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Bhagavad Gita/Commentary to the Bhagavad Gita
Commentary to the Bhagavad Gita
The Teachings of Krishna can be subdivided into three components: ontological, ethical, psychoenergetical (the latter is related to man’s development within Raja Yoga and Buddhi Yoga).
It corresponds to the three components of man’s spiritual development — intellectual, ethical, and psychoenergetical.
Let us consider each of them separately.
Ontological Aspect of Krishna’s Teachings
From the ontological point of view, the Bhagavad Gita gives complete and clear answers to the main questions of philosophy:
a) what is God,
b) what is man,
c) what is the meaning of human life and how we should live on the Earth.
The Bhagavad Gita considers God in the following Aspects: Ishvara, Absolute, Brahman, and Avatar.
In other languages, Ishvara is called the Heavenly Father, God-the-Father, Jehovah, Allah, Tao, Primordial Consciousness. Ancient Slavs called Him Svarog. Ishvara is also the Highest Teacher and the Goal of every one of us.
The second aspect of the word God is the Absolute or Everything, that is the Creator existing as one with His multidimensional Creation.
The Evolution of the Absolute goes on in cycles, which are called Manvantaras. A Manvantara consists of a Kalpa (Day of Brahman) and a Pralaya (Night of Brahman). Each Kalpa begins with the creation of the world and ends with the end of the world. The meaning of such cyclic recurrence consists in creation of new conditions for continuation of the universal Evolution of Consciousness (the Evolution of the Absolute).
The third Aspect of God is Brahman, Who is also called the Holy Spirit. This is a collective name for all Divine Individualities Who come out from the Abode of the Creator, primarily with the purpose of helping embodied people.
There is one more Manifestation of God on the Earth — Avatar, Messiah, Christ — man-God incarnated in a human body and merged by the Consciousness with the Creator. An Avatar — from the Divine level — helps people to find the Way to the Creator.
… Man is not a body. The body is just a temporary material container of man. Man is a consciousness (soul), a self-aware energy. The size of the lump of the consciousness of different people may differ significantly: from tiny “rudimentary” — to cosmic sizes. It depends on two factors: the psychogenetic age (i.e. the age of the soul) and the intensity of efforts made on the spiritual Path.
Krishna said the following about the correspondence between man and man’s body:
2:18. Only the body of an embodied soul is perishable, but the soul itself is eternal and indestructible…
2:22. As one throws off worn-out clothes and puts on others that are new — so a soul throws off worn-out bodies and enters new ones.
Man represents the last stage of the evolutionary development of incarnate purusha: plants — animals — man — God. Man’s task is to strive to achieve the Divine Perfection. On this Path, man goes through certain stages, steps.
One of the schemes of advancement through these stages is the description of the evolution in terms of gunas. That is, there are three gunas:
1) tamas — darkness, ignorance, stupidity, coarseness,
2) rajas — passionateness, intensive search for one’s place in life, fight for one’s ideals, and so on,
3) sattva — purity, harmony.
Nevertheless, Krishna said that one has to go even higher — higher than sattva, to Mergence with God, and this requires new efforts, new struggles with oneself. We have to keep this in mind, since sattva may turn out to be a trap: it captivates us with its bliss peculiar to this stage. It “relaxes” us, tempts us to abandon further efforts. It ensures paradise for us, but we have to go further. To become Brahman, having cognized the Nirvana in Brahman, and then to become Ishvara, we have to do much.
However, it is impossible to bypass the sattva guna. It is impossible to merge with God without mastering the qualities inherent to this guna.
It is also impossible to bypass the rajas guna, for it is in this guna that man masters such qualities as energy, self-discipline, power.
… Another scheme of man’s evolutionary advancement mentioned by Krishna is the scale of varnas. (Let me stress that this and many other scales are mutually complementary; a complex use of them in application to oneself or to others gives a more complete picture).
According to the scale of varnas, man on the first stage is called shudra. People of this stage are too young in their psychogenesis and are not capable of doing much. Their task is to learn from others who are evolutionarily more mature, by helping them in their work.
The second stage is represented by vaishyas. These include merchants, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Being in this varna implies having a developed intellect for starting creative business activity, because to run a business one needs a developed intellect. It is through such activity that the representatives of this varna develop themselves.
