Lesson One: Introduction to Bhagavad Gita
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. He spoke Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, who is in a direct relationship with Krishna as His friend and devotee. Only by the process of devotional service can one revive one’s relationship with Krishna. Therefore, Bhagavad-gita should be taken up in a spirit of devotion.
Everyone is full of anxiety because of the material existence. The cause of suffering and the actual destination of life are proper subjects of enquiry. Krishna answered these questions, through Bhagavad Gita, and thus relieved Arjuna from all material miseries by making him understand his constitutional position.
The following is a summary of Sri Krishna’s explanations of Absolute Truth in Bhagavad-gita:
Sri Krishna is the Supreme enjoyer, controller and friend of all. Nature (prakriti) is His energy. Jiva, the individual living entity, is part and parcel of His spiritual (internal) energy. Material nature (constituted of three qualities or modes viz., sattva, rajas, and tamas) consisting of eight elements namely earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind intelligence and false ego, is His external energy. By a combination of the three modes of material nature and under the control of time (which is another energy of Krishna) there are activities and resultant reactions. Material nature is real and eternal, whereas the manifestation of the material world (of these activities and reactions) is real but temporary.
The Supreme conscious Lord Krishna, is conscious of all the bodies, everything and every atom. Even when He appears within the material creation in any form, His consciousness is never materially affected. Jiva is only conscious of his own body. Matter is unconscious, without the presence of jiva.
Due to material pollution of the consciousness, the living entity is entangled in bodily actions and reactions which are actually carried on by the modes of material nature. This pollution can be purified by dovetailing the activities in full co-operation with the will of Krishna. These activities in pure consciousness called bhakti are transcendental to the three modes and thus the performer becomes free from actions and reactions. In this liberated stage one attains his constitutional position as servant of Sri Krishna.
All the planets within material existence have the material miseries of repeated birth, death, old age and disease. The spiritual world has no such inebrieties. Following in the footsteps of Arjuna, if we act according to Krishna’s instructions, we can attain the abode of Krishna from where we never have to return to this material world.
Our thinking, which is now absorbed in material energy, must be transferred to the spiritual energy. This is made possible by practicing to remember Sri Krishna by always chanting His names (which are spiritual, non-different from the Lord) and molding our life’s activities in such a way that we can remember Him always.
It is Krishna’s instructions that this process must be learnt by rendering service to and enquiring submissively from a self realized soul, in an unbroken disciplic succession from Krishna.
Vedic knowledge is infallible, above all doubts and mistakes. The purpose of Vedic knowledge is to know the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna reveals this knowledge through Bhagavad-gita. Therefore, Bhagavad-gita should be accepted ‘as it is’ without interpretation, deletion or addition.
Lesson Two: Bhagavad Gita Chapters 1 to 3
As the opposing armies stand poised for battle in Kuruksetra, Arjuna the mighty warrior, sees his enemies who are all his intimate relatives, teachers and friends. Overcome by grief and pity, his mind bewildering, Arjuna fails in his strength and gives up his determination to fight.
Arjuna submits himself to Lord Krishna as His disciple and Krishna begins His teachings by explaining the fundamental distinctions between the temporary material body and the eternal spiritual soul. The Lord explains the transmigration, the nature of the selfless service and the characteristics of a self-realized person.
A self-realized person is not diverted by various types of fruitive activities because he is firmly situated in self, the soul – as part and parcel of Krishna. The revival of such relationship is the highest perfectional stage of all vedic knowledge.
It is not possible to curb the forces of sense gratification by human endeavor. The senses require real engagement. By using everything in the service of the Lord one can save oneself from becoming the victim of material consciousness. Thus by the strength of Krishna consciousness one should direct his steady intelligence towards his pure identity.
Lesson Three: Bhagavad Gita Chapters 4 to 6
The principles of religion are direct orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, laid down in the Vedas, that push one towards complete surrender unto Him. Whenever such principles are disturbed by the demoniac the Lord appears in His own spiritual energy.
