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Gita Acharan

Gita Acharan

By Siva Prasad
Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Lord Krishna and Warrior Arjun.

The Gita is Lord's guidance to humanity to be joyful and attain moksha (salvation) which is the ultimate freedom from all the polarities of the physical world. He shows many paths which can be adopted based on one's nature and conditioning. This podcast is an attempt to interpret the Gita using the context of present times.

Siva Prasad is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. This podcast is the result of understanding the Gita by observing self and lives of people for more than 25 years, being in public life.
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107. Meditation for Bliss
The pineal gland is a pea sized, pine cone shaped organ situated at the center of the brain, directly behind the middle of two eyebrows. Physiologically it produces neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin that are responsible for the sleep cycles as well as moods, respectively. It is also known as the third eye as it contains photoreceptors like a normal eye. All cultures have described it in various ways as the seat of the soul; responsible for spiritual enlightenment; a sixth sense which sees beyond what the five senses can see; a symbol of spiritual awakening; a connection between the physical and spiritual world. In the Indian context, the space between the eyebrows is called Agya Chakra and represents the pineal gland. This background will help us understand Krishna's method to control senses and mind when he says, "Shutting out all thoughts of external enjoyment, with the gaze fixed on the space between the eye-brows, equalizing the flow of the incoming and outgoing breath in the nostrils, and thus controlling the senses, mind, and intellect, the sage who becomes free from desire and fear, always lives in freedom" (5.27-28). This is a method or technique given by the Lord to Arjun to help him control his senses, mind and intellect. Vigyaan Bhairav Tantra contains 112 such methods given by Lord Shiva and one such technique says, "Concentrate without thoughts on a point between the eyebrows. The Divine Energy breaks out and rises above to the crown of the head, immediately filling one completely with her ecstasy." Pain is an automatic tool to bring our attention to the injured areas and this helps us in survival. Similarly, it is bringing conscious attention to the area between the eyebrows to activate the pineal gland and this activation will fill us with internal ecstasy without the help of any senses.
May 14, 2022
106. Reins of Happiness.
Once, an invader on horseback from Central Asia had occupied Delhi and wanted to have a victory procession. An elephant was decorated and upon mounting it, he asked for the reins of the elephant. When told that it is controlled by a mahout, he jumped down and summoned his horse, saying that he never rides on something whose reins are not in his hands. Similarly, we need to introspect as to whether we hold the reins to our happiness and emotions or someone else. All of us think that we hold these reins, but the reality is that the reins are often with someone else. It could be a friend, someone in the family or workplace whose moods, words, opinions, praise and criticism make us happy or unhappy; a thing like food, drink or physical possession; a favorable or unfavorable situation; even our past or future. In this regard, Krishna says that he's a yogi who, at any time before liberation from the body, is able to master every impulse of lust (kaam) and anger (krodh). He is a happy human (5.23). Kaam is nothing but getting happiness from others and krodh is what happens to us when something doesn't go our way. Krishna further says that he who is happy within, who enjoys within, who is illumined by the inner light, such yogis are united with the Lord and are liberated from material existence (5.24). With sins obliterated, doubts removed, senses subjugated, the sages, contributing to the welfare of mankind, attain the bliss of brahman (absolute) (5.25). Service is about attaining awareness about self along with compassion towards others. Krishna indicates that one can help others once he knows how to help himself by mastering impulses of lust and anger but not by someone who is already a slave to them.
May 06, 2022
105. Eternal Happiness
Krishna says that those established in brahman (absolute), having a firm understanding of divine knowledge and not hampered by delusion, neither rejoice in getting something pleasant nor grieve on experiencing the unpleasant (5.20). We label situations and people as pleasant and unpleasant and essentially, it's dropping labelling (2.50). Krishna repeatedly tells Arjun to come out of the moha (delusion) which arises out of wrong identification of what is ours and what is not. The biggest delusion we have is that we can attain happiness through our senses. On the other hand, Krishna gives a solution for unending happiness when he says that those who are not attached to external sense pleasures realize divine bliss in the self. Being united with God through Yoga, they experience unending happiness (5.21). Krishna cautions that the pleasures that arise from contact with the sense objects, though appearing as enjoyable to worldly-minded people, are verily a source of misery. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, so the wise do not delight in them (5.22). This is the continuation of what Krishna said at the very beginning of the Gita (2.14), "The meeting of the indriyas (senses) with the external objects causes polarities of pleasure and pain and we should learn to tolerate them, as they are 'anitya' or transient." This implies that in due course of time, both pleasure and pain would come to an end invariably. It's our experience that we feel pain when pleasures go away or when we get bored of them. Similarly, we experience pleasure when pain goes away. To overcome these, we resort to a temporary measure of regurgitating the pleasure moments or resort to a blame game. But the essence is to be aware of the impermanence of pleasures and pains while we go through them.
April 29, 2022
1. Start with Ahankaar
Bhagavad Gita is a 700 verse conversation between Lord Krishna and Warrior Arjun in the battle field of Kurukshetra. Just before the start of war, Arjun gets the feeling that war would kill many of his friends and relatives and argues that this is bad from many points of view. Arjuns dilemma eminates from his presumption that " I am doer" - Aham karta and is also known as Ahankaar. This Ahankaar keeps us telling that we are distinct, but reality is different. Though ego is usually given as meaning to Ahankaar, but ego can be taken as one of many manifestations of Ahankaar. The entire conversation is about this Ahankaar, be it directly or indirectly and Krishna gives various paths and milestones (yardsticks) to get rid of it. If we take Kurukshetra war as a metaphor, all of us enter into a situations, like Arjun did, in our daily lives be it in family, work place and interms of health, wealth, relationships etc. As long as one lives, these dilemmas are natural till Ahankaar is understood. Gita is about what we are and certainly not about what we know nor what we do. Like no amount of theory can let us ride a cycle nor swim, no amount of philosophy can help us unless we see life eye to eye and guiding principles of Gita would help us to reach the final destination -the inner self which is free of Ahankaar. From surface it appears that times have changed since Gita was given to Arjun by Lord Krishna. Certainly, there is lot of change brought by developments in science in the past couple of centuries, but in reality, from an evolution stand point of view, humans didn't evolve any further. The internal side of dilemma remains the same. Outer manifestations (trees) might look different, but inner part (roots) remain same
April 13, 2022
104. Attaining Impartiality
Krishna says that whose mind and intellect are established in 'that' (spirit) and whose sins have been dispelled by awareness reach a state of no return (5.17). Unaware living is like living in darkness, where we keep falling and hurting ourselves. The next level is like experiencing some flashes of light where one attains awareness for a moment but falls back into ignorance. The final stage is like having permanent light like sunlight where the awareness attains a critical level and one never returns from there. This state of no return is also referred to as moksha, the ultimate freedom. It's not 'my' freedom but freedom from 'me' as all suffering is because of 'me'. Samatva (equanimity) happens when one attains the state of no return and in this regard, Krishna says that the wise view a learned and cultured Brahamana, a cow, an elephant, and even a dog or dog eater as the same (5.18). Samatva is one of the foundational pillars of the Gita. Realizing self as the self in all beings (5.7) is at the core of Samatva. It's recognizing that others too have good like us and we too have negatives like others. The next level is the ability to see the apparent contradictions or differences as equal, like seeing an animal and an animal eater as the same. It's dropping hatred (5.3) and dislikes which are products of ignorance. It's applying the same justifications for our gains as well as losses. Samatva is just a feeling which comes through awareness. The karma that flows out of an imbalanced mind is bound to bring misery. Krishna assures that even here (in this world and at this moment), the dualities of manifested existence (birth/death) have been overcome by those of equal/impartial mindedness and will be established in Brahman (Absolute) who is faultless and impartial (5.19).
April 10, 2022
103. Roots of Virtue and Sin
Krishna says that the Prabhu (Lord) creates neither doer-ship nor actions nor union with fruits of action for the world. The delusive cosmic nature is the originator of all these (5.14). The Lord is not a kartha (doer) but a Sristha (creator or creativity). There are two types of creations. One is like a potter who creates pottery and the creation (pot) gets separated from the creator for independent existence. Another is like a dancer who is creating dance but dance (creation) won't be there in the absence of the dancer. The Lord is like a dancer where the entire universe is dependent on him but he is not dependent on it. That's why dancing Shiva is depicted as Natraj and musician Krishna as Murari. The Lord can also be seen as a catalyst in a chemical reaction where the presence of a catalyst makes the chemical reaction happen. The catalyst itself doesn't undergo any change. Krishna further says that the all pervading takes no account of anyone's virtue or sin (punya or paap). Human beings are deluded because their knowledge is covered by moha (delusion or ignorance) (5.15). But in whom ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of self, in them wisdom reveals the Supreme like the illuminating Sun (5.16). The Lord is like a screen in a movie theatre where the screen has nothing to do with what is being projected on it while the audience goes through a flurry of emotions. These projections are nothing but shadows but we all get deeply involved which creates emotions and judgments having a long lasting impact. In this entire process, the screen is neutral and has nothing to do with our emotions. Krishna earlier (2.52) used moha-kalilam (darkness of delusion) in this context. Once we are out of this moha then awareness gets uncovered to shine like the Sun.
April 01, 2022
102. No Preferred Outcome
Krishna says that the yogis, having abandoned sangam (unity/attachment), perform action merely by the senses, body, mind and intellect for self-purification (5.11). It is interpreted that even though one abandons attachment in the present moment, his past karma-bandhan (bondage of action) needs to be attended to. Hence, he keeps performing actions. Another way to look at it is that once attachment is abandoned, there is nothing left for him to attain in the physical or manifested world and all actions lead to purification of the inner self. Krishna further says that the yukta (balanced/steady) having abandoned the fruits of action, attains eternal peace whereas the ayukta (imbalanced), impelled by desire and attached to fruit, is bound (5.12). One of the foundational pillars of the Gita (2.47) is that we have right over karma (action) but not karma-phal (fruits of action). Abandoning the fruits of action means that there is no preference for any specific outcome as one is ready to accept any outcome, however wonderful or frightened, with equipoise. Krishna earlier (2.66) said that the ayukta lacks both buddhi (intellect) and bhaav (emotions) and as a result, he will neither get peace nor joy. Krishna continues that mentally renouncing all actions and self-controlled, the embodied rests happily in the city of nine gates (physical body) neither even acting nor causing to act. (5.13) The key is mentally renouncing all actions even while acting or becoming a cause for an action. Karmas keep happening whether we are doing them or not and we merely become a part of them. After we consume food, hundreds of actions happen before it becomes a part of us and we don't have any clue about them. In fact, miracles like digestion happen when we are not a part of them at the mind level.
March 23, 2022
101. Emulating the Lotus Leaf.
Every physical system, including life, takes different inputs and produces certain outputs. We constantly measure or judge our outputs like words and deeds. We also judge the deeds of others as well as different situations around us. In fact, in the evolutionary process, judging threats was very important for survival itself. However, the issue is in the absence of standards for judging deeds and we often depend on ignorance based perceptions and belief systems. We feel happy and satisfied whenever we encounter a deed done which conforms to our belief system. In this connection, Krishna says, "He who is united by yoga, who has purified and conquered self, subdued his senses, who realises his Self as the self in all beings, is not tainted although acting" (5.7). This is an assurance from the Lord as to when our deeds are not tainted. Krishna says karmas are not tainted when performed by someone who is purified i.e. free of hatred and desires (5.3) and who has realised his self as the self in all beings. The point to be noted is that when one sees his self in all beings then there is no way that one performs tainted actions or crimes. On the contrary, all our actions are tainted, when performed through the lens of division of us and them. When it comes to judging the situations around us, Krishna says that he who, dedicating his actions to Brahman, acts abandoning sangam (unity/attachment), is not tainted by sin as a lotus leaf by water. (5.10) When our deeds as well as those of others are dedicated to the Lord, there is no scope for division. The situations we then face will appear to be dramas and plays, where we play our part and Krishna compares this with the lotus leaf.
March 14, 2022
100. Reactive to Proactive.
Life is a two way process. We receive various stimuli and we keep responding to them. In this context, Krishna says that the knower of truth, united with self, thinks that, "I do nothing at all even while I see, hear, touch, smell, eat, walk, sleep, breath (5.8) - talk, evaluate, accept and even my blink of eyes and the senses move among sense objects" (5.9). In this existential verse, Krishna is describing the peak experience of the knower of Truth. As we regularly experience emotions arising out of praise and criticism, we see that praise makes us forget ourselves like the proverbial crow dropping its meat upon hearing praise from the fox about its singing ability. Likewise, when criticized, our response varies from silence to verbal to physical depending on the degree of criticism and the strength of the critic. We assume these stimuli to be true and we identify with them. This leads to misery especially when we take them personally. Our sense organs are like modern day electronic instruments which automatically respond to external stimuli like the ear to sounds and the eye to light, which is essential for survival. Response to the external stimulus can be automatic or controlled by us. Living in ignorance is being reactive where responses to stimuli are mechanical. However, with awareness we can control our response by realising the nature of senses which are mechanically drawn towards sense objects. It is essentially being proactive. The obstacle is our identification with stimuli like praise and criticism, which create scars of karma-bandhan (bondage of action) lasting for an entire lifetime. Hence, Krishna advises us to realise that senses are mechanically interacting with sense objects and ‘I’ do nothing at all. This realisation is nothing but transcending from kartha (doer) to sakshi (witness).
March 09, 2022
99. Renounce Hatred Not Karma
Out of ignorance, one tends to grab material possessions thereby leading to the bondage of action to accumulate. When the first ray of awareness sets in, one starts thinking of renunciation like Arjun is trying here. The confusion lies in what to renounce. The usual tendency is to renounce all karmas or actions, as we label them as good or bad by our ever judging mind and in this scheme of things, want to drop undesirable karmas. On the other hand, Krishna presents a complete paradigm shift regarding renunciation and says that one should always be a nitya sanyasi (perpetual renunciant), i.e. one who neither hates nor desires; is free from the pairs of opposites (dwandwa-ateeth) and is easily liberated from all entanglements (5.3). The first thing that we should renounce is hatred. This could be towards anything that goes against our beliefs like religion, caste or nationality. Hatred could be towards our profession, people or way of things around us. It is important to see the oneness in apparent contradictions. A Nitya Sanyasi renounces desire along with hatred. Krishna advises us to renounce qualities like hatred and desires. In fact, there is no real renunciation of karmas as we renounce one to end up doing another under the influence of our gunas. Essentially, we should renounce labelling residing in us rather than our external karmas. Krishna further says, "That state which is reached by the sankhya is also reached by the yogi. He has truth who beholds as one both sankhya (awareness) and yoga (5.5). But renunciation is hard to attain without actions (yoga); a sage, well established in yoga quickly attains Brahman." (5.6) Karmas are like barometers to help us gauge how much hatred and desires we carry. Hence, Krishna encourages to perform unmotivated karmas than renouncing them.
March 06, 2022
98. To Perform or Renounce
Arjun asks, "O Krishna, you praise renunciation of actions (karma-sanyas) and yet you also advise their performance at the same time. Tell me with certainty, which is the better path." (5.1) On an earlier occasion too, Arjun was looking for certainty (3.2) between the paths of Sankhya (wisdom or awareness) and Karma (3.1). Krishna, however, does not advise renunciation of karma (action) and instead, he says that one doesn't attain siddhi (perfection) by renunciation of karma (3.4). One Is compelled to perform karmas as per his Gunas (qualities or characters) (3.5). In fact, even maintenance of the human body is not possible without karma (3.8). Clarity comes from the subsequent reply of Krishna that karma-sanyas is a part of Sankhya yoga. Basically, Karma has two sides. One is the executor or Karta and another is Karma-phal (fruits of action). Dropping the sense of doership (kartapan) by realising that gunas are the real Karta is referred to by Arjun as Karma-sanyas. He subsequently refers to doing karma without expecting karma-phal as the performance of karma. In essence, Arjun was enquiring whether to drop Kartapan or Karma-phal. Krishna replies that salvation is found both by renunciation and the performance of actions. But of these, the yoga of action is better than the renunciation of actions (5.2). The point to be noted is that this reply is specific to Arjun who is worried about the fruits of action, which is the demise of his teachers, family and friends in the battle of Kurukshetra. Broadly, this applies to many of us being mind oriented like Arjun. Krishna clarifies that only children, not the wise, speak of Sankhya and Karma yoga differently. He who is truly established in one obtains fruits of both (5.4). In essence, the two paths may be different, but the destination is the same.
February 28, 2022
97. Sword of Wisdom.
Krishna says, "He who has relinquished work by yoga and has torn apart his doubts by wisdom, becomes poised in the self; actions don't bind him (4.41). Therefore, take shelter in yoga by cutting this ignorance-borne doubt dwelling in your heart with the sword of wisdom." (4.42) Krishna advises us to use the sword of wisdom to free ourselves from the bondage of action (karma-bandhan).  'Regret' is the name of karma-bandhan suffered by us for both executed and unexecuted actions which result in the damage of things or relationships. Similarly, 'blame' is the name of karma-bandhan for actions or inactions of others affecting our lives negatively. The sword of wisdom is the only instrument that helps us extricate ourselves from the complex web of regret and blame. The fourth chapter of the Gita is called 'Jnana Karma Sanyasa Yoga'. It starts with how paramatma performs karmas and goes on to tell us that all karmas should be performed like yagna of selfless actions. Then Krishna brings the aspect of wisdom when he says that all actions so performed, without exception culminate in wisdom (4.33). In the title, Jnana stands for wisdom or awareness and Sanyasa being renunciation. This indicates that renunciation is doing Karma with awareness. Renunciation is not the path of escape or shirking responsibility by giving up worldly things or professions. For Krishna renunciation is doing our karmas that are handed over to us by existence with awareness and wisdom to the best of our ability. In fact, there is no real escape as the wisdom required for peace is within us, waiting to be discovered.  When we are filled with awareness and wisdom, even hell becomes heaven; conversely, an ignorant mind can also turn heaven into hell. The key is inner transformation.
February 14, 2022
96. Wisdom is In the Self.
Once the creator was thinking about where to conceal 'that' wisdom after attaining which nothing is left to be attained. His wife suggests a high mountain or a deep sea but both were discarded as man can climb or swim. It was then decided to keep this wisdom inside man, while man searches for it outside for lifetimes. This metaphor makes it easy for us to understand when Krishna says, "Certainly, nothing in this world is as sanctifying as wisdom. In due course of time, he who perfected in yoga finds it in the self" (3.38). The essence is that 'wisdom' is in the self and by the same measure everyone has it. It's just the question of realising it both in self and others.  Krishna further says, "Shraddha-vaan (one with Shraddha) and Jitendriya (one who won senses) obtain wisdom leading to parama-shanti (supreme peace)" (3.39). Krishna gives contrast and says, "The ignorant, devoid of Shraddha is ruined and there is no happiness for him in this world or other." (3.40) 'Shraddha' is a common thread in the Gita. Devotion, trust or positive thinking are its closest meanings. Krishna talks about Shraddha at many places and encourages Arjun to be Shraddha-vaan. Shraddha is not a ritual to get the fruits of action of our choice but inner strength to accept with gratitude that whatever comes our way is the best thing that could have happened to us in the given circumstances however adverse it might be realising that we can't have separate desires than of existence.  Making senses subservient is an integral part of the Gita. Krishna elsewhere compares senses with wild horses and tells us to control them like a trainer who rides horses by understanding them. Certainly, it is understanding but not suppression.
