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Bhagavad Gita (Essence)


Quick Links: (1)Vidura Geeta.. (2)Uddhava Geeta

Bhagavad Gita is the Essence of ancient Hindu/Indian scriptures. It includes metaphysics, ethics, yogasastra, the science of reality and the art of union with reality. Hindus consider it as the foremost of all spiritual texts available. Essence of the Bhagavad Gita is presented in simple words below. Early in the work, Arjuna accepts Krishna as his spiritual master and a guide.

1: Lamenting the Consequence of War

As the opposing armies stand poised for battle, Arjuna, the mighty warrior, sees his intimate relatives, teachers and friends in both armies ready to fight and sacrifice their lives. Overcome by grief and pity, Arjuna's mind becomes bewildered, and he gives up his determination to fight.

As per dharma, right action must be performed for the sake of righteousness, and good must be done for the sake of goodness, without any expectation of receiving something in return. What is right? Actions that are associated with one’s profession are considered right actions. The duty of a soldier may be to take the life of an enemy, whereas the duty of a doctor is to save the life, including that of an enemy.

The word karma literally means ‘deed or action,’ but implies the entire cycle of cause and its effects. According to the Law of Karma, every human action—in thought, word, or deed—inevitably leads to results, good or bad, depending upon the moral quality of the action. There is no such thing as action without results. “As we sow, so shall we reap,”

2: The Eternal Reality of the Souls Immortality

The Lord explains the process of transmigration, the nature of selfless service to the Supreme and the characteristics of a self-realized person. Knowledge cannot be given to anyone who does not aspire for it.
  • we are not the body but eternal spirit soul temporarily encaged within the body.
  • Like a soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.
  • The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. One must learn to live with them without being disturbed.
  • For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. We (souls) are unborn, eternal, ever-existing and not slain when the body is slain.
  • As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.
  • While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost.
  • One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is person of real wisdom.
  • கர்மண்யேவாதிகாரஸ்தே மா பலேஷு கதாசன |
    कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
    மா கர்மபலஹேதுர்பூர்மா தே ஸங்கோ உஸ்த்வகர்மணி
    मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गो स्त्वकर्मणि ॥ 47 ॥
    One has a right only to perform his/her duty. Duty makes for discipline, discipline makes for systematic behavior and that in turn leads to order and harmony in society. Duty has to be performed but not with obsession of fruit of action. Duty has to be action performed with perfection.
  • Duty has to be performed to the best of one’s capacity. Do not resort to inaction either.

3: The Eternal Duties of Human Beings

Everyone must engage in some sort of activity, without selfish motives.
  • Work should be done as a sacrifice for God; otherwise work causes bondage. Yajna could mean sacrifice of the ego. That action which is egoless, that which is inspired by humility is great action. That action which is offered to the Lord does not bind.
  • It is lust later transformed into wrath, is the all-devouring sinful enemy of the world.
  • For a soldier, moral question will be, "how to kill the enemy and yet be saved from the sin of killing". The offering that is made as service is action that does not bind. Its pure, its selfless, hence it is free from repercussions.

4: Approaching the Ultimate Truth

Transcendental knowledge-the spiritual knowledge of the soul, of God, and their relationship-is both purifying and liberating. Such knowledge is the fruit of selfless devotional action (karma-yoga).
  • பரித்ராணாய ஸாதூனாம் வினாஸாய ச துஷ்க்றுதாம் |
    परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
    தர்மஸம்ஸ்தாபனார்தாய ஸம்பவாமி யுகே யுகே
    धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥ 4.8
    When does the Lord come into the world? When righteousness is on the vein and the wicked gains strength. It is to set right the moral imbalance. The chief purpose is not the killing of the wicked, its primarily to protect the good. This verse encourages faith in man, who is likely to feel lost and helpless in a world antagonistic to him. It reveals that Lord is caring, compassionate, courageous, and confident of winning every battle against evil.
  • To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of dharma, Lord will appear, millennium after millennium, again and again.

