Food, Sacrifice, Tapas & Giving – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 17, Vs 11-22

Faith

In these verses Lord Krishna is answering Arjuna’s question on Faith. He began His answer with Sacrifice in verses 2 – 10. The following verses are expansions on this answer and include not only sacrifice, but foods, kinds of austerities (tapas) and giving.

Previously:
Arjuna spoke: “What is the status of those who sacrifice without consideration of scriptural injunctions but sacrifice with faith? Is it sattva, rajas or tamas?” — chapter 17, verse 1.

Foods

7 – 10
Like sacrifices, austerities and gifts, the foods preferred by all are of three kinds. Now hear of these distinctions:

The kinds of foods mentioned in these three verses have their roots in times before the Indus Valley Civilization.Sattvic Foods

(8) Foods that are sweet, succulent, juicy, nourishing and promote life, energy, strength, health, happiness and satisfaction, are dear to the sattvic.

Foods that are sweet, etc. Refined sugar is not what is meant by ‘sweet’, but is considered to be ‘stale’.

Rajasic Foods(9) Foods that are very bitter, very sour, very salty, very hot, very pungent, very dry and burning, are dear to the rajasic, are unpleasant and cause misery and disease.

Too much bitterness, etc. In moderation, these kinds of foods are anti-inflammatory and healing. The admonition is to not take it too far and cancel their positive effects, as rajasic persons are inclined to do. 

(10) Foods that are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten, foul, impure, and also the leavings of others, are dear to the tamasic.Tamasic Foods

Stale, etc. You may wonder how anyone could even eat these kinds of foods. Anandamayi Ma insisted that no food be left at the end of the day in Her ashram. On one occasion, She was found in the night eating left over flour to make her point. Old foods are dead foods. 

