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The BHAGAVAD GITA -- Summary -- PART 1

Nov 30, 2004 03:27 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

The BHAGAVAD GITA - Summary Part 1


Summary of the Main Themes in the Bhagavad Gita

Some key statements made by Krishna to Arjuna, help us in considering the
main themes in the Bhagavad Gita.

Krishna was an "avatar" of the Preserver -- Maha-Vishnu. His death around
February 18th, 3102 BC ushered in the current cycle of the Kali-Yuga (the
Black Age). His teachings to Arjuna (reported here by Vyasa (also a Sage)
are deemed to reverberate through the whole length of this dark period among
the eternal cycles. This one is said to be 432,000 years in duration.
[SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol. I, pp 662-5, II 68-70.]

The BHAGAVAD GITA is included in the MAHA-BHARATA -- an account of the early
struggles of the Royal house of the Kurus -- who set themselves in conflict
with their cousins the Pandavas (of which Arjuna was one). It is set on the
battlefield named Kuru-Kshetra. It is the area of conflict in each mind
between the Universal Laws of LIFE (Karma) and the personal and selfish
reflection (the 'isolated' embodied brain-mind) which we call our
Personality. Virtue (lawfulness) confronts vice (selfish disregard of law),
and the EMBODIED Mind decides on its course of action.

Krishna, as the highest Spiritual Teacher [ATMA -- the Higher Self],
answers questions posed by Arjuna, (the free Mind-man) his pupil. Arjuna
was also called "Nara" or Man; and Krishna was named "Narayana" (the Holy
Spirit moving on the waters of Infinite Space -- or a Sage who embodies
Universal Laws and virtues, or, Atma -- the Higher Self in each human
being). He gives theoretical and practical advice based on the single
concept that the Spiritual Being, whether in the Cos-mos or in Man, or as
the Monad in the "atom,' is the only permanence and REALITY. It, being
universal and deathless, is the root source of manifestation; and is
therefore present everywhere, and at the root of every seemingly independent
being, be it an atom, a Man, of a Galaxy.

The "embodied self" (or Arjuna-Man-mind) has to desire to know its Higher
Self (or Krishna, the Universal Spirit, as the Atma within its form). Since
it apprehends ITS exist-ence, only a method of self-control (of the desire
nature -- Kama), and therefore, of self-purification (by living a life of
strict probity) will lead it to, and activate its own share of that
universal wisdom (Buddhi). Krishna gives theoretical and practical
teachings, but does not enforce them. He recognizes and respects the right
to individual choice and decision of every free-willed being.

At the end of the "song" he says to Arjuna: "There dwelleth in the heart of
every creature, O Arjuna, the Master--Ishwara--who by his magic power
causeth all things and creatures to revolve mounted upon the universal wheel
of time. Take sanctuary with him alone.with all thy soul; by his grace
thou shalt obtain supreme happiness, the eternal place. Thus have I made
known unto thee this knowledge which is more secret than secrecy itself;
ponder it fully in thy mind; act as seemeth best unto thee." [Verses 61,
62, 63 of the 18th Chapter, B. GITA]

Important statements are repeated and emphasized several times in the text.



1. The Universal Supreme Spirit, indefinable, changeless and undying
pervades All manifestation and antecedes it as "Cause."

2. Manifestation is periodical, and every being, going to "sleep and
rest" at the end of any period of evolutionary objectivity (Manvantara or
Kalpa), re-awakens at the same stage and with its own continued identity,
when manifestation restarts. Nothing is annihilated, destroyed or
forgotten. Nature (the Spiritual Kosmos) includes everything.

3. Spirit and Matter are co-eternal. [see NOTES ON THE BHAGAVAD
GITA, p. 132-3] . Mind, or consciousness, is the field of interaction
between Spirit and Matter and therefore is of many grades. It is always
inde-pendent as to its free choices, but those are partially based on its
earlier decisions, and therefore it is indissolubly bound by them (Karma).
We all know this by intuition. Causes we set into motion will echo back to

4. Consciousness relates to Spirit. In Kosmos it is Krishna as the
Universal SPIRIT. In man it is ATMA the HIGHER SELF, and this being one, it
(as the ONE CONSCIOUSNESS) pierces up and down the seven planes of being,
and upholds the memory of the experiences of every being there. [ Gita
Notes, p. 98-100 ]

