The Body and the Spirit

 

Chapter 13 of the Gita explores the relationship between the body and the spirit. The Lord explains that the body is called the field and that the spirit is the knower of the field.  Our spirit is the glow of God. It is the spark of creation that exists beyond our physical, emotional or intellectual being.

In this chapter Lord Krishna discusses the role of knowledge in human existence. He describes knowledge, the opposite of ignorance, as many good things and particularly as awareness of God.

The ultimate purpose of knowledge is for us to reach the state of enlightenment which enables us to become one with God.

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

See the World in God

Goddess Aditi

 

God 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.”

                                              Gita, Chapter 11, verses 5, 6, 7

 

Aditi is the mother of the gods. Her twelve sons represent the signs of the zodiac and the Vasus represent the elements of the universe or aspects of nature. It is Lord Krishna’s intention in this verse to encompass the totality of creation and to open the vision of everything to us. Not only that, but additionally He tells us that everything is whatever we wish to see.

 

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

The Gita’s Premise

God is the Gita’s premise. Its message is that life’s purpose is to attain enlightenment and eternal bliss by merging into God. This message is a familiar one. However its new and concise formulation coalesced Hindu thought and its fresh expression has guided Hindu behavior into the twenty-first century.

In the revelation that is the Gita, God delivers His word with beauty and simplicity. This scripture contains eighteen chapters and seven hundred verses upon which uncounted commentaries have been written and continue to be written.

In the course of responding to Arjun, God as Lord Krishna unclouds Arjun’s vision, opens his mind and touches his heart. He speaks of His own nature and power, of human nature and human duty, or worlds, of knowledge, of what is knowable, of the universal and human cycles of birth, life, and death and He speaks the truth.

Questions related to these matters intersect and overlap and they give rise to further questions and answers. In the end, the Gita paints an integrated picture of our human role in the vast scheme of things that is beyond us but not beyond our wonder.

The Gita develops around the concept of a universal God who can be envisioned, though not understood on a human level, and around the idea that life’s purpose is to attain unity with God. This precept is implicit as are other fundamental beliefs like reincarnation.

When the Gita makes explicit references to such ideas that are a familiar part of Hinduism, it does so for emphasis or analogy rather than for evaluation. It reiterates them and alludes to them in different contexts, but the beliefs themselves are treated as givens, not as theories. They are considered beyond question, though not beyond interpretation:

 

She who always worships God faithfully
Crosses past the world
And becomes a part of God

(Gita 14:26)

 

This excerpt is taken from The Gita, by Irina Gajar. To learn more about the book, visit http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/the-gita-sacred/

Notions of God

In Chapter 8 of The Gita, Lord Krishna gives us a descriptive view of God’s characteristics. Even assuming we believe in a supreme divine force, this view stretches the limits of our intellect and

imagination. Lord Krishna Himself acknowledges that Brahma, the spirit of God, exists beyond what our mind understands. But He encourages our efforts to grasp what we cannot grasp because, He tells us, God can be reached by the wise.

Brahma exists beyond ignorance and shines like the sun. Brahma is Time. He endures for thousands of ages consisting of thousands of days and thousands of nights. Brahma Is permanent and indestructible. He is beyond the world. Brahma is the origin of everything and He is the resting place of those who are liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

Regardless of whether or not we believe or hope to believe, the possibility of Brahma can fill a huge void in our spirit. If we carry a spark of divinity within ourselves, we have a place and a role in the universe.

See On Hinduism, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar.

Why God Scared Arjun 

God’s display of His horrific form in Chapter 11 of The Gita departs from the philosophical tone of rest of this teaching. It is reminiscent of great epics peopled with demons, and goddesses and heroes or even of fairy tales filled with goblins and angels.

Some have wondered why this jolting interlude is included in the otherwise mostly calm, well reasoned, uplifting sacred holy text that is believed to come to us God Himself.

In my view, the inclusion of a vivid illustration of God’s awesome destructive power could not be skipped. God is Time, who perpetually transforms worlds and creates them anew in our universe and in universes light years away.

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

Vedic Worlds: Bhuloka

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Vedic scriptures speak of fourteen worlds. Seven of the worlds exist on three higher planes: Bhuloka, the first world or the earthly plane; Antarloka, the second world or the subtle, astral plane; and Brahmaloka, 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.

Learn more about the Vedic Scriptures in On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

 

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.

God Speaks about Himself as Spirit

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In Chapter 8 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna speaks about Himself as spirit. He explains that He is everlasting, the origin of all things, the ruler of all, wisdom and more. He explains that as Brahma, He is beyond our understanding, but not beyond our reach.

God further explains His connection with relative Time and contrasts His permanence with the impermanence of our world. Thus, God says that by worshipping Him we all can go beyond birth and death.

See Chapter 8 of The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar.

Body and Mind

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While both Hindu and Western philosophies understand that people are a combination of body and soul or spirit, Hinduism views the mind as part of the body. The Bhagavad Gita explains that the body and mind are the “field,” or that which is to be known whereas the spirit is the “knower of the field.” The term field means the place where activity occurs.

Thus our bodies and minds consist of matter and processes whereas our spirit is causation.

Lord Krishna tells us that the body is made up of the five subtle elements, ether, air, fire water and earth plus our senses and our emotions and thoughts. The spirit gives rise to our emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

Life comes about when the body and the spirit are joined.

See Chapter 13 of The Gita, a New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina Gajjar

Mysterious Roots of Hinduism

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Hindu peoples and beliefs stem from a blend of indigenous civilization and Vedic philosophy.   The earliest civilization in India, known as the Indus Valley Civilization can be traced to 6000 B.C.E. Archeologists uncovered ruins of elaborate cities which traded with Middle Eastern civilizations and shared symbols and probably ancestry with peoples to the West.

On the other hand, Vedic scripture and philosophy came to the subcontinent much later, about 1500 B.C.E. Remarkably, it arrived fully formed on the backs of Aryan horsemen. These newcomers brought few material goods, but possessed of an impressive, fully formed and sophisticated language, Sanskrit, as well as an extraordinarily elaborate body of thought. How, where and when this language and world view evolved remains a mystery.

See “Origins” in The Gita, a New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture and On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar for more in this fascinating question.