Arsha Vidya Pitham, Saylorsburg, PA

Eight Significant Verses of the Bhagavad Gita

by Swami Dayananda Saraswati
[Published with detailed commentary in the 16th Anniversary Souvenir 2002 of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam]

1. The two-fold committed life-styles

loke ‘smin dvi-vidhā niṣṭhā purā proktā mayānagha |

jñāna-yogena sāńkhyānāṃ karma-yogena yoginām || 3-3||

anagha – Oh! Sinless One; asmin – in this; loke – world; dvividhā – two-fold;
niṣṭhā – committed life-styles; purā – in the beginning; mayā – by me;
proktā – was told; jñāna-yogena – in the form of the pursuit of knowledge;
sāńkhyānāṃ – for the renunciate; karmayogena – in the form of the pursuit of action;
yoginām – for those who pursue activity

Oh! Sinless One, the two-fold committed life-style in this world, was told by Me in the beginning û the pursuit of knowledge for the renunciates and the pursuit of action for those who pursue activity.

2. What is to be known is Brahman

jñeyaṃ yattatpravakṣyāmi yajjñātvāmṛtamaśnute |

anādi matparaṃ brahma na sattannāsaducyate || 13-13||

jñeyaṃ yat – what is to be known; tat pravakṣyāmi  – that I will tell clearly;
yat jñātvā – knowing which; amṛtam – deathlessness; aśnute- one gains;
anādimat – that which has no beginning; param – limitless; tat brahma – that Brahman;
na sat – is not-existent; na asat – and not non-existent; ucyate – is said

What is to be known, that I will tell clearly, knowing, which one gains deathlessness, that Brahman, which, it is said, has no beginning, is limitless, neither existent (as an object) nor nonexistent.

3. Brahman exists in the form of all beings

sarvataḥ pāṇipādaṃ tatsarvato ’kṣiśiromukham

sarvataḥ śrutimalloke sarvamāvṛtya tiṣṭhati || 13-13||

tat – that; sarvataḥ pāṇipādaṃ – the one who has hands and feet on all sides;
sarvataḥ akṣi-śrutimalloke – the one who has eyes, heads and mouths (faces) on all sides;
sarvataḥ śrutimat – the one who has ears on all sides; loke – in the people;
sarvam āvṛtya – pervading everything; tiṣṭhati – it remains

That (jñeyam brahma), the one who has hands and feet on all sides, the one who has eyes, heads and mouths (faces) on all sides, the one who has ears on all sides in the (bodies) of the people  remains pervading everything.

4. Īśvara is the essence of all beings (e.g., strength and desire)

balaṃ balavatāṃ cāhaṃ kāmarāgavivarjitam

dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu kāmo ’smi bharatarṣabha || 7-11||

ca – and; bharatarṣabha – O foremost in the clan of Bharata! (Arjuna); balavatāṃ – of the
strong people; kāma-rāga-vivarjitam – that which is free from kāma, desire, and rāga,
attachment; balam – the strength; bhūteṣu – in the beings; dharma-aviruddhaḥ – that
which is not opposed to dharma; kāmaḥ – desire; aham asmi – I am

And in the strong, I am the strength that is free from desire and attachment. In all beings, I am the desire that is not opposed to dharma, O the foremost in the clan of Bharata!

5. Karma-yoga: Manage your likes & dislikes through your free will

indriyasyendriyasyārthe rāgadveṣau vyavasthitau |

tayorna vaśamāgacchettau hyasya paripanthinau || 3-34||

indriyasya-indriyasya-arthe – with reference to the object of every sense organ;
rāgadveṣau – attachment and a version; vyavasthitau – are there; tayoṣ- of these two;
vaśam – spell; na – not; āgacchet – should come under; hi – because; tau – these two;
asya – one’s; paripanthinau – enemies

There is attachment and aversion with reference to every sense object. May one not come under the spell of these two because they are one’s enemies.

6. Karma-yoga: Īśvara is the author of the results of action

karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana |

mā karmaphalaheturbhūrmā te saṅgo’stvakarmaṇi || 2-47||

karmaṇi – in action; eva – only; te – your; adhikāraþ – choice; phaleṣu – in the results; mā
kadācana – never; karma-phala-hetuḥ – the cause of the results; mā bhūḥ – do not be;
akarmaṇi – in inaction; te – your; saṅgaḥ – attachment; mā astu – let it not be

Your choice is in action only, never in the result thereof. Do not be the author of the results of action. Let your attachment not be to inaction.

7. Karma-yoga: Doing one’s duty is worshipping the lord

yataḥ pravṛttirbhṃtānāṃ yena sarvamidaṃ tatam |

svakarmaṇā tamabhyarcya siddhiṃ vindati mānavaḥ || 18-46||

yataḥ – from whom; bhūtānāṃ pravṛttiḥ – (is) the creation of the beings; yena – by whom;
sarvam idam – all this; tatam – is pervaded; tam – him; svakarmaṇā – through one’s own
duty; abhyarcya – worshipping; mānavaḥ – the human being; siddhim – success; vindati –

Through one’s duty, worshipping him from whom is the creation of the beings, by whom all this is pervaded, a human being gains success.

8. A jñāni understands karma and akarma correctly

karmaṇyakarma yaḥ paśyedakarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ |

sa buddhimānmanuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsnakarmakṛt || 4-18||

yaḥ – the one who; karmaṇi – in action; akarma – actionlessness; paśyet – would see; ca –
and; yaḥ – the one who; akarmaṇi – in actionlessness; karma – action; (paśyet – would
see); saḥ – that person; manuṣyeṣu – among human beings; buddhimān – wise; saḥ – that
person; yuktaḥ – (is a) yogī; kṛtsna-karmakṛt – who has done everything that is to be done

The one who sees actionlessness in action and action in actionlessness is wise among human beings. That person is a yogī, who has done everything that is to be done.

Lord Daksinamurti

In the vision of the Veda, this creation is a manifestation of the Lord. Being the cause, he is all knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. We have a name for that Lord Daksinamurti.

The Lord presented in this form as Dakṣiṇāmūrti is the one who has eight aspects. The first five aspects are thefive elements. In the Veda the world is presented in the form of five elements—ākāśa, space,which includes time; vāyu, air; agni, fire; āpa, water; and pṛthivī, earth.

In this Vedic model of the universe, the five elements are non-separate from the Lord. In fact, these five elements constitute the Lord’s form, which is this universe.

The next two aspects are represented by the sun and the moon.

When, as an individual, I look at this world, what stands out in the sky are the sun and moon.

The moon represents all planets other than earth, and the sun represents allluminous bodies.

The eighth aspect is me, the jīva—the one who is looking at the world.

These eight aspects are to be understood as one whole. This is the Lord.

When we look at the form of Dakṣiṇāmūrti, we can see representations of the five elements. Space, ākāśa, is represented by a ḍamaru, a drum, in his right hand. In order to show space in a sculpture, it needs to be enclosed.

Empty space is enclosed in the ḍamaru, enabling it to issue sound, or śabda.

Next, vāyu, air, is represented by Dakṣiṇāmūrti’s hair with the bandana, the band, holding his hair in place against the wind. Bandana is a Sanskrit word which comes from the root band, to bind.

In his left hand, you will see a torch, which represents agni, fire.

Āpa, water, is shown by the Gaṅga, in the form of a Goddess, which you can see on Dakṣiṇāmūrti’s head.

Pṛthivī, the earth, is represented by the whole idol.

Then there are people, the jīvas, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana and Sanatsujāta, who are the disciples of Dakṣiṇāmūrti, sitting at the base of sculpture.

The sun and moon are also shown in this form of the Lord.

On the left side of Dakṣiṇāmūrti you will find a crescent moon, and on his right side there is a circle, representing the sun—a whole circle.

So we see five elements, two planets and the jīva constituting the aṣṭa-mūrti-bhṛt, the Lord of these eight factors that are the whole.

You can worship Dakṣiṇāmūrti as the Lord, the one who is aṣṭa-mūrti-bhṛt, or you can invoke him as a teacher, because he also is in the form of a teacher.

His very sitting posture, āsana, is the teacher’s āsana. What does he teach? Look at his hand gesture. That shows wha the teaches. His index finger, the one we use to point at others, represents the ahaṅkāra, the ego.

