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Sunday, October 28, 2007

BHAGAVAD GITA - CHAPTER 12 (BHAKTI YOGA) - THE PATH TO DEVOTION

BHAGAVAD GITA - CHAPTER 12 (BHAKTI YOGA) - THE PATH TO DEVOTION


CHAPTER 12 (BHAKTI YOGA)

Shree Gurubhyo Namaha Harihi Om

*अथ द्वादशोऽध्यायः*

Atha Dvaa-dasha Adhyaa-yaha


Meaning:  Salutations to the Guru (Divine preceptor). And here the 12th Chapter.



अर्जुन उवाच

एवं सततयुक्ता ये भक्तास्त्वां पर्युपासते ।
ये चाप्यक्षरमव्यक्तं तेषां के योगवित्तमाः ॥१२- १॥


Arjuna Uvaacha

Yevam Sathatha Yukthaa Ye' Bhakthaah-stvaam Paryupaasate

Ye' Chaapya-ksharam Avyaktham Teshaam Ke' Yoga 

Vittamaaha ||1||

Arjuna said:
Those devotees, constantly united in you, worship you, and those devotees who worship the imperishable, the unmanifest, between them, who is the superior knower of yoga?

Word to word Meaning:
evam : in this manner
satatayuktaa : constantly united
ye : those who
bhaktaahaa : devotees
tvaam : you
paryupaasate : worship you
ye : those who
cha : and
api : also
aksharam : imperishable
avyaktam : unmanifest
teshaam : between them
ke : who is
yogavittamaahaa : superior knower of yoga

Meaning: The first chapter of the Gita addressed the confusion of Arjuna arising out of his lack of identity, and of not knowing his duty on the battlefield. Chapters two to five explained what is the true nature of the individual, and using karma yoga to purify oneself. Chapter six explained how to remain constantly in one’s true nature through the yoga of meditation. Chapters seven to ten gave us an elaborate description of Ishvara, culminating with the vision of the cosmic form in the eleventh chapter.

The theme of this chapter is bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion to Ishvara. Throughout the Gita, Shri Krishna has said, “perform actions for me”, “become devoted to me”, “make me your supreme goal”. But we have to first know, who is this “me” that is to be worshipped? There are some places in the Gita where Shri Krishna has described himself as imperishable, unmanifest, not visible to our senses. Conversely, he has shown his visible cosmic form to Arjuna in the previous chapter. In India, most devotees worship images of their chosen deities in their homes and temples.

So then, Arjuna wants to know, who is the superior devotee? Is it the one who worships the unmanifest, or is it one who worships the manifest? There is a well-known Marathi bhajan (devotional song) that asks the very same question : do I call you saguna or nirguna? Saguna means one with attributes, one that can be seen and felt. Nirguna means one that has no attributes. It is a tough choice for Shri Krishna. He answers the question in the next shloka.

श्रीभगवानुवाच
Sri Bhagavaan Uvaacha

मय्यावेश्य मनो ये मां नित्ययुक्ता उपासते ।
श्रद्धया परयोपेतास्ते मे युक्ततमा मताः ॥१२- २॥


Mayyaa Veshya Mano Ye' Maam Nithya Yukthaa Upaasathe

Shraddha-yaa Parayopethaaha The' Me' Yuktha Thamaa-

mathaaha ||2||

Gist
Shree Bhagavaan said:
Those who, fixing their mind in me, are constantly engaged in my worship, endowed with supreme faith, those are superior in yoga, in my opinion.

Word to Word Meaning
mayi : in me
aaveshya : fixing
manaha : mind
ye : those who
maam : my
nityayuktaa : constantly engaged
upaasate : worship
shraddhayaa : with faith
parayaa : supreme
upetaahaa : endowed
te : those
me : my
yuktatamaahaa : superior in yoga
mataahaa: opinion

Meaning
Previously, Arjuna had asked Shri Krishna to select which type of devotees were better between those who worship Ishvara as the formless unmanifest, and those who worship him as an entity endowed with form. Shri Krishna begins by describing those devotees who worship Ishvara endowed with form. He says that such devotees are the most superior yogis because they are constantly engaged in worship of Ishvara, full of supreme faith.
Three qualities of a superior yoga are highlighted here. Firstly, we as devotees should be able to fix our mind on Ishvara, using all the instruction given in chapter six and other places as well. In the initial stages of meditation, keeping our mind on Ishvara even for ten minutes is quite an achievement. Secondly, we have to be “nitya yuktaa”, the ability to remain constantly engaged in worship, without letting the mind divert itself to other pursuits. Thirdly, we need to be endowed with supreme and unwavering faith.
Even though these qualities may seem easy to attain on the surface, they are not so. Shri Krishna chooses words that indicate that he is looking for the highest kind of concentration and faith. For example, he uses the word “aaveshya” to describe concentration, but what it really means is using our thoughts to enter, to penetrate into the object of concentration. This kind of concentration requires a highly purified mind, free from selfish likes and dislikes and from attachment to material concerns. Our degree of faith further reinforces the ability to remain focused on our object of concentration.
So then, what is Shri Krishna’s opinion on those devotees who worship Ishvara as the unmanifest? This comes next.


ये त्वक्षरमनिर्देश्यमव्यक्तं पर्युपासते ।
सर्वत्रगमचिन्त्यं च कूटस्थमचलं ध्रुवम् ॥१२- ३॥

Ye' Tvakshram Anirdeshyam Avyaktham Paryu-paasathe

Sarvathra-gam Achintyam Cha Kootastham Achalam 

Dhruvam ||3||

Gist -And, those who steadfastly worship the imperishable, indefinable, all pervading, inconceivable, unchangeable, immovable and eternal.

