Bhagavad Gita Lessons
Unit 19: Enlightenment through Jnana Yoga
Number of Sessions: 20
(261 – 280)
Number of Lessons: 8
Verses: 15.01 – 15.20
16.01 – 16.24
17.01 – 17.28
On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Comprehend the steps in Jnana Yoga
1. What are the three elements that constitute the entire creation?
2. What are the five building blocks of the creation?
3. What are the five coverings of our personality?
4. What are the three bodies that we have?
5. Why material pursuit is compared to the leaves of the tree?
6. Describe the three steps that constitute Jnana Yoga.
7. Describe the Sun, Moon, and Fire metaphor used by Lord Krishna.
8. What are the three levels of realities?
9. Why desire is called the root of all the evils?
10. What are the six sources of knowledge?
11. Explain the words belief, faith, trust and knowledge.
12. How can we say that the quality of the life depends on the Aura element in our mind?
13. What are the four types of practices recommended by Lord Krishna to increase the composition of Aura element in our mind?
Lesson 1: Essence of Vedanta
Session: 261 – 263
Lord Krishna teaches the essence of Vedanta to end all the sufferings in life. The essence of Vedanta consists of two statements,
Teaching 136: Brahman is the only truth. World is an illusion.
To convey this, Lord Krishna uses various metaphors and explains all the related facts that are revealed in Vedas. This knowledge is available in the Vedanta for everyone to learn. However, only those with intelligence and matured mind can comprehend this truth through Jnana Yoga. For others, the world will continue to be a place that alternates between pleasure and pain. Most people wrongly assume that they can control this oscillation and thereby avoid suffering. The only possible way of removing the suffering is to follow the path of Jnana Yoga.
Through Jnana Yoga we learn that the creation is an illusion, which is always changing and the only reality is Brahman, our consciousness. If we are aware of our real nature, the changes in the world will not affect us.
Thus, after gaining this knowledge, the very same world will become a place of entertainment without any trace of suffering.
Lord Krishna compares the creation with a huge tree. Through this metaphor, he teaches the following.
Brahman: It is like the taproot of a big tree. The tree cannot stand without the taproot. Similarly, Brahman is the root cause of the creation. Like the taproot, the Brahman is changeless, eternally present and not perceivable. It is the constant truth behind the creation.
From another perspective, the taproot could be compared to our ignorance of Brahman because without ignorance there is no suffering.
Creation: It is like the visible part of the tree above the ground. It is also eternally present but it is constantly changing. It is perceivable to our five senses. It is an illusion that stands on Brahman.
Creation is an illusion like the tree. Existence of a tree cannot be explained. It is not possible to say whether the tree came first or the seed came first. People accept the existence of the universe (and that of the tree) without any enquiry. On enquiry, we find that it does not exist. It is an illusion.
If we start removing the parts of the tree one by one, the tree will vanish. It is an illusion.
The world has come about due to the actions of the human beings in the previous births. Since they have to enjoy/ suffer the results of their past actions the world has come into existence. Action leads to results and the results lead to further action. This is as inexplicable as the questions on whether the seed came first or the tree came first.
Although a particular tree is not eternal, the seed-tree cycle is eternal. Similarly, the creation is also eternally present although it undergoes the cycle of birth, growth and death. The creation is the manifestation of the AEM, the inherent power of Brahman, which is eternally present.
AEM: It is like the main trunk that comes out of the taproot. AEM is the inherent power of Brahman just has the seed has the inherent power to grow the trunk out of it. AEM is made up of three elements, Aura, Energy and Matter and in various permutations and combination gives rise to five building blocks.
Five Building blocks: Space, air, fire, water and earth are the five building blocks similar to the main branches of the tree that comes out of the main trunk. They are born out of AEM and in various permutations and combination give rise to all the inert objects in the creation.
Preferences: They are like the small roots branching out of the taproot. Taproot is responsible for the existence of tree. Health of the tree depends on the small root that takes water from the ground and sends it up to the leaves. Assuming a particular small root is supporting a particular small branch of the tree, the quality of the branch depends on the quality of the small root.
Sense Objects: They are like the shoots that come out of the big branch and give rise to small branches. They have the potential to develop into bodies of living beings (small branches that sprout the leaves).
Sense objects are present in the world and they are inert and do not have any power to attract anyone.
Preferences convert the sense objects as objects of likes and dislikes.
Ego converts the likes and dislikes as desires
Desires prompts actions
Actions invariably give results. Some results are immediate and the remaining are accumulated as impressions for subsequent births
Impressions force us to take physical body so that we can enjoy/ suffer in line with the accumulated impressions.
Thus, sense objects, which are inert, give rise to our physical bodies, also inert. We eat for living and we live for eating. It is an Eternal Cycle alternating between pleasure and pain.
It is not possible to escape from this Eternal Cycle without taking the help from Vedanta.
Thus, sense objects of the world are seen by us through our biased vision of our preferences. As a result, we are distracted from the truth of Brahman and indulge in material pursuit. Such action binds us to the Eternal Cycle of pleasure and pain.
Physical body is required to undergo this pleasure and pain.
Physical bodies: They are like the small branches of the tree. From the small branches, leaves are sprouted. Leaves are always seeking something from the external world. Similarly, we use the physical body in material pursuit as described in the initial parts of the Vedas. Our biased preferences have tied us to the sense objects of the world and give rise to our physical body. This cycle will eternally continue until we gain enough knowledge to see the truth of the Brahman and the illusory nature of the world.
Material pursuit: Initial parts of the Vedas recommend material pursuit and are similar to the leaves of the tree. The leaves protect the tree, beautify it and cover it all over.
1. Material pursuit protects the suffering in life, as the guards in the jail protect the prisoners from escaping. We are caught in the Eternal Cycle of pleasure and pain because our material pursuit does not give us time to reflect and see the truth behind creation. We are ignorant of the truth of Brahman and carried away by the illusion because the material pursuit paints an attractive picture of the world.
2. It displays various possibilities of sense pleasures. There is no limit for sense pleasures in terms of varieties and combination. One can travel around the world to the virtually unlimited tourist attractions. There are countless people to interact with, belonging to various cultures, and ethnic backgrounds with varying physical and mental attributes. Changes in the seasons offer different experience. There are varieties of cuisine in each of the thousands of cultures and it is possible to get a new dish for every meal. One lifetime appears insufficient to enjoy all the pleasures offered by the world.
3. The means of gaining the sense pleasures also vary. Earning name, fame, wealth, power, position and property is the means of reaching out to the heights in enjoying worldly pleasures.
4. However, it hides the fact that pleasure is always coupled with pain. It deceives people to think that the action will bring immediate and direct results. People are offered various sense pleasures and motivated into never-ending action. This is similar to motivating the horse to pull the cart by tying a carrot on a stick attached to the cart. In the field of physical science, the action and results are directly correlated. However in our life, our hard work is not always earn immediate direct results. Since this fact is not obvious, people continue to act with the hope that they will be able to enjoy the pleasures offered by the world all the time and avoid pain totally.
5. It prescribes never-ending action for humankind by offering unlimited sense objects for enjoyment. Caught in this deception, human beings do not come out of material pursuit to see the truth of the Brahman and the illusion of the world. The world, which is binding us into action, appears beautiful with countless possibilities of sense pleasures.
6. When some people realize that the actions do not directly correlate with immediate results, various pseudo sciences like astrology, numerology and such distracts people into further action in the wrong direction. Such pseudo scientists (like astrologer) promise the ignorant people to correct the imbalance between action-result and people are kept under illusion for a longer time.
Chapter 15: Jnana Yoga
Verses: 01 – 03
15.1 The Lord said - They speak of the eternal fig tree whose taproot is beyond comprehension, branches are available for experience and leaves are the initial parts of the Vedas. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.
15.2 The branches of this tree extend in all directions, nourished by the three elements (AEM). The shoots are the sense objects. Its roots are stretched below, causing actions among human beings.
15.3 The form of this tree cannot be perceived. It has no beginning, no middle or no end. With determination, one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment.
Lesson 2: Escaping from Eternal Cycle
Session: 264 – 266
Lord Krishna then describes the tree by saying that it is not possible to describe it. It has no beginning or no end and therefore it is not possible to perceive the form. It is not possible to describe an object, which does not exist.
Example: A snake is seen on the rope in the twilight.
It is not possible to describe when the snake is born, whether it is poisonous or not. Rope lends the existence to the snake. The length and shape of the snake belongs to the rope. Similarly, the world is seen on the Brahman due to the darkness of our ignorance. The happiness and existence that we see in the world belong to Brahman.
Without this true knowledge, we are indulging in the sense objects of the world and bound to the Eternal Cycle of pleasure and pain. Pleasure is more serious than pain because it binds us without our knowledge. While we suffer, we would like to get liberation from all suffering. However, while we enjoy life, we do not realize that we are planting the seed for suffering.
While enjoying the sense objects, without our knowledge we are getting attached to them. This attachment is the harbinger of all the negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, worry etc.
Thus, we are caught in the Eternal Cycle of undergoing pleasure and pain alternatively. The world offers attractive sense objects and distracts us from seeing the reality. When we undergo great suffering that has no possible solution, we get time to reflect how to come out of this Eternal Cycle. Alternatively, wise people see the futility of the prosperity in giving everlasting happiness start looking for solutions without actually undergoing a traumatic experience.
The tree is grown very big and it is very strong. To cut the tree, one should first weaken it by cutting the leaves and branches. Then, it should be cut along with the taproot of ignorance of Brahman.
Our life is bound to the Eternal Cycle of pleasure and pain and has become very strong like the tree. To gain liberation from this Eternal Cycle, one should first weaken the tree by developing dispassion. Then the tree should be uprooted by gaining the steady knowledge on the Brahman.
Thus, one who sees the whole tree in its true perception can gain liberation from the Eternal Cycle and start living life joyfully. One should use the very same life to gain these two required instruments, namely dispassion to weaken the bonding and knowledge to cut the bonding.
To make the sword effective one should sharpen it. Similarly, the dispassion should be sharpened with the knowledge.
Dispassion is an attitude in the mind, which enables us not to get attracted by the objects of the world.
- This attitude can be developed by avoiding desires
- Desire can be avoided by not meditating (repeated thoughts or continuously reflecting) on the objects of the world.
- Meditation on the objects of the world can be avoided if we see them in the correct perspective without superimposing our likes and dislikes on them. In addition, if we see the defects of the objects, we will not meditate on them. The objects of the world, which apparently promise pleasure to us, will bind us causing suffering.
- We can reduce the impact of our likes and dislikes by doing Karma Yoga
When the tree is weakened through our sustained efforts of dispassion, we should not leave a gap. The process of cutting the tree should begin immediately, lest the tree will gain strength again. When we realize that there is no happiness in the sense objects of the world, there will be a vacuum until we start seeing that our own nature is happiness. This seeing can happen only with the knowledge of Brahman. If the process of gaining the knowledge does not begin, we will tend to go back to the objects of the world for pleasure and we will be caught again.
Knowledge of the Brahman is the instrument that cuts the bondage to the Eternal Cycle. This knowledge can be obtained through Jnana Yoga.
Knowledge uproots the tree of Eternal Cycle by
- Enabling us to see the limitations of the sense objects of the world in giving us everlasting happiness
- Revealing that our nature is happiness, consciousness and eternal
- Dispelling our assumption that our non-existent ego is the doer and enjoyer functioning independently in the world
Jnana Yoga is possible only when we give up our ego and surrender to God. We should realize our inability to end the sufferings forever and then surrender our ego to God. When we trust God completely, the path to Jnana Yoga will open.
To get liberation from the Eternal Cycle is to know God. To remove the snake one has to know the rope. It does not matter whether we call the object either as rope or as snake, as long as we make attempt to know it fully. Similarly, the taproot of the tree can be called as Brahman or as our ignorance of Brahman. The tree is to be uprooted fully. We need to gain complete knowledge through Jnana Yoga to gain liberation from Eternal Cycle.
One can uproot the tree when both the required instruments are ready. Similarly, one who is ready with dispassion and knowledge can attain liberation.
Dispassion is removal of likes and dislikes for the objects of the world. There is no inherent power in the world to attract us. The apparent power, which seems to influence us, is given by us due to our ignorance.
Example: In a case of mistaken identity, a jobseeker is assumed as the new manager by the staff in an organization. This person does not have any power to control the staff but he may grant a day off to the staff. This power is given to him by the staff due to their ignorance.
Similarly, the objects of the world do not have power to give us happiness. Nevertheless, due to our ignorance we give such power to the world. Just as the staff of the organization enjoy their additional vacation ‘sanctioned’ by the jobseeker; we enjoy the happiness that is not there in the world. If we have this discrimination, we will develop dispassion.
Teaching 127: World does not have the power to hurt us or make us happy.
He has attained the following qualities because of gaining both dispassion and knowledge.
1. Freedom from delusion
a. Delusion to think the real is false and vice versa
b. Delusion with respect to Dharma and Adharma
2. Conquered the habit of meditating on the objects of the world
3. Does not have any more desires
4. Freedom from attachment
5. Not affected by the dualities of the world
6. Always immersed in the thoughts of Brahman
7. Surrendered the ego and live in the consciousness of God
8. Understanding that the body/mind complex belongs to the God and the Brahman is the only knower.
One who sees the entire tree, along with the roots, can develop the tools required to uproot the tree. Similarly, one who sees the creation along with the Brahman sees correctly and has the capability to develop the required instruments to gain liberation.
Once the tree of Eternal Cycle is uprooted, one merges with Brahman. Brahman is the starting point and the ending point. It is like the rope from which the snake has emerged. The snake will resolve back into the rope, when one gains the knowledge of the snake or rope. Once resolved, the snake will not come back to life. Similarly, once we merge with Brahman by gaining the knowledge, negative emotions like fear, worry or anxiety will not affect one. One will start living joyfully.
Chapter 15: Jnana Yoga
Verses: 03 – 05
15.3 The form of this tree cannot be perceived. It has no beginning, no middle or no end. With determination, one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment.
15.4 So doing, one must seek that place from which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that God from whom everything has began and in whom everything is abiding since time immemorial.
15.5 One who is free from pride, desires and delusion, who has conquered the evils of attachment, who is free from pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain, who is committed to spiritual pursuit and is freed from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows God, attains to that eternal kingdom.
Lesson 3: Self-revealing Brahman
Session: 267 – 268
Brahman is self-revealing. To perceive anything in the creation we need the corresponding sense organ supported by mind. In addition, we need appropriate environment.
Example: To see a cat, we need eyes. Our mind should be supporting the eyes. In addition, we need sufficient light to illumine the cat.
However, in case of Brahman it is self-revealing. We do not need any sense organ nor mind to know that we exist. Even in deep sleep, we are aware about our existence, which is proved by our ability to recall that we had a sound sleep.
We need to analyze ourselves, to perceive the Brahman. The presence of a huge taproot can be inferred by seeing the size of the tree. Similarly, by negating all the inert objects in our body/mind complex, we can infer the consciousness.
Example: Although the camera is not seen in the picture, mere presence of the photograph proves the existence of a camera beyond any doubt.
Our five senses and the mind along with the rest of the subtle body moves from birth to birth until we are able to infer and gain this knowledge of Brahman. Knowledge of Brahman is gained through Jnana Yoga.
Many people do not have the required level of maturity of mind to pursue Jnana Yoga. As a result, they continue to travel from one physical body to another countless times. They take all the five senses and the mind with them and continue to strengthen them through the experiences in the world. Since the interaction with the objects of the world is done without the right knowledge, people continue to make the bonding to the Eternal Cycle strong.
Example: Aroma of a flower is carried by the air without having any effect on the space.
Flower – Physical Body
Air – Subtle Body
Aroma – Impression
Space – Indwelling Atman
The physical actions cause the impressions, which influence our preferences and knowledge. Even after the destruction of the physical body our impressions, preferences and knowledge survives, just as the aroma survives after the destruction of the flower.
We will continue to be bound to the objects of the world, since we travel with these accumulated impressions, preferences and knowledge birth after birth. The only way to gain liberation from this bonding is Jnana Yoga.
Jnana Yoga consists of three steps as detailed below:
a. This involves reading, learning, studying under a competent teacher and gaining the knowledge on the central theme of Vedanta with respect to:
iv. Cause of suffering
v. Means of liberation
vi. Meaning of liberation
b. This should be done systematically, consistently for a long duration.
c. Filtered listening should be avoided.
d. One should have complete faith in the teaching of the teacher and the student should put all the effort to understand the teaching as it is taught. Questions should be restricted to understanding what is taught and nothing beyond it.
e. The role of the teacher is more important than the role of the student.
Teaching 138: We should understand the central message of Vedanta
a. This involves thinking and reflecting on what is learnt
b. According to the teaching, the world is an illusion and it does not exist. Nevertheless, one experiences the world. This contradiction has to be resolved in this step.
c. The student should use logic and teachings of the other religions to validate the message from Vedanta.
d. This step should be done until doubtless knowledge on the central message of the Vedanta is gained.
e. During this step the role of teacher and student are equal in validating the knowledge.
f. After this step, the student should not quote his teacher as a validation for his knowledge. He should internalize the teaching.
Teaching 139: We should validate Vedanta through scientific investigation
3. Inner Transformation
a. This final steps enables one to gain the benefit of knowledge
b. Even after gaining the correct knowledge, one may respond to the world as if it is real. This is due to habit formed in countless previous births. Intelligence knows that the world is an illusion. However, the mind does not live by this knowledge. Whenever a problem is faced, mind begins to oscillate as if the problem is going to affect the changeless and immortal self.
c. The solution involves meditation on the correct knowledge. This is similar to making pickle. It takes time for the mango to get soaked in the oil to absorb the spice. The new knowledge has to sink into the mind so that it does not give reality to the world.
d. Vedantic Meditation should be done until one is firm on the knowledge that the world is an illusion in all the transactions in the life.
e. There is no role for any teacher in this step. The entire effort is on the part of the student.
f. The ego is completely surrendered and the mind sees the truth that the life goes on according to God’s will. There is no difference between free will and god’s will if the ego is completely surrendered. There is no role for mind in living life. Prior to completing this step, the mind was giving running commentary of life, which is the cause of all problems. One need not say, ‘I am happy’ in order to be happy. In fact when one is really happy, there are no thoughts.
When all these three steps are complete, one becomes a wise person.
The wise person sees everything with the right vision. He sees a living being and infers the Brahman as follows
1. Living being is a combination of the AEM, which is an inert object. It includes our body and mind complex. The reflection of consciousness in the mind gives sentiency to this inert object. This combination is assumed as the living being or the ego. By rejecting this as an illusion, the wise person sees Brahman as consciousness.
2. Since the living being is always changing and the observing consciousness, the Brahman has to be changeless.
3. Living being is mortal and Brahman is eternal. Therefore, the Atman is immortal.
4. Living being appears to be the doer of all the actions. Actions are part of the illusion. By nature, the AEM is ever changing. All the actions perceived by us are part of this illusion and are not done by us.
5. The non-existing ego assumes the role of the enjoyer. The Brahman remains unaffected by the changes (both actions and results are part of the actions) since they are all part of the illusion
Thus, after completing Jnana Yoga, one knows himself to be ever witnessing joy. He merges with Brahman and do not return to the illusion. There is nowhere to go since one has reached the destination. Life will be joyful thereafter.
This knowledge can be gained only those whose minds are well prepared through Karma Yoga and Upasana Yoga. Since most people lack these practices, Jnana Yoga appears to be difficult. Even if they pursue Jnana Yoga with sincerity, they will not gain the knowledge until their minds are matured.
Chapter 15: Jnana Yoga
Verses: 06 – 11
15.6 That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by the fire. One who reaches it never returns to this world.
15.7 The living entities in this world are My reflections. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.
15.8 The living entity caries the six senses from one body to another as the air carries aromas.
15.9 The living entity, thus taking another gross body, experiences the sense-objects using the ear, the skin, the eye, the tongue, the nose and the mind brought from the previous life.
15.10 The deluded people do not understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the three elements (AEM). Those whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.
15.11 The (Jnana) yogis, who are situated in self-realization, can see all this clearly. But those whose minds are not matured do not find Him, though they may try to.
Lesson 4: Illusory appearance of the world
World is unreal. It is an illusion. Lord Krishna uses the metaphor of Sun, Moon and Fire to explain the reality of Brahman and illusory nature of Living beings and the world.
Everything in the solar system depends on the sun for survival. Similarly, everything in the universe depends on Brahman for existence.
Moon appears to give light during the night. However, such light is mere reflection of the sunlight. Although, we say that the night sky is illumined by moon, we are aware that in reality it is the sunlight.
Similarly, the sentiency in all the living beings is the reflection of the consciousness of Brahman. Therefore, all the human beings are part of God and do not have independent existence.
Whatever changes that happen to the plants due to the moon light in the night is really the work of the sunlight. Similarly, whatever the work done by living beings in the world is the work done by Brahman.
The principle of fire in the stomach is responsible for digesting food. By claiming that He is this principle, Lord Krishna conveys that the inert objects in the world are also the projection of Brahman.
Consciousness, existence and joy are the nature of Brahman. The living beings reflect all these three aspects. When we observe a small child or an adult when he is happy, we can observe divinity.
The inert objects reflect the existence aspect of Brahman and do not reflect the other two since they do not have a mind. The composition of Aura element is higher in more evolved living beings and therefore we can see the consciousness and joy more pronounced in them.
Thus, both the inert objects and the living beings are mere projections of Brahman.
By wrongly giving reality to the world, we identify ourselves with the illusory body/mind complex. This is the cause of suffering. If we are to know our real identity, which is Brahman, we will be free of all the sufferings of the world.
Teaching 140: We should meditate on the knowledge, “I am Brahman”
Chapter 15: Jnana Yoga
Verses: 12 – 15
15.12 The light in the sun, which illumines the whole world, comes from Me. And the light of the moon and the light of fire are also from Me.
15.13 Having entered the earth, I sustain all beings with My Energy. I become the moon and I nourish all plants.
15.14 I am the fire of digestion in every living body, and I am the air of life, outgoing and incoming, by which I digest the four kinds of foodstuff.
15.15 I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.
Lesson 5: Three levels of reality
Objects that we perceive in our dream are subjective reality. They are real only for us.
Objects that we perceive in our real life are relative reality. They are real for us as well as for others.
Brahman is the absolute reality.
From the standpoint of relative reality, the subjective reality (dream) is falsified.
From the standpoint of absolute reality, the relative reality (universe) is falsified.
We can interact with the world and remain unaffected by it only when we have firm knowledge that the world (including our body/mind complex) belongs to a lower order of reality.
Example: A dream tiger cannot harm the dreamer.
The one who has completed Jnana Yoga is awakened to the absolute reality and the world becomes a relative reality to him. Therefore, even if he continues to face the dualities of the world like everyone else, he remains unaffected.
He can see the whole creation in the right perspective. He differentiates the inert objects from the perceiving consciousness. He is aware that the Brahman appears as the world without getting affected by it.
Brahman does not become the world in a way that is similar to gold becoming a jewel. The colorless crystal reflects the color of the nearby objects. Crystal remains unaffected all the time. Brahman appears to be the world as the crystal appears to be colorful. The appearance of the world is an illusion. Moreover, there is no effort on the part of Brahman to project this illusion, just as a crystal does not do anything to appear as colorful. Brahman is not affected by the presence or absence of this illusory universe.
This Brahman is the consciousness in us. One who gains this knowledge of the absolute rejects the inert objects as an illusion and becomes steady on the consciousness. Thus, he firmly is rooted in the knowledge of Brahman. It is stated in the Vedanta that one who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman.
Thus, awakened by the knowledge revealed in Vedanta, the enlightened person continues to live in the world like anyone else. However, he knows that he is functioning in the relative reality. It is like knowing that we are dreaming while we are still within the dream. Normally when we become aware that we are dreaming the dream ends. If it does not end, we will be enjoying the dream even if it is a scary dream. If a burglar points a gun at us and ask for the money, irrespective of how we respond, we will not be scared, if we know it is just a dream.
Chapter 15: Jnana Yoga
Verses: 16 – 20
15.16 There are two classes of beings, the perishable and the imperishable present in the world. The perishable is in the form of all beings. The imperishable is said to be the deceptive.
15.17 Besides these two, there is the greatest living personality, the Lord Himself, who has entered into these worlds and is maintaining them.
15.18 Because I am beyond the perishable and imperishable, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as the supreme God.
15.19 Whoever knows Me as the supreme God, without any doubts, is to be understood as the knower of all. He worships Me wholeheartedly, Oh Arjuna.
15.20 This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, Oh Arjuna, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise and fulfilled.
Lesson 6: Cleaning ourselves
Session: 271 – 273
In order to understand the truth regarding Brahman and Atman, human beings are expected to be Aura dominant. Lord Krishna lists the good qualities, which reveals the Aura dominance. He elaborately discusses the evil qualities, which shows that we are under the influence of Energy and Matter. These evil qualities prevent us from understanding the knowledge revealed by Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna divides people into divine natured people and evil natured people. It is not that a person has only evil qualities totally devoid of any good qualities. Everyone has all sorts of qualities. We need to ensure that our good qualities are more and dominating over the evil qualities. We need to put in effort gain good qualities and get rid of or reduce evil qualities.
Example: We need to take bath to clean our body. We do not have to do anything to become unclean. Mere existence in the world accumulates dirt and we have to take bath everyday to keep our body clean.
Similarly, we need to clean our mind by spending time and effort on it. Mere interaction with the world will make the mind dirty. If we do not take time to identify the evil qualities in us and remove them consciously, our life will become progressively more miserable.
Our mind is a subtle matter made up of three elements, Aura, Energy and Matter. The proportion and dominance of each of these elements keep changing continuously. While Aura dominance will lead us to good qualities, the other two will force us into develop bad qualities.
We determine our qualities based on our action. If we gain more knowledge, we will move towards more happiness ultimately reaching the destination of Joyful Living. If we act based on our current level of knowledge, without conscious attempt to increase our knowledge, we tend to develop more evil qualities. This will make life progressively more painful.
During the first part of our life, we may have more confidence that we are doing the right thing. However, as we advance in age, we will see that we are going in circles.
Example: While driving to a new place, it will take sometime for us to realize that we are on the wrong road.
Similarly, in life most of us are stranded. Those who are intelligent will keep cleaning their mind by applying the knowledge from the scripture. If we do not do this, we will accumulate evil qualities and progressively we will fall into hell.
List of evil qualities
Desire is the root cause of all our evil qualities. Our ultimate goal is happiness. Due to ignorance, we assume that the material pursuit of earning name, fame, money, wealth, power, position, property, people etc will bring us happiness. Therefore, we have desires for such objects of the world.
Such desires are leading us in the opposite direction. The only purpose of all our desires is to make us happy. However, it can be seen that desire is the only cause for all our suffering as detailed below.
Desire leads to anger. If there is any hurdle in fulfilling our desire, we get anger. There is no possibility of anyone to be short-tempered if the expectations are absent. Everyone wishes something to happen or not happen all the time. If all such wishes are fulfilled without any difficulties, the evil quality, anger will disappear forever.
This is impossible. The immediate results are not directly proportional to the effort we put in. Besides, change is the essential nature of the environment. It is not possible to expect that we get our newspaper or coffee in the morning everyday, when we want it. There will be days, when things do not go according to our expectations and this causes anger.
Anger will lead to irritation, hatred, animosity, violence (in thoughts, words and deeds) and vengeance.
Fear is very similar to anger. If the obstacle to the fulfillment of our desire is of very powerful, instead of anger we develop fear.
After gaining the object of our desire, we develop the fear of losing it.
Fear will lead to anxiety about the immediate future, worry about the future and guilt about the past.
Desire leads to greed. We desire for various things in life. Such desires can never be fulfilled completely. It is not possible to put off the fire by pouring petrol. Every drop of petrol will increase the fire. Similarly, all our attempts to fulfill our desires will make us greedier.
We desire to earn money so that we can lead a happy life. When we earn money, we find that it is not enough and we need more to be happy. Our expectations keep growing and this warrants that we struggle harder in life.
Continued success in life will make us arrogant.
When someone known to us gains something that is of value to us, little more than what we have, then we will be jealous. All these three conditions are important.
We will be jealous of someone known to us. We will never be jealous of unknown people. More we closer we know them, more jealous we will be.
We will be jealous only if the object involved is of importance to us. If we do not care much about health, we will not be jealous of a healthy person.
We will be jealous only if the other person gets little more than what we have. If the other person gets lot more, then our jealousy will come down.
Jealousy begins with our desire. If we do not have any desire, there is no chance that we will be jealous of anyone.
Jealousy will lead us to the evil quality of enjoying others misery. It will also lead to malice, talking and thinking ill of others.
Whenever our desires are not fulfilled in line with our expectations, we have displeasure. Disappointment and losing hope in life are directly related to our desires.
Whenever we lose our object of desire, grief strikes us. We are immersed in sorrow until we console ourselves that we can make up for the loss. When our efforts to fulfill our desires fail, we lose self-confidence and feel miserable.
We feel ashamed to face others, if we feel that we are incapable of fulfilling our desires.
We know for sure that most of our desires can be fulfilled by money. Therefore, there is a rat race in earning more and more money. In this race, everyone around us is our opponent. Therefore, we suspect that they will prevent us from achieving our goal.
Results of the evil qualities
1. Delusion: Our natural intelligence is blinded. Under the influence of these evil qualities, one will not know the difference between Dharma and Adharma. Most often Dharma will appear Adharma and Adharma will appear as Dharma. We will then tend to do what is not good for ourselves and suffer more in life.
2. Strengthening of Likes and Dislikes: The objects of the world will continue to influence us steadily increasing our likes and dislikes. This will make us vulnerable to the pairs of the opposites in life. We will be prone to suffering more often.
3. Increase in the ten sociological evils namely gambling, robbery, drinking, smoking, murder, suicide, rape, divorce, drug addiction and pollution of Environment
4. Increase in the five political evils namely corruption, nepotism, hypocrisy, turncoats and loose values
5. Increase in the five economic evils namely slavery, beggary, luxury, poverty and exploitation
6. Increase in the five cultural evils namely dogmatism, bigotry, religious prejudice, race or caste prejudice and superstition.
It should be understood that the evil qualities make our life miserable. All of us want to live life happily. These evil qualities prevent us from living happily. We should make use of our intelligence and live a happy life by freeing ourselves from such evil qualities.
Only when we reduce the influence of these evil qualities, we can hope to commence our journey towards Joyful Living.
Teaching 141: Good qualities that give happiness to self and others are to be cultivated.
Teaching 142: Bad qualities that hurt us and others are to be reduced or eliminated.
Cause of the evil qualities
Teaching 143: Desire is the root cause of all evil qualities
As discussed earlier the desire is the root cause of all the evil qualities. People live life as dictated by their senses without using the intelligence. This gives the power to the sense objects of the world to control our life. If we use our intelligence, we will see that we should live life in line with the guidelines given in the user manual of life, namely the Vedas.
If our life is controlled by our emotions and feelings, we will develop evil qualities and suffer. Instead, if our intelligence could overpower and guide our life, we will reduce the intensity of the evil qualities and life will become progressively happier.
People, who are less intelligent, would merely like to survive. They do not have mental maturity to reflect on the quality of our life. They do not give importance to Vedas and live life as it comes. Their life will become progressively miserable without any hope of reversal of the trend.
Therefore, we should attempt to reduce and avoid the evil qualities in life by following the prescription in Vedas. Vedas do not prescribe that the desires are to be abandoned since it is not possible. Therefore, it prescribes a correct course of treatment, which will progressively relieve us from the influence of these evil qualities.
Step 1: Desires are permitted as long as they are in line with Dharma
Step 2: The means of fulfilling desires should be line with Dharma
Step 3: Moderate the desires.
Step 4: Unselfish desires, which expands from self, family, society to humanity
Step 5: Non-binding desires, which do not lead to anger/fear or greed.
Teaching 144: Dharma in all our actions will release us from the clutches of desire.
Effect of overcoming the evil qualities
Life will become progressively peaceful as our evil qualities are reduced. The feeling of inadequateness is common among all the human beings. This inadequateness expresses itself as desire for objects of the world leading to all the evil qualities. When we follow the above steps and overcome the evil qualities, we will see that we need to work on our mind to gain the sense of fulfillment.
Complete satisfaction and fulfillment is the hallmark of Joyful Living. This can come about only when we gain the knowledge of Brahman. Our mind under the influence of evil qualities is incapable of gaining this knowledge. Therefore, after we complete the above steps, we will be progressing faster towards Joyful Living.
Role of our mind
Mind is the sole cause for all our suffering. However, we need to use the very same mind to help us reach our destination of Joyful Living.
The world is made up of AEM, which is constantly changing. The earth rotates and revolves around the sun. The inert objects also undergo changes continuously. The living beings are not exempted. They are also part of this changing environment and they change. However, in the case of living beings, the changes are seen as actions.
Example: I get up, walk to the refrigerator, take a soft drink and come back to my chair.
This is seen as a set of actions and not assumed as a part of the total change. The mind cannot comprehend that these actions are prompted by thoughts, which in turn are prompted by the environment. It is not possible to fire a gun without loading the gun with bullets. Similarly, all our actions are prompted by corresponding thoughts in our mind. However, we do not have any control on what we think in the present. Our thoughts are result of our accumulated preferences and impressions. We can control our future thoughts by refining our mind through the fourteen steps as suggested by Lord Krishna in the Chapter 6.
If we do that, we will be able to free ourselves from this cycle. Our mind will be free from the evil qualities and then gain the knowledge of the absolute. When we reach the destination, we will see that we are part of the movement called life.
We enjoy life all the time since there is nothing to be done and we are not responsible to do anything. We will have a sense of fulfillment of having achieved the ultimate goal of life. This does not mean that we will be inactive and a burden to the society. On the contrary, we will be working very hard. Since we will be enjoying our work, we will not feel that we are working. We will continue to interact with the society as before but there will not be any risk of we getting affected. The relationships will never get strained.
It is a long journey and we need to take the first step by reducing the evil qualities.
Chapter 16: Good Qualities and Evil Qualities
Verses: 01 – 24
16.1-3 The Lord said – Fearlessness, mental purity, steadfast in knowledge, charity, sense-control, sacrifice, study of the Vedas, austerity, straightforwardness and simplicity, nonviolence, truthfulness, freedom from anger, renunciation, tranquility, aversion to faultfinding, compassion to all beings, freedom from temptation, gentleness, modesty, freedom from restlessness, freedom from sluggishness, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of ill will and humility – these good qualities are endowed with a person with divine nature, Oh Arjuna!
16.4 Pretension, Arrogance, vanity, anger, harshness and ignorance – these bad qualities belong to a person with evil nature, Oh Arjuna!
16.5 The good qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the evil qualities lead to bondage. Do not worry, Oh Arjuna, for you are born with the divine qualities.
16.6 Oh Arjuna, in this world there are two kinds of created beings – divine in nature and evil in nature. I have already explained to you at length the divine qualities. Now hear from Me about the evil qualities.
16.7 Those who are evil do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.
16.8 They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.
16.9 Following such conclusions, the evil, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engages in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.
16.10 Taking to insatiable desire, they are full of pretensions, vanity and arrogance. Holding wrong views due to delusion, they act with impure resolve.
16.11-12 They believe that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime goal of human civilization. Thus, there is no end to their anxiety. Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they seek hoards of wealth by unrighteous means for sense gratification.
16.13-15 The person with evil nature thinks, ‘So much wealth I earned today and I will gain more soon. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him; and my other enemy will be killed soon. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice." In this way, such persons are deluded by Matter.
16.16 Thoroughly confused by such innumerable anxieties, encircled in the net of delusion and deeply engaged in the enjoyment of sense objects, they fall down into hell of suffering.
16.17 Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they perform sacrifices in name only without following any scriptural rules.
16.18 Bewildered by false ego, power, arrogance, pride, desire and anger, they hate Me, who is situated in the bodies of themselves and others.
16.19 Those who are envious and hating everyone, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various evil species of life.
16.20 Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of evil life, these indiscriminate people do not reach Me. They fall into still lower condition of existence, Oh Arjuna!
16.21 There are three gates leading to this hell, desire, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the self.
16.22 The man who has escapes these three gates of hell, Oh Arjuna, performs acts conducive to self-realization and thus gradually attains the supreme goal.
16.23 But he who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own impulse of his desires attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.
16.24 Therefore, one should understand what duty is and what it is not from the scriptures, which is the only source on this. Having known the teaching, you should do your duty now.
Lesson 7: Source of knowledge
Session: 274 – 276
We gain knowledge by converting the information received through our five senses. Knowledge cannot come through any other source. Therefore, the five senses are called Primary Source of Knowledge.
Each of our five sense organs is unique and the information received from one organ cannot be verified by using another organ.
Example: The color of the object is reported by eye and it cannot be verified by the ear or skin.
Therefore, we depend on our five senses heavily for gaining knowledge. While the source of information is limited to our five senses, there are six sources of knowledge.
Six sources of knowledge
1. Direct perception
What we can see, hear, taste, smell or touch come under this category. This is the only Primary Source of Knowledge and the remaining five are Secondary Sources of Knowledge.
Based on the direct perception and experience we infer fire by seeing smoke. Most of the scientific knowledge comes through inferences.
3. Deducing through comparison
We can deduce that the organization is not doing well by comparing the financial statement of the current year with the previous year.
4. Presumption through evidence
By seeing the wet road in the morning, we can gain the knowledge that it rained in the night.
5. Perceiving the absence
We gain the knowledge that there was a burglary in the house if we notice there are many valuables missing from the safe.
Based on reading books, watching television we can gain knowledge about places and objects without experiencing them in person.
All teachings from the teacher to the student come through this source.
Conversion of information into knowledge
Although we can receive information through the five senses without any limitation, how we convert the information into knowledge depends on our belief and faith.
If believe in something we do filtered listening and our knowledge will be of poor quality.
If we have faith, then we can hope to gain the right knowledge in any subject.
Faith Vs Belief
Belief and doubt are two sides of the same coin. When we receive an information either we believe or doubt it depending on our accumulated knowledge.
Example: A god-man converts sand into sugar. The disciples believe in the power of the god-man to do such miracles. The critics doubt the act and disbelieve the god-man.
Both the belief and the doubt do not have any scientific basis. They stem from the preconceived notion, which may be positively (belief) or negatively (doubt) biased. Similarly, those who believe in god are not any different from those who believe that there is no god. Both are believers and they may switch sides, depending on the circumstances.
Belief and doubt hinder the learning process. If one is stuck to belief/ doubt, he will not gain complete knowledge in any subject.
Faith on the other hand is an unbiased response to new information. It is neither believing nor doubting.
Example: While visiting an historical site, a tourist guide explains the life of royal family and shows various rooms within the palace. We will have faith in the words of the tourist guide, since there is no reason to doubt his words.
Faith means accepting the new information as truth, pending discovery. It is not a blind belief. Information will be received as if it is a truth with an implicit understanding that it will be validated whether it is a truth or not, after receiving the complete information.
A believer will look for positive aspects and ignore negative aspects so that the belief will become stronger. In the same way, a non-believer will look for negative aspects so that the doubt will become stronger. Neither of them have open mind to receive complete information. They filter the information according to their preconceived notion.
Whenever new information is received that contradict the accumulated knowledge, most people ignore such information or disbelieve it. A person who has faith will remain neutral and analyze both positive and negative aspects of the information with an open mind so that the truth is understood.
If he cannot understand a statement, he will question the source of information. If the source is reliable, he will question his own level of intelligence instead of doubting the information. If the source is unreliable, he will ignore the same.
Thus, belief and doubt prevent one from understanding the truth while faith leads one towards truth.
Faith Vs Trust
Trust is a validated faith.
Validation and verification are integral parts of faith. After complete validation, a faith will blossom into trust.
Example: The teacher teaches 4+4=8. The student has faith in the teacher and accepts the teaching. Suppose some one asks the student, “How do you know 4+4=8?” the student will respond, “My teacher told me!”
However, after sufficient practice in math, the student sees that the teacher is correct and develops a trust in the solution. Now the student does need to quote the teacher.
As long as we have faith, we will need the support of the source of knowledge. Once the faith is validated, it becomes trust.
Trust Vs Knowledge
Trust converts information into knowledge. The teacher helped the student to convert the information into knowledge because the student had faith in the teacher to start with.
If one were to believe or doubt the teacher, the information giving by him will not be received completely. Faith ensures receipt of complete information, which is essential for validation. It is not possible to validate incomplete information.
After validation, faith becomes trust and one is able to see the truth in the information through our experience. Then the information becomes knowledge. Thus, the faith is the starting point and an essential requirement to gain knowledge.
Without the faith, if we are to gain knowledge, it cannot come from teaching.
Example: An uneducated person has knowledge gained only from his experience.
If we are to depend on our own experience for gaining knowledge, we cannot progress much. Therefore, one needs to learn from a teacher with faith. Once knowledge is gained, the support of the teacher is no longer required. However, the respect for the teacher remains, since without him we would have taken longer time to gain the knowledge.
Faith determines knowledge
The knowledge one gains is in line with the faith one has. Depending on the influence of Aura, Energy and Matter, people have faith in various teachings.
People, who are Aura dominant, accept Vedas as a Primary Source of Knowledge. The truth revealed in the Vedas cannot be validated by any of our five sense organs.
In general, people gain direct knowledge only thorough the using their five senses. They do not give the status of ‘Primary source of knowledge’ to Vedas. Vedas is a primary source of knowledge because the information contained in the Vedas cannot be verified through any other source.
We treat our eyes as a primary source of knowledge. However, we are aware that eyes do not always report the truth. For example, although it shows that the sun is revolving around the earth, we know the truth is otherwise. If we blindly believe in the eyes, our knowledge will not grow.
Similarly, if we blindly believe in Vedas, we will not gain the correct knowledge. Vedas give lots of information. Firstly, we must accept that the Vedas is a primary source of knowledge. However, we must question the contents of the Vedas as we question the information received through eyes.
Lord Krishna says that many do not gain knowledge from Vedas either they do not treat it as a primary source of knowledge or they do not question to arrive at the central message of Vedas.
Benefit of faith
The quality of our life depends on our faith. The happiness and suffering directly determined by our faith. A freedom fighter considers that it is an honor to go to jail. If we think money is the most important thing in life, our life is accordingly shaped.
Ultimately, when we develop faith in the Vedas, we spend the required time and effort in completing Jnana Yoga. This will lead us to Joyful Living.
Type of faith
There are three types of faith based on AEM as discussed in the previous chapter. This can be seen from the type of actions they do, the type of gods they pray, their method of offering prayer, the purpose of praying to god differs according to their dominant element.
Lord Krishna explained that good-natured people would progress and reach him, while the evil natured people will make the life hell for themselves.
Chapter 17: Three types of faith
Verses: 01 – 06
17.1 Arjuna asked, Oh Krishna, what is the status of those who do not follow the principles of scripture but who worship according to their own faith? Are they in Aura, in Energy or in Matter?
17.2 Lord Krishna said, according to the three modes of nature of a person the faith can be of three kinds--Aura, Energy or Matter. Now hear about these.
17.3 Oh Arjuna! According to the particular kind of faith, a human being lives his life. The human being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.
17.4 Men in the mode of Aura worship the gods; those in the mode of Energy worship the demons; and those in the mode of Matter worship ghosts and spirits.
17.5-6 Those who undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures, performing them out of pride, egoism, desire and attachment, who are impelled by Energy, without intelligence, torture their bodily organs as well as their mind and Me who is residing within, are to be known as demons.
Lesson 8: Quality of life
Session: 277 – 279
We are fully responsible for the quality of life that we lead. No one other than us is responsible for our life.
Quality of life depends on the quality of the results of our action.
Quality of the results depends on the quality of our action.
Quality of the action depends on the quality of the attitude.
Quality of the attitude depends on the quality of the knowledge.
Quality of our knowledge depends on the quality of faith.
Quality of the faith depends on the quality of our mind.
Quality of the mind can be improved through improving Aura Element.
Teaching 145: Quality of life depends on the dominance of Aura in our mind
Lord Krishna suggests following practices with regard to food, work, penance and austerity to make Aura Element dominant.
1. Practices with respect to food
Since food always comes from a living source, it is also classified according to the dominance of AEM. We should eat Aura dominant food, limit the Energy food and avoid Matter dominant food.
We should eat in moderation. The solid parts of the food should fill half the stomach. Water should fill a quarter. Remaining quarter should be for air, meaning it should be left empty. We should stop eating when we have enough space in our stomach, to eat a full meal again.
We should eat only when are hungry and stop eating while we are still hungry
We should develop a routine in which we eat at a fixed time of the day.
Teaching 146: Eat Aura dominant food in moderation at regular intervals
2. Practices with respect to work
We should do the duty as worship.
We should work in the chosen profession according to the prescribed rules and regulations.
We should adhere to Dharma at all times.
We should work without focusing on the benefit that we may get.
We should do our work with concentration with an aim to achieve perfection in the work.
Teaching 147: Work is worship. Try to achieve perfection in the chosen profession.
3. Practices with respect to austerity
We should voluntarily take up austerity practices for gaining control over our mind, sense organs and the action organs. For example, if we like to eat sweet, we should abstain from it for a specific period.
We should not hurt ourselves in the name of penance or austerity. These are to be practiced within limits. The objective is to gain strength and not to lose strength.
We should attempt penance or austerity practices with respect to physical, words and mind in that order.
Teaching 148: Practice austerity with respect to deeds, words and thoughts
It is easier to do physical austerity compared to doing austerity with respect to words and thoughts. Mental austerity is the most difficult to achieve. Therefore, we should begin the practice of austerity with respect to the physical level then move up to words and then finally to thought level.
Examples are given below:
Offering prayer to god regularly for a fixed duration
Doing service for elders and wise
Keep everything clean and well organized.
Keep up all the promises made
Refrain from hurting others by action
Going on a pilgrimage by walk
Always speak the truth
We should speak softly
We should speak only those words, which is good for self and others.
Avoid harsh words and do not hurt anyone through words
Not talking for a day or a fixed number of hours.
Entertain good thoughts and avoid evil thoughts
Forgiving and forgetting others mistakes
Do not curse anyone
4. Practices with respect to charity
Charity is the practice for renunciation. Sharing what we have, giving without even using it for self, giving up mentally all our possessions are steps to understand that everything is in God’s hands.
Teaching 149: Giving charity and helping others increases Aura in us.
People, who are greedy, would like to own up everything. This strengthens their ego. In order to surrender the ego first we need to surrender our possessions.
Teaching 150: Aura dominant person will attain Brahman and live joyfully
Chapter 17: Three types of faith
Verses: 07 – 28
17.7 Even food of which all partake is of three kinds, according to the three modes of material nature. The same is true of sacrifices, austerities and charity. Listen and I shall tell you of the distinctions of these.
17.8-10 Food in the mode of Aura, lead to longevity, mental strength, physical strength, health, pleasure, contentment and satisfaction. Such delicious and nourishing foods served pleasant to the eye, are sweet, juicy, fattening and tasty/palatable. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the modes of Energy. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease. That food, which is neither over cooked or under cooked, stale or leftovers, tasteless, decomposed, unclean and prohibited food is liked by people in the mode of Matter.
17.11 Of sacrifices, that sacrifice performed wholeheartedly and with concentration according to duty and to scriptural rules, and with no expectation of reward, is of the nature of Aura.
17.12 Oh Arjuna, the sacrifice performed for some material benefit or preformed ostentatiously, out of pride, is of the nature of Energy.
17.13 And that sacrifice performed in defiance of scriptural injunctions, in which no food is distributed, no hymns are chanted and no remunerations are made to the priests, and which is faithless--that sacrifice is of the nature of Matter.
17.14 The austerity of the body consists of worship of the god, the Brahmins, the teacher, and the wise and elders. Cleanliness, straightforwardness, chastity and nonviolence are also austerities of the body.
17.15 Austerity of speech consists of speech that is truthful, pleasant and beneficial and in avoiding speech that offends. One should also recite the Vedas regularly.
17.16 Mental quietude, gentleness, mind-control, serenity and purity of thought are the austerities of the mind.
17.17 This threefold austerity, practiced with great faith by people who are disciplined and are not desirous of material benefit, is of the nature of Aura.
17.18 Those penances and austerities, which are practiced with pretence for the sake of praise, honor, respect and reverence are said to be in the mode of Energy. Such results are uncertain and temporary.
17.19 Those penances and austerities, which are performed foolishly by means of self-torture, or to destroy or injure others, are said to be in the mode of Matter.
17.20 That charity which is given with an attitude that giving is a duty, at the proper time and place, to a worthy person, and without expectation of return, is considered to be charity in the mode of Aura.
17.21 But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for material benefit, or done reluctantly, is said to be charity in the mode of Energy.
17.22 And charity performed at an improper place and time and given to unworthy persons without respect and with contempt is charity in the mode of Matter.
17.23 From the beginning of creation, the three syllables, Om tat sat--have been used to indicate the Brahman. They were uttered by Brahmins while chanting Vedic hymns and during sacrifices, for the satisfaction of the Supreme.
17.24 Thus people who are well read in the Vedas undertake sacrifices, charities, and penances, beginning always with Om.
17.25 People who seek liberation undertake sacrifice, penance and charity with the word tat without expecting the result.
17.26-27 The Absolute Truth is the objective of devotional sacrifice, and it is indicated by the word sat. Steadfastness in the works of sacrifice, of penance and of charity is also termed as sat. Again, any action for the sake of the Lord is indeed said to be sat, Oh Arjuna.
17.28 But sacrifices, austerities and charities performed without faith are not sat, Oh Arjuna, regardless of whatever rites are performed. They are called asat and are useless both in this life and the next.