The other three fingers represent your body, deha, mind, antaḥkaraņa and sense organs, prāņa.

They also may be seen as the three bodies, śarīras, the gross, subtle, and causal. This is what the jīva mistakes himself to be. The aṅguṣṭha, the thumb, represents the Lord, the puruṣa. It is away from the rest of the fingers of the hand, yet at the same time, the fingers have no strength without it.

In this gesture, mūdra, in Dakṣiṇāmūrti’s right hand, the thumb joins the other fingers to form a circle, teaching that the jīva, who takes himself to be the body, mind and senses, is the whole. The circular hand gesture visually states the entire upadeśa, teaching: tat tvam asi, “You are That.” Just as a circle has no beginning or end, you are the whole. That is the final word about you. Nobody can improve upon that vision; no culture can improve upon it.

Even in heaven, it cannot be improved upon, for the whole includes heaven. Therefore, you have the final word here, because you are everything. It is better that you know it. That teaching is contained in the Veda, represented by the palm leaves in the left hand of Dakṣiṇāmūrti. And to understand this, you require a mind that has assimilated certain values and attitudes and has developed a capacity to think in a proper and sustained way.

This can be acquired by various spiritual disciplines represented here by a japa-māla, The fact that the Lord himself is a teacher, a guru, means that any teacher is looked upon as a source of knowledge. And the teacher himself should look upon Īśvara, the Lord, as the source of knowledge. Since the Lord himself is a teacher, the first guru, there is a tradition of teaching, so there is no individual ego involved in teaching.

Dakṣiṇāmūrti is seated upon a bull, which stands for tamas, the quality of māyā that accounts for ignorance. This is the entire creative power of the world and Dakṣiṇāmūrti controls this māyā; Then, there are bound to be obstacles in your pursuit of this knowledge. Dakṣiṇāmūrti controls all possible obstacles.

Underneath his foot, under his control, is a fellow called Apasmara—the one who throws obstacles in your life. This tells us that although there will be obstacles, with the grace of the Lord, you can keep them under check and not allow them to overpower you. There is no obstacle-free life, but obstacles need not really throw you off course; you keep them under control.

Thus, the whole form of Dakṣiṇāmūrti invokes the Lord who is the source of all knowledge, the source of everything, the one who is the whole, and who teaches you that you are the whole. He is Dakṣiṇāmūrti, the one who is in the form of a teacher, guru-mūrti.

We invoke his blessing so that all of you discover that source in yourself. If this self-discovery is your pursuit, your whole life becomes worthwhile. This project of self-discovery should be the project of everyone. That is the Vedic vision of human destiny

Arsha Vidya Gurukulam was founded in 1986 by Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati. In Swamiji’s own words,

“When I accepted the request of many people I know to start a gurukulam, I had a vision of how it should be. I visualized the gurukulam as a place where spiritual seekers can reside and learn through Vedanta courses. . . And I wanted the gurukulam to offer educational programs for children in values, attitudes, and forms of prayer and worship. When I look back now, I see all these aspects of my vision taking shape or already accomplished. With the facility now fully functional, . . . I envision its further unfoldment to serve more and more people.”

Ārṣa (arsha) means belonging to the ṛṣis or seers; vidyā means knowledge. Guru means teacher and kulam is a family.  In traditional Indian studies, even today, a student resides in the home of this teacher for the period of study. Thus, gurukulam has come to mean a place of learning. Arsha Vidya Gurukulam is a place of learning the knowledge of the ṛṣis.

The traditional study of Vedanta and auxiliary disciplines are offered at the Gurukulam. Vedanta mean end (anta) of the Veda, the sourcebook for spiritual knowledge.  Though preserved in the Veda, this wisdom is relevant to people in all cultures, at all times. The vision that Vedanta unfolds is that the reality of the self, the world, and God is one non-dual consciousness that both transcends and is the essence of everything. Knowing this, one is free from all struggle based on a sense of inadequacy.

The vision and method of its unfoldment has been carefully preserved through the ages, so that what is taught today at the Gurukulam is identical to what was revealed by the ṛṣis in the Vedas.