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Living the Bhagavad Gita Way

1. God and Jiva

1. God and Jiva

‘God and Jiva’ is the first video in the series, ‘Living the Bhagavad Gita Way’. (52 minutes) This series is a study of a better way of living, based on the translation and flow in, ‘Gita Meditations’ by Swami Sivananda.

The Bhagavad Gita is many things at the same time. First, it is a narration in the form of a dialogue between Sanjaya the charioteer and Dhritarashtra, the blind king of the events that were taking place in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Some of the verses concerned with the narration are not as important for the seeker but more for the information of Dhritarashtra. Second, we have verses that are revelations where Krishna reveals the truth about his transcendent and immanent aspects, He grants Arjuna the vision of his cosmic form and we have Arjuna’s words on beholding the vision granted. Third, we have the verses on how the vision or experience Arjuna was granted can be had by any and all who sincerely seek. We are told about the qualities of the seeker and the way of sadhana.

Swami Sivananda has distilled the verses of the Gita, bringing together the most important verses that concern with the nature of God, the seeker, spiritual life and sadhana and the attainments on the path. These are beautifully brought out in his book, ‘Gita Meditations’ on which this series is based. This first video deals with four topics, here is a brief summary.

Prayer to the Lord: Arjuna’s response to Krishna’s revelation throws light on what faith is. Remember, the first verse covered was in the 10th chapter and Arjuna had not been granted vision of the cosmic form. Faith and belief are two different things. Faith is not the end of things but the beginning, it is fuel while we make our own investigation so that we can know by direct experience. Belief is the end and one accepts but does not exert in life and the mat to know for oneself so one’s state remains the same. We too hear the same things that Arjuna heard but in our study – the content is the same. These verses should make one question why the same faith that arose in Arjuna, does not arise in us. The verses that follow, were after beholding the cosmic form and though he is awe struck at the vision, the faith factor of Arjuna remains the same and steady.

Nature of Brahman: We start with Krishna’s declaration that he will reveal ‘that’, knowing which, one attains immortality. Arjuna is blessed with vision of the cosmic form and five verses that follow are his heart’s outpouring on beholding the vision. Through Arjuna’s words, we too can get a glimpse of the Lord – though it be his description to us. We often seek and accept the opinions of others we trust on certain things. Why then won’t we accept Arjuna’s words as a sort of indirect vision and feel we have been blessed through his words? This accepting is not a blind, end of the line but a starting point for our own investigation of the truth.

Immanence of God: God’s transcendent aspect has been brought out beautifully in the earlier section. Now, Krishna removes all doubt by stating that all this is strung on him, that he is the inner self of all, the substratum, sustainer and animator and that all splendor is him only. There is also a word of caution not to get caught up in descriptions but to accept these and find out for oneself as the truth of the Gita is verified by many and verifiable by all who would exert to know.

Immortality of the Soul: Having covered the transcendent and immanent aspects of the Lord, Krishna tells Arjuna that the soul – not the soul in him, but, the soul he is – is indestructible, changeless, unborn etc. This raises the bar of understanding and confidence to do what needs to be done, the right thing – without worrying about consequences as the consequences we concern with mostly are always related to a finite sense of being.

With best wishes,

Swami Suryadevananda