[Advaita-l] Gita Navaneetam - Introduction

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 10 10:16:06 CST 2006

After writing on Karma yOga series there was some inner urge to write on
the whole of Gita. Gita Navaneetam series presents my understanding of
Gita, which I am going post as I finish each section summarizing the
essence of Gita, chapter by chapter. I am natorius in misspelling, typos
and in gramatical construction. Your corrections are welcome in
improving the presentation. If anyone can help me correcting the
trasliteration as well as putting slokas in devanagari script that will
be great. 
With salutations to all,  

Hari OM!

                          Gita Navaneetam 

SadAshiva samArambhAm shankarAchArya madhyamAm|
asmad AchArya paryantAm vandE guruparamparAm||

vAtsalya rUpam triguNairatItam, Ananda sAdram amalirnidhAnam|
Shree chinmayAnanda gurOpraNItam, sadAbhajEham tavapAdapankajam|| 

Prostrations to my mother, father and to my teacher.


Bhagavad Gita occupies a unique place in the pursuit of truth, the truth
that transcends time and space – sanaatana dharma.  The student of Gita
is a man of action, Nara, and the teacher is the Lord of the Universe,
Narayana, and the teaching is in the midst of a battle filed. The
dramatization of the set up is unique and symbolizes the relevance of
Gita to resolve eternal conflict – the fundamental human problem -
conflict of do-s versus don’t-s, conflict of duty versus attachments,
conflict of right versus wrong or conflict of dharma versus adharma. 
Unlike in the Upanishads where the contemplative teaching normally takes
place in the quietitude of serene Himalayan environment, Gitopadesha
starts in the middle of two armies that are ready to fight.  The
teaching in the battlefield is dramatization of the war within and war
without.  The teaching starts before the first arrow was shot and when
the student looses his objectivity because of his attachments.  The
attachments cloud his vision of right from wrong.  This was true for
Arjuna and this is true for all of us.  The teaching is needed to face
the war squarely with right attitude.  Arjuna represents the man of
action, who feels responsible to uplift dharma, who has gone through
life’s struggles and tribulations and who is ready to fight for justice.
 As a kshatriya prince, it was ingrained in him that he should uphold
dharma at any cost.  The dramatization of Bhagavad Gita set-up indicates
that dhaarmic action or an action to uphold the righteousness forms a
basis for evolution of the mind and for its purification, before one
retires for contemplation on the higher nature.  Krishna not only
provides a methodology of how to act, but also with what attitude one
should act, along with the secret of success in any pursuit.  In
addition, He also teaches the essence of the human goal in all our
pursuits, and how to acquire that state.  Thus, Gita is not only a yoga
shaastra but also contains the Brahma vidya.  Typical of all Hindu
scriptures, the teaching is done in the form of a dialogue, samvAda,
between the teacher and the taught – KrishnArjuna samvAda. The student
is encouraged to ask questions to clarify his understanding.  

The teaching is not sectarian or provincial; it is addressed to all
human beings transcending gender, cast, creed, or nationality, who are
struggling to experience their divine nature, the universal oneness of
their soul, while facing the continuous onslaught of vicissitudes that
life provides.  It is the teaching that synthesizes the unity than
glorifies the diversity, that unifies than discriminates, that invites
than imposes, like a mother who steers the child to a greater happiness
with discipline and love.  It evokes bhakti or love for the highest, out
of fulfillment than out of emptiness, with love-divine filled with
compassion and sacrifice than love of greed, of demanding or of begging.

Gita echoes the teaching of eternal by a universal teacher who proclaims
the teaching from eons, which was sung by sages and saints of the yore –
‘RishhibiH bahudA gItaM’.  Krishna himself declares that He himself
taught this knowledge eons ago to Vivaswan, and now He is teaching again
purely out of love to Arjuna and thus to humankind.  Gita is a
quintessence of Upanishads milked by Lord Krishna himself for the
benefit of humanity - sarvOpanishhadO gaavO dhOgdhA gOpAla nandanaH. It
does not deal with a philosophy of academic interest, but deals with
Brahma vidya, about the knowledge of eternal reality along with the
science of dynamic application to gain that knowledge, yoga shAstra. 
The love or devotion is rational and not sentimental, and it is
universal with fullness as it is all inclusive and not narrow mindedness
with exclusions.  It proclaims:
yO yO yAm yAm tanum bhaktaH shraddayArchitumicchati|
tasya tasya calAm shraddhAm tameva vividhAmyaham||7-21
 “Whoever, whoever he may be he who, and whatever, whatever form he
worships Me, the universal principle, with full devotion, in that and in
that form alone I give him the unshakable faith.  It emphasizes the
formless form of the ever-existent truth, which includes all forms,
while excluding none.  Hence, any form is as good as any other form.
That form that captivates one’s mind and that takes one beyond the form
is an ideal form for him.  Furthermore, Krishna declares that in
whatever way one worships that form he blesses them in that way, “ye
yathaa maam prapadyante taam stathaiva bhajaamyaham”.  Thus, devotion to
the universal principle knows no bounds, no norms to be followed, no
methodology, no rules and regulations, not even specific forms to be
used.  Krishna declares:
patram pushpam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktyaa prayatcchati| 
tadam bhaktyupahRitam ashnaami prayataatmanaH||
Whoever offers me with full devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even
some water, with pure heart without any demand, without any beggary, I
receive it with love.  It is not a transactional love.  It is love of
adoration thanking for whatever that has been given.  Man is blessed
with an impeccable body to transact with the world outside, a beautiful
mind to feel emotions of the heart and a contemplative intellect to
think conceptually and learn – what more can one ask for.  The love for
the divine depicted in Gita is an unadularated pure love.  It is a
longing of the soul for the supreme reality to become one with it,
without any expectations, without any fear, without any reservations. 
The culmination of the love is the complete surrenderance to the
supreme, where there are no more divisions or no more distinctions of
any kind, where all the notions of jiiva including the separateness from
the Lord are dissolved in that pure love.  Pure love demands identity
without any exclusions, evolving from sAdRisyam to sAmIpyam to sAyujyam
– vision and admiration of the Lord, closer acquaintance with the Lord
and ultimately to become one with the Lord.  

