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The Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit with transliteration
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Bhagavad-Gita with the Commentary of Sri Shankaracharya, translated to English by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri (1977)
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Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Swami Anandagiri
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Srimad Bhagavad Gita Telugu Geetamulu By Garlanka Veera Venkata Satyanarayana
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Srimad Bhagavad Gita in Malayalam
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The Bhagavad Gita in Modern Life
Here’s a wonderful excerpt about the Gita from KM Munshi’s book.
Of books a few only attain the position of classics. Of them, not more than half a dozen have come to be accepted as Scriptures. Of such Scriptures, the pre-eminent is the Bhagavad Gita – this incomparable converse between God and Man. Edwin Arnold called it The Song Celestial; Humboldt characterised it as “the most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song in any known tongue.”The reasons for its preeminence are many.
It is composed by Vyasa Dvaipayana, the author of the Mahabharata, the poet of poets and the first and foremost prophet of the human race. Its teacher is Sri Krishna the one who incarnated as the Man-Triumphant; Him whom generations have worshipped as God Himself. This gospel has given more than human power to countless men for the last twenty-five hundred years; to Sankara and Ramanuja; to Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak and Gandhiji among the moderns.
It has also provided the inspiration to immortal works like the Bhagavata and Tulasidasa’s Ramacarita Manasa which have shaped and strengthened the eternal edifice of Indian culture. And it has a universality which embraces every aspect of human action, suits and elevates every stage of human development. Yet the modern educated mind in India is a timid mind. It has a subconscious feeling that if it is found relying too often on the Gita, the possessor-the arrogant modern-will be classed with the superstitious, the weak, the outworn. It is a real fear amongst us. But if India is to continue its triumphant march to world influence, the fear must be cast out.
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans said: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. “Why should anyone be ashamed of the Gospel which Sri Krishna taught mankind? No man is ashamed of his learning, of his artistic gifts, or of displaying power, however little it be. Why should he be ashamed of openly confessing the real source of power, the power which strengthens everyone when he is feeble, inspires him when he is weak, upholds him when he is strong? When all resources fail, then through the words of the Gita, God speaks:
Yield not to impotence, Partha.
It befits thee not.
Shake off this wretched faint-heartedness.
Stand up, Oh, harasser of foes.
Then fear flees. Then we recover ‘ourselves’; and like
unto Arjuna each of us can say, inspired:
Here I stand firm; my doubts are fled;
I shall act as Thou biddest.
This is the meaning of karma. The more desperate the situation, the greater is the power which the Gita reveals. This has been the experience of the strong. Why should it not be the inspiration of us, the weak? The strength which the Gila gives doe!”not lie on the surface. It lies in real personal power; not like the power of the worldly, in apparent glitter and domination. It is the power that makes everyone to whom it comes a little more of himself. By and through it, the weak become strong; the shallow, deep; the yoluble, silent; the insolent, humble; the wasted, effective. It gives the power of God to everyone that believeth; the power ‘to arise and win glory, to overcome foes and to enjoy Kingship’; a power, higher than which no man can covet or gain.
The secret of the power which the Gita possesses is that Arjuna-the centre of the creation-to whom it is addressed, is just an ordinary good-natured man with high aspirations, just plain you and me or any one else; the a vcrage man with fundamental strength and weakness of all ages and climes. That makes the Gi/ii a universal gospel: a human document containing the message of life which appeals to all irrespective of age, race or religion.
This universal appeal is possible because human beings-the Arjunas of the world-arc fundamentally identical. Their everlasting problem and ultimate destiny is the same notwithstanding differences of temperament and situation.
Arjuna faces a difficult situation, within his heart fails him and his limbs grow faint; when his mouth is dry and his body shivers; when his hair stand on end; when he cannot stand and his brain begins to reel. He is afraid of consequences.’ He cannot decide what is right and what wrong. He is afraid of evil and longs to master it. He wants to do his duty but knows not what it is. In the moment of action weakness overcomes him. He would like to give up fight. He would like to relinquish worldly conquests even if they could give him the triple crown of the three worlds. He would be happier by unresisting surrender to circumstances. He is in despair. This mood of despair is a universal heritage. Every one of us great and small has passed through it. Haven’t we asked ourselves again and again the same question as Arjuna did?
I want no victory, nor sovereignty nor joys.
What have I to do with power:
With joys, with life itself?”
