Today we celebrate the advent of the Bhagavad-gita, or the day that Sri Bhagavad-gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to his dearmost devotee and friend Arjuna,at the place known as Kurukshetra. We happened upon a nice post, which is a summary of the 18 chapters of Bhagavad-gita, on the Sampradaya Sun, followed by the Sri Gita Mahatmya, which is chanted after the recitation of the Gita, and we share it with you today.
The summaries of chapters 9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17 & 18 are directly taken from the BG study guide of HG Gauri prabhu of Vrindavan Gurukul. The other chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 were compiled by Subala prabhu, who compiled the entire study overview for the devotees of the Bhagavad Gita Forum.
Sri Gita Jayanti
Dec 09, 2016 — USA (SUN)
The Advent of Sri Bhagavad-gita is observed on this day.
Traditionally This is the anniversary day commemorating the day that Srimad Bhagavad-gita was spoken by Lord Sri Krishna to His dearmost devotee Arjuna at the place now known as Jyotisar Tirtha, amid the warring families of the Kurus and the Pandavas at Kurukshetra. One can still visit that place and see the monument erected there with Krishna as Parthasarati (the chariot driver) and Arjuna the warrior on their chariot. It is claimed by the ashram who maintains the shrine that the tree next to Them is a continuum growth of the original tree witness that was there at the actual day of speaking.
Traditionally, devotees come to Kurukshetra (Dharmakshetra) and recite Bhagavad-gita from early morning until the next morning, perform arati to Bhagavad-gita and to Krishna and Arjuna upon the chariot, offer lamps, ‘dheep daan’, at Brahma Sarovar, and give shloka recitals, shobha yatras and seminars on the significance of the Gita today.
Devotees who cannot get to Jyotisar Tirtha remember the blessed event by reciting Bhagavad-gita, performing Bhagavad-gita ahuti of each verse or selected chapters into the sacred fire, and discussing the subject matter of Bhagavad-gita in the association of devotees. Distribution of Bhagavad-gita As It Is on this day is a very auspicious activity to perform.
Summary Overview of Bhagavad Gita As It Is
Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra
The armies of Pandava’s and Kaurava’s have assembled at Kurukshetra. As Kurukshetra is dharmakshetra and Krishna is dharma personified, so the side, having Krishna with them will be victorious. Thus Duryodhana feels apprehensive due to the prowess of the Pandavas army. However, he pacifies himself by expressing the glories of his own army to his martial Guru Dronacarya. Thus starting with Bhishma, all warriors blow their conchshells to herald the beginning of the war. A ferocious uproar results, shattering the hearts of the Kurus.
Krishna is driving Arjuna’s chariot. Unlike in other wars, Arjun wants to see the opponents more clearly so he orders Krishna, to drive his chariot into the midist of armies. The infallible Krishna become conquered by the devotion of Arjun. We all are the eternal servants of Krishna. Out of love for his devotees, Krsna accepts their service and derives pleasure by reciprocating with them in this way.
The mighty armed Arjun, after seeing all his friends and relatives standing to fight with him, is filled with compassion for them. As Krishna wants to establish the ‘paramapara’ again by giving the message of Bhagavad Gita, he bewilders Arjun with his Maya shakti(material energy). Thus by seeing his opponents, Arjun is overwhelmed with grief. Arjun experiences severe emotional reactions. His mouth dries (28), and his body shakes (29). Thus, he loses his interest in fighting and starts giving arguments against the war. He argues that if others are blinded by the selfish motive to gain a Kingdom, why should he also become ‘blind’?
Arjun feels that no good could result from the war, as it is sinful to kill one’s family, under any circumstance (36). He argues that how the war causes destruction and degradation to society. Arjun decides not to fight. Arjun exclaims that before engaging in this ‘selfish act’ (44), he would prefer to be killed by Duryodhan, unresisting.(45) Arjun casts his bow aside. Being overwhelmed by Krishna’s illusory shakti, he becomes grief stricken (46).
Foundation of Knowledge
Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur has explained this chapter as the summary of Bhagavad Gita.
Hearing Arjun’s confusion over fighting, Lord Krishna starts speaking. He chastise Arjun for keeping thought for not fighting. Arjun restates his arguments in short, then admits his confusion and accepts Krishna as his spiritual master and surrenders to Him in need of wise guidance. Arjun’s first difficulty in fighting this war was his compassion and affection for his Grandfather, Guru and the family members who would fight against him. Krishna advises that compassion and affection must be guided by sastra.
Krishna takes the roll of Arjun’s teacher, and starts speaking. “Those who are wise, lament neither for living nor for dead. Everything is existing eternally. Although there is always some pain in loosing loved ones, the wise undergo that pain with patience and tolerance. They push on without letting grief overwhelm and ruin their responsibilities.” Krishna explains the fundamental distinction between temporary material body and eternal spiritual soul. Soul is indestructible, immeasurable, unborn and eternal.
While material body is just opposite. Soul simply accepts different material bodies for a temporary period. Every living entity begins without material body and ends without material body. Only in middle duration it accepts material bodies. Death is simply a change of body for soul, like a change of clothes. We, the eternal spiritual soul, have no reason for having grief over death of the temporary body. The elements that form the body and life return to nature after death and again form another body, another life. As such, there is no cause for grief.
Krishna here reminds Arjun that happiness comes from right action: duty. Arjun’s duty as a kshatriya (warrior), was to protect the virtuous. No unhappiness could arise from performing his duty, even if it involved fighting. Even if Arjun were to die in the war, he would attain heaven the reward of dutiful action . The results of wise action are imperishable , the wise therefore strive for wise action with unbroken determination . This ultimate goal, enlightenment, is best achieved by Wise Action (karma-yoga), in which one acts out of duty only, without personal attachment . This is real “yoga” .
One can best act without personal attachment by acting for the pleasure of God. This frees one’s actions from impurity and sin (“bad karma”) . It also frees one from material piety (“good karma”) , and thus grants true liberation . In this liberated state, the intelligence becomes indifferent to all material desires and hates , and remains fixed in self-realization .
In this chapter, Lord discussed Karma, Jnana Yoga with the glimpse of Bhakti yoga. Lord explains the nature of devotional service. Only man of small knowledge follows the rituals of Vedas to get results for sense gratification. All the purpose of Vedas can be served by serving the Lord and by self realization. If one does not fix his mind upon God, it will become fixed on sense objects, which leads, step by step, to illusion.
While answering Arjun question on the nature of devotees, Lord explains, the devotees are free from desire to enjoy the senses, have steady mind, indifferent from good & evil, Have taste for devotional activities, control the senses by engaging them in the devotional activities. One who is not connected with the supreme or not doing devotional activity can not have steady mind or peace.Peace comes only to those who give up the motivations of false ego .
In the commentary on Bhagavad Gita, Srila Prabhupad has given some guidelines for the devotional service.
1. Take shelter of a bonafide spiritual master.
2. Receive initiation ( diksha) from spiritual master.
3. Serve the spiritual master.
4. Inquire & learn from spiritual master
5. Follow the footstep of holy persons devoted to the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
6. Prepare to give up all kind of enjoyment & miseries for the satisfaction of Krishna.
7. Live in a place where Krishna had his pastimes.
8. Be satisfied by whatever is sent by Krishna for the maintenance of body and hanker for no more.
9. Observe fasting on Ekadasi day.
10. Show respect to devotees, cows & sacred trees.
The matter of Karma-yoga, or the Discharge of One’s Prescribed Duty in Krishna Consciousness
This Third Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita is conclusively directed to Krishna consciousness by knowing oneself as the eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without considering impersonal voidness the ultimate end.
Arjuna asks Krishna to make it more clear whether He want him to fight or to renunciate. In the reply Krishna explains that everyone has to engage himself in some sort of work according to his qualities and his mood. Workdone can either cause bondage to the material world or it can liberate one. One may not give up work and prescribed duties all of a sudden; but by gradually developing Krishna consciousness, one can be situated in a transcendental position without being influenced by the material senses and the mind-by steady intelligence directed toward one’s pure identity.
In order to acknowledge the supply of our material necessities, one should perform sacrifice to please demigods. If a less intelligent persons is attached to fruitive results of action, the learned person should engage them in vedic rituals, so that they can gradually develop devotion. Devotees of the Lord are free form this ritualistic activity? Vishnu is the supreme enjoyer of sacrifice. So they offer everything to him. Such self realized souls have no duty. They, without being attached to the fruit of their activities, act as a matter of duty and attain the Supreme. One should surrender all of his fruitive results to Krishna and engage in his duties with full knowledge of Krishna. One should also set an example by doing so. There is no duty prescribed for the Lord, however performs duties which are not averse to scripture injunction.
The Matter of Transcendental Knowledge
The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanatana-yoga, or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one’s material possessions, and the other is called knowledge of the self, which is pure spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one’s material possessions is not directed towards spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes simply material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a purely spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. One who works for the satisfaction of Krishna without having a desire to enjoy the fruit of activities become free from the reactions, although one may be engage in all kind of prescribed duties. Such works are true sacrifice. When we perform to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided into two: namely, understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
One who follows the path of Bhagavad-gita as it is can very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding is beneficial, for such a person, can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the transcendental activities of the Lord is discussed by the Supreme Lord Himself. The Lord periodically incarnates in to the world to deliver the pious & annihilate the miscreants. Being absolute, The Lord remembers all his incarnations. However we the limited souls, don’t remember our earlier births. Those who are in knowledge of the supreme, after leaving this body, achieve Lord’s abode and never comeback to this temporary world of miseries. Although the Lord has created the four divisions of human society, he does not belong to either.
