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 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.

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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.




The Gita, Chapter 6: Self Control

May 22, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 6, Self Control

In Chapter 6 of the Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjun that a person uplifts himself or lowers himself through himself and that he is his own best friend and his own worst enemy. He is his own friend if his spirit rules his own body and his own enemy if his body rules his spirit. To appreciate what this means requires an understanding of the Sanskrit word Atman. This word has no English equivalent. It is frequently translated as Self or as spirit or soul. Actually, Atman means the part of our consciousness that is a spark of the divine spirit or of God. Hence the term Self with a capital letter. The point made is that since the divine spirit resides within us, we can, through our actions, either befriend it and elevate ourselves or rebuff it and pull ourselves down

Hinduism considers that our spirit or soul or Self is a consciousness separate from our mind or our body. Our mental and physical activities affect the quality of that consciousness. It is interesting to note that though Western thought distinguishes the mind from the body, in Hindu thought the mind is considered a part of the body.

The nature of the body and the spirit is discussed in a later chapter of the Gita, but understanding the difference between Hindu and Western perspective bears upon the guidance Lord Krishna gives here.

The Lord goes on in Chapter 6 to say that the person who is ruled by her spirit is ruled by God. Such a person has self control, achieved through moderation, and through meditation. Moderation entails measured eating, sleeping, working, and resting. It is a way of life. Meditation is a practice that is part of yoga. To meditate a person should find a quiet spot, sit up straight, look at the tip of his nose and think peacefully only of God.

Yoga is a discipline that involves physical and mental exercises but also a balanced attitude and balanced behavior. While the practice of yoga leads to equilibrium, persons who behave in a balanced manner are more apt to practice yoga. Interestingly, tablets found in ancient India dating several millennia B.C. depict individuals seated cross-legged in yogic stances. From these, we gather that yoga in some form pre-dates the arrival of the Aryans and the Vedic culture they brought with them to the Indian subcontinent.

A yogi is a person who has mastered yoga. A yogi is calm, composed, and happy under all circumstances. She is untouched by anger or desire. She is unaffected by discomfort, criticism, or fear and equally unmoved by luxury, praise, or success.  Lord Krishna tells Arjun that yogis realize God is everywhere and they never lose God and that God never loses them.

Listening to this, Arjun notes that the mind is strong, jumpy, and as hard to control as the wind. He also wonders what happens to those who love God but cannot manage to control their minds. God replies that through practice, little by little, we can learn to control the mind. He adds that even the attempt to do so leads to good things and that no effort is lost. Though it may take years in heaven and multiple lifetimes, people who seek God will be pulled to Him.

Lord Krishna concludes Chapter 6 urging Arjun to exercise self control and to become a yogi.

Please enjoy Chapter 6 below:

Chapter 6: Self Control


Bhagvan said: Doing things for no reward, doing them for God’s sake is like climbing a ladder to God.

You should lift yourself to God by your own work. You should not lower yourself. You are your own friend and your own enemy.

You are your own friend if your spirit rules your body. You are your own enemy if your body rules your spirit.  Your spirit is part of God.

Because of this, the person whose spirit rules her completely is ruled by God. This person has self control. She is calm, no matter what happens. She is calm if she is comfortable or uncomfortable. She is calm if she is praised or criticized. The person who has self control never changes.

A piece of stone and gold are the same to her.

A wise person like this is called a Yogi.

The Yogi likes friends as much as enemies; he likes his family as well as strangers.

A Yogi who is alone should find a clean place on the grass and spread a cloth to sit upon. Here he should sit and control his mind. He should sit up straight and look steadily at the tip of his nose, not moving at all. In this position, a Yogi must think only of God until he finds everlasting happiness. Thinking peacefully of God is called meditation.

Oh Arjun, a Yogi cannot eat too much or too little. She cannot sleep too much or too little. She must measure everything: eating, sleeping, working, and relaxing. Everything she does should be just right and even.

A Yogi is never afraid.

The Yogi whose mind is concentrating on God does not shake. He is steady like a candle in a room where there is no wind. The Yogi’s mind does not move away from the truth.

