Gita Jayanti Day
- Hare Krishna Friends,
Yesterday was the day Sri Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita also called Gita Jayanti. Here is some FAQ on Gita. Share this article with as many people that way you can remind them about their forgotten heritage.Bhagavad-gita means "the song of God." It was spoken by Lord Krishna to His friend and eternal servant Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic Mahabharata. They were spoken 3,134 years before the birth of Christ on a battlefield about 80 km. north of present New Delhi in India. That sacred place called Kuruksetra, still exists today.What is the Bhagavad Gita?The Bhagavad Gita (BG) was spoken by Sri Krishna to His friend and disciple, Arjuna at the beginning of the epic war, Mahabharata. BG provides the concise conclusion of the millions of verses in all the Vedic scriptures. In just eighteen chapters containing seven hundred verse, Sri Krishna answers all questions about the duty of the living entity. In glorifying the BG, Lord Shiva says in the Gita Mahatmya (Padma Purana) that it is sufficient to lead one to liberation.Teachings of Bhagavad GitaFive essays on teachings of Gita. You can see them here.4. Who Am I?How should one read the BG?The BG should be studied in the same mood as it was heard by Arjuna. Sri Krishna declares that He is revealing this most confidential knowledge to Arjuna because he is not envious and He is a friend. So one must read and understand the BG in the mood of at least theoretically accepting the position of Krishna supreme position as compared to our own. This knowledge is never revealed to one who reads it in a challenging and speculative mood. That is why its called greatest of greatest secrets. Because this knowledge is the confidential essence of all Vedic teachings.Owing to the universal message in the BG, many people take to it as an instrument to propagate their ideas and hence they misconstrue to suit their conception. In order to protect the trusting people from this kind of cheating, Sri Krishna stresses the importance of Paramapara (disciplic succession) and Guru (spiritual master) in receiving the knowledge of the BG. This ensures to keep the knowledge pristine.Who should read the BG?The BG is often referred to as the “Handbook for humanity”. Never in the BG has Sri Krishna restricted the scope of the BG to Hindus or Indians. It is completely non-denominational, meant for any one inquiring about his reason for existence. Indeed many people following Christianity or Islam get a much better perspective of their own religion after reading the BG and are able t o follow their religions with greater conviction.What is Purpose of the BG?The BG was spoken to guide the conditioned soul on the path of the spiritual advancement. It is presented as principle and details. The dominating principle of the BG is to develop God consciousness. In the details, Sri Krishna explains three primary ways of doing this and then further expands on these paths. He then relates them to each other and brings forth the single most effective path for returning back to GodAre there different paths of yoga?These paths are explained as yoga. The Sanskrit word “yoga” means connecting to the Supreme Lord, and it is in this context that the word yoga is used in the BG.The three paths given by Sri Krishna are Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga. The first six chapters primarily discuss Karma yoga, liberation by performing prescribed activities. The last six chapters primarily talk about Jnana yoga, liberation by worshiping the Lord through one’s intelligence. Ensconced between these two “protective” covers, like a pearl in the oyster, in the middle six chapters, Krishna reveals the most confidential of all knowledge, Bhakti yoga, the path of pure, unalloyed devotional service. He declares this to be the highest, the easiest and the fastest path to Him, and for one who is fortunate to embark on it, the binding illusions of Maya are dispelled in no time.What is Karma yoga?A person situated in Karma yoga executes one’s prescribed duties. These duties are as prescribed by the Varnashrama system created By Krishna through the Vedas. According to one’s ability and inclination, a person may acquires a particular varna. He may become a Brahaman (teacher, guide), Ksatriya (administrator, warrior), Vaishya (merchant, farmer) or Sudra (worker). According to his situation he lives in one of the four ashrams: Brahamacari (student), Grahastha (married), Vanaprastha (retired) and Sannyasa (detached). The eight fold Varnashram system is created to allow one to be aware of his prescribed duties and execute them properly. It is important to note here is that the BG stresses that a varna is acquired by one’s ability and inclination, never by birth. So in the BG, there is no support of the “caste-system” prevalent in India. The Varnashram system appears naturally in all societies over the world.Performing prescribed duties will earn a person much pious credit, but it will also continue to bind him to the material world. So Karma can be “sakarma” (done in anticipation of enjoying its fruits) or “nishkarma” (detached from the results). In both cases a person is attached to performing the activity. However, when a person performs activities only for the pleasure of the Lord, he has reached the stage of Bhakti. For instance Sadhna (japa, arati, kirtan) are activities performed with no material motives, simply to glorify or remember the Lord. Thus Karma yoga can be used to elevate one self to the position of Bhakti yoga by first performing prescribed activities, then renouncing the fruits of the activities to Krishna and finally by renouncing the activity in itself to Krishna.What is Jnana yoga?In the Jnana section Krishna elaborates about the five factors of existence: Isavara (God), Jivatma (Soul), Kala (Time), Karma (actions) and Prakriti (Nature). He explains that while Kala, Prakriti, Jiva and Isavara are eternal, Karma is not. As long as one is involved in fruitive activities, the cycle of Karma, performed in one of the three modes of material Nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) is binding. For every action, good or bad, there is a reaction. This cycle can only be broken by performing devotional service, since that does not have any reactions, good or bad. In this stage the person transcends the material plane of existence and enters into the spiritual realm.When Krishna explains the path of spiritual advancement by knowledge, Arjuna gets confused between the Karma (action) and Jnana (inaction). Krishna explains that one must strive for activities performed in knowledge of Him, which will ultimately lead to Bhakti. Philosophy without faith is speculation, and faith without philosophy is rituals. The two must complement each other. Thus, Krishna once again stresses that the ultimate goal of all transcendentalists is Him. They may reach Him directly by Bhakti or first reach Bhakti through Karma or Jnana.What is Bhakti yoga?The path of devotion is described as the most confidential part of Gita. It is described as the “elevator” approach to Krishna as opposed to all the other “staircase” paths. The essence of the Bhakti yoga is summarized by Sri Krishna in Chapter 9, Verse 34, as follows: “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.”This verse, often considered to be the summary verse of the entire BG, contains the essence of the existence of a spirit soul. In the material world, trapped in the illusory sense of identifying with the body and its extensions, a spirit soul remains forever bewildered by the duality of existence. However by simply surrendering to Krishna, understanding Him to be the original, primeval cause of all causes and thus worshiping Him without any desires of material benefit, one can easily go back to Him.Bhakti yoga does not mean inactivity. Indeed a bhakta is most active, for he sees all his activities now in relation to the Supreme. But he is detached from the activity and the fruits of the activity, neither happy in success nor distressed in failure, understanding that all this is ultimately for Krishna and coming from Him only.Why has Krishna given alternatives?A confusing aspect of the BG is the fact that while acknowledging the superiority of Bhakti yoga. Krishna spends considerable time talking about Jnana and Karma yoga. He even speaks briefly about the eight fold astanga yoga process followed by the mystics. For many people this is very confusing if not apparently contradictory.In reality. Krishna is offering some thing for every one according to their levels of advancement and inclination. As God, He does not interfere with the free will of a living entity. But as the most compassionate well wisher He wants every one to leave this material world of misery and return to the original spiritual abode.So, for a person attracted to action, there is Karma yoga. For the intellectual there is Jnana yoga. For the mystic there is astanga yoga. The BG meets the person at the level they are in and gradually elevates them to the platform where they become qualified to execute Bhakti yoga, pure devotional service. A very few fortunate souls, by the causeless mercy of Krishna and His devotees, are able to take directly to Bhakti, and for them the way back to Godhead is quick and easy.Which Gita edition is the best?Although many editions of the Bhagavad Gita have been published in the world, most scholars agree that only the "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" truly represents the words of Krishna as they are understood by Krishna's sincere followers. Indeed, although many persons had translated the text before Srila Prabhupada presented his book, the study of these other versions had not resulted in anyone becoming a devotee of Lord Krishna-which is the whole point of the Gita. Since one may judge a thing by the results it brings, the result that thousands of people have transformed their lives by devotion to Krishna owing to the publication and distribution of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has made the science of Krsna consciousness available to those outside of India and has shown that Vedic knowledge is divine revelation to bring us to the supreme goal, pure loving devotional service of Krishna as passed down in a parampara system.
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