February 09, 2022
95. Raft of Wisdom for Sea of Sin.
Arjun's despondency during the Kurukshetra war is due to his feeling that he is committing a sin. He feels that killing one’s teachers, relatives and friends (1.36) is nothing but sin and that we should turn away from such sinful action (1.38). He is even more perturbed by the fact that he and his brothers were preparing to kill their own brethren out of greed for the kingdom (1.45). Krishna repeatedly speaks to Arjun about sin at various times to put things in perspective.  Krishna says, "Even if you are the most sinful of sinners, you shall safely cross the sea of sin by the raft of wisdom (3.36). Just as a blazing flame reduces firewood to ashes, the fire of wisdom reduces all actions to ashes." (3.37) For Krishna sin is like darkness, which is dispelled by the light of wisdom and awareness. The darkness may have been there for a long time or it could be pitch dark but the light instantaneously dispels it.  However, this is contrary to religious preachings dealing with actions, thoughts and feelings which are labelled as sins and pain polarity is attributed to them.  Religions preach penance for sins both in terms of quantity and quality through various practices and rituals to obtain pleasure polarity by getting rid of the sins. Depending on whether sins are simple or deep, penance varies. If it is committed over a long period, greater repentance and remorse is required.  But for Krishna, the length and depth of sin don't matter. One only needs to know 'that' by which we will see all beings in the self and also the LORD (3.35).  While religions thrive on our guilt of committing sins, spirituality is about gratitude and awareness that sins and virtues are part of the same oneness.
February 07, 2022
94. Art of Learning.
The ability to learn throughout life is a human endowment. The fundamental question is how to learn and what to learn. Krishna says, "Know 'that' by prostration, questioning and service, the wise who have realised the Truth will teach you the knowledge." (3.34) Prostration is humility, humbleness, willingness to understand others' points of view and open-mindedness which is an indication of overcoming our ahankaar. Questioning is a kind of feedback loop of electronic circuits where we question everything of what we say and do till questions drop. Service is compassion.   The next question is who is realised (Guru) and how to find them. In Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna refers to a wise man who says that he has 24 gurus and learnt pardoning from the Earth; Innocence from a Child; Detachment from Air; Avoid hoarding from Honey Bees; Equanimity from the Sun; Traps of senses from Fish; and the list goes on. This implies that Guru is just around as long as the three qualities for learning are present within us.  Krishna clarifies about 'What to learn' when he says, "Knowing which you shall not again get deluded thus, by which you will see all beings in the self, also me." (3.35) This verse is also quoted as "Know 'that' by knowing which nothing is left to know." Certainly, it is not reading all the books of the world. Krishna makes it simple when he says it is 'that' by which we will see all beings and the Lord in ourselves. We tend to glorify the good in us and the fault in others. This verse says that in the same vein we should realise that we too have those faults in us and others too are good. Finally, it's the LORD everywhere. Once this simple thing is realised there is no scope for delusion.
January 31, 2022
93. Nectar of Contentment.
Krishna talked about yagna (selfless actions) at two places (3.9 to 3.15 and 4.23 to 4.32). He cautions (3.9) that motivated actions bind us (karma-bandhan) and advises action to be performed without attachment. He further indicates that the selfless action of yagna holds the supreme power (3.15) and in the beginning, using this power the creator created (3.10). He gave many instances of yagna (4.23 to 4.32) and concludes that all of them are off springs of actions and this realisation would liberate us (4.32). This is the Lord's assurance on liberation. Furthermore, about sin, Krishna indicated (2.38 and 4.21) that action arising out of an imbalance between polarities of pleasure-pain; profit-loss; victory-defeat is the sin that results in karma-bandhan of perpetual guilt, regret and hatred. He further said, "One hoping for nothing and doing mere bodily actions, incurs no sin" (4.21). He concludes that by sacrifice (of attachment) the knowers have destroyed sins (4.30). This is an assurance from the Lord about the destruction of sins in yagna.  Krishna earlier declared (2.47) that we have a right over karma but not over karma-phal (fruits of action). Here he reveals a secret (4.31) that the remnant of selfless action of yagna is the nectar of Brahman (Supreme God). The subtle indication is that whatever we are ever blessed with is a result of the selfless actions we perform consciously or unconsciously. Another inference is that if we take contentment as the parameter, the rich become richer and the poor poorer. This is an assurance from the Lord about the nectar of contentment from yagna.  It is the motivation that makes an action a sin and when the same action is performed like yagna, it becomes virtue which is nothing but the nectar of liberation and contentment.
January 27, 2022
92. Joy through Breath
Some activities in the human body like the beating of the heart are automatic though they may follow a set rhythm while some activities like the limbic system can be controlled. But breathing is unique as it is both automatic and can be controlled. In the context of yagna (selfless action) and breathing, Krishna says, "Some offer prana (incoming breath) into apana (outgoing breath) and apana into prana as sacrifice; some are absorbed in pranayama by restraining the courses of prana and apana"(4.29). The duration and depth of the breath indicate the state of mind. For example, when we are angry our breath automatically becomes fast and shallow. On the contrary, by making our breath slow and deep we can control our anger. This implies that by controlling the breath, one can control the mind which gave rise to many techniques of meditation and pranayama. While explaining 112 meditation techniques to Parvathi, Lord Shiva mentions about 16 techniques that are purely based on breath. In the contemporary world, we have numerous meditation techniques based on observing and subsequently controlling the breath. It is essentially the art of observation and mastering this art is easy by engaging the ever wandering mind with incoming and outgoing breaths which will make us stable. This art can be subsequently used to observe thoughts and feelings as observation and feelings or thoughts or lust don't go hand in hand. Finally, this leads to what is known as 'observer becoming observed', akin to sacrificing sacrifice. Pranayama literally means control of breath and is practised through various techniques like kapalbhati. Prana means life energy like flowering or sprouting which continuously flows through us. Pranayama is streamlining that energy for harmony or resonance for joyful living and the lack of this harmony is nothing but agitation, fear and tension.
January 23, 2022
91. Study of Self
Having ‘Fire in the belly' means being full of energy and enthusiasm for pursuing one's desires, interests and duties in the physical world. When such energy is used for self actualisation it is called 'yoga-agni' or the yogic flame. In this context, Krishna says that some offer all their sense activities and the functions of life force as oblations in the wisdom-kindled yogic flame of inner control of self (4.27). In day to day life, we offer sense objects like beautiful flowers and tasty food to the paramatma. This verse takes us beyond this and says that yagna (selfless action) is offering sense activities like taste, beauty or smell themselves and not merely sense objects. Senses keep connecting us to the external world through attachment to sense objects and when these senses are sacrificed, what remains is unity with oneness. Krishna further says that other devotees offer as oblations wealth, self-discipline, and the methods of yoga; while other individuals, self-controlled and keeping strict vows, offer as sacrifices the study of self and the acquirement of scriptural wisdom (4.28). Krishna mentioned swa-adhyay or study of self as one of the yagna. This process led to the birth of many subjects like psychology, medicine and contemporary self-help classics. Since childhood, we are constantly labelled on factors acquired at birth like nationality, caste or religion and we spend the rest of our lives defending these labels. This labelling involves a lot of suppression or violence at a very young age. Similarly, the labelling happens based on characteristics like intelligent or dumb, hardworking or lazy and the list goes on. Similarly, we form opinions about ourselves and others based on numerous factors and spend energy defending the same. Swa-adhyay is examining these labels as yagna and shedding them.
January 11, 2022
90. Sacrificing Sacrifice
Yagna symbolises sacrifice or selfless actions. In this context, Krishna says (4.25), "Some yogis perform sacrifices to gods; others perform sacrifice by offering sacrifice itself in the fire of Brahman (Supreme God)." For one living without awareness, living is just gathering and preserving. The next higher stage of living is sacrificing things, thoughts and feelings. It's like sacrificing the seeds of ahankaar (I am doer) into the fire rather than letting them multiply on the fertile soil of the mind. The third stage is sacrificing the sacrifice itself realising that all of them are Brahman. It can be said that the mind oriented karma yogi keeps looking for action and doing sacrifice is the path for him. The intellect oriented gyan yogi is about pure awareness and he sacrifices the sacrifice itself. While the former is sequential, the latter is an exponential or quantum jump, but rare. However, both paths lead to the same destination. Krishna explains this reality in the context of senses and says that "Certain devotees offer as oblations in the fire of inner control, their powers of hearing and other senses. Others offer sound and other sense objects as sacrifice in the fire of senses (4.26)." In essence, the paths of sacrifice and sacrificing the sacrifice. Krishna explains the relationship between senses and sense objects many times. The prominent explanation is, "Sense organs naturally experience raag (fondness) and dwesh (aversion) for their respective sense objects; one should be aware of this duality (3.34)." Through specific effort, the karma yogi breaks the bridge between the senses and sense objects which is the sacrifice mentioned in the first part. The second part is for a gyan yogi who sacrifices the entire process to be just a sakshi through awareness. In both situations, the destination is transcending the polarities.
December 31, 2021
89. Liberating Oneself
In the Gita, some words like anaasakti and veet-raag represent the crux of the Gita. While aasakthi (attachment) and virakti (detachment) are two polarities, anaasakti transcends these polarities. Similarly, veet-raag is neither raag (fondness) nor viraag (aversion) but transcends both. These polarities are nothing but the radiance of ahankaar (I the doer) and once dropped, one transcends all polarities. This stage is nothing but liberation. In this context, Krishna says (4.23), "One who is liberated, devoid of attachment, with mind established in knowledge and acting for yagna; his whole action is dissolved." 'I' is identification with our possessions; friends and enemies; likes and dislikes; and thoughts and feelings. Dropping them brings temporary emptiness leading to pain, fear, anger and resentment, therefore, dropping the 'I' is no easy task. Interestingly, the need is to drop the sense of ownership, identification and doership but not relationships, things or people. Liberation arrives once we are aware of this fine difference. All selfless actions flowing from a person who has dropped the ‘I” is nothing but yagna. The literal meaning of yagna is a fire ritual where offerings are made to the fire. Here it is used as a metaphor for sacrifice or give and take. We make offerings to the fire, that in turn returns warmth, which is essential to life for purposes ranging from cooking, keeping water in liquid form and maintaining the body temperature. The working of the human body is like a yagna where one organ gives and another takes and they are all interdependent. Krishna, hence says (4.24), "The act of offering, the oblation, the fire, the executor are all Brahman (Supreme God) and even the destination or results attained are also Brahman." This is the oneness which one attains on dropping ahankaar.
December 27, 2021
88. Facets of Sin
The question of vikarma (prohibited action) or sin is very intriguing. Arjun is also in this very dilemma and says that sin alone will accrue by killing relations in battle (1.36). In fact, cultures have defined various karmas (actions) as sins and the list changes with time. In the modern context, countries have their penal codes which mandate some actions to be crimes or sins and thus punishable when committed. In any case, we keep punishing ourselves through guilt, regret and shame when such perceived sins are performed by us.  In this context, Krishna says that "One hoping for nought, with controlled mind and body, having relinquished all possessions, doing mere bodily actions, incurs no sin (4.21)." Krishna earlier talked about sin and told Arjun, "To treat pleasure and pain; profit and loss; victory and defeat alike and do battle, whereby he would not incur any sin (2.38)." The subtle issue to be understood in evaluating sin is that we normally evaluate it based on actions performed by us in the physical world, whereas for Krishna it is the inner phenomenon. Whatever flows out of us is the result of our state of mind and Krishna asks us to exercise control there. At a philosophical level, this raises many doubts in us, but at an experiential level, one attains clarity.  Krishna further says that "Content with whatever is got unsought, rising above the pairs of dualities (Dwandwa-ateeth), free from envy, equanimous in success and failure (sidhi-asiddhi), though acting he is not bound (4.20)". In fact, this verse can be said to be a microcosm of the Gita containing all the teachings given in the Gita at various places.  Krishna tells us to attain Dwandwa-ateeth and use the divisive mind for mere bodily actions and nothing beyond that.
December 18, 2021
87. Ever Content
A hungry fox tried to reach for grapes hanging high above, failed and moved on bringing itself to think that the grapes were sour. This familiar story presents several angles on the issue of handling disappointment, contentment and happiness.  Contemporary psychology talks about 'synthesising happiness' as one of the functions of the human brain to help us move out of difficult situations. The fox did exactly this by satisfying itself that the grapes were sour and moved on. In the context of contentment, Krishna goes beyond 'synthesising happiness' and says that, "Having renounced attachment to fruits of action, the ever content (nitya-tripth), depends on nothing, he doesn't do anything though he is engaged in action (4.20)." Contentment with self is one of the common threads in the Gita and on many occasions, Krishna advises Arjun to be Atmavaan or Atmatripth, which is essentially contented with self. Atmavaan spreads the fragrance of contentment under any circumstances he's in. Earlier Krishna talked about karma and akarma where he mentioned that even the wise get confused in handling these intricate issues. In the present verse, he gives glimpses of akarma in karma when he says that an ever-content doesn't do anything though he is engaged in action.  Our present chase is to be different from what we are today, to be someone else and interestingly, that 'someone' again wants to be someone else. The story is the same in the chase of pleasures and possessions where the goalposts shift constantly.  When the realisation dawns that all the chases of pleasures and possessions are nothing but chasing of mirages and that the chases made us sick and tired, we slowly start dropping the desire for karma-phal to become ever-content with the self. It's like being a child who is just happy and laughs for no reason.
December 14, 2021
86. Drop both Lust and Resolve
Every culture evolved some dos and don'ts for peace in society and with the evolution of justice systems, some don’ts have become punishable crimes. Criminal jurisprudence requires both intention and execution to be present in a crime. Intention is the thought behind the crime and execution, the physical side. Proof of both components is essential to convict any person of a crime.  If we take the intention as sankalp (will or purpose) and execution as kaam (desire), we can understand Krishna’s saying, "He whose pursuits are free from kaam and sankalp (kaam sankalp vargitaye); whose actions are burnt by the fire of knowledge, him the wise call a pandit (sage)" (4.19). Society, in general, is satisfied as long as there is no criminal action, even if one is roaming about full of criminal intent. Krishna says that we should drop kaam first and subsequently should even drop sankalp. Dropping kaam can happen because of various reasons like fear of the law, lack of resources or to maintain one's reputation. But sankalp is much deeper and as long as it survives there is always a chance that it gets converted into kaam at a weak moment. That is why Krishna tells us to drop not only the kaam but also the sankalp, which is the driver of desires. We are repeatedly told since childhood that we should have the determination and desire to achieve academic, economic as well as personal growth, thus making our progress towards understanding this existential truth difficult. The point to be noted is that desire is desire whether noble or ignoble.   When kaam and sankalp are dropped, one attains nischal (non-oscillating) samadhi (established in self) which is freedom from attachment, fear and anger. Actions arising out of such a state are bound to be burnt and purified by this very awareness.
December 12, 2021
85. Karma, Akarma and Vikarma
‘Acts of commission and omission' is a phrase commonly used in the legal lexicon. A driver failing to apply brakes at the appropriate moment has committed an act of omission resulting in an accident. This act of 'omission' or akarma (inaction), leads to karma (action) of accident.  Similarly, while performing any action, we choose from many different options available to us. When we exercise one of these options and act, all other options become akarma for us, leading to the conclusion that every karma has akarma hidden in it.  These examples help us to understand Krishna’s profound statement that the one who beholds karma in akarma and akarma in karma has attained the goal of all karmas (4.18).  Krishna himself says that this issue is an intricate one and even the wise are confounded about the subtleties of karma and akarma (4.16). He further says that the nature of karma is very difficult to know. Certainly, in order to fully understand the nature of right and prescribed action, one has to also understand the nature of vikarma (forbidden action) and of akarma (4.17). A contemplative person once observed an animal escaping into a forest. Moments later, a butcher comes by and asks him if he had seen the animal. The person is on the horns of a dilemma, as the truth would result in the death of the animal while uttering a lie is immoral. If we sum up all forbidden actions of all cultures and religions, living would be impossible. Hence, Krishna indicates that these issues are intricate and even the wise get confused.  Life presents us with many catch-22 situations with no easy answers in the material plane in which all of us live. Only when we transcend from karta to sakshi and live with choiceless awareness does clarity descend.
December 05, 2021
84. Ways of Liberated Souls
            Krishna says that actions do not taint him nor does he have a longing for fruits of action. He also says that whoever realises him is thus not bound by actions (4.14). This reinforces Krishna’s words (2.47) that we have right over karmas (actions) but not over karma-phal (fruits of action).          As Paramatma, even he follows the same. Krishna tells us (4.13) that he is the non-doer even though he created various divisions among humans, hinting at the absence of kartapan (sense of doer-ship).             He further said that liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding of his transcendental nature. He suggests that we perform our duty, following in their footsteps (4.15). In the normal course of our lives, we perform karmas to obtain karma-phal. However, when we are told to drop karma-phal, we tend to drop karmas as well. Krishna here reveals a completely different paradigm for renunciation where he advises that we continue doing karmas, but by dropping attachment to both karma-phal and kartapan. His advice to Arjun to fight the war, which is just another karma, should be seen in this context. It is a difficult task to consciously drop kartapan in our actions. But all of us often act without ‘kartapan' when we are deeply involved in activities like dancing, painting, reading, teaching, gardening, cooking, sports and even surgery. This state of mind has been called a state of ‘flow’ in modern psychology. The essence is to recognise such beautiful moments and to keep expanding them in all walks of life with the realisation that the universe will resonate with our efforts. Life in itself is a joy and a miracle. It doesn't need kartapan or karma-phal to make it complete. We attain liberation from bondage of action when we drop both kartapan and karma-phal and become one with Paramatma.
November 25, 2021
83. Falsehood Thrives on Truth
                 The world as we know it consists of both truth and falsehood. A careful examination would indicate that falsehood is nothing but a misinterpretation of the truth, either due to our circumstances or due to limitations of our senses and mind. In the well-known rope and snake analogy, the rope is the truth and the snake is the falsehood that doesn't exist without the rope. But, till this realisation dawns, all our thoughts and actions would be based on falsehood. Oftentimes, continuing for generations across society.                  Similarly, if we consider any technology as the metaphorical truth, its malefic use is falsehood. A loudspeaker can be used to propagate good and also to instigate the gullible into violence. Similarly, today’s social media, the metaphorical truth, is falsehood when used malevolently.                   An understanding of truth and falsehood is essential to understand Krishna when he says: I have created four varnas (divisions) based on differentiation of Gunas and Karmas, but know me to be the non-doer and immutable (4.13)."                    Krishna clearly says that such division is based on gunas but not a function of birth and further they are neither water-tight compartments nor hierarchical. The three gunas are present in all of us in different proportions and these give rise to the four broad divisions, in terms of karma. As we look around us, we find that some people are knowledge and research oriented; some into politics and administration; some into agriculture and businesses; and some are in service and jobs. This division brings different flavours in the physical world like Einstein, Alexander, Picasso and Mother Teresa; like colours in the rainbow. While the truth is that humans are of four types because of the gunas and karmas, a falsehood was built that the division is hierarchical and is based on birth.
November 20, 2021
82 . We Reap what We Sow
               The physical entities are governed by predictable behaviours and properties. Krishna gives insight into the relationship between the all powerful un-manifested and manifested when he says, “In whatever way people are devoted to Me, in that measure, I manifest Myself to them. All men, in every manner, pursue a path to Me.” (4.11)             This is firstly an assurance from the Lord that whatever path we pursue and however contradictory these paths may appear, all of them are paths to the un manifested paramatma. Secondly, the Lord responds like a multi dimensional mirror that reflects and resonates our feelings, thoughts and actions. Thirdly, when we sow a seed, it takes time to attain its full potential of a tree and this time lag prevents us from fully understanding this principle of resonance of paramatma.                      If we fill our lives with unconditional love and sraddha (trust), love and sraddha are inevitably returned in due course making our lives joyful. If we sow anger, fear, hatred, cruelty or jealousy then the same will be served back making our lives miserable. There are countless examples of these and the point to be noted is that we miss the organic link between the two due to the time lag between the sowing and reaping.              This verse operates both at a subtle and gross level. While looking to realise our big dreams, we should never lose sight of small wins that help us realise the supreme consciousness at the experiential level.              Krishna further says that "Desiring success of their actions, men adore the devatas, as achievement accruing from an activity is readily attained" (4.12).               Devatas are nothing but glimpses of the Paramatma. We have to shed ahankaar to realise Paramatma, but it takes time. Devatas are the halfway point in the journey towards realising the Paramatma while we are still shedding ahankaar.
November 03, 2021
81. ‘I’ is inclusion
             In the Gita, both Arjun and Krishna use 'I' and 'ME', but the meaning and context of usage are different. Arjun’s 'I' refers to his physical body, possessions, feelings and beliefs extending to his family, friends and relatives. Our situation is no different to that of Arjun. Essentially, we consider some things to be exclusively ours and the remaining to be not. When Krishna uses 'I' it is inclusive, assimilating all including different polarities and contradictions that we perceive through our limited senses. Krishna continues in the same vein elsewhere where he says, “I am death as well as birth”.             While Krishna is the ocean, we are but drops in the ocean with our own individuality, which is ahankaar. When a drop sheds its illusion of individuality and unites with the ocean, then it becomes the ocean. Krishna indicates this when he says that (4.9) the ‘realised’ come to him and will be free from the cycle of rebirth when they realise about my life and actions which are divyam (divine). Certainly, realisation means shedding of ahankaar and the ability to accept contradictions. Krishna uses the word veet-raag, which is neither raag meaning attachment or viraag meaning aversion, but a third stage where raag and viraag are treated as equal when one experiences them. The same applies to bhay and krodh. Krishna uses another word gyan-tapas. Tapas is nothing but a disciplined way of living and many of us practice it. Tapas done with agyan (ignorance), becomes an intense chase to seek sensory pleasures and material possessions. Krishna advises us to pursue gyan-tapas, which is aware disciplined living. He says that (4.10) sanctified by the asceticism of wisdom (gyana-tapas), disengaged from attachment, fear and anger (veet-raag, bhay and krodh), engrossed and sheltered in me, many beings have attained my nature.
October 28, 2021
80. Manifestation of Maya
Just as a rotating wheel needs a stationary or changeless axle to rotate, the ever-changing manifested physical world needs the calm and changeless unmanifested entity to sustain its existence. Arjun, like us, is at the level of the manifested human body and is worrying about the death of his relatives, who are just manifested entities. Krishna, the supreme lord, presently in a manifested form explains why and how the unmanifested sometimes needs to take the manifested form.  He says, "I am unborn, eternal and Lord of beings. Presiding over my prakrti (cosmic nature), I embody myself by self-evolved maya (4.6)". Through maya, which is but a thought, the unmanifested manifests, as does the paramatma. The only difference being the level of consciousness, desires and the degree of compassion.   Krishna further says, "Whenever there is decline of dharma and rise of adharma, then I manifest myself (4.7) - For the protection of sadhu (virtuous), for the destruction of the dusht (wicked) and for the establishment of Dharma, I am born from age to age (4.8)". The masters often quote these verses to assure everyone that the paramatma is nigh to protect the virtuous. A simple literal meaning indicates that he would come to the earth as an avatar whenever dharma or righteousness is declining and adharma or evil are rising.  At a deeper level, questions arise as to what is dharma and adharma; who is a sadhu and who is a dusht; what distinguishes them?  In the case of sadhus and dusht, their quality of saintliness or wickedness needs to be protected or destroyed rather than the individuals themselves. Similarly, dharma and adharma can be taken to be the direction of travel towards that eternal state or away from it, needing the help of the paramatma for course correction.
October 21, 2021
79. Beyond Time
Bhagavad Gita is a coherent blending of two levels and we need to be aware of this to understand the Gita. Sometimes Krishna comes as a friend or a guide to Arjun explaining the daily issues faced by humans. Sometimes he comes as Paramatma (super-soul) and in that state he says (4.1) that I gave this imperishable Yoga to Vivasat, which was handed down in succession to raja-rishis (royal rishis) and its sight was lost with time (4.2).  Vivasat is translated as Sun-God, which is a metaphor for light and Krishna is indicating that he was before the light. It is accepted that this universe started with light and matter formed subsequently.  Krishna refers to raja-rishis who are nothing but enlightened ones at various points in time. The sight of this knowledge was lost because over time it got relegated from an experiential level to ritualism; less of practice and more of preaching, taking the shape of religions and sects.  Arjun questions (4.4) as to how come Krishna taught this to the Sun as his birth is recent. Krishna replies (4.5) that we had many births and you are not aware of them, whereas I am. This question of Arjun is very natural and logical at the human level. At this level, we are under the control of time to experience birth and death. We don't have any clue about what was before birth and after death.  Krishna's reply is at the Paramatma level which is beyond time. Earlier, Krishna had explained about atma which is eternal and changes the physical bodies like how we discard worn-out clothes. Whoever reaches that eternal state is beyond time. A flower doesn't know about its power to blossom whereas this power was there before and will remain after the life of the flower.
October 15, 2021
78. Power of Desire.
A desire filled Tulsidas was desperate to meet his newlywed wife. He crossed a river at night mistaking a corpse to be a wooden log; used a snake as a rope to climb up the wall to meet his wife, only to be rebuked by her that he would be better off with an equal passion for Lord Rama. He was transformed that very moment and he went on to author the revered ‘Ram Charit Manas’. Tulsi’s story helps us better comprehend Krishna’s advice (3.41) to destroy desire by disciplining the senses.  Desire has two aspects. The first is the energy of courage, determination and passion that is generated in us and the second is its direction. Outwardly directed, it is dissipated in seeking sensual pleasures and possessions. When Krishna asks us to destroy desires, he doesn't want us to destroy this energy, but only wants us to direct it inwards like Tulsidas. This energy is essential for the demanding spiritual journey, like a satellite needing energy from its rockets in the beginning to reach orbit. Once one reaches the eternal state, both energy and direction become meaningless.  Krishna asks us to discipline our senses to help direct our energies inwards. He describes (3.42) a hierarchy to help us. As the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the mind which is the sum of all the senses is superior to the senses themselves. Even the mind is limited to fight or flight reactions, sufficient for animalistic survival. The intellect, however, goes far beyond and differentiates us from animals and hence is superior to the mind. Krishna further says (3.43) that the self (soul) is superior to intellect and advises us to use it to annihilate the foe of desire which is hard to conquer with the mind or the intellect.
October 07, 2021
77. Witness like a Mirror
Krishna clarifies that just like fire is enveloped in smoke; a mirror by mal (dirt); an embryo by the womb; Wisdom is covered by desire that is an insatiable fire, which is the constant enemy of the wise (3.38-3.39). Earlier, Krishna had said that gunas have the capacity to hypnotise (sammohit) us. Desire, born out of rajo guna does the same. He further elaborated (3.40) that the senses, mind and intellect are said to be the seat of desires and through these, desires hypnotise our soul by eclipsing its wisdom.  A mirror is the perfect example of a sakshi (witness). Its wisdom is to reflect both situations and people brought before it without any labelling. It doesn't have the burden of the past nor any expectations from the future and is always in the present. Its effectiveness reduces when this wisdom is covered by dust.  While the metaphorical mirror is our true nature, the dirt is our past accumulations gathered because of our previous motivated actions and desires. Similarly, the ability to know is our true nature, which is limitless, but we identify with the limited knowledge gathered. In a nutshell, the dirt is our past accumulations which include knowledge, pleasant or unpleasant memories and judgements that weigh heavily upon us. Likewise, the desires delude our soul by eclipsing its wisdom.  A careful look at the crucial conversations in the workplace and family would reveal that we carry the heavy burden of our past and find it difficult to appreciate the present moment resulting in lowered productivity and misunderstandings.  Living in the past is misery and the key is to not let the past make us its slave. To begin with, we could use some of it as an instrument to help us till we permanently align ourselves with the present moment of consciousness.
September 27, 2021
76. Beware of Lust
Arjun enquires, (3.36) "How can a man perform evil even against his will as if he is compelled." This is the most common question that arises when the first ray of awareness sets in.  Krishna says (3.37) kaam and krodh (anger) are born out of rajo guna and are great evils full of insatiable craving. Beware of them to be the foulest enemies here on Earth. Krishna uses the word kaam which is an extreme form of desire like lust.  Attachment to action is the hallmark of rajo guna, which happens because of desire. As in the case of a car, the movement or speeding up is a quality born out of rajo guna and the accelerator is an instrument to achieve this. Similarly, slowing down or inertia is the nature of tamas and the brake is an instrument. The driver represents satva guna which is the balancing of acceleration and braking for a smooth and safe ride. The speedometer is an instrument for awareness. If the balance is lost, an accident is inevitable.  Lust is also nothing but a loss of balance in our lives where we invest so much energy to attain pleasure; to possess something or someone; or to acquire power and fame. While giving energy to these desires, we are completely unaware of their consequences. Once it attains criticality we don't have any control. Anger is the natural consequence of unfulfilled desire or pain that has followed pleasure.  The verse says that desire is insatiable, indicating that the more we try to satisfy it the more it grows. Rich seeks more riches and power seeks absolute power. The trick is to neither suppress nor satisfy them. Krishna says beware of them which is being aware when we are gripped with lust or fear and this awareness itself will free us from their grip.
September 23, 2021
75. Dharma ( Reality) is ONE.
Krishna says that (3.35) swa-dharmam (own-nature or reality) is superior to well accomplished para-dharmam (others nature or reality) even when the former is devoid of merit. It's better to die in swa-dharmam than to be fraught with fear in para-dharmam. This intricate verse creates more doubts than clarity in our minds. In a sense, this verse is purely contextual for Arjun in the Kurukshetra war. Arjun has warrior dharmam till that moment and desires to be a saint in the next one. The chances for this change are bleak and Krishna is indicating the same in this verse. While Dharma or reality is ONE, we perceive it in different ways like how the proverbial five blind men perceive the same elephant differently through their touch. If one of them perceives it as a tusk, that is his reality or swa-dharmam. The verse further indicates that one who perceives it as a tusk should keep pursuing his path rather than trying to adopt the beautifully presented version of the one who perceived it as a leg or a tail.  The next question that comes is whose perception is the correct one. All of them are correct in their own way and that's why Krishna doesn't encourage comparison when he says that follow swa-dharmam even if it's devoid of merits.   Dharma is similar to electricity that enters our homes and manifests differently depending upon the appliance it powers. Each appliance has its own nature and a fan can't dream to be a Television. Krishna earlier indicated (3.33) that suppression doesn't lead us anywhere. Adopting other's reality is suppressing one's own reality. Suppression leads to exclusion whereas reality is the sum of all the individual perceptions as in the case of the blind men and the elephant.
September 17, 2021
74. Sraddha (Trust) brings Joy.
Krishna says (3.31) that anyone who follows this teaching with sraddha will be joyful and will be liberated from karma bandhan (bondage of action). Sraddha is usually thought to mean belief or faith, but it is something beyond and the closest meaning is trust. In this state, we are free of doubt and all our questions dissipate.  Humanity believed that the Sun was rotating around the earth until it was realised that it's the other way around. Thus belief is dependent on external things while sraddha is an internal quality.  Secondly, belief exists along with its polar opposite of disbelief, whereas sraddha transcends both. Thirdly, sraddha is different from blind faith where one is unwilling to listen to the other side. Sraddha is the assimilation of everything to oneness. While belief and faith can be borrowed, sraddha is purely experiential. To realise the whole, it is essential to understand the contrast. That's why Krishna immediately gives contrast and says, (3.32) "The deluded don't practice these teachings and are ruined".  One common thread in the Gita is that realisation comes through awareness and not through suppression. This is reflected when Krishna says, (3.33) "Even a man of Knowledge acts according to the tendencies of his own nature as all living creatures follow their nature. What can suppression do?" We all like some foods and dislike others. The same is the case with smells, sounds and beauty. A person is loved by some and disliked by others. One gets liked today and hated later or vice versa. There could be many justifications for these tendencies, but Krishna declares these tendencies to be our enemy and says, (3.34) "The sense organs naturally experience Raag (attachment) and Dwesh (aversion) for their respective sense objects; one should be aware of this duality and that the two are one's enemies."
September 08, 2021
73. Art of Surrender
Krishna tells Arjun (3.30) to relinquish all actions unto HIM; to be devoid of egotism (nir-mama) and desires (nir-aasha); and to fight without fever. This verse is a summary of the Gita and it answers several of our doubts in daily life.  Our first doubt is 'What to do', which arises because we are not happy with what we are doing as we feel that happiness is elsewhere in another action. But this verse advises us to 'do the job in hand’, which may have been chosen by us or thrust upon us, to the best of our abilities. It could be as cruel and complex as the Kurukshetra war, where one would kill or be killed. Scientifically, our complex human body is the evolution from a single cell where each action of mutation is linked to the previous one. So any action on hand is always a result of a series of past actions and there is no stand alone action.  The next question is, 'How to do it'. The verse advises us to act by dropping ahankaar, desires and fever arising out of tension or despondency as faced by Arjun. Dropping desires would free us of misery as both go hand in hand. 'How to overcome the obstacles we face’ is answered by Krishna by advising relinquishment of all actions unto him. Here Krishna is coming on as Paramatma (super-soul). When the job at hand is complicated, we seek additional resources in terms of knowledge, strength and experience from one who has it. The ultimate seeking is samarpan which is surrender to Paramatma, especially when the solution is beyond our comprehension.   Ahankaar is a sign of weakness and fear, which seeks the help of power, physical possessions or recognition for its existence. Thus, one requires strength and fearlessness to relinquish everything to Paramatma.
August 30, 2021
72. Prisoner of Perceptions
Krishna says that "Those sammohit (hypnotised) by the gunas which are qualities or characters of nature, are attached to the functions of the gunas; one with perfect knowledge should not unsettle the ignorant whose knowledge is imperfect. (3.29)" Apart from being the real karta (doer), gunas have the ability to hypnotise and cast a spell on us which makes us forget our true nature. We remain spellbound till we realise we are under a spell.  Krishna talks about the ignorant and the wise. The ignorant are under the hypnotic spell (maya) of gunas and feel that they are karta (3.27) and want to achieve, be important, get noticed and fight for entitlements. Simultaneously, they take others in the family, workplace and society to be karta and expect them to behave or perform as per their expectations. This results in perpetual guilt, regret, anger and misery from ever swinging polarities of failure and success. The second stage is awareness which comes with a time lapse after an incident has occurred. The lapse can be a few moments, years, decades or even lifetimes. Incidents can be words we speak, desires we are gripped with, decisions we take or the karmas we perform, due to the spell of gunas on us.  The third stage of awareness is realising in the present moment itself that gunas are interacting with gunas (3.27) and we are not karta. It is the art of observing blissfully.  The ignorant too would reach the state of awareness as per one's own nature (swa-dharmam) in due course of time and hence Krishna advises the wise to wait without disturbing the ignorant.  All of us carry many perceptions of the world we live in and the ignorant are the prisoners of these perceptions. Wisdom is to overcome these perceptions gathered in life.
August 14, 2021
71. Interaction of Gunas
Krishna says that (3.27) " Karmas (actions) in all situations are performed by the gunas which are qualities or characters of nature; one who is deluded by ahankaar thinks 'I am doer'. One (3.28) with true insight into the distinctions between gunas and karmas knows that gunas interact with gunas and hence he's not attached."  All actions being nothing but interactions between gunas is a common thread in the Gita. The three gunas namely Satva, Tamo and Rajo are present in each one of us in different proportions. Satva guna is the attachment to knowledge; Rajo guna is the attachment to action and Tamas leads to ignorance and laziness. It should be noted that no guna is superior or inferior to any other guna; they are just gunas. For example, if one has a high percentage of Rajo guna, they would be deeply inclined towards action and would not be able to sleep, thus, a percentage of Tamas is needed to sleep. Secondly, we need to be aware of the guna that is dominating us at the present moment. For example, under the influence of Tamas, one would tend to be a couch potato and watch TV. On the other hand, if their spouse were in the Rajo guna, then he or she would like to go out for some shopping, a movie or visit friends. Subsequent situations may be due to the interaction between the tamo and rajo gunas. Similar situations driven by the interaction of gunas occur at workplaces too. Krishna explains (14.22-14.26) that we should be able to transcend gunas to become Guna-ateeth, a state where we are aware of the gunas which are dominating us in the present moment and we remain a mere witness to their interactions in the manifested world.
August 08, 2021
70. Give Time a Chance
A fruit absorbs nutrients from its parent tree to grow and ripen. It then gets detached from the tree to start its own journey. The journey to freedom from the parent tree involves different actions to finally becoming a tree itself. An immature fruit, on the other hand, needs to be attached to the parent tree till it ripens.    A ripe fruit shouldn't lure the immature fruit to leave the tree, as it is not yet ready to start an independent journey. It would perish if it doesn't spend time to get the required nourishment from the parent tree. In a similar vein, Krishna advises (3.26) the wise man to not unsettle the ignorant, who is attached to actions.  This is an extension of what Krishna said (3.6) about individuals who forcefully control the organs of action, but whose mind still revolves around thoughts of sense objects. He calls them hypocrites who are deluding themselves and this would be no different to the state of an ignoramus whose actions were forcibly stopped by a wise man. In a class of a hundred students, each one understands the same lesson in a different manner depending on their character and state of mind. That's why, a sanyasi who realises the futility of motivated actions in life shouldn't encourage a brahmachari to desist from family life as the brahmachari can better learn the same futility by his own actions. There is no way other than this. Krishna waited for the hunger to learn in Arjun to impart the Gita to him. Till then, Krishna let him keep doing worldly actions, go through pleasures and pains in life and waited for an opportune moment. Thus, learning happens when there is an inner hunger for it where each entity that we see and each life situation that we face can become a teacher.
August 04, 2021
69. Actor as well as Audience
In our daily life, we get attached to action which is described as aasakti which means interest or attachment or we are detached from it - virakti which means hatred or disinterested. However, Krishna refers to a third state, anaasakti which is dropping both attachment and detachment and is beyond both aasakti and virakti. He says (3.25) that the avidwan (ignorant) act with an attachment to action and the vidwan (wise) acts unattached, for the welfare of the world. Actions based on aasakti and virakti can make us miserable. For example, in case of aasakti, the presence of a loved one brings us happiness and their absence makes us unhappy. Similarly, in case of virakti,  the presence of a hated one makes us unhappy and their absence brings relief. Hence, both aasakti or virakti are capable of swinging us between the polarities of pleasure and pain. Krishna, therefore, advises us to transcend both and be anaasakt, while performing any action. The Welfare of the world can be equated to compassion which flows when the actions are performed with anaasakti. When actions are performed with aasakti or virakti, then it's like a garbage truck dumping dirt everywhere, thereby being welfare negative to society. Anaasakth is like being a performer in a drama and being a part of the audience at the same time. An artist is expected to act in the role assigned to them with dedication and to the best of their abilities. To achieve this, one should keep enhancing their skills and knowledge in the relevant field of action. One should simultaneously be a part of the audience in the gallery, observing the drama. While the first part is our duty in the outer world, the latter is for our inner self. While the motivation and choice of action come from gunas, it is anaasakti that should be practised while performing these actions. This when mastered, is the Gita implemented.
July 30, 2021
68. Lead by Example.
Children always look to their parents to understand the world, learn new things, manners, behaviours etc. and that's why it's said that the best way to bring up a child is to lead by example by walking the talk. The same dependence continues in the later stages too. It might be dependence on friends, teachers, mentors etc. This implies that there are people who are always dependent on us and look towards us for guidance. Whatever we do influences them. It is in this context that Krishna says (3.21) whatever a superior being does, other persons imitate and his actions set a standard for the people of the world.  Krishna further explains "There (3.22) is nothing in three worlds that should be done by Me, nor anything unattained that has to be attained; yet I engage in action. If (3.23) at any time I did not continue to perform actions, without pause, men would wholly imitate My way. These (3.24) worlds would perish if I did not perform action. I would be the cause for dire confusion and I would also be ruining these people".  Clearly, Krishna is coming as paramatma (super-soul) who shows his Vishwa-Roopam subsequently. He comes as creativity which includes creation, maintenance and destruction. In these verses, Krishna mentions about the consequences if creativity stops performing action.  When a farmer sows wheat, it is creativity that is responsible for sprouting. If creativity stops, the seed goes to waste. After sprouting, if that crop doesn't grow, that too is a cause of confusion. After growing, if it doesn't produce seeds, then it would destroy generations.  Our lives depend so much on visible and invisible automaticity built into this universe and this is purely possible because of the tireless actions which are continuously performed by creativity.
July 24, 2021
67. Concerned and Un-Concerned.
Krishna assures us that (3.19) by performing actions without attachment, one reaches the supreme and gives the example of King Janak (3.20) who attained perfection by action alone.  Krishna emphasises the point that a king who lives in luxuries and has several responsibilities can also attain the supreme by performing all actions without attachment, implying that we too can similarly reach the supreme, irrespective of our circumstances. In history, there are hardly any instances where two enlightened people have interacted. One such conversation is between King Janak and sage Asthavakra, known as the Asthavakra Gita, which is rated as one of the best for seekers.  As per legend, a guru once sent one of his disciples, who lived modestly with a few loincloths and a begging bowl, to Janak for the final lesson. He comes to Janak and wonders why his guru sent him to this man who is in the midst of luxuries but stays on in the palace. One morning, Janak takes him for a bath to a nearby river. While taking a dip they get the news that the palace is burnt. The student gets worried about his loincloths whereas Janaka was undisturbed. Realisation strikes him that attachment to even a simple loincloth is an attachment and needs to be dropped.  Performing actions without attachment is the core teaching of the Gita. It is the state of being concerned as well as unconcerned. In the physical world, one is fully concerned and does his best in the given situation. At the same time, he is unconcerned internally as the outcome of such actions won't affect him. The outcome can be in the line of efforts made or it can be completely opposite and in either case, he is neither concerned nor disturbed. This is the key to maintain a work-life balance.
July 17, 2021
66. Samarpan (Surrender) Or Sangharsh (Struggle)
There are two ways of living. One is 'Sangharsh' -struggle and the other ‘Samarpan', which means surrender. Samarpan is not a helpless surrender like the surrender of the defeated in war, it's surrender with awareness and active acceptance. Struggle is to be ahead of others; to have more than what is given to us; to have something different than what we have. On the other hand, Samarpan is gratitude for every living moment. Krishna says (3.16) that "one lives in vain if one rejoices in the senses and doesn't follow the wheel in motion." It's a life of struggle for someone on the path of satisfying these senses, which can never be satisfied. This struggle brings tension, worry and misery which is living in vain.   Krishna explains the wheel of existence (3.14) using the example of rain. Rain showcases the wheel of selfless action of water which evaporates and rains selflessly. Such selfless action is the source of supreme power (3.15). Following the wheel of selfless actions is the life of surrender which makes us joyful and gives us bliss.  Krishna (3.17) says that "the man who rejoices in the self (atmarathi), is satisfied with self (atma-thriptha) and is content with self alone and for him no duty exists." No desire means no duty. This is life independent of senses where one doesn't have separate desires than of existence. It's the pure acceptance of whatever comes our way while performing selfless actions. For him (3.18) there is no interest in what is done or what is not done, nor does he depend upon any being for any object. Content with self is a common thread in the Gita which is also rejoicing in the self (atmarathi) and satisfied with self. When one is content with self, there are no complaints nor comparisons about our entitlements and capabilities.
July 11, 2021
65. Selfless Actions hold Supreme Power
Water is essential for life on earth and Krishna uses rain as an example (3.14) to explain selfless actions. Basically, rain is a part of a cycle where water evaporates because of heat, forming clouds thereafter. Given the right conditions, it comes down as rain.  This process involves selfless actions and Krishna names them 'yagna'. Oceans let the water evaporate to form clouds and clouds sacrifice themselves to turn into rain. Both these actions are selfless actions -yagna.  Krishna indicates that selfless action of yagna holds the supreme reality or supreme power (3.15). In the beginning, using this power the creator created  (3.10) and advised everyone to use it to further themselves (3.11). This is nothing but aligning ourselves with the supreme reality to tap its power through selfless action of yagna.  In this interconnected process of rain, if clouds were to feel proud and hoard water, then the cycle would collapse. Krishna calls such hoarders who disturb these cycles as thieves (3.12). On the other hand, clouds keep forming when they continue with the selfless action of rain. Krishna uses the word 'dev' (shining ones) for the participants of this cycle (3.11) helping each other.  These selfless actions give many things back, like the ocean getting water back through rain. So instead of hoarding, one should participate in this cycle and this will free us from all sins (3.13) -hoarding being the original sin.  Krishna cautions that (3.9) non-selfless actions bind us and advises action to be performed without attachment like yagna.   This world rests on shared existence, interconnectedness and interdependence where each entity is a part of one cycle or another; dependent on something or someone. It's like a part of us exists in others and a part of others exists in us.
July 07, 2021
64. Always Do Your Best
Krishna says (3.8), "Perform your obligatory actions, as action is superior to inaction; and even the maintenance of your body would not be possible by inaction. " Actions like gathering and consumption of food are essential for the survival of the human body. Further, the human body consists of so many organs, systems and chemicals which perform thousands of internal actions on a regular basis. Even if a couple of them are missed, harmony would be lost and the body would suffer or perish. In that sense, maintenance of the body wouldn't be possible by inaction. Krishna speaks of performing obligatory actions, an intricate concept. Rituals of sacred texts or duties cast on us by the society are usually taken to be obligatory actions. But both fall short of defining what Krishna seeks to convey. Our obligation is to attain our highest potential; in the physical world, it's like a seed manifesting into a mighty tree; like a single cell developing into a complex human body by executing instructions contained in genes. This implies that karma for each of us has already been chosen by our gunas, like instructions in genes for cells. Hence, what is left is carrying out the instructions or ‘doing’, which includes growing, healing and protecting itself.  It's 'doing our best' to the fullest of our abilities. It's not simply about 'what' we are doing, but how best we are doing it.  Of course, the best may vary for each of us depending on our ability, experience, time etc. The best can simply be presence, silence or empathetic listening. This will take us to that eternal state (2.72) of moksha (transcending gunas )- obligatory for unmanifested. It's about 'doing' not choosing- as our birth, the biggest event in our lives, is not of our choosing.
July 06, 2021
63. Delusion and Hypocrisy
If we are not karta (doer) for karma (action), then who is karta? Krishna replies (3.5) "No one can stay for even a moment without performing karmas as all are compelled by gunas (characters) born of prakriti (nature) to perform actions."  Three atomic particles, namely electron, proton and neutron form the entire physical world. Similarly, three gunas namely Satva, Tamo and Rajo are responsible for driving us to perform actions. In that sense, they are the real karta.  Krishna further says (3.6) "The individuals who forcefully control the organs of action, but whose mind rotates around thoughts of sense objects is a hypocrite and deluding himself."  We are brought up and governed by a system of reward for good behaviour and punishment for bad behaviour, both at the familial and societal level. This results in a split personality with no coherence between our inner and outer selves. For example, when someone hurts us, we may restrain ourselves in terms of words and actions, for the sake of good behaviour but the mind gets filled with hatred, regrets and a sense of injustice.  Krishna is never in favour of suppression or numbing which he calls mithya (delusion), but instead, advocates for attaining samatva (equanimity) where hurt and praise are treated as equal and hence dichotomy disappears. At the core, nobody wants to live in this misery, but very few know how to come of it. That's why Krishna immediately gives a solution (3.8) to engage one's organs of action in karma yoga (yoga of action) without attachment. The crux is 'without attachment'. It's performing karma without attachment to karta with the realisation that gunas are the real karta; performing karma without attachment to karma-phal (fruits of action). It's the detachment of controller part of senses from the sense objects. Unconditional love emerges when attachment goes.
July 04, 2021
62. Renunciation of 'I'
Krishna replies (3.3), "As I said earlier, in this world, there are two paths to salvation -for the wise through wisdom and for yogis through the path of action." This verse indicates that the path of awareness is for the intellect oriented and the path of action for the mind oriented.  Krishna further clarifies (3.4), "Just by avoiding karma (action), one cannot attain nish-karma (actionlessness) and one cannot attain siddhi (perfection) by mere renunciation." Renunciation is glorified in almost all cultures simply because sacrificers are able to do something which a normal person cannot. That's why Arjun's standpoint appeals to many of us when he wants to renounce the luxury of the Kingdom and the pain of war. Krishna also favours renunciation but he implores us to sacrifice 'I' in all our actions. War is not an issue for Krishna, but the 'I' in Arjun is. For Krishna, nir-mama (sans- I) and nir-ahankaar (sans- I am doer) is the path to the eternal state (2.71).  In our daily lives, renunciation can be of money, food, possessions, power or any other thing which is valued by society.  It's like saying that 'I made money' and now 'I am donating money'. Making and donating money is two sides of the same coin as long as 'I' remains.   This is a difficult concept as we usually admire renunciation of physical possessions. Certainly, this is the second stage of travel and there is a chance that this renunciation is for some higher gain like fame. That's why Krishna doesn't let us stop there and demands us to attain the final stage of renouncing 'I'.  When 'I' is dropped, everything becomes a joyful drama, otherwise this drama called life can also become a tragedy.
July 02, 2021
61. Certainty for an Uncertain Mind.
The third chapter of the Gita is known as 'Karma Yoga', which is an elaboration of verse 2.71 where Krishna said that nir-mama (sans-I) and nir-ahankaar (sans- I am doer) is the path to attain the eternal state.  Arjun raises a doubt (3.1) "If you consider Buddhi (intellect/awareness) to be superior, why then do you engage me in terrible action of war instead of telling me (3.2) with nischay (certainty), what is best for my welfare without confusing me with perplexing speech".  Labelling, expressed or hidden, is nothing but irrational and impulsive decisions which are not evidence-based and Krishna earlier advised to drop them (2.50). Arjun made a decision to escape the war based on a single factor that he doesn't foresee any good in killing one's kinsmen in the battle (1.31). Subsequently, he gathers many justifications to defend his decision and the present question also appears as a part of the justification rather than the quest for better understanding.  Our situation is no different than that of Arjun as we are labelled based on religion, race, family status, caste, nationality, gender etc. much before we come to our senses and throughout life, we keep struggling to justify them.  Secondly, Arjun is looking for Nischay (certainty) from Krishna. Even though impermanence is the norm of the manifested, all of us look for certainty as it gives us comfort. We gravitate towards labelling since it offers certainty rather than waiting to gather more evidence for a rational decisions which requires patience.  But the eternal certainty comes out of one's own life experiences and one has to earn it the hard way. All of us have to walk the path as this experience can't be borrowed from books or others. It's akin to driving or cycling which is one's own experience.
July 02, 2021
60. Despondency to Enlightenment
Krishna says (2.70) that one attains peace when they remain unmoved by desires, like an ocean that is unmoved by the waters entering it. He further says that (2.71) Nir-mama (sans -I) and nir- ahankaar (sans -I am doer) is the path for peace to reach the destination of the eternal state (2.72). None are deluded after attaining it.  This eternal state is called moksha which is ultimate freedom, joy and Compassion. Krishna gives the example of the ocean to compare this eternal state and rivers being stimulations constantly received by senses. Like an ocean, one remains stable and steady after attaining the eternal state, even if temptations and desires keep entering them. Secondly, when rivers meet the ocean, they lose their existence. Similarly, when desires enter a person in the eternal state, they lose their existence.  Thirdly, if one thing makes us miserable, it's the reaction (akarma) generated in us by the stimulations of the external world and our inability to control it. Hence, the indication is that like the ocean, we too should learn to ignore such transient (2.14) stimulations. Our understanding is that every karma has a kartha (doer) and karmaphal (fruits of action). Earlier, Krishna (2.47) gave us the path of separating Karma and Karmaphal. Now he advises us to drop 'I' and Ahankaar (aham-kartha), the sense of doership so that kartha and karma are separated. There is no point of return once this eternal state of peace is achieved and any karma remains just one of the billion actions of this ever active universe.   In the Gita, the eternal state comes after Vishad (despondency) through Sankhya (awareness) as it is the norm that extreme pain has the potential and capability to bring moksha when used positively like Krishna did with Arjun and the present COVID-19 is no exception either.
June 23, 2021
59. Physically Awake and Spiritually Asleep
Krishna says (2.69), “That which is night to all beings is wakefulness for the self mastered; that in which beings are awake is night to the divinely perceptive sage." This verse brings out metaphorically, the idea of being physically awake but spiritually asleep and vice-versa. It also offers literal interpretations.  There are two possibilities of living. One, where we are dependent on indriyas (senses) for our pleasures and the other is where we are independent of indriyas and they remain under our control. For those in the first category, the second way of living would be an unknown world and darkness/night is the metaphor for this ignorance.  Secondly, while we use one sense instrument, our attention is elsewhere implying that it's used mechanically but not with awareness. For example, while having food, our attention is very often not on eating. It might be on some screen, a newspaper or a phone conversation as we believe in the elusive idea of multitasking. That's why it's said that spirituality is as simple as eating while we eat; praying while we pray. This verse implies that it's day for someone who is in the present moment and darkness otherwise. The third interpretation is the literal one. When we sleep, a portion of us is still awake like a portion of a sleeping mother is always awake for the baby sleeping next to her; just as when many people are sleeping in a dormitory, the person whose name is called out gets up. These imply that we are all equally bestowed with this ability to keep a part of us awake all the time. This verse indicates that we should increase that portion of us which is aware of all of our actions, to the extent that one is even able to witness one's sleep.
June 23, 2021
58. Desires and Four Stages of Life
Krishna says (2.67) that the mind, which follows roving senses, carries away one's intellect as the wind carries away the boat on the water. The wind is a metaphor for our desires which drives our mind and senses making intellect (boat) unstable.  In the context of desires, life is divided into four stages namely Brahmacharya (bachelor), Grihast (householder), Vanaprastha (facing forest) and Sanyasa (renunciation) where division isn't just on age but also on the intensity of living.  The first stage includes growing up, gathering theoretical knowledge and physical strength along with some basic skills. In the second stage, it's family, work, refining skills, gathering possessions and memories, exposure to various facets of life and gaining life experiences through pursuing passions and desires either with success or failure. Through this process, one attains a cocktail of knowledge, skill and life experiences which is the breeding ground for awareness.  Transition to the third stage isn't automatic. As per legend, in the Mahabharat, King Yayathi took a thousand years for this transition as he couldn't leave his luxuries. Interestingly, these extra years came at the cost of a son. In these circumstances, this verse (2.67)  helps us to reflect upon and make the transition to the third stage. In the third stage, awareness lets us slowly drop desires as one realises that the desires of the past look silly or irrelevant now; how our assumptions were erroneous; how both fulfilled and unfulfilled desires can have the same disastrous consequences. With this realisation, one is ready for the final stage to become a sanyasi, which is dropping of ahankaar/kartapan (sense of doership) to be a sakshi (witness). In the final stage, it's the transition from 'knowing' (through senses) of the first stage to 'being'(independent of senses). Krishna calls this (2.68) "Wisdom is established when all senses are restrained from sense objects."
June 13, 2021
57. Centred in the Middle
Krishna says (2.66) that the 'ayukta’ (imbalanced) lacks both buddhi (intellect) and bhaav (emotions) and as a result, he will not get shanti and there is no joy for the peaceless. Krishna laid emphasis on equanimity (2.38 and 2.48) and this verse highlights the same from a different angle.  Till one learns to centre oneself in the 'middle', one is likely to anchor oneself at one of the 'other' centres like friends, enemy, work, spouse, children, money, pleasure, power, possessions etc. and this anchoring is the hallmark of the ayukta.  If someone is centred on money, all his plans and actions revolve around maximizing wealth at the cost of all other things like relationships, health etc. One doesn't hesitate to deceive, cheat or do anything to attain pleasure if one is pleasure-oriented. A spouse oriented person evaluates the entire word as to how their spouse is treated. One can also be enemy centred, thinking about how to damage his enemies even if it damages themselves. When we are tied to others, our peace and tranquillity is in their hands, making us dependent. That's why Krishna insists on equanimity where we are centred in the middle which is the ultimate freedom (moksha).  Krishna uses the word 'bhaav', which we try to equate with our emotions.  Any person or thing, when tied to 'me' invokes deeper emotions, otherwise, they may not even touch our heart. This implies that all our emotions are subjective, but Krishna is referring to bhaav that arise out of equanimity, which is the same whether it involves 'me' or not.  Our surroundings can be unpleasant, chaotic and disturbing, but they can't affect who attains inner harmony by being in the middle and Krishna refers to this as attaining shanti, which ultimately brings us joy.
June 09, 2021
56. Cause and Effect in Spirituality
Krishna says (2.65) that the intellect of the content is steady and all their dukh (sorrows) are destroyed. This runs contrary to our understanding that we become content once our desires are fulfilled and we attain sukh (pleasures) and destroy dukh. But Krishna tells us to first be content and that the rest automatically follows.  For example, we conclude that we are not healthy if we have symptoms like fever, aches etc. The suppression of these symptoms won't make us healthy unless the underlying condition is treated. On the other hand, a nutritious diet, good sleep, fitness regime etc. provide us with good health.  Similarly, bhay (fear), krodh (anger) and dwesh (hatred), which are a part of dukh, are indications of lack of contentment and their suppression won't automatically make us content.  Many quick fixes have been preached and practiced to suppress these indications to put up acceptable behaviour. But this accumulated suppression comes back with greater vigour later. For example, suppressed anger against the boss is often vented against subordinates or family members. The path for contentment is to be aware of the polar nature of the world, the awareness about karma (action) without expectation of karma-phal (fruits of action) and awareness that we are not the kartha (doer) but the sakshi (witness) to our actions, thoughts and feelings.  The unmanifested part of us -dehi/atma (soul) is always contended and the sorrows are minor aberrations that arise out of misplaced identification with manifested, like the illusionary snake in the rope-snake analogy.  Krishna elsewhere tells (2.45) us to be Atmavaan (content with self) and Atmaraman (union with self) to indicate this identification which makes us free of sorrow. It's neither suppression nor expression of dukh but being able to witness and transcend them.
May 31, 2021
55. Vicious and Virtuous Cycles
Vicious and virtuous cycles are a sequence of events where one event leads to another and results in either disaster or joy respectively. If expenses are more than income, leading to borrowing and debt trap, it's a vicious cycle. If expenses are less than income, resulting in savings and wealth creation, it's a virtuous cycle. Krishna refers to these cycles in verses 2.62 to 2.64. Krishna says (2.62-2.63) "A person musing on objects develops an attachment to them, from attachment arises desire, from (non-fulfilment of) desire arises anger, from anger arises delusion, from delusion - confusion of memory, from confusion of memory - loss of intellect and from loss of intellect the individual perishes." This is the vicious cycle of downfall. On the other hand, Krishna says that (2.64) when one is free of raag (fondness), dwesh (hatred) and has his indriyas (senses) under control, one attains peace/tranquility even while moving among sense objects. This is nothing but a virtuous cycle of peace and joy.  All of us move among the sense objects in everyday life. How we treat these sense objects sets the direction of our travel.  In case of a virtuous cycle, one frees oneself from raag and dwesh towards the sense objects, whereas in a vicious cycle one develops an attachment to raag or dwesh. It's easier to start by dropping dwesh with the realisation that it's a kind of poison that ultimately damages us. When it's dropped, its polar opposite raag also gets dropped leading to unconditional love like a flower radiating beauty and fragrance.  The absence of raag and dwesh is a common thread in the Gita and Krishna advises us to see ourselves in all beings, all beings in ourselves (6.29) and finally see Krishna everywhere. This oneness would help us drop dwesh, ultimately making us joyful.
May 30, 2021
54. Automaticity of Indriyas (senses)
Krishna cautions Arjun (2.60) that turbulent indriyas (senses) are capable of forcibly carrying away the mind of even an aspiring wise person. This verse is about the automaticity of indriyas to stimulus.  The best example is of a smoker who's quite aware of the pitfalls of smoking, but finds it extremely difficult to quit it and laments that by the time he or she realises, the cigarette is already lit. Anyone who is involved in road rage or a crime vouches that it happened in the heat of the moment and not consciously. The same is the case with someone who speaks harsh words at the workplace or in the family and keeps regretting them as they weren't intended in the first place. These instances imply that indriyas take over us and bond us in karma bandhan (bondage).  During our formative years, free neurons in the brain form connections called hardwiring to take care of automatic activities like walking as it saves a lot of energy of the brain. The same is the case with skills and habits which we acquire during the latter part of life.  We expend a lot of energy in this process and thus hardwiring, which is otherwise essential, becomes so powerful that it's extremely difficult to overcome habits based on hardwiring. Neuroscience says that hardwiring is impossible to break except by making a new one or overriding the existing one.  Krishna is referring to this phenomenon when he says that the indriyas are so powerful that they can forcibly take away the mind of even a wise person.  Krishna says (2.61) that one should surrender to the almighty which is a higher form of existence or power to overcome the automaticity of indriyas. The key is not to fight but surrender with awareness, which is the source of required strength.
April 25, 2021
53. Dropping of longing for sense objects
Krishna says (2.59) "sense objects fall away from the abstinent person, but not ras(longing) and longing ceases only when one realizes the supreme." Indriyas have a physical instrument and a controller. The mind is a combination of controllers of all sense organs. Krishna advises us to focus on the controller which sustains the longing.  Krishna uses the word 'ras' whose literal meaning is juice. When a ripened fruit is cut, 'ras' is not visible unless it is squeezed, same is the case with butter in milk. 'Ras' is the intrinsic longing that exists in indriyas.  At an ignorant level, Indriyas are attached to the sense objects and keep swinging between polarities of pain and pleasure. In the next stage, the sense objects like sweets fall away due to external circumstances like lack of money or doctor's advice but the longing for sweets remains. External circumstances may include morality, fear of God/law/reputation, ageing, conditioning etc. Krishna is indicating about the ultimate stage where longing itself goes.  Krishna gives a practical tip in Srimad Bhagavatam (11:20:21) where he compares Indriyas with wild horses which are brought under control by a trainer who runs along with them for some time. When he fully understands them, he starts riding them as per his wishes.  Two issues to be noted here are that the trainer can't control horses in one go as they will overpower him. Similarly, we can't just start controlling Indriyas, we need to go as per their tunes for some time till we understand them and slowly bring them under control. Secondly, we need to be in a state of constant awareness that we need to control Indriyas, even when under their influence. Awareness and longing can't simultaneously exist. Knowingly we can't be gripped by longing as it happens only in ignorance.
April 14, 2021
52. Wisdom is to know when to withdraw
Krishna says (2.58) that wisdom gets established when one completely withdraws their indriyas(senses) from sense objects, like the tortoise withdrawing its limbs.  Krishna lays emphasis on indriyas as they are the gateways between our inner self and outer world. He advises that we should withdraw our indriyas when we see ourselves getting attached to sense objects like the metaphorical tortoise withdrawing its limbs when faced with danger. Each sense has two parts. One is the sense instrument like an eyeball and the second, that portion of the brain (controller) which controls this eyeball.  Sensory interactions happen at two levels. One is between the ever changing outer world of sense objects and the sense instrument (eyeball) which is purely automatic where photons reach the eyeball and interact as per their physical properties. The second is between the eyeball and its controller. The desire to see is the reason for the evolution of the eye and that desire is still present in the controller part of the sense. This is known as motivated perception where we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. In a game of cricket, we tend to notice more decisions favouring the opposition and conclude that the umpire is unfair.  When Krishna refers to Indriya, he is speaking about the controller part which generates the desire to sense. That's why even when we shut our senses physically, the mind uses its power of imagination to keep our desires alive - the mind being the combination of all these controllers. Krishna is guiding us through this scientific verse to separate the controller from the physical part of the senses so that we attain ultimate freedom (moksha) from the ever exciting or depressing external situations. Wisdom is to know when to withdraw from a situation.
April 13, 2021
51. Aversion is also an attachment
We tend to assign one of three labels to a situation, a person or an outcome of a deed: good, bad or no label. Krishna refers to this third state and says (2.57) that a wise person is one who isn't filled with joy when coming across good nor does he hate bad and is always without attachment. This implies that the sthithpragna (one with coherent intellect) drops labelling(2.50) and takes facts as facts without any extrapolation, which is the birthplace for polarities of pain and pleasure.  This verse is tough as it runs contrary to our tendency of instantaneously labelling facts as good or bad even in moral and social contexts. When one encounters a situation or person labelled as bad, dislike, aversion and hatred follows automatically. On the other hand, the sthithpragna doesn't label it and hence the question of hating doesn't rise for them. Thus similarly when coming across good, the sthithpragna doesn't get overjoyed.  For example, all of us go through the natural process of ageing with time where beauty, charm and energy are lost. These are mere natural facts, but if we label them as unpleasant or bad, then this labelling would bring us dukh(sorrow). Same is the case with injury or illness where labelling of these as evil brings sorrow. Certainly, it's neither denial nor extrapolation.  Sthithpragna handles situations like a surgeon who is expected to perform surgery based on pure facts brought out during the investigation. It's like a super-conductor that does its best to let all electricity pass freely.  We tend to either cling or averse to situations, people or deeds. It's easy to understand clinging as attachment, but aversion is also a kind of attachment, however to hatred. When Krishna says that sthithpragna is without attachment, he means that they drop both clinging and aversion.
April 01, 2021
50. Raag (attachment), Bhay(fear) and Krodh(anger)
Krishna says (2.56) that Sthithpragna is one who is neither excited by sukh(pleasure) nor agitated by dukh(pain), is free from raag(attachment), bhay(fear) and krodh(anger). This is an extension of verse 2.38 where Krishna says to treat sukh(pleasure) and dukh(pain); labh(gain) and nasht(loss); and jaya(victory) and apajaya(defeat) with equipoise.  All of us seek sukh but dukh invariably comes to our lives as both of them exist in pairs of dwandwa(polar). This is like bait to fish where the hook is hidden behind the bait. On the other hand, the struggle always brings rewards. Sthithpragna is one who transcends these polarities and attains Dwandwa-ateeth. It's a pure awareness that when we seek one, the other is bound to follow -maybe in a different shape and after a lapse of time. When we get sukh with our planning, ahankaar gets elated which is nothing but excitement however when it turns to dukh, ahankaar gets hurt which is nothing but agitation and krodh implying that it's essentially a game of ahankaar. Sthithpragna realises the same and sheds ahankaar. Languages rarely have words to describe a state beyond polarities and when Krishna says sthithpragna is free from raag (attachment), it doesn't mean that sthithpragna gravitates towards detachment. It's a state beyond both. Sthithpragna is free from bhay and krodh but it doesn't mean that they suppress them. They don't leave any space in themselves to let bhay and krodh enter and stay either temporarily or permanently.   Bhay and krodh are projections of the future or the past, on the present. As such, there is no place for either of them in the present moment. When Krishna says that sthithpragna is free from bhay and krodh, it implies that they remain in the present moment.
March 28, 2021
49 Stithpragna (stoic) is internal phenomenon.
Krishna says (2.54), in response to Arjun's query, sthithpragna (one with coherent intellect) is contented with self. Interestingly, Krishna didn't respond to the second part of Arjun's query as to how a sthithpragna speaks, sits and walks.  'Content with self' is purely an internal phenomenon and there is no way to measure it based on external behaviour. Maybe, in the given circumstances both an ignorant person and a sthithpragna might speak the same words, might sit and walk in a similar manner. This complicates our understanding of sthithpragna even more.  Krishna's life is the best example of a sthithpragna's life. He was separated from his parents at birth. He was known as 'makhan thief'. His romance, dance and flute are legendary, but when he left Vrindavan he never came back seeking romance. He fought and killed when needed, but avoided war at times and was hence known as Ran-chod-das(who ran away from war). He showed many miracles and was a friend of friends. When it was time to marry, he married and maintained families, traced the samantaka mani (valuable jewel) to ward off false accusations of theft and when it was time to give Gita Gyan, he gave it. He died like any ordinary person.  Firstly, there is no external pattern to his life, but the internal pattern is living moment by moment. Secondly, it's a life of joy and celebration inspite of difficult situations, which were anitya (transient) for him. Thirdly, as mentioned in 2.47, for him 'content with self' doesn't mean inaction, but it's karma(deed) sans kartha(doer) and karma-phal (fruits of action). Basically, it's living in the present moment without any burden of the past or any expectations from the future. The power is in the present moment and everything including planning and execution happen in the present.
March 20, 2021
48 Contentment with the self
Lord Krishna reveals what is pure sankhya(awareness) from verse 2.11 to 2.53, which was completely new territory for Arjun. Arjun wanted to know (2.54) about sthithpragna(one with coherent wisdom/intellect) who has attained samadhi (established in self) and how a sthithpragna speaks, sits and walks. Through clarifications to Arjun, (2.54 onwards) Krishna sets the standards and benchmarks to help our comparison seeking mind, which always looks for benchmarks against which to measure ourselves as we make progress in our spiritual journey. Krishna says (2.54) that the sthithpragna casts off all desires of the mind and is contented in the atma(self) by atma. When one is content with the self, desires (motivations) automatically drop. As desires drop, all their actions (doing) become nishkama karma(unmotivated action).  Our basic desire is to be different than what we are. We get bored too quickly. This is captured in economics as “satisfied desire no more motivates us”. Basically, everyone uses it as a tactic on everyone else, making it difficult to attain sthithpragna. For example, consumer product companies introduce new products/models regularly, as they know that we want to have a different model every now and then. On the other hand, if we are not content with ourselves or at least believe that we are capable of, how can we expect others, including family, to be content with us. On the contrary, how can we attain joy from others who are incapable of making themselves self-content. Dropping desires requires a deep-seated awareness that every chase for pleasure is just like chasing a mirage and all our life experiences only confirm this basic truth. The practical way to drop desires is to consciously reduce their intensity and see for ourselves the peace this brings to us.
March 16, 2021
47 Non-oscillating intellect
In the normal course of our lives we get perplexed when we hear conflicting opinions on the same subject -be it news, philosophy, others’ experiences and beliefs. Krishna says (2.53) that we will attain yoga when intellect remains nischal(non-oscillating) and steady in samadhi (established in self) despite hearing various opinions.   The best metaphor for this verse is the tree with its visible upper portion and an invisible lower portion consisting of the root system. The upper part gets disturbed to different degrees based on the strength of the winds, while on the other hand the root system is not affected by them. While the upper portion oscillates to external forces, the inner part remains nischal in samadhi and keeps doing its duty of providing stability as well as nutrition. The same is nothing but yoga for the tree where the external part oscillates and the internal one is nischal.  At an ignorant level, we have a wavering intellect which automatically oscillates (kampan) to the external stimuli. These oscillations are visible to the outer world as flared tempers and instant reactions. This makes one's life miserable and also that of the members of the family and the workplace. Some move to the next level in due course of time as they face life’s experiences and train themselves to suppress these oscillations so as to present a masked face. In this state, these oscillations are present inside, but one learns to present a brave or pleasant face, which may not last long.  In this verse, Krishna speaks of the ultimate state of nischal in samadhi which is nothing but the absence of these oscillations. In other words, it's a realisation that these external oscillations are anitya(transient) (2.14) and identify with the inner self which is nischal in samadhi.
March 05, 2021
46 what is ours and what is not
Krishna says (2.52) that when we cross moha-kalilam(darkness of delusion) using intellect, we become indifferent to what is being heard or will be heard. This implies that when we overcome moha, the inputs brought by our senses will lose the power to influence us at will. Krishna chose ‘hearing’ as the metaphor here, as we are frequently influenced by the words of others, both praise and criticism; gossip and rumours. Moha, like Ahankaar, is difficult to describe in the absence of the right words to describe it. Basically, it is our inability to distinguish between what is ours and what is not. It’s the sense of ownership, in the present as well as the future, of physical possessions and feelings. Though, in truth, we are actually not the owners of the same. While we try to cling to what is not ours, we don't have a clue about what is truly ours (dehi/atma/soul). Krishna calls this phenomenon 'Kalilam' or spiritual darkness.  Krishna further says that when we overcome this darkness we attain 'nirvedam'. Though Nirvedam is described as indifference, it is not passive or negative indifference which is born out of ignorance. It's the indifference arising out of being aware, alive and in the moment. It's neither attachment nor detachment, but beyond both. It is active acceptance without judgement and labelling.  In 'others' oriented life, we crave for acceptability, admiration and praise from others for all of our possessions, abilities, achievements, behaviour, looks etc. We work hard throughout our lives to get these rewarding sensations until we are able to overcome moha through awareness.  Once we dispel the darkness brought by moha through balanced and coherent intellect,  these sensory perceptions of the present moment or the future won't affect us anymore.
February 28, 2021
45. Illusionary bonds of birth and death
Krishna says(2.51) that the wise use their balanced intellect and renounce the fruits of action to reach a state beyond polarities and get liberated from the bonds of birth and death. For a long time, humanity believed that the Sun rotates around a stationary earth and only later was it discovered that it is the Earth which is rotating around the Sun. Finally, our understanding aligned with the existential truth, implying that the problem was due to our misinterpretation of the truth which arose out of the illusion brought about by the limitations of our senses. Same is the case with our illusion about birth and death. Krishna starts the Gita by explaining about 'dehi' (the one who lives in the body -atma) which pervades all and is unborn, eternal, changeless and ancient(2.20). He further says that Atma changes physical bodies like we discard worn out garments to wear new ones(2.22). When he says that with balanced intellect one gets liberated from the bonds of birth, it implies that one aligns themselves with the existential truth of 'dehi/atma'. It's like coming out of the illusion of the Sun rotating around the Earth and aligning with the existential truth of Earth rotating around the Sun.  We tend to identify with the majority, but the majority (who believe that we have birth and death) may not be able to guide us to the existential truth of dehi/atma, which only our own balanced intellect can.  Krishna also mentions about the state beyond polarities. Usually, this is described as heaven and sometimes as the supreme path (parama patham) which is somewhere outside. This verse indicates that this path is inside us. It's the path of renouncing the fruits of action (2.47) without renouncing the actions/deeds.
February 25, 2021
44. Balanced Decision making
We all make several decisions for ourselves, our family and society based on a variety of factors. Krishna exhorts us to take this decision making to the next level when he says (2.50) ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam’ (every action/deed is harmonious in yoga -of equanimity). It’s about dropping kartapan(doership) and ahankaar to experience the harmony that flows out, like the beauty and fragrance of a flower. As the karta, all our decisions are directed towards attaining pleasure and avoiding pain for ourselves and our families. The next level of the journey is making balanced decisions, especially when we are responsible for organizations and society, however, the karta still exists.  Here, Krishna is speaking about the ultimate level where kartapan itself is dropped and whatever flows out of such a person is harmonious. The all-pervading Chaitanaya becomes the karta for them. This stage is an important part of the journey for all decision makers, motivating the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) to adopt ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam’ as its motto.  It's about not identifying with emotions, prejudices and memories as these blur our ability to absorb facts and result in poor decisions. It's about coming back to the middle quickly when hit by polarities which mainly arise out of human interactions. Implementation of law or any decision making isn't always pleasant. Being in the middle helps us absorb both praise and criticism stoically.  Unlimited potential exists in terms of intelligence, energy and compassion for all those who firmly straddle the middle. With access to such resources, one is bound to outperform even from a manifested/physical world point of view. Life on earth is possible because it stands in the middle (neither too close nor too far from the Sun), thereby allowing life-giving water to be in liquid form.
February 22, 2021
43. Labelling vanishes in Yoga.
Our life revolves around labelling our deeds (actions/decisions) as well as those of others as good or bad. Krishna says (2.50) that endowed with intellect, one sheds both good and bad deeds, which implies that labelling goes once we attain Yoga (equanimity/middle).  Our mind is full of filters/lenses which are imprinted in us through conditioning by our parents, family and friends during our formative years as well as by the law of the land. We keep viewing things/deeds through these filters and label them as good or bad. In Yoga, these filters themselves are broken down making labelling disappear, which is like destroying the roots instead of the shoots and accepting things as they are without trying to add our own colour. In the practical world, this labelling makes us myopic and less open, thereby denying us crucial information needed for taking decisions. In management terms, any deed done, decision taken with insufficient or misinterpreted data is bound to fail.  Remaining in the 'middle'  is like a debate where a student has to simultaneously argue in favour and against an issue. It's like in law, where we listen to both sides before deciding. It's seeing self in all beings and all beings in self (6.29) and finally see Krishna everywhere.  It's the ability to detach ourselves quickly from the situation and appreciate both sides of the story. When this faculty is developed, we start to centre ourselves in the middle like a daruma doll.   When someone attains even a momentary state of yoga (balance/equanimity), then whatever karma (work/action) flows out of them is harmonious. To put spirituality in a statistical sense, it is the percentage of time (moments) where one remains in balance and the journey is about increasing it to a hundred percent.
February 20, 2021
42. Facets of Ahankaar
Krishna observes that Arjun is overwhelmed by the feeling of Aham-Karta (I am doer)- Ahankaar and it is responsible for his despondency. Krishna advises Arjun (2.41) to use coherent intellect (buddhi) to break Ahankaar and reach self (2.49).  Ego is a small part of Ahankaar . It is called arrogance when one goes through pleasure polarity of success/win/profit and depression, unhappiness, anger when one goes through pain polarity of failure/defeat/loss. It is jealousy when others are going through pleasure polarity and sympathy when it is for pain polarity.  It is there when we are collecting physical possessions and also exists when we shed them. It drives doing (sansar- world) and non-doing/leaving (sanyaas- Renunciation). It is the cause of destruction as well as creation. It is in knowledge as well as in ignorance.  In praise, Ahankaar gets boosted and in criticism, it suffers. Both states make us amenable to manipulation by others. In short, Ahankaar is behind every emotion in some sense or the other and these emotions influence our external behaviour. Ahankaar might appear to drive us to success and prosperity, but it is like getting temporarily high on drugs.  I, me, my and mine are the four legs of Ahankaar and by avoid using these words in daily conversations and thoughts, one can weaken Ahankaar to a large extent.  Ahankaar is born when we choose to identify with one polarity or the other and that's why Krishna in 2.48 advised Arjun to remain choiceless in the middle where there is no space for Ahankaar . Have food when hungry; have warm clothes when cold; fight when needed; borrow feelings when needed without choosing to identify with any of them, which is kind of a childlike.
February 16, 2021
41. Coherent intellect for internal travel.
Yoga means union of the outer self with the inner self. It can be attained through many paths such as Karma (action), Bhakti, Sankhya (awareness), Buddhi (intellect) and so on. Depending on one’s nature, one attains yoga through means suited to him. Krishna tells Arjun (2.49) to seek refuge in buddhi as motivated karma is far inferior to buddhi yoga and miserable are they whose motive is to obtain the fruits of action. Earlier, Krishna said (2.41) that in karma yoga, the buddhi is coherent and the intellect of those who are irresolute is bahu-shakha (many-branched). Once Buddhi attains coherence (like a magnifying glass focuses light) it's capable of any intellectual journey. Any journey, including the journey towards self, involves direction and movement. Krishna’s reference to buddhi yoga here is about the direction of the journey towards the inner self. Usually, we use coherent intellect to fulfil desires in the outer (physical) world, but we should use it to pursue our journey towards the self.  The first signs of using coherent intellect for internal journey are when we start questioning everything like our deep rooted beliefs, emotions, assumptions, thoughts, actions and even the words we speak. Just as science uses questioning to push the frontiers of knowledge, the same questioning leads us to uncover the supreme truth.  Krishna further says that miserable are they whose motive is to obtain the fruits of action. We develop this tendency as the fruits of action give us pleasure. But in a polar world, every pleasure soon turns into pain in the due course of time, which increases our misery.  Krishna nowhere promises to shield us from the polarities but tells us to use buddhi to transcend them to be atmavaan (established in self). It's neither knowing nor doing, just 'being'.
February 14, 2021
40. Dropping sense of doership
In the verse 2.48, Krishna asks Arjun, "To be steadfast in yoga (yoga being equanimity) while performing karma (actions) by renouncing the sangam (union/identify) with polarities like success and failure." In other words, whatever we do would be harmonious when we stop identifying with polarities.  Our daily life involves making a series of decisions and choices. The ever judging mind keeps choosing from the available options and Krishna categorizes them into pleasure/pain, profit/loss, win/lose (2.38) and success/failure. Equanimity is to treat polarities as equal which is ordinarily referred to as transcending them. When this realization sinks in, the mind becomes powerless and achieves choice-less awareness. It's the ability to be non-judgmental while we are still capable of judging but not being asleep, intoxicated or sedated. It's being alive in the present moment by just being an observer.  The practical route to attain equanimity while performing karma is to drop kartapan (sense of doership) and become a sakshi (witness). It's like performing a role in a play/drama with full intensity, commitment, dedication, efficiency and passion; basically giving our best in the given circumstances.  Similarly, we ought to perform the roles given to us on the grand stage of life with full dedication. It could be the role of a son/daughter, wife/husband, parent, friend, employee, employer, co-worker, supervisor and so on. In a day we wear many hats of many different roles and while performing each role, we should do our best, but knowing fully well that our role is just a part of the play.  We can start practising this for a couple of days in all roles given to us by life and see for ourselves the harmony this brings to our existence.
February 05, 2021
39. Repetition is the key to mastery.
Karna and Arjun were born to Kunti but ended up fighting for the opposite sides. Karna was cursed because of which his knowledge and experience of warfare didn't come to his rescue during the crucial fight with Arjun. He lost the war and was killed.  This situation applies to all of us as we're like Karna, we learn a lot during our lives, gain knowledge and experience. But at crucial moments we think and act on our instincts rather than out of awareness, as the depth of our awareness is below the required threshold. Krishna is fully aware of this and repeatedly explains the reality and truth from different angles in the Gita, so that the awareness sinks deeper and crosses the required threshold - the event horizon. The Gita emphasizes that we have an inner self and an outer self, which are like two banks of a river. Usually we identify with the outer self, consisting of the physical body, our emotions, thoughts and the world around us. Krishna tells us to realise the truth and identify with our inner self that pervades all beings, is eternal and immutable. The enlightened one concludes, after reaching inner self (the other bank) that there is only one shore and the other shore is like the elusive snake in the rope-snake analogy. The instruments of awareness include: Transcending Polarities (Dwandwa-ateeth); Transcending gunas (Guna-ateeth), Equanimity (Samatva), Being witness (Sakshi) than Kartha; and Independence of Karma (action) and Karma-phal (fruits of action).  It's better to read the Gita (especially Chapter 2) several times than read a hundred books, as each reading of the Gita brings about a different flavour and improved realization in us, lets the awareness about self sink in systematically and lets joy flow out.
January 28, 2021
38. Action and reaction
Krishna says that we have the right to do karma (action) but have no right over karma-phal (fruits of action). This does not mean that we gravitate towards akarma, which is inaction or mere reaction to circumstances.  Though Krishna uses the word akarma (whose literal meaning is inaction), the context suggests that it connotes 'reaction'. Verse (2.47) talks of awareness and compassion; awareness that karma and Karma-phal are separate and compassion towards others and ourselves.  Krishna says that without performing karma, our survival is impossible (3.8) as maintenance of the physical body requires karma like eating etc. The Gunas (satva, tamo and rajo) constantly drive us towards karma (3.5). Hence, there is hardly any place for akarma.  If we observe our tendencies while going though the news, we all realise the number of reactions these activities (karmas) generate when we see, hear or read about our shared myths and beliefs like religion, caste, nationality, ideology etc. -be it supporting or opposing our beliefs. It is the same with our interactions in the family and workplace where it’s more of 'reaction', in terms of words and deeds, emanating from a judging mind.  Such a reaction to situations and people, snatch away the joy from our lives as we move away from action that arises out of awareness and compassion. An intellect who is aware would be better able to understand the points of view of others and subsequently act in an empathetic manner. Krishna indicates that we should be aware about the akarma (reaction) generated in us in response to the karma of others. Simultaneously, he advises us not to indulge in such karma that has the potential of generating a reaction in others. Practicing this would take us to the highest levels of maturity, integrity and joy.
January 25, 2021
37. Vahi (same) Arjun Vahi Baan (arrow).
Vahi Arjun Vahi Baan (Same Arjun Same Arrow), is often used to describe a situation when a successful/competent person fails to perform.  Arjun, as a warrior, never lost a war. During the latter part of his life, he lost a minor battle in which he was supposed to save some family members from a group of bandits. He explains this situation to his brother and says: "I don't know what happened. I'm the same Arjun and these are the same arrows that had won the Kurukshetra war, but this time my arrows could neither find their target nor had power." He explained that he had to run away and couldn't protect the family. Life's experiences tell us that this can happen to any of us. Many a time, talented sportspersons just lose their form for sometime. An actor, singer simply fails. This is attributed to Bhagya (luck), bad time etc. and for sure nobody knows why. There is hardly any scientific explanation for the same except for conjectures and surmises.  In this context, while explaining about the relationship between Karma and Karma-phal, Krishna says (18.14) that 'Daivam' (contribution/will/blessings of Lord) is one of the factors that contributes to the fulfillment of Karma. Daivam is a kind of X factor and is unknown from a manifested (physical) world point of view. That's the reason why Krishna says that you have right over Karma, but not over Karma-phal.  Techniques like palmistry, astrology and sun-signs are practiced, but none of them are Daivam. Similarly, there is no scientific theory based on which Daivam can be predicted.  Krishna says (11.33) we are nimitta maatra, a small cog in the grand design of almighty. Failure won't hurt us if we don't let success bring Ahankaar, as both are influenced by Daivam.
January 24, 2021
36. Karma Phal (fruits of action) might not be what it seems.
We are usually not prescient enough to understand whether the karma-phal (fruits of action) we currently desire will be good for us down the line. As in a failed relationship, at one moment, the only karma-phal a couple wanted was to be together but after some time they only want to separate. In fact, many regrets that people have today is on account of getting the karma phal which they desired desperately and which, over time, proved disastrous. On the contrary, going by general experience, many feel that the best thing that happened to them was not getting the karma-phal coveted by them at some point of time in the past.  These life experiences gathered over a period of time will help us understand the iconic verse 2.47 in the Gita, where Krishna says that we have the right to do karma (action) but have no rights over the karma-phal. These experiences can be used to see this verse through the lens of polarity/duality (dwandwa). The world is polar and everything exists in its polar opposite. The same applies to karma-phal also.  In the first case, a pleasure polarity of sukh/victory/profit, turned into pain polarity of dukh/defeat/loss, in due course of time. In the second instance, exactly the opposite thing happened. Krishna's emphasis throughout the Gita is on transcending these everlasting polarities by being aware of them. The desire for karma-phal is one such polarity which should be transcended by not attaching ourselves to it.   The Creator (consciousness, chaitanya, creativity) has the experience of running this universe for more than 13.5 billion years. How can he falter when it comes to our karma-phal? Certainly, He will not. We get what we need or deserve, but not what we desire.
January 21, 2021
35. Karma Yoga as a way of life.
Krishna says (2.47) that we have the right to perform our karma (action), but have no right over karma-phal (fruits of action). If one of our loved ones required surgery, we would look for a competent surgeon with character. His competence would ensure success of the surgery and his character would ensure that he wouldn't undertake any unnecessary surgery. In short, we are scouting for a surgeon who is a karma-yogi. The two takeaways from this situation help us understand the verse better. We expect all our service providers to be karma-yogis and that they should give us the best results that we can hope for. If we apply the same principle of samatva (equanimity) to ourselves, we too should be karma yogis while providing service to other people in our daily life. This verse says that we should do our best in everything that we do, in work as well as in our family affairs.  Krishna, elsewhere in the Gita, assures us that small steps in the practice of karma yoga bring us closer to samatva, which is a joy in itself. When we are able to provide our best service to someone we are unlikely to meet again, we are firmly on the path of becoming a karma yogi. In fact, when we are deeply involved in karma without bothering about karma-phal, we enter into state of Kaal-ateeth (transcending time) where time is no more relevant. In the above example, when we wait outside the operation theatre, time appears to pass slowly. On the other hand, a Karma-yogi surgeon will lose track of time and in a sense, time would have stopped for him. Krishna tells us to uproot the tree of sorrow, whose roots are nothing but desires for fruits of action.
January 06, 2021
34. Focus on Karma not karma-phal (fruits of action).
In the iconic verse 2.47 of the Gita, Krishna says that we have the right to do karma (action) but have no right over the karma-phal (fruits of action). He further says that karma-phal shouldn't be the motivating factor for any of our actions and also that, in consequence, we should not lean towards akarma (inaction). This is the most quoted verse from the Gita, possibly because of various dimensions of life that it looks at.  The easiest approach to this verse is to internalise it and start implementing it without getting deeper into its logic or attempting an analysis of its various facets. We should deepen our shraddha (trust) in Krishna and start practising it. Krishna indicates ( 7.21-7.22 ) that shraddha can do miracles and bringing the literal meaning of this verse into practice can itself take us to the pinnacle of karma yoga.  The next progression will be to understand that focusing on karma-phal of our actions will make us lose sight of the karma itself, as a consequence, be denied of the karma-phal itself. A poorly executed karma (studying) by a student can never give the desired karma-phal(exam results). Krishna emphasises that we should only focus on doing our very best in any situation that we face. Thirdly, karma happens in the present moment and karma-phal is always in the future, which is a combination of several possibilities. Krishna advises to always be in the present moment as we have a modicum of control only over the present but no control over the future or the past.  Whatever may be the approach or understanding, this verse has the potential to bring us samatva (equanimity) by helping us transcend the never ending waves of polarities.
January 06, 2021
33. Transcend vedas to be with self.
Once, a group of friends were travelling and they had to cross a wide river. They made a boat and crossed the river. They then decided to carry the heavy boat with them for the rest of their journey, thinking that it would be useful. As a result, their journey got derailed. Here the river is a pain polarity and the boat is an instrument to overcome the polarity. Likewise, there are many instruments and rituals to give us relief from several pain polarities that we face in our daily lives. The Vedas (literally means knowledge) describe many rituals to give relief from temporary pain polarities and many of these rituals are available and are being practiced to this day. It appears logical to turn to these rituals when we face difficulties in the areas of health, business, work and family. Krishna tells (2.42-2.46) Arjuna not to get trapped by the words of the unwise who promise pleasure both in this life and the afterlife (heaven) by prescribing the outer meaning of the Vedas. He encourages him (2.45) to transcend the polarities (dwandwa-ateeth) and Gunas (Guna-ateeth or Nirgun) to become atmavaan (established in self). When one gets a big lake, he doesn't need a small ditch and similarly, for atmavaan the vedas are like that small ditch(2.46). Just as wisdom lies in not encumbering ourselves with the burden of the boat on our onward journey, Krishna indicates about transcending the Vedas after understanding the futility of efforts in gaining pleasure and power. At the very beginning, Krishna tells Arjun that (2.14) sense perception brings polarities and to bear with them as they are anitya (impermanent). His emphasis is to transcend them and learn to witness these transients. Krishna is in favour of authentic joy than synthesizing happiness.
January 06, 2021
32. Coherent intellect leads to equanimity.
Krishna says (2.41) in karma yoga, the buddhi (intellect) is coherent and the intellect of those who are irresolute is bahu-shakha (many-branched). Krishna says (2.48 & 2.38) that samatva (equanimity) is yoga , which is the union of two polarities we face, like pleasure and pain; winning and losing; and profit and loss. Karma yoga is the path to transcend these polarities, which ultimately results in a coherent intellect. On the other hand, an imbalanced intellect robs us of our ‘peace of mind'. Our general presumption is that 'peace of mind' automatically follows pleasure, winning and profit, but Krishna says that a coherent intellect brought about by the practice of karma yoga gives us peace of mind by helping us transcend polarities. An irresolute intellect looks at different situations, outcomes and people differently. At our workplace, we apply one yardstick to people below us and another one to those above us in the hierarchy. Children do not develop ‘ samatva ’ when they see different yardsticks being applied while facing different situations in the family where we have one set of rules for loved ones and another set for others. In our daily lives, we are victims of shared myths like religion, caste, nationalities, dogmas and the list goes on. They were put into our mind at an impressionable stage and they continue to divide us. We are impacted differently for two sides of each of these shared myths.  With irresolute intellect, we have one level of justification to judge our mistakes and another set of parameters for judging those of others. While seeking help and offering help, we wear different masks.  Krishna says that by following the path of Karma yoga , one attains a coherent intellect capable of ‘ samatva ’, which is the foundation for peace of mind.
December 31, 2020
31. Small efforts bring big gains in Karma Yoga.
Krishna assures (2.40) that even baby steps in the practice of karma yoga give results and this dharmam (discipline) protects us from great fears. The point to be noted is that while sankhya is pure awareness, karma yoga involves efforts. This is a definitive assurance from Lord Krishna for the seekers who have just started out on their spiritual journey and who find the effort daunting. Krishna understands our difficulty and assures us that even a small effort can produce wonderful results. He motivates us to follow the path of nishkam karma (unmotivated action) and samatva (equanimity). One approach is to have Shraddha (trust) on what Krishna said and start practicing his teaching on karma yoga. Over a period of time, when we practice viewing our experiences from the lens of karma yoga , our realisations get deeper and deeper till we reach our inner self.  An alternate approach is to understand our fears and realise how the practice of karma yoga can remove them. Fear, at its core, is the result of the mismatch of our inner expectations and the real world. Karma yoga teaches us about nishkam karma -unmotivated action, which helps reduce our expectations from our actions. This reduces fear in us.  The property of water helps the moving ship to change its course even when a small internal force is applied on the trim tab attached to the rudder. Similarly, a small effort in the right direction from within can bring about a large change due to the property of the universe, which conspires to pave the path of karma yoga for us. As babies, we never gave up until we learnt to walk and run - no easy feat. Similarly, repeated efforts made to master karma yoga will yield results that can be seen as a series of small but definite victories
December 28, 2020
30. Writing on Water, Sand and Stone.
Krishna says (2.39) that after elucidating about Sankhya (awareness) (2.11-2.38) he would now explain yoga (or Karma Yoga), the practice of which will free one from karma bandhan(bondage of action). While explaining Sankhya yoga, Krishna makes Arjun aware that he is that indestructible Chaitanya(consciousness) which doesn't have death. From this verse onwards Krishna starts explaining the same through karma yoga. Thus, karma bandhan and yoga need to be understood in this context. Yoga literally means union and is used in many contexts. Krishna mentions equanimity as yoga(2.48) where attachment to success or failure is abandoned.  Even in verse 2.38, the emphasis of Krishna is to maintain equanimity towards pleasure and pain; winning and losing; and profit and loss.  Karma Bandhan refers to the impressions or scars, both pleasant and painful, left on us by the karmas we perform and the reactions we get from within and outside. Scientifically they can be called neural patterns. These impressions drive our behaviour from the unconscious level and hence Krishna tells us to free ourselves from karma bandhan through yoga. Our natural tendency is to cling to impressions that give pleasure and profit. We develop a simultaneous aversion to pain and loss. The more deep-seated these impressions, more is the intensity of clinging and aversion. The strength of these impressions can be metaphorically compared to writing on a stone, sand and on water. When the impression is on stone, it is deeper and affects us for a much longer time. Less so with writing on sand. Writing on water, on the other hand, is erased instantaneously. Krishna is referring to impressions on water when he says that karma yoga frees us from karma bandhan and it makes us so saral(gentle) that nothing can affect us or bother us.
December 24, 2020
29. Balance is the key.
Verse 2.38 captures the entire essence of the Gita. Krishna tells Arjuna that he would incur no sin when he fights or performs any karma, if he were to treat sukh(pleasure) and dukh(pain); labh(gain) and nasht(losses); and jaya(victory) and apajaya(defeat) with equipoise.  This verse simply says that all our karmas are motivated and this motivation makes the karma impure or sinful. But we hardly know or do any karma without being motivated by pleasure, profit or victory and to avoid pain, loss or defeat. From Sankhya and Karma Yoga point of view, any karma can be divided into three parts namely Karta(doer), Chesta(action) and Karmaphal(fruits of action). Krishna divided karmaphal into pleasure/pain, profit/loss and victory/defeat.  Krishna is indicating in this verse to separate these three to achieve equanimity. One way is to drop Kartapan(feeling of doership) and become a sakshi(witness). The realisation is that in the grand drama called life, we play a negligible role.  Another way is to realise that we don't have any right over karmaphal(result of action) as it is a combination of so many factors apart from our efforts. The paths of dropping of kartapan or karmaphal, are interconnected and progress in one will automatically bring progress in another.  Coming to chesta(action), it was there much before any of us arrived on the planet. It can neither be owned nor can its results be controlled. This verse can also be approached from the Bhakti Yoga point of view where Bhaav(intent) is everything. Krishna gives Bhaav priority over karma. This internal surrender brings equanimity automatically.  Depending on one's orientation, one can choose their own path. Whatever may be the approach, just by meditating on this verse, one can attain an inner self free of ahankaar.
December 18, 2020
28. Shun all Dharmas(natures) to unite with Paramatma (supersoul).
Krishna explains about swa-dharmam (2.31-2.37), Para-dharmam (other's nature) (3.35) and finally advises shunning all Dharmas (18.66) to unite with Paramatma. Arjun’s despondency arose out of his egocentric fear of damaging his reputation if he fought the war and killed his brethren. Krishna tells him (2.34-2.36) that he would damage his reputation even if he avoided battle, as fighting is his swa-dharmam. The community would feel that Arjuna was fearful of engaging in battle and for a Kshatriya fearing battle is worse than death. Krishna further explains (3.35) that, swa-dharmam, even if it's faulty or devoid of merits, is better than para-dharmam and death in the path of swa-dharmam is better than para-dharmam, which is fraught with fear.   Para-dharmam is perceived as easy and better by our outward looking senses, especially when we observe successful people, whereas Swa-dharmam requires discipline and hard work and needs to be slowly uncovered in us. Ordinarily, our sense of self-worth comes, among other things, from being favourably compared, the prestigious place/ family we are born, grades in the school, good earnings in a job or profession and power/fame that comes our way. But for Krishna, everyone is unique and would blossom uniquely as per his Swa-dharmam. He says that while the un-manifest in all is the same, each manifested entity is unique. Finally, Krishna advises(18.66) us to shun all Dharmas and take refuge in him for he would then liberate us from all sins. This is akin to surrender in Bhakti Yoga and is one of the foundations of spirituality. Just as a river loses its swa-dharmam of meandering on becoming a part of the ocean, we too should lose ahankaar and swa-dharmam to unite with paramatma.
December 09, 2020
27. In harmony with Swa-Dharmam (own nature).
Krishna explains Swa-dharmam (own nature) (2.31-2.37) and he tells Arjun that such an unsought battle at Kurukshetra opens the door to heaven (2.32) and escaping from it would result in loss of Swa-dharmam, fame and would incur sin (2.33). This advice to Arjun on the battlefield needs to be viewed in the right context. Krishna is actually talking about harmony and synergy with one's swa-dharmam and not about a war.  Krishna finds disharmony between what Arjun is, his thoughts, utterances and actions. He attempts to guide Arjun towards harmonizing them. In case of Arjun, the harmony is in fighting the battle as per his Swa-dharmam and disharmony is in avoiding the battle.  In fact, harmony rules creation where the smallest electrons, protons and neutrons to biggest galaxies, stars and planets are in harmony. We enjoy our favourite music only when the radio and radio station are in harmony -in tune. There is no greater example of harmony than the human body consisting of so many organs and chemicals, whose harmonious functioning makes us what we are. Harmony refers to things and situations as they are, not as we desire them to be in our frame of reference and value system. Since our childhood, we have been taught that good deeds take us to heaven and bad deeds to hell, after death. Krishna indicates that heaven and hell are not after-life places but exist here and now, depending on whether one's potentiality meets opportunity or not.  When we understand others' swa-dharmam , harmony comes in families, workplaces and relationships which is heaven and the lack of it is hell. We experience pleasure and pain depending on whether our desires are fulfilled or not. When internal harmony with Swa-dharmam is achieved, it is heavenly irrespective of the outside world.
December 09, 2020
26. Rose Can never become a Lotus
Krishna explains about Swa-dharmam (2.31-2.37) and advises Arjun that as a Kshatriya he should not hesitate to fight(2.31) as it is his Swa-dharmam. Krishna commences the Gita with 'that' which is eternal, un-manifested and pervades all. It is termed as atma for easy understanding. Then he talks about Swa-dharmam, which is one step before 'that' and subsequently comes to Karma. The journey to realise the inner self can be divided into three stages. The first stage is our present condition, the second is realizing Swa-dharmam and finally, reaching the inner self. In reality, our present condition is a combination of our Swa-dharmam, experiences, knowledge, memories and assumptions gathered by our wavering mind. Swa-dharmam gets uncovered slowly when we free ourselves from our mental baggage.  Kshatriya is the combination of ' Kshat ' meaning 'hurt' and ' trayate ' meaning 'to give protection'.  Kshatriya is the one who gives protection from hurt. The best example is of a mother who shields the baby in the womb and protects the children till they are on their own. So she is the first Kshatriya we come across in our lives. She may be untrained and might not be experienced in childcare but it comes naturally to her. This trait is a glimpse of Swa-dharmam. Once a rose was smitten by the majestic lotus flower and started nurturing the desire to be a lotus. But there is no way that a rose can become a lotus. The rose wanted to be different from what it is capable of and we have similar tendencies to try to be different from what we are, resulting in the despondency of the kind faced by Arjun. The rose can change its colour, size and shape, but will still remain a rose which is its Swa-dharmam.
December 03, 2020
25. Destination arrives when Ahankaar Departs
Krishna says (2.29) some see 'this atma’ as a marvel, some speak of 'this atma’ as a marvel, others hear of 'this atma' as a marvel, and even then none know 'this atma’ at all.   'None' refers to an observer who is using his Indriyas (senses) to understand the observed (atma).  Lord Krishna says that as long as there is a separation between these two, the observer cannot comprehend the atma. Once a salt doll wanted to explore the ocean and it set about its journey. Through violent surface waves, it enters the deeper parts of the ocean and slowly starts melting into it. By the time it enters the deepest part, it melts completely and becomes part of the ocean. It can be said that it has become the ocean itself and the salt doll is no longer a separate entity.  ‘Observer(the salt doll) is the Observed(the ocean)', which is essentially ending the division and bringing unity. The Salt doll is akin to our Ahankaar (Aham-kartha; I am doer), which always tries to keep us distinct and separate from reality with our possessions, thoughts and actions. Essentially nobody wants to be nobody or ordinary. But the journey is one of unity and oneness; and that happens only when Ahankaar ceases to be, like the salt doll, which means putting everything we own, both things and thoughts, at stake. It is the journey where the destination arrives the moment we cease to be; where 'I', 'Me', 'My' and 'Mine' remain disposable instruments, not identities. At the peaks of polarities of pleasure and pain, we get a glimpse of nir- ahankaar (free of Ahankaar) . In these moments of realisation, we get the glimpse of what we are and that it doesn't matter what we know, what we do and what we have.
December 02, 2020
24. Soul replaces old bodies
Krishna says (2:19, 2:20) that Atma neither kills nor is killed and only the ignorant think otherwise. It is unborn, eternal, changeless and ancient. He further says that Atma changes physical bodies like we discard old cloths to wear new ones.  In a scientific context this is well explained by the law of conservation of energy and the principle of inter-convertibility of mass and energy. If Atma is equated with energy, Lord Krishna’s words become crystal clear. The law of conservation of energy says that energy can never be destroyed, but can only be converted from one form to another. For example, thermal power stations convert thermal energy into electricity. A bulb converts electricity into light. So, it is just conversion and there is no destruction. A bulb has a limited lifespan. When it fuses, it is replaced by a new bulb, but electricity still remains. This is similar to the way in which we discard old clothes for new ones.  For us death is an inference, not an experience. Our understanding is that all of us will die one day and we infer this when we see others die. To us, death means bodies getting immobilized and senses ceasing to function. There is no way for us to know about our own physical death or to experience it, except for what we infer i.e. death is a certainty for us all. Our lives revolve around death and the fears associated with it. Lord Krishna says everything else is possible, but death isn't a possibility, it is just an illusion. When clothes are worn out, they can no longer protect us from the elements, we replace them with new ones. Similarly, when our physical body is unable to perform its duties, it is replaced.
November 30, 2020
23. Soul is un-manifested
Krishna tells Arjun (2:25) that this(atma /soul) is said to be unmanifested, inconceivable and unchangeable, once you are aware of this, there is no need to grieve for the physical body. Krishna further says that (2:28) all the beings are unmanifest before their birth, they manifest between their birth and death and once again unmanifest after their death. Many cultures use the ocean and wave analogy to explain the same. The ocean represents unmanifest and wave represents manifest. Waves arise from the ocean for some period of time and they manifest in different sizes, shapes and intensities. Our Indriyas(senses) can only sense the manifest i.e. waves. Finally waves merge back into the ocean from where they arose. Similarly, a seed holds the potential to grow into a tree. In the seed, the tree is present in its unmanifested form. It becomes manifested when it starts growing into a tree. It ultimately dies after producing many seeds. Manifested is that which Indriyas, with their limited capabilities, can sense. Even the scientific instruments are for the enhancement of the capabilities of our Indriyas. Microscope/telescope is to enhance the ability of the eyes to magnify. X-ray machine is to enable eye to see things in different frequencies of light. Krishna says this(unmanifest) is inconceivable; which means that our Indriyas even aided by scientific instruments won't help us to perceive this. The mind is incapable of conceiving the unmanifest, as the mind is a combination of Indriyas. Like all of us, Arjuna identifies himself with the human body, as he has no realisation or experience beyond that. Krishna tries to bring about a paradigm shift in Arjun's thinking by enlightening him about the unmanifested. It took the lord himself to make a scholar like Arjuna understand this and we are no exception.
November 24, 2020
22. Balance is bliss
At the very beginning of the Gita (2:14), Krishna says that the meeting of the indriyas(senses) with the external objects causes polarities of pleasure and pain. He tells Arjun to learn to tolerate them, as they are transient. In the contemporary world this is expressed as, 'This too shall pass'. If this is inculcated at experiential level, we can transcend these polarities to find them equally acceptable. There are five indriyas namely- vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Their corresponding physical parts are eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. The sensory parts are those parts of the brain which process the physical inputs of the respective organs. However, these sense instruments have a lot of limitations. For example, the eye - it can only process a particular frequency of light which we call visible light. Secondly, it cannot process more than 15 images per second and this is the basis for the creation of videos and movies giving us the pleasure of screen watching. Thirdly, it requires a minimum amount of light to be able to view an object. These limitations of indriyas , hinder our ability to differentiate between the Sat(permanant) and the Asat(impermanent) and make us perceive the rope as a coiled snake. Even the sensory parts of these instruments in the brain are handicapped by the limitations of these instruments. Secondly, they suffer from the fine-tuning done to them especially during childhood, which is termed as hard wiring. This results in motivated perception, to see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. This inability to see Sat and the tendency to gravitate towards Asat results in misery. Krishna says (2:15) that when we maintain a balance during the onslaught of the polarities of pleasure and pain, we are eligible for the Amrut(moksha), which is liberation here and now.
November 14, 2020
21. Creativity can not be destroyed
Two types of wise men have guided humanity in its quest to understand the inner self. One approaches from the positive side and another from the negative, though the destination remains the same in both cases. The difference lies in the starting point of the journey and our choice of path depends on our nature. The positively-oriented describes 'that' which is indestructible, eternal, stable and pervades all as 'complete' and to which nothing can be added. 'Creativity' is a metaphor for it. The negatively-oriented describes 'that' which is indestructible, eternal, stable and pervades all as 'empty' and from which nothing can be removed. 'Space' is a metaphor for it. In any case, both 'Creativity' and 'Space' are capable of having creation/material manifestation. It is easy to intuitively understand that 'creativity' brings about creation. On the other hand, science came to the conclusion that the universe was created out of 'emptiness' and 'space' has the power to bring this universe in to existence. ‘Space' is all pervasive, starting from the smallest atom to the mighty universe. Krishna says in the oft-quoted verse(2.23) 'that' (dehi /soul) can't be burnt by fire; weapons can't cleave it; water can't dissolve it; wind can't wither it. Can a weapon destroy 'space' or 'creativity'? Certainly not. At best it can transform the physical manifestation of 'creativity'. Similarly, fire can neither destroy creativity nor space. Its ability/power is limited to turning wood into ash and both are material/physical forms. Water too cannot dissolve creativity or space. Similarly, wind has neither the power nor the skills to wither them.
November 12, 2020
20. Death does not kill us
Krishna tells Arjun, "There is no time, past, present or future, when you, I and these rulers on the battlefield are not present." He further adds that the 'material side' of the indestructible eternal 'living entity' is certain to perish and therefore the battle ahead must be fought. This eternal 'living entity' is known by many names such as atma, chaitanya, soul and consciousness. Krishna refers to the same as Dehi. Krishna starts with the essence of creation and speaks of a 'living entity', which is indestructible, immeasurable, pervades all and is eternal. Secondly, the same eternal entity has a material side which invariably perishes. When Krishna mentions about rulers he is referring to that 'living entity' in them, which is indestructible and eternal. Essentially, we are made up of two parts; body and mind which would invariably perish. They are subject to polarities of pleasure and pain; and Arjun is going through that pain. Second part is Dehi which is eternal. Krishna's emphasis is to realise this and stop identifying with body and mind (asat) and start identifying with Dehi(sat). Buddhatva(enlightenment) is when identification itself drops, which is an experience and can't be explained in words. The part of the Gita where Krishna tells Arjun to fight is the most difficult part to understand. Some say that the Kurukshetra war never took place and is only a metaphorical representation of our everyday struggles. It is unlikely that the war would have come to an end by Arjun’s withdrawal from it. Krishna advocates facing battles armed with weapons of awakening and realization. Krishna knows that with Ahankaar (Aham-karta) Arjun will be a permanent slave to despondency even if he withdraws from the war. Krishna, therefore, tells him to realise Sat and fight the battle.
November 12, 2020
19. Creativity creates, not creator
Dwelling further on Sat(real/permanence) and Asat(unreal/impermanence), Krishna tells us to contemplate on 'that' which is indestructible and which pervades all. The popular and easy understanding about creation is that it is the work of a creator. But Krishna points towards 'creativity', which is a constant evolutionary force. For example it causes sprouting from seeds. The sprout and the seed (both creations) can be destroyed, but not 'creativity', which is at work tirelessly and pervades all around. While the creation is bound by time, 'creativity' is beyond time. Creation takes birth and ceases to exist after death, whereas 'creativity' is indestructible. 'Creativity' is the real kartha in the sense that it engenders creation. It creates feelings and emotions. It creates physical forms like our body and mind. Knowledge and memory are always of past and creation (karma-phal) is in the future. 'Creativity' always happens in the present. 'Creativity' is the ability to use knowledge and wisdom to absorb the pleasant and unpleasant sensations perceived by senses and react independent of them. Our senses are only capable of sensing creation and one needs to transcend them to realise 'creativity'. One can align with it through realization, but it can never be owned. The best moment of joy is when we are aligned with 'creativity', be it in our profession or in our personal lives. For a karma yogi, this is easily attained with mastery of a skill. While our real nature is 'creativity', we usually try to identify ourselves with creation. This false identification with creation gives us illusion of Kartha and is the source of Ahankaar. The moment we identify with creativity, we can see creativity all around. To do this Krishna tells us to see others in ourselves and ourselves in others; and finally to see HIM in everything and everywhere.
November 06, 2020
18. Sat(real) and Asat(unreal)
Krishna says Sat(reality/permanence) never ceases to be and Asat(unreal/impermanence) has no existence. A Gyani is one who can distinguish between the two. The rope and snake analogy is often quoted in many cultures to understand the intricacies of Sat and Asat. A man reached back home at dusk and found a snake coiled at the entrance to his home. But in reality it was a rope left by children, that looked like a snake in the semi-darkness. Here the rope signifies Sat and the snake, Asat. Until he realises Sat i.e. the rope, he is likely to adopt many strategies to handle Asat i.e. imagined snake. He could attack it with a stick (fight), run away (flight) or he try to light a torch to check out the reality. The best strategies and skills would go in vain when our perception is that of Asat. Asat derives its existence from Sat, just as the snake doesn't exist without the rope. Since Asat owes its existence to Sat, it can influence us like a nightmare which can make our body react as if it were sweating in sleep. A litmus test given by Krishna to identify Asat is; that 'which didn't exist in the past and wouldn't be there in the future'. If we take the example of sensual pleasure, it wasn't there before and wouldn't be there after some time. The same is the case with pain and for that matter all polarities. The indication is that Asat exists in time whereas Sat is eternal. The Sat is the inner self which is eternal and Ahankaar is Asat which sustains itself with the support of the inner self. The day we discover our inner self (rope), the Ahankaar (snake) automatically disappears.
November 04, 2020
17. Four types of devotees
Krishna says that there are four types of devotees. The first one wants to come out of difficulties and misery he is facing in life. Second one desires to have physical possessions and worldly pleasures. Most devotees fall in these two categories irrespective of culture, gender, belief systems and so on. Krishna says that these two kinds of devotees pray and perform rituals to various Devatas. It is akin to approaching an appropriate doctor based on the ailment one suffers from. Krishna further says that the desires of these devotees are fulfilled because of their Shradha. It is in essence, a form of surrender. The following example will illustrate Shradha. Two farmers who have adjacent farms decide to dig a well to irrigate their farms. The first farmer would dig for a day or two and upon not finding any water would change the location and start digging afresh. The second farmer persistently kept digging at the same place. By the end of the month, the first farmer is left with many ditches and the second one got water from the well. Even when our senses don't find anything tangible (like water in this case), it is inner Shradha that keeps us moving as in the case of the second farmer. Shradha is a fearless positive force and free of doubt. Krishna hints that he is behind this Shradha which results in success. Shradha in our relationships, family ties and profession has the power to achieve miracles. The third kind of devotee is about to cross the boundary of desires. He is a curious person and seeks knowledge of self. The fourth kind is a Gyani(a wise one) and he has crossed the boundary of desires. He sees the Lord in everything and everywhere and has attained union with the almighty.
October 30, 2020
16. Transcending Gunas
Krishna says that there is no kartha for any karma. Karma is in fact the result of the interaction among the three Gunas namely Satva, Rajo and Tamas which are a part of Prakriti - the nature. Krishna advises Arjun to transcend these Gunas to be free from sorrows. Arjun wanted to know how to be Guna-ateeth(transcending Gunas) and what a person would be like when he attains this state. Dwandwa-ateeth {transcending polarities), Drishta(witness) and Samatva (equanimity) are the qualities that are enshrined in the Gita. Krishna indicates that a combination of these three constitutes Guna-ateeth  According to Krishna, a person who has attained the state of Guna-ateeth is one who realizes that gunas are interacting with gunas and therefore, remains a saakshi(witness). He neither craves for a particular Guna nor is he averse to any other one. Guna-ateeth is simultaneously Dwandwa-ateeth also. After understanding the polarities of pleasure and pain, he remains neutral to both. He is neutral to praise and criticism as he realises that these are products of the three gunas. Similarly, he is neutral to friends and enemies realising that we are friends to ourselves and also enemies to ourselves. The physical world is polar and swings are natural. On the other hand a swinging pendulum also needs a stationary point. Lord Krishna is hinting at reaching that stationary point from where we can just witness the swinging without being part of it i.e. polarities. Guna-ateeth gives equal importance to gold, stone and a handful of soil. This metaphorical comparison conveys that he doesn't assign higher value to one and lower value to another. He values things as they are, not as valued by peers. Krishna further says that Guna-ateeth is one who shuns the feeling of Kartha. This happens when we realise, through our experiences that things are automatic and there is hardly place for Kartha.
October 30, 2020
15. Equanimity
 Samatva (equanimity) is a common thread that runs across the Gita. Lord Krishna highlights Samatva bhav, Samatva drishti and Samatva buddhi at various places. Samatva is easy to understand but difficult to internalize. The degree of Samatva in us is an indicator of our progress in the spiritual journey.  In the physical realm, most societies have accepted Samatva as equality before law for all citizens. Krishna gives many examples of Samatva when he says, the wise see as equal, the prey and the predators; pleasure and pain; profit and loss and so on. The difficulty with humans is that we tend to identify with one or more artificial divisions based on culture, religion, caste, nationality, race and many more. The ability to overcome these divisions and to treat two different people equally, is the first step towards Samatva. This is naturally much deeper than exhibited behavior. The next level of progression in Samatva is an ability to see two people close to us with Samatva. Examples include being happy for success of our childrens’ friends especially when our own kids didn't do well, treating mother and mother in law equally, treating daughter and daughter in law equally and so on.  The highest level of Samatva is the ability to equate others to ourselves. It is the ability to maintain Samatva when others get what we believe belongs to us, like a promotion, fame, credit, property and so on. This comes when we can see others’ weaknesses in us and our strengths in others.  Krishna advises us to see ourselves in others and others in us; and finally to see Krishna in everyone and everywhere. This is nothing but Advaitha, which says there are no two.  The obstacle in attaining this highest form of Samatva is our mind, which is trained to divide. Instead of allowing it to dominate, we should be able to make it subservient.
October 25, 2020
14. Satva, Tamo and Rajo Gunas
Most of us believe that we are the cause of all our actions and masters of our destiny. In the Gita, Lord Krishna says that interaction between Gunas (properties/characters) creates Karma, but not due to any Karta. Three Gunas are born out of Prakriti (mother nature) and bind the soul with the physical body.  The three Gunas; Satva , Rajo and Tamas are present in each of us in different proportions. Satva Guna is the attachment to knowledge; Rajo Guna is the attachment to action and Tamas leads to ignorance and heedlessness.  Just as the combination of Electrons, Protons and Neutrons produce materials with a wide range of properties, the combination of the three gunas is responsible for our nature and actions. One of the Gunas tends to dominate over others in each one of us. In fact, interaction among people is nothing but interactions between the Gunas of the individuals.  A magnetic dipole placed in an electro magnetic field rotates along the field. Objects get attracted in a gravitational field. There are so many such physical and chemical properties. Similarly karma happens not due to any kartha but due to gunas. Lord Krishna points out the inbuilt automaticity in the physical world. Even our own physical body operates fairly automatically. While the analogy appears to present a tidy framework to explain the relationship between Gunas and Karma, ‘realisation’ of this truth and the transition is possible when own experiences sink in.  The main obstacle in this path of realisation is Ahankaar. Our domestication makes us believe that we are the Karta, giving rise to Ahankaar. But in reality, the interaction of these Gunas creates Karma.  Lord Krishna says that this responsibility of self-improvement falls squarely on our own shoulders and none other can make this happen.
October 24, 2020
13. Being Wtiness
If one word could describe the entire Gita it would be ' Drishta ' (a witness), which appears in many contexts. An understanding of this is important as most of us think 'we' do things and control situations. Arjun, who was about sixty at the time of the Kurukshetra war, had lived a good life and enjoyed all luxuries. As a warrior he had tasted victory in many a battle. At the time of war, he felt that he was the Karta ( Aham-karta ; Ahankaar ) and felt that he would be responsible for the death of his kith and kin, which led to his despondency on the battlefield. The entire Gita is Lord Krishna’s attempt to tell Arjun that he is not the Karta. The natural question that follows is : “ If I am not karta, then what am I”.  Lord Krishna explains in the Gita that Arjun is ' Drishta ', a witness. Due to 60 years of good and bad life experiences, Arjun finds it difficult to grasp the idea that he is only a ‘ Sakshi ’  and not the ' Karta '. Only the Lord’s painstaking explanation convinces him of this fact. Though most cultures tell us that we are just a ‘ Drishta ’, those at the start of their spiritual journey end up being confused with the idea.  Drishta (Sakshi) is  a state of intellect, but is not manifest in the physical world. It is the ability that helps us step back from the day to day happenings around ourselves and have internal stability. It helps us realise that though it is in the nature of things  to give us pleasure and pain, we should always act without desiring any particular outcome( karma-phal ). It is the ability to witness our feelings and subordinate them.
October 24, 2020
12. Controlling Mind
Arjuna compares the mind to the wind and wants to know as to how to control it, so that  it maintains balance.  Krishna says that it's certainly difficult, but it can be achieved through the practice of Vairagya. The mind is evolved to judge inputs brought in by the senses into safe and unsafe and uses memory while doing so. This ability helped us survive and prosper during evolution.  The same ability of the mind can be used for internal judging, which is called awareness. We can feed our own thoughts and feelings back to the judging mind to improve the quality of judging. Similar feedback mechanisms are used to enhance machine learning as well as to stabilize electronic systems. Lord Krishna is hinting at developing this faculty through practice as this doesn't come naturally. In terms of neuroscience, it's like building new neural networks. It's easier to understand Vairagya by understanding its polar opposite Raag.  Raag is broadly a chase for pleasures in the manifested world like physical beauty, careers and material possessions. As per the principle of polarity,  every raag ends in vairagya but our attention is always on raag and we tend to overlook vairaagya. Some philosophies like Stoicism advocate the use of death, which is the peak of Vairagya. It's called 'Memento Mori', i.e. constantly revisiting death. In this they keep something(memento) as a reminder of death at a prominent location in the work place or at home so that they constantly revisit it.  Indian philosophy refers to this as Shamshan Vairagya. Krishna says that if you put Vairagya into practice, it will stabilize the mind at the centre. These lockdown periods  gave us glimpses of vairagya moments. A small steak of vairagya generated can help us to attain a balanced mind for peace and joy.
October 20, 2020
11. Pain follows pleasure
Transcending polarity or duality known as Dwandwa-atheeth, is another master key in the Gita.  Krishna advises Arjun repeatedly to attain this state.  The common question that intrigues humanity is 'How does unpleasantness and  pain come to us even when we strive to make sincere efforts to attain pleasure'. Instead of looking deeper within, we reconcile ourselves by saying that maybe our efforts are not sufficient. However, ahankaar coupled with hope, motivates us to restart the process of pursuing pleasure and this goes on till the end of life. Understanding of Dwandwa-atheeth answers this question. In the manifested world, everything exists in relation to its polar opposite that is Dwandwa. Birth is the polar opposite to death; pleasure is to pain; win-lose; profit to loss; attach-detach; praise-criticism; conditional love-hate; and the list goes on. The rule is, when we chase one of these, its polar opposite automatically follows. If we lift the stick from one end, the other end is bound to raise. Another metaphor is that of the swinging pendulum.  When it travels to one side, it's bound to come to its polar opposite side.  As per the principle of polarity, the pain of COVID-19 will swing to pleasure in due course and  history shows that similar difficult situations have brought us pleasure through improved  science and technology.  Extreme polarities, like COVID-19, have the potential of accelerating the travel to the inner self. Krishna tells us to transcend these polarities. Being in the present is transcending the past and the future. Similarly, unconditional love is to transcend conditional love and hatred; and so on.  All we need is awareness of these polarities and to observe them when we are swinging between them. As long as we live, exposure to polarities is natural and this awareness would help us transcend them.
October 18, 2020
10. Krishna in Corona
The Gita contains many master keys which have the capacity to open up many doors and  bypass the hurdles we face in the path of self realisation.  One such master key is to see yourself in others and others in you. Krishna implores us to realize that its HIM in all of us and he is hinting at the un-manifested  which is form-less. Krishna elsewhere asks us to raise ourselves to bow to a donkey or a thief as if we are bowing to the LORD.  Based on the inputs brought in by the senses, our minds are  programmed to divide and judge situations into safe/pleasant or unsafe/unpleasant. This is necessary and useful to  protect us from imminent dangers. Like any technology, the mind is double-edged  and crosses its mandate, to became our master. This is essentially the birth place of Ahankaar .  What this master key says is to make the mind a slave to minimise division and judgement so that cohesion and unity appears. No complex physical entity, including our body can survive without this cohesion. When we use this master key, we develop compassion for others and raise awareness about ourselves. The best way to realize this is to start with a person whom we consider a foe, for whatever reason and see that person as the LORD. Certainly it is difficult as many unpleasant memories and feelings are attached to them and with time that unpleasantness melts to give way to joy. In fact there must have been situations where all of us have done this and we just need to put it into practice more often.   Awareness (about self) and Compassion(for others) are the two oars of the boat to row in the path given by the Gita, towards the shores of the inner self. Once we understand this, could we see Lord Krishna in Corona !
October 17, 2020
9. We are our friend and enemy too
In the Gita, Lord Krishna says that you yourself are your own friend and you yourself are your own foe. The following story of the trapped monkey illustrates it well.   Some nuts are kept in an earthen pot with a narrow mouth -called surahi, in which the monkey's hand barely fits. The monkey inserts its hand by squeezing through the mouth of the pot and grabs a fist full of nuts. As the fist is full, its size goes up and The hand can't come out of the pot. The monkey makes all sorts of efforts to get the closed fist out of the pot, but fails. It keeps thinking that someone has laid a trap for it and never realises that the trap is set by itself. No amount of explanation would convince the monkey to let go of these nuts, instead it would think that we are trying to grab its nuts.  From the outside, it looks quite simple that it has to drop a couple of nuts to loosen the fist so that its hand comes out. But realising this simple fact, when we are trapped is the challenge.   The closed fist is our foe and open fist is our friend and it's our choice to open or close, making us friend or foe to ourselves respectively. In life, we encounter so many similar traps.  Those nuts are nothing but I, My, Me and Mine; Ahankaar binds our hands to them.  Gita repeatedly tells us, in so many ways, to let go of Ahankaar so that we are free of these traps, thus leading to ultimate freedom. It is easier to get the realisation about these traps when we slow down rather than in a fast paced world with a lot of noise.  The opportunity presented by COVID-19 is an ideal time to come to these realisations.
October 14, 2020
8. manifested and Un-manifested
A small change in the trim tab attached to the rudder changes the course of a large ship. Similarly, a nudge to study the Gita can reorient our course in life. Time available due to the current COVID-19 situation can be utilised to dive into the Gita. The Gita is an eternal text book from Kindergarten to Post Graduation, for internal realization and it is likely that in the first reading, very few concepts are understood. They can be easily understood if we approach from the view point of manifested, which is within the realm of our naked senses and un-manifested, which is beyond our senses. (including the scientific instruments built to extend these senses)    The story of the manifested goes from the Big Bang to the formation of stars. Then to the fusion of the atoms in these stars and spread of these atoms in the explosion of stars.  This led to formation of planetary systems and finally to the appearance of intelligent life.  It is an accepted fact by the scientific community that these manifested life forms, planets, stars and even the universe, have a definite time frame of existence. Though the estimated time scales may vary. Our understanding that we exist from birth to death, is correct from the manifested point of view. As per the Gita, from the  un-manifested point of view, we exist before birth and after death.  With this clarity at the back of our minds, we can easily understand the relationship between them as explained in the Gita to attain the goal of realizing the un-manifested Which is Moksha While the ahankaar is the obstacle, the amount of ananda (the joy) one gets filled with, irrespective of pleasure or pain outside, is an indicator of that distance traversed, to reach the un-manifested.
October 11, 2020
7. Being Nimitta Matra
The Gita was born in the battlefield  and  the current COVID-19 days are similar to the Kurukshetra battle.  One phrase in the Gita neatly sums it up : nimitta maatra -just being an instrument (in the hands of the Almighty). Arjun wanted to see the reality of Krishna as it is (yathaarth) and needed  an extra sense to grasp the same, just like the blind man needed an eye to see complete elephant. He was given the same by the Lord to see the Vishwaroopam of Krishna. Apart from showing reality in space, Krishna gives him access to the  future and Arjun sees that many warriors are entering into the mouth of death. Then Lord says that these warriors would die soon and you are just an instrument in that process. Krishna clarifies that Arjun is not the Karta (doer) and secondly, he ensures that Arjuna would be free of Ahankaar when he comes out as victor, as victory is the biggest booster of Ahankaar. At the same time, Krishna didn't let Arjun leave the battlefield.  Nimitta Maatra is internal realization and what flows out of this is bound to be pure and free of Ahankaar . In the times of COVID-19, for a person on the street or in a  situation room, the difficulties are similar to those of Arjuna. With virtually no treatment in the near future we are simply  Nimitta Matra(inside) and should do our best in the role assigned (outside). This small realization can actually be a boon as many concepts, of the Gita, are not clear until they are experienced in life, especially in a tough situation. A lump of coal transforms into a diamond under extreme pressure and gold becomes pure in a flame. These testing times are breeding grounds to nurture the realization of nimitta maatra and this small thread has the potential to take us closer to our inner self through the path of surrender.
October 02, 2020
6. Rule of law
The Gita is about maintaining harmony in the inner world and the law is about maintaining order in the outer world. Any Karma has two parts, one is the intent and another is execution. In the words of law they are called, using Latin words, mens rea and actus reus, respectively, in the context of crime. For example, a surgeon and a murderer both plunge a knife into someone's stomach. The surgeon's intention is to save/cure, but the murderer's intention is to damage/kill. Death can occur in both situations, but the intentions are completely opposite. Law is situational while the Gita is eternal. Driving on the left side of the road is legal in one country and may be an offense in another. Law is black and white, but not life which has many grey areas. As long as one pays (actus reus) taxes, the law is not bothered about whether it was done with pleasure or pain (mens rea). Law is very comfortable as long as execution is within the defined parameters of law of the land. If someone is thinking of  committing a crime, law wouldn't bar that, but the Gita says this thinking should go. Bend the tree when it is young. Gita says, be aware about karma when it is at the intention stage i.e in the present and  we don't have any control once it goes to execution, which is in the future. While the focus of law is on execution, contemporary moral literature exhorts us to have good/noble intentions. But Gita helps us to transcend beyond intentions. When, intention, good or bad, meets with success or failure, either Ahankaar gets a boost or internal build up starts like  lava which would burst at a weak moment. Both the situations take us away from our inner self. Just by observing ones intentions one can transcend them and reach the inner self.
September 26, 2020
2. Contradictions in Life
Just as it is said,"All roads lead to Rome", all paths given in the Gita lead us to the Inner Self. Some of the paths appear to be in contrast with each other. However, this is like a circle where a journey on either side would take us to the same destination. The Gita operates at various levels. Sometimes Krishna comes to the level of Arjuna and sometimes he comes as the Super-soul (Paramatma). This creates difficulties in comprehension at the initial stage as both these levels appear to be different. Scientists faced similar difficulties while understanding light, at the beginning of the last century. Initially, it was proved that light is a wave and later it was realized that it also behaves like a particle. Both theories appear to be opposing each other. But light, with which we are so familiar, is a combination of apparent contradictions. Similar is life. Once an elephant entered a village and a few blind men attempted to identify or understand it. Depending on which part of the elephant they touched, they imagined what an elephant might be like. The one who touched trunk said that the elephant is like a long and rough creature. The one who touched the tusk said that this animal is hard as a rock. Another who touched the stomach said that it is huge and soft. And so their deductions went. Different perceptions of one reality is the reason for all the differences we see in the world today. In reality, the elephant is none of these, but it is also all of these. Our state of mind is no different from these individuals, with people, things and relationships being that enigmatic elephant. Partial understanding leads us to misery. The Gita is essentially a journey from a partial understanding to a complete one. Like in the 80-20 principle, even a few steps into this understanding can bring joy to life.
September 09, 2020
5. Gyan, Bhakti and Karma Yoga
Gita appears different to different people based on their orientation. There are three different paths given in Gita. Karma yoga, Sankhya yoga and Bhakthi yoga. Karma yoga is ideal for someone who is mind oriented. Sankhya yoga is for Intellect and Bhakti for heart oriented. In today's world, majority falls in the category of mind oriented. Its based on belief that we are tied up with chains and need to work hard to break them to free ourselves. So its action oriented. Any conversation with them would end up with ‘What should I do now’. This path leads us to Nishkam karma i.e. unmotivated action. Sankhya yoga is also known as Gyan Yoga and this is about awareness or knowing, but not knowledge. Its beginning point is the belief that we are in a dark room and have to just lighten a lamp in the dark to quell the darkness as no amount of action or flight can remove that darkness. This path takes us to realize about choice-less awareness. Bhakti Yoga is about surrender. They equate themselves as a wave which owes its existence to ocean and the ocean being paramatma, the supreme being. At the beginning, the language and understanding of these three paths would be quite different. If a path of awareness is explained to a mind oriented person, he would keep looking for some action for awareness. Certainly, these are not water tight paths and combination of them is what one experiences. For example, when karma and sankhya paths meet we will get awareness that final destiny of all karmas is a mirage and would become unattached to karma while performing it, like an act in a drama. Just like the entire universe is combination of three particles electron, proton and neutron, the spiritual world is combination of these three paths. Krishna says, all these paths have one common destination of realizing self, which is free of ahankaar.
September 09, 2020
4. Mind games
Gita lays emphasis on our senses as they are the gateways between our inner and outer world. Neuroscience postulates, "Neurons that fire together wire together". The Gita's words too convey a similar message using the language of its time. Our brain has about a 100 billion neurons. Some of them are wired by DNA to take care of automatic functions of body and some are wired by us during our life times. On the first day, before a driving wheel, we all found it difficult to drive and then slowly got used to it. This is because of hard wiring that the brain does, with unutilised neurons, to coordinate all the activities involved in driving. Same happens with all the skills. Starting from simple walking to sports to complex surgeries by a surgeon. Hard-wiring saves a lot of energy for brain and makes our lives easy. A new born is a 'universal baby' capable of many things. The Domestication done by family, peers and society, leads to formation of many neural patterns. These patterns expect us to look for a particular type of impulses and sensations from external world and we work hard to get them. For example, we all like to hear praise about ourselves as our neural patterns expect and enjoy the same. These patterns are foundations for expectations, prejudices and judgments. Combination of these patterns coupled with efforts made, are nothing but Ahankaar and in today's world, success and happiness is defined as getting sensations matching our neural patterns. One gets centered in self once these are broken. As a result joy flows as we are no more dependent on external sensations and Krishna calls it Atma Raman. To live a Gita life is to use various instructions/instruments given in Gita to break these patterns, which makes us joyful and free of judgments.
September 09, 2020
3. It's Here and Now
The Gita is about what we are. It is like being truthful apart from knowing the truth and that happens when we are centered (space) in the present moment (time) The underlying dilemma of Arjuna is what would happen to his image, in the eyes of world, if he kills his friends, relatives, elders and teachers for the sake of kingdom. This appears very logical and this is the first barrier to be crossed, if one has to live the Gita life. The real dilemma of Arjun is about his future, whereas Krishna says that we have the right to do karma but no right to the karmaphal. Why ? Because karma happens in the present and karmaphal is something that comes up in the future. Like Arjun, our tendency is to strive for outcome- oriented actions. Some times modern life gives us an impression that future outcomes can be controlled. But in reality, the future is a combination of so many possibilities over which we do not have any control. Once again its our ahankaar, feeding on our past and projecting future on the present, creates dilemmas. Coming to space, the entire universe, consisting of galaxies, stars and planets, is characterized by rotation, which is primarily a stationary axis/hub and a rotating structure. The hub never moves and without this hub no rotation of a wheel is possible. Every storm has a calm centre - without it, no storm can sustain momentum. The farther away from the centre, the greater would be turbulence. We too have a calm centre which is nothing but our inner self and the turbulent life, with its many attributes, revolves around it. Arjun's dilemma is about one of such attributes - his image. Like him, we form images about ourselves by looking into the eyes of others rather than looking into our inner self. Gita says that the time to be is the Present and space to be is innerself.
September 09, 2020