Srimad Bhagavad Gita: A Simple Rendering
|Subtle Elements =>||Akasa||Vayu||Agni||Aapah||Bhumi|
||Sparsha (touch)||Roopa (form/colour)||Rasa (taste)||Gandha (smell)|
|Organs of Perception||Ear
|Organs of Action||Speech
|Prana (vital forces)
|Aspects of Mind
The 5 Kosas (the coverings on the soul)
According to Vedanta, Atman alone exists, but due to the divine Ignorance, it apparently gets covered by 5 kosa (sheaths): Annmaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya, Ananadamaya.
Anandamaya Kosa is the Pure Consciousness associated with avidya (ignorance))
Vijanamaya Kosa is the buddhi (intellect) + 5 organs of perception
Manomaya Kosa is the manas (mind) + 5 organs of perception
Pranamaya Kosa is the 5 pranas (vital forces) + 5 organs of action
Annamaya Kosa is the gross body (Sthula sharira)of an individual.
Vijanamaya Kosa, Manomaya Kosa, and Pranamaya Kosa constitute the sukshma sharira (the subtle body) which accompanies the jiva (soul) during transmigration after death. Anandamaya Kosa is the Karana sharira.
Jiva and its various conditions
|Names of Bodies
|Name of the embodied soul
|Name of the aggregate of souls
||Hiranyagarbha / Sutrātmā / Prāna
Tarak Brahma Yoga: The Way of the Imperishable Brahman
The chapter begins with an explanation of certain terms used in the last two verses of the previous chapter. In the process, the Lord also discusses the philosophy and the dynamics of liberation through stages by the process of meditation. It also shows the way to the Imperishable (akshara) Brahaman -- the Real amidst all unreality.
The seven terms explained (sl 1-5): It is important for a sadhaka to understand these terms so that he can differentiate the Imperishable (akshara) from the perishable (kshara) to move ahead in his spiritual journey without getting stuck up.
1. Brahman -- It is the Imperishable Supreme Reality that rules over everything forever.
2. Adhyātma/ Svabhāva -- The Reality (tattva) that exists in everyone as the inmost Self. In truth, the Adhyātma is Brahman itself.
3. Karma -- The process of making the offering during a sacrifice is Karma. It requires giving up (in the form of pouring the offerings), and is responsible for the general welfare of the world. The rains, plants, food, animals, men etc. are produced due to this Karma. It should not be confused with ordinary work, or the law of karma.
4. Adhibhūta -- Every form of matter has an origin and dissolution, is different from the non-perishable Atman, and yet dependent on It for its existence, and is known as adhibhuta. The whole range of products of Prakriti is perishable (kshara), and hence is adhibhuta.
5. Adhidiavata -- (lit. the entity existing in the divine plane.) This is Hiranyagarbha, who resides in the Solar Orb and sustains the organs of all creatures.
According to Vedanta, every sense organ has a presiding deity that makes it function. The deity of a particular sense organ is also present at the cosmic level in the external world. Thus the sun-god is in the solar orb and is also the presiding deity of vision in beings. All such deities are the manifestation of Purusha (the Universal Self) in His subtle aspect (Hiranyagarbha).
6. Adhiyajna -- God sustains all the Vedic sacrifices and is called adhiyajna. Also, all the bodily functions are like sacrifices (explained in chapter IV), so, as the Inner controller of the body, God is the adhiyajna who directs all the physical functions of the body.
7. How is God attained at the time of death -- He who remembers God at the time of death, he attains God.
Ascent of a yogi after death (sl 6-10): What a person thinks at the last moments of his life determines his next birth. This means that one should always be absorbed in the thoughts of God, otherwise he won't be able to remember God at the time of his death. This kind of absorption is possible only through a constant practise.
When a person dies thinking of Purusha, he reaches the solar orb. This Purusha is also called Saguna Brahman, who is the Ruler, the Dispenser of all, subtler than an atom, beyond comprehension and beyond any kind of delusion. The abode of this Purusha is the highest manifestation of Brahman in the relative plane and is attained by the yogis who meditate on Him -- the Omniscient and the Primal Being.
Meditation on the Supreme Brahman through Aum (sl 11-15): Now is described the state of the Supreme Brahman who is Imperishable. This state is attained by the chosen few who have self control, are free from dualities, have conquered their passions, and who constantly meditate on the Lord. At the time of death, these yogis withdraw their senses from everything else, focus their mind only on God who resides within the heart, and give up their bodies while uttering Aum. These high souled men reach the Lord and become freed from the cycle of birth and death, since they have attained the highest perfection.
Rebirth for the imperfect (sl 16-19): Excepting for the chosen few (described in sl 11-15), everyone else gets reborn after death. Even those who by the virtue of their meritorious deeds reach Brahmaloka (the highest heavens ruled by Brahma) have to be reborn after a time. It is believed that during a day of Brahma ( 9,58,81,60,000 human years) the inhabitants of that heaven enjoy it, but during Brahma's night (same span of time) they all vanish, to reappear again during His next day. Thus the cycle continues with the same beings getting merged at night and then reappearing at daytime as per their karma. No one who has not attained the Lord keeps on evolving and involving in this cyclic process.
Beyond Rebirth (sl 20-22): The night of Brahma is the seed state of all beings from where they spring to life at the daytime. Beyond the cyclic life of the beings of Brahmaloka is the Eternal Being who does not perish even when everything else perishes. That state of the Eternal Being is Imperishable and is the Ultimate Goal (Parama gati) for everyone. Those who reach that state, never again come back. That is the Abode of the Lord which can be attained only by those noble souls who are completely devoted to that Supreme Purusha, the Lord.
Two paths of ascent after death (sl 23-26): The noble souls who have attained Self Knowledge become free instantly, so there is no more coming or going for them. But the remaining yogis ascend to higher heavens through one of the two paths: 1. Those who meditate on Saguna Brahman (God with form) take the solar path to reach Brahmaloka. At the end of the cycle of Brahma (His hundred years, 30,91,73,76,00,00,000 human years), they get liberated. 2. Those who perform various meritorious work like ritualistic actions, sacrifices, charity and other noble activities, take the lunar path, enjoy in various heavenly spheres and then are reborn on this earth to continue with their spiritual journey.
These two paths are eternal, and are taken by the yogis only. The ordinary beings who do not practise spirituality can never take these noble paths.
The glory of Yoga (sl 27-28): No yogi who understands the terms explained in the beginning of the chapter, and also knows about these two paths, can ever get deluded. Such a yogi transcends everything (studying the Vedas, performing sacrifices, austerities etc.) that produces any kind of result, and thus reaches the Supreme Abode -- the Primal cause of everything.
Swami Vivekananda in one of his his letters to E.T. Sturdy has discussed the two paths mentioned here, and has harmonised them with Advaita. Interested readers may go through that also.
Raja Vidya Raja Guhya: The way of Royal Knowledge and Royal mystery
In praise of Raja Vidya (sl 1-3): The previous chapter talked of fixing the mind (dharana) in a particular way to attain liberation (VIII. 11-15). But that kind of difficult sadhana is not possible for people who are not great yogis. So in this chapter the Lord talks of a direct and easier way of attaining Knowledge (Brahma Jnana) which releases one from the bondage of the world. This path should be practised by anyone who has faith in this dharma (the conviction in the existence of God, soul and immortality) to attain peace and happiness. But, men without faith in this dharma keep suffering.
The unparalleled wisdom (sl 4-6): All things of this universe are pervaded by the Supreme Lord in His unmanifested form (as Atman/Consciousness), they all exist in Him, but He does not exist in them (see VII. 4-5). It is like the mirage existing in the desert, but the desert not existing in the mirage. And yet the divine mystery is that the beings of the universe do not dwell in Him (note the contradiction. Will be explained later).
The Lord's Spirit is the support and the source of all beings and things, but It does not dwell in them because there is no real contact between Him and the objects of the world. The Lord is neither the container nor the contained, since there is no duality of any kind in Him. The concept of the container and the contained, or the cause and the effect belongs to the realm of maya, but the Lord is beyond maya, and hence appears to be the cause and support of everything. In reality He is always one and without a second. This is the divine and eternal mystery. The relationship between God and His Creation is like that of the mighty wind blowing everywhere, but staying in Akasa (ethereal space) without affecting it in any way. Just in that way objects stay in God without contaminating Him in anyway, because from His standpoint the whole creation is illusory.
Creation and God (sl 7-10): The whole process of creation, preservation and dissolution is due to the Lord's maya. Maya (Apara prakriti, see ch. VII) projects out of itself all the names and forms at the time of creation, whereas Consciousness (Para prakriti) endows them with life. At the end of the cycle the names and forms of the manifested universe go back into the seed state and remain merged in Prakriti. The Prakriti itself remains in a state of equilibrium of the three gunas. At the beginning of the new cycle, the balance of Prakriti is lost and the creation begins afresh.
The process of cyclic creation is maintained by the Lord through the control of His own Prakriti, and all beings who had not got liberation in the previous cycle, get manifested helplessly once again under the sway of maya. This creation happens due to the mere presence of the Lord. It should be understood that the Lord never creates the beings the way we create things. Creation must serve some purpose, whereas the Lord has no purpose of his own that needs to be served. The universe is perceived as being in time and space, but from the standpoint of Reality, nothing other than the Lord Himself exists. Creation belongs to Prakriti who starts evolving by the mere nearness of the Lord.
Since the creation belongs to maya, God never gets bound by the inequality of the created beings. The Lord is totally free from any desire, purpose, motive or agency in creation, hence He remains unaffected by everything of the universe. In the same way, anyone working without any motive becomes free, the way the Lord is free.
In these verses there is an apparent contradiction, but the fact is that these verses lead from the gross to the subtle understanding. The Lord begins by stating that He projects at the beginning of the cycle, and that Prakriti is only an instrument in His hand; He next says that He is unaffected because He is neutral in the matters of creation; and lastly He says that He does nothing and that Prakriti, animated by His nearness, produces the universe. This system of leading a person from the gross to the subtle is called Arundhati Nyaya.
Only the noble souls can know God (sl 11-15): From time to time the Lord assumes the human form so that men may attain a godly nature. But the ignorant people disregard Him when He is in the human form. This happens because people are not aware of His higher nature as the Supreme Lord of all beings. Such people are vile and ungodly, and cherish vain hopes, perform vain actions, pursue vain knowledge, and are devoid of proper judgement, since they deny the Lord and instead perform this and that action.
On the other hand, the noble souls, endowed with the divine nature, worship only the Lord. They know Him to be Imperishable and the origin of all beings, and worship Him with love, steadfastness and by glorifying Him. Many of them perform Jnana Yajna (see chapter IV), others worship Him as the One, or worship Him as one of the various divinities.
God is everything (sl 16-19): The Lord is the inmost self of everything. He is the sacrifice, the worship, its hymn, its accessories etc. He is the Father of universe (the efficient cause), the Mother (the material cause), the Grandfather (since He is the cause of the manifest world and also is the cause of its cause), and the Sustainer (He sustains the universe through the Law of Karma). He is Aum the purifier, the knowable, and the essence of the Vedas. He is the Goal and the Support, the Lord and the Witness (He is all knowing and ever present, so nothing is hidden from Him), the ultimate Abode and Refuge. He gives heat, He gives rains and also holds them back, He is immortality and also death in this world, He is being (manifested) and also non-being (the unmanifested). It is thus that the devotees of the Lord regard Him in various ways and follow different methods of worship.
The wheel of birth and death (sl 20-25): The followers of rituals and sacrifices as described in the Vedas, go to the heavens, enjoy there, and then are reborn. Thus they are subject to the vicious cycle of birth and death. But those who worship the Lord, meditate upon Him, and are ever devoted to Him, for them the Lord Himself carries what they lack, and preserve what they already have.
The Lord is the ultimate enjoyer of all sacrifices, so when people worship other deities and gods, those worship also reach Him only. But since such misguided people wish to have various desires fulfilled and have different goals to reach, they fail to get liberation even though they labour hard. Thus, those who worship gods go to gods, those who worship ancestors go to ancestors and likewise. Naturally they all get reborn. Only those who worship the Lord go to Him and are not born again.
The Gracious Lord (sl 26-34): These verses describe the grace of God towards those who worship Him with love. Their simplest offerings to the Lord, like water, leaves, flowers etc. is accepted by Him with kindness. So one should offer everything that he does, eats, performs and gifts. It is thus that one becomes free from the bondage of action, and reaches Him. This method of offering the fruits of one's action is called Sannyasa yoga, which combines the path of action (performing duties, hence Karma Yoga), and giving up (offering the results, hence Samkhya yoga). So this is a great and noble method.
The Lord is same towards all beings, but those who worship Him with devotion, they are the chosen ones since they are in Him, and He is in them. This is not out of any partiality, but it is because their Self is one. The Lord is so gracious that even the most wretched and the sinful person soon becomes righteous if he has devotion towards Him, and ultimately attains eternal peace. The devotees of the Lord never perish even if they be sinful, or be of sinful birth -- they all attain the Supreme Goal. Since it is so, then what to say of the noble souls and the sages who are devoted to God! So, everyone who has got a human body in this transitory universe should worship the Lord by regarding Him as the Supreme Goal. Further, one should fix his mind in Him, be devoted to Him and dedicate himself to Him. It is thus that a person reaches Him.
Vibhuti Yoga: The Yoga of Divine Manifestation
Why this chapter (sl 1-3): The seventh and the ninth chapter discuss in brief the essential nature and the glories of God. This chapter describes them in detail. God is the source of gods (like Indra, Varuna etc.) and also of sages, so it is not possible even for them to know Him unless He Himself reveals His nature to them. When a person realises God to be Unborn, without a beginning, and as the Supreme Lord, he becomes freed from all sins.
God -- The Supreme Lord (sl 4-8): Every creature and human being has various qualities and attributes which distinguish one from the other. These attributes like intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, pleasure, pain, birth, death, fame, charity etc. have God as their cause and basis. Also, in the beginning of the Creation the Lord Himself created the seven sages (Bhrigu, Marichi, Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratubh and Vasistha are the seven sages who were created mentally by Prajapati, the first father.) and the four Manus (SāvarNi, Dharma SāvarNi, Daksha SāvarNi, SāvarNa) were created by the Lord Himself mentally. Anyone who realises this divine glory of God, he gets established in Yoga which is characterised by an unshakeable devotion towards God. Such a wise person knows that God is the origin of all, and that all things evolve from Him.
It should be noted here that according to Hinduism the first created beings have their origin in the mind of God. The creation by God is a mental act which is followed by the so-called physical acts of the created beings.
The Blessed Devotees (sl 9-11): The devotees who realise God as Supreme, their thoughts, action and life get centred around Him only. They find delight and satisfaction only in glorifying Him and singing His name. To such devotees God bestows the Yoga of understanding (Buddhi Yoga) out of sheer compassion, and He also destroys the darkness of ignorance of their hearts by igniting the lamp of Knowledge. This ignorance is both the beginningless avidya, and its effect in the form of illusory perception.
Since phenomenal/worldly knowledge belongs to avidya itself, it is only the Light of the Lord that can destroy the vicious ignorance. The Divine Light shines through the intellect (buddhi), hence this form of sadhana is called Buddhi Yoga, which alone is capable of destroying Ignorance. Thus it is only through the grace of the Lord that one can transcend maya.
Arjuna wants to know about the glories of the Lord (sl 12-18): Arjuna now prays to Sri Krishna, accepting Him as the Lord -- the Supreme Brahman, Supreme Abode and Supreme Holiness. He now wants to hear from the Lord of His divine powers, divine glories, and the way to attain His grace.
The Divine manifestations of the Lord (sl 19-38): These 20 shlokas list some of the prominent things of this world and say that the Lord Himself has become all of them. The fact is that the Lord Himself has become everything, but a common man adores the good and the great, hence this listing has been narrated by the Lord to teach that whatever is exceptionally good in this world, is the Lord Himself.
The Lord, seated in the hearts of all creatures, is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all beings. He is the best of everything: Vishnu among the Adityas, sun among the lights, Sama Veda among the Vedas, mind among the senses, intelligence in the living beings, Aum among the words, Japa among the sacrifices, Himalaya among the immovables, Vajra among the weapons, lion among the beasts, Gayatri among the metres, Agrahayana among the months, spring among the seasons, Vyasa among the sages, Arjuna among the Pandava brothers etc. He is also the all seizing Death, prosperity, glory, fortune, speech, memory, etc.
The Lord's manifestations are infinite (sl 39-42): The Lord sums up His elaboration by telling that there is no being, whether moving or unmoving, that can exist without Him (anything without Him would be void, shunya). So, what has been narrated earlier is only a partial description of the Lord's glories, for, whatever glorious, or beautiful, or mighty being exists anywhere -- that has sprung from a tiny spark of the Lord's splendour. Not only that, this whole universe stands supported by a small fragment (ekamsena) of the Lord.
Meditation on Lord can be done in one of the three ways -- rupa chintana (meditating on the form), lila chintana (meditating on the episodes of His life), and guna chintana (meditating on His Divine qualities). This chapter belongs to guna chintana, and anyone who practises this form of yoga, also reaches the same state where a Jnani reaches. Hence the importance of the chapter.
Viswarupa Darshana: The Yoga of the Vision of the Lord's Cosmic Form
The previous chapter focusses on guna chintana (contemplation on the Lord's qualities). This chapter describes the Cosmic Form of the Lord, and belongs to roopa chintana (contemplation on the form of God). Both these chapters are great aids to meditation. In addition, this chapter excels in its poetic beauty.
Arjuna wishes to see Sri Krishna's Cosmic Form (sl 1-4): The Lord in His Cosmic Form (as opposed to His Formless aspect) always possesses the six divine qualities: Jnana (Knowledge), Aishwarya (Sovereignty), Shakti (Power), Bala (Strength), Virya (Energy), and Teja (Vigour). This form of God is also known as Iswara form on which the devotees love to meditate. Arjuna wishes to see this form of the Lord which is more concrete to him than the form in which the Lord Creates the universe, controls all, is the Dispenser of the results of action etc., and yet continues to be unchanging, impartial, undisturbed and detached (as described in earlier chapters).
Arjuna gets the divine eyes to see the Cosmic Form of the Lord (sl 5-8): Sri Krishna is about to reveal His Cosmic Form which comprises the whole universe of the moving, unmoving, the past, present and future, the Time itself, gods, sages, divine beings -- all concentrated in His body. It would be the vision of the One in the many, and the many in One. It would explain and justify the apparent contradictions of the relative world and reconcile the famous opposites of the spiritual world -- justice and mercy, fate and free will, suffering and divine love.
The vision of God in all, and all in God removes all doubts and perplexities that cloud a person before the divine revelation. After that he is able to see the relation and unity in the apparent diversity of the universe, and spontaneously surrenders to the will of God. He is then also able to see the most hateful and the terrible things of the world as the divine manifestation of the Lord. It is only then that the blessed person accepts the world with joy and performs every task as the Lord's work.
However, this kind of vision is not possible with the ordinary human eyes which are meant to perceive the multiplicity of this world. So, the Lord gives divine eyes to Arjuna so that he can see the One behind the multiple.
