Baghawad Gita, Class 169: Chapter 13, Verse 8


Shloka # 8:

Humility, unpretentiousness, non-injury, for-bearance, sincerity, service of the teacher, cleanliness, steadiness, control of body and organs;

Continuing his teaching Swamiji said, having talked about the topics of Kshetram and kshetragna up to shloka No.7, now from shloka no.8 onwards, up to shloka no.12, Sri Krishna deals with the topic of Gyanam which in this context means, those virtues which will make the mind fit for receiving the self-knowledge. And he gives a list of 20 virtues here; which has to be carefully cultivated by every person. In fact, gaining self-knowledge really does not take time; it is relatively easier; but cultivating these virtues alone involves time and effort.

And therefore, this is as important or more important than even Vedantic study. And therefore Sri Krishna will deal with this topic again and again. The 16th and 17th chapters are exclusively dedicated to deal with this topic. So we will deal with this again later. And now we have seen some of the virtues mentioned in the 8th shloka; that is amanitvam, adambhitvam and ahimsa.

Amanitvam is freedom from self-glorification, or humility or vinayaha; adambhitvam is simplicity and ahimsa is non-violence at the physical, verbal and even mental levels. Up to this we saw in the last class.

The fourth value is Kshanti.

Kshanti has two aspects.

  1. Titiksha is acceptance of all choice-less situations, without any resistance. While we have freewill, unfortunately, reality is that, we have no control on many aspects of our life.

And all such uncontrollable, helpless situations, I call choice-less situations and in the second chapter, Sri Krishna uses the word, apariharya artha; artha means a situation, apariharya means over which I do not have a control at all. And since I do not have any control over the situation, I have to only change my attitude in such a way that I welcome, I accept the situation and this acceptance of the situation is called titiksha.

When we look at life, the past I cannot change; as such it is choiceless. Thus, I should accept my past; such as my parents, my age etc; as it is. I have to accept my gray hair, my age etc. They are all choice-less.

Present is also choice-less as it has already arrived. So, prepare mind to accept it. This acceptance is known as Titiksha. The more you put resistance to accepting it, the more you get heated up. Now there are two types of acceptance: 1) Healthy acceptance and 2) unhealthy acceptance.

Unhealthy acceptance: the feeling, what cannot be cured has to be endured. It is acceptance with bitterness; self pity, anger towards the world and god. This unhealthy acceptance is not Titiksha.  A mind with this thinking is not available for positive action. He constantly complains. He distributes his grief to others as well. Mind is not constructive. I become a complaining person.

2. Healthy acceptance: I don’t allow choice-less situation to overcome and immobilize me. I ignore the situation and work constructively. It is difficult but possible to ignore an unfavorable situation and continue with life. When you read life stories of handicapped people it provides inspiration. Stephen Hawkins is an example.

This is the first aspect of Titiksha.

Even though past and present can’t be changed, I can change the future. Astrology can tell us our past but it too can’t predict future as Prayaschitha can affect future. Future is choice-full. I can use freewill and resources to improve future.

I can work for improving and transforming the future. But here also we should remember any transformation requires time. Any transformation, any growth, any Change, requires its own time.

So, I need patience. If I have disease, I don’t have to suffer, as medical science advances every day. When you want to change people, one can change them but it takes time. So, I need to wait.

And this capacity to wait with regard to the future is the second part of the titiksha called Kshama. This capacity to wait for future is called Kshama. Even in front of a traffic signal, one needs Kshama. You can see lack of kshama in front of the traffic signal, especially during rush hour, as people don’t have patience. Everything takes its own time. Even a child takes ten months to grow.

Bhartrhari says, Oh Mind, why are you always in a hurry, you want tomorrow to come today itself. You want next year to come this year itself. Ask your mind to wait and be patient. The future has to unfold in its own time; and you cannot hasten the process. Let the future unfold; you face it when it comes; we will cross the bridge when it comes; not brooding over the past too much; not getting concerned over the future too much.

There is no brooding over the past, nor be concerned about the future; develop patience in the present. If I don’t have Titiksha (acceptance) and Kshama (capacity to wait) there will be stresses and strains in personality.

Anayasa: means freedom from stress. Sandhyavandanam, performed several times a day is to help ease the day-to-day stress in life. Thus physical and mental stress makes you irritable. You are at a flashpoint, in tamil: Mukulai Shundi (anger at nose tip).

Dayananda saraswati says, this irritable condition is the accumulated stress and often the children are the victims; and previously when father is stressed out, mother was there as a cushion; now both of them are working; therefore generally the temperature at home is above 100. And children becomes victims and they also get the internal stress; when they grow up, they take it out on their wives and spouses, and thus we have a nuclear family, ready to explode. Therefore Kshanti is an extremely important value to avoid stress; Stress is inflicting injury on myself. And when the stressful person explodes it is inflicting injury on the other people too. Therefore a stressed person is always practicing himsa, upon himself and others. Therefore, if ahimsa has to be followed, Kshanti is required. Kshanti is the only method to develop ahimsa. And therefore it is very important value in the shastra and it is called anayasaha; meaning a stress free relaxed mind.

So to practice Ahimsa, Kshanti (patience) is essential.

Aarjavam: meansalignment of threefold personality; Kayika, Vachika and Manasika. If thought, word and deed are integrated one has a healthy personality. If there is no alignment; where, I think one thing, say something different and act even more differently; this causes a split personality. This causes stresses and strains in a person. It causes disintegration and destruction.

Like any machine with several different parts; all of them should be in alignment. Adjustment is required, when you install huge machinery; the mechanics have to come and align. Even in a tape recorder, the head has to be aligned; there also it is said ‘head’ has to be aligned and cleaned at regular intervals; otherwise recording does not take place. Similarly your head, not only tape recorder. And your ears, they all must be aligned; otherwise after one hour, if someone asks, how was the class, you will say it was wonderful; what did swamiji say; that is what I do not know. What was wonderful, I do not know?

When my organs are not integrated, then I am destroyed. Destroyed not in the physical sense, but destroyed in the spiritual sense; I cannot accomplish anything higher. And therefore integrity, or uprightness or alignment or harmonization of the personality is important. If you go to a music concert, there are many instrument players like Mridangist; gadam, violinist, ganjira, and musician. You will find that they are spending a lot of time adjusting the sruthi. Aligning of the throat and the tampura is required. If it is a north Indian music concert, they are very particular about shruti. According to them, carnatic musicians do not have shruti at all.

The North Indians take more time to adjust the shruti than even the concert time. So if a music concert requires alignment, life is the greatest music, which should give happiness to me, and which should give happiness to others. There should be no apasruti, that means my thought, word, and deed should be harmonized. That is why we have one of the most wonderful upanishadic prayers that say; let me not have a split personality.

Let me not have a split personality. Let me not have a multiple personality syndrome. And Dayanada Swamji beautifully says that Ravana shown with his 10 heads, indicate his multiple personality and the best method to develop arjavam is starting with punctuality. I feel the first exercise in arjavam is punctuality. And it is one thing; we do not have at all in India, because nobody values punctuality. So, first exercise in arjavam is punctuality.

If for some reason I am not able to make it on time, I need to inform other person. This is Aarjavam.

So being punctual and or meeting commitments is Aarjavam. Satyam is a subdivision of Aarjavam.

Acharya Upasanam: is a very important virtue for Vedantic students. It means worship of teacher. Here worship of teacher does not go to a person. Guru represents Shastra Gyanam within him. He is a temple of scriptures. A question comes up as to why I should worship Shastras or Vedas?

Why should I worship the Veda? This is a very important thing for us to know. The knowledge that we want to acquire through the Shastra is a knowledge, which can be acquired through Shastra alone. It is not a knowledge, which can be acquired through any other source of knowledge. The Shastra is like a sixth sense organ. Every sense organ like eye, ears, etc. is capable of giving a unique knowledge, which the other sense organs cannot give. Eyes can give the knowledge of color; the other four sense organs cannot give that. Similarly, ears can give the knowledge of sound; other sense organs cannot give that. And Veda is like the sixth sense organ and it gives me a knowledge, which cannot be gained through any other means of knowledge. And since it is a unique knowledge, which cannot be gained through other sense organs, the other sense organs cannot confirm or contradict that knowledge. Other sense organs can never verify the Vedic knowledge. So we have to accept what vedas reveal, as a new knowledge and this accepting capacity is called Shraddha. Shradha means learning to accept the knowledge given by the veda as a unique knowledge which is not available for any other sense organs to verify. And this Shraddha is an extremely difficult thing to develop and one of the methods to develop shraddha is through worship or Upasana. Imagine there is a person with only four sense organs. From birth he has got only four sense organs. He does not have eyes; he is blind from birth. And he has got total faith in these four sense organs. And, at the age of 50, I give him the gift of a fifth sense organ called eye, and I tell him eyes are another means of knowledge; and the eyes give a unique knowledge which you have to accept as a fact. And suppose this person argues that he will not accept. whatever the eyes reveal; He says I want to verify through the other four sense organs. because I have faith only in the 4 sense organs; the 5th sense organ, I do not want to accept; therefore I want to verify the color, which the eyes reveal with the ears. The ears can never confirm the color; ears cannot contradict the color either. Therefore, I should never attempt to verify the knowledge given by one sense organ with the help of another sense organ. Then what is my attitude? Every sense organ reveals a fact, which cannot be proved or disproved by the other sense organs and in our tradition we say that veda is like the sixth sense organ And that is why in our tradition right from birth, they tried to cultivate Shraddha in the veda; learn to look at the veda as the sixth sense organ, so that the knowledge received from the veda, I accept as a fact. And suppose a person says; like this blind man; I too will not accept the eyes, if it cannot be verified by the other four sense organs; and he refuses to accept the eyes. In this case who is going to be the loser? If I refuse to accept the eyes, only I will not get the new knowledge of color. Similarly, if I refuse to accept the veda as another instrument of knowledge, I will never get unique knowledge given by the Veda and I will continue to strive to prove the vedic wisdom by other means, which I will never be able to prove; that is why science can neither prove God nor disprove it. Because God can be understood only through the sixth sense organ, called the Veda. And therefore the shraddha towards the veda should be exactly like my shraddha towards my sense organs.

And how to develop that shraddha; it has to come from birth itself and that is why they kept acharya upasana, as part of our culture. Veda is another form of eye called Veda Chakshu; and therefore acharyopasanam is the capacity; the attitude towards Veda, as a pramanam. This is extremely important.

Shaucham: Cleanliness and or purity of surroundings. Keep surroundings clean. Keep dress clean and simple; keep body clean; keep speech clean, Vaktapas. Then there is cleanliness at the thought level. And that means ultimately all those virtues, which will keep my mind healthy. And what are those virtues, which keep the mind healthy. Amanitvam, Adambhitvam, Ahimsa, Kshanti, Acharyopasanam, etc. they are called mental hygeine, which will lead to mental health.

These virtues lead to mental hygiene, which leads to clean thoughts.

And, the opposite of each one of them are: Amanitvam’s opposite is manitvam. Adambhitvam’s opposite is dambhitvam. Ahimsa’s opposite is himsa. Anarjavam’s opposite is arjavam. The opposite of each one of these virtues is mental un-hygiene if that quality is there; which will cause mental sickness and therefore enjoyment of a healthy mind by cultivating all the virtues prescribed here is called Shaucham.

Sthairyam: And the next virtue means sthiratha. It includes, Will power; Perseverance, Commitment, all is called Sthiram. When we start any pursuit, certainly there will be obstacles and setbacks. Some of them are actual obstacles and some are imaginary obstacles. And because of the actual or imaginary obstacle, if I withdraw from my pursuit, it is asthirathvam. Sthirathvam means any type of obstacle may come, but I will continue.

Brthrahri, in his niti shastra, says there are three types of people.

Lowest level person is one, who does not start anything, as he is afraid of failure. The second level person is one who starts but at first sign of obstacle stops. The third level person, Uttama person, is one who continues despite obstacles; or as saying goes, when going gets tough, tough get going.

Stories such as Bhagirtaha prayatnam; Samundra manthanam; are all examples of tenacity. It is an important virtue for spiritual seekers.

AtmaVinigraha: The next one is atmavinigraha. Atma vinigraha means self-mastery. Being the master of my own equipment or instruments. We have seen in Tatva bodha, we have got seventeen organs. pancha jnanedrianis, karmendriyanis five are there; pranas, five are there; mind, the emotional faculty and buddhi, the intellectual faculty; seventeen instruments, we have got inbuilt in us and through these instruments alone, I have to accomplish any goal in life. And before using any instrument, I have to make sure that instrument is healthy and the instrument is under my control. In Kathopanishad, we saw the example of the chariot, the horses, the reins, the driver, etc. The horses are like the sense organs; and so are the reins and they are controlled by the mind and intellect is comparable to the driver. We required an informed driver and we require the controlled steering or reins and the horses must be tamed and obedient, then alone I can reach the destination. In the same way, we have the body, senses, the mind and the intellect. Unless I can manage myself, there is no question of managing a company.

Ashtanga Yoga is to help us with Atmavinigraha.

Asanas help us control the body; Pranayama helps control pranamaya kosha; Pratyahara controls the mind; Then they got dharana, dhyana and samadhi, that provide mastery over the mind, developing attention span, developing focusing capacity. For developing these faculties the three exercises are: dharana, dhyana and samadhi, or absorption. Swami Chinmayanda used to tell that the student must be so absorbed in the class that even if the ceiling comes down, student should not know what is happening. Otherwise, if someone comes late, we will be watching his movements, what dress, color, etc. That the I should die to the world, that is samadhi, the absorption capacity.

Take away:

Titiksha: And since I do not have any control over the situation, I have to only change my attitude in such a way that I welcome, I accept the situation and this acceptance of the situation is called titiksha.

Kshama: So to practice Ahimsa, Kshanti (patience) is essential.

Shradha means learning to accept the knowledge given by the veda as a unique knowledge which is not available for any other sense organs to verify.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy