Shrimad Bhagavad Gita

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Important Lord Krishna Teachings One Can Learn From Bhagavad Gita

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Containing 18 chapters that deal with a variety of aspects like the incarnation of God, the need to restrain the senses and mind, devotion to God, the qualities of nature, and so on, Bhagavad Gita is considered as the greatest Holy Scripture. Having spiritual discourses delivered by Lord Krishna, this Holy Scripture offers a lot to learn to live a better life. In the Mahabharata, when the fight between Pandavas and Kauravas was going on and Pandava prince Arjuna starts feeling low in the battleground, Lord Krishna offers him the strength to fight by explaining him the "Gita Gyan". The teachings mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita encompass every single aspect of the life. The one who follows the Lord Krishna teachings mentioned in Bhagavad Gita can no doubt lead a peaceful life.
Following are some of the important Lord Krishna teachings one can learn from Bhagavad Gita:
i) A money-minded person cannot mediate:
Bhagavad Gita contains a lot about meditation and its importance. Meditation is a way to achieve the inner peace and happiness. A person who always gives priority to making money cannot be able to meditate properly. If you are not capable enough to keep your mind stable, you will never be able to meditate and remember the supreme God.
ii) Devote yourself to Lord Krishna:
Lord Krishna is always there to support you in your bad times as well as good times. Many people do not care about the supreme God and pray when some trouble hits their life, but Lord never leaves anyone. A person who surrenders himself or herself to the devotion of Lord Krishna may never be troubled by any problem in the life.
iii) The soul neither takes birth nor dies:
According to the Lord Krishna teachings, a person who keeps fears within him or her cannot be able to make progress in his or her life. A soul that knows it cannot be stopped or caged never gets troubled by any type of fear. Therefore, it is important for every human being to eradicate all kinds of fears from their minds.
iv) We neither brought anything to the world, nor we are going to take away anything with us:
Every human being comes empty-handed to this world. From relationships to love, money, property, or respect, a person makes everything after getting birth only. Moreover, no human takes back anything with them after death. Since we don't have to take back anything with us after the death, we should be satisfied with what all we have in our lives.
v) Body is perishable, but soul never dies:
A soul never dies as it is immortal. It is the death of a body, never the death of a soul. A soul just keeps on changing from one body to another body. Comprised of five elements, namely water, earth, fire, wind, and space, a human body is perishable. So, rather than decorating your outer body that would die one day, work on decorating your inner soul that never dies.
vi) Work without worrying about the results:
When we strive to get results while doing any action, we get failed in achieving our goals. It may make use feel disheartened or disappointed if we fail to achieve the desired results. Therefore, Lord Krishna teaches us to perform any action without worrying about the results. A person who works without keeping the desire of fruit or result in return always gets succeeded in his or her life. This is the most important advice of Lord Krishna that inspires us to live a selflessness life.
vii) Desires may come and go:
It is not true that all your desires will be fulfilled, so you should not feel disappointed for the same. The Lord God does well for us and he knows what can bring happiness in our lives. So, one should believe that desires may come and go and should not come under the chain of expectations and desires.
To practice the Lord Krishna teachings in the real life, come to Iskcon Dwarka where you would learn implementing the important teachings of Lord Krishna in your life that may take your life to the right direction.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Part IV - Arjuna Vishada Yoga

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Q: What are the important topics in ch 2?
Ans: This is a very long chapter, also the gist of Gita. There are four topics discussed in this chapter as below.
1. The nature of our problem is fear, confusion and sorrow. Jiva vichara, self enquiry.
2. Knowing the supreme presence. Gita reveals the solution.. To know the nature of Self is meant for everyone, like hunger and sleep. Only when you're really hungry you'll feel satisfied. This atma knowledge is for everyone but one has to aspire for it.. All the fear confusion are removed. Mighty sorrow will not disturb us. We becomes free of all grief. How to get there?
3. The connection between the two the jivan, individual and the supreme. Yoga (not the popular physical yoga) reveals us moving from the present state to the state of enlightenment very systematically and scientifically.
4. Benefit of this Self knowledge. From karma yoga to various stages of upasana to knowledge to stage of meditation and finally, the state of realization where one comes to recognize one's own Self..
Q: Explain the 'Karma theory', 'Cause & Effect theory.
Ans: Every action has a consequence. When we walk we reach our destination. When we eat we subside hunger,
There are two types of consequences for every thought, word and deed. Tangible and non tangible benefits. (Drishta palan and Adrishta palan). When you donate something, you get tangible benefit like tax benefit or name, fame in transactional life. Such a benefit is 'Drishta palan'.
There is also a non tangible result and gita says it is 'Adrishta palan' which is is 'punyam' says sastram (A drishta..not seen)
Adrishta Palan, not tangible result is two types
Su adrishtam is punyam.. danam, charity, donation. Dhur adrishtam is papam, like harming,stealing etc.
An example would be a surgeon vs. murderer, based on their intentions. The intention is named as 'Sankalpam' in Sanskrit. If the intention creates appropriate consequences, which results in positive or negative experiences. names as punyam and papa min Sanskrit.
"Karmanyeva adhikaraha... " Ch 2.47 is a very important verse in Gita.
We're responsible for my intentions and actions and therefore consequences comes to us based on our actions.
We have accumulated consequences, which gives happiness and sorrow. It is like fuel in a car..it will exhaust once used, similarly the results of our actions exhaust once we experience it. This exhaustion does not take place instantly. it is like the seeds. watermelon seeds may give the fruits in three months but a coconut seed will take many years.(incubation period)
Q: How do the consequences of actions materialize?
Ans: Pain and pleasure both are only when we identify with this external world, in sleep we do not experience this world. Therefore the consequences of our actions first has to give us a body, the world and conducive situation to experience. Then the five elements (panchabhootam) create this body based on our karmas.
These consequences give us pain and pleasure to purge our impressions (vasanas).
We have earned this body and the world around us based on our karma. What goes around comes around.
The pain and pleasure is different in a dog from humans. One body can't enjoy all the sufferings and all types of pain and pleasure therefore different bodies are required. Therefore many bodies are needed, which explains and confirms the need for reincarnation.
