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Myth of GEETA

Myth and Reality of Geeta 

Myths related to the Bhagavada Gita


Bhagavada Gita, in brief, is not just a conversation between Arjun and Lord Krishna. It is a spiritual knowledge imparted by Krishna to Arjun, who in despair seeing his relatives, teachers and friends as his enemy, was confused and shattered. Gita, imparts the knowledge of karma yoga, importance of gyana yoga, consciousness and the truth about the ultimate reality.
Myth 1 : Krishna is the only god (Usually advocated by the people who identify the ultimate reality with a human form and a name ‘Krishna’)
The ancient Indians only believed in the concept of ultimate reality which is called by various names and symbology. They never used words like monotheism or polytheism. They believed that the different aspects of the nature like fire, wind, sun etc are all parts of the nature. Hence in Vedic hymns one can find reveration to the individual elements of the nature in a metaphorically personified form. E.g fire, personfied as agni-dev and sun as surya-dev. The Upanisadic texts proclaim that the Brahman is the one and only Godhead, in the Kathopanisad it is called Visnu and in the Mandukyopanisad it is called Sivam. So it is said in the Vedas: “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti”, which means that the truth is called by different names.  The chapter 10 of Bhagavada-Gita alone teaches of the various conceptions about the ultimate reality idenitifed by different names.

BG 10.20: I am the Supersoul, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.
BG 10.21: Of the ?dityas I am Vis?n?u, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Mar?ci, and among the stars I am the moon.
BG 10.22: Of the Vedas I am the S?ma Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force [consciousness].
BG 10.23: Of all the Rudras I am Lord ?iva, of the Yaks?as and R?ks?asas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera], of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of mountains I am Meru.
BG 10.24: Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Br?haspati. Of generals I am K?rtikeya, and of bodies of water I am the ocean.
BG 10.25: Of the great sages I am Bhr?gu; of vibrations I am the transcendental om?. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa], and of immovable things I am the Him?layas.
BG 10.26: Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am N?rada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.
BG 10.27: Of horses know Me to be Uccaih??rav?, produced during the churning of the ocean for nectar. Of lordly elephants I am Air?vata, and among men I am the monarch.
BG 10.28: Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi. Of causes for procreation I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am V?suki.
BG 10.29: Of the many-hooded N?gas I am Ananta, and among the aquatics I am the demigod Varun?a. Of departed ancestors I am Aryam?, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death.
BG 10.30: Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahl?da, among subduers I am time, among beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garud?a.
BG 10.31: Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am R?ma, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.
BG 10.32: Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.
BG 10.33: Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahm?.
BG 10.34: I am all-devouring death, and I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.
BG 10.35: Of the hymns in the S?ma Veda I am the Br?hat-s?ma, and of poetry I am the G?yatr?. Of months I am M?rga??rs?a [November-December], and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.
BG 10.36: I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.
BG 10.37: Of the descendants of Vr?s?n?i I am V?sudeva, and of the P?n?d?avas I am Arjuna. Of the sages I am Vy?sa, and among great thinkers I am U?an?.
BG 10.38: Among all means of suppressing lawlessness I am punishment, and of those who seek victory I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am the wisdom.
BG 10.39: Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being — moving or nonmoving — that can exist without Me.
Myth 2 : Krishna was egotistical as he asked to worship him (Usually propagated by the anti-hindus)
This kind of criticism is usually done by the anti-hindus. In Gita, there are several places where Lord Krishna articulates with pronouns like “I am, Me”.  The most critical part in that understanding is as to what that “I, Me” actually refers to? This is the explanation given in the whole of Bhagvada-Gita. It is the explanation of ultimate reality which consists of spiritual energies, knowledge, material manifestations etc, every thing that emanates out of that ultimate reality or that definition behind “I, Me” (BG 12.3-4, 12.5-7, 10.2-3, 10.12-13, 9.4, 9.10-11, 10.8). This further explains the concept of avatar in Hinduism. An avatar is simply a divine and living manifestation of the supreme reality according to hinduism.
Gita is a divine knowledge and nowhere Lord Krishna force Arjun to acknowledge his words. He only says, it his opinion.
BG 6.36: For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion.
BG 18.63: Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
It was only Arjun who asked Krishna to help him as he was depressed and disturbed to see his relatives, teachers and friends in the battlefield (as explained in chapter 1 and 2). Krishna was only trying to help him.
By Prashant Saxena

In Bhagabat Gita lord krishna first brings the topic of caste in chapter 2 when he says

              sva-dharmam api caveksya na vikampitum arhasi
             dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo ’nyat kshatriyasya na vidyate
                                                        ...B.G.CHAPTER 2 SLOKA 31    

English translation-  “In view of your own dharm, too, it is unworthy of you to fear, for there is nothing more propitious for a Kshatriya than a righteous war.’’

It has been repeatedly said by lord krishna that “the Self (Atma) is immutable,” that “the Self is eternal,” and that “the Self is the only real dharm.” Now what is this dharm of the Self (swadharm)? The Self is the only dharm, although the capacity to engage in this dharm varies from individual to individual.

This ability arising from one’s disposition has been named swadharm or the inherent dharm.

To make matters clear around this subject of caste let us go to chapter 4 of Bhagabat Gita where lord krishna says..
                         catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
-                tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam 
                                                  ...B.G.CHAPTER 4 SLOKA 13    
English translation- “Although I have created the four classes (varn )-Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudr-according to innate properties and actions, know me the immutable as a nondoer.’’

In this sloka lord krishna clearly says that I have created the four castes (or classes) i.e. Brahman, Khatriya, Baishya and Shudra. Does this mean that the great lord has divided men into four rigid categories determined by birth? The truth is rather that he has divided actions into four classes on the basis of inherent properties. All the same, as he tells Arjun, he-the imperishable God-is a non-agent and should be known as such. The innate property (gun) of a being or of a thing is a measure, a yardstick.

In the start
ing stage of any yogi when he begins the journey to unify with paramatman the dominant property is that of ignorance or darkness (tamas), it will result in an irresistible inclination to laziness, excessive sleep, wantonness, aversion to work, and compulsive addiction to evil in spite of the realization that it is evil. At this stage the yogi is shudra. (This is not determined by birth. Even if the yogi is born into a family of brahmin he will still be shudra when he starts the journey to unification).

 Later with the service to wise men which is the work that should be done by shudras he cultivates and develops there is the growing sway of the quality of rajas, and a partial awakening of the property of good and moral virtue (sattwa) as well, because of which the worshipper’s ability is elevated to the Vaishya level. Then the same worshipper begins spontaneously to imbibe qualities such as control of the senses and to accumulate other virtuous impulses.

Proceeding further on the path of action, he is endowed with the wealth of righteousness. The property of rajas now grows faint and tamas is dormant. At this stage of development the worshipper steps on to the Kshatriya level. Prowes- s, the ability to be immersed in action, unwillingness to retreat, mastery over feelings, the capacity to carve his way through the three properties of nature-are now the inherent features of the
worshipper’s disposition.

With yet further refinement of action, sattwa makes its approach, at which there is the evolution of virtues

such as control of the mind and senses, concentration, innocence, contemplation and abstract meditation, and faith as well the capacity to hear the voice of God-all qualities that provide access to Him. With the emergence of these qualities the worshipper comes to belong to the Brahmin class.

This, however, is the lowest stage of worship at this level. When ultimately the worshipper is united with God, at that point-the highest point-he is neither a Brahmin, nor a Kshatriya, nor a Vaishya, nor a Shudr. So in 2nd chapter lord krishna advices arjun..

                 trai-gunya-visaya veda nistrai-gunyo bhavarjuna
            nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-kse- ma atmavan
                                                                      ...B.G.CHAPTER 2 SLOKA 45    

English translation- “Since all the Ved, O Arjun, only illumine the three properties, you should rise above them, be free from the contradictions of happiness and sorrow, rest on that which is constant, and be unconcerned with getting what you do not have as well as with protecting what you have, in order to dedicate yourself to the Self within.”

Krishna tells arjun The Ved only illumine the three properties of nature; they know nothing of what is beyond them. So Arjun should go beyond the sphere of action laid down by the Ved. How to do this? Krishnadvises Arjun to liberate himself from the conflicts of joy and sorrow,concentrate on the one changeless reality, and desire neither the unobtained nor the obtained; so that he may devote himself singlemindedly to the indwelling Self. This is how he can rise above the Ved. But is there any precedence of anyone going beyond them?

Krishn says that as a man transcends the Ved, even so he comes face to face with the Supreme Spirit, and that the man who is aware of him is a true Vipr, a Brahmin. Arjuna is a khatriya ..but lord krishna says him to become brahman. So it is clear that the caste or class is not determined by birth but are determined by the state of gunas. 

What does the Bhagavad Gita say about the caste system?


In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna explains 4 types of people based on the actions they perform out of their own nature. (Not based on Birth or any other factor)
Translation - O Arjuna, the activites of the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are clearly divided accorfing to the qualities born of their own nature.

Translation - The actions of a Brahmana arising from his own nature are serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge of the Vedas, wisdom and firm faith.

Translation - The actions of a Kshatriya born of his own nature are heroism, exuberance, determination, resourcefulness, no trace of cowardice in battle, generosity and leadership.

Translation - The actions of a Vaishya born of his own nature are agriculture, cow protection and trade; also the actions of a Shudra born of his own nature consists of service to Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.

  • So, as you can see all that is explained above contains no trace of the so called "Caste System" prevalent today which defines the caste of a person by birth. Bhagavad Gita talks about Varna as shown above. The focus is 100% on the actions which determine the Varna with no reference to the Birth factor . And this is as close as The Bhagavad Gita comes to talking about anything which might remotely relate to caste.
Final Note - Bhagawad Gita doesn't talk anything about the  "Caste System" as we see today.

What are some scientific facts about the Bhagavad Gita?

The fourfold caste has been created by Me according to the differentiation of GUNA and KARMA; though I am the author thereof know Me as non-doer and immutable.
The biggest falsehood all Indians are being told by their elders right from the moment they are borne is that your caste is decided by your birth. This is a big lie being told by saints with little knowledge of scriptures. According to The Bhagavad Gita, the nature of your thoughts decides the caste which you belong too. In the Gita, your thoughts are divided into three categories- sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. In the above verse, GUNA means the nature of your thoughts and KARMA means the work that you do. So, let us try to understand the nature of these thoughts.
Tamasic- A person with tamasic nature of thoughts is dull-witted, lazy, not willing to work, doesn't apply his brains, happy sitting idle. This is the lowest nature of existence and person having such thoughts is categorized as shudra and the nature of work such a person will do will obviously involve physical labor as such a person does not like education and is unwilling to raise his/her standards.
Rajasic- People with rajasic nature are full of materialistic and worldly desires, crave for money, power, fame, status. So, all politicians and soldiers are recognized as kshatriyas who have a propensity for fighting wars and battles. Also all traders, farmers, artisans come under the category of vaishyas who constantly have thoughts about increasing profits, making more money, earning for their family.
Satvic- This is the higher nature of thoughts in an individual. A person with sattvic thoughts craves for learning and doing something good and noble for the society. So, in the modern scheme of work, all entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars, philanthropists come under this category who were recognized as a brahmin.
Now, Gita says that the very basic nature of man is tamasic. All men if given a choice would love to sit idle and enjoy life without doing anything. So, a tamasic individual can be raised to the category of rajasic by whipping up his desires. How do your parents motivate you to study? they tell you that if you study you will earn more money, buy big houses and fancy cars, marry a beautiful girl. So, you become rajasic in nature and fulfill your materialistic desires. After your desires are fulfilled, money no longer remains your motive and you move to a higher state. You want to do something good for your country i.e you start entertaining sattvic thoughts and enter a state of brahman-hood. Thus you can see, at different stages of one”s life one person shifts from being a tamasic to rajasic to sattvic. So, nobody”s caste is determined by his birth. Anyone in a lower category can raise himself to a higher state by gaining knowledge and education. Also, we have seen a lot of people who fall from a higher state to lower state because of inaction or worldly desires. So no one is a brahmin by birth. Also, nobody is a shudra by birth. This is the biggest falsehood spread by ignorant people.
Source- The Holy Geeta- By Swami Chinmayananda

