Vedic Dharma by Arun J. Mehta - HTML preview

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Karma Yog – path of action

3.

Gnāna Yog – path of knowledge

4.

Rāj Yog – path of Meditation

One may meditate in the morning, go to work in the afternoon, stop over for a bhajan (devotional song) session in the evening, and read scriptures before going to bed, all in one day.

1. Bhakti Yog

Is the path of love and devotion for a personal God. Mind and emotions play predominant role in bhakti. This is the path of total surrender to God. God can be imagined as a mother, father, friend, child, wife, or husband. Mirabai, a queen, gave up her family, a life of luxury, and got completely immersed in devotion to Shri Krushna as if He was her husband. In the end she was prepared to take poison rather than give up her devotion to Krushna.

Nine varieties of devotional activities are described in Bhāgavat Purāna: 1. Shravana - listening to scriptures, bhajans, etc.

2. Kirtana - singing bhajans, shlokas, etc.

3. Smarana – remembering and recalling holy names e.g. Vishnusahastranām (thousand names of God)

4. Pāda sévana – service at the feet of God in a temple 5. Archanā – ritual puja

6. Vandanā – complete surrender (prostration) in front of a murti 7. Dāsya – being a servant of God

8. Sākhya – intimate friendship with God.

9. Ātma- nivédana – total and continuous surrender to God or Samādhi merging with God.

2. Karma Yog

The literal meaning of Karma is action. Scriptural meaning of Karma also includes what precedes the action (intentions behind the action), the act – how it is performed and what means are used; and what follows the action (consequences of that action). Every thought, word, and act has ripple effect. All good thoughts, words, and actions have good outcomes. This is the law of Karma. We may not get the result that we were expecting or at the time when we were expecting it. That is beyond our control. The only control we have is on our thoughts, speech, and action – not on the result. Karma (action) becomes Karma Yog when the action is performed without any desire for selfish gain, the action is performed according to Dharma, without anxiety for the result, and all credit for the outcome is give to Paramātmā (God) in all humility.

The most frequently quoted shloka on Karma Yog from Bhagavad Gitā says: Karmānyéva adhikārah mā phaléshu kadāchana

Mā karma-phala-hetur-bhuhu mā té sangah astu akarmani Performance of action is (your) only right. (You) may not get the fruits (results that you expected or when you expected).

Do not work for the fruits of action. Do not keep company of inaction (not doing anything is not an option).

Bhagavad Gitā Chap. II.47

Other shloka- s on Karma Yog are:

Yah tu indriyāni manasā niyamya ārbhaté, Arjun

Karméndriyaihi karmayogam asaktah vishishyaté

Whoever initiates actions after controlling all his sense organs with his mind (getting over his likes and dislikes, and selfish desires) and without (selfish) attachment (to results), succeeds.

Bhagavad Gitā, III.7

Niyatam kuru karma tvamkarma jyāyo hee akarmanah

Sharirayātrā api cha té na prasiddhyét akarmanah

Always perform (your) prescribed duty. Action is better than inaction.

Even maintenance of (physical) body is not possible without action.

Bhagavad Gitā, III.8

Evaluate every action. Consider your own intentions behind the action and the means used in performing the action. „Action‟ is good if the intention is unselfish and methods used do not harm others. We have a choice in selection of our thoughts and actions. We do not have any control over what follows the „action‟ (the consequences). Every act or even thought has similar consequences. „Good‟ thoughts and „good‟ actions have „good‟

consequences. If we do something for others with good intentions and without expecting anything in return, good things will eventually happen to us too. We do not have any control over when or what the consequences will be. It is essential that we analyze our intentions continuously, do our best, work hard, perceiver, and leave the results to Him.

“In regard to every action one must know the result expected to follow, the means there to, and the capacity for it. He who, being thus equipped, is without desire for the result and is yet wholly engrossed in the due fulfillment of the task before him, is said to have renounced the fruits of his action.”

M. K. Gāndhi

Atho khalvāhuhu kāmamaya evāyam purusha eeti sa yathākrāmo bhavati tatkraturbhavati tatkarma kurutépatkarma kuruté tad-abhisampadhyaté.

Bruhadāranyaka IV. 4.5

Our strong desire is the basis for our decisions and driving force behind our actions. We get results according to our actions. Thus our desires and actions determine our destiny.

Karma yog is a way of life. It purifies the mind by removing „ vāsanā- s‟ (strong, deep desires) and helps improve concentration in meditation.

3. Gnāna (knowledge) Yog

Is the path of intellectual inquiry. The root word gna means „to know‟. Gnāna means knowledge. Vignāna is used for special knowledge - something more than ordinary knowledge. In scriptures Vignāna is used for the spiritual wisdom or knowledge about Brahman (God).

Like all other paths the person following this path has to practice all the moral values first. Taking this path of Gnāna Yog without the moral values can be very misleading and dangerous.

We can deny the existence of everything and everyone but we can not deny the existence of our own self. The intellectual inquiry starts with the question about “Who am I?”,

“Am I my body, mind, or intellect?”, “What is consciousness?”, “What makes me aware of the world around me?” etc.

There are three steps in acquiring this special knowledge: 1.

Shravana – listening to a guru and reading scriptures.

2.

Manana – contemplation on what guru and scriptures have taught and on questions like “What is the „Truth‟?‟, “Why am I here?”, “What is the ultimate goal in life?”, “How should I lead my life?”, “What is „soul‟?”, “What happens after death?” etc. The knowledge gained from this self-analysis may ultimately lead to „Self-realization‟.

3.

Nididhyāsana – the contemplation on above questions leads to deeper and deeper understanding of mind, ego, and the divine reality (Brahman).

Ultimately it may lead to the destruction of individual ego and union with the Brahman (the universal force).

4. Rāj Yog

is also known as Astānga Yog or Kriya Yog. The goal of Rāj Yoga is to destroy the ego and develop intense concentration. In the twelfth chapter of Bhagawad Gita, Arjun asks Shri Krushna “Who is better – a devotee who worships a God with a physical form or one who meditates on the formless, absolute God? Shri Krushna explains that those who can contemplate on a formless, indestructible, changeless God; should follow that path.

Those who prefer to worship God with as an icon or form ( Murti) will also experience the same God ultimately. Both these paths lead to the same result in the end if followers live according to highest moral and ethical principles. None is better than the other.

Patanjali has described eight steps in this yog which include: 1.

Yama-s (restraints) – are nonviolence ( ahimsā), truthfulness ( satya), control over all senses ( brahmacharya), not taking anything that belongs to others ( aparigraha).

2.

Niyama-s (rules or practices) – are cleanliness of body and mind ( soucha), contentment ( santosha), disciplined effort ( tapa), study of scriptures ( svādhyāya), search for God or surrender to God as the top priority ( Ishwara Pranidhāna).

The first two steps ( yama-s & niyama-s) are common requirements for all paths – Bhakti, Karma, Gnāna, & Raj yog.

3.

Āsana-s – yoga postures that are now being taught all over the world is a part of this yog.

4.

Prānāyāma – control of breathing by various exercises and techniques.

5.

Pratyāhāra – is control of senses or reducing input from all sense organs and thoughts about external objects.

6.

Dhārana – is preliminary stage of meditation when the mind is trained to withdraw from all senses and concentrate on an idea or object you want to attain. Intense concentration is achieved for a short period of time.

7.

Dhyāna – is second stage. The mind is still aware of its separate existence from the object of meditation ( Brahman).

8.

Samādhi – is the final goal of meditation in Rāj Yog. In the final state of meditation the individual looses her individual ego and feels one with Brahman (God).

13. Different Methods Prescribed for Personal Evolution If we look at our traditions we can find many ways by which we can transform our lives and evolve. Our choice depends on our aptitude, knowledge, background, circumstances, etc. We can select one or more of the following:

1.

Āshrama-s (stages of life) – Performing duties prescribed for each stage of life.

Āshramas teach us:

I.

Tapa (disciplined effort) in Brahmacharyāshram – first 25 years of life.

II.

Yagna (selfless service) in Gruhasthāshram – age 25 to 50.

III. Abhyāsa more detailed study of scriptures in Vānaprasthāshram – 50 to 75 years.

IV. Sanyāsa is tyāga or renunciation of all attachments to worldly things & people in Sanyāsāshram – last stage of life.

2.

Four Paths - following one or combination of two or more paths I.

Bhakti Yog – Path of Devotion

II.

Karma Yog – Path of Action

III. Gnāna Yog – Path of Knowledge

IV. Rāj Yog – Path of Meditation

3.

Gunā-s – (basic characteristics of each individual) trying to evolve from tamas to rajas to sattva (Chapter 14).

4.

Sanskāra-s – there are some forty milestones throughout our life that we can celebrate. They remind us of our duties as we progress from conception to death (Chapter 15).

5.

Deva-s (deities) – each of our deity has some characteristics that we can emulate. Depending on our weakness we can select appropriate deity. For example if we need strength we can worship Hanumanji or Durgamātā and work towards the goal of getting strong and brave.

6.

Festivals – there is a meaning or reason for celebrating a festival. Learning about this can show us a path to further evolution.

7.

Rituals – There are lessons behind each pujā or kathā.

8.

Abhyāsa – study of Bhagavad Gitā, Rāmāyana, etc. and learning from them.

9.

Satsanga – keeping good company and learning from each other.

10. Japa – repetition of a mantra or holy name.

11. Dhyāna - Meditation

l2.

Yātrā – visiting holy places. Holy places have an effect of making us more spiritual.

13. Vrata – is resolution. Some resolve to „not eat salt‟, or „fast‟ or „not speak‟ on certain days. This practice improves our will power.

14. Three Gunā-s

There are three main characteristics or qualities ( guna-s) to describe all our thoughts, speech, and actions. They are called Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. There are no equivalent English words. They may be very roughly translated as good ( Deva, god-like), passionate ( Rākshasa), and bad ( Asura). They are like three primary colors – when they are mixed in different proportions they can make all the other colors. All three gunā- s exist in all of us in different proportions and create millions of different individual and unique personalities.

The other meaning of gunā is rope, a rope that binds our ātmā down to our body, mind, intellect, and our sense of ego. The spirit ( ātmā), the unlimited power, begins to feel the pain and limitations of the physical body because of this bondage.

Knowledge about gunā- s help us analyze our own personality, determine our own weaknesses, and take corrective action so that each individual characteristic changes from tāmasic to rājsic to sātvic gunā. This can be a road map for our evolutionary path to Self-realization or Moksha. All of us are capable of improving ourselves. All of us have all three gunā- s in different proportions in our thoughts, speech, and actions. No one is perfect and everyone is changing all the time.

1.

Tamas

Water buffalo, who spends most of its time soaking in mud, is a good example for this category. There is a lot of inertia, little interest in any activity, no ambition, dull and sleepy all the time. All of us are tāmasic when we are born, spending all the time in sleeping, eating, and excreting.

People with this tendency are ignorant of spiritual knowledge or higher values. This is described as total darkness in the mind. They arrive at wrong decisions in life because of this ignorance ( avidyā) and disorganized thinking. Tāmasic vrutti (tendency) includes laziness, carelessness, fear, hostility towards all, and uncaring attitude. It also includes criminal thoughts of breaking laws or rules and violent actions. The color for tamas is black.

2.

Rajas

A rājasic person has lots of selfish desires for acquiring worldly goods, ambition for wealth, power, and lot of energy for activities. He is always busy trying to earn money, buy things, hoard and protect his possessions, and enjoy. She has very strong likes and dislikes, and a strong sense of „I‟, „me‟, and „mine‟ (ego). He is also prone to some negative qualities like anger, arrogance, greed, jealousy, and passion. He may employ unethical means to achieve his goals. Her mood fluctuates and has hard time deciding.

He is not focused, worries a lot, and gets agitated. The color for rajas is red.

3.

Sattva

A sāttvic person has great desire for spiritual knowledge, has love in heart for everyone, kindness, compassion, and faith in God. She has clear goals, knows what is right and wrong, and what her duty is. He works hard to help others without expecting anything in return. There is great control over all speech and actions. There is absence of all negative characteristics like anger, greed, arrogance, jealousy, selfish desires, etc. She is described as „pure‟ & „luminous‟. A sāttvic person is anxious for peace and happiness for all and desire for true knowledge and wisdom. This desire, however noble, still creates attachment. For Moksha one has to go beyond this attachment of sattva to happiness & knowledge.

Evolve from Tamas to Rajas to Sattva

All of us are working under one of the guna which is predominant and others are dormant at any moment. Védic Dharma suggests that we evaluate ourselves (not others), find our weaknesses, make necessary changes, and evolve from tamas to rajas and then to sattva in all our activities. This gives us a road map of a path for personal evolution.

1. The first step is to realize the need for change.

2. Then we make a decision ( sankalpa) to change and find ways about how to change. Initially we try to change everyone other than ourselves. That does not work. Then we decide to change ourselves.

3. Next step is to observe our daily activities, even our thoughts objectively, as if we are somebody else. Find one or two characteristics which are of tāmasic variety and work on them to change to rājasic to sāttvic.

Activities according to Gunā-s

1. Long term goals:

Tāmasic - Long term goals are to sleep, eat, & destroy others.

Rājasic - Long term goals are for personal pleasure, prestige, power, & wealth.

Sāttvic - Long term goals are for unity, love, & welfare of all.

2. Attachment to:

Tāmasic – food and sleep.

Rājasic – is attached to action and desire to acquire worldly objects.

Sāttvic – would like happiness & „True‟ knowledge for all.

3. Actions:

Tāmasic – performs actions without due thought about the results, or how actions are carried out. He denies all responsibility and may get involved in criminal or violent activities to harm others or himself. He has no humility and often procrastinates.

Bhagawad Gitā, XVIII.25, 28

Rājasic – performs activities with arrogance, pomp & show; for selfish reasons to gain personal possessions, prestige, power, and wealth. These activities create anxieties, agitation, bitterness, conflict, & anger. Later they may lead to sorrow & depression.

Bhagawad Gitā, XVIII.24, 27

Sāttvic – actions are performed without likes & dislikes for the action or the people involved, or insistence on a particular result. Activities are carried out according to dharma and for peace and welfare of all. Sāttvic person remains calm in success or failure.

Bhagawad Gitā, XVIII.23, 26

4. Food ( Bhagawad Gitā XVII.7-10)

Type of food

Tāmasic – person eats stale, tasteless, decomposed, or polluted food.

Rājasic – prefers spicy, bitter, sour, salty, or very hot food.

Sāttvic – person eats nutritious food that increases life and strength and promotes purity of thoughts.

Feelings of the cook

Tāmasic – cook has negative feelings of anger, hate, etc.

Rājasic – thinks about „What will I get out of this activity?‟

Sāttvic – cook has love in her heart and wants to share the food with all.

Place

Tāmasic – person eats in bar filled with smoke.

Rājasic – person likes fancy restaurant.

Sāttvic – person prefers to eat at home or in temple.

Quantity

Tāmasic – consumes a lot of food.

Rājasic – eats a lot only if he likes the food.

Sāttvic – person will eat just enough to maintain healthy body.

Time

Tāmasic – eats at irregular hours or eats lying down.

Rājasic – eats while working or walking.

Sāttvic - eats quietly, slowly, regularly.

Drink

Tāmasic – individual takes recreational drugs and drinks alcoholic beverages.

Rājasic – drinks excitable caffeinated beverages.

Sāttvic – prefers water, fruit juice, etc.

5. Sleep

Tāmasic – person sleeps during the day or while at work.

Rājasic – has difficulty sleeping and has excitable dreams.

Sāttvic – enjoys restful, sound sleep.

6. Speech

Tāmasic – individual talks without thinking, tells lies, complains about everything, criticizes, and uses obscene language.

Rājasic - talks about „I, me, & mine‟ all the time.

Sāttvic – person thinks & then tells the truth ( satyam) in pleasant words ( priyam), and what is beneficial to all ( hitam). Her speech is encouraging and uplifting.

7. Intellect ( Buddhi):

Tāmasic - has false beliefs and delusions. Thinks that which is morally and ethically „right‟ is „wrong‟ & what is „wrong‟ is „right‟.

Rājasic – is confused about what is „right‟ and what is „wrong‟. He cannot decide what to do when there is moral dilemma.

Sāttvic – person knows „right‟ from „wrong‟, what is according to dharma, and what is good for all and which brings long-term security.

Bhagawad Gitā XVIII.30-32

8. Pleasure is derived from:

Tāmasic – person feels happy after getting up late in the morning, after getting intoxicating drinks, doing harm to others, and destruction of property.

Rājasic – individual feels happy during activities that give pleasure from sense gratification. Activity feels like fun in the beginning but ends up in grief later ( Préyas).

Sāttvic – person is involved in activities that are good for all. This may be difficult in the beginning but brings long lasting pleasure & peace to all ( Shréyas).

Bhagawad Gitā XVIII.37-39

9. Keeps company of:

Tāmasic – people prefer the company of criminals.

Rājasic – individuals keep company of people who will help him achieve his selfish goals to become rich & famous.

Sāttvic – keep company of good people ( satsang) who live according to Dharma.

10. Reading, listening to music, watching movies

Tāmasic – like trashy, vulgar, and violent entertainment.

Rājasic – prefers exciting literature and movies.

Sāttvic – read, listen, and watch value based entertainment.

11. Rituals ( Yagna):

Tāmasic – performs religious ceremony without faith and knowledge about meaning of mantras or rituals, to gain power over others, harm others, get strength or wealth to destroy others, to torture their own body, and without giving dakshinā (gift to Brahmin).

Rājasic – individual performs rituals to gain personal prestige, profit, or power.

Dakshinā is given to Brahmana-s to show off wealth.

Sāttvic – person performs obligatory rituals with proper understanding of the meaning of mantras, without expecting anything in return, and resolve to put them in practice. Generous dakshinā is given with love and respect.

12. Charity ( Dāna):

Tāmasic – individual does not believe in giving any charity or it is given to unworthy cause or without love and respect.

Rājasic – person regrets when he has to give dāna or gives to gain something in return.

Sāttvic - gives willingly, with faith and humility, to the right cause with full knowledge about the results of his action, as a sense of duty, and without expectation of getting anything in return.

Bhagawad Gitā XVII.20-22

13. Knowledge:

Tāmasic – person does not have any understanding of the „Truth‟ (God).

Rājasic – individual can not discriminate „right‟ from „wrong‟. He feels that all life forms as separate from each other and different from himself. Other life forms are created for his pleasure.

Sāttvic – person feels the same „ Paramātmā‟ (life force) living in the whole universe, all humans, animals, and even the inanimate objects.

Bhagawad Gitā XVIII.20-22

14. Three characters (brothers) from Rāmāyana:

Tāmasic – character is Kumbhakarna who slept for six months, ate for six months and fought against Rāma.

Rājasic – brother is Rāvana. He was very intelligent, knowledgeable, strong, and brave but had weakness for Sita who was married to Rāma.

Sāttvic – brother is Vibhishana. He left Rāvana and joined forces with Rāma to fight with his brother Rāvana, who had abducted Sita.

15. Tapa (Disciplined effort):

Tāmasic – individual performs tapa with the goal of doing harm to others or for torturing his self.

Rājasic – person performs tapa for gaining respect, power, or wealth.

Sāttvic – person performs tapa to worship devas with faith and unselfish motive.

Bhagawad Gitā XVII.14-16

16. Temperament:

Tāmasic – individual is lethargic and vengeful.

Rājasic – is restless and ambitious.

Sāttvic – is calm and focused.

17. Tyāga (renunciation of fruits of action):

Tāmasic – person does not carry out his duties because of ignorance or laziness.

Rājasic – individual does not perform his duties because of fear of outcome of the action or if the task is unpleasant or difficult.

Sāttvic – persons carry out all their duties without selfish desire for personal gain and without fear for difficulty of the task.

Bhagawad Gitā XVIII.9-10.

18. Worship:

Tāmasic – worship ghosts.

RājasicYaksha- s and Rākshasa-s Sāttvic – worship Devā- s

Bhagawad Gitā XVII.4

15. Samskāra-s

Life is a sacred journey. So each milestone is celebrated by performing a sacred ceremony. Family and friends get together, lending support, advice and encouragement.

Samskāra-s are sacraments or holy rites that guide us and remind us about our responsibilities in life, inspire family togetherness and invoke God‟s blessings. There are 40 Sanskāra- s for different milestones in life from conception to the last rites.

Some of the important Sanskāra-s are:

Simantonayana is performed between the sixth and eighth month of pregnancy. Family takes special care of expectant mother during pregnancy since physical and mental development of the fetus is dependant on mother‟s health. Simant ceremony is performed to invoke God‟s grace for a healthy baby and to remind the family to take good care of the expectant mother. The mother is advised to eat fresh, wholesome, nutritious food, read inspiring books, listen to good music and have good, positive thoughts. She is encouraged to avoid negative feelings of anger, hatred, jealousy, violence, etc. What she eats, drinks, thinks, watches, hears, reads, affect the baby very much.

Nāmakaran

When the baby is between 6 – 11 days old, the father whispers the baby‟s name in the right ear. Baby‟s aunt (father‟s sister) has the honor to cradle the baby and announce the baby‟s name. Family and friends give gifts to the baby. The aunt receives special gifts from baby‟s parents for this ceremony. Personal names have meanings or special significance. The child is named after a mythological hero or a God‟s name. The selection of a name for a child is very important because the child will emulate the characteristics of the mythological hero or heroine he/she is named after. The hero or heroine becomes an inspiration for the rest of his/her life. Every child should know the meaning of his/her name and the legend behind it. People living outside of India should select names that are easy to pronounce for the local people.

Upanayana

The sacred thread ceremony is also known as Yagnopaveet. The sacred thread has three strands to remind the child of his/her responsibilities towards the Guru, parents, and the community or nation. This ceremony is performed at the age 7 or 8 years when the child is ready to learn the scriptures ( Védas) and the child is introduced to Brahmacharyāshram. He is given a sacred thread, and taught Gāyatri Mantra.

Vivāh

Wedding ceremony teaches responsibility towards husband, wife, children, community, and the country. The groom holds hand of the bride and makes a promise that his wife will be the queen of his home and goddess of his prosperity. He also promises to be firm like a rock in his love and affection for her. It is very important to learn about the vows and Sapta padi (seven steps) ceremony before getting married.

Antyesti

Is the last samskāra, a farewell to the departed ātmā (soul).

16 . Vivéka Buddhi

Is the ability to discriminate between good and bad, merit and demerit, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical. It also helps us distinguish between the Self ( Ātmā, indestructible, or permanent) and the non-Self (perishable). No book or teacher can tell us „what to do‟ under all circumstances and hence we need to develop our own „ Vivék Buddhi‟. Some time teachers and books may give us conflicting advice. That is the time when our own vivéka buddhi helps.

The interaction between body, mind, intellect, and conscience are compared with prince Arjun sitting in a chariot with five horses driven by Shri Krushna. The horses are our five senses. If we do not have any control over our senses, we can be driven off a cliff.

Our mind is the reins that control the senses (horses). The reins are in the hands of Shri Krushna or our vivéka buddhi or conscience. He guides the senses through our mind.

We all can develop this vivék buddhi. It takes in to consideration past experiences and a long-term view of possible outcomes of any action. What looks like a pleasant ( préyas) and easy path may not be in the best interest of all ( shréyas).

Some of the factors that interfere with vivék buddhi are: 1.

Strong likes and dislikes for people and things.

2.

Negative feelings like fear, anger, hate, jealousy, greed, selfish desires, and arrogance.

3.

Inability to see the „big‟ picture or the final goal.

How to develop „ vivék buddhi‟? ( Bhagawad Gitā, II.62, 63; III.40 – 43).

a.

Have a vision – where do you want to be at the end of the journey.

b.

Give up personal likes & dislikes for people and things. ( Bhagawad Gitā, II.68,69; III.34)

c.

Remove mental impurities mentioned in # 2 above because they interfere with good decisions. This can be achieved at:

i.

Intellectual level - by study of scriptures and accepting the concept that Ātmā (soul) is part of Paramātma (God). It is the same in all living beings and it is indestructible. Ayam ātmā Brahm (My soul is the Universal Conciousness). Contemplation and meditation on this concept helps.

ii.

Emotional level – by developing love and faith in the Supreme ( Bhakti Yog).

iii.

Physical level – by selfless service ( Sewa).

d.

Know your duties for your stage and station in life.

e.

Perform actions for the welfare of all ( Bhagawad Gitā III.19, 20), according to dharma, and with an attitude of service

f.

Accept results as a „ prasād‟ (blessings from God), give credit to and dedicate them to the Lord ( Bhagawad Gitā, IX.27).

g.

Analyze all thoughts, words, and deeds – why, how, what next, etc.

17. Yathā Yogyam Tathā Kuru

In the end do what you think is appropriate.

Uddharet ātmanā ātmānam na ātmānam avasādyet

Ātmā eva hee ātmanah bandhu ātmā eva ripuhu ātmanah

You can lift yourself up (but) do not degrade yourself.

You only are your (true) friend and you are your enemy.

Bhagawad Gitā, VI.5

In the last chapter Shri Krushna in Bhagawad Gitā tells Arjun:

“Vimrushya etat asheshana yathā icchasi tathā kuru”

Think (about) all that (I have said) and then do as you please. (The choice is yours.) Bhagawad Gitā, XVIII.63

“Do not accept what I have said because it has been so said in the past; Do not accept it because it has been handed down by tradition; Do not accept it thinking it may be so;

Do not accept it because it is in Holy Scriptures;

Do not accept it because it can be proven by inference; Do not accept it thinking it is worldly wisdom;

Do not accept it because it seems to be plausible;

Do not accept it because it is said by a famous or holy monk; But if you find that it appeals to your sense of discrimination and conscience as being conducive to the benefit and happiness of all; then accept it and live up to it.”

Gautam Buddha

Best wishes for a very fruitful and enlightening journey.

Shantihi Shantihi Shantihi.

Appendix I. Some Interesting Quotes about India

“In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities but not being fixed in them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.”

Appolonius Tyanaeus, Greek thinker and traveler 1st Century CE

“Whenever I have read any part of the Védas, I have felt that some unearthly and unknown light illuminated me. In the greatest teachings of the Védas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climes and nationalities and the royal road for the attainment of the Great Knowledge.”

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

American naturalist, philosopher and writer

"India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all"

Will Durant, American Historian (1885 – 1981)

“The ancient civilization of India differs from those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece, in that its traditions have been preserved without breakdown to present day.”

Arthur Basham, Australian Historian

"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only."

Mark Twain, American author

"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

"India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border."

Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA:

Appendix II. Great Reformers of India – A Timeline

Véda-s are timeless scriptures that were revealed to Rooshi- s (sages) and passed on from one generation to the next by repetition and memorizing. Great Rooshi- s did not leave their names or claimed copyright. Research scholars have developed new chronologies based on position of stars as described in Véda- s and Purana- s. For example, a Roog Védic verse describes winter solstice at Aries that correlates to around 6500 BCE (8,500

years ago). Scholars, from East and West, now believe the Roog Véda people who called themselves Āryan were indigenous to India, and there never was an Āryan invasion.

There is evidence of travel, trade, and exchange of knowledge between China, Persia, South East Asian, Eastern Mediterranean countries and India since prehistoric times.

5000 BCE – Well planned cities developed along Sindhu and Saraswati rivers 3100 BCE - Mahābhārat war – Dharma is taught by Shri Krushna to Arjun and recorded by Véd Vyās as Bhagawad Gitā. People were performing rituals to obtain wealth and power for themselves. Some pandits were wasting time on philosophical and religious discussions. Bhagawad Gitā emphasizes „selfless service‟ for the benefit of the society and „performance of one‟s own duty without expecting anything in return‟. It becomes a handbook on how to live one‟s life.

2600 – 2000 BCE - Sindu-Saraswati river civilization reaches its peak.

2000 BCE - Saraswati river dries up and people migrate.

600 BCE - A unified Bhāratiya culture has developed. Sushruta develops complex surgical techniques like reconstruction of nose.

599 to 527 BCE - Mahāvir Swami is born in a Hindu family. He emphasized Ahimsā, Moksha, and Bhrahmacharya to address weaknesses in the society such as violence and sensuous pleasure oriented activities.

563 to 483 BCE - Gautam Buddha is born in a Hindu family. He also addressed weaknesses in the society like violence, reliance on rituals to gain wealth & power, endless intellectual discussions on religious practices, etc. and suggested „eight fold path‟

consisting of right thought, right speech, right action etc.

321 BCE - Maurya dynasty rules over whole of India. Great advances in the fields of art, science, economy, music, dance, architecture, astronomy, etc. are achieved.

200 BCE - Tiruvalluvar writes „ Tirukural‟ – a treatise on ethics.

320 CE - Gupta dynasty rules over all of India.

800 CE – Shri Ādi Shankarāchārya revives Hinduism.

1469 CE - Guru Nānak is born in a Hindu family. Hindus were divided by caste etc. and were being persecuted by Muslims. He taught equality of all and his followers later advocated carrying Kirpan for self-defense.

1825 to 1883 – Swami Dayānanda Saraswati emphasized life according to original teachings from Veda-s, devotion to one God, universal love, justice, equality of men and women, disciplined living, and service of mankind.

1863 to 1902 - Swami Vivekānanda introduced Europe and USA to Vedānta and Yoga and spoke at The Parliament of World‟s Religions in Chicago (1893). He later started Rāmakrishna Mission.

1869 to 1948 – Mahātma Gāndhi - for the first time in the history of the world mighty British and other European empires are destroyed by civil disobedience movement based on truth and nonviolence and started by Mahātmā Gāndhi. He lived according to the teachings of Bhagawad Gitā.

Further Reading:

1. “The Essentials of Hinduism” by Swami Bhaskarananda. Pub. Viveka Press, Seattle, 1994.

2. “Isāvāsya Upanishad” by Swami Chinmayananda. Pub. Central Chinmaya Mission Trust.

3. “Mundakopnisad” translation and commentary by Swami Chinmayananda. Pub.

Central Chinmaya Mission Trust.

4. “Sreemad Bhagawad Geeta” by Swami Chinmayananda. Pub. Central Chinmaya Mission Trust.

5. Discourses on Taittiriya Upanishad by Swami Chinmayananda. Pub. Central Chinmaya Mission Trust.

6. “The Bhagavad Gita” by Eknath Easwaran. Pub. Niligiri Press.

7. “Hinduism – The Eternal Tradition by David Frawley. Pub. Voice of India, New Delhi.

8. “The Essence of Hinduism” by M. K. Gāndhi. Compiled and edited by V. B. Kher.

Pub. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1987.

9. “The Message of the Gita” by M. K. Gāndhi. Pub. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad.

10. “A History of India and Hindu Dharma”, Hinduism Today, December 1994.

11. “The Complete Idiot‟s Guide to Hinduism” by Linda Johnsen. Pub. Alpha.

12. “Foundations of Indian Culture” by K. M. Munshi. Pub. Bhāratiya Vidyā Bhavan, Mumbai, 1988.

13. “Mohan-Mālā” compiled by R. K. Prabhu. Pub. Navajivan Publidhing House, Ahmedabad, 1949.

14. “Sri Isopanishad” by BhaktiVédanta Swami Prabhupāda.