5. All beings are immortal in consciousness, in Spirit. The
Universe, and each World, is a school of evolving consciousnesses where
individual units (imperishable Monads) are developing a knowledge of the
Spirit, and its Laws, which are present in every "creature." Therefore
"brotherhood" is a fact. The practice of "brotherhood" is the purificatory
rite we assume as a duty owed to all, and can observe

6. Ignorance arises from imperfect knowledge -- delusion, and
illusion -- which is the inability to see the One Spirit in every be-ing.
The Life-Atom (Monad), the Monadic Essence, all "forms" contain a "ray," a
spark of the One Spirit. The ONE SPIRIT surrounds everything. No being is
outside of IT. {Some give it names, and call it by those deeming it to be
"God." Thus religions are formed and devised.}

7. Man (as the embodied Mind) is a trustee, and an Agent, in his
position of being free and independent, having the faculty of choosing his
own method of learning. His responsibility is to the Higher Self within. He
errs when he does not act in accord with its instructions which are an
expression of Universal Law, Karma. The "Voice of Conscience," and of
Intuition are evidence that the interior wisdom (called BUDDHI) of the
Higher Self is present, will respond when asked, and, is one with all else.

8. In mankind, every "act" is predicated on his freedom of choice.
Every act produces its reaction from living Nature (Karma) according to the
motive of the choice. Motives are dual: selfish (or isolated and
disharmonious), and unselfish (or universal and harmonious). This is the
cause of reincarnation. Reincarnation is like a day spent in the class in
the School of Life. We are the Eternal Pilgrims. Our objective, Krishna
says, is "Perfection." This "living wisdom in action" defines the Sage or
the Wise Man. 

9. "Good" and "Evil" are acts and effects which are in either
harmony or disharmony with the Law of the Universe. Our task, as humans, is
to learn this distinction, relying on the universal Spirit which is interior
to us as our Higher Self, to advise The breaking of the Law of brotherhood
is evil.

10. Three "qualities" ["Gunas"] pervade Nature in manifestation:
Wisdom, Action, and Indifference. 

Our plane of wakeful awareness -- of living -- is the plane of action. The
alterna-tives (pairs of opposites) of Wisdom and ignorance (or indifference)
confront and help to define our freedom.

11. Emancipation, liberation, bliss, Nirvana, are words indicating a
hope, or desire for freedom from sorrow and pain that has been cause by past
ignorant actions. It is innate to all, and is generally called "our
Karma." Final "freedom" is to be viewed as a state of consciousness. It can
only be achieved by learning and practicing detachment from "hoped-for"
selfish results.

12. Actions are to be performed, with fore-thought as responsible
duty, and in the interest of all. Wisdom is the perception of necessary
duties. It is being a true "brother."

13. The Goal of all evolution is to embody Spiritual Wisdom in a
purified form. Therefore the purification of motive in man's consciousness
results in the subduing of desire, and replacing impulse, passion and
emotion with Wisdom.

14. Those who become Wise have the continuing duty and respon-sibility
of assisting all other "creatures" to attain their state. They make
themselves, through choice, Krishna's agents in the World.

15. Freedom of choice is a spiritual attribute. It makes us realize
as mind-men that we are responsible. It serves to acti-vate our search for
Truth. It demands that we "know ourselves."


The Bhagavad Gita

A Summary of Chapter Contents:

A survey of the main themes in the Gita can be seen to de-velop
in three divisions:

Each division is comprised of 6 chapters. These seem to group
themselves into three sets, corresponding to the three natures interblended
in each Man-Mind. [S D I 181] As an instance:


Stage Aspirant Devotee Adept

Human Division Body Soul-Mind Spirit 

Condition Ignorance Learning Mastery

Quality Harmony - Sacrifice - Compassion

The whole system is called Karma-Sanyasa-Yoga, or union with the Divine by
the renunciation of interest in the fruits of personal action. 


A Karma Yoga - tilling the "field of living action."

Life in the body with the skandhas as Karma. United Action - Harmony -

The work of the "aspirant" plunged in the "The Hall of Ignorance" [Voice,
p. 6.] Duty, or "Right Action."

