This is a journey through the Bhagavad Gita Quotes. If you are reading this post you might be looking for answers to the questions below:
- Who am I?
- Is there life after death?
- How can I balance the material and spiritual aspects of my life?
- Why would a kind and just God allow suffering?
- How can I help this troubled world?
- Does my life run a predestined course or do I have choices?
I started reading the Bhagavad Gita As It, encouraged by my son Lucas, (who already read the book). Together we decided to share with you our discussions and understandings about the Bhagavad Gita As It Is book.
If you already read the Bhagavad Gita book, it would be interesting to read our views and understandings and compare to yours. You are welcome to leave comments about your understanding at the end of the post.
Let’s the journey begin
Lia – Author/Blogger
Lucas – Lia’s son
The Bhagavad Gita Book
It would be useful and easier to understand the post if you read the original book as we go along each chapter.
Bhagavad Gita Definition
The Bhagavad Gita is the dialogue between God, Krsna (Krishna) and His devotee Arjuna while he prepares to battle against his cousin Duryodhana for the throne. Arjuna faces a dilemma of “choice” but at the same time an unsolvable problem that we all face when the perplexities of life happen without our desire.
It concise 700 verses and 18 chapters of India’s spiritual philosophy.
Discovering Vedas – The dialogue between mother and son
At the start of my readings and discussing with Lucas, I am questioning the reason for the battle at first instance.
Lia: I am questioning if Arjuna was right on wanting the throne back. In my view and understanding at this moment is that Arjuna does not have the right to the throne. After all, his father Pandu (The Pandava family) was the youngest and was given the throne because his oldest brother was blind.
Later, Arjuna’s father “The King”, died and his children, including Arjuna, were under the care of the oldest brother (who would be the Kind at first).
There was a lot of anger between the families and Arjuna was encouraged by Lord Krsna to get the throne back as per his rights as a descendent of the Pandavas.
In my life experience, I believe that a person is not born “bad” and there is always a reason for behaviour or reaction. I am not saying that it is OK to kill but I want to discover where the anger from Duryodhana and his family against the Pandavas (Arjuna’s family) comes from?
Lucas: There are four Vedas. The four Vedas are Hindu texts that describe various stories about the Gods and religious philosophy and this would be explained in one of the other Vedas.
Lia: We are in 2020 and I don’t agree that just because someone is blind that they should be put aside. However, this takes place fifty centuries ago.
Lucas: Their methods of deciding who was fit to rule were not limited just to the birthright but their own physical and mental abilities.
Bhagavad Gita Preface
The preface mentions the Krishna Consciousness Movement and the Perfection of Life. It also mentions that the purpose of the text is to guide the student to the same purpose that Krishna descends to this planet.
Lucas: I want to get to the text itself and not focus on the modernist movement.
Lia: What was Krishna’s purpose to descend to earth? Was it a feeling connected that perhaps Krishna wanted to help humanity so given himself as a sign of “love”? and this would be what the text is trying to teach us?
Lucas: Krishna would not have to rely on love or connection since being an incarnation of Vishnu; The Universal Spirit, he is always already innate within everything. The reason why he descends onto the mortal realm is that humanity when in a time of strife, needs his wisdom.
Lia: Why is the definition called “wisdom” and not “love”?
Lucas: Because they are two different things. The definition is not the right term to compare them to. Love would not help anyone as this is just a feeling. Action is needed. Action honed by wisdom.
Lia: OK, but could “love” be a reason for action?
Lucas: Indeed. One could say that Arjuna loves his people and thusly wishes to claim the throne and rule them justly, but the “love” that Krishna feels for humanity cannot be compared with any human emotion as it is not temporary and it is not fazed by other things such as fear or doubt. In the name of this godly “love”, one would see actions that from a surface observation would be seen as unfair or cruel. But because Gods know the whole they know what results from their actions will have and therefore all sacrifices will not be in vain.
Is Human Love Temporary?
Lia: Why do you say that “human love” is temporary?
Lucas: Because we are temporary. Even though we reincarnate our identities die just as the body dies. And during our lives, all emotions are fleeting, fear and love, doubt and anger, passion and sadness, all specks of dust. That is why Krishna in this text teaches us, detachment. So that we may understand the only thing that is constant and truly exists which is the Divine.
Lia: This is very clear. I never thought about human emotions as fluctuating. I understand about the different emotions that we feel in different situations. Sometimes we are angry, sometimes we are sad, sometimes we love and sometimes we hate. However, I believe there is one type of love that is eternal. Is the love of mother and son.
Lucas: But that only lasts as long these two parties are living. Indeed familial love can last longer them other emotions but like all things, they come to an end as well.
Human Love changes through life
Lia: Last long meaning they carry on after death and continue in other incarnations or while the soul is in the Spirit world? Why would it come to an end?
