Bhagavad Gita Lessons
Lesson 2: Practice of Meditation
Session: 176 - 179
Mind continuously receives inputs from the world through the five senses and it is influenced by the nature of the inputs. Just as the quality of food and the amount of exercise determines the physical health, the quality of inputs from the five senses and the exercise we do (meditation) determines the health of our mind.
In order to keep the mind fit, we need to restrict the inputs that are acquired from the external world. While we can control the intake of food to maintain our health, we cannot control the environment to ensure right inputs to our five sense organs.
Example: One can drive as per rules following all the traffic regulations but cannot control a drunken driver crossing the lane without any warning.
Similarly, even if we try to regulate the inputs to the mind, invariably we encounter trying circumstances.
Besides, unlike exercising our physical body, the process of refining the mind appears to be a very difficult task. Each of the fourteen steps requires enormous effort. Therefore, it appears that it is not possible to complete all the steps and achieve Joyful Living.
There are six reasons why it is difficult to control our mind.
1. Mind is made up of subtle matter and not solid matter.
(It is more difficult to control water compared to controlling an ice cube. Controlling steam is even more difficult. Mind is subtler than steam)
2. Mind is to be controlled using the very same mind.
The efficiency of the mind determines how well it can be refined further. Therefore, an untrained mind will find it very difficult to progress.
3. When we use the word ‘I’ most of us refer it to mean our mind. It is as close as a pair of spectacles to the eyes that they appear to be part of the eye. Similarly, the mind reflects the truth of the Atman and we take the reflection as the original.
Example: If the spectacles are dirty, the object seen will not be clear. We do not try to make the objects clean. We wipe the spectacles clean.
We do not do this in case of our mind. We perceive the world through our mind. We see sufferings in the world because our mind is corrupted. Instead of refining the mind, we are trying to correct the world.
4. We have spent many lifetime thinking that we are the mind and the world is imperfect. It does not occur to us that the problem is in our mind. Since even this new and correct knowledge has to pass through the very same mind, it conceals the fact.
Example: A king rules a state without meeting the subjects in person. All the external communication is done through the prime minister who remains as the king’s only spokes person for all purposes. If the prime minister is a corrupt person, it will be very difficult to expose him and more difficult to refine him.
Similarly, our mind is the only spokes person of us and therefore it is difficult to refine it.
5. Others cannot assist us in controlling our mind. We need to depend only on our own mind’s ability to refine it.
A teacher can guide us in giving knowledge on how to go about in refining the mind as detailed in the fourteen steps. However, the practice of these steps is to be done by the concerned individual without any external support.
6. It is the nature of mind to oscillate between alternatives. It keeps jumping from the past to the future all the time. It either thinks about the past performance or worry about the results that will come in the future. This is the universal nature of the untrained mind.
When the mind is peaceful, suppose some one says a harsh word, immediately the mind is disturbed. Thus, any sensory inputs hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling can cause mind to start wavering. The time the mind remains still appears to be an impossible task. This is true for the untrained mind.
Example: Driving a car may appear to be in impossible task before we are trained. There are many instruments to operate both by legs and by hands. It appears that high degree of coordination and concentration is required to drive the car. The functions of clutch and gear are confusing.
No one is a born driver. Everyone has to learn step-by-step. Prior to learning, it might appear as an impossible task. However, once we learn, driving the car becomes part of our nature. Initially one may require paying all the attention to driving but with experience, one can comfortably talk on the phone or watch the advertisement hoardings without paying any attention to driving.
Similarly, refining the mind is a long drawn process. In the case of driving, we see many people who have mastered the art of driving. However, in case of refining the mind, the proportion of those who have completed all the steps is very less compared to those who are trying. This is the reason why meditation appears to be a difficult task.
It should be noted that not everyone is expected to complete all the fourteen steps in one stretch. It is not possible to complete anyone to start from the first step and reach the top within one lifetime.
Example: The final exam in a school cannot be completed by the students in the first grade. They can only pass the first grade and then move on to the next grade.
Although apparently everyone appears to be adults and capable of completing all the fourteen steps, in reality the people of the world belong to the various grades. It takes many lifetimes even to finish one or two steps of the total fourteen steps. Therefore, it should not be expected that we complete the final step. Our focus is on the current step, which we are attempting.
Since it is not known that the number of steps that we might have completed in the previous births, everyone will have to start from the first step. Depending on the accumulated knowledge and practice, one masters each step at a faster rate.
Those who find a particular step easy to complete must have spent many lifetimes earlier to learn that step. Therefore, we should explore the possibility of completing all the steps in this lifetime and if it is not possible, it is not a cause of concern.
There are many who have completed all the steps and living joyfully. They are the proof that everyone can complete all the steps although they appear to be difficult. Since we do not know the effort put in during the previous births, we need to strive hard on the current step. We will automatically reach the top soon.
The mind is continuously refined based on the experience in every birth. On death, only the physical body is discarded. The subtle body, which includes the mind survives and takes on a new physical body to continue the journey towards the destination of Joyful Living. That is the reason, there is variation among people. Even among the siblings brought up in identical environment the mental attributes vary widely.
Some of us can ignore a harsh word spoken at us by our enemies but cannot take it if it is done by near and dear once. Some of us cannot take even if one stranger is shouting at another. Some will remain unperturbed even if insult is poured on him by all and sundry including those who belong to his first circle of friends and relatives. Thus, people respond differently depending on how well one has trained the mind in the previous births.
Even if one shuts oneself from the world, the accumulated preferences will keep generating thoughts in the mind. Such ramblings will go down only with long practice, which may take many lifetimes.
Since it is not possible to reach the end goal in one lifetime, it cannot be argued that one need not put in effort. There are two reasons why it is required that one makes continuous effort and make progress towards the destination.
Reason 1: Without spending time and effort in refining the mind, it is never going to be possible to reach the destination of Joyful Living.
Reason 2: We do get benefit according to the effort we put in and we do not have to wait until we reach the end.