Chapters 1 to 6

Chapter 1 The field of battle. War and the nature of the contending
forces. Our "past" now haunts us. Despondency of the personality because of
ignorance and fear. It is named: Vishada, or that karma which we created in
the past and may be unwilling or unprepared to face now.

Note: Chapters 2 to 6 are a dissertation using the various (6) systems of
Indian Philosophy (shad {6}-darshanas): Sankhya Yoga, Karma Yoga, Gnyan
Karma Sanyasa Yoga, Sanyasa Yoga, Dhyana Yoga and Buddhi Yoga.

Chapter 2 Arguments for righteousness as a practical ideal. Spirit
immortality, Its application: Reincarnation.

Chapter 3 Right livelihood. Knowledge of and harmonizing with the
Divine. Knowledge-Wisdom is to be acquired.

Chapter 4 The One Universal Spirit enfolds all beings. Discrimination
as to right action. Wisdom, like fire, purifies our understanding of
motive. Right choice.

Chapter 5 Dispassion. Skill in performing acts. Nature and control
of the mind. Freeing the Mind from desire. Unselfishness. 

Chapter 6 Duty and discriminating between good and evil actions.
Self-discipline. Sacrifice by the Spirit a universal law.


B Bhakti Yoga -- The Soul of man is Manas, the "Thinker." It is
conjoined to Kama-emotion. Selfish to unselfish. The Eternal Pilgrim sees
Time and Space are infinite and it can resolve them intelligently.

Devotion to others - Self-sacrifice is the "Path" of the Chela-devotee.
This is also called: "The Hall of (probationary) Learning " [Voice, 

p. 6.] Devotion to the interests of others.

>From Chapter 7 on we find the most sublime teachings. They contain an
introduction to, and an exposition of, metaphysics, which lead to occult
knowledge, culminating in the practice of devotion to the Unmanifest, a
portion of which is innate in every being, including man, as his Higher
Self, the Krishna within. (see SD I 86, 169)


Chapters 7 to 12

Chapter 7 All souls are one with the Over-Soul. Discernment of
Buddhi-wisdom is our share of the Universal Spirit. Higher Mind. Ideals
and aspirations. Knowledge and its realization

Chapter 8 Universal Brotherhood. OM the ONE, fundamental, original,
vibratory LIFE. Constancy. Devotion. Choose the True. The Omnipresent
SPIRIT, Indestructible.

Chapter 9 Universals are changeless. Arguments are about selfish
effects. Higher Manasic vision: a Kingly science. Kingly knowledge and deep

Chapter 10 Righteous company is with "wise" companions. Balancing the 3
planes of life and 3 innate qualities of Nature. The Eternal Lodge of
Atma-Buddhic Beings. Universal, divine perfections in the manifested, and,
the transcendent Reality.

Chapter 11 Universal Form is the geometry of Universal consciousness
in action. Atmic vision. The Universe grows "I." Kosmic vision.

Chapter 12 Knowledge of Truth is faith. High psychology. Desire
transmuted is wisdom, hence, action made harmless and constructive. Skandhas
in training. Devotion in all works to the Spirit.


C Gnyan Yoga Spiritual Wisdom in practice. The Adept is harmless
because Wisdom is harmony with all in Nature.

The Spiritual nature is compassionate and Self-sacrificing.

The Hall of Wisdom [Voice, p. 7.]

Sacrificial Actions of the Wise, by the One Life when Embodied.

Chapters 13 to 18

Chapter 13 Contains the whole of Occultism. The Brotherhood of all
Consciousness. Distinguishing the "field," from the "Knower of the Field."
Elimination of Ahankara, a false illusion of "I" : 

1. Purusha - Narayana - Krishna - Atman

is the "owner of the field."

2. Mula-prakriti - Buddhi - all Skandhas as

past experience is the "field."

3. These are perceived by Mahat - Higher

Manas - Man-soul.

These are the "Three in One," the Eternal Self of all Creatures.

Chapter 14 Discrimination of the 3 Qualities. Experience of the 4th
Round is through Trimurthi: 3 forms of the Universe.

Chapter 15 Knowledge of Maha-Purusha, the Superior

Spirit (Universal Self). Esoteric Wisdom.

Chapter 16 Knowledge of the pairs of Opposites enables Mind to control
Motive. The "Field of Desire" shows all choices

as dualities. Overhead is spiritual dispassion.

Chapter 17 Shraddha (Faith) is triune. Equipoise 

depends on Manas choosing rightly with Wisdom. Lower Manas has to reach its
perfection through self-reform. Dependence passes to independence and then
to inter-dependence. 

Chapter 18 The Final Sacrifice of Wisdom

The Eternal Teachers - "Great Sacrifice"

[SD I 207-210]

Brahm-Atma. Moksha-Sanyasa-Yoga.

Make your own final choice independently


In Summary

1 The Gita affirms we are immortals in our essence.

2 Nature as a whole is ruled by immutable law. It is made up of
immortal beings. At this time, some have less experience than we do
(life-atoms), and some have more (the Adepts, Mahatmas and Sri Krishna).

3 The key to progress is first to discharge our karmic debts. Do
no further harm by way of selfishness. Become wise by study, reflection and
disinterested effort: right livelihood. Develop friendliness to all.
Understand our responsibility to all others as co-immortal brothers.

4 All beings form a collaborative whole. Since they are eternals,
they are never destroyed. Harmony, patience and calm-ness are keys to

5 The Universe is a School. Our World is our classroom. We are
riveted to it because of ancient bonds of attraction. All beings around us
are our eternal co-pupils.

6 The Lodge of Adepts has always existed in the world. We conceal
it from ourselves by selfishness and by carelessness. It stores and
safeguards WISDOM.

7 Krishna, the Higher Self is within our spiritual heart. He is in
the heart of all others. Brotherhood is a fact.

8 There is no "annihilation." There is no final or eternal rest in
a Universe of infinite extent and perpetual motion. Wisdom widens our
circle of usefulness and deepens our responsibility to all the rest of the
evolving mass of beings. 

9 Law is impersonal, universal and immutable. "As you sow, so
shall you also reap," is the rule of total fairness.

10 The wise sacrifice their attainment to help all others.



Universal Spirit

When a Kalpa closes, all creatures merge into the unmani-fested and then, on
the opening of another Day of Brahma they re-emerge at that point where they
"fell asleep." There is, however that, which is not dissolved at that time,
it is indivisible, indestructible, unmanifested and exhaustless, "it is
called the Supreme Goal." There Krishna abides. [see p. 106 ] All
creatures are included in this process. True devotion brings the Wise to
perceive The Universal Spirit present in all, as their attention is
constantly focussed on it during life. [ see HPB Articles, Vol. III, p. 265

"As the all-moving Akasa, by reason of its subtlety passeth everywhere
unaffected, so the Spirit, though present in every kind of body, is not
attached to action nor affected. As a sin-gle sun illuminateth the whole
world, even so doth the One Spirit illumine every body. Those who with the
eye of wisdom thus per-ceive what is the difference between the body and
Spirit and the destruction of the illusion of objects, go to the supreme."
( p. 98 )

"The deluded do not see the Spirit...But those who have the eye of wisdom
perceive it, and devotees who industriously strive to do so, see it dwelling
in their own hearts; whilst those who have not overcome themselves, who are
devoid of discrimination, see it not, even though they strive thereafter...I
am in the hearts of all men, and from me come memory, knowledge, and also
the loss of both..." ( pp. 106-108 )

Immortality is the condition of the Higher Self 

- The Spirit in Man

In the second chapter, Krishna speaks of the immortality of the Ego in every
man's heart. That cannot be destroyed at death but exists eternally. 

The One Spirit, Krishna, being everywhere, is the essence of all beings.
Deathless, it sustains all. It is the Inner Ruler of the body. Death comes
only to the mortal part of man, and rebirth of the immortal Ego is the
result of the universal law requiring continuity, and progress. That is the
fulfillment of responsibilities accepted, and choices already made by all.
( Gita, pp. 11-12 )

"I am the Ego which is seated in the hearts of all be-ings...I am the
beginning, the middle and the end...I am endless time itself, and the
preserver whose face is turned on all sides." ( p. 73-5 ) 

"I established this whole universe with a single portion of
myself, and remain separate." (p. 76 )

The "Higher Self" is always the friend of the "lower Self," which, being
involved in illusion, caused by the "pairs of oppo-sites," becomes enemy to
itself. Every man, as "lower mind," has to recognize this, and chose to
make a change. ( p. 44 )

Krishna stands for the spiritual essence [ the "Ray" of the Universal Spirit
] seated in the heart of all things. He causes the qualities of sattva,
rajas and tamas to arise in Nature, but He is not bound by them. He
declares that He is the "Eternal Seed," and he is the "wisdom of the Wise."
All Nature, and eve-ry creature, is produced by His divine illusive power
acting through the qualities. Only those who approach Him directly, know
Him, and will be able to surmount illusion. 