For all the accumulated consequences of actions (papa punya) one needs a human body. Once those are exhausted, then it ends and this body is not needed any more, that's when a particular body is dropped, meaning death to the body.
For some, human body is necessary, for others animal body may be necessary. So our life expectancy is based on our karma palan, consequences of actions.
Q: Where did the papa punya (good and bad consequences) originally came from? Egg or the chicken? Seed or the tree? Body or consequences?
Ans: Each individual has a big bag of consequences of actions(papa punya). This big bag of collection of karma is sanjita karma, say your savings.
There are three types of consequences. Sanjitha karma, Prarabdha karma, Agami karma in Sanskrit, very much like your bank savings, cash on hand and future income or expenses.
Therefore it is only a fraction from Sanjita karma that we experience in this body. You have withdrawn 'X' amount. That's called 'Prarabhdha karma'. We have much more left in Sanjita bag to experience.
As we go through life! what's accumulated in the current birth through thought, word and action called Agami karma gets added to Sanjita (bank balance).
Sanjita - Prarabhdham - Agami
Savings - Liquid cash - income/Expense
This cycle goes on because when one exhaust liquid cash, one also adds much more expense than cash on hand. The prarabdha karma palan (the cash on hand gives our body, parents, siblings,situations and the experiences. Once the praraba is exhausted this physical body (stula sariram) dies and Agami karma gives the next body.
Q: What is the Nature of realized person? How does he interact in the world, other beings, good and bad pleasure and pain?
Ans: Answer to this question is the goal of a spiritual seeker..
This has nothing to do with his dress or what that person does, or personality. It is very subtle and last 18 verses talks about the nature of a realized person..
Sthitta prajna, realized person. The enlightened person lives in the world from a totally different plane. How he responds to the world and worldly situations is very different.
Faulty interaction causes all negative emotions. As I see, my mind interprets it and emotions arise.
There are lots of misunderstanding based on our own faulty philosophies. For ex.. When I watch a movie in a different language my emotions are different than the one that I can understand.
There are lot of misunderstandings of a realized person because we see him from our standpoint, confusion of scriptures, our own likes and dislikes, ideas prejudices, faulty philosophies. We see the outer image, his beard, dress etc..
These are not signs of realization.
Lord replies in 18 verses.. 18 is imp. Gita has 18 chapters, 18 verses describes stitha pragya.
18 days war was fought, 18 chapters 18 puranas, 18 verses describing stitha pragya. "1" is the reality, "8" expression of that one is eight fold.
"Ekam evam Adyiteyam, Brahma"
He is in a state of complete contentment, Bliss, 'thushti', santhushta, enough without the need for any object or outer condition.
Changes in the body, situation or others nothing can change that Bliss. A person is happy even if he changes the clothing!! Likewise even if his body is dropped dead his Bliss doesn't change.
Body is only an outer equipment to interact with the world like a microphone, if the equipment is taken away the speaker is still speaking but others can't hear. Similarly a realized master 'stitha pragya' is ever present. He rejoices in atma alone, which is all pervading. He is enlightened, but others might not understand him. For a realized person, his body mind and intellect are in alignment. When a situation of sadness comes, his mind doesn't get agitated. doesn't cause sorrow.
Most of the time, our balance is based on external conditions like the welfare and wealth of our family, then we feel like a realized person, only when a sudden shocking message comes we know where we stand. Even a little sorrow or pain disturbs our mind. A realized person is beyond all these..
Q: What is Ladder of fall and ladder of rise?
Ans: verses... 62-63 very important
Ladder of fall starts with likes, desires, you want an object, or a thing, or a person, which you contemplate on it, enjoy it in mind. That desire, called 'kama' turns your mind to now want to possess it... Now this kama is at a deep intense level, and often is out of control.
When it is not possessed, it turns to anger. Intense need to possess and anger go together. When our desire is fulfilled, it is converted into loba, greed wanting more and more, with six enemies of mind.
Desire, attachment (kama)
Anger (kroda)
Greed (lobha)
Delusion (moha)
Pride (madha)
Jealousy (mathsarya)
This is the spiritual energy wasted!! If you know the obstacles then you can be cautious, you can avoid it or when you meet them you know how to get out of it. In martial arts they teach how to fall down without hurting ourselves, then you rise up.
Ladder of rise
One should first try to be free from raga dvesha (Likes and dislikes). Through Karma yoga, upasana, knowledge, meditation attachment and repulsion are eliminated. Peace and happiness are not in the field of objects. An object by itself don't make you happy or unhappy. They have no control it is over us. It is our mind that have ideas superimposed to that feeling of happiness or unhappiness... It seems to be making us happy or unhappy
Vairaghya(dispassion) is free from the world of stimuli of the world. Cause of all happiness and sorrow are on something outside of me due to the likes and dislikes.
Continue to experience everything in life without raga dvesha (likes & dislikes). You eat to live not live to eat. You don't need to restrain yourself from enjoying but try not to over indulge!!
Prasad means prasannatha, a deep sense of joy. We experience it when we are with nature... Water, mountains, stillness,... Only the sound of water flow, without music, or trash around, you're sitting silently, without desires... You don't have to go anywhere, meet anyone, do anything, you don't need to get anything, no important phone calls, no appt. as though everything is standstill and at that moment where there are no negative emotions in your heart fear anger worry, there is a deep sense of peace that you experience... It is not coming from any object but from within. You're totally at ease with nature. You have no complaints against anyone. That is called Prasad, (prasannatha) moksha, not because of any attachment. to any object but contact of our senses with the worldly things outside of you. Hate no one like no one.
When this Prasad arises in our heart all sorrow disappears.
The pleasures cannot reduce the deep sorrow in anyone, can temporarily be paused, can be suppressed or forgotten for some time by becoming workaholic, alcoholic or sleep but sorrow is exists. Even if you go to a different place it is with you.
When the heart becomes free of raga dvesha (likes & dislikes), fills with joy, then sorrows get destroyed. They don't have the potency to affect your mind.
Even death cannot destroy sorrow. If one dies with sorrow, one is born with sorrow.
Once we gain this vairaghya, free from likes & dislikes, we gain this prasad that's when the intellect becomes absolutely still in that Self which is all pervading, goes into the state of samadhi, no other effort is required but only the attitude of living. Such a person is stitha pragya (realized person).
