Nuggets from the Gita : Chapter 9

This is an attempt to awaken curiosity to read the holy Gita. I am sharing a few nuggets verbatim from the chapters of the book, with the hope that this gets you started at your own pace. There are many commentaries on the Gita. This version is based on “The Scripture of Mankind” Translation by Swami Tapasyananda.

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Chapter IX

Raja Vidya & Raja Guhyam
Sovereign Knowledge & Sovereign Mystery

Significance of the chapters name

The prefix “Raja” shows the importance of the subject. In an earlier chapter Lord Krishna had spoken about Yoga which was known to the Raja Rishis being forgotten in course of time. And how he was going to revive the lost teaching by imparting to Arjuna. He describes this ancient lost teaching as “Rahasyam” – Secret, Esoteric Knowledge, a Mystery. Rajavidya and Rajaguhyam may well be the lost knowledge that he is now sharing with Arjuna. There is profound learning in this chapter, and it starts with this statement from the Lord
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I shall now declare to you, who are endowed with reverence, that profoundest of all mystic doctrines and the way to its experience, by which you will be free from the baneful life of Samsara
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The teachings in this chapter can be summarised as follows

1. Devotion is the ultimate science
2. Devotion can help you understand the Divine Mystery
3. What is true worship of the Divine
4. Is redemption open only to the devout

1. Devotion is the ultimate science

The doctrine of devotion is the noblest & profoundest of all sciences. It is easy to practice. Those who neglect it will be subject to the cycle of births & deaths and will not attain salvation. Highest worship according to the Bhagavata Dharma consists in the total surrender of all the fruits of action. Whatever man does by the body, by mind, by buddhi, and by senses – let all that be dedicated to the Supreme Being.

In this chapter the Lord says “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you give away in charity, whatever austerity you perform – do all that as offering unto Me”

2. Devotion can help you understand the Divine Mystery

  • Devotion is generated by contemplating on His Mystery and Glory.
  • The Lord is the indwelling spirit in all, but nobody contains Him. It is He who contains them.
  • It is also not true that they rest in Me because I am the pure and incorruptible Spirit which remains unaffected by their presence
  • I am the creator and sustainer of this mighty universe but am not affected by it

He is the source and support of all existence, but he has no contact with them, nor is he dependent on them. But all objects are given their status as existing entities because of His will. But for Him they would have had no existence. But he is Self-Existent. The Lords says contemplate on this divine Mystery

3. What is true worship of the Divine

This section brings out the clear distinction between attaining heaven and attaining salvation. In other religions heaven or paradise is the final destiny of all pious believers. But in Vedic religion heaven is just a state like our life on earth. Heaven provides enjoyments of a greater refinement as a reward for Vedic rituals and charities done. Just like your money in a bank these merits are exhausted by enjoyment. And when the credit balance is zero these Jiva’s must come back to earth and acquire new merits for more enjoyments after the end of their earthly life.

A real lover of God lives a life of surrender to God and service of His creatures without praying for any reward. Lord calls such devotees as “Ananyah” – Those who do not think of Him different from their real Self.

External worship is symbolic. In an earlier chapter Lord Krishna directs a shattering criticism on the sacrificial cult. Vedic rituals were elaborate, requiring meticulous performance. Its objective was heavenly felicities. It was open only to Kshatriyas and Brahmins. Women were excluded. The Bhagavata Dharma which Krishna proclaimed has characteristics of a very different nature.

Its important features are

• Faith in One Supreme Spirit
• Adoration of Him with devotion

It is open to all including women and outcastes, unlike the Vedic rituals which are open only to men of the twice born Varnas (Dvijas).

In this form of adoration rituals and ingredients are subordinate. Lord says “Leaves, flowers, water etc. given to me with love and dedication I consume with supreme satisfaction”

4. Is redemption open only to the devout or to all

The Gita declares “Even a confirmed sinner if he worships Me with unwavering faith and devotion must be considered as righteous; for he has indeed taken the right resolve”.

Towards the end of the Chapter lord Krishna throws light on an interesting perspective.

Is God partial towards his devotees as against those who do not adore Him?

This attitude is common among worldly beings in high positions. Those who flatter are rewarded. Those who do not are excluded from favor. Is God also like that?

Those who adore Him approach close to Him and therefore participate in His blissful nature. While others ignorantly or deliberately exclude themselves from Him and become interested in worldly life with its consequences.

The Bhagavata Purana explains this point by comparing God to the Kalpataru (Wish Yielding tree). Those who go under the tree and pray are rewarded. Those who exclude themselves fail to get these blessings on account of their own fault.

This may lead to a question – Is God a passive element? Is He not responsive to the devotee’s attitude? Does not the devotee get any active help from Him?

Sri Ramakrishna answers this declaring that if the devotee takes two steps towards God – He takes ten steps towards the devotee. A devotee will find from experience that the grace of God works on him in a hundred ways without him knowing it.

This chapter ends with a verse

“Let your mind be absorbed in Me. Be devoted to Me, sacrifice unto Me, and bow down to Me. Thus, having Me as your highest goal, and united with Me in mind, you shall come to Me alone.”

Other Useful Points

9 Steps of Spiritual Discipline

In the Bhagavata Purana a spiritual discipline of a very wide scope is presented. It has nine steps

• Shravana – Hearing
• Kirtana – Chanting Hymns
• Vandana – saluting all as the tabernacles of God
• Dasya – Cultivating the attitude of the servant of God
• Sakhya – Comradeship with Him
• Atmanivedana – Complete self-surrender

The Gita considers mainly Padaseva (Pada being taken as the manifestation of the Supreme Being) and Atmanivedana.

The 4 Yoga’s

The 4 Yoga’s are based on the three aspects of the human mind – The intellectual, emotional and the volitional. Jnana Yoga is essentially intellectual. Bhakti Yoga emotional. Karma & Raja Yoga volitional.

Raja Yoga is the science of concentration. What is done is to use the willpower to make the mind one – pointed. The will is used for inward purpose. In Karma Yoga also the application of will is the main feature of the discipline, but it takes an external direction.

It is unpsychological to make a watertight compartmentalization of these four Yoga’s.

Divergence in people

The Gita seems to recognize a kind of basic divergence in people. Daivi Prakriti & Asura Prakriti – The Divine & the Demoniac. The characteristics and ways of life of these people are explained in Chapter 16.

Maya

Included in Lord’s power or Maya are two tendencies working in opposite directions. Vidya (Enlightenment) which works towards the liberation of the soul, and Avidya (Ignorance) which leads to more and more of worldly bondage.
Moral & pious actions bring one more and more under the influence of Vidya. Immoral and sensuous indulgences bring him more and more into the sphere of Avidya.

End of Chapter 9

To be continued ……..

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