The Bhagwad Geeta is one of the greatest works on spirituality, human living with a detailed account of how we should go about our lives presented in the form of a conversation between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. It is also referred to as the divine song of the lord (Lord Krishna), and it occurs in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata. It comprises of 18 chapters (from the 25th Chapter of the Mahabharatha to the 42nd Chanpter). The Bhagawad Geeta is considered to be a great hand-book of practical living. Bhagawad Geeta fundamentally encapsulates all the teachings of the Upanishads and delivers them in the form of a conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna.
The Kurukshetra War, also referred to as the Mahabharata War is about to begin. The conflict arose from a struggle between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, for the throne (of Hastinapura). Arjuna (the great warrior) is a Pandava and also a devotee of Lord Krishna. Just before the war is about to begin, Arjuna has doubts about the war.
Under the stress of some psychological maladjustments, Arjuna got shattered and lost his capacity to act with true discrimination. Right before the great war between Pandavas and Kauravas is to begin, Arjun has great doubts about whether he should fight his relatives who are on the other side of the battle field. Lord Krishna helps Arjuna with Vedic truths. Hence the Bhagawad Geeta offers becomes that work, which offers an encapsulated view of the Vedas and the Upanishads
What makes Bhagwad Geeta a Fantastic Work?
The Geeta covers almost all aspects of human life, emotions, suffering, and very fundamental questions on how to go about it. The context is a war between brothers. It covers aspects such as love, jealousy, hate, joy, competition, birth, death, and purpose of existence. Any condition of life that you can think of is covered in the Geeta. It also covers resolution to the human suffering, which has been the essence of Upanishads.
What is the meaning of Geeta?
Geeta also written as Gita is a Sanskrit word that means “song” or a “Sacred song or a poem”. The Bhagwad Geeta is the song of the lord (Lord Krishna an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe)
Bhagawad Geeta and Yoga
The Bhagawad Geeta is a must-read for all students and practitioners of Yoga. It covers all aspects of Yoga and paths of Yoga i.e. path of self-control, path of action (karma Yoga), path of devotion (bhakti yoga), path of knowledge (jnana yoga). It will give a broader and a larger perspective on Yoga. It’ll also clears a lot of misconceptions around the goals and objectives of Yoga.
Essence of the Philosophy of Bhagawad Geeta
To better understand the philosophy of Bhagawad Geeta, we’ll take the help of one of the great scholars of Geeta Swami Chinmayananda.
If we try to digest properly the implications of the Geeta’s advice in the light of Vedic lore, it becomes amply clear how actions performed without ego-centric desires purge the mind of its deep-seated impressions and make it increasingly subtle in its purification and preparation for greater flights into the Infinite Beyond.
The Individual is the Mind
Mind is the individual. As the mind, so is the individual. If the mind is disturbed, the individual is disturbed. If the mind is good, the individual is good.
This mind, for purposes of our study and understanding, may be considered as constituted of two distinct sides
- Objective Mind – one facing the world of stimuli that reach it from the objects of the world. This is the outer mind. The outer mind facing the object is called the objective mind–in Sanskrit we call it the Manas
- Subjective Mind – other side facing the “within” which reacts to the stimuli received. –and the inner mind is called the subjective mind–in Sanskrit, the Buddhi
That individual is whole and healthy in whom the objective and subjective aspects of the mind work in unison with each other, and in moments of doubt, the OBJECTIVE MIND readily comes under the disciplining influence of the SUBJECTIVE MIND. But unfortunately, except for a rare few, the majority of us have minds that are split. This split between the SUBJECTIVE and the OBJECTIVE aspects of our mind is mainly created by the layer of egoistic desires in the individual. The greater the distance between these two phases of the mind, the greater the inner confusion in the individual, and the greater the egoism and low desires which the individual comes to exhibit in life.
Through the five “gateways of knowledge,” the organs of perception, all of us experience the world of objects around us at all moments of our waking state.
The innumerable stimuli that react with our sense organs (receptors), create impulses that reach the OBJECTIVE mind and these impulses filter deep down to the subjective stratum through the intervening layers of individual ego-centric desires.
These impulses, thus reaching the SUBJECTIVE mind of a person, react with the existing impressions of his own past actions that are
carefully stored away in the subjective layer and express themselves in the world outside through the five organs of action (effectors).
Stimuli getting colored by Vasanas
At each moment, individual meets with different patterns of these stimuli, and thus constantly gathers new impressions in the ‘subjective-mind.’ Every set of impulses reaching it not only adds to the existing layers of impressions already in it, but also gets coloured by the quality of these Vasanas hoarded within. When they are translated into action, the actions carry a flavour of the existing Vasanas in the ‘subjective-mind.’
All of us live constantly meeting a variety of experiences; and at each incident, we perceive, react with the perceived, and come to act in the outer field. In this process, we unwittingly come to hoard in ourselves more and more dirt of new impressions. The ‘subjective-mind’
gets increasingly granulated by the overlapping signatures of our own past moments.
These granulations make the ‘subjective-mind’ dull and opaque, and form, as it were, an impregnable wall between ourselves and the
spiritual Divinity that shines eternally as pure Consciousness in all of us deep within the core of our personality.
The Example of Mirror
When I look into a mirror and do not see my face in it, it is not because the mirror is not reflecting the object in front of it, but because the reflected image is not perceptible to my vision due to, perhaps, the thick layer of dust on the mirror. With a duster, when I clean the mirror, the act of cleaning does not CREATE the reflection of the face, but it only unveils the reflection which was already there.
Similarly, man is not aware today of his divine spiritual nature because the ‘subjective- mind’ reflecting it is thickly coated with dull Vasanas gathered by it during its egocentric, passionate existence in the world.
Geeta and Yoga – Bring Subjective and Objective Mind Together
To bring the subjective and the objective aspects of the mind together into a happy marriage where the ‘objective mind’ is well-disciplined to act faithfully as per the guidance of the ‘subjective,’ is the Yoga pointed out in the Geeta.
This is accomplished only by the removal of the dividing factor–the ego-centric desires. The word used in the Geeta to indicate this practical implication of Yoga is self-explanatory–Buddhi Yoga.
when this happy marriage between the subjective and the objective aspects of the mind has taken place, thereafter that equanimous Yogin becomes skilled in action(“Yoga Karmasu Kousalam”– “Dexterity in actions of Yoga”– II,50), and he, with his objective-mind,’ reacts intelligently and faithfully to the external stimuli; his actions become, as it were, a purgation of the already existing Vasanas in
Thus, through intelligent action, an individual can exhaust his existing impressions and ultimately redeem his ‘subjective-mind’ from the
granulations and make it more clear and crystalline. Selfless activity, performed in a spirit of egoless adoration and reverence to the divine ideal, would ultimately result in inner purification. This, according to Sankara, is the most unavoidable pre-requisite before the subjective mind can turn inward seeking to rediscover the sanctuary of the Self, the Spiritual Reality.
Subjective Mind and the Secret Weapon in You
Spiritually viewed, the ‘subjective-mind’ is thus a secret weapon in an individual to be used as an OUTLET for the existing impressions that have come to be stored up in it. But the tragedy is that the average individual, in his ignorance, misuses this dangerous weapon and brings about his own annihilation. He uses it as an INLET and creates, during his selfish activities performed with low motives, a new stock of mental impressions. In order to exhaust them, nature provides new equipments (bodies), in which the same ego comes to live, repeatedly, life after life.
The message of the Geeta clearly points out that actions are not to be avoided and the world of objects is not to be denied. On the contrary, by making use of them intelligently, we must strive selflessly, and force the very Samsara to provide us with a field for
exhausting our mental dirt.
An unhealthy mind divided in itself, as we explained earlier, becomes an easy prey to a host of psychological diseases. Weakened in its constitution, it easily becomes a victim to all contagions. Arjuna was an average educated man, and from the details of the Mahabharata, we know the environments in which he grew up. But for the entire Mahabharata, we would not appreciate so fully Arjuna’s
mental condition, without which Krishna’s message would have fallen flat upon the readers.
Geeta – Not Just Philosophy
Geeta is an intrinsic part of the entire Mahabharata and the classic would have been a hotch-potch story, without pith and dignity, if Srimad Bhagawad Geeta was not in it–and the Geeta would have been a mere philosopher’s riddle-poem without the Mahabharata background. The story and the poem together are an organic whole; each devoid of the other would be ineffectual and empty.
Repression of Emotions and Geeta
There are many moments in our lives when we KNOWINGLY suppress many of our emotions; but more often in our day-to-day life, we, UNCONSCIOUSLY, repress many of our sentiments. Repressed emotions accumulate a tremendous amount of dynamic energy
which must necessarily seek a field for expression, and unless they are properly guided they would boomerang back to destroy the very individual. Though there are no direct explanations of any repressions of emotion in Arjuna, a careful student of the story can easily diagnose that the great hero on the battle-field came under the influence of his repressed conditions and behaved as a victim of perfect neurosis.
