Lecture 11 Notes : Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 Summary 1/09/16
Swamiji gives a Summary of Chapter 1 and an Introduction to Chapter 2.
Summary of Chapter 1
To live a healthy life – consider these 2 factors:
1. The surroundings should be hygienic so that it doesn’t cause diseases. This is an external factor; objective factor (the environment)
2. A person’s body must have sufficient resistance to face the external world; build up immunity in your body. Subjective factor (immunity)
In addition to having a sterilized environment for surgery, the patient also needs to resistance. All vitals conditions are checked in order to proceed with the surgery. A physically healthy life depends on objective and subjective factors. The environment alone is not responsible for giving you the disease. You also have low immunity to catch it.
This same principle can be extended for mental health as well. Mental health means a mind free from all psychological diseases in the form of fear, anxiety, stress, strain, worry, jealousy, anger, inferiority complex (Kama, kroda, lobha, moha, madha, maatsarya are all psychological diseases). We have a tendency to blame the external factors ie. the world is responsible for my worry, my spouse is responsible for my tension, etc. Scriptures point out that we need to consider two factors for mental health. The external world is not totally responsible for my psychological problem. The weakness of the mind is also responsible for our psychological problem.
For a healthy life the environment and sufficient resistance are needed. For a healthy mental life (a secure, relaxed, happy life), you need to consider the environment and having sufficient mental strength to face the situation.
There are three benefits of having a strong mind. The number of psychological problems:
- frequency is less(thus family is saved)
- intensity of anger, frustration is less.
- duration of these are also less
The frequency, intensity and duration of these mental diseases are less in a healthy mind. The after effect is also less. So, a psychological healthy, happy life requires taking care of
- adjusting the external conditions
- improving one’s own resistance
We usually only look into the external conditions. Vedanta talks about the subjective factor – your own inner strength. This freedom from mental diseases caused by external factors, is called mokshaH.
Swamiji recites from Chapter 2, Verse 56:
दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः।
Lord Krishna says a jnani, a free person, also faces adversities but his resistance is very healthy and thus he is not shattered to handle this problem.
The subject matter of Gita is to strengthen the inner resistance (not change the external world) to obtain freedom from psychological disturbance. This is called mokshaH. Gita is also called “Moksha shaastram”. Gita is meant for people who recognize that they have to improve their resistance (being aware of their psychological weakness, their susceptibility to raga, dvesha, kama, kroda, etc and being aware of its affects on other people too).
Chapter 1 of Gita gives an introduction with Arjuna discovering that he has an inner weakness. And before he can change the world, he needs to strengthen himself. Arjuna discovers his weakness, and becomes a spiritual seeker, surrendering to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna then gives him self knowledge. .
The first chapter can be divided into five parts:
1. Part 1: Vyasa presents the context, in which Arjuna feels the disease of samsaara; Verses 1-20
The context is the MB battlefield. In Kurukshetra, the Pandavas and Kauravas have gathered to settle their issue. Arjuna is very clear about the battle, he does not have any conflict or guilt because this war was the last resort after unsuccessful non-violent methods. Lord Krishna also goes as a messenger and tries to settle peacefully. But Duryodana tries to kill Lord Krishna even though he is just a messenger. Therefore, Arjuna, has come to the battlefield without any regrets. Duryodana enumerates the Pandavas’ army and his won army to Drona. And he betrays his diffidence that the Pandava army is stronger. This is caused by adharma. In reality, Duryodana’s army is stronger but the support of Dharma is not there. Seeing this, Bhisma enthuses Duryodana by blowing his conch. Then both sides blow the conches signaling the beginning of the MB battle.
- Part 2: Arjuna goes near the Kaurava army to see them at closer range. Verse 21-25
Arjuna feels somehow that he should closely see whom he has to fight. This decision was a blessing in disguise even though it seemed it was not a good decision to delay the start of the battle. If this hadn’t occurred, we would not have the Bhagavad Gita.
Swamiji recites Verse 20 and the first line of Verse 21:
अथ व्यवस्थितान् दृष्ट्वा धार्तराष्ट्रान्कपिध्वजः।
प्रवृत्ते शस्त्रसंपाते धनुरुद्यम्य पाण्डवः।।1.20।।
हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत।।1.21।।
Arjuna requests Lord Krishna to place the chariot in between the two armies so that he can see his opposition. At this time, Arjuna is the master (not a student) and Lord Krishna is the humble charioteer (not the Guru). Lord Krishna obeys Arjuna and places the chariot in front of the people towards whom Arjuna has a strong attachment.
- Part 3: Arjuna’s discovery of his weakness and the consequent problem of RagaH.Verses 26 – 28
The first weakness presented is the problem of attachment or psychological dependence on external factors. This is called a weakness because psychological dependence for your happiness in no longer in your own hands but it is connected to external factors. Since the external factors are not under your control, depending upon an unpredictable, external factor is risky for your happiness. You should not allow an external factor to determine your state of happiness. For example, the disobedience of your child causing you sorrow is due to the fact that you are depending on your child being obedient for your happiness(external factor). This displays your lack of resistance. Vedanta says that you should not depend upon a certain condition to be happy. This psychological need or dependence is called the problem of ragaH. Arjuna has this problem because he expected these people to be around him all the time and could not imagine even a hypothetical separation. Arjuna imagined a life without Bhisma, Drona etc. and broke down.
कृपया परयाऽऽविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत् – Verse 28, discovery of RagaH (basic samsaara), psychological leaning. Physically, we depend on the world for food, clothing and shelter. Vedanta does not talk about physical independence but talks about emotional/psychological dependence, which is not required at all.
Gita’s ultimate lesson is: आत्मन् एव आत्मना थुष्टः “atma, alone, by yourself, pleased” I am happy with myself, in spite of external factors being favorable or unfavorable. (Sounds so much sweeter in Samskritam).With any addiction, you imagine that you cannot do without it. This is not true. This is your intellect justifying your addiction. Don’t have a crutch.
- Part 4: ShokaH (consequence of RagaH) or VishadaH Verses 28 – 35
The title of the first chapter is Arjuna Vishada YogaH. Grief or sorrow is an inevitable consequence of dependence (leaning on an unpredictable, perishable, external factor). Arjuna faces this deep attachment कृपया परयाऽऽविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत् . The intensity of grief depends on the intensity of attachment. For Arjuna, his intense sorrow was overflowing into the physical body also.
गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते।
न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः।।1.30।।
निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव।
न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे।।1.31।।
- Part 5: MohaH(consequence of RagaH and ShokaH); conflict, confusion, indecisionVerse 36-47
Delusion, not able to determine what to do; MohaH or avivekaH. Arjuna can’t decide whether to fight or not and draws a series of wrong conclusions.
Confusion 1: Arjuna sees Dharma Yuddham as adharma now. The greatest irony is in Verse 36 line 2 where Arjuna says: पापं एव आश्रयेद् अस्मान्ह् हत्व एतान् आततायिनः “By killing these criminals, we will incur sin”. This confusion is similar to a judge saying he cannot render punishment to a criminal, as it is a sin. Imprisoning a criminal is a duty of the court. Arjuna as a Kshatriya has to protect dharma, even if it resorts to war.
Confusion 2: Arjuna sees running away from a righteous war as dharma. If a Kshatriya runs away from a righteous war, he is shirking his duty, which is considered a sin of omission. The sin of omission is called अकरणे प्रत्यवायः “akaraney prathavayaH” (absence of action is a sin).
The 2nd type of sin is Sin of commission. Note – A common thread in all religions:
Sin of Commission – commiting an amoral act
Sin of Omission – failure to do some ritualist act
If Arjuna runs away , this action is paapam for him but he sees this as the best decision. धर्म अधर्म अविवेकः “dharma adharma avivekaH” – utter delusion where he cannot distinguish between dhaarmic and adhaarmic actions. Arjuna’s delusion is complete and it has overflowed into his intellect. The intellect will not be able it fight the weakened mind and so the intellect will justify the weakness.
Confusion 3: Arjuna’s intellect tries to justify his delusion by telling Lord Krishna:
कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः।
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत।।1.40।।
In his argument, Arjuna points out that family is very important for maintaining culture. This is a true statement. A society in which family life is not respected, culture will breakdown after one generation. The eternal dharma will be destroyed, pitr will be affected, people will lose faith in karma, rituals, dharma, religion, God, etc.
Due to his confusion, Arjuna quotes these true facts incorrectly to support his stand. RagaH, ShokaH and MohaH (attachment, sorrow, delusion) are called samsaaraH. A samsaari is one who suffers from these three problems. If a person handles these three samsaaraH, he is a liberated person मुक्तः (muktaH). Throughout Gita, Lord Krishna emphasize, married or unmarried, being internally free is what matters.
Even though Arjuna has discovered the problem of samsaara, Lord Krishna has not started giving the solution yet. Discovery of the problem alone is not enough for the solution. Some more steps are required.