The Lord emphasizes on following the footstep of great liberated souls, instead of trying to mentally speculate our own path for liberation. One who does not follow the instructions of the Gita is to be considered faithless, and to be misusing the fragmental independence awarded to him by the Lord. In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly a fool. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance of the principles of Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness is awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social institution called varnasrama-dharma. All of these are known as sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-gita, but one who doubts the authority of Krishna falls back. One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gita, or any other scriptures, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gita have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gita as it is expressed in the Gita itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gita. Transcendental knowledge; spiritual knowledge of the soul, of God, and of their relationship- is both purifying and liberating. Such is the fruit of selfless devotional action.
Karmayoga-Action in Krishna Consciousness
In the 4th Chapter, by simultaneously stressing the importance of both work in devotion and inaction in knowledge, Krishna has perplexed Arjuna. This Fifth Chapter is a practical explanation of Krishna consciousness, generally known as karma-yoga. The question of mental speculation as to how karma-yoga can give liberation is answered herewith. To work in Krishna consciousness is to work with the complete knowledge of the Lord as the predominator. Such work is not different from transcendental knowledge. Direct Krishna consciousness is bhakti-yoga, and jnana-yoga is a path leading to bhakti-yoga. Krishna consciousness means to work in full knowledge of one’s relationship with the Supreme Absolute, and the perfection of this consciousness is full knowledge of Krishna, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord, exploit & enjoy the material realm, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krishna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world. One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. One who works in devotion, though he is always working, is a man who is never entangled.While the one who is greedy for fruits, become entangled. One who act with knowledge that material senses are acting, performs his duty without attachment & surrenders the results to Krishna. Thus, outwardly performing all actions but inwardly renouncing their fruits, wise men, purified by the fire of transcendental knowledge, attain peace, detachment, forbearance, spiritual vision & bliss.
And one who stands fast in Krishna consciousness, who is self intelligent and unbewildered neither laments nor rejoices upon achieving something unpleasant or pleasant and remains factually in the transcendental stage, or brahma-nirvana in this world itself. A person in knowledge sees everybody as a part and parcel of Krishna. A person who knows Krishna as supreme, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries. One who works for helping others in reviving their lost Krishna consciousness, will attain Krishna in near future. The Lord is not partial toward anyone. Everything depends on one’s practical performance of duties in Krishna consciousness, which helps one control the senses in every respect and to conquer the influence of desire and anger. The eightfold yoga mysticism is automatically practiced in Krishna consciousness because the ultimate purpose is served. From a bonafide spiritual master one can gets the pure knowledge and then steadily proceeds in the path of liberation. There is a gradual process of elevation in the practice of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. But these only preface perfection by devotional service, which alone can award peace to the human being. It is the highest perfection of life.
Dhyana Yoga or Astanga Yoga
When Karma-Yoga increases in knowledge and renunciation, the stage is called Jnana yoga, when Jnana-yoga increases in meditation on the supersoul by different physical processes, and the mind is fix on the supreme, it is called astanga yoga or dhyana yoga. In the yoga practice, with firm faith & determination, one should abandon all material desires (desire for sense enjoyment), without thinking anything else one should engage his body, mind & soul in the service of Lord. The mind is most difficult to control and one has to conquer it otherwise lust,anger, avarice, illusion etc always deviate him. A conqueror of mind automatically follows the dictation of Supersoul. (Paramatma, the form of Lord in the heart).
In order to execute the process of astanga yoga one has to live in a secluded place, and sitting on a sacred place, he has to meditate on the Paramatama(Supersoul). One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect and stare steadily at the tip of nose with an unagitated and subdued mind. One should regulate the habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and workr, to free oneself from material desires. Like a lamp in the windless place, one has to steadily meditate on the Supersoul with a controlled mind. If the mind wanders, one should bring it back under the control of the self. This continuous practice culminates into smadhi, the stage of full consciousness of Supreme. The perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and relish and rejoice in the self. The natural boundless transcendental pleasure is the highest perfection or ultimate goal of Yoga. Even if one abandons this process after practicing or fails. He is never in loss, he again gets a chance in a future life to start from the point where he left the process.
Arjuna knowing the restless, unsteady, strong nature of his mind, expresses his inability to practice this system of yoga. The goal of astanga yoga can also be achieved in Bhaki Yoga by engaging mind, body, soul, senses in the service of Krishna. A perfect yogi sees Vishu or Krishna as the same as Supersoul(Paramatma). Of all yogis, one who always remembers Krishna & renders devotional service to Him, is the best. Today’s so called yoga practices which involves various sense pleasures, is contradictory to Krishna’s explanation of this process.
Knowledge of the Absolute
In the first six chapters of Gita, the living entity has been described as non material spirit soul capable of elevating himself to self realization by different types of yoga’s. In this chapter Krishna explains that how by practicing Yoga in full consciousness of Krishna, with the mind attached on Krishna, one can know the ultimate knowledge of Krishna.
It is very rare among men to endeavor for achieving perfection. It is more rare to know Krishna in truth. Earth, water, air, fire, ether, mind, intelligence constitutes the material energy and the living entity belongs to another superior energy. Krishna is the source of all these energies.