Arjuna has no arrogance; certainly not the arrogance of the modern man, blinded by the vanity of his own perfection. He is the honest man, humble, sincere. He wants to learn, to understand, to follow, to find his duty and become something better than what he is. He confesses that he does not clearly see how his grief can be dispelled, for he knows not where his duty lies. He has complete faith in Sri Krishna, his guide, philosopher and friend. He tells him humbly:
“I am Thy pupil;
Teach me; I come to Thee.”
To none but such a man does aspiration come. This faculty of surrendering himself makes the true aspirant, the man who feels weak but wants to be strong and is willing to follow the master. The arrogant man who thinks that he needs no help, and is not capable of confessing his imperfections, is not an Arjuna. For him there is no hope, no higher life. With scorn and contempt Sri Knn:ta rules out the possibility of those who are born with ‘devilish gifts’ coming to Him. Hypocrisy, pride, arrogance, wrath, cruelty and ignorance, these are the qualities of the man with such ‘ devilish.gifts. ‘ For them there is no gospel which can lead to higher life. Arjuna, as Sri Knn:ta assures him, is born with “gifts divine. ” The children of wrath, on the other hand, know not when to act and when not. Unclean, they know not right conduct nor truth. To them the world is truthless, without a moral basis, godless. Lust, to them, is the parent of all creation. Such men we meet every day; but they are not the creations of only the modern world. Charvaka’s message is is an old one.
And drink again
Till to the ground you fall
Rise again and drink
Then shalt thou be free
From the bondage of birth.
His followers have existed since the beginning of human effort to rise higher, but only as stumbling blocks. Arjuna is a full-blooded man; he has family ties and respects his elders. He seeks not to disturb social well-being or to disrupt the’ world’s normal order. He is anxious that family tradition and women’s honour should remain untouched. He has a wife, children’, uncles, and grandfathers. He has a soul to save and a kingdom to win. He is human. Nothing that is human he regards as alien. He only wants to conquer, to be a master, to vindicate the law of life.
This intensely human Arjuna thinks, doubts, aspires. He is lured by pleasures and temptations. He is subject to dvandvas, pairs of opposites. Pride and wrath, greed and love and hate have distracted him. He has confused the body with the mind which he finds difficult to control. But the battlefield of life stretches before him. Before him lies the mighty issue of victory or defeat, descent into the devilish womb or ascent into godhood, a crisis which arises in most days in every man’s life. Which is the path of right and which is the turning for wrong, when a step might lead to ascent or descent and each little step implies a struggle?
The crisis in the Bhagavad Gita is placed in a broad battlefield so that the lesson of the struggle may be brought home clearly. The problem which faces Arjuna is: “Shall I give up fight or shall I fight? “He is afraid of taking the obvious course of fighting or the desirable one of slinking away. He is on the brink of a precipice when action is inevitable. He can’t escape it. He does not do the obvious. To do or not to do, to fight or not to fight is his question. At this moment, in the din and roar of battle, he has to find peace and strength.
Gita, therefore, is a gospel of action primarily. Sri Krishna is not concerned with running away from life through the gateway of asceticism or contemplation or ecstatic devotion. He does not want us to flee from worldly career or the haunts of man to the solitude of the forests. He does not bid us hide in a cave to seek peace in the loneliness of the mountain-top; nor Eioes he urge us to accept cowardly renouncement.
I have not been able to follow the schools to read in the Gita, a mere gospel of knowledge, of renunciation, or devotion, or of activism. Arjuna of the Gita is a composite man like any one of us. Love for knowledge and renunciation, emotion and ambition, love for activity and peace are all indissolubly mixed in him. Circumstances no doubt play lead to the predominance of one attribute or activity in a given individual. But the Gita would not be the universal mother, did she not give to every man the sustenance he needs?
Ordinarily a man of knowledge can never cease to be a man of action in some form or other. A man of action is inconceivable unless his deeds are fired by emotion. Knowledge, action and devotion are not alternative pathways. According to Sri Krishna all the three have to converge into one Arjuna has to express himself through action leading him to become one with the Blessed Lord. Yuddha, struggle, ceaseless resistance, is the only means to ascend to godhood.
This ceaseless attempt at scaling unattainable heights is what the Gita teaches. It alone leads to the realisation of human aspirations. No escape from life, no petty contentment, no cushioned journey for the Arjuna who is prepared to listen to it. This urge to action is the predominant note of the gospel, as it is the inalienable feature of human existence. Even those who attain godhood by having reached perfection, nay, God himself, everyone, must express through action. No doubt, for the man who delights in Self, who is satisfied with Self, who is content with Self, there is nothing that he needs do. What is done, or left undone, concerns him not. He has no ambition to serve. And yet he must ceaselessly work detached from desire.
“Through such work alone have Janaka and others reached self-realisation. They worked that the world may be guided. What such best among men do, others imitate. Theirs is the standard which the world doth follow. “Even Sri Krishna has to work ceaselessly. “In these three worlds, there is nothing that I need do: there is nothing that I have not; nothing worth My having. And yet I act. If I, even I, do not engage in untiring work, if I withdraw from action, My ways being followed by men, this world would fall to pieces. I will be the architect of chaos. The creation will then perish.” Look again at the end of the Gita. Arjuna had doubts. He was given the message. At the end of it Sri Krishna asks him whether his doubts have been removed. Arjuna replies that his ignorance has fled, that he has recollected his duties. The fight to which Sri Krishna called Arjuna is not mere energism, nor the restless output of energy. Arjuna has to act and again to act; but not like an ordinary man, impelled by diverse impulses or anger. The action has to proceed from a higher source. Sri Krishna tells him to act as a yogi. “Be a yogi, Arjuna,””Steadfast in yoga do thou perform thy work. Not breathlessly, not in uncoordinated feat of energy has he to act. But he must act as a yogi. He must therefore “be”before he “does.”To “be”is therefore an integral part of to “do.”
One has to do many things before being oneself. To “be”is not a passive condition; it is an active effort. It means a life and death struggle with the great enemies, the desire and wrath. The fight as a yogi, therefore, begins at resistance of non-self-by Self. I would therefore translate the word “yuddhyasva” more appropriately by the word “resist”, than by the word”fight.”Mere fight may mean even a street brawl. Arjuna has therefore first to “be” himself. In being what he is – he has to resist what he is not. Resist non-self with self, wherever it is, by whatever means; resist it with all the might of your body and soul, not as a matter of calculation, but as a matter of offering unto Him. That is the message of the Gita.
But the words yoga and yogi are much abused terms in Indian languages. The sense in which Sri Krishna used the word must be first understood. In the Second Canto the word is first used, as also the verb yuj, and its different forms. Gnana yoga, one of the different types of yoga as a doctrine is contrasted with Samkhya. If yoga is union it is union with buddhi, not with Sri Krishna; it is a step which finally leads to attainment of Him.
I. Arjuna has first to unite himself with buddhi; become buddhiyukta ; In doing so the first step is to relate his mental activities to a controlling higher or purer perception; to endure the dvandas, the pairs of happiness and misery, cold and heat, success and failure. This leads him to rise superior to Purity, Energy and Darkness. Then he is atmavan-himself. This is Yoga.
II. When he becomes steadfast in this Yoga, his will is onepointed, unified, unwavering. His powers get fused into a dynamic unity. Then his concentration becomes creative. He becomes steadfast in Samiidhi, creatin concentration. Then he attains a balance of mind. His composure is unrutlleu. Desires lose themselves in his steadfastness as the waters of the rivers get lost in the ocean. When this condition is attained, he obtains Yoga.
III. Such a man must act. No one can stay actionless even for a moment. But the yogi acts in a detached manner; the motive spring of his actions is the dictate of the higher perception. Attachment, fear and anger cease to deflect their course. His acts, therefore, attract no sin. This kind of action is perfect. Perfection in action is Yoga. – All these three stages are Yoga therefore, Yoga is a composite of process and achievement. The man who attains it. has. a trained mind free from attachment, fear and wrath, concentrated on an objective, and it expresses itself through ceaseless, perfect acts.
I possess faculties, impulses, emotions and intellect. My feet are guided by these. When I begin to pursue the path of Yoga, I have to rise superior to the elixir of happiness and misery. In order to attain this I must learn to die and wrath I must resist. Light, energy and sloth must cease to distract me. I must therefore evolve a concentrated control of my mind and all mental processes. This implies that I must co-ordinate all my mental activities and relate them to a superior perception. That is Buddhi. When I surrender myself to buddhi, bnddhi comes into operation as a controlling element. The whole power is fused into a unity. Then I am what I really am; more of myself. I acquire a personality. The next aspect of yoga is to make this unity dynamic by forging a one-pointed will. Such a will is forged by
(a) Concentration of the attention to an object;
(b) Holding the object in the grasp of the attention to the exclusion of everything else; and, in the advanced stage,
(c) Concentrating on the object to the exclusion of one’s own sense of being a separate entity.
This is creative concentration. The whole being then becomes a dynamic unity of co-ordinated faculties. When having attained such dynamic unity I express myself through acts, the acts are not dictated by impulses or desires; they are directed by the higher perception. The acts follow Dharma. They are perfect. All these three stages go to form Yoga. When they are achieved a man becomes a Yogi.
Training, concentration and action therefore are the threefold, aspects of Yoga as the Gila teaches. But these three processes are not separate, nor separable. Training implies concentration as well as exercise of all the powers through acts under the guidance of buddhi. Concentration implies rising superior to the pairs, the qualities, and fear, attachment and wrath by doing acts of which mental resistance forms a great part. It also carries with it the poet of effective action. This can only be acquired by the one pointed will being brought into play. Perfect action is detached from the pairs. from attachment, fear and wrath and must imply both training and concentration. Thus Yoga is the one comprehensive process by which man ascends in the scale of life by performing acts which are the expression of a dynamic personality based on the complete co-ordination of all his powers.
‘Be a Yogi and fight,’ therefore, is not the same thing as to fight-an expression conveying mere activism. It is not a rajasic act. It must mean an act which is a spontaneous expression of a dynamic personality. ‘To do’ must be the flowering of to be. And ‘to be’ to be a yogi implies a constant effort which must result in deeds. A trivial experience will show the meaning of yoga. My wife says something which I feel as an insult. I am angry. My vanity is wounded. My buddhi is not in control. I might have slapped her. But training or temperament has given the control of my impulses to my buddhi. I am buddhiyukta. My buddhi, which is a little trained to endurance, may be for selfish reasons, overcomes the feeling roused by wounded vanity. If my buddhi is clear, I will feel the offence to be a mere passing weakness, due to Anger, the Enemy. My will, instead of taking an impulsive plunge of chastising my wife, will be concentrated on the rage of her anger, or her life-long loyalty, or the weakness of being shaken by such impulses. If I chastise or rebuke her, it is an act; but it may or may not be related to the higher perception. If I keep quiet or forgive her, it is equally an art. I may remain silent. Silence itself is then an act.
If I find that her words result from hysteria or delirium I will soothingly put her to bed. If I consider anger to be the ‘voracious devourer’ or the “great sinner” I would equally do the same. I won’t feel insulted. I will speak the gentle word which turneth away wrath. That is, my buddhi gets the control of myself. By it, I become more of myself. When I resist anger, my will is concentrated beyond anger, on the cause. My personality thus attuned expresses itself through the gentle word.
I have fought and fought as a yogi – may be in the crude and the most elementary sense. In this fight “to be ” and “to do” have been an inseverable process. To fight, therefore, is to do-to express one-self in acts in the very process of being oneself as also when one has become himself. The acts of a great personality flow naturally, spontaneously as its radiation. To radiate one’s personality through acts is the fight to which Arjuna is called. It may take the shape of an actual battle, an act of resistance, or a piece of courtesy; of a speech or a book; or of a feat of organisation. Or, it may mean an effort of conquering the desire or controlling anger in all cases. But it is a potent expression of the dynamic will. To be a yogi and to fight is therefore one and the same act.
Later schools gave to the word “Yoga” specialised meanings. But the original message which later found a place in the Gita in its present form, was given by Sri Krishna long before the schools came into existence. Samkhya and Yoga are two distinct doctrines had been clearly then in vogue. The word “Dhyana Yoga” is also mentioned in the Gita and so are “Gnana” and ”Gnana-Yoga”, “Bhakti-Yoga” and “Karma-Yoga.” But there is no warrant that the word ‘ Yoga’ as used in the text means anything different from the dynamic unity of co-ordinate faculties in the man expressed through deeds of affection. The words Concentration, Knowledge, Devotion and Action are only used with Yoga to emphasize the particular aspect of the unity under discussion for the sake of clarity. But when Sri Krishna calls upon Arjuna -” Oh Arjuna! Be thou a Yogi,” he does not invite him to sit down in a cave and go into endless meditation or wear anklets become a gopi, and dance to the tune of lilted music. When again Arjuna is told
“Shelter thyself in Yoga,
Stand up, Oh Bharata!”
it cannot possibly he intended that he is as keel only to pursue one of the aspects of Yoga to the exclusion of the other. In the same way Action is not used in any sense other than self-expression through deeds after becoming steadfast in the dynamic unity of the co-ordinate faculties. In that sense, Sri Krishna refers to the whole of his message as Yoga, Arjuna calls it so, and so does Sanjaya. Gita is a Yogasastra, and Sri Krishna himself Yogeshwara, the Lord of Yoga, only in this sense and no other.
To restrict Yoga to any particular aspect of this comprehensive unity of man will be tantamount to denying the essential unity which underlies man himself. Action, Knowledge and Devotion have for their object not three kinds of Yoga but one Yoga in which right action, right knowledge and right devotion are made use of in order that Arjuna may attain Godhood. Man is essentially and fundamentally one. But his mind radiates in a thousand directions. It develops varying predominant aspects. But the trend of his evolution is from the dispersal of his mental energy to a co-ordinated outlook which controls all his activities. This outlook becomes the basis of his personality. It is the secret of the vigor and effectiveness of his life. Inspired by it, his will becomes one-pointed, even when he is a beginner. This one-pointed condition of the man is Yoga. He who possesses it, has taken a step to being a Yogi. Ancient as well as modern thought agree that a man rises in the scale of evolution only when he develops a central and detached control which harnesses all his mental powers and activities to a common well-defined outlook and purpose. The animal has wants, impulses, instincts, reflexes, unrelated to the central control of judgment. So has the child. It feels hungry, cries, sleeps; it smiles and crawls. Every action is instinctive. There is no central control of the faculties; no co-ordination of intellect, emotion and activities no purposive direction of the will. Gay sensualists also live to satisfy the lust of the moment, to seek delight in the glow of momentary impulses.
On the other hand pursuit of knowledge and training under the guidance of a daily strengthening will, leads to the development of personality. All the strength of such a man is being fused into something noble and unwavering. This development in most men is generally an unconscious process; but when it becomes purposive and disciplined, it leads to the highest development of the best in a man. The legacy which directs the purpose and exacts the discipline becomes more effective with every step in the man’s self-realization; and his whole nature being directed by one-pointed will is expressed through action and makes him a Yogi.
A pre-existing principle iu the form of Purusha. Atman or Soul was postulated by the Samkhya doctrine. In search of a finn basis for this unity, human we know came to be attributed to the Purusha by being in contact with Prakrti. This latter element is characterised by an interplay and distribution of the three Qualities or Gunas – Purity, Energy and Darkness. The condition, interaction and the relative proportion of these Qualities cause the manifold differences in the individuality and function of each man
This division of the universe as taught by the Samkhya doctrine has been, with slight changes, accepted by most schools of Indian Philosophy. It divides the universe into Purusha the soul, and Prakrti or Krishna, the field of nature. Prakrti takes the first step towards creation when the unmanifested center of individuality comes into existence. This center, by further evolution, reaches the stage of Buddhi. Buddhi, the Higher Perception, which formulates concepts and decides on action, is the central agency which controls experience on the one hand and presents it to the Purusha on the other. From Buddhi or Higher Perception is produced Ahamkara or the faculty of individualising experience. From Ahamkara is born Manas, the mind. The mind is the agency which perceives, sorts and utilises the materials provided by
(a) the five organs of perception- eyes, skin, ears, tongue and nose;
(b) the five organs of action, the feet, hands, tongue, the organs of evacuation and reproduction; and
(c) the five subtle elements: taste, smell, touch, sound and form.
These in their turn produce the universe consisting of the five corresponding gross elements-earth, fire, water, air and ether. This view postulates a pre-existing eternal and all-knowing Purusha and its Buddhi, Perception, as the basis of unity for human experience. The aim of evolution is to transcend the bondage which the Qualities impose on Prakrti so that pure Perception may become steady and one-pointed. Human perception usually is clouded by the interplay of the Qualities and has to be rendered pure and one-pointed. The modern scientists only put the same process in a different way. The intellect, the emotions, the instincts and the reflexes have to be deliberately trained by strengthening a .unified control of reason in order to achieve evolution. The process of evolution can thus be stated:
First, the evolution in a man takes the shape of a process of creating and strengthening a progressively co-ordinated and unified outlook. This outlook rises above the impulses, instincts and reflexes, and controls them. Secondly, greater the co-ordination of the faculties and more effective their control, the greater becomes the personality of the man.
Perhaps the older thinkers intent on the practical side of evolution were wise in postulating a Purusha; for it brought faith to the effort at unification by assuming that the unity in its pure form already existed. The training and discipline necessary for this co-ordinating, unifying and strengthening process in man is Yoga in its elementary aspect. Human nature being one and indivisible, every stage in this process makes a man more of himself, more effective in his action. Every higher stage would lead him to a greater degree of self-realization, when the intellect, the heart and the will would be more easily fused into a dynamic unity. This is a great step for Arjuna in his ascent into the divinity of Sri Krishna.