• 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.

Monday, August 25, 2008

III. Karmayoga: The Path of Action

Arjuna questioned: 'My Lord, if wisdom is above action, why do you advise me to engage in this terrible war?

'Your words perplex me and confound my reason. Therefore, please tell the only way by which I may, without doubt, safeguard my spiritual welfare.'

Lord Krishna replied: 'In this world, as I have said, there is a two-fold path, o Sinless One. There is the Path of Wisdom for those who meditate and the Path of Action for those who work.

'No one can attain freedom from activity by refraining from action; nor can he reach perfection by merely refusing to act.

'He cannot even for a moment remain really inactive; for the Qualities of nature will compel him to act whether he will or no.

'He who remains motionless, refusing to act, but all the while broding over sensuous objects, that deluded soul is simply a hypocrite.

'But, o Arjuna, all honour to him whose mind controls his senses; for he is thereby beginning to practise Karma-Yoga, the Path of Right Action, keeping himself always unattached.

'Do your duty as prescribed, for action for duty's sake is superior to inaction. Even the sustenance of the body would be impossible if man remained inactive.

'In this world, people are fettered by action, unless it is performed as a sacrifice. Therefore, Arjuna, let your acts be dome without attachment, as sacrifice only.

'In the beginning, when God created all beings by ritual sacrifice (yadnya), He said to them: "Through sacrifice you can procreate, and this shall satisfy your desires.

' "Worship the powers of Nature and let them nourish you in return, thus supportign each other, you shall atain the highest welfare.

' "For, fed on sacrifice, Nature will give you all the enjoyment you can desire. But they are verily thieves who enjoy the gifts Nature offers without giving their share in return. "

' "The sages who enjoy the food that remains after the sacrifice is made, are freed from all sin; but the selfish who spread their feast only for themselves feed on sin only.

'All creatures are the product of food, food is the product of rain, rains comes from sacrifice, and sacrifice is the noblest form of action.

'All action originates from the Supreme Spirit, which is Imperishable, and in sacrificial action the all-pervading Spirit is consciously present.

'Thus he who does not help the revolving wheel of sacrifice, but instead leads a sinful life, rejoicing in the gratification of his senses, Arjuna, he breathes in vain.

'On the other hand, the soul who meditates on the Self, is content to serve the Self, and rests satisfied within the Self, there remains nothing more for him to accomplish.

'He has nothing to gain by the performance or non-performance of action. His welfare depends not on any contribution that an earthly creature can make.

'Therefore, do your duty perfectly, without care for the results; for he who does his duty disinterestedly attains the Supreme.

'King Janak and others attained perefection through action alone. Even for the sake of enlightening the world, it is your duty to act;

'For whatever a great man does, others imitate. People conform to the standard which he has set.

'There is nothing in this universe, Arjuna, that I am compelled to do' nor is there anything for me to attain; yet I am persistently active.

'For were I to act without ceasing, o Prince, people would be glad to do likewise.

'And if I were to refrain from action, the human race would be ruined; I should lead the world to chaos, and destruction would follow.

'As the ignorant act, because of their fondness for action, so should the wise act without such attachment, fixing their eyes, Arjuna, only on the welfare of the world.

'But a wise man should not perturb the minds of the ignorant, who are attached to action; let him perform his own actions in the right spirit, concentrating on me, thus inspiring all to do the same.
'Action is the product of Qualities inherent in Nature. It is only the ignorant man who, misled by personal egotism says: "I am the doer."

'But he, o Mighty One, who understands correctly the relation of the Qualities to action, is not attached to the act, for he perceives that it is merely the action and reaction of the Qualities among themselves.

'Those who do not understand the Qualities are interested in the act. Still, the wise man who knows the truth should not disturb the mind of him who does not.

'Therefore, surrendering your actions unto me, your thoughts concentrated on the Absolute, free from selfishness and without anticipation of reward, with mind devoid of excitement, begin your battle.

'Those who act always in accordance with my precepts, firm in faith and without cavilling, they too are freed from the yoke of action.

'But those who ridicule my word and do not keep it, are ignorant, devoid of wisdom and blind. They seek only their own destruction.

'Even the wise man acts in character with his nature; indeed all creatures sct according to their natures. What is the use of compulsion then?

'The love and hate which are aroused by the objects of sense arise from Nature; do not yield to them. They only obstruct the path.

'It is better to do your own duty, however lacking in merit, thatn to do that of another, even though efficiently. It is better to die doing one's own duty, for to do the suty of another is fraught with danger.'

Arjuna asked: "My Lord, tell me what is it that drives a man to sin, even against his will and as if by compulsion?'

Lord Krishna said: 'It is desire, it is aversion, born of passion. Desire consumes and corrupts everything. It is man's greatest enemy.

'As fire is shrouded in smoke, and a child by the womb, so is the universe enveloped in desire.

'It is the wise man's constant enemy; it tarnishes the face of wisdom. It is as insatiable as the flame of fire.

'It works through the senses, the mind and the reason; and with their hwlp destroys wisdom and confounds the soul.

'Therefore, Arjuna, first control your senses, and then slay desire; for it is full of sin, and is the destroyer of knowledge and of wisdom.

'It is said that the senses are powerful. But beyond the senses is the mind, beyond the mind is intellect, and beyond and greater than intellect is He, the Supreme Spirit.

'Thus, o Mighty One, knowing him to be beyond the intellect and, by his help, subduing your personal egotism, kill your enemy, Desire, extremely difficult though it seems.

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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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