Dharma

 

The idea of dharma is a central belief of Hinduism. Its meaning cannot be easily described or translated. Like karma, it is a fundamental concept.

The essence of Dharma is duty, but it is more. It is a universal principle as well as a personal principle. Hindu scripture says:

Dharma is truth.

It is said that

one who speaks truth

speaks dharma

and one who speaks dharma

speaks truth.

Bhridaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14

Dharma embraces family life, social life, and spiritual life. It is the guideline known as Sanatana Dharma meaning Eternal Law or Eternal Order which actually defines Hinduism.

Read more on Dharma in On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Fourteen Worlds

Vedic scriptures speak of fourteen worlds. Seven of the worlds exist of three higher planes: Bhuloka, the first world or earthly plane; Antarloka, the second world or the subtle, astral plane, and Brahmloka, the third world or the causal plane of God. These three planes can also be viewed as dimensions.

Bhuloka is the dense outermost dimension of being and consciousness. It is the physical world perceived by the senses. Antarloka is the intermediate dimension, the sphere of gods and higher beings, that exists in between the earthly plane and God’s plane. It is a subtle, astral dimension of consciousness. Brahmaloka belongs to Lord Brahma, the Creator. It is both the highest and the innermost dimension. It is pure spirit. Brahmaloka is also known as Karanaloka, the causal plane or as Sivaloka, the plane of Lord Siva the Destroyer who, through destruction, causes a new cycle of creation. To reach this plane is to become entirely absorbed or dissolved in the Divine Spirit and to merge into or become One with the eternal God. To enter Brahmaloka is to end the cycle of birth and death.

The seven lower worlds described in the Vedas are located in Naraka, the netherworld belonging to demons and souls that have become distanced from goodness and God. Naraka is the plane of lower consciousness. Its regions are temporary hells of the mind and the universe. They are places where souls way wander for many ages or for just moments. Ancient scriptures accepted the relativity of time and space. Thus, according to Vedic literature, the duration of any soul’s existence in any world depends upon whether the time experienced by a particular soul expands or contracts and upon the time scales that are in play when souls migrate from world to world.

 

 

What Is Your Ideal in Life?

 

In Romania, where I was born, there is a description of philosophical conversations, or semi philosophical conversations. They are called discussions of the philosophy of a matchstick. My father loved such conversations in which participants inevitably wanted to show that their notions had more profundity and nobility than their friends’ notions.

My father thought up questions and he had a few favorites. One was, “What is your ideal in life?”  One afternoon this came up and when it was my father’s turn to state his answer, he said, “I want to grow.” Clearly, he meant he wanted to grow intellectually and in other good ways. However, his friend came up with a disparaging retort. He said, “How absurd! Even a garbage pile grows.”

I have not zeroed in on my ideal in life. The Bhagavad Gita promises that union with God brings us ultimate liberation and bliss. But I cannot quite focus on the ultimate. Mostly I seek avoidance of pain to my loved ones and myself along with avoidance of discomfort. Since these objectives do not qualify as ideals, I guess I don’t have any ideal in life.

How about you?

 

The Gita: Epilogue

Aug. 21, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Epilogue

 The Mahabharata War fought at Kurukshetra was set in motion by jealousy, hatred and foolishness. It lasted eighteen days and ended with victory for the Pandavas, but the victory was not joyous. Young and old heroes fought and many died bravely. Among others, the great wise Bhishma and Arjun’s young son Abhimanyu fell. Duryodhana was killed and even at the moment of death he did not stop hating the Pandavas.

Years passed. Yudishtir ruled wisely and kindly. Gradually the sorrows caused by the destruction softened. Arjun and Hindus heeded the words spoken in the Gita by Lord Krishna who was Arjun’s charioteer and these words have left a lasting impression upon the world.

The Bhagavad Gita concludes with Arjun’s agreement to fight the Mahabharata War zealously. He accepts all that Lord Krishna tells him, truths that apply to all who respectfully and lovingly hear this conversation. It is taken for granted that the process of studying or listening to the Gita will convince its audience of the value of its message. Arjun asks many questions and expresses doubts to which the Lord carefully responds. But God’s answers are weighted and qualified. The Lord discourages skeptics and says that those who believe in Him are wise and blessed while disbelievers are ignorant fools doomed to destruction.

I pondered this statement, often reiterated in the Gita, and wondered whether it discourages honest thought and debate since the Gita lends itself to considerable inquiry. Then I realized that considering disbelief in God ignorant depends upon our understanding of what God is. The Lord defines Himself as all that is good and as the causation of existence. This definition leaves little or nothing to disbelieve. If we deny goodness, we are clearly unknowing and foolish. Nor can we deny causation. Something caused the universes and life to come into existence and God is as good a name as any for that force.

Furthermore, the Gita explains that we all contain a spark of God within ourselves. The spark is our soul or spirit. We can access this divinity and become one with it through love, faith, good behavior and practice.

Hinduism contains a vast body of literature, mythology, philosophy and science expressed in Sanskrit, a language that is unmatched in sophistication, breadth and precision. The Gita distills this body of knowledge and thought. It is brief and concise. It is focused on providing a way for those who seek enlightenment to uplift themselves. It offers alternative paths to become merged into God and attain eternal happiness. At the same time, it explains that these paths converge. Stepping on the path of goodness is enough improve your destiny and condition, although the goal of achieving ultimate oneness with the Lord may be distant.

The Gita explains existence. It deals with the vast unknown, but it fits with our knowledge and experience. It explains the relationship between karma and God. While the Lord transcends existence and non-existence, we make choices that determine our paths through life. The Gita assures us that within ourselves we contain a spark of great goodness and that we have the capacity to release this powerful potential for our own benefit and for the betterment of all creation.

Epilogue

Hus the was at Kurukshetra was fought. It lasted eighteen days and on each of these days brave warriors were killed. Young and old heroes fought and died with courage. The great wise Bhishma, Arjun’s young son Abhimanyu, the respected Drona, and Karna, son of Kunti and the son god, fell. Duryodhana was killed by Bhim and even at the moment of death he did not stop hating the Pandavas.

As last war ended and victory came to the Pandavas. But it was a bitter victory. They went once again back to Hastinapure, their family home, now a city of sadness and emptiness.

Years passed. Yudishtir ruled wisely and kindly. So, gradually the sorrows caused by the terrible war softened.

The Mahabharata War could not have stopped. Its wheels had been set turning by jealousy, hatred and foolishness. Arjun and his brother, as Kshatryas, had no honorable choice but to fight courageously.

Arjun understood all that Lord Krishna taught him on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. He finally arose and fought, understanding that it was his duty.

He trusted in God and did everything in his life for God.

Whoever is lucky enough to hear about God’s message in the Bhagavad Gita has a chance to understand the truth just like Arjun. Understanding the truth is being wise. Wisdom puts us on the path to God. This path leads to freedom from death and birth, to God Himself, and to everlasting happiness.

To purchase The Gita, by Irina Gajjar, 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

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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 13: The Body and the Spirit

July 10, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 13, The Body and the Spirit

Chapter 13 of the Gita explains the distinction between body and spirit which is the distinction between matter and consciousness or awareness. The description of what constitutes the body comes from earlier Sanskrit holy texts including the Vedas and the Upanishads. While the body is impermanent and perishable, the divine spirit is imperishable, beyond both existence and non-existence.

The Lord tells Arjun that body is the field and that He is spirit, the knower of the field. The field or body consists of several groups of matter. It includes the five subtle elements which are ether, air, fire, water, and earth as well as the five senses which are hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling. Emotions or feelings like wanting, hating, happiness, and sadness are also parts of the body as are characteristics like bravery.

In order to appreciate the relationship of the body to the spirit, we need to understand the meaning of knowledge. Knowledge enables us to know ourselves as well as to know the Lord. In the Gita, knowledge means spiritual knowledge rather than accumulated information or data. It is good and embraces honesty, kindness, forgiveness, purity, and focus on God. It means caring only about God, seeing God everywhere, and not caring about the transient vagaries of life. The opposite of knowledge is its absence which is ignorance and which means the lack of goodness and of virtue.

Chapter 13 continues with details about God and the world that need to be known and appreciated for people to attain oneness with Him and become everlasting. The Lord is neither real nor unreal. He is Brahma, unmanifest, yet He has hands, feet, and faces everywhere. He sees and feels everything. He is outside and inside everything and He is near and far. He is too great to be known.

God is indivisible, but He is everywhere. He is the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer. He is the light of all lights. He is beyond Maya or illusion. He is knowing and knowledge and He resides in your heart.

Everything that is born in the world is created when matter and spirit join together. Matter and spirit have no beginning. Matter makes the body and spirit cause the body to feel things. Spirit cannot be described. It lives in the body, but it cannot act. It is pure and endless as the sun and the sky. The greatest spirit is the soul. It is God.

The ending of this chapter tells us that people find the soul within their heart by thinking of God or by understanding God or by working for the sake of God. Some find God by learning about Him from others. Ultimately, those who see the soul as everlasting and who see that everything is in God and comes from God reach God.