Being deathless, the Higher Self, knows all creatures in their innermost
nature. He is unrecognized by the deluded be-cause He remains undiscovered,
"enveloped in his magic illusion." ( p. 55 )

The Lower Self

The "lower Self" is man-mind resident in the body. In our lives, it has the
natural duty of consciously representing the "Higher Self" there. It errs
when it forgets this agency. 

"This body, then, is made up of the great ele-ments, Ahankara--egotism,
Buddhi--intellect or judgment, the unmanifest, invisible spirit; the ten
centers of action, the mind and the five objects of sense: desire,
aversion, pleasure and pain, persistency of life, and firmness, the power of
cohesion..." ( p. 93 )

The "Higher Self" is always the friend of the "lower Self," which, being
involved in illusion, caused by the "pairs of oppo-sites," becomes enemy to
itself. Every man, as "lower mind," has to recognize this, and chose to
make a change. ( p. 44 )

The "lower Self" has to chose to discipline itself. This is
"self-conquest," and if successful in it, it becomes self-subdued and freed
of selfish desire. This position, when adopted and maintained, gives the
"lower Self" spiritual knowledge and dis-cernment. This is
"equal-mindedness," or true meditation, and is to be practiced in daily
life. ( p. 44 )

Self-Discipline: The Practical Path

The practical teachings center on the ways in which the em-bodied Soul
(Lower Manas) can rise to the plane and awareness of the Inner Spirit.

The key to right action is detachment and disinterest in results. The good
of mankind gives reason for a Sage's actions. He sets the example. Krishna
being such a Sage, says: "I am con-stantly in action."
( pp. 24-25 )

Krishna assures Arjuna that no one who aspires and practices true discipline
ever perishes: "For never to an evil place goeth one who doeth good." 

Incarnating again, Krishna says, he will come into: 

".contact with the knowledge which belonged to him in his former body, and
from that time he struggles more dili-gently towards perfection...for even
unwittingly by reason of that past practice, he is led and works on." (
p. 51 )

By various methods: meditation contemplation, philosophical study and,
works, men attempt to view the spirit within. But, Krishna states: 

"He who seeth the Supreme Being existing alike imperishable in all
perishable things, sees indeed." ( p. 97 ) 

Once a man perceives: 

"...the same Lord present in everything and everywhere, he does not by the
"lower self" destroy his own soul, but goeth to the supreme end." ( p.
97 )

He sees indeed, who perceives that all actions are performed by nature
(prakriti) only, and that the Higher Self within is not the actor. 

Cause for our Ignorance

"At the time of rebirth, all creatures fall into the "delusion of the
opposites which springs from liking and disliking." It is they who created
their present condition through their choices made in past lives.

"But those men of righteous lives whose sins have ceased, being free from
this delusion of the 'pairs of oppo-sites,' firmly settled in faith, worship
me. ( pp. 55-6 )

Prakriti (matter or form) and Purusha (spirit) are co-exist-ent, and they
are beginningless and endless. Nature, or prakri-ti, operates to produce
cause and effect from actions [ Karma ]. Individual spirit or purusha is
the cause of experiencing pleas-ure and pain in the body. When the spirit
is embodied it experi-ences the sensations that proceed from matter and
this, through attachment, is the cause of its rebirth in good or evil
circum-stances. ( p. 96 )

"The spirit in the body is called Maheshwara, the Great Lord, the
spectator, the admonisher, the sustainer, the enjoyer, and also the
Paramatma, the highest soul." ( p. 96)

Two kinds of beings are in the world: the divisible, which are "all things
and the creatures;" and the Indivisible, which is the Supreme
Spirit--Paramatma--"which permeates and sustains the three worlds...He
who...knoweth me thus as the Supreme Spir-it, knoweth all things." (p.108)


Part 2 to follow


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