The Quest

 Now here presenting to you a portion of The Great Yoga Quest, which is a document designed with the express purpose of aiding spiritual aspirants, particularly those attracted to yoga, to more deeply and fully understand what yoga is.  You may scroll down to read, or also click on the individual sections below.  If you would like to receive the entire document in full (as it currently stands), please contact me:  allowah13@gmail.com.

And now a word from our sponsor…

Are you searching for God? Yes? Good.  

God, or Love, is not searching for you, however, just still as ever awaiting your return.  

& All of these words are just fingers pointing you toward a place where you never truly left, preparing you to make that last leap back into Love…

Select Selections from The Great Yoga Quest

~ What Is Yoga?

~ Sanskrit Glossary

~ 30 Beautiful Sanskrit Words

~ What Is the Bhagavad Gita?

NAMASTÉ

 

The Divine in Me Sees the Divine in You,

& Honors That…

 

Both of us, when we are in this place,

We Are One.

 

Thank You for Being Here Now.

 

I Honor You, & Your Commitment to Making Your Life the Best It Can Be, & It Is My Hope & Intention That This Course Will Be All That You Want It to Be, & More…

 

 

BEFORE WE BEGIN

1) Please Take a Few Moments to Sit Quietly & Examine Your Body & Mind

(medium-sized pause — about 3 minutes)

2) Please do the course exercises on your computer.

These Are Required to Complete the Course.  You will be asked to send us a good portion of your notes (whatever is not too personal to share) before you can receive certification.

3) Study is a yoga practice, and at the beginning of your practice it is recommended that you set what we call an Intention (the word is Sankalpa in Sanskrit).  Please Take a Few Moments to Write Down Your Intention (or Intentions) for Taking This Course. Feel into the things you really feel you WANT/NEED to change in your life, and write them down, possibly using the phrasing “I WILL” (example: “I Will Learn to Eat More Slowly and Consciously.”), or “I AM” (example: “I AM a slow, conscious eater.”) Otherwise or in addition, you could write what you are Releasing from your life, and what you are Replacing in the absence of what you have released. Example: I am releasing guilt, and I am replacing it with a feeling of absolute self-worth.

(medium-sized pause)

4) Please Also Commit To Seeing This Program Through to Completion in a Reasonable Amount of Time.  This is for your sake & sanity!  Let’s go by the rule of thumb that it takes 21 Days to Change a Habit, or make a major life change (see HERE for why), and let’s just see if this is really true by keeping to the 22-day plan (I chose “22,” btw, because 22 is a “Master Number” in numerology — plus it gives you that one extra day : )

You can use this formula, or something like it:

 

I, ______________________

(use full name),

am fully committed to completing the  Course called “The Great Yoga Quest” to the best of my ability and in a reasonable amount of time.  Amen (AUM)

(medium pause)

 

How ya feelin’?

 

Groovy?

 

Okay, ready?

Here we go…

 

 

What is The Great Yoga Quest?

The Great Yoga Quest is your life.

It is our Quest for Oneness, Wholeness, Centeredness…

It is our Quest for True Joy, Bliss, Unconditional Love…

It is our Quest for God, Source, LifeForce, The All — or whatever you choose to call IT…

It is Also a Great QUEST-ion, a Riddle wrapped in a Mystery inside an Enigma…

The Great Yoga Quest in a narrower sense is the material you

now have before that will hopefully give you some helpful pointers on how live a more balanced, harmonious existence.

 

Remember…

Great teachers show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.

Great teachers are the proverbial finger pointing at the moon — they point the way, and leave it to you to walk the path.

They take you to the waterside, but do not try to make you drink/think.

 

In other words, no one can do it for you, you have to do the work yourself!

So I’m off the hook, right?

(That’s a yes or no question!)

Actually, I see myself not so much as a teacher (let alone a great one ; ) as a “Sharer” of yoga. I am just sharing with you what I have learned over the years, and hopefully it will be helpful to you.

 

Please Also Remember:

You are the Master of Your Life, and you do have the power to create your life as you see fit.

 

Yet, this will only truly be TRUE for you when you take 100% responsibility for your life.

When you do that, you will truly become the Master of Your Domain.

You will be a Yoga Master!

Want to explore how this might happen?

(That’s a yes or no question!)

 

So… What is this thing called Yoga?

 

 

INNERCISE: Please begin by taking a few minutes to write down what Yoga means to you right now.

(pause)

Ok, now that’s out of the way, let’s begin to answer this question by saying what Yoga isn’t, and that hopefully will give us a better sense of what it is.

First, because this is ostensibly an academic course, let’s be clear:

 

Yoga is NOT an academic study.

I mean, it can be an academic study, certainly, and if I had no faith in language that it could actually create shifts in consciousness — the kinds that yoga values — then I wouldn’t be here writing this for you in the first place, would I? And yes, there are many yogic paths, and study and learning, as I stated from the outset, is definitely a path.

Yet, for most of us, we need to practice and experience things directly for ourselves, not merely read about them.  Ultimately, only real, lived, direct, experiential, embodied knowledge is truly true for us — it is what we KNOW, not just believe or have faith in.

 

Yoga, then, is based in Direct Experiential Knowledge.

This knowledge generally requires practice done consistently for a long period of time (an idea that goes at least as far back as the 2000-odd-year-old Yoga Sutras, which we will be looking at in more depth in a later lecture).

One of the most influential yoga teachers of our time and the co-founder of Ashtanga Yoga, Pattabhi Jois, famously said:

 

Practice and All is Coming.”

and he said:

 

“99% Practice, 1%  Theory.”

and he also said:

 

“[Your] Whole Life is Your Practice.”

and he also demanded:

 

“Practice! Practice! Practice!”

So the lesson here is __________?

(please fill in the blank)

 

PRACTICE!

And right now, your practice is learning the theory that for yoga, practice is more important than theory.

Got that?

We’re learning theory here, but not too much, just enough.

Remember that this is only 40 hours of a 200 hour Yoga TT program.

That comes out to be 1/5th, or 20 percent theory.

The rest of the Yoga TT is direct, hands-on learning, guided by a qualified teacher.

So we’re pretty close  to what Pattabhi Jois said: 20% theory as opposed to just 1%, which was probably just an exaggeration for effect anyway (the term is “hyperbole” — when you really want to raise some eyebrows, speak hyperbolically!)

 

Ok, so we’ve established how important practice is in yoga, and how relatively less important theory is, yes?

Sometimes I say:

 

Yoga is not a spectator sport!

No, and it’s not for the lazy bones either.

In fact, one of the classic texts of Hatha Yoga, a 14th century yoga manual called “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” says the following:

 

 

“Whether young, old or too old, sick or lean, one who discards laziness gets success if he [or she!] practices Yoga…Success comes to the one who is engaged in the practice. How can one get success without practice; for by merely reading books on Yoga, one can never get success…Success cannot be attained by adopting a particular dress. It cannot be gained by telling tales. Practice alone is the means to success. This is true, there is no doubt.”

 

[Note: If you would like to explore this seminal text further, one version of it can be found HERE ]

So in other words,

Get off your lazy asana, get with the program, and do some more reading with me!

; P  LMAO

(Laughing My Asana Off — for future reference)

Ok, so here’s another point to consider for what yoga isn’t:

I just mentioned “getting with the program.”

Well, yoga is not about programming, actually.

Better stated: It’s about getting with “De Program.”

Get it?

 

Deprogram.

In other words, yoga is not so much about adding anything to yourself, like a whole bunch of useless information, a few letters after your name, or even a dumb little online certificate from Yoga University (I didn’t just say that, btw ; ),

it’s about removing from your life everything that is not allowing you to be fully present and accounted for in

THIS MOMENT.

 

“There is a fundamental simplicity to the process of Yoga that is outlined in the Yoga Sutras. While the process might appear very complicated when reading the Yoga Sutras and many commentaries, the central theme is one of removing, transcending or setting aside the obstacles, veils or false identities. The many suggestions in the Yoga Sutras are the details or refinements of how to go about doing this. By being ever mindful of this core simplicity it is much easier to systematically progress on the path of Yoga.”

~ Swami Rama

You heard what the man said.

Put another way: Yoga is not so much about learning anything.

It’s about unlearning.

It’s not a “conditioning” program, it is a “deconditioning program” that will bring you more and more

into a state of unconditonality.

What is unconditionality?

First of all, it’s a real word, I just googled it! (giggle)

 

Unconditionality

is a state

without conditions or limitations; total unconditional surrender

according to the Free Online Dictionary.

What is it like to live without limitations in total unconditional surrender?

Well, let’s find out!

And here I must bring in heavy artillery,

the dreaded “D” word.

You know what word I’m talking about?

Yes, you do, but you can’t force yourself to say it, can you? : )

Well, I’ll do it for you.

The word is

 

DISCIPLINE

You know you want it.

You know you need it.

It’s just so hard to do, isn’t it?

It’s hard to discipline ourselves to do the things we KNOW are good for us.

Yet this is the path, the path to life mastery.

And you do want to be the master of your life, don’t you?

That’s why you’re here, right?

Well, then we must have discipline in our life, especially if we want to make that change that’s dying to be made.

It’s that saying, “If you do what you’ve always done,

you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

If you keep avoiding the things you KNOW are good for you, then you’re probably never going to get where you truly want to go — having a feeling of true fulfillment in your life,

and being seen/acknowledged as such (though this will not be so important as you will just KNOW that you are!)

There is a piece of advice in yoga that I ask that you take to heart:

 

Go into your fears — the places that scare you — and directly face them head on.

 

Work on the things that are hard for you, or that you feel weak in, not the things that are easy for you.

In your asana practice, work more on the poses that are hard for you, not the easy ones that you can show off. Simply put, here’s two more great, related quotes to bring us home:

 

“The Only Way Out is THROUGH.”

 

and

 

“If you want to get to it,

you gotta go through it!”

 

 

INTERMISSION –> ANOTHER *INNERCISE*

PLEASE SIT QUIETLY FOR A FEW MINUTES AND THEN WRITE DOWN YOUR DEEPEST CONCERNS, WORRIES, ANXIETIES, FEARS…

 

(medium pause)

 

Done?

 

Good.

 

These are for you, not me or anyone else.

 

Now write down at least 3 things you can do to conquer each of those things.

 

Please take a few minutes to do this.

 

Finito?

 

Great.

 

Moving on…

So to sum up, don’t be afraid of discipline.  Discipline will ultimately be your best friend, it will truly be a “vehicle for joy.”

All beginnings are hard.

Yoga is so hard it’s almost torture for some people at the very beginning (it was for me).  But stick with it.  Put yourself through the paces.  Remember these three very important Power “P” words, and you won’t go wrong:

 

Patience

 

Perseverance

 

Practice

Now, if you feel turned off by all of this, then perhaps this is not for you.

Yes, it’s true yoga is not for everyone.

Clearly, right?

Because if it were for everybody,

then everyone would be doing it, no?

Did you ever hear this one:

Yoga is for every body,

but not everybody is for yoga…yet!”

In reality, it is my understanding that all of us ARE doing yoga, whether we know it or not — or perhaps better stated, YOGA is doing us.  In other words, we all have our yoga — what is bringing us back to the original Unity, whether we know it or not, whether we are conscious of it or not.  And I will also say this:

WHATEVER practice or activity in your life is helping to bring you into a greater place of joy, peace, love, harmony & balance is yoga.

Put another way:

Whatever you most love to do – whatever you most give your attention to — is your yoga.

Sounds like I’m contradicting myself, no?

I am, yet there’s a way to see it differently.

Let me tell you a personal story.

When I was 11 years old, all I wanted to do was to play the electric guitar and be a rock god. My guitar heroes were the great classic rock guitar players: Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, etc.   And I was actually a precocious guitar player, yet there were a lot of things working against my actually living my passion, my dream. For one, I was incredibly shy, something which came as a result of my parents’ divorce that year, but also because I was on the verge of puberty and getting to be an awkward teenager with a host of issues for which my happy-go-lucky childhood had not prepared me.   Not to mention my perfectionism. So to make a long story short it turned out that I actually stuffed my blessed Gibson Les Paul Custom that my mom got me for my birthday away in my closet for most of my teenage years, in complete denial of the thing in my life that I was most passionate about (besides girls): Music. It took a spontaneous Kundalini awakening experience at the age of 19 to bring me back into my heart enough to recognize that making music was all I really wanted to do with my life. But then I still had all of these issues, and I realized that for me to be a great artist like one of my heroes, I would have to have some sort of discipline. Yoga was that discipline. Of course, I could have just disciplined myself, but I felt I needed a mentor. That’s where my yoga gurus came in. They helped to bring me to the place where I could learn to be myself, conquer my fears, and be my own disciplinarian.

So in other words, discipline helped me to be myself more, and do what I loved to the best of my Spirit-given potential. I’m actually still on this path, but I know that if I were to dedicate myself solely to music at this point, I could do it excellently, because of the tools and transformation that yoga has provided.

So the yoga path essentially tells us:

Be a disciple of discipline.

Yet be a disciple of discipline and ultimately go BEYOND discipline.

Learn the rules first, and once you learn to play by the rules,

then you can break the rules, become your own “Ruler” and create your own rules.

(Any good guitarist/instrumentalist will tell you that first you learn the chords and the changes and all the theory, and then it’s so much a part of you that you can color outside the lines and solo like its 12/21/12 : )

At that point, perhaps there’s a deeper process that takes place where you realize: Wow, I really am the Creator of My Reality!

Why have I placed all of these limitations on myself? Why I have imposed all of these narrowminded beliefs on myself and others? Why have I accepted either/or as an answer and not embraced the both/and Path of Paradox?

Paradox à A Greek word. Para = Beyond; Dox = Belief. Paradox = Beyond Belief. Again, we are going beyond mere belief to DIRECT, EXPERIENTIAL KNOWING.

People often ask or wonder: Do you have to have a flexible mind to have a flexible body. To this I would say: Yes! But it’s more the case that a flexible body is the sign of a flexible mind. And a flexible mind is one that can fully accept that a thing can both be true and not true, that can hold a variety of seemingly opposing viewpoints in mind at once. It’s also a mind that can let go of assumptions/prejudices/preconceived ideas/conditions/agendas/categorical thinking, etc., at any moment and just go with the flow of WHAT IS — and even love and embrace WHAT IS.

Yoga is embracing and loving everything as it is right now, AS IS.

 

Yoga is Loving What Is.

You might be thinking things like: Wow, is that even possible? Do you mean even loving something ugly/evil/immoral, etc.?

Possibly. I’m bringing this up as a possibility, yes.

Here’s a story from the Zen tradition that expresses this:

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

 

“May be,” the farmer replied.

 

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

 

“May be,” replied the old man.

 

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

 

“May be,” answered the farmer.

 

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

 

“May be,” said the farmer.

 

(In other versions of this story, the farmer says something other than “maybe” – for instance “we’ll see” – or he simply smiles without saying anything.)

And here’s a similar one from the Indian tradition:

 

A king and his minister

Once upon a time, there was a king in India. He had a minister who had great faith in God and would always say that whatever happens, happens for the good. The king never believed this.

Once the king cut his finger and as usual, the minister said that all happens for good. Hearing this, the king got quite angry and put the minister into prison. Even then the minister said that everything happens for the good!

A few days later, the king went hunting in the jungle, by himself, since his minister was in prison. As the king was hunting, some tribesmen trapped him and took him to their chieftain. But when the chieftain saw the cut on the king’s finger, he ordered the king to be released, saying that a person with a cut finger would not make a good offering to the tribe’s deity.

Happy, due to the narrow escape from death, the king returned to his kingdom remembering his wise minister’s words that even the finger getting cut was for the good. Upon his return, he immediately ordered the minister’s release and welcomed him back in his position as the royal minister.

The king said to the minister, “I now believe that everything happens for our good, as my life was saved because of the cut finger. But, what about you? How can you explain that it was good for you?”

The minister replied, “As you had put me in prison, I was not able to accompany you on your hunting trip. If I had been there with you, the tribesmen would have taken me along with you and would have definitely sacrificed me to their deity, as I do not have a cut finger!” The king was pleased with the minister’s reply, and from then on, always consulted the wise minister while making any decisions for his subjects.

So wisdom says to learn to accept each and every unfolding moment as being for our highest good, and not to judge it as “good” or “bad,” with the feeling that all is happening as it should, that there is some Greater plan at work than we

can conceive in the, and if we could just let go of our “plan”s,

we would be so much happier!

And what if we were always living in this state?

We would have moved from merely

DOING yoga

to

 

BEING yoga.

We would be EMBODYING yoga moment to moment.

That’s the direction we’re headed, too, though in

this world, there seems to ever be room for growth, for BECOMING, and the Being/Becoming duality is yet another paradox to embrace. In our BEING, we are already perfect, enlightened, “there.” Yet there is also a sense in which, at least on the external level, we do long to grow, change, evolve – we are BECOMING…That’s the paradox.

This “state” of yoga of which we speak, then, is not really a state at all, but rather more of DYNAMIC PROCESS that seems to be never-ending. In Yoga we say it’s “about the Journey” not the destination. If we are “trying to get somewhere,” we’re not living in the moment and appreciating what is right here, right now.

How do we do this? One way is to return to the state of wonder that we had as a child, when we asked innocent questions like, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why does my daddy have hair all over his face?” or “Where did granddad go?”

Another way of putting this is to be able to be a beginner again,

and adopt what’s called “Beginner’s Mind.”

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s, there is only one.”

INNERCISE: What does this quote mean for you? What was yoga for you when you first started practicing? And what has it become for you now? What has changed for you? Can you put yourself back into the mindset that you were in when you first began? Can you become a beginner again?

What yoga ultimately helps us with is to live in a constant state of Wonder, like a child, where we can see things anew again with an unjaded eye. The best teachers, too, are able to teach each student where they are at, at their level, being able to put themselves back in their shoes and see things again as if for the first time, as this great quote from TS Eliot reminds us:

We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time…

 

Some More Quotes for the Quest:

“Cultivate Beginner’s Mind.” (Zen)

“Asana (Posture) will be steady & comfortable.” (Yoga Sutras)

“Spell GURU… Gee You Are You!”

(“God, Guru, and Self are One.”)

“The mouth is made for eating, the nose is made for breathing.”

“Yoga is skill in action” (Bhagavad Gita)

“Yoga is as Yoga does.” (Elvis : )

“Yoga is the harmonization of thought, word, and deed.” (Gandhi)

“Go within, or do without.”

“Seek first the kingdom of God.” “The Kingdom of God is within you.” — There is nothing outside which is not inside… (Gospels)

“As Above, So Below…We are the microcosm of the macrocosm…Everything is within you.”

“‘Always’ is always wrong, and ‘Never’ is never right.”

“Hatha Yoga without meditation is blind; meditation without Hatha Yoga is lame.” (Swami Rama)

Mind Your P’s and Q’s: Practice, Perserverance, Patience — Quest, Quest-ion, Quality

“Practice Makes Permanent…Progress…Improvement”

“Through repetition the magic is forced to reveal itself.”

“The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

“This thing we seek cannot be found by seeking…and yet, only seekers find It.”

“Yoga helps you to become comfortable in uncomfortable positions.” (Daniel Pinchbeck)

“If you wanna get to It, ya gotta go through it.” — Directly face your fears, don’t avoid.

“Faith –> No Fear…
Fear –> No Faith!” (Yoga Proverb)

          “Trust in God and fear do not go together.”

     “If it’s happening to you, it’s happening for you.”

“An attitude of gratitude leads to beatitude.”

“Less is More” — “Keep it Simple!” — “Enough is Enough!” — “Easy Does It!”

“Haste Makes Waste,


Waste Makes Worry,


Do Not Be


In a Hurry!”
 (Sai Baba)

“If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” (Yogi Berra)

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” (Gandhi)

“Love is all you need.” (John Lennon)


“The love you take is equal to the love you make.” (Beatles)

 

READ MORE GREAT YOGA QUOTES HERE

Main Points of This Session

 

Yoga Is…

 

~ Not an academic study, though some theory can be very helpful

 

~ Based in Direct Experience, not secondhand reports or logical reasoning

 

~ Slowly, slowly, little by little brings us to a life of harmony & balance, ease and grace

 

~ Not a religion or belief system, but a tool for spiritual growth and transformation

 

~ A Discipline (“yoking”) – some assembly required!

 

~ A Deprogramming/Deconditioning/Deconstructing Program. It is not so much about learning as unlearning so that you become who you truly are

 

~ Union of Body-Mind-Spirit, Oneness with All Life

 

~ About Letting Go of Fear and Loving What Is

 

~ A movement from “doing” to “being” – embodying yoga moment to moment

 

~ Embracing of Paradox

 

~ Yoga Begins and Ends in the Wonder, and the best teachers are those who are able to have “Beginner’s Mind”

 

                     ~ All of the above.

                     ~ None of the above.        

                       Yoga is Beyond Words. Beyond Belief.

                                               No Quest-ion.

 

Recommended Sources & Resources

 

BOOKS

The Heart of Yoga, by Desikachar

                                      

                                        VIDEO

 

                               Yoga Unveiled, a film by Gita Desai

 

                                   Y Yoga, a film by Arthur Klein

 

 

 

                                           WEB

Frequently Asked Questions About Yoga ,

by Georg Feuerstein

What is Yoga?, by Georg Feuerstein

 

Yoga (Wikipedia)

                                       Iyengar Yoga Short Introduction to Yoga

***

GLOSSARY OF SANSKRIT TERMS RELEVANT TO YOGA

The main point of this section is to expose you to some of the major words/concepts/topics of the yoga tradition.  This glossary is also an overview of what we will be learning during our 200-hr yoga teacher training.  I have referred to this as “Basic Yoga Literacy 108” – the basic ideas that every yoga teacher would do well to be aware of, both for your own edification and growth, and also to be the most informed yoga professional possible.

 

A  

Advaita (Ad-Vai-Tah) (literally, “not two”).  The philosophy of non-duality found first in the Upanishads.  The idea that in reality, Reality is only ONE, not two, as it appears to be.  (Also, Advaita Vedanta.  See Vedanta below.)  

Ahimsa (Ah-Him-Sah).  Non-harming.  Non-injury.  The first and most important moral principle of yoga.  

Ajna (Agya).  The third eye chakra.  The guru or command center.  The seat of intuition and wisdom.  The seat of theBuddhi, or higher mind/intellect.  Place to keep one’s drishti or focus in yoga practice.

Amrita (Ahm-Rta) (Literally, non-death.)  Immortal/Immortality.    

Ananda (Ahh-Nan-Dah).  Utter joy.  Bliss.  Those who experience this in their body will often turn to a practice like yoga.  Some get a taste of this while in Shavasana.  

Anandamaya Kosha (Ahh-Nanda-My-Ah Ko-Sha.  The Body of Bliss. The Bliss Sheath, which is the fifth of the 5 Koshas.  Can be accessed through our yoga practice.  

Anga (Ang-ah). Limb.  As in “Ashtanga” and “Chaturanga.”  

Aparigraha (A-Paree-Graha). Non-greed, non-hoarding, not coveting (one of the yamas).  

Asana. (Ah-Sana) Literally: Seat, seated posture.  Later, in Hatha Yoga, it became more connected with the more physical yoga postures.  

Ashram. (Ahsh-Ram) A retreat or secluded place where one can immerse themselves in yoga 24/7.

  Ashtanga Yoga (Ash-Tang-Ah Yo-gah).   The 8-limbed path of yoga.  Also known as “Patanjali Yoga,” “The Royal Path,” and “Classical Yoga.”   Not to be confused with the modern style of yoga, also called “Ashtanga Yoga,” that was developed by TVK Krishnamacharya and his student, Pattabhi Jois.  

Asmita (Ah-Smeet-Ah). Ego, individuality, I-am-ness.  What yoga helps us to understand and use in a life-promoting way. 

Asteya (Ah-Stay-Ah). Non-stealing (one of the yamas, the first limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga).  

Atman (Aht-Mahn).  The immortal soul, which ultimately is no different than “Brahman,” or the Absolute Self.   Realizing this is what is referred to as “Self-Realization.”

Avatar (Ah-Vah-Tar).  Descent of God into human form to awaken humanity In the Hindu consciousness, Jesus was a great avatar, yet not the only one.  Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and other great spirits down through the millennia have also been avatars, and there are some even living today.  

Ayurveda (I-Yur-Vay-Dah).  The Science of Longevity.  India’s indigenous natural medicine (one of 2 indigenous systems, actually, but more well-known in the West).  Sister science of yoga, and important for all serious yoga students to explore.  

B  

Bala (Bah-Lah). Child (as in Balasana, Child’s Pose).  Like Jesus, my yoga teachers emphasize becoming as open and innocent as a little child.  

Bandha (Bahn-Dha).  Lock, bind.  A way to lock in and pull up the energy generated through yoga practice.  Traditionally also seen as a means of raising kundalini.  

Bhagavad-Gita (Bah-Gah-Vad-Gee-Tah).  (“Song of God.”).  Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, gives the deeper teachings of yoga to Arjuna 

Bhakti Yoga (BahK-Tee Yo-Gah). The path of devotion, using chanting, singing, worship.  Losing oneself in love for the Beloved.  Considered the quickest and easiest means of connecting with Source in this day and age.  

Brahma (Brah-Ma).  The Creator of the Universe.  The first part of the Hindu trinity of Gods: Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, who govern Creation (Brahma), Preservation/Evolution (Vishnu), and Destruction (Shiva).   (Not to be confused with “Brahman,” see below.)  

Brahmacharya (Brah-Ma-Char-Yuh).   Literally, the “conduct of Brahma.”  The first of the four stages of life in Indian tradition, meaning the unmarried stage when one is fulling focusing on yoga study and practice.  Some yoga lineages understand this to mean perfect celibacy (in thought, word, and deed), while others understand it more in the sense of continence – being moderate in the use of one’s life energy, particularly sexual energy.  

Brahman (Brah-Mun)  The Supreme Self, beyond all names, forms, limitations.  The Hindu term for “God” with no human attributes.    

(not to be confused with…)  

Brahmin (Brah-Min).  The priestly caste. The highest caste of the Hindu social order, responsible for preserving the Hindu way of life (Sanatana Dharma — see below).  

Buddhi (Bood-Dhee). The intellect. The higher mind.  That which helps us make conscious, wise, life-promoting choices.  

  C

  Chakra (Chahk-Rah). Literally “wheel.”  Chakras are psycho-energetic centers located in the subtle body which spin and radiate life force energy.  Different traditions have different numbers of chakras (in the Buddhist tradition there are 5, for example), but in the West there are generally seen to be 7 centers that are located from the sacrum at the base of the spine to the crown of the head. (See Kundalini)

Chatur (Cha-Toor).  Four.  As in “Chaturanga,” or 4 Limbs (meaning 4 limbs touching the ground, the 2 hands and 2 feet).

 Cit (Chit). Pure consciousness.  The superconscious Ultimate Reality (see Sat-Chit-Ananda)

  Citta (Chit-Ta).  Mindstuff, ordinary consciousness (as opposed to “Cit”).  The Yoga Sutras (1.2) defines yoga as ”yogash citta vritti nirodhaha” – the cessation of the fluctuations of the mindstuff is yoga.  

D  

Darshan (Dar-Shan).  Seeing the divine.  When we look into another’s eyes and truly see the divine within them, the same as within us, this is “darshan.”   Going to see a yoga master is also called “receiving darshan.”  

Deva (Day-Vah).  (Literally “He who is shining”)  A God, such as Shiva, Krishna, Rama, etc.  Possibly the equivalent of a high angelic being in the western tradition.  

Devi (Day-Vee).  (“She who is shining”).  A Goddess, such as Sita, Kali, Durga, Chandi, Lalita, etc.  Possibly the equivalent of a high angelic being in the western tradition.  

Dharana (DAH-Rah-Nah)  From the word dhri meaning “to hold firm,” this is concentration or holding the mind to one thought, and is the 6th of the 8 Limbed-Path of Yoga (see Ashtanga Yoga).  

Dharma (DAHr-Mah).  Has many meanings.  Law, righteousness, religion, the world order.  What must be in place in order for the world to “go ’round.”  

Dhyana (Deeyah-Nah). Meditation.  The 7th of the 8 Limbed-Path of Yoga.

  Doshas (Dosh-Ahs).  The ayurvedic constitutions, of which there are 3: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata.  Each person generally has one predominant dosha, and one secondarily dominant dosha.   Some are tri-doshic, having an equivalent amount of each.  

Drishti (Drish-Tee).  Means both “gaze,” and where one fixes one’s gaze during yoga practice.  For example, during a balance pose, one’s drishti might be at a point on the floor.    

Dukha (Dook-Ha).  Suffering, due to ignorance of our true nature.  The first of the Buddha’s 4 Noble Truths.  (See Sukha).

G  

Gayatri (Gaia-Tree).  A prayer for enlightenment found in the Vedas.  Called the “Mother of all Mantras.”  One of the most revered mantras of the Hindu tradition.  Recited by millions of Hindus to this day, generally at sunrise.

  Guna (Goo-Nah).  A fundamental idea in one of the six philosophical traditions of India, Samkhya, the gunas are the three fundamental operating systems or “tendencies” of Prakriti (universal nature).  The three gunas are: sattva guna, rajas guna, and tamas guna. These three gunas are responsible for carrying out the entire work of creation, and are found in every part and parcel of creation, though in different combinations..  For us, they mean this: Tamas is the tendency toward laziness, torpor, lethargy, dullness.  We can move from this state by using Rajas, the tendency of dynamism, movement, activity.  Rajas itself can be then used to move into a state of Sattva, which is the tendency of clarity/lucidity, purity, balance.  This is the state that a good to which a good yoga class will bring us.  

Guru (Goo-Roo). Literally, “Heavy.” A spiritual teacher. The one who brings light to the darkness.  

H  

Hara (Har-ah).  Epithet (name) of Shiva.  Example from Kirtan: “Hara Hara Hara Mahadeva.”

(not to be confused with…)

Hare/Hari (Har-ay / Haree).  Epithet of Vishnu (and also Rama and Krishna, avatars of Vishnu).  Example: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama/Rama Rama Hare Hare.”   Also: “Hari Bol!”

Hatha yoga (Hot-Ha Yo-Gah).  Literally, “Forceful Yoga.”  A major branch of yoga that was systematized around 1000 C.E.  Symbolically, Hatha Yoga is the process by which the Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha) become conjoined, resulting in “yoga,” or unification (more on this later).   Hatha Yoga is the umbrella term for almost all of the modern styles of yoga (Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, etc.).  It’s like saying “Martial Arts,” also an umbrella term which includes Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu, etc.  

Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Hot-Ha Yo-Gah Pra-Dee-Pee-Kah) ”Light on Hatha Yoga.”  A Hatha Yoga manual from the 14th century by Yogi Swatmarama, one of the 3 works of Hatha Yoga that are considered classical.

I

Ida (Ee-Duh).  One of the 2 main nadis, or energy channels, that winds around the Sushumna, or Central Channel.    (See,Pingala).

Ishvara-pranidhana (Eesh-Vara  Pranee-Dhah-Nah). Self-Surrender to the Divine (one of the niyamas).  ”Not my will, but Thy will.”  

J  

Japa (Jah-Pah).  The repetition of a mantra, often using prayer beads (see Mala).  

Jaya/Jai (Jie-Uh/Jie).  Jaya is Sanskritand Jai is the more modern Hindi word meaning the same thing, “Victory.”  Perhaps the root of our modern interjection/exclamation, “Yay!”  This word is often said before or after a great personage’s name:  ”Gandhi-ji Ki Jai!” or “Jaya Hanuman!”  

Ji (Gee).  A term of respect/adoration/endearment added at the end of a person’s name.  For example, Gandhi-ji (see above).   (Note: This is the most common of several variants just as “Di” and “Ki.”)  

Jnana (Gyah-Nah).  Spiritual knowledge, Wisdom, “Gnosis.”  This comes generally through a deep process of “self-inquiry,” often using the practice of neti-neti (see below), which involves the process of removing all that one is not so that one can see what is truly Real.  

Jnana yoga (Gyah-Nah Yo-Gah). The path of knowledge or wisdom.  The path of deep inquiry, of questioning everything and going beyond mere belief to KNOWING.

K

Karma (Kar-Mah).  Literally “action.”  Any action, and binding one only if done in a self-centered way.  

Karma Yoga (Kar-Mah). The path of selfless action, selfless service.  Acting without attachment to the outcome.  Has come to mean “charity” these days, but is way deeper than that.  

Krishna (Krish-Nah).  An avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu the Preserver, who is believed to have lived about 5,000 years ago in ancient India.  Perhaps most famous for being the chariot-driver of Arjuna in the popular scripture, the Bhagavad Gita(Song of God).

Popularly depicted either as a mischievous child (Balakrishna), or as a young man playing a flute and sometimes surrounded by his consort, Radha, or his gopis (beautiful young maidens charmed by his charisma).

Kriya.  (Kree-Yah).  From the same root as “karma,” meaning “action, work, doing.”  Kriya, like most Sanskrit words, has many meanings.  Generally it means “a cleansing,” “purification,” or any practice that purifies.  Typical kriyas include laughing, crying, profuse heat and sweating, spontaneous asanas, pranayama, singing, moaning, howling, shrieking…In Kundalini Yoga (3HO style), a Kriya is a specific set of exercises done for a specific purpose.  The term is also found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and is also the form of yoga taught in the Yogananda lineage.

Kundalini. (Koon-Dah-Lee-NEE) A cosmic energy in the body that is often compared to a snake lying coiled at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened. Kundalini is derived from kundala, which means a “ring” or “coil.”  Can be awakened via yogic practices such as asanas, breathwork, by grace, or with the help of a teacher. 

L  

Lakshmi (also, Laxmi) (Lock-Shmee).  The Goddess of wealth, abundance, prosperity, beauty.  Also known as “The Kitchen Goddess” because her image is found in most Indian kitchens.   The word “Sri” (SHREE) is often used in connection with her.

Lila (Lee-La)  Play.  The idea that everything is just the “Play of Consciousness” — the Play of the One (University) wanting to become two (Diversity) and re-experience the original Oneness again.  

M  

Mandala. (Mahn-Dala) A circular geometric design that represents the cosmos and the spirit’s journey.  

Mala (Ma-lah).  Prayer beads, rosary, which can be made from various substances  – crystal, rudraksha, sandalwood, etc.  Generally malas have 109 beads (108+1) and are used for japa (repeated recitation of a mantra).

Mantra (Mahn-Tra). A word or phrase that is repeated for the purposes of mastering the mind.  

Maya.  (My-Ah).  Cosmic Illusion.  The veil(s) that keep us from seeing what is Real, the true Self.  

Mudras. (Moo-Drahs) Hand gestures that direct the life current through the body.  

N  

Nada (Nah-Duh).  Sound.  The Yoga of Sound (Nada Yoga), which is part of the Hatha Yoga tradition and which involves tuning in to specific sound vibrations in meditation.

Nadi. (Nah-Dee)  Energy channel (meridian) in the subtle body that can become blocked through  

Nadi Shodhana. (Nah-Dee Show-DAH-Nah)  ”Cleansing the Nadis.”  Any yoga practice can do this, but this often refers specifically to the practice of alternate nostril breathing 

Namasté (Nah-Mah-Stay).  This is the modern, Hindi way of saying “The Divine within me bows to the Divine within You.”  The more ancient, Sanskrit term is  ”Namaskar,” as in “Surya Namaskar,” bowing to the sun (Sun Salutation).  

Neti-neti (Ne-Tee Ne-Tee). Means “Not this. Not this.” In meditation, you gently dismiss thoughts, images, concepts, sounds, and distractions by applying the principle of neti-neti or telling yourself, “Not this. Not this.”  

Niyamas (Nee-Yamas). In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defined five niyamas or observances relating to inner discipline and responsibility. They are purity, contentment, self-discipline, study of the sacred text, and living with the awareness of God. 

O  

Ojas. (Oh-Juss).   Literally means “vigor”. According to the principles of Ayurveda, it is the essential energy of the body which can be equated with the “fluid of life”. Those who practice Ayurveda say that Ojas is the sap of one’s life energy which, when sufficient, is equated with a strong immune system and when deficient, results in weakness, fatigue and ultimately disease.

Om, or Aum.  The Cosmic Hum, The Word, the Logos, the Creative Sound of God.  A sound that brings intention into creative manifestation, hence the reason it is chanted at the outset of yoga classes. (Other names include “Pranava” and “Omkara.”)  

P  

Prana (Prah-Nah). Life energy, life force, or life current. We also like Yogananda’s description of prana as lifetrons. These finer-than-atomic energies have inherent intelligence, according to Yogananda, as opposed to atoms and electrons, which are considered to be blind forces. The Chinese call this life force chi 

Pranayama (Prah-Nah-Yah-Mah). Method of controlling prana or life force through the regulation of breathing.  

Pratyahara (Prat-Yah-Har-Ah). Withdrawing the senses in order to still the mind as in meditation.          

R  

Raja (Rah-Jah).  King, Royal.  As in “Raja Yoga” – the Royal Path, aka Ashtanga Yoga, Classical Yoga, and Patanjali Yoga.  Some of the most advanced of the Hatha Yoga postures have the designation “Raja” – Raja Bhujangasana (King Cobra), Raja Kapotasana (King Pigeon).  

Raja yoga (Rah-Jah Yo-Gah).  The meditative path, leading to Samadhi.  Synonymous with “Ashtanga Yoga,” “Classical Yoga,” and “Patanjali Yoga.”

Rama (Rah-Muh).  Ancient King of the Indian city Ayodhya.  Considered to be an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.  Hero of the epic story, the Ramayana.  Husband of Sita.  Very popular deity/god in the Hindu pantheon, adored by millions worldwide.

S  

Sadhana (Sod-Dana).  Yoga practice, or a specific yoga practice, which could be anything.  ”Taking care of my children every day is my sadhana.”  

Sankalpa (Sun-Kalpah).  Intention, Purpose.  What is recommended before beginning your practice, or any particularly special activity.  

Santosha (Sahn-Toe-Shah). Contentment (one of the niyamas).  

Saraswati. (Sah-Ras-Wuh-TEE).   Popular Goddess of learning and the arts.  Consort of Brahma, the Creator.

Sat (Sot).  What is real, because it is non-changing.  As opposed to “asat,” that which is unreal — the world of changing phenomena.  

Sat-Chit-Ananda (Sot-Chit-Ah-Nahn-Dah).  Sometimes translated as “Existence Consciousness Bliss,” which has been referred to as our “true nature.”   Satya (Sot-Yah). Truthfulness and honesty (one of the yamas).  

Samadhi (Sah-Ma-Dhee). State of absolute bliss, superconsciousness, cosmic consciousness, at-one-ment, and many other names, because the state is indescribable.  

Seva (Say-Vah).  Selfless Service.  (See, Karma Yoga)

  Shakti (Shock-Tee).  Divine energy Also, Kundalini energy (“Kundalini Shakti”), the energy at the base of the spine that is symbolized as a coiled serpent.  Shakti expands through our yoga practice, mainly due to the release of blockages.  

Shauca (Shau-Chah). Purity, inner and outer cleanliness (one of the niyamas).  

Shiva (Shi-Vah).  “Auspicious.” “Benevolent.”  A major deity of the Hindu pantheon.  Shiva was originally the god Rudra in the Vedic period.  Shiva, like the many other Hindu gods and goddesses, has many names.  Some of his more familiar ones are: “Mahadeva,” the Great God; “Mahayogi,” the Great Yogi; “Nataraja,” Lord of the Dance (of Destruction.)  Shiva is also known as “The Destroyer” because he dissolves the human ego, bringing it back to its original unity.   Shiva is generally seen to be the god most associated with Hatha Yoga, and in some cases, the original teacher of Hatha Yoga.  Those who worship Shiva in India are known as “Shaivites.”  Shiva is also the third part of the Trimurti, or trinity of gods, with Brahma (the Creator), and Vishnu (the Preserver).  

Shodhana (Show-Dah-Nah). Yogic cleansing ritual.  

Siddha (Sid-Duh).  A yoga adept – someone adept at yoga.  One who as acquired siddhis (see below).  Also, a yoga master, a perfect master.  

Siddhi (Sid-dHe).  Yogic powers.  The Yoga Sutras and other yoga texts talk about various special powers that emerge naturally through the practice of yoga, yet they also warn that these powers can be obstacles to the true goal of yoga.  

Sri.  (Shree).   Title of reverence or respect for a great teacher, teaching, object, or symbol.  Similar but not exactly analogous to the words “Sir” and “Sire” in English.  Examples: Sri Krishna.  Sri Karunamayi.  Sri Chakra.  Sri Vidya.  One of my teachers is named “Shree Maa,” that being another way of writing “Sri.”  ”Sri” also means “divine beauty.”

Sukha (Sue-Kah).  Easy, comfortable, happy (as opposed to dukha, suffering).  Usages: Sukhasana is simple cross-legged pose (“Indian-style”).  “Sthira Sukham Asanam” is a key idea from the Yoga Sutras meaning  that steadiness/stability and ease/comfort contstitute perfection in asana (posture, seat).

 Svadhyaya (Swah-Dhyie-Yah). Self-study. The process of inquiring into your own nature, the nature of your beliefs, and the nature of the world’s spiritual journey (one of the niyamas).  

Swami (Swah-Me). Title of respect for a spiritual master.  Well-known Swamis: Swami Vivekananda.  Swami Rama.  Swami Muktananda.  Swami Beyondananda : )  Etc.

T  

Tantra (Tan-Trah). This yoga uses visualization, chanting, asana, and strong breathing practices to tap highly charged kundalini energy in the body.  

Tapas (Tah-Pahs) “Heat, Glow.” Self-discipline or austerity (one of the niyamas).  When we heat our bodies through Hatha Yoga, for example, this is a purifying heat and so a form of tapas.  Just remember, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire.  

Tejas (Tay-Juss).  Splendour, brilliance, light, clearness of the eyes , the vital power, spiritual majesty, dignity, glory, authority, the fire in opposition, ardour, efficacy, essence.

U  

Ujjayi (You-Jie-ee) Breathing exercise that produces sound in the throat with the inhalation.  Builds the prana, or life force.  Quiets and focuses the mind.  Used especially with Vinyasa styles of Hatha Yoga.

Upanishad (Ooh-Pon-i-Shod).  “Sitting Near.”  Scriptures that came after the Vedas in which the ideas of Vedanta (see below) and Yoga first really begin to be developed.  The name “Upanishad” refers to how in the time they were written, young boys would go into the forest to learn at the feet of their master.  Traditionally there are 108 Upanishads, but only some of these are considered major and referred to often.

V  

Veda (Vay-Dah). Literally “knowledge” or “science.”   The Vedas are the oldest and most venerable of all the Hindu scriptures, dating back at least 3-4 centuries.  Perhaps analogous in their importance to the Bible of the Western canon/culture.  From these, other vedic sciences developed, such as the science of “Ayurveda,” which is one of the oldest indigenous systems of medicine known to humankind.  

Vedanta (Vedan-Tah).  Literally, the “End of the Vedas.”  The epitome of what the Vedas teach, their highest teaching, which is the idea of “Oneness.”  

Vinyasa (Vin-Yah-Sah). Steady flow of connected yoga postures linked with breath work in a continuous movement. For example: Sun Salutation.   Part of the Ashtanga Yoga tradition brought to the West through the teachings of Sri Krishnamacharya and taught primarily by his student, Pattabhi Jois.  Now adapted (co-opted) by other styles of yoga, such as Power Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, etc.  

Y  

Yamas (Yah-Mahs). In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defined five yamas or ways to relate to others — moral conduct. They are nonviolence; truth and honesty; nonstealing; moderation; and nonpossessiveness.  

Yantra (Yahn-Tra).  “Instrument.” “Machine.”   Generally refers to sacred geometric patterns (“Sacred Geometry”; see also “Mandala”) that are used in meditation and for ritual purposes. The most well-known and revered yantra in the Hindu tradition is the Sri Yantra (also, Sri Chakra), specifically found in certain tantric schools in South India.  A Sri Yantra is the centerpiece of the altar of my teacher, Sri Karunamayi, at her ashram in Bangalore, South India.  Sri Karunamayi also encourages her devotees to do puja (worship ritual) to the Sri Yantra.  Other well-known yantras are the shatkona(hexagram), and swastika (symbol of good fortune that was perverted by the Nazis).  Coming from a Jewish background, when I first visited Karunamayi’s ashram, I was somewhat surprised to see images of the swastika within the shatkona (also popularly known as “the Jewish Star” or “Star of David”).  

Yoga (Yo-Gah). Derived from the Sanskrit word for “yoke” or “join together.” Essentially, it means union. It is the science of uniting the individual soul with the cosmic spirit through physical disciplines (postures) and mental disciplines (meditation). Patanjali offers the best definition: “Yoga is the cessation of mind.”  

Yogi (Yo-Gee). Someone who practices yoga, specifically a man, but sometimes applied to women.  

Yogini (Yo-Gee-Nee). A female yogi.  Today the yoginis are beginning to outnumber the yogis!

Z No Zs in Sanskrit, sorry, but you might want to catch some after all that, go get some rest. I’ll do the same, g’nite!  zzzzzzz Seriously, please do the following Innercise….   INNERCISE: What did this all do for you?  How did it make you feel?  Excited to learn all these new words, or to become aware of ones you hadn’t heard before?   Turned off by all of this foreign, esoteric language, and wondering what you signed up for here?  Etc.  And what words or ideas did you find most interesting here?  Which words piqued your curiosity enough to want to explore further?

31306-sanskrit-alphabet

***

30 Beautiful Sanskrit Words

By: Allowah

Aum (Om) — God, the sound of the universe
Ananda — bliss, joy, our true nature
Amma/ma — mother/ devine mother
Avatar — embodiment or incarnation of the devine (you, me, us!)
Baba — father/ holy father
Devi — a goddess, devine mother energy (Kali, Durga, Parvarti, you, me…)
Deva — a god (Rama, Shiva, Krishna, you, me…)

Dhanyavad — thank you!

Dharma — Duty, righteousness, law, moral order, religion, calling
Guru — the one who brings light to darkness

Karma — Action that if not done selflessly leads to re-action
Mahamaya — the grand illusion
Namaste, namaskar — I honour you as myself
Satnam — truth (sat) is our highest identity (nam)
Satsang — true communion; true communication

Swagatam — welcome!
Shanti, śāntiḥ — peace
Premadevine love
Seva — selfless service
Shantiprema — peace & love
Lila, leeladevine play
Shaktidevine energy, kundalini energy
Sundaramdevine beauty

Sadhana — our yoga, our spiritual practice
Sadhu (masc), sadhvi (fem) — one who does sadhana, a yogi or yogini
Jai, jaya — yay! victory!

Swadharma — One’s own duty, calling, path in life; your unique work
Swaha — we are one Tat Tvam Asi — thou art that
Lokah Samastah Sukhinoh Bhavantu — may everyone everywhere be happy
Tathasthu — so be it, and so it is!

WHAT IS THE BHAGAVAD GITA?

(FOR 200-HOUR YOGA TEACHER TRAINEES)

By: Allowah

~ What is the Bhagavad Gita?
~ When was the Bhagavad Gita Written & by Whom?
~ Why is the Bhagavad Gita Considered Such an Important Text?
~ What does the Bhagavad Gita Teach Us About Yoga?
~ What Are Some of the Most Essential Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita?
~ How Might I Use These Teachings in My Life, Practice, and Teaching?

What is the Bhagavad Gita?

 

What, you don’t know?  What!?!?!?

      It’s only one of the greatest masterpieces of world spiritual literature, ranking up there with the Bible, Qur’an, & the Hobbit!   It’s only read and loved by millions and millions of people the world over, particularly the Hindu faithful in India.  It’s only one of the most profound presentations of yoga that we might ever find within the covers of one book!  It’s only the very scripture that Thoreau called “stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy,” Hesse called it “a beautiful revelation of life’s wisdom,” and Gandhi called it a source of comfort form him in troubled moments!  And you didn’t know that yet?

 What’s up with dat?

       Seriously, it’s something definitely worth reading and exploring, which is why we’re here, right?

        If you haven’t yet read the Gita (as it’s affectionately called), I recommend the translation and commentary by Eknath Easwaran (click HERE) to start.   Keep in mind that there are many translations of the Bhagavad Gita out there now, and some of them are better than others.   The one that I’m currently using for putting together this section is Winthrop Sargeant’s “The Bhagavad Gita” (SUNY Press), because it’s a more complete work intended for the serious student of the Gita.

Let’s start with the basics…

First, the name.  Bhagavan = Lord, God.

Gita = Song

Put the two together you get Bhagavad Gita,

the Song of God.

Why is it the Song of God?

Because in it, Krishna, who is considered to be God (an avatar/incarnation of Vishnu, the Preserver/Sustainer, but also the Supreme Godhead), gives the deeper teachings of Yoga to Arjuna, a great warrior who is about to fight a terrible battle against his own kinsmen.

What are some of those teachings?

Read on!

When Was the Bhagavad Gita Written, and By Whom?

      Good question!  Go figure!  First, though, who is it that wants to know?  What if this ancient scripture is really not so ancient?  What if it’s just a fairy tale, never really happened?  What if the text was altered so much over time that the original message is now lost?   If so, would that give us just the excuse we need to ignore its message?  And what if I were to tell you that revelations such as this one are still occurring, even to this day, and that there are contemporary books that we can date with equally profound messages?  It’s important to transcend the illusion of time here.  This is a timeless message.  It is timeless, and yes, it was meant for a particular time and particular culture.  The deeper message of the work is universal, applying in all times and places.   Remember this saying: “Just because it never happened doesn’t mean it ain’t true!”

      Ok, that rant out of the way, tradition has it that the actual war about which the Gita relates started on February 20, 3102 B.C.  Most academic scholars, on the other hand, say the date is more like 800 B.C   (Georg Feuerstein suggested 1500 B.C.)  Most scholars seem to think that the work itself was composed sometime between 500 and 200 B.C. (i.e., before the time of Jesus), with interpolations (additions) to the text added later by those with a stake in promoting a certain message.

  

Why is the Bhagavad Gita Considered So Important?

Another good question! Who really knows?

      That said, generally what I have found is that when someone or something reaches let’s say global recognition, there’s something very powerful about it, something of truly great quality that transcends the norm.  Today, a song or artist will achieve such global status, for example, when their CD or video goes “viral.”  You can’t fool people in this regard – they will always be able to recognize greatness and celebrate it through that recognition.   So the Bhagavad Gita is perhaps so popular because it is a work of such rare quality, such profundity that speaks on some of the most key issues regarding spiritual life.

       There are other reasons, too, that this work has received both top critical and popular reviews.

       First of all, it’s dramatic and epic, and we all love that.  It’s a story, but it’s really not a story – it’s just a dialogue between the Godman Krishna and his friend/student, Arjuna.  Yet in that dialogue is some very very profound philosophy, stuff that still holds up to this very day.  Universal issues like War & Peace, Duty, the Spiritual Path, Meditation, Devotion, Metaphysics, the Way to Wisdom and God-Realization…It’s all in there, all in this small little book that might take a night to read but a lifetime to assimilate and truly understand.

     Why do I personally find it to be so worth reading (and writing about)?   Well, like any great work of art, it speaks on many levels.  One is just the issue of war and peace, and how Krishna (God, remember) almost unbelievably counsels Arjuna to fight and kill others, in this case his own kinsmen.

                  Why would God do such a thing?

     Krishna presents an argument for a “Just War,” or why sometimes war IS justified.  Yet on an even deeper level, the Bhagavad Gita teaches the way of the yogi, the evenmindedness with which the true yogi sees and acts.  According to Krishna’s words to Arjuna, the true yogi views everything the same – pleasure and pain, “good” fortune, “bad” fortune, war, peace, friend, enemy, Brahmin, outcaste, pure, impure – it’s all one, there’s no difference, no separation.  So this gives me a bit of a mirror or measure by which I can witness my own progress in transcending duality.  Am I finding things of this world bothering me?  Which of my buttons keep getting pushed, and why?   Where is my practice going astray, what am I missing?   What am I still attached to that needs to be let go of, where does my ego still have a stake firmly planted and is not budging?  What are my personal demons that need to be slain, etc., etc. etc.  Anyway, that’s why it’s helpful for me.  And if you should need some more inspiration to take this all a bit more seriously and dive into it, here’s what some wise guys have said about this work over the millennia…

 

In Praise of the Gita

“When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The Bhagavad-Gita has a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested by actions.” ~ Dr. Albert Schweizer

“The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.” ~ Aldous Huxley

“The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race a living creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning for every civilization.” ~ Rishi Aurobindo

“In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of lifes wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.” ~ Herman Hesse

“The Bhagavad-Gita calls on humanity to dedicate body, mind and soul to pure duty and not to become mental voluptuaries at the mercy of random desires and undisciplined impulses.”

“When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.”

“The Bhagavad-Gita is an empire of thought and in its philosophical teachings Krishna has all the attributes of the full-fledged montheistic deity and at the same time the attributes of the Upanisadic absolute.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.” ~ Rudolph Steiner

“From a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled. Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures.” ~ Adi Sankara

“The secret of karma yoga which is to perform actions without any fruitive desires is taught by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

 

       Watch! Robert Oppenheimer quotes Bhagavad Gita

 

     Does all this make any kind of BiG difference for you? : )

 

  

 

Essential Quotes from the Gita

(Wait, got a little time on your hands?  You’re gonna need it, this is rather lengthy!)

 

What is Yoga?

 

Evenness of Mind

~ “Fixed in yoga, perform actions, having abandoned attachment, Arjuna, and having become indifferent to success or failure.  It is said that evenness of mind is yoga [samatvam yoga uchyate].” (II.48)

 

Yoga is Skill in Action

~ “He whose wisdom is established casts off, here in the world, both good and evil actions; therefore devote yourself to yoga!  Yoga is skill in action [yogah karmasu kaushalam].” (II.50)

 

True Renunciation is Yoga

~ “That which they call renunciation (samnyaasam), know that to be yoga, Arjuna.  Without renouncing selfish purpose, no one becomes a yogin.” (VI.2)

 

 

At the Beginning is Like Poison, But in the End Like Nectar

 

“That [abhyasa, or yoga practice] which in the beginning is like poison, but in the end like nectar…That happiness, born from the tranquility of one’s own mind, is declared to be sattvic.” (XVIII.37)

 

 

Who is the True Yogi/Sage?

 

Resolute

~ “Here there is a single resolute understanding, Arjuna.  The thoughts of the irresolute have many branches and are, indeed, endless.”  (II.41)

 

Transcends Desire

~ “When he leaves behind all desires emerging from the mind, Arjuna, and is contented in the Self by the Self, then he is said to be one whose wisdom is steady [stithaprajnas].” (II.55)

 

 

Self-Controlled

~ “He whose mind is not agitated in misfortune, whose desire for pleasures has disappeared, whose passion, fear, and anger have departed, and whose meditation is steady, is said to be a sage.” (II. 56)

 

Without Attachment

“He who is without attachment on all sides, encountering this or that, pleasant or unpleasant, neither rejoicing nor disliking; his wisdom stands firm.” (II.57)

 

Not Bound by the Senses

“And when he withdraws completely the senses from the objects of the senses, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell, his wisdom stands firm.” (II.58)

 

“The turbulent senses carry away forcibly the mind, Arjuna, even of the striving man of wisdom.”

(II.57)

 

“For a man dwelling on the objects of the senses, an attachment to them is born.  From attachment, desire is born.  From desire, anger is born. From anger arises delusion.  From delusion, loss of memory.  From loss of the memory, destruction of discrimination.  From destruction of discrimination one is lost.  [But] With the elimination of desire and hatred, even though moving among the objects of the senses, he who is controlled by the Self, by self-restraint [vidheyaatmaa], attains tranquility [prasaadam].”  (II. 62-64)

 

Delighted in the Self Alone

“He whose delight is only in the Self [aatma], whose satisfaction is in the Self, and who is content only in the Self – for him the need to act does not exist…He has no purpose at all in action, or in non-action, and he has no need of any being for any purpose whatsoever.” (III. 17-18)

 

“He who finds his happiness within, his delight within, and his light within – this yogin attains the bliss of Brahman, becoming Brahman [Brahmanirvaanam, Brahmabhuutas – extinction of the small self, absorption in the Great Self].” (V.26)

 

Sees Action in Inaction, And Inaction in Action

“He who perceives inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise [buddhimaan] among men.  He is a yogi and performs all actions.” (IV.18)

 

Content & Constant

“Content with whatever comes to him, transcending the dualities (i.e. pleasure, pain, etc.), free from envy, constant in mind whether in success or failure – even though he [the yogi/sage] acts, he is not bound.”  (IV.22)

Sees Only the Self/Brahman Everywhere

“Brahman is the offering, Brahman is the oblation poured out by Brahman into the fire of Brahman.  Brahman is to be attained by him who always see Brahman in action.” (IV.24)

 

“The wise see the same (atman) in a Brahman endowed with wisdom and cultivation, in a cow, in an elephant, and even in a dog or in an outcaste.” (V.18)

 

“He who is equal-minded [samabuddhir] toward friend, companion, and enemy; who is neutral among enemies and kinsmen; and who is impartial among the righteous and also among the evil, is to be distinguished among men.” (VI.9)

 

“He who is disciplined by yoga sees the Self present in all beings, and all beings present in the Self.

He sees the same (Self – atman) at all times [samadarshana].”

(VI.29)

 

“The sage who highest aim is release; whose senses, mind and intellect are controlled; from whom desire, fear, and anger have departed; is forever liberated.” (V.28)

 

(See also: VI.32)

 

The True Sage/Yogi is Rare

 

“Of thousands of men, scarcely anyone strives for perfection [siddhaye/siddhi]; even of the striving and perfected [siddha], scarcely anyone knows Me in truth.” (VII.3)

 

  

Summary Verses

“Alike toward enemy and friend, the same in honor and disgrace, alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, freed from attachment, indifferent to blame or praise, silent, content with anything whatever, homeless, steady-minded, full of devotion; this man [or woman] is dear [priya] to me.” (XII.19)

 

“Absence of pride, freedom from hypocrisy, non-violence, patience, rectitude, service of the teacher, purity, constancy, self-restraint, indifference to the objects of the sense, and absence of egotism; keeping in view the evils of birth, death, old age, disease, and pain; non-attachment, absence of clinging to son, wife, home, and so on…constant even-mindedness [samachittatvam] toward desired and undesired events, and unswerving devotion to Me with single-minded yoga, frequenting secluded places, distaste for the society of men, constancy in knowledge of the supreme Spirit, observing the goal of knowledge of truth – this is declared to be true knowledge.  Ignorance [ajnaanam] is what is contrary to this.” (XIII.7-11]

 

[See also end of Chapter XIV; beginning of XVI)

 

 

Methods of Yoga

 

Be Unattached to Action

“…Constantly unattached, perform that action which is your duty.  Indeed, by performing action while unattached, man attains the Supreme.” (III.19)

 

“Men who constantly practice this teaching of Mine, believing, not sneering, are also released form the bondage of actions.” (III.31)

 

“I Am Not the Doer.”

“’I do not do anything.’ Thus, steadfast in yoga, the knower of truth should think, whether seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, talking, excreting, grasping, opening the eyes and shutting the eyes, believing ‘The senses abide in the objects of the senses.’”

(V.8-9; XVIII.16)

 

                               End the Cycle of Rebirth

“They whose minds are absorbed in that (i.e. the Supreme), whose selves are fixed on that, whose basis is that, who hold that as the highest object, whose evils have been shaken off by knowledge [jnana] – go to the end of rebirth.”  (V.17)

 

How to Meditate

“The yogin should concentrate constantly on the Self, remaining in solitude, alone, with controlled mind and body, having no desires and destitute of possessions…Establishing a firm seat for himself in a clean place, not too high, not too low, covered with a cloth, an antelope skin, and kusha grass…There, having directed his mind to a single object, with his thought and the activity of the senses controlled, seating himself on the seat, he should practice yoga for the purpose of self-purification.  Holding the body, head and neck erect, motionless and steady, gazing at the tip of his own nose and not looking in any direction…with quieted mind, banishing fear, established in the brahmacharin vow of celibacy, controlling the mind, with thoughts fixed on Me, the yogin should sit, concentrated, devoted to me…Little by little, he should come to rest, with the intellect [buddhi] firmly held.  His mind having been established in the Self, he should not think of anything…Whenever the unsteady mind, moving to and fro, wanders away, he should restrain it and control it in the Self.” (VI.10-14, etc.)

 

 

Be Indifferent to Worldly Objects

 

“Without doubt, O Arjuna, the mind is unsteady and difficult to restrain; but by practice, Arjuna, and by indifference to worldly objects, it is restrained…I agree that yoga is difficult to attain by him whose self is uncontrolled; but by him whose self is controlled, by striving, it is possible to attain through proper means.” (VI.35-36)

 

 

Constantly Think of God

 

“He who thinks of Me constantly, whose mind does not ever go elsewhere, for him, the yogin who is constantly devoted, I am easy to reach, Arjuna.” (VIII.14)

 

Practice Until One’s Dying Moment

“And at the hour of death, he who dies remembering Me, having relinquished the body, goes to My state of being.  In this matter there is no doubt…Moreover, whatever state of being he remembers when he gives up the body at the end, he goes respectively to that state of being, Arjuna, transformed into that state of being…Therefore, at all times meditate on Me, with your mind and intellect fixed on Me.  In this way, you shall surely come to Me.” (VIII.5-7; see also continuation)

 

Easier to Worship God in Manifest than Unmanifest Form

“The trouble of those whose minds are fixed on the unmanifest is greater, for the goal of the unmanifest is attained with difficulty by embodied beings.” (XII.5)

Renunciation of the Fruit of Action is the Highest

“Knowledge [jnana] is indeed better than practice [abhyasa]; meditation [dhyana] is superior to knowledge; renunciation of the fruit of action is better than meditation.  Peace immediately follows renunciation.”

(XII.12)

  

Follow the Golden Rule

“Seeing indeed the same Lord (Self/God) established everywhere, he does not injure the Self by the self.  Thereupon he goes to the supreme goal.”

Krishna’s Final Advice to Arjuna

“Fix your mind on Me, worshipping Me, sacrificing to Me, bowing down to Me.  In this way you shall come truly to Me, I promise, for you are dear to me…Abandoning all duties, take refuge in me alone.  I shall liberate you from all evils; do not grieve.” (XVIII.65-66)

 

 

Obstacles to Yoga

 

Don’t Delude Yourself

“He who sits, restraining his organs of action, while in his mind brooding over the objects of the senses, with a deluded mind, is said to be a hypocrite.” (III.6)

 

Transcend Ego

“Actions in all cases are performed by the qualities of material nature [gunas].  He whose mind is confused by egoism imagines, “I am the doer.” (III.27)

 

 

Do Your Own Duty

“Better one’s own duty [swadharma] though deficient than the duty of another well performed.  Better is death in one’s own duty. The duty of another invites danger.” (III.35; also XVIII.47)

 

Overcome Desire/Passion

“As fire is obscured by smoke, and a mirror by dust, as the embryo is enveloped by the membrane, so the intellect is obscured by passion…therefore, restraining the senses, O Arjuna, kill this demon which destroys knowledge and discrimination.” (III.38+41)

 

Be Content Only with the Eternal

“Pleasures born of contact, indeed, are wombs (i.e. sources) of pain, since they have a beginning and an end (i.e. are not eternal), Arjuna.  The wise man is not content with them.” (V.22)

 

Walk The Middle Path

“Yoga is not eating too much, nor is it not eating at all; and not the habit of sleeping too much, and not keeping awake either, Arjuna…For him who is moderate in food and diversion, whose actions are disciplined, who is moderate in sleep and waking, yoga destroys all sorrow.” (VI.16-17)

 

The Fallen Yogi

 

“Arjuna, neither here on earth nor in heaven above is there found to be destruction of him [who strives for yoga]; no one who does good goes to misfortune, My son…Attaining the worlds of the meritorious, having dwelt there for endless years, he who has fallen from yoga is born again in the dwelling of the radiant and the illustrious…Or he may be born in the family of wise yogins; such a birth as this is very difficult to attain in the world…There he regains the knowledge derived from a former body, and he strives onward once more toward perfection, Arjuna…”  (VI.40-43)

 

Difficult to Transcend Illusion

“Divine indeed is this illusion [maya] of Mine made up of the three qualities, and difficult to penetrate; only those who resort to Me transcend this illusion.”