The next varna is represented by kshatriyas. These are people who have ascended still higher in their intellectual development, in being energetic. These are leaders possessing sufficient “broadness” of the mind and personal power (the power of the consciousness). By the way, one can start preparing oneself for this stage of spiritual development starting at a young age by developing the personal power and energy. Helpful in this work are physical labor, active varieties of sport, dances to rhythmic music. If one does this without coarse emotional states, remembering about God and about the necessity to observe the ethical norms in front of Him, then this can form a good potential for future spiritual development at a mature age. At a mature age, it will be necessary to renounce both competitiveness and passionateness. On the contrary, one has to come then to calm, harmony, tenderness, wisdom. But this should be based on the foundation of large personal power — i.e. the energetical might of the consciousness and intellect.
The highest varna consists of brahmans, that is spiritual leaders.
It became historically established in India to hand down the varna membership by inheritance. Therefore, it is quite obvious that not all people who assign themselves to the highest varna have high spiritual achievements.
But let us come back to the problem of self-development.
… Let me cite words of Krishna about how to choose the adequate methods of work on oneself — that is those which are in accordance with the real stages of psychogenesis and ontogenesis.
12:8. Fix your thoughts on Me, submerge yourself as a consciousness into Me — verily, then you will live in Me!
12:9. But if you are not able to fix your thoughts steadily on Me — try to reach Me by practicing Yoga…
12:10. If you are not capable of doing constantly Yoga exercises, then dedicate yourself to serving Me, performing only those actions which are needful to Me — then you will achieve Perfection!
12:11. If you are not able of doing even this, then seek Mergence with Me by renouncing the personal profit of your activity; restrain yourself in this way!
The activity which is dedicated to serving the Evolution and devoid of egoistic, selfish components (spiritual service, in other words) is Karma Yoga.
… Let me also note what great importance Krishna attached to the intellectual development of people on the spiritual Path.
This is especially important due to the fact that there are some sects denying the importance of intellectual development — up to opposing the traditional education of children.
But Krishna exalted Wisdom:
4:33. Superior to all outer sacrifices is the sacrifice of wisdom… All actions… become perfect when they are performed by the wise!
4:34. Therefore, gain wisdom through devotion, inquiry, and service!…
4:37. As fire turns firewood into ashes, so does the fire of wisdom burns all false actions to ashes!
4:38. There is no purifier better than wisdom in this world. With its help, the one skilled in Yoga attains Enlightenment in the Atman in due course.
4:39. The one full of faith gains wisdom. The one controlling the indriyas gains it too. Having achieved wisdom, they quickly attain the higher worlds.
7:16. There are four types of righteous men worshipping Me…: desiring to free themselves from suffering, aspiring to knowledge, seeking personal achievements, and the wise.
(It follows from the last words of Krishna that: first, any active person who is not of demonic nature, i.e. not indulging in coarse vices, is regarded by Krishna as righteous. Second, the representatives of the first three mentioned groups are not wise yet: the wise are an independent group of a higher level. Those striving to become free from suffering, those thirsting for knowledge, and those striving for personal achievements at the stage of rajas — they are not wise yet.)
7:17. … Superior to others are the wise, even-minded and devoted to Me completely. Verily, I am dear to the wise, and they are dear to Me!
8:28. Studying the Vedas, performing sacrifice, ascetic exploits, and good deeds give proper fruits. But Yogis possessing the true knowledge are superior to all these, they attain the Supreme Abode!
So who can be called the wise? — Those who have a wide breadth of knowledge on the main subjects: about God, about man, about man’s Path to God. This is the basis, the foundation of Wisdom. But it is not Wisdom yet. This is just possession of much knowledge, erudition. Wisdom implies an additional capability of operating the knowledge, the ability to create intellectually.
How can we develop this quality in ourselves? The first and easiest way is to study in the usual educational institutions (schools, universities, etc.). Additionally, we can contribute to the development of this quality by mastering as many skills and professions as possible, by communicating with people, with God, and in many other ways. It is essential to master the stage of grihastha (householder) in full. It is through service to other people, through caring about them — first within one’s own family, and then within the “family” of spiritual disciples — that Wisdom can be gained.
And the Creator does not let foolish people into Himself: He does not need them.