- Diagnosis of having the problem(know that you have a problem); Discovery of problem.But when we discover the problem, we try self medication first. Only when you realize that you cannot solve it yourself, do you go to the next stage of feeling…..
Discovery of helplessness (know that you cannot solve the problem) I have a problem don’t know how to get out of it; I require help from another firm personVedanta Shaastra दैन्य भावः “Dainya bhavaH” affliction, state of being; or कार्पण्यं “kaarpanyam” pitiful circumstances.
We will be studying this in Chapter 2:
कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढचेताः।
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्िचतं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्।।2.7।।
- Surrender to someone who will give me a hand. Called शरणागति sharanaagati
- Solution is given, Medication Arjuna has only gone thorough the first stage – discovering the problem of samsaaraH. Arjuna has to go through stages 2 and 3 before Lord Krishna gives his advice. Therefore Lord Krishna observes silently. Since Lord Krishna has not spoken, Arjuna thinks his conclusion is right and so throws down his bow/arrow and sits down in the chariot.
So, Vyasa completes the first chapter by saying that Arjuna sat down, afflicted by shokaH (ragaH shokaH mohaH):
एवमुक्त्वाऽर्जुनः संख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत्।
विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः।।1.47।।
Introduction of Chapter 2
Chapter 2 gives a comprehensive picture of the whole “treatment” (for the disease) as given by the Gita. This chapter is the essence of the entire Gita and it can be divided into 4 portions. Swamiji gives a high level overview.
Portion 1: Arjuna surrenders to Lord Krishna; अर्जुन शरणागति Arjuna sharanaagati Arjuna going through the other stages(he discovers the helplessness). Arjuna decides to quit the battlefield but his inner conscience feels that this is not a good decision. The decision to go to war was made after years and years of adhaarmic actions done by the Kauravas. This was a sudden decision to quit the battle. He realizes that he is confused and not able to make the correct decision. He knows he cannot solve the present problem.
Swamiji recites Chapter 2, Verse 6, Line 1:
न चैतद्विद्मः कतरन्नो गरीयो यद्वा जयेम यदि वा नो जयेयुः।
यानेव हत्वा न जिजीविषाम स्तेऽवस्थिताः प्रमुखे धार्तराष्ट्राः।।2.6।।
Hey Lord Krishna, I thought I had made the right decision but now my mind is wavering and I am not able to determine if my decision is right or wrong. On one hand, the war is for a dhaarmic cause; but my emotional mind is unable to come to terms with knowing the casualties of war (my guru and other relations). Arjuna realizes his wavering and accepts his helplessness by saying(Ch 2, Verse 7, line 1):
कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढचेताः।
Once he discovers his helplessness, he needs to surrender to some one. Voilà, he has the Jagadguru himself (universal guru). Arjuna surrenders and says (Ch2, Verse 7, line 2):
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्।।2.7।।
I am your disciple. The 3rd stage is surrendering (1st is discovery of the problem; 2nd is feeling helpless). The 4th stage is where Lord Krishna accepts the disciple Arjuna and gives the solution.
Gita Shaastram: संसार निवारण औशदम् ; भव रोग बेशजं
Worldy illusion, warding off, medicine; state of being, disease, remedy The spiritual pursuit is two-fold:
- Karma YogaH – to become a Jnana Yogyata
- Jnana YogaH – to gain Jnanam
Portion 2: Krishna briefs Arjuna about Jnana YogaH; self-knowledge given to a Jnana Yogyata praptiH Jnana YogaH is self knowledge. Krishna will explain “self-knowledge” briefly . But in order to gain Jnana YogaH, one needs to be eligible to receive Jnanam(already be a yogyata praptiH).
Adi Shankara said Brahma Jnana is aushadam. The medicine is ज्ञानयोग Jnana yogaH(disease removal). A Jnana yogyata(worthiness to get Jnanam) is required; medicine will be given only for a yogyata praptiH(one who has acquired the eligibility).
Portion 3: Krishna talks about Karma YogaH: Actions taken to become a Jnana Yogyata praptiH Krishna explains how to become a योग्यत प्राप्तिः “Yogyata praptiH” (one who has acquired the eligibility to learn). Karma YogaH are the actions to be taken without being attached to the results of one’s deeds. The benefit of Karma YogaH is Jnana yogaH yogyata.
Portion 4: Jeevan MuktiH: Inner Freedom, Salvation: Explore the life of a psychologically healthy person, who has developed inner resistance, and who has solved raga, shoka, moha.
नन्दति नन्दति नन्दत्येव “Nandati nandati nandatyeva” Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice! A psychologically healthy person enjoys life thoroughly.