Chapter 13: The Body and the Spirit

Bhagvan said: Oh Kunti’s son, The body is called the Kshetra, or the field. I, God, am called the Kshetrajna, or the Knower of the field. I am the Self or Atman. I am the Spirit.

Now I will tell you in a second the truth about the body.

The body is a collection of many things. It is made up of ether, fire, water, and earth. These are called the five subtle elements. The body is also made up of mind, and the five senses of hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling. Wanting, hating, happiness, unhappiness and courage are also a part of the body.

Knowledge is many good things. It is being honest, kind, forgiving and pure and it is also concentrating on God. It is not caring about anything except God. It is not worrying. Knowledge is seeing God everywhere. The opposite of all these good things is ignorance. Ignorance is the opposite of knowledge.

Now I will tell you what you need to know to become everlasting. God is not Sat, real and God is not Asat, unreal. Brahma has hands, feet, eyes, heads, faces, and ears everywhere. Brahma is everywhere. Brahma sees and feels everything without eyes or hands. Brahma is outside and inside everything and near and far. Brahma is too great to be known.

God cannot be divided but He is everywhere. He keeps the world, He destroys the world, and He creates the world. God is the light of all lights. God is past Maya, or make believe. God is knowing and God is knowledge. God is in your heart.

By understanding all this, you can be mixed with God. Everything in the world is a combination of matter and spirit. Matter makes the body. Spirit makes the body feel things. Everything that is born in the world is created by joining matter and spirit together. But matter and spirit have no beginning.

The spirit cannot be described. Though it lives in the body, it cannot act. It is always pure. It is endless as the sun and the sky.

 

The greatest spirit is the soul. It is God.

Some people find the soul in their own heart by thinking of God, by understanding God, or by working for God’s sake.

Some people find God by hearing about Him from others.

She who sees the soul, the Lord, as everlasting really sees the truth.

When you see that everything is in God and comes from God, then you reach God.

Arjun, like the sun lights the whole world, so one great spirit, the soul called Atman lights the whole body.

Wise people can tell the difference between the body and the spirit. They understand how to free the spirit from the body. These wise people come straight to God.

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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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The Gita: Chapter One, Arjun’s Sadness

 

 

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

Commentary and Chapter 1, Arjun’s Sadness

Chapter 1 of the Gita concludes with the doubt Arjun expresses to Lord Krishna, a doubt that distresses Arjun and fills him with sadness. It gives rise to questions regarding the human condition, our relationship with God, the nature of wisdom, and other issues. Later we will see how the Gita addresses these overlapping themes some of which predominate in certain chapters, pop up in different contexts and intertwine with related questions explored elsewhere in this scripture.

But as the Gita is placed in the Mahabharata, the great epic describing the conflict between the Kauravas and the Pandavas and the subsequent war, the first chapter opens on the battlefield. We get a vivid picture of the armies and their leaders assembled on the field of Kurukshetra. Sanjay, the blind old King Dritarashtra’s charioteer, is the narrator who describes the scene to the King and to us all.

Kurukshetra is a city named after the legendary King Kuru, ancestor of both the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Its battlefield is also known as Dharmakshetra, the place of Dharma [duty and righteousness in Hinduism] or the Holy City. We can see that the symbolism of these names resonates in the minds and consciousness of most Hindus.

On this battlefield of duty, warriors on both sides are eager to fight. Prince Duryodhana, Dritarashtra’s son, is prepared to lead the Kauravas and the heroic Arjun along with his mighty brother Bhim  -considered to have the strength of ten thousand elephants- are prepared to lead the Pandavas. The glorious uncle Bhishma, son of a king and the river goddess Ganga, roared like a lion to cheer Duryodhana on. Conches, drums and trumpets blared. Brave warriors stand ready. Lord Krishna’s army assists the Kauravas and Lord Krishna himself, as Arjun’s charioteer, guides the Pandavas.

At this moment, Arjun hesitates. Facing his relatives and elders, he doubts the merit of fighting. He feels sorry and dejected. His legs shake, his mouth is dry, his hair stands on end, his bow falls from his hand, his skin burns and his mind spins. In this state, he cannot bring himself to himself to stand up. He cannot see any purpose in pursuing this war. He believes that even victory would not vindicate the evil of killing. He asks Lord Krishna, “What is the use of killing my relations in battle? I do not want victory or a kingdom or pleasures.  What use are three things? How can we ever be happy again after killing our own relations?” He thinks it would be better to die than to kill and that killing is sinful. He believes that nothing but destruction will lay in the wake of this battle, regardless of the outcome.

Sanjay relates all this to King Dritarashtra telling him that Arjun, his mind full of sorrow, put down his weapons, and sat sadly in the corner of his chariot.

Thus Chapter 1 ends, preparing us for Chapter 2 in which Lord Krishna answers Arjun specifically and introduces the immediate themes that arise from Arjun’s doubts. Actually, the entire Gita addresses these doubts and further matters that develop from them. In Chapter 2 we begin to explore the richness and the simple complexity of God’s teachings. While the terms simple and complexity may appear to be contradictory, they are not. The teachings are profound and complex as they pertain to our lives and behaviors, but the Lord’s explanation is clear and easy to grasp, so it makes them simple.

Before leaving you to the text of Chapter 1, I would like to explain why I interchanged the words Lord Krishna and God in this introduction. God is a broad idea, defined and envisioned somewhat differently by believers of many religions including Hinduism and even by agnostics and atheists. Overall, believers generally view God as the eternal and loving [though sometimes avenging] Creator of the universe or multiverses and/or as the Great Spirit and/or the supreme being empowered to protect and guide His creation. Some of us also attribute inexplicable events, or events we do not understand to God. Such power interacts with the free will He bestows upon beings so, in my view, God cannot be held responsible for everything.

Lord Krishna is God, but He is not as vague as God undefined. Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu who in turn is part of the Holy Trinity of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. These functions represent the reality of cosmic functions that support existence and embody the three essential aspects of the single God who appears in many avatars or manifestations. Thus, Hinduism is clearly a monotheistic faith, though one that encompasses all aspects of human thought and imagination. Note that references to gods and goddesses (lower case) do not refer to God or to the Lord, but rather to semi divine beings worshipped for their God like qualities. These are not One and they are not absolute.

Chapter 1: Arjun’s Sadness

 

King Dritarashtra asked Sanjay: Oh Sanjay, what did my sons, the Kauravas, the sons of my brother Pandu, the Pandavas, do standing on the holy field of Kurukshetra all ready and anxious to fight each other?

Sanjay answered: When the Pandavas’ army was all ready, your son, Prince Duryodhana, saw them and said: The mighty army of the Pandavas is prepared! It is strong. But in our own army there are heroes just as brave as the Pandavas. Our own heroes are just as strong as Bhim and Arjun. Our army is unconquerable.

Then the glorious old uncle Bhishma roared like a lion and blew on his conch to cheer Prince Duryodhana on.

The conches, drums and trumpets blared forth and there was a great noise.

The Arjun of the Pandavas blew on his heavenly conch in reply. Arjun sat in a glorious chariot pulled by white horses. Lord Krishna himself was Arjun’s charioteer.

Lord Krishna also blew a conch; Bhim did too. King Yudishtir, Nakul, and Sahadev all blew their conches as well.

And there was a terrible sound echoing through the heaven and earth and it tore the hearts of Dritarashtra’s sons, the Kauravas, and made them afraid.

At this moment, Arjun, Pandu’s son, lifted up his bow and spoke to Lord Krishna, saying:

Lord Krishna, place my chariot between the two armies. Keep it there until I have seen all the warriors and decided against whom to fight.

Then Sanjay continued: Arjun saw both armies. He saw in both armies his uncles and teachers and cousins and brothers and sons and grandsons and friends. Seeing all his relations ready to fight him, he felt very sorry and sad.

In his sadness, Arjun said to Lord Krishna: Oh Krishna, I see my relations here ready to fight and my legs shake. My mouth is dry. My hair is standing on end. My bow is dropping out of my hand. My skin is burning. My mind is spinning. I cannot stand up.

And I cannot see any use in this war. What is the use of killing my relatives in battle?

Oh Krishna, I do not want victory, or a kingdom or pleasures. What use are these things?

Oh Krishna, I do not want to kill my relatives even though they may kill me.

Oh Krishna, what joy can there be in killing Dhritarashtra’s sons? They are my family. Only sin can come to us for killing. It is wrong to kill Kauravas. They are cousins. How can we ever be happy again after killing our own relations?

Even if they do not understand this, we do. We know that it is a sin to kill our own family. Our family will be ruined. Our women will become bad. Our caste will become mixed. Our race will be destroyed. It would be better for me if I let Dhritarashtra’s son kill me.

Sanjay said: Arjun spoke those words on the battlefield. His mind was full of sorrow. He put down his bow and arrows and sat down sadly in the back corner of his chariot.

This excerpt is from The Gita, by Irina Gajjar. You can buy the book on Amazon.com.