38. Uncover The Hidden Treasure Of The Bhagavad Gita!

 

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In this article we will talk about the interesting structure of the main Vedic treatise the Bhagavad Gita. But firstly, a little history. The Bhagavad Gita is translated as the “Divine Song” and is a dialogue between God and man who is in a difficult situation.

It was spoken 5000 years ago on the field of Kurukshetra (some 120 km north of the modern Delhi), before the great battle. Krishna is the narrator; Arjuna the warrior is the listener.

Arjuna had to fight in the name of the highest ideals, and he had to sacrifice his personal affections and attachments for the sake of a higher purpose.

It was not easy, and he wanted to give up the battle, taking refuge in knowledge and renunciation. Krishna made him understand that we can leave the battlefield, but we cannot give up the battle in principle.

Afterall material life is a constant struggle either with external or with internal obstacles. To get out victorious, one must have a weapon of spiritual knowledge, which helps to see the real solution.

The message of the Bhagavad Gita is a manifestation of the divine intelligence, which helps us to solve the fundamental problems of life and get out of the maze of illusion.

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(Artwork copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International – www.krishna.com. Used with permission)

Although the story of the Bhagavad Gita took place in reality, some commentators also give an allegorical interpretation of the event.

For this allegory Arjuna is any person in the face of life’s trials. A battlefield is our life. Arjuna’s chariot is a physical body, which is a temporary vehicle for the soul. Five horses pulling a chariot are the five senses, which prompt the body to act. Krishna is the Paramatma (the Supreme intelligence in the heart), which helps us to solve the most important puzzle – how to understand the meaning of life.

The Bhagavad Gita has a clear logical structure, as it gives us not just a belief but also the intellectual foundation, which makes our spiritual life conscious. This structure is similar to the seashell, which hides the pearl between its shells.

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The lower shell of the Gita is an external activity or karma (opening chapters 1- 6). The upper shell is the knowledge and understanding of life, which are the basis of one’s actions (final chapters 13-18).

And the hidden pearl inside is the most valuable treasure or our personal relationship with God based on devotion and love (central chapters 7-12). To get hold of the pearl, one needs to open the shells, that is, to have spiritual knowledge and act on that knowledge.

Thus, chapters 1 to 6 describe the art of action. Krishna urges Arjuna to fight for a just cause but Arjuna exhibits inappropriate pacifism when God Himself makes a bet on him in the fight between good and evil.

Arjuna is trying to avoid his duty, fearing the sinful reactions for his participation in the war. But Krishna tells him that for the warrior it will be sinful not to participate in the battle.

Krishna says that we are not able to avoid activities in principle because the soul is active by nature. But if a person acts in ignorance or passion for his own interest, he will inevitably be bound by the reactions of karma and will have to take birth again, to receive the fruits of his past deeds.

The only way to break the bonds of karma is to act for the sake of God, because service to God is the original form of activity of the soul.

For example, if a soldier on the orders of his commanding officers kills enemies during the war, he gets a medal for bravery. But if he kills people in time of peace on his own initiative, he is taken to jail. So it means that the work is not as important as the motivation behind it.

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Selfless service to God is an activity based on the highest motivation. Such service frees a person from the consequences of his actions, and therefore it is the perfection of activity.

This is the conclusion of the first six chapters. In this way, Krishna brings Arjuna, through the activity to the conclusion that devotion to God is the highest perfection for the soul.

In the last six chapters, Krishna brings Arjuna to the same conclusion, but through knowledge. In this section, He tells about the structure of material nature, the three gunas (qualities): goodness, passion and ignorance that affect our desires, thoughts, feelings and actions.

He explains how, under the influence of these qualities our intelligence, faith, happiness, etc are shaped. There’s an in-depth analysis of the field of material activities, where under the influence of ignorance the soul is lost.

There’s also a description of qualities and features of the Paramatma (Super conscience) that pervades all creation and is in every atom and every heart, as a source of knowledge, memory and forgetfulness.

Krishna describes that the perfection of knowledge is the understanding of the relation between God, soul and matter. God is the source of the soul as well as matter. The soul always has a choice between material and spiritual life.

From a philosophical perspective, the pinnacle of knowledge is the understanding of God as the Person who is the cause of all causes. And from a practical point of view, the fullness of knowledge is the understanding that the soul is not entirely independent in his actions.

In this regard, Krishna describes five factors of activity: the field of activity (the body), the doer (the soul), the tools of activity (senses), the efforts and the Paramatma (the Divine will that sanctions the activity).

The last factor of activity is the crucial one, because without the approval of Paramatma no action can take place.

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(Artwork copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International – www.krishna.com. Used with permission)

Often we see that the first four factors may have prepared an ideal situation for the performance of certain action, but due to unforeseen circumstances one has to cancel or postpone it, or in spite of the ideal preparation the entire arrangement fails completely.

It means that the Paramatma has not given the approval. At times some events happen by themselves with our minimal involvement, as if someone invisible is promoting his business.

The question naturally arises, why does God in the heart (the Paramatma) sometimes sanction terrible things? Well, one can say that “God works in mysterious ways,” but there is a more specific answer: He gave us free will and knowledge of the consequences of our actions.

If He interferes in our every action, we’ll hate Him. What will our freedom and responsibility be? And how will we be learning life’s lessons?

Those who do not listen to the voice of conscience and intuition, which are the manifestation of God in the heart, will have to go through their own unpleasant experience of trials and errors, to find the truth.

Thus, the path of knowledge also brings us to an understanding of God. And it leads to a natural conclusion: God is the beginning, the middle and the end of all processes. Therefore, love and devotion to Him is the most positive conclusion. Activity without devotion to God binds one with karmic reactions. Knowledge without devotion to God leads to the philosophy of emptiness and meaninglessness of life.

In this way, the Bhagavad Gita is structured on the philosophical principle of “thesis-antithesis-synthesis”. Activity is the thesis, since the soul is active by nature. But the activity in ignorance brings suffering. Therefore, the antithesis is knowledge and renunciation.

But one cannot stay in passive renunciation for a long time. Therefore, the synthesis is the activity in the knowledge and devotion to God.  And this is the confidential meaning of the Bhagavad Gita.

 

Bhagavad Gita Overview / Study Guide

Bhagavad-gita Lectures by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Donwload the ebook here: Bhagavad-Gita As It Is

” Bhagavad Gita – The Art Of Life” – Audiobook

Gitamrita – A Dramatic Reading Of The Bhagavad Gita

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