Word to Word Meaning
ye : those who
tu : and
aksharam : imperishable
anirdeshyam : indefinable
avyaktam : unmanifest
paryupaasate : steadfastly worship
satvatragam : all pervading
achintyam : inconceivable
cha : and
kootashtam : unchangeable
achalam : immovable
dhruvam : eternal

Meaning
In response to Arjuna’s question, Shri Krishna earlier described the seeker who worshipped Ishvara as “saguna”, an entity with form. In this and the next shloka, he described the seeker who worships the “nirguna”, the formless Ishvara. Shri Krishna wants to clearly differentiate the formless from the formful, so he provides a list of adjectives to describe the formless Ishvara, to the extent that it is possible to do so.
“Aksharam” refers to that which does not decay, that which is imperishable. The seeker negates everything that he encounters as perishable, so only the subject remains. “Anirdeshyam” is that which cannot be described or defined by the speech and mind. “Avyaktam” refers to anything that is not accessible to our senses, something that is invisible. “Sarvatragam” is that which is not limited by space, that which pervades everywhere and everything. “Achintyam” is that which cannot be conceived as a thought by the mind.
Anything that is filled with fault is called “koota”. So that by which the defect-ridden maaya and its activities look real is called “kootastha”, the foundation or base on which maaya appears. “Kootastha” also means anvil which denotes changelessness in time. “Achalam” refers to fixity, changelessness in space. “Dhruvam” is that which is eternal and deathless. In this manner, a seeker worships the formless Ishvara.
Let us also understand what is meant by “upasaanaa” or meditative worship, since that is the theme of this chapter. Shankaracharya gives a long definition in his commentary. Upaasanaa literally means to sit near. Here it refers to the seeker taking on the quality of the object of worship by moving his mind as near to that object as he can. The object of worship should be selected with the advice of the guru and scriptures. It should not be arbitrary. Then the seeker should continuously think about the object, just like an unbroken stream of oil poured from a height.
Shri Krishna continues the description of nirguna upaasakaas, seekers of the formless Ishvara, in the next shloka.


संनियम्येन्द्रियग्रामं सर्वत्र समबुद्धयः ।
ते प्राप्नुवन्ति मामेव सर्वभूतहिते रताः ॥१२- ४॥

Samniyam-yendriya-graamam Sarvathra Sama Buddhayaha

Tey' Prapnu-vanthi Maame'va Sarva Bhootha-hite' 

Rathaha  ||4||

Having restrained all the senses, keeping a balanced intellect everywhere, revelling in the welfare of all beings, they attain me alone. 

Word to Word Meaning
 sanniyamya : having restrained
indriyagraamam : all the senses
sarvatra : everywhere
samabuddhayaha : balanced intellect
te : they
praapnuvanti: attain
maam : me
eva : alone
sarvabhootahite : welfare of all beings
rataahaa : revel

Meaning: Imagine that our parents have asked us to come to their house. They are hosting an event and need our help. What will our attitude towards our assignment be? We will not hesitate to play the role of a cook, a waiter, a driver, a handyman, a dishwasher and so on. We will do whatever it takes to make that event a success. The well-being of all the guests will become our primary goal. We will set aside any personal differences with any guests because we are representing our parents at that event. We do all of this because we have a sense of oneness with our parents.
The devotee who worships the imperishable and unmanifest Ishvara has the same attitude. Just like we do not consider our parents as somebody distinct from us, the devotee does not consider Ishvara as separate from him. When there is no separation, there is no expectation of asking for anything or receiving anything. You only ask and receive when you consider someone different from you. We would never think of asking permission for every little thing from parents at that event, because it would be silly to do so.

Furthermore, such a devotee loses all sense of selfishness. He revels in the welfare of everyone in this world, “sarva bhoota hite rataahaa”. Nothing ever destabilizes his mind or his intellect, because he sees himself as one with everything. His senses have stopped harbouring likes and dislikes, because they no longer cut up the world into “good” or “bad”. He has very naturally “merged” into Ishvara, which is the final goal of devotion or bhakti. Shri Krishna echoes this point by saying “te praapnuvanti maam eva”, they attain me alone.


क्लेशोऽधिकतरस्तेषामव्यक्तासक्तचेतसाम् ।
अव्यक्ता हि गतिर्दुःखं देहवद्भिरवाप्यते ॥१२- ५॥

Kleshodhi-katharah-stheshaam Avyakthaa-saktha Chethasaam

Avyakthaa Hi Gathir Duhkham Deha Vadbhira-vaapyate 

||5||

Gist - There is greater trouble for those whose minds are attached to the unmanifest. For, the path of the unmanifest is difficult to attain by the embodied.

Word to Word Meaning
kleshaha : trouble
adhikataraha : greater
teshaaam : for those
avyaktaasaktachetasaam : mind attached to unmanifest
avyaktaa : unmanifest
hi : for
gatihi : path
duhkham : difficult
dehavadbhihi : the embodied
avaapyate : attain

Meaning
We used the example of children helping their parents organize a family event to understand the previous shloka. Now let us imagine that the CEO of the company we work for has asked us to attend an event at his house. What would be our attitude here? We would be on our best behaviour, and try our best to impress him with our actions. We would always ask for permission if we need to use anything in the CEO’s house. We would also be on the lookout for others who are trying to impress him, and perhaps try to be one step ahead of them.

Although we look different than our parents, we feel no sense of difference from them. However, we see a difference between the title of the CEO and our title which could be software engineer, manager and so on. Similarly, Shri Krishna says that the one who is “deha vad” or embodied, the one who still has attachment to the notion that “I am Mr. so and so with a 5 feet 7 inch body, working for XYZ corporation”, such a person will always have a tinge of separation from Ishvara.

So for the majority of us who want to become devotees, it is “adhikatara klesha”, quite difficult to worship Ishvara in his formless aspect. Our sense of attachment to the body creates a sort of wall, a kind of separation between the devotee and Ishvara. We are carrying conditionings of several lifetimes, perhaps, that prevent us from accessing Ishvara in his formless aspect. Extreme vairagya or detachment is required for this. Does it mean that our spiritual journey ends here? Shri Krishna addresses this next.




ये तु सर्वाणि कर्माणि मयि संन्यस्य मत्पराः ।
अनन्येनैव योगेन मां ध्यायन्त उपासते ॥१२- ६॥

Yethu Sarvaani Karmaani Mayi Sanyasya Math-paraa-ha
Ananye-naiva Yogena Maam Dhyaa-yantha Upaasathe'  ||6||

Gist
But, those renounce all actions in me, intent upon me only, meditate upon me through the single-pointed yoga of worship.

Word to Word Meaning
ye : those
tu : but
sarvaani : all
karmaani : actions
mayi : me
sanyasya : renounce
matparaahaa : intent upon me
ananyena : single-pointed
eva : only
yogena : through yoga
maam : me
dhyaayanta : meditating
upaasate : worship

Meaning
Previously, Shri Krishna compared seekers who worship the formless Ishvara to those who worship Ishvara with form, and concluded that the worshippers of the formless Ishvara have more difficulty. We used the example of a child helping his parents to understand the attitude of the formless worshipper and the example of the worker helping his CEO exemplifying the worshipper of Ishvara with form. Now Shri Krishna re-emphasizes the qualifications of the worshipper of Ishvara with form, which is the route that most of us will take.

