Category Archives: Bhagavad Gita

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4:  The Path of Renunciation of Actions – Leading to Knowledge

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4: 

                               The Path of Renunciation of Actions – Leading to Knowledge                                                                      

Shri Krishna said, “I have told this Karma Yoga to Vivasvata.  This Karma Yoga is applicable at all times.  Vivasvata then told this Yoga to Manu.  Manu told this Yoga to Ikshvaku. Thus, handed down one to the other, this Yoga has been known to the royal sages. But, through a long lapse of time, this Yoga has been lost in the world. (1-2)

Since you are My devotee and friend, I have told you today the same Karma Yoga which is ancient and supremely profound. (3)

Arjuna asked, “Vivasvata was born many years ago and you are born just a few years ago. How can I understand that You have told this Yoga to Vivasvata in the past?” (4)

Shri Krishna said, “O Parantapa (Arjuna – the scorcher of the foes): “You and I have been born many times in the past. You do not know your previous births, but I know of them all. (5)

Though I am birth-less, Imperishable and the Lord of all beings, by My Own Power (Maya), I incarnate on the earth as a human being taking the support of My Prakriti. (6)

Whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness prevails on earth, then I incarnate Myself as a human being. (7)

In every age, to protect the righteous people, to destroy the unrighteous people, and to establish Dharma (the righteous path), I (Ishvara, the Lord of the Universe) take birth as a human being. (8)

One who knows in true spirit My divine life and actions becomes free from the bondage of birth and death and attains Me after leaving his/her body. (9)

Many people, who are devoid of passion, fear, and anger, love Me intensely, are completely dependent on Me, and, being purified with the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, have attained My State. (10)

O Arjuna! In whatever form devotee worships Me, I appear to the devotee in that form. All people through their various ways of worship come to Me only. (11)

People seeking worldly benefits worship various gods because they easily get those benefits by performing rituals for them. (12)

I have created four categories of people according to the dominance of gunas in them and their ability to perform actions. Even though I (as Ishvara or the Lord of the Universe) am the creator of these divisions of labor, I, as an Imperishable Brahman, am not the doer of anything. (13)

(Note: In general, people have natural tendencies or gifts to live their life accordingly and based on these tendencies and gifts they have various ways to offer service to society. Some people have natural tendencies to acquire knowledge and teach others, some are good at taking care of the health of people, some are good in doing business, and some have physical and mental tendencies to join army or police force or fire department, while some are good in doing work laid out by others. For a society to run smoothly, all kinds of people are needed and all are equally important in the society. According to the Bhagavad Gita, these tendencies are determined by the three gunas, namely sattva, rajas and tamas.

Brahman has been described as Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, the ground of all existence, basis of all awareness, and the source of all bliss. Brahman is also considered Pure Consciousness. Brahman by itself is inactive. Brahman and Its Divine Power Maya combined are called Saguna Brahman or Ishvara or God, the Lord of the Universe who creates, sustains and dissolves the universe.)

Action does not defile Me (as Brahman), nor do I long for its fruit. One who knows Me thus does not get bound by his/her action. (14)

(Note: One who realizes one’s true identity as Atman or Brahman feels oneself as a witness consciousness and not as a body and mind. Laws of actions apply to only body and mind which are nothing but matter.)

By knowing this, the seekers of the Ultimate Reality have performed their actions in the past. Therefore, you should also perform your actions like them. (15)

Even the wise people have been confused about ‘what is action’ and ‘what is inaction (action-less-ness)’. Therefore, I am going to tell you the ‘essence of the action’ (Karma Yoga) by knowing which you will be free from the unpleasant consequences of the actions. (16)

The philosophy of Karma Yoga is very deep. You have to know which actions to perform and how to perform them. Then, you have to know the forbidden actions and the state of action-less-ness. (17)

The Highest State of a Karma Yogi:

(Note: A person in a state of action-less-ness has a steady intellect as described in the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 (shlokas 55- 72). We call such a person as ‘action-less-ness person’. The mind of an action-less-ness person is serene. Such a person is fully aware of one’s divine identity (Atman). An action-less-ness person remains calm and serene in the midst of all activities. The calmness and serenity of such a person creates an illusion that the person is not doing anything. In the following shlokas Shri Krishna describes the characteristics of a person who has been established in the state of action-less-ness. This person has attained the highest state of Karma Yoga.)

Among all human beings, that person is wise who remains calm and serene (the state of action-less-ness) in the midst of activities and who is active in the state of action-less-ness. Such a person is a real Karma Yogi and he/she is performing all the actions properly. (18)

According to the wise people, a sage is a person whose all actions are free from selfish desires and self-will and the results of all his/her actions have been burnt by the fire of Knowledge of Brahman. (19)

(Note: Such a person performs his/her responsibilities as an offering to Brahman. This means that one performs one’s own responsibilities only for spiritual development which leads to the realization of the Ultimate Reality (also means attaining the Knowledge of Brahman). In this case, we say that the person has renounced the results of his/her actions.)

A person, who has renounced the results of his/her actions, who is not dependent on any person or a worldly object, and who is ever content, remains in the state of action-less-ness even when he/she is performing actions. (20)

A person, who has gained total control over one’s senses and mind, lives with the bare necessities of life, gets rid of unnecessary possessions, and has no false hopes in life, that person even though works through his/her body and mind does not incurs sins (does not get bounded by the unpleasant consequences of his/her actions). (21)

(Note: Such a person is fully aware that his/her true identity is Atman which is witness consciousness and it does not get affected by the actions of the body and mind. Such a person never does an unrighteous thing.)

One who is happy with whatever one gains through honest effort, never becomes jealous of anyone, has gone beyond the pairs of opposites such as joy and sorrow, honor and insults and others, remains calm in success and failures and continues performing one’s responsibilities; such a person never becomes bound by the results of his/her actions. (22)

A person, whose attachment to the worldly objects is gone, who is free from the ideas of ‘Me and Mine’, whose mind is constantly focused on his/her true identity (Atman), who performs one’s responsibilities as an offering to Brahman, the results of that person’s actions melt away without creating any positive or negative effect on his/her mind. (23)

(Note: The following shloka describes the state of mind of one who performs one’s responsibilities as an offering to Brahman like a Yajna.)

Brahman is the ingredients of the offering and Brahman is the offering. Brahman is the person who offers into the fire of Brahman. Thus, one who sees that Brahman alone is in action attains Brahman. (24)

Some yogis offer their oblations to Devas (gods), while others offer their own little self into the fire of Brahman (meaning they get rid of their false identification with the body and mind). (25)

Some yogis offer their senses like eyes, ears and others into the fire of self-discipline (meaning they control their senses), while other yogis offer their sound and other sense-objects into the fire of their senses (meaning they hear only what is good etc.). (26)

Some yogis offer all the activities of their senses and their vital forces into the fire of self-control, kindled by knowledge. (27)

(Note: The above shloka means that these yogis perform their activities with a sense of discrimination in order to acquire the knowledge of Atman or Brahman).

Some perform yajna (offering) of wealth (to give money for charity). Some perform yajna of austerity (to perform austerities to attain knowledge or to acquire some powers). Some perform yajna of Yoga (to achieve control over their senses and mind and focus their minds on Atman). Some yogis, having a disciplined mind and practicing severe vows, perform yajna of study (to study scriptures to obtain knowledge). (28)

Some offer their prana into apana, some offer apana into prana and some restraining their diet stop prana and apana and offer prana into prana (here various kinds of breathing practices have been mentioned through which people try to control their mind). These are various yajnas by which yogis destroy their sins (impurities). (29-30)

O Kurusattama (Arjuna)! Yogis, who enjoy the results of their actions after offering them to Brahman, attain Brahman. But, those who do not offer their actions to Brahman and perform their actions for selfish motives do not get happiness in this world and definitely not in the other world after they die. (31)

(Note: The actions offered to Brahman are for spiritual growth and to realize the Ultimate Reality, Brahman. As the nature of Brahman is Sat-Chit-Ananda, yogis who attain Brahman experience infinite bliss. While, unoffered actions (selfish actions) may bring some happiness, but, such happiness is short-lived and it always follows by unhappiness.)

Thus, there are various kinds of yajnas which have been described in the Vedas. Know that these yajnas are born of action. If you perform your actions as yajnas, then you will be free from the bondage of your actions. (32)

The ‘Yajna of Knowledge’ is superior to the ‘Yajna performed with Material Ingredients’. All actions culminate in the Knowledge of Brahman. (33)

(Note: Ritualistic worship or a yajna performed with ingredients without motive to attain the highest knowledge is not of much importance. The action offered to Brahman with the motive of obtaining Self-Knowledge is the best yajna. Only Knowledge of Brahman can destroy all bondage of our actions. Shri Krishna encourages Arjuna to acquire the Knowledge of Brahman.)

How to acquire Knowledge of Brahman?

Respectfully approach the wise people who have acquired the Knowledge of Brahman, offer them your salutations, serve them, and ask proper questions with humility and sincerity. Then, they will guide you to the path of Knowledge of Brahman. (34)

What happens after acquiring the Knowledge of Brahman?

Once you realize Brahman, you will not get deluded in this world. Through this knowledge, you will see all beings in your Self and then in Me (Brahman). (35)

The glories of Self-Knowledge (Knowledge of Brahman):

(Note: Arjuna has told Shri Krishna that he would incur sin by fighting this war. Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that if he performs his responsibility as a soldier to protect the righteous people as an offering to Brahman, then with the Knowledge of Brahman his sins will be destroyed.)

Even if you are the foremost sinner, with the boat of Knowledge of Brahman, you will cross the ocean of sins. (36)

(Note: Since Arjuna had no motive to kill people and was forced to fight, Shri Krishna says that by performing his responsibility in the proper spirit and with the Knowledge of Brahman, his conscience will be clear after the war.)

O Arjuna! As a blazing fire burns all wood to ashes, the Knowledge of Brahman destroys all the consequences of the actions. (37)

On this earth, there is no purifier like the Knowledge of Brahman. In the course of time, a person who has become perfect through the practices of Karma Yoga attains this Knowledge of Brahman within oneself. (38)

Who attains this knowledge?

A person who is full of faith and zeal and has control over one’s senses and mind attains this Knowledge of Brahman. Having attained this knowledge, he/she soon experiences supreme peace within. (39)

Destroy the doubts:

People who are ignorant, devoid of faith, and enjoy living in doubts bring destruction to themselves. A person who doubts everything will not experience happiness and to him/her neither this world nor another world will be good. (40)

(Note: The following shloka gives the essence of Karma Yoga.)

O Dhanajaya (Arjuna)! One, who has offered all his/her actions to Brahman, has destroyed one’s doubts by the Knowledge of Brahman, and has obtained total self-control will not get bound by his/her actions. (41)

Therefore, with the sword of Knowledge of Brahman, destroy the doubt that has been created by the ignorance in your heart, establish yourself in Karma Yoga and arise to perform your responsibility. (42)

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Fourth Chapter, entitled “The Path of Renunciation of Actions – Leading to Knowledge”.

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy and Rushil Desai for editing this post.)


The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3:  The Path of Action (Karma Yoga)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3:

The Path of Action (Karma Yoga)

Arjuna asked, “O Janardana (Krishna)! If you think that Knowledge of Brahman is superior to the Path of Action, then why do you engage me in this terrible action of fighting the war? (1)

My intellect gets confused with contradictory thoughts. Please tell one thing which definitely leads me to the Highest Goal. (2)

Shri Krishna said, “O Pure Minded Arjuna! I have described two kinds of paths in this world, namely “The Path of Knowledge” for the people who follow Sankhya Yoga and “The Path of Action” for the people who follow Karma Yoga. (3)

No one can attain ‘action-less-ness”, the highest state of Karma Yoga, by not performing any action. On the other hand, no one can attain the Highest Knowledge by simply renouncing all actions. (4)

Know for certain that even for a second, no person can remain without performing any action. All people are forced to perform actions by the three gunas created by the Prakriti (the Power of Brahman). (5)

A deluded person who forcefully controls his/her senses, but cherishes the sense-pleasures in the mind is called a hypocrite. (6)

But one who controls one’s senses through the mind, and by remaining unattached, engages the senses in the performance of actions, following the path of Karma Yoga, is indeed superior. (7)

Perform your responsibilities assigned by nature and as described in the scriptures. It is better to perform action than to remain inactive.  Even to keep one’s body alive one has to perform action. (8)

(Note: Each person is born in a particular space, time, and surrounding situation. According to these space-time-situations, one has allotted responsibilities.)

People get bound by their actions if they are not performed as an offering to God. Therefore, O Arjuna! Perform your responsibilities in a detached spirit and as an offering to God. (9)

The Creator Prajapati (Brahma) created human beings and the Yajna (sacrifices) in the beginning of the cycle and said, “May you multiply by these sacrifices. May these sacrifices be the ‘Cow of Plenty’ which fulfills your desires.” (10)

(Note: The Sanskrit word “Yajna” literally means a ritualistic worship described in the Vedas. In a broader sense, any action is “Yajna” if it is done as an offering to God or for one’s spiritual development. Such an action is also called ‘a sacrifice.’)

Prajapati continued, “With these ‘Yajnas’ you nourish the gods (the powers which control the environment) and may the gods nourish you. Thus, nourishing each other, you will obtain the Highest Good. The gods nourished by the ‘Yajnas’ will bestow on you the desired enjoyments. A person who enjoys worldly pleasures that were not given by the gods is a thief.” (11-12)

Good people, who eat the remnant of the “Yajnas” become free from their sins; but those wicked people who cook only for themselves without offering it as “Yajna” verily eat sin. (13)

(Note: Eating sins is like living a selfish life.)

From food all creatures are born. Food comes because of rain. From “Yajnas” comes rain. “Yajnas” (sacrifices) come from actions. Actions are prescribed in the Vedas and the Vedas arise from the Imperishable Brahman. Therefore, the all-pervading Brahman always resides in the “Yajnas” (sacrifices). (14-15)

Thus the wheel was set in motion. One who does not follow this, but takes delight in the selfish pleasures and commits sins lives in vain. (16)

But if one rejoices to be one with the Self (Atman), remains fully satisfied with the Self, and is content in the Self alone, such a person does not have any responsibility to perform.  Such a great soul has nothing left to accomplish in this universe for which he/she has to work, nor does he/she lose anything from any action which is not performed. Such a soul has no selfish motive in his/her relationship with others.  (17-18)

(Note: All the actions of such a great soul are unselfish and beneficial to humanity.)

Therefore, remain always detached and perform your responsibilities. By performing one’s responsibilities without any attachment one realizes the Ultimate Reality (Brahman).  (19)

(Note: Performing responsibility with detachment means to perform it as an offering to God (Brahman) or for to perform for one’s own spiritual (inner) development. First one starts as ‘Work and Worship,’ then it becomes ‘Work as Worship’ and ultimately it becomes ‘Work is Worship.’ To understand more about detachment, one has to study and practice Swami Vivekananda’s lectures on Karma Yoga.)

By performing actions alone in the detached spirit, King Janaka and otherwise people have attained the Supreme Knowledge (or Perfection). Further, you should perform your responsibility in this way even to set a good example in society. (20)

Whatever the great people do, people follow them.  Whatever standards they set in the world, others try to attain. (21)

O Arjuna! I have no responsibility in the world. There is nothing in these three worlds that I have not gained and nothing that remains to be gained. But, I continue to work. (22)

If I do not engage Myself continuously in action, then there will be great harm in society because people follow Me in everything. If I do not perform My responsibilities, then all people will do the same and they will be destroyed. They will either do whatever they want or choose not to perform their responsibilities at all and thus they will destroy themselves. Therefore, I would become the cause of their destruction. (23-24)

O Bharata (Arjuna)! The unattached and wise people, wishing the welfare of all, should perform their actions with the same zeal as ignorant people, who are attached to the world, perform their actions. (25)

An enlightened person should not disturb the mind-set of those who are attached to their actions.  But, he/she should perform actions with the proper spirit and help others to do the same. (26)

Actually, all people are forced to work by the three gunas of the Prakriti.  Only a deluded, egoistic person thinks that “I am performing all actions.” (27)

O Mighty Armed Arjuna! One who knows the truth about ‘the gunas and the actions’ and ‘the Atman being as a witness consciousness’ remains unattached to all actions, realizing that the gunas are forcing the senses to perform these actions. (28)

Those who are under the spell of the three gunas, remain attached to the actions which were forced on them by the gunas. A person who has full understanding of the activities of the three gunas should not disturb the minds of those who have little understanding about them. (29)

Keeping your mind focused on the Self (Atman), offer all actions to Me (Brahman). Thus, you will free your mind from worldly desires and selfishness. Then, perform your responsibility as a warrior to fight without being perturbed by grief. (30)

Those who follow this advice of Mine, having faith in Me and without any complaint, will be free from the bondage of their actions. (31)

Those who are skeptical about this teaching and do not follow it, know that these senseless people blinded to all wisdom are heading towards their own destruction. (32)

All people, including the knowledgeable ones, are working under the dictate of Prakriti. It is useless to try to do otherwise. (33)

Attachment and aversion are engraved in the senses towards their sense-objects. You should not be controlled by them. They are the enemies in the path to perfection (the Highest Knowledge). (34)

One’s own unpleasant responsibility, even if ill-performed, is better than the well-performed, pleasant-looking responsibility of another.  It is better to die performing one’s own responsibility. There is a great danger in performing other people’s responsibilities. (35)

Arjuna asked, “O Krishna! Under what compulsion do people unwillingly commit sin as if they are forced by it?” (36)

Shri Krishna said, “Know that desire and anger are all-devouring and they are the cause of all sin. They arise by the rajo-guna and are our enemy in this world. As smoke covers fire, dirt covers a mirror, and an amniotic sac covers the fetus, desire and anger cover knowledge of our true identity. (37-38)

(Note: Sri Ramakrishna said that one has to conquer lust and greed as they cover our true identity.)

O Arjuna! Know that this desire is like a fire which cannot be quenched by any amount of ghee or wood we put into it. The Ultimate Knowledge of a person is covered by his/her worldly desires. A person who is seeking the Supreme Knowledge should consider these worldly desires as an enemy. (39)

(Note: A person’s worldly desires (especially lust and greed) cannot be fulfilled no matter how many ways one tries to fulfill them. The more we try to fulfill our worldly desires, the more they  multiply and intensify like the fire with the ghee or the wood.)

The senses, the mind, and the intellect are the abode of worldly desires and through them they cover the supreme knowledge of a person that he/she is nothing but the Self (Atman). (40)

Therefore, O Arjuna! Control your senses and destroy the worldly desires which cover the supreme knowledge and the wisdom of a person. (41)

The senses are stronger than the worldly objects. The mind is superior to the senses. The intellect (discriminating power) is superior to the mind. The Self (Atman) is superior to the intellect. (42)

O Mighty Armed Arjuna! With your pure intellect realize the supremacy of the Self, and with it control your mind and destroy this worldly desire, the enemy which is most powerful and difficult to conquer. (43)

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Third Chapter, entitled “The Path of Action.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy and Rushil Desai for editing this post.)


The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2:  The Path of Knowledge (Part II – Shlokas 39 – 72)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2: 

The Path of Knowledge (Part II – Shlokas 39 – 72)

Shri Krishna said, “O Partha (Arjuna) whatever I told you so far is from the ‘Knowledge of the Ultimate Reality’ point of view. Now, I will tell you from the Karma Yoga point of view. This will help you to perform your responsibility without being bound by its consequences. (39)

In this path of Karma Yoga (the path of action) no effort is ever lost and there is no ill consequence of any action. Even a small effort made in this path saves a person from the Great Fear (the cycle of birth and death). (40)

O Kurunandan (Arjuna)! In this path, a Karma Yogi possesses single-minded determination and purposefulness. The thoughts of the people who do not follow Karma Yoga and just work for their selfish reasons such as sense pleasures, worldly gain, and heaven are irresolute. Their thoughts go in all directions and never become conclusive. (41)

No resolute and unwavering thought is formed in the minds of those who:

(1) are deeply attached to pleasure and power,

(2) allow their discrimination to be stolen by the flowery words of the unwise,

(3) permit their souls to be ridden with desires,

(4) regard the attainment of heaven as the highest goal,

(5) think that the Vedas (the scriptures) promise rebirths as the reward of their actions and lay down specific rites for the attainment of pleasure and power, and

(6) take great delight in quoting the ritualistic parts of the scriptures which promise enjoyment in heaven as the fruit of sacrifices and worship, and declare that besides these, there is nothing more to attain from the scriptures. (42-44)

O Arjuna! The Vedas deal with the three Gunas; you must go beyond the three Gunas. Remain balanced in the pairs of opposites like joy and sorrow, praise and blame, etc. Establish yourself in Sattva. Do not desire any worldly thing which you do not have and do not try to preserve what you have. Remain steadily focused on your Self (Atman). (45)

When everything is flooded with water from all sides, one does not need a reservoir of water. Similarly, when a person realizes the Ultimate Reality (Brahman), he/she has attained the highest goal described in the Vedas and has no further need of the Vedas. (46)

(Note: Sri Ramakrishna said that if a relative asks you in a letter to bring a couple of things, once you acquire these things, the letter is no longer important.)

You are entitled to perform an action, but you have no control over its result. Let not the result of the action be your motive to work. You should not be inclined to be inactive either. (47)

(Note: A seeker of the highest truth works only for inner spiritual development and wishes to acquire knowledge and devotion by performing any action. He/she is not interested in worldly gain or loss.)

O Dhananjaya (Arjuna): Perform your responsibilities remaining unattached towards their results and keep your mind balanced in success and failure. Performing responsibilities with a balanced mind is called Yoga. (48)

The performance of those who work for worldly results is inferior to those who work for the highest knowledge. Therefore, acquire the attitude to work for the highest knowledge. The people who work for the worldly results are beggars. (49)

(Note: The highest knowledge or the goal of spiritual development is to realize that our true identity is Divine which is called the Self or Atman and that Brahman is the Ultimate Reality underlying the whole universe. Brahman relative to an individual is called Atman. The nature of Atman and Brahman is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute).)

A person with a balanced mind goes beyond the ideas of acquiring merits to go to heaven and the worries of sins to go to hell. Therefore, perform your responsibilities to acquire the highest knowledge, keeping your mind balanced. Skillfully performing all responsibilities to acquire the highest knowledge is called Yoga. (50)

Wise people, keeping their mind balanced, perform actions for the highest knowledge and thus renounce worldly results. They then become free from the bondage of the results of their actions. Ultimately, they attain the state which is beyond all evil. (51)

When your intellect gets rid of delusion, then you will be indifferent to the various ideologies you have heard and many yet to be heard. (52)

Your intellect has been confused by various ideologies you have heard. When your intellect is established firmly in the Self (Atman), then you will attain the goal of Yoga (Self-Realization). (53)

Characteristics of a person with steady intellect:

Arjuna asked, “O Keshava (Shri Krishna)! What are the characteristics of a person whose intellect has been steadily established in the Self? How does such a person speak and behave in the world? (54)

Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! When a person has cast off all worldly desires from his/her mind and is completely satisfied to remain focused in the Self (Atman) alone, then that person is called a person of steady intellect. (55)

(Note: A person with a steady intellect has been fully convinced that the world cannot give him/her the infinite bliss, love, satisfaction, knowledge, immortality, fearlessness, and freedom which he/she can get from realizing one’s true identity (Atman). That is why such a person gives up all worldly desires.)

When a person does not get disturbed or depressed by the sufferings of the world, does not seek any longer-lasting happiness in the world, and has given up attachment, fear, and anger, such a person is said to be of a steady intellect or steady wisdom. (56)

One who is not attached to anyone and loves all equally, and does not get elated or agitated when good or evil things come, such a person is said to have a steady intellect. (57)

As a turtle withdraws its limbs when it is in danger, if a person completely withdraws one’s senses from worldly objects, then that person is said to have steady wisdom (or steady intellect). (58)

(Note: This means that one may work with one’s senses in the world, but should keep the mind focused on the Atman so that the mind does not get deviated by the sense-experiences.)

Many times people withdraw their senses from their objects, but their taste (desire) for sense-enjoyment does not go away. However, even the taste (desire) of sense-enjoyment drops away from a person who has realized the Highest Truth (Brahman). (59)

(Note: A person who has realized Brahman experiences infinite bliss within and all other sense-pleasures become so insignificant that they do not attract the person, just as the light of the moon becomes insignificant when the sun comes out.)

O Arjuna! The turbulent senses forcefully drag away even the mind of a wise person who is making efforts to realize the Ultimate Reality (Brahman). (60)

Therefore, a wise person should control all senses and focus his/her mind on Me (Brahman). A person attains steady wisdom (intellect) when all his/her senses are under control. (61)

How a person falls:

– By thinking about sense objects, one develops attachment to those objects.

– From attachment arises the desire to attain these objects.

– When obstacles come in the way of fulfilling these desires, then anger comes.

– Anger covers the mind with one thought and deludes a person.

– In the state of delusion, one forgets all the good things one has heard in the past.

– With such a loss of memory, one loses the sense of discrimination that enables him/her to distinguish right from wrong.

– When the power of discrimination is gone, then that person falls from righteousness. (62-63)

On the other hand, a person with self-control, moving among objects with his/her senses under restraint, and free from attachment and hate, attains serenity of mind. (64)

The serenity of the mind removes all sufferings of the world because the intellect of a person with a serene mind is easily focused on the Self (Atman). (65)

A person who does not have control over his/her senses cannot have a steady intellect. A person without a steady intellect cannot have the inclination to realize the Self (Atman). Without realizing the Self there is no peace of mind. How can a person be happy without peace of mind? (66)

Even one of the roving senses, if the mind yields to it, carries away the intellect (the discriminating power) as a storm carries away a boat in the river. (67)

Therefore O Mighty Armed (Arjuna)! A person has steady wisdom when his/her senses are completely restrained from their objects. (68)

In that which is night to all beings, a person with self-control is awake; where all beings are awake, a person with self-control (who is the seeker of the Ultimate Reality) sleeps. (69)

(Note:  This means that whereas most people are enthusiastic and active to acquire sense-pleasures, the seeker of the Ultimate Reality does not have much interest in such endeavors. On the other hand, a seeker of Self-Knowledge is very enthusiastic to make spiritual efforts, though people seeking sense-pleasures do not have much interest in those efforts.)

Those who are seeking sense-pleasures do not attain peace of mind. But, peace is attained by a person in whom all the desires enter and get absorbed without creating any disturbance in the mind just as an ocean being full to its brim with water remains clam and grounded even though many rivers dump their water into it. (70)

A person who lives completely free from worldly desires, without longing, devoid of the sense of “Me and Mine” and is egoless attains peace. (71)

O Arjuna! This is the state of a person who has attained the Self-Knowledge (the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, Brahman). By attaining this state one never becomes deluded. Being established therein, even in the hour of death, one attains final liberation in Brahman. (72).

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Second Chapter, entitled “The Path of Knowledge.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy and Rushil Desai for editing this post.)


The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2:  The Path of Knowledge (Part I – Shlokas 1 – 38)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2: 

The Path of Knowledge (Part I – Shlokas 1 – 38)

Sanjaya said, “Arjuna was overwhelmed with pity and despondency. His eyes were agitated and filled with tears. Lord Madhusudan (Shri Krishna) told the following things to Arjuna.” (1)

Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! How come this delusion has covered your mind at this critical time? Neither this attitude is fitting for a noble person, nor does it give honor to a person, nor does it take one to heaven. (2)

O Partha (Arjuna)! Don’t be a coward! It does not befit you. Remove this low-level weakness from your heart and stand up! You are actually the scorcher of enemies.” (3)

Arjuna said, “O Madhusudan (Shri Krishna)! In war, how can I shoot arrows at the grandsire Bhishma and my teacher Drona? They are worthy of worship. (4)

I think it is better for me to live on alms than to kill these respectable teachers. By killing them, I will only enjoy in this world the wealth and objects of desires filled with their blood. (5)

We do not know which is better for us: to fight or not to fight. We do not know who will win at the end. And we do not wish to live by killing our cousins, the sons of Dhritarashtra, who are in the opposite army. (6)

My mind has been possessed by pity and I am really confused about my duty. Please tell me what is good for me in this situation. I take refuge at your feet. I am your student. Please guide me. (7)

Even if I become a king of a large prosperous kingdom without any enemy or obtain the lordship over the gods in heaven, I do not see a way to overcome the sorrow which burns up my senses.” (8)

Sanjaya said, “O King Dhritarashtra! Having said this, Arjuna, who is the scorcher of enemies, told Shri Krishna that “I will not fight.” and sat quietly. (9)

Then, Shri Krishna, in the middle of two armies, told the grief-stricken Arjuna the following things with a smile.” (10)

(Note: Shri Krishna is a great teacher and a guide. It is interesting to know how in various ways he explains to Arjuna why it is good for him to perform his duty. First, he explains from the philosophical (Atman) point of view. We also can learn from these teachings why we should continue to perform our responsibility in critical situations.)

Shri Krishna said, “You are grieving for the people who should not be grieved for. You talk like a wise person, but the wise do not grieve for the living or those who are not living. (11)

It is not true that these kings, you, or I were not living in the past nor not living in the future.  Wise people are always aware that the soul (Atman) of an individual gets another body after death just as an individual in one’s own body goes through stages like childhood, adulthood and old age. (12-13)

O Son of Kunti (Arjuna)! Because of the contact of the senses with their objects, one feels heat and cold and joy and sorrow. These dualities always come and go. They are temporary. O Bharata (Arjuna)! You have to endure them. (14)

O the Best among the Human Beings (Arjuna)! Knowing this cause of joy and sorrow, a wise person does not get disturbed. Thus, such a wise person, remaining calm in joy and sorrow, is fit to realize the immortality of the soul (Atman). (15)

The wise people who have realized the Ultimate Reality (the Highest Truth) have observed that ‘the unreal does not exist and the Real never perishes.’ (16)

The One (Brahman) which pervades the whole universe is Imperishable. No one can destroy this Imperishable. The bodies of human beings are perishable, but the Atman residing within is imperishable and incomprehensible. Therefore, O Bharata (Arjuna)! You must perform your duty as a soldier to fight. Both types of people, one who thinks that ‘I kill the Atman’ and the one who thinks that ‘The Atman is being killed,’ do not know that the Atman does not kill and does not get killed. (17-18-19)

This Atman was never born and It never dies. It is not that at some point the Atman is born and then It dies. This Atman is birth-less, eternal, and ancient. This Atman does not die when the body dies. (20)

O Partha (Arjuna)! If one knows that the Atman is imperishable, eternal, unborn, and immutable, how then can that person think that he/she slays or is the cause for another to slay? (21)

(Note: One should not misinterpret these teachings as a justification to kill anyone. That kind of interpretation is completely wrong and distorted. Shri Krishna had made all efforts to stop the war, but the Pandavas (and in particular Arjuna) were forced to fight for their survival and they had no other choice left. We always have to keep in mind this situation when we read these teachings. On the other hand, the deeper understanding that the Atman is imperishable may help us in carrying out our responsibility in various situations.)

As we get rid of worn-out clothes and put on new clothes, the Jivatma (the embodied Atman) gets rid of the old body and put on a new body. (22)

The Atman is Imperishable. Weapons cannot destroy the Atman, fire cannot burn It, water cannot drown It and the wind cannot blow It.  (23)

The Atman can neither be destroyed, nor be burnt, nor be drowned, and nor be blown. The Atman is eternal, all-pervading, immovable, unchangeable and ancient. This Atman is said to be Un-manifest, beyond comprehension, and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing Atman the way it has been described, you should not grieve.  (24-25)

(Note: Now in the next two shlokas, Shri Krishna talks from the layman’s point of view and then again goes back to the philosophy of the Ultimate Reality of the Atman.)

O Mighty Armed Arjuna! Even if you think that this Atman is born with the body and dies with it, you should not grieve, because whatever is born dies and whatever dies is born again, and you cannot do anything about it. (26-27)

All beings were un-manifested before their birth and again become un-manifested after death. They manifest only in the middle. In this situation, what is there to grieve about?  (28)

Some look on this Atman as a wonder; some speak of It as a wonder; some hear about It as a wonder; still others, though hearing, do not understand It at all. (29)

O Bharata (Arjuna)! The Atman which dwells in all bodies is Imperishable. Therefore, you should not grieve for any being. (30)

(Note: In the next six shlokas, Shri Krishna tells Arjuna why it is good for him to perform his responsibilities as a trained warrior from the practical point of view.)

You should not waver from your responsibility as a warrior on the battlefield knowing that the war is unpleasant. For a warrior, there is nothing better than to die fighting for a righteous cause. (31)

O Partha (Arjuna)! Only blessed warriors get such unsought war opening a gate to heaven. On the other hand, if you do not fight this righteous war, then you will incur sin by forsaking your responsibility and honor. (32-33)

If you do not fight, then for years people will talk about your infamy. For an honorable person, dishonor is more painful than death. The great warriors will think that you have run away from the battlefield due to fear.  Also those, who have high regard for you as a warrior, will look down upon you. (34-35)

Your enemies and ill-wishers will make degrading comments about your lack of strength and vigor to fight a war.  Nothing will be more painful than to listen to these remarks.  (36)

If you get killed fighting a war for the righteous cause, then you will go to heaven and if you win, then you will enjoy a large kingdom. Therefore, O Son of Kunti (Arjuna)! Arise and resolve to fight. (37)

Consider the pairs of opposites like pain and pleasure, benefit and loss, and victory or defeat as different stages of life. They are not different from the absolute point of view. Be ready to perform your duty as a warrior to fight. By doing this you will not incur any sin. (38)

End of Gita Chapter two Part I.

(Note: In the year of 1973, at my graduate school, City University of New York, I was talking to couple of classmates about India and Indian culture. In that conversation Bhagavad Gita came up as a topic of discussion. I remembered one classmate said, “Oh! Bhagavad Gita! Is that about an archer who did not want to fight a war and God (Krishna) told him to fight the war?” I just smiled and asked the classmate whether he knew about the reason for the war, the circumstances which led to the war, and the efforts made by Krishna to prevent the war? He did not know any of this.

I told him that Shri Krishna went to the opposite party (King Duryodhana’s court) as a peace-making messenger to prevent the war.  Duryoudhana walked out of the court, insulting Krishna. Even though Pandavas deserved half of the kingdom, Duryodhana said that Pandavas would have to fight even for a piece land that fits on the tip of a blade of grass. Shri Krishna went to Duryodhana’s father, who simply said that his son (Duryodhana) did not listen to him. Shri Krishna went to Bhishma and Drona to prevent the war. Bhishma and Drona both knew that this was an unrighteous war, but they had been bound by their obligations. Thus, Shri Krishna made all his efforts to prevent the war, but he failed. He came back with a heavy heart to tell Pandavas that they had no choice left but to go to war. Moreover, I told my classmate how despite the various ways in which Duryodhana and his cousins tried to kill the Pandavas, the Pandavas were able to survive. Duryodhana cheated the Pandavas and took away their kingdom, with the goal to destroy the righteous Pandavas; just see how much they had to suffer in their lives!  Arjuna was the Pandavas’ main hope to survive.

Another important point is that the teachings of Upanishads were given in Ashramas, which were like universities in wooded areas. All the Upanishads’ teachings were related to the fundamental questions of life, like, ‘What is the purpose of life (if there is any)?’, ‘What is my true identity?’, ‘What is my relationship with others?’, ‘What is the nature and the purpose of the universe?’, ‘What is the goal of a human life?’. The Upanishads give answers to all these questions. But, these answers are philosophical answers. How to practice these thoughts in our day-to-day life is very important. That is why Bhagavad Gita is most important. Shri Krishna told Arjuna how to apply the teachings of the Upanishads in the critical time of his life. With Arjuna, we can learn how to apply Bhagavad Gita’s teachings in the critical time of our life. What could be more critical in our life than Arjuna’s situation In the middle of the battle-field where he was forced to fight with his own relatives? Bhagavad Gita teach us very practical ideas such as, ‘How to live in the world keeping our mind balanced?’, ‘How to acquire the highest knowledge and unbroken bliss while living in the world?’, ‘What are the values we can practice in our life?’, ‘How to love all unselfishly?’ and many others.)

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy and Rushil Desai for editing this post.)


The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1: The Path of Arjuna’s Grief

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1: 

The Path of Arjuna’s Grief

Dhritarashtra said, “O Sanjaya! My sons and the sons of Pandu have gathered in the sacred field of Kurukshetra in order to fight a war with each other. What did they do? (1)

Sanjaya said, “The King Duryodhana observed the formation of the Pandavas’ army. Then, he went to his army teacher Drona and said, “O Teacher! Behold the formation of the huge army of the sons of Pandu arrayed by your talented student Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Dhrupada. (2-3)

In this army, there are mighty archers and heroes, in battle equal to Bhima and Arjuna, Yuyudhana, Virata, and Dhrupada. Each one is a Maharathi, one who can single-handedly fight several archers simultaneously; the heroic Dhrishtaketu, Chekitana, and the valiant king of Kashi; Purujit, Kuntibhoja, and Shaibya, all the best of men; the powerful Yudhamanyu, brave Uttamauja, Subhadra’s son Abhimanyu, and the five sons of Draupadi–all Maharathas indeed. (4-6)

O Great Brahmin! Please recognize the main warriors on our side. For your information, I will tell the names of the main leaders of our army. They are you, Bhishma, Karna, the ever-victorious in war Krupacharya, Ashwatthama, Vikarna, and Somadatta’s son Bhurishrava. (7-8)

(Note:  Addressing Drona as a Brahmin on the battlefield is an insult to Drona.)

There are many brave warriors who are ready to die for me. They are well equipped with various weapons and are clever in fighting. (9)

(Note:  See the ego of Duryodhana in saying that “they are ready to die for me.” He also told the truth –that these people were fighting for Duryodhana and not for a just cause.)

We have unlimited power because we are all protected by Bhishma, while the opposite army is limited in power as they are protected by Bhima. Therefore, all the leaders remaining in their own positions in your divisions definitely protect Bhishma alone from all the sides. (10-11)

(Note: Duryodhana could only mention seven names of the leaders of his army. Also, he chose only Bhima’s name from the opposite army, because he was afraid that Bhima could kill him in mace-battle.)

At that time, the oldest of the Kurus and mighty grandsire Bhishma roared like a lion and blew a conch to create joy in the heart of Duryodhana. (12)

(Note: I think Bhishma knew the ultimate outcome of the war and he wanted to finish the whole matter, so he made the first move.)

Then, together the conches blew, war-drums started beating, and other war-instruments like tabors and cow-horns blared forth. The sound of all these things created a terrible, stupendous sound. (13)

Then, Shri Krishna and Arjuna blew their divine conches from their magnificent chariot yoked by white horses. (14)

(Note:  From the Pandavas’ side, Shri Krishna blew the first conch.)

Shri Krishna blew the Panchjanya conch and Arjuna blew the Devadatta conch. Mighty Bhima, who does terrible deeds in the fight, blew the Paundra conch. King Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, blew the Anantavijaya conch, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosha conch and Manipushpaka conch respectively. (15-16)

O King Dhritarashtra! The great archer, the king of Kashi, the great warrior Shikhandi, Dhrishtadyumna, Virata, the unconquered Satyaki, King Dhrupada, five sons of Draupadi, and the mighty-armed Abhimanyu, the son of Subhadra, blew their conches from all the sides of the Pandava army. That terrible sound filled the sky and the earth and pierced the hearts of all the people of Dhritarashtra. (17-19)

Then, by seeing Dhritarashtra’s army ready to start the war, Arjuna lifted up his bow and asked Shri Krishna, “O Achyuta (Shri Krishna)! Please take my chariot in the middle of the two armies. I want to see who are the war-mongers gathered here in the opposite army and decide with whom I am going to fight.  I really want to know all the kings who are supporting the evil-minded Duryodhana and gathered here to fight for him.” (20-23)

(Note: See the spirit of mighty Arjuna.)

Sanjaya said, “O Dhritarashtra! Upon Arjuna’s request, Shri Krishna drove his chariot in the middle of the two armies and stopped it, facing Bhishma, Drona, and other kings. Then Shri Krishna said, “O Partha (Arjuna)! Behold all the Kurus assembled here.” (24-25)

Then, Arjuna saw arrayed in the armies (on both the sides) fathers and grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles and brothers, sons and grandsons, friends, fathers-in-laws and comrades. Looking at the relatives, Arjuna, the son of Kunti, was overcome with deep pity and said in a sorrowful voice:

Arjuna said, “O Krishna! By seeing my relatives gathered here to fight a war, all my senses are losing their power, my mouth is drying out, my body has tremors and I have goose-bumps all over. My Gandiva bow is slipping from my hand, my skin is burning, I am feeling dizzy, and I cannot stand on my feet. (26-30)

O Keshava (Krishna)! I see bad omens and I do not see any good in killing my relatives in the war. I do not desire victory, the kingdom, or happiness. What is the use of such a kingdom or the enjoyment or even to live after killing my relatives? (31-32)

Our teachers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, sons, grandsons, fathers-in-law, brothers-in-law, and other relatives, for whose sake we desire kingdom, enjoyments, and happiness, are arrayed here in battle having staked their wealth and lives. (33-34)

O Madhusudan (Krishna)! I would not kill them even though they kill me. I would not kill them even if I were to acquire the three worlds, then what to talk about this little earth? (35)

O Janardana (Shri Krishna)! What joy can we have by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra? We incur only sins by killing these criminals. O Madhava (Shri Krishna)! Therefore, we should not kill our own cousins. By killing our own relatives, how can we be happy? (36-37)

Even though greed has overpowered their minds and they do not see the evil in destroying their own families and incurring sins in being hostile towards friends, should not we, who clearly see the evil in destroying our families, think about refraining from this sin? (38-39)

With the decay of the family, its long-established traditions and religious practices will perish. With that, unrighteousness will prevail in the family. O Krishna! With that unrighteousness, the women of the family will have unrestricted relationships and with that mixed-caste children will be born. The mixed-caste children will destroy the traditions of the families and ultimately lead families to hell. These children will not properly perform the religious rituals for their ancestors and then their ancestors will also go to hell. With these mixed-caste children, the long-time traditions and religious rituals of the family and the caste will be destroyed. O Krishna! We have heard that the people of such family and caste stay in hell for a long time. (40-44)

(Note: Arjuna’s reasoning is based on the traditional beliefs of his time. If there were people other than his relatives on the opposite side of the battlefield, Arjuna would not have any hesitation to fight with them.)

Oh! It is so sad that we are engaged in committing a great sin. Just for the greed of enjoyment of a kingdom, we are eager to kill our own relatives. (45)

I think it would be better if, in the battlefield, the sons of Dhritarashtra, with their weapons, killed me, unarmed and unresisting.” (46)

Sanjaya said, “By saying this, Arjuna, who was filled with grief, casting aside his bow and arrows, sat on the chariot seat.” (47)

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the First Chapter, entitled “The Path of Arjuna’s Grief.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy and Rushil Desai for editing this post.)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11:  The Path of the Vision of the Universal Form

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11:

The Path of the Vision of the Universal Form

Arjuna said, “Out of compassion for me, you have told me profound truths about the Self. These words have removed my delusion.

O Lotus-eyed Shri Krishna! I have heard from you in detail about the creation and dissolution of beings and also about Your Divine Manifestations.

O Lord! I completely believe what you have described about yourself.  But, O Supreme Purusha! I want to see these Divine Manifestations with my own eyes.

O Lord! O the Master of all Yogas! If you think that I am fit to see your Imperishable Universal Form, then please show me that divine form.”

Shri Krishna said, “O Partha (Arjuna)! Behold My hundreds and thousands of divine forms which consist of various colors and shapes.

Behold in Me. all the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, two Ashwinkumaras and the Marutas.  Also, behold various wondrous forms which were not seen before by anyone.

O Arjuna! Behold in Me the whole universe including movable and immovable beings and things, and also whatever you desire to see.

But, you will not be able to see My Divine Forms with your physical eyes, so I will give you ‘Divine Eyes’. With these ‘Divine Eyes’, behold My Supreme Yogic Power.”

Sanjaya said, “O King Dhrutarashtra! By saying thus, the Great Master of the Yogas, Lord Shri Krishna showed Arjuna His Supreme Divine Form.

Then, Arjuna saw the Infinite Form of Shri Krishna which had infinitely many faces and eyes, was wearing various celestial garments and garlands, was adorned with divine ointments and ornaments, and was holding various celestial arms. This Form was filled with various wonderful and wondrous sights and was facing in all directions.

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, then it would be like the splendor of that Mighty Being.

At that time, Arjuna saw the whole universe with its various aspects in that one Universal Form.

Then, overcome with wonder and with goosebumps, Arjuna saluted that Universal Form with folded hands and said the following:

Arjuna Said, “O Lord! I see in Thy body all the gods, all the beings, all the celestial serpents, all the Rishis, and the creator Brahma sitting on a lotus.

O Lord of the Universe! I see that Thou have infinitely many faces, eyes, hands, and bellies. I see that Thou are everywhere having infinitely many forms. I do not see the beginning, the middle, and the end of Thy Infinite Form.

I see Thou wearing a crown on head and holding a mace and a ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ (discus). I see Thou glowing like a mass of radiance on all sides. Thou are blazing like a burning fire and the sun and very difficult to look at. Thou are incomprehensible.

O Lord! Thou art the Supreme Imperishable Being that has to be realized. Thou art the sole support of the universe. Thou art the protector of the ‘Eternal Dharma’ (Righteousness in the universe).  In my opinion, Thou art the ‘Eternal Purusha.’

I see that Thou art without beginning, middle and an end, having infinitely many arms, and an embodiment of infinite strength. I see the sun and moon as Thine eyes and Thy face is like a blazing fire burning the whole universe with Thy radiance.

O Great Soul! The space between the heaven and the earth and all the directions are filled with Thee. I see that with Thy wonderful and terrible form the three worlds tremble with fear.

All the gods enter into Thy body and a few out of fear sing Thy glories with folded hands. The Great Rishis and the Siddhas, after saying ‘May there is peace!’ praise Thee with excellent hymns.

All the Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, Viswas, Ashwin Kumars, Maruts, Ushmapas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, and the Siddhas behold Thee and are amazed.

O Mighty Armed Lord! By beholding Thy Infinite Form with many faces, eyes, arms, thighs, feet, bellies, and terrible tusks, all the people are terrified and so am I.

O Lord Vishnu! By seeing Thy blazing form which reaches the sky, which shines with many colors, having its mouth wide open and with bright shining big eyes, I am scared and I am losing my courage and peace.

Thy mouths and terrible tusks blaze like fire which is going to devour the whole universe. By seeing them I am disoriented and find no peace. O Lord! O Abode of the Universe! Please be gracious to us all.

I behold that all the sons of Dhrutarashtra with all their kings, Bhishma, Drona, Karna, and many prominent warriors of our side enter into Thy terrible mouth with big tusks. Many of them have been caught between Thy teeth with their heads being crushed to powder.

As the torrents of rivers gush to the ocean, all these warriors are gushing into Thy blazing mouth.  As the moths fly into the fire for their own destruction, so these beings are gushing into Thy mouth for their destruction. O Lord Vishnu! Devouring all the worlds through Thy fiercely flaming mouths Thou lick Thy lips from all sides.  Thy fiery rays fill the whole universe with their radiance and scorch it.

Please tell me, “Who art Thou? O the Supreme Lord! I salute to you. Be pleased with me. O Ancient Purusha! I want to know Thee.  I do not know Thy purpose.”

Shri Krishna said, “I am the mighty world-destroying Time.  I am engaged here to destroy these people. Even without you, the warriors in the opposite side will be destroyed.  Therefore, O Arjuna! Get up, fight, conquer the enemies, enjoy the flourishing kingdom and obtain fame.  Know that I have destroyed them already and you are just an instrument.

Know that I have already killed Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and many other powerful warriors. You fight with them and become an instrument to kill them. Do not worry.  Go on and fight. You will be victorious over your enemies.”

Sanjaya said, “After listening to Shri Krishna’s words, Arjuna trembled. With folded hands in adoration, he saluted Shri Krishna. Overwhelmed with fear, he saluted Shri Krishna again and addressed Shri Krishna with a choked voice.

Arjuna said, “O Hrishikesh (Shri Krishna)! It is appropriate that the world rejoices and takes delight in singing your glories.  The fearful Rakshasas are fleeing away in terror and all the Siddhas salute Thee in adoration.

O Great Soul! Thou art the Primal Cause of even Brahma, the creator of the universe. Thou art the greatest among all.  There is no wonder that all these Siddhas are saluting you. O Supreme Lord! O Abode of the Universe! Thou art the Supreme Imperishable Brahman which is beyond the Manifest and the Un-manifest.

Thou art the Ancient God, the Eternal Purusha. Thou art the Supreme Abode of the universe. Thou art the Knower and That which has to be known. Thou art the Ultimate Goal of all. O Lord with Infinite Form! The universe is pervaded by Thee only.

Thou art the Wind, Yama, Fire, Varuna (Water), the Moon, and the creator of the universe,
Brahma. I salute to Thee a thousand times.  And I salute to you again and again.

O Mighty Lord with Infinite Power! Thou pervade the whole universe and therefore Thou art everything. I salute to you from the front, from behind, and from all sides.

Considering Thou as my friend and not knowing Thy greatness, I have rashly addressed you as “O Krishna” or “O Yadava” or “O Friend” out of love or from inadvertence. O Achyuta! I may have shown disrespect to Thee while playing, resting, eating, or sitting when we were alone or in front of other people. Please forgive me for all this disrespectful behavior.

Thou art the Father of the whole universe including the movable or the immovable beings and things. Thou art the Great Teacher and most respectable. O Almighty Lord! In the three worlds, there is no one even equal to Thee, then how someone could be superior to Thee?

Therefore, O Adorable Lord! I salute to Thee, prostrate my body at Thy feet, and pray to Thee to be pleased with me. O Lord! Please bear with me as a loving father does to his son, a close friend to his friend, and a loving husband to his wife.

By seeing Thy wonderful and terrible form that I have never before seen, I am very happy, but my mind has been distressed with fear. O Lord of the gods! O Abode of the Universe! Be pleased with me and show me Thy godly form.

I want to see Thy godly form wearing a crown and holding a conch, a discus, a mace and a lotus. O Lord with the Universal Form! O Thousand Armed Lord! Please reveal Thy four-armed godly form to me.”

Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! By My grace, through My Yoga Power, I showed you My Supreme, Resplendent, Primeval, and Infinite Universal Form which no one has seen except you.

O Arjuna! In this human world, the Universal Form that you had seen is not possible for anyone to see by studying scriptures, by charity, by performing rituals, or by any austerity.

Do not be afraid or bewildered by seeing My terrible form.  Be fearless and be glad to behold My godly form.”

Sanjaya said, “After saying thus, Lord Vasudeva (Shri Krishna), the Great Soul, showed Arjuna his godly form. Then, he assumed his gracious form and appeased the terrified Arjuna.

Arjuna said, “O Janardana (Shri Krishna)! Now, by seeing Thy gracious human form, I have come back to my senses and have attained my normal state of my mind.”

Shri Krishna said, “My godly form that you have seen is very difficult to see. Even all the Devas (gods) always desire to see this form.

One cannot see this godly form (that you have seen) by studying the scriptures, by performing austerities, by charity, or by performing Yajnas.

O Arjuna! Only through one-pointed devotion to Me one can see this godly form, really understand It and become one with It.

O Arjuna! One who performs all actions for Me, looks at Me as the Supreme Goal of life, is My devotee, is unattached and hates none, attains Me.

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Eleventh Chapter, entitled “The Path of the Vision of the Universal Form.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Rushil Desai for editing this post.)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 10:  The Path of Divine Manifestations

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 10:

The Path of Divine Manifestations

Shri Krishna Said, “O Arjuna! Because you are eager to listen to my words, I will tell you more profound thoughts which will be beneficial to you.

The devas and great sages do not know My Origin because I (as Brahman) am their ultimate cause.

One who knows Me in essence as Birthless, Beginningless, and the Lord of the Universe, becomes free from all sin (bondage).

From Me alone arise the following attributes and various states of mind in all beings: (1) intelligence (2) knowledge (3) ability not to get deluded (4) forgiveness (5) truth (6) control of the senses (7) control of the mind (8) joy and sorrow (9) birth and death (10) fear and fearlessness (11) non-violence (12) equanimity (13) contentment (14) austerity (15) charity, and (16) fame and infamy.

From My resolve, seven great Rishis and four Manus of ancient time were born, endowed with My Power. All beings are their progeny.

There is no doubt that one who knows in essence “My Divine Manifestations” and “My Yogic Power” will be firmly established in unwavering devotion.

Wise people truly understand that “I (Brahman) am the cause of the creation of the Universe and by Me alone the whole world functions.” That is why they worship Me with the fullness of their hearts.

Having filled their minds with My thoughts, surrendering their life unto Me, they talk among themselves about My glories and enlighten each other. Thus, they take delight and satisfaction in talking about Me.

I give Buddhi Yoga (a path of discrimination and renunciation) to those who are ever devoted to Me and who worship Me with love. Through this Buddhi Yoga, they realize Me.

Out of compassion, I, the one who resides in their hearts, remove the darkness of their ignorance by the light of a lamp of knowledge.”

Arjuna Said, “O Krishna! You are the Supreme Brahman, Supreme abode, and the Purest of the pure. All Rishis call You as the Supreme Self, Eternal, the Self-Effulgent, God of gods, the Birth-less, and the Omnipresent. The Devarshi Narada, Rishis Asit and Deval, and Maharshi Vyasa also have proclaimed You the same. You also said the same unto me.

Whatever You told me, I believe it to be true. Neither devas nor danavas know Your divine nature.

O the Creator and the Lord of all being, God of all gods, and the Supreme Purusha! Only You know Your own Divine Nature. Only You can fully describe Your Divine Manifestations whereby You pervade all the worlds and abide in them.

O Yogeshwar (Krishna)! How should I think of You to realize You? What are the various aspects or objects through which I can meditate on You? Please tell me in detail about Your Yogic Power and Divine Manifestations. My desire never gets fulfilled to listen to Your nectar-like words.”

Shri Krishna said, “My Divine Manifestations are infinite. So, I will tell you only a few of My major manifestations.

(1) I am the Atman dwelling in the hearts of all beings. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

(2) I am Vishnu among Adityas.

(3) I am the Sun among the bright objects

(4) I am Marichi among the wind-gods

(5) I am the Moon among the Nakshatras.

(6) I am the Sama Veda among the Vedas.

(7) I am Vasava (Indra) among the Devas.

(8) I am the Mind among all the senses.

(9) I am the Consciousness among the beings.

(10) I am Shankar among the Rudras.

(11) I am Kuber among the Yakshas and Rakshashas.

(12) I am Agni among the eight Vasus.

(13) I am Sumeru among the mountains.

(14) I am Bruhaspati among the priests.

(15) I am Skanda among all the army generals.

(16) I am the Ocean among all the reservoirs.

(17) I am Bhrugu among all the great Rishis.

(18) I am the monosyllable Om among all the words.

(19) I am Japa Yajna among all the Yajnas.

(20) I am Himalaya among all the immovable objects.

(21) I am the Ashwatha tree among all the trees.

(22) I am Narada among all the Devarshis.

(23) I am Chitraratha among all the Gandharvas.

(24) I am Kapil Muni among all the Siddhas.

(25) I am the horse Uchchaishravasa among all horses. Uchchaishravasa was born with the nectar during the churning of the ocean.

(26) I am Gajendra among all elephants.

(27) I am the King among all human beings.

(28) I am the Vajra among all the weapons.

(29) I am the cow Kamadhuk among all the cows.

(30) I am Kandarpa, the Lord of Lust, which is the cause of progeny.

(31) I am Vasuki among all snakes.

(32) I am Shesh Naga among the Nagas (half-human and half-cobras).

(33) I am Varuna among the creatures dwelling in the water.

(34) I am Aryama among the Pitrus.

(35) I am Lord Yama among the controllers.

(36) I am Prahlada among the demons.

(37) I am the Time among the measures.

(38) I am the Lion among the animals.

(39) I am Garuda among the birds.

(40) I am the Wind among the purifiers.

(41) I am Lord Rama among the warriors.

(42) I am the Shark among the fishes.

(43) I am Ganga among the rivers.

(44) I am the beginning, the middle and the end of the universe.

(45) I am the Knowledge of the Self among all the branches of knowledge.

(46) I am the decision-making discussion among all the discussions.

(47) I am the Sanskrit Letter “A” among all the letters.

(48) I am the Sanskrit Sandhi “Dwanda” among all the Sanskrit Sandhis.

(49) I am the Infinite Time.

(50) I am the Nourisher of all and My faces are in all directions.

(51) I am all-seizing Death.

(52) I am the cause of everyone’s birth (another interpretation-I am the cause of prosperity).

(53) I am the seven known virtues, namely Fame, Prosperity, Speech, Memory, Intelligence, Tenacity, and Forgiveness.  (These are Sanskrit female-gender virtues.)

(54)  I am the Brihat-Saman among the Saman hymns.

(55) I am Gayatri among the meters.

(56) I am Margashirsha among the months.

(57) I am the Flowery Spring among the seasons.

(58) I am the Gambling of the cheats.

(59) I am the Vigor of vigorous people.

(60) I am the Victory of victorious people.

(61) I am the Effort of active people.

(62) I am the Goodness in good people.

(63) I am Vasudeva among the Yadavas.

(64) I am Arjuna among the Pandavas.

(65) I am Vyasa among the sages.

(66) I am Ushana among the seers.

(67) I am the rod of those who chastise.

(68) I am Statesmanship among the people who wish to win.

(69) I am the Silence among secrets.

(70) I am the Knowledge among the knowers.

(71) I am the seed of all beings.  No moving or un-moving being can exist without Me.

My Divine Manifestations are infinite. I just told you a few of them.

Know that whatever is glorious, or prosperous, or powerful, it is the manifestation of a fraction of My Divine Manifestation.

What more can I tell you – with a fraction of My Divine Power, I support this whole universe.

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Tenth Chapter, entitled “The Path of Divine Manifestations.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9: The Path of Sovereign Wisdom and Sovereign Mystery

The Essence of The Bhagavad Gita

Chapter 9: The Path of Sovereign Wisdom and Sovereign Mystery

Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! You do not carp, so I will tell you this profound knowledge with its practical aspect of realization, by knowing which, you will be free of all the sorrows of life.

This is sovereign knowledge, sovereign mystery, and the supreme purifier. It is righteous, eternal, gives tangible results, and is easy to practice.

People who do not have faith in these teachings do not attain Me (Brahman) and they go through the cycle of birth and death in this world.

The whole world is pervaded by My un-manifested form (Brahman).  All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.

(Note: The whole world is projected on Brahman. In particular, all beings are projections of names and forms on Brahman.)

Actually, all beings do not dwell in Me (meaning they are just the projections of names and forms). However, behold My Divine Power (Maya) that I am the Creator (cause) and the Nourisher (support) of all beings, yet I do not dwell in them.

As the mighty wind—created from the sky, which moves everywhere within the sky, and still remains in the sky—all beings dwell in Me.

O Arjuna! At the end of a Kalpa (a period of 4.32 billion years), all beings merge into My Divine Power (Prakruti), and at the beginning of the next Kalpa, I create them with My Divine Power.

With My Divine Power I create all beings again and again. They are helpless because of their worldly desires and past actions.

Since I am the Witness Consciousness and unattached to their actions, their actions do not bind Me.

With My consent, My Divine Power creates the whole universe of living and non-living and makes it move around.

When I take human form, deluded people do not recognize Me as the Lord of the Universe and they disregard Me. Being that their intellect is covered by delusion, they remain engaged in useless hopes, actions, and knowledge. Thus, they remain possessed by demonic qualities.

On the other hand, the great souls, filled with divine qualities, know that I am Imperishable and the cause of the whole universe, and they constantly think of Me with focused mind.

(Note: For the demonic and divine qualities, read Chapter 16 of The Bhagavad Gita.)

These great souls remain firm in their vows to realize Me. They constantly sing My names and glories, make efforts to realize Me, remember Me, salute Me, and thus, worship Me with great devotion.

The followers of “Jnana Yoga”, worship Me as being one with them as Brahman. Some worship Me as being distinct from them, and others worship My Virata Form (Me as the whole universe) in various ways.

If you think of this whole universe as a “Yajna”, then know that I am the Vedi (in which fire of the Yajna is invoked), I am the fire in it, I am the mantras recited, I am the ingredients offered in the fire, and I am the whole worship of the Yajna.

Also, know that I am the father, the mother, the grandsire, and the sustainer of the universe.  I am the one that has to be known. I am the Purifier, the Omkar (one syllable Brahman), and I am three Vedas, namely the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, and the Yajur Veda.

I am the nourisher, the goal of life, the Lord of the Universe, the Witness Consciousness, the abode, the refuge, and the true friend. I am the cause of creation and the dissolution of the universe, and I am its support. Know that I am the imperishable seed of the universe.

I shine through the sun, create clouds, and bring rain. I am the nectar (immortality) and I am death. I am the being and the non-being.

Those who are devoid of sins and who wish to attain heaven by worshipping Me, through the performance of the “Yajnas” described in the three Vedas, attain heaven by their own merits. In heaven they enjoy various worldly pleasures until their merits are exhausted. Then, they come back to the earth and start their lives all over again. Thus, people who perform rituals described in the Vedas to fulfill their worldly desires go back and forth between earth and heaven. (They do not get the benefits of spiritual life.)

On the other hand, to those devotees who are ever devoted to Me, thinking of Me only and worship Me without any selfish reasons, I provide them what they lack in their spiritual practices and preserve what they have attained. (Thus, God helps these devotees attain their goal of God Realization.)

Those devotees who worship other gods (for worldly pleasures) also worship Me (Brahman), but they do this unknowingly and improperly.

I (as Brahman) am the Recipient and the Lord of all the worships and sacrifices of the devotees. But, not knowing Me, in essence, they fall from their spiritual path and become slaves of their senses.

Those who worship gods (limited forms of Brahman) go to the gods. Those who worship their ancestors go to their ancestors. Those who worship spirits go to the spirits. Those who worship Me (Brahman) come to Me.

If a devotee, out of love, offers Me a leaf, flower, fruit, water, or any simple thing, I accept such an offering made by the pure in heart.

O Arjuna! Offer to me any action you perform (Karma), anything you intake (Food), anything you offer in your spiritual practice (Yajna), anything you give in charity (Dana), and whatever austerity (Tapa) you perform.

(Note: In Chapter 17 of The Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna describes three kinds of food, Yajna, Dana, and Tapa, and in Chapter 18, he describes three kinds of actions and performers.)

By offering everything to Me, you follow “Sanyasa Yoga” (The Yoga of Renunciation) and, thus, become free from the bondage of all the results of your actions, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. Then, being free from all bondages, you will come to Me (become one with Brahman).

I am the same towards all beings. I do not favor anyone and do not deny anyone. But, those who worship Me with love, they are in Me and I am in them.

Even a great sinner worships Me with one-pointed devotion (with repentance of sins and with a vow not to commit any sin again) must be regarded as a righteous person who has made the right resolve. Such a person (with devotion and the right resolve) soon becomes a righteous person and attains eternal peace within. O Kaunteya! Know that My devotee never perishes.

Taking refuge in Me, even women, Vaishyas, Shudras, and sinners attain the Supreme State.

(Note: This was the bold statement of Shri Krishna at the time when women, Vaishyas, Shudras were looked down upon compared to men, Brahmins and Kshatriyas.)

Definitely, when Brahmins or Kshatriyas, being free of sins, worship Me, they attain the Supreme State. Therefore, having attained this temporary human life filled with sufferings, worship Me with great devotion.

Focus your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me, offer everything to Me, and surrender to Me. Thus, keeping Me as the goal of your life and making efforts to realize Me, you will definitely attain Me (the Supreme State).

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Ninth Chapter, entitled “The Path of Sovereign Wisdom and Sovereign Mystery.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Radha Dhar for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8: The Path to Imperishable Brahman

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8

The Path to Imperishable Brahman

Seven Questions from Arjuna:

Arjuna asked Shri Krishna the following seven questions:

(1) “What is Brahman?”

(2)  “What is Adhyatma (the individual soul)?”

(3) “What is Karma (actions)?”

(4) “What is Adhibhuta (something that is said to underlie all the elements)?”

(5) “What is Adhidaiva (something that is said to underlie all the gods)?”

(6) “Who is Adhiyajna (one who sustains all the sacrifices in the body) and how does it reside in the body?”


(7) “How does a self-controlled person realize You at the time of death?”

Shri Krishna answered these questions as follows:

(1) “The Imperishable is the Supreme Brahman.”

(2) “Swabhava (Brahman dwelling in a person which is covered by name and form of the person, known as Jiva) is called Adhyatma.”

(3)  “Karma (action) is the offering of the oblation (in a Yajna) which brings into existence all living beings and supports them.”

(4)  “Adhibhuta refers to all the objects which are perishable.”

(5) “Adhidaiva is the Purusha (the Cosmic Spirit) which underlies all the gods. It is also refers to as the “Hiranya-garbha”.

(6) “Adhiyajna” is Me, the All-Pervading Spirit which sustains all the sacrifices.”

(7) “A person who remembers Me (Atman or Brahman) at his/her last breath becomes one with Me. There is no doubt about this.”

“A person, whose mind is attached with whatever desire or an object or a being in life, at the time of death he/she remembers that desire or the object or the being, and ultimately he/she attains that desire or an object or the being in the next life.

Therefore, remember Me all the time, and fight (perform your responsibility; for Arjuna it was to fight in the battlefield). If you always focus your mind and intellect on Me, then without any doubt, you will become one with Me.

One who constantly practices focusing his/her mind on Me and not letting it wander around on other things, eventually becomes one with the Supreme Purusha (Brahman).

One, who during his/her lifetime, constantly thinks about Brahman (Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute) who is the Omniscient, Ancient, Controller of everything, most subtle, Nourisher of all, whose form is beyond comprehension, who shines like the sun, and who is beyond all darkness, and at the time of death with firm mind filled with devotion, with the power of Yoga, establishes his/her vital forces between his/her eyebrows and meditates on the Supreme Purusha (Brahman) becomes one with the Supreme Divine Purusha (Brahman).

I will tell you briefly about the Supreme State whom the well-versed in the Vedas called ‘the Imperishable’, which is attained by the Sages who are free from desires and have complete self-control, and to attain which seekers practice celibacy.

One who controls all the senses by the mind, confines the mind within the heart and draws the vital forces in the head, then remains established in the Atman through the practice of meditation and uttering the word “Om,” the one syllable symbol of Brahman, leaves the body thinking of Me (Brahman), attains the Supreme State.

I (Brahman) can be easily attained by the ever steadfast Yogi who constantly meditates on Me with a focused mind giving no thought of anything else.

The Great souls, having attained Me, have attained the Supreme State. They do not take rebirth into this temporary world which is filled with sorrows.

From an ordinary being to the creator of the universe, everything is subject to rebirth. But, one who attains Me (becomes one with Me) will not be born again.

Brahma is the creator of the universe. One who knows that Brahma’s day and night each last a thousand eons knows the essence of the Time.

(Note: A day of brahma is of 1000 Mahā-Yugas. Thus a day of Brahma, a Kalpa, is 4.32 billion years in duration. Two Kalpas constitute a day and night.)

In the beginning of Brahma’s day, the whole universe manifests from the un-manifested and at the end of the day (beginning of the night) it merges into the un-manifested.

The same multitude of beings is born by the law of nature in the beginning of the day of Brahma and merges into the un-manifested at the night of Brahma. Thus, this cycle goes on.

But beyond this un-manifested, there is yet another Un-manifested Eternal Being which does not perish when all beings perish.

This Un-manifested Eternal Being is called the Imperishable (The Supreme Purusha or Brahman). This Imperishable is called the Ultimate Goal of all beings. One who reaches that goal does not come back. That is My Supreme Abode.

The Supreme Purusha pervades the whole universe, and all beings reside in It. This Supreme Purusha can be realized through one-pointed devotion.

The Two Paths of re-birth and no re-birth:

Now, I will tell you the paths which decide whether or not the yogis are reborn

When the knowers of Brahman follow the path of light, fire, day, bright fortnight, and the northern path of the sun, then they become one with Brahman and are never reborn.

When the yogis follow the path of smoke, night, dark fortnight, and the southern path of the sun, then they reach to the light of the Moon and then returned to the earth to take re-births.

The Path of Light and The Path of Darkness are two eternal paths. Following the Path of Light the yogis are not reborn, while following the Path of Darkness yogis come back and are reborn.

The yogi who understands these two paths does not get deluded. Therefore, O Arjuna! Be steadfast in yoga all the time.

The yogi who really understands the essence of these teachings, surpasses the merits acquired by studying the Vedas, performing the Yajnas (rituals), practicing austerities or giving in charity, and he/she attains the Eternal Supreme Abode.

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Eighth Chapter, entitled “The Path to Imperishable Brahman.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sheela Krishnan for editing this post.)


The Essence of Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 6: The Path of Self-Control

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 6

The Path of Self-Control

(This chapter is about the Yoga of Self-Control and the Yoga of Meditation.)

Shri Krishna said, “One who performs one’s responsibilities, renouncing their results, is a Sanyasi and a Yogi, and not the one who is inactive and has abandoned religious rituals.

Know that what is called “Sanyas” is nothing else but “Yoga.” One who has not renounced one’s worldly desires cannot be a Yogi.

To establish oneself in the Yoga of Meditation, practice of Karma Yoga is necessary; to remain established in the Yoga of Meditation, self-control and renunciation of worldly desires are required.

When one is not attached to sense-objects and actions and has renounced all thoughts and desires to acquire the pleasures of the body and mind, then one is said to be established in the Yoga of Meditation.

Help yourself to lift up yourself. Never let yourself go down. Our self is our friend as well as our enemy. One who has obtained control over one’s body and mind is one’s own friend and one who has not obtained such control is one’s own enemy.

The qualities of a Yogi established in Yoga are that (1) he/she has conquered one’s mind and senses, (2) he/she has attained serenity within, (3) his/her heart has been filled with the satisfaction of knowledge and realization, (4) he/she remains steadily absorbed in the Supreme Self, (5) he/she acts with a balanced mind in joy and sorrow, heat and cold, honor and insult, and other such opposite circumstances and (6) for such a person, gold is like dirt and stones (meaning his/her mind cannot be deviated because of money).

Also, such a Yogi, who has equal regard for friends and foes; for people related or unrelated; for those who love or hate; for people who are impartial or indifferent; and even for people who are righteous or sinners, is the best among the Yogis.

A Yogi who has attained control over his/her mind and senses, and who is free from all worldly desires and possessions, should go into solitude and constantly focus his/her mind on the Supreme Self.

In solitude, such a Yogi should find a clean place, and prepare a seat that is not too high or too low, and for comfort has layers of kusha grass, dear skin, and a cloth. Then, sitting on that seat, restraining the activities of one’s mind and senses, he/she should practice the Yoga of meditation to purify his/her mind.

Being established in celibacy, free from any fear, and keeping serenity within, the Yogi should sit in the meditation posture – sitting crossed-legged and keeping the spinal column, neck and head in a straight line – and without looking around, he/she should focus the mind on Me, considering Me as the supreme goal of life.

When a Yogi controls his/her mind and thus focuses it on Me (as Atman), then he/she attains the supreme peace within, which is abiding in the Atman. This peace culminates in Nirvana, freedom from all bondage.

One cannot be established in this Yoga of Meditation if he/she eats or sleeps too much or too little. One can be established in this yoga if one lives a moderate life by keeping moderation in one’s eating, sleeping, activities and entertainment. This Yoga of meditation removes all suffering in life.

Being free from all worldly desires and having obtained total control over one’s mind, when the Yogi’s mind steadily remains in the Atman, then the Yogi is said to be established in the Yoga of Meditation. The steadfastness of such a Yogi’s mind in the Atman has been compared to the steadiness of the flame of an oil lamp in a windless environment.

The Yoga of Meditation removes all the sorrows of life and through it,

(1) the Yogi’s mind rests in quietude after being restrained by the practice of concentration,

(2) the Yogi rejoices in his/her own Self (Atman), realizing the Atman within through the purified intellect, and becomes fully satisfied,

(3) one experiences Infinite Bliss, which can only be grasped by the pure intellect and not by the senses

(4) one remains established in the Ultimate Reality and never deviates from it,

(5) one attains a state of supreme gain and feels that there is nothing higher to achieve, and

(6) by being established in that state, not even the heaviest sorrow can throw off the Yogi’s focused state of mind.

This Yoga of Meditation has to be practiced with determination, enthusiasm, perseverance, and an unwavering mind.

Four steps to be established in the Yoga of Meditation:

(1) Renounce all worldly desires which arise from the mind.

(2) Use the mind to control all senses from running towards their sense-objects.

(3) With firm determination, lift up the mind systematically and steadily from the world with the help of the intellect, and focus it on the Atman. Then, do not think of anything else.

(4) If the restless and unsteady mind runs towards the objects of the world, then bring it back from these objects and again focus it on to the Atman.

The Yogi attains the Supreme Bliss when his/her mind has become completely tranquil and pure, from whom all the passions have been quieted down, and whose mind has become one with Atman (Brahman).

Thus, the Yogi with pure and ever focused mind on the Atman, experiences the Supreme Bliss that comes from the direct experience of the Atman (Brahman).

The Vision of the Yogi of the World:

The Yogi who had direct experience of the Atman (Brahman) within sees the divine Atman in all beings and all beings in the One Divine Atman (Brahman).  He/she has highest regards for all beings irrespective of their outer differences.

One who sees all beings in Me (Brahman) and Me (Brahman) in all beings abides in Me all the time. He/she never gets separated from Me and I never get separated from him/her.

The Yogi who is thus established in Oneness worships Me (Brahman) who resides in all beings. Through all his/her actions, he/she always lives in Me.

The Yogi, who sees his/her own divine Atman dwelling within as the same divine Atman of all beings in joy and sorrow, is considered to be the best Yogi.  Such a Yogi sees the joy and sorrow of all beings as his/her own joy and sorrow”

Arjuna’s Comments and Questions:

Arjuna said, “O Krishna! The Yoga you have described is the Yoga of equanimity. But, the mind is very restless, So, I do not see how long this mind can endure the equanimity.

The mind is restless, turbulent, powerful and stubborn. To control this mind is as difficult as controlling a tornado.”

Shri Krishna Said, “O Mighty Armed Arjuna! There is no doubt that the mind is restless and extremely difficult to control. But, through ‘abhyasa’ (constant practice to control the mind) and ‘vairagya’ (detachment) it can be brought under control.

I firmly believe that a person lacking self-control cannot attain this Yoga, while a person with self-control can attain this Yoga by making proper efforts.”

Arjuna Asked, “O Krishna! Suppose a person has faith in this Yoga, but due to his/her lack of self-control deviates from this Yoga and dies without attaining the final state of the Yoga, what happens to that person? Does this deluded person, fallen from both sides and being un-established in the path to realize Brahman, get destroyed like a fragmented cloud?

O Krishna! Please destroy this doubt completely from my mind since it is hard to find a person like you who can completely destroy such a doubt.”

Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! One who does spiritual practices to realize Brahman does not perish in this life or in the next life.  A person who does spiritual practices to be good will never come to grief.

After death, a person fallen from the Yoga goes to the world where righteous people go after their deaths. Enjoying the results of his/her good actions in this world for a while, either he/she takes a birth in a pure and prosperous family or in a family of Yogis who are filled with wisdom. It is very difficult to obtain such a birth.

Being born in such family all the past impressions of the spiritual practices done in the previous lives come to the surface of the mind of this fallen Yogi. Then, naturally he/she continues his/her spiritual practices to go further to realize Brahman.

A Yogi who strives diligently becomes free from impurities of the mind, and with the good impressions of the spiritual practices of the previous births, he/she attains the Supreme State of the Yoga (Realization of Brahman or Perfection or the Knowledge of the Ultimate Reality).

Such a Yogi is superior to the people who practice only austerities, or who only study scriptures, or who only perform religious rituals. That is why, O Arjuna, become such a Yogi.

Among these Yogis, I consider that Yogi to be the best who, with his/her inner self merged in Me, worships Me with faith.”

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Sixth Chapter, entitled “The Path of Self-Control.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18: The Path to Liberation through Renunciation (Part III of III)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18

 The Path to Liberation through Renunciation

Part III of III (Shlokas 56 – 78)

Shri Krishna said, “One who has surrendered to Me, by My grace, attains the eternal supreme state that a Yogi or a Jnani attains, even if one has been engaged in performing worldly responsibilities.

O Arjuna! Mentally offer the results of all your actions to Me. Then, keep your mind balanced in all situations, and considering Me as the Supreme Goal of life, focus your mind on Me.

By focusing your mind on Me, you will easily overcome all your obstacles by My grace. If, following your ego, you do not listen to Me, then you will be heading towards your own destruction.

Due to your ego, if you decide, “I am not going to fight this war,” then it will be your unwise decision because your own nature will force you to fight this war to protect righteousness.

O Son of Kunti! As a result of your own past actions (of training to be a king) you will be forced to perform this very action which you do not want to perform because of your attachment to your relatives.

God (Brahman) is residing in the hearts of all, and by God’s power, Maya, people are made to function according to their past actions, as if they are mounted on a machine.

O Bharat! Surrender to God with your full heart. By the grace of God, you will attain supreme peace and the supreme state (through the performance of your responsibilities).

Thus, I have told you the most profound knowledge. Reflect upon it deeply and do whatever you think is right.

Because you are my most beloved, I will tell you, again, the most profound advice, which is of great benefit to you.

“Focus your mind on Me (Brahman), be My devotee, worship Me, and surrender to Me. By doing this, I am telling you with full certainty that you will attain to My supreme state.

Renounce all the results of your actions and take refuge in Me (Brahman) alone. Do not grieve. I will make you free of all your sins (unavoidable unpleasant consequences of your responsibilities performed).”

Sharing these teachings:

“Do not give these teachings to anyone who is either (1) not austere, (2) devoid of devotion, (3) not interested in listening, or (4) speaks ill of Me.

However, one who is endowed with supreme love for Me (Brahman) and shares these profound teachings to My devotees will become one with Me without any doubt, and there will be no other work that pleases me more than that. Such a devotee will be My most beloved.

It is my firm conviction that whosoever studies this divine dialogue between Arjuna and I will actually be worshipping Me with the yajna of Knowledge.

If a person who is endowed with faith and free of malice even listens to this divine dialogue, (s)he will be freed from all sins and will attain a state attained by those of meritorious actions.

Shri Krishna’s Last Questions:

“O Partha! Did you listen to my teachings with a focused mind? Did your delusion, created by your ignorance, get destroyed?”

Arjuna said, “O Achyuta (Krishna)! By your grace, my delusion has been destroyed and my right understanding has come back. All my doubts have vanished and I will completely follow your guidance.”

Sanjaya said, “Thus, I have heard the wonderful dialogue between Vasudeva (Shri Krishna) and the great soul, Arjuna. This dialogue brought goose bumps to me.

By the grace of Shri Vyasa, I heard these supreme and profound teachings of yoga directly from Shri Krishna.

O King (Dhrutarashtra)! I feel very much elated by remembering this wonderful and sacred dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. Also, my heart fills up with great joy and wonder whenever I remember the divine form of Lord Shri Krishna.

I am fully convinced that wherever there is Shri Krishna, the Lord of all Yogas, and the great archer, Arjuna, holding the bow Gandiva, there is prosperity, victory, mighty power, and right conduct.”

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Eighteenth Chapter, entitled “The Path to Liberation through Renunciation.”

Om Tat Sat.

(Thanks to Radha Dhar for editing this post.)

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18 (Part II of III, Shlokas 29 – 55) The Path to Liberation through Renunciation

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18 (Part II of III, Shlokas 29 – 55)

 The Path to Liberation through Renunciation

Shri Krishna said, “I will tell you in detail three kinds of intellect and fortitude, which are divided by the three gunas.

The Three Kinds of Intellect:

The first type of intellect is called the Sattvika (superior) Intellect. This is the kind of intellect that knows clearly the difference between the path of householders and the path of Sanyasins (people who renounce everything to realize God). The Sattvika Intellect knows which actions are their responsibilities to perform and which are not, whom to fear and whom not to, and the difference between things that lead to slavery versus those that lead to freedom.

The type of intellect that creates confusion between righteousness and unrighteousness, and what is or is not a responsibility is called the Rajasika (mediocre) Intellect.

The lowest form of intellect that has a reverse understanding of everything due to ignorance is called the Tamasika (inferior) Intellect. A person with Tamasika Intellect sees righteous as unrighteous and unrighteous as righteous.

The Three Kinds of Fortitude:

The fortitude by which a person gathers one’s mind and directs it along with the vital forces and the senses, single-pointedly towards the Self (Atman), is called the Sattvika (supreme) fortitude.

The fortitude by which a person with worldly desires passionately works for sense-pleasures and money, and performs religious rituals for worldly comforts or heaven, is called the Rajasika (mediocre) fortitude.

The fortitude by which a person with undeveloped intellect does not give up sleep, fear, grief, despondency, and arrogance, is called the Tamasika (inferior) fortitude.

The Three Kinds of Happiness:

The first kind of happiness is that which is felt within, as a result of spiritual practices done to realize God and being aware of one’s own true identity (Atman). This kind of happiness removes all the sorrows of life. It is called the Sattvika (superior) happiness. Initially, the spiritual practices which lead one to this type of happiness may be painful, but after overcoming the initial period of difficulties, one will begin to feel more and more happiness and bliss.

The kind of happiness that results of the union of the senses and the objects of the senses is referred to as Rajasika (mediocre) happiness.  Initially, this happiness feels like nectar, but eventually results in pain, worries, and slavery.

The third kind of happiness is a result of things like excessive sleep, laziness, and negligence. It is called Tamasika (inferior) happiness. It deludes the mind in the beginning and also at the end.

The Power of the Three Gunas:

There is nothing, neither a person nor an object, born on this earth or anywhere in the universe that is beyond the dominance of the three gunas.

Classification of People’s Duties According to Their Natural Tendencies (dominance of the gunas/traits in them):

The duties of various categories of people, including Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra, have been divided according to the characteristics they have developed due to their natural tendencies.

The Duties of Brahmins (Spiritual Teachers):

The duties of Brahmins are (1) to have control over their senses and mind, (2) to perform austerities, (3) to maintain internal and external purity, (4) to forgive people, (5) to keep their mind simple (devoid of crookedness), (6) to have firm faith in the scriptures and God, (7) to study scriptures to realize God, (8) to make efforts to realize God, and (9) to have direct experience of God.

The Duties of Kshatriyas (Soldiers):

The duties of Kshatriyas are the following: (1) to develop and show heroism, high spirit, firmness, and skill to solve problems, (2) to never run away from a battlefield (3) to be charitable in nature, and (4) to take up responsibility for the people they protect.

The Duties of the Vaishyas (Business People):

The duties of Vaishyas are said to be (1) honestly doing business and (2) protection and sustenance of farming, animals, and the environment.

The Duty of Shudras (Laborers):

The duty of Shudras determined due to their natural tendencies is to provide services to all.

How One Can Attain Supreme Knowledge by Performing One’s Duties:

If one sincerely performs one’s duties or responsibilities as a householder, then one attains the same Supreme Knowledge that a yogi attains by renouncing the world.

Let me tell you how one can attain such Supreme Knowledge simply by performing one’s responsibilities.

When a person becomes aware, through the performance of his/her responsibilities, that (s)he is worshiping the Creator of the universe, by whom the whole universe is pervaded, then (s)he will attain Supreme Knowledge.

Poorly performing one’s own responsibilities is better than well-performed someone else’s responsibilities. If one performs one’s own responsibilities, then one will not feel guilt.

(Note: Think of it as though each person is a point in the universe that is made out of space-time-causation. Each one has one’s own responsibilities, according to the placement of the point. The physical universe is functioning because the five elements (space, wind, fire, water, and earth), the sun, the moon, and plants, etc. perform their individual responsibilities. Similarly, if each human being performs his/her responsibilities, the entire human society can function smoothly. When people do not perform their responsibilities, then conflicts and chaos arise in families or in the greater society. (Regardless of our willful compliance, we have to remember that, sooner or later, we will be forced to perform our responsibilities anyway, per nature’s laws and forces greater than us.)

As every fire generates smoke, so does every action have unpleasant consequences associated with it. Therefore, one should not quit ones responsibilities foreseeing their unpleasant consequences.

If one is fully detached (realizing that everything belongs to God), has full self-control, and desires only to realize the Ultimate Reality or Truth, that person, by renouncing the results of his/her actions, attains the highest state of supreme calmness and peace, even while he/she remains intensely active in the world. This is a state of freedom from all bondages created by consequences of actions performed.

Inner Calmness and Peace Lead to the Realization of Brahman (the Ultimate Truth or Reality):

O Arjuna! I will tell you briefly how a person, who has attained inner calmness and peace within, by properly performing one’s responsibilities, realizes Brahman, the Supreme Knowledge, which the Jnani attains through renunciation of all actions.

When a person develops the following characteristics through properly performing actions, then (s)he becomes worthy of being one with Brahman (the highest state that a human being can attain).

(1) pure intellect (which clearly discriminates between right and wrong), (2) sattvika fortitude, (3) control of mind and senses, (4) free of distraction from worldly objects that attract the senses, (5) beyond attachments and hatred, (6) love for solitude that helps one to focus one’s mind on God and reflect upon the purpose of life, (7) keep the intake of the senses minimum whether that be intake of food by mouth, or through any other senses (8) control of speech and body, (9) continuous engagement in meditation, (10) being established in renunciation, (11) removal of ego, power, pride, lust, anger, and possessions, (12) have replaced “Me and mine” by “Thee and thine”, and (13) a peaceful nature.

Such a person, being one with Brahman, is very happy within, does not grieve for loss, does not desire anything in the world, and sees all as manifestations of Brahman, attains supreme love for God.

Having attained this supreme love for God, (s)he knows Me (God with form and God without form) in totality, and then becomes one with Me.

(Thanks to Radha Dhar for editing this post.)










The Essence of Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18: The Path to Liberation through Renunciation (Part I of III)

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 18

 The Path to Liberation through Renunciation

Part I of III (Shlokas 1 – 28)

(This is the last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. In this chapter, Arjuna asks a question that is crucial for him to make the final decision for his future action. This question connects with his state of mind, which he described in the first chapter. In this chapter, Shri Krishna tells Arjuna the essence of his teachings and his final command.)

Arjuna asks, “O Hrishikesha! O Mahabaho! O Keshinishudana! (Names of Shri Krishna) I want to know the clear difference between “Tyaga” and “Sanyasa”.

Shri Krishna answers, “Sages say that the renunciation of all actions that are motivated by fulfilling worldly desires is called “Sanyas,” while wise people say that giving up attachment to the results of all actions is called “Tyaga”.

One group of philosophers says that every action is harmful to a spiritual seeker; therefore, every action has to be renounced. Another group of philosophers says that, Yajna (Offering), Dana (Charity), and Tapa (Austerity) should not be given up.

O Arjuna! I will tell you my firm convictions about Yajna, Dana, Tapa, and Tyaga.

Yajna, Dana, and Tapa should not be given up. They should be performed. Yajna, Dana, and Tapa purify a human being. However, they should be performed with a sense of responsibility, without being attached to them, and by renouncing their results.

[Note: Renouncing attachment means remembering that everything belongs to God who is the creator, the nourisher, and the dissolver of the whole universe. Keeping this fact in mind, the renouncer makes constant changes in attitude (which consists of one’s thoughts, speech, and actions), gradually progressing from “Me and Mine” to “Thee and Thine,” until “Me and Mine” are completely replaced by “Thee and Thine.” Finally, only a slight non-harmful ego remains in a person for the purposes of serving humanity. This is a state of true knowledge of the Ultimate Reality.

By renouncing the results of one’s actions means performing all responsibilities as work given by God. Through this, one develops awareness of the presence of God and love for God. By renouncing, one considers every responsibility being performed as worship of God or an offering to God. One accepts the worldly part of the results as a “Prasad from God” or “Grace of God,” which may be either pleasant or unpleasant.]

The Three Kinds of Tyaga

Tyaga is of three kinds.

One should not renounce one’s own responsibilities. For those who renounce their responsibilities out of ignorance or delusion, their renunciation is considered a “Tamasika Tyaga” (an inferior renunciation).

Renunciation where one gives up one’s responsibilities because of fear of trouble to one’s body, thinking that all actions are painful is called a “Rajasika Tyaga” (a mediocre renunciation).

However, a “Sattvika Tyaga” (a superior or proper renunciation) is one where a person is convinced that he/she must perform his/her responsibilities and performs them while renouncing all attachments to them and offering their results to God.

A True Tyagi (Renouncer)

A true renouncer never hates an unpleasant responsibility and never gets elated by a pleasant responsibility. It means that he/she remains completely focused and performs every responsibility (pleasant or unpleasant) sincerely and to the best of his/her ability.

Such a person is established in a Satvik (pure and divine) state of mind, has matured intellect, and has destroyed all the doubts in his/her mind.

As long as one has a body, one cannot renounce all actions because one has to perform actions to maintain his/her body. Therefore, a “true tyagi” is the one who renounces the results of all actions.

Every action has three kinds of results: favorable, unfavorable, or mixed. One who has renounced the results of all actions does not get affected by these results, but results definitely affect the people who have not renounced them.

We Do Not Have Control over the Results of Actions

In the Samkhya Philosophy, five causes have been described for the accomplishment of any action. These are (1) the field of an action, (2) the performer, (3) tools to perform the action, (4) performance of the action, and (5) divine fate.

With regard to an individual, we can consider the following five causes for accomplishment of any action: (1) the body, (2) the doer, (3) the senses, (4) various actions, and (5) fate, over which the person has no control. These are the five causes of accomplishing any good or bad action performed by an individual with his/her body, mind, or speech.

This is a fact. However, due to undeveloped intellect and a deluded mind, a person thinks that the Atman is the performer of the actions. Such a person does not understand that the Atman is beyond the body and mind and is simply a witness-consciousness. (As light is not affected by the actions being performed in the light, similarly Atman is not affected by the actions performed by the body and mind.)

If a person has no “doer-ship” and has a delusion-free intellect, even when he/she has to perform a responsibility like a soldier who fights and kills enemies, he/she will not be considered a criminal.

The knower, the knowledge, and the object of knowledge create the motivation for actions, while the performer, the tools to perform, and the action are the three-fold basis of actions.

Now, I will tell you the three kinds of knowledge, action, and the performer of an action, as they have been described in the Samkhya philosophy.

The Three Kinds of Knowledge

The knowledge, by which a person can see One, Imperishable, and Undivided Atman in all beings which look divided by their external differences, is called Sattvika Knowledge (superior or perfect knowledge).

The knowledge by which a person sees more and more differences among all beings is called Rajasika Knowledge (mediocre knowledge).

The knowledge by which one thinks that only a part is a whole truth (like the body is the whole personality of a being), the knowledge which is illogical, not grounded on truth, and trifle, is called Tamasika Knowledge (inferior knowledge).

The Three Kinds of Actions

An action that is a person’s true responsibility, has been performed without any attachment, selfish motive, or hatred, and performed as an offering to or worship of God, is called a Sattvika Action (superior or perfect action).

An action that has been performed to fulfill one’s worldly desire, to boost one’s ego, and performed with much undue efforts, is called a Rajasika Action (mediocre action).

An action that is undertaken through delusion and performed without thinking about one’s ability, the consequences, loss, or injury, is called a Tamasika Action (an inferior action).

The Three Kinds of Performers

A Sattvika Performer (a superior or an ideal performer) is one who (1) is free from attachment, (2) does not brag about him/herself, (3) is filled with fortitude and enthusiasm, and (4) is unaffected by success or failure.

