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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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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 1, 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.  'Contended 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 'contended 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-contended. 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 5, 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 5, 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 6, 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 6, 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 6, 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 9, 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 9, 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 3, 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 2, 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 6, 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 4, 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 word. 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 2, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 2020
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
September 8, 2020