The causes for Arjuna’s emotional repressions are not far to seek. A great hero, confident of his own strength, was made to live amidst the unjust tyranny of his Machiavellian cousins. At the same time the great archer could not give vent to his nature because of the righteous policy of “Peace at all costs” of his eldest brother, Yudhishthira. These repressed emotions found a healthy field for expression in the severe Tapas which he performed during his life in the jungles.
During the last year of their lives INCOGNITO, the Pandava family had to serve as menials in the palace of the Raja of Virata. The carping injustice and the cruel indignities of the situation caused, no doubt, a lot of repression in Arjuna’s mind. But even these found a
healthy field of expression in the battle that he had to wage against Duryodhana’s forces that came to challenge the Virata-might.
After their long and strenuous trials, when the Pandavas at last reached their native kingdom, their tyrant cousin, with no rhyme or reason, denied them not only their right to half the kingdom, but also all terms of conciliation.
The shrewd, blind Dhritarashtra, father of the Kauravas, probably understood the psychological condition of the great warrior, Arjuna, and on the day previous to the great war, he sent Sanjaya, his emissary, to Arjuna with a secret message. This message, full of mischievous import, sowed the seeds of dangerous ideas in the mind of Arjuna, directing his energies caused by the repressions of his
emotions into wrong channels, so that he became a hapless neurotic in the face of the great challenge. We shall read in the First Chapter the very same arguments and ideas repeated by Arjuna faithfully from the message he had the previous day from his uncle.
Day of The Battle
On that fateful day when both the armies were getting into formation, Arjuna asks his charioteer, Lord Krishna, to drive the chariot to a point between the two forces, so that he may review the enemy lines. Larger in number, better equipped, more liberal in supplies and commanded by well- known personalities, the Kaurava formation, expanding itself like an “eagle,” stood poised to swoop down upon the smaller army of the Pandavas.
This was a sight severely challenging the mental stamina of the Pandava hero. His ‘objective-mind,’ under the impact of the stimuli, could not find any reaction from its ‘subjective-mind (Buddhi), because the shattering of these two aspects was complete due to the intervening layers of his egocentric assumptions and desire-prompted anxieties. The dynamic forces released in his mind due to the repressions were not properly channelised, but were mis-directed by the suggestions of Dhritarashtra’s words, and therefore, the greatest hero of the times, Arjuna, suddenly became a despondent, bewildered, neurotic patient.
Geeta and Lord Krishna’s Wisdom
Lord Krishna was Arjuna’s charioteer. Upon seeing the condition of Arjuna, Lord Krishan gave ‘Krishna-treatment’ (termed by Swami Chanmayananda). In the eighteenth chapter of the Geeta after receiving the Krishna-Treatment, declares that all his delusions have ended.
In varying degrees, every individual is a victim of this ‘Arjuna Disease’ and the ‘Krishna-cure,’ being specific, is available to all of us at all times in the philosophy of the Geeta.
In the Second Chapter, which is almost a summary of the entire Geeta, Krishna indicates the two main lines of treatment. One is a “treatment of idealism” wherein Arjuna is directed to a greater reality than his mind, ego and intellect, and thereby the divorce between the ‘subjective’ and the ‘objective’ aspects of his mind is eliminated to some extent. In the second half of the same chapter, we shall read and come to understand how selfless activity will purge the existing Vasanas in the individual.
Arjuna being a Kshatriya, his mind was coloured by the impression of Rajo-guna (activity), and so he needed a battle-field to exhaust those impressions. Thus, we find Krishna repeatedly goading his friend with the words, “Get up and fight.” This need not necessarily
mean that the Geeta is a war- mongering scripture of the ruling-class. It is a call to each one of us to get up and fight the battle of our own life, according to our own Vasanas (Swadharma), so that we may exhaust them and thus gain inner purity.
18 Chapters of Bhagawad Geeta
The Bhagawad Geeta is comprised of 18 chapters and each chapter is mentioned in the form of a Yoga. Following is a list of all chapter of the Bhagawad Geeta.
- Chapter 1: Yoga of Arjuna’s Grief
- Chapter 2: The Yoga of Knowledge
- Chapter 3: Karma Yoga (The Path of Action)
- Chapter 4: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action in Knowledge
- Chapter 5: The Yoga of True Renunciation
- Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
- Chapter 7: The Yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom
- Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
- Chapter 9: The Yoga of Royal Secret
- Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
- Chapter 11: The Yoga of Cosmic Form
- Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
- Chapter 13: The Yoga of Field and its Knower
- Chapter 14: The Yoga of Guna
- Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
- Chapter 16: The Yoga of Divine and Devilish Estates
- Chapter 17: The Yoga of Threefold Faith
- Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation through renunciation
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