Lucas: Let me explain like this: When the child is born the mother’s love for the child is instinctual as the child for the mother. As time goes on, the child loves the mother for being a carer and the mother loves the child for being a godson or daughter. As they age, this is the reverse as the mother now old will look onto her offspring as carers and the offspring will look onto her as a good mother. When the mother dies the offspring’s love becomes a mourning love. The mother’s love remains as a memory that is passed on through the descendants until it fades. So, this emotion goes through a series of transmutation until it disappears and becomes something unrecognizable.
Lia: It maybe be true, but it is quite sad. Also, I don’t quite agree that the mother loves the child “because” they are good. For me is unconditional love.
Lucas: I did not claim that those are the causes of love but rather changes in how they are expressed. These are the minor changes. Then for example when the mother dies the first major change happens and then it becomes the mourning love and that times goes on, that love remains an ancestral memory until for whatever reason either that bloodline fails or memory fades it will disappear and transmuted in something different entirely. As for your feeling of sadness, the text is filled with things that will make one feel sad or frustrated. Those are the first obstacles we face when learning and practising detachment.
What detachment mean?
Lia: Why detachment is so important and what does this mean exactly?
Lucas: We will learn that as we read the text.
Lia: I knew you would answer that. There is another thing that I want to comment about the Preface. It is when it is mentioned that “the natural function is to render services to the Lord, the perfection of life is to satisfy the senses of the Lord, his wants and demands”. I see this like we do not have any choice and we are as servants. So, what is the meaning of life?
Lucas: To those whom the preface is most relevant to, the meaning of life is to serve Krishna. The devotees willingly detach themselves from the world so they may be one with God. Such a mindset is practised by all monastic and ascetic faiths across the globe.
Krsna as the Controller
Lia: Does it mean that there are two types of people?
Lucas: The text claims that there are three types of people. But we will learn about that as we read on. I am not saying that faith alone makes a person good or bad. I am just explaining why people devote themselves to their faith.
Lia: So, when people devote themselves to the monastic lifestyle is this because it makes you suffer less and accept challenges in life easily? Can anyone decide to change and be one of the devotees?
Lucas: This is going to be the last question I answer before we get to the text.
Lia: Why? Am I rushing with the learning?
Lucas: No, because you are stalling with the reading, but it is good that you asked so many questions. Firstly, people do not enter a monastic or ascetic lifestyle to suffer less as such a lifestyle requires hard work and self-denial. What asceticism and monasticism provide is separation from the temporary trivialities and distractions of everyday life so that the devotee can focus one Divine work and detachment. Anyone can become a devotee as long they have will power.
Bhagavad Gita Introduction
Lia: The Bhagavad Gita is spoken by Krsna himself. He explains that there are three types of transcendentalists (spiritual paths that we can choose to follow):
- Jnani – impersonal
- Yogi – Meditator
- Bhakta – Devotee
To understand the Bhagavad Gita recommend to read the Bhagavad-Gita in a submissive spirit and accept Sr Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lucas: This is just one way of reading. One can read in a more secular way as a scholarly interpretation. It is best to go through both these interpretations to learn and understand this text.
Lia: The Bhagavad Gita says that Krsna is the Greatest of all. “The Controller” – nothing could be manifested without being controlled. We try to control the planet and everything else. This is because this tendency comes from Krsna. However, we need to understand that we are not the Supreme Controller.
Lia: Why there is a comparison of the above with the “female” figure or “wife” defined as inferior and her activities being controlled by her husband?
Lucas: This is a traditional example used to explain this comparison, which might seem outdated in a modern context. One needs to understand the archaic spiritual roles that male and female play. The terms “mother earth” and “father time” or “sky father” are present in many old world religions being that the female role is that of the private sphere which is raising children and thusly rearing the next generation. The male role is that in the public sphere providing leadership and guidance to his fellow men. Thusly the female has been associated with the material and the male with the spiritual or Divine. This is not to say that they are mutually exclusive but at a surface level they are expressed in this fashion.
The 5 categories – The basis of Vedic Literature
- Living entities – Jiva (eternal) – are present living people
- Isvara – The Controller (eternal) – Krsna
- Pakrti – Material nature (eternal) – all material things
- Karma – Activity – all activities we perform
- Kala – Eternal Time (eternal) – eternity
Karma is not Eternal
Karma – When the living being is in the mode of Goodness and understands what sort of activities he should adopt, all the actions and reactions of his past activities can be changed. Consequently, karma is not eternal.
Bhakti – Purify activities (not contaminated) – Actions such as worship.
The contaminated activities – Focus on the enjoyment of temporary things.
The Supreme Lord is the Creator and the Enjoyer. The living entity is a Cooperator.
What is Consciousness? The Bhagavad Gita say it is the “I am”
Lia: What exactly this means?
Lucas: This is part of detachment. One needs to remove himself from false notions of self. By saying “I am Lucas”, I limit myself to a temporary existence. To questions such as “Are you a part of this?” and “Can you associate yourself with this?” in all terms temporary, the enlightened being always answers and acts in the negative. Thusly by removing himself from temporary things, purifying his consciousness from the illusion of material existence, he unifies himself with the Divine and becomes one with everything. “I am”.