5: Action and Renunciation

Outwardly performing all actions but inwardly renouncing their fruits, the wise attains peace, detachment, and bliss.
  • Why does man have regrets because he does what he should not do, speaks what he should not speak, desires what he should not desire. In short, he is a victim of his passion. He has enemies within whom he does not care to conquer. Sometimes he does not even realize that he has internal enemies.
  • Lord acknowledges the presence of Kama (passion) and krodha (anger). The greatness lies in managing them.
  • One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.
  • The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned , a cow, an elephant, a dog and an outcaste.
  • A person in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord of all attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

6: The Science of Self Realization

Astanga-yoga, a mechanical meditative practice, controls the mind and the senses and focuses concentration on Paramatma (the Supersoul, the form of the Lord situated in the heart). This practice culminates in samadhi, full consciousness of the Supreme.
  • One who has progressed far in the spiritual path is neither destroyed in this world nor the next. No one who does good can ever come to ill. Many a time man wonders its so difficult to follow the holy path and even if one does so, to proceed steadily is more difficult. Most difficult is to reach the goal. What is most frightening is that one has proceeded on this path and is suddenly lost halfway. What happens to him. To start all over again is scary, to lose what one has gained till then is depressing.
  • No small effort, however small goes unrewarded. Any good thought, any good deed, any good word, takes us a long way. One is inspired to lead a spiritual life with the assurance that no step taken in this direction, can ever be an exercise in futility.
  • And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me-he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.

7: Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth

Lord is the Supreme Truth, the supreme cause and sustaining force of everything, both material and spiritual.
  • Among thousands of human beings, one strives to reach the Lord. Among them, one among thousands comes to understand divinity as it is.
  • Spiritual seekers are few. Among them the realized ones are fewer still. Even among them, a chosen few realize who the Lord is.
  • Lord is the essence, the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable OM in the Vedic mantras;

8: Attainment of Salvation

By remembering Lord in devotion throughout one's life, and especially at the time of death, one can attain to Lord's supreme abode, beyond the material world. Those who think of the Lord tirelessly and pray relentlessly and perform their duty perfectly, they reach the Lord and never come back into the world.
  • Lord is the witness, the resort, the shelter, the benevolent master. With your activities dedicated to Lord and your mind and intelligence fixed on Lord, you will attain Lord without doubt.
  • From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains Lord, never takes birth again.

9: Confidential Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth

  • The Lord not only poses the problem but also solves it. Sorrow has two causes in this world, either we do not get what we want or we are losing what we have. This drives us crazy. One who worships the Lord, gets what he desires and retains whatever benefactions he has.
  • If one offers Lord with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, Lord will accept it.
  • Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform-do that as an offering to Lord.
  • Lord is not partial to anyone, but equal to all.

10: The Infinite Glories of the Ultimate Truth

  • As the supreme cause of all causes and the support and essence of everything, Lord is the supreme object of worship for all beings.
  • The spiritual exchanges energize the soul and give it a path to move on. Depression comes nowhere near those who chant the name of the Lord.
  • Lord is the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Lord.

11: The Vision of the Universal Form

  • The cosmic form of the Lord, is infinite (a 100,000 hands, and 100,000 feet, and a 100,000 garlands...). Everything is present in Lord's form.
  • Lord grants divine vision and reveals His spectacular unlimited form as the cosmic universe. One can perceive this form only by pure devotional service.
  • Everyone cannot see the cosmic form except those who have devotion and then who is a devotee.

12: The Path of Devotion

  • Bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service to Lord, which is the highest end of spiritual existence. Those who follow this supreme path develop divine qualities.
  • அத்வேஷ்டா ஸர்வபூதானாம் மைத்ரஃ கருண ஏவ ச |
    अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्रः करुण एव च ।
    னிர்மமோ னிரஹம்காரஃ ஸமதுஃகஸுகஃ க்ஷமீ
    निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः समदुःखसुखः क्षमी ॥ 12.13 ॥
    A true devotee is one who hates none, hates no creatures, is friendly and compassionate to all, has no trace of ego, poised in joy and sorrow, full of forbearance. Devotion is not merely an act, but a firm faith in divine power.

13: The Individual Consciousness and Ultimate Consciousness

  • One who understands the difference between the body, the soul and the Supersoul beyond them, attains liberation from this material world.
  • அமானித்வமதம்பித்வமஹிம்ஸா க்ஷான்திரார்ஜவம் |
    अमानित्वमदम्भित्वमहिंसा क्षान्तिरार्जवम् ।
    ஆசார்யோபாஸனம் ஸௌசம் ஸ்தைர்யமாத்மவினிக்ரஹஃ
    आचार्योपासनं शौचं स्थैर्यमात्मविनिग्रहः ॥ 13.7 ॥
    Lack of pride, lack of vanity, nonviolence, forgiveness, truthfulness, service of the preceptor, purity, steadfastness, and control of the self. The definition goes on to include detachment from sensuous objects & absolute devotion to the Lord.

14: The Three Qualities of Material Nature

  • All embodied souls are under the control of the three gunas, or qualities: goodness, passion, and ignorance.
  • Among the 3 gunas , sattva (goodness) is pure, luminous, and free from distortion. It binds one with joy and deep wisdom. While rajas (passion) binds man to attachment and karma and its violent results, tamas (ignorance) binds man to lethargy and slumber. Those who follow sattva go to the higher regions, those who take to rajas come back to suffer as human beings. The tamasic ones are born as creatures.

15: Realization of the Ultimate Truth

  • The ultimate purpose of Vedic knowledge is to detach one self from the entanglement of the material world and to understand Lord
  • Lord resides in every heart (or soul). From Lord arise memory, wisdom, and the capacity to clear doubts. Lord is the subject of the Vedas, the maker of Vedanta and the knower of Vedanta too.
  • There are 2 types of people, the children of light and the children of darkness. The former contained the following virtues; nonviolence, truth, absence of anger, sacrifice, peace, noncritical attitude, kindness, unconditional love for all creatures, tenderness, detachment from sensuous objects and others. The latter are full of pride, arrogance, vanity, passion, cruelty, and ignorance.

16: The Divine and the Demoniac Natures Defined

  • Those who possess demoniac qualities and who live whimsically, without following the regulations of scripture, attain lower births and further material bondage. But those who possess divine qualities and regulated lives, abiding by scriptural authority, gradually attain spiritual perfection.
  • The Lord tells divine nature leads to salvation and the demonic one to bondage.

17: The Three Divisions of Material Existence

  • There are three types of faith, corresponding to and evolving from the three gunas or nature. Acts performed by those whose faith is in passion and ignorance yield only impermanent, material results, whereas acts performed in goodness, in accord with scriptural injunctions, purify the heart and lead to pure faith in Lord
  • How callous we are about our speech, we do not know how many we hurt knowingly or unknowingly. How often we move away from truth and kind wishes.
  • Arjuna, learns about karma, jnana, and bhakti. He wonders which path to follow. He follows royal path of surrender, Sharanagati.

18: Final Revelations of the Ultimate Truth

  • The highest path is absolute, unconditional loving surrender unto Lord, which frees one from all sins, brings one to complete enlightenment, and enables one to return to eternal spiritual abode.
  • We need work with worship, devotion with compassion, excellence with humility.
  • Being purified by his intelligence and controlling the mind with determination, giving up the objects of sense gratification, being freed from attachment and hatred, one who lives in a secluded place, who eats little, who controls his body, mind and power of speech, who is always in trance and who detached, free from false ego, false strengths, false pride, lust, anger, and acceptance of material things, free from false proprietorship, and peaceful-such a person is certainly elevated to the position of self-realization.
  • Surrender to Lord, who shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

The end

Krishna told Arjuna, "Forget about ordinary paths Arjuna, resort to ME alone with single-minded devotion and I will absolve you of all sin, surrender to Me". Arjuna accepts the Lord with unquestioning faith and cheerful heart.
The Bhagavad Gita has more than 50 commentaries, and has been translated into major languages of the world. Bhagavad Gita is an excellent work that encompassed everything relating to human beings. Bhagavad Gita belonged to masses (a commoner) who look for wisdom in life. The teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita had universal appeal. Any human being belonging to any religion, faith or belief can benefit from words of wisdom.

There are many Hindu Scriptural texts by the name Gita though this name has come to be synonymous with the Bhagavad Gita because of its popularity. Bhagavad-gita is presented as the discussion between Krishna and Arjuna just prior to the famous Battle of Kurukshetra. Bhagavad-gita means "Song of God." There is another Gita which goes by the name Uddhava Gita which is also in the format of a dialogue between Krishna and his dear friend, Uddhava.

Around 700 BCE, scholars codify and reinterpret beliefs to create the Upanishads texts forming the basis of modern Hinduism. During Buddha, asceticism was seen in India as the ideal spiritual life. Ascetics believed that leaving everything behind (family, possessions, occupations, etc.) was the best way to live. Monastaries grew every where. Great empires declined due to smart and productive people becoming monks. Immoral corrupt practices and mismanagement destroyed the sanctity of monasteries (Mahendra Pallavan wrote a novel on this).

Around this time, many parts Bhagavad Gita are developed or modified as "God/Lord Speaking to You".

The Bhagavad Gita revolves around the question: How can someone live a life spiritually meaningful without withdrawing from society, but contributing to society? The Gita corrects the general opinion that only ascetics and monks can live a perfect spiritual life through renunciation. It emphasises the value of an active spiritual life applicable to every one.

There is no reference to the Bhagavad Gita in Buddhist literature, the Tripitaka.

Bhagavad Gita comprises 18 chapters and 700-verse incorporating various Hindu traditions. It forges a harmony between different strands of Indian thought: jnana, dharma and bhakti.

Dharma (or righteousness) & Conflicts

Is the battle of Kurukshetra the righteous one? Was it a war between two cousins or was it a war of good and evil?

Conflicts occur because of 2 opposing parties interpreting Dharma differently.

Fear of loosing or fear of making mistakes, leads to all problems. Deserting during a war (or any work/project) is cowardice (abandoning people who are behind you or fighting with/for you).

Pacifism

Pacifism is not always good, but at times can be bad also. Pacifism does not prevent evil people from doing evil, but prevents good people from fighting back. Pacifism is not an all encompassing solution to everything.

Geeta is about balance of good and evil. To be a good person, one need not sit alone and pray. One should do his own share of the work. One secluded from reality, abstract thinking and not caring person is not a best example.

Even if one is forced to kill others in a war, one should not cultivate hatred. Should also save lives, spare many and practice/preach mercy.

PAA: Perception Action Acceptance

  • Perception - We do not know reality. What we see or perceive, defines our universal view. There is no right or wrong view. But there can be different views, because we are all unique and different.
  • Action - Act as response to environment. One can not be idle. Inaction is also wrong like a bad action. Good action assures Good reaction or Pleasant environment and vice versa. You have control over your action only.
  • Acceptance - Accept results, what ever it may be. You have no control over results any way.

Expectations Leads to Misery

If you want to help someone or do some work, just do it! Do it for your satisfaction, but not to get anything in return. Stop expecting and start living! KARMA has its way of payback at the right time! Give good, Get good! Never get “too” emotionally attached with anyone in this world.

Four Paths (yoga)

Traditionally there are 4 paths: Self-less service (karma yoga); self-discipline (raja yoga); way of wisdom (jnana yoga); and devotion (bhakti yoga).
  • Teachings of karma yoga, emphasize the accumulation of good merit (good karma) to help us grow in dharma by planting the seeds (causes) that will one day help us reap the harvest of a pure mind (effect). “actions done while remembering the one and without a desire for their intended results, purify the mind and are a means towards liberation“ (upadesa saram, verse 3)
  • Raja yoga highlights the practices of asana, pranayama and meditation. Its emphasis on force and self-mastery is immense.
  • Jnana yoga teaches that, there is no individual really capable of controlling or influencing anything. Everything is the one supreme consciousness – one, without a second. One simply learns to accept reality as it is.
  • Bhakti yoga asks for a passive submission to a higher power. It teaches us worship our beloved by surrendering and there is no room for the ego. Everything is centered upon letting go and falling in love with love itself. The bhakta prefers a form (or an object), while some (rationalists) prefer the formless.
Whatever the path, all the great people agree that there is simply one underlying truth that pervades all. The truth is one, yet the paths are many. One should see diversity and need to find ways to reconcile differences into a harmonious balance.

In truth there are no paths, there is only truth, only one reality, only supreme bliss. By its very nature true love is boundless, inseparable, uncontainable. The path of yoga is the love – it is the light. Learn to look through the eyes of love; do not focus on whether the ray of light has a red, blue or green hue. All diversity must ultimately reconcile into oneness.

True Knowledge or Wisdom

  • The ultimate purpose of Vedic knowledge is to detach one self from the entanglement of the material world and try to understand/enjoy presence of Lord every where. That is bliss.
  • Everything is contained in Almighty and Almighty is in everything. All creations are Lord's manifestations. All events are Lord's leela or dance. Lord will appear as many times required in any form (through its creations) for our Good.
  • The easiest (best path) is absolute, unconditional, loving surrender to Lord. Lord knows everything and will take care of us. Path of Knowledge is difficult as Lord Almighty, can not be understood easily (Infinitely Unknown).

    To be one Being!

    • The real yogi, with all his passions subdued, is ONE with Brahman.[Krishna]
    • The ONE Buddha-nature is present in all beings. [Buddha]
    • Heaven means to be ONE with God. [confucias]
    • If you open yourself, you are ONE with the Tao, and can embody it completely. [Lao Tzu]
    • The ONE energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from ONE form to another.

    Enlightenment

    • சித்தம் சிவலிங்கம் ஹ்ரிதயம் ஹ்ரிஷிகேசம் | சரிரம் பஞ்சபூதம் த்வம் பரப்ரஹ்மம்
      Mind/Intelligence is Sivalinga (seat of wisdom). Heart/emotions/life force is Rishikesa meaning master of senses and emotion. Body is five natural elements. True self (or essence) is Ultimate reality. All are governed by physical, mental and emotional forces.
    • தோற்றம் மாயம். உள்ளது சிவம் | சித்தம் கலக்கம். வேண்டுவது சாந்தம்
      What is seen is illusion. What is present is Sivam or ultimate reality. Mind is always confused or agitated. What you need is peace or balanced mind, nothing else
    • கூத்தனில்லாத கூத்திது. உணர்வது எளிது | அறிவது அரிது. விளக்க இயலாது Everything is the cosmic dance or God's play (with hidden or missing dancer). We all can feel/enjoy. But very difficult to understand. Impossible to describe.
    • Ultimately even the concept of Oneness must too be dropped to be in a state of Unity – no thought, idea nor concept can penetrate into the stillness of Pure Being. The feeling one has after climbing to the summit of a very high mountain. There are many paths to the top, but from the very summit, nowhere else to climb, you stand upon a pathless path.

Vidura Gita [To TOP]

Vidura was a half-brother of Dhritaraashtra and Pandu, born to Parishrami, the slave maid. Vidura is supposed to be the very embodiment of dharma (some texts treat him as incarnation of Yama). He was a friend of the Pandavas, guiding them through out (documented as Vidura Gita). Part of his work is available under Vidhura Gita or Vidhura Neethi on conduct, fairplay and the art of governing and politics in the form of a dialogue between Vidhura and King Dhritharashtra. It is included in Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata.

The Vidhura Gita is full of wisdom and deals with social and individual morality. These values are universal transcending place and time. But unless these timeless values are practised and form the moral fibre of a society, there cannot be any hope or salvation for upliftment and annihilation and destruction will be the result just like Dhritharashtra’s defeat and ruin in the Mahabharatha.
Vidhura was considered divine, avatar of Yama (God of Judgement/death). Vidhura Gita is one of the basic texts used for developing Bagawat gita and introducing Divine Krishna into Mahabaratha, as teacher and guide. Selected verses from Vidhura Gita are given below: