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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bhakti Yoga -part 1-

Bhakti Yoga Seminar in Nagoya/Japan
November 21, 2007

I bring the greetings from the Vivekananda yoga university, Prashanti Bengaluru
for all the people interested in the field of yoga, one very important text on the philosophy of yoga is Bhagavad-Gita. ‘Bhagavad’ means divine and Gita is poetry. Often people understand that ‘Bhagavad’ means said by god but I feel that it is more meaningful to say ‘divine’ knowledge. You may question why do I call it as divine knowledge and what is non divine knowledge? Is all non divine knowledge bad? What is the difference between ordinary knowledge and divine knowledge? What is that knowledge which is ‘bad non divine’ knowledge and what is ‘good non divine’ knowledge? Even to deceive some one and to cheat some one it requires knowledge and we can find people who can be experts in that and they are not only smart in doing so but they can also make it appear right to do that way. All this belong to the category of bad and non divine knowledge. Ordinary or non divine knowledge always deals with right and wrong good and bad and in the language of duality and further it will advice you to do right, and not to do wrong. This is an important knowledge in a society where people are not following right and following wrong! This knowledge given in Bhagavad-Gita is not a knowledge that talks about duality. This is not a kind of a text that tells us that what is right and what is wrong and do right always and not wrong. In order to tell this we don’t need a text like Gita. A simple book of law is sufficient. A book like Gita is one which must be giving us the knowledge of higher dimension. We will know more about this knowledge when we go into the understanding of this subject matter.
The episode of Gita in the historical event of Mahabharata has happened 5100 years ago. It is a discussion that goes on between Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield where Krishna is a wise person and Arjuna is a confused person. The whole philosophy of yoga followed and taught is influenced by the teaching of Bhagavad-Gita that if you would have gone to our center Prashanti, you would see this statue there of Bhagavad-Gita.
Gita is part of a big book called Mahabharata. It is written by a sage called Veda Vyasa. The gist of the story is that, war that took place between the good and bad people. The good people are Pandavas and Arjuna is their leader in the war. The bad people are Kauravas and the leader is Duryadhana. In fact, it is very interesting that in all our lives there are several situations where we have a freedom whether to do right or to do wrong. For example, let us see the act called telling truth or untruth. Maybe we come across several situations where we can tell the truth but we can also tell the lie. Such situations would be there. We come across several situations in life where we can be helpful to others and we can hurt others. In that way life offers several situations, where we can do right and do wrong too. Many situations we chose the side of right. But many times, we also chose the directions of wrong. If you ask yourself then why did we take the side of wrong, we know very clearly it is all because we have inner weakness. The greatness of Arjuna was that every situation that he could take the side of right or wrong and he always chose the side of right. That means Arjuna is good by very choice. On the other side, we have Duryodhana who always chose the side of wrong. To cut the long story short let us come to the situation that the war is taking place between Pandavas and Kauravas and Arjuna is the leader of Pandavas and Duryodhana who is on the side of wrong. Another interesting aspect is that these bad people Duryodhana and others are also cousins and relatives of Arjuna.
When Arjuna came to the battlefield to fight the war, he saw his cousins and relatives on the other side waiting to fight the war. When he saw his own people on the other side, he has a doubt or confusion as follows. If he fights this war, he will be killing his own people. On one side, he is here to fight the battle and on the other side if he is fighting, he has to kill his own cousins and relatives. He tells Krishna, “Why should I fight this war where I know I am going to rule the kingdom which is drenched by the blood of my own people. I don’t want this war, I don’t want to kill people let me run away into the forest”. So on one side his mind says to fight the war and on the other side, another part the mind says, ‘don’t fight the war’. Whether he should fight the war or he should go the forest and meditate, he was not able to decide and had confusion.
The confusion whether to fight the war or not has happened to Arjuna but not for Duryodhana. Duryodhana was a bad person but he did not have any problem in fighting the war but Arjuna who was goodness personified, had a problem fighting the war. Bhagavad Gita is a message given to Arjuna who is a good, and not Duryodhana who is the bad person. Arjuna was already right and therefore this message of Bhagavad-Gita can not be a message asking him to do right. This message therefore must be higher than good and bad. That is the reasons why, this knowledge is a divine knowledge higher than the pairs of opposites like right and wrong. When you try to look at Arjuna, who tried to go to the forest and meditate, it appears, similar to the situation of Buddha who also wanted to go to the forest and meditate. When you closely watch there is a lot of difference between Arjuna and Buddha. Buddha was truly interested in peace and wanted to mediate to go to peace. Buddha had no sort of confusion in his mind. On the other hand, Arjuna had confusion in his mind. Arjuna’s confusion is because his interest in not in peace. His question was, ‘should I kill my own people for the sake of winning the war. It is not that he in not interested in the war but he is not interested in war with his own people. He has no hesitation to fight the war if the people in front were not his own people. Whole life he is trained to fight the war, he is educated to fight the war, and he is always the best student in the school at the time of learning and now he came here to fight the war. So in principle he has no aversion for war. All his aversion is of fighting a war against his own people. Therefore, his interest is not in peace like Buddha’s interest, but his interest really is in not killing his own people. To say ‘my’ people, ‘my’ relatives, ‘my’ kingdom etc, are all ‘my’ - attachments. It is this attachment, which brings about this confusion or despondency. Which is given in the first chapter is the Gita. And the whole message of Gita that Krishna gives is to see that this mental depression of Arjuna is removed. To remove this mental disturbance, the technology, the methodology used, is called yoga. The scope of yoga is far more than just doing some physical postures and Pranayama practices. Though, all the chapters and slokas in Bhagavad-Gita Krishna tried to convey the idea of peace of mind and mastery over mind, there are some chapters that are concentrated especially on some particular topic of yoga. How we can bring about the concept of peace of mind in the work that we do is given in the third chapter called karma yoga. Human being has wonderful tool called the intellect and all the development we see is due to the intellect. Using this intellect to go to the peace of mind is given in the fifth chapter called Jnana yoga. The sixth chapter is giving the method of discipline called the Raja yoga. Of all the chapters the smallest and the simplest is twelfth chapter, where Krishna gives the method in which we use emotions to go to peace of mind and this is called, the Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti Yoga is the most important chapter, and it is the point of discussion for today.

-to be continued...

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