Example: One has to eat a meal to solve the problem of hunger. It is not that only when the last mouth is swallowed the hunger disappears. For every morsel of food intake, we derive corresponding benefit.
Similarly, whatever effort we put in, in refining our mind, the quality of our mind will correspondingly increase. For example, those who are affected by the quarrel between the strangers earlier, will progress to the next level wherein only a personal involvement in a wordily dual will upset the balance of the mind.
Thus, the mind will become progressively steady and correspondingly the life will be more enjoyable. We continue our effort from the very same point in our subsequent births and ultimately we reach the destination.
Whatever be our current status of the maturity of our mind, our goal is to train it to remain unaffected by the changes in the external events and objects and keep it steady on the self-knowledge. If we follow the prescribed fourteen steps, we will be able to make the mind to remain steady on self-knowledge.
Chapter 6: Science of meditation
Verses: 33 – 47
6.33 Arjuna said, Oh Krishna, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.
6.34 For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, Oh Krishna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind.
6.35 Lord Krishna said, Oh Arjuna, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.
6.36 For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by right means is assured of success. That is My opinion.
6.37 Arjuna said: What is the destination of the man of faith who does not persevere, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain liberation?
6.38 Oh Krishna, fallen from both yoga and karma and deluded in the pursuit of Brahman, doesn’t the yogi perish like a scattered cloud?
6.39 This is my doubt, Oh Krishna, and I ask You to dispel it completely. But for Yourself, no one is to be found who can destroy this doubt.
6.40 Lord Krishna said, Oh Arjuna, such a person does not meet with destruction either here or hereafter. One who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.
6.41 The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.
6.42 Or he takes his birth in a family of wise sages who are surely great in wisdom. Verily, such a birth is rare in this world.
6.43 On taking such a birth, he again revives the work done in his previous life, and makes further progress in order to achieve complete success, Oh Arjuna.
6.44 By virtue of his work in his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles--even without seeking them. Such an inquisitive person, striving for yoga, stands always above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures.
6.45 But when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal.
6.46 A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the result oriented worker. Therefore, Oh Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi.
6.47 And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me and the mind absorbed in Me, is considered by me as the highest of all yogis.
Unit 15: Bhakthi Yoga
Number of Sessions: 20
(181 – 200)
Number of Lessons: 12
Verses: 7.01 – 7.30
8.01 – 8.28
On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Understand Brahman and God.
(b) Define Eternal Cycle
Unit Test: Session: 200
1. What is the relationship between Brahman and God?
2. List the six attributes that describe the nature of God.
3. List the eight attributes that describe the nature of Illusion.
4. List the four levels of Bhakthi.
5. List the four components, which are present in all levels of Bhakthi.
6. Describe the process of moving to the highest level of Bhakthi.
7. Describe the Eternal Cycle.
8. What are the five reasons that prevent us from knowing God?
9. What are the three things that come with us after our death and where they are stored?
10. What are the three requirements to do Upasana Yoga?
11. What are the four methods of doing Upasana Yoga?
12. What are the five steps in the path of Upasana Yoga, leading to Joyful Living?
Lesson 1: An alternative approach
Session: 181 – 182
Lord Krishna taught Gita in response to the Arjuna’s request to solve his suffering. The first part, comprising of the six chapters, contained a solution (self-knowledge) and a method (Karma Yoga) to administer the solution. Lord Krishna stressed the importance of the self-effort in solving the problem. It was implied that he could only suggest a workable solution but the implementation part of it was left to Arjuna.
There are two issues at this stage:
Issue 1: Assuming that Arjuna has understood both the method and the solution, it will take time and effort to reach the suggested destination. Therefore, it may be difficult for Arjuna to commence the fighting right away.
Issue 2: Arjuna was asking many questions and he still appears to be unconvinced. Although, Lord Krishna has answered all his questions with clarity and logic, Arjuna does not seem be ready to fight and at the same time, he cannot ask any further questions because, the teaching is complete.
To resolve these two issues, Lord Krishna gives the solution to Arjuna’s problem from a completely different perspective. He declares that he is going to reveal the complete knowledge, by knowing which, there shall remain nothing further to be known.
This approach of teaching will help those people who may be thinking that they are incapable of following the prescription given by Lord Krishna in the first part.
The difference in approach between the Part I (Chapter 1 to 6) and Part II (Chapter 7 to 12) can be summarized as follows:
1. Hitherto in the first six chapters, he revealed the ultimate solution is Self-Knowledge, saying the Atman is the real nature of the individual and not the body/mind complex. In the next six chapters, he teaches about God.
2. The method prescribed in the first part is Karma Yoga. In the second part, the prescription is Bhakthi Yoga.
3. The role of self-effort is highlighted earlier. Now the importance is shifted to God’s grace.
Many of the teaching in this second part might appear contradicting the earlier lessons however, it should be noted that there is no contradiction at all. The apparent difference is due to the change in the perception.
It should not be construed that Lord Krishna is giving an alternative way to solve the suffering. There is only one way. The explanation is given from a different perspective and therefore it may appear different.
In the final part (Chapter 13 to 18), Lord Krishna will explain that how both these sets of recommendations are identical. They are two sides of the same coin.
Lord Krishna introduces this change in perspective by giving out the contents of the next six chapters, which are as follows:
1. Knowledge about God will be revealed
2. Reasons for the inability to perceive God will be explained
3. Surrendering to God is suggested as a means to remove the inabilities
4. The rarity of this knowledge and the grades of knowledge is listed
5. The advantage of this knowledge is provided
Unlike the first part, which prescribes specific qualifications (like gaining mental maturity) before one could progress towards the destination, this second part prescribes no minimum qualifications.
Example: One can graduate by attending the college and fulfilling all the required qualifications like minimum attendance etc. In the Open University system, one need not go through such restrictions.