First, we have to renounce all our actions to Ishvara, in other words, practice karma yoga. Typically, when we perform any actions, we are looking for a tangible material result (monetary profit), emotional result (happiness) or an intellectual result (satisfaction). If our actions don’t turn out as we anticipated, we may get opposite results in the form of loss, sorrow or dissatisfaction. When we perform actions for the sake of renunciation to Ishvara, we leave the outcome to Ishvara, whether it is favourable or not.

When we do this, our mind and intellect do not constantly get destabilized by life’s ups and downs, leaving them free to contemplate the higher goal of Ishvara. But this can only happen through the practice of single-pointed worship, “ananya yoga”, the yoga where there is no other goal but Ishvara. In this manner, when we constantly worship Ishvara through our body, mind and intellect, he takes care of us. How does he do that? Shri Krishna completes this thought in the next shloka.

Meaning: But those who worship me, renouncing all actions in Me, regarding Me as the Supreme Goal, meditating on Me with single minded devotion...



तेषामहं समुद्धर्ता मृत्युसंसारसागरात् ।
भवामि नचिरात्पार्थ मय्यावेशितचेतसाम् ॥१२- ७॥

Theshaa-maham Samud-dharthaa Mruthyu Samsaara Saagaraath
Bhavaami Na Chiraath Paartha Mayya-veshitha Chetasaam ||7||

Gist
For them, whose minds are fixed in me, I immediately become their uplifter from samsaara, the ocean of death, O Paartha.

Word to Word Meaning
teshaam : for them
aham : I
samuddhartaa : uplifter
mrityusansaarasaagaraat : the ocean of death samsaara
bhavaami : become
nachiraat : immediately
paartha : O Paartha
mayi : in me
aaveshita : fixed
chetasaam : mind

Meaning
As a result of losing a wager, the eagle-winged Garuda and his mother Vinata were forced into enslavement by the Kadru, mother of serpents. Garuda promised to bring the nectar of immortality from heaven and give it to the serpents in exchange for his mother’s freedom. Once the nectar was delivered, Lord Indra took it back to heaven, but spilt a few drops on a kind of grass known as dharba. The serpents tried to lick the nectar on the grass, but spilt their tongue doing so. As a result, all serpents have forked tongues even to this day.

Let us now look into the symbolic meaning of this story from the Puraanaas. The world comprises of objects that are a two things at once: naamaroopa (name and form) and Ishvara. The Ishvara in us wants to contact the Ishvara in those objects, but we make the mistake of letting our senses rush after the name and form aspects of the objects. We are like the serpents that really want nectar, but chase the dharba grass and cut ourselves in the process. Chasing of objects in the belief that they will give us joy, and receiving sorrow instead of joy, this is samsaara. Repeatedly chasing objects ensures that the cycle of birth and death continues.

In the Indian tradition, samsaara is referred to as an ocean in which most people are stuck until their death, only to be reborn again. Shri Krishna says that those devotees who worship Ishvara with form and meet the qualifications listed in the previous shloka are saved from samsaara by Ishvara himself. Unlike most material endeavours that take a long time, this process is “nachiraat” or swift. The key condition is that we have to think of Ishvara as the ultimate goal and nothing else. This is “saguna upasaana”, worship of Ishvara with form, in a nutshell.

Now, Shri Krishna enumerates the types of yogas or practices through which we can attain Ishvara.

Meaning: For them whose thought is so set on Me, O Partha (another name for Arjuna), I will become very soon, the One to deliver them from this cycle of birth and death.



मय्येव मन आधत्स्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय ।
निवसिष्यसि मय्येव अत ऊर्ध्वं न संशयः ॥१२- ८॥


Mayyeva Mana Aadhat-sva Mayi Buddhim Niveshaya
Nivasi-shyasi Mayyeva Atha Urdhvam Na Samsha-yaha ||8||

Gist
Fix your mind only in me, place your intellect in me, thereafter you will dwell in me only, no doubt.

Word to Word Meaning
mayi : in me
eva : only
manaha : mind
aadhatsva : fix
mayi : in me
buddhim : intellect
niveshaya : place
nivasishyasi : you will dwell
mayi : in me
eva : only
ataha : this
oordhvam : after
na : no
sanshayaha : doubt

Meaning
In this series of four shlokas, Shri Krishna prescribed four paths or yogas to attaining Ishvara, each one more easier than the previous one. This shloka describes the path of jnyaana yoga or the yoga of knowledge. Shri Krishna says that the seeker should fix both his intellect and mind in Ishvara constantly, without any interruption. When this happens, that attainment of Ishvara is guaranteed. There is no room for “sanshaya” or doubt of attaining Ishvara when one practices jnyaana yoga. But doing so is not easy.

As a new year approaches, many of us start making new year resolutions such as losing weight, giving up a bad habit, cleaning the house and so on. It is our buddhi or intellect that sets firm long-term goals, targets and resolutions. Ultimately all types of plans and resolutions stem from our desires to achieve something in this world. Now, Jnyaana yoga requires us to have just one resolution and nothing else: to merge with Ishvara. But as we have seen in the second chapter, our stock of desires influences our intellect to make innumerable resolutions. This multitude of resolutions makes jnyaana yoga difficult.

Furthermore, our condition is such that it is not just the intellect that has many resolutions. The mana, our faculty of mind, is fickle to begin with due to the distractions of the senses. Jnyaana yoga requires the fixing of both the intellect and the mind onto Ishvara. It is in rare instances that we can achieve intellectual and mental harmony, such as studying for an exam, where we know that the stakes are high. But even that happens for a few minutes or a few hours at most.

So clearly, jnyaaya yoga, the foremost type of yoga, is difficult for most of us, atleast at our current stage of spiritual evolution. Is there something easier? Shri Krishna answers next.

Meaning:Fix your mind on Me alone, Let your thoughts dwell in Me. (By doing so) You will live in Me here after. Of this, there is no doubt.


अथ चित्तं समाधातुं न शक्नोषि मयि स्थिरम् ।
अभ्यासयोगेन ततो मामिच्छाप्तुं धनंजय ॥१२- ९॥

Atha Chittam Samaa-dhaathum Na Shaknoshi Mayi Sthiram
Abhyaasa Yogena Tato Maam-Icchaaptum Dhananjaya ||9||

Gist
If you are unable to steadfastly establish your mind in me, then seek to attain me through the yoga of repeated practice, O Dhananjaya.