A Rajasika Performer (a mediocre performer) is one who is (1) passionately attached to the action, (2) mostly interested in the result and not in the performance, (3) greedy, (4) violent (5) impure, and (6) swings between joys and sorrows because of the favorable or unfavorable results.

A Tamasika Performer (an inferior performer) is one who is (1) unsteady, (2) untrained for action, (3) arrogant, (4) deceitful, (5) malicious, (6) despondent, (7) lazy, and (8) a procrastinator.

(Thanks to Radha Dhar for editing this post.)


The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7: The Path of Knowledge with Realization

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7

The Path of Knowledge with Realization

Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! I will tell you how, with your mind attached to Me (Brahman or God), taking refuge in Me, and being constantly engaged in spiritual practices to realize Me, you will know Me completely without any doubt.

I will tell you in complete detail the knowledge that leads to the direct experience of Me. After attaining this knowledge, you will have nothing that remains to be known.

Among thousands of people, one may strive for perfection. Among the people who strive for perfection, one may really know Me completely.

Prakruti (The Power of Brahman):

Know that My (Brahman’s or Purusha’s) Power (Prakruti) is of two kinds: Gross and Subtle.

The Gross Power is an Eight-Fold Power (Ashtadha Prakruti) made out of (1) Earth, (2) Water, (3) Fire, (4) Wind, (5) Space, (6) Mind, (7) Intellect, and (8) Ego.

The Subtle Power is the Indwelling Consciousness by which the whole universe is sustained.

Know that these two Powers (Prakrutis) are the cause of the existence of all beings and thus I (God, the manifested Brahman) am the cause of the creation and the dissolution of the whole universe.

Brahman is everything:

Besides Me (Brahman), there is no other cause of the universe. The whole universe is strung on Me as gems on the thread of a necklace.

The Subtle and the Gross manifestations of the Brahman:

O Arjuna! I am:

(1) the taste of water,

(2) the light of the sun and the moon,

(3) the Pranav (Om) in all the Vedas,

(4) the sound in space,

(5) the strength in all beings,

(6) the divine fragrance in the earth,

(7) the brilliance in fire,

(8) the life in all beings,

(9) the austerity in ascetics,

(10) the eternal seed cause of all beings,

(11) the intellect of all intellectuals,

(12) the heroism of heroic people,

(13) the power of people who are devoid of desires and attachment, and

(14) the legitimate desire in all beings.

Know that whatever states have been created by the three gunas – sattva, rajas, and tamas – have been created by Me alone. I am not in them, but they are in Me.

Mayathe deluding power of Brahman:

The whole universe is deluded by the states created by the three gunas. That is why they do not know Me (the Imperishable Brahman); I am beyond the three gunas.

It is very difficult to overcome the delusion created by Maya (My divine power called Prakruti) which consists of the three gunas. Only those who take refuge in Me can cross over this delusion.

Deluded people whose knowledge has been destroyed by Maya, who are possessed by demonic nature, who are engaged in evil activities and thus have become the lowest among human beings, do not worship Me.

Four kinds of worshippers:

On the other hand, four kinds of virtuous people worship Me: (1) “Arta,” who are in distress, (2) “Jignyasu,” who are seeking knowledge, (3) “Artharthi,” who are seeking pleasures and (4) “Jnani,” wise people.

Among these four kinds, the “Jnani” who are constantly making efforts to realize Me and have one-pointed devotion for Me are the best. I am the most beloved of the “Jnani” and they are My most beloved.

All four kinds of people are noble. But, a “Jnani” is like my own form because he/she, with the mind focused on Me, remains established in Me as the Supreme Goal.

After many births, a “Jnani,” realizing the truth that ‘Everything is Vasudeva (Brahman),’ worships Me. Such a “Jnani” is truly a great soul. It is very rare to find such a great soul.

Worship for Worldly Desires:

People whose discrimination has been destroyed by their worldly desires worship various deities (the limited aspects of Brahman) following various vows and rituals constrained by their desirous nature.

Whatever may be the form of the deity that a devotee likes to worship with faith, I (Brahman) give the devotee unwavering faith to that form. The devotee then worships that form with faith, and his/her desires are fulfilled by that form. Actually, I (Brahman) fulfill his/her desires through that form.

However, these people are short-sighted because the joy of the fulfillment of their worldly desires is short-lived. Those who worship various deities realize those deities (the finite aspects of Brahman), but those who worship Me (Brahman) ultimately attain Me (realize Brahman).

Foolish people do not know that My true nature is Imperishable and Transcendent. That is why they think that I, the Un-manifest, am endowed with a manifest form.

Due to the veil of My Maya (My Divine Power), I do not reveal Myself to all. People deluded by My Maya do not know Me as birthless and imperishable.

I know all the beings that were in the past, who are in the present and who will be in the future. But, no one knows Me.

Desires and Aversion:

All beings get deluded by the pairs of opposites (like favorable and unfavorable, pleasant and unpleasant, joy and sorrow, and others) which are created by desires and aversion.

But people whose virtuous actions have removed the impurity of their mind worship Me with firm conviction.

Who Knows Me?

Those who take refuge in Me and make efforts to free themselves from the fear and suffering of old age and death will know (1) Brahman, (2) everything about the individual soul and (3) the actions they must perform to know both.

People who know ‘Adhibhuta’ (One that underlies all elements), ‘Adhidaiva’ (One that underlies all the gods), and ‘Adhiyajna’ (One that sustains all the sacrifices) even at the time of their death, being steadfast in Me, know Me. (More elaborate explanations of these terms and the meaning of this sentence has been given in Chapter 8 of the Gita.)

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5: The Path of Renunciation

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5

The Path of Renunciation

Arjuna Asked Shri Krishna, “On one hand you talk about renouncing all worldly actions and adopting the path of knowledge, and on the other hand you praise Karma Yoga, the path to achieving the Supreme Knowledge through performing actions. Please tell me which path is really beneficial to me.”

Shri Krishna said, “Renunciation of all worldly actions and Karma Yoga are both beneficial in attaining the Supreme Knowledge. But, Karma Yoga is definitely preferable for most people than the path of renunciation of all worldly actions.

A True Sanyasi:

Know that a person who desires nothing and hates nothing is a true Sanyasi (a person who has renounced everything). A Karma Yogi, through properly performing actions in the world, goes beyond the pairs of opposites, like attachment and hatred, joy and sorrows, honor and insult, praise and blame, and becomes completely free from all bondages. Thus, s/he becomes a true Sanyasi.

The Path of Knowledge and Karma Yoga lead to the same goal:

Only people with immature and undeveloped intellect think that the path of knowledge and the path of actions are different. If one is established in one path s/he attains the goal of both paths because both the paths lead to the same goal.

Without practicing Karma Yoga, it is difficult for many people to renounce all actions or the doer-ship of all actions.  A Karma Yogi, by performing one’s responsibilities in an unselfish manner, easily realizes Brahman; s/he attains the Supreme Knowledge or the Ultimate Freedom.

How a Karma Yogi attains the Supreme Knowledge:

A Karma Yogi, through performance of unselfish actions purifies one’s mind, gets control over his/her mind and senses, and realizes that Self, his/her true identity, is same Self in all people. As a result, a Karma Yogi does not get deluded or get bound by performing actions.

Such a Karma Yogi realizes that the Self is the support of the body and the mind, and only in the presence of the Self do the body and the mind function. Just as people do various activities in light, which itself is inactive, so too is the Self inactive, but the body and the mind function due to the Self.

A Karma Yogi feels that as Self “I am doing nothing” even though the body and the mind perform activities like seeing, listening, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, talking, emitting, seizing, and opening or closing eyes.

A Karma Yogi working through body, mind, and intellect in a detached spirit, and offering all the results to Brahman (1) purifies oneself, (2) does not get affected by the unpleasant results of the actions just as a lotus leaf is unaffected by the water, (3) attains inner peace within due to the awareness of the Self, and (4) lives happily in the world being established in the Self.

Due to his/her worldly desires, a person who is not a Karma Yogi gets bounded by a chain of results leading to actions, and actions leading to results, and so forth

Brahman as Witness Consciousness:

The Ultimate Reality (Brahman) as a witness consciousness neither creates the doer-ship of action, nor the actions, nor the connection of the action and its results. All the actions are performed by the body-mind complex.

The Brahman as a witness consciousness does not take anyone’s sin or merit. But, the knowledge of this Ultimate Reality has been covered by ignorance. This is why people become deluded and think erroneously.

The Supreme Knowledge of Brahman shines like the sun in the hearts of those who have destroyed this ignorance of ‘I – being a separate identity with a body and mind’. Such people keep their mind and intellect focused on Brahman and makes all efforts to be aware of Brahman. Having completely removed their ignorance, they destroy all their bondages and become free.

The Knowledge of Oneness:

People with the Supreme Knowledge realizes that the same Brahman has become a wise person endowed with knowledge, an ignorant person, and an animal like a cow, or an elephant, or a dog. By remaining established in this Oneness, people with the Supreme Knowledge have conquered the whole world in this life and have attained the Ultimate Freedom.

People with Supreme Knowledge know that the worldly joy and sorrow are limited and therefore they neither get elated by worldly joy nor depressed by sorrow. Attaining this steady wisdom, removing all the delusions, and realizing Brahman, they remain established in Brahman, the highest state that a human being can attain.

Wise people know that the joy obtained by the contact of the senses and the sense-objects are limited and ultimately bring suffering. So, they work only to obtain the Supreme Knowledge and not for worldly joy.

A person who can control before death the powerful urges that arise due to lust, desire, and anger is a true Yogi, and s/he lives happily in the world.

Freedom in Brahman:

Those people who have (1) removed their impurities from their minds, (2) destroyed their doubts about the Ultimate Reality with knowledge, (3) controlled their mind and senses, (4) removed obstacles like lust, desire, anger, jealousy and others, (5) been engaged in selfless service to all, (6) focused their minds on the Self within, (7) realized the Self, enjoy inner bliss, and derive the Ultimate Knowledge which comes from the Self-awareness, become one with Brahman and  attain freedom in Brahman. They are free from all bondages of the world and go beyond the Laws of Nature when their minds are one with Brahman.

Who is always free?

A contemplative person who (1) is devoid of desire, fear, and anger, (2) has achieved control over one’s mind and senses, (3) does not let the sense-pleasures enter in the mind, (4) has intense desire for Self-realization, (5) keeps the eyes focused on the goal of Self-realization, and (6) has obtained a total control on one’s breathing by fully focusing the mind on the Self is always free.

Who attains peace of mind?

A Yogi who realizes Me (an Incarnation of Brahman) as the receiver and dispenser of all spiritual practices, sacrifices, and austerities, the Lord of the universe and a loving friend of all beings, attains everlasting peace.

(Thanks to Sheela Krishnan for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17: Three Kinds of Faith

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17

Three Kinds of Faith

Arjuna asked, “O Krishna, Those who disregard the scriptures but worship gods with faith; what is the state of their minds?  Is it Sattvika, Rajasika, or Tamasika?

Shri Krishna said that each individual is endowed with faith.  The faiths generated by the mind-set of human beings are of three kinds: Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika. As is the faith, so is the person.

Three kinds of worship:

Satvika people worship gods and goddesses, rajasika people worship angles and demons, while tamasika people worship ghosts and spirits.

The demonic minded people are filled with pretension and ego and they are motivated by worldly desires and attachment. They perform severe austerities disregarding the scriptural injunctions only to torture their bodies and the Self (Atman) lying within them.

Shri Krishna then described three kinds of aahaara (food), yajna (offering or worship), tapa (austerities) and daana (charity).

Three kinds of food:

Sattvika people like food that improves health and increases appetite, joy, strength, and longevity. Such food is also tasty, not very dry, cooked with balanced spices, nutritious, and pleasing to the heart.

The food rajasika people prefer is extremely bitter, sour, salty, dry, hot in temperature and with the spices that burn the tongue and the body.  Such food causes pain, worries and disease.

Tamasika people like food that is ill-cooked, tasteless, putrid, stale, left-over, and filthy.

Three kinds of Yajna (offering/religious ritual/spiritual practice): Sattvika yajna is one which is performed following the guidelines of scriptures and saints, without any motive of material gain, and with a firm conviction that “I must do this for my spiritual development.”

Rajasika yajna is performed with a clear motive of material gain and just to project oneself as a spiritual person.

Tamasika yajna is performed whimsically without following any guidelines.  Such yajna is performed without faith and without honoring any guide or a guest.

Three kinds of austerities: There are three kinds of austerities, namely, physical, verbal and mental.  Each of these austerities is of three types: sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika.

Physical austerities include worshipping gods & goddesses, honoring spiritual seekers, Guru, and wise people, and practicing purity, simplicity, celibacy and non-violence.

Verbal austerities include study of the scriptures, repeating the name of God, not hurting anyone with speech, and speaking truth sensibly. The truth spoken must be pleasant and beneficial to others.

Mental austerities include the practice of silence, self-control, and serenity, keeping the mind free of agitations and impurities.

Each of these austerities is sattvika if it is performed with supreme faith and for spiritual development only, not for any worldly gain.

The rajasika way of performing austerity is to gain honor, attain higher status, receive reverence from people in the society, and is filled with hypocrisy.  The result of such austerity is uncertain and short-lived.

When a person whimsically and out of stupidity picks up a few ideas and practices them as austerity to torture their own body and mind and simply to harm others, then it is called tamsika austerity.

Three kinds of charity:

                When charity is done with a sense of responsibility and with clear understanding of the noble purpose of the receiver (an individual or an organization), given at a proper time and with proper respect, it is called sattvika charity.

Rajasika charity is done in order to receive a worldly favor and for material gain, and given after inflicting much pain to the receiver.

Charity done whimsically by giving to an unworthy person or an organization, at improper place and time, and given with insults and disrespect is called tamasika charity.

Om, Tat, and Sat:

Om, Tat and Sat are three epithets of Brahman.  By that were created formerly the Brahmanas, the Vedas, and the yajnas. Therefore, the followers of the Vedas always begin all yajnas (offerings/religious rituals/spiritual practices), tapa (austerities), and charity enjoined by the scriptures with the utterance of “Om”.

People seeking liberation, uttering the word “Tat”, perform yajna, tapa, and charity only for spiritual development. Keeping in mind that “Tat” means ‘everything belongs to Brahman,’ they do not seek any worldly gain from the yajna, tapa, and charity.

The word “Sat” is used whenever one refers to the Ultimate Reality or something good or noble. The word “Sat” is also used for an auspicious action. The Sanskrit words like Sabhava, (noble feelings) Sat-jana (a good or noble person), Sat-karma (a noble action) use Sat to indicate good or noble.

Steadfastness in sattvika yajna, tapa, and charity is called “Sat.”  Also, when spiritual practices, austerities, or charity are performed only for spiritual development and by offering their worldly results to God, then they are called “Sat.”

When yajna (spiritual practices), tapa (austerities), and charity are done without any faith, then they are called “Asat,” opposite to “Sat.”   The Asat actions are not beneficial in this life or the next.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16: Classification of Divine and Demonic Qualities

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16

Classification of Divine and Demonic Qualities

The difference between divine and demonic:

Each person is potentially divine and the goal of human life is to manifest that divinity in one’s life.

A person is called divine, when this divinity shines through his/her thoughts, speech and actions. When that divinity gets blocked and non-divine qualities manifest, that same person is called a demonic person.

The qualities which help us manifest this inner divinity are called the divine qualities. These divine qualities free us from all our limitations and bondages. On the other hand, the qualities, which block our divinity, create confusion and ignorance are called the demonic qualities.  These demonic qualities, in turn, lead us toward a miserable life and to our destruction.  Such demonic qualities make us slaves of our weaknesses. In this chapter Shri Krishna clearly defines divine and demonic qualities.

The divine qualities:

The following are the divine qualities or virtues.  These virtues are inter-connected.  If a person practices one of these qualities with proper understanding, then the other qualities follow.

(1) fearlessness, (2) purity of mind, (3) being established in the True Knowledge of the Self and an ability to focus mind on the Self, (4) charity, (5) control on one’s senses, (6) sacrifice or unselfish service (7) study of the scriptures and habit of reflecting upon their teachings in order to practice them, (8) austerities – bearing the pain caused due to spiritual practices (9) being simple minded (lack of crookedness), (10) not to hurt anyone through thought, speech and action, (11) being truthful, (12) devoid of anger, (13) renunciation – ability to renounce what comes in the way of spiritual development (14) peaceful nature, (15) not to think or talk about ills of others, (16) compassion towards all beings, (17) not being greedy, (18) having gentle nature (not being rude), (19) modesty; feeling shame in doing unrighteous things, (20) not restless (21) possessing an aura of divinity (22) forgiveness, (23) ability to hold on to spiritual practices until realization of one’s divinity, (24) purity – external and internal, (25) having no animosity towards anyone and (26) not craving for special honor or respect.

The demonic qualities:

The following are the demonic qualities which conceal the divinity of a person and lead one to ignorance and destruction:

(1) Pretension, (2) Arrogance, (3) Being egotistic, (4) Lack of control on anger, (5) Rudeness, (6) Ignorance, (7) Being confused between “what should be done,” and “what should not be done,” (8) Lacking purity (9) Being unrighteous (10) Being untruthful

(11)  People with demonic qualities think that the world is devoid of truth, has no moral basis, is without God, and it is a creation of combination of male and female element having no other cause except fulfillment of lust. Having such views these lost souls with little understanding and fierce actions rise as the enemies of the world for its destruction.

(12) Being filled with hypocrisy, pride, and arrogance, and giving themselves up to insatiable desires they hold false views through delusion and act with impure resolve.

(13) Living with infinite worries which last till their deaths, and thinking that ‘acquiring pleasures of body and mind is the only goal of life,’ they crave for sense-pleasures.

(14) Being slaves of thousands of hopes of worldly desires and filled with lust and anger, they are busy to collect money for sense pleasures through unethical means.

(15) People with demonic qualities think that, “Today I have gained one thing and later on I will fulfil another longing. This much money I have collected and in future I will collect more. I have killed this enemy and I will kill more in future.  I am the Lord of the Universe.  I enjoy the world.  I am endowed with all the cleverness. I am powerful and I am happy.  I am rich and I am from ‘high family.’  There is no one equal to me.  I give in charity, perform religious rituals, and I will enjoy the world.”  Thus, being deluded by ignorance, caught in the net of ‘attachment’, with messed-up minds, and craving for sense pleasures they fall into a hell, meaning live very low-level human lives.

(16)  Considering them as great, drunken by the wealth and worldly respect these arrogant people perform religious rituals whimsically for their worldly pleasures.  They do not properly follow scriptural injunctions.

(17) Minds being filled with ego, pride of their physical strength, arrogance, worldly desires, anger and jealousy they torture Me (the Self) which lies in themselves and others.

To these demonic minded people, who are cruel, filled with hatred and living low-level human lives, I (meaning the Law of Nature) throw them again and again into an environment which sinks them into lower and lower levels of life without realizing their inner divinity.

Three Doors:

O Arjuna!  Know that the three doors to hell (or to low-level of life) are unethical sense pleasures, anger and greed which bring self-destruction.  Therefore, you should renounce these three doors to hell.

Those who save themselves from these three doors and who engage in their spiritual development, attain the highest state in their lives, meaning acquire the supreme Knowledge, Infinite Bliss and Awareness of their inner Divinity.

Follow the Guidelines of the Scriptures:

Those who disregard the teachings of the scriptures and of Saints and Sages and live whimsically following their own worldly desires, they neither attain any success, nor happiness and nor any higher state in life.

Therefore, you must learn the teachings of the scriptures and of Saints and Sages, make these teachings your guidelines to decide ‘what to do and what not to do’ and then perform actions.


The Law of Nature is such that sooner or later each being will realize its true identity, which is divine and is called by Vedanta as Atman. Divine qualities help a person to realize one’s divinity lying within.

The divine and demonic qualities are in the mind. If the weaknesses take over the mind, then a divine person can turn into a demonic person. Similarly, if a person’s mind realizes the harm and miseries that demonic qualities bring and he/she makes efforts to acquire divine qualities, then he/she becomes divine. We have an example of the highway man Valio or Ratnakar who was robbing and killing people for a living. However, when he was brought to senses by Sage Narada, he realized that he was doing hideous things.  He then plunged into spiritual practices to realize the divinity within and became Sage Valmiki who wrote the great epic Ramayana.

When a person’s mind is dominated by the divine qualities, he/she will attract people with divine qualities whose company will help strengthen his/her divine qualities. Similarly, when a person’s mind is dominated by the demonic qualities, he/she will attract people with demonic qualities whose company will drag him/her into more demonic qualities. But, in this case, at one point by the sufferings and the fear of complete annihilation, a demonic mind wakes up and starts journey towards one’s true divine nature.

(Thanks to Nina Sivadasan-Nair for editing this post.)


The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15: The Supreme Self

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15

The Supreme Self

The Universe as a Tree:

Shri Krishna said, “The universe is like the Imperishable ‘Ashwattha’ tree hanging upside down. Its roots are above in the sky (in the Ultimate Reality, the Supreme Self or Brahman), the branches are below, and the leaves are the scriptures.  One who knows the universe as described above is the knower of the Ultimate Reality.

The branches of this tree spread above, below, and all around.  They are nourished by the three gunas; sattva, rajas and tamas.  Its buds are the sense objects.  In this human world, the cause-effect chains form the tap roots which give rise to ego, attachment, and desires.

What to make of the tree?

One cannot comprehend its true form here. It has no beginning, no end and its present state is uncertain. This tree has been deeply rooted into ego, attachment, and desires. In order to acquire the Supreme Knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, one has to cut down this tree with the powerful weapon of detachment.

Then, one has to search for the Ultimate Reality, the knowledge of which prevents one from becoming deluded again.  One should pray, “I surrender to you, the Ancient Supreme Self, from which streamed forth the whole universe.”

Who attains the Supreme Self?

Those highly evolved people, who have gotten rid of their false pride and delusion, conquered their minds and senses, are ever devoted to the goal of attaining the Supreme Self, are devoid of worldly desires, and do not get disturbed by the pairs of opposites like pain & pleasure and others, attain the Immortal Supreme Self.

This Supreme Self is self-illumined.  Neither the sun, nor the moon, nor fire illumines It. The one who reaches the Abode of the Suprereme Self does not get deluded again.

The Parts of the Supreme Self:

An eternal part of Me (the Supreme Self), called the Atman, attracts the mind and the senses and becomes a being called Jivatma.

As wind takes fragrance from a flower to another place, this Jivatma takes the mind and the senses from one body to another.

This Jivatma, presiding over the senses like the ear, the eye, the organs of touch, taste, and smell, and the mind, enjoys the objects of the senses.

The people with deeper insight realize that the Jivatma endowed with three gunas resides in a body, enjoys the sense-objects, and leaves the body.  People with undeveloped intellect cannot realize this fact.

Yogis who have purified their minds through proper spiritual practices and self-control realize this Atman.  But, people with impure minds and lack of self-control cannot realize this Atman even if they make efforts.

The Power and the Nature of the Supreme Self:

Know that the effulgent light of the sun which illumines the whole world, and the light of the moon and the fire is My (Supreme Self’s) light.

Pervading the earth, I, the Supreme Self, hold all beings and I nourish all vegetation through My light of the moon.

I, the Supreme Self, digest all the four kinds of food (food which is chewed, swallowed, leaked, and sucked) being the fire inside the stomach which is kept alive by the wind of inhalation and exhalation.

I reside in the hearts of all, and through Me alone they have memory, knowledge, and destruction of their doubts.  I am the creator and the knower of the Vedas, and through  the Vedas I am the One to be known.

The Supreme Self:

There are two kinds of selves in the world, the Perishable and the Imperishable.  All the embodied beings of the world are Perishable, while the Unchanging Self within all beings (the Atman) is the Imperishable.

However, there is yet another Self which is beyond the Perishable and the Imperishable.  It is known in the Vedas and the world as the Supreme Self.  It pervades and sustains the whole universe.

Since I am the Supreme, beyond the perishable and the imperishable, I am known in the Vedas as the Supreme Self.  One who knows Me as the Supreme Self has known everything to be known and he/she worships Me with all his/her heart.

O Arjuna!  Thus, I have told you the profound Truth by knowing which one becomes the Knower of the Truth and the blessed soul.”

(Thanks to Sheela Krishnan for editing this post.)

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14:The Classification of the Three Gunas

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14

The Classification of the Three Gunas

The Supreme Knowledge:

Shri Krishna said, “I will again tell you the supreme knowledge, by knowing which sages have attained the highest state a human being can attain.

My power (Prakruti) has created all the matter in the universe and I (as Purusha or Brahman) infuse Consciousness in the matter. That is how all beings come to life.

Prakruti is made out of three gunas, sattva, rajas, and tamas. These three gunas bind the Consciousness (Atman) to the matter (body and mind).

How the Atman is being tied to the Body and the Mind:

Sattva is pure, without modification, and illumined. Sattva ties the Atman to the body and mind through attachment to knowledge and happiness.

Rajas is created by the desires to please the body and mind with worldly pleasures and attachment to worldly objects. It ties the Atman to the body and mind to perform actions to fulfill these worldly desires and keep the attachment to worldly objects.

Tamas is created through ignorance. It deludes all people. Tamas ties the Atman to the body and the mind with inertia, laziness, sleep, and destructive activities.

Rising of each guna:

Each guna rises by dominating the other two gunas.

When the sattva guna rises, there is full awareness of the Atman in the body and mind. When the rajas rises, then greed, desires and activities to fulfill worldly pleasures, and restlessness prevails in the person. When tamas rises, the body and mind are filled with inertia, laziness, delusion and destructive activities.

Results of each guna:

When the sattva guna dominates, a person performs good actions, and the results of these good actions are happiness and an awareness of the Atman (one’s true identity). The results of actions performed under the domination of rajas are suffering and greed. The results of actions performed under the domination of tamas are ignorance and delusion.

The Consciousness of the people in whom sattva dominates most of the time remains in the higher state, which brings knowledge, happiness, and inner peace. The Consciousness of the people in whom rajas dominates most of the time remains in mediocre state which brings suffering, confusion, and attachment to the worldly pleasures and objects. The Consciousness of the people in whom tamas dominates most of the time remains in the lower state which brings ignorance, delusion, inertia, and destruction.

When a person dies living a sattvika-oriented life, he/she takes birth in the family of sattvika people. When a person dies living a rajasika-oriented life, he/she takes birth into a family of rajasika people. When a person dies living a tamasika-oriented life, he/she takes birth as an inert material or a lower species.

How to attain the highest knowledge?

When a person realizes that the body and mind are dominated by the three gunas and he/she, as Atman, is just the Witness Consciousness being unaffected by the three gunas, then the person attains the highest (supreme) knowledge.”

How a person with the highest knowledge behaves in the world?

Arjuna asked, “O Lord Krishna! How can a person go beyond the three gunas and realize that he/she is an Atman, a Witness Consciousness? What are the characteristics of such a person? How does that person behave in the world?

Shri Krishna said, “A person who has gone beyond the three gunas and realized that his/her true identity is the Atman (the Witness Consciousness) will not hate when any guna rises in him/her and does not crave for any guna when it subsides. Such a person remains calm within and observes like an outsider how his/her body and mind function due to the gunas. Such a person realizes that his/her body and mind are constantly changing, but as Atman he/she remains the same.

(The nature of Atman is Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss Absolute. This means that a person as Atman is the eternal Life Force, has all the Awareness or Knowledge, and has a nature that is Infinite Bliss.)

Realizing that his/her true nature is Atman, a person goes beyond the three gunas. The following are a few characteristics of such a person. Such a person (1) remains calm while going through the joyful and sorrowful situations of life, (2) sees no existential difference between dirt, stone and gold, (3) does not become elated when favorable things happen and does not become depressed when unfavorable things happen, (4) always remains fully aware and knowledgeable about all things occurring and keeps complete control on oneself, (5) knows that the praise and blame, honor and insult are temporary and they come together as two sides of a coin, (6) is unbiased towards friends and foes, and (7) does not engage in any selfish (related only to the temporary pleasures of the body and mind) activity.

With the above mentioned characteristics, when a person has an unswerving intense love for Me (meaning has intense passion to realize one’s true identity as Brahman or Atman and makes proper effort for this), goes beyond the three gunas, and becomes one with the Atman (or Brahman).

Remember I (Brahman or Atman) am the abode of Immortality, the True Righteousness, and the Infinite Bliss.”



  1. If we know the characteristics of the three gunas, then we will be aware of the rising of each guna in us and we can understand the cause of our thoughts and behavior. We can also understand the cause of other people’s thoughts and behaviors and treat them the best way we can. This understanding of gunas definitely helps us to know ourselves better and improves our relationship with others.
  2. All three gunas are needed to live a life. Sattva is needed for knowledge, happiness and peace of mind. Rajas is needed to maintain the body and keeping the mind alert. Tamas is needed to rest the body and mind.  These three gunas should be in proper proportions.  In order to attain the supreme knowledge we have to control tamas to its proper proportion by raising rajas and similarly to keep rajas in proper proportion we have to raise sattva. Finally, we have to go beyond the three gunas.
  3. Sri Ramakrishna told an excellent parable that gives a clear picture of these gunas. A person was going through a deep forest. Three robbers came and robbed him and beat him. One robber said, “Let’s kill him, so he cannot tell the police about us.” The second robber said, “There is no need to kill him. Let’s tie him to a tree and leave him to die on his own fate.” They tied him to a tree and left.  The third robber who was quiet and did not initially do anything, came back. He said, “Oh! You have suffered so much and you are in pain. Let me untie you and relieve you from this pain.” He untied the traveler and said, “I know the way out from this forest. Follow me.” The third robber took the traveler out from the forest. But, the robber stayed at the border of the forest and pointed the traveler a path to his home. The traveler said, “You are a very nice person. Please come with me to my home.  My family will like to see you.” The third robber said, “No. I cannot come out of this forest. I am also a robber.”

 The three robbers are three gunas, sattva, rajas, and tamas. The robber who was             ready to kill is tamas, the robber which tied the person is rajas, and the robber who       relieved the person and showed him the path leading towards his home is sattva.          Home is our own true identity Atman which is our divine self. In order to realize                 Atman we have to go beyond the three gunas. Sattva is closer to Atman. But, we             should not even have awareness that ‘I am sattvika.’ When we go beyond the three         gunas, we become free from all bondages. Such a person truly lives a life as a master     of oneself and not as a slave.

  1. A person who has gone beyond the three gunas is called a Gunatita. A Gunatita person is not inactive. To the contrary, such a person is intensely active to unselfishly serve all beings seeing the same Atman in all. In the presence of such a person, we feel an unspeakable bliss, peace of mind, a clear understanding of the purpose of life, and derive inspiration to realize Atman and be free from all bondages.

(Thanks to Rushil Desai for editing this post.)