Om Namah Shivaya - Om Namo Venkatesaya  

The Song of God - Swami Venkatesananda enlarged 4th edition - 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa

9 - Raja Vidya Yoga - The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Sovereign Secret

Om parthaya pratibodhitam bhagavata narayanena svayam vyasena grathitam purana munina madhye mahabharatam advaita 'mrta varsinim bhagavatim astadasa 'dhyayinim amba tvam anusamdadhami bhagavad gite bhava dvesinim
1. Om. O Bhagavad Gita, with which Partha (Arjuna) was illumined by lord Narayana himself and which was composed within the Mahabharata by the ancient sage Vyasa, O divine mother, the destroyer of rebirth, the showerer of the nectar of advaita (oneness) and consisting of eighteen chapters - upon thee, O Bhagavad Gita, O affectionate mother, I meditate.
namo 'stu to vyasa visala buddhe phulla 'ravinda 'yata patra netra yena tvaya bharata taila purnah prajvalito jnanamayah pradipah
2. Salutations unto thee, O Vyasa of broad intellect, and with eyes like the petals of full-blown lotuses, by whom the lamp of knowledge, filled with the oil of the Mahabharata has been lighted.
prapanna parijataya totravetrai 'ka panaye jnana mudraya krsnaya gita 'mrta duhe namah
3. Salutations to Krsna, the parijata or the bestower of all desires for those who take refuge in him, the holder of the whip in one hand, the holder of the symbol of knowledge and the milker of the nectar of the Bhagavad Gita.
sarvo 'panisado gavo dogdha gopala nandanah partho vatsah sudhir bhokta dugdham gita 'mrtam mahat
4. All the upanisad are the cows, the milker is Krsna the cowherd boy, Arjuna is the calf, men of purified intellect are the drinkers, the milk is the great nectar of the Gita.
vasudeva sutam devam kamsa canura mardanam devaki parama 'nandam krsnam vande jagad gurum
5. I salute lord Krsna, the world teacher, the son of Vasudeva, the destroyer of Kamsa and Canura, the supreme bliss of Devaki.
bhisma drona tata jayadratha jala gandhara nilotpala salya grahavati krpena vahani karnena velakula asvatthama vikarna ghora makara duryodhana 'vartini so 'ttirna khalu pandavai rana nadi kaivartakah kesavah
6. With Krsna as the helmsman, verily, was crossed by the Pandava the battle-river whose banks were Bhisma and Drona, whose water was Jayadratha, whose blue lotus was the king of Gandhara, whose crocodile was Salya, whose current was Krpa, whose billow was Karna, whose terrible alligators were Asvatthama and Vikarna, whose whirlpool was Duryodhana.
parasarya vacah sarojam amalam gitartha gandhotkatam nanakhya 'nakakesaram hari katha sambodhana 'bodhitam loke sajjana satpadair ahar ahah pepiyamanam muda bhuyad bharata pankajam kali mala pradhvamsi nah sreyase
7. May this lotus of the Mahabharata, born in the lake of the words of Vyasa, sweet with the fragrance of the meaning of the Gita, with many stories as its stamens, fully opened by the discourses on Hari, the destroyer of the sins of Kali, and drunk joyously by the bees of good men in the world, day by day, become the bestower of good on us.
mukam karoti vacalam pangum langhayate girim yat krpa tam aham vande parama 'nanda madhavam
8. I salute that Krsna, the source of supreme bliss, whose grace makes the dumb eloquent and the cripple cross mountains.
yam brahma varune 'ndra rudra marutah stunvanti divyaih stavair vedaih sanga pada kramo 'panisadair gayanti yam samagah dhyana 'vasthita tad gatena manasa pasyanti yam yogino yasya 'ntam na viduh sura 'sura gana devaya tasmai namah
9. Salutations to that God whom Brahma, Varuna, Indra, Rudra and the Marut praise with divine hymns, of whom the Sama-chanters sing by the veda and their anga, in the pada and krama methods, and by the upanisad, whom the yogi see with their minds absorbed in him through meditation, and whose end the hosts of the deva and asura know not.
IX:1 - The Blessed Lord said : I shall now declare to you who does not cavil, the greatest secret, the knowledge combined with knowing. Having known this, you shall be free from miseries.
IX:2 - This is the kingly science, the kingly secret, the supreme purifier; realisable by direct intuitional knowledge, according to dharma, very easy to perform and imperishable.
In the last chapter the Lord quietly slipped in an idea which, on the surface, looks impossible: "Think of God constantly and at the same time never neglect your duty here."
How does a single person split himself into two, for how else can one fulfil this commandment?
In this chapter, Krsna answers this vital question.
Hence all the flourish at the very outset.
'Rajavidya' literally means 'the king of all knowledge'.
This highest knowledge is available only to one who is king of his mind and senses, since these are the outlets through which true intuitive knowledge is lost.
Krsna is no vain egoist.
The precarious middle path is imperceptibly subtle, so we are not usually sure where humility ends and timidity begins. A simple rule might help: personal effrontery must be humbly borne, but the glory of the divine wisdom must not be under-rated or allowed to be trampled upon.
Krsna demonstrated true and divine humility by becoming Arjuna's charioteer, but he is emphatic that the yoga he now teaches is a kingly science.
It is a kingly science, no doubt, yet the fanfare is also used in order to enable us to listen more attentively - this is no ordinary science!
The word 'secret' is used, perhaps, 'so that we will be tempted to spread the message!
Maybe Krsna also meant, when he declared the teaching to be a secret, that although the interpretation of the words may be clear, the message is secret and requires investigation.