 Word to Word Meaning
atha : if
chittam : mind
samaadhaatum : establish
na : not
shaknoshi : able
mayi : in me
sthiram : steadfastly
abhyaasayogena : yoga of repeated practice
tataha : then
maam : me
icchaa : seek
aaptum : attain
dhananjaya : O Dhananjaya

Meaning
A student of music does not become a maestro overnight. While watching a concert, we may admire how easily he can handle complex passages on the piano, but we know that the prowess is a result of years, maybe even decades, of repeated practice. In his book “Outliers”, author Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes the “10,000 hour rule”. The key to success in any field is a matter of practising a task for 10,000 hours. Here, Shri Krishna says that if we are unable to constantly fix our mind in Ishvara, we should set aside some time daily and practice doing so.

In the sixth chapter, Arjuna admits to Shri Krishna that it is very difficult for someone to keep their mind in Ishvara all the time, and asks for a solution to this problem. There as well, Shri Krishna recommends the technique of “abhyaasa” or repeated practice. In this technique, we first choose an object of worship such as the image of a deity, a spiritual text or a mantra. Then, following the instructions in the sixth chapter, we set aside a fixed time and place every day to meditate upon the object of worship. Whenever our thoughts stray away, we gently bring them back so that we are only thinking about the object of worship. This yoga is known as raaja yoga, ashtaanga yoga or dhyaana yoga.

Note that abhyaasa is not possible without its counterpart vairaagya or dispassion towards the material world. Without reducing our stock of material desires, it is virtually impossible to sit in meditation. Each vaasanaa, each unfulfilled desire has the potential to produce a series of thoughts in our mind. When we sit for meditation, these unfulfilled desires start competing with each other to produce thoughts that distract us from the object of worship. Therefore, Shri Krishna advises us to follow abhyaasa and vairaagya together.

Now, with the practice of dhyaana yoga, we only think of Ishvara for a brief period of time each day. How should we continue our spiritual practice throughout the rest of the day? Or, our stock of desires may not even let us sit in one place. Then how should we worship Ishvara? Shri Krishna addresses this next.

Meaning:But if you are not able to fix your mind steadily on Me, O Dhananajaya (another name for Arjuna), then seek to reach Me by Abhyaasa Yoga (through constant practice).


अभ्यासेऽप्यसमर्थोऽसि मत्कर्मपरमो भव ।
मदर्थमपि कर्माणि कुर्वन्सिद्धिमवाप्स्यसि ॥१२- १०॥

Abhyaasepya-samarthosi Math-karma Paramo Bhava
Madartha-mapi Karmaani Kurvan Siddhim Avaap-syasi ||10||

Gist
If you are incapable even to perform repeated practice, then perform actions for me. Even by doing actions for me, you shall attain success.

Word to Word Meaning
abhyaase : repeated practice
api : even
asamarthaha : incapable
asi : are
matkarmaparamaha : perform actions for me
bhava : become
madartham : for me
api : also
karmaani : actions
kurvan : doing
siddhim : success
avaapsyasi : attain

Meaning
So far, Shri Krishna recommended jnyaana yoga, followed by abhyaasa yoga, both of which are difficult for us to follow. Our stock of desires prevents us from pursuing even a few hours of daily meditation. We cannot sit still in one place. If we do so, we get distracted every so often. And even if we are able meditate, we still need to remain attuned to Ishvara for the majority of the day when we are not meditating. How do we achieve this? It is through the yoga of devotion, bhakti yoga.

Prahlaada, son of the king of demons and one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu, was asked by his father Hiranyakashipu about what he had learned in school. He replied that one should serve Ishvara by making every act into an act of worship. Shravana refers to the constant listening of Ishvara’s glories; kirtanam is the singing the names of Ishvara; smaranam refers to constant remembering of Ishvara; paadasevanam is adoring Ishvara’s feet; archanam is worshipping Ishvara in temples or in our own homes; vandanam is the offering prayers; daasyam is to consider ourselves as servants of Ishvara; sakhyam: considering ourselves as friends of Ishvara; and finally, aatmanivedana where we completely offer ourselves to Ishvara.

What happens when we lead our life this way? When every action including our work in the office, our chores at home, our studies in school and our dealings with friends and family becomes an act of worship, we slowly erode our sense of doership or agentship. Instead of acting with the notion “I am doing this”, we begin to act with the notion “Ishvara is doing everything”. We submit our ego into the altar of Ishvara. As our sense of ego dissolves, we become qualified to practice abhyaasa yoga, and ultimately, jnyaana yoga. So therefore, incorporating Ishvara into eevry aspect of our lives is bhakti yoga.


If you are unable to do constant practice, be intent on doing all actions for my sake; even by performing actions for my sake, you will attain perfection.


अथैतदप्यशक्तोऽसि कर्तुं मद्योगमाश्रितः ।
सर्वकर्मफलत्यागं ततः कुरु यतात्मवान् ॥१२- ११॥



Athaita-dapya Shaktosi Karthum Madyoga-maashritaha
Sarva-karma Phala Thyaagam Thathah Kuru Yathaathma-vaan ||11||

GistIf, even doing this is not possible, then take refuge in my yoga; cast off the fruits of all actions, with self control.


Word to Word Meaning
atha : if
etat : this
api : even
ashaktaha : not possible
asi : is
kartum : doing
madyogam : my yoga
aashritaha : take refuge
sarvakarmaphalatyaagam : cast off the fruits of all actions
tataha : then
kuru : do
yataatmavaan : self control

Meaning
In explaining the law of karma or action, Shri Krishna uses the term “fruit” to denote the result of an action. We know from basic physics that every action must result in a reaction, it must give a result. This result can be material (money), emotional (joy) or intellectual (satisfaction). By calling it a fruit, Shri Krishna reminds us that every result contains the seed of a future action hidden within it. This seed can give rise to innumerable actions, which can give rise to innumerable seeds, and so on and so forth.

How does that seed germinate into an action? If we eat a delicacy for the first time, our tastebuds send a signal to our ego which says “this delicacy is tasty”. The ego then says “I like this delicacy, it makes me happy, therefore I shall have it again”. The delicacy contained the seed of desire, but the ego made the delicacy into a source of happiness, paving the way for future actions towards acquiring that delicacy.

This is the condition of a majority of seekers. We are so tied up in the material world that we find it difficult to go beyond the satisfaction of our ego. We cannot bring bhakti or devotion into our lives like Shri Krishna prescribed in the previous shloka. Our primary desires are material, not spiritual. For seekers in this condition, Shri Krishna gives two simple suggestions: submit the results of actions to him, and control the senses as much as possible.