The Lord further explains his all pervasiveness in his diverse material and spiritual energies. The Taste of Water, light of the sun & the moon, the sound, Aum, the ability in man, the fragrances of the earth, heat in fire, the strength of the strong(devoid of passion & desire) all represent Krishna. Krishna is also the sex life which is not contrary to religious principles. Although everything represent Krishna, as Krishna is the original seed for everything, yet He is independent. Only by surrendering unto Krishna, one can overcome the three modes of material nature.
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Krishna. ” However, the distressed, the desirer of material gains, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the absolute, render devotional service to the Lord. The one who render devotional service to the Lord in knowledge and who is free from material desire is the best.
Those who are hankering for material desires, worship demigods according to their nature. Actually these desire are being bestowed by Krishna only through the agencies of these demigods. So direct worship of Krishna is recommended for wise person. Sometime people with small knowledge take God as impersonal ultimately. However expert such nondevotees may be in discussing Vedanta and the Upanishads and other Vedic literatures, it is not possible for them to understand the personality of Godhead.
Krishna is unborn, infallible, knower of past, present & future. All living being are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desires and hate. Only those pious souls who have passed their lives on practicing the rules and regulation of religion can take to devotional service. In the Krishna Consciousness one can understand how the Supreme Lord is the governing principle of the material manifestation and even of the demigods. Naturally a Krishna Conscious person can never forget Krishna at the time of death and thus he attains the abode of Lord.
Attaining the Supreme
By remembering the Lord Krishna in devotion through one’s life, and especially at the time of death, one can attain to his supreme abode, beyond the material world. One’s thoughts during the course of one’s life accumulate to influence one’s thought at the moment of death, whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, he attains that without fail, This life creates one’s next life. So one should always meditate upon the Supreme Lord, as He is the oldest, the supreme controller, smaller than smallest and yet all pervading. He is inconceivable, transcendental, beyond this material nature. Although the supreme personality of Godhead is present in His abode yet He is all pervading and everything is situated in Him.
In Sat-Cakra Yoga practice, one first has to close the doors of all sense enjoyment, one should not engage in self gratification and practice celibacy. In this way the mind focuses on the Supersoul in the heart, and the life force is raised to the top of head, with the utterance of ‘Om’. Such yogis at the time of death raise the life force between the eyebrows(to the Ajna-Cakra) and quit the body to attain the spiritual world and never return back to this world of miseries.
This whole material creation is a place of miseries where repeated birth and death takes place. The Lord explains about the manifestation and annihilation of this material world with respect to Brahma’s life. The unmanifest and infallible supreme destination is the abode of the Lord.
It is recommended for the perfect yogis of Karma yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga etc to leave their body at a auspicious times to facilitate their souls journey to the spiritual world. Otherwise after reaching the higher planetary system, they have to come back.
It is very easy for the pure devotees(Bhakti Yogis) of the Lord to remember Him always. They attain the Supreme irrespective of their time of death.
Simply by performing unalloyed devotional service they attain the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifice, charity or fruitful activities. They ultimately reach the Supreme’s eternal abode.
Raja Guhya Yoga: The Most Confidential Knowledge
In Chapter 8, Krishna spoke of “Ananya bhakti”, constant unadulterated devotion, as the means to attain Him. Now in Chapter Nine, the confidential truths of that bhakti are further revealed, enlightening us on its supreme excellence.
Arjuna’s Eligibility of Hearing (1-3):
As Arjuna is non-envious, Krishna imparts the topmost knowledge which can bring total relief from material existence. Those devoid of faith, however, shall remain in the cycle of birth and death.
Krishna’s Relationship With the Cosmos(4-10):
Krishna is the source and resting place of the entire cosmos. Each and every particle of it is pervaded by Him. Yet it does not rest in Him, nor is He within it. He remains in a position of absolute aloofness. This is Krishna’s inconceivable power. The entire cosmos goes on under Krishna’s supervision through the agency of his energy (prakriti).
Wise Acknowledge Krishna’s Position and Worship Him (11-15):
Only fools deride Krishna. Because they do not understand His divine nature, all their hopes and activities are defeated. Whereas wise understand Krishna’s position and engage in undeviated worship of Him. Others worship the Supreme as one with themselves, as diverse in many, or as the universal form.
The Proper Method of Worship is Exclusive Devotion (16-25):
In one sense everything is Krishna and in that sense the various worshippers indirectly worship Krishna. Because their worship is improper (without knowledge), they attain various destinations; whereas, only those who engage in exclusive devotion attain Krishna.
The Unmatchable Specialty of Exclusive Devotion(26-34):
Whatever you are doing, do it with love and devotion for Krishna. It is so simple and the result will be the highest liberation- attainment of Krishna. Krishna is equal to all but is naturally partial to and has special interest in His devotees. Even if a devotee falls, Krishna saves him and re-instates him. Devotion is open to one and all, and by it, all can attain Krishna. Therefore Krishna’s final instruction is, ” Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.”
