Volume 13 - Issue 09
September 2015
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Right answer on your 1st attempt
3 Points
Right answer on your 2nd attempt
2 Points
Right answer on your 3rd attempt
1 Point

Part 01 || Part 02 || Part 03 || Part 04 || Part 05 || Part 06


In 1964-65, amidst touring the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh and establishing the ashram in Brindavan, Bangalore, Bhagawan continued to take the pen and out came the glorious Stream of Divine Gospel – the Gita Vahini.

“The Gita is a text for spiritual practitioners, for it emphasises Sadhana, and spiritual attitudes, more than anything else. Every chapter lays down means and methods of reaching the goal of peace and harmony.... The Gita is as a boat, which takes man across from the self-imposed state of bondage to the freedom which is his nature. He is taken from darkness to light, from lustrelessness to splendour,” Swami wrote in his first article in this series which was published in Sanathana Sarathi, the ashram's magazine.

When it was compiled later into a book by Prof. Kasturi, in his introductory piece he urged all devotees to 'listen to these words with as much care and concentration as Arjuna had, even in the turmoil of a battle field, so that we too will declare when the book nears its final pages, "My delusion is dissolved; I have become aware of my reality, which is God."'

The Parthasarathi of yore in the present age as Sai Sanathana Sarathi retold the essence of the Gita in a manner and in the language best suited for the modern man. “This Gita Vahini is the same stream, refreshing and re-vitalising, brought by the same divine restorer to revivify man caught in the mesh of modern dialectics, in the pride of modern science, in the cynical scorn of modern superficiality. The teaching here set forth will comfort, console, and confer strength and faith,” Prof. Kasturi writes.

We in Radio Sai think that in this year of Bhagawan's 90th Birthday it would be an apt sadhana for all of us to revisit this timeless Song Celestial as directly told by the Timeless One Himself. This will definitely help us to find more peace within ourselves and in the world around us. Thus we have a Quiz on Gita Vahini which will continue as a serial through this year published on the website on the second week of every month. Do use this opportunity to dwell on the illuminating ideas that this sacred scripture grants to us so candidly and convincingly.

01. In Chapter 12 of the Gita Vahini, Swami elaborates on the sacred topic of Om: “Krishna said, 'I am taste (rasa) in water; I am effulgence, brilliance (prabha) in the Sun and the Moon; I am the Om (pranava) in the Vedas; I am sound in space; I am heroism, adventure, and aspiration in humanity.'

“Let us consider the topic of Om (pranava), which has just been mentioned. Krishna said that Om is the very life of the Vedas, didn’t He? The Vedas are reputedly 'beginning-less'. Om is spoken of as the very life-breath of the Vedas, which are themselves beyond all beginning. Take it that Om is the subtle essence, the underlying form of every particle and substance in the Universe.

“There are two parts in every single substance in the Universe: name and form. Take away these two and there is no more Universe. The form is conceived and controlled by the name. The form is dependent on the name, so if you reason out which is more lasting, you will find that the name is eternal and the form is impermanent. Consider the case of people who have done various good works, achieved meritorious deeds, constructed hospitals or schools or temples or places of worship. Even when their forms are not present in the world for people to see, their names with all the associated fame are ever present in human memory, aren’t they? The form lasts for only a brief time, but the name continues.

“Names are countless, and so are forms. But there is one matter that you have to take into consideration here, a matter that is within the daily experience of all, from the pundit to the ignoramus: letters. In Telugu, there are 52 letters; in English, just 26. If you pile up the entire literary output in Telugu or English and the pile rises mountain high, it is all composed of the 52 Telugu letters or the 26 English ones, not a single letter more.

“Similarly, in the human body there are six nerve centres, all in the form of the lotus flower. Each of these lotus forms have one letter or sound attached to each petal. Like the reeds in the harmonium, when the petals are moved, each one emanates a distinct sound. Those who follow this statement intelligently may get a doubt; if the petals are said to move, who or what is moving them? Yes, the force that moves them is the primeval unstruck sound (anaahatha-dhwani), which emanates without effort, regardless of conscious will. That is Om. Like beads in the string, all letters and the sounds that are present are strung on Om. That is the meaning of the statement that He is the 'Om of the Vedas'.”

Swami says: “The mind has an innate tendency to merge in whatever it contacts; it craves this. So, it is ever agitated and restless. But, by constant practice and training, it can be directed toward Om and taught to ______________.”