So if we eat a delicacy for the first time, our taste buds will definitely say that it is tasty. But instead of letting the ego say “this delicacy is tasty”, we can say “I submit this lovely taste to Ishvara, may he enjoy it”. The ego does not get a chance to assert itself, and in this manner the seed of future action is destroyed on the spot. Conversely, if we are studying for an exam and are worried about the result, we can say “I submit the result of this exam to Ishvara, good or bad”. This will eliminate constant worrying and the consequent stress caused by it, leaving our mind free to study efficiently.

Shri Krishna also asks us to control our mind and our senses. Both our mind and our senses have a natural affinity for sense objects. If we leave them unchecked, they will start brooding over sense objects and develop an attachment towards them. The second chapter had explained how this happens in great detail. So therefore, checking our senses and our mind will reduce the inflow of selfish desires to a great extent, and submission of results to Ishvara will transfer our enjoyership from our ego to Ishvara. This is karma yoga, the most simple and basic spiritual technique that takes us one step closer to Ishvara.


Meaning: If you are unable to do even this, surrender thyself to me in love, not worrying about the fruits of actions with the self subdued.



श्रेयो हि ज्ञानमभ्यासाज्ज्ञानाद्ध्यानं विशिष्यते ।
ध्यानात्कर्मफलत्यागस्त्यागाच्छान्तिरनन्तरम् ॥१२- १२॥

Shreyo Hi Gnaanam Abhyaa-saath Gnaanaad Dhyaanam Vishishyathe
Dhyaanaath Karma-phala-thyaagaha Thyaagaat Shaanti-ranantaram ||12||

Gist 
Knowledge is superior to practice, meditation is superior to knowledge, and renunciation of fruits of actions is superior to meditation, for peace immediately follows renunciation.


Word to Word Meaning
shreyaha : superior
hi : for
jnyaanam : knowledge
abhyaasaat : practice
jnyaanaat : knowledge
dhyaanam : meditation
vishishyate : superior
dhyaanaat : meditation
karmaphalatyaagaha : renunciation of fruits of action
tyaagaat : renunciation
shantihi : peace
anantaram : immeditately follows


Meaning
The last four shlokas laid out a series of stages that enable us to access Ishvara based on our qualifications. They were laid out in descending order, addressing the most qualified to the least qualified. Jnyaana yoga was prescribed for those who have given up attachment to the body, abhyaasa yoga for those who can sit for meditation, bhakti yoga for those who can perform every action for Ishvara, and karma yoga for those who can dedicate the results of their actions to Ishvara.

Here, Shri Krishna provides a recap of those four shlokas as well as providing some additional insights into the nuances of each stage. He first says that knowledge is superior to practice. Here, practice refers to mere mechanical chanting of japas without the involvement of the mind or the intellect. Such inert practice will not lead us anywhere. Shri Krishna cautions us against jumping into meditative practice without the knowledge of what we are doing, how to do it, what is the goal and so on.

Next, he says that meditation is superior to knowledge. Here, the word meditation is used in the sense of a higher kind of knowledge, one that does not create a distinction between the knower and the known, one that is a direct, intuitive understanding of Ishvara. This higher kind of knowledge is superior than dry, academic knowledge gained through a cursory reading of the scriptures without the guidance of a guru, and without the perfect internalization of that knowledge through a pure mind and intellect. In this sense, meditation or higher knowledge is superior to purely academic knowledge.

Now to get to these two stages, we have to take stock of our qualifications. Shri Krishna knew that the majority of people would have a great sense of attachment to the body, as well as a large stock of selfish desires that prompt them to selfish actions. They need a technique that is appropriate for their qualifications, and that will bring them to a stage where they can eventually practice meditation. For such individuals, renunciation of the fruits of actions, or karma yoga, is superior than meditation. Only renunciation will bring short term peace through reduction of worry for the future, and long term peace by making us qualified for meditation.

Meaning: Better indeed is knowledge than formal practice; better than knowledge is meditation; better than meditation is the renunciation of the fruit of the action (surrender in love); peace immediately follows this.


अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्रः करुण एव च ।
निर्ममो निरहंकारः समदुःखसुखः क्षमी ॥१२- १३॥

Adveshtaa Sarva Bhoothaa-naam Maitrah Karuna Yeva Cha
Nirmamo Nirahan-kaaraha Sama Duhkha Sukhah Kshami ||13||

Gist
He who is without dislike towards all beings, who is friendly and compassionate, who is also without (the sense of) mineness and egoism, who is the same in sorrow and joy, who is forgiving...

Word to Word meaning 
adveshta : without dislike
sarvabhootaanaam : all beings
maitraha : friendly
karunaha : compassionate
eva : also
cha : and
nirmamaha : without mineness
nirahankaaraha : without egoism
samaduhkhasukhaha : same in sorrow and joy
shamee : forgiving

Meaning 
Shri Krishna always elaborates on the practical aspects of his teaching and brings it to the level of the student’s understanding. In the second chapter, he devoted several shlokas to describe the traits towards aspects of one who is established in the eternal essence. Here, he describes the traits of saints and accomplished devotees towards other people, which are easier for us to connect with, and become goals for people like us to strive towards.

An accomplished devotee essentially is convinced of two things: that everything in this world is not different than Ishvara, and that the devotee himself is also not different from Ishvara. When he has this outlook, he loses all sense of “I-ness” and “mine-ness”. He never believes that he exists outside of the existence of Ishvara. There is no sense of “I”-ness because only one “I” - Ishvara - exists. There is no sense of possession because everything belongs to Ishvara. It is somewhat similar to the outlook one has towards a large family.

So when there is such a universal sense of oneness with everything, the devotee becomes extremely friendly towards everyone. There is no sense of dislike or hatred present in him towards those who oppose him. Instead, he instantly forgives everyone. He is compassionate towards those who are in need. When all sense of duality is gone, the mind does not get agitated in sorrowful situations, nor does it get excited in joyful situations. It maintains a sense of equanimity.

This partial shloka continues next.

Meaning: He who hates no being, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from the feeling of I and mine, even-minded in pain and pleasure and forbearing...

  
संतुष्टः सततं योगी यतात्मा दृढनिश्चयः ।
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्यो मद्भक्तः स मे प्रियः ॥१२- १४॥ 

Santushtah Sathatham Yogi Yathaa-thmaa Dhrida Nischayaha
Mayyar-pitah Mano Buddhir Yo Madbhaktah Sa Me Priyaha ||14||


Gist
The yogi who is always contented, self controlled, with firm conviction, who has dedicated his mind and intellect to me, he who is such a devotee of mine is dear to me.

Word to Word Meaning
santushtaha : contented
satatam : always
yogee : yogi
yataatmaa : self controlled
dridhanishchayaha : firm conviction
mayi : to me
arpita : dedicated
manobuddhihi : mind and intellect
yaha : he who
madbhaktaha : my devotee
saha : he
me : me
priyaha : dear

Meaning
Most of us derive contentment from people, objects and situations in the world, most notably after consuming a delicious meal. Contentment is a state where the mind does not want anything else from the world. But, this state is temporary because the contentment has been triggered by something that is temporary and finite, like food for example. Shri Krishna says that the yogi, the perfected devotee, derives contentment from Ishvara within himself, therefore he does not need to become a bhogi, one who runs after material objects for contentment. He is “satatam santushta”, even contented.

Another quality of a perfected devotee is a firm conviction that only Ishvara exists, and that the world does not exist independently of Ishvara. Most of us assume that the world has an independent existence. We attach all sorts of values to it. causing our intellect to generate innumerable goals and convictions around those values. The perfected devotee sees only Ishvara everywhere, and therefore is ever steadfast in his conviction that only Ishvara exists.

This “dridha nishchaya” or firm conviction is demonstrated by the devotee’s submission of mind and intellect in Ishvara, and also, the control of the mind, body and senses. When the intellect is convinced that only Ishvara exists, and when the mind thinks only of Ishvara, the devotee does not need any other special yogic technique to control the organs of action and the sense organs. Selfish desires are the cause of the mind, body and senses deviating from prescribed actions. When there is only the desire for Ishvara, they can never deviate. Shri Krishna says that the perfected devotee is a “satatam yataatmaa”, one who has complete self control at all times.

Here Shri Krishna concludes the line of thought that he began in the previous shloka by asserting that the devotee who has inculcated these traits is very dear to Ishvara. These eight shlokas starting from the thirteenth shloka are one of the most famous and beloved shlokas in the Gita.

Meaning: Ever content, steady in meditation, self controlled and possessed of firm conviction, with mind and intellect fixed on me, such a devotee is dear to me.


यस्मान्नोद्विजते लोको लोकान्नोद्विजते च यः ।
हर्षामर्षभयोद्वेगैर्मुक्तो यः स च मे प्रियः ॥१२- १५॥

Yasmaanno Dvijate Loko Lokaanno Dvijate Cha Yaha
Harshaa-marshah Bhayo-dvegair Muktho Yah Sa Cha Me Priyaha ||15||

Gist
By whom no one is agitated, and who is not agitated by anyone, who is free from excitement, irritation, fear and agitation, he is dear to me.

Word to word Meaning
yasmaat : by whom
na : not
udvijate : agitated
lokaha : any one
lokaat : by any one
na : not
udvijate : agitated
cha : and
yaha : who
harshaamarshabhayodvegaihi : excitement, irritation, fear, agitation
muktaha : free from
yaha : who
saha : he
cha : and
me : to me
priyaha : dear

Meaning
In our life, when we are dealing with other people, it is inevitable that we will experience a whole host of emotional reactions to what those people say to us. Four common reactions are excitement on hearing something pleasant, irritation on hearing something unpleasant, fear on hearing something worrisome, and agitation when meeting someone that has the upper hand in the conversation. But in a “roast”, the individual happily accepts all sorts of abuses and insults, because he knows that they are coming from his friends and well-wishers, people that he knows as his own, not separate from him. At the end of the roast, the individual in turn insults and abuses the people that insulted him earlier, and no one feels any ill-will towards him for the same reasons.

Similarly, the devotee who considers everyone and everything as the play of Ishvara, including himself, has no reason to take anything personally. His sense of self is not the small ego that most of us consider as our “I”. He has identified with Ishvara who runs multitudes of universes. Any sort of insult, agitation or fear dissipates instantly because he views the insult, the insulter and the recipient of the insult as Ishvara. He thinks of it as a play where his friends are the actors and directors. Shri Krishna says that such a person who is free from agitations, and who does not agitate any one else, is dear to him.

Meaning: He by whom the world is not afflicted and whom the world cannot afflict, he who is free from joy, anger, fear and anxiety - he is dear to me.


अनपेक्षः शुचिर्दक्ष उदासीनो गतव्यथः ।
सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी यो मद्भक्तः स मे प्रियः ॥१२- १६॥

Anapekshah Shuchir Daksha Udaaseeno Gata Vyathaha
Sarvaa-rambha Pari Thyaagi Yo Madbhakthah Sa Me Priyaha ||16||

Gist
One who is without expectation, pure, dextrous, unconcerned, fearless, renouncing all new initiatives, he who is such a devotee of mine, he is dear to me.

Word to Word Meaning
anapekshaha : without expectation
shuchihi : pure
dakshaha : dextrous
udaaseenaha : unconcerned
gatavyathaha : fearless
sarvaarambhaparityaagee : renouncing all new initiatives
yaha : he who
madbhaktaha : my devotee
saha : he
me : to me
priyaha : dear

Meaning
In the previous shloka, Shri Krishna explained the attitude of the perfected devotee when dealing with other people. Now, he explains the perfected devotee’s attitude towards action. It is not a surprise to us that the perfected devotee is also a perfected karma yogi. He has understood the art of performing any action, big or small, in line with Shri Krishna’s teaching on karma yoga, thereby achieving perfection in action.

To begin with, the perfected karma yogi is shuchihi or pure. His mind has been purged of selfish desires, leaving room only for actions pertaining to his duties or svadharma. If the action is not part of his svadharma, he doesn’t undertake new initiatives unnecessarily. Also, he dedicates the results of his actions to Ishvara. This enables him to give up apekshaa or expectations about the result, as well as concern about what happened in the past. He is udaaseenaha, unconcerned and unattached, not because he does not care about the action, but because he doesn’t get attached to the result of the action.

With no mental agitations caused by future expectations or past anxiety, the karma yogi performs actions with great dexterity and fearlessness. “Yogaha karmasu kaushalam” - dexterity in action is karma yoga as we saw in the second chapter. The karma yogi devotes all his attention and brings great focus to the task at hand, keeping all distractions aside. He also performs the work as an emissary of Ishvara, which removes any notion of fear, hesitation or doubt from his mind. Shri Krishna says that this type of devotee, the perfected karma yogi, is very dear to him.

He who has no wants, who is pure and prompt, unconcerned, untroubled, and who is selfless in all his undertakings, he who is thus devoted to Me, is dear to Me.


यो न हृष्यति न द्वेष्टि न शोचति न काङ्क्षति ।
शुभाशुभपरित्यागी भक्तिमान्यः स मे प्रियः ॥१२- १७॥ 

Yo Na Hrishyati Na Dveshti Na Shochati Na Kaankshati
Shubha-ashubha Pari-thyaagi Bhakti-maan Yah Sa Me' Priyaha  ||17||


Gist
He who neither rejoices nor hates, neither rejoices nor grieves, he who has given up good and bad, he who is (such a) devoted person, he is dear to me.

Word to Word Meaning 
yaha : he who
na : not
hrishyati : rejoices
na : not
dveshti : hates
na : not
shochati : grieves
na : not
kaanshati : desires
shubhaashubhaparityaagee : given up good and bad
bhaktimaan : devoted person
yaha : he who
saha : he
me : me
priyaha : dear

Meaning
In the previous shloka, Shri Krishna described the attitude of a perfected devotee towards the performance of actions. He now elaborates upon the attitude of a perfected devotee towards situations, objects, thoughts and emotions that he encounters. These may come to him either as a result of his actions or as a matter of course in his daily life.

When we usually encounter a situation or obtain an object, we are either attracted to it, repulsed by it or are indifferent to it. Attraction generates desires that are stored in our mind, and repulsion generates negative desires, a list of things we would like to stay away from. If we eventually get the favourable object, or hold on to the favourable situation long enough, we become "harshita", we rejoice. But if we lose that object or situation, which is bound to happen sometime, we become "shochita", we grieve. Attraction, revulsion, desire, hatred, joy, grief - this is how most of us usually operate.

The perfected devotee, however, has tackled this problem at its root. He has stopped labelling any object, person, situation or thought as either good or bad, because it is exactly this labelling that starts the chain reaction of attraction, desire, joy and sorrow. He is like the model student who does not label his teacher's feedback as good or bad, whether it be praise or criticism, because he has the utmost faith in his teacher. The perfected devotee accepts all objects and situations as Ishvara's blessings, does what he has to do, and moves on. Shri Krishna says that one who accepts whatever comes with way due to his faith and devotion to Ishvara, is dear to him.

Meaning: He who neither rejoices nor hates nor grieves nor desires, renouncing good and evil (treating both as the same), full of devotion, he is dear to Me.


समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयोः ।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः सङ्गविवर्जितः ॥१२- १८॥ 

Samah Shatrau Cha Mitre Cha Thathaa Maanaapa-maana-yoho
Sheetho-shna Sukha-duhkheshu Samah Sanga Vivarjitaha   ||18||

Gist
He who is alike to friend and foe, in honour and dishonour, and also alike in cold and heat, in joy and sorrow, without attachment...

Word to Word Meaning
samaha : alike
shatrau : foe
cha : and
mitre : friend
cha : and
tathaa : also
maanaapamaanayoho : in honour and dishounour
sheetoshnasukhaduhkheshu : in cold and heat as well as joy and sorrow
samaha : alike
sangavarjitaha : without attachment

Meaning
In this shloka and the next, Shri Krishna begins to summarize the signs of a perfected devotee. By using the word "samaha" twice, he emphasizes equanimity and stability of the devotee's antahakarana or inner instrument that is made possible through intense devotion to Ishvara. Right from the second chapter, we have repeatedly heard about the importance of bringing equanimity to the inner instrument, which is made up of our intellect, our mind and senses, our ego and our memory. Just like an astronomer can see extremely faint light from stars that are millions of miles away using his telescope, we can experience the eternal essence only if our inner instrument is free of desires and agitations caused by the reactions mentioned in this and the next shloka.

Our inner equipment contacts the world through the sense organs. The skin, for example, experiences heat and cold. This reporting of hotness or coolness is akin to a thermometer in that it is extremely objective and factual. When this sensation travels to the mind, however, it can be interpreted either as joy or sorrow based on inputs from other sense organs and from the memory. If the skin sends a message of hotness, the mind feels joy in winter and sorrow in summer. Similarly, sounds are picked up by the ear, sent to the mind which compares them against its memory to generate words. If the words enhance the ego, the "doer" notion in the intellect, registers a sense of honour. If the words bring down the ego, the intellect registers dishonour.

What causes the intellect and the mind to attach all these positive and negative reactions to simple messages that come from the skin and the ears and so on? It is the degree of attachment or identification of the ego. If the ego is heavily attached to the body, for example, then any comment about the body will generate a strong positive or negative reaction in the mind, disturbing its sense of equanimity in the process.

But one who has removed his attachment from the body/mind/intellect and attached himself to the service of Ishvara does not generate strong positive or negative reactions. He considers his body as a part of Ishvara's creation, therefore there is very little sense of egoism when it comes to the body, mind or intellect. When someone criticizes a devotee's body, it is like someone is criticizing a random object that the devotee has no connection with, and hence, no strong positive or negative reaction is generated.

The message of this shloka concludes in the following shloka.

Meaning: He who is the same to foe and friend and also in honor and dishonor, who is the same in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain, who is free from attachment...


तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनी सन्तुष्टो येन केनचित् ।
अनिकेतः स्थिरमतिर्भक्तिमान्मे प्रियो नरः ॥१२- १९॥

Thulya Nindaa Sthuthir Mounee Santhushto Yena Kena Chith
Aniketah Sthirah Mathir Bhakthi-maan Me Priyo Naraha  ||19||

Gist
To whom praise and insult are same, who is silent, content with anything, who is without a home, with unwavering mind, a person who is such a devotee is dear to me.

Word to Word Meaning
tulyanindaastutihi : praise and insult are same
mauni : one who is silent
santushtaha : content
yena kenachita : with anything
aniketaha : without a home
sthiramatihi : unwavering mind
bhaktimaan : devotee
me : me
priyaha : dear
naraha : person

Meaning
Shri Krishna continues summarizing the twelfth chapter in this shloka by listing further attributes of the perfected devotee. He first says that both praise and insult have no effect on the devotee. Praise and insult are usually targeted towards a person's name. But the devotee, having given up all identification with his name, does not care whether he is praised or insulted, just like the sky does not get affected whether someone throws roses at it or dirt. The devotee is also a mauni, one who remains silent. Here, the silence does not refer to verbal silence but to silence of desires and thoughts that are devoid of Ishvara as their basis.

The ocean is not affected whether it gets a torrential downpour or no rain at all. It happily accepts whatever comes its way because it is content with itself. Similarly, the devotee is content in his constant devotion to Ishvara, and therefore accepts whatever comes his way without any complaint. The devotee also does not have an attitude of possession towards anything, including his home. Like the wind that comes and goes anywhere as it pleases, the devotee considers the entire world his home and is attached his house, his physical body, his mind, his intellect or his desires.

As we proceed along the path of devotion, we will notice that our mind shifts between giving reality to the world as part of Ishvara, and giving reality to the world as separate from Ishvara. As long as we give reality to the world as an independent entity, we can never get rid of our unfulfilled desires, and the attachment to the world that results from those desires. A perfected devotee is one whose mind is fixed on giving reality to the world as a part of Ishvara, giving up all selfish desires in the process. Shri Krishna says that a person who harbours all these attributes is fit to be called a naraha, a human being, in the true sense of the world. Such a devoted person is very dear to him.

Meaning: To whom blame and praise are equal, who is silent, content with anything, free of selfish attachment, steady-minded and full of devotion-such a one is dear to Me.


ये तु धर्म्यामृतमिदं यथोक्तं पर्युपासते ।
श्रद्दधाना मत्परमा भक्तास्तेऽतीव मे प्रियाः ॥१२- २०॥

Ye Tu Dharmyaam Amritam-idam Yathoktam Paryupaasathey
Shraddha Daana Mat Parama Bhaktaastetiva Mey Priyaaha   ||20||

Gist
Therefore, those who partake of this nectar of law described here, endowed with faith, keeping me as the goal, those devotees are extremely dear to me.

Word to Word Meaning
ye : those who
tu : therefore
dharmyaamritam : nectar of law
idam : this
yatha : here
uktam : described
paryupaasate : partake
shradyadhaanaa : endowed with faith
mat : me
paramaahaa : goal
bhaktaaha : devotees
te : those
ateeva : extremely
me : me
priyaha : dear

Meaning
Shri Krishna began listing the attributes of perfected devotees starting from the thirteenth chapter. In this shloka, he concludes this topic by highlighting two key attributes of such devotees: shraddha or faith, and making Ishvara as their ultimate goal, “matparamaahaa”. He terms the teaching of this chapter as the nectar of dharma. We can interpret the word dharma to mean the universal law of nature from the ninth chapter, or also as the nine fold bhaagvat dharma of Prahlaada that was explained earlier in this chapter.

Why are faith and goal-setting given such importance in bhakti or the path of devotion? Consider a child who eventually wants to study at one of the top universities in the world. Until he reaches a stage where he can qualify to attend that university, get selected for admission and begin his coursework, he needs to have faith in the notion that graduating from that university will significantly improve his life. That faith will propel him to set the single-pointed goal of academic success, work hard, to keep aside all distractions and to not give up. Only when he actually graduates will he not need faith anymore, because he has achieved what he set out to achieve. But until them, it is only faith in the goal that keeps him going.

Therefore, Shri Krishna says that those devotees who have fixed Ishvara as the goal, and that who have unwavering faith in that goal, are extremely dear to him. Devotees who love Ishvara without having known him first are devotees of the highest caliber, since it is more difficult to love something without having first known it. Such devotees, who do not need to become monks but just diligently worship Ishvara with form, are assured of liberation by Ishvara himself. This is the concluding message of the twelfth chapter.


Meaning: Those, who follow this immortal dharma described above with devotion and faith, looking upon Me as the Supreme Goal, they are exceedingly dear to Me.


ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायां योगशास्त्रे
श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे भक्तियोगो नाम द्वादशोऽध्यायः ॥ १२ ॥

Om Tat sat Iti Srimad Bhagavad Geetaasu Upanishadsu

Brahma Vidyaayaam Yoga Shastrey

Sri Krishaarjuna Samvaadey

Bhakti Yogo Naama Dvaadshodhyaayaha


Harihi Aum
Sri Gurubhyo Namaha
Harihi Om!!!


Meaning: Thus ends the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna in the Upanishad of the Bhagavad Gita, which imparts the knowledge of the Brahman, the Supreme and the science of Yoga, the twelfth chapter designated as Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of devotion).



A SUMMARY OF BHAGAVAD GITA CHAPTER 12
Shri Krishna ended the previous chapter with the message that Ishvara is in everything, and everything is in Ishvara. But since our senses see the world and not Ishvara, we need a way to constantly be aware of Ishvara's presence. Till we get to a state where this happens effortlessly, Shri Krishna asks us to take up the path of bhakti or devotion, where we constantly abide in the faith that Ishvara is in everything, and everything is in Ishvara. The seed of bhakti yoga was planted at the end of the previous chapter and is expounded in this chapter.

Arjuna began this chapter by asking the question: of the devotees who worship Ishvara with form, and of those who worship him without form, who is superior? Shri Krishna replied that the worshipper of Ishvara without form sees no difference between him and Ishvara. But for most of us who still have a little saatvik ahamkaara, which is the sense of distance or separation between us and Ishvara, worship of the formless Ishvara is quite difficult. Therefore, he recommends worship of Ishvara with form for the majority of devotees. The key qualification, however, is that of single pointed devotion.

Next, Shri Krishna gives us a sequence of steps to get to Ishvara, but takes into account where we are as ordinary devotees. We are instructed to begin with karma yoga where we renounce the fruits of action by submitting them to Ishvara. We then begin performing every action for the sake of Ishvara, which is bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. Once we have diminished our selfish desires and our ego to a large extent, we are urged to take up raaja yoga where we repeatedly meditate upon Ishvara with form. Finally, we reach a stage where we remain in constant awareness and knowledge of our oneness with Ishavara, which is jnyaana yoga, the yoga of knowledge.


The chapter ends with a list of thirty nine qualities of a perfected devotee. They are meant to inspire us. Even if we cannot gain all these qualities, we should aim for acquiring at least one, because gaining even one quality opens the door to the acquiring the rest. In all of these qualities, equanimity, unselfishness, lack of attachment and unwavering faith towards Ishvara are repeatedly emphasized.


Courtesy
With due respects to Our Gurudev H.H. Swami Chinmayananda
and also to Excerpts from the ISKCON Webpage
& excerpts  from "A Journey through the Bhagavad Gita"

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