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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.
Bhagavad Gita is a complete, a full scripture. It started discussing the grief and affliction of Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It was a very emergent situation. Arjuna was so overpowered with grief, which he described as scorching, burning the whole of his body and senses, and he wanted to be cooled and comforted. So it started from there. But it did not stop. As Krishna began to speak it was not alone a question of removal of grief from the mind of Arjuna, but exposing Arjuna to the whole human life. What is human life? To make him know that and in the nature of life, in the course of life, what all problems, confrontations, difficulties and the others would come.
So it was such a subtle discussion that it went into the very centre of the universe, the centre of our life. And the first point that Krishna said was, “Man is not at all mortal.” Not only that, destruction is very impossible in the nature of existence. Existence, to be so, will continue to exist. It cannot be destroyed at all. Now what we see as destruction is only a superficial and illusory notion. In reality there is no death at all. In other words Arjuna was exposed to the immortal Soul which every one is.
How beautifully did Krishna put it!
न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ।। १२ ।।
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayamataḥ paraṃ ।।
“There was no time, Arjuna, when I was not. That means I was always there. You may think that I was born and came into existence after my mother Devaki delivered me as a baby. But let me tell you it is not so. My body was born, but the presence that animates and activates the body, namely the Soul was not born at all. Unless it was there earlier how can it be present now?”
All of you are seated in my front. You came to this hall, Vijnana Bhavan. But before coming if you were not there, would you have come here? No. In the same manner, if you were not earlier you could not have been present now. So the birth of the body does not mean the birth of the presence in the body. This is not merely true of me but is equally true of you, Arjuna. na tvevāhaṃṃ jātu nāsaṃṃ na tvaṃṃ neṃe janādhipāhṃ. The same is applicable to Bhishma, Drona, and the rest who are assembled in this war front. na caiva na bhavisṃyāṃahṃ, there is not going to be a time when we will all cease to be. So we were, we are, and we shall be. To be is the nature of existence. Existence can never become extinct. A thing cannot change its nature. So if the Soul is existent, it can never become non-existent. Now this was a wonderful insight Krishna presented. When Arjuna heard it, for the first time he felt enlightened and exposed to something very great.
Actually birth is not our experience nor is death our experience. How do you know that you were born? Some other people say you are born. But do you think birth is your experience? Certainly not. Similarly can you show a person who will say ‘I have died’? So both are inexperiential. At the same time our life completely is based upon experience and experience alone. So experientially nobody was born and nobody is going to die. If at all, we live and live alone. So all the problems in life can also be similarly disposed of by gaining a clarity as to what is life and what are the consequences or resultant experiences in life. That is what he analysed in the verse.
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ।। १४ ।।
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkhadāḥ |
āgamāpāyino'nityās-tāḿs-titikṣasva bhārata ||
Bhagavad Gita itself is a scripture. So during the course of the dialogue, though Krishna began with handling the grief of Arjuna, it developed into a full fold discussion. This is characteristic of the Indian mind, the Hindu way of thinking. They may begin a thought process from anywhere. But very soon it grows into a fully spiritual and philosophical dimension, where they discuss life, where they discuss existence, where they discuss one’s own being, everything is discussed. Now I am discussing this year the seventeenth chapter of Bhagavad Gita. It is named as śraddhātraya yoga. Every chapter is named after one yoga or the other. The first chapter is called Vishaada Yoga. Vishaada means grief. Those people who have grief they can and they should practice this yoga. Have you heard anything like Dukha Yoga? Yes. No experience in life is unacceptable or unwelcome. Everything is equally to be preferred or accepted. And each has got its own clear note of sublimation. We must open our mind to as many experiences as possible. And if you open your mind you will find every experience gets sublimated and enriched. No, the experience itself is enriching to you.
Finally in the 17th chapter he says, “I have spoken to you so much about scriptures, scriptural positions, prakriti, purusha, kshara, akshara purusha, purushottama, paramatma, visvaroopa. I have spoken to you about nirvana. Spoken to you about mukti, sthitaprajna, sthitadhee, gunatita, bhakta, everything I have spoken. But Arjuna, understand: in the whole process it is the assiduous application of the human mind that matters. This is called śraddhā.”
śraddhā is a word which has got no English equivalent at all. So I try to put it as assiduous application. We must be able to apply our mind, our intelligence, in a very assiduous unwearied manner. A man’s worth is when he is able to apply his body, mind, and intelligence to any given task with a sense of perseverance, with a sense of application. This is called śraddhā.
This śraddhā is what is going to determine the spiritual and philosophical plight or fate of any one. See, we are doing a pushpasamarpanam. It is nothing but an application of your own attention. How well you approach Maa to receive the flowers, how beautifully, nicely, feelingfully, fervently and devoutly you receive the flowers and walk. What is this? It is not an ordinary walk. You have got something from Maa in the form of a flower and you are going to offer it to your Swamiji. So the very act suddenly changes your mood. It instills into you a very beautiful process of divine application. Normally you will walk, and that walk is only upon the earth or upon the floor. But here that upon is overwhelmed by the fact that you are carrying some flowers out of your own choice, and you are proceeding to offer it according to your own choice. How well you carry, how well you stand, how beautifully you bend, how well you place the flower, and how well you prostrate. All these are acts are done by you. I don’t think Maa has anything to do or Swamiji has anything to do there.
When we prostrate before an idol of God I don’t think that idol or God has anything to do there. It is your own choice action. You wanted to instill into you a devotional mood, a devotional sublimity. That sublimity is enriching, elevating, and expanding. These effects will be had provided you have the necessary attunement and application. This is called śraddhā.
Krishna just makes a summary proposition.
The śraddhā that is going to express evidently in a person will depend upon that person’s biological, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual constitution itself. Am I clear? See we have got a psycho-spiritual constitution. Our body is a matter-energy mass. But the whole body is an instrument for the mind to deal with, to employ. And this mind is emotional. It is consisting of thoughts, emotions, feelings, memories, responses etc. Then we have got an intelligence which is given to the quest for knowledge.
So we have got a psycho-intellectual personality which constantly employs our body and body’s organs. The psycho-intellectual personality, śraddhā proceeds from there. So what kind of a śraddhā you will have, how attuned your mind is, how qualititative it is, how refined it is, and similarly how sharp is your intelligence, how does it act upon the mind, and what is the resultant attunement the mind is able to develop. See as I am speaking you can hear it. Everyone will hear it differently. The hearing of the sound is ok. But the manner in which the sound sinks into your system, there, there is a lot of variance. So he says that the quality of a man will determine the quality of his śraddhā. And this śraddhā makes all the difference.
Everybody reads the same book, but all people do not understand it equally. The Vedas are read by Jaimini and he interprets them as purely ritualistic and desire-oriented. The same Vedas were read by Badarayana, Sankaracharya, etc. and they said Vedas have nothing to do with rituals. They are only enlightening you. Take up the enquiry, do śravanṃa ṃanana, and nididhyāsana.
That is the supreme message of the Vedas. So one interprets it as a knowledge text, knowledge scripture, another views it as a ritual scripture. Where is the difference now? The object remains the same. So it depends upon the śraddhā.
So my dear souls, if you are not able to progress, it is only because of lack of śraddhā. If you are able to progress well and fast, it is a blessing of the śraddhā that you are able to generate, preserve, intensify and express.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.