Similarly, to gain self-knowledge, one has to go through various steps as prescribed in the first part of Gita. However to gain knowledge on God, everyone is qualified. Anyone can surrender to him and progress towards the destination.
However, the failure rate is higher in this alternative. Since all and sundry are admitted, the failure rate will naturally be higher.
Many people have surrendered to god. However, not all of them know God. This is because their surrender is not complete. It is like a person carrying his bag on his head, while traveling in a train. Similarly, many of those who surrender to god will still have worries and anxieties about their family and profession. Complete surrender will mean dedicating all actions to God and accepting all results in life as gifts from God.
Example: A person slipped from a hill and fell down. While falling down he prayed to the God. Immediately, he could catch hold of a tree branch, which prevented him from falling in the deep valley below. Now god appeared before him. He said, ‘God, I have surrendered to you. Please save me’. God said, “If you have surrendered to me, leave the branch!”
He could not let go the branch. Similarly, many cannot completely surrender to God. Complete surrender can come about only on gaining complete knowledge on God. Such complete knowledge is given out in this second part.
Similarly, true love for god can come only when we know god completely. It is very difficult to love anyone without knowing anything about that person.
Thus, the solution is to know God. For this, one should love god and surrender to him. But true love and complete surrender is not possible without knowing God fully. This vicious circle can be broken by loving God and surrendering to him to the extent possible. Everyone is capable of doing this since there is no minimum limit fixed.
Man’s quest for knowledge will not stop until he knows God. Once knowledge of God is gained, absolute happiness follows.
Teaching 81: Intellectual comprehension of God gives the highest grade of happiness
Knowing God is same as knowing everything.
Example: All jewels are made from gold. If one understands gold, there is nothing more to understand about the properties of the jewels.
Similarly, God is the root cause of the creation. If the cause is understood, it is same as understanding the complete effect.
In the first part of the Gita, at many places there were references to God. For example, it is said that in order to do Karma Yoga, one should surrender the actions to God and accept all the results as a gift from God. This is possible only when someone has belief in god. Such belief is subject to change and may not be steady. Besides, Karma Yoga will be a difficult proposition for those who do not believe in God.
Such disadvantages are removed in this second part, where complete knowledge of God is given. The focus of the first part is to make the mind steady on the God. In this part, intelligence is called up on to derive a comprehensive and doubtless knowledge on God.
In this part, Lord Krishna will give complete knowledge and the experience of God. Complete knowledge of God and experience of God go together. If one has a feeling that he has not yet experienced God, it means that he has not yet fully understood God. Experiencing God includes seeing God and touching God.
Teaching 82: Very few people in the world know God
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verses: 01 – 03
7.1 Now hear, Oh Arjuna, how by practicing yoga with a mind that is totally absorbed in Me, how you will come to know Me completely and doubtlessly.
7.2 I shall now impart to you this knowledge, which will satisfy your mind and intellect, by knowing which there shall remain nothing further to be known.
7.3 Out of many thousands among men, a rare one strives for liberation. Even among those seekers who strive, a rare one knows Me in right perspective.
Lesson 2: Nature of God
Session: 183 – 185
Lord Krishna starts describing the God. Since he is a Descending Avatar, he is God himself and therefore, he explains his own real nature to Arjuna. Arjuna knows Lord Krishna as a close friend and cousin. He did not know that Lord Krishna is a Descending Avatar.
Lord Krishna also explains to him about his higher nature, Brahman.
Thus, when Lord Krishna says the word ‘I’ or ‘me’, they may refer to one of the following three identities.
1. Lord Krishna as a person
2. Lord Krishna as the God
3. Lord Krishna as Brahman
Depending on the context, the appropriate meaning should be taken. In addition to these three meanings, people give the status of Personal god or Family deity to Lord Krishna. Although Lord Krishna never refers to this meaning, many devotees wrongly assume this meaning for the word ‘I’ or ‘Me’ at all occurrences.
The terms God and Brahman are described below:
1. Brahman is formless, nameless and does not have any attributes. It is one without a second. It has no beginning and it exists forever as an ever-witnessing joy.
2. Brahman has a power called Illusion.
3. Since Brahman is beginning less, Illusion also exists forever.
4. Brahman is changeless and Illusion is ever changing.
5. Brahman is independent. Illusion is dependent on Brahman
6. Brahman is attributeless. Illusion has three attributes namely Aura, Energy and Matter.
7. Brahman is real and Illusion is unreal.
Brahman together with Illusion is called God.
Example: A man has a power to sing. While singing he is called singer.
Similarly, while expressing the power of Illusion, Brahman is called God. Therefore, there is only one God. Just as a human body is made up of hands, legs and such body parts, God is made up of various functional gods, with varieties names and forms. Such functional gods are chosen as the Personal god or family deity by the devotees based on their personal preferences.
There are unlimited numbers of such gods. Therefore, everyone can find a god of his/ her choice and for every type of requests a god with appropriate special power can be found.
Descriptions of God as given by God (Lord Krishna) are listed below:
1. Cause of the creation
The entire universe is created by God and therefore he is the cause of the creation. He is both the Intelligent Cause and Material Cause of the Universe.
Example: The potter makes pot from clay.
The potter is the Intelligent Cause, who causes the creation of pots using his intelligence, skill and capability. Then the second cause is the clay, which is called Material Cause.
In case of the creation of the universe, both the causes are God. He is the Intelligent Cause and the Material cause, since he has created this universe out of himself.
Since God exists all the time and this universe is created out of God, the appropriate term for creation is manifestation. God manifests himself in the form of the universe.
Brahman together with Illusion is God. Illusion is composed of Aura, Energy and Matter. Thus, God is nothing but Brahman + the manifested universe. In other words, God has two parts. The higher part is called Brahman, which is the conscious principle, and a lower part called Illusion, which is the inert universe.
The higher part of the God, Brahman is the intelligent cause of the creation.
The lower part of the God, Illusion (Aura, Energy and Matter) is the material cause of the universe.