Lia: We are part of a machine that cooperates with the whole machine. Another example is a part of the body they are not the enjoyers. The enjoyer in our body is the stomach and by all parts cooperating, the living being enjoys.
Lia: The text mention about touching a cow’s dung as a purifying action. Is a cow a sacred animal and why?
Lucas: As for the dung, that is just a rather specific action performed by some Krsna devotees. As for the cow as a sacred animal, it is highly regarded as such in Hindu culture in which their reverence still practised today. I do not know the specifics of why the animal is considered sacred in the Hindu context however in the European context the animal is also regarded as sacred but in an inverted sense, as a sacrificial animal.
The Bhagavad Gita meaning
Lia: A human being should realize the aim of his life. This direction is given in all Vedic literature and the essence is given in Bhagavad-Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient text to allow one to find themselves through detachment.
The Bhagavad Introduction explains that there are three kinds of activities when mentioned Faith:
Following the instructions of Bhagavad Gita, we will become purified to reach the Spiritual Sky. In this material world, everything is temporary. Example: a fruit, a body.
Service others are the constant companion of the living being, therefore, rendering of service is the eternal religion.
All religions, in all circumstances we are a servant of someone. We become happy if we participate in that eternal enjoyment. One who can approach the Spiritual sky is not required to descend again.
Discovering our Path
The eternal body is called Sac-cid-ananda.
At the time of death either we can remain in the inferior energy of this material world or we can transfer to the energy of the Spiritual world. “
Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits this present body, in his next life he will attain to that state without fail.”
Lia: Is this considered as a promise that Krsna is not going to fail us and she should truly have no doubt about this?
Lucas: The question should not be if he fails you. It should be if you fail him. To say a name is not enough. Action is required and we will learn as we read through the text.
Lia: The introduction mention that Arjuna had a prescribed duty of fighting for his throne. Arjuna “knew” what path to follow as it was directed imposed by Krsna. What about us?
Lucas: We live in an era where Gods cannot really descend and guide mortals are they used to. The only option we have is to find answers ourselves, we need to keep challenging ourselves, moving out of our comfort zone.
Lia: Does that mean that while we are here in this material world we will not know what is our path exactly?
Lucas: No, it is something we have to search for ourselves.
The Importance of Meditation
Lia: Can we find our real path with meditation? I have written a post about Chakras and Meditation here.
Lucas: Yes, there are different methods. Meditation can help us to focus and this is one of the things that are needed and it is up to you to decide on what to focus on.
Lia: The last part of the introduction says that “if one adopts the principles enunciated in Bhagavad-gita, he can make his life perfect and make a permanent solution to all the problems in life. If one follows the instructions of Bhagavad-gita, one can be freed from all miseries and anxieties of life. One will be freed from all fears in this life, and one’s next life will be spiritual.
Lia: So, is that what people look when they read the book and decide to become a devotee so you don’t need to come back?
Lucas: That is the main reason. Some are not really so shocked by the misfortune of life as much as they want to come closer to the Divine. But, ultimately, yes, the aim is to simply be free. This is not to say that the material world is a negative experience by no means. They simply wish to become part of something greater.
The Lotus Flower Meaning
Lia: Vedic Literature and imageries always have a connection with the Lotus flower as mentioned on the text about the sacred Ganges water of Gita that attains salvation emanated from the “Lotus feet of the Lord”. Also, the chakras are defined as lotus flowers. What the Lotus Flower represents in Vedic Literature?
Lucas: Multiple meanings can be derived from the Lotus Flower. Two of the most relevant ones can be described as such:
- Chakras are described as being open or closed. The Lotus flower blossoms in a way that it appears to be closed then open. This opening represents realization and awakening in the spiritual sense.
- The other relates to where the Lotus grows. Just as some beings remain in the murky waters such as the Lilli pads, some are awakened and can perceive and experience through reality just as how the Lotus blossoms above the water.
Lia: Let’s see if I understand: The Lotus Flower blossoms above the murky water therefore if the person is consciously awake them they are like the Lotus Flower. If the person is attached to the material world they remain as Lilli pads.
The Lotus Flower vs Lilly Pads
Lucas: Can you describe what the difference between the Lilli pads and Lotus Flowers and how it grows and how it can be compared to the enlightenment of an individual?
Lia: Lilli pads are a kind of a big leave that just float in muddy water. The Lotus Flower is flowers that blossom from the Lili pads above the water. I believe, that some plants remain as Lili pads and don’t’ blossom in Lotus Flowers. So, it is the same for an individual. If they don’t detach themselves from the material world they will be always in this “foggy” environment. However, if they connect to the Lord they will be transformed in the “Lotus Flower” that means raise above the material world and become one with the Lord.
Lucas: This is a good description.