Engage in the exclusive service of the Supreme Godhead, Sri Krishna, Your delivery will be swift and Krishna shall be attained.
(From Bhagavad Gita Study Guide by HG Gauri Dasa)
The Opulence of the Absolute
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has called verses eight through twelve the catuh-sloki of the Bhagavad-gita, playing off the well-known four (catur) essential verses (sloka) of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, originally spoken by Krsna to Brahma (1). All four verses have a general meaning for practicing devotees (sadhakas), as well as an esoteric meaning relative to Krsna’s devotees of Vraja and the gopis in particular, as well as those following in their footsteps in advanced stages of practice. Krsna, as he does in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2), proclaims Himself to be the original Supreme Person (svayam bhagavan). How one can attain the highest devotional perfection of association with the Supreme Lord has been thoroughly explained in this chapter. The wise who perfectly know this, engage in loving devotional service to Krsna, and they derive great satisfaction & eternal bliss from conversing about Krsna. And to such persons, Krsna gives full understanding so that they can go to Krsna’s abode. Otherwise nobody can understand Krsna by making mental efforts. Understanding inconceivable Krishna is beyond the limit of our limited & imperfact senses.
Arjuna understands that Krsna is the supreme personality of godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest & absolute truth. He is eternal, transcendental and the original person. Although Krsna’s opulences are limitless, on the request of Arjuna, Krsna gives a slight indication about His infinite opulances.
All wondrous phenomena showing power, beauty, grandeur or sublimity, either in the material world or in spiritual, are but partial manifestations of Krsna’s divine energies and opulence. He is the supreme cause of all causes & the essence of everything living or non living.
Anything extraordinarily opulent, beautiful and glorious should be considered as a fragmental manifestation of Krsna’s splendor. All things are existing due to Krsna’s entering into them as supersoul. Krsna is supreme object of worship.
Visvarupa-Darsana-Yoga: The Universal Form
In the previous chapter, Arjuna was trying to understand Krishna’s potencies, so Krishna explained, “Among seasons I am spring, among rivers I am the Ganges, among beasts I am the lion, among men I am the king….” And Krishna concluded, “How far shall I go on? Just try to understand that because of My entering the universe by only one plenary portion, the whole cosmic manifestation exists.” Chapter Eleven then begins with Arjuna’s request to see the form by which the Lord pervades the universe.
Krishna Blesses Arjuna with Divine Eyes(1-8):
Hearing form Krishna, Arjuna’s illusion is dispelled and he now understands Krishna’s inexhaustible glories. Arjuna requests Krishna to show him the form by which the Lord pervades the universe. Krishna describes that form to Arjuna and then blessed him with the eyes to see it.
The Universal Form(9-31):
Sanjaya describes the unlimited, blazing, effulgent universal form. Arjuna, in complete astonishment to see this form, folds his hands and begins to offer prayers.Seeing the universal from devour all, Arjuna losses his equilibrium and anxiously ask ” Who are You?” and ” What is Your mission?”
Become the Instrument of Time(32-34):
Krishna, while exhibiting His universal form, says that He is time and has come to destroy all. Therefore, Arjuna should not be disturbed and should act as an instrument by fighting.
Arjuna Continues to Pray(35-46):
Arjuna’s prayers reach their zenith and he submits himself by offering thousands of obeisances. Arjuna begs forgiveness for his familiar dealing with Krishna for he has misunderstood Krishna’s position. Satisfied, but yet disturbed, Arjuna requests Krishna to show him His beautiful form again.
One Can See the Lord Only by Devotion(47-55):
First Krishna manifests His four-armed and then resumes His original two-armed form which is so very beautiful and dear to Arjuna. The chapter concludes with Krishna explaining that His original form is perceived and that He is attained only by those who have pure devotion.
Krishna establishes His supremacy by the manifestation of the universal form. He declares that His original form is perceived and that He is attained only by those who are situated in pure devotion.
Bhakti-Yoga: Devotional Service
In Chapter Eleven, Krishna declared that only by devotional service can one understand and see Him. To take us beyond any shadow of a doubt, Arjuna now asks Krishna for the final word: which is the best, devotional service to the Lord or worship of the impersonal Brahman? Krishna presents single-minded devotion as the highest engagement, bringing these six chapters on devotion to a close.
Bhakti Over Impersonalism(1-7):
Worship of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is recommended as best. Krishna promises that He will quickly deliver His pure devotee. Even though the impersonalists may one day attain Krishna, their path is unnatural and troublesome.
The Progressive Stages of Devotion (8-12): (Going from the highest to lesser practices)
– mind fixed on Krishna
– the practice of fixing the mind on Krishna
– working for Krishna
– offering the results of work to Krishna
– meditation or the cultivation of knowledge
The Qualities that Endear the Devotees to Krishna(13-20):
Krishna speaks on the various qualities that endear the devotee to Him. He concludes saying that those who follow the devotional path making Him the supreme goal of life, are especially dear to Him.
