Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) — Chapter XI: 1-2

August 1, 2020


      Whatever be the nature of knowledge and wisdom, it is a colossal waste if it merely adorns our intellect or heart. We should have the courage of our own convictions and live up to them. We should experience what we understand to be the highest truth (even with our own limited vision); for only then is even a verification of its validity possible. We may err; it is human. But if we do not have the daring, if we are ever standing on the brink, hesitant, we may die with a great weight in our heart - the weight of falsehood misunderstood as the truth! Hence, by all means look before you leap...take a second look, and a third... but for heaven's sake, leap.

     Arjuna takes a leap and is granted the cosmic vision. Out of this experience, several facts emerge which are discussed this month.

     Until we see the universe as God's body, we remain outside the inner court of yogaKarma Yoga is possible only if we realize we are one with God, and therefore with all. Bhakti Yoga is puerile if it is confined to idol worship and does not embrace Karma YogaJnana Yoga degenerates into intellectual gymnastics if the truth is not realized. But when the universe is seen as God's body, and God as the indwelling omnipresent consciousness, a great and courage-infusing affirmation of solace reverberates in every cell of our being. It leads us to nimitta bhavana - "I am only an instrument in the hands of God" - which is not a feeling or an attitude, but a living, even if unexpressed, truth.

    Liberation from the thralldom of ignorance is liberation from this mysterious ego-consciousness. The sage of cosmic consciousness sees God working through him, for the benefit, as it were, of the universe which, too, is God himself! Supreme peace reigns in the heart that is alive to this truth!



arjuna uvāca
™madanugrahāya paramaṁ guhyam adhyātmasaṁjñitaṁ
yat tvayo ’ktaṁ vacas tena moho ’yaṁ vigato mama (XI-1)
™bhavāpyayau hi bhūtānāṁ śrutau vistaraśo mayā
tvattaḥ kamalapatrākṣa māhātṁyam api cā ’vyayaṁ (XI-2)

XI/1. Arjuna said: By this word (explanation) of the highest secret concerning the self, which thou has spoken out of compassion towards me, my delusion is gone.

XI/2. The origin and the destruction of beings verily have been heard by me in detail from thee, O lotus-eyed Lord, and also thy inexhaustible greatness.


Swamiji's Commentary

   You can try this interesting experiment! At the end of an hour-long discourse, ask the members of the audience to recapitulate what they heard. You will be shocked to find how much of the discourse has flowed off the duck's back. Often people ask: "But how can I improve my grasping power and memory"? Become interested and remain interested in the whole discourse; otherwise the mind which works on the basis of the buddhi's (discriminative power's) valuation, will refuse to concentrate, absorb and retain.

   In order to be interested or to listen, you must be "on the same wave-length" as the master; his words must be meaningful to you as both of you are embarking on the spiritual adventure together. These words should enter your being and become living truths in you, not because you heard them from a great man, but because you see the truth. It is then that knowledge begins to flow.

   Considering that Krishna and Arjuna were on the battlefield, these two verses, which sum up the teaching so far, are excellent indication of the intellectual powers of Arjuna. "My delusion is gone," he says. That was the purpose of the Gita  and hence we can say it ended with the tenth chapter. Even at the end of the eighteenth chapter, Arjuna only repeats these words. Hence it is right to conclude that the first ten chapters of the Gita contain its philosophy and the remaining eight contain the practical application of this philosophy. The eleventh chapter is more in the nature of a demonstration of the great truths expounded by the Lord in the tenth chapter.

   Lotus is symbolic of unfoldment. Lotus-eyed therefore means "One whose inner vision has unfolded to infinite vision."

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