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.
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVAYA
OM NAMAH SIVANANDAYA
OM NAMO VENKATESAYA
OM TAT SAT
introduction to August
The climax is reached this month.
Whatever be the nature of knowledge and wisdom, it is a colossal waste if it merely adorns our intellect or heart.
We should have the courage of our own convictions and live up to them.
We should experience what we understand to be the highest truth (even with our own limited vision); for only then is even a verification of its validity possible.
We may err; it is human.
But if we do not have the daring, if we are ever standing on the brink, hesitant, we may die with a great weight in our heart - the weight of falsehood misunderstood as the truth!
Hence, by all means look before you leap ... take a second look, and a third ... but for heaven's sake, leap.
Arjuna takes a leap and is granted the cosmic vision.
Out of this experience, several facts emerge which are discussed this month.
Until we see the universe as God's body, we remain outside the inner court of yoga.
Karma yoga is possible only if we realise we are one with God, and therefore with all.
Bhakti yoga is puerile if it is confined to idol worship and does not embrace karma yoga.
Jnana yoga degenerates into intellectual gymnastics if the truth is not realised.
But when the universe is seen as God's body, and God as the indwelling omnipresent consciousness, a great and courage infusing affirmation of solace reverberates in every cell of our being.
It leads us to nimitta bhavana - "I am only an instrument in the hands of God" - which is not a feeling or an attitude, but a living, even if unexpressed, truth.
Liberation from the thraldom of ignorance is liberation from this mysterious ego-consciousness.
The sage of cosmic consciousness sees God working through him, for the benefit, as it were, of the universe which, too, is God himself!
Supreme peace reigns in the heart which is alive to this truth!
XI:1 - Arjuna said : By this explanation of the highest secret concerning the Self, which you have spoken out of compassion towards me, my delusion is gone.
XI:2 - The origin and the destruction of beings verily have been heard by me in detail from you, O Lord with lotus eyes, and also Your inexhaustible greatness.
You can try this interesting experiment!
At the end of an hour-long discourse, ask the members of the audience to recapitulate what they heard.
You will be shocked to find how much of the discourse has flowed off the duck's back.
Often people ask: "But how. can I improve my grasping power and memory?"
Become interested and remain interested in the whole discourse; otherwise the mind which works on the basis of the buddhi's (discriminative power's) valuation, will refuse to concentrate, absorb and retain.
In order to be interested or to listen, you must be 'on the same wave-length' as the master; his words must be meaningful to you as both of you are embarking on the spiritual adventure together.
These words should enter your being and become living truths in you, not because you heard them from a great man, but because you see the truth.
It is then that knowledge begins to flow.
Considering that Krsna and Arjuna were on the battlefield, these two verses, which sum up the teaching so far, are excellent indication of the intellectual powers of Arjuna.
"My delusion is gone", he says.
That was the purpose of the Gita and hence we can say it ended with the tenth chapter.
Even at the end of the eighteenth chapter, Arjuna only repeats these words.
Hence it is right to conclude that the first ten chapters of the Gita contain its philosophy and the remaining eight contain the practical application of this philosophy.
The eleventh chapter is more in the nature of a demonstration of the great truths expounded by the Lord in the tenth chapter.
Lotus is symbolic of unfoldment.
Lotus-eyed therefore means 'one whose inner vision has unfolded to infinite vision'.
XI:3 - O Supreme Lord, as You have thus described Yourself, I wish to see your Divine Form.
XI:4 - If you, Lord, think it possible for me to see it, do you, then, Lord of the yogis, show me Your imperishable Self.
Arjuna had heard, as a keen student should hear, all the instructions of the Lord with one-pointed attention, asking a question here and there with a genuine eagerness to have his doubts cleared, rather than to doubt or decry.
This approach greatly encourages the teacher.
It provides the 'intellectual cross-ventilation' as it were, inviting the outside wind to blow in.
As we shall see towards the end of the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord compels neither blind allegiance to nor blind rejection of his teachings.
The wisest approach to all teaching is: receive, then analyse in the light of your own intelligence; you have a right to do so and need not surrender that right.
Do not doubt or condemn anything, but accept what appears acceptable to you and let the rest drop away.
Only that much was good for you at that stage of your evolution; perhaps the other factors were meant for others to whom they might appeal.
This acceptance should not be mechanical, but should 'happen', because aided by the teacher, you yourself see the truth of the teaching.
This communion between the guru and the disciple is real, though non-verbal communication.
Here, the physiological organs of hearing are open, the mind is silent, the heart is afire with affection and the truth instantly becomes enshrined in the heart.
The conclusion of the tenth chapter proved too great a temptation for Arjuna to resist.
What is the Lord's form as 'Isvara'?
Isa or Isvara means 'is', the simple English verb, though Vedanta gives it all sorts of complicated explanations.
It is 'suchness'.
When all appearances or manifestations have been overcome, what remains is - That is all - That Is all - That is All.
If you shift the emphasis to each of these three words separately and meditate upon them, you will truly understand what Isa or Isvara (and perhaps Jesus) means.
XI:5 - The Blessed Lord said : Behold, O Arjuna, my forms by the hundreds and thousands, of different sorts, divine and of various colors and shapes.
With a shudder of excitement and divine anticipation, we now enter the kingdom of direct realisation.
As we shall presently see, this realisation is extra-sensory and even extra-rational.
The senses function only within an extremely narrow and limited field.
The rational faculties are similarly bound by certain traditional laws and codes fed into the intellect by aeons of ignorance.
The only relevant answer to the question: "How do you know that God or the ultimate reality exists?" is the counter-question: "Why do you speak through your mouth?"
Honest rationalisation is bound to lead one to a logical absurdity or cul-de-sac; for ignorance is the parent of intellect whose offspring is logic.
Hence, your questions are always based on assumptions which you do not question!
The expression 'my forms' thus gives rise to a misunderstanding that God has some special forms - 'hundreds and thousands' of them.
This may be true; nevertheless it is a convenient expression.
However, we must recognise that all expressions or theories are limitations and are, therefore, incapable of approaching the absolute.
When you mistake a theory for the truth, you are caught and so thoroughly confused that it is impossible to find the truth.
Yet, we have to admit the use of the theory (the half-truth) as a stepping-stone to truth.
Says Bertrand Russell: "I shall never forget my disappointment when I found that Euclid started with axioms ... Since I was anxious to go on, I admitted it provisionally ...
Every theory is born of man's quest for a solution to an immediate problem; such problems being sorrow, anxiety, inability to relate to the environment or to others.
When the theory is used as an aid only, the truth is suddenly discovered to be extremely simple.
Intellect, logic or rationalisation is the catalyst and should reduce dogmas, superstitions, bias, prejudice and ignorance to the pure ash of direct self-realisation.
the charm of wisdom
XI:6 - Behold the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the two Asvins and also the Maruts; behold many wonders never seen before, O Arjuna.
XI:7 - Here and now, behold, O Arjuna, in this, my body, the whole universe centred in the one, including the moving and the unmoving, and whatever else you desire to see.
One of the most significant and beautiful declarations repeated in the Bhagavad Gita a number of times in different formulations is that there is nothing in the universe except the divine.
In chapter ten, verses 21-23, we came across the same expressions as we have in verse 6 above.
I repeat: these 'names' are worth investigating to discover their physical or astronomical identity.
Verse 7 is most important.
The universe is God's body (though this is not obvious).
This one thought will solve all our problems and dissolve the ignorance that produced them.
This cosmic body of God is centred in one, rooted in one, built around one.
An imperfect analogy again, has to raise us to this stage.
Just as our body and mind are superimpositions on the one soul, just as the different parts of the body and the different faculties of the mind inhere in the one soul - even so the multifarious moving and unmoving, sentient and insentient objects of the world are centred in the one which needs no name because it is unique, incapable of being compared or contrasted.
The diversity implied is apparent, yet the charm lies in the wisdom of perceiving the underlying unity.
Life is not obvious, the truth is not obvious.
What is obvious is a creation of the mind.
Thus, you can see in the universe (the body of God) 'whatever else thou desirest to see'!
The world is only the projection of our (past and present) wishful thinking; the reality is that it is the body of God. However, even this knowledge is not so obvious.
Hence, the wise man constantly remembers that there is an unobvious reality in the universe which is the reality.
the divine eye
XI:8 - But you are not able to behold me with these, your own eyes; I give you the divine eye. Behold My lordly Yoga.
These physical eyes of ours are useless beyond a certain very limited range of the spectrum.
We cannot see what the microscope or the telescope sees.
We cannot see what the X-ray sees.
Hence, neither the 'severally all' nor the 'underlying one' is within the field of our physical vision.
We are able to see only a few of the several and the one is, of course, beyond the limits of our visualisation.
This is not because of the insufficiency or inefficiency of the 'light within', but because of the limitation of the senses themselves.
Helen Keller was able to enjoy the beauty of a flower, though she was blind from a very early age.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the divine eye potentially exists in us, whether or not the pineal gland is the atrophied remnant of this divine eye (the third eye), or, whether or not it lies at the centre of the eyebrows.
The brain-centre or 'sixth sense' enables us to visualise, with closed eyes, a scene not present before us.
That is the divine eye which is far beyond all our present concepts of extra-sensory perception.
That light is still available and active, even when this brain-centre is 'closed'.
As we shall presently see, this 'sense' is able to transcend space and time, and cannot be adequately explained.
There is not even a need for explanations, since this is and can only be God's gift ('I give thee').
As long as the 'I' functions, the divine eye remains closed.
When the non-existence of the 'I' is directly realised, the divine eye perceives all as the divine.
This divine eye is not an organ, but the realisation of the divine.
'Yogamaigvaram' in the text has been translated as 'lordly yoga'.
Yoga is union.
Isvara's yoga is the immediate union of the reality and the appearance, the one and the many - which is and shall ever be a divine mystery to the little 'I'.
XI:9 - Sanjaya said : Having thus spoken, the great Lord of Yoga, Krishna showed to Arjuna His supreme and divine form as the Lord.
XI:10 - With numerous mouths and eyes, with numerous wonderful sights, with numerous divine ornaments, with numerous divine weapons uplifted;
XI:11 - Wearing divine garlands and apparel, anointed with divine unguents, the all-wonderful, resplendent, endless, with faces on all sides.
The anthropomorphic tinge often deters the Indian himself!
He closes the Bhagavad Gita as a book with which he would not like to associate himself.
That is the best climate for antagonistic winds to blow.
Proselytisation thus gets its best handle.
When you yourself admit that there is something wrong with your religion, it is unnecessary for the opponent to convince you of it; he only sees his victim in you.
If you carefully look into any scripture in the world, you will find such anthropomorphic presentation of spiritual truths - the only one which can be easily grasped by the human mind.
Poets have described the sky as the diamond studded crown of the earth; scientists have given names to cyclones; and writers often describe the fate of a ship ('she') in a cyclone in almost human terms!
'Life' magazine published a series of articles on the human body, literally painting landscapes and factories into it!
All the mouths and all the eyes of all beings are God's.
The wonderful sights in the world that meet the eye are his.
The divine weapons may be thunder, lightning, earthquakes and volcanoes.
When the whole world is God's body, are not the countless gardens of the world garlands on his body?
The infinite has, obviously,'faces on all sides' - every vibrant electron is its 'magic eye'.
I shall explain later why even this 'explanation' of the anthropomorphic presentation is unnecessary.
XI:12 - If the splendour of a thousand suns were to blaze out at once simultaneously in the sky, that would be the splendour of that mighty Being.
XI:13 - There, in the body of the God of gods, Arjuna then saw the whole universe resting in the one, with its multiformity.
The divine eye with which Arjuna was able to 'see' God was capable of transcending time, space and materiality.
Here, in verse 12, we have perhaps a description of the state of the universe at the beginning of the kalpa (the birth of the present universe).
Scientists and astronomers tell us that before the stars and planets condensed into their present forms the universe was in a state of hot plasma, radiant with the radiance of a thousand suns.
That was just after the scientist's 'superatom' or, the Indian's 'golden egg' broke.
Perhaps Arjuna had a vision of that, or, perhaps, all materiality dissolved and he saw through the divine eye only 'light' within the atom.
What did he see in the body of the God of gods?
(1) the whole universe,
(2) resting in one,
(3) divided into many groups.
This is extremely difficult though vital to understand.
We know God pervades all in an imperceptible way.
However, in everything there is the obvious factor which is resorted to the moment the unobvious truth is abandoned.
Then the obvious becomes the focal point of a relationship which is unnatural.
The unobvious 'relationship' is a oneness - and therefore it is not a relationship!
God or the self alone exists.
This means he is all-one.
But he is not even conditioned, by that criterion, or condemned to be one!
All the different strata of creation, all the different orders of beings, are he (that is what is meant by 'pervaded by God') on account of his omnipresence.
The whole universe, which is the body of the God of gods, rests in him, not as an entirely different entity - like a child resting in its mother's lap - nor as identical unity, but in a relationship which is vaguely felt by us (the life-spark) in relation to our body: "It is I and yet not so".
XI:14 - Then, Arjuna, filled with wonder and with hair standing on end, bowed down his head to the Lord and spoke with joined palms:
XI:15 - Arjuna said : I behold all the gods, God, in your body, and hosts of various classes of beings; Brahma, seated on the lotus, and Lord Shiva, and all the sages and the celestial serpents.
'Hair standing on end' has been described to be one of the signs of religious experience.
The experience that Arjuna describes in these verses tallies with what raja yoga styles 'savikalpa samadhi'.
The seer, sight and seen; the knower, knowledge and known have not yet merged into one.
The triad is still maintained.
This is the highest experience granted to the surviving individual as long as there is still a trace of ego or duality.
From here the salt doll (individual soul) takes a leap into the sea (Brahman).
In the words of sage Yajnavalkya, in that state one does not know another; hence it is the state of existence-knowledge-bliss absolute, undivided and infinite - 'nirvikalpa samadhi'.
However, Arjuna still retains the 'I' and is therefore able to enjoy the cosmic vision.
It is not without its price, as we shall see - he is terrified.
Here are mentioned five categories of beings:
(1) all the gods - the deities that indwell and govern the elements and the different phenomena;
(2) Brahma, the creator of the universe - the power hidden in the 'super-atom' of the astronomer or the 'golden egg' of the Indian;
(3) various classes of beings;
(4) the sages - the men of the highest evolutionary level; and
From the highest divinity, the creator himself, to the lowest creature, specifically mentioned as 'serpents', all are pervaded by God. The serpent symbolises 'time' as well as 'evil'; all these, too, are in God, for let us remind ourselves, He is Omnipresent.
XI:16 - O Lord of the universe, I see in your universal body many forms - bellies, arms, mouths, eyes - expanded without limit. There is no begin, there's no middle, and there's no end to all this.
XI:17 - Your form, adorned with various crowns, clubs and discs, is difficult to see because of its glaring effulgence, which is fiery and immeasurable like the sun.
If these verses sound like gibberish, it is only because the experience is beyond expression or description.
No description is ever the same as that which is described, and no description ever describes what it pretends to describe.
This has been the joyously tortuous experience of every sage; the experience of the highest is inexpressible, but the urge to express is irrepressible!
The result is paradox, contradiction and extra-logical synthesis of the opposites.
We laugh at these, but they forgive us knowing that we are still dreaming this world-scene of logic and reason which they have transcended.
Time, the beginning, the middle and the end, is not an object of sense, however subtle, but a mode of thought.
The eternal now which (con)fuses the past, present and future is a state in which the beginning, middle and end are indistinguishably united.
Hence Arjuna is unable to see them.
Once again we are confronted with the anthropomorphic description (the diadem, the club, etc.) though it is all pervaded by a mass of radiance.
From a certain point of view it is possible to 'see' such forms in this very universe.
This was brought home to me at the planetarium in Johannesburg.
The constellations have names and descriptive patterns, and with a little bit of mental adjustment it is possible to see those descriptive forms in the constellations.
The diadem, the club, etc., may all refer to such phenomena.
XI:18 - You are the Imperishable, the Supreme Being, worthy of being known; you are the great treasure-house of this universe; you are the imperishable protector of the eternal Dharma, the ancient Person.
XI:19 - I see you without beginning, middle or end; infinite in power; of endless arms; the sun and the moon being your eyes. By your own radiance you are heating this entire universe.
God is the inexhaustible treasure-house of this universe for the very simple reason that nothing in him is ever destroyed!
There is and can only be change of form or mutation.
That, in fact, is the meaning of the Sanskrit word 'nas' - to become invisible.
We call it 'destruction' for it suits our limited vision and understanding; "what I cannot see does not exist!"
Arjuna's experience here supports the 'continuous creation' or 'steady state' theory in regard to the universe.
God's nature (the vast universe) becomes partly manifest and that manifestation later becomes unmanifest.
It does not in any way alter the quantum of his nature which remains constant.
As scientists are saying nowadays, the distribution of the galaxies today is the same as it was millions of years ago and will be the same millions of years hence; they may change place or form (though in infinite space such expressions have no real meaning), but essentially they will remain the same.
'The sun and the moon being thine eyes' and the subsequent descriptions in verse 19 make us wonder: are we actually seeing parts of God's infinite body and calling it the universe with its diverse classes of existence?
Krsna's friends were once entering the mouth of a python, saying: "Look at this mountain-cave; does it not look like the mouth of a python?"
Are we making the same mistake?
When actually looking at the cosmic form of the Lord, are we saying: "Look at the sun and the moon, they are like the two eyes of the Lord."?
They are, perhaps, his eyes!
XI:20 - The space between the earth and the heaven is filled by You alone; having seen this, your wonderful form, the three worlds are trembling with fear, O Great-souled Being.
XI:21 - The devas are surrendering and entering into you. They are very much afraid, and with folded hands they are singing the Vedic hymns.
Different theories have been advanced to explain what is often dismissed as nothing - space.
The corpuscular theory admitted of a 'substance' called ether, bait the wave theory made that unnecessary.
Theories apart, intuitive common sense inevitably presumes that space as such is a tremendous power which is able to hold all other substances within it.
Even for these 'waves' to radiate there should be a stable substratum, and that is what we regard as space.
The power and the consciousness in that space is God.
'The three worlds are trembling with fear!'
A simple common sense explanation is possible for this.
Do we not know that the entire universe is a limitless panorama of vibrant atoms?
Apply that condition to yourself.
When you vibrate, what is the condition called? Trembling.
When do you tremble? In fear.
We need not be troubled if the explanations sound ludicrous.
They will serve two purposes:
(1) to help us develop faith in the scripture and not dismiss it as nonsense, and
(2) to lead us to the door of intuitive realisation, even as the Zen koans do.
It is then that we realise that these explanations are not nonsense, but non-sense - beyond the senses.
It is then that we understand the beauty of Kierkagaard's expression: "God does not exist, he is eternal".
These puzzling paradoxes do bring the transcendental close to the eye of intuition, breaking all conditioned mental activity.
Then this insight becomes intuitively aware of its own reality which is God.
XI:22 - The Rudras, Vasus, Sadhyas, Aditys, Vishvas, the two Ashvins, the Maruts, Ushmapas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Siddhas and Asuras, are all beholding you in wonder.
The 'sadhya' are a class of deities.
However, the term may also imply that it is possible to attain and know them, to propitiate them and to win their grace.
The transcendental truth offers the finite intellect of man an open window in and through these designations.
They are not the final goal, even as the window is not the sky, or the door our destination; yet, the wise man realises that without the window he cannot view the sky, and the door leads him to his destination.
As has been repeatedly emphasised, these divinities are the macrocosmic correlations of several functions and faculties in the individual.
Meditation upon them, therefore, promotes those very functions and faculties in the individual.
Take for instance the visvedeva.
As Gurudev points out in his commentary on the Gita: "They were considered protectors of human beings.
They were called guardians of the world.
They were givers of plenty to the human beings." They are: kratu (sacrifice, intelligence, purpose, desire, determination), daksa (dexterity), vasu (wealth, gold, water), satya (truth), kama (desire, lust), dhvani (sound), kala (art), rocaka (hunger, tonic), adrava (non-fluid, i.e. solid), pururava (a mythical link between god and man).
Is there any doubt that these promote our prosperity?
The two asvin are divine physicians.
They appear in the sky before the dawn in a golden carriage drawn by horses and birds and they bring treasures to men, averting misfortunes and sickness.
The signposts of legend, symbolism and myth point down the road of common sense.
Of course you can have these treasures - only if you are awake!
Then the whole day (the greatest treasure) is yours; early rising will give you good health and avert sickness, too; and you can meditate and avert your misfortunes.
XI:23 - Having beheld your immeasurable form, with many mouths and eyes, O Arjuna, with many arms, thighs and feet, with many stomachs, and fearful with many teeth, the worlds are terrified, and so am I.
XI:24 - On seeing You, touching the sky, shining in many colours, with mouths wide open, with large, fiery eyes, I am terrified at heart, and find neither courage nor peace, O Vishnu.
The scene keeps constantly changing, even as the 'appearance' of the universe changes constantly over the unchanging substratum.
Good and evil, pleasantness and unpleasantness, beauty and ugliness - are all the attributes which the finite human mind projects on this ever-changing pattern.
However, the difference between the obvious (the manifest) and the unobvious (the unmanifest infinity) is that the obvious is capable of being grasped by the senses or the mind whereas the unobvious is not.
None-the-less, the finite helplessly tries to delimit the infinite and the standard way in which it does this is to limit the infinite to a form and stick the label of a name to it.
Then, endeavouring to understand this, the finite once again drapes the infinite with the only apparel it has, hence creating the various attributes mentioned above.
That is the inevitable fruit of the finite trying to grasp the infinite.
The vicious circle is now complete.
Having bestowed these attributes on the infinite, the finite trembles before it and weeps aloud.
Expressions like "Oh, it is terrible. It is a catastrophe. It is evil", and so on, issue constantly from the lips of the finite being as the direct result of his original sin of trying to grasp the infinite, instead of offering himself to it. It is best to surrender to the ocean, there to swim in bliss and peace.
These two verses should stop us from envying Arjuna's lot.
Sages and yogis have had similar (though not identical) cosmic visions.
We shall see towards the conclusion of this chapter the prerequisite for the cosmic vision, and the risk of testing our strength by trying to lift a hill.
XI:25 - Blazing like the fires of cosmic dissolution, I see Your mouths, fearful with teeth; I do not know where to find refuge. Have mercy, O Lord, abode of the universe.
XI:26 - All the sons of Dhritarashtra, with the hosts of kings of the earth, Bhishma, Drona and Karna, with the chief among all our warriors,
XI:27 - they hurriedly enter into your mouths with terrible teeth and fearful to behold. Some are found sticking in the gaps between the teeth, with their heads crushed to powder.
This 'fearful mouth' is all-changing time - as revealed in verse 32.
Here we are only concerned with Arjuna's vision.
'I know not the four quarters' means that space seems to lose its spatiality; for the mind and the intellect, when confronted with the cosmic vision, stand still.
East, west, north and south are arbitrary creations of man for his own orientation.
'Above' and 'below' are merely relative.
These words have no meaning in limitless space where there is no floor or ceiling.
When the divine eye perceives the cosmic being, the intellect is awakened to its own limitations and man, who derives his sense of security from the creations of ignorance, suddenly finds himself in a state of divine insecurity.
If even this earth is a pin-point in the cosmos which does not respond to the human sense of direction, what else can man rely upon?
There is a momentary doubting restlessness, which, however, is removed by realisation of the cosmic consciousness.
Even the time-sense is blurred in this vision.
Arjuna, with his divine eye, sees even at this stage, the sons of Dhrtaristra entering death.
It is a known fact that the light of the distant star we see today left it hundreds of years ago; and something is happening there at this very moment which will be revealed to our limited vision only in the far future.
Thus, elsewhere, the present is past, and the future is already present!
preyo or sreyo marga
XI:28 - Just as many torrents of rivers flow towards the ocean, even so these heroes of the world of men enter your flaming mouths.
XI:29 - As moths hurriedly rush into a blazing fire for destruction, so also the creatures of this world hurriedly rush into your mouths for destruction.
The mystery deepens.
Into this great being's 'mouth' enter all beings, as rivers enter the ocean.
Into this great being's 'mouth' enter all beings', as moths rush into a blazing fire.
Two similes are used with good purpose for there is a wonderful distinction between the two, and a significant reason why the Lord used two to illustrate a single factor.
The river entering the ocean finds its fulfilment; but the moth entering the fire finds its destruction - not in the sense of annihilation, but in the sense of non-fulfilment.
These are the two courses open to each human being.
The wise one chooses the former which the Kathopanisad calls 'sreyo marga'.
It implies turning away from the objects of the senses, daring to defy obstacles (just as the river encounters obstacles in its progress), overcoming them in various ways and eventually surrendering the limited personality which has been the cause of all our woes in order that we may become one with the whole.
The path does not seem to be rosy and smooth, tempting and attractive, but the goal is supreme peace and total fulfilment.
The unwise man, blinded by the blazing fire, of illusion, refuses to see the reality and takes to the 'preyo marga' - the path of pleasure - which pleases the senses.
The blazing fire is beautiful!
It is tempting and inviting.
The ignorant moth rushes towards it, having no time to think or reflect, since the call of the senses (the eye of the moth in this case) is irresistible.
At the first touch of the fringe of flame, the wings of the moth are destroyed; and man loses his wisdom and will. Now it is too late.
All his vain effort is destroyed.
XI:30 - You lickest up, devouring all the worlds on every side with Your flaming mouths. Your fierce rays, filling the whole world with radiance, are burning, O Vishnu.
XI:31 - Lord of lords, so fierce of form, please tell me who You are. I offer my obeisances to You. Please be gracious to me. I do not know what your mission is, and I desire to hear of it.
In the previous chapter Krsna mentioned that among the aditya (cosmic suns), he is Visnu.
This cosmic ray (let us call him so, tentatively) is capable of devouring everything; its radiance fills the whole world, burning all.
We know that of the elements (earth, water, fire and air), it is fire that is capable of destroying and burning anything.
Earth, water and air, in fact, promote life and its growth.
Air, too, can at most move a thing from one place to another.
But fire burns and destroys.
When a dead insect lies exposed to the elements, especially to the sun, it quickly decomposes - it is destroyed.
A subtle cosmic power acts on it.
There is a balancing force that sustains this universe, that maintains the essential nature of all the objects, and at the same time the dynamic nature of the universe tends to disturb that equilibrium.
Visnu (meaning: all-pervading) is that factor in divine nature, that aspect of God that maintains the whole creation by bringing about a continuous change in form, while preserving (forming?) the substratum.
When the molecules are broken into atoms, the atom into its components and each in its turn resolved into the sheer energy they are made of and in which they maintain their individuality, what remains is Vishnu (or more correctly, the power of Vishnu).
Perhaps one day, following Einstein's lead, science will surmise, if not discover, the existence of such a unified substance in whose heart there is that power which reduces everything to simplicity, only to reassemble several such simplicities to make another complexity to suit its purpose.
Verse 31 indicates that Arjuna has gone beyond the limitation of every memory; he has forgotten Krsna and what he is doing!
Unless we are free of conditioning and we look afresh (as Arjuna has done), we do not see the truth.
XI:32 - The Blessed Lord said : Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you, all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.
This highly inspiring verse was recalled to memory by Oppenheimer, the physicist, as he sat in his watchtower during the first atomic test explosion during World War II.
He confessed that the destructive mushroom which he saw in the sky reminded him of the great utterance of lord Krsna: "I am the all-destroying time".
"This is it", thought Oppenheimer.
The bomb, like all-devouring time, does not discriminate between combatant and non-combatant, good and wicked, men, women or children; it reduces all of them - and even inanimate objects - to their elemental state.
'Lokaksayakrt' has been translated into 'world-destroying'.
'Ksaya' has several meanings, one of which is 'an abode'.
This destruction is, in other words, not annihilation, but a return to the original abode, to the original state of matter from which newer forms could be fashioned.
Once this fact is clearly grasped, very much heart-break can be avoided.
Even so, the other expression 'lokansamahartum' has been translated into 'destroying the worlds'.
'Ahartum' has other meanings, too!
Surprisingly enough, one of them is 'to unite, to bring together'.
This meaning is in line with the spirit of the Bhagavad Gita.
It is as though the Lord said: "I have given you enough intelligence, discrimination and free-will to see that you are all one and to live in such unity.
If life cannot unite you, then death will!"
The great misunderstanding about the role of Shiva in Hindu scriptures should be removed.
He is not the 'destroyer'.
The universe, being his own body - an inseparable part of the eternal - cannot be destroyed.
It and all beings in it can only be redeemed.
Thus, Siva is the redeemer.
For the redemption of the ignorance-imprisoned individual soul, he periodically re-shapes its outer covering, to suit better its evolutionary state.
XI:33 - Therefore, stand up and obtain fame. Conquer the enemies, and enjoy the unrivalled kingdom. Verily, they have already been slain by me; be a mere instrument, O Arjuna.
God is the redeemer.
At the appropriate time all souls shall vacate their habitation and find a new abode (ksaya).
Even if, on account of delusive attachment or infatuation, one wishes to prolong indefinitely the life of one's beloved ones, it is impossible.
Hence, lord Krsna has declared in the previous stanza: "Even without thee, these shall not live."
Krsna repeats that argument in this verse: "They have already been slain by me".
In fact that spiritual event in the mind of God has to be worked out on the physical plane by human instrumentality.
The bhavana (attitude to life) that Krsna inculcates in this verse, the nimitta-bhavana (attitude of being a mere instrument in the hands of God), is an important one.
It has several implications.
1. That I am an instrument in God's hands, and I do nothing on my own.
On the one hand this generates true humility: all glory is God's.
On the other, it bestows tremendous power on us: God, who is working through this instrument, is omnipotent.
It should be clear that the instrument does not say it is one; it is not even aware it is one!
For, true humility is not experienced within oneself, but is seen by others.
To function as an instrument is to be totally free of ego.
2. To be an instrument in God's hands itself is great glory.
We must accord this glory to his instruments, through whom his will functions viz., saints and all others generally.
3. God's grace flows through our benefactors to us.
By expressing our gratitude to them we thank God.
By bowing to them we bow to God.
4. We shed the puerile attitude of egoistically refusing helpful human intervention in our life, by saying: "God will help me".
The right attitude is: "It is God even now, who is helping me, through this person"; and to that God-in-him we bow in gratitude.
5. All negative emotions like jealousy, hatred, contempt, etc., leave us.
Everybody is an instrument in the hands of God.
XI:34 - Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and all the other warriors, these have already been slain by Me. Kill, be not distressed with fear. Fight, and you shall vanquish your enemies.
XI:35 - Sanjaya said : Having heard that speech of Krishna, Arjuna, with joined palms, trembling, prostrating himself, again addressed Krishna, in a choked voice, bowing down, overwhelmed with fear.
The most important and vital truth is repeated thrice for emphasis.
People criticise repetition, yet on closer scrutiny it is discovered that their 'intellect' rebels against truth.
Light hurts the owl's eyes.
Having once seen the light by accident, the owl refuses to face it again.
The yogi in spiritual communion with the Lord whom he perceives through the inner eye of wisdom or intuition, forgets space, time and materiality.
Arjuna did not know where he was, what the situation was or who was standing in front of him!
But the divine being does not 'forget'.
It is good to remember that, even if we forget our duty, the divine will not forget it or allow us to forget it.
Bow down to the inevitable.
Killing is sin, but cremation is not.
'These brave warriors have already been slain by me', and what you are really going to do is to cremate them!
How can one kill a dead body?
Therefore, fear not and be not distressed.
'Fight and thou shalt conquer thy enemies in battle', for the simple reason that they have no life!
Having heard these flaming words of truth from the supreme Lord, Arjuna, still overwhelmed with fear but full of devotion to him, begins to praise him and sing his glories.
Such inspiration founded on devotion and ecstatic communion with God is the origin of all hymns and liturgy.
Sooner or later in one's life a situation is reached where one is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the power beyond human might - transcendent and yet accessible to the human being; and then there arises spontaneous devotion to it.
At that point the discriminative mind is silenced and Shaktipat (the direct, non-verbal transmission of truth) happens.
XI:36 - Arjuna said : O Krishna, the world becomes joyful on hearing Your name, and thus everyone becomes attached to you. Although the perfected beings offer you their respectful homage, the demons are afraid, and they flee here and there. All this is rightly done.
XI:37 - And why should they not, O great soul, bow to you, who art the primal cause, even greater than Brahma, the Creator? Lord of the gods, Abode of the universe, you are the imperishable, the Being and the non-Being, That which is the Supreme, above cause and effect.
In verse 23, Arjuna said that all the worlds are terrified.
Now he says that the world delights and rejoices in God's praise.
This is not a contradiction, but a revelation of the great truth that the phenomenal scene changes and that in creation, which is but a play of dualities, misery and happiness alternate every few 'moments'!
Here, Arjuna sees the world's rejoicing, the demons' flight and the perfected ones' devotion.
It is a beautiful thought: the situation outside is the same, but we react in the way that our own inner condition demands.
The good world (mankind) delights and rejoices in God's praise, glorifying him for all good that they see the objects that bring them happiness.
They are good; they see everything as good; they seek happiness; they get that happiness and they praise God.
The demons, the wicked beings - the demoniacal, the animal clothed in human garb - see their own reflection in the environment.
They are afraid of even God's own goodness and flee.
The perfected ones who have gone beyond good and evil, to whom happiness and misery are but subjective projections which they have ceded, see in the external manifest universe the nature of God, understand its magnitude and praise him.
By addressing the Lord as 'mahitman' , a great soul, Arjuna reflects Patanjali's concept of Isvara as purusavisesa (a special and exalted soul).
XI:38 - You are the primal God, the ancient purusha, the supreme refuge of this universe, the knower and the knowable, the supreme abode. By you is the universe pervaded, O Being of infinite forms.
We are often confronted with the unavoidable confusion which arises when an attribute assumes a proper name; a functional or characteristic definition surrenders its value and is used as a label.
'Thou art the adideva' : deva is a being of light, in fact, light itself.
Thus the term could be translated: thou art the first light!
It was this first light that 'saw' (in biblical language) that darkness was on the face of the earth, and demanded light.
It is the eternal light which shines when all else is dark.
Even now, it is that which shines through all else.
That light, being luminous, does not need another to illuminate it.
It illuminates itself and the other!
'The ancient purusa': purusa does not merely mean 'man' but the indwelling presence, one who lives in the body.
The ancient body is the body of God - the whole universe.
This ancient body was never lifeless; the Lord has dwelt in it from beginningless time and it is he who dwells in it even now.
'Param nidhanam': supreme refuge.
Nidhinam may also mean: preserver, reservoir, treasure, wealth.
If the ever-changing matter did not have cosmic consciousness as its permanent, stable and indwelling presence, there would be chaos in the universe.
That presence is the preserving treasure of the cosmos.
It is the reservoir of inexhaustible soul-force which untiringly and ceaselessly perpetuates this world-play.
And, when all matter is temporarily dissolved, the soul-force returns to its own centre, that which we call God.
Who is to know this cosmic indweller?
Only God can know himself.
'I' cannot know him; the finite cannot comprehend the infinite.
He it is who knows, and he knows himself!
dark and bright
XI:39 - You are Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varuna, the Moon, the creator and the great-grandfather. Salutations to you, a thousand times. Again and again salutations to you.
XI:40 - Salutations to you from front, from behind, and from every side. Infinite in power and prowess, You pervadest all; wherefore you are All.
The famous vaidika declaration is echoed here: God is one, sages call him variously as Indra, Varuna, etc.
These are but the functional attributes of God.
Even as the creator he is not to be limited to that function, for he is the 'great-grandfather'.
Sometimes the creator is styled as grandfather (the father of my father).
God is even the 'father' of the creator, not only in the mythological sense, but because he is the original essence of which even the creator is but an aspect.
The omnipresent being has neither a front nor a back, but the allusion here is to the bright and the dark side of his divine nature.
We should learn to admire and to adore both the front (glory) of God and the back (the dark or so-called evil side) of God.
The two together constitute his nature.
We are able to recognise the bright side only by comparison with the dark side.
Suffering evokes compassion in us.
Sickness in one offers another the opportunity to serve; one man's poverty is another's occasion for charity.
Even national calamities like famine, earthquake, flood, and the worst of all - war - bring out great hidden, divine qualities in many.
The suffering involved is, of course, occasioned by one's own karma.
Lastly, the appearance on the world-scene of mighty evil forces that are able to threaten goodness is but a trigger for the divine forces to intervene and restore the balance.
Hence the advent of an avatara (IV:7).
He who knows this keeps on the bright side of God, without hating the other side.
the gift of god
XI:41 - I have in the past addressed you as "O Krishna, My Friend", without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored you many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses.
XI:42 - In whatever way I may have insulted you for the sake of fun while at play, reposing, sitting or at meals, when alone with You, or in company, that I implore you, immeasurable one, to forgive.
Here again lord Krishna acts as the supreme illusionist.
Step by step, Arjuna was rising to the level of the absolute.
He saw the universe being indwelt by God.
He realised that even the vaidika gods are but the Lord's own manifestations.
Even good and evil - and all such paradoxes - merged in the Lord.
All distinctions began to fade away and Arjuna saw that God and God alone pervaded everything.
Even the idea of an 'everything' seemed to be absurd from that point of view.
"Wherefore thou art all", said he.
One more step and even the seer in Arjuna would have dissolved in the sight and the seen in the state of nirvikalpa samadhi.
... That was not yet to be.
Hence, obviously by the influence of his will, Krsna spreads a veil over Arjuna's eyes (as he had done before in the case of his mothers, Yasoda and Devaki) inducing an awareness that Arjuna was standing in front of the cosmic form revealed to him by Krsna.
Memory returns to him.
Mind awakes and with it the ordinary consciousness.
He begins to apologise to the cosmic being for his unbecoming conduct in ignorance.
At every turn in the Bhagavad Gita this great truth is rubbed into us.
The highest spiritual realisation is God's gift.
Though this should not lead to the absurd conclusion that the Lord is whimsical and though we should not forget that we have no business to desire God-realisation without first deserving it, we should remember that only God can realise himself and that our only task is to sacrifice our little ego at his feet.
This sacrifice is not an act of the ego but the dawn of the light of truth in which the shadow of the ego dissolves.
the ways of god
XI:43 - You are the Father of this world, unmoving and moving. You are to be adored by this world. You are the greatest Guru; for none there exists who is equal to You; how then can there be another superior to You in the three worlds, Being of unequalled power?
XI:44 - Therefore, bowing down, prostrating my body, I crave your forgiveness, adorable Lord! As a father forgives his son, a friend his friend, a lover his beloved, even so should you forgive me, God.
The rapid descent to human consciousness is evident in these two verses.
From the vision of the all, Arjuna's focus narrows first to the immeasurable one, then the world seems to be apart from the Lord who is considered its father.
He then recedes further as the worshipful one; then further still, he is just the Isvara, a special soul, the guru of all.
Lastly the Lord is brought to the level at which he could be compared and contrasted with the many things that exist in the three worlds, seen once again as distinct entities.
Arjuna returns to body-consciousness in verse 44.
Though he continues to implore forgiveness, one notices the unmistakable symptoms of realisation of the glory of God receding further from his consciousness.
Strangely enough, he betrays the trend towards the very inner attitude which He condemned a few minutes ago!
Once again he assumes an air of intimacy with the Lord - a father-son relationship, a lover-beloved relationship.
Once again he takes the privilege of regarding him as a friend.
Though he is still dazed by the vision and knows he is addressing God, the transition to the earth-consciousness is clearly evident.
Strange indeed are God's ways and the power of his maya (delusion).
He alone veils.
He alone unveils the truth.
Inscrutable are his ways.
Let us ever have our face turned towards him.
Even if we thus see only his 'back', let us persist; soon his face will be visible to us.
Though that will be when he wills it, why should we worry?
As long as our face is turned towards him!
desire for god
XI:45 - After seeing this universal form, which I have never seen before, I am gladdened, but at the same time my mind is disturbed with fear. Therefore please bestow your grace on me and reveal again your form as the Personality of Godhead, Lord of lords, abode of the universe.
XI:46 - I desire to see you as before, crowned, bearing a mace, with the discus in hand, in your former form, having four arms, thousand-armed, O Cosmic Form.
Having made the preparation and ensured that we deserve God's grace, we should remove all aspirations and await His Grace.
There are some who insist that even the aspiration or desire for God should go, for it, too, is a symptom of egoism.
Others claim that desire for God will act as a catalyst helping all other desires to be reduced to ashes, itself not requiring such treatment.
If, while awaiting his grace, we are restless and impatient, we ought to assure ourselves that the state of complete egolessness has not been reached and that therefore we do not deserve his supreme grace!
'Desire' for God implies that the aspirant knows what God is - which is obviously absurd.
God is an unknown quantity, infinity ; so how is it possible to know the extent of God?
What is the meaning of the word infinite?
When one desires God, it is in fact a desire to free oneself from the known conditions of limitation, fragmentation and consequent ignorance and sorrow.
Arjuna was obviously a very good aspirant.
He had received the highest knowledge direct from the Lord's lips.
In addition to deserving the cosmic vision, he also desired it, though he couched his prayer in humble words: "If you think it possible, please show me the cosmic form."
The Lord consented and blessed him with the divine eye through which he saw the cosmic form.
In spite of all these precautionary measures, Arjuna was still frightened!
On the spiritual path haste is disastrous.
While we should be ever active, we should never for a moment forget that the only prerequisite for God-realisation is total egolessness.
Only when the ego has been fully surrendered to the Lord is the cosmic vision granted.
XI:47 - The Blessed Lord said : Arjuna, this Cosmic Form has graciously been shown to you by me by my own yogic power; full of splendour, primeval, and infinite, this Cosmic Form of Mine has never been seen before by anyone other than yourself.
This all-important truth bears repetition any number of times: the ultimate vision of God is his own gift.
In other words, the ego cannot see God, the shadow cannot grasp the substance, darkness cannot see light.
Any 'vision' that the ego has is its own creation.
The ego will not accept something it does not understand, and therefore creates a misunderstanding!
Even the eye of intuition with which the yogi sees God is God's own gift.
People often wonder what that eye of intuition looks like.
Countless guesses have been made with (to say the least) amusing results.
In the hands of the spiritually jejune it has even degenerated to a surgical operation!
A wise Sanskrit maxim says: "Only a wise man knows what makes a man wise; the barren woman is not aware of labour pains".
One who does not possess the eye of intuition does not know what it is; in the realm beyond the intellect 'knowing' is 'being'.
Thus, as long as the mind thinks, there will always be the rising and setting of an experiencer, the ego, with each experience; and as long as one's individual ego functions, he shuts out the gift of God.
That gift is the eye of intuition.
But what is the eye of intuition?
Ask him who is its bestower.
No man knows.
From the rapturous exclamations of those who have 'seen' the cosmic form with the eye of intuition, others have tried to presume what it might be.
Guesses are children of ignorance; and the arrogance which gives birth to them makes them diabolical imposters.
According to the Bhagavatam, Akrura had a cosmic vision before the Mahabharata war; yet Krsna says here that no-one had seen it before Arjuna.
There is no contradiction here if we realise that each malls experience is his own - unique and unparalleled.
The ultimate experience of the absolute is the same for all, even as deep sleep is; but even the penultimate experience of a cosmic vision can differ, just as people's dreams are unique and individual.
how does man wake up?
XI:48 - Neither by the study of the Vedas and sacrifices, nor by gifts, nor by rituals, nor by severe austerities, can I be seen in this form in the world of men by any other than yourself, O Arjuna.
Dr. Zimmer, in his monumental work on "Philosophies of India", expresses the view that before the veda- were introduced into India by the invading Aryans (there are others who question this!) there flourished there a religion whose hall-mark was world-and-life-negation, e.g. jainism.
Zimmer includes even sankhya and yoga (in their empirical form) in the pre-Aryan religious thought.
Yoga insists on stoutly refusing to let the purusa (individual soul) identify himself with the activities of prakrti (the active principle); kaivalya (isolation of the purusa from prakrti), which was taken to imply non-participation in the world, regards all life as unhappiness, to the wise.
Austerity and 'withdrawal' were vigorously advocated by these pre-Aryans.
The veda, on the other hand, extol an active life of sacrifices (yajna), rituals and gifts.
They are intensely interested in this world and in the world of heavenly pleasures, considering austerities to be more expiatory than self-liberating.
Historians place the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (which is part of that epic) at a much later date than the former two, viz., sankhya-yoga and veda.
Here, Krsna boldly proclaims that neither the pre-Aryan austerities and withdrawal from the world, nor the Aryan study of veda, sacrifices and rituals, can enable one to attain the beatific vision which Arjuna had.
Later sages of vedanta, too, have admitted that performance or non-performance of any action (both involving egoistic notions) do not lead to liberation which is awakening from the slumber of ignorance.
How does man wake up, then?
When the time comes, the Lord will awaken you, provided you are ready to wake up.
'Time', here, is not used in the traditional sense, but in the sense of 'maturity' which is thinning out of the selfishness.
XI:49 - Be not afraid nor bewildered on seeing such a terrible form of Mine as this; with your fear entirely dispelled and with a gladdened heart, now behold again this former form of Mine.
XI:50 - Sanjaya said : Having thus spoken to Arjuna, Krishna again showed his own form; and the Lord, assuming His gentle form, consoled him who was terrified.
Stand alone on a sand dune in a vast desert.
Float alone on a wooden plank in the middle of an ocean.
Sit alone in a dense forest, with not a man or beast around you.
You are immediately terror-stricken.
The limited mind of man is afraid of the limitless - even if this merely means 'vast'.
If such is the case with mere earthly vastness, how then can the limited mind of man approach the truly limitless infinite being?
It trembles with mortal fear unless previously trained; this training is gradual, even as the training of a parachutist is gradual, unless one perceives spontaneously that limitation is itself the cause of fear and the infinite is instant freedom.
All the yoga practices are intended to prevent this fear.
In the initial stages of yoga sadhana, when one is asked to meditate (especially if the aspirant does not believe in a personalised form of God and attempts formless contemplation) and when he is at the point of 'going into meditation', the aspirant gets frightened and returns to body-consciousness with trembling fear; it makes him feel that he is dropping into a bottomless dark abyss.
Hence the vital need to prepare oneself, and kindle the light of understanding.
Hatha yoga prepares the physical and vital being; raja yoga the mental and the psychic being; bhakti yoga the emotional being; and karma yoga pushes the ego out of the way.
When jnana yoga eventually opens the door, the entire being is flooded with divine light.
Then such light no longer blinds but is gladly welcomed.
To ignore this preparation is to look for trouble.
Complete self-surrender and acceptance of God's will are the best preparation.
hard to see
XI:51 - Arjuna said : Having seen this your gentle human form again, O Krishna, now I am composed and restored to my own nature.
XI:52 - The Blessed Lord said : Very hard indeed it is to see this form of Mine which you have seen. Even the gods are ever longing to behold it.
The gentle 'form' of God is easier to meditate upon; and when the time comes, this form itself will lead us to the formless being.
It avoids the danger of violent inner disturbances on the one hand and merely lapsing into the void (a kind of sleep) on the other.
There is, no doubt, the risk of getting stuck there and, forgetting the goal; but if the aspirant is sincere this will not happen.
'Hard to see' may mean:
(a) it is rare, and
(b) it is a psycho-spiritual adventure which demands all the strength and talents of the heroic.
It is bound to be rare; for the man-in-the-street is so readily tempted by the glittering objects of sense-pleasure that he deems it a piteous waste of time to even turn away from them.
It is only a Moses, a Buddha, a Jesus, a Dayananda, a Ramakrishna or a Sivananda who is able to 'see through' the imposter called sense-pleasure and avoid him.
In the very nature of life such people are bound to be rare.
Without this natural disinclination for sense-pleasure (vairagya) it is not possible to build up a psycho-spiritual personality that is strong enough to undertake the adventure into the infinite.
Krsna indicates that the gods, who are certainly not ignorant and stupid beings, are 'ever longing' to behold the cosmic form, but in them this disinclination for sense-pleasure is not natural.
The dwellers of heaven lead a life of ESP (extra-sensuous pleasure!') and their longing does not bear fruit.
Man, on the other hand, not being subject to such intensity of pleasure, can turn away from it altogether, and with a little reflection over the pain of worldly existence, develop a natural dislike for it - thus turning to God.
XI:53 - Neither by the Vedas, nor by austerity, nor by gift, nor by sacrifice, can I be seen in this form as you have seen Me.
XI:54 - But by single-minded devotion can I, of this form, be known and seen in reality and also entered into, O Arjuna.
The Bhagavad Gita is a scripture revealed on the battle-field to deal with an urgent situation (eventually with all our urgent situations in life).
The repetitions, the loose-ends and the seeming contradictions are themselves proof positive of the authenticity and historic context of the book.
If it was a 'well-thought-out and reasoned' text these would have been avoided.
The idea in verse 53 had already been expressed in verse 48.
What is worse still, in chapter eighteen Krsna extols the virtues of 'austerity, gift and sacrifice', and insists that they should not be given up.
They are terribly important, yet here we are told that God cannot be seen with the help of these.
The wise student should endeavour to read such ideas together and ponder the real inner meaning.
Austerity, charity and self-sacrifice are indeed most essential, not for self-realisation but for self-purification.
With their help we dehypnotise ourselves and overcome the hallucination of worldly life and sense-pleasure.
Hence, Krsna wisely warns us in the eighteenth chapter that even the' three purifiers should be performed without attachment.
Dirt on the body is removed by soap; but the soap itself should then be washed away.
Only by single-minded devotion can God be realised.
'Ananya bhakti' means love or devotion in which there is no other involved.
This devotion is not exclusive of anything, but all-inclusive.
Here 'all' is a synonym for God.
One who sees God and God alone everywhere 'enters' into the reality, and swims saturated in His Omnipresence.
realization is an art
XI:55 - He who does all actions for Me, who looks upon Me as the Supreme, who is devoted to Me, who is free from attachment, who bears enmity towards no creature, he comes to Me, O Arjuna.
Krsna is so fond of this idea that he repeats it thrice in the Scripture.
He concludes the ninth chapter and also his teaching in the eighteenth chapter on the same note.
This spiritual alchemy transforms all life into divine life.
It is the bridge that links the contraries, the secret that unravels all mysteries, the solution to all the riddles of the Bhagavad Gita.
No activity will lead you to God, yet you cannot remain without action even for a second.
Life itself is action.
Actions arise in God's nature and that nature carries on the world-play.
Therefore, work - but 'work for me' - realising that God is the source of action, 'I' am not the doer at all.
God is your supreme goal, but let not this idea tempt you to neglect your duties.
Knowing that God is in all, that God is the all, be devoted to the welfare of all beings.
Beware, however, lest you should get attached to them.
You love them - no, not 'them', but the God in them.
This non-attachment, in its turn has one peril.
It may lead you to a life of isolation, a dread of people and of living with them and serving them.
It may even make you feel that the world and its peoples are your enemies who will lead you astray, so that you should avoid them like poison!
If you entertain this idea, you will be throwing the child away with the bathwater.
You will be shutting the omnipresent God out of your heart.
The perception of truth or the reality transforms the world into the love of God without touching it or wanting to change it.
In the delicate art of loving all and yet not becoming attached to them (loving them), of loving God in them, and yet not regarding 'them' as different from God lies the secret of self-realisation.
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 eleventh chapter entitled: The path of devotion - Visvarupa Darsana Yoga - The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form.
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.
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVAYA
OM NAMAH SIVANANDAYA
OM NAMO VENKATESAYA
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!
Om Tat Sat