02. In Chapter 15 of the Gita Vahini, Swami shares more of what Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna on the importance of training the mind to dwell every moment on Om:

Om (pranava), when pronounced at the moment of death, awards merger with the imperishable highest Atma Itself!” When Krishna said this, Arjuna immediately prayed to Him to elaborate the point a little more so that he might grasp it clearly. Krishna was only too glad to do so.

“The moment of death does not mean some future point of time. It means, this very moment! Any moment might turn out to be the moment of death. So every moment is the ‘last’. Every moment must be filled with Om. The fate of a person after death is moulded by the thought that predominates at the moment of death. That thought is the foundation on which the next birth is built. Whoever at that time remembers Me attains My glory, in fact reaches Me. So every action, every striving of his, every spiritual exercise, should be aimed at sanctifying that fateful moment. The years of life must be devoted to the discipline that will bring up at that moment the thought of the highest Atma or Om.

“What has to be discarded is the body, this physical case. What has to be earned is the Universal Absolute (Parabrahman). The body has your reality (swarupa), the undiscardable, indestructible, undying truth (sathya) and eternity (nithyam). That reality is the entity called Atma, or, what is the same thing, the highest Atma. Since you are that, you cannot cast it off. Casting off the body is akin to shifting from a house occupied for some years, and birth is your entry into a new one. These are both physical acts, which don’t affect the Atma.

“Lord Krishna then reveals the Supreme Truth: “Body consciousness is liable to decay and death. Therefore Om, which is such a potent __________________________, has to be understood clearly.


03. In Chapter 15 of the Gita Vahini, Swami continues to clarify the importance of dwelling on Om with more elaboration:

“Krishna said that Om has to be remembered at the moment of death. Certain points require elucidation in connection with this, for there are many who argue that Om can be repeated only by a few and that others are not entitled to it. This is wrong. This false conclusion has been arrived at because they do not know the truth. It springs from a mistaken belief.

“The Gita does not mention this group or that group. Krishna declares 'whoever', without any qualifying words or limiting it to one class or sex. He does not even say, 'who deserves or who does not deserve', 'who is authorized or who is unauthorized'. He only says that for meditation on Om (mere ‘calling it to memory’ is of no use), some preliminary disciplines have to be gone through, like control of the senses and concentration of the mind.

“For, when the mind is flitting from one fancy to another, how can the production of Om by the vocal organs be of any benefit? The sound will not help the attainment of liberation. Senses have to be curbed, thoughts have to be one-pointed, and the glory has to be apprehended. That is why the Lord advised that from birth to death, you must be engaged in the search for truth. Instead, if you postpone spiritual discipline until the last moment, you will be like the student who turns over the pages of the textbook for the first time just before entering the examination hall! If the student feels that he has before him one full year and neglects to learn from the teacher, lecture notes, and books, how can anything enter the brain that very morning? It will only add to the student’s despair. The student can be pronounced proficient only in indolence.

“No tree will yield fruit the moment you plant the seedling in your backyard. For the tree to reach that stage, you have to foster it with care over a long period of time. Similarly, whatever result you seek, you have to follow carefully the preparatory disciplines, without break. No one can acquire the fruit without vigilance and steadfastness.”

Swami then alerts us: “The spiritual aspirant should aspire not for a good birth but for ____________________. ”

04. In Chapter 16 of the Gita Vahini, Swami shares how Lord Krishna guides Arjuna on how to control the mind: “Ordinary folk do not get their mind fixed on Madhava (a name for God) so easily at the point of death. It pre-supposes long training, previous achievement of certain accomplishments what is called prior purification. The mind should have gone through a certain course of discipline; it has to be possessed of yoga. Even that is not enough. The mind must discard all other thoughts as low and inferior, even as defiling. This disgust toward all other objects should grow in strength. When these two are present, the thought of Madhava will certainly emerge and be steady during the last moments.

“So your mind is the important thing; when the mind rots, all else rots. One moves as fast as the mind and in the direction that the mind takes. To tame and train the mind, good habits and disciplines have to be sought.

“Arjuna asked, 'How is that ever possible, oh Lord?'

“It is possible, Arjuna. Control the senses, let the mind be effaced as much as possible, let the heart be purified, let the vital airs be uplifted into the highest region of the head, let the individual be established in the Atmic truth, and let Om be the only point of attention at the moment the breath leaves the body. One who does this comes to Me and joins with Me; their mental activities become the same as Mine,” said Krishna.”

Swami also explains with more elaboration on what ‘control’ means: “The Lord spoke of control of the senses, not their destruction. Control means: under one’s behest, ________________. Destruction means: denial of activity, full inaction.”

05. In Chapter 16 of the Gita Vahini, Swami also shares more on how patiently Lord Krishna removes all doubts in Arjuna’s mind, thereby guiding all humanity too:

“Again, Arjuna felt a doubt arising in him, and he wondered how, if the senses are bound, Om could be pronounced. Krishna understood this. He took up the matter Himself. 'Arjuna! Om has to be pronounced in the mind, not through the mouth as a sensory organ!'

“Next, Arjuna raised another question to relieve himself of another doubt. 'You said, “he who does repetition of the name has no sin (japatho naasthi pathakam)”, but if repetition cures one from sin, what happens to liberation? Evidently, repetition is powerless to bring that about; repetition will not enable one to concretize the Lord.”

“The Lord was happy when Arjuna mentioned this doubt. 'Partha! Your question is important, but let Me tell you: liberation need not be sought after, separately, apart from other objectives. If Om is recited and the significance of the Om, that is to say, the Lord, is meditated upon, then the Lord is attained by you, in other words, you are liberated.'

“Arjuna insisted on his point. He asked, 'Lord! Can repetition bring about both results? Of course, it is easy for You to declare so, but trouble starts when we follow the path of repetition and meditation.' Krishna replied, 'It is just for this purpose that I mentioned at the very start about the value of systematic spiritual practice. Practice, steady practice, will ensure you both results - liberation and freedom from sin. Probably, you do not realize the importance of practice. Oh foolish Arjuna! Do you not see here how practice makes an animal execute difficult tasks? Look at these horses yoked to your chariot, these elephants ranged on the field; they render assistance in battle that even one with the superior equipment of reason cannot give! Consider how this was made possible. Where have elephants dwelling in the forest observed the tactics of battle? Or do you hold that fighting on the battlefield is their nature? No, their present skill is proof of the value of practice.

“'Similarly, practice withdrawal of the mind from the senses, steadily; then it will develop skills that will release you from bondage. Let Me tell you, those who repeat the sacred Om with their last breath do attain the Lord.' Krishna said this with emphasis.

“Arjuna made bold to put another query. 'Lord! It is good that those who repeat Om with their last breath attain the Lord. But what about those who do not? Their number is certainly much larger. Have they no chance of release? In the court of the Almighty, are only some to be honoured with seats? Have the miserable and the poor no accommodation at all? Tell me where they go, where they will be admitted.'

“Lord Krishna provides great solace to Arjuna: 'Not everyone can repeat Om at the last moment; that is why constant remembrance of the Lord is said to have the power of inducing the Lord to _____________________ here and hereafter.”

06. In Chapter 17 of the Gita Vahini, Swami shares the many supreme lessons learnt by Arjuna. Lord Krishna says:

“Whoever is busy with no other thoughts than those about Me, whoever is ever remembering Me, that person certainly will release their dying breath through the centre of the head; that person will attain Me. I am as near to people as they are to Me. My dear Arjuna! How can I forget the one who never forgets Me? Forgetting is a human frailty, not a characteristic of God, let Me tell you! There is no need for yoga or spiritual exercise or even wisdom. It does not matter whether you give these up because you are too weak or whether, in spite of having the strength, you do not feel like struggling to master these. I don’t ask for yoga or spiritual exercise; I ask only that your mind be fixed on Me. Devote your mind to Me, dedicate it to Me, that is all I ask for.

“If a spiritual aspirant cannot do at least this act of dedication to the Lord, I wonder what their spiritual discipline is capable of! If you plead that you don’t have the strength of mind, I ask where the strength comes from to dedicate yourself as you do now to hollow ideals, the vain fantasies of family, fortune, and fame. Can’t you direct this strength for that supreme dedication? People easily offer their all to poisonous objective pleasures, but they squirm and protest as if a mountain is tumbling on them when the call is made to dedicate their thoughts, feelings, and acts to the Almighty!

“In their eyes, salvation is as cheap and easy to attain as greens in the vegetable market! They seek to escape from bondage as easily as that. They do not yearn much, but they desire to earn much in the spiritual field! They are sunk more in dullness (thamas) than in spiritual penance (tapas). But they wish for the fruits that only spiritual penance can offer.

“Those prompted by genuine desire for the fruit must overcome all obstacles and temptations, doubts and disappointments, and dwell on the thought of the Lord. Then, the Lord will not keep apart; He will confer on that aspirant the status of sameness, described as ‘I am divine, You are I, We are one (aham Brahmasmi)’. And, the aspirant would be constantly contemplating on this unity without a break.

“Then Arjuna asked, 'You say that this thinking only of the Supreme Spirit, this one-pointed devotion, is quite easy and that there is no need to take any greater trouble. You also declare that, for those who have acquired it, You are readily attainable. Well, what exactly is the benefit of attaining You?”

Krishna smiled at this and replied, “Arjuna! What greater benefit is there than that? That holy victory makes a mortal a great soul (mahatma). You may still pose the question: Of what benefit is it to become a great soul? Listen. The great soul is far superior to the ordinary person. The latter is established in the body and the soul (jiva); the latter identifies with the body and with breath, with the particular, ‘the wave’. So, the ordinary person is tossed about by joy and grief and rises or falls with each experience. Between snatches of calm and storm, the ordinary person reels under many a blow.

“The great soul is free from all _______________, is above and beyond.”

07. In Chapter 17 of the Gita Vahini, Swami continues to share each of Arjuna’s doubts on how to achieve liberation:

“At this, Arjuna gave expression to another doubt that worried him. He asked, 'If that is so, why do the Upanishads declare that those who reach heaven need not be born again? Please clarify exactly who is freed from this cycle of birth and death.

“Arjuna! Two types of liberation are mentioned in the Upanishads: liberation on the spot (sadyomukthi) and liberation by stages (krama-mukthi). Liberation on the spot is also referred to as Absolute unity with the Supreme Spirit (kaivalya-mukthi). For earning this, no one need aspire to any heaven. They get this on the spot and not by stages, step by step. Liberation secured thus is a possession forever. Only those who attain absolute liberation (kaivalya) merge and become one with the Eternal, the Universal.

“The other kind of liberation is liable to change. When the effect of the acquired merit wears out, heaven has to be given up, and life on earth starts anew. Such souls know no merging.”

“'That is to say,' intercepted Arjuna, 'the souls that attain Absolute unity, liberation, are destroyed, right? Or is there any difference between merging (laya) and destruction (naasa)?'

“'No, Partha! Merging is not destruction. Merging happens when it becomes invisible. That is what happens when a thing is destroyed; it becomes invisible, we cannot see it any more. But just because a thing is out of sight, how can you pronounce it “destroyed”? No. A lump of sugar or salt disappears when placed in water. You see it no more, but can you say it has been destroyed? Or, do you say it has merged? It is there, the taste declares it. It has lost the form, but it is present as its quality (guna). The soul also merges like this in Brahman. It is not destroyed at all. When the soul is not merged like this, it can at best only wander between heaven and earth, deserving life in heaven for some time and descending again to earth for further effort toward salvation.'

“Arjuna, still afflicted with doubt, asked, 'Krishna! You say that no heaven, even the highest region of Brahman, can save people from the cycle of birth and death. Then what is the royal road to salvation? Do you mean to say that those who strive for those heavens have to satisfy themselves with just that and no more?'

“Krishna answered, 'Partha! There is a State that knows no decline, beyond all these heavens. There are many roads by which that State can be won. Unaware of these roads or of the joy of that State, people are taking to others that are either crooked or comfortable. They don’t know how to distinguish between the right road and the wrong.

“'I may tell you that four roads are now used by mankind: (1) beyond or unaffected by action (karma-atheetha); (2) action without any desire for the fruit thereof, unaffected by any craving for the result therefrom (nish-kama-karma); (3) action with ambition to ____________________ (sakama-karma); and (4) action that knows no restraint or control (karma-brashta).”

08. In Chapter 17 of the Gita Vahini, Swami then shares all that Lord Krishna reveals to Arjuna regarding the ideal times of departing from the world:

“Lord Krishna says: 'To be born and to die, one must have auspicious moments that will guarantee a wise life and a worthwhile end, Arjuna! Yogis, for example, give up life only at auspicious moments, not at other times. That is why people say, ‘death is the witness for the good.’ An auspicious moment is to be chosen even for the act of death.

“Arjuna asked, 'Krishna! Tell me when the body has to be yielded to death in order to escape the cycle of birth and death; tell me also the period of time to avoid.'

“Krishna replied, 'Partha! Your question is very timely and urgent. Sometimes, you make Me marvel at your intelligence and make Me very happy. At other times, you make Me laugh at your ignorance. Your egotism and sense of attachment cause this confusion. Let that pass. Let us come to your question.

“'The yogis who practice action without desire for the fruit pass away in splendour (tejas) during the day, while there is light, in the bright half of the month and in the six-month period of the northward path of the sun (uttarayana). They have fire as their first state. Hence, their path is known as the path of the Gods or, since fire is known also as archi in the Vedas, as the path beginning with fire or the Sun’s rays (archi-radi-marga). Such yogis emerge from effulgence (prakasa) and, traveling through effulgence, merge in effulgence itself. They attain Brahman and are not born again.

