you should be in the
driver seat of this vehicle, that is the
body-mind-intellect. Every time the mind misbehaves, bring it back to the equanimous position by using your discretionary intellect.
You have to do this constantly and continuously. Never chicken out. You may have
to carry on this struggle life after life until you succeed. Succeed you will,
if you have My Grace.
To obtain My Grace, you have to
first recognize that nothing moves in this world except by My Will. I am the
Master-Director of this universe. Everything has arisen from Me and everything will come back to Me at the time of
dissolution. I am the One that exists ever, before and after. I am the Father of
this Universe. What you see as this universe is only my show. It is only a
projection from My Power. It will vanish in due time.
Arjuna is curious.
If you are everything, My Lord, show Me your form where
I can see everything. The Lord says you cannot see that cosmic form of Mine with your physical eyes but I will give you temporarily
the spiritual eye that will open up to you My cosmic
Form. And Arjuna is blessed. He sees the Cosmic
Form. A little while ago the Lord has said: He who sees
Me in everything and everything in Me, he is the one
who has the right vision. Now He shows to Arjuna that form which proves that everything is in Him. Arjuna sees the five elements emanating from the Lord’s
form. He sees, in that form, the entire universe with all its
noblest expressions as well as the filthiest mundane horrors. The whole vision
is fantastic no doubt, but also scaring. So Arjuna prays to the Lord to get back to
his normal human form and the Lord does so.
Now the Lord
begins to explain some technicalities about how the Absolute which is nameless
and formless expresses itself as the different multiplicities of this universe.
He warns Arjuna and through him the rest of humanity,
not to see the multiplicity before us but to seek the Oneness behind this
multiplicity. It is the basic
Oneness that should be at the bottom of our minds. It is the Lord that we should
see in everything and in particular, in every being. Once the Spirit within you
and the Spirit within the other man is realised to be
the same, then there is no difficulty in loving each other. Jesus says: Love your neighbour. Here is the reason for that. Your neighbour and You are the same in
spiritual essence. The basic Oneness is easy to recognize if one transcends the
three basic qualities of Man. When in your
bone of bones you feel a sense of glow that gives you satisfaction, like when
you have done a noble deed, know that the divine quality is uppermost in you.
When tendencies like greed, jealously, lust and anger shoot up, know that the
dynamic vibrant qualities of Man are uppermost in you. When laziness,
disinterest, depression and ignorance are the order of the day in you, know that
the dull qualities of Man are uppermost. Each man is a
mixture of all the three tendencies: divinely noble, vibrantly restless and
indolently dull. But the Lord says: The wise man transcends all these three
qualities. He is the One who can
see the Oneness of the Lord amidst all the multiplicities of the
Universe. Immediately Arjuna asks the question:
How does one know that one has transcended the three fundamental qualities? And
Whether it is enlightenment, or involvement or delusion one should not hate what
has come into one’s experience and one should not desire what has been missed in
one’s experience. Such a person, Krishna says, is the
one who is earmarked for ultimate Salvation.This is
the final teaching of the Gita.
Krishna himself sums
up in the last chapter by saying: Each man has gone through several lives and
has picked up several mental imprints of thoughts actions and experiences and
has brought them to the present life in the form of mental tendencies. These
constitute the man’s nature in this life. If this nature helps
in doing good and noble things well and good. If this nature only takes
you into undesirable channels of activity, then you have to fight it internally.
e does. HH There is no other way. Arjuna, says the Lord, your inborn nature is the nature of a
fighter. You cannot overcome it, do what you will. So do your duty of fighting.
But transfer all your responsibilities to Me by keeping
Me at the bottom of your heart all the time. In other words, surrender even your will to me. Then you become the
instrument of My will and your actions will not bind
you. Your actions will indeed turn out to be automatically good for the rest of
the world because they are thereafter actions according to My Will. Once
you surrender yourself like this to Me, I will take care of you both here and
This is the
Gita. Arjuna, at the end of
all this, had no difficulty in saying ‘Yes, I will do as you wish’. The Gita is
thus an unusual scripture where God and Man have an inimitable dialogue about
what to do in our daily life and how to do it. It is therefore most relevant
modern times. It applies to all of us
alike, irrespective of age, sex, race, nation, or education. There are
wonderful English translations available. Just one verse every day will take us
through the gita in the course of two years. One who
has done this will not fall back spiritually; because, that is the nature of the
irresistible impact of the Gita.
therefore end up with one verse, just one verse from
the gita. It is Chapter 11, Verse no.55, the
last verse in that chapter. It says: He who does all his actions as a dedication
to the Lord Supreme, whose only goal is that Lord Supreme, who is a devotee of the Lord from
his heart of hearts, who has thrown away all attachments, and who has no sense of enmity towards
any one – he reaches the Lord. Dedication of all actions to God is the yoga of
action. Keeping the Lord Supreme as the only goal is the Surrender concept.
Being a devotee of the Lord is the yoga of devotion. To be free from attachments is the
purpose of control and monitoring of the senses and the ego. To bear no enmity
towards any one is the equanimous view. Thus this
verse has all the five major teachings of the gita in
it. In this sense this sloka maybe taken as Gita in a single capsule. We shall just state it in original
Sanskrit just to honour what we said just now.
Nirvairas-sarva-bhUteshu yas-sa mAm eti pANDava
to Organization of Contents
Krishnamurthy June 18, 2002