God is the cause of creation and there is no one who created God. It cannot be said Brahman created God, because Brahman (together with the power of Illusion) is God.
Teaching 83: God is both the intelligent and the material cause of the universe
2. God is Omnipresent
God is ever-present. There was no time when he did not exist and there will be no time when his existence will end.
God is everywhere. There is no place, where he does not exist. Moreover, wherever we look we can perceive only him and nothing else. There is nothing in the universe that is outside God. There is no God outside the creation.
Both time and space are part of his creation and he is beyond both.
3. God is Omnipotent
God is all-powerful and he has laid out the cosmic law, which governs the functioning of the universe. All the laws discovered by science are instituted by God.
4. God is Omni prevalent
God is the motive power, which drives all the living beings in the universe. God exists even within the inert objects. There is nothing in the universe in which God is not present.
5. God is Omniscient
God knows everything. We know what is in our mind. God’s mind is cosmic mind and includes all the minds of all the living beings.
6. God is the foundation
God, manifests the universe, sustains it and resolves it periodically just as a singer begins to sing, sustain the song and stop singing.
The variety of living beings and inert objects seen in the universe is sustained by him just as the thread supports the stones and beads in a necklace.
The thread can be compared to the higher nature of God, Brahman
The stones and beads can be compared to the lower nature of God, Illusion.
Illusion is composed of Aura, Energy and Matter. These three elements in various proportions constitute the universe.
Brahman is attributeless.
By adding one attribute called sound, space is created.
By adding one more attribute called touch, air is created.
By adding one more attribute called sight, fire is created.
By adding one more attribute called taste, water is created.
By adding one more attribute called smell, earth is created.
Thus from the subtle Energy (space), gradually the gross matter (earth) is manifested. All the inert objects (including our body/mind complex) are made up of these five basic building blocks, namely, space, air, fire, water and earth.
Mind is also made up of matter but it has the capacity to reflect the sentiency of Brahman. Living beings are differentiated from the inert objects due to the presence of mind within.
Teaching 84: The higher nature of God is Brahman (Intelligent Cause) and the lower nature is Illusion (Material Cause)
Thus, the entire creation comprising of living beings and inert objects are created by God from out of himself.
We can logically validate this revelation by God. If we explore our universe we can see that it consists of Energy, Matter and Aura (intelligence) and nothing else. Therefore, from the output we can deduce that the input (Illusion) is made up of these three elements.
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verses: 04 – 07
7.4 Earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence and false ego--all together these eight comprise My material nature.
7.5 Besides this inferior nature, Oh Arjuna, there is a superior nature of Mine, which is in the form of all living entities and thus I sustain the universe.
7.6 Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution.
7.7 Oh Arjuna, there is no other cause that is superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.
Lesson 3: Benefit of knowing God
Session: 186 – 187
Lord Krishna gave a complete description of God, explaining that he is not only the intelligence cause of creation but also the material cause. He has created the universe out of himself. If we have understood this description, we should be experiencing God all the time.
Teaching 85: There is nothing but God
The teaching is, “There is nothing but God”. This means that when we open our eyes we should not be seeing anything other than God. Every word that we hear is from God. Every person that we interact is God.
However, we do not see this happening. The description given by Lord Krishna is logically clear to us but we do not feel that way. Our emotions are different. We see the world as a source of pleasure and pain while we intellectually learn that there is nothing but God. This contradiction between what we know and what we feel is the result of our prolonged exposure to the world with our wrong views. We have developed strong likes and dislikes to the objects of the world that we are not able to see the world as God.
Example: A close childhood friend of ours has changed her name.
We are aware that this person is no longer known by her old name. Nevertheless, we continue to address her by her old name. Our knowledge that she has a new name is not able to override our habit of calling her by her old name. Similarly, we have developed strong attachment to the world due to our likes and dislikes. This attachment has deluded our intelligence. As result, we are not able to see God in spite of knowing that he is everywhere.
God is everywhere is just a piece of information and it has not transformed our lives. In order to transform our lives, Lord Krishna is suggesting a new practice. It is similar to writing impositions in our school time. In spite of knowing the correct spelling, we might be making mistakes since we are used to write the wrong spelling many times. To correct our behavior, the teacher will ask us to write imposition of the right spelling.
Example: Our friend tells us to address her by her new name. She might make us talk among ourselves referring her by her new name in different contexts, so that we get used to the new name.
Lord Krishna attempts to give a similar solution. He wants us to see God everywhere and therefore he gives us a practice by covering all the items in creation by saying “I am the water. I am the sun….etc”
Only while visiting a temple, we have a feeling that we are in the God’s place. The purpose of the above exercise is to make us realize that we are in the God’s place all the time, whether inside or outside the temple.
For every name, we have a corresponding object. God is the only exception
Example: We have a bangle, a necklace and a ring, all made in gold.
For every name, like bangle, necklace and ring, we can identify a particular article. However, for the word, gold, which refers to the entire group, we are not able to identify a distinct object. We might be asked to repeat, ‘bangle is gold’, ‘necklace is gold’ and ‘ring is gold’ until we realize that there is no gold outside these three articles and every one of them is gold. Similarly, Lord Krishna keeps referring to every article in the world and says, “I am this and I am that” until we realize that there is nothing but God.
Such repeated practice will ensure that our feelings towards the world will synchronize with our knowledge that the world is God.
Lord Krishna reminds us that although God is in everything, God is not dependent on anything.
Example: In the bangle, necklace and ring, gold is there. Gold does not depend on these articles. Even if all the articles are destroyed, gold will continue to exist.
This is because of the fact that the world is made up of illusion comprising Aura, Energy and Matter, which is God’s lower nature. The higher nature of God, Brahman is superior and independent. Illusion is just a form and name. It is not real and it is dependent on Brahman for existence. World is an illusion and therefore it depends on God for existence.
Example: Bangle, necklace and ring are just forms and names. In essence, they are gold.