When there likes and dislikes, meditation cannot happen.
Q: Describe the Spiritual journey.
Ans: Our spiritual journey begins with recognizing our duties with the current body and performing them with a specific attitude that becomes a sadana to reach the state of enlightenment.
Performing actions is different from the attitude with which it is performed.
It is like a soccer game. There are many players, goal keepers, referee in specific positions, they have their duties within that area. Offensive, defensive positions, they can't be chatting when the game is going on... One has to understand the entire situation and one's role in the bigger scheme of things. Responsibility is a team work. We're a team, all animals, plants, the entire system, existence. We have responsibility to avoid imbalance and take care of ourselves our family our society our nature, our environment to create a harmony in this world.
Q: What is the attitude with which we should perform actions in this planet, in this life?
Ans: Adjust your mind with samathva, equanimity, then you'll not get entangled in samsara..pain and pleasure, gain or loss, victory or defeat. Make your mind to accept both in advance. Attention should be focused on performing and not on the result.
I'm fine with winning and I'm also fine with a loss that's the attitude in bhakti language it is called Prasad.
When you're balanced in the result you're balanced in your actions towards it. Otherwise you're always scared, worried, inefficient in performing action because the more focused what would happen than the task on hand. The result depends on the totality so perform your duty and leave the result to happen..
Equanimous, samathva in both joy & sorrow, in advance then we're balanced but if we leave this thought to the end, it causes tension and we're imbalanced.
Gita is not a secret of success, it gives us the secret of the attitude to face both success and failure in a balanced way.
Do your duty in this attitude and you'll not experience confusion fear and grief. Mind becomes free of any anxiety.
Q: What are the modes of acquiring any knowledge?
Ans: 1. Direct experience, (Prathyaksha praman) is we use our senses to understand the knowledge of the world. Red colored rose is known to the eyes, music through ears..
2. Inference.. Through smoke and we can infer fire
3. Comparison, (Upamanam). The unknown is understood by comparing to the known
4. Cause, (Arthapatti). Be studying the effect we know the cause... Flood and rain
5. Verbalzing, (Sabhta praman) We have not seen atoms and molecules but we trust the scientists. We accept it because people who know about it talk about it
6. Absence (Anupalabdhi) Knowledge of absence of something... By having the positive knowledge of the absence of something. You see confirm and say there is no cat in the room. A definite knowledge of the absence.
Astronauts go to a planet and confirm that they're is no life there... The knowledge cannot change but if it is a belief, it can change.
When you follow the method (praman) properly, gain knowledge then that knowledge becomes conviction. Convictions gained with knowledge do not change. Only through the study of the scriptures, satsang, contemplation we gain conviction about our spiritual goal and path.
At present our intellect is wrongly convinced by the mind that we're the body, a limited being.
Your intellect is convinced that five plus five is ten, if you try to tell the intellect it is five, it will resist because your conviction is based on the knowledge.
If you already believe that it is five, the knowledge that it is ten will change the belief!!
If you're convinced that science is always right, then you'll always go with science but if you know science is evolving, what is today may change with another scientist tomorrow and when the change happens, that knowledge will then change your belief in that particular theory of science.
Similarly there is a false conviction of our own identify and goal of life and his we can attain it
Therefore the sankhya buddhi and yoga buddhi are based on scriptures, logic and on personal experience. One who understand this full proof knowledge, the conviction is firm and that person's life is different.
Such a strong conviction based on scriptures will enable a seeker to realize that all are One.
We all want happiness which is eternal, peace, contentment and want to be free. Such a state is 'moksha', freedom from the bondage which can only be attained in human life through Self knowledge.


Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3 - Sankhya Yoga

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Q: Describe Yoga
Ans: From verse 11-30 knowledge of the Self knowledge (Sankhya buddhi),is revealed. Verse (31-37) explains how this knowledge destroys all bondages, removes confusion, fear and grief leading us to a state of enlightenment.
Yoga buddhi is that attitude which leads us to Self knowledge (Sankhya buddhi), to the state of enlightenment.
Yoga is 'connect'. Self is happiness but if you're sad, afraid, confused you're out of range like being away from WiFi connection.
You're Sat Chit Ananda, (existence, consciousness, bliss) if you're out of range from Self, you're in a remote area..To come back and get connected to presence, Self, is 'Yoga'.
Karma yoga means we use karma to connect to the source. Jnana yoga means we use knowledge to connect to the source and dhayana Yoga in Bhakti Yoga.
Q: What is shraddha, conviction in Gita?
The understanding of Self should be firm, determination, clear cut conviction. This is shraddha!!
Self knowledge (sankhya buddhi) and the path (yoga buddhi) that will lead us to attain that is by learning the scriptures. Scriptures are the tools that give us the right knowledge. Scriptures, words of realized masters and our experiences are our tools.
Q: What leads to confusion in an individual?
Ans: We see the worldly objects or a person, the mind develops interest, starts liking it, develops a passion to have it and this is called attachment (Kama). When the attachment does not lead to possession of that particular object or person, then the emotion takes over either in the form of fear (bhaya) or anger (krodha). Fear when we feel weak, vulnerable and anger when we feel strong but defeated causing a sorrowful state (Soka). This attachment also leads to delusion (Moha) which is a confused state. At this point, the intellect is paralyzed and unable to make any decision.
Q: What's our identity in this world per scriptures?
Ans: The absolute identity never changes with time and space. Assumed identity is as mentioned is like we are parent, teacher, sibling, neighbor, friend, professional and with degrees, position, power, authority, titles depending on the role we play. These are all assumed. These often change in the same individual, from person to person or time to time but the real me, the 'I' does not change throughout the lifetime whatever role one plays. The 'I' absolute identity is the same in a childhood to adolescence to an older person and in all, is ever present.
Many of us through a monotonous life without enquiring the purpose of life. We don't stop to think or reflect on this question. It is a universal problem that people don't even try to know who we are. We assume that we are the body. making all totally ignorant of our true identity. That's why we constantly experience fear, anger, sorrow, confusion, stress trying various methods to keep ourselves cheerful and happy but only for a short period. We set goals, achieve, buy properties and possessions and either we lose them or we lose our energy to enjoy them.