The practice of single-minded devotion to Sri Krishna, the Supreme Person, stands supreme above all other paths.
Prakrti Pursa Viveka yoga: Nature, the Enjoyer, and Consciousness
Now we begin the third and final section of chapters. The first section dealt with karma-yoga. The second section dealt with bhakti-yoga. And now, the third section deals with jnana-yoga. Jnana-yoga simply means knowledge of prakrti, the jiva and the Supreme. This knowledge supports and favors the performance of ‘ananya-bhakti’.
Arjuna Asks Six Question (1):
Arjuna desires to know about:
2. the enjoyer
3. the field of activity
4. the knower of the field
6. the object of knowledge
The Field and the Knower of the Field(2-7):
Ksetra refers to the body and ksetra-jna refers to both the Supersoul and the jiva soul. However, the Supersoul knows all bodies whereas the jiva only knows his own. The ksetra consists of twenty-four elements which interact and produce various conditions such as happiness or distress.
The Process of Knowledge (Jnanam) (8-12):
The process by which the knower of the field transcends the limitations of his field of activities is called the process of knowledge. Among these items of knowledge unalloyed devotion stands foremost and the others are accessories which serve to clear the ksetra of it’s unfavorable elements.
The Object of Knowledge (Jneyam) (13-19):
The Supersoul, who is all pervading and situated in the hearts of all, is the object of knowledge. Only the unalloyed devotees can thoroughly understand the ksetra, jnanam, and jneyam. Understanding this they attain Krishna.
Material Nature, the Soul, and the Supersoul (20-26):
Material nature (prakrti) and the living entities (purusa) are beginningless; their transformations are a product of material nature. Due to the living entities’ association with nature, he meets with good and evil. He is the cause of his suffering and enjoyment; Above this is the overseer and permitter, the Supersoul (param-purusa), who may be perceived through the various practices mentioned. By understanding this knowledge one shall attain liberation and shall never be born again.
Seeing with Eyes of Knowledge (27-35):
One who sees the ksetra, ksetra-jna, and the Supersoul, and who properly understands their interactions, actually sees. Understanding the process of liberation, he approaches the transcendental destination.
If one properly understands the ksetra, ksetra-jna, the Supersoul, and the process of liberation; one can approach transcendence.
Guna-Traya-Vibhaga-Yoga: The Three Modes of Material Nature
In Chapter Thirteen, knowledge of the living entities’ situation in prakrti (material nature) was described (13.20-24). Now in Chapter Fourteen, the living entities’ conditioning by that prakrti is further described in detail. The conclusion is that bhakti is the perfect means by which the living entities may rise above their conditioning, thus attaining their constitutional position of actual happiness.
The Living Entities are Conditioned by the Modes (1-5):
By becoming fixed in the knowledge presented herein, one can attain a transcendental nature. The Lord impregnates material nature with the seeds of the living entities. Due to contact with matter, these living entities are conditioned by material nature which consists of three modes.
The Three Modes and Their Characteristics (6-18):
At different times, one mode may be more prominent than theothers.
Goodness: It Illuminates, purifies, conditions one to a sense of happiness and knowledge. All the bodily gates are illuminated by knowledge and one progress towards pure knowledge. If one die while in this mode, one attains the pure higher planets.
Passion: Give rise to unlimited desires and longings, binds one to fruitive actions. It’s symptoms are attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, desire and hankering. It causes misery, grief and one stays on earth life after life.
Ignorance: Deludes, results in madness, indolence and sleep. It’s symptoms are darkness, inertia, madness and illusion. It may cause journey to hellish planet or birth among lower species.
Transcending the Three Modes (19-27):
Transcending begins with seeing the modes at work doing everything and realizing the transcendental position of the Supreme Lord. Rising above the modes means freedom from bondage and attainment of the Lord’s nature. Such a transcendentalist, understanding that the modes alone are active, is indifferent toward mundane dualities, equal toward all, situated within himself and completely detached. One who unfailingly engages in pure devotional service at once transcends the modes and comes to the Brahman platform. Krishna is the source of Brahman.
The three qualities of nature have bound all living entities. However, by unfailing engagement in complete devotion, one can attain and remain in a transcendental position.
Purosottama-Yoga: The Yoga of the Supreme Person
It was established in Chapter Fourteen that the conditioned soul may attain a transcendental position by engagement in full devotion(14.26). Now, in Chapter Fifteen, Krishna teaches that the basic principle of devotional service is detachment from material activities and attachment to the transcendental service of the Supreme Purusa.
Extrication From the Banyan Tree of Material Existence (1-6):
Material existence is compared to an imperishable banayan tree. With determination the tree should be cut down with the weapon of detachment. One should then seek the eternal abode any by surrender to the Supreme Person attain the eternal kingdom from which one never returns to this material world.
The Hard Struggle of Embodied Life (7-11):
The conditioned living entities who are fragments of Krishna are transmigrating from one material body to the next. In each body the jiva is equipped with a set of senses through which he tries to enjoy. Those with eyes trained in knowledge perceive this struggle whereas the foolish do not.