The truth about the appearance and activities of Krishna, when known can free one from the cycle of birth and death. Such knowledge should be gained by hearing from self realized soul. Material attachments make one bereft of such knowledge.
Negligence of spiritual life, fear of spiritual identity and the conception of void that arises from frustration in life are three kinds of material attachments. To become free from these material conceptions one should take shelter of the Lord, in Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness is gradually awakened by different types of sacrifices. All sacrifices are based on regulated actions, where the important factor is self realization.
Devotional activities to satisfy Krishna, strengthen one’s knowledge of self, and the complete knowledge of the Lord as the supreme controller and enjoyer of all sacrifices. By becoming perfect in such devotional life one attains liberation in Krishna even while performing service with the material body. Thus the culmination of all kinds of yoga practices is bhakti yoga. Hearing the transcendental names and activities of Krishna is an expert treatment for the mad mind and eating foodstuff offered to Krishna is the appropriate diet for the disease of material existence. This treatment is the process of Krishna consciousness, the real and topmost yoga system for this age.
Lesson Four: Bhagavad Gita Chapters 7 to 10
There is no truth superior to Krishna. Everything rests upon Krishna as pearls strung on a thread. Though everything comes from Him, He is fully independent. He is the controller of the three modes that delude everyone in the material existence. So, those who surrender to Him can cross over His divine energy.
Grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, those whose knowledge is stolen by illusion and those who willfully take to demoniac nature do not surrender to Krishna. Those who are distressed, who desire wealth, who are inquisitive and who seek knowledge surrender to Krishna.
The material manifestation is temporary. It is periodically created and annihilated. Any place within the material existence is full of miseries where repeated birth and death take place. But those who surrender to Krishna, can cross this ocean of birth and death and attain the Lord’s abode which is eternal and transcendental. He is attainable only by unalloyed devotional service.
Sense enjoyment through the Vedas results in repeated birth and death. Since Krishna is the supreme controller those who worship the demigods are worshipping Him only, but in a wrong way. They take birth among the demigods as much as the worshipers of ancestors and ghosts take birth amongst them. But those who worship Krishna attain Him. Krishna can be worshiped with genuine love by offering even a leaf, a drop of water, a fruit or a flower.
If one does not become perfect in worshipping Krishna in one life, he can continue from where he left off in his next life. There is no loss or diminution for devotional service.
All wondrous displays of beauty, grandeur or sublimity, either in the material or spiritual world, are but partial manifestations of Krishna’s divine energies and opulences. As the supreme cause of all causes and the support and essence of everything Krishna is the Supreme object of worship for all beings.
Lesson Five: Bhagavad Gita Chapters 10 to 13
Lord Krishna grants Arjuna divine vision and reveals His spectacular, unlimited form as the cosmic universe. Thus He conclusively establishes His divinity. Krishna explains that His own, all beautiful human-like form is the original form of Godhead, One can perceive this form only by pure devotional service.
The universal from is material and temporary, just as the material world is temporary. A devotee is not much interested in the universal form, for it does not enable one to reciprocate loving feelings.
Bhakti yoga, loving devotional service to Lord Krishna, is the highest and the most expedient means for attaining pure love for Krishna, which is the highest conclusion of spiritual existence. Those who follow this supreme path develop divine qualities.
One should be attracted to the personal form of Krishna, for that is the highest spiritual realization. The path of impersonalism is troublesome for those who have a body. As far as a devotee is concerned, Krishna Himself delivers His pure devotee. Therefore one should not try to deliver himself in spiritual realization. Everyone must take shelter of the supreme omnipotent Godhead, Krishna, by practicing the process of Krishna consciousness and fully engaging himself in devotional service.
To reach the highest goal, Krishna, there are two processes:
Renouncing the fruits of one’s activity and coming to knowledge by such renunciation, and then to the stage of meditation and then to the stage of understanding Supersoul and, at last, approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the step by step, indirect process.
Devotional service is the direct method. In this process there are two stages. To practice the regulative principles of Bhakti yoga under the guidance of an expert spiritual master for the purification of the senses is the first stage. In this stage, one can finally develop an attachment for Krishna. In the second stage, when that attachment develops into a natural transcendental love for Krishna, one is in direct relationship with the Supreme Lord in devotional service.
The preliminary stage of understanding devotional service perfectly, is known as knowledge. In terms of Vedic literatures, perfect knowledge of the constitution of the body, the constitution of the soul, and the constitution of the Supersoul is that knowledge.
The purpose of knowledge is to understand distinctly that the living entity has by chance fallen into the material existence. If he reverts to spiritual or Krishna consciousness by the process of devotional service, then it is certain that he will never come again into this material existence. He will be transferred to the spiritual world for a blissful, eternal life of knowledge.
Lesson Six: Bhagavad Gita Chapters 14 to 16
Krishna is the seed giving father of all the living beings conceived by the material nature. When the living beings come into contact with the material nature they become conditioned by the three modes, goodness, passion and ignorance.
Goodness conditions one to happiness, passion to fruitive actions and ignorance covers one’s knowledge and binds one to madness. Those in goodness go upward to the higher planets; those in passion come back to earthly life. Those in ignorance go down to hellish worlds.
In his constitutional position a living entity is above the three modes of material nature. By engagement in devotional service in full Krishna consciousness, he is immediately re-situated in the transcendental position and his unlawful desire to control the material nature is removed. Therefore the process of devotional service beginning with hearing, chanting and remembering should be practiced in the association of devotees under the guidance of the spiritual master. Thus one can become firmly situated in Krishna’s transcendental loving service.
The purpose of the Vedas is to cut down the illusory tree of the material world and attain the real tree of the spiritual world. The problems of material existence are due to weakness of the heart. By understanding the philosophy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and engaging in His service, everyone can become free from this weakness.
Everything comes from Krishna; He is the maintainer of the world. He is the object of all the Vedas. He is the source of the Supersoul too. He is celebrated both in this world and in the Vedas as the Supreme Person. One who knows Krishna as such is the knower of everything. Therefore he engages in His service and attains to His eternal abode.
Those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance deride the scriptures, deride the holy men and deride the proper understanding of Krishna. They are not attracted to devotional service. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence and thus lose the chance of approaching Krishna. But there are others who develop the divine qualities and gradually become situated in realization of Krishna. In dividing the divine and demoniac natures there is no other criteria but obedience to the regulative principles of scriptures.
Lesson Seven: Bhagavad Gita Chapters 17 to 18
The living being is originally a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Therefore one is originally transcendental to all the modes of material nature. So, when one forgets his constitutional position, influenced by goodness, passion and ignorance one develops resultant artificial faiths which are material. In goodness one worships demigods, in passion powerful humans and demons, and in the mode of ignorance the ghosts and spirits.
The real principle of religious faith is situated in the mode of pure goodness. But because the heart is tainted we find different types of religious principles. According to different types of faith based on different modes of nature there are different kinds of worship.
In the pursuit of all Vedic instructions, the ultimate goal is the understanding of Krishna. One can achieve faith in Krishna by accepting the proper spiritual master and receiving training under his direction. When that faith matures, in course of time, it is called love of God. This is the ultimate goal of all living entities. One should, therefore, take to Krishna consciousness directly.
One who surrenders to Krishna does not have to execute so many different methods. That simple surrender unto Krishna will save him from unnecessarily wasting time.
One can thus make all progress at once and be freed from all sinful reactions. If one is perplexed about giving up all kinds of religious forms and simply surrendering unto Krishna, such worry is useless, because Krishna says, “Do not worry.”
Anyone who tries sincerely to present Bhagavad-gita as it is, will advance in devotional activities and reach to the pure devotional state of life. As a result of such pure devotion, by chanting hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare / hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare and engaging all his senses in active devotional service, he is sure to go back home, back to Godhead.