Even then, many are sad on the loss rather than stop to question themselves, 'who am I?, Where did I come from? What is my goal in life, why am I born?" unless these self enquiry thoughts come to mind, one cannot look for, recognize and realize the true identity, which is everlasting presence of atman in the body. This is the 'moha' state of Arjuna in the battlefield.
We are the witness of all actions within this body and around the body
Q: How does Gita helps to face our grief?
Ans: Grief is soka, sorrow. When we are engulfed in sorrow, that emotion totally saps our energy.
Grief starts with fear. Fear of living without the lost one, fear of the unknown situations, fear of life itself. That then leads to self pity, seeking sympathy, which further takes one to anger when others can't help to minimize this grief. Grief saps our energy completely.
The only way to get out of grief is by right thinking and action, directing one to true Self knowledge. That's the only way possible to anyone and everyone on this earth. The true Self knowledge is that the Atman present in the body is real one. The body is only temporary and is used as a tool by the atman. Atman is the witness of everything that the mind and body perform..
Atman, which has no beginning or end, is everlasting presence in all bodies whereas the existence of the body is only temporary. Once an individual understands that atman is the permanent substratum, present in every animated body, and everything else is temporal the grief vanishes.
Gita ch 3 emphasises that knowing one's true identity (Self-knowledge) will remove our grief.
Self knowledge helps us to manage our thoughts and our emotions and choose our actions in the right frame of mind for the common good at all times.
Self knowledge shows us the path not just to be good but to be able to choose to do the right things at all times. That way there is no confusion as to what to do, no regret for what has been done or undone. We live in the present, meeting challenges as and when they come without any stress or tension leading to inner peace, which is moksha.
Q: How does Gita teach us the resilience to deal with life's challenges?
Ans: Gita is not about God but words from supreme. This chapter teaches seekers to gain enormous mental and emotional strength in dealing with life's challenging situations.
Endurance, resilience is not an easy quality to anyone, especially when one faces challenges of life. We are often thrown off-guard with sudden unforeseen circumstances, feels helpless and shattered. Resilience is the capacity to handle them in a very objective fashion, with a cheerful disposition.This is possible only when one is able to observe austerity, meaning, a self imposed vow to accept discomforts and forgo pleasures... This can be developed gradually till it becomes a habit, though not an easy task but not an impossible one. For example As per doctor's advice, a diabetic person cannot eat sugary substance. If he accepts it and is stern about not consuming any of those, that's austerity. By doing so, he protects his body from further decay. Similarly, runners, hikers have certain austerity they have to follow. Austerity could also defined as a ' mental attitude' with which we handle the situations in life so that we are not shattered, deluded.
Q: What do you mean by the world is not real?
Ans: Real is something that is ever present and not limited to time & space. Everything needs a base, substratum, to change. For example when we see a painting on a canvas with beautiful colors, we initially see the scenery, then, on the next level individual colors and arts like flowers, leaves, As we go deeper down, we see the canvas itself without which nothing can exist. In reality, though the colors and the scenery appears beautiful and draws our attention, it is the canvas on which the scenery is created, without the canvas, there is no painting.
In this case the canvas is real and the painting is unreal but we often see only the painting.
Similarly, the Consciousness that is animating this body is real and the mind, body and intellect are supported by that Consciousness(atman). Without that atman, none of these are functional. The Atman is 'trikala vatsu'..It is beyond past, present and future.
Q: Explain how confusion and grief. are removed according to Gita?
Ans: From childhood, we are taught about God, prayer, duality etc..But as we grow old, study & accomplish, we should be constantly asking ourselves "Who am I?'" why am I here and What's my life's goal?' This is jnana yoga meaning more of enquiry.
We take on different roles in the society but the absolute identity is the one that never changes, remains in all three states and times. For ex: you're awake and active, when you're dreaming, your body is at rest but the mind is active, but when you're deep asleep both your body and mind are at rest, you enjoy the bliss. Who slept and who knows you slept well? That's the presence, Atma, Self present in all three states.
It is that which is the substratum of this body, that which supports this body to animate, the one that triggers all hormones and activates all organs is the witness in this body. That is the Self, atman. Once we understand that Self is different from the ego, then we are beyond sorrow, fear, anger and any other emotion.
Q: Science tries to increase the longevity of life, but death is inevitable. Explain from scriptural perspective.
Ans: Everything that is created is bound to dissolve. Everything that comes to life has to face death. There is always an end for every beginning. If a book is created, it won't last long, If we cook, once it is consumed, the food is not present. Once we start to sing a song, it stops at some point. Constructed building don't stand forever. Thoughts keep coming and going. Similarly this body, the moment it is born, keep on regenerating by replacing the cells of various organs at different intervals. It is not the same body from childhood to old age. The body is made up of five elements at the time of birth and they merge with the same five elements at the time of death.
According to Vedantic philosophy, every Body goes through six modifications from the Beeja state (exist), birth, growth, modifications, disease and death. So this body comes to this world with an expiry date and I, the ego is not aware of the expiry date. This is natural law.
Q: Celebrate life in the 'now', with every person that comes in your life than grieving after the death of the body. Explain why?
Ans: The pure being Atman is ever present, beyond space and time, is present in every BODY, in all species as a reflection, called jivatman. (like the reflection of sun in various bodies of water)
This jivatman is ever present but takes different bodies till it realizes that it is nothing but the pure being. We acquire this body based on our karmic actions. Every action has a consequence and we have earned it. It is as simple as we take a bus to go somewhere, then move on to get a train and then reach the airport and take a plane to the destination. Similarly, based on our karmic needs, we take different bodies and ultimately to reach our destination, moksha. We can get distracted on the way and get down from a bus or a train and get detoured. Then we need to find a different way to reach the destination, that might take longer or shorter with the same transport or a different one.
Exactly the same concept but vedanta calls that mode of transport as bodies. So this body is a means of transportation for the jivatman to its destination. Once we understand this concept, it is now wise to bid farewell to the Body to follow its own path to the destination without grieving.
Q: How are scripture's teachings relevant to today's life?
Ans: The scriptures are very much valid today as ever before. They talk about our thoughts, words and actions. As long as human existence is there, these are vital.
What is mind? There is no such thing as 'mind' in a physical form. Mind is nothing but flow of thoughts. They come and go with no definite place to pause. The more we try to recall, the more they bring in emotions.
Once we learn to ignore the stray thoughts then the emotions are diminished and we often calm down. The more we retrieve from the database of memories, the corresponding incidences are retrieved, emotions take over and actions performed based on those emotions. or paralyzed leading to inactivity. We tend to encourage such outcomes by giving an extended unwarranted attention to our thoughts.
It is important to endure any challenge when we face with the thought that 'this too shall pass'. With agitated anxious mind nothing is possible, just like you cannot see the reflection of Sun clearly in a volume of water that has ripples.
Managing the mind, the flow of thought, is very crucial and is the only way by which we can focus on the higher subtle aspect of life.
Understanding the nature of our mind, helps in increasing our forbearance.
It then lets us realize that just like thoughts keep changing, nothing else is permanent. We know the difference between real and unreal, we know the cause has an effect, we choose to do the right thing at all times for we know the consequences of our actions.
Q: Justify using logic (yukti) the basis of belief in rebirth
Ans: Sanathana Dharma philosophy never emphasized on any specific belief. We were always seekers. We did not believe in any faith. Seekers are encouraged to question, enquire and seek the answers to life, individual existence and challenges. Swayam anubhuti (individual experience).
We see plenty of differences from person to person, rich and poor, able and disabled, highly intellectual and the opposite, not to mention the differences in the physical appearances - height, weight, color, structure etc. if we had one life to live, then what is the logic behind these differences? why is it that everyone is not the same, and not come at the same time and go at the same time? Where are we coming from? Why are we different in our thought, word and deeds? Why are we here and Where will we return to? These questions remain unanswered,; whereas the law of karma answers them all.
The second point of thought is that some people always do good things, They are kind, compassionate, helpful, supportive while there are others who are just the opposite, cunning, cheating, jealous, grabbing, hurting, insulting.
How is the first group of people compensated or recognized for their good deeds and how do the second group of people face the consequences of their actions. If all are forgiven then that doesn't encourage anyone to do any good action. Here also the Bhagavad Gita explains the law of karma as an effective means of understanding life.
Every action has a consequence called papa, sin and punya, meritorious accumulated and experience the effects.
Q: What is dharma?
Ans: Dharma is inherent qualities like the sugar is sweet. There are specific qualities that make us human.
We all have our duties as a sibling, parent, child, employee, employer. Doing one's duty and in accordance to the inherent disposition is dharma. For example, a surgeon is supposed to cut the body and do the necessary repairs in the patient's body to improve his health but the surgeon refrains from doing the surgery thinking it would cause injury, then it is adharma. One will not be doing one's duty, that's adharma.
Performing Duty, dharma creates merits and gives peace & prosperity. Performing adharmic actions causes demerits. Every thought, word and deed is like a boomerang and will bounce back to the concerned. That's the law of nature.
Q: How can human come out of sorrow according to Gita.
Ans: This chapters lists the concepts, gives logical explanations and the attitude needed to handle our sorrows in life.
The pure Being, the Atman, which is the real in each & every Body is birthless, deathless &, changeless. The real never perishes, it cannot kill anyone nor can it be killed by anyone. It is the witness and not the doer of actions. Therefore you will not kill them and they will not be killed. Jivatman, the reflection of the ever present Pure Being, existed before the birth of the body and will continue to be alive after the death of the body, continuously taking many more bodies. Atman is never born, never dies. There is no need to grieve on the one that is ever present.
Atman is transmigratory with different bodies, just like we change our clothes depending on the activity or weather conditions or change possessions (TV, Cell phone, computer) even if they are only few years old because we are attracted to the next model or we are disinterested in what we have, so also, our atman decides to quit the current body and get into a newer one. This explains why some lose their body early on and why others linger for a longer period of time in one body. So you should fight knowing that you don't decide anyone's death. Why grieve when you are not the killer?
Everything that is born has to perish, that has a beginning will have an end. The body is made up of five elements, combines with the macroscopic five elements and comes back again. Why worry about the inevitable natural law?
Who is that grieves? Joys and sorrows are in the mind in the form of thoughts due to the contact of the five sense organs with the external world or as memories or hopes. These thoughts do not last for ever, also the pain in life is not our choice. When we have to go through them, we might as well accept them AS IS instead of grieving.
The mind that is agitated due to joy and sorrow is not ready for the higher pursuit. Therefore how we respond to the given situation to the physical and mental challenges could be monitored and avoided for sorrow saps our energy obstructing our higher pursuit. If it is going to prevent us from reaching for higher pursuit, then why grieve?
Finally, the real never perishes and the unreal never is. Why should we given them undue reality and suffer?
Accept life AS IS and know the real is ever present and do not grieve for the unreal temporary things and existence is the theme. Not to hold on to sorrow is the sign of wisdom.


Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Part II - Arjuna Vishada Yoga

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Q: What does this mean to say, 'How to think is more important than 'what to think'?
Ans: Our mind is nothing but constant flow of thoughts, all day and the entire lifetime. It is vital to manage the thoughts and direct the mind. Negative thinking encourages negative relationships, words and actions, discourages objectivity leading to nervousness and paralysis.
Arjuna's thoughts that he would kill his loved ones and gurus led him to feel sad, anxious, confused and question his own decision to fight leading to not able to act.as a warrior. Imagine if a surgeon panics before the surgery on a patient. Emotional thinking raised by anger, guilt, fear and sorrow lead to crippling effect in ones life. That's why it is important to learn 'how to think' than 'what to think'.
In any situation, ask, 'Here I am in this situation, what's the best I can do to get out of this and move forward?' and take appropriate action, to avoid self pity, blaming others and losing the inner strength.
Q: Compare Arjunas 'misunderstanding' in today's life.
Ans: We often see this 'misplaced thoughts' in practical life. This is everywhere, though common in healthcare.and financial sectors. We all know prevention is better than cure.. Health is not after the fact. In today's society it is very common to go to bed late, wake up late, go out empty stomach and have late lunch causing a havoc in the system. When a particular disease is identified, then we try to follow the schedule, sleep on time and exercise but can we not do it earlier? This an example of misplaced thought or misunderstanding. Same with the finance, When we are young, we spend all our health, energy & resources to accumulate stuff and money, later when we are old, we spend all our money to save our health or have the fear of losing them or worry about the ways to preserve them. This is another 'misplaced thought'.
To think before we act and to do the right thing at the right time is critical in any situation.
Arjuna had this misplaced thoughts when he looked his enemies as his family instead of enemies and was confused.
Q: If the 'presence', or 'atma' is same in all what's the difference between humans and animals?
Ans: Humans are bestowed with the sixth sense, the ability to choose. Animals follow instinctive behavior. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor in Auschwitz, in his book, 'The man's search for Meaning', says while he was in the concentration camp, he saw a few walking around and sharing their last piece of bread with others. He says "this confirms that, everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way".
"It is not what happens to us that affects us but how we respond to what happens to us that affects us" says Norman Vincent Peale. How true!!.
How we perceive, how we respond to any situation is our choice. To do the right thing, not do the wrong thing, or not do anything at all, is our choice.
Surrendering that 'ability to choose' to Lord is the highest of all surrender, completely dissolving ego. Arjuna finally surrendered to Lord Krishna, seeking guidance.
Q: What are the consequences of the Fear of Failure that Arjuna experienced and is it still true today?
Ans: Fear of failure cripples a person.There is no failure. When we don't get the desired outcome, we think it is a failure but we need to learn to detour as needed to reach the destination. It is wise to think through the situation, decide and take action to the best of our ability.
Fear of failure is a self doubt, emotional upheaval on the consequence of the action, at the time of action, causing numbness.
The consequences of our actions is not our choice. Just like an aimed arrow or spoken words cannot be taken back, when we allow our emotions to take over we get stressed, we are unable think clearly leading to fear, grief and panic.
This was the situation Arjuna was, when he saw all relatives on the other side of the aisle, even though he decided to fight, he was taken over by the affection, attachment he had for them causing a total break down.
Q: What's the cause of one's suffering?
Ans: Heat and cold, pain and pleasure will come in life.. These are known through the senses. Only humans have these five senses, ears, eyes, taste, touch, smell (shabda, sparsha, roopa, rasa, ghanda). Thru the eyes we measure the size and form, through ears we understand the sound, and as a human we can hear only a certain wavelength,.
We experience this world through the senses. When in deep sleep state the senses are withdrawn and there is no experience through those senses.
In the state of wakefulness, if any one sense not functioning properly that part of the world is completely blacked out.
When our senses, each one touches the objects we have an experience. Our eyes can see far away objects like stars in the sky physically millions of light years away, is a marvelous equipment. But our ears cannot hear that far. Thunder is closer than stars. To smell it has to be further closer than the sound. Touch is possible only with the physical contact, not otherwise. Taste has to be inside of us. By touching the cake, you cannot experience it.
The world is the same but the mind interprets differently.
Senses gives perception but the mind gives comments on the perception. A dog sees the book, if it is edible he eats or moves away, there is no disturbance in it's mind..
The senses helps us to perceive objects and situations. The mind interprets by judging, comparing, evaluating good or bad, through the lens of likes & dislikes. Based on our understanding of our life and wisdom, our interpretation differs.
Heat and cold at the physical body level and pleasure and pain at the mind level. This is natural whether we like it or not..Saints also experience but how they interprets makes the difference.
Suffering is because of our interpretation. For ex... I'm hurt because you did this or that.
The senses perceive as long as there is connection with the object. When I close my eyes I don't see but my mind creates an image from memory and I see it.
When in meditation and while living in the present, the object goes and the images also go away. One need not carry the past.
Q: How do pleasure and pain occur?
Ans: Two monks were walking. The river was strong. They needed to cross when there was a young woman also wondering how she would cross. The young energetic monk lifted her and carried her to the opposite bank and she went away.
Then after ten min the older monk said "you didn't do the right thing. You touched a woman and carried her".
The young monk responsed, "yes, I lifted her and carried her but I left her after crossing but you're still carrying her in your mind".
That's exactly what happens in our life. All our experiences have a beginning and an end but we keep doing an action replay, thus enabling repeated suffering.
If we do action replay of pleasurable situations it creates attachment if we do action replay of sad situations it creates deep sorrow. Either way it is a chain, binding you.
Just experience them as they come and, let go of them, very much like viewing scenarios as you move in a train, don't hold on to any particular one. You don't turn your neck and keep on looking back. Let it go!! Similarly with every situation in life, don't look back, learn to live in the present.
Q: What is death?
Ans: When a child goes from elementary to higher studies and far away. the parents may be sad but not grieve. Because they know s/he is evolving. Similarly each body undergoes changes and eventually falls down.
Death is not painful, but a smooth transition. When a person dies he is in the path of evolution like a child to teenager, adolescent to adult, to a senior. The body keeps changing. The cells in the body keeps dying every minute. The entire body changes once in every seven years. So there is no pain in the birth of the body or the death of the body. But while living within the body and identifying with the body, we experience pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow as long as the senses come in contact with the world.
Q: Isn't the world real? I interact, see, smell and experience it..
Ans: The world is neither real nor unreal but it is an appearance. Real has no non-existence. Unreal has no existence at all like horn of a rabbit or a unicorn.
Just like the mirage.appears to be water. It exists and therefore is not unreal. Pain & pleasure, success & failure, name & fame, world, wealth & position all these are appearances. Our experiences in the waking state are appearances called mithya.
The popular example is when you see a rope on the path at dusk, you think it to be a snake, which causes anxiety and fear in you, but the moment you realize it is a rope, the snake in your mind vanishes. But it still existed, created an emotion in you, so you cannot call it unreal. That was an appearance, mithya.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 - Part 1 Arjuna Vishada Yoga

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Q: What does Arjuna-vishada yoga mean?
Ans: "Yoga" has different meaning in different context. Here it means 'title'. All 18 chapters are named as yoga. Vishada means grief. The attachment to any object causes fear, anger and/or sorrow. Arjuna was full of sorrow as he saw his loved ones against whom he had to fight. Sorrow is different than pain, sorrow is mental and pain is physical. Sorrow often immobilize the person.