Teaching 86: The benefit of knowing God is Joyful Living
However, we will not get this benefit, by intellectually understanding the nature of God. Only when our emotions and feelings are able to perceive the presence of God everywhere, we can reach the destination.
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verses: 08 – 12
7.8 Oh Arjuna, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.
7.9 I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.
7.10 Oh Arjuna, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men.
7.11 Oh Arjuna, of the strong, I am the strength, which is free from desire and attachment. In all beings I am the desire which is not opposed to Dharma.
7.12 All states of being--be they of Aura, Energy or Matter--are manifested by Me. I am, in one sense, everything--but I am independent. They are dependent on Me and I am not dependent on them.
Lesson 4: Illusion is the cause of suffering
Session: 188 – 189
If we hear a melodious song, we will praise the singer. We assume that the dedicated practice, sincerity and such positive qualities of the singer have contributed towards the delivery of the melodious song. Therefore, we congratulate the singer.
This is ignorance.
It is Gods grace that the singer could sing such a melodious song and the singer is not responsible for singing. There is no point in congratulating the singer or telling others that they should learn from that singer to sing well.
Teaching 87: Everything that happens in our life is due to the grace of God
If we understand the description of God, that he is the intelligent cause and material cause, our response while transacting with the world will be different from what it is now.
It does not do much harm, if others do not realize that God alone is responsible for the song. Often, the singer also thinks that she is singing well due to her own effort and capabilities. This ignorance is the root cause of all the sufferings.
No one can do anything without the grace of the God. Even for mere existence, one needs to depend on God. Not even an atom will move without God’s grace.
God is the intelligence and material cause of the world. The world is manifested as an Illusion. It is very attractive. Being part of the illusion our mind is attracted to the objects of the world.
Example: The balloons are in different forms and colors and children are attracted by them.
Similarly, the higher part of God, Brahman is formless and nameless. It is the conscious part. The Illusion projects attractive forms and names on it, which are projected on the Brahman.
Example: A movie is projected on the screen
The attention of the viewers is on the illusory movie and the real substance (screen) is shielded. Similarly, Illusion has manifested this world and the higher nature of God (Brahman) is shielded. The illusory names and forms are more attractive than the reality, Brahman
Teaching 88: The illusory universe is more attractive than the reality, Brahman
Until we learn systematically the nature of God, we will remain in ignorance. We do not perceive the reality and assume that the illusion is real.
Our natural intelligence is capable of discriminating between the reality and falsehood. Quantum physicists have shown very clearly that universe do not exist in the way we think it is. In addition, there are enough and more instances in our daily life that reveal the illusory nature of our world.
Example: In a movie, if we are shown a dream sequence without specifying it as such, we will still be able to figure out that it is the dream.
Similarly, in our life there are many instances and events that happen, which shows that life is an illusion. However, our intelligence is blinded due to the attachment with the sense objects of the world we ignore such instances/ events, labeling them as coincidences or chance happenings.
This attachment makes the illusory world real and this is the cause of suffering.
We suffer because of our desire to acquire and possess the sense objects, which are mere illusion. It is similar, to the child crying for Balloon. It will be unhappy until the balloon is bought. After possessing the balloon, the child will be scared that the other children might take away the balloon. The child will cry when the balloon bursts. Our situation dealing in this world is not any different.
Thus, Illusion is the cause for our suffering. We need to understand the true nature of this Illusion.
1. By definition Illusion is that which does not exist but appears to exist
2. Illusion cannot be understood. One should understand that it is not possible to understand illusion.
3. Illusion rests on a reality, Brahman. It does not have an independent existence.
4. God controls Illusion. Functioning from the higher nature, God has complete control over Illusion. However, the same Illusion binds the living beings.
Example: Police standing around a minister is under the control of the minister. A criminal is under the control of the police standing around him
Similarly, Illusion in the hands of God is an ornament but in the hands of the people, it is a handcuff.
5. Illusion has the power to distort the reality and shield it from the view.
6. Illusion has the power to project the world that does not exist.
7. Illusion is made up of Aura, Energy and Matter
8. Illusion is continuously changing and nothing is permanent in this creation
Teaching 89: God controls the entire creation through his power of Illusion
The world is a projection of the Illusion, which is under the control of God. Individual living beings are part of that Illusion and therefore do not have the power to modify the projection according to their wish. Only human beings assume that they are independent of the creation and attempt to modify the world in such a way that they always remain happy. This is due to the delusion.
As long as we are under the influence of Illusion, it will not be possible for us to get liberation.
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
7.13 Deluded by the three modes [Aura, Energy and Matter], the whole world does not know Me who am above the modes and inexhaustible.
Lesson 5: Surrender is the means to liberation
Since our body/mind complex is part of the Illusion, it is very difficult to get liberation.
Example: A fictional character in a story cannot harm the author
However, it is not impossible to get liberation from the clutches of the Illusion. If it were to be impossible then the existence of Vedas and Gita are of no use.
Lord Krishna says that it is very difficult to break away from the grip of the Illusion. The cause of human suffering is summed up as below.
1. God is the material cause of the universe
2. This means the entire creation is God
3. We do not know this due to our attachment
4. Our attachment is the result of our transactions with the world originating from our strong likes and dislikes.
5. Such attachment causes delusion in mind, preventing us to see the God in the world.
6. The deluded mind is ignorant of the true nature of world.
7. This ignorance is the cause of all our sufferings in life.
Lord Krishna guides us to the first step towards liberation, which is complete surrender to God.
We should understand the omnipresence of God and surrender to him.
If we realize that all the events are happening at his will and we are interacting with him all the time, there is no room for any fear or anxiety in life. Our likes and dislikes will be reduced resulting in reduction in attachment.
When the force of attachment is reduced when we surrender to God, our mind will mature enough to understand the truth that world is an illusion.
It is not possible to work hard against the Illusion and win over it using our own self-effort. Therefore, to free us from the clutches of Illusion, we need to surrender to the master of Illusion, God.