Bhagavad Gita is applicable for all centuries to come and for the whole
humanity, since it deals with eternal reality and man’s struggles to
realize the supreme.  Thus, it deals with the science of yoga.  Its
approach is  catholic taking one beyond the narrow corridors of
fanaticism, which involves exclusiveness that is contrary to the oneness
of the totality.  Dramatization of the teaching with superior intellect
Krishna in the driver’s seat with rains in his hand teaching Arjuna who
is confused in the battle field is symbolic representation depicted in
the Kathopanishad.   

Bhagavaan Shankara in his introduction to Gita bhaashhya states that
Lord Narayana having brought forth the entire universe from unmanifest
to manifest provided a two-pronged approach to humans for their
evolution; pravRitti, the path of action and nivRitti, the path of
loke2smin dvividhaa nishhTaa purA prOktA mayAnagha| 
jnAnayOgEna sAnkhyAnAm karmayOgena yOgena yOginAm|| 3-3.
The pravRitti is set forth by the creation of prajaapatis, who were
imported with the knowledge of action, and nivRitti is set forth by the
creation of Sanat kumaaras who were imported with the knowledge of
contemplation. Both aspects are essential for the prosperity and
stability of the world. The first is needed to ensure the socio-economic
welfare (abhyudaya) and the second is for spiritual freedom of all
beings (niHshreyasa).  This is both for individual growth as well as for
the stability, welfare and prosperity of the world. Thus, Shankara
summarizes the teaching of Gita in terms of Karma yoga as essential
ingredient to develop the human faculty for Jnaana yoga. Karma yOga
involves the five-fold duties (panca mayA yagnas) ordained by the Vedas,
which purifies the mind for jnAna yOga.  JnAna yOga helps to acquire
jnAna which helps to cross the thresholds of samsAra, that is to nirvaNa
or liberation. Thus, pravRitti to nivRitti to mOksha is the path
emphasized in Gita.  Bhakti is the essential ingredient needed for the
success in each path. 

Bhakti, pure love or devotion, involves complete surrenderance to the
Lord or prapatti or sharaNAgati.  In the path of pravRitti or KarmayOga,
it manifests as unconditional offering of all actions to the Lord or
kainkaraya bhaava or Iswaraarpita bhaava, and accepting the results with
prasAda buddhi or blessings from the Lord.  In the path of nivRitti or
path of contemplation, Bhakti manifests as unconditional surrenderance
of the ego at the alter of the truth, in the awakening of the knowledge
of the unity with the totality.   

Goal of a Human Life: Pursuit of happiness seems to be the fundamental
goal of all living beings.  Hence either it is pravRitti or nivRitti,
what one is seeking for is the absolute uninterrupted happiness. Hence,
whether he is religions or irreligious, whether he is Hindu or
non-Hindu, whether he is young or old, whether he is married
(grahastha), bachelor or sannyaasi, what one is seeking for is not the
Lord, not the soul, not mOksha, but absolute eternal happiness. 
Happiness is not an object nor does it come with any object.  It is a
state of mind that is contended, with no more wanting or no more
desiring mind, which feels adequate with itself.  Such moments of
happiness are achieved momentarily whenever a desire is fulfilled.  A
desire is an expression of feeling of inadequacy.  Fulfillment of desire
eliminates that inadequacy at lease momentarily until another desire
props up in the mind.  One cannot reach adequacy and thus happiness, by
fulfilling the desires, since fulfillment of desires only broods more
desires, like pouring gasoline to putout the fire.  Hence, it is said in

sarvam paravasham duHkham sarvam Atmavasham sukham|
yetat vidyAt samAsena lakshaNam sukhaduHkhayOH||
Any dependence on other than oneself is sorrow and any dependence on
oneself is happiness.  Know that this in brief is the definition for
happiness and sorrow. 
Liberation or mOksha or nirvANa, in brief, is freedom from dependence. 
Any freedom or mOksha that makes one to depend on something other than
oneself is only another form of bondage.  Longing for freedom is an
inborn desire.  Search for happiness is also an in born pursuit.  When
one goes after something, be it wealth, power, sensuous pleasure, etc,
or one goes away from or avoids or gets rid of things, in both cases one
is only after happiness or freedom.  Every pursuit of human being is
dictated by his likes and dislikes or raga-dveshhas which propel him to
go after a thing or to get rid of a thing.  His happiness depends on the
fulfillment of his desires or likes and dislikes or vAsanas.  Hence as
long as he depends on his likes and dislikes for him to be happy, he is
not free.  Any fulfillment of his likes and dislikes only reinforces his
likes and dislikes and enslaves him further. It is like getting
happiness by drinking alcohol or taking drugs.  Hence, any dependence on
fulfillment of his likes and dislikes for his happiness is only slavery.

Freedom from dependence on his likes and dislikes then becomes a gate
way for his mOksha or liberation.  One cannot easily get rid of one’s
likes and dislikes nor one can reach fullness by fulfilling his likes
and dislikes.  Thus, a human being is caught up in a whirlpool of desire
– actions – desires giving rise to birth-action-birth (janam to karma to
janma), an unending cycle.  There cannot be any freedom until and unless
one is free from the onslaught of ones likes and dislikes.  Krishna
teaches yoga of action and yoga of knowledge to free oneself from the
pressure of these two, which He calls as two great enemies for a human

Freedom is freedom from limitations.  Any limitations make one to be
dependent and not independent.  It can be at the body level or mind
level or intellect level.  A sense of limitation causes a feeling of
inadequacy which propels the mind to go after objects.  By gaining
objects or getting rid of objects one wants to get rid of the sense of
limitation.  However, a state of limitlessness cannot be reached by
adding or subtracting finite things or objects.  Yet, a state of
limitlessness alone is state of absolute inexhaustible happiness that
one wants to be (anantameva ananadaH), while a limited human being
cannot gain limitlessness by adding any limited things or beings.  In
fact, a limited human being can never attain limitlessness or
infiniteness, yet the longing for limitlessness or happiness is in born
and universal.  We are caught up with dichotomy; we cannot stop longing
for limitlessness and we cannot gain limitlessness.  Vedanta comes to
our rescue to teach us that we are that what we are seeking for. 
Happiness that we seek comes from our own nature since we are by nature
limitless that we want to be. Limited can never become unlimited. If we
are already unlimited then what makes us to be longing for
limitlessness?  If we assume that we are limited not knowing that we are
unlimited then there is a search for unlimited.  Ignorance of our true
nature is our fundamental problem and only solution to the problem is to
understand the problem in correct perspective and recognize our true
nature.  MOksha or liberation is therefore not gaining something since
infinite cannot be gained, not going somewhere since infinite cannot be
reached, but by recognizing our true identity.  Vedanta declares that
our true nature is sat-chit-ananda – which is
existence-consciousness-limitless.  These are not attributes but very
essence, since sat is chit and chit is sat which is limitless and
limitless is ‘I’. 

Hence, freedom is not something to gain but to recognize our fundamental
nature. Bondage is only due to misunderstanding or mistaking ourselves
to be this unconscious, limited inert object such as body, mind or
intellect.  Here limitlessness is infiniteness in absolute sense which
can only be one without a second, ekam eva advitiiyam, hence Brahman. 
ayam aatma brahma, that this self that I am is Brahman, one without a
second, is the declaration by the shruti.   

This understanding of our true nature is not readily accepted due to our
deep-rooted preconceived notions about ourselves that we are limited
time-wise, space-wise and object-wise and thus we take our selves to be
mortal, ignorant and unhappy.  This understanding forms the basis for
the teaching of Bhagavad Gita by the Lord to not only set Arjuna right
but also the whole humanity.  Gita forms a manual of how to claim our
immortality that we are. A sage screams out in the Upanishad addressing
us:Shrunvantu vishhvE amRitasya putraH – ‘Listen you all, the sons of
immortality’ – implying that immortality is our birthright. We are not
sinners as the other religions call us since divinity is our birthright.
This teaching can sink in only when our minds are free from preconceived
notions about ourselves.  That is, it is free from the pressures of
likes and dislikes, since they are the outgrowth of our presumed
limitations.  Hence karma yOga is taught to purify the mind from the
pressure of the vAsanas and to make the mind qualify for jnAna yOga.
jnAna yOga is then taught to gain the knowledge of our true nature. 

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