Arjuna-vishada yoga is the second chapter of Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna saw his family members and teachers in Duryodhana's army, but not as the enemy to wage a war against. Due to that vision, he hesitates and decides not to fight. He is taken over by his emotion, sorrow. Due to his nervousness and anxiety at that moment of action, he was completely deluded, confused and justifies his behavior and surrenders to Lord.
Q: How did Arjuna respond when he saw the army with which he was going to fight?
Ans: Ch.1 verse 28-29, reflects Arjuna's breakdown in the battlefield. As he sees teachers and families on the side of Duryodhana, he was emotionally down and expresses verbally, ' I am completely exhausted. My limbs have lost their strength, my mouth is dry, my whole body is shaking, I have goosebumps and I can't hold my bow & arrow'. In such a situation anything that he sees appears as failure and loss.
In his state of anxiety and low confidence, with negative thoughts in mind due to sorrow, his intellect was deluded, he finds himself unable to act. At his point, he seeks Sri krishna's guidance, without fully surrendering.
This happens to people all across the world whether taking an exam, attending an interview, having a date, meeting a doctor, buying a car, people often feel stuck. They wonder if the decision is right, whether to continue with their plan of action, often get tensed and sweat. Gita helps to get out of such situations in life.
Q: What arguments did Arjuna present to justify his un-willingness to fight?
Ans: Arjuna, on seeing his teachers and family members on the enemy's side, against him in the war front, became emotional. He was nervous, anxious, completely confused and decides not to fight the war.
He was trying to justify his decision as an experienced jnani with several points to support his decision.
At first he emphasizes that his disinterest in fame, glory or kingdom, by killing his family members. Secondly he points the war would cause destruction in all families, which would lead to destruction of traditions, cultures, discipline and values. Thirdly, he argues "Is it wise to fight against my teachers and elders of the family?".
Earlier he had decided to fight against Duryodhana for all the atrocities he had committed but because of his affection and reverence to his teachers and grandfather, was confused and wanted Krishna to call off the war.
Why am I tempted to agree with Arjuna and justify his response?
Ans: Many people feel empathy towards Arjuna for they have experienced similar situations. They have taken tests, or have waited for the doctor's response when their loved one is sick. Often times, when we face difficult situations, the thought of the negative consequences hits us hard. At that time, we don't want to take the test, feel shaky and sweaty, we drop out of the test or decide to take the patient to a swamiji to know the future than a professional doctor or vice versa. That's a clear state of confusion, not able to decide what to do and how to handle the situation. Listening to Sri Krishna helped Arjuna to be objective, which is for all who experience the inner conflict between the good and evil.
Q: Some people think Gita as an originator of war. Is it true?
Ans: There are some people who think so. This is because of non understanding of Gita in a deeper sense. When Krishna says fight, he did not mean literal fight. It means 'do your duty'. That's exactly what he told Arjuna, because Arjuna was in the battlefield at that time.
Gita is applicable to anyone and everyone who are in an internal conflict whether to do this or that. It is not about doing good or bad, but doing a right thing. Doing the right thing at all times is more important than doing good things.
Sri Krishna helped Arjuna understand the difference between good and right action. The Kurukshetra was in fact called Dharma kshetra, because the emphasis was on what was right at that time, with the given situation.
Q: What is the role of a citizen in a society?
Ans: Whenever you see anything inappropriate being done, adharmic actions, it is vital that wise people step up and stop it. We see the need for this in every generation. Gita's message is active resistance to all evil in the world.
Q: What is atma?
Ans: Sri Krishna explain atma in chapter 2, verses 11-30 The limited presence is called jivatma. Brahman when acts in collaboration with the body and mind is jivatma, like the space in the pot whereas Brahman is unlimited space in the universe.
The 'aham', "I", pervades all "Idham"' "this". You cannot experience the world without experiencing the Self!! There cannot be an experience without the subject, the experiencer. Nothing can be known without the "I". I hear, I see, I taste, I smell I touch, none of these are possible without the "I". Every experience of this world is due to the presence of "I" in all. I pervade this entire world.
Because you associate with this body, you might find it difficult to comprehend that you pervade this entire universe, just like the space inside a pot which is confined within the walls of the pot is not aware that it is universal. That space inside the pot is the same as the space outside, in the world, in the entire galaxy!!
Q: How do I know atma exists?
Ans: When you look in a mirror, you know you're different from the reflection in the mirror. A dog when it sees his image in the river, barks at it, thinking it is an another dog. A bird when sees its reflection in a mirror will keep on poking at it, thinking it is a different bird.
You and I know we exist but we don't know 'who am I?'
Human go through three states of existence. In Sanskrit, they're called Jagrat, Swapna, Sushupti, Waking, Dream and Deep sleep states.
During the waking state the physical body and the mind are active. During the dream state, the body is at rest but the mind is working, in the deep sleep state both body and mind are at rest. When we wake up, we say, ' I had a good sleep!' When you're in deep sleep state you don't even who is sleeping next to you or where you're sleeping. Who slept and who knows you were asleep?
Atma is that which is present in all three states. That atma is the witness of everything both in an individual and universally. Nothing happens without IT's knowledge. It is that One which in present in every being and in every thing. It is also called sat-chit-ananda. Sat is the existence itself, a rock. Anything that exists is IT.
Everything that we say, 'this', exists and whenever we say 'this', obviously it is not you because you're able know it through your senses.
The scripture defines it as 'Idham' and 'Aham'. "this" and "That". "this" is all experiences, "That" is the experiencer, the "I".
We often say, 'my body hurts, 'I can see the stars, I can smell the flower or I taste the sweetness'. Who is that "I"? Those sensory organs are the instruments that interacts with the world outside.
You observe your flow of thoughts. That means you're not the mind. Therefore you're neither the body nor the mind. Then who are you? You're not what you think you are, the name, form, qualification, relationship, body, mind and anything that you claim to be.
Such a knowledge is the misunderstanding of who you are. Non understanding is better than misunderstanding. Misunderstood information when passed on would create a total chaos like a blind leading another blind. That's why it is very important to study these scriptures by listening to a well educated teacher, who had a guru so that they're are not the opinion of a single individual that is subject to change but transferred from a teacher.
You're the witness of everything that's happening in the body, with the body, in the mind and everything outside the body.
Q: Are there two presence in the body then?
Ans: No. They're not two separate entities. Firstly, the presence is not in the body. The body is in the presence, like the pot is in the space. Atma and Brahman are one and the same. Atma is limited like the space in a room while Brahman is like the space in the universe. The real witness, let us call it Self, with a capital "S". The thought "I", the identification we have with this body and mind is the ego. This ego always likes to be always challenged, feels proud, subject to all actions, changes, emotions and thoughts. We call this ego, as self, with the small "s". Self is the witness, which is the same in all beings.
Q: How are scriptures of Sanatana Dharma helpful? How can we know atma?
Ans: Everything around you is known by the tools you have, the senses also called 'praman'. Eyes see the colors, ears recognize the different sounds, tongue the variety of taste, the skin the texture, the nose the smell. All these senses are programmed to project outside. They care programmed to identify the differences. If they don't do it, then they're not functional.
I'm the knower, pramata. The instrument is pramana, that which is known is prameya.
If there is ice cream on the table, you're the pramata, your eyes are the pramana and the ice cream is the prameya. Atma is also called 'aprameya', cannot be known by any means.
Scriptures are tools that help you recognize atma as pointers. There are six modes of gaining knowledge even in the world.
Prathyaksha pramana, direct experience (through the senses)
Anumana pramana (through inference, fire is inferred by smoke)
Upamana pramana (by comparison like the minerals in Mars to minerals on earth)
Shabdha pramana (through the words of a realized master like learning music from an artist)
Arthaa patthi (effects reflect the cause, heavy floods means possible downpour, very common in healthcare)
Upalapthi, By negation ( by knowing nothing is there you confirm nothing is there. Negation of certain blood test reveals absence of certain conditions)
All the scriptures are sabhdha praman, through the words of a realized teacher. We cannot see it, we cannot infer it, we cannot compare it. Those words if the teacher are not to gain the knowledge of the Self but to remove the misunderstanding of the Self. By reading, listening, reflecting, intellectually understanding, being firm in the knowledge, one can realize Self. It can take years and even many births.
Q: What happens when a person dies?
Ans: Atma, (consciousness) that is together with sariram is called sariri, meaning that which is identified with the body. Body is also called dheham, meaning one that undergoes dhahanam, capable of being burnt.
All beings go through six stages ~ Birth, growth, modification, disease, decay and death. These are only for the body but atma is beyond these.
When one dies, the inert body which is a combination of five elements space, air, fire, water and earth, merges with the cosmic elements. The thoughts, goals and ambitions are gathered together. These are called vasanas or impressions. These create a body and an environment to purge those impressions. This explains the child prodigy. Without schooling or training we hear children playing musical instruments, doing college math, drawing or many other things as early as five years. The impressions from the previous births take effect to shine forth in the next birth. All our actions create our parents, environment in the next life. We create the blue print for the next birth.
No one can destroy the atma. It is imperishable. Atma is anadhi-no beginning, an-antham-no end, avyayam-not depriciable, imperishable.
Q: What is surrender?
Ans: Surrender is not an action but an attitude. There are four critical steps to surrender. This is applicable even in worldly knowledge. First, you identify that you don't know something. If you think you know and you don't know then the attitude to learn is different, if you think you don't know and you don't care to know that's different. All our attitudes are different. Why? The answers come in future chapters called gunas.
Secondly, if you acknowledge that you don't know then you need to have an internal motivation to learn. Thirdly, you should also recognize that the present knowledge, and resources that you have, are not enough to learn the new thing. Lastly, you choose to approach someone who is knowledgeable to impart that knowledge to you.
For ex: If you have a health condition, first you should know you have it. You then want to get better by doing something. You may try all home remedies but if they didn't make you better, you recognize it and proceed to a medical professional. That person should be qualified enough to be able to treat your condition. Now you trust that doctor unconditionally and follow the direction.
Such an unconditional faith in scriptures and Lord is surrender. This is surrendering your ego and believing that you're not the doer.
Q: What is a 'conditional surrender' and 'complete surrender'.
Ans: We often see 'conditional surrender' in all temples from all types of people. People pray to Lord,' If you do this for me, I will contribute 'X' amount, or I will do this or that', or I will donate or volunteer. These are all conditional surrender, practically a deal.
On the contrary, if one says, 'I am doing this to the best of my ability. whatever maybe the result, I accept it and take it as a gift from you. That is a 'total, complete surrender'. A little child surrenders to a parent unconditionally. When the parent says, 'go and play, or go to school', the child simply knows that s/he will be taken care of without any doubt!!
Q: What is "Sreyas or Absolute Good" that Sri Krishna talks about to Arjuna?
Ans: There are good and not good things/situations. When something is good for one, the same could be bad for another. 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' they say. This is natural balance. But there something beyond these two called 'Sreyas' meaning 'absolute good'. With this everyone gains and everyone has a treasure. Absolute good is dharma or dharmic thoughts, decisions and actions. This is applicable to everyone at all times like 'do not steal other's property' or 'do not hurt others in any way', 'always speak the truth', called as Samanya dharma in Sanskrit.
Absolute good should synchronize with one's physical, emotional, intellectual and the common good.
Relationships are important, but are not permanent. Only the relationship with Lord is permanent and 'absolute', all others are 'relatives'. It is important to learn to discriminate between what is permanent and what is passing. We have the freedom to choose every day to do things that improve our health, promote lasting security and deepen relationships-things that in the long run contribute to the well being of our society and the world.
Q: What is the purpose of life?
Ans: Good question. If you look around, there are births, growth, children go to school, get old, get a job, get married, buy homes, cars, all needs and wants, have children, get old and die. During this event called life we experience lots of emotional roller coasters, happiness, excitements, sadness, sorrow, pain and pleasure. We call all these in one packet as 'samsara'. This is big giant wheel and we keep coming back again and again due to the attraction and attachment to the worldly objects which are all temporary in existence. We aspire to get more and more and then worry about not losing what we got when we know nothing is permanent, including you. We have the choice to be in cycle or get off. Getting off from this cycle of samsara is the purpose of life attained by knowing your true Self