Teaching 90: Surrendering to the master of illusion, God, is the only way to gain liberation from illusion
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
7.14 This divine Maya of Mine, consisting of the three modes of nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
Lesson 6: Nature of surrender
Love for God is called Bhakthi. Complete and unconditional Bhakthi is called surrender.
Surrender to God does not signify any physical act. It is the mental attitude resulting from our understanding of our limitation to liberate ourselves from the clutches of the Illusion. When we know God is the master of Illusion, we practice Bhakthi Yoga, which is to love god completely. Lord Krishna calls this as surrender to God.
In life, we strive to achieve various objects of desire like name, fame, money and such. Whenever we are successful, we assume that the success is due to our hard work, perseverance and such positive qualities. The real reason for our success is God’s grace.
Newton’s third law, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, does not apply to our efforts and the results. Should the effort-result relationship follow Newton’s third law, there is no role for God in our life.
It is obvious that not every effort brings about appropriate results. No one has devised any formula for success. There is no way anyone can assure that the chance of failure is zero.
Example: Scientists at NASA will anxiously watch the takeoff of the space shuttle. If they were sure of their work, no one should have any anxiety.
Therefore, it is clear that there is always a mismatch between effort and results, which cannot be understood by the rationale mind. In spite of such obvious lessons that can be learnt from thousands of years of history, many have not yet recognized the role of God.
They are the atheists who continue to think that they shape the environment according to their effort. They do not pray to God. Such people cannot progress in the path of Bhakthi Yoga.
When there are repeated failures in spite of the best effort, some of the atheists take to drinking or drugs. In some cases, they resort to suicide. Such behavior is the result of not trusting God.
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
7.15 The evil-doers, the deluded, the lowest of men, do not seek Me; they, whose discrimination has been destroyed by their own delusions, follow the ways of the demons.
Lesson 7: Nature of Bhakthi
Session: 192 – 193
Bhakthi is a common name for referring to all the levels of Bhakthi.
Example: “He is studying in the school”. From this statement, one cannot deduce the age or intelligence level of the student.
Similarly, Bhakthi has various levels. All levels of Bhakthi have the following components:
1. Belief in the existence of God
How strongly one believes in God, varies. The knowledge about God also varies.
2. Love for God
Love is an attitude. An attitude depends on the knowledge. Therefore, the love for God depends on the knowledge about God. Love for God is measured by the sacrifice made by the devotee in terms of giving time, effort and resources for God.
The love for the objects of the world is much more than the love for God since people do not know about the limitation of the objects of the world. As and when the limitations are known, people will tend to know more about God and the love for God will go up.
3. Faith that God will help in ending sufferings of life
Initially, people will assume that they are capable of ending all the sufferings in life and they need the help of God only rarely. As one gains maturity, the ratio of sufferings that need God’s help will keep growing. In the final stage, one will realize that God alone can end all the sufferings in life.
4. Spend time and effort for God
This varies from few minutes to few hours. However, at the higher levels of Bhakthi, people will be able to spend all the time and effort for God. Since the meaning of the word, ‘God’ is understood in the right perspective, spending all the time for God does not require any special effort for them.
Teaching 91: Faith in God helps us to progress faster.
Apart from the atheists discussed earlier, the remaining people love god. They are classified into four levels based on the purpose for which they seek God and the quantum of love for God.
Level 1: Those who seek God when they are in trouble
Level 2: Those who pray to God for material prosperity
Level 3: Those who want to know God completely
Level 4: Those who have already gained the complete knowledge of God
Love for God is called Bhakthi. The highest form of Bhakthi is to love God to the exclusion of everything else (The fact is that there is nothing else!). However, the love of most people is divided except for those who belong to the fourth level.
Level 1: Those who seek God when they are in trouble
In general, people like themselves. The love for self is the highest.
Many love the objects of the world as a source of happiness. The second highest part of their love is therefore towards these objects of desire. The common denominator for all objects of desire in the world is money. Therefore, money can be termed as the object of desire.
The remaining part of the love is for the means that will get them their object of desire.
Example: One loves to do hard work because it gives him money.
Among the three parts, Self, Money and Hard work, Self is the most important for whom money is earned. Money is the second important factor because it is the source of happiness. The last important factor is hard work, which is the means to earn money. Therefore, the love of such person is divided between self, money and hard work proportionately.
There is no time for God. However, when a tragedy strikes, for example he falls sick, he prays to God for his recovery. In such a situation, he loves God and the quantum of love depends on the seriousness of the sickness.
Once the sickness (or the tragedy) goes, God will be forgotten. One is back into the routine of chasing the object of desire.
This is the lowest level of Bhakthi but still such people are better compared to the atheists, who do not turn towards God, even while facing difficulties in life.
Teaching 92: Seeking God while in trouble is good
Level 2: Those who pray to God for material prosperity
In this level, people realize that their hard work and such means are only secondary. They primarily trust that God alone can give them their objects of desire.
Example: One prays to God to give him lots of money.
Among the three parts, Self, Money and God, Self is the most important for whom money is earned. Money and God are equally important because God is the means to get Money. Therefore, the love of such person is divided between self, money and God proportionately.
This is the next higher level of Bhakthi and God loves them accordingly.
Teaching 93: Seeking God for material prosperity is better
Level 3: Those who want to know God completely
In the third level, people realize that the objects of the world do not give them happiness. They pray to God for giving them complete knowledge on God so that they can live joyfully. For such people the love is divided between self and God. (God takes the portion of love meant for money)
Even here, the love is still divided and not complete. However, compared to other lower levels of Bhakthi, God is quite happy with such people because they are progressing at a faster speed towards God.
They realize that their mind (Ego, Intelligence, Mind and Memory) is part of the illusion and therefore do not have the power to win over the illusion. They start trusting God more and more since they realize that the God knows what is best for them. They keep doing their duties as a dedication to God and accept gladly all the results given by God.
They start following the Dharma prescribed in the Vedas (Message from God) very strictly. When in doubt, they take guidance from their teachers, who have gained complete knowledge on God.
Thus, they surrender completely to God. By surrendering all the power of their mind to God, they gain additional power, which enables them to win over Illusion.
Teaching 94: Seeking God for knowing God is the best
Level 4: Those who have already gained the knowledge of God
At the final level, people after gaining the complete knowledge on God, loves god completely. They are aware that there is nothing but God and therefore their love for God is complete and undivided.
For them the end goal of merging with God is already attained. Therefore, their love is not divided between self, objects of desire and the means. The objects of the world do not appear to them as a source of pleasure and pain. They see the world as God. Therefore, they love the world as it is, without attempting to change it in any way.
They continue to be active according to the demands made by the environment and they are glad to contribute their time, effort, possessions for the welfare of others. By surrendering their finite possessions, they have gained the infinite.
They love the world, since they are aware it is the expression of God. The world also loves them equally and this is how God reciprocates such natural and unconditional love.
It is not possible to reach this level within a lifetime. In each lifetime, one has to progress through the previous levels and ultimately reach this highest level. However, since no one knows the past efforts in the previous births, everyone has to strive hard to reach this level in the current birth. Failure to reach the final level should not discourage anyone since it is normal that one needs multiple births to complete this path. It is important to keep trying and pray for God’s grace.
Teaching 95: The knower of God is the dearest person to God
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verse: 16 – 19
7.16 Four kinds of virtuous men worship Me, Oh Arjuna, the distressed, the seeker of wealth, seeker of knowledge and the wise.
7.17 Among them the wise man, who is ever steadfast and who has undivided devotion is superior for, I am very dear to him and he is very dear to Me.
7.18 Noble indeed are all these, but the wise man, I deem, as My very Self; for, steadfast in mind he is established in Me alone as the highest goal.
7.19 At the end of many births one comes to Me as a wise man with the wisdom that I am everything. Such a noble soul is very hard to find.
Lesson 8: Progress to the highest level of Bhakthi
God controls the universe completely. He does that with the assistance of many gods responsible for each function. The multiple names of gods belonging to various religions are called as functional gods.
This is very similar to the way the Prime Minister govern the country through cabinet of ministers. Prime Minister has absolute powers to control and govern. He does this with the assistance of many ministers responsible for various ministries. The power exercised by the Finance Minister, for example, is actually the power given by the Prime Minister. Similarly, God alone has the power, which is exercised through many functional gods.
People who are in the first and second level of Bhakthi do not enquire into the true nature of God. Their intelligence is stolen by their desires of objects of the world. They blindly believe in the various functional gods as described in the Vedas and other Holy Scriptures, which also prescribe varied methods to offer prayers. People choose the gods according to their own nature and offer prescribed prayers to solve their problems or to receive specific benefits.
Such prayers are fulfilled by God, according to the eligibility of the people. The eligibility comes from practicing Dharma as prescribed in Vedas.
Dharma is inherently known to all the human beings. Most people including atheists practice Dharma. Since the effort – result relationship is not strictly linear people are perplexed. Those who believe in the powers of various gods attribute this variance to their prayers.
The process of moving to the highest level of Bhakthi
1. Each family believes in a particular form of God. This deity is called Family Deity or Personal god. A newborn baby goes through various religious customs in the name of the Family Deity. As the baby grows, it is exposed to various ceremonies and festivals involving the Family Deity. Therefore, that particular Family Deity becomes the most preferred god for that individual. It is also possible for an individual choose some other deity as his Personal god according to his own likes and dislikes.
2. People pray to this Personal god to fulfill their wishes (either removal of some specific suffering or for gaining an object of desire)
3. Such prayers are answered by God according to their impressions.
4. Therefore, people gain confidence in their Personal god and tell everyone around about the power of their personal gods.
5. Even atheists listen to such stories of success and become religious for want to better explanation.
6. People practice Dharma since it is prescribed as a pre-condition to the grant of their prayers.
7. Thus, people make progress in their material pursuit. They become richer and comfortable. By experience, they realize that irrespective of their material success they do not gain peace of mind or everlasting happiness.
8. Such people move up to the third level and seek God by praying to their personal god. Here God is their goal and their personal god is their means. They may also pray for objects of the world as their means. For example, they may pray for good health for pursuing their spiritual progress and not as the ultimate goal.
9. When the prayers are answered, people move up to the highest level of Bhakthi.
10. At this stage, people realize that the personal gods are mere extensions of the God. There is nothing but God.
Thus, God guide all the people to the highest level of Bhakthi by answering the prayers to their personal god.
Teaching 96: Prayers with faith in the personal god are answered by God.
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verse: 20 – 23
7.20 Governed by their own nature and being deprived of discrimination by various desires, people resort to other deities by taking to various disciplines of worship.
7.21 Whichever devotee desires to worship faithfully any particular deity, I stabilize that very faith of the devotee.
7.22 Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular deity and obtains all his desires, which are indeed granted by Me alone.
7.23 That result (accruing) to those indiscriminate ones is indeed finite. The worshippers of gods attain the gods. The worshippers of Me attain Me only.
Lesson 9: Perceiving God
The level of intelligence determines how one perceives God. Unintelligent and ignorant people believe in various personal gods to the exclusion of all other gods. The true nature of God is not easy to perceive due to the following reasons.
Reason 1: God is unperceivable
God cannot be perceived through the five senses. However, when we understand God through enquiry, we can perceive him through our five senses. In fact, all that is available for perception is God.
Reason 2: God is self-revealing
God is self-revealing and there is no need for an instrument to know him. Although every one of us is experiencing God all the time, we need a teacher who can help us to identify him.
Example: One who walks in the forest would have enjoyed the sweet voice of Nightingale. However, if someone asks him whether he had heard nightingale singing, he would not answer affirmatively since he does not know the sweet voice he heard belongs to Nightingale.