  

Binding Nature of the Gunas

“Sattva, rajas, tamas, thus, the qualities born of material nature, bind fast in the body, O Arjuna, the imperishable embodied One (the atman)… Of these, sattva, free from impurity, illuminating and free from disease, binds by attachment to happiness [sukhasangena – attachment to the good] and by attachment to knowledge [jnanasangena], Arjuna…know that rajas is characterized by passion arising from thirst and attachment.  This binds fast the embodies one, Arjuna, by attachment to action [karmasangena]…Know indeed that tamas is born of ignorance, which confuses all embodied beings.  This binds fast, Arjuna, with negligence, indolence, and sleepiness…When an embodied being transcends these three qualities, which are the source of the body, released from birth, death, old age, and pain, he attains immortality.” (XIV.5-10, etc.]

 

  

The Threefold Gate of Hell – Lust, Anger, and Greed

“This is the threefold gate of hell, destructive of the self: Lust (kama, also “desire”), Anger [krodha], and Greed [lobha].  Therefore one should abandon these three.” (XVI.21)

 

            Extreme Austerities Are Not Necessary

“Men who undergo terrible austerities [tapas] not enjoined by the scriptures, accompanied by hypocrisy and egotism, along with desire and passion…and also torturing Me thus within the body, know them to be of demoniacal resolves.” (XVII.5-6; see later in this chapter for sattvic austerities)

[See also Chapter XVI for the “Demoniacal” nature.]

 

Rajasic Renunciation is Not True Renunciation

“He who abandons action merely because it is difficult, or because of fear of bodily suffering, performs rajasic renunciation.  He does not obtain the fruit of that renunciation.” (XVIII.8)

 

Who is Krishna?

 

Birthless/Self-Born

“Although I am birthless and My nature is imperishable…Although I am the Lord of all beings, yet, by controlling my own material nature, I come into being by My own power.” (IV.6)

 

An Avatar – Upholds Dharma

“Whenever a decrease of righteousness exists, Arjuna, and there is a rising up of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself.  For the protection of the good and destruction of evil doers, for the sake of establishing righteousness, I am born in every age.” (IV.7-8)

  

Not Bound by Action

“Actions do not taint Me.  I have no desire for the fruit of action.  Thus he who comprehends Me is not bound by actions.” (IV.14; see also IX.9; XIII.28-31)

  

Nothing Higher than Krishna

“Nothing higher than Me exists, O Arjuna.  On me all this universe is strung like pearls on a thread.” (VII.7)

 

“Men whose knowledge has been carried away by these and those desires, resort to other gods, having to this and that religious rite, constrained by their own material natures…Whoever desires to honor with belief whatever worshipped form, on him I bestow immovable faith…He who, endowed with this faith, desires to propitiate that form, receives from it his desires, because those desires are decreed by Me…But temporary is the fruit for those of small understanding.  To the gods the godworshippers go; My worshippers come surely to Me.” (VII.20-23)

[See also the rest of Chapter 7 & Chapter 11]

 

 

All Things Are In God, But God Is Not In All Things

“This whole universe is pervaded by Me in My unmanifest aspect.  All beings abide in Me; I do not abide in them.” (IX.4)

 

 

Krishna is Both Transcendent & Immanent

“Since I transcend the perishable and am higher than the imperishable, there I am, in the world,  and in the Vedas, celebrated as the supreme Spirit [purushottama].” (XV.18)

 

  

No One is Ever Lost

“If even the evil doer worships me with undivided devotion, he is to be thought of as righteous [sadhu] for he has indeed rightly resolved…Quickly he becomes virtuous and goes to everlasting peace.  Arjuna, know for certain that no devotee of Mine is ever lost.” (IX.30-31)

 

Brings Light to the Darkness

“To those who are constantly steadfast, those who worship Me with love, I give the yoga of discrimination by which they come to Me…Out of compassion for them, I, who dwell within their own beings, destroy the darkness [tamas] born of ignorance with the shining lamp of knowledge [jnana].” (X.10-11)

 

(See also Chapters 10, 11, especially 11)

 

Splendor of a Thousand Suns

“If a thousand suns (suryasahasrasya) should rise all at once in the sky, such a splendor would resemble the splendor of that great Being.”

(XI.12; verse that came to mind when Robert Oppenheimer witnessed the explosion of the first atom bomb in New Mexico.)

 

Can Only Be Known By Pure Devotion

“By undistracted devotion/worship/love [bhakti] alone can I be known, and be truly seen in this form, and be entered into, Arjuna…He who does all work for Me, considers Me as the Supreme, is devoted to Me, abandons all attachment, and is free from enmity toward any being, comes to Me, Arjuna.” (XI.54-55; see also next chapter where Krishna says that also those worship Krishna in the formless sense also attain him.)

 

Abides in the Heart of All Beings, Creator of Illusion

“The Lord abides in the hearts of all beings, Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve, by the power of illusion [maya], as if fixed on a machine [yantra].” (XVIII.61; Shankara commented: “Like puppets fixed to a merry-go-round)

 

 

QuestEssential Lessons of this Session

 

~ Please give yourself time and space to read, re-read, and digest the Bhagavad Gita, it will make more and more sense as you go along.

 

~ The Bhagavad Gita (“Song of God”) is a profound explanation of yoga (“the knowledge more secret than all that is secret”) by Lord Krishna (God incarnate) to the great warrior, Arjuna, in the context of a great battle that Arjuna is about to fight.  Krishna first explains to Arjuna why it is his duty (dharma) to fight this battle, even though he will be killing his own friends and family.

 

~ Krishna speaks to Arjuna of 4 distinct paths of yoga – Karma Yoga (the Yoga of Selfless Action), Jnana Yoga (the Yoga of Discriminative Knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (the Yoga of Love and Devotion), and Raja Yoga (the Yoga of Meditation) – and how he might integrate all of these paths together.  When we realize that we are all Arjuna, then we understand that this teaching was/is intended for each and every one of us.

 

 

 

Quest Thyself

 

1)           True or False.  In the children’s rhyme that goes “little boy blue and the man in the moon,” Krishna is little boy blue and Arjuna is the man in the moon (or the rabbit ; ).

 

2)           True or False.  According to tradition, the Bhagavad Gita took place approximately 5000 years ago.

 

3)           The Bhagavad Gita talks about different paths of yoga, namely 4 major ones.  What are they?

 

4)           True or False.   The Bhagavad Gita is so much like the Bible that the 23rd section of it begins, “The Lord is my Cowherd, I shall not want…”

 

5)           Why does Arjuna not want to go to battle at the outset of the Bhagavad Gita?  If you were Krishna, what would you say to him?

 

6)           How could Gandhi be such a fan of the Bhagavad Gita if he was all about ahimsa (nonviolence)?

 

7) What are the qualities of a true yogi (or person of wisdom/sage) according to the Gita?

 

8) Why should we even care about the Bhagavad Gita anyway?  Does reading it or knowing about it really change anything for us?

 

 

 

Sources & Resources to Further Thy Quest

 

Articles & Essays

 

Gandhi on the Gita

 

The Historical Context of the Bhagavad Gita

 

Site with Articles & Audio on the Gita

 

The Bhagavad Gita & It’s Teachings, by Georg Feuerstein (in his Yoga Philosophy and History Manual)

 

 

Audio

 

Full Audio on Youtube

 

Sanskrit and English Versions

 

 

Videos

 

Bhagavad Gita Animated Film for Kids

 

Bhagavad Gita in English

 

Bhagavad Gita in Hindi

 

Ekhart Tolle on the Bhagavad Gita

 

Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Intro to the Gita

 

  

Some Good Gita Translations I Have Checked Out

[Note: Don’t believe the Amazon haters (if you tend to read the negative reviews first, as I do), most of them have some kind of axe to grind or agenda to push.   These are all worthy translations.]

Juan Mascaro.  The Bhagavad Gita.  This is the first translation of the Gita I ever read so I am partial to it; that said, it’s a very good one.

 

Barbara Stoller-Miller.  The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in the Time of War.

 

Winthrop Sargeant.  The Bhagavad Gita.

 

Swami Satchidananda.  The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita – A Commentary for Modern Readers.

 

Paramahamsa Yogananda.  The Bhagavad Gita: God Talks with Arjuna.

 

Ps. By the way, I don’t generally recommend the Hare Krishna version of this work because to me it feels too sectarian and tends to put down others who don’t believe the way they do.  That said, please make your own decision.

 

 

Free Online Translations

 

http://www.Gita4free.com

 

Edwin Arnold Translation (very good!)

 

Lars Martin Fosse

 

Bhagavad Gita Simplified!

(With Pictures : )

 

 

Also highly recommended

Ram Dass’ book “Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita” 

 

 

Krishna Kirtan

 

 Krishna Das ~ “Mere Gurudev”

 

George Harrison ~ “Gopala Krishna”

 “Hare Krishna Mantra”

 

Jagit Singh ~ “Hey Govind Hey Gopal: Jai Shri Krishna”

 

ShyamDas “Hari Bol”

 

Ammachi “Sri Krishna Sharanam Amma”

HARI OM TAT SAT

(see end of Chapter XVII)

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