Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter XII

The Sakhya Bhava, Where the Devotee Relates to Krishna as a Friend

The 12th chapter of ‘Srimad Bhagwad Gita’ consists of merely 22 verses and has been named, 'Bhaktiyogo' or The Yoga of Devotion. The section begins with Arjuna wanting to clarify his own position as a devotee. Which is better, he asks Krishna, worshipping Him, the Supreme Lord, as a person, or worshipping the impersonal Brahman or God as an amorphous void or a nondescript light?

Soon enough Lord Krishna responds that for a person to relate to something impersonal is naturally quite difficult and He does not recommend it. "A devotee engaged in My personal service is the topmost. He takes up Krishna's loving service with his mind fixed solely upon Me and has Me to rely on. Hence he can love Me as:

  • An innocent child, Gopala ( vatsalya bhava of Yashoda/ Kausalya, when the devotee relates to God as a parent)
  • A close friend, (the sakhya bhava when the devotee relates to God as a friend like Arjuna or as Vibhishana or Sugreeva during the Rama incarnation )
  • Total commitment and sweet love for Krishna (the gopi bhava where the devotee is seen as God's beloved like the gopis)."

Most people are not sufficiently spiritually evolved for such service. Therefore they should follow the regulations of Bhakti Yoga as enunciated in the scriptures so that they are purified and are able to do so.

Ultimately the list leads to a description of Krishna's pure devotees who are,"very dear to Me" because they are free from material desires, material dualities and false ego.
*8 : mayyev mun aadhatsav mayi budhim niveshay ........

However even if you cannot steadfastly concentrate on Me, Arjuna, strive to attain Me through Abhyaasyogen ........9

How many more compromises can Lord Krishna make? But that is not the case. Being an Ocean of Mercy, He further relaxes the conditions in the very next 10 and 11th verse, making them less rigid. The Lord concludes in the12th verse:

  • Knowledge is far better than practice, meditation on Me is superior to knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of one's actions is way ahead of meditation.
  • Hence from the 13th to the 20th verse, Lord Krishna becomes rather sentimental, open-heartedly singing the glories of His beloved, enlightened and saintly devotees. He briefly sums up in the last verse 20:

“"Those Devotees, who partake selflessly of this nectar of pious wisdom set forth above, endowed with faith and solely devoted to Me, they are extremely dear to Me.

The 12th chapter is cherished by all great souls. Beloved Saint Ushaji of Vrindavan used to chant its verses from13th to the 20th one, day in and day out!

So let us go through the ORIGINAL 22 verses to find solace in these knowledgeable words:--

Arjuna Uvaacha:

Evam satatayuktaa ye bhaktaastwaam paryupaasate;
Ye chaapyaksharamavyaktam teshaam ke yogavittamaah.

Arjuna said:

1. Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship Thee and those also who worship the Imperishable and the Unmanifested—which of them are better versed in Yoga?

COMMENTARY: The twelfth discourse indicates that Bhakti Yoga is much easier than Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of knowledge.

Sri Bhagavaan Uvaacha:

Mayyaaveshya mano ye maam nityayuktaa upaasate;
Shraddhayaa parayopetaaste me yuktatamaa mataah.

The Blessed Lord said:

2. Those who, fixing their minds on Me, worship Me, ever steadfast and endowed with supreme faith, these are the best in Yoga in My opinion.

Ye twaksharamanirdeshyamavyaktam paryupaasate;
Sarvatragamachintyam cha kootasthamachalam dhruvam.

3. Those who worship the imperishable, the indefinable, the unmanifested, the omnipresent, the unthinkable, the eternal and the immovable,

Samniyamyendriyagraamam sarvatra samabuddhayah;
Te praapnuvanti maameva sarvabhootahite rataah.

4. Having restrained all the senses, even-minded everywhere, intent on the welfare of all beings—verily they also come unto Me.

Klesho'dhikatarasteshaam avyaktaasaktachetasaam;
Avyaktaa hi gatirduhkham dehavadbhiravaapyate.

5. Greater is their trouble whose minds are set on the Unmanifested; for the goal—the Unmanifested—is very difficult for the embodied to reach.

COMMENTARY: The embodied—those who identify themselves with their bodies. The imperishable Self is very hard to reach for those who are attached to their bodies. Their restless minds will not be able to get fixed on the attributeless Self.

Ye tu sarvaani karmaani mayi sannyasya matparaah;
Ananyenaiva yogena maam dhyaayanta upaasate.

6. But to those who worship Me, renouncing all actions in Me, regarding Me as the supreme goal, meditating on Me with single-minded Yoga,

Teshaamaham samuddhartaa mrityusamsaarasaagaraat;
Bhavaami nachiraat paartha mayyaaveshitachetasaam.

7. To those whose minds are set on Me, O Arjuna, verily I become ere long the saviour out of the ocean of the mortal Samsara!

Mayyeva mana aadhatswa mayi buddhim niveshaya;
Nivasishyasi mayyeva ata oordhwam na samshayah.

8. Fix thy mind on Me only, thy intellect in Me, (then) thou shait no doubt live in Me alone hereafter.

Atha chittam samaadhaatum na shaknoshi mayi sthiram;
Abhyaasayogena tato maamicchaaptum dhananjaya.

9. If thou art unable to fix thy mind steadily on Me, then by the Yoga of constant practice do thou seek to reach Me, O Arjuna!

Abhyaase'pyasamartho'si matkarmaparamo bhava;
Madarthamapi karmaani kurvansiddhimavaapsyasi.

10. If thou art unable to practise even this Abhyasa Yoga, be thou intent on doing actions for My sake; even by doing actions for My sake, thou shalt attain perfection.

Athaitadapyashakto'si kartum madyogamaashritah;
Sarvakarmaphalatyaagam tatah kuru yataatmavaan.

11. If thou art unable to do even this, then, taking refuge in union with Me, renounce the fruits of all actions with the self controlled.

Shreyo hi jnaanamabhyaasaat jnaanaaddhyaanam vishishyate;
Dhyaanaat karmaphalatyaagas tyaagaacchaantir anantaram.

12. Better indeed is knowledge than practice; than knowledge meditation is better; than meditation the renunciation of the fruits of actions; peace immediately follows renunciation.

Adweshtaa sarvabhootaanaam maitrah karuna eva cha;
Nirmamo nirahankaarah samaduhkhasukhah kshamee.

13. He who hates no creature, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure and pain, and forgiving,

Santushtah satatam yogee yataatmaa dridhanishchayah;
Mayyarpitamanobuddhiryo madbhaktah sa me priyah.

14. Ever content, steady in meditation, possessed of firm conviction, self-controlled, with mind and intellect dedicated to Me, he, My devotee, is dear to Me.

Yasmaannodwijate loko lokaannodwijate cha yah;
Harshaamarshabhayodwegairmukto yah sa cha me priyah.

15. He by whom the world is not agitated and who cannot be agitated by the world, and who is freed from joy, envy, fear and anxiety—he is dear to Me.

Anapekshah shuchirdaksha udaaseeno gatavyathah;
Sarvaarambhaparityaagee yo madbhaktah sa me priyah.

16. He who is free from wants, pure, expert, unconcerned, and untroubled, renouncing all undertakings or commencements—he who is (thus) devoted to Me, is dear to Me.

Yona hrishyati na dweshti na shochati na kaangkshati;
Shubhaashubhaparityaagee bhaktimaan yah sa me priyah.

17. He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil, and who is full of devotion, is dear to Me.

COMMENTARY: He does not rejoice when he attains desirable objects nor does he grieve when he parts with his cherished objects. Further, he does not desire the unattained.

Samah shatrau cha mitre cha tathaa maanaapamaanayoh;
Sheetoshnasukhaduhkheshu samah sangavivarjitah.

