• Ch. 1: Arjuna feels despondent on seeing his family and friends ranged in battle against each other
  • Ch. 2: When he seeks Krishna's advice, Arjuna is told that only the physical self perishes, whereas the Spirit is immortal. Krishna exhorts Arjuna to do his duty as a warrior.
  • Ch. 3: Karmayoga. Arjuna asks, if knowledge is suprior to action, why he should engage in battle. Krishna stresses to Arjuna that performing his duties for the greater good, but without attachment to results is the appropriate course of action.
  • Ch. 4: Krishna reveals that He has lived through many births, always teaching Yoga for the protection of the pious and the destruction of the impious and stresses the importance of accepting a teacher.
  • Ch. 5: Arjuna asks Krishna if it is better to forgo action or to act. Krishna answers that both ways may be beneficent, but that acting in dispassionate and detached manner is superior.
  • Ch. 6: Krishna describes the correct method of meditation and self-control for achieving that special state of consciousness which allows self-control and helps to reach the Supreme Being.
  • Ch. 7: Krishna speaks to Arjuna about the path of knowledge.
  • Ch. 8: Krishna defines the terms Supreme Spirit, the philosophy of duty, the spirit of the Imperishable and the Unmanifest and explains how one can remember him at the time of death and attain His supreme abode.
  • Ch. 9: Krishna explains panentheism, "all beings are in Me" as a way of remembering Him in all circumstances. He posits that He exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well.
  • Ch. 10: Krishna describes his various manifestations and how He is the ultimate source of all material and spiritual worlds.
  • Ch. 11: On Arjuna's request, Krishna displays his "universal form", a theophany of a being emitting the radiance of a thousand suns, containing all other beings and material in existence.
  • Ch. 12: Krishna describes the process of devotional service .
  • Ch. 13: Krishna describes nature (prakrti), the enjoyer (purusha) and consciousness.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

II. The Philosophy of Discrimination

Sanjay then described how Lord Krishna, seeing Arjuna overwhelmed with compassion, his eyes dimmed with tears and full of despondency, consoled him:

The Lord said: 'My beloved friend! Why yield to this weakness just on the eve of battle which does no credit to those who call themselves Aryans, and only brings them infamy and bars against them the gates of heaven?

'Arjuna! Why give way to unmanliness? You, who are the terror of your enemies! shake off such shameful effeminacy, get ready to act!'

Arjuna argued: 'My Lord, when the battle rages, how can I send an arrow to pierce Bheeshma or Drona, who should recieve my reverence?

'I would rather content myself with a beggar's crust than kill these teachers of mine, these precious noble souls. To slay these masters who are my benefactors would be to stain the sweetness of life's pleasure with their blood.

'Nor can I say whether it were better that they conquer me or for me to conquer them, since I ould no longer care to live if I killed these sons of Dhritarashtra, now preparing for war.

'My heart is oppressed with anguish; and my mind confused as to what my duty is. Therefore, my Lord, tell me what is best for my spiritual welfare; for I am your disciple. Please direct me, I pray.

'For should I attain the monarchy of the visible world, or over the invisible world, it would not drive away the despair which now paralyses my senses.'

Sanjay continued: Arjuna, the conqueror of all enemies, then told the Lord of All-Hearts that he would not fight, and fell silent, O King.

Then, the Lord, with a benign smile, addressed him who was so depressed standing in the midst of two armies.

Lord Krishna said: "Why grieve for those for whom no grief is due, and yet profess wisdom? The wise grieve neither for the dead nor for the living.

'There was never a time when I did not exist, or you, nor these princes; there wil never be a time when we shall cease to be.

'As the body experiences infancy, youth and old age, so does the soul finally pass into another body. The wise have no delusion about this.

'Those external contacts which cause cold and hot sensations, pain and happiness, these come and go; they are not permanent. Endure them bravely, o Prince!

'The hero whose soul is unmoved by circumstance, who accepts pain and pleasure with equanimity only he is fit for immortality.

'That which is not, shall never be; that which is, shall never cease to be. To the wise, these truths are self-evident.

'The Spirit, which pervades all that we see, is imperishable. Nothing can destroy the Spirit.

'The material bodies which this eternal, indestructible, immeasurable Spirit inhabits are all finite. Therefore, fight, o valiant man!

'He who thinks that the Spirit kills, and he who thinks thinks of it as killed, are both ignorant.

'It was never born. It will never die. Nor having once been, can it ever cease to be. Unborn, eternal, ever-enduring , yet most ancient, the Spirit dies not when the body is dead.

'He who knows the Spirit as indestructible, immortal, unborn, unchanging, how should he kill or cause to be killed?

'As a man discards his threadbare robes and put on new ones, so the Spirit throws off its worn-out bodies and takes on a fresh one.

'Weapons cannot cleave it, fire burns it not, nor can water drench it or wind dry it.

'It is impenetrable; it can neither be drowned nor scorched, nor withered. It is eternal, all-pervasive, unchanging, immovable and pristine.

'It is named the unmanifest, the unthinkable, the immutable. Thus, knowing the Spirit to be such, you have no cause to grieve.

'Even if you think of it as constantly being born, constantly dying; even then, o Mighty Man, you still have no cause to grieve.

'For death is sure for that which is born as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore, grieve not for that which is inevitable.

'The end and beginning of beings are unknown. We see only the intervening condition. Then, what cause is there for grief?

'One hears of the Spirit with disbelief; another thinks of it as marvellous; a third hears about it without comprehension. Thus, though many are told about it, there is scarcely one who understands it.

'Be not anxious about these armies. The Spirit in man is imperishable.

'You must think of your duty. Nothing can be more wlecome to a soldier than (fighting) a righteous war. Therefore, to waver in your resolve is unworthy of you, Arjuna.

'Blessed are the warriors who find their opportunity. This break opens for you the gates of heaven.

'Refuse to fight in this righteous cause, and you will be a traitor, lost to fame, incurring only sin.

'Men will speak forever of your disgrace; and to the noble, disgrace is worse than death.

'Great generals will spread scandal and mock your courage. Could there be anything more humiliating?

'If killed, you shall attain Heaven; if victorious, you will enjoy the kingdom of the earth. Therefore, arise, o son of Kunti, and fight.

'Look upon pleasure and pain, victory and defeat with an equal eye. Make ready for combat, and you shall commit no sin.

'I have told you the philosophy of knowledge. Now listen, I will explain to you the philosophy of action, by means of which, o Arjuna, you will be able to break through the bondage of all action.

'On this path, endeavour is never wasted, nor can it ever be repressed. Even practising it a little protects one from great peril.

'By its means, the straying intellect is steadied in the contemplation of a single object; whereas the minds of the irrespolute stray into innumerable by-ways.

'Only the ignorant speak in figurative language. It is they who extol the letter of the scriptures saying "there is nothing deeper than this".

'Consulting only their desires, they construct their own heaven, devising arduous and complex rites to secure their own pleasure and their own power; and the only result of this is re-birth.

'While their minds are absorbed with ideas of power and personal enjoyment, they cannot concentrate their discrimination on any one point.

'The Vedic scriptures speak of three elements of life: the three Qualities. Rise above all of them, Arjuna, above all opposing sensations; be steady in truth, free from worldly anxieties and centred in the Self.

'As a man can drink water from any side of a full cauldron, so the skilled thinker can wrest from any scripture that which will serve his purpose.

'But you have only the right to work; not to its fruits. Let not the fruit of your action be your motive, nor be enamoured of inaction.

'Perform all your actions with your mind concentrated on the Divine, renouncing attachment and looking upon success and failure with an equal eye. Spirituality implies equanimity.

''Physical action is inferior to an intellect concentrated on the Divine. Seek recourse in pure intelligence. It is only the petty-minded who work for a reward.

'When a man attains Pure reason, he renounces in this world, the results of good and evil alaike. Cling to right action. Spirituality is the real art of living.

'The sages, guided by Pure Intellect, renounce the fruit of action; and freed from the chains of re-birth, they reach the highest bliss.

'When your reason has cut through the tangle of illusions, the shall you become indifferent both to the philosophies you have heard, and those you may yet hear.

'When the intellect, bewildered by the multiplicity of holy scripts, stands unperturbed in blissful contemplation of the Infinite, then you have attained Spirituality.'

'Arjuna asked: 'My Lord, How can we recognise the saint who has attained Pure Intellect, who has reached this state of Bliss, and whose mind is steady? How does he speak, how does he live, and how does he act?'

Lord Krishna replied: 'When a man has given up the desires of his heart and is satisfied with his Self alone, be sure that he has reached the highest state.

'The sage whose mind is unruffled in suffering, whose desire is not roused by enjoyment, who is without attachment, anger or fear - Take him to be the one who stands at that lofty level.

'He who is attached to no person, no matter where he goes and to no ties of flesh; who accepts good and evil alike, neither welcoming the one nor shriking from the other - take him to be the one merged with the Infinite.

'He who can withdraw his senses from the attaction of objects, as the tortoise draws in his limbs into his shell - take it that such an one has attained Perfection.

'The objects of sense turn from him who is abstemious. Even the relish for them is lost in him who has seen the Truth.

'Arjuna! The mind of the man who is trying to conquer it is forcibly carried away, in spite of his efforts, by his tumultous senses.

'Restraining them all, let him meditate steadfastly upon me; for one who thus conquers his senses achieves perfection.

'When a man dwells on the objects of sense, he creates an attraction for them; attraction develops into desire, and desire breeds anger.

'Anger induces delusion; delusion, loss of memory; Through loss of memory, reason is shattered; and loss of reason leads to destruction.

'But the self-controlled soul, who moves amongst sense-objects, free from both attachment and aversion, wins eternal peace.

'Having attained peace, he becomes free of misery; for when the mind gains peace, right discrimination follows.

'Right discrimination is not for him who cannot concentrate. Without concentration, there can be no meditation; he who cannot meditate, must not expect peace; and without peace, how can anyone expect happiness?

'As a ship is tossed by tempest while at sea, so is the reason carried away by the mind when preyed upon by wandering senses.

'Therefore, o Mighty-in-Arms, he who keeps his senses detached from their objects - take it that his reason is purified.

'The saint is awake when the world sleeps, and he ignores that for which the world lives.

'He attains peace, into whom desires flow as rivers flow into the ocean, which, though brimming with water remains ever the same; not he whom desire carries away.

'He attains peace who, giving up desire, moves through the world without aspiration, possessing nothing which he can call his own, and free from pride.

'Arjuna, this is the state if the Self, the Supreme Spirit, to which if a man once attain, it shall never be taken from him. Even at the time of leaving his body, he will remain firmly enthroned there, and will become one of the Eternal.

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Why The Geeta? Why now?

I took to reading the Geeta seriously in 2007. The idea of putting it on the WWW is not original. But I am doing it anyway as a labour of love. Just another excuse to read over and over again the wonderful words of this song divine which are a source of inspiration and of solace.
The context is a scene of battle, but that is only a metaphor for the greater battle that goes on within each one of us: the battle between our higher and lower selves, between desires and detachment, between our material and spiritual selves, between our physical senses and cosmic intuition.
There are five basic concepts: the Supreme Being, the Soul, Matter, Action and Time. In a sense, the entire divine symphony contains variations on these five basic themes.
The Geeta's greatest quality is its non-sectarian and non-dogmatic world-view. Exhorting action above mindless worship, it offers to its reader a whole new way of life; one that is free of fatuous rituals. What needs to be remembered while reading the Geeta is its emphasis on action and self-discipline.

Caveat emptor

This blog contains only a simple translation of the Geeta. I do not offer any commentary on the text (as yet). However, you are more than welcome to leave a comment on your understanding of a particular verse or chapter.

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