Quest for Enlightenment

While Hinduism understands that God is beyond the grasp of human thought, it also acknowledges God’s tremendous power over our human minds and lives. As the quest for the enlightenment is the quest to become one with God, Hinduism strives to bring humankind to oneness with divinity.

Hindu philosophy gives great importance to the soul or spirit which it distinguishes from the mind as well as from the body. Hinduism equates the spirit with God. Chapter thirteen of the Bhagavad Gita explains that the spirit cannot be described, that it cannot act, that it is always pure and endless as the sun and the sky. God is considered the greatest spirit Thus, to Hindus, finding our soul is akin to finding infinity within us. It equates to achieving perfection which can only be attained by a highly evolved soul, a soul that over many lifetimes has superseded the limitations of humanness.

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

What Do Hindus Believe?

 

Hindus hold specific beliefs that are clear but hard to define. It is even harder to pinpoint who is or isn’t a Hindu. In my view, any person who identifies as a Hindu, who subscribes to the general beliefs Hindus hold, and who does not belong to another religion is a de facto Hindu. Others may use other criteria if they seek to pinpoint who is or is not a true Hindu.

It is hard for those who have not experienced Hinduism to understand its powerful tenets because they are subject to interpretation and evolution. For example, Hinduism is premised on a belief in God, but it does not mandate this belief. Thus, an atheist can be a Hindu. Moreover, the idea of God is somewhat fluid, given varying notions of what the supreme spirit is or is not, the Lord’s avatars or incarnations, and the presence of a pantheon of lesser gods.

The essence of Hindu belief derives from its goal, to attain oneness with God and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This attainment is viewed as nirvana, the state of ultimate bliss. Ways to reach such oneness are described in scripture.  Mythology also contains tips on becoming good enough to achieve nirvana. Goodness attaches to the soul which is a spark of God’s divinity and power.

Like the existence of God, the reality of karma and reincarnation is taken for granted by Hindus. These beliefs comprise a fundamental world view which is considered the truest and most sensible explanation for how life, death, and the universe work. The Hindu worldview is not a subject of debate but rather is a starting point for debates on derivative themes such as how best to accrue good karma or how God and karma interact.

Hindus tend to disengage both from defending the validity of their faith and from trying to persuade others of its merit. Their understanding negates arguments like reincarnation cannot exist because the earth cannot accommodate so many people and their remains. They do not feel a need to explain that Hinduism acknowledges the many planes of our universe which transcend the limits of time and space.

Hindu belief encourages philosophy, mythology, and rituals to flourish. It accepts science. It embraces differences in individual perspectives. It produces a rich medley of customs and traditions. It provides harmony in the face of the unknowns that confine human understanding. It gives balance throughout the trials and tribulations that we all endure and it gives enhanced meaning to our journey through life.

Please see Chapter 1 of On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar for further discussion of this topic. We welcome your views and thoughts.

Seeing, Knowing, and Understanding God

Although God cannot be understood by the mind, God can be known by the spirit. In chapter seven of the Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjun that he will understand God after knowing Him. God says the He knows all beings, but they do not know Him. People cannot see God because confusion and desire cover their minds, but they can reach God by seeking Him.

The Sanskrit language distinguishes between spiritual knowledge (seeing, knowing) and rational knowledge (understanding). We can come to know God only by seeking Him. Trying to understand God is a path to knowing Him, yet we cannot understand God without knowing Him. This is an apparent paradox, not a real one. It means that we must take steps toward understanding God in order to experience God. While the absolute cannot be understood by our finite mind, it can be known by our infinite soul. However, the soul can only experience the truth if the mind strives for it to do so. Reason or understanding is a path that leads to spiritual knowledge, but only spiritual knowledge has the power to reveal God.

Read more from On Hinduism or buy the book at Amazon.com.

 

Death or Transition?

Recently I lost a loved one. His death left me empty and wordless. I was deeply upset when everyone started making references to his passing or his transition. I was angry when at his funeral as people passed his lifeless body and threw flowers at his feet as if those acts had meaning. My love was no longer here. He was not with me or with anyone. He was dead, gone, vanished. How could anyone pay homage to the shell that used to hold his life and his spirit?

But then I realized that he is with us. He is present in memory and in the effect of his words, deeds, smiles, and love. Even if to me, his physical absence means death, his soul has indeed moved to another plane. Thus, it is fair to say that his being transitioned or passed to a place unknown where it will endure.

At first, I thought it was ridiculous to pray for a soul to rest in peace. I believed and still think that souls are beyond our prayers. I think our prayers cannot change a soul’s destiny once it has left the body. But, I also understand that we don’t know what a soul’s or spirit’s journey entails or in what time frame it travels, or how our thoughts and wishes may reach or affect it. Since we know nothing, it is possible that our prayers do have meaning. In any case, they may serve to calm us and they certainly show the living that we loved and honored the person who died.

 

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?

 

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 17: Three Kinds of Faith

Aug.7, 2020, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, Irina N. Gajjar

Commentary and Chapter 17, Three Kinds of Faith

Chapter 17 of the Gita describes three kinds of faith and worship as well as acts like speaking or performing penance. It is worth mentioning here that the Sanskrit chapters of the Gita do not contain titles, subtitles or headings, but they end with a sentence summarizing the subject of the chapter. Some translators and commentators, including myself, have created chapter titles and subtitles based on their own views of the content and thrust of each chapter and on the chapter endings. For example, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s brilliant annotated translation of The Bhagavadgita, first published in 1948, entitles Chapter 17 “The Three Modes Applied to Religious Phenomena.” I have named it “Three Kinds of Faith” considering the original conclusion which reads, “This is the seventeenth chapter entitled The Yoga of the Threefold Division of Faith.”

Arjun begins this chapter asking the Lord about people who have faith and love and trust God but who do not do what the holy books tell them. “What kind of people are they?” Arjun asks. Rather than answering directly, Bhagvan says that every person loves God in his own way and that loving and trusting God and having faith is everything. But He also says that there are three kinds of faith depending on nature of the persons who are faithful. Like food, faith can be sweet, salty or bitter.

The faith of those who love God and do their duty to the best of their ability without thinking of results is sweet. The faith of those who worship God and pray expecting a reward or outcome is salty. The faith of those who worship God falsely, merely for show, is bitter like rotten food.

The best worship is sweet. It is performed by persons with a pure body, pure speech and a pure mind. A pure body which belongs to a person with self control is peaceful. Pure speech is that which speaks kind, beautiful things and recites holy prayers and stories learned from scripture. A pure mind is one that is cheerful, calm and thinks of God.

Penance is sometimes performed by persons who try to understand God by undergoing physical suffering like fasting. Sweet penance done just for God’s sake is like Sattva which is the quality of pureness and goodness. Salty penance performed for appearance is Rajas, which is the quality of passion and activity. Bitter penance done foolishly to cause hurt and harm is impure like Tamas, the quality of darkness, laziness and ignorance.

Next the Lord describes three types of gifts. Sattva gifts, which are the best, are given with care and out of duty and not in order to receive something back in return. They must be given lovingly, at the appropriate time and place and to the right recipient. Rajas gifts are given grudgingly in order to receive a benefit in return. The worst gifts are Tamas gifts which are given insultingly with no respect. Such gifts are given at the wrong time, in the wrong place and to wrong persons.

Chapter 17 continues with a discussion of the holy phrase Om Tat Sat as it pertains to worship and faith. Om means God. Tat means everything in the world is God’s. Sat means truth and goodness. Persons who wish to reach God repeat Om Tat Sat to understand the Lord. These words are a reminder that all our devotions and actions must be undertaken sincerely, with love and with faith. Otherwise they are asat which means untrue and unreal. That which is asat is worthless as it is nothing at all.

Chapter 17: Three Kinds of Faith

Arjun said: Some people have faith. They love and trust God but they do not always worship the way the holy books tell them to. Oh Lord, what kind of people are they?

Bhagvan said: each person loves God his own way. He loves God according to his nature. Loving and trusting God is everything. Faith in God is everything.

There are three kinds of faith just like there are three kinds of food: sweet, salty and bitter.

The best kind of first is like sweet food. It is the faith of people who do their duty. They love and worship God. They do their very best and they do not think of how things will turn out.

 

The second kind of faith is like salty food. It is worshipping God and praying for a reward, instead of praying just because you love God.

The third kind of faith is not real. It is like bitter, rotten food. It is pretending. False spoiled faith is worshipping God just for show, without real prayers and without love.

The best kind of worship, the sweet kind, is having a pure body, pure speech, and pure mind.

Have a pure body means being peaceful and having self control. Having pure speech means saying only kind and beautiful things and studying holy prayers and stories. Having a pure mind means being cheerful and calm and thinking of God.

Some people try to understand God by making their bodies suffer so they can realize that the body doesn’t matter. This is called tup or penance.

There are three kinds of penance. Penance done for God’s sake is sweet. It is like Sattva.

Penance which is done just to show off has no value. It is like Rajas or like food which is salty or sour.

Penance which is done foolishly to hurt the body or to hurt others is harmful. It is impure like Tamas.

There are also three kinds of gifts. Gifts which are Sattva are given with care and out of duty, not because you want something back in return. Gifts to be Sattva should be giving with love, at the right time, in the right place, and to the right persons.

Gifts which are given to get something back in return are Rajas. They are given with a grudge, not freely.

The worst kind of gifts are Tamas. They are given at the wrong time, in the wrong place and to the wrong persons. Tamas gifts are made without respect in an insulting way.

Then the Lord said: Listen to the words Om Tata Sat. They are holy words. Om means God. Tat means everything in the world is God’s. Sat means truth and goodness.

Those who want to reach God say Om Tat Sat. These three words explain God.

Oh Arjun, worshipping God just for show and not for love is not real. Worshipping God without faith is false.

It doesn’t count at all. It is Asat which means not real. It is nothing, nothing at all.

 

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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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