A glimpse of the Cosmic Form (sl 9-14): The Iswara form of the Lord was now revealed before Arjuna and Sanjay (who had been narrating the events of the war to the blind king, Dhritarashtra). The splendour of the Lord was like the radiance of a thousand suns bursting forth at once in the sky. His many faces and many eyes were on every side; His ornaments, weapons, garlands, perfumes etc. were all divine, awe inspiring, resplendent and limitless. In that person of God, Arjuna saw the whole universe with its manifoldness (gods, men, ancestors etc.) gathered into One.
The sight overwhelmed Arjuna who then bowed his head and folded his palms in reverence to the Lord and addressed Him with hairs standing on end.
The Terrifying Cosmic Form (sl 15-31): What Arjuna saw and described aloud was both benign and terrifying. He saw Brahma (the creator God), the divine sages, all the gods, the divine serpents and a host of other divine beings in Him. The Lord had innumerable arms, faces, eyes and bellies. His form extended on every side, covering every space and looked infinite in every sense. He was a mass of radiance with a divine crown, mace and disc. Arjuna then prayed, 'You are the Imperishable (akshara), the Supreme Being to be realised, the Supreme Support of the universe, the eternal Guardian of the Eternal Dharma, and also the Eternal Being (XI.18).'
The Lord had the sun and the moon for his eyes, His face was like a blazing fire, His form filled all space, everyone trembled with fear at His terrible form and, the hosts of gods and celestial beings were entering into Him with folded hands out of fear. All the divine beings stood trembling before His great form which had many mouths, eyes, arms, thighs, feet bellies and tusks.
Arjuna was terrified at this sight. He saw His opponents including Bhishma, Drona, Karna and others, and also the warrior chiefs of his own side entering the Lord's terrible mouths in which many were caught between His teeth. Like many rivers rushing towards the ocean, or like moths rushing into a blazing fire, the creatures were entering the terrifying mouths of the Lord towards their destruction. This terrified and troubled Arjuna who cried out in pain to the Lord to have mercy. He wanted to know who Sri Krishna was (Sri Krishna had been Arjuna's friend, at the same time he stood before Arjuna in His terrible form).
The implications of the vision (sl 32-34): Hinduism accepts God in totality; He is the Creator, Preserver and also the Destroyer. This is the reason why Hinduism has no need for a Devil who would undo all the good that God creates. Since every new creation requires the destruction of the old, so Hinduism accepts Destruction as an essential feature of God, and hence sees Time as a manifestation of God. For the same reason Hinduism has equal reverence for Brahma (the creator God) and Kali (the Destroyer).
The Lord says that He is the world destroying Time, and is currently engaged in slaying the warriors. Even without Arjuna all those warriors were going to die. So the best thing for Arjuna was to stand up in the battlefield and win glory by becoming an instrument in the hands of the Lord (Nimitta mātram bhava savyasāchin), since the warriors have already been destroyed by the Lord (XI.33).
This verse explains that none can stop the divine will. Sri Krishna reminds Arjuna that he has been appointed by the Lord as His human instrument on account of his past good karma. The reward for his present actions have also been determined by the divine will in the form of glory for him. Now he only has to make his own will one with the divine will by performing his set duties. Elaborating this further in the XVIIIth chapter, the Lord would say 'your nature would make you fight'. Thus the best thing for a person is to perform his duties according to varnashrama dharma, and surrender oneself to the divine will. This is how the destiny is fulfilled.
It is through this glimpse into the nature of reality that the Lord encourages Arjuna to give up weakness of every kind and fight to kill, since they are already dead.
Arjuna's prayer to the Lord (sl 35-46): Arjuna then broke into a prayer in praise of the Lord and said that He was the Primal Cause even of Brahma (since He creates Brahma), the Infinite, Abode of the universe, the Imperishable, the Supreme, Being and non being (Relatively speaking, Existence and non existence are the two conditions of God's manifestation), the Knower and also that which is to be known, and the Ultimate Goal. He was the Wind, Death, Fire, Moon, Varuna (the famous Vedic gods), the Prajapati (the sire of all living beings) and the Great grandfather (the father of Brahma).
Arjuna was so emotionally charged that he started making namaskara (salutations) on all sides of the Lord, and begged to be apologised for his casual behaviour with Sri Krishna in the past, and finally prayed to the Lord to assume his former manifestation which was tender, benign and loving. It is this meditating aspect (the humanised form of the Lord) that reassures and soothes the devotees, and hence Arjuna wanted to see that old form only.
The Lord assumes his normal Form (47-55): The Lord says that Arjuna is lucky in having seen the Cosmic Form of the Lord, since no human endeavour (the study of scriptures, performance of sacrifices etc.) can help one to have this vision. And then the Lord assumed his human form which had a graceful shape, and comforted the terrified Arjuna by saying that he was indeed the blessed one, since even the gods cannot see this Universal Form of the Lord. It is only the devotee who does His work (dedicates all works to the Lord without seeking any fruit for himself), looks on Him as the Supreme Goal, is devoted to Him, is without any attachment or aversion -- that he succeeds in having His vision. It is then that He reaches God and enjoys Him uninterruptedly till He lives, and becomes one with Him after his death.
This chapter is extremely important for the devotees of the Lord. It provides a lot of material to meditate upon, and contemplate upon.
Bhakti Yoga: The Way of Divine Love
In Gita, two modes of worship have been discussed: the worship of the Cosmic Form and the worship of the Absolute Brahman. The former is meant for the beginners who presuppose a distinction between the Lord and the individual soul. The Lord is the saviour of these individual souls.
The other method of worship is meant for jnanis who do not see any distinction between the Lord and the individual soul, so they do not depend on any external being for their liberation, since all that is, is the Self alone. These two paths of worship are different, though ultimately they bring the same result of liberation to their followers.
The followers of the Impersonal aspect of God are called Jnanis, and the devotees of God with form are called bhaktas. Jnanis see that he alone exists in the universe as Atman; whereas a bhakta sees that He alone exists in the universe as God. However, in both these cases the personal ego and the petty self is crushed to make room for the Universal Spirit.
This chapter synthesises the two paths taken by these two class of spiritual aspirants: Jnani and Bhakta.
Harmony of Jnana and Bhakti (sl 1-4): Arjuna was advised in the last verse of the previous chapter to worship the Personal God, whereas chapter II to X talked of the Impersonal aspect of Godhead. Since the two paths, and their followers are different, Arjuna wanted to know who were better yogis: the Jnani, or the Bhakta.
Sri Krishna replies that the devotees who have supreme faith in Him and whose minds are fixed in Him are the perfect yogis. The Lord then adds that the worshippers of the Imperishable Brahman (the Jnanis) who have completely controlled their senses, and are even-minded under all conditions, attain the Lord Himself, since He has told earlier "The aspirant endowed with Jnana is My very Self" (VII.18).
It is thus that the two paths of spiritual sadhana are harmonised, and also the two classes of aspirants are placed at the same level.
Why Bhakti is superior to Jnana (sl 5): Although the paths of Bhakti and Jnana lead to the same end, the path of Bhakti is better because it is easier. Those who are followers of the path of Imperishable Brahman, find the path difficult and tortuous if they have even the slightest identification with their body or senses. To a Jnani, the body and the world is a bother; but to a devotee his body is an instrument of God to perform His duties in the world. This is why a Jnani practises discrimination (Neti Neti), whereas a Bhakta accepts everything of this world.
The Path of Perfection through Bhakti (sl 6-8): Those who offer all their actions to the Lord, whose mind are absorbed constantly in Him, and regard Him as the Supreme Goal -- for them the Lord Himself becomes the Saviour from the ocean of life and death, i.e., the committed devotees get liberated by His grace. So, the Lord advises Arjuna to fix his mind on Him, and put his thoughts on Him. In this way Arjuna would undoubtedly be able to live in Him alone, i.e., Arjuna will get mukti, which is the ultimate goal set by the Hindu scriptures.
In Hinduism, four kinds of liberation have been described. In sāyujya mukti, the individual soul becomes one with the Godhead. This liberation is sought only by the jnanis, and not by the bhaktas who want one of the other three liberation: sālokya (living eternally with the Lord in His abode), sāmipya (staying in nearness of the Lord), sārupya (getting the same form as the Lord).
Different methods of attaining Bhakti (sl 9-11): Fixing the unwavering mind on God is the best way to attain bhakti, but if a person does not succeed in that, then one may try abhyāsa yoga, the yoga of constant practise of fixing the mind on God. If one cannot practise abhyāsa yoga, then one may devote oneself to the service of the Lord; and if one is unable to do that also, then one must learn to surrender the fruits of all action to Him, and take refuge in Him. This way one gets rid of one's selfishness.
Karma-Phala-tyāga, offering the fruits of action to the Lord (sl 12): The Lord goes on to extol the spiritual path of karma phala tyāga by telling that it is better than meditation based on knowledge of the spiritual truth, which in turn is better than knowledge without meditation, which again is better than mere practice.
This is a tricky shloka, and does not fit in the general pattern of Gita. However Acharya Shankara explains: the perfect sannyasi gives up all action, and thus attains peace. Similarly, when an ignorant person gives up his desire for the result of action, he too attains peace, since he is out of hankering. In both these cases, 'giving up' is common, and hence the Lord extols it as superior to every other mode of sadhana.
Virtues of the Jnani (sl 13-19): The next seven verses describe the virtues that are natural with an all renouncing sannyasin. However, every spiritual aspirant should struggle to practise these to become perfect.
He who never hates even those who cause him pain, who is friendly and compassionate towards all, who is free from the feelings of "I" and "mine", is even minded in pleasure and pain, is ever content, is self controlled, has firm conviction regarding the essential nature of the Self, and who has devoted his mind and intellect to the Lord is dear to Him.
Being detached from his self-centredness, a devotee is free from joy and anger, and hence never causes any trouble for anyone, nor gets troubled by anyone in the world; he who is not dependent upon anything (even his own body), is internally and externally pure, prompt in action, impartial to all, untroubled by anything in the world, and does not get down to doing anything out of his ego or selfishness (a devotee lets the divine will flow through his body and mind unhindered by his ego). Such a person is dear to the Lord.
He who does not rejoice (on attaining the favourable), nor hates (on attaining the unpleasant), grieves not (on losing something), and desires not (the unattained); and has renounced both good and the evil, is dear to the Lord. It may be noted that unlike the Semitic religions, Hinduism does not talk of giving up the evil, but stresses on giving up both the good and the evil, for, both of them create bondage for the soul.
He who treats friends and foes alike, stays unmoved in honour and calumny, treats the dualities like pleasure and pain, heat and cold alike; who is free from attachment, unchanged by praise and blame, stays silent, ever content, is homeless (a sannyasi), firm of mind, and full of devotion -- such a person is dear to the Lord.
The extremely dear ones of the Lord (sl 20): After enumerating so many virtues in the seven verses, the Lord says that to Him the exceedingly dear are those devotees who regard Him as the Supreme Goal, are endowed with faith and devotion to Him, and who follow the Immortal Dharma as described in the previous seven verses. Practise of this Dharma makes one immortal and hence everyone who wants liberation, and also those who seek Supreme Blessedness should practise these virtues.
Kshetra-Kshetrajna Yoga: The way of Discrimination between matter and spirit
Matter and Spirit (sl 1-4): In the seventh chapter the Lord talked of aparā prakriti (lower nature, or, matter) and parā prakriti (the higher nature, or, spirit). Arjuna now wants to know about them, and also about the nature of knowledge (this question by Arjuna is omitted in some versions, so shloka numbers may vary by 1). In this chapter, aparā prakriti has been termed as kshetra (lit. Field), and parā prakriti has been termed kshetrajna (lit. knower of the Field).
The Lord explains that the individual body is the field (since it is through the body that one reaps the fruits of one's karma); and jiva (the individualised soul) is the knower of the field. He then goes on to say that the Lord Himself is the knower in all Fields (which means that jiva is one with God), and the knowledge of the Field and its Knower alone is the true Knowledge, which everyone should try to attain. He also mentions that the Vedas (Shruti), the past Sages (anubhuti, realisation), and the books of reasoning (yukti) have talked of these things in the like manner.
Here it may be mentioned that according to the Hindus, no spiritual truth may contradict the three tests of shruti (Vedas), yukti (ratioanlity), and, anubhuti (personal experience). Even when the Lord Himself is the speaker of spiritual truths, he stresses that He is not contradicting the past masters.
Matter, the Field (5-6): The Field consists of mahabhuta (ether, air, fire, water, earth), ahamkāra (I-consciousness), buddhi (intellect), avyakta (Prakriti, the unmanifested -- cause of all matter), the ten senses, the mind, and the five sense objects (sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch). These have been described in the seventh chapter. In addition to these, the Field also consists of: Desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, aggregate (the body and the senses), intelligence, and fortitude. Not only these, but every modifications of the mind which becomes the object of knowledge, belongs to the realm of the Field.
The essential virtues required to attain Knowledge (7-11): Having told in brief what is Field, and what is Field-knower, the Lord goes on to describe the true Knowledge; but before that He describes the virtues that one must acquire before he becomes fit to attain Knowledge. These virtues are: humility, modesty, non-violence, forgiveness, honesty, service to the teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control; and dispassion towards sense objects, absence of ego, constant reflection on pain and suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death; detachment, non-identification with son, wife, home and the rest (since their happiness or misery make one happy or miserable); perfect evenness of mind in the midst of the desirable and the undesirable; unswerving devotion to the Lord through single-minded contemplation, resorting to solitude, distaste for company (of the worldly minded); steadfastness in acquiring the knowledge of Self, and seeing the omnipresent Supreme Being everywhere. These virtues are also called knowledge because they are the means to the attainment of Knowledge. And, that which is contrary to this is ignorance.
Knowledge of Supreme Brahman (12-18): Describing true knowledge, the Lord says that the only thing that ought to be known is that which leads to Immortality. What is that? It is the Supreme Brahman, which is without beginning, and is said to be neither being, nor non-being. This verse explains that unlike any object of the world, Brahman cannot be proved to exist (sat) through experience or words, hence it cannot be called sat (being). Similarly, the consciousness associated with the the idea of the non existence of an object is called asat (non-being) (eg. flowers in the sky); but Brahman is not asat, since It can be known through shāstra pramāna (evidence of the scriptures), which again is based on the aparoksha anubhuti (direct and intuitive experience) of the sages.
To prevent the misunderstanding that Brahman is non-being (as is believed by Buddhists and others), the Lord uses the language of the parables and narrates Its upādhis (adjuncts) figuratively that can be understood by a common man. It must be made clear that the description that follows, is only apparent, and not at all real. The Lord says that It (Brahman) has Its hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth, and ears everywhere, and It pervades all beings as existence and consciousness (since sense organs require consciousness to function). It shines through the functions of all the senses, and yet It has no physical sense organ; It is unattached, and yet is the sustainer of all; It is devoid of the gunas (three qualities of Nature), and yet enjoys them. He is both outside (as the external body) and inside (as inmost Self) of all beings; It appears as moving and also as unmoving bodies. He is incomprehensible because of His subtlety; and He is very near (residing in one’s heart and realised so by the enlightened), and yet far away (To the ignorant who think It to be far away in the space, and unknowable even in billions of years).
Like the indivisible akāsa (ether) that appears divided by the material objects, the Brahman is undivided, and yet appears to exist as if divided in beings. That knowable Brahman (as mentioned in verse 12) appears as the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of all beings. The Supreme Being is the Light of all lights, is said to be beyond darkness (of ignorance). As knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the goal of knowledge, It is planted pre-eminently in the hearts of every living being. Brahman is within everyone, and not merely in the heaven.
The Lord concludes the topic by telling that the devotees who thus understand the Field, the knowledge and the object of knowledge as described above, become worthy of His state (liberation).
Prakriti and Purusha (19-22): Coming back to the issues of aparā prakriti (Prakriti) and parā prakriti (Purusha) that was raised in the seventh chapter, the Lord says that both Prakriti and Purusha are beginningless (these are the two natures of God, and God Himself is beginningless). Also, all forms (mind, body, senses, matter) and gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas, which manifest in the form of pleasure, pain, delusion etc.) are born of Prakriti. The same Prakriti is also said to be the cause of generation of physical body and the sense organs, whereas the Purusha is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasure and pain. Here Purusha means the intelligent principle synonymous with jiva (the individualised soul), Kshetrajna, and bhokta (enjoyer), but does not mean the Paramatman, the Supreme Self.
Purusha and Prakriti of Gita should not be confused with the male and female principle of common understanding, and also of some other philosophy. Here Purusha means pure consciousness, and Prakriti means non-conscious matter.
Embodied in Prakriti, Purusha experiences the gunas (manifested as various qualities like happiness, misery, wisdom, foolishness etc.) and feels identified with them, which results in His being born in good and evil wombs. Thus, Purusha and Prakriti are the actual cause of the phenomenal existence, the samsāra. Prakriti creates the samsāra by transforming itself into body, senses, feelings etc., whereas Purusha behaves like a samsārin, the phenomenal being, by identifying Itself with the body and also experiencing the pleasure, pain etc., associated with the body. Despite this apparent identification, which is born of sheer ignorance, Purusha always remains unchanging, and yet appears like a transmigratory being.
The Supreme Spirit in the body is the Witness (He does not actually take part in the actions of the body as the senses do), the Approver (of actions by the body, senses etc.), the Supporter (the intelligence of the Supreme Self reflected by the body, senses etc. serves the purpose of the jiva), the Enjoyer (since Supreme Spirit alone has the eternal Intelligence), is the sovereign Lord (since It is one with the universe), and the Highest Self (since It is superior to the body, senses, mind etc.).
Self Knowledge (23-26): He who knows Purusha, Prakriti, and the gunas is never born again regardless of his way of life. Some people realise the Self within themselves through the mind purified by meditation, some by devotion to knowledge, and some by devotion to work. Many others hear about the Self from others and start worshipping It with full faith. These people too attain liberation.
Whatever is born, animate or inanimate, is born through union of the Field and the Knower of the Field. But this union is not like the union of two similar material objects, since matter and spirit are opposed to each other in every sense. When they come near each other, they superimpose the qualities of each other on themselves, as a rope in darkness acquires the qualities of a snake. When a person realises the identity of the individual soul and the Lord of the universe, then the identification drops automatically, and the jiva gets liberated. Hence it is the knowledge of one's true spiritual nature, as one with the Lord, that is really important in life.
Beyond Illusions (27- 30): He who sees the Supreme Lord dwelling alike within all beings, and not perishing when the beings perish, he alone is wise. When one sees the Lord present alike everywhere, he does not injure Self (the spirit) by self (the false self born of identification with the body, senses etc.), and thus reaches the supreme state. It is the identification of a person with the non-self that is the cause of all bondage and rebirth. Once this identification is cut asunder, liberation comes spontaneously. When one sees that all actions are done by Prakriti and that the Self is beyond any action then alone he is called wise.
When one sees that the manifoldness and diversity is centred in the One, and that all evolution is from that One, he becomes one with Brahman.
The Supreme Self and the manifoldness (31-33): Being beginningless and without any gunas, the Supreme Self neither acts, nor gets stained by the action of the body in which It dwells. Just as the all-pervading space is not stained by the objects it pervades, similarly, the Spirit abiding in all bodies does not get stained by the acts of the body. Giving another example the Lord says that just as the sun illumines the entire world; similarly, the Spirit illumines the whole body without getting tainted.
Those who fully understand the distinction between the Field, the Knower of the Field, and the means of deliverance from Prakriti (the means are meditation, renunciation, and other spiritual disciplines), they alone attain the Supreme.
Guana traya Vibhaga: The yoga of Discrimination of the three gunas
Introduction (sl 1-2): It was stated earlier that the Lord creates, sustains and destroys the universe through His two aspects -- matter and Spirit. Although the soul residing in the body is one with God, it wrongly identifies itself with the three gunas (lit. quality) of Prakriti due to ignorance, and then gets born in various bodies, suffering the good and the bad produced by the actions of the body.
This chapter discusses the three gunas. The wise ones who understand the characteristics of the three gunas, are never born again: it is thus that they get mukti, liberation.
Creation explained (sl 3-4): Matter and Spirit are the Lord's two aspects. When the time of creation comes, the Lord in His Spirit form impregnates the Great Nature (which is also His own form) from which Hiranyagarbha (the Cosmic egg) is born. The full creation proceeds from this Hiranyagarbha. In this way, the Lord is both the Father and Mother of the universe.
Not only that. Whatever is born anywhere in the universe, including in the heaven, the Lord Himself is its seed giving father, and the Great Nature, the womb. Thus, the Lord is directly the father of microbes, plants, animals, men, gods and other beings. No birth is possible without Him.
The three gunas (sl 5-9): The insentient Prakriti, the mother of all matter and material things, consists of the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. Naturally everything born of Prakriti (i.e., excepting the Spirit) in this universe is compounded of these three elements. The soul, on the other hand, is of the nature of pure consciousness, and when it comes in contact with Prakriti (which is fully non-conscious entity), It (the soul) comes under bondage through the three gunas of Prakriti. Although this bondage is not real, the soul, out of its sheer delusion caused by Prakriti, imagines itself to be under real bondage, and goes on to enjoy and suffer for things which are not at all his. This is maya.
Sattva is by nature serene, luminous, healthful and stainless. It creates the attachment to happiness, knowledge and such noble qualities in the soul. It must be remembered that even noble qualities like knowledge, are attributes of mind, and hence belong to the realm of Prakriti. A person who wants mukti, must come out of the snares of noble qualities also, and be free of every duality. This is the fundamental difference between Vedanta and other religions that preach to be good. Virtues like goodness and nobility must be cultivated, since these are the stepping stones to the Highest, but they are not themselves the Highest. Sri Ramakrishna's story of the three robbers beautifully highlights this fact. In the story even sattva is a robber just like his two brothers rajas and tamas. Sattva is a noble robber, but indeed a robber. Even he cannot dare go anywhere near freedom.
Rajas is of the nature of passion, and is the cause of desire and attachment. It binds the soul by creating an attachment in it towards action. People who are very active are rajasik in nature, and hence quite far from realisation.
Tamas has its roots in deep ignorance, so it binds the soul to delusion. Due to tamas, creatures get attached to sleep, sloth, and confusion. Under its influence one becomes lazy, inattentive, and unproductive. In matters of inactivity, both sattva and tamas are alike, so quite often tamas passes off as sattva.
An overview of the gunas (sl 10-18): The three gunas are always together, but each one tries to assert itself over the other two. When sattva becomes powerful in a being, he becomes full of knowledge and noble qualities, when rajas overpowers the other two, the soul becomes greedy, hyper active, enterprising, lustful etc; and when tamas prevails over sattva and tamas, the result is a clouded mind, indolence, delusion etc.
Life after death is also determined by the preponderance of a particular guna at the time of death. Sattva leads one to higher heavens, rajas takes the departed soul to the wombs of active species, and tamas takes one to the wombs of creatures who are devoid of reason.
Repeating what has been told earlier, the Lord says that actions that are based on sattva, produce good and clean results; the results of actions based on rajas are painful in nature; and tamas produces results that are deluding in nature. Sattva gives birth to knowledge, rajas produces greed, and tamas gives rise to confusion, ignorance, and sloth. Those who are established in sattva go upward to heaven; those established in rajas are born among men, and those steeped in tamas go downward to the level of beasts.
Mukti (sl 19-20): Enjoying and suffering through myriads of experiences, the Spirit stays entangled in the snares of maya through the gunas. When the right knowledge dawns upon the Spirit, It struggles to come out of the sway of the gunas to attain liberation. When a man of insight realises that it is the gunas that transform themselves into bodies, senses and sense objects; and that the agent of action, the instrument of action, and the result of action -- all belong to Prakriti, and he also comes to know the Lord who is beyond the gunas, he attains the Lord, which is liberation. When the embodied soul (jiva) transcends the three gunas, it is then that it comes out of the cycle of birth, death, old age, pain etc. and becomes immortal.
Beyond gunas (sl 21-25): How to recognise the person who has transcended the three gunas, is the question of Arjuna. To this the Lord enumerates the qualities of a trigunatita (transcended person):
He neither hates the presence of the noble (sattva), activity (rajas), or delusion (tamas); nor does he desire them when they are absent; he remains like a witness amidst all the happenings around him without being affected, and stays firm and unwavering, knowing that all the activities are of the gunas, and not of himself, or of anything else. He always keeps his mind fixed on the Self and is indifferent to pain and pleasure; to him a clod, a stone, and gold are alike; to him the dear and the unfriendly are alike; he is of firm mind, and is calm in praise or blame. He is indifferent to honour and disgrace, is impartial to friend and foe, and gives up all undertakings (since all action belong to the gunas).
These in brief are the qualities of the person who has transcended the gunas. However, these qualities do not surface in a person after realisation, but these need to be acquired as virtues by special effort prior to the attainment of Self knowledge. After realisation, these qualities become natural to a jivanmukta person.
How to transcend the gunas (sl 26-28): The Lord is the Abode of the Immortal and the unchangeable Brahman, is the Abode of Eternal Dharma, and is also the Abode of Absolute Bliss. So, those who worship the Lord with the yoga of unswerving love, rise above the gunas and become fit to be one with Brahman.
Purushottama Yoga: The way to the Supreme Self
God and Mammon cannot be served at the same time; nor can two swords be kept in the same scabbard -- these words of Jesus Christ are true for every seeker of spirituality. He who wants to attain liberation, or wants to love God with unswerving devotion, has to be detached from the world, the samsāra. This chapter describes the world through the analogy of an asvattha tree, so that an aspirant understands its nature and then develops an intense dispassion towards it. This leads a devotee towards love and knowledge of God.
Samsāra as the asvattha tree (sl 1-4): This samsāra, or the cosmic existence is like a huge asvattha tree (the holy fig tree, Ficus Religiosa), which is rooted above in Saguna Brahman (Brahman with maya), and whose branches are the evolutes of Prakriti (mahat etc. see ch. VII). The leaves of this tree are the Vedas, since these protect the samsara tree by spelling out dharma and adharma. Its branches spread above (up to Brahma loka, the highest heavens) and below (to the subhuman planes), is nourished by the gunas (see ch. XIV), the sense objects are the buds, and its clustering roots spread downwards in the world of men, giving rise to action. These roots are the samsakāra (latent impressions) that are the cause and also the effects of good and bad actions.
It is difficult for a non spiritual person to comprehend the samsara's true form, including its origin, end, and its existence; because it continues to go on for him, and also keeps on changing its form. The only way out is to cut down this firm rooted samsara tree with the strong axe of detachment, and then to pray, 'I take refuge in God, from whom has come forth all this'. An aspirant should then strive to reach that state from where one does not have to come back to this samsara.
The Goal and the way (sl 5-6): The characteristics of a perfect spiritual aspirant have been described by the Lord as: he is free from pride and delusion, has risen above worldly attachments, is liberated from the pairs of the opposites like pleasure and pain, his desires are fully stilled, and he is ever devoted to the Supreme Self. When a person acquires these qualities, he reaches the Supreme Goal -- the Supreme Abode of the Lord. That Abode of the Lord is self illumined, and is beyond the illumination of the sun, moon, or fire. One who reaches that Abode, he does not have to be born again.
Creation and Rebirth (sl 7-11): Creation in Vedanta is explained with the analogy of the sun in the sky, and its reflection in a bowl of water. The actual sun and the reflected sun are apparently two, but when the water dries up in the bowl, the reflected sun goes back to the actual sun only. In this analogy, the sun is the Supreme Lord, the bowl is the Prakriti, and the water in the bowl is the mind. When the water (i.e. mind) is emptied, the bowl (Prakriti) continues to be there, and can be filled up by some other water (rebirth). But when the bowl itself is destroyed (i.e. Prakriti itself is dissolved through right knowledge), that reflected sun can never again come into existence.
In these verses, this concept of creation and rebirth are explained. At the time of creation, an eternal portion of the Lord (a portion of the Infinite is also infinite) becomes a living soul (jiva) in the world, and draws to itself the five senses and the mind from the Prakriti. At the time of death, and later at the time of acquiring a new body (i.e. rebirth), the lord of the body and senses (i.e., jiva) is accompanied by the subtle body (which includes senses and the mind. Also see notes in ch. VII). This carrying by the jiva, of the senses etc. is like the wind carrying away the scents from where it passes. Thus, even when the physical body is destroyed after death, jiva continues its journey with the essential components of the previous body and the mind, to work out its karma through a new body.
The physical organs like the eyes, are only the external agents of the senses, which are actually subtle, and belong to the subtle body. Jiva lords over the senses and the mind to experience the sense objects of the world. The jiva, however, cannot be perceived by a common man when it leaves the body at the time of death, or when it dwells in the body, or when it is united with the gunas, or while it experiences the objects. Only the eyes of wisdom, acquired by the study of scriptures and contemplation on them, can perceive the jiva in all its modes. When the aspirants who are armed with yoga of concentration and self control, make effort to see the jiva, they behold him dwelling within themselves; but the undisciplined minds (who lack austerity and self control) do not succeed in perceiving him, even if they make efforts to do so.
The glories of the Lord (sl 12-15): These verses describe Lord's presence in this world:
The light that is in the sun and illumines the whole universe, the light that is in the moon, and also in the fire, is due to the Lord. Entering the earth, the Lord sustain all beings by His energy, and becoming the sapid moon, He nourishes all herbs (or, plants). It has been the belief of the Indians that the moon (lit. Soma) is the repository of all sap. When the sap enters a plant, it gets nourished and enriched. The verse says that Lord Himself is that Soma.
The Lord enters the bodies of all living creatures in the form of the Vaishvānara fire (the fire that lives in the stomach), and mingling with the prāna (upward vital air) and apāna (downward vital air), He alone digests the four kinds of food (masticated, sucked, swallowed, and licked) taken by the living beings.
Above all, He is seated in the hearts of all as the onlooker and witness of all that is good and bad going around; from Him comes memory and knowledge, and also their loss. He alone is the Author of Vedanta, the Knower of the Vedas, and He alone is to be known through all the Vedas.
The true nature of the Lord (sl 16-20): There are two beings in the world: the Perishable and the Imperishable. The Perishable comprises all creatures and changing forms, and the Imperishable is said to be the Unchanging maya shakti, the power of the Lord. This maya shakti is the seed of all all perishable beings of this samsara. From the relative standpoint of the world, this samsara (the banyan tree) is endless, hence its seed, the maya shakti is also Imperishable.
Beyond the perishable and the Imperishable lies Purushottama (God, the Supreme Self), who is the Highest, unchanging, all pervasive, and sustainer of the universe. The Lord is superior to the Perishable (the tree), and also superior to the Imperishable (maya shakti, the seed of the tree), and hence He is extolled in the world and in the Vedas as the Supreme Self.
The truly undeluded person -- who knows the Lord to be the Supreme Self -- he knows all that is to be known (that the individualised soul and the Supreme Self are one), and he worships the Lord with all his heart. A man becomes truly wise only after knowing this profound truth, and after that he is no more bound by any duties or responsibilities.
While concluding, the Lord terms this chapter as shastra, scripture. This term has not been used in Gita for any other chapter. According to Acharya Shankara, this chapter contains the essence of the entire Vedas, hence this honour.
Daivasur Sampad Vibhaga Yoga: The Division of Divine and Demoniac treasures
In the XIVth chapter, the Lord discussed the three qualities: sattva, rajas and tamas of Prakriti that are responsible for the existence of this universe. Every object and every person is composed of these three qualities in varying proportion. With the performance of spiritual sadhana, the personality of an aspirant undergoes major transformation. Instead of being dictated by rajas and tamas, he now gets established in sattva. This results in manifestation of divine qualities (Daivi Sampad) born of shraddha (faith and respect) rooted in sattvaguna. On the other hand, people whose shraddha is rooted in rajas and tamas, get a preponderance of demonic traits (Asuri sampad).
Lord describes the traits of these two types of personalities.
The Divine qualities (sl 1-3): Fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in the yoga of Self-knowledge, charity, self-control, sacrifice, study of the scriptures, austerity, honesty; non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, equanimity, abstaining from slanderous talk, compassion for all creatures, freedom from greed, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness, courage, forgiveness, fortitude (the power to sustain one's body and mind even when tired or dejected), cleanliness (external and internal), absence of malice, and absence of pride -- these are some of the qualities of those who are born with divine virtues.
The Demoniac traits (sl 4): Those born with demonic qualities have traits like: Hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit (self pride), anger, rudeness, and ignorance. More of these will be discussed a little later.
The effects of the natures (sl 5-6): There are only two types of human beings in this world: the divine; and the demoniac. Divine qualities lead to salvation, whereas the demonic traits create bondage. The Lord added that Arjuna need not worry, since he was born with divine qualities.
More traits of demoniac persons (sl 7- 18): Persons of demonic nature do not know correctly what to do and what not to do to attain the goal of life. They neither have purity, nor good conduct, nor truthfulness to attain the highest. People with such propensity say: The world is devoid of truth (i.e. truth has absolutely no value in this world, and that the scriptures etc. are all untrue), without a moral basis (which sustains the world), and without a God. The union of male and female, and lust alone is the cause of this world, and nothing else.
Holding such a view (materialists and atheists), these degraded souls of little understanding and cruel acts are born as enemies of humanity for the destruction of the world. Filled with insatiable desires, hypocrisy, pride, and arrogance; they hold false views due to delusion and impure motives. Obsessed with endless anxiety lasting until death, they consider gratification of desire as their highest aim, and are convinced that sense pleasure is everything. Bound by hundreds of ties of hope and enslaved by lust and anger; they find nothing wrong in amassing wealth by unlawful means for the satisfaction of their passions.
They think on these lines: "This I have gained today, and the remaining, I shall gain soon. I have this much wealth, and I will acquire more in future. I have destroyed most of my enemies, and I shall destroy the remaining too. I am the Lord of all, I enjoy. I am successful, powerful, and happy. I am rich and born in a noble family. Who is equal to me in this world? I shall perform grand sacrifices (to gain fame), shall make donations (to be acclaimed), and I shall rejoice in my achievements."
Bewildered by many such fancies; entangled in the net of delusion; addicted to the enjoyment of lust; these people of demoniac tendencies fall into foul hells after they die. Self-conceited, haughty, filled with pride and intoxication of wealth; these demoniac persons perform sacrifices only in name, and not according to the scriptural injunctions.
The Destiny of the demoniac natured people (sl 18- 20): These people possess egoism, power, arrogance, lust, and anger; and being envious by nature, they hate the Lord who dwells in their own bodies and those of others (by hurting others and themselves). In turn, the Lord hurls these cruel, haters, cruel, sinful, and mean people into the cycles of rebirth in the womb of demons again and again, where these deluded ones sink to the lowest hell without ever attaining the Lord.
One should not try to see too much in the graphic description of people with evil tendencies and their fate that has been stated in verses 7-20. These verses are meant to serve as a warning to people who want to lead a spiritual, or at least a dignified life. Hinduism does not accept the idea of eternal damnation, and hence the verses here mean that people with evil tendencies keep getting born again and again for a very long time.
The gates to hell (sl 21- 22): Lust, anger, and greed are the three gates of hell that lead the soul to ruin (or bondage). Therefore, one must learn to give up these three. One who has escaped these three gates of hell, practises only what is good for him, and thus attains the Supreme Goal.
Activities must be guided by the scriptures (sl 23-24):
He who disregards the injunctions of the scriptures and acts upon one's impulse of desire, attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the Supreme Goal. So, the scriptures alone must be your authority in determining the right and the wrong. One should perform one's duties of the world only after learning the injunctions of the scriptures.
These two verses proclaim the superiority of the Vedas over other Hindu scriptures, and also over reasoning/public opinion in matters of morality, ethics and social code. Any social practice that is based on reasoning or opinion, personal or social, is sure to break down in the moments of stress and crisis, throwing a total confusion all around. But the practices born of scriptures (these are actually records of spiritual realisations of the sages), always survive the storm caused by personal and social crisis.
Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga: The Three Fold Division of Faith
At the end of the previous chapter, Sri Krishna expressed that actions by a person must be performed in accordance with the injunctions of the scriptures. But, what about those persons who perform their duties with shraddha (faith and respect), but know nothing about the scriptures. Are they also doomed like those who know the scriptural injunctions but do not follow them?
A word on shraddha: Hindu scriptures lay a lot of stress on cultivating shraddha, and preach that the personality, orientation, and attitude of a person is governed by the shraddha that he has. The word "shraddha" cannot be translated perfectly in English, although it is a normal practice to use the word 'faith' for it. Shraddha actually means the disposition of a person born of an affirmative faith, conviction and reverential attitude towards Spiritual Reality. A man is made of his shraddha, he is that shraddha, and that shraddha is he. A person with sattvic shraddha moves towards knowledge and happiness; with rajasik shraddha one pursues the path of action that leads him to pain and suffering; and tamasik shraddha takes its adherents to ignorance and delusion.
A word on scriptural injunctions: Scriptures of any race contain the collective wisdom in the fields of spirituality and culture of that race. This wisdom, coloured by aspirations, values and experiences that accumulate in the racial memory, get transcribed in scriptures through its prophets. So, no member is allowed to transgress the parameters set by the followers of a scripture. Opposed to the rules laid down by the scriptures, there is the natural impulse of personal desire present in everyone that tends to rule his mentality and reaction to a particular situation. This natural impulse is not permitted to rule supreme in any religion.
Three types of sharddha: Sattvic, Rajasik, Tamasik (sl 1- 6): Arjuna wanted to know: What is the nature of devotion of those who perform spiritual disciplines with shraddha but without following the scriptural injunctions (out of ignorance, and not out of negligence). Is it of the nature of sattva (goodness), rajas (passion), or tamas (ignorance)?
The Lord then categorised the various acts, according to sattva, rajas and tamas (also please see chapter XIV for explanation of these terms). The shraddha of each person is in accordance with one’s own natural disposition. A person is made of his faith; what his faith is, he indeed is that.
Sattvic people worship celestial gods (Indra etc.), rajasik people worship demigods, and tamasik people worship ghosts and spirits. When worshipped with shraddha, these deities answer the prayers of their devotees, but they cannot lead a person to higher planes of existence. However, these deities are manifestations of the Lord Himself.
Most people are impelled by the force of their lust and attachment, and hence worship in a rajasik or tamasik way. In the process, they perform severe austerities, and thus torture the body, organs, and the indwelling Lord (by transgressing His injunctions recorded in the scriptures). These people have fiendish disposition.
Three types of Food: Sattvic, Rajasik, tamasik (sl 7- 10)
Sattvic food promotes longevity, vitality, strength, health, happiness, and joy. Food of this type are juicy, smooth, substantial, and agreeable. Rajasik food are excessively bitter, sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry, and burning; and cause pain, grief, and disease. Tamasik food are ill cooked, stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten, impure, and left over. The term leftover (uchhistha) means the food that has already been partaken by someone. Hindus lay a lot of emphasis on not partaking of anything that has already been tasted/partaken by someone else. Dining or drinking from the same palate/container is a strict no, no.
Three types of sacrifices (yajnas) (sl 11- 13): Yajna was an integral part of a householder's life in ancient India. This included offering to gods through worship, ritual or sacrifices; serving people through hospitality and gifts, and offering sacrifices to the indwelling self in the form of austerities. These three are now being classified.
Sattvic yajna is performed according to the rules of the scriptures, without any desire for a reward, and with a firm belief that it is a sacred duty for him. Rajasik yajna has a great element of show and grandeur, and is performed with an expectation of reward in return. And, the sacrifice which is not performed according to the scriptural rules, and in which no hymns are chanted, no fees is paid to the priests, and which is devoid of faith, is said to be tamasik yajna.
Three types of tapas (austerities): (sl 14- 19): Now is described the ways of purifying body, mind and speech. The austerities performed with this purpose are called tapas.
The worship of gods, Brahmins, teachers, and of the wise; external and internal purity, honesty, celibacy, and non violence -- these are said to be the austerity of the body. Speech that is non-offensive, truthful, pleasant, beneficial, and a regular study of scriptures is called the austerity of speech. Serenity of mind, gentleness, silence, self-control, and purity of thought are called the austerity of the mind.
The above mentioned threefold tapas are also of three kinds according to the gunas. Sattvic tapas is performed by the steady persons without a desire for the fruit; Rajasik tapas is performed for mere show with an eye on gaining respect, honour, and reverence. Results of such austerity are inevitable uncertain and transitory. Tamasik austerity is performed with foolish stubbornness, or with self-torture, or with an intention of harming others.
Three types of gift/charity (sl 20- 22): The gift that is made to a worthy person without any expectation, but with the conviction that that it is his duty to give, and is made at the right place and time (i.e. in a holy place and on auspicious occasions), is considered to be a sattvic gift. Gift that is made unwillingly, or to get something in return, or with a hope of returned favour is called rajasik gift. And, gift that is made to an unworthy person, at a wrong place and time, or without paying proper respect to the receiver, is said to be a tamasik gift.
Purifying imperfect actions (sl 23-28): According to the Hindus, yajna is the key to existence. Yajnas are performed by the Brahmins for the stability of the world order (see chapter IV also). The Lord says that Brahma/ Prajapati creates the Brahmins, the Vedas, and the sacrifices (the three essentials of yajna) by means of "Aum Tat Sat", which is also the threefold designation of Brahman, the Supreme Reality.
Therefore, the acts of sacrifice, gift, and austerity prescribed by the scriptures are always begun by the followers of the Vedas by uttering "Aum". The seekers of mukti perform various acts of sacrifice, gift, and austerity by uttering "Tat" (meaning 'That": the Indefinable, which can only be indirectly described as "That") and without any expectation of recompense. The word "Sat" (Reality, the supreme an unchanging Existence) is used in the sense of Reality and goodness. The word "Sat" is also used for an auspicious action (like marriage). Steadfastness in sacrifice, gift, and austerity is also called "Sat". And, anything else connected with sacrifice, austerity, gift or with Brahman is also called "Sat".
But, whatever sacrifice or gift is made, whatever austerity is performed, whatever ceremony is observed -- is called "Asat" (non existence), if it is done without shraddha. Such acts have no value here or hereafter.
To conclude: Even if a person is ignorant of scriptural injunctions, he should lead his life with proper shraddha and should make efforts to cultivate habits that are entrenched in sattva. Whenever a person feels that his gift, worship or austerity may be defective, he should purify it by uttering 'Aum Tat Sat'. In this way he would cultivate noble qualities, and will ultimately attain the highest.
Moksha Sannyasa Yoga: The way to Liberation through renunciation
This last chapter sums up the whole of Gita and also presents the gist of the Vedic religion, philosophy and its way of life.
Action and renunciation (sl 1-6): Arjuna wanted to know the difference between sannyasa (giving up all actions) and tyaga (giving up the results of action). Actually, these two terms convey the same idea of renunciation, and have been used thus in Gita. However, as will be shown later, there is fine difference between these two. Reference may also be made to chapter V to understand them.
In reply to Arjuna's question, the Lord said that sannyasa is the renunciation of works which are performed due to desire, while the offering of the fruits of all action to the Lord is called tyaga. He further added that there are philosophers who declare that all works should be given up; whereas others say that works of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be given up. The Lord himself supports the second view and says that noble acts like sacrifice etc. must not be given up, since they purify the mind; and this performance of action should be without any attachment or desire for fruit of action.
Keeping in harmony with the overall philosophy of Gita, Acharya Shankara explains that these verses are not applicable to sages who are endowed with the Supreme Knowledge of Brahman. Action is possible only when a person is conscious of multiplicity in the form of agent (i.e., performer), instrument of action, object on which action is performed, and result of action. This means that only a person who has not yet become perfect, is fit to perform action. Not only that, it is imperative that such persons perform detached action (of course, only prescribed duties), and through it strive to attain purity of heart, which would ultimately make him fit for the Knowledge of Reality. Also, those who feel tempted to give up work due to delusion or laziness, must work to overcome their tamasik tendencies.
The view of Acharya Shankara has special significance. It implies that when a person attains the state when he sees only unity all around, he has no more duties to perform, and he need not work anymore. But those who have not yet reached that state, they must continue to work without attachment.
On renuciation (sl 7-12): There are four kinds of action: nitya (obligatory duties), naimittika (rites that are performed on special occasions), kamya (acts performed with a particular desire in mind), and nisiddha (prohibited action). The first two types are purificatory in nature, wheras the last two are condemnable acts for spiritual aspirants. The discussion in these verses is only on the first two types of actions.
Renunciation of duties due to delusion is called tamasik; renunciation due to fear of physical suffering or pain is called rajasik; but performance of these actions as a matter of duty, and also with no desire to any fruit, is called sattvic renunciation. So, the wise men endowed with sattva do not give up disagreeable duty, nor does he feel attachment to a duty that is likeable.
It is impossible for a common man to give up action entirely. But he who has no desire for the results of the actions performed, is as good as one who has renounced everything, and is a Knower of Brahman.
The threefold results of action -- desirable, undesirable and mixed come after death only to he who is not yet a Knower of Brahman, i.e. has not yet renounced fully. On the other had, a perfect sannyasin, who has renounced all, is neither reborn, nor does he get affected by the three kinds of fruit that result in births in heaven, earth, or in lower species.
Action (sl 13-18): Whatever action a man performs with his body, speech, or mind, whether right or wrong -- requires five causes for its accomplishment: the body, the doer, the senses, the pranas (vital breaths), and the presiding deity of the senses (It is the firm belief of the Hindus that every sense performs its respective action only because there is a presiding deity that controls it). This is how Vedanta, the philosophy of knowledge -- by studying which one becomes free of action-- preach the philosophy of action.
The philosophy of action being so, anyone who thinks that the Self is the agent of action, is deluded. Hence, he who is free from the feeling of I-consciousness, and whose understanding of philosophy is clear, even if he slays these men (this was being preached just before the war), he kills not, nor is he bound by the results of this kind of action (sl 17).
The verse 17, marks the conclusion of the topic that had begun with "The self slays not, nor it gets slain" (II. 19). The essence of the teachings is: A sannyasi is free from "I. me. mine', so the results of action cannot touch him; even if it be killing or his own death.
The Lord further adds that knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower are the threefold incitement to action; and the instrument, the object, and the doer are the threefold basis of action. Thus action is not possible unless there is an incitement, and also a real act.
Threefold character of knowledge, action, doer (sl 19-28): In XVIIth chapter, the Lord classified austerity etc. in three types. He now continues with the classification of some more things, beginning with knowledge, action and doer. These also belong to Prakriti, and hence have sattva, rajas and tamas in them.
The knowledge that makes a person see One indestructible substance in all beings -- undivided in the divided things-- is said to be of sattvic nature. When one sees different realities of various types in all beings as separate from one another (i.e., one sees different souls in different bodies with different characteristics, such as happiness, misery etc.), then that knowledge is called rajasik. And, the knowledge that results in seeing the whole in one single limited things, then it is of tamasik type. Thus, a man with tamasik knowledge sees his body as the Self, and thinks that the Lord is confined to a single image or symbol. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that an inferior devotee thinks that God resides in the heaven, a mediocre devotee thinks that God resides in his heart, and a superior devotee sees God as all pervasive.