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Untouchability, Gita and the Pursuit of Truth

Remembering Vivekanand Jha
by Vishwa Mohan Jha

It might come as a surprise to the uninitiated that untouchability remains among the darkest aspects of India’s social history – despite Bhimrao Ambedkar, Marxist and “post-Marxist” histories, a wealth of contemporary caste studies, and the rise of dalit politics. It is to the labours of Vivekanand Jha, who passed away on 30 November 2012, that so much of our present understanding of the history of untouchability in ancient India is indebted to.

Historians had generally been evasive about the issue; or else we had apologias. Thus in the brief chapter on untouchability in the second volume of P V Kane’s masterly History of Dharma śāstra, all that he discussed was that inequities such as untouchability were not unique to India but were a fairly widespread phenomena; that it was not to be found in our glorious Vedic period; and how in numerous ways it has been  is represented, its evils exaggerated. While we need to recognise, for example, that concern with hygiene contributed to the making of untouchability, we can equally be certain (Kane contended) that it was imposed with no hard feelings towards the untouchables!1 Ambedkar sought to fill the void and provide a corrective. In his Untouchables: Who Were They? and Why They Became Untouchables? (1948), he historicised the issue in important ways, as by drawing the crucial distinction between impurity and untouchability, and located the origins of the latter in the beef -eating of the downtrodden. 

Historian’s Labour 

The historian Ram Sharan Sharma of Patna University began to take interest in the history of the shudras about the same time when Ambedkar was coming out with his works on the shudras and “untouchables”. But the gauntlet that Ambedkar threw down before the specialist historians was to be picked up by  Vivekanand Jha in his doctoral thesis “Untouchables in Early Indian History” (1972) under the supervision of Sharma. 

Jha meticulously collected and vetted a truly impressive range of evidence and arguments, and marshalled them into a systematic account of the origin and development of untouchability in early India. This history unfolded itself as a part of the larger process of the transformation of a succession of aboriginal tribes (for example the Chandalas) into caste society as well as of the gradual degradation of the status of a number of professional groups such as washer-men and -women and leather workers. In the process a number of received ideas (beginning with the pet brahminical idea that untouchability proceeded from the “mixture” of castes) were, as they had to be, critiqued and set aside. A different chronology of the advent of untouchability than the one suggested by Ambedkar was worked out, sundering the causal connection between beef-eating and untouchability postulated by him.

It is revealing indeed that leatherwork, that was to become a surest sign of untouchability in medieval times, should not have been considered polluting, not only during the Vedic period, but for centuries thereafter. For instance, a record dating from early fi rst millennium AD refers to a pious donor named Vidhika as a Chamār (Cham makāra), the son of an Upājhāya (a teacher, Prakrit form of Sanskrit Upād hyāya). Incidentally, the surname “Jha” is supposed to derive from Upājhāya. 

Jha’s works became conspicuous for a wrong reason too, which he himself much regretted: for a long time he was perhaps the only standard authority on the subject, at least going by the references to untouchability in scholarly literature. The works of Mikael Aktor and Genichi Yamazaki (preceded by that of K R Hanumanthan) are beginning to redress the complaint, however, and they further underline the lasting nature of his legacy.


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