18. He who is the same to foe and friend, and in honour and dishonour, who is the same in cold and heat and in pleasure and pain, who is free from attachment,

Tulyanindaastutirmaunee santushto yena kenachit:
Aniketah sthiramatir bhaktimaan me priyo narah.

19. He to whom censure and praise are equal, who is silent, content with anything, homeless, of a steady mind, and full of devotion—that man is dear to Me.

Ye tu dharmyaamritamidam yathoktam paryupaasate;
Shraddhadhaanaah matparamaa bhaktaaste'teeva me priyaah.

20. They verily who follow this immortal Dharma (doctrine or law) as described above, endowed with faith, regarding Me as their supreme goal, they, the devotees, are exceedingly dear to Me.

Hari Om Tat Sat
Iti Srimad Bhagavadgeetaasoopanishatsu Brahmavidyaayaam
Yogashaastre Sri Krishnaarjunasamvaade
Bhaktiyogo Naama Dwaadasho'dhyaayah

Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the twelfth discourse entitled:

"The Yoga of Devotion"


Chapter XII of GITAJI has 22 verses mentions original verses. For this Chapter, on Srimad Bhagwad Gita many sublime commentaries are available .

For example, Swami Shivanandaji gives a summary of the Twelfth Discourse as under :--

The twelfth discourse indicates that the path of devotion is easier than the path of knowledge. In this path the aspirant worships God in His Cosmic Form of the Supreme Personality. He develops a loving relationship with Him, adores Him, remembers Him and chants His glories and Name. He thus effects union with the Lord and attains not only His formless aspect but also the Lord as the manifest universe.

The path of knowledge, whereby the aspirant meditates on the formless Brahman, is more difficult as he has to give up his attachment to the body from the very beginning. He has to have dispassion for the things of the world.

How to practise devotion? Krishna asks Arjuna to fix his entire mind on Him. As often as the mind wanders it should be brought back to the Lord. If this process of concentration is difficult he should dedicate all his actions to Him, feeling that it is His power that activates everything. If this also is beyond his ability, he should offer all his actions to the Lord, abandoning the desire for their fruits. He should take complete refuge in Him. The devotee who surrenders himself to the Lord attains perfect peace.

The Lord goes on to describe the qualities that a true devotee possesses. He neither attaches himself to anything nor does he have any aversion to things. He has a balanced mind under all circumstances. He is not agitated by the happenings of the world, nor does he himself cause any agitation in others. He is perfectly desireless and rejoices in the Lord within. He sees equality everywhere, being untouched by sorrow, fear, honour as also dishonour. He is perfectly content as he has surrendered his entire being to the Lord.

In fact, on this chapter many inspiring commentaries are available:--

  • From the stable of Gita-press in Gorakhpur we have ‘Gita-tika’by Seth Jaidayal Goenkaji; bySaint Hanuman Prasad Poddarji alias Bhaiji; Swami Ramsukhdasji and other saints. Those believing in Gyan-yog, repeatedly read the one by Sethji and those who have faith in Bhakti-yog read more of Bhaiji. Swami Ramsukhdasji has tried to balance the two and His Gita-Darpan analysis is simply marvellous.
  • We have annotations by ancient Acharyas namely ‘Gita-tika’ by Ramanujacharya, Vallabhachrya, Gyaneshwarji, and Shankarcharyaji and so on.
  • 20th century Saints like Swami Shivanandaji, Chidanandaji of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, and ISCKON's Prabhupadji have documented their observations on the text.
  • Modernday day thinkers, Lokmanya Tilak and Dr Radhakrishnan have given their interprations on the Holy Book.
  • A rather simplistic summary in the 17 to 18th chapters sums up the 'Gita’ .This is after a time span of 30 years satsang with Saint Ushaji, Susheelaji and Manoharji of Swami Ramkrishan Paramhansa fame.

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