God, King of the Universe  

 

The notion of God as the King of the Universe feels odd to me because it humanizes a force that I view see as way beyond humankind. Still, personification of the Lord occurs throughout most major religions. Imagining God as our King reflects our human need to envision divinity in our image and to empower it as our ruler.  

In the Gita, Lord Krishna tells us He has many forms including prayers, fire, sweets, eternity, perpetuity, destruction and the heat in the sun. Yet, further to God’s absoluteness, endlessness and everythingness, He specifically tells us that He is our King:  

I am the king of the Universe. 

I am its Father and Mother and Grandfather. 

I am making things and taking things  apart. 

I am being born and dying 

and I am living forever. 

                         —  The Gita, Chapter 9, Verses 17 and 18  

 

These passages give believers freedom to shape their belief in any respectful way they can.  

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar. 

 

The Universe in God

Then 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.

—The Gita, Chapter 11, verses 14, 15

 

Consider the idea of the whole universe, of everything imaginable, contained within the being of its Creator. This vision represents the vastness of all existence that lives in the confines of our imagination, reason, and belief. This is a remarkable perspective.

See Chapter 11 of The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar.

Lord Krishna Shows His Scary Form

 

While Lord Krishna continues -in Chapter 11 of The Gita– to overwhelm us with His all encompassing splendor, His wonderful form becomes terrible. Arjun sees that all space between heaven and earth is filled by God and that all worlds are frightened.

In this scary appearance representing Kala or Time, God demonstrates karma in process. Warriors, already doomed, rush into the Lord’s multiple mouths like moths flying into a blazing fire. The Lord assures Arjun that he will prevail in this Great Mahabharata War.

Arjun begs God to reappear in His calm, gentle four armed form, a form which can be seen, Lord Krishna says, through endless love of Him.

Chapter 11 is one of the most dramatic chapters of the Gita. It illustrates not only the ideas, hopes and fears that human beings entertain about their Creator, but also our more sophisticated understanding of dimensions and of the confluenced integration of universes, time and space.

 

See, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar

 

 

Vedic Worlds: Naraka

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 may 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.

Hinduism believes that the destination of our soul depends upon our nature at the time of our death. Our nature is made up of different combinations of three attributes or qualities called gunas in Sanskrit.

These are sattva which is purity and truth, rajas which is desire driven activity, and tamas which is ignorance and inertia. Our actions and aspirations during our life create the sum of the attributes that make up our aura at death and determine what happens to our soul. Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita describes the essence of the Hindu understanding of reincarnation in just a few short lines:

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 a dumb, ignorant being.

For more on Vedic Worlds, read On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

The Gita on Winning

 

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Lord Krishna tells Arjun and all of us in The Gita that fighting is not about winning but about doing your duty. In His words:

 

You are lucky to have a chance to fight in
this war.

For your duty will take you to God.

And if you do not fight,

you will be giving up your duty.

Giving up duty is a sin.

The Gita, Chapter 2, Verses 32, 33 

 

Of course as in many texts, the war and fight is both real and symbolic. It is the struggle between good and evil. Our enlightenment will determine whether or not we are on the side of goodness.

Although we clearly seek to win, the fight matters more than the outcome. God explains:

 

     But if you fight,

     You will either go to heaven or win victory.

     So, Arjun arise.

     Make up your mind to fight.

     Fight and do not worry about how the war turns out.

      Do not care if you win or lose.

The Gita, Chapter 2, Verses 37, 38

 

It is only by focusing on our actions rather than on their results that we fulfill our obligations to ourselves, to mankind and to worlds.

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Krishna Says Fight!

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At the start of the Mahabharata War, Lord Krishna Tells Arjun to go and fight.  At the conclusion of the Gita, Arjun agrees saying, “I will fight.”

The question I raise is when must we fight? Can we or should we pick and choose our battles or wars? Can we abstain?

Lord Krishna’s message suggests that we do not have the luxury of choice. He tells Arjun that it is his duty to fight and that failing to do so would be failing God Himself.

So there we have it. If we are placed in the midst of combat, we must play our role. We cannot sit back, relax and shake the ugliness off our backs. It is our duty to fight to the best of our ability.

While we cannot have faith in the outcome, perhaps we can have faith that our force is for good and will help determine the outcome.

See The Gita, a New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar.

Letting Go of Objects

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From The Gita: A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture 

By thinking of objects, a person starts to want them. And a person who always wants things cannot have them all. Then she gets disappointed. Her disappointment makes her angry. Her anger confuses her. She loses her mind and is ruined. She has no peace.

But a person who stops wanting things is free from attachment. She is free from loving things and free from hate. Such a person is on the path that leads to peace. How can a person without self control have peace? And without peace, How can she have happiness?

Letting go of constant state of wanting more is a place that some people have an easier time getting to than others, but ultimately it’s what brings us peace. Objects should have little worth in comparison to family, friends, love, and health.

While it might not be an easy road to get there, it’s certainly something to work for and possibly a good New Year’s resolution for 2017. Focus on what truly matters and give far less importance to wanting more objects.

 

The Gita on Moderation

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I am a great fan of moderation. It offers the best of all worlds. Moderation says everything should be practiced in moderation, even moderation. So the practice of moderation does not prohibit an occasional splurge.

The Gita praises moderation. Lord Krishna tells us that a yogi is a wise, calm, devout and happy individual. God adds:

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.

 

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar [Ch. 6, Self Control]

 

 

The Foolish Cannot Know God

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In Chapter 15, of the Gita, Lord Krishna says that only the wise and the good can know God. He explains that those whose minds are unformed or lacking substance cannot find God although God is present in everyone’s heart.

While we all opine on the existence of God as the Creator or the Ultimate Spirit, I suppose that the existence of such a force does not rest on human opinion. Yet most believers consider faith a virtue. Hinduism suggests that faith is wisdom.

On the other hand, non-believers view faith as beyond them or irrelevant or nonsensical. These people take a condescending view of the faithful and many consider them gullible at best.

Between believers and non-believers, we find the seekers. Seekers pursue enlightenment and answers. They enjoy the intellectual gymnastics of trying to understand that which is beyond our capacity to understand. Seekers see goodness in the quest which is an end unto itself. They tend not to believe believers and to disparage non-believers for not looking harder for answers.

Personally, I respect believers, non-believers and seekers. I must admit though that in my heart and even in my head, I am a believer. Somehow I feel that I have some knowledge of something powerful that moves my existence and makes sense of life.  Moreover, I think that our conceptions cannot arise out of the blue. Thus our notion of God must come from God

At the same time, I know that in my lifetime, I cannot presume to be sure.

What do you know?

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar.

What Is Really Reality?

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In his introduction to On Hinduism, Ravi Heugle disagrees with my views on Reality. Ravi is a self-described skeptic, if not quite an atheist.

From a philosophical perspective, Ravi accepts only that which can be perceived, measured and verified as real. On the other hand, I believe the opposite. I consider that perceptions, measurements and verifications pertain to the material world which is not real because it is impermanent and in a state of flux. I think that reality exists beyond our perception. It transcends dimensional worlds. The Gita explains that reality is eternal. The perceptible world is Maya, or illusion.

What do you think? Share your thoughts by commenting directly on the blog or on Facebook.

See Ravi Heugle’s A Skeptic’s Perspective introducing Irina Gajjar’s . See also, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar.