Ahimsa

Ahimsa, or nonviolence, is a Hindu principle that means we should live in harmony with the universe. We should be considerate of all creatures and all natural forces and live in balance with them. We should be compassionate. We should exercise self-control and not go into a frenzy to satisfy our desires and with the world. We should not needlessly hurt others in any way. However, we should do what our duty demands.

While Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all endorse the doctrine of Ahimsa, they consider it differently. Buddhism bans killing along with stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxication. Jainism opposed all killing categorically. Hindu tenets are not so specific. They go to motive. Hinduism does not oppose killing. Rather, it opposes senseless killing. The distinction is difficult to put into words. The effects of an act depend on the thoughts that engendered it. The doer of the act must decide whether an act is hurtful or not and whether is necessary or not. It is the quality of the actor’s nature that determines if he or she makes the right decision and that sets karma in motion, for better or for worse. While a wise person performs acts that are in keeping with universal harmony, an anger driven fool is likely to commit acts of unwarranted violence.

Violence and destruction are not always harmful. Burning fields to improve their fertility is a good thing. It is different from starting a wildfire that will burn and destroy forests. The Gita speaks of a moral war, explaining that the soul cannot be killed and that the body does not matter at all. The Mahabharata and the Gita illustrate rather than explain what constitutes a moral war. Lord Krishna speaks on the “Battlefield of Dharma.” The noble hero, Arjun, does not want to slay his enemy. He does not want a kingdom, or victory, or pleasures. He would rather his enemy kill him than kill them. Lord Krishna convinces Arjun to fight, leaving the outcome of the war in God’s hands:

Do not care if your fighting brings pleasure or pain,

Victory or defeat.

Just do your duty.

In this way you will be free.

(Gita 2:38)

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. To purchase the book, visit our Amazon Link.

 

Chapter 18: Giving Yourself Up to God

August 14, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 18, Giving Yourself Up to God   

Arjun asks God in Chapter 18, the final chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, what giving everything up for Him means. The Lord answers that some people think it means giving up action altogether while others think it means doing your duty but giving up attachment. Those people believe that we should continue doing good things without considering the outcome or worrying about how things will turn out.

The Lord then says He will tell Arjun what He Himself believes. He says Arjun should not give up helping others or perfuming rituals but should do the things holy books say are good and will purify him. He should do these things for the sake of God without considering what the result will be. This is means giving up the fruit of your actions. Surrendering the fruit of your actions for God brings freedom and happiness. It is giving yourself up to God. Wise people do their duty without caring about whether it is enjoyable or disagreeable. Doing your best will make you Godlike. It will make you sinless, unselfish, strong and calm.

People who act focused on the outcome of their actions are greedy. They do not do things for God, but for a reward. Such people are happy one moment and unhappy the next. Their mood keeps changing and they often get angry. But by doing your duty, even by killing you do not sin.

The Lord, Bhagvan, describes three kinds of action, three kinds of knowledge, three kinds of reason, three kinds of firmness and three kinds of joy. These things have qualities like those of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas which are good, passionate and dull, respectively. He tells Arjun that the best action is performed for God’s sake, that action performed for selfish pleasure is bad, and that the worst action which hurts the doer and others is done out of ignorance and foolishness. Knowledge is also of three types. The best knowledge sees God as One in all beings. Lower knowledge thinks that all beings are separate. The worst knowledge, which is false, believes that beings exist without God.

God explains that reason means choosing between right and wrong. The best kind of reason understands that things like goodness, bravery and freedom are right. Reason that confuses right and wrong is bad. The worst reason is dull. It idiotically insists that good is bad and bad is good.  Similarly, firmness or determination is good when it steadily focuses on prayer and thoughts of God and goodness. It is passionate and bad when it sticks to the quest for riches and pleasures. But the worst firmness arrogantly sticks to unhappiness, fear and anger. Joy or happiness can also be good or bad. It is good when it comes to prayer and devotion but not when it comes from getting what you want. The worst joy comes from laziness and fooling yourself.

It may be challenging to think that anyone could or would fool themselves into happiness or cling to unhappiness. However, when our happiness is superficial and merely the result of satisfying a material desire, it will end up in anger and discontent. Thus, seeking to hold on to such joy is delusional and dull. It is fooling yourself and being unwilling to pursue deeper and lasting happiness. The Lord explains that while the pursuit of fun and pleasures seems appealing at first, it becomes bitter as we find the true and beautiful happiness that comes from the pursuit of goodness and God.

As the Gita comes to its conclusion, it references and justifies the duties of the four castes into which Hindus were divided at the time of its formulation. While the duties are ranked in favor of the higher castes, the Gita acknowledges that the spirituality of the Brahmans, the bravery of the Kshatriyas, the agriculture and trade provided by the Vaisyas and the service of the Sudras are all needed for the functioning of society. The problem of the caste system was not so much in the allocation of responsibilities but in the total absence of mobility and the terrible disparagement of the lower castes. However, the Gita acknowledges that the duties performed by all the castes can lead to perfection and the attainment of oneness with God.

The perfect person eats lightly, lives quietly, controls her mind by fixing it on God, controls her body, is calm, and is not selfish, angry, greedy or proud. The perfect person is cheerful, wants for nothing and loves God. He keeps on doing his duty and gives up the fruit of his actions. God will always come to help those who do these things. But those who do not will come to destruction and ruin.

The Gita ends as it begins, with an exhortation to Arjun to fight as demanded by his nature and his duty, to trust God and to go to Him for protection and peace.  God reminds Arjun that He lives in the heart of all beings and asks him to think about the secret words he repeats out of love. He says:

Think of Me, love Me, worship Me,

bow down to Me

and you will surely reach Me.

I promise you.

Give yourself up to Me

and I will forgive all your mistakes.

Do not worry.

My secret should not be told to anyone

who does not love God or to anyone

who does not want to hear it.

But whoever tells it to people who

love Me, God, will be sure to come to Me.

 

The Lord continues telling us all that no one is dearer to Him than a person who loves him and that whoever hears or reads His conversation with Arjun will love Him. Whoever has thought about this conversation and understood it is wise. Whoever has listened with faith to His message will get goodness and happiness.

God asks Arjun if he kept his mind on His words, if he understood their significance, if he now knows the Truth and if his confusion and unhappiness have gone away. Arjun replies that, thanks to God’s mercy, he knows the truth and will fight.

Sanjay, who related the Gita to King Dhritarashtra, expresses his joy at having heard the Gita and says that wherever there is Lord Krishna and brave Arjun, there will be happiness, victory, glory and truth.

OM TAT SAT

Please enjoy Chapter 18 Below.

Chapter 18: Giving Yourself Up to God

Arjun said: Oh Mighty God, I want to know what giving everything up for You means.

Bhagvan answered: Some people believe it means giving up doing things altogether. They think you should give up action completely because action is bad.

But otherwise men think it means doing good things for God. They believe you should do your duty without attachment. Without attachment is without thinking or worrying about how everything will turn out.

Now I will tell you what I, God, believe.

Oh Arjun, listen. You should not give up helping others. You should not give up religious ceremonies like pujas and only sit doing nothing. You should not give up things which the holy books say are good. Those things make you pure and good.

You should not give up your duty just because it is hard. That is wrong.

You should do your duty and not think about how the things you do will turn out. Just do your best and do not worry about anything. This is called giving up the fruit of your action. This is very good. Giving up the fruit of your action will make you free and happy. Giving up the fruit of your action is giving yourself up to God.

Wise people do their duty without caring whether it is enjoyable or disagreeable.

The things you do may turn out to be good or bad. But if you have done your best and do not care about how your actions turn out, you will be happy and free. You will be like God. You will be sinless. You will be unselfish, strong, and calm.

But people who care about what their actions will get them are greedy. They do not do things for God. They do them for a reward. Their mood keeps changing. They are happy one moment and unhappy the next. They are often angry.

If you do your duty wisely for God’s sake alone, even by killing you do not sin.

Oh Arjun, there are three kinds of action. The best action is done for God’s sake. Action done for selfishness or only for pleasure is bad. The worst is action done out of ignorance or foolishness. The worst thing to do is to act without understanding. Such action hurts others and hurts yourself.

There are also three kinds of knowledge. The best kind sees God as One in all beings. Knowledge which thinks that all beings separate is lower. But the worst knowledge is thinking that beings can exist without God. Such knowledge is false.

And there are three kinds of reason. Reason means choosing between right and wrong and understanding what is good. The best kind of reason understands goodness, bravery and freedom. Reason that mixes up right and wrong is bad. But the worst reason is sure that wrong is right and that right is wrong. It stupidly says that good things are bad and that bad things are god. There are also three ways of being firm and sticking to what you do. The best way is being firm and steady about praying and thinking of God. Another way of being firm is sticking to riches and to pleasure. That is bad. But the worst way is sticking to unhappiness, fear and anger.

Now, Oh brave Arjun, I will tell you about three kinds of joy.

The best comes from praying and thinking about God. The second kind of joy is not as good. It comes from getting things you like. And the third kind of joy is bad. It comes from fooling yourself and from laziness.

At first, praying and thinking quietly of God seems boring and bitter as poison. Having fun and getting things you like seems wonderful. But later, thinking of God, loving Him, and understanding Him are wonderful and beautiful. Then just getting what you want seems bitter and foolish.

And Arjun, there are different kinds of duties in life for different kinds of people.

The Brahmin’s duty, for which he is born, is self control. The Brahmin’s duty is studying holy books and concentrating on God. The Brahmin should be peaceful, pure, forgiving, wise, honest and full of faith in God.

The Kshatriya’s duty is to be a soldier. It is to be a good warrior and a good ruler. The Kshatriya’s nature is to be brave and generous. His duties fit the Kshatriya’s nature.

The Vaishya’s duty is to plant food, to protect cows and to do business. These jobs are right for the Vaishya.

The Shudra’s duty is doing work for the other groups. This is his duty for which he is born.

Each and every person can reach God by doing her own duty well. Each person can become perfect simply by doing her duty. It is better to do you own simple duty than someone else’s greater job.

No one should give up her duty, whatever it may be.

Now I will tell you what a perfect person is like.

The perfect person eats lightly and lives quietly. She controls her mind and keeps it thinking of God. She controls her body and is calm. She is part of God. She and God are joined. They are One.

The person who is good enough to join God is not selfish, angry, greedy or proud.

The perfect person is cheerful. She is never sad. She never wants or needs anything. By loving God she gets to know God and becomes part of God.

The perfect person keeps on doing his duty. He keeps on doing things. He does not give up action. He only gives up the fruit of action. This means he does everything for God’s sake.

So, you see, you should do everything for Me. Give up your actions to e. Give yourself up to Me. Concentrate on Me all the time.

If your mind is always on God, I will always help you when you need help. But if you do not listen to Me, you will be destroyed. You will be completely ruined.

You are proud and silly, Arjun, if you, a Kshatriya, say, “I will not fight.” Fighting is your nature. It is your duty and your own nature will make you fight.

Oh Arjun, remember God lives in the hearts of all beings and makes them act. Trust God. Go to God for the protection and peace.

Oh Arjun, this is My secret. Now I have given it to you. Think about it and do whatever you wish.

Arjun, listen again to My final most secret words. I will tell them to you for your own good because I love you.

Think of Me, love Me, worship Me, bow down to Me and you will surely reach Me. I promise you.

Give yourself up to Me and I will forgive all your mistakes. Do not worry.

My secret should not be told to anyone who does not love God or to anyone who does not want to hear it.

But whoever tells it to people who love Me, God, will be sure to come to Me.

No one is dearer to Me than a person who loves Me.

And whoever has heard or read My words in this conversation with you, Arjun, loves me. Whoever has thought about My words carefully, worships Me with wisdom. Whoever understands these words I have just spoken to you is wise. Whoever has listened, full of faith to My message will be sure to get goodness and happiness.

And now, Oh Arjun, son of Kunti, did you keep your mind on everything I have said to you? Did you understand My message? Do you now know the Truth? Have your confusion and your unhappiness gone away?

Arjun said: Lord Krishna, because of your mercy I know the Truth. I will be firm and do what you wish. I will fight!

Sanjay said: And so I heard the marvelous exciting conversation between Krishna Bhagvan and Arjun. Through God’s grace I heard this most secret Yoga. I think, Oh King, of this wonderful holy conversation and I am happy. I rejoice again and again.

I keep remembering how wonderful Lord Krishna looked and I am happy delighted again and again.

Wherever there is Lord Krishna and brave Arjun, there will be happiness, victory, glory and truth.

OM TAT SAT

To purchase The Gita, by Irina Gajjar, visit our Amazon Link.

 

 

 

Chapter 15: The Excellent Spirit

July 24, 2020, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 15, The Excellent Spirit

Chapter 15 of the Gita discusses the relationship between the soul and the body.  Bhagvan, God, uses the analogy of the Peepal Tree to illustrate this relationship.  The Peepal Tree is known in many religions and philosophies as the Tree of Life or the Cosmic Tree and many consider it sacred. The Lord tells Arjun that its root is God unmanifest, its stem is God the Creator and its leaves are the holy books. He says that like the tree’s branches which can grow go up or down, man’s deeds can lift him up or down.

The spirit of the Peepal Tree is the seed from which it was born and it lies deep within. In order to reach it, we must cut down the tree. Similarly, our spirit lies deep within our hearts and to reach it we must cut ourselves off from life and care only for God who started the whole world. Only the wise can care about God alone. The wise are those who do not keep on wanting one thing after another and alternating between happiness and unhappiness.

The Lord says that His spirit is our soul. Our soul pulls the mind and the five senses of touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste to itself. Our soul can blow itself away from our mind and body and find another mind and body in which to live just like the wind can blow away the perfume of a flower. Those with the eye of wisdom see this while the foolish cannot understand that the soul can live in the body or leave it.  The foolish cannot know God.

The idea that God exists within us is amazing if we believe it. Such belief hinges upon our views of God and of our soul or spirit. The very existence of these unconfirmable concepts, not to mention their characteristics, has been questioned, discussed, and considered for millennia by persons interested in grasping the essence of life and humanity. The Gita’s goal is to persuade us that indeed God is real, permanent and resides within us. It insists that the wise accept this as true while those who do not are fools. Yet, when we see how God describes Himself in Chapter 15, it is awesome to imagine that even a smidgen of these divine powers exists within ourselves.

The Lord explains that He is the light in the sun which ignites the world, the light in the moon and the light in the fire. He is everyone’s memory, wisdom and thinking. He is the reality and eternity in us. He is called the Excellent Spirit because He is beyond illusion and unreality.

God tells Arjun that the wise who appreciate Him as the Excellent Spirit worship Him with all their hearts and says He has explained His best knowledge to Arjun because he is without sin. People who understand this knowledge will also become wise (which means they too will shed all sin) and the light of truth will shine upon them.

Chapter 15: The Excellent Spirit

Bhagvan said: The Tree of Life, The Peepal Tree, is like the world. Its roots is God. Its stem is Brahma, the Creator. Its leaves are the holy books knows as the Vedas.

Like the branches of the tree which go both up and down, the deeds of man can lift him up or lower him down.

But to reach the inside spirit of the tree, the seed from which it was born, we have to cut the tree down.

And to reach your spirit inside your heart, you have to cut yourself off from life. Cutting yourself off from life means not caring about anything except God. The whole world was started by God.

Only wise people can care about God alone and get mixed with Him. Wise people are not proud and do not keep on wanting things. They do not keep changing from happiness to unhappiness.

You should know that My spirit is your soul. Your soul is the spirit of God in you. It pulls the mind and the five senses of touch, hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting to itself. Your soul can blow away from your mind and body and find a mind and body to live in.

Just as the smell of a flower is blown by the wind, the spirit is blown from the body.

Foolish people cannot understand that the soul sometimes lives in the body and sometimes leaves it. Only people who have the eye of wisdom know this.

The foolish cannot know God.

The light in the sun which lights the whole world, and the light in the moon, and the light in the fire is My light.

And I am in everyone’s heart. But only special people can find me there. I am everyone’s memory, their wisdom and their thinking.

In this world there are two kinds of things, unreal, make believe things that change, and real things that are real forever. The soul, the spirit of God in you, is real forever.

I, God, am past make believe. I am beyond the unreal. This is why I am called the Excellent Spirit.

Oh Arjun, wise persons who understand that I am the Excellent Spirit worship Me with all their heart.

Oh Arjun, you are without sin. This is why I have explained My best secrets to you.

Understanding these secrets, people can become wise and the light of the truth will shine on them.

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Chapter 14: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

July 17, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 14, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

 Chapter 14 of The Gita discusses the three attributes of the body. These are known as Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. The Lord explains this to Arjun and others to share an important truth which enables believers to become one with the Lord. By understanding these attributes, we can escape from repeated births and deaths and avoid suffering when the world is destroyed at the end of an age.

Birth takes place when the spirit and the body join together. The spirit is God, the Father, and the body is the Mother. At embodiment, we all are made up of the three attributes or qualities -Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas- known as gunas which tie the soul to the body. While we are a blend of the three, the predominance of one or the other determines our nature.

Sattva is good, happy, and calm. Rajas is not good. It arises from attachment and is greedy and passionate. Tamas is bad. It comes from ignorance and is sluggish and flawed. When Sattva is strongest in us, we are wise. When Rajas is strongest, we forever want things and are jumpy. When Tamas is strongest, we live in darkness and are dull and lazy.

If when we die, we are mostly Sattva, we will be born again in a world of purity and wisdom. If we are mostly Rajas, we will be born again in our world of attachment. If we are mostly Tamas we will be born again in the body of a dumb and unwitting being.

The fruit of Sattva is goodness. From Sattva comes wisdom. The fruit of Rajas is sorrow. From Rajas come passion and greediness. The fruit of Tamas is ignorance. From Tamas come pain and mistakes. However, the spirit of those who understand that God is beyond Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas will be freed from their bodies. They will not need to be born again and will attain eternal life and oneness with God.

Arjun asks how someone can become free of the three gunas that bind the soul and how such a person who is filled with goodness can be recognized. God answers that whoever worships Him faithfully and is detached from actions crosses beyond the world and the gunas and becomes free. Such a person is unconcerned about her body or about pleasant and unpleasant experiences. She is wise and feels the same about stone and gold. She treats friends and enemies alike and she does her duty, not caring about praise or criticism. She becomes part of God.

The Lord concludes this chapter saying that He is God, that He is the home of Brahma, God unmanifest, that He is everlasting and unchanging and that He is endless goodness and happiness.

Chapter 14: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

Bhagvan said: Arjun, I will share the greatest truth with you again. Knowing this, people become part of me and do not have to be born when the world is created. Knowing the truth, people do not have to suffer when the world is destroyed.

Everything is born when the body and the spirit join together. The body is the Mother and I, God, am the Father.

The body has three parts or three gunas called Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. These three tie the soul to the body. We are made up of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas.

Sattva is good. It is clean and shining. It is healthy and has no faults. Sattva is happy and calm. Rajas is not good. It is greedy and active and causes strong feelings.

Tamas is bad because it comes from ignorance. It is full of faults and mistakes. Tamas is lazy.

These three things are mixed up in us, but the strongest part makes us good or bad. When Sattva is the strongest, we are wise. When Rajas is strongest, we are greedy and we cannot keep calm or still. When Tamas is strongest, we are lazy, foolish, and covered by darkness.

If when we die, we are mostly Sattva, our spirit gets born again in the world of the wise and the pure. If we are mostly Rajas, our spirit gets born again on earth. If we are mostly Tamas, our spirit gets born in the body of dumb, ignorant being.

The fruit, or the result, of Sattva is pure goodness. The fruit of Rajas is sorrow. The fruit s Tamas is ignorance.

But if you understand that God is past Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, your spirit will be freed from the body. It will not have to be born again and you will go straight to God.

The Arjun asked: How can I recognize a person whose spirit is freed from her body? How can we go past the three gunas which bind the soul?

Bhagvan answered: The person who is free does not care what happens to her body. Whoever feels the same about pleasant and unpleasant things has crossed beyond Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Whoever likes stone as much as gold is wise. Whoever treats friends and enemies the same way, and does her duty, not caring if she is praised or scolded, is free. Such a person has gone past the three gunas.

She who always worships God faithfully crosses past the world, and becomes a part of God.

I am God. I am Brahma’s home. I am everlasting and unchanging. I am unending goodness and unending joy.

 

 

Chapter 12: Loving God

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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Chapter 11: God Shows Himself to Arjun

June 26, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 11, God Shows Himself to Arjun

Chapter 11 is the most dramatic chapter of the Gita. It begins with Arjun thanking Lord Krishna for His secret words and His goodness. Arjun says he now is free of his mistakes because he has heard the truth. He accepts all that God tells him and begs God to show Himself. God does so in a spectacular fashion.

The Lord says He appears in hundreds of thousands of forms, colors, and shapes. The thirty-three gods of the Hindu pantheon can be seen in His body as can wonderful forms that have not been seen before. Hinduism believes in one God – ever present as an unmanifest power who manifests at His will or when needed. However, it also acknowledges a pantheon of gods, the superior beings with many powers who populate myths and legends. The Lord tells Arjun that the whole universe can be seen in His body. Furthermore, He says that Arjun can see in Him anything he wishes to see.

The notion that humanity can see anything at all in God is remarkable. It suggests that our perception of God is limited only by our imagination. But the Lord says that because human eyes cannot see Him, He will give Arjun a divine heavenly eye. We can make of this what we will, but Gita’s clear message is that it takes transcendental vision to grasp the reality of God.

What Arjun sees next is an awesome sight. The Lord appears before him transformed, with multiple mouths and eyes and faces on all sides. He wears heavenly jewels, garlands, and garments. He carries divine weapons. He is covered with perfumed pastes. He glows with a light that exceeds the glow of a thousand suns all shining together in the sky.

Full of wonder, Arjun indeed envisions the entire universe in God. He bows down and tells the Lord that he sees thousands of beings in Him as well as the Lord Himself but that he cannot find His beginning, middle, or end. Arjun describes and comments on all that he sees. He says that God is the protector of goodness, that God fills the space between heaven and earth, that the worlds are frightened of God’s wonderful and terrible form and that crowds are entering into God and calling out praises to Him. Arjun himself admits that he fears God’s large shining eyes and His faces with terrible teeth that are like a fire burning the world.

Arjun sees the warriors on both sides of the Mahabharata war rushing into God like rivers rushing into the sea, like moths rushing into a fire toward destruction and he sees the world burning with God’s terrible brightness. He says he cannot understand the reason for this frightening form.

God answers that He is revealing Himself as burning Time, The Destroyer of the World. His purpose is to destroy Arjun’s enemies who will not live even if Arjun does not kill them. God explains that Arjun is merely His instrument and urges Arjun to fight and conquer his foe.

Shaken, Arjun says that he now understands that God is everything real and unreal and beyond both. He sees that all beings are in God and acknowledges God as the Creator, indeed as the father of the Creator. He begs forgiveness for his earlier failure to recognize God’s perfect greatness and asks to again see God in the gentle four-armed form of Vishnu (of whom Krishna is an incarnation).

God agrees and shows Himself garlanded and crowned, holding His disc, club, and conch. He praises Arjun and once again reminds us all of the Gita’s essential message: Whoever works for the Lord alone, whoever loves and trusts Him alone and is filled with kindness toward all beings reaches the Lord.

 

Chapter 11: God Shows Himself to Arjun

 

Arjun said: Thank you God for your secret words. Thank you for your goodness to me. Now all my mistakes have disappeared because I have heard the truth from you.

Oh Lord, You are all that You tell me. But I am longing to see You. Oh God, Oh Krishna, if you think I am good enough to see how You look, Oh God, show Yourself to me.

Bhagvan said: Look! I am in hundreds of thousands of different forms, and colors, and shapes.

See in Me all twelve sons of Aditi, the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras who are gods of destruction, the twins who are the gods’ doctors, the forty-nine wind gods, and many many other wonderful forms never seen before.

Arjun, see in my body, the whole world and anything else you want to see.

You cannot see Me with your human eyes so I will give you a devine heavenly eye. With it you will see My power and My greatness.

Sanjay said: After saying this, Krishna showed Arjun His divine universal form.

Arjun saw God with many mouths and eyes, a wonderful sight, with divine jewels and weapons, and heavenly garlands and clothes, and covered with fragrant paste, full of wonder, endless, and having faces on all sides

The glow of a thousand suns all shining together in the sky would hardly be as bright as the shine of God.

The Arjun saw in God the whole universe. Then Arjun, full of wonder, with his hairs standing on end, bowed down to the Lord and pressing his hands in prayer said:

Oh Lord, I see all the gods and thousands of beings in You: Brahma sitting on his lotus; Siva, and the wise men; and heavenly serpents.

Oh God of the Universe, I see You with many arms, many bellies, many faces and many eyes. Oh Lord, I cannot see Your beginning or Your middle or Your end.

I see You with a crown, a club, a chakra, all round and bright like the fire and sun, shining on all sides.

You are the protector of goodness. You never end.

I see You with no beginning, no middle and no end, with unending power and countless hands, with the moon and sun for eyes, and fire for Your mouth burning the world with Your brightness.

The space between heaven and earth is filled by only You. Oh Lord, seeing this wonderful and terrible form of You, God, all these worlds are frightened.

Crowds of divine forms are entering You; some with joined hands are calling out Your names and glories. Some are saying “let there be Peace” and praising You. All are looking at You and are amazed.

Lord, the worlds are afraid, seeing all Your faces and eyes and arms and legs and bellies and teeth, so am I.

Arjun went on: Your many colored forms and wide open mouth and large shining eyes frighten me. Your faces with terrible teeth like fire burning the world frighten me.

Bhishma, Drona, and Karna with some of our warriors are entering You. All the sons of Dritarashtra with kings and warriors are entering You. They are rushing into Your fearful mouth with terrible teeth. Some are stuck between Your teeth with their heads smashed. Like the rivers rushed in the seas, so these warriors are rushing into Your burning mouths. They are going to be destroyed like moths rushing into a fire. Oh God, You are swallowing through Your burning mouths. You are licking all those people. Your terrible brightness is burning the whole world, filling it with light.

Lord, tell me who You are, looking so terrible! I bow down to You. Be kind. Oh God! I wish to know You because I do not understand the reason for Your frightening form.

Bhagvan said: I am burning Time, the destroyer of the world. My reason now is to destroy these armies. All your enemies will not live, Arjun, even though you yourself do not kill them.

So arise, fight, and win glory! Enjoy victory. These warriors, your enemies, will be killed by Me, God, not by you. I am just using you, Arjun, to destroy them.

Kill Drona and Karna and others who are already killed by Me. You will be sure to conquer your enemies and win, so fight!

Sanjay said: Hearing these words of Bhagvan, Arjun trembled and bowed down and spoke in a very frightened and shaky voice.

Arjun said: It is right, Oh God, that the world rejoices and is filled with love by singing Your names and glory. Frightened demons are running away and the saints are bowing to You.

Oh God they bow to You because You are the greatest of the great. You are the Lord of Heaven. You are Sat, what is real. You are Asat, what is not real. And you are beyond both.

You are the main God, the oldest God; You know; You are the knowable. You fill the whole world in different shapes.

You are the wind god, Vayu; the god of death, Yama; and the fire god, Agni. You are the moon god. You are Brahma, the Creator. Indeed, You are the father of Brahma, the Creator.

I bow to You. I bow to You a thousand times. I salute You and I salute You again and again.

Oh Lord of endless strength, I salute You from all sides. I salute You who have endless power, who fill everything. You are all.

Oh God, I did not realize Your greatness. I thought of You only as a friend. I treated You as a friend. Oh God, I beg You to forgive me. Please God, You are perfect. Forgive me!

You are the father and also the greatest teacher. No one can be as great as you. How can anyone be greater?

So, Oh Lord, I bow at your feet and bow low. I want to please You, the ruler of all. Please forgive my mistake. Forgive me like a father forgives his son, like a friend forgives his friend, and like a lover forgives his beloved.

After seeing what was unseen before, I feel happy. At the same time, my mind is afraid. Please show me again Your divine for of Vishnu with four arms, Oh Lord.

I wish to see You again with a crown, and a club, and a chakra, wheel in Your hands. Oh God with a thousand arms, appear again in Your calm four armed form.

Bhagvan said: Arjun, I am happy with you so I have shown you my Universal form which no one before has ever seen. Arjun, in this world no one except you can see Me like this.

Oh Arjun, do not worry or feel afraid from seeing this terrible form of Mine. Feel calm and unafraid. Look, see Me again in my same four armed form, with the conch, the chakra, the club, and the lotus.

Sanjay said: After saying this, Bhagvan appeared again in his gentle four armed form and comforted Arjun.

Arjun said: Oh Krishna, seeing Your gentle form again, I am calm.

Bhagvan replied: This form of Mine is very hard to see. Even the gods are always anxious to see it.

I cannot be seen in this form through studying the Vedas or through suffering. I cannot be seen through charity or in ceremonies.

But by endless love I can be seen in this four armed form. By endless Love I can be known. By endless love I can be entered into.

Oh Arjun, whoever works for My sake alone, reaches Me. Whoever trusts Me, loves Me, loves nothing else, and is full of kindness toward all living beings, reaches Me.

To purchase The Gita, by Irina Gajjar, visit our link on Amazon.

 

 

 

Chapter 10: God’s Glories

June 19, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 10, God’s Glories  

In Chapter 10 of The Gita, God describes Himself as the best essence of His creation and the cause of all that exists in the universe, leaving Arjun in awe.

Lord Krishna explains that not even the wisest people really understand the extent of His greatness and His power. They do not understand that He is the source of everything. Truth, wisdom, forgiveness, self control, happiness, unhappiness, bravery, fear, peacefulness, fame, and shame all emanate from Him. Yet the good know that the Lord has no birth and no beginning.

God continues saying that the great sages of the world were born because He willed them to be. The world moves because of Him and the wise and good worship Him and are happy because they know this to be true. In return, God gives them wisdom and pushes away darkness by shedding the light of truth upon them.

Arjun asks to know more about God’s glories and God says they are endless. He says He is in the heart of all living things and that he is their beginning, their middle and their end. He is the elite of beings and qualities.

The Lord tells us He is Vishnu (The Preserver), He is the sun and the wind, and He is the moon. He is Indra (the King of the gods). He is mind and energy. He is the destroyer and He is richness and fire. He is the tallest mountain, the chief priest, the strongest general, and the ocean. He is Om, the infinite, absolute spirit of God. Om is the most powerful word in Hindu philosophy. The phrase “Om Tat Sat” encapsulates the totality of Hindu belief. Om represents the highest energy that transcends existence and non-existence. Tat, literally meaning that in this context means God is reality. Sat means truth. Thus “Om Tat Sat” can be translated as God is the Truth, provided we appreciate the expansiveness of this concept.

The Lord further says He is the holiest of trees, the musician of heaven, and the wisest of men. He is the wonderful snow-white horse (named Ucchaisravas) born when the ocean was mixed with honey, the white elephant, the heavenly cow, and the cause of love and procreation. He is the snake god, the water god, and Yama, the god of death.  He is time.

He is the lion of beasts, the Garuda of birds on whom Lord Vishnu rides, the alligator and the holy Ganges of rivers. He is the letter A. He keeps the world alive and He is death and the future. He is the feminine qualities of fame, richness, speech, memory, smartness, consistency and forgiveness. He is music, spring, victory, Arjun, and all of us. He is everything and He is endless. Nothing can exist without God.  Just a fraction, a spark, of His splendor sustains the world.

See the beautiful descriptions of God’s glories in Chapter 10 below.

Chapter 10: God’s Glories

Bhagvan said: Arjun, listen to Me again. I talk to you because you love Me. I talk to you for your own good.

No one knows the secret of My power. Not even the wisest people know the secret of My origin. I, God, am the cause of everything in the universe.

I am God, the Lord of the world. I have no birth and no beginning. People who know this are good.

Everything comes from Me, only from Me, truth, wisdom, forgiveness, self control, happiness, unhappiness, bravery, fear, peacefulness, fame and shame all come from God.

All the great makers of the world were born because I wanted them to be. I started the world. The world moves because of Me. Wise, good people worship Me because of Me.

The wise think Me; give up their lives Me; each other about God and are happy because of Me.

I love those who worship Me and I give them wisdom. I live in their heart and push away darkness and shine the light of truth on them.

Arjun said to God: You are the great everlasting God. Saints say You are God and You are blessing me by telling me all about Yourself.

Krishna, I believe everything You tell me.

Oh Lord, how can I know You? How can I pray to You? How can I imagine You?

Please Krishna, tell me again exactly about Your strength and about Your glory because I can never stop wishing to hear more about You, Oh God.

Bhagvan said: Arjun, I will tell you more about my glories. They are endless.

Oh Arjun, I am in the heart of all living things. I am their beginning, their middle, and their end.

I am Vishnu. I am the sun and the wind. I am the moon.

I am Indra. I am the mind. I am energy.

I am what destroys things. I am richness. I am fire. I am the tallest of mountains.

I am the chief priest and the strongest general. I am the ocean. I am a mind reader. I am Om.

I am the holiest of trees, the musician of heaven, the wisest of men.

I am the horse that was born when the ocean was mixed with honey. I am the white elephant. I am the King.

Of weapons, I am the most powerful thunderbolt. I am the heavenly cow. I make men and women love each other and have children.

I am the snake god and the water god. I am Yama, the god of death. I am Time.

Of beasts, I am the lion and of birds, I am Garuda on whom Lord Vishnu rides.

I am the wind that purifies the air. I am Rama.

I am the alligator. Of rivers, I am the holy Ganges. I am the letter A. I keep the world alive. My face is on all sides. And I am death. And I am the future.

I am the feminine qualities of fame, richness, speech, memory, smartness, steadiness, and forgiveness.

I am divine songs and verses. I am spring. I am victory and I am the goodness in all that is goof. I am you, Arjun, of the Pandavas.

I am the secret keeper. I am truth in those who know. I am the seed of everything. Nothing alive or lifeless exists without Me.

Oh Arjun, there is no end to all that I am. There is no end to My divine forms.

Everything that is glorious or brilliant or strong is a spark of My brightness.

I stand and hold the whole world by just a spark of My magic.

 

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Chapter 9: The Holy Secret

June 12, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 9, The Holy Secret

In Chapter 9, The Holy Secret, Lord Krishna says that He will share a beautiful, eternal, sacred secret that will protect Arjun from all evil. God (Bhagvan) explains the importance of this knowledge and the merits of accepting it. He discusses the relationship of His divinity to the world and He contrasts the goodness and wisdom of the persons who recognize Him with the foolish ignorance of those who do not.

This chapter continues the discussion of Chapter 8 which talks of God as a fundamental principle or force. It clarifies the way in which God exists and interacts with His creation, thus giving us a way to perceive Him in human terms.

The world, Bhagvan says, is filled with Him. He is not really a part of people but He is everywhere and people are in Him. He speaks of Himself in His unmanifest form, acknowledging the Hindu view that God can assume a physical form as well as an ideological one. In other words, He may come to earth as a living being or remain unseen. Either way, He is the powerful, omnipresent, and eternal reality.

Scholars and thinkers have considered how to understand the notion of God being everywhere without being a part of people while people are in Him. I think the best understanding of this concept is intuitive, though it can be illustrated using analogies. For example, our elders influence us. Their influence is ever-present in our minds and hearts, regulating our actions even when they are no more of this world. Similarly, a scent, a memory, or an image can remain real and vividly color our perspective, long after we experienced it. Lord Krishna gives the example of the air which fills space everywhere and in which we reside and upon which we depend to show how we are in Him and how He envelopes us without being a part of us.

God tells us that the world was born of Him and that at its end it reverts back into Him. Though the world is controlled by matter or nature during its existence, God is the cause and the essence of His creation. He is the heat in the sun and the water in the rain. He is the world’s Mother, Father, and Grandfather. He is the world’s maker and its dismantler. He is the beginning and the end. He is birth, death, and immortality.

With reminders of His powerful attributes, the Lord admonishes those who do not believe in His greatness and praises those who do. He says that disbelievers who consider Him nothing more than a man are deluded, while those who worship Him are wise and virtuous. Even sinners who love God quickly become good.

The wise and good love and worship God by praying to Him, by studying about Him, and by thinking about His many names and forms. Even those who pray to him with ulterior motives are destined to go to heaven, though they are also destined to return to the cycle of birth and death. But the best prayers, offerings, and actions are pure and made simply out of love for God. God says he accepts everything given to Him, a leaf, a flower, or even water. He says that those who do everything like eating or punishing themselves with Him in mind, reach Him.

Thus, the secret knowledge given in Chapter 9 is simple. It is secret because it involves spiritual experience as well as philosophical knowledge. It incorporates everything stated in the Gita. It puts us in touch with our spirit which is a spark of the great divine force that moves the world. It does not fail in leading us to God. The holy secret is that loving God, thinking of Him, revering Him, and trusting Him brings us to Him.

Chapter 9: The Holy Secret

Bhagvan said: To you, I will give the holy secret which will keep everything bad away from you.

This secret is the best, the loveliest, the holiest. It is a wonderful, everlasting secret.

The world is filled with Me, God, like a room is filled with air. This is how I am not really a part of people, but I am everywhere and they are in Me.

The whole world was My idea and was born from Me.

Arjun, at the end of the world, all living things get lost in Me and then at the beginning of the world everything is born again. Nature begins again and the world becomes alive.

A great wheel makes the world turn round and round and it makes the world get lost in God and get born again.

The world disappears and reappears like this many times because I want it to.

Fools don’t recognize God. They are silly and unhappy. They think I am just a man. But good and wise people know Me. They know I make the world and they worship Me. Good people call out My name and bow to Me, and pray to Me and think of Me all the time.

Good people love Me in different ways. These ways are studying about God and thinking about God and My many names and My many forms. I am prayers, and pujas, and ghee, and sweets, and the holy fire.

I am the King of the Universe. I am its Father and Mother and Grandfather. I am making things and I am taking things apart. I am the beginning and the end. I am being born and dying and I am living forever.

I am the heat in the sun and the water in the rain. I cause and I hold back showers.

People who pray to Me because they want something, go to heaven and rejoice there. But then they are born and they die again.

But people who pray just because they love Me, not because they want something, are the best and I take care of them forever.

If a person gives Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even just water, the person sees Me in his mind. I come and happily take whatever he gives Me with love.

Arjun, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you give me as a gift, do it, and eat it and give it for Me. If you are sorry, punish yourself for Me too. If you do everything for My sake, instead of for yourself, You will do everything good and come right to Me.

I am everywhere. I do not hate or love. But the persons who worship Me live in God and can recognize God in themselves.

Even the worst people, even sinners, are good if they love Me with all their heart. The become good very quickly and become happy forever. Oh Arjun, you can be sure that this is true. Everyone who loves Me becomes happy.

The holy secret is this: By loving God, Me, you can come right up to God. Thinking of God, bowing to God, joining God, and trusting God is the way to God.

Come back next week for Chapter 10: God’s Glories. If you would like to purchase The Gita, by Irina Gajjar, please use this link to Amazon.

 

 

 

Chapter 8: Brahma

June 5, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 8, Brahma 

The word Brahma in English is the translation of the Sanskrit nominative form of Brahman which designates God, the ultimate reality. It is also and separately the name of the Creator in the trinity of Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva the Destroyer who personifies humanized aspects of God.

In Chapter 8 of the Gita, Lord Krishna -an incarnation of Vishnu- explains Brahma as the absolute divine reality. Arjun opens this chapter asking a simple though formidable question, “What is Brahma?”

I find it interesting and significant that this question asks what, not who God is. We can, therefore, understand that Brahma is not humanized or even visualized. It is the idea of a permanent, eternal force that gives rise to and is the spirit within all physical existence.

Hinduism as a religion and as a philosophy views Brahma or Brahman as a fundamental principle. It is the cause of everything, it exists everywhere and always, even when nothing else exists. One could say believing that God is the ultimate reality works as both a religious and philosophical truth. A religious belief may require a leap of faith. Indeed, how can we assume that something in the nothingness that anticipated creation caused universes to come into being without this leap? On the other hand, we know that worlds did come into being out of emptiness, so philosophically it is reasonable and rational to presume that there was a cause for this effect and to name this cause God.

Lord Krishna tells Arjun that Brahma is the everlasting spirit of God and the origin of all things. He says that whoever dies thinking of God comes to Him and once again urges Arjun to think of Him and fight.

The Gita’s explanations or descriptions of God are a blend of concepts that we can relate to in terms of our human understanding and also accept in light of our awareness that God is beyond the grasp of the human mind. This, I think, is the way most of us who give thought to and believe in the reality or the possibility of God imagine Him or Her or It to be.

God is the wise everlasting ruler of all. He shines like the sun past the darkness of ignorance and He can be easily reached by those who think of Him at all times. Those who do can remain with Him and escape the cycle of birth and death.

This chapter of the Gita concludes with a beautiful portrayal of time as it relates to Brahma. His days last a thousand ages and His nights a thousand more. When His days begin, the world is born and when His nights begin it disappears. This happens over and over again. The wise alone understand this. As God Himself is everlasting, those who love Him are also everlasting and indestructible.

Chapter 8: Brahma

Arjun asked: Lord Krishna, what is Brahma?

Bhagvan answered: Brahma is the spirit of God. It is everlasting and the origin of all beings. Those who die thinking of Me come to Me and become everlasting. So think of me, Arjun, and fight!

I am God, the wise, the everlasting ruler of all.

God is beyond what your mind can understand. God shines like the sun far beyond the darkness of ignorance.

Arjun, I will tell you more about God. I can easily be reached by those who think of Me all the time. And if you reach Me, you will not need to be born again But you can stay with Me forever and ever.

Brahma’s day lasts a thousand ages and Brahma’s night lasts a thousand more. Only the wise know this truth about Time.

The world is born when Brahma’s day begins and it disappears when Brahma’s night begins. This happens over and over again.

But God is beyond this world which appears and disappears. God is everlasting. Those who love Him completely are also everlasting and past this world of birth and death.

God is permanent. He is not destroyed in the destruction of the world. God is the best resting place from which those who love Him do not have to return.

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The Gita, Chapter 7: Knowing God

May 29, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 7, Knowing God

Chapter 7 of The Gita expands Lord Krishna’s message to Arjun and to the world. Further to speaking of how we should behave to attain oneness with Him, He reveals Himself and tells us how we can know Him. The Sanskrit words for know and knowledge have a deeper meaning than their English translations. Knowing refers to spiritual knowledge rather than to informational knowledge and incorporates the notion of wisdom.

God says that by thinking of Him and loving Him Arjun can get to know Him and that He will help Arjun understand Him. The Lord acknowledges that very few people try to know Him and that of those, very few fully succeed. Nevertheless, He offers us insights into the divine nature. He says that while His lower nature consists of earth, water, fire, air, ether, reason and the self (or soul or spirit), His higher nature, called the “life principle,” is the cause of existence. Everything comes from God and turns back into Him.

Lord Krishna further describes Himself as the wetness in water, the light in the moon and sun, and Om in the Vedas. “Om” is the sacred syllable that represents God, divinity and permanence. God is the essence of all things and is the only reality. He is manliness in men, fragrance in the earth, the brightness in fire, life, the seed, wisdom, strength and He is the wish in our heart.

In Hinduism, permanence is the primary criterion for separating illusion or “Maya” from truth. That which is unchangeable and timeless is real, even though it is beyond our grasp. God tells us that He uses Maya, or make believe, to cause the unreal to seem real but things that perpetually change and do not last forever are mere illusions. Thus God is the only reality.

Lord Krishna tells us that deluded fools and evil people do not understand or worship God. Those who do worship Him fall into four categories: those who are distressed, seekers of truth, those who want material things like wealth, and the wise. While all these people are good, the best, of course, are the wise. The wise are those who love God the most. So, we see again that love for Lord merges with wisdom. They are one and the same and attaining understanding and wisdom comes through love and takes many life times.

The ultimate reward comes from shedding the confusion caused by foolishness. This process takes persistence and results in wisdom. It yields to liberation since only the wise understand that God alone is real.

An aside note: In addressing Arjun Lord Krishna uses many epithets that come from mythology and are known to Hindus. In this chapter alone Arjun is called Partha, Bull of the Bharatas, Dhananjaya, and more. A discussion of these terms is beyond the scope of this commentary.)

Below find Chapter 7. Please enjoy its colorful beauty and consider how you distinguish illusion from reality.

Chapter 7: Knowing God

Bhagvan said: Arjun, listen now to how by thinking of Me and loving Me you will know Me and be sure about Me. I will help you to understand and after you know Gid, nothing in the world will be a secret.

Of thousands of people, a few try to know Me. And of the few who try, just a handful of special ones really understand God completely.

I am made of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason, and the self. These eight things are one side of Me. The other, higher, side of Me is what makes the whole world exist and is called the “life principle.”

Arjun, now you know that everything comes from Me and it all will turn back into Me. And there is nothing in the world but Me. And I am God.

I am the wetness in the water, the light in the moon and the sun; I am Om in the Vedas. “Om” is God’s magic word.

I am the manliness in men and the smell of the earth and the brightness in fire. I am life in living things.

I am the seed in all beings. I am the wisdom in men’s minds. I am the strength of the strong and the wish in your heart.

Everyone thinks that the things in the world are real, but only I, God, am real and unchanging. Everything else is make believe. Only people who understand God can understand  this. Only the wise can understand that God alone is real.

The world seems real because I use My divine Maya to make it appear. “Maya” is make-believe. It is magic. It causes the world and everything in it to seem solid and permanent.

But the things in the world are always moving and always changing. That is why they are not real and they do not last forever. Only God is forever real.

The wise who understand God pass beyond the world. They cross over Maya and reach Me.

Fools and evil people do not understand Me. They do not worship Me.

Four kinds of people do worship Me: Those who want something, those who are unhappy, those who want to know the truth, and those who are wise. Of these four kinds of people, the best are the wise because they love Me most. Wise people love God with all their heart and I love them back very much. But only a very wise person after many many lives realizes the truth: God is everything.

I let you worship and love Me in any way you like, any way at all, because loving God is always god. Loving God in every way, in every shape, and with every name is good.

I know all beings, past, present and future, But they do not know Me.

Not all can see Me because their minds are covered by foolishness and desire. They are confused by opposites, like wanting and hating, and their confusion covers up the truth which is God.

Oh Arjun, people in the world do not understand Me. But wise people, the best people, keep trying to understand God. And those who do not stop trying—ever—finally know Me and My secret.

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