To become a Yogi you have to practice being calm. You have to practice not fidgeting and concentrating on God.

And the Yogi who is perfectly calm is pure and free of sin. He is one with God and perfectly happy.

He understands that everything in the world is One. He sees everything in Me, God and God in everything.

The Yogi who realizes God is everywhere never loses Me and I never lose him.

Arjun said: But it is hard to control the mind. The mind is strong and jumpy and as hard to control as the wind.

Bhagvan answered: I know it is hard to control the mind. But you can control your mind little by little if you practice steadily.

Arjun asked again: What happens to people who love God but have not learned to control their mind even though they tried?

And Bhagvan answered: Nothing bad happens to such people if they have tried. Only good can happen to people who have really tried to reach God. They will go to heaven and after spending countless years there, they will be born again in a good family. Then they will try again to reach God. They will start where they stopped in their earlier life. They will not have to being all over because their spirit will remember what they learned before. They will feel pulled to God.

But the Yogi who controls his mind is perfect. He is forever happy.

For this reason, Oh Arjun, be a Yogi. Learn self control and love Me with all your heart.


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Chapter 5: The Two Paths

May 15, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 5, The Two Paths


Hinduism teaches three paths to oneness with God, a state often described as self realization. Yoga means union. Thus, I use the term oneness with God to describe the joining of the divine spirit within us to the great divine spirit of God, howsoever we visualize or understand Him or Her. The three paths to union with God are Karma Yoga, the yoga of action, Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge -which refers primarily to spiritual knowledge- and Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of loving worship.

In Chapter 5 of the Bhagavad Gita we find that Arjun remains perplexed regarding the merits of the paths of action and knowledge. Again, Lord Krishna explains. He says that knowledge is knowing truth while action is doing good. He says both are excellent paths to God, but that doing good is best because it is easiest. A person who does good by doing his duty for God’s sake is known as a Karmayogi. But such a person is also a Sanyasi or a person who has given everything up for God.

Generally, Sanyasis are considered ascetics who have renounced the material world. However, here Lord Krishna equates a Karmayogi to a Sanyasi since both have relinquished themselves as well as the fruit of their activity to God. In effect, Bhagvan’s (God’s) unequivocal message is that both paths are the same:

Only fools think the paths
of knowledge and action are separate.
Because a person reaches God by either path.
The wise man understands
that both paths are really one.

The balance of this chapter describes and praises those who act with detachment as well as those who know and appreciate the nature of God. Such people recognize that they are God’s instrument. A true understanding of God is reflected both in action that is fulfillment of duty and in giving up actions that attach us to bodily pleasures which are really pains because they come to an end. Persons who have given up desire and advanced on the path to liberation are happy, calm, free from anger and at peace. Their souls shine brightly. In describing such people Lord Krishna depicts them in the act of meditation: Their minds shut out everything except God. Their eyes look straight ahead. Their breathing is steady. They want nothing. They are free.

In His discussion of the paths of karma yoga and jnana yoga, Lord Krishna expands upon now familiar ideas. He reminds us that those who seek God are the same as those who are good. They are pure and as untouched by sin as a lotus leaf is by water. The image of a beautiful lotus that thrives in muddy waters is a common Indian visual and reference. It is lovely to see it incorporated in the Gita.

While the path of bhakti yoga, that of loving worship, is not directly addressed in this chapter, it is implicit here because love of God is the ultimate motivation of persons who are selfless and act only for the Lord. It is however discussed in a later chapter which again sees all who follow God’s teachings as dear to Him.

The last verses of Chapter 5 are particularly interesting. While we repeatedly read or hear that Lord Krishna seeks out, helps and loves those who understand Him, those who act on His behalf and those who trust Him, God now goes further. However, He does not speak of Himself. Rather He says that those who love and know Him realize that He is the friend of all beings and the Lord of all worlds.

So, if you wondered what God’s relationship is to those who do not specifically seek Him out or worship Him or love Him, you can take it as a given that God loves and keeps us all anyway.

Please read and enjoy Chapter 5 as presented below:

Chapter 5: The Two Paths

Arjun said: Lord Krishna, You praise knowing the truth and then You praise doing good. Please tell me clearly which of the two is best.

Bhagvan answered: Knowledge is knowing truth; action is doing good. Both are excellent paths to God. But doing good is easier and so it is best.

The man who does good, the man who does his duty for God’s sake alone is called a Karmayogi. Such a man is also a Sanyasi, which means a person who has given up everything for God. This man is beyond the world and is part of God.

Only fools think the path of knowledge and action are separate. Because a person reaches God by either path. The wise man understands that both paths are really one.

He who sees that action and knowledge are the same sees truths.

The Karmayogi does everything for God. His mind is on God while he acts. He wakes, sleeps, hears, sees, touches, smells, speaks, and breathes, thinking of God. He understands that he himself does nothing but that God does everything through him. God uses him to get things done. The person who offers all he does to God is as untouched by sin as a lotus leaf by water. The Karmayogi is pure.

The person who does everything only for God is peaceful and becomes part of God. The Karmayogi is past the world. God does not share the punishments or rewards of people.

God shines like the sun on the wise. The wise are mixed in God.

They are part of God. They adore Him and their sins are washed away.

The wise give the same love to a Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, or a dog. They understand God is in all. The wise live forever.

The wise person considers happiness and unhappiness the same. He is always happy because he is with God. His mind is strong because it is with God.

Pleasures that come from the body are really pains because they come to an end. That is why a wise man does not care about them.

The wise person can stand here on earth and not care about his body which makes him want things and then get angry.

The happy person is wise. His soul shines brightly. The happy person is peaceful. He reaches God and God is peace.

The happiness and joy of the wise man come from inside himself.

Wise happy persons shut everything out of their mind except God. Their eyes look straight ahead. Their breathing is steady. Their mind is calm and concentrates on God. Such persons want nothing. They are not angry. They are not afraid. They are free.

Those who truly love Me know I am God of the whole world.

They know I am the friend of all. They who really love Me know everlasting peacefulness and everlasting happiness.

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The Gita, Chapter 3: God Explains Right Action

May 1, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 3, God Explains Right Action

Chapter 3 of the Gita continues to explore the ideas and values that are introduced in Chapter 2. Arjun remains bewildered and troubled by doubt. He does not understand why God, who has said that He can be reached through wisdom or knowledge of truth, wants him to fight and kill. He says that God is mixing him up and asks for a clear answer to this dilemma.

Lord Krishna responds by explaining the virtue and necessity of action, but He makes it clear that only detached action undertaken as a fulfillment of duty brings merit. Action is inevitable. Our bodies compel it. Even God must act to keep the world from coming to an end and to prevent confusion, trouble, and destruction. But a person who acts without self-control and in order to satisfy his desires instead of for the sake of the world is unworthy. A person who merely pretends not to care about his body is a hypocrite and a fool, whereas a person who cares for his body for the sake of God will reach God.

People, the Lord explains, come from food which comes from rain, which comes from prayers which are actions. Prayers come from the Vedas which come from God. Thus, actions come from God. So, action is best.

Though elsewhere in the Gita other paths are glorified, at this juncture Lord Krishna tells Arjun and that he must act with a sense of duty, for the right reasons and not out of desire. Arjun’s duty is to fight, even if fighting leads to his death. Each individual’s duty is greater than anyone else’s duty. But actions undertaken as a duty must be performed with trust in God because such trust eliminates doubt. In Lord Krishna’s words, “Those who trust God are on the road to Me. Those who do not trust Me are lost.”

The concept of pathways to God is an important theme in the Gita and an integral part of Hindu belief and philosophy. The paths are aspects of Yoga. The Yoga of Action specifically teaches that good action can lead to liberation which means freedom from the cycle of birth and death and oneness with God. Attaining this state—believed to be total ecstasy—is the long-term goal of our existence. But the merit of other paths remains to be studied as does the relationship between them.

As Arjun listens to Lord Krishna and absorbs his teaching, his mind seeks to grasp the notion of duty and to understand why some people are unable to act righteously but instead are moved to sin. To understand specifically why Arjun is perplexed, it is important to understand the full meaning of “dharma” which translates into duty. Dharma has a deeper and broader meaning than duty. It includes cosmic order, harmony, and destiny or karma, all directed by positive energy. From this perspective, Arjun asks Lord Krishna why some people cannot help sinning and doing wrong things.

Bhagavan, or God, answers that wanting makes us sin. Desire creates greed, evil, and anger. He says that when our greed is satisfied, we merely want more and that therefore we must stop wanting. Desire covers truth like dust covers a mirror or like smoke covers fire. Further, liking and hating separates us from God.

The way to control these enemies, the Lord says, is to remember that our mind is greater than our desires and that reason is greater than the mind, but that our spirit is greatest of all. Through our mind and our reason, we can reach our spirit and our spirit is God. Self-control helps us to stop wanting which is difficult but, with the help of reason, we can use self-control as the means to stop sinning.

Chapter 3 ends on this note, preparing the ground for further exploration of the precepts that Hinduism embodies.

Please enjoy Chapter 3.


Chapter 3: God Explains Right Action

Arjun asked Bhagavan: Oh Krishna, if the wisdom of knowing truth is even better than good action, they why are you telling me to do this awful thing?

Why are you telling me to fight and kill?

You are mixing me up. Oh God, please tell me clearly. The one way I can reach You.

Bhagvan answered: Arjun, earlier I told of two ways to reach God, the way of knowledge which Is wisdom and the way of action which is doing your duty.

A person cannot ever really give up action because a person cannot stop doing things, not completely, not even for a minute. Our body forces us to do things. A person who pretends not to care about the body, but who really keeps on wishing for enjoyable things is called a hypocrite. Such a person is a fool.

But a person who really and truly does not care about her body is good. She still takes care of her body and uses it to do good things for God’s sake because she is good. This is why I tell you action is best. It is best to do your duty well. Do it for God’s sake and not for your own sake and you will reach God.

People grow from food. Food comes from rain. Rains come from prayers and prayers are actions. Actions come from the Vedas and the Vedas come from God. So action comes from God.

Arhun, life must follow this wheel which turns and causes being born, growing, and dying. Otherwise life has no meaning.

A man who cares only about himself doesn’t do his duty. So always do your duty. Do it as well as you can, and don’t worry about how things will turn out.

Wise men like Janak have become perfect in this way and set an example for other people to follow.

Oh Arjun, there is nothing I, God, want but even I work. If I stop working, great trouble would come to the world, for people would follow my example. If I, God, give up actions, if I stop doing good things, the world would come to an end and I would be the cause of confusion, trouble, and destruction.

Arjun, a fool does things for himself. A wise woman does things for the world. A wise woman knows she does things only through God.

So go ahead. Do everything you should for My sake. Do not wonder. Fight!

Those who trust God are on the road to Me. Those who do not trust Me are lost.

People need self-control to stop them from doing things just because they feel like it. People must do things which are their duty whether they feel like doing them or not. Your own duty is greater than anyone else’s, even if your duty is to die.

The Arjun asked: Why do some people sin? Some people cannot help sinning. They cannot help doing wrong things.

Bhagvan answered: Wanting things, desire makes people sin. Wanting is bad. It is greedy and evil and causes anger. Getting what you want makes you greedy for more, and not getting it makes you angry. You must stop forever wanting things for your body.

Desire covers the truth like dust covers a mirror or like smoke covers fire. Control yourself, stop desire and you will see the truth and you will not sin.

Keep away from liking and hating, two enemies who separate you from God.

Remember, your mind is greater than your body. And reason is even greater than your mind. But your spirit, deep inside you, is even greater than reason.

The mind controls the body and tells it what to do. Reason tells the mind what is good and what is bad. With reason, you can control yourself. With reason, you can reach your spirit which is God.

Oh Arjun, control yourself. Stop wanting one thing after another. It is very hard to stop this, but your reason will help you. Control yourself and throw away sin.

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