Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 8

Part 7

Part 9

6-1-1-2: Three types of Action 14(16 to 18)
The consequences of actions with the predominance of different qualities are different. Gati is the consequence after death and phala is the consequence of actions in the present life. A sattvic person undertakes good and noble activities and earns spiritual growth in the form of peace, balance, tranquility, and freedom from stress, tension, and anxiety. A sattvic person enjoys harmony and peace. In the case of a rajasic person, there is activity and material prosperity but there is tension, anxiety, stress; there is strain, and other negative emotions. A tamasic person is lethargy driven and prefers not to act because of delusion and ignorance. He wastes the gift of human birth.

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 7

Part 6

Part 8

6 Moksha: Preparation, Jnana and Jnana Phala

6-1 Preparation
Amritbindu Upanishad says that the mind is the cause of both bondage and liberation. A mind attached to sensory objects is bondage and a mind dispassionate to sensory objects is freedom. It has three impurities, namely, likes and dislikes, wandering, and ignorance about the true nature of a jiva. The corresponding spiritual disciplines to remove them are karma yoga, upasana yoga, and jnana yoga. A person undertaking them is a seeker of truth. The first two disciplines make him qualified for jnana yoga. On successful completion of jnana yoga, a person is enlightened and liberated.

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 5

Part 4

5 Bandha

5-1 Introduction
Bondage is the English equivalent of Bandha. Bondage is by way of suffering and conflicts in life. There are two types of suffering: physical and mental. For physical suffering like disease and old age, medical science provides treatment. Vedanta is not concerned about physical suffering. It is about mental suffering. They are in the form of sorrow, grief, jealousy, likes and dislikes, general dissatisfaction, and disenchantment in life. In the case of the loss of a close family member, there is an emotional setback and suffering. Heavy loss in business shakes a person and he suffers mentally. Vedanta is an answer to such suffering.

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 4

Part 3

Part 5

4-4 Viswarupa darshan (Yoga of cosmic vision) 11 (1 to 55)
In chapter 10, Sri Krishna has narrated divine manifestations. Arjuna says that by hearing divine teachings including the origin and dissolution of the universe, his delusion has gone, and that he wishes to directly see the cosmic form of Isvara, if it is possible. Sri Krishna accepts the request but says that it is not possible to see the cosmic form with ordinary eyes. He provides special eyes, i.e., eyes of knowledge for this purpose. Sri Krishna mentions 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras, two Asvins and 49 Maruts divided into seven groups and many wonders not seen before. The entire Universe of moving and the non-moving are in His body. The cosmic form is described in detail.

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 1

Table of contents- Annexure at the end                                          Part 2


Bhagavad Gita (Gita, in short) has an important place in Advaita Vedanta teaching. It is one of the Trai-Prasthanas, the other two are Upanishads and Brahma-sutra. Trai means three and Prasthana means to go. It is held that to know the truth one must take recourse to the said three scriptures. Upanishad is Sruti (revealed) Prasthana, Gita is Smriti (remembered) Prasthana and Brahma-sutra is logic (Nyay) Prasthana. Brahma-sutra provides the logical foundation for Upanishadic teachings.

Gita is the teaching imparted by Sri Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield of Mahabharata. It was occasioned because Arjuna declined to fight as he was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow by the prospect of fighting his own family members including revered Bhisma and Acharya Drona. The first chapter of Gita is titled Arjuna Vishad (Melancholy of Arjuna). Chapters 2 to 17 are the Vedantic teaching given by Sri Krishna to Arjuna. Gita does not have independent teaching. It is based on the Upanishads. It is said figuratively that the Upanishad is a cow, Gita is the milk and Sri Krishna is the milkman. 18 chapters of Gita are chapters 23 to 40 of Bhisma Parva of Mahabharat. Parva means book. The title Bhisma Parva relates to the period of battle when Bhisma was the commander of the Kaurava army. Bhisma Parva is followed by Drone Parva and so on. Sanjay, the charioteer of Dhritarashtra, blessed by sage Vyasa with divine eyesight narrates the battle scenes to Dhritarashtra. Sri Krishna delivers Gita teachings to Arjun on the first day of the 18-day battle of Mahabharat. Continue reading

The Paradox of Free Will (Feb 2011)

We haven’t discussed this favorite topic in Advaita for some time! This is an article I wrote for Yoga International over 12 years ago but it only appeared on-line for a short time at Advaita Academy.

Why do you act the way that you do? If it is because you feel you ought to do something, you probably recognize there is little free will involved. You are being coerced by society or family, or influenced by concerns over what might happen if you don’t act in that way. On the other hand, if you do something because you want to, then perhaps you believe you are exercising free will. But is this true even when you trace the source of your desire? For example, you see a cream cake in the window of a shop, and the thought arises, I would like some cake. Did you freely choose to have that thought? Indeed, can you choose to have any thought? Do they not simply arise?

Anyone who has thought deeply about spiritual matters knows that one of the fundamental problems is how to reconcile our day-to-day experience with claims about God or a nondual reality. The first level seems concrete and demonstrable while the second is speculative, to say the least. Among the Indian philosophies, advaita Vedānta is the only one that speaks of orders of reality. There is the absolute nondual reality (paramārtha); the empirical level (vyavahāra); and the illusory level of dreams (pratibhāsa). Correctly differentiating among these levels is essential if we are to understand the subtleties involved in the question of free will.

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Q.526 MithyA

Q: In your comment on the article by Arun Kumar, I was confused but intrigued that you define Mithya as something that simply explains the fundamental nature of the Brahman in life and its objects. I have not so far found any dictionary that defines mithya as anything other than false or illusory nor discovered any major scholar-philosopher who thought that Shankara viewed this world as a reality – as real as the ornament in your metaphor. You say that Shankara himself by discriminating between the waking and dream states suggests that novel meaning of Mithya. Is this your own interpretation or does Shankara himself link the ability to differentiate between those states to explain mithya?

You raise the example of how jumping into the middle of traffic would help one realize why this world is NOT an illusion… but it is not convincing enough. Potentially, both a person jumping in front of a truck and his consequent “death” could be perceived as illusory events too. The real question I have is whether Shankara himself viewed this world as illusion and used Mithya to convey that or not. And, if it was an illusion for him, what did he think the meaning of life was? If on the other hand life was Not an illusion to him, as you seem to suggest, what was its purpose in that case?

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Word by Word Scriptures

From 2015 to 2017, I posted a series of ‘Notes on Tattvabodha’ (31 parts) by Dr. Vishnu Bapat. (Beginning at These provided word by word translations of the Devanagari Sanskrit as well as an English commentary.

Dr. Bapat now has his own site at Vishnu Rao Bapat – Soulbliss where he has continued this practice and has similar translations of Bhagavad Gita, Atma Bodha, Dakshinamurti Stotram, Bhaja Govindam, Astavakra Gita, Amrita Bindu Upanishad and Devi Stotram.

Here, as an example, are two verses from the Bhagavad Gita. 

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The Final Paradox – ahaṃ brahmāsmi

Shankara’s explanation in Bhagavad Gita bhāṣya 2.21

[Note that this is a ‘stand-alone’ article which nevertheless supplements the material asking ‘Who am I?’ in the pratibandha posts beginning It provides a response to Venkat’s challenge at]

Reality is non-dual. All Advaitins know that this is the teaching, even if they have not yet succeeded in reconciling this with the appearance of the world and their own apparent individuality.

The Self does not act. The jñānī knows this. The well-known statement in Bhagavad Gita 5.8-9 tells us that: The balanced person who knows the truth thinks: ‘I do nothing at all; it is only the senses relating to their sense objects,’ even whilst seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, excreting or grasping; even just opening or closing the eyes. It is all simply the ‘play of the guṇa-s’, name and changing form, like the movement of waves on the surface of the ocean – all is always only water.

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Consciousness and the world

What is the scriptural basis for Advaita consciousness being an awareness preceding the universe?

That’s an ‘easy’ one. 1)  Consciousness and awareness are the same for Advaita Vedanta. 2) Atman-brahman, or Consciousness, is the sole reality – the universe is, in essence, not other than Atman (Consciousness or ‘Spirit’). 3) Consequently, there is no creation – no causation, including space and time, which, like everything else, are phenomena, appearances.

Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.10: ‘the world is brahman alone’. 

K 3.18. In this karika Gaudapada demonstrates that creation is only apparent because reality is unchangeable (and it is taught that the effect is not other than the cause).

Katha Up. 2.1.10: ‘Whoever sees difference between what is here (individual Atman/’soul’) and what is there (brahman) goes from death to death’.

Brihadaranyaka Up. 2.5.19: ‘The supreme being is perceived as manifold on account of Maya’ (magic).

Taittiriya Up. 2.6: ‘Brahman, which is the absolute reality, became reality (satya) and unreality/appearance (asatya)’. That is, the cause itself appears as various effects due to superimposition, which is itself the core, or definition, of ignorance (avidya). Cf. Tai. 2.6, Chandogya Up. 2.8.4, and Bhavagad Gita 4.13 and 13.2.