Reason 3: God may appear in illusory form
It is possible to see a vision of a personal god through meditation. This experience should be treated as a step to understand God.
Example: Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said that his vision of Kali helped him to remove Kali with the sword of knowledge.
However, many do not progress beyond this stage. They keep trying repetition of such experiences without realizing its impermanent nature.
Reason 4: Created cannot know the creator.
God is all knowing because his mind includes the minds of all the living beings. Since our knowledge is limited to our one mind, we are not able to perceive the power of God.
God is the cause of all creation. Therefore, God will know us and we cannot know the God.
Example: The pots do not know the potter.
Similarly, the creation including the body/mind complex is inert object created by God and therefore it cannot know God. The conscious principle that appears to be part of the living beings is the reflection of Brahman, the higher nature of God.
Reason 5: Illusion prevents us from knowing God.
Brahman does not associate with anything. It does not cause anything. It is the unchanging truth. This is the higher nature of God. However, people are caught in the lower nature of God, comprising of the illusion. Therefore, it is difficult to perceive God.
That is why Lord Krishna says, “No one, except the intelligent, will know me because I am the subject that knows everything and the inert objects cannot know the subject.”
Teaching 97: Faith in God helps intelligent people to know God
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verse: 24 – 26
7.24 Not knowing My supreme nature, which is changeless and unsurpassed the indiscriminate ones think that I have assumed this form and personality.
7.25 Veiled by my Maya, I am not evident to all. Being deluded, this world does not know Me who am unborn and infallible.
7.26 Oh Arjuna, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. But no one knows Me.
Lesson 10: Overcoming Delusion
Our life appears to be a struggle because we are not aware that we are dealing only with God and all the events that happen in our life is the wish of God. We are not able to perceive this because of the limitation of the mind.
Therefore, the main cause of our problem is our own mind. We need to refine our mind so that it can perceive God and see that our life is completely controlled by God. Our mind is biased with the likes and dislikes. As result, the same world appears differently for different people. Wise people see the entire creation as a source of entertainment. Others see the world as a source of pleasure and pain.
When we refine our mind, we will progress from the stage of perceiving the world as a pairs of opposites to a stage of Joyful Living. However, the deluded mind runs away from the desirable knowledge and run after undesirable sense objects.
In order to remove the delusion the first step is to live life completely according to the Dharma. If we practice Dharma and avoid Adharma, God will help us to remove our likes and dislikes. When the likes and dislikes reduce their grip on our mind, we will be able to discriminate between the right and wrong.
At this stage, we will be able to see that knowing God completely is the only way to gain Joyful Living. When this desire to know God becomes a serious pursuit, God guides him to the right process of gaining knowledge.
On gaining the knowledge of God, he will start living joyfully.
Teaching 98: Joyful Living is possible only if we know God
Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute
Verse: 27 – 30
7.27 Oh Arjuna, due to the delusion of duality caused by desire and hatred, all living beings get deluded at the time of birth itself.
7.28 However, those of the people who are of noble actions, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, seek Me with determination.
7.29 Having resorted to Me, those who strive for freedom from decay and death come to know that Brahman completely, the Self (completely), and karma completely.
7.30 Those with disciplined mind know Me as the Supreme Lord, as the governing principle of the manifestation, as the one underlying all the deities and as the one sustaining all sacrifices even at the time of death.
Lesson 11: Attaining the supreme
Brahman is the basis on which the entire creation rests. Brahman is the only reality and the creation is an illusion. Brahman does not change and the creation is in constant change. Brahman cannot be destroyed and the creation is subject to dissolution and manifestation.
Brahman is the conscious principle. The creation (including our body/mind complex) is made up of inert objects comprising of Aura, Energy and Matter. The living beings are sentient because they have mind (an inert object) that is capable of reflecting the sentiency of Brahman. Thus, Brahman is the life principle in the living beings. In the context of an individual living being, Brahman is referred as Atman or self.
Brahman is joy. The creation is the expression of that joy. However, the human beings are bound to the world due to their Karma and they suffer.
Example: A bee comes to a flower to enjoy the nectar. However, it is caught by the nectar. There is no more joy.
Similarly, the only purpose of the creation is to provide a framework for Joyful Living. However, due to the ignorance of their true nature, human beings perform action out of their likes and dislikes. This is karma and it binds them to world. There is no more joy.
Brahman together with its power of illusion is called God. God is the material cause and intelligence cause of the creation. God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniprevalent. It can be perceived as different functional gods and human beings have the option to have some of them as their personal gods. Meditation upon the personal gods, God or Brahman is called Upasana Yoga.
Since all our actions are known to God, he determines the results of the action. God is infallible and we are sure to enjoy (or suffer) the results of our actions. Our actions are results of our thoughts. Therefore, we control our thoughts through Upasana Yoga. We can do Upasana Yoga either for gaining maturity in mind or for money, wealth, name, fame, award, reward, people, property, position, power, status, comforts and companionship. Initially people use it for the worldly gains. When they get enough knowledge and see the futility of the prosperity, they start using Upasana Yoga for spiritual progress.
They start working towards mental maturity and then gaining the ultimate knowledge. After gaining the ultimate knowledge on God, one lives a joyful life. There is no more attachment to the world. The world is a theme park and the whole life is a picnic.
Chapter 8: Attaining the supreme
Verse: 01 – 04
8.1 Arjuna inquired: Oh my Lord, What is Brahman? What is Atman? What is karma? What is this material manifestation? And what are the deities? Please explain this to me.
8.2 How does this Lord of sacrifice live in the body, and in which part does He live, Oh Lord Krishna? And how are you to be remembered at the time of death by the self-disciplined?
8.3 Lord Krishna said, the indestructible entity is called Brahman, and this Atman is the self. Action, which brings about the origin of beings, is called karma.
8.4 Physical nature is known to be endlessly mutable. The universe is the cosmic form of the supreme Lord, and I am that Lord represented as the Atman, dwelling in the heart of every living being.