It is a profound secret on the non-verbal level, and must be understood not with the head, but with the heart.
When that happens, it becomes a living truth and instantly you are purified.
IX:3 - Those who have no faith in the path of devotional service, O Arjuna, return to the path of this world of death, without attaining Me.
The word 'sradda' cannot be easily translated.
Merely translating it into 'faith' does not make it clear.
However, the rest of the verse gives an indication of its meaning.
If that something called 'sradda' is not there, you do not reach the truth or self-realisation.
If you do not reach self-realisation, you experience birth and death again and again.
You are trapped in this, world in which you constantly experience happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, pleasure and pain.
When this 'sradda' arises, then the constant succession of changes - beginnings and endings is like water on a duck's back and the ultimate truth becomes 'realisable by direct intuitional knowledge' .
'Sradda' - we shall call it faith - is important.
If a man has no faith in a teaching he fails to adopt it in his life.
Hence, though this dharma knowledge of the self is a kingly science and though God and all saints are ever ready, willing and eager to bring more and more souls on to this path, the path becomes a 'kingly secret'.
Lack of faith makes us doubt the value of practice, so we wallow in delusion!
If we have the necessary faith, however, we take up the practice and realise that self-knowledge which is superior to all else.
Self-knowledge is different from a layman 's knowledge of the radio; all he knows is how to turn the knobs, the rest was done by the engineer.
In self-knowledge there is no second-hand knowledge, hearsay or dependence upon the authority of someone else.
Here, we accept a working hypothesis - on faith - practise yoga, attain direct realisation and prove the hypothesis ourselves.
Faith itself will purify our heart and mind.
If it does not lead to this, self purification, it is not 'sradda'.
Our heart and soul are polluted because of our identification of the soul with inert and changing matter.
Rain water is pure, but is polluted on coming into contact with the earth.
When this identification of the self with the body and mind ceases, we regain our pristine purity.
If we have this 'sradda', then we let life flow in a profound realisation - which has been described in the rest of this chapter.
IX:4 - All this world is pervaded by Me in My unmanifest aspect; all beings exist in Me, but I do not dwell in them.
What is that kingly science or kingly secret?
As is characteristic of Krsna, he gives, in a simple, straightforward verse, the whole truth.
The entire universe is completely permeated by God, the reality, but in an unmanifested, not-so-obvious guise.
That is what is really meant in Gurudev's famous Universal Prayer: 'You are omnipresent'.
Omnipresent means that there is nothing other than God.
If that understanding arises there is nothing to be negated.
This understanding is prevented by various factors, one of which is thinking that this may not be the reality.
Instead of investigating what the reality is, the mind assumes that the reality must have certain characteristics and whatever does not possess these characteristics is not the reality.
It gets caught up in its own web of thought, of maya.
The truth of God's omnipresence is, in fact, scientific, though science which is fast moving towards the same conclusion may yet take some time before even surmising it.
We have already reached the stage at which we are scientifically assured that only-one thing exists in the universe vibrant energy which, when it is comparatively at rest, appears to be mass.
All the elements are atoms arranged in a particular combination and the atoms themselves are distinguished in accordance with the number of electrons and protons they contain.
Yet, how 'is it that a table is different from a book?
There is obviously some erroneous perception in the beholder.
Who is this beholder? The man.
He, too, shares the same fate as the universe which to him appears outside.
He is also composed of the same elements and factors.
Though in reality one alone exists, there is this mysterious 'internal reflection'.
It is loosely comparable to the dream of a sleeping man: objects created in and by the one mind acting on one another.
Though in calmer and saner moments we may glimpse this truth, it is hard to realise and live in it.
This is Krsna's yoga: constantly remember that God is the sole, though not-so-obvious, reality pervading all, including you, but never limited to or conditioned by anything in the universe.
the divine yoga
IX:5 - Yet everything that's created does not rest in Me. Behold My Divine Yoga! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities, and although I am everywhere, still my Self is the very source of creation.
"Measure not the immeasurable in words", warned lord Buddha.
Daksinamurti indicated it by silence and the symbol of wisdom (cin-mudra).
The vaidika seers exclaimed "Hau, hau", unable to find words to express their vision.
Sage Yajnavalkya declared that all positive definitions are distractions and that the reality can only be approached by the total negation of all names and forms, thoughts and concepts - 'neti, neti' , 'not this, not this'.
Yet, if no-one said anything, no-one (except the rarest few to whom silence is meaningful) could learn.
Here we are, on the horns of a dilemma!
The method adopted by the Indian sage to overcome this is paradoxical.
Every thesis is immediately opposed by its antithesis, and the resultant inexpressible synthesis is the nearest point which human intellect can reach before awakening to the reality (an event which the Zen Buddhists call 'satori') which is enlightenment.
The previous verse said 'all beings exist in me' and here we are told 'nor do beings exist in me'!
Deep meditation on this conundrum will remove the suggestion of duality and plurality implied in the first statement.
It is not like saying: "sweets are in the tin", but rather "vapour is pervaded by water", where vapour and water are not two different things, but one is just the manifestation of the other.
Thus, the reality is there, everywhere, all the time, in not-so-obvious a manner.
God is the creator and sustainer of all beings, yet not outside them.
God dwells in all beings, yet is not limited to them.
All beings are pervaded by him, yet not as 'all beings' (diverse and different) but in a mysterious manner all are forever one with him, without in any way affecting him, tainting him, limiting him or conditioning him.
This indeed is the divine yoga; and the Lord explains it further in the following verses.
introduction to July
A novel method for self-realisation is suggested by the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita.
Other methods had been suggested before him.
There were those who wanted us to close our eyes to the world, go into seclusion and by a process of introverted mental gaze, perceive the light of the self within.
Others insisted on our doing our duties and serving humanity with the sole intention of selfpurification, but refused to discuss the next step.
Krsna is a genius.
He discloses that the very duties and the service that we are compelled to perform daily, contain in themselves, not only agents to purify us but to reveal (unveil) God for us to see! But how?
We should see the world, but not as the world; we should see it as the, manifestation of God, his power, his glory.
In other words, this is as if we were sitting in the cinema with wide open eyes and not only seeing the moving figures, but the screen on which they are projected. Try it!
The essence of this method is to be able to perceive the substratum (God) even though looking at the name and form.
When you look at a wise man, you immediately remember that the wisdom in him is God.
You learn to abstract that from the name and form (and other such factors), perceive that alone to the exclusion of everything else and realise that it is the manifestation of God.
This demands rigorous preliminary discipline and training; the training was prescribed and described in chapter six.
Modern Zen Buddhism, too, leads its adherents along this royal road to self-realisation.
First you see the tree; then you see the void; and then again you see the tree!
But the second time, though the tree is the same, you are quite different and your inner vision is enlightened.
That is the difference between the layman and a sage the latter is enlightened.
May you shine as an enlightened sage!
IX:6 - As the mighty wind, moving everywhere, rests always in the ether, know that all beings rest in Me.
The reality is just like space and what is obvious is like the wind - the movement of air in space.
This wind, exi.sting and moving in space, enables all things to come into being, to flourish.
In a manner of speaking it is the wind of life-force or prina that manifests itself as all this.
Vibrating somewhere it is called something; vibrating elsewhere it is called something else.
Prana or life-force is responsible for the manifestation of the diverse phenomena and diverse beings.
Yet, space is totally unaffected by these beings arising, existing and dissolving.
This is an important concept which must be clearly grasped.
All things exist in space; they are part of space as it were.
When a building is erected, space has not vanished or been destroyed.
It is still there, not merely as the enclosed space within the building, but as the space that even the solid walls 'occupy'.
It is in the building - not confined to it, but really confining it!
God exists in us in this sense only.
By virtue of his omnipresence he is within us and all around us.
In quantum physics we are knocking at the door of this truth, having come close to the immateriality of matter. We are ust dancing sub-atomic particles, which may also be waves.
If all of us are mere waves of energy, we are not so solid after all!
So, the not-so-obvious is the reality in all that seems to be obvious.
This is the distinction between material and immaterial beings.
Water in a jar moves with the jar.
The immaterial space in an empty jar, being omnipresent, does not move with it.
Similarly, the omnipresent God is not subject to activity, birth and death.
Despite the cyclonic activity in the universe, the self or Brahman or God, is ever quiescent.
Even the birth and death of beings are only apparent.
You are space, my friend, mere space.
That space is filled with the divine presence whose nature is Chit-Shakti, not blind energy, but energy which is full of consciousness.
This consciousness somehow becomes aware of a world and of an infinite variety of creatures.
That awareness itself is the creator and that awareness itself you are.
IX:7 - All beings, O Arjuna, enter into my Nature at the end of a Kalpa; I send them forth again at the beginning of the next kalpa.
IX:8 - The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.
Animating my nature, I again and again send forth all this multitude of beings, helpless by the force of nature.
The 'big bang' theory of creation states that all matter was condensed into a single superatom billions of years ago and when it burst the universe was born.
The force was such that the universe is still scattering!
On the other hand, the 'steady state' theory asserts that the universe is beginningless and endless and that out of the rudimentary hydrogen, new galaxies are constantly being formed to fill the space vacated by others moving away.
Krsna reconciles the two.
The 'big bang' is manifestation of his nature at the beginning of a kalpa (age ).
Since it is still in process of manifestation, we are not able to realise that one day all these will be withdrawn into his nature. i.e.
When the galaxies have dispersed far enough from one another to exhaust the original impulse, they will begin to return to the centre.
God, his nature and the potentiality of manifestation and unmanifestation, projection and withdrawal are all eternal; hence the continuous creation theory is also true.
Kalpa is a super-astronomical period of time; but in reality it is only kalpana (imagination) - a thought in the divine mind.
Thought involves both imagining and guessing in response to sensory stimuli.
Careful observation shows that at one point, just before we drop off to sleep, it seems as though the senses and the imagining faculties are returning to our nature; and once the imagining and guessing has ceased, they have returned.
When we wake (in dream or otherwise) those faculties start streaming out.
This happens to us every day, and to God every one of his days, which means that there is nothing but God.
IX:9 - These actions do not bind me, O Arjuna, sitting like one indifferent, unattached to those acts.
IX:10 - Under Me as supervisor, Nature produces the moving and the unmoving; because of this the world revolves.
When are we 'bound'?
When we are affected.
The vital truth to be realised and always borne in mind is that nothing external really affects us, but that 'we affect ourselves'.
Hence it is that Krishna warns us that we are our own friend or foe.
No-one can irritate us; we irritate ourselves.
No-one can insult us (beyond expressing their opinions about us); we interpret their opinions as insults.
This affection is caused by attachment, itself born of ignorant identification of the self with the body and mind.
When we realise directly, not merely intellectually or intuitively, that whatever experience we may have is just our experience, and even so there are countless other experiences; that what we see is just one point of view and even so there are countless points of view, then instantly we will be loving, humble and enlightened.
We realise we are just one small point of the cosmos and we learn to look at everything in the universe as part of this totality.
Here is a puzzle.
I am your guest and we both go to the sea for a swim.
I am attacked by a shark.
The shark is happy.
I yell with pain.
You are worried.
A few softhearted women weep.
Others, disdainfully turn their faces away.
A photographer is busy taking the 'picture of the year'.
Now, we know that God dwells in all.
How does he feel about the incident?
He is unaffected, for the simple reason that he does not identify himself with any one of the actors in this drama.
It does not mean that he is cruelly indifferent to the pains and sufferings of man; he is totally free from ignorance and false identification, and so is free from these pains and sufferings.
Man, too, by identifying his self with God can thus free himself.
This identification is not a mental activitybut the identification of the reality - the homogeneity or unity in this universe (which is not obvious) - after the cessation of mental activity.
That is the goal of yoga.
treat one another as god
IX:11 - Fools disregard Me, clad in human form, not knowing My higher Being as the great Lord of all beings.
IX:12 - Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by demonic and atheistic views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities, and their culture of knowledge are all defeated.
'People do not recognise me clad in human form' may refer to particular incarnations such as Rama, Krsna, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus and so on, but it may also mean that we do not recognise the not-so-obvious divinity in one another.
The embodied self is none other than the supreme self; only illusion limits it.
That is why Gurudev Swami Sivananda emphasised: "See God in all" and Baba Muktananda used to say: "Treat one another as God."
What appears to be a human form is nothing but an outer appearance; and appearance appears to appear only to one to whom it appears.
Thus the same reality that is in you shines in all.
It is one divine being that dwells in the hearts of all.
Let the consciousness expand to see this unobvious truth with the eye of the insight.
You have the privilege of keeping this insight open - observing, enquiring, seeking constantly for this reality concerning yourself, all your relationships and what exists.
You also have the privilege of shutting your eyes and creating your own reality.
'Asuri' means the absence of light, all that is darkened.
In other words, one whose insight is darkened or closed.
When we are blind spiritually, we see a separate reality created by our own ignorance.
They are fools who accept the verdict of the senses, the intellect and their limited faculties and fail to realise the infinite.
Their life is wasted in groping in darkness and self-limited by hugging ignorance.
Even their fondest hopes, greatest actions and profoundest knowledge are tainted by illusion and therefore useless.
Ignorance is undivine; hence their nature is undivine and sinful.
They can become divine - if they open their inner eye.
pairs of opposites
IX:13 - The great souls, O Arjuna, partaking of My divine nature, worship Me with the mind devoted to nothing else, knowing Me as the imperishable source of beings.
IX:14 - Always glorifying Me, striving, firm in vows, prostrating before Me, they worship Me with devotion, ever steadfast.
The previous two verses stated the characteristics of a person of diabolical nature.
Here we are introduced to the characteristics of the man of divine nature.
Nature is God's own nature.
It is the law of manifestation, however, that everything has two poles or sides.
All that is within material, temporal, rational or conceptual levels has two extremes which are the pairs of opposites.
Ignorance and knowledge, divine and undivine, manifest and unmanifest, truth and falsehood, reality and unreality - these always co-exist as the two poles of a single manifest being.
However, God is beyond these because he is beyond all materiality, temporality, rationalisation or concept.
God's nature, when it is manifest here, has the two extremities of the divine and the undivine.
The human soul however, is endowed with the intelligence to discriminate between the two, to make the choice; and the will to make that choice operative, i.e. act upon that choice.
We shall see more about this division of divine and undivine natures in a later chapter.
Suffice it to say here that those who have chosen to pursue divine nature, partake of that divine nature and adore God with all their being while at the same time ,realising that he is the divine presence in all beings. Bowing to all beings as the shrines of the divine spark, they serve all, love all and adore all beings.
This is the symbolism of the holy cross, too, in which are synthesised the two commandments of lord Jesus: "Love thy Lord" and "Love thy neighbour as thine own self"; the vertical beam representing the former, the horizontal beam representing the latter and the intersection indicating their identity.
IX:15 - Others also, sacrificing with the wisdom-sacrifice, worship me, as the one without a second, diverse in many, and in the universal form.
IX:16 - But it is I who am the ritual, I the sacrifice, the offering to the ancestors, the healing herb, the mantra. I am the butter, the fire, and the offering.
There is not and need not be a uniform approach to the infinite hidden in all finite objects.
One can approach the infinite through any or all of the finite objects; but the object of our quest must be the infinite; the finite objects should not bedim or dazzle our vision, sidetrack our quest or thwart our endeavour.
There are various yajna or ritualistic acts described and prescribed for seekers in the vedi.
Krsna introduces a new yajna here in the Bhagavad Gita.
It is the jnana-yajna, the wisdom-worship or sacrifice where the symbolism of the ritual is pierced and the truth realised and revealed.
Based on this right understanding, all our actions can be and should be directed towards God who is 'faced in all directions' (i.e. omnipresent), who is one and who is manifold, neither limited by the one nor by the other.
He can be worshipped as one, as many, as distinct or as identical; for he is ultimately beyond all these.
The path to the transcendental is everywhere and through all.
After all, is not God the seeker, the quest, the goal, the path and all?
That is what Krishna points out to us in the second verse above, using the symbolism with which the people of his time were familiar, the havan (fire worship).
When the spirit of sacrifice is thus fostered, our interdependence is seen.
One sacrifices to the other - the seed sacrificing itself gives rise to the tree, the tree sacrifices itself to produce the fruit (food).
Hence, there is an interconnectedness where we are all interwoven into the fabric of the world.
Once this comprehensive understanding is attained, the worldliness of the world vanishes, and the seeker of wisdom rests in God.
He experiences God in himself and in all.
transcendent to abstact
IX:17 - I am the father of this world, the mother, the dispenser of the fruits of actions, and the grandfather. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier, and the syllable Om. I am also the Rig-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Yajur-Veda.
IX:18 - I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.
IX:19 - I give heat; I withhold and send forth the rain; I am immortality and also death, existence and non-existence, O Arjuna.
From the transcendental to the abstract!
The mind is unable to think of even space and its dimensionlessness.
It cannot transcend its own finite nature and yet remain, 'mind'; the knower-beyond-mind is intuition.
The transcendental reality, can only be intuitively grasped, for it is beyond thought and rationalisation.
Whatever may be thought of by the mind is the reality converted into a thought by the mind, converted into a substance by the mind.
The reality has no name, no form, no quality, no attribute and can neither be characterised as existence nor non-existence, for then we fall into the error of 'pairs of opposites' .
Is there then no hope for the man who is unable to rise to the level of the realisation of the transcendental?
Is the jet the only mode of travel?
Is there no ship for the man of weak heart?
Yes; meditate upon these abstract concepts, but remember that they are pointers and guideposts, not the destination.
The synthesis of opposites in the third verse is very important.
God is not this or that; yet he is this and that, by virtue of being their substratum and reality.
He embraces all opposites because he transcends them all.
From his point of view the opposites are like the light and shade of a painting, like the sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous system in us, performing opposite functions for a common benefit, under the direction of life.
the goal and the means
IX:20 - The knowers of the three Vedas, the drinkers of Soma, purified of all sins, worshipping me by sacrifices, pray for the way to heaven; they reach the holy world of the Lord of the gods, and enjoy in heaven the divine pleasures of the gods.
IX:21 - They, having enjoyed the vast heaven, enter the world of mortals when their merits are exhausted; thus abiding by the injunctions of the three Vedas and desiring desires, they attain to the state of going and returning.
The realisation of the absolute is our goal.
We may take the smooth path or the rugged one.
We may swim across or ride in a ferry-boat.
The path of holiness and the path of diabolical beings are not different.
Life is the same, but the insight of the holy ones shines brightly whilst the eyesight of the insight of diabolical beings is closed.
In our quest we should never for a moment forget the goal.
The vedi and other scriptures are like the ferry-boat, and they are also like the mighty banyan tree that provides cool shade to the weary traveller scorched by the sun (of austerities and of the intense inner effort to transcend the mind).
They encourage the despondent soul by providing him with tangible versions of the intangible, clothing the immaterial with the material, the spirit with form.
He who complacently surrenders to these and goes to sleep under the banyan tree, abandoning the quest, exposes himself to the danger of wild animals (of desires and evil actions later in this life and subsequent lives).
Rituals, forms and scriptural injunctions are useful only so long as we do not forget the real, ultimate goal, which is realisation of the absolute.
They do not take us to the destination, but are only pointers without which it may be difficult to find the way.
However, they should never be regarded as the goal or a substitute for the goal.
Do all the good you can - obviously because you are convinced that you will go to heaven.
This conviction moulds your citta (subconscious mind).
And, it determines your next incarnation - meaning: on dropping this body you will be convinced that you are in heaven!
god alone
IX:22 - To those men who worship Me alone, thinking of no other, I secure what is not already possessed, and preserve what they already possess.
This is the royal secret, the royal road to the realisation of the absolute!
We should disengage ourselves from the self-manufactured snare of illusion.
Thinking of God for a while and then of the objects of the world for the rest of the time betrays insincerity and a doubt.
The test of our sincerity here is the natural attitude of our mind to be ever conscious of God.
This habit must be cultivated, realising that it is on account of his grace that we are able to see, speak, hear, think and so on.
By merely becoming aware of this tremendous truth, we are freed from our own motivations and we live free, doing whatever has to be done.
We are able to be intensely active bind at the same time constantly aware of God's existence.
Krsna uses a clever psychological approach here:
"Think of me always; and I shall protect you."
If God only protects those who constantly think of him, who protects the others?
God alone.
To him all are equal and he is not partial towards any, except inasmuch as they open themselves to him and therefore receive his grace in greater abundance.
If you have the courage and the intelligence to investigate life, you find that all that you needed at a certain moment had already been created years ago.
The wheat for the bread that you had this morning grew specifically for you three years ago!
When the devotee meditates upon the assurance contained in this verse, the hypnotic suggestion of the Lord takes effect upon him and he lets himself go entirely.
It dawns upon him like a flash of lightning that God and God alone is the protector of all; and thenceforth he abandons all selfish activity and dedicates himself to the service of mankind in the spirit of the Gita, remembering God constantly.
It does not mean that such a devotee will be indifferent to the business of the world; on the contrary he will make himself an egoless, selfless and dynamic instrument in the hands of the Lord, for his will to be done.
The actual technique of attaining this state of being will be explained as we go on.
wisdom open the door
IX:23 - Even those devotees who, endowed with faith, worship other gods, worship me only, O Arjuna, but by the wrong method.
IX:24 - For I alone am the enjoyer and also the Lord of all sacrifices; but they do not know me in essence, and hence they return to this mortal world.
IX:25 - Those who worship the devas will take birth among the devas; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.
At the outset a word of caution.
It is possible to see the 'me' and 'God' that occur in the Bhagavad Gl'ta- as implying the transcendental cosmic reality, the infinite which is manifest in infinite ways and whose nature is the entire manifest creation.
That is the correct principle, the right approach, the proper method.
Those who cannot rise immediately to this height in yoga sa-dhana (spiritual practice) are not forsaken.
They can approach God through any of the paths, modes or symbols, but they should never forget that the goal is the supreme being and not the path, mode or symbol chosen.
If this is remembered, the great indwelling presence in all will accept their worship and lead them to the correct method, through the spirit of enquiry.
It is on account of ignorance or misunderstanding that the frail human heart accepts the symbol as the truth, the part as the whole, the aspect as the reality.
When this happens, the soul reaches union with those objects of adoration.
Though it has lost a golden opportunity of direct self-realisation, it will return here to make further progress.
Thus, whatever path or symbol is chosen for worship there should be an awareness that the symbol is worshipped 'as God' in the sense that what is actually worshipped is the infinite, not-so-obvious reality in the universe.
What is obvious is a mental creation.
From that, investigation into the nature of God begins, and then the answer arises - Godrealisation happens.
When this happens, the questioner is absent.
Swami Sivananda has a beautiful poem which says: "Ignorance knocked, wisdom opened and ignorance ceased to be!"
Ignorance cannot face wisdom, darkness cannot face light, the ego cannot face God.
give with love
IX:26 - Whoever offers me with devotion and a pure heart, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or a little water, I accept this offering.
IX:27 - All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, O Arjuna, should be done as an offering to Me.
Whatever may be our approach to the supreme being, in accordance with our inner equipment, predisposition, temperament and taste, we ought to make it a point to feel that in and through the chosen symbol, we are contacting the supreme being himself, as he is the indwelling presence. (verse 24).
It is not so much what we do that matters, but with what feeling we do it.
Just as almost any appealing and God-reminding symbol can be chosen to represent the supreme being, almost anything may be used to represent the inner spirit with which we approach him.
A leaf, a flower - it does not matter what; for it is but a symbol that stands for the spirit of worshipfulness and total surrender which fills our heart.
Minus this spirit, the offering is of very little value.
Minus the recognition of the presence of the supreme being in the object, as we have seen, the worship is imperfect and will not liberate us.
When these two conditions have been ensured, it only remains for us to treat our whole life as worship of God and to offer all our actions as flowers of our worship of Him.
Verse 26 may be taken to refer to ritualistic idol worship and also to charity.
To the God who dwells in all we may offer in charity anything, however little it is, with love.
This attitude encourages charity.
Some people think that, unless they give in a big way, they should not think of giving at all.
It is a great loss.
So give what you can, but give with love, feeling that you are worshipping the indwelling presence thereby.
These two verses are life-transforming.
Our Master used to recite verse 26 whenever he gave anything to anybody, thus revealing His attitude - worship of the indwelling God.
IX:28 - Thus shall you be freed from the bonds of actions yielding good and evil fruits; with the mind steadfast in the yoga of renunciation, and liberated, you shall come to Me.
IX:29 - The same am I to all beings; to me there is none hateful or dear. But those who worship Me with devotion, are in Me, and I am in them.
Liberation is from ignorance.
Renunciation is of its offspring - egoism and mineness.
When the devotee of the omnipresence humbly performs all the activities of his life as worship of God, he is liberated from ignorance and the ignorant belief that some actions are high and others low or menial; that some actions yield auspicious and others in-auspicious fruits.
In a truly holy man, action does not need a motivation, since everything connected with every action is holy and divine.
In his view, all actions are performed 'by God, to God, for his own sake', thus he is unbiased.
Such a man is a supreme devotee of the Lord and quickly reaches him.
To the uninitiated and evil-veiled eye it looks as though God is somehow partial when one man, who to all outward appearances is like any other man, is granted liberation!
He seems to be the beloved of God, the chosen one.
Is God, then, a whimsical being with his own private loves?
In the history of religions, many have claimed to be 'the chosen' people, race or men.
The idea occurs even in the Katha upanisad!
'The self reveals itself to whom it pleases.'
The Holy Quran also resorts to such expression.
This divine mystery is explained in the Gita: God chooses the humble ones who have totally surrendered themselves to him, to serve as his instrument, knowing that they will never misuse that privilege or thereby become swollenheaded.
They are chosen because they deserve such choice; and such choice is therefore in the interest of all.
There is no suggestion that certain communities or peoples will be chosen.
In the eyes of God all have an equal opportunity to be chosen.
All needles stand an equal chance of being attracted by the magnet, but the clean needle enjoys that privilege, while the rusty one does not.
He who thinks he is fit to be chosen, he who says that he is the chosen one, is not chosen.
freedom to worship
IX:30 - Even if the most sinful worships me, with devotion to none else, he too should indeed be regarded as righteous, for he has rightly resolved.
IX:31 - Soon he becomes righteous and attains to eternal peace; O Arjuna, know you for certain that my devotee is never destroyed.
Judaism and Islam, in particular, have declarations that only God is worthy of our worship.
May I humbly suggest that in these two verses Krsna, while agreeing with the biblical and the quranic commandment, exposes the context and, therefore, the true inner meaning?
The sinner (and the worldly man in general) worships and is devoted to a thousand objects and personalities in this world; in fact that is why he sins, for to forget God in being attached to passing phenomena is itself the worst sin.
The 'jealous God', with the compassionate intent of bringing him to the right path, visits him with mixed, varied and unexpected experiences in the form of pain and pleasure, etc.
If he realises his folly (usually by association with men of spiritual insight), and if he has the strength of will to resolve aright, he will naturally be devoted to God and God alone.
'He has rightly resolved' is not merely resolution but an application of energies or attention in the right direction.
If you turn and move towards the light, it is possible that for every two steps forward, you are pulled back one and a half.
Never mind, you are still moving forward!
One with such resolution soon becomes a devotee of God, in his own way.
An understanding of the expression 'devoted to God in his own way' offers an appreciation of the innumerable ways in which God has been attained.
In the Bhagavatam there is a lovely verse which says that people have attained God by fearing him, loving him, hating him, fighting with him or befriending him.
In fact, people have attained him in all manner of ways.
We are devoted to God in accordance with our own nature.
Thus, the freedom to worship him in any manner the seeker likes has already been granted.
god's property
IX:32 - Those who take shelter in me, O Arjuna, though they be of lower birth - women, vaisyas, as well as sudras - can approach the supreme destination.
IX:33 - How much more easily then the holy Brahmins and devoted royal saints, attain the goal. Having obtained this impermanent and unhappy world, worship Me.
When we take refuge in God, we offer ourselves to him and become his property.
It then becomes his responsibility to preserve that property.
God will not let us go.
A deluded miser clings to a piece of gold and risks his very life for it; how much more valuable is a human soul!
(Remember lord Jesus comparing sparrows and the human being?)
Moreover, since, to God, the love of the human soul is natural, born of their eternal unity, once this re-union is effected it is not lost.
The divine grip over the human soul may even take the form of worldly losses and bereavements.
These are meant only to prevent the devotee from 'adoring anything but God'.
The Lord might now scrape the adhering taints of past sinful life, which may be felt as pain by the human mind, and polish it, possibly giving the experience of psychic visions, just as the jeweller's rubbing and polishing of gold jewellery are prompted by his love of his property and his eagerness to increase its lustre and therefore its worth.
When thus visited by the conventionally misunderstood pain, misery and dishonour, the devotee sees them as proper signs of the true nature of the world in which he is born (impermanent and frustrating), and of the redeeming grace of God, which thus prevents him from being deluded.
He does not blame the Lord nor is his devotion disturbed.
Endowed with this understanding, men and women of all castes and orders of life become eligible for the light which leads them to the supreme goal, without the least partiality or victimisation incident upon their birth.
dynamic action
IX:34 - Fix your mind on Me; be devoted to Me; sacrifice to Me; bow down to Me; having thus united your whole self with Me, taking Me as the Supreme Goal, you shall come to Me.
This is the essence of Gurudev's integral yoga.
This is the essence of the Bhagavad Gita.
Krsna is so fond of this idea that he repeats it at the end of his teaching.
The delusion that envelops our understanding must go.
The ignorance that veils the reality and projects the false appearance must be dispelled.
The mind must be rid of its clouds of diversity.
This is achieved by saturating the mind with God.
The process of meditation is not like dropping a stone into a cup of water, but like dropping a lump of sugar into it - when the mind is thus fixed on God and becomes saturated with him, its very nature is changed!
That is the meaning, purpose and fruit of meditation.
This is simultaneously accompanied by a whole-souled devotion to the Lord.
With the evaporation of the delusions of the mind, its desires, based on lop-sided valuations, vanish.
Then the evanescence of the world and the eternity of the bliss of the self are understood.
The heart drops the world and clings to the lotus feet of the Lord.
The 'hands' spontaneously, involuntarily and joyously participate in this adoration of the omnipresent being, by working for the Lord, serving all (the Lord in all) for his sake.
Thus the three aspects of our personality - the head, the heart and the hand - are integrated and our whole being is directed towards realisation of God as the only goal of our life.
Then our life is not idle day-dreaming; it is full of dynamic action - karma yoga.
It is selfless but not soul-less service, full of love of the omnipresent God - bhakti.
It is neither blind action nor sentimentalism, but is filled with and directed by the light of God-consciousness - jnana.
Has not such a devotee already 'come to God'?
Om Tat Sat
Thus in the Upanishad of the Bhagavad Gita, the Science of the Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, ends the ninth chapter entitled: The path of devotion - Raja Vidya Yoga - The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Sovereign Secret.

gri ganesaya namah! sri gopala krsnaya namah! dharo 'vaca bhagavan paramesana bhaktir avyabhicarini prarabdham bhujyamanasya katham bhavati he prabho
1. The Earth said: O Lord! The supreme one! How can unflinching devotion arise in him who is immersed in his worldly life, O Lord?
sri visnur uvaca prarabdham bhujyamano hi gita 'bhyasa ratah sada sa muktah sa sukhi loke karmana no 'palipyate
2. Lord Visnu said: Though engaged in the performance of worldly duties, one who is regular in the study of the Gita, becomes free. He is the happy man in this world. He is not bound by karma.
maha papadi papani gita dhyanam karoti cet kvacit sparsam na kurvanti nalini dalam ambuvat
3. Just as the water stains not the lotus leaf, even so, sins do not taint him who is regular in the recitation of the Gita.
gitayah pustakam yatra yatra pathah pravartate tatra sarvani tirthani prayaga 'dini tatra vai
4. All the sacred places of pilgrimage like Prayaga, etc., dwell in that place where the book, the Gita, is kept and where the Gita is read.
sarve devas ca rsayo yoginah pannagas ca ye gopala gopika va 'pi narado 'ddhava parsadaih
5. All the gods, sages, yogi, divine serpents, gopala, gopika (friends and devotees of lord Krsna), Narada, Uddhava and others (dwell there).
sahayo jayate sighram yatra gita pravartate yatra gita vicaras ca pathanam pathanat srutam tatra 'ham niscitam prthvi nivasami sadai 'va hi
6. Help comes quickly where the Gita is recited and, O Earth, I dwell at all times where the Gita is read, heard, taught and contemplated upon.
gita 'sraye 'ham tisthami gita me co 'ttamam grham gita jnanam upasritya trimllokan palayamy aham
7. I take refuge in the Gita and the Gita is my best abode. I protect the three worlds with the knowledge of the Gita.
gita me parama vidya brahma rupa na samsayah ardha matra 'ksara nitya sva 'nirvacya padatmika
8. The Gita is my highest science, which is doubtless of the form of Brahman, the eternal, the ardhamatra (of the sacred monosyllable om), the ineffable splendour of the self.
cidanandena krsnena prokta sva mukhato 'rjunam veda tray! parananda tattva 'rtha jnana samyuta
9. It was spoken by the blessed Krsna, the all-knowing, through his own mouth to Arjuna. It contains the essence of the three veda, knowledge of the reality. It is full of supreme bliss.
yo 'stadasa japen nityam naro niscala manasah jnana siddhim sa labhate tato yati param padam
10. He who recites the eighteen chapters of the Gita daily, with a pure, unshaken mind, attains perfection in knowledge, and reaches the highest state or supreme goal.
pathe 'samarthah sampurne tato 'rdham patham acaret tada go danajam punyam labhate na 'tra samsayah
11. If a complete reading is not possible, even if only half of it is read, he attains the benefit of giving a cow as a gift. There is no doubt about this.
tribhagam pathamanas to ganga snana phalam labhet sadamsam japamanas to soma yaga phalam labhet
12. He who recites one-third part of it achieves the merit of a bath in the sacred Ganga, and he who recites one-sixth of it attains the merit of performing a soma ritual.
eka 'dhyayam to yo nityam pathate bhakti samyutah rudra lokam avapnoti gano bhutva vasec ciram
13. That person who reads one chapter with great devotion attains to the world of Rudra and, having become an attendant of lord Siva, lives there for many years.
adhyayam sloka padam va nityam yah pathate narah sa yati naratam yavan manvantaram vasundhare
14. If one reads a quarter of a chapter or even part of a verse daily, he, O Earth, retains a human body till the end of a world-cycle.
gitayah sloka dasakam sapta panca catustayam dvau trin ekaih tad ardham va slokanam yah pathen narah candra lokam avapnotii varsanam ayutam dhruvam gita patha samayukto mrtomanusatam vrajet
15,16. He who repeats ten, seven, five, four, three, two verses or even one or half a verse, attains the region of the moon and lives there for ten thousand years. Accustomed to the daily study of the Gita, the dying man comes back to life again as a human being.
gita 'bhyasam punah krtva labhate muktim uttamam gite 'ty uccara samyukto mriyamano gatim labhet
17. By repeated study of the Gita he attains liberation. Uttering 'Gita' at the time of death, one attains liberation.
gita 'rtha sravana 'sakto maha papa yuto 'pi va vaikuntham samavapnoti visnuna saha modate
18. Though full of sins, one who is ever intent on hearing the meaning of the Gita, goes to the kingdom of God and rejoices with lord Visnu.
gita 'rtham dhyayate nityam krtva karmani bhurisah jivanmuktah sa vijneyo deha 'nte paramam padam
19. He who meditates on the meaning of the Glita, having performed a lot of good actions, attains the supreme goal after death. Such a man should be known as a jivanmukta (sage liberated while living).
gitam asritya bahavo bhubhujo janaka 'dayah nirdhuta kalmasa loke gita yatah paratn padam
20. In this world, taking refuge in the Gita, many kings like Janaka and others have reached the highest state or goal, purified of all sins.
gitayah pathanam krtva mahatmyam naiva yah pathet vrtha patho bhavet tasya srama eva by udahrtah
21. He who fails to read this Glory of the Gita after having read the Gita, loses the benefit thereby, and the effort alone remains.
etan mahatmya sahyuktam gita 'bhyasam karoti yah sa tat phalam avapnoti durlabharn gatim apnuyat
22. One who studies the Gita, together with this Glory of the Gita, attains the fruits mentioned above and reaches the state which is otherwise very difficult to attain.
suta uvaca mahatmyam etad gitaya maya proktam sanatanatn gitante ca pathed yas to yad uktam tat phalarnlabhet
23. Suta said: This greatness or Glory of the Gita which is eternal, as narrated by me, should be read at the end of the study of the Gita and the fruits mentioned therein will be obtained.
iti sri varaha purane gri gita mahatmyam sampurnam
Thus ends the Glory of the Gita contained in the Varaha purana.

This was a glimpse of the gospel of Lord Krishna - simple, direct, yet profound. It is not one of pessimism or escapism, but is full of robust common sense. And if it sometimes seems to be puzzling, it is because common sense is so uncommon in the complex world of today.
You may be quite certain that one direction is east and the opposite direction west. But, if you move a little, you suddenly discover that east and west meet you! You are the divider, and from another point of view, you are the meeting point. In fact, it is the mind that creates all this duality which multiplies into endless diversity, creating conflicts and confusion all the way through.
There is only oneness and cosmic unity. There just cannot be two infinites or two omnipresences. The origin of the perception of diversity is enshrouded in mystery - maya. But Krishna boldly assumes responsibility for even that! "I am seated in the hearts of all; from me are memory, knowledge, as well as their absence, " says He.
The manifest universe is the body of God, and the supreme spirit is the indweller. Even this distinction was made to suit human analogy and to satisfy the duality-ridden intellect. We make an arbitrary distinction between our body and our spirit which seems to be justified because at one stage - death - the spirit leaves the body. This, obviously, does not apply to the Lord and His Body, for He is eternal and infinite, and does not leave His Body.
What a sublime vision! What a world-uniting doctrine! What a fountain of love! What a soft blow to shatter all distinctions and differences! What a divine cord of love to unite all mankind in oneness - divinity!

Swami Venkatesananda

Om Tat Sat
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