Volume 13 - Issue 07
July 2015
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Part 01 || Part 02 || Part 03 || Part 04


In 1964-65, amidst touring the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh and establishing the ashram in Brindavan, Bangalore, Bhagawan continued to take the pen and out came the glorious Stream of Divine Gospel – the Gita Vahini.

“The Gita is a text for spiritual practitioners, for it emphasises Sadhana, and spiritual attitudes, more than anything else. Every chapter lays down means and methods of reaching the goal of peace and harmony.... The Gita is as a boat, which takes man across from the self-imposed state of bondage to the freedom which is his nature. He is taken from darkness to light, from lustrelessness to splendour,” Swami wrote in his first article in this series which was published in Sanathana Sarathi, the ashram's magazine.

When it was compiled later into a book by Prof. Kasturi, in his introductory piece he urged all devotees to 'listen to these words with as much care and concentration as Arjuna had, even in the turmoil of a battle field, so that we too will declare when the book nears its final pages, "My delusion is dissolved; I have become aware of my reality, which is God."'

The Parthasarathi of yore in the present age as Sai Sanathana Sarathi retold the essence of the Gita in a manner and in the language best suited for the modern man. “This Gita Vahini is the same stream, refreshing and re-vitalising, brought by the same divine restorer to revivify man caught in the mesh of modern dialectics, in the pride of modern science, in the cynical scorn of modern superficiality. The teaching here set forth will comfort, console, and confer strength and faith,” Prof. Kasturi writes.

We in Radio Sai think that in this year of Bhagawan's 90th Birthday it would be an apt sadhana for all of us to revisit this timeless Song Celestial as directly told by the Timeless One Himself. This will definitely help us to find more peace within ourselves and in the world around us. Thus we have a Quiz on Gita Vahini which will continue as a serial through this year published on the website on the second week of every month. Do use this opportunity to dwell on the illuminating ideas that this sacred scripture grants to us so candidly and convincingly.

01. In Chapter 3 of The Gita Vahini, Swami shares one of the most important lessons that Lord Krishna gave Arjuna on the topic of Atma: “Lord Krishna said, ‘The body is not Atma, but you believe that it is the Atma. What a topsy-turvy bit of knowledge this is! To cure this ignorance, I must administer the medicine of spiritual wisdom itself.’

“Thus, Krishna started giving him, in the very first instance, the most effective drug, spiritual wisdom... Krishna condemns outright two objections that were haunting Arjuna for so long, saying that the destruction of the body does not mean the destruction of the Atma and that he is grieving for those for whom he need not grieve.”

Swami then continues to share the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna: “Lord Krishna said: ‘Let Me tell you this also. There was never a time when I was not. Why? There was never a time when even you and all these kings and princes were not. That (the Godhead, Thath) is the highest Atma (Paramatma); This (the individual, thwam) is the soul (jivatma); both were the same, are the same, and will be same forever. Prior to the pot, in the pot, and after the pot, it was, is, and will be clay.’

“Arjuna was shocked into awareness and wakefulness by all this. He said, ‘Maybe You are God; maybe You are indestructible. I weep not for You but for such as us: we came yesterday, are present today, and are off tomorrow. What happens to us? Please enlighten me.’”

Lord Krishna emphasizes: “Although it is associated with the body, the Atma is unaffected by qualities (gunas) and dharmas; it has no qualities and _________________.”

02. Swami starts Chapter 4 of The Gita Vahini by sharing Arjuna’s state of mind on learning the truth of the eternal Atma: “Arjuna was still doubt-ridden. ‘Oh Lord,’ he began, ‘You said that bodily changes are like the stages of wakefulness, dream, and sleep. But we do not forget our experiences when we awake from deep sleep, while experiences of previous births are destroyed in memory by the incident called death.’ Krishna replied that it was not possible to recall to memory all experiences, but it was possible to recall some. For, the Atma persisted, although the vehicle changed.”

Swami then also shared: “Lord Krishna solves every doubt as soon as it arises. He said, ‘Arjuna! While passing through the three stages, the intellect (buddhi) somehow manages to keep some points in its hold. But it too is destroyed when death comes to the body. At one stroke, all is forgotten. Memory is the function of the intellect, not of the Atma.

“Now consider this. You cannot now tell exactly where you were on a definite day, ten years ago, can you? But you existed that day, ten years ago, without a doubt. You dare not deny your existence then. The same is the case of the life you lived before this one, although you may have no recollection of how and where. The wise person is not deluded by such doubts, nor agitated by them.

“The Atma does not die; the body does not stay. Do you think that your grief at their possible death will make the Atma of your opponents happy? That is an insane thought. The Atma does not derive joy or grief, whatever happens or does not happen. Let the senses keep to their places, and there is no reason to fear. Only when the senses start contacting objects are the twin distractions of joy and grief produced. When you hear someone defaming you, you feel anger and grief; but no such agitation can take place if the words do not fall on your ears. The object-ward movement of the senses is the cause of grief and its twin, joy.

“It is like heat and cold: in the cold season, you crave warmth; in the hot season, you crave coolness. Sense-object contact is exactly like this. As long as the world is there, objective contact cannot be avoided; as long as the burden of previous births is there, the joy-grief complex cannot be avoided. Still, one can master the art, the discipline, the secret of avoiding them or bearing them without bother,’ said Lord Krishna.”

Lord Krishna explains further: “...The Atma has no organs, it is without parts. The Atma is not born, so how can it die? Whom does it kill? It is _____________, eternal.


03.In Chapter 6 of The Gita Vahini, Swami guides us on the path of self-realization further by creating more awareness of the nature and function of Atma: “All are in you; you are in all. You have to get this conviction fixed in your consciousness, by means of analysis, discrimination, and intellectual exploration. You have to isolate and dismiss from consciousness the impressions of the senses, the mind, the intelligence, etc. These have nothing to do with the Atma, which you really are. The Atma is unaffected by any subject or object. Even if the senses, mind, intelligence, etc. are inactive, that inactivity will not affect the Atma! To know the Atma as such an entity, unaffected and unattached, is the secret of spiritual wisdom.

“Every single act of yours must be carried out with this wisdom as its background. That awareness of the Atma will guide you in both the out-moving and in-drawing paths; it will not block action but fill it with purpose and meaning; it will build up faith and moral life; it will take you to the realm of deliverance along the road of renunciation of the fruit of action, and not renunciation of action itself.”

Swami sheds some more light: “For achieving liberation, wisdom is the direct road. ‘See the universal in the particular; see the particular in the universal; that is the essence of wisdom,” said Krishna. “All bodies know only one single knower of the bodies. And who is that? The Atma - you yourself, your own self! Know this and you become a wise person. So realize that the self is the highest Atma (Paramatma) - this is the highest spiritual wisdom.’ Krishna, who is All-knowing, began to teach Arjuna this yoga, in order to cast off all doubt from Arjuna’s mind.”

In Chapter 10 of The Gita Vahini, Swami shares more of what Arjuna learns on the topic of Atma. “Know yourself as the Atma, give up all __________________, and become unattached.”


04. In Chapter 12 of The Gita Vahini, Swami starts by sharing what Arjuna learns on the nature of Brahman: “Lord Krishna says, ‘Seen superficially, with the gross vision, the universe might appear as many, but that is wrong. There is no many at all. The yearning of the inner consciousness (anthah-karana) is towards the One; that is the real vision. When inner vision is saturated with wisdom, creation will be seen as Brahman and as nothing else. Therefore, the inner consciousness must be educated to interest itself only in wisdom.’

Swami elaborates: “Creation (jagath) is saturated with the Lord of creation. Creation is nothing but the Creator in that form. All this is God (Isavaasyam idam sarvam), it is said. Although there is only One, it appears as many. Let us remind ourselves of an example with reference to this statement of Krishna. We walk in the thick dusk of evening when things are seen but dimly. A rope lies higgledy-piggledy on the path; each one who sees it has their own idea of what it is, although it is really just a length of rope. One steps across it, taking it to be a garland. Another takes it to be a mark made by running water and treads on it. A third person imagines it to be a vine, a creeper plucked from off a tree and fallen on the path. Some others are scared that it is a snake, right?

“Similarly, the One Highest Brahman, without any change or transformation affecting it, being all the time it and it only, manifests as the world of manifold names and forms. The cause of all this seeming is the dusk of delusion (maya). The rope might appear as many things - it might provoke various feelings and reactions on various people; it has become the basis for variety. But it never changes into the Many; it is ever One. The rope is ever the rope! It does not become a garland or a streak of water or a creeper or a snake.”

Swami also explains: “Like the foundation for the building, Brahman is the foundation for the ____________ of creation.”


05. In Chapter 14 of The Gita Vahini, Swami reveals Arjuna’s dilemma: “Arjuna interjected: ‘Krishna! Until now, you talked of certain paths by which we can reach You. Now, at the end of it all, if you throw this cannon ball, how can I grasp its meaning? You did not even confer, as a preliminary, a little power to do so! Please make me happy by describing this point in greater detail, so that I might follow You better and attain You.’

“Krishna replied, ‘My dear brother-in-law! Listen. My mystery can be understood once you are clear about the meaning of Brahman, Supreme Spirit (Adi-atma), karma, the material creation, deities presiding over the material realm, and what pertains to sacrifice. Let Me tell you this also. Whoever understands My mystery attains Me.’

“Then, oh Lord, tell me about the first of these, Brahman,’ exclaimed Arjuna. Lord Krishna then explained: ‘Arjuna! Brahman is referred to as the imperishable (a-kshara), that is the highest (para). A-kshara means without destruction, or indestructible. Brahman comes from a root that means big, vast, etc. How vast, you may ask. Vaster than whatever you call vast is the answer. The word a-kshara has another meaning: omnipresent, immanent, everywhere. Brahman is not mere a-kshara, as you will have noticed. It is the highest a-kshara. What does that mean? It is the type of a-kshara that is beyond the reach of time and space and knowability; it cannot be known by any or all the categories, it never declines or ends, and it is the highest Indestructible, Indescribable.

“The goal of humanity is to attain that Brahman; Indestructible (a-kshara) and Brahman signify the same goal. They indicate the with-qualities (sa-guna) aspect and the without-qualities (nir-guna) aspect of the same truth. For a-kshara means also the letter Om, which is a symbol of Brahman. That is why it is called the yoga of the indestructible highest Brahman. Brahman has two adjectives, highest (para) and indestructible (a-kshara). A-kshara indicates the Om (pranava) as well as delusion (maya). Delusion is also subsumed by Om. These two are ‘attributeful’, qualified. Brahman, however, is attribute-less, without qualities and pure in its own right. He who understands this attains Me,’ said Lord Krishna.”

Swami then shares what Lord Krishna explains very patiently to Arjuna: “It is Brahman that dwells in everybody in the form of ‘I’... When the ‘I’-power flows through the senses, they are able to carry on their allotted tasks. That power is spirit; it cannot be known without great effort. Use the sharpest discrimination and you know it to some small extent. Brahman is the ‘That (Thath)’ entity; the individual soul is the ‘this Thou (thwam)’ entity.

“To make the matter clearer to you, take these two as appearance and character, form and substance. Brahman is the form, the individual soul is _________,’ said Krishna.”

06. In Chapter 14 of The Gita Vahini, Swami continues to enlighten us on the topic of Atma and Brahman: “The scriptures describe Brahman as existence-knowledge-bliss (sat- chit-ananda), right? This is a way of denoting it, in the Vedantic vocabulary. It is also described as asthi-bhathi-priyam. Are they the same, or do they have different meanings? Sat means that which persists in the past, present, and future; the same meaning is conveyed by asthi. Chit means that which is conscious of everything; the same meaning is conveyed by bhathi. Ananda means unending source of joy, and so does priyam. These three are found in every human being - in every beast and bird.

“Take the first of these, existence (sat), and this will become clearer. The body is subject to destruction, sooner or later. Everyone is aware of this; no one is ignorant of this elementary fact. Nevertheless, everyone is apprehensive of death! No one welcomes death or is eager to meet it. Death is inevitable; you have to meet it, even though you do not welcome it or you try to avoid it. All that is born has to die some day. Still, no one likes to die.

“What is the key to this paradox? Note this: What does not welcome death? What meets with death? What leaves and what remains? The answer: the body dies; the body falls. What doesn’t die is the Atma. But you delude yourselves into thinking that it is the Atma or 'you' that dies. The Atma has nothing to do with death or birth. The body experiences death; the Atma, which is eternal, true, and pure (nithya, sathya, and nirmala), does not die. You are the Atma, which does not like to die. That is to say, you are the eternal; your nature is eternal. The Atma is the 'child of immortality', not the body...You are the eternal (sat), the Atma, the entity that has no death. It is this Atma that is in every casement, so every being feels the force of that eternal in the form of eternal unchanging existence. This is clear and unmistakable.

“Now take the second term: consciousness or awareness (chit), the force that urges you on to know everything. Everyone is eager to know about anything that is apparent to their consciousness; they ask the questions: 'What is this? How does this happen?' Only a few succeed in knowing. Others may have only eagerness, but not the steady intelligence needed to persist and win. That makes no difference. The essential fact is the thirst, the urge.

“Take a little boy to a market, bazaar or exhibition. You will note that the boy does not simply move along, seeing the various things on both sides. He will be continuously asking the person who is leading him by the hand what this is and what that is. It may be something he does not need or something that is beyond his power of understanding, and yet, the stream of questions will not dry up. Consider the inner significance of this hunger for knowledge. It is the power of intelligence that expresses itself. It is not its nature to leave things alone. It can’t rest until knowledge is gained, so the hunger emerges as a stream of questions. The principle of intelligence is self-luminous, so it has the power to illuminate even inert things. That is why these qualities shine in people and make other things clearer to them. This is enough to make it plain that people have in them the principle of intelligence.”

Swami reveals then the inner meaning of bliss (Ananda) and finally says: “The three (being, awareness, and bliss) we see in every being as the very core of its very existence, as its __________ itself. So it is the Lord Himself who has assumed the pose of individuality and plays as an individual, in that role.”

07. In Chapter 22 of The Gita Vahini, Swami shares the lessons Arjuna learns on why there is differences in the nature of each human being: “Lord Krishna says, ‘Nature is the sum of attributes or characteristics. The qualities (gunas) delusion, grief, and joy (thamas, rajas, sathwa) are the attributes of Nature. Nature is but the permutation and combination of these qualities. So also are the attributes of the doer and the enjoyer.’

“...The earth sustains and helps the seed to grow into a tree or to decline. It is the attribute of the earth that causes these two. So also, the seed of the life principle grows and blossoms into the Brahman principle (the Supreme Being, Brahma-thathwa) in the body, which is the earth-principle. Just as manure and water are essential for the tree to bloom and bear fruit, truth (sathya), equanimity (santhi), tranquillity (sama), and control of the outer senses (dama) are essential for the blossoming of the spirit into Atmic wisdom. The attributes of creation make it assume multifarious forms.

‘Think of this one point, and the whole problem will become clear. People are happy at one time, miserable at another; they are afraid one moment and courageous at another. Why? Because they are shaped so by the attributes. Do you say no? Then how can you explain these changes? Only they can transform people from one phase to another like this.

Lord Krishna clarifies: “If the three attributes dullness, passion, and purity (thamas, rajas, sathwa) are ______________, then a person won’t change... being single-pointed and unaffected by any of these three is the basis for purity and steadfastness.”

08.In Chapter 23 of The Gita Vahini, Swami continues to share the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, thereby clearing all doubts: “Lord Krishna said, ‘The three qualities (gunas) - purity, passion, and dullness (sathwa, rajas, thamas) - undergo various permutations, combinations, and modifications and become manifested as all this creation, this universe (prakriti). Therefore, this creation is subject to change; it is not fixed. True. But the Atma is consciousness (chaithanya), which is sheer effulgence, so it is not subject to blemishes or modifications. The body is creation, the intellect (buddhi) and the mind (manas) are also creation; for this reason, they also differ according to the degree of excess or deficiency of one or other of the qualities.

“Purity (sathwa-guna) is steady, pure, unselfish, light, so those who have this characteristic will have no wish or want. They will be fit for knowledge of Atma. Those with passion (rajoguna) will be engaged in acts tarnished with a tinge of ego. They may have the urge to do service to others, but that urge will drive them on to win fame and take pride in their achievements. They will yearn for their own good, along with the good of others. Those who are endowed with dullness (thamoguna) are overcome by the darkness of ignorance, so they grope about, not knowing what is right and what is wrong.

Swami continues to share Lord Krishna’s lesson: “Arjuna listened attentively to everything, ‘The goal, Immortality, can be reached only by experiencing Brahman, since all this is indeed Brahman (Sarvam Khalvidham Brahmam). When Knowledge is full, the Knower becomes the Known.

“For this consummation, one has to be purified by virtues. Then the Known can be experienced and Realization reached. Therefore, I shall first tell you about this. Virtue first, then victory. What a splendid path! To seek Brahman without first ensuring a _______________________is like desiring a flame without lamp or wick or oil! Acquire all these three, then you light it and get light. So it is with the light of Realization of Brahman or God (Brahma-jnana).

09. In Chapter 24 of The Gita Vahini, Swami reveals more secrets to bring more clarity on the nature of Atma: “The awareness of being only the witness of everything is the secret of self-realization. Self-realization is either the knowledge that 'I am the truth of Me' or 'I have known Myself' or 'All are one Atma or 'I have experienced that the individual and the universal are not distinct'. This is what every person has to discover for themself; mere asceticism without this is sheer waste of time and energy. People are not mere animals. They have the spark of the Divine in them, and they should not allow it to be quenched dead.

“Why, even when the senses operate, they are prompted by the presence of Atma. When the Sun rises, birds take wing, flowers bloom and the human community starts its varied activities. The Sun does not directly engage in any of these; it is the prompter, that is all. The Sun is not the cause; He is just the activator, the witness, the on-looker. He is above and beyond all this. He is not bound or based on man or beast or bird or flower. Birds fly in the sky, but they do not leave any trace behind of their path of flight. So too, however many sensory impressions fly through the inner sky of the heart, no impression should be left thereon. The heart is not affected by their flying through.

“But people see only the superstructure, not the basis. In the garland, no one observes the string that keeps the flowers together; the existence of the string can be known only by investigation and inquiry. The basis is the string; the flowers depend upon it and hang together as a garland on account of it.

“To understand this better, take another example. Pots, pans, plates, and pails are all made of clay; but though there is clay in them, clay is only clay. It is not pot, pan, plate, or pail. So too, the Atma, which is the basis, has no characteristics (gunas) like pot, pan, plate or pail; but the Atma exists in the characteristics as the embodiment of the characteristics. The Atma is mistaken for the characteristics, because it is conceived as limited and as with name and form. The Atma is the only reality that persists through all names and forms, like the clay, which is the only substance in all the pots and pans. By this kind of inquiry, the conviction that the basis and the substance of everything is the Atma (kshetrajna) or Parabrahman gets strengthened.”

Swami continues: “Then Arjuna asked Krishna thus: ‘It is indeed very difficult to know that basic Atma, that inner reality of all things. He is everywhere but is nowhere visible! He is the inner core of all but cannot be contacted at all! What is the cause of this mystery?’

“Krishna replied: ‘Arjuna! You have not understood yet. The Atma is subtler than the __________, so it is difficult to cognize it.’

10. In Chapter 24 of The Gita Vahini, Swami continues to teach us how to see ‘Oneness’ in the world : “To revel in multiplicity is ignorance; to visualize Unity is the sign of spiritual wisdom (jnana). ‘Only those who are dead to reality (the savam)’ see this as ‘many’. Only the Divine (Sivam) sees the seemingly many as ‘One’. What is called ‘that which is known (jneya)’, Atma, the knower of the field (kshetrajna), and the Universal Absolute (Parabrahman) is that ‘One’ only. This was taught to Arjuna so that he might experience the bliss thereof.

“Just as the rivers have the sea as their goal, souls (jivas) have Brahman as their goal. Permanent joy can never be received by the ‘conscious’ soul from ‘material’ objects. Moksha is the acquisition of permanent joy; it is also called the attainment of Brahman. Fixed, exclusive devotion to Godhead can come only to those who have no attachment to the wild phantasmagoria of name and form that is called the ‘world’. Only such devotion can win self-knowledge (Atma-jnana). The world is the instrument for the attainment of renunciation; that is why it is so tempting and so treacherous. He is the real knower of the Vedas who sees the world as an instrument for escape from its coils.

“Usually, the word oordhwa is taken to mean ‘above’, ‘high’, etc. But if you consider the world to be a tree, then it has its roots in Brahman; that is, the roots are above and the branches are below! This was taught to Arjuna by Krishna thus: ‘The tree of life (samsara) is a very peculiar one. It is quite distinct from the trees of the world. The trees that you see in the world have their branches above and roots below. The tree of life (ashvattha), however, has roots above and branches below. It is a topsy-turvy tree.’ Arjuna intercepted with a question. ‘How did it get the name ashvattha? It means a banyan tree, doesn’t it? Why was the tree of life called so? Why wasn’t it called by some other name?’

“A strange name for a strange tree! ‘Listen. Ashvattha means impermanent, transient; it also means the banyan tree. Its flowers and fruits are good neither for smelling nor for eating. However, its leaves quiver ceaselessly in the wind, so it is also called ‘quivering leaves’. Worldly objects are also ever wavering, ever unsteady, ever changing positions. In order to make people understand this truth and strive to overcome it, it is called ashvattha.'”

Elaborating on the basis of the world, Swami shares Arjuna’s lesson: “The millions of beings are the branches, twigs and leaves; the _____ is Brahman, in which all the tree is subsumed and summarized. He who knows this knows the Vedas,’ said Lord Krishna.”



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