Section D – Verses Spoken on the Audio CD
The following is a transcript of the verses on the Audio CD (Tracks 4-10), along with the accompanying narrative. There may be slight differences from the spoken version.
All but one of the following verses are from the Bhagavad Gita, spoken by Lord Krishna to his friend, Arjuna, just prior to the Battle of Kurukshetra. Krishna and Arjuna are seated on a chariot between the two armies poised for combat. Arjuna, having seen relatives and friends on both sides, has broken down and decided not to fight. Krishna begins his instructions by explaining to Arjuna that the real self, the atman, is different from the body:
na tv evähaà jätu näsaà
na tvaà neme janädhipäù
na caiva na bhaviñyämaù
sarve vayam ataù param
Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.
avinäçi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idaà tatam
na kaçcit kartum arhati
That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.
dehino ’smin yathä dehe
kaumäraà yauvanaà jarä
dhéras tatra na muhyati
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.
väsäàsi jérëäni yathä vihäya
naväni gåhëäti naro ’paräëi
tathä çaréräëi vihäya jérëäny`
anyäni saàyäti naväni dehé
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.
Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.
In proportion to the extent of one’s pious or impious actions in this life, one receives in the next life the appropriate body to enjoy or suffer the corresponding reactions of karma.
The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of eye, ear, tongue, nose and sense of touch, grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects.
The following verses describe how prakriti (matter) operates to bewilder and entangle the atman, the eternal soul, but can also lead him towards ultimate liberation.
Material nature consists of three modes – goodness (sattva) , passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas). When the living entity comes in contact with matter, O Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes.
From the mode of goodness, develops wisdom; from the mode of passion, develop greed and hankering; and from the mode of ignorance develop foolishness, madness and illusion.
Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually ascend to the heavenly realms; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those infected with the mode of ignorance sink down into the hellish regions.
The attraction between male and female is the basic impetus for material life. Because of this misconception, tying together the hearts of male and female, one becomes attracted to one’s body, home, property, children, relatives and wealth. In this way, one increases life’s illusions and thinks in terms of “I” and “mine.”
Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the forces of lust and anger, one is well-situated and happy in this world.
One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.
After attaining me, these great souls never return to this material world, which is full of miseries.
The previous track concluded with the concept of moksha, liberation from the cycle of repeated birth and death. Moksha a state of union with God, who is sought after in different locations:
1. God is everywhere.
Everything is Brahman.
That Brahman is in front, at the back, and in the north, south, east and west. In other words, that Supreme Brahman effulgence spreads throughout both the material and spiritual skies.
2. God is within
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living beings. From Him come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
3. God is beyond this world
Just as the illumination of fire, which is situated in one place, is spread all over, so the energy of the Supreme Lord is spread throughout the universe.
Although fixed in His abode, the Supreme Lord is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. He is far away, but is very near as well. He is within everything and yet he is outside of everything.
There are different opinions as to the nature and identity of God. Some traditions consider him nirguna, without qualities – an impersonal, all-pervading energy. For such people, all the gods and goddesses are more-or-less equal.
Other schools consider God saguna, possessing spiritual attributes, such as form, activity and personality. The supreme is often identified as Vishnu (or one of his forms) or Shiva – or sometimes Shakti or another deity. Other gods and goddesses are often considered subordinate to the Supreme Deity, as expressed in this verse, from one of the Vaishnava Traditions:
Krishna, known as Govinda, is the Supreme Deity. He has an eternal spiritual body, full of bliss and knowledge. He is the origin of all, but has no origin himself. He is the cause of all causes.
Not all traditions hold Vishnu to be supreme, but he is particularly well-known through his ten avatars. Avatar means ‘one who descends’, as discussed in the Bhagavad Gita:
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend myself.
To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of religion, I myself appear, millennium after millennium.
According to the previous track, God appears whenever dharma declines. Dharma is translated as ‘religious duty’, but its meaning is more complex. Literally, it means “that which sustains”. It also refers to innate qualities. For example, the dharma of sugar is to be sweet, and the dharma of fire to be hot. Dharma therefore means “duties that sustain us according to our intrinsic qualities’
There are two types of intrinsic qualities – those relating to the eternal soul (the atman) and those applying to the mind and body. Consequently, there are two categories of duty – Sanatana dharma and Varnashrama dharma.
Santana dharma refers to the soul’s eternal tendency to serve God, irrespective of ones religious affiliation – or no affiliation. Hindus generally do not determine the merits of religious practice simply by the particular tradition one follows – as this verse explains:
The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which people can attain to loving service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.
The idea of religion as a process of knowledge (common to everyone) rather than mere belief (which tends to divide) is mentioned in the next verse
This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.
Sanatana dharma recognises the equality of all living beings, and the eternal relationship between the soul and God.
The system of varnashrama acknowledges that we have different psychological and physiological natures. The system of four varnas was not based on birth, according to theses verses from the Gita.
According to personal qualities (guna) and propensity for a particular type of work, (karma), the four divisions of human society were created by Me.
Brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own nature in accordance with the three gunas.
In addition to four varnas (social classes) there are also four ashrams or stage of life – which take into account one’s natural tendencies during these periods. The members of these four stages are 1. The brahmachari (celibate student), 2. the Grihasta (householder), 3 the Vanaprashta (one who has retired) and 4. The sannyasi (the renunciate). These four ashrams represent progressive steps on the spiritual path, which according to Hindu thought may span many lifetimes.
As we explored in the last section, Sanatana Dharma is common to everyone. It is beyond the temporary labels that apply to the body – labels such as young or old, black or white, British or Indian – or even Hindu, Christian or Buddhist. This next verse explains how there is only one path;
As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows my path in all respects, O Arjuna.
However, most Hindus do not consider that all paths are equal, as many people think: the Gita confirms:
Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth amongst such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.
Although Hinduism accommodates many paths, it also recognises the need to discern right from wrong. Such discrimination is based on spiritual authority, most importantly the Hindu holy books, the Vedas and their supplements:
One should therefore understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that one may gradually be elevated.
But books alone are difficult to understand and apply without guidance:
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
Many traditions hold that the genuine guru must have a teacher himself, coming in an authorised sampradaya, an unbroken line of teachers and disciples:
This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time, the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.
Because the disciplic succession was broken, Krishna spoke the Bhagavad Gita some five –thousand years ago, at the beginning of Kali yuga. But this in not the first Kali Yuga, as the next track explains.
The following verse, from the Bhagavad Gita, describes the length of one day of the Creator, Brahma:
By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma’s one day, and such also is the duration of his night.
One commentary on this verse is summarised as follows:
“The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles called kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvarapa and Kali.
The age of Satya, characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga, vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvarapa-yuga, there is an even greater decline in virtue, and this age lasts for 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga, which we been experiencing over the past 5,000 years, there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, and irreligion. This yuga lasts 432,000 years. Vice increases to such an extent, that at the end the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatar, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga.
Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number, his one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such “years” These “hundred years” total 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years. By these calculations, the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity, it is as brief as a lightning flash.
For Hindus time is eternal and cyclical. Because the influence of time is insurmountable, it is considered to represent God:
The Supreme Lord said: Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.
But time is not considered a fearful enemy by everyone:
Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.
And it is God himself who is the source of creation:
I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.
Vedic literature lists many desirable virtues, as in the following texts from the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita:
The Supreme Lord said: Fearlessness; purification of one’s existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the Vedas; austerity; simplicity; non-violence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigour; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honour—these transcendental qualities, O son of Bharata, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.
Krishna continues by listing undesirable qualities:
Pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance—these qualities belong to those of demoniac nature, O son of Pritha.
And he mentions why some qualities are worth developing:
The transcendental qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the demoniac qualities make for bondage.
More verse on values and character traits are found in the Gita, especially in Chapter 13, verse 8 to 12, and in Chapter 16.