"The power to promote and reward, as also to demote and punish the individual and his fate in this world, lies within his mind, its thoughts and feelings. No external agency is necessary to bring this infallible fruition. As the growth and development of a seed, an embryo, or a cell designed and preserved by its own inner makeup, here too the causal forces for what one rightly deserves lurk within one’s own invisible bosom."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

  • Jñāna Yajña Malaysia | Malaysia | June 2018 01-04-2018

    Poojya Swamiji accompanied by Ma Gurupriyaji will leave for Malaysia on 28 June, 2018 to conduct the Annual Jμ¡na Yajμa. They will stay at the Society for InnerResources Development (SIRD), Petaling Jaya. They will return to the Ashram on 18th July.

  • Sādhanā-Śibiram | Washington DC Metro Area | Apr 2018 15-03-2018

    Sādhanā Śibiram in USA (Apr 18 - May 02): Swami Nirviseshananda Tirthaji will be in the Washington DC Metro Area for programs organized by CIRD - North America. On his way back, Nutan Swamiji will halt in CIRD-Delhi from 04 to 06 May.

Practical Guidance

Prabhaata Rashmih talks by Poojya Swamiji
  • PR 04 Mar 2017 - Contemplate on the Self
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    Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

    I was wondering what I should talk this morning.

    सम्यगालोकनात्सत्यात् वासना प्रविलीयते ।
    वासनाविलये चेतः शाम्यत्यस्नेहदीपवत् ।।
    (योगवासिष्ठरामायणम् ४.३४.२८)
    samyagālokanātsatyāt vāsanā pravilīyate |
    vāsanāvilaye cetaḥ śāmyatyasnehadīpavat ||
    (Yogavāsiṣṭharāmāyaṇam 4.34.28)

    What a beautiful statement is this! People will study the subject of self-knowledge, self-knowledge, self-knowledge, self-knowledge, but what is this self knowledge? What is the effect it will bring about, both at the pursuit level and at the perfection level? Unless you start thinking ahead in this manner, you will not be able to get anywhere.

    samyagālokanātsatyāt vāsanā pravilīyate

    Suppose you try to think about, comprehend the truth. What is the truth? What is the truth? There is only one existence, one reality, one God, one Self. And that is all-pervading. If it is all-pervading, can there be a second existence? No. So it is only one, one and one. If you are thinking about this one, one, one, one, one, so that one cannot attract another, one cannot be attracted by another because there is only one. One cannot hate another because there is only one. So, you will find it is a panacea for all our mind’s distractions and problems.

    Samyag - Sufficiently well.

    Ālokanāt satyāt. You start perceiving this truth very well, very well, thinking about it, thinking about it, reflecting upon it, reflecting upon it. Then what will happen? It will produce an outcome and an effect in you. Where, in the body? No. This is a mento-intellectual science. So, it will bring about its beautiful and distinct effect on your mind. What is that effect? Vāsanā pravilīyate. The desires your mind fosters, it is not one desire, multiplicity of desires. If one desire is fulfilled, another will crop up, then a third will crop up, and you will find our mind stores quite a number of desires. It is a process of desiring, desiring, desiring, desiring, desiring. So, this situation, this habit will change.

    Samyagālokanātsatyāt vāsanā pravilīyate. Look into your mind and the mind is generally motivated by desire, ambition, greed and possessiveness. The intensity or the strength of this desireful nature of the mind will reduce drastically. The more and more you contemplate upon the singular truth, the more and more will fall your desires.

    Vāsanāvilaye cetaḥ, cetaḥ means the mind. Vāsanāvilaye means when the desires get dissolved, śāmyati asneha-dīpavat, the mind itself will settle to quietude like the flame of a lamp getting extinguished when the oil is run out. You know, it is a very simple proposition. Whenever you see such propositions which are final and absolute, easy to comprehend, what should you do? Immediately pocket it, learn it, think about it, love it, be fond of it, foster it. Then, the more and more the effort at contemplating upon, grasping, assimilating the message of oneness, the more and more it takes place, there is a direct effect on the mind. This contemplation is done by the mind. Comprehension is done by the intelligence. When they comprehend, comprehend, comprehend, automatically the desire will fall, fall, fall, fall and fall. When they fall in full, the desirefulness itself will become extinct.

    Just see this one verse. Stop talking about the self. Stop talking about God also. Only focus on this proposition.

    samyagālokanātsatyāt vāsanā pravilīyate |
    vāsanāvilaye cetaḥ śāmyatyasnehadīpavat ||

    Now this is said with regard to your mind, your inner being. Because it is said about your inner being, it applies to you in full. So, why don’t you learn it? Take it as a mantra and apply it on your mind. And every time you apply, it is like pouring drops of water into a hundred litre bottle, empty bottle. Every drop of water will start filling the bottle. In the same manner, the more and more you contemplate upon the singular nature of the truth, existence is only one, only one, only one, then this is going to be the effect. Unfortunately, people don’t know this. They will go on reading this Upanishad, that Upanishad, Bhagavad Gita, here, there, what? Where is that subtle finality from where we can pick up the practice and perfect it?

    We have got a verse which I read long back.
    चिदेव देहस्तु चिदेव लोका-
    श्चिदेव भूतानि चिदिन्द्रियाणि।
    कर्ता चिदन्तःकरणं चिदेव
    चिदेव सत्यं परमार्थरूपम्॥
    (स्वात्मप्रकाशिका १९)

    At one time, we are told repeatedly that the body is not the self. Body and self are different, different, different, different, different. And so many arguments and clarifications are brought down with a view to emphasize and drive home this truth. And we start growing. Body is useless, body is useless, soul alone is, soul alone is. You are saying this because of the body, you are understanding this because of your brain. If there is no body and no brain, where is the question of speaking about this wisdom? Ultimately, when you are able to conceive of the soul, what is the soul? It is the most subtle presence, most subtle presence, like the sky. Initially, how do you show the sky to a child or to a young mind? Look at the stars, how many are there? There is a distance between every two, so there is a gap. This gap is more than the space occupied by the stars. As I have told earlier also my audience, if all the celestial bodies were collected together and put, made into a mass-aggregate, it will be .00000000000000000001 of the total space. Why don’t you think about it? I find a lot of interest in such contemplations. So, we generally show the space as besides the celestial bodies, besides the celestial bodies. And once you have grasped the nature of space, it is unlike solid earth, fluid water, gaseous air and energial fire. It is something all-pervading, so that all-pervading idea will gradually get into you.

    Space is all-pervading, it is inter-penetrating and surrounding every solid object in the atmosphere. When you understand that, don’t you think everywhere, in everything, everything and all are nothing but space and its manifestation? Exactly like this your understanding will grow. It is not that the body is different from the soul, the soul itself is everything and the body also is itself. When you refer to the body, you are referring to a living body. If you are a living body, you tell me whether the body is important or the livingness in it is more important? So when you look at living body, what is it that you are capturing or comprehending? You are comprehending the life in it. Otherwise you will say it is a dead body. So, between the body and the presence that activates and animates it, the second is the most important. How will you define it? You will define it as interpenetrating everything, everything, everything. In that sense, body is the self. It is included in the self, it is a manifestation of the self. Senses are, everything is! So you will reach a state where self alone is, God alone is, reality alone is. No more distinction. What is there to be distinguished? In an all-pervading presence, there is no scope for a second item at all. See? This is how you have to catch the statements. Think about them and grow, grow, grow.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

  • PR 27 Feb 2017 - Importance of Satsang
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    Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

    This Ashram is an abode of spiritual wisdom. We don’t teach anything in the secular way. But we do emphasize on character, behavior and interaction. Our focus is on the person and not the things belonging to him. Our personality is consisting of an external, physical, matter-energy aggregate called the body, including its various limbs, but all of them are inert, insentient. At the same time, we are sentient, we speak, we think, we do, we design, we execute, we achieve. All these are not possible for the body alone, because it is an inert matter-energy aggregate. So, everything that we do, that we experience, even the feeling and experience that ‘I have a body, I am living in a house, there is world around me.’, all these are apprehensions, comprehensions or experiences, not of the body, experiences which the inner personality provides. That inner personality is consisting of mind, intelligence and ego. Spiritual wisdom is that which deals with only this inner personality.

    When you, namely your mind and intelligence are organized, whatever we do, you do with the body and bodily limbs will also be organized. When the mind is upset and it refuses to become better and better, your performance also will be bad and worse. I always ask a question, “Our mind is always coupled to a number of, a variety of constrictions. Every constriction constricts the mind, so we have a constricted mind. Is it better to act with a constricted mind or is it better to live with a free, relaxed and expansive mind?”

    Spirituality makes your inner personality free, light, stable and luminous. You should understand this point that everything in our life is for, by, in the inner personality. Our mind designs to do something, it makes out a shape or a procedure for it and the mind itself employs the physical organs to execute it and fulfill it. Every activity arises in the mind, is supported and sustained by the mind and is also terminated by and in the mind. Will you reflect upon this one sentence I am saying? Let the activities be gross, they are involving huge substances, but what I say, the fact, that is absolutely true, absolutely true. Everything is from the mind, by the mind, for the mind. When you have completed an act, does the body register it? Do the eyes ever say that you have completed so many acts? No, no, no. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ are propositions of the mind. So, mind is the sole focus. This is what we emphasize here.

    In Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna presents many legends, and one of them is called Bhikshu Gita. Bhikshu means a mendicant. There was a Brahmin who was fabulously rich and he was protecting his richness even by holding an umbrella they say, during the night. But he was very miserly. So, he would not give his riches to anybody nor allow the family members also to enjoy. Whenever something is to be spent, he will wonder why so much.

    In my poorvashrama birth place, there was one ‘X’. Whenever he used to go to a shop; he will need something like a half a kilogram of an item. You know, he will ask them the price of the quintal. “What is the price of a quintal of this item?” Then he will come to lesser quantities and finally will say, “So, the one kilogram I want. Half a kilogram I want will cost so much, is it not?”.

    “No, no, it will cost 25 paise more.” And he gets shocked, disappointed and he argues with the shopkeeper. A very famous man.

    I think we have to be very liberal. So, this man never spent the money even for the family members. Not to speak of giving somebody who asks for a loan. Which person either in the home or outside will have respect for such a person? So, he was always an object of hate for the others. But he could not protect his wealth. It was confiscated by the Raja. Part of it was robbed by robbers. Part of it was snatched by the relatives. Ultimately, he lost everything.

    But he was a Brahmin. So, he understood that destitution is though not desirable, once it is there, we should not run away. So he decided ‘I will become a mendicant.’ With a leafy umbrella, a small bag made out of cloth, he tied it, put it on the shoulder and he started walking. People recognized him and they started saying, “Then he was a rich man. He did not give anything to anybody, very selfish, very miserly. Now, this is also an imposter’s life for him. He is not a true mendicant.” So they came around him, started scolding him. But he already had an ascetic resolve. So he never said anything. Finding him un-responding, they started spiting on his face, passing urine on his head, throwing abuses. You know, even then, even then, what he said? He sang, he sang. This is called Bhikshu Gita. Please understand, this is what our country is. We are not afraid of anything. We are not afraid of poverty. In fact, we marry poverty. I am one who embraced and married poverty. And we love to do it. We cherish it even now. When all these people started teasing and all that, he finally said,

    नायं जनो मे सुखदुःखहेतुर्न देवतात्मा ग्रहकर्मकालाः।
    मनः परं कारणमामनन्ति संसारचक्रं परिवर्तयेद्यत्।।
    nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur-na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ |
    manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam-āmananti saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed-yat ||
    (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.23.42)

    All of you should learn this. Nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetuh. None of these people is responsible for my sukha and dukha.

    Na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ. Nor the super-human Gods of the sky nor one’s own self.

    Graha-karma-kālāḥ. Nor the different planets and celestial bodies like Rahu, Ketu, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, no, no, no.

    Karma-kālāḥ. Nor my own karma done in the past.

    Kālāḥ. Nor is time is responsible for it.

    Then what is responsible?

    manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam-āmananti saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed-yat ||

    Mind alone is the sole cause. This mind is so powerful and its potential is so stunning that it revolves the entire world. He says mano-jaya is the greatest victory for everybody. You know how much I like,

    nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur-na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ |
    manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam-āmananti saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed-yat ||

    Wah! How sweet! How sweet! You don’t have to point your finger at anybody. If somebody abuses you, and abuse is to his liking, okay, let him abuse and be joyous. Why are you suffering? He is abusing. So he is the wrong doer. Let him cry and weep. Why are you borrowing his cry? Examine your mind as to whether the abuses, any one of them is right and correct. Then prostate before him saying “I am happy that you have pointed out an error in me.” and remove it. Otherwise simply laugh over it. If you cannot do it, you will lose your sleep. There will be poison in your body.

    nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur-na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ |
    manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam-āmananti saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed-yat ||
    दानं स्वधर्मो नियमो यमश्च श्रुतं च कर्माणि च सद्व्रतानि ।
    सर्वे मनोनिग्रहलक्षणान्ताः परो हि योगो मनसः समाधिः ॥
    dānaṁ sva-dharmo niyamo yamaś-ca śrutaṁ ca karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni |
    sarve mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ ||
    (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.23.45)

    What more do you want?

    Dānaṁ sva-dharmo niyamo yamaś-ca. All these are references to different kinds of practice, discipline and austerity. Dānah, sva-dharmah, ācharanah, niyamah, many principles and practices, restraints. Yamah, deeper ones applicable to the inner being.

    Srutaṁ. A lot of spiritual learning, vedic learning.

    Karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni. Recitation of God’s names.

    Sad-vratāni. Observation, observance of different vows.

    Sarve. All these are.

    Mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ, they have only one objective. Touch your mind, involve your mind, restrain it, regulate it, purify it, make it holier and holier, divine and divine.

    Paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ. And the supreme practice of austerity is manasaḥ samādhiḥ. It is the mind getting withdrawn from everything and getting immersed in its own essence. See, both of them are from Srimad Bhagavatam. Why don’t you understand this?

    Now in this Ashram you will find we explain all these subtle propositions. For you to hear, absorb, reflect upon and make true of your own inner being, inner being, inner being. Our role is to provide the exposure. Exposure is an interaction between you and me. But rumination, reflection and introspection have to be done by you alone. Nobody else can help. That manana part is greatly missing, miserably. That is why I want you learn poetry, because it is poetry I am able to remember. And that poetry which is half music, that is very delightful.

    शिशुर्वेत्ति पशुर्वेत्ति वेत्ति गानरसं फणी।

    Even the cows, our crops, if you play good music, it seems the paddy, flowers and fruits of the paddy stem, they start swinging.

    शिशुर्वेत्ति पशुर्वेत्ति वेत्ति गानरसं फणी। Even the cobras, snakes, they like it.

    But the jnana, you have to think, think.

    nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur-na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ |
    manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam-āmananti saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed-yat ||

    It is one’s own mind that turns and revolves the entire world for you. Wah! So, which is superior? The world or the mind? The mind is superior. Our ashram is one where we provide this kind of an exposure. What we speak is absolutely knowledge and knowledge alone. And we are using different texts so that there will be a consistency. Suppose I start speaking from myself, then myself and perhaps my teachings, writings etc. may become popular. That is not what we want. We already have the treasure of wisdom and we are referring everything to it and then presenting so that there will be something static to remain. And how many countless millennia have passed? We have preserved them, cherished them. Not that we have kept the books in our bookshelves. We have read, understood and we have practiced. And in the practice level, you will find this kind of a session is important.

    So, our Ashram is a knowledge-oriented Ashram, knowledge-oriented. We don’t want you to sing and dance. No. You can dance but very gently and nicely. You should not lift your foot more than two are three inches from the ground, not jump. I also dance rarely, once or twice in a year. But it is a question of enriching yourself by wisdom. Enrich your being. Every day should be a day of enrichment. Every day should be a day of enriching activity from you, enriching contribution to the society and the world, and you should get more and more refined, refined and refined and there is a way of achieving it.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

  • PR 03 Feb 2017 - Religious Practices are to Purify the Mind
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    Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru. 

    There is a portion in the eleventh Skanda of Sreemad Bhagavatam where Krishna is giving a long dialogue, having a long dialogue with Arjuna. The subject was Supreme Devotion, Supreme Wisdom and Supreme Liberation. Uddhava had to be sent away from Dwaraka even before Krishna dropped his body. Uddhava was not prepared to go, he was unable to. So, the instruction was to remove his inability and enrich him with ability to leave. He says,

    दानं स्वधर्मो नियमो यमश्र्च श्रुतं च कर्माणि च सद्व्रतानि ।
    सर्वे मनोनिग्रहलक्षणान्ता: परो हि योगो मनस: समाधि: ।।
    dānaḿ sva-dharmo niyamo-yamaś-ca
    śrutaḿ ca-karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni |
    sarve mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ
    paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ ||
    (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.23.45)
    See these are wonderful statements. You should listen to them, feeling that it is a nectarine shower.
    dānaḿ sva-dharmo niyamo-yamaś-ca
    śrutaḿ ca-karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni
    sarve mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ
    paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ

    Krishna is presenting again the proposition that mind is everything and you have to touch up your mind, make it the way you want. Some ten thoughts come up in the mind. Six of them are very good. Four, not good. Who displays the ten thoughts? The mind. Then who tells you that six are good and four are bad? The same mind. Now what should you do? You should act upon the mind’s advice. Four are bad and six are good. Therefore, the mind has informed me that four are bad. Do you want to be bad? Certainly not! Then keep them away. Dissuade them. Besides dissuading the mind, there is no other way to drop bad things. You cannot extract them with a pair of tongs. You cannot aspirate them physically.

    The only way to redress undesirable elements in your mind will be to honestly and persistently say ‘I don’t want, I don’t want. My dear mind, drop it, drop it, drop it, drop it.’ This is the only way. This requires what? Time and effort. Whenever such undesirable thoughts come, you must not fail in dissuading them. Don’t be tired of the process. You may have to say 100 times, 200 times, 500 times, throughout your life. If the dissuasion is done, repeatedly after some time, the mind will be much, much freer and it will not produce so much of bad thoughts. And there will come a time when the mind will bring all memories which are necessary but neither you nor your mind will feel any strain about the undesirable thoughts. They will have no effect in you. You will not follow them. Then why should they come?

    If a friend visits you, if you give him a warm reception and talk to him, you have your affectionate dialogue, then he will come there again. Suppose every time he comes, that warmth and reception are not there, he will come three or four times and stop coming. It is so simple as this. Please understand. The verse that I have quoted is important in this manner. We have to understand it. Our society is very much pāpa-puṇya ridden, ritual-ridden, devotion-ridden, temple-ridden, not ridden, laden, ritual-laden. It is full of rituals, very much influenced by rituals. So, he says,

    dānaḿ sva-dharmo niyamo-yamaś-ca
    śrutaḿ ca-karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni

    Seven items he quotes. Dāna, something very noble. Sva-dharma, observing and practicing one’s own Dharma. Niyama and yama are regular disciplines that you have to observe. Srutham, learning. Tirthāni, visiting the holy places. Sad-vratāni, observing very good and noble, religious vows and practices. Sarve, Sarve, Sarve, all these, even more mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ. They have only one objective that of restraining, reforming, refining, purifying the mind. We are doing all kinds of religious and spiritual disciplines, only to improve our mind. And what is the improvement? Dissuading the undesirable thoughts and welcoming and acting upon the desirables.

    If you are able to do it directly, using the mind and intelligence, every time when bad thoughts come, you dissuade them, then these media of different rituals, ceremonies etc. are not necessary, their purpose is achieved. So, all these are mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ, they have only one aim of restraining the mind.

    Paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ. The supreme yoga, that spiritual fruition or crowning glory is manasaḥ samādhiḥ. When you are able to have a sublimated, a regularized, disciplined mind, that is the supreme yoga, he says. See, it is very clearly said there. Now you should read it, or hear it, understand it and make a stranglehold of that statement.

    It is in these aspects that individuals differ. One may read, or one may hear. ‘Ha Acha, Acha is it so? Is it so?’ Bus chala gaya. He has heard, but it is not acting on him. When you start applying it, applying it, applying it, I think, day by day, week by week, fortnight by fortnight, month by month, half year by half year, year by year, the effect will be more, more and more, and you will have a very light, peaceful and fulfilling mind. Make a note of this verse and spend enough time to absorb it.

    dānaḿ sva-dharmo niyamo-yamaś-ca
    śrutaḿ ca-karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni
    sarve mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ
    paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.



Poojya Swamiji says that the real focus

  • of devotional practices is not God, but the devotee's own mind and behaviour;
  • of karmayoga is not action but the attitude of the mind with which an action is performed;
  • of knowledge is not knowledge, but the purification and expansion of the seeker's mind.

Swamiji's Teachings


Poojya Swamiji says that the real focus

  • of devotional practices is not God, but the devotee's own mind and behaviour;
  • of karmayoga is not action but the attitude of the mind with which an action is performed;
  • of knowledge is not knowledge, but the purification and expansion of the seeker's mind.


NSJi-HmPgSwami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirthaji, a renunciate disciple of Poojya Swamiji, is known for his scientific expositions which are a source of inspiration to seekers.  Read More...


Ma Gurupriya

A disciple of Poojya Swamiji, Ma is the loving mother of Poojya Swamiji's devotees around the world. Devotion and service remain the predominant forces shaping Ma's life.  Read More...

We now enter into another critical pronouncement in Bhagavadgita. Here again, Krishna assumes the same lofty pedestal as earlier (verse 4.7), and speaks on behalf of the Supreme Reality using the first person pronoun. An experience or statement becomes clear, conclusive and doubtless when it is claimed and expressed as “I am, I have seen or I have known”. Any other reference will only be secondary.

For the existence of the world, the first and last proof is that we cognize it. Equally so, for the existence of oneself, the full and final proof is that ‘I am, and therefore I exist’. This direct, subjective, personal note in presenting matters, thus, marks the distinction of spiritual and religious pronouncements. And in our spiritual arena, it has its greatest undeniable place and purpose:

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः ।
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम् ।।

The arrangement called varnya, based upon the four categories in the society is instituted by Me; but know that I always remain a non-doer, though the Creator of such a four-fold categorization. As I am a non-doer, I am also the Imperishable.

It appears to be a very simple statement, but Krishna’s words contain and convey a world of meaning and relevance. One has to spend adequate time and attention to grasp what he means and explains in these words, more so to be able to explain the verse to others.

Thus, a great deal of controversy revolves around this verse. Even commentators like Sankaracharya are quoted and abused pitiably, relating the original message in a manner absolutely unrelated to its genesis or relevance. As is the misunderstanding in viewing and interpreting the famous Karma-yoga sutra in the second chapter (verse 47) so also is the failure on the part of the readers and students in relating the statements of this verse properly.

Varna literally means colour. Of the five senses we have for cognizing the objects of the world, the eyes are the most used and sensitive. The objects and the shapes are identified through their varnas, colours. Whether anything is there or not, then again whether the being is a bird, beast, reptile, worm, a cell or a human is first known only through the eye. Only the eye can recognize rupa, colour. In the plant kingdom, we have a number of trees, herbs and the like. Each is identified, and its properties are related, primarily by its looks, as determined by the eyes.

So, varna, the visible distinguishing feature, is important in perceiving existence and its functions. The categorization based upon this property is called varnya, that which is derived from varna (colour). Krishna now says there is something called catur-varnya in the matter of creation. The Creator has brought it into force at the time of creation itself.

It means a four-fold categorization. It is given the name vyavastha – arrangement or order. Like the divisions of beings into birds, animals, mammals, reptiles, humans and the like, this four-fold category is also there. It applies, in truth, to all sentient creation, not alone to human beings. But in human beings it is most pronounced, and we are primarily and ultimately concerned with it. The Gita-sastra also is a reference to human beings, their character, behaviour and interactions.

Krishna says that these four fold categories are on the basis of the guna, quality or character, and karma, actions or pursuits. Quality or guna is something that the human carries with him in his core, deep inside. It is a note or trait inextricably associated with his inner personality, which cannot be readily determined by eyes. That is why an exposition like this becomes necessary.

One has a body. This is a direct knowledge. But that one is not the body, though he has one, and that he is the Soul, which is quite unlike the body, is a truth that none can access through his senses. Hence sastras posit this point, explain and establish it in various ways. This is the basis of our sastras and it should not be forgotten or set aside.

In fact, such a division or categorization was already there as a vyavastha. It was a subject well understood far before Krishna’s birth as Devaki’s son. Krishna only restates what was already known and said.

The four-fold category is on the basis of inner qualities as well as the temptations and physical expressions they give rise to. It is well established that any physical or sensory action results from an inspiration, impetus or instigation arising from inside, from one’s mind and heart. The movements one makes with his limbs, the words he utters with his mouth, and also the thoughts and emotions that emerge from him, are all motivated by the qualities or forces he carries within himself. The inner part cannot be seen or judged by another. But certainly when the inner part comes to expression in the form of visible acts or behaviour, they can be clearly known.

Thus gunas, the qualities inside, and karmas, visible actions outside, both put together determine this categorization, says Krishna. Krishna does not say anything more at this stage here. Later, he has, while describing the qualities and actions of the categories (verse 18.41) said that each category is distinguished by a set of features, enlisted by him briefly. This is all that Bhagavadgita states. The rest is all interpretation and comment.

The gunas are three, as already stated in earlier chapters. Guna is a spiritual word, and naturally its meaning and import are also spiritual. Quality is just an English translation of the word. In fact, the guna means the property of a thing, be it a person or an object. Just like physical and chemical properties are there for substances, human beings have their spiritual characteristics. The Bhagavadgita lists them as sattva, rajas and tamas, about which we have mentioned in the earlier discussions.

The three gunas give rise to four combinations of tendencies, broadly, which express themselves in one’s life during his or her interactions with the world. The invisible gunas are not directly noticeable. They manifest through the activities and tendencies, which of course will be evident.

Krishna divides the characteristics into four groups. The first group, in which sattva guna is in the forefront, is the most spiritual. The predominant sattva guna will afford easy natural contemplation on the Supreme Truth or Brahman, together with the allied level of purity and goodness. Our sastras, even before Krishna was born, called it Brahmasvabhava. It means the proximate nature to Brahman, facilitating Braahmic contemplation as the most dominant aspect of life.

Arjuna, being a warrior, obviously cannot claim inclusion in this Brahma-svabhava. That is why Krishna straightaway refused Arjuna’s proposed impulsive attempt to get away from the battlefield and engage in exclusive spiritual contemplation.

Brahma svabhavins have thus a lifestyle and pursuit dominated by austerity, contemplation and the gaining of extreme level of purity. Their mainstay is knowledge, its pursuit and promotion. Sannyasins and such other people are to be included in this sattvika category.

The next group has rajo guna as the dominant quality. Rajas represents activity and the motivation, passion and prejudice for it. Rajasika people will revel in continuous activities. The taxing and seemingly cruel act of public administration, involving defence and law enforcing activities, comes under this category. Our rulers and armed forces would fall in this category. Kshatra svabhava is the name given to this. It calls for and implies the power of muscle and voice. To say what is to be done, even in emergent situations, and to see that what is so said is adhered to and implemented is the quality of rajas.

In case of insubordination or opposition, the man of rajo guna, kshatra svabhava, cannot and should not close his eyes, relent or retreat. He has to straightaway go into the matter, employing his wish, will and strength, sometimes even risking his own life. Muscle and mind both will have to be arrayed for the purpose, which is something the brahmasvabh¡vins cannot think of doing at all. By the very nature of it, rajo guna may lead to precipitous events and confrontations, as for instance the one facing Arjuna himself.

Arjuna was a kshatra svabh¡vin, and he expressed his nature consistently. He wanted to fight adharma, impropriety, and those who defended it. Thus Duryodhana and the rest were to be contended with. He was ready for the fight.

But when he came to Kurukshetra, he found his grandfather, who had literally brought him up on his lap, and his own venerable teacher, under whose care and guidance he grew to be what he had now become. They were defending Duryodhana. The wrong was to be dealt with. But the persons fighting for the wrong-side were adorable. Thus the conflict became extremely grave, and it unnerved him.

This is a typical instance in the life of the kshatriya. But rajo guna is noted to precipitate such grave crises and conflicts. The kshatriya has nevertheless to go forward. That is how Krishna instills Arjuna with the necessary insight and compulsiveness to assimilate the conflicting notes and yet fulfil the role of rajo guna. But the rajo guna of the kshatriya will have to be closely guarded and guided by sattva. Only then his violent, offensive and remedial moves will remain faultless and benevolent to ensure social and individual welfare. Herein lies the test and also redemption.

The third category of nature is the one that takes naturally to trade and agriculture, including animal husbandry. To trade means to protect the capital. In intriguing circumstances, which are not at all rare, the trader will have to blend good and bad, truth with half-truth, and only then his profession can be sustained. It is said that the trader’s success often consists in the quality of his words than of his goods. Our sastras thus describe vaisya dharma as a mixture of truth and untruth: satya-anrta. Nonetheless, there are many who have affinity for the vaisya dharma and are fit for this pursuit.

Now comes the fourth category, which encompasses always the largest percentage of human population anywhere in the world. Sudra svabhava is the name given to it. In it, the tamo guna is predominant, followed by rajas.

Those given to this combination will have their body and muscle as their wealth. They cannot take up any complex venture that needs subtle thinking and intelligent decisions. On the other hand, they can work hard under the guidance of others. All that they would expect is some reward in the form of remuneration or resources, which will enable them to live with their family.

Neither the austerity with contemplative pursuit of the Brahma-svabhavin, nor the zealous involvement in the challenges of ruling the society, nor again the cleverness and responsibility of the professions like trade and agriculture, can they take up. Theirs is the path of least resistance but comfortable involvement. “I shall not take any risk. Nor would I aspire for anything big or great. Employ me to the extent I can be employed, and I shall be content with what purpose it will serve you.”

These are the four categories which go to make humanity. The first group looks after the knowledge, research and their benefits for the welfare of mankind. The second holds the society in check and balance by placing their might and astuteness, including physical, for the cause of public administration. The third toils in the land and cultivates food materials and also engages in the production and distribution of commodities to meet the needs of the society. And the last is the broadest and largest ‘human resource’, which any other category needs and will employ.

These four together, says Krishna, constitute the complex, mutually fulfilling human society in the world. The creation of these mutually complementing four categories by different combinations of the three gunas, is the role of Nature.

In earlier chapters (verse 3.5), he has already said that all actions and their motivations are a handiwork of Prakrti, Nature, and none has anything to say or do in the matter. Nature has instituted this complex order (vyavastha) in the world. Like the birth of male and female in the society, like the preservation of the various species around, in this too, Nature’s hands alone work, and mankind has nothing to do or to interfere in the process, except to recognize the whole order and be enriched and guided by it.

These svabhavas or guna combinations are ever active and vibrant in humanity. In fact, these are the inner psychological and psychic traits. Similarly, physical and chemical substances too have their respective properties and nature. There is no being in existence, sentient or insentient, dissociated from its nature or svabhava (18.40).

Thus the four-fold combination is a well-knit arrangement one can think of. Does Nature have intelligence to conceive all this with sufficient forethought and caution? The answer is that – if the human, Nature’s best gift, has his level of intelligence and insight, what should be the magnitude and potential of Mother Nature, the very source from which the human intelligence has sprung!

Only because the super-intelligence of Grand Nature shines independently unblemished, the resultant satellites like man and the rest can have their dependent lustres. Have not the Upanishads sung this fact most melodiously?

तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ।
(Kathopanishad 2.2.15)

Only when that independent primordial lustre shines there, the rest shine after it. Indeed by Its brilliance alone are all these empowered with their respective lustres.

None should therefore doubt or wonder whether the cause of all existences, namely Nature, has sufficient intelligence within it. Is it not its intelligence or sentience that becomes manifest in varying degrees in the whole spectrum of sentient beings? The small measure of sentience we possess and display should, in fact, lead our understanding to infer how magnificent the intelligence of the Supreme source of all should be! It is because of that Supreme Master Intelligence that all this well thought-out arrangements, sequences, orders and institutions come to reign around us, in the universe. How is this wonder accomplished? The seeker has to think deeply to fill the gaps in his understanding.

It is important to know that this four-fold category of humanity (catur-varna) is not something that prevails in India or Hindu society alone. It is applicable to the whole human population, wherever people are. In the most modern nations also, where science and technology have advanced to render living standards and amenities copious, one can still find this four-fold division.

Are not farmers and agriculturists in all countries producing food and other articles on the earth and making them available to the society? Equally so, are not the other counterpart too, the traders, taking up the task of distributing the farm-produce to the different users? What about the organized, disciplined police and defence personnel with their resolve and spirit to implement the dictates of law and order? There is also the research group, active with its pursuit of knowledge, constantly endeavouring to discover, invent and popularize various measures and expediencies the society looks for and will cherish from time to time. And, there is always a work-force which serves the society with its muscle-capacity.

Surely, all these together alone make any human society wholesome and fulfilling. This basic and ultimate structure of the complex society cannot be tampered with at any time.

In fact, only when the earth, air, water, sunlight and other elemental sources are already present, the humans and the rest of creatures will be evolved. Only when the laws and processes resulting in the emergence of the insentient world and planets remain ceaselessly active to preserve their respective properties and the mutually complementary forces, the question of human existence arises at all.

In humans too, it is but reasonable that the same orderliness, cycles and constitutional harmony manifest and govern. None can think of drawing a line to divide the sequence of creation or the order of complex Nature. What precedes humanity can alone prevail in humanity and whatever follows it too!


(From the Series Essential Concepts In Bhagavad Gita- Volume 2)

Recordings of Poojya Swamiji's Talks

Bhagavad Gita : A Topic for Research - 1

Bhagavad Gita : A Topic for Research - 2


Vicharasethu is a monthly journal in English and Hindi, edited and published by Poojya Swamiji. It is also published in Malayalam by the name Vicharasarani. With Articles, Correspondance, Guidance for Sādhana and News updates from the Ashram, these monthly publications are a great guide for the earnest sādhaka. 

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