Krishna, the Very Force Behind Universal Sustenance, Is To Be Known (12-15):
The source of energy sustaining the universe and all living entities is Krishna. He is situated in everyone’s heart and is to be known by all the Vedas.
The Most Confidential Part of Vedic Scriptures (16-20):
Three are three types of purusas: the living entities here in this world (the fallible), the living entities in the spiritual world (the infallible), and the Uttama Purusa (the Imperishable Supreme Person), who has entered these worlds and is maintaining them. Being above all others, He is celebrated in the Vedas as “Purusottama”. Understanding this without doubt, one engages in His service.
The living entities who are entangled in the banyan tree of the material existence should detach themselves and engage in devotional service to the Supreme Purusottama.
Daivasura-Sampad – Vibhaga-Yoga: The Divine and Demoniac Natures
In the ninth chapter (9.11-14) the divine and demoniac natures were described in brief. In the pervious chapter engagement in the service of Purusottama was advised. To attain His service specific qualities and behavior are advantageous whereas others are not. Therefore, here in Chapter Sixteen, the Lord presents the diving and demoniac qualities in more details so that spiritual aspirants may discriminate between them and cultivate the favorable qualities.
Qualities of the Divine and Demoniac (1-5):
Twenty-six godly qualities and many demoniac qualities are described herein. The godly qualities are conducive to liberation; whereas, the demoniac qualities are conducive to bondage.
The Demoniac Nature (6-20):
The demoniac have neither proper behavior or good habits. They say that this world is unreal and that there is no God in control. The engage in unbeneficial activities meant to destroy the world. Taking shelter of insatiable lust, they believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of life. Their work in pursuance of this is illegal and sinful. Deluded by ignorance, wealth and false prestige, they think themselves the lord of everything. Bewildered by pride and false ego they become envious of God and are cast into repeated births in demoniac and abominable species.
The Scriptures Can Save One from Hell (21-24):
The three gateways to hell are lust, anger and greed. By freeing oneself from these three enemies and by performing one’s duty under the direction of scriptural regulations, a man can be gradually elevated to perfection.
Godly qualities and proper conduct according to scriptural regulations are conducive to elevation. However, whimsical action independent of scriptural direction and demoniac qualities lead to degradation.
Sraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga: The Divisions of Faith
Previously Arjuna was instructed that those who worship according to their whim, disregarding the scriptures, never attain happiness or perfection. Arjuna now wants to know which mode controls the faith of those who worship whimsically.
Faith According to the Modes (1-6):
According to one’s existence under the modes, one gets a particular type of faith, and object of worship, a specific preference in food and a particular manner in which he performs sacrifice, austerity and charity. Those who disregard sastric injunctions and perform austerities impelled by lust, have demoniac nature.
Food, Worship, Austerity, and Charity in the Modes (7-22):
Herein food, sacrifice, austerity and charity and described according to each of the three modes.
The conclusion : OM TAT SAT(23-28):
When the purpose of sacrifice, charity and penance is to please the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, indicated by the syllables OM TAT SAT, the result is transcendental. However, those same activities performed without faith in the Supreme are considered useless both in this life and in the next.
Sacrifice, charity and penance performed according to scriptural regulations with a desire to please the Supreme, as indicated by OM TAT SAT are in the mode of goodness and give freedom from bondage.
Moksa-yoga: Conclusion – The Perfection of Renunciation
Actually, the Bhagavad-gita is completed in seventeen chapters, However, Arjuna desires to hear a summary of all that has been discussed. Therefore, Krishna reiterates the essence of all the previous chapters, emphasizing surrender to Himself above all else.
Krishna’s Final Opinion on Renunciation (1-12):
Krishna explains various opinions of the actual meaning of tyaga and sannyasa; then He gives His own final opinion. The terms tyaga and sannyasa are actually both referring to renunciation. Renunciation is of three types according to the influence of the modes. The truly renounced situated in goodness never abandon prescribed duties, rather they renounce material
association and attachment to the fruit. Thus they accrue no reactions after death.
Acting on the Platform of Knowledge Means No Bondage (13-18)
According to Vedanta there are five causes for the accomplishment of all actions. The five causes:
1. adhisthanam – the place(the body)
2. karta – the doer
3. karanam – the various senses
4. vividhas ca prthak cesta – many different kinds of endeavor
5. daivam- the supersoul
Therefore, considering oneself the only doer is ignorance. There are also three motivators and three constituents of action.
The three motivators:
1. jnanam – knowledge
2. jneyam – the object of knowledge
3. parijnata – the knower
The three constituents:
1. karanam – the senses
2. karma – the work
3. karta – the doer
One who clearly understands the causes of action, who is not motivated by false ego, thinking oneself the doer, is never bound by his actions.