“'The yogis who practice action with an eye on the fruit pass away in smoke (dhuma) at night, during the dark half of the month, during the six months of the southward path of the sun (dakshina-ayana). They go along the path beginning with smoke (dhuma-adi-marga), reach heaven, and there enjoy the pleasures they have yearned and worked for. When the stock of merit is exhausted, they get born again.

“'Both these categories are called yogis; they will exist as long as aspirants and active progressive individuals exist in the world.

“'Here, a doubt may reasonably arise: Why is the bright half of the month auspicious while the dark half is not? What, again, happens to those who die when it is neither bright nor dark, neither day nor night? This is a legitimate doubt, and everyone has a right to know the answer.

“Lord Krishna clarifies: 'You must first understand what is meant by the bright fortnight (sukla-paksha)....The increasing splendour of the mind due to the increasing realization of __________________ is what is meant by the word ‘bright half (sukla-paksha)’.

09. Swami ends the Chapter 17 of the Gita Vahini by revealing the two paths when the life comes to an end:

“Krishna continues, 'Those who pass away in the other half of the year, during the southward path of the sun, have the opposite destiny; then the heart is beset with smoke and fog and cloud. The sun is hidden, and His effulgence has no splendour. And, in the dark half of the month, the moon wanes, symbolizing the waning of Godward thoughts.

“'The new moon night is enveloped in complete darkness, and all spiritual impulses suffer defeat. The thick smoke of ignorance lies heavily on the mind. This is the meaning of the expression “dark half (krishna-paksha)”. Those who die at such an inauspicious time reap an inauspicious result.'”

Swami then begins the Chapter 18 of the Gita Vahini elaborating a bit more on the difference in the two paths:

“Since the six months of the sun’s northern path (uttarayana) is lit by the holy splendour of wisdom, it is praised as the white (sukla) path. The six months of the southern path of the sun (dakshina-ayana) is dark, filled with dullness (thamas) and ignorance; so it is called the dark (krishna) path. Those who discard the body and journey on during the northern journey of the sun move along the bright path and reach the stage of liberation, which is devoid of delusion, which is the seat and source of the bliss that is Brahman, from which there is no return to this world of name and form, this arena of embodied beings. Those who leave the body during the time of the southern path of the sun and move along the dark path have to bear again this physical encasement called body, subject to birth and death.

“Lord Krishna emphasizes: 'Those who discard the body with ____________________move along the northern path of the sun, and those who die in ignorance of their Atmic reality move along the path of the fathers or dark path.'”

10. In Chapter 21 of the Gita Vahini, Swami shares with all spiritual seekers all the possible ways one can practice to achieve the goal of liberation. Lord Krishna said:

“Arjuna! People think that the worship of God with form and attributes is quite enough. This discipline will be of only some help; it will guide the person along the road only for a little while. For the Lord will not condescend to grant liberation for just this!

“He who aims at liberation must first give up attachment to the body. Without that, the Atmic stage cannot be attained. Identification with the body is the expression of ignorance. The Atma must be recognized as distinct from the objective world (prakriti).

“The craving for objective pleasure based on the unreal value attached to the world has to be removed by meditation and penance (tapas). When that craving is lost, the individual becomes like the dry nut inside the coconut shell, which becomes loose and unattached both to the shell and the fibre outside it; it does not germinate or sprout again; it will remain forever without being spoiled, the individual has no more birth and consequent death. That is to say, the individual will be liberated. Becoming like that dry nut inside the shell is the stage called liberation while alive (jivan-mukthi).

“The contemplation of the Godhead as “above and beyond all attributes” is necessary for becoming liberated while alive. If that is difficult and beyond your capacity, you can do another thing. Dedicate to Me all worship, all adoration, all Vedic rituals and other vows and vigils, with all the fruits that may accrue. Take Me as the ultimate goal, as the final aim, which transforms all acts into worship; fix your mind on Me, meditate on Me; I shall then shower My grace and take you across the ocean of constant change (of samsara); I shall favour you with the goal you seek. Arjuna!

“It is not an easy task to fix your mind steadily on Me. Not everyone can succeed in this. However long the practice, it is hard to keep the mind on Me without deflecting it toward other things or ideas.

“Therefore, you might ask, “Have we no other means?” My reply is this: “Yes, there is. Even those who are eager to __________________________can get established in the Atmic consciousness and gain liberation.'”



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