Resistance to Change -Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2: 1-9

The Yoga of Knowledge 

Arjuna has reached a crisis point and appears to have given up. We are about to witness what the culmination of this will be and what happens next. What will Arjuna do? and what will his guru, Lord Krishna, have to say about it? …

Sanjaya spoke:
Seeing Arjuna depressed and overcome with sorrow, his eyes filled with tears and downcast, Lord Krishna spoke these words: 

We listen in as Samjaya relates events to the blind king, Dhritarashthra, using his power of divine sight.

Lord Krishna spoke:
Where is this faint-heartedness of yours coming from in this time of danger? It is dishonorable and unacceptable, and does not lead to heaven but to disgrace, Arjuna.

The word for ‘heaven’ refers to that celestial ‘world of light’ where we go between incarnations to await the next earthly body. Apparently, backing down will not get us there, but will engender criticism. 

Do not become a coward, it does not suit you. Abandon this cowardliness and stand up, Scorcher of the Foe!”

Scorcher of the Foe is an epitaph of Arjuna. By using it here, Krishna is reminding Arjuna of his purpose as a warrior.

Arjuna spoke:
O Slayer of Madhu, how can I kill Bhishma and Drona in battle? How can I fight with arrows against these two revered men, O Slayer of the Foe?

Slayer of Madhu and Slayer the Foe, are epitaphs of Krishna. Arjuna is coming back at Krishna by reminding Him that it was He who put down the enemy of ‘delight’ (Madhu), and yet has urged Arjuna to kill the sons of Dhritarashthra (desires)!

Bhishma* (continence and fidelity) and Drona (intellect and reason) are both highly venerated teachers whom Arjuna has always respected, yet they are fighting on the side of his enemy.

* Bhishma – ‘Terrible’. Fixity, the unwillingness to change.

I would rather live in this world as a beggar than slay these gurus out of desire for worldly gain. Anything we might enjoy would be smeared with blood.

Living as a beggar would be demeaning to a warrior.

Arjuna presses his case with this remark. By restating that this battle is for the purpose of gaining the throne, a ‘worldly’ ambition, he is implying that he and Krishna are above this kind of thing.

And we do not know whether it would it be better to conquer them, or they us. Having killed all these sons of Dhritarashthra standing here before us, we would not want to live.

Which is better? Defeating them (desires), or being defeated by them? Life would surely be intolerable without desire, for only through their fulfillment can there be any happiness. Or so Arjuna believes.

Self-reference: The enemy is the blind king, ‘ignorance’, and his sons represent ‘desires’. The ‘enemy’, the force that is hostile towards you, is ignorance and desires together.

With my own being overcome with depression, my mind is confused as to my duty, so I ask you, which would be better for certain? Tell me, your pupil. Correct me, your suppliant.

Now we see Arjuna doing a turn-about, and resorting to his guru for instruction. However…

I do not see what could possibly dispel this sorrow that dries up my senses, even if I were to obtain unrivaled and prosperous royal power,
 and the sovereignty of the gods.

Chapter one was entitled Arjuna’s Depression. Depression is a low energy state, and indeed Arjuna did end that chapter by sitting down on the seat of his chariot, throwing down both his bow and his arrows. Aside from all the biochemical and psychological implications, the bottom line is that Arjuna’s energy has hit bottom.

A low energy state means not only has one’s energy fallen, but there is less energy available, which is indicated in the verse as the drying up of the senses. Depression is a physical phenomena that affects the senses by making it difficult to take things in, think straight, and function normally. One way of countering depressed energy is to fulfill a desire—it feels good, and up you go (albeit temporarily). Hence Arjuna’s many mentions of his resistance to killing ‘desires’.

Thus having addressed the Master of the Senses [Krishna], Arjuna said, “I shall not fight,” and Having spoken to Krishna, he became silent.

And here we thought Arjuna was going to heed his guru’s instruction to “stand up and fight!”. We know what Lord Krishna has told Arjuna to do, but now we see that Arjuna will not to do it. Next week we will see what Krishna has to say about this capitulation.

Jaya Bhagavan! (Victory to God!)
Durga Ma


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IV:1-3 The Ancient Imperishable Teachings of Yoga

At the end of the last chapter, The Yoga of Action, we discovered that everything Lord Krishna taught Arjuna had been around for a long time and had become lost, but we have listened in and now have these teachings for ourselves. 

This chapter begins where the last chapter left off, with Lord Krishna explaining the circumstances surrounding the subject of Karma Yoga, the Yoga of Action.


The Blessed Lord spoke:
I anciently taught this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat, who then communicated it to Manu, and he later to Ikshvaku.

I anciently taught this imperishable Yoga”  Krishna recalls the universal and eternal nature of the teachings of Yoga (union) that He has just given to Arjuna.

To achieve yoga, one practices yoga. This takes place in stages. First, there is union of two opposing forces in the body that awakens Kundalini. When this evolutionary force is sufficiently advanced, there is union with the Absolute. The first union is sun-moon union (hatha yoga), or Karma Yoga (‘action union’). The second form of union is royal union (raja yoga), or Knowledge Yoga (‘wisdom union’).

Then why was Knowledge Yoga taught in chapter two before Action Yoga in chapter three?

In Eastern writings, the highest teaching comes first, so Knowledge Yoga was taught first because it is the highest union, union with the Absolute. However, it is Karma Yoga that gets you to Raja Yoga, and it is not successfully bypassed. It is one thing to speak of Raja Yoga as ‘knowledge yoga’ and tuck yourself in with books and contemplations, and quite another to actually achieve it. One cannot place Karma Yoga on a back burner, for it is vital for reaching Raja Yoga and consumes nearly all of one’s practice (sadhana) for many years.

Raja Yoga (‘royal union’)
Knowledge Yoga, Jnana Yoga

Hatha Yoga (‘sun-moon union’)
Action Yoga, Karma Yoga

“Vivasvāt, Manu and Ikṣvāku”

Here we have the first recipients of these teachings from Lord Krishna at the beginning of our present time period, which goes back many thousands of years. Lord Krishna taught it to Vivasvat, who taught it to his son, Satyavrata, the Manu of that time, and he to his son and king, Ikshvaku.

Vivasvat, or Vivasvan (‘the Brilliant One’), is Surya (‘the sun’). Aside from our usual interpretation of the sun as the Life Energy in the body, prana, let us also consider the possibility that every divine individual (i.e., the Real You) is or has an actual sun around which worlds revolve, and that this individual in our own galaxy was known as Vivasvan, or Surya.

Manu stems from the root man, meaning ‘to think’, the same as the root for manas, ‘mind’, and is connected to the English word ‘man’ (humanity). As an entity, Manu is ‘the thinking one’ and considered to be the progenitor of humanity. He is also another version of Noah, with remarkably similar stories about him. The name of the Manu of our time period is Satyavrata, meaning ‘living in Truth’.

A Manu is the progenitor of humanity during the time-period of a manvantara (manu-antara). The duration of a manvantara is the duration of the Manu’s life span:  

Each Manvantara is created and ruled by a specific Manu, who in turn is created by Brahma, the Creator himself*. Manu creates the world, and all its species during that period of time, each Manvantara lasts the lifetime of a Manu, upon whose death, Brahma creates another Manu to continue the cycle of Creation.


* Brahma, the Creator himself - Originally Hiranyagarbha in the Golden Age, also called the Golden Egg or Cosmic Egg. Creation was later attributed to the masculine, Prajapati, and then Brahma, as the ages made their way downward through ages of increasing strife and the decline of higher consciousness.

Ikṣvāku is the name of the king of the solar dynasty in the earliest times in India. The word ikṣvāku is interesting. It derives from the word for ‘sugarcane’ and vak, or vach, meaning ‘to speak’. I can’t help but giggle at the idea of this wisdom-knowing-king being a sweet-talker, and sincerely hope that I do not offend. But there it is. Perhaps it is the knowledge that has been passed down to him that is sweet to hear.

Thus received by succession, the royal seers knew this yoga, but after a long time here on this earth, it was lost, Scorcher of the Foe.

“Royal seers”  In earlier, more enlightened times, a royal was a sage, and a keeper and practitioner of this knowledge which has continued to be passed down to successors, creating lineages of knowers. As time passed, however, this knowledge became lost for the reasons given in the previous verses. But Arjuna, the ‘Scorcher of the Foe’, now carries the torch, having been given it by God in the form of Lord Krishna.

Today, I have taught you this ancient Yoga because you are My devotee and friend. This mystery is definitely the most important of all.

Lord Krishna points out the value of this ancient, secret yoga-knowledge He has given to Arjuna, and why he has had the good fortune to receive it: because Arjuna is His devotee and his friend. This tells us that if we want this knowledge, and want to understand it, we must be the same—His devotee and friend—lest it remain to us an unrevealed secret.

It is true that we have been given these teachings by overhearing the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. To understand them however, we must practice them with persistence until understanding reveals itself. This practice is called Karma Yoga, the Yoga of Action, and is known to us as Sahaja Yoga, Surrender Meditation or Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga (SKY).

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

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III:1-3 Arjuna’s Angst

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Three
“The Yoga of Action”
Verses 1 to 3

Arjuna is rattled at this apparent contradiction of Krishna’s and addresses him as Agitator of Men, and in the same breath tries to mend his own agitation with a compliment calling him Handsome Haired One! Clever boy. But his question is a good one, for in chapter two, verses 38 and 39, Krishna extolls buddhi*, which we have mostly read as ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’, yet He urges Arjuna to act. Arjuna is still confused about all this, so with his next breath he says to Krishna, Just tell me what to do!

Arjuna spoke:
If you consider knowledge to be superior to action, O Agitator of Men, why do you urge me to terrible action, O Handsome Haired One?

With speech that seems equivocal you confuse my mind. This one thing tell me for certain: By which shall I attain the highest good. 

Buddhi is the ability to form and retain concepts, ideas, etc. It translates as knowledge, wisdom, intellect, reason, discernment, discrimination, judgement, mind, opinion, perception, thought, belief, and so on, depending upon its usage in the text.

The Blessed Lord spoke:
In this world there are two paths taught previously by me, Blameless One: the Knowledge Yoga of the followers of Sankhya*, and the Karma Yoga of the Yogis.

* Sankhya means 'taking into account all that can be known'. Sankhya is one of the divisions of Hindu philosophy. The followers of Sankhya are said to be knowledge-oriented.

“Blameless One” Oh, good. Krishna has exonerated Arjuna’s angst, so we too, can relax.

Krishna previously addressed Knowledge Yoga and Action Yoga in chapter two, but by attempting to discover which is better, it appears that Arjuna has not understood that both are valid paths to the same end. It is not a question of one being better than the other, but that Arjuna’s personal orientation is best suited to Action Yoga.

“The Knowledge Yoga of the followers of Sankhya”

The word for knowledge, jñāna ( ज्ञान ), refers to ‘knowing’, not just knowing by learning from an external source, but the knowing that is gained through meditation. In meditation, one comes to ‘know’ without the aid of the senses and the mind, and though one might not be able to prove the veracity of what gets ‘known’ to anyone else, it is proved to the meditator with certainty. This kind of knowledge is very different from the knowledge gained through conventional sources. It is in this sense that followers of Sankhya refer to Knowledge Yoga, knowledge (jnana) gained through union (yoga).

“The Action Yoga of the Yogis”

The word for action is karma ( कर्म ). Karma and yoga are practically synonymous terms, for one cannot have yoga (union) without action—the action of uniting one thing with another. Where the follower of Knowledge Yoga has knowledge as his focus, a yogi’s focus is on the action that delivers it.

Beyond this enlightenment, the yogi also seeks liberation from rebirth, which can only be attained when both the credits and debts of previous actions are settled. To this end, the yogi seeks the realization of non-doership and considers all actions as not his own.

Three Paths

It is generally taught that there are three paths—Knowledge, Action and Devotion. These three are said to reflect the different natures of people and their personal orientations: mentally-oriented, action-oriented, and feeling-oriented. So why are only Knowledge and Action mentioned in this verse?

Devotion, or bhakti, is necessary for Knowledge Yoga and Action Yoga to be effective, so it is automatically included in both. Some take the path of Devotion solely, believing that it alone is sufficient. It is conceivable that Devotion is enough, for when practiced comprehensively it will inevitably lead one to knowledge and action as well, as these two are inevitable for the serious seeker.

Knowledge Yoga – Jnana Yoga
Karma Yoga – Action Yoga
Bhakti Yoga – Devotional Yoga

Self-reference: To which are you most inclined? Throughout your day, whenever you think of it, see if you can determine which motivates your own actions the most. Are you mostly knowledge oriented, action oriented, of feeling oriented? Which one appeals to you, inspires you, and motivates you the most? Which is strongest for you?

Ultimately, whatever one’s personal orientation, after a time, sadhana (spiritual practices) will lead to all three, and one will be no stronger or weaker than the other.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

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