The Influence of the Three Modes of Nature (19-40)
According to the influence of the three modes of material nature, there are three kinds of knowledge, action, performers, understanding, determination and happiness. There is no being existing who is freed from the influence of the modes of nature.
From Activities Influenced by the Modes to Pure Devotional Service (41-55)
(Karma – Yoga)
A man who worships the Supreme by performing his occupational duty prescribed according to his nature is free from sinful reaction and can attain perfection.
(Jnana- Yoga to Pure Bhakti)
One who is self-controlled and unattached to material enjoyment can attain the supreme perfectional stage of Brahman, the stage of highest knowledge, by practice of jnana-yoga. By attaining Brahman realization, one attains pure devotional service.
Only by devotion can one understand Krishna in truth and enter the kingdom of God.
More Confidential Knowledge 56-63:
By the grace of Krishna a pure devotee who performs all activities in full consciousness of Krishna, depending on Him and working always under His protection, will surpass all obstacles and attain His eternal abode. One who is not Krishna conscious and acts through false ego is lost. Compelled to act under the directions of nature he is falsely directed. Therefore one should surrender to the Lord who is situated in everyone’s heart (surrender to Supersoul).
The Most Confidential Knowledge (64-66):
The supreme instruction is: ” Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear” (Bhagavat-bhakti).
Preaching and Studying Bhagavad-gita (67-71)
This most confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who have not engaged in devotional service of those who are envious. Explaining it to the devotees, however, guarantees attainment of Krishna. There is no servant more dear to Krishna then he who explains this knowledge to the devotees. Hearing Bhagavad-gita with faith and without envy frees one
from sinful reactions and allows one to attain planets of the pious.
Arjuna’s Ignorance is Dispelled (72-73):
Arjuna declares that his illusion is gone and his memory regained. He is firm, and free from doubt and ready to act as Krishna desires.
Sanjaya’s Prediction (74-78):
Remembering this holy dialogue and the wonderful from of Krishna, Sanjaya is thrilled at every moment. He then ecstatically declares, ” Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality.”
The Final Conclusion
In full consciousness of Krishna surrender to Him. By becoming His devotee all sinful reactions are annihilated and the kingdom of God is attained.
The summaries of chapters 9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17 & 18 are directly taken from the BG study guide of HG Gauri prabhu of Vrindavan Gurukul. The other chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 were compiled by Subala prabhu, who compiled the entire study overview for the devotees of the Bhagavad Gita Forum.
Sri Gita Mahatmya – The Glory of the Gita
(Chanted after the recitation on the Gita)
as spoken by Sripad Shankaracharya
gita shastram idam punyam
yah pateth prayatah puman
vishnoh padam avapnoti
(1) He who studies this Gita scripture with humility is freed from fear and misery and attains the feet of Lord Vishnu.
naiva santi he paapani
purva janme kritani cha
(2) That person who is in the habit of reading the Gita and who is also devoted to practising pranayama (breathing exercises) is not touched by sins, even those done in his previous birth.
mala nirmochanam pumsam
jala snanam dine dine
sakrid gitambhaasi snanam
samsara mala nashanam
(3) Human beings must bathe in water every day to get rid of the dirt (of the body), but bathing in the water of the Gita once is enough to get rid of the dirt of this samsara (cycle of birth and death).
gita sugita kartavya
kim anyaih shastra vistaraih
ya svyam padama nabhaayasa
mukha padmad vinih srita
(4) This Gita which has come out of the lotus-like face of the Lord (He who has the lotus in His navel) and which is so melodious, should be studied. There is no need to study any other scriptures in detail.
bharat amrita sarvasam
vishnor vaktrad vini sritam
gita gangodakam pitva
punar janma na vidyate
(5) After drinking the water of the Gita which is the nectar of the entire Bharata (the epic Mahabharata) and which has come out of the mouth of Vishnu, there is no more birth (in this world).
sarvo panishado gavo
dogdha gopala nandanah
partho vatsah sudhir bhokta
dugdham gita amritam mahat
All the Upanishads are the cows, the one who milks the cows is Krishna, Arjuna (Partha) is the calf. Men of purified intellect are the enjoyers; the milk is the great nectar of the Gita. The only scripture is the song of the son of Devaki. The only deity is the son of Devaki. The only mantra is His Names. The only action is the service of That Deity.
ekam sastram devaki-putra-gitam
eko devo devaki-putra eva
eko mantras tasya namani yani
karmapy ekam tasya devasya seva
(7) In this present day, man ispeople are very eager to have one scripture, one God, one religion, and one occupation. SoTherefore, ekam sastram devaki-putra-gitam: let there beone scripture only,one common scripture, for the whole world-Bhagavad-gita. And Eko devo devaki-putra eva: let there be one God only for the whole world-Sri Krsna. Eko mantras tasya namani: And one hymn, one mantra, one prayer only-the chanting of His name: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Karmapy ekam tasya devasya seva: And let there be one work only-the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lord Shiva in Gita Mahatmya, states that “only one God – Krishna, the son of Devaki” (Verse 7).