Sunday, 31 January 2016

The message of the Gita


The  Gita  revisited .
The  message  of  the  Gita .

                       Lord  Krishna's  teachings  started  from  verse 11  of  chapter 2 ,wherein  the  Lord  advised Arjuna  not  to  grieve  for  those  who do not  deserved  to  be  grieved  over. . Arjuna was a deluded   man  who  thought  that  by  killing   Drona, his  guru  and  Bhishma , his  grandfather and  all  others  ,his  own  relatives  ,  he  would  be  incurring  sin  . So  he  put down  his  weapons   saying  he  would  not  fight. 

                    The  Lord  starts  His  teaching  by  re-educating  Arjuna's  mind . Arjuna   had  been  deluded  by  his  own  ego  and  the  Lord  gave  him the  infinite  wisdom  ,which  would  remove  the  non-apprehension  of  the  Reality  ,which  was  because  of  the  mis-apprehension  of  the  Reality. . The  Lord  advised  Arjuna  to  renounce  his  physical,  emotional and  intellectual  ideas   about  his  own  guru,  his  grandfather  and  all  those  assembled  in the  battle  field   and  look  afresh  the  situation  from  a  spiritual  understanding  . The  Lord's  teachings  end  in  verse  66 of  the  18th  chapter,wherein  the  Lord  assured  Arjuna  that  He  would  free  him  from  all  sins  and  hence  there  was  no  need  for  Arjuna  to  grieve. 

               The  Lord  says  "  do  not  grieve  , come  to  Me  alone   for  shelter and  give  up  even  the  anxiety  to  reach  the  Infinite. "  Unnecessary  anxieties  in  life  lead  a person   to  grief. . This  grief  becomes  our  greatest  obstacle  to  reaching  our  ultimate  destination  . Hence  we  may  say  that  message  of  the  Gita  is  ' Do not  grieve ', for  the  Lord  is  there  to  give  shelter  to us  . Let  us  surrender  to  the  Lord  wholeheartedly  with   bhakti  and  shraddha  .  

Friday, 29 January 2016

Various interpretations on the charama sloka.


The  Gita  revisited 
Various  interpretations  on the  charama  sloka .

             There  are  various  interpretations  on the  charama  sloka  and  let  us  see  what  each  school of  thought  has to say  about  the  concept  of  surrender.  Arjuna  ,in the  second  chapter , only  partially  surrendered  to  the  Lord  . His  surrender  was  complete  only  after  listening  to  the  Lord's  words   wherein  He  explained  to him  the  true  meaning  of  surrender  and  he   then  said  he  would  do  as  the  Lord wishes .  Let  us  see  the  different  ways  in which  the  word  ' surrender '  has  been  understood  in  jnana  yoga  ,  bhakti  yoga  and  karma  yoga. 

             Jnana  yoga  maintains  that  we  can  surrender  or  renounce  only  that  which  really  belongs  to  us. . The  body-mind  complex  does not  belong  to  us , it  belongs to  prakriti  and  ultimately  to  God. . So  what  is it  that  we  can  surrender   or  renounce  ?   We  can  renounce  or  surrender  only  our  false  identification  with  the  anatma  and  realise  our true  nature. . This  realisation  of  the  Self  /God  is  true  surrender  to  the  Lord.   Surrender  is  knowing  God  /Self  .

         Surrender  in  Bhakti  yoga  :  Bhakti  to  the  Lord  gets  expressed  in  various  spiritual  practices  like  japa,  pranayama  , dana  etc  for  getting  various   material   benefits  or  for  purification  of  the  mind. . These  lower  aspirations  have  to be  given  up  ,  renounced  only  to  seek  the  love  of  the  Lord  .  This  according  to  Bhakti  yoga  is  true  surrender  to  attain  the  love  of  God  ,the  Ultimate  Truth  .

            Surrender  in  Karma  yoga   amounts  to  saying  " serve   God "  The  term  'dharma  '  also  means  duties  . Doing  paradharma  or  adharmic  activities  or  having  attachments   to  actions  and  their  results  and  having  likes  and  dislikes  for  actions  ,all  these  have  to  be  surrendered  or  renounced  . So  true  surrender  according  to  karma  yoga  is  considering  ourselves  as  an  instrument  of  the  Lord  and  serving  Him  is  our  only  duty  . All  actions  must  be  done  selflessly  as  an  offering  unto  the  Lord  and  all  results  to  be  received  with  a  prasada  bhavana 

             From  which  ever  angle  we  see  the  term  'surrender '   it  all  means  that  we  should  surrender  our  false  identifications  and  notions  ,know  God  and  love  Him  without  any  expectations   and  serve  Him  through  all  our  duties  


Monday, 25 January 2016

" sarva dharmaan parithyajya "


The  Gita  revisited.
" sarva  dharmaan  parithyajya. "

                   Dharmas  will  come  to  include  all  the  punya karmas, all  physical, emotional  and  intellectual  activities   and   renouncing  actions   may  also  include  adharmic   and  unethical   activities  . We  may  now  wonder  how  all  actions  can  be  renounced  for  the  Lord  Himself  had  said   in the  3rd  and  18th  chapters  that  living  beings  can  never  give up  actions  totally. . So  giving  up  dharmas  will  definitely  imply  some deeper  meanings.  All  our  actions  belong  to  the  body-mind  complex   alone. . When  we are  identified  with   our  body mind  complex  ,our actions  belong  to  us alone . This  is  called  as  "  deha  abhimana  or  ahankara  " . Hence  giving  up  all  karmas will  be  possible  only  by  giving  up   our  identification  with  the  body mind  complex. . This  is  possible  only  when  we  know  we are  different  from  this  body-mind   and  that  we are  the  atma-chaitanyam  ,which  is  akartha  and  abhoktha  . 

               Sarva  dharman  parithyajya  would  then  mean  the  renunciation  of  the  deha  abhimana   and  disclaiming  that  "  I am  the  kartha and  abhoktha " . It  is  in the  presence  of  the  sakshi  chaitanyam  ,our  body-mind  is  doing  all  actions   . The  Lord  adds  "  mam ekam  charanam  vraja  "   this  refers  to  saranagati  to  the  Lord. . It  could  mean  surrender  to  a personal  God  like  Sri  Rama  or  Sri  Krishna  ,  or  it  could  mean  to  the  Vishva  Roopa  Ishwara  or  to  the  Nirguna  Brahman  ,the  Satchitananda  Roopa  ,the  Infinite  Brahman. . The  understanding  would  depend  on  the  level  of  the  spiritual  seeker. 

           How  does one  approach  the  Lord  ?   Approaching  the  Lord  does  not  mean  travelling  in  space  and  time  to  reach  Him. because  He  is  all  pervading  hence  where  does  the  question  of  travelling  arise  ?. He  is  never  away  from  us  . So  giving  up  the  false  notion  that  I am  the  body-mind  complex  and  understanding  that  He  is  never  far  away  from  us  is  jivatma  -paramatma -aikyam  . The  second  line  of the  verse  gives  the  benefit  of  gaining  this  knowledge  and  that  Paramatma  alone  is  the  refuge  for  a  samsari. . The  Lord  promises  that  He  will  release  us  from  all  sins  -the  sanchita, prarabda  and  agami  karmas  ,hence  He  advises  us  not  to  grieve  . 

Friday, 22 January 2016

The charama sloka .

The  Gita  revisited.
The  Charama  sloka.

                       We  have  seen  in  verse  65  that  the  Lord  had  asked  Arjuna  to  fix  his  mind  on  the  Lord  , be  devoted  to  Him  ,  sacrifice  for  Him  ,and  bow  down  to  Him  and  he  would  come  to the  Lord  alone  as  he  was  indeed  very  dear  to the  Lord  . This  verse  is  the  essence  of  karma  yoga  ,of  developing  Isvara  Arpana  Buddhi  and  Prasada  Buddhi. . The  Lord  summarises  the  whole  teachings  in two  verses  namely  65 and  66. . Verse  66  is the  summary  of  jnana  yoga. and  is  the  final  message  of  the  Lord  and  hence  is  considered  as the  charama  sloka. 

                  This  verse  has  been  subject  to  different  kinds  of  explanations   and  various  schools  of  thought  interpret  this  verse  to  suit  their  own  school of  thought. . When  superficially  seen  ,one  may  understand  that  the  Lord  is  asking us  to  renounce  all  virtues  and  ethical  values. . But  we  have  seen   that the  Lord  all through  the  Gita  has  emphasised  the  importance  of  leading  a  dharmic  way  of  life. . The  Lord  has  declared  in the  4th  chapter,that  whenever  adharma  takes  over,  He  appears  to  establish  dharma  on earth. 

             And  yet again  ,when  the  Lord  says  "  mam ekam  saranam  vraja  "  ,  even  this  statement  has  been  misunderstood  to  mean  that  we  have  to  surrender  to  Krishna, the  personal  God ,  the  blue-eyed  boy  of  Brindavan.  the  beloved  of  the  gopis  , the  friend  and  guru  of  Arjuna. . Adi  Sankaracharya  comes  to our  rescue  to  clarify  our  doubts  and help us  understand  the  verse  correctly  in the  light  of   Advaita  Vedanta  stand point. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Take refuge in God .


The  Gita  revisited .
Take  refuge  in  God .

          In  verses  61  and  62  , of  the  18th  chapter , the  Lord  says  that  He  dwells  in the  hearts  of  all  beings  ,causing  all  beings  ,by the  power  of  Maya  ,to  revolve  as though  mounted  on a  machine   and  He  wants  us  to  fly  unto  Him for  refuge,  for  by  His  Grace Arjuna  and  indeed  all  of  us  would  obtain  Supreme  peace  and  the  eternal  abode. . The  Lord  resides  in the  hearts  of  all  as  the  sakshi  chaitanyam  .. He  resides  in all  whether  a  saint  or a  sinner. . A saint's  mind  is  pure  and  hence  the  Lord's  presence  is  well  manifested,  while  a  sinner's  mind  being  impure  , He  remains  unmanifested  there . . The  Lord  illumines  all  beings  as  the  Witness  Consciousness  . . Our  body  -mind  complex  is  alive  and  sentient  only  because  the  Lord  enlivens  them  . If   the  body  and  mind  are  activated  by the  Lord  ,does  it  mean  that   bad  karmas  done  by us  are  also  activated  by  Him ?  The  type  of  action  done  by us  is  determined  by  our  own  freewill  and  not  by  the  Will  of  God. 

           Since  the  Lord ,  residing  in our  hearts  , enlivens   us  ,  the  Lord   tells us  to  offer  all  our  actions  unto  Him  . He  alone  is  the  Karma  Phala  Daatha ..and  He  also  tells  us  to take  refuge  in  Him  ,wholeheartedly  and  cheerfully  with  bhakti  and  shraddha . . Once  we surrender  to  Him  ,  it  then  becomes  His  responsibility  to  bless  us  to  get  vairagya  ,  sama  and dama  etc  and  desire  for  Moksha . By  His  Grace  ,we  will  get  the  opportunity  for  seeking  knowledge  under a  Guru. and  gain  knowledge. , and  reach  our  destination.   Reaching  the  destination  is  not  travelling  in space  and  time  to  some  place  in  Vaikunta  or  Kailash,  but   attaining  Moksha  ,which  is  realising  that  ' I am  none  other  than  Brahman '.  On  attaining  this  goal  of  Self  - Realisation  ,   we  attain  infinite  peace  and  happiness  .

Friday, 15 January 2016

" Fix your mind on Me "


The  Gita  revisited  
"  Fix  your  mind  on  Me "  

                    The  Lord  tells  Arjuna  to  fix  his  mind  on  Him  ,  be  devoted to  Him  ,sacrifice  for  Him  ,  bow  down  to  Him  and  he  would  surely  reach  the  Lord.   Here ' reaching  the  Lord ' does  not  mean  travelling  to  some  place  in  Vaikunta  or  Kailash   . But  it  is  experiencing  the  Lord  within  one's  own  heart   as  none  other  than  the  Lord  Himself  .  According  to  Advaita  Vedanta  'reaching  the  Lord  '  is  merging  and  becoming  one  with  the  Lord. . This  is  the  promise  the  Lord  gives  to  Arjuna  and  through  him  to  all  of  mankind. . The  Lord  lays  down  four  conditions  for  a  seeker  to  successfully  reach  the  Lord  ,  to  realise   the  Truth  /God.  The  first  line  of  this  verse  65  in  chapter  18  is  the  repetition  of   the  first  line  of the  verse  34  in  chapter  9 ,wherein  the  Lord  also adds  that  when  the  seeker  has  united  his  Self  with  the  Lord   and  has  taken  the  Lord  as  the  Supreme  goal  ,he   would  undoubtedly  reach  the  Lord.  

                The  seeker  has  to  keep  his  mind  ever  fixed  on  the  Lord  , meaning  ,he  should  remember  Him   by  dedicating  all  his  actions  as  an  offering  unto  the  Lord  . This   , in essence , is  what   Karma  yoga .is  all  about  . . The  mind  and  intellect  are  always  engaged  in  extroverted  activities  but  they  have  to  be  redirected   towards  the  Lord  by  constantly  thinking  of  the  Lord  ,  by  being  devoted  to  Him  .  Vasanas  are  created  by  our  own  egocentric  and  selfish  activities   and  only  through  selfless  karma  ,the  vasanas  can  be  put an end  to  .  When  the  mind  is  fixed  on the  Lord  and  devotedly  works  for  Him   and  dedicates  all  activities  as a  sacrifice  , as  an  offering  unto  Him   with  an  attitude  of  surrender to  Him  in  utter  reverence  and  devotion , then  the  seeker  without  any  doubt  would  reach  the  Supreme  . This  is  the  assurance  the  Lord  gives  to  Arjuna  because  he  is  dear  to  the  Lord  Himself. 

How much free will do we have ?


The  Gita  revisited .
How  much  free will  do  we  have  ?

               Some  people  believe  that  they  are  absolutely  free  to  do  what  they  like   and  some  others  have  an  opposite  view  that  whatever  they do  is  all  already  predetermined  by  God  . Free will  verses  destiny  is  a  very  serious  topic  that  has  been  troubling  mankind  since  beginningless  time. . Scriptures  give  us  four  purusharthas  (  dharma,  artha  ,  kama  and  moksha  )  which  are  to  be  attained  by  our  own  self-effort . . The  fact  that  scriptures  show  us  four  goals  and   give  us  the  freedom  to  choose  any  of  the  goals , only  goes  to  show  that  we  are  indeed  blessed  with  enough  free will  to  choose  any  of  them  as  our  goal in life and  progress  spiritually.   In  the  Kathopanishad  ,  Lord  Yama   tells  Nachiketas  , the  nine  year  old  boy , that  there  are  two  paths  -shreyas,the  path  of  the  good  and  preyas ,  the  path of  the  pleasant  . That   these  two  paths  are  thrown  open  to  us , only  goes  to  show  that  we  do  have  free will  to  pursue  any  of  them  .

            But  it   is  also  clear  that  God  has  not  given  us  absolute  freedom  to  do  what  we  feel  like  doing. . At  each  moment  of  our  life, choices  appear  in  front  of  us  .  The  Lord  is  not  watching  us  like  a  policeman  to  see  what  we  choose .  What  we  choose  to  follow  depends  on  many  factors  such  as  our  own  temperaments  ( vasanas )  and    our  pre conditionings   So  in  this  sense  we  do  not  have  absolute  freedom  . . We  do  not  enjoy  complete  and  unlimited  freedom  over  the  external  circumstances  but  we  are  indeed  given  limited  freedom  to  be  either  good  or  wicked  while  facing  each  and  every  moment  of  our  life's   situations. . Even  with  this  limited  freedom  ,it  is  then  up to  us  to  reach  perfection   and  become  free  from  bondage.  A cow is  tied  by a  rope  to a  post.  The  cow  has  only  limited  freedom  to  move  around  only  within  a  short  distance  ,depending  upon  the  length  of  the  rope.  But  the  cow  by  using  its  strength  can  free itself  from  the  post  to which  it is  tied.   Similarly  ,even  with  all  the  limited  freedom  that  we  are  blessed  with,   we  can  still  gain  freedom  from  bondage   by  our  self  effort   and  with  the  blessings  of  God  and  Guru. 


Monday, 11 January 2016

How much choices do we have ?


The  Gita  revisited 
How  much  choice  do we  have ?

                             We  now  come  to a very  important  question  that  arises  in the  mind  of a  spiritual  seeker  and  that  is  "  how  much  choice  does  he  have  ?  "  and  that  means  how  much  freedom  does  he  have  to do  or  not  do  something  .. An  immature  person  does  not  have  the  ability  to  make  the  right  choices. . The  Lord  tells   his  friend  and  disciple   Arjuna  to  do  what  he  likes  after  giving  due  thought  to  whatever  advices  he  had  received  from  the  Lord  and  then  to act  with  maturity .  Sravana  ,which  is  listening  to  the  scriptural  teachings  from  a  Guru  ,is  the  first  step  to  gain  knowledge  . After  that  comes  mananam  , that  is  reflection  on  the  teachings  ,which  helps  in making  the  knowledge  doubt  free  .  So  it  is  knowledge  alone  that  should  become  the  basis  for  making  the  right  decisions  ,  the  right  choices  for  all actions. 

                The  Lord   did  not  give  this  choice  to  Arjuna  in  the  second  chapter . It  is  only  at  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  chapter  that  the  Lord  tells  Arjuna  "  yathecchasi  tatha  kuru  "  .If  we  enquire  into  the  choice  factor  -a  gift  given  to  us  by  God  ,  we  will  wonder  whether  we  really  have  any  choices  at  all  .. Arjuna  being a  Kshatriya   was  naturally  inclined  to wards  his  own  swabhava  which  was  fighting  this  righteous  war. . Is  it  not  true  that  our  nature  forces  us  to  do  something  even  if  it  is  against  our  wish  ?. The  Lord  tells  Arjuna  that  if  he  were  to  act  out  of  his  own  accord  because  of  egotism  and  decide  not  to  fight  ,then  he  will  be  falsely  directed  as  his  own  nature  will  compel  him  to  fight  this  war   and  whatever  out  of  delusion  Arjuna  would  decide  not  to  do  ,he  would  do  it  anyway  even  against  his  will  as  he  is  bound  by  his  own  nature  (  vasanas ). 

             Let  each  one  of  us  ponder  over  this  important  question  ,"  how  much  free will  are  we  blessed  with "? 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Giving up negative qualities .


The  Gita  revisited .
Giving  up  negative  qualities.

                        The  Lord  gives  a list  of  negative  qualities  that  a  seeker  has  to  give  up. . The  seeker  has  to  give  up  egoism  ,power,  arrogance, desire  , anger  , aggrandisement   and  be  free  from  the  notion  of  mine   ,all  these  in order  to  grow  spiritually  and  to  remain  peaceful .. Ahankar  expresses  itself   in the  form  of  all these  six  qualities. All of  them  together  represent  the  "  I -act  -mentality ".. First  the  ego  expresses  as  power  ,  the  power  to  fulfill  desires. . As  the  desires  get  fulfilled  , the  ego  gathers  unto  itself  pride  and  arrogance  .. Then  one  naturally  comes  to  have  lust  and  anger.  and  one  tries  to  aggrandise  things  that  , the  mind  desires  ,in  corrupt  ways  .  From  ahankara  , the  notion  of  mine  ,  mamakara  , develops  .The  Lord  asks  the  seeker  to  compulsorily  give  up   the  above  negative  qualities  .

                        When  the  sense  of " I  -act  -mentality " is  given  up  ,  the  mind  becomes  relatively  calm  and  peaceful  . Then  the  seeker  finds  himself  qualified  to  tune  up  his  mind  to  the  higher  reality.  Even  as  a  seeker  understands  that  there  is  a  higher  reality  , he  stops  his  identification  with  his  body-mind-  intellect  equipment   and  remains  less  and  less  agitated  .. Thus  a  seeker  who  has  gained  the  knowledge  of  Brahman   through  study   and  reflection  , gradually  gives  up  the  "  I  act  mentality  ". He  does  not  reach  perfection   but  he  is  fit  to  become  Brahman  ,the  Lord  says.  . When  the  seeker  realises  that  he  is  none  other  than  Brahman  , then  he  does  not  anymore  grieve  nor  desire. . He  is  the  same  to  all  beings   and  comes  to  have  supreme  devotion  for  the  Lord.