An action is characterised by sattva only if it is an obligatory duty, performed without love or hate, and with no desire for its fruit. Action performed with great effort, and with an eye on gratification of desire, or performed out of pride and conceit is of rajasik nature. And, action performed through ignorance, without regard to its consequence, loss, injury, or even one's own capability, is of tamasik nature.
A sattvic doer (anyone who does anything is a doer) is free from attachment and egoism, is endowed with fortitude and zeal, and is unaffected by success and failure. A rajasik doer is passionately attached to action and its result, is greedy, violent, impure, and is moved greatly by joy or sorrow. A tamasik doer is unsteady, vulgar, arrogant, deceitful, malicious, indolent, despairing and delaying by nature.
Some more classifications (sl 29-40): Sattvic buddhi (buddhi means intellect/understanding that determines the course of action in us) determines the path of work and renunciation, and right and wrong action. It also determines for a man the cause of fear, fearlessness, bondage, and liberation, and thus leads the person to the right course of action. Rajasik buddhi gives a distorted understanding of dharma and adharma, and also of what one should do and what one must not do. Tamasik buddhi makes a person comprehend adharma as dharma and reverses all values.
Dhriti means firmness, the power to hold on to one's strength when he is faced with adversity. This particular trait of mind is extremely important for everyone in life to succeed, and is particularly important for spiritual aspirants. Dhriti also is of three kinds. Sattvic dhriti is accompanied by unswerving concentration on the ideal of Brahman, and is responsible for the control of the activities of the mind, the pranas (vital forces of the body), and the senses. Rajasik dhriti makes one hold on to dhrama (way of life), pleasure, and wealth with intense attachment and also with a strong desire for the fruits of these. Tamasik dhriti makes a stupid person hold on to his sleep, fear, grief, despondency and sensulaity.
Happiness of sattvic nature is born of the clear knowledge of the Self. In this kind of happiness one rejoices by what one has achieved through long practice (i.e. it is not instant sense gratification), and also reaches the end of pain. This happiness is attained through means that initially look like poison, but like nectar in the end (for example, study looks like poison to a kid, but it gives him lasting joy in the long run). Rajasik happiness is born of contact of the senses with their respective objects, and is like nectar in the beginning, but like poison in the end. Tamasik happiness deludes the soul at the beginning, and also after its termination. It originates from sleep, sloth and error.
Thus, there is no creature here on earth, nor in heaven or anywhere else, who is free from the three gunas born of Prakriti. The goal is to transcend Prakriti, or at least be established in sattva.
The four Castes and their duties (41- 44): Giving up the world to attain Self Knowledge may be the best path, but for the majority it is not possible to do so. They have to depend on work to attain liberation. For this reason, Hinduism evolved a system of duties and responsibilities, known as caste system, based on nature of individuals. The philosophy was that if a person followed the duties of his caste properly, without giving it up out of greed or fear, then that person was sure to attain the Highest. In addition, Hinduism also stressed that a spiritual aspirant should perform his duty in a detached way and he should offer the fruit of its action to the Lord. This is the meaning and concept of svadharma -- sacred duty of a person.
The duties of brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras have been assigned according to their respective gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas. see also chapter XIV). A brahmin has more of sattva, a kshatriys has excess of rajas over sattva, a vaishya has excess of rajas over tamas, and a shudra has excess of tamas over rajas. Depending on the inherent tendencies of a person, he gets born in different castes, and hence he must follow the duties of his caste if he wishes to attain enlightenment.
The duties of a brahmin are: Serenity, self control, austerity, purity, patience, honesty, knowledge, realisation and faith in the scriptural words. The duties of a kshatriya are: Heroism, vigour, firmness, dexterity, not fleeing from battle, generosity, and administrative skills. The duties of a vaishya are: Agriculture, cattle rearing, and trade. The duties of a shudra are: Action consisting of service.
Attaining perfection through performance of duty (sl 45-48): All beings are born from the Lord, and He pervades the whole universe. By worshipping that Lord through performance of duty, one attains perfection. One's own dhrama, even if imperfect, is better than the well performed dharma of another. He who performs his prescribed duty, dos not incur any sin. The Lord thus explains to Arjuna that by killing his opponents he won't be incurring any sin.
An unenlightened person cannot remain inactive, and again, work prompted by one's own nature can never be injurious to him. So, a person must not give up the work to which he is born, even if it may seem imperfect; for, all undertakings are bound to have some kind of imperfection associated with it, as fire is always accompanied by smoke.
Actually, no social system can ever be perfect. A look at history shows the failure of every social experiment after a period of glorious existence. The system of caste also has its imperfections, but on the brighter side, it served the Indian society for thousands of years.
With the advent of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, the concept of caste and its importance in performance of duty to attain perfection has undergone a complete change. Caste barriers are now breaking down, and one can aspire to attain the Highest by doing the duty that he takes up in a detached way. Surrender of the fruit of action to the Lord, however, continues to be the all important condition for spiritual growth and success.
Perfection through Karmayoga (sl 49-53): Freedom from action is perfection. This is attained when a person's mind is not attached to anything, who has subdued his emotions, who is free from longing, and who renounces everything knowing that the Self is one with the actionless Brahman.
Knowledge of Brahman is the consummation of true knowledge. It is then that one's mind dwells unceasingly on Brahman. This is attained when one is endowed with a pure understanding, subdues the mind with a firm resolve; turns away from sound and other objects of the senses; gives up likes and dislikes; lives in solitude, eats lightly, controls the mind, speech, and organs of action, is ever absorbed in meditation, cultivates freedom from passion; and, gives up egotism, power, pride, lust, anger, and proprietorship. It is thus that one becomes peaceful, free from the petty ego, and becomes worthy of becoming one with Brahman.
Result of Brahmajnana (sl 54- 56): Absorbed in Brahman, the Perfected one becomes serene. He now neither grieves nor desires, is impartial to all beings, and attains supreme devotion for God. This devotion for God gives him the knowledge of God -- who He is (Lord, the Absolute --devoid of name and form), and what He is (Lord -- the essence of all that exists). Then, having known the true nature of God, he forthwith gets absorbed in Him. After this, even if that person stays engaged in any kind of action, he reaches the eternal and Imperishable Abode of the Lord by His grace.
It can thus be seen that the paths of knowledge, devotion and action lead to the same goal -- realisation of God as one with the Absolute, non-dual Brahman. Both the devotees and jnanis have the same kind of realisation -- Jnanis realise Brahman and then attain devotion; devotees attain devotion and then attain the realisation of Brahman.
Self Surrender and duty (57- 60): The Lord then advised Arjuna to surrender all his actions to Him, to regard Him as the Supreme Goal, to practise steadiness of mind, and to fix his heart on the Lord. He also cautioned Arjuna that if he fixed his heart on the Lord, then he would overcome every difficulty; but if due to self conceit he disregarded the Lord's words, then Arjuna was sure to perish utterly. If out of pride Arjuna was to think that "he would not fight", then that resolve would be vain and useless, since his very nature would compel him to fight. "Bound by your own karma, O Arjuna, which is born of your very nature, what you do not want to do through delusion (i.e., run away from battle), you shall be forced to do even against your will."
In this way, the Lord cautions everybody that there is no way that a person can escape his nature. So the best way to lead one's life is to perform one's duty, and surrender its results to the Lord.
The Yoga of Surrender (sl 61- 66): The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, and by His maya causes them to revolve as marionettes mounted on a machine. (Also please see notes on IX . 7-10). So, Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to take refuge in Him whole heartedly. Only then he could hope to gain supreme peace by His grace.
Having told all this, the Lord says, 'I have expounded the profoundest of wisdom to you; now you do what you wish to do". Thus, the ultimate responsibility of following the right course of action lies with the individual only.
Out of compassion for Arjuna (and the mankind) the Lord once again sums up his words in brief for his benefit. The Lord says, 'Fix your heart on Me, love Me, worship Me, bow down before Me, and you shall come to Me. This is My pledge to you, for you are dear to Me. Abandon all kinds of dharma (i.e. give up attachment to all actions, good or bad) and come to Me alone for shelter. I will rescue you from all sins; do not grieve."
Technically this verse (18.66) marks the end of Gita. The verse sums up the essence of all spirituality, all religion, the Vedas, and the Gita -- 'Give up all, and come to the Lord'. Through the huge mass of philosophy discussed in Gita, the nature of multiplicity, its cause, its effect in the form of action and desires, and the way to end it through attaining the knowledge of oneness has been discussed. That very thing has been summed up here.
The glory of Gita (67- 71): Being a highly respected spiritual treasure, this knowledge must not be passed on to someone who is not austere in life, has no devotion, does not want to hear about it, or is a hater of God. But he who teaches this deeply profound philosophy to those persons who are devoted to the Lord, he would surely reach God. Such teachers of Gita are the most dear to the Lord. And, he who studies this sacred Gita with devotion, he would be worshipping the Lord through knowledge as sacrifice (see IV. 24-33). Even those who merely hear this work with faith, would be liberated from sin and attain the happy regions of the righteous after death.
The end (72-78): The Lord then asked Arjuna if he had heard his words with undivided attention, and if Arjuna's delusion, born of ignorance was destroyed. Arjuna gratefully answered that his delusion was gone, he had regained his former strength and vigour through His grace. He was now free from doubt and firm in resolve. Arjuna assured Sri Krishna that he would act as told.
Concluding the work, Sanjay, the minister-charioteer of king Dhritarashtra, exclaimed at his good fortune-- brought about by Vyasa -- for having heard and reported the dialogue between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. He expressed his joy again and again, and concluded with the words, ' The side that has Krishna -- the Lord of Yoga, and Arjuna -- the holder of the ferocious bow, Gandiva -- there surely will be fortune, victory, prosperity, and righteousness. Such is my conviction.'
Thus ends Gita.