July 3, 2020, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar
Commentary and Chapter 12, Loving God
Arjun opens Chapter 12 of the Gita with a question. He says some people love God in His unmanifest form, as a nameless, formless, endless divinity and others love Him in His manifest form, with a picture of Him in mind and he asks Lord Krishna which is best. Lord Krishna’s answers suggest that both are equally best, though loving God without imagining what He looks like is difficult.
The Lord explains that those who love, trust and think of Him are best but that those who are calm, good, and who have self-control also come to Him. He says that He rescues from birth and death everyone who loves Him alone and who worships Him and who acts for Him.
God tells Arjun and us all that if we think of Him, we will love Him. If we cannot think of Him steadily as in meditation, we should practice, and if we cannot do that, we should perfect ourselves by doing everything for His sake. If we cannot act for Him, we should simply remember to detach from the results of our actions which means we should not worry about them and not plan beyond them. This advice puts the Gita’s message in a nutshell.
As to the specifics of the best way to worship and understand God, the general principle stated is clear yet open ended. It is ambiguous unless we see that all the ways merge into one. Lord Krishna says that knowledge is better than practice and that thinking steadily of God is better than knowledge. The best however is doing your duty for God’s sake by renouncing the fruit of your actions. Again, while this seems different from the earlier verse which says those who love and trust Him are best, we need to remember that the ways of worship are interwoven and that they all lead to peace.
In the rest of Chapter 12, Lord Krishna speaks of the persons who are dear to Him. He speaks of an array of traits that such persons possess. This array is comforting because most of us see many of these qualities present in ourselves as well as in others. Many are consistent with our notions of human goodness. Others require effort or understanding. Particularly renunciation of outcomes and detachment from comfort or pain is not easy to appreciate or achieve. However, understanding that detachment and not caring are active and not passive attitudes help. Actively doing the right dutiful thing regardless of results to the best of our wisdom and ability is liberating and brings us calmness and happiness.
God says the persons who are dear to Him include those who are friendly, kind, and unselfish and who hate no one, those who do not mind suffering or pain and those who are happy and forgiving without hoping for pleasures. Also, those whose minds belong to God and whose bodies obey their minds are dear to Him. Those who do no harm, who love the world, who are calm and do not waiver from excitement one moment to anger the next are dear to Him and the unafraid are dear to Him too.
People who want nothing and who are pure and faithful and those who understand that their actions are really God’s actions are dear to Him as are those who do not jump with joy and those who do not hate or suffer or want things. Those who are disinterested in good or bad outcomes and love only God are dear to Him. Those who treat friends and enemies in the same way and who do not care if they are praised or criticized or if they are hot or cold or pleased or displeased are dear to Him.
It is interesting to note that the very attitudes which make us happy in turn make us godly or good and that our happiness and serenity endear us to God. Most if not all these attitudes have been introduced in previous contexts in the Gita, but now they are presented together as qualities we should strive to develop within ourselves. They endow our journey through life with goodness, purposefulness, and stability.
Lord Krishna sums up His devotion to humankind saying that whoever understands and follows His teachings and whoever loves God alone is dear to Him.
Please enjoy Chapter 12 below.
Chapter 12: Loving God
Arjun said: Some people who love You, have a picture of You in their mind. Other people love You just as a formless, nameless, endless God. Which people are the best?
Bhagvan answered: I think those who love me and trust Me most always think of Me are the best. But those who have self control and are calm and do good to all also come to me. Those who never stop loving God, even without imagining what God is like, they too come to Me.
Of course, it is harder to love God without imagining what He is like.
But I quickly rescue from birth and death whoever loves only Me and does everything for Me only and worships Me all the time.
So think of Me and you will surely love Me. If you cannot think of Me steadily, without stopping, then you must practice. If you cannot even practice, then do all you can for My sake. You will become perfect just by doing things for My sake. If you cannot manage even this, then just remember not to worry about the results of what you do.
Do not plan for things to turn out the way you want them to, but simply do your best. Do your best and don’t think about what will happen next.
Knowledge is better than practice and thinking steadily of God is better than knowledge. But best of all is doing your duty for God’s sake.
She who hates no one, who is friendly, kind and unselfish is dear to God. She who does not worry about suffering or pain is dear to Me. She who does not hope for pleasures and is forgiving and always happy is dear to Me.
He whose mind is joined to God, whose body obeys his mind, and whose mind belongs to God, that person is very dear to God.
He who does no harm in the world and who loves the world is dear to Me. He who is always calm and who is not happy and excited one moment but angry the next, is dear to Me. He who is unafraid is dear to Me.
He who wants nothing, who is pure and faithful is dear to Me. He who understands that all he does is really done by God, that person is dear to Me.
She who does not jump with joy or hate or suffer or want things is dear to Me. She who gives up both good and bad, and loves only God is dear to Me.
She who treats friends and enemies alike is dear to me. She who doesn’t care if she is praised or criticized, or if she is hot or cold, or happy or unhappy, She is dear to Me.
They who understand and follow all these teachings of Mine are dear to Me. The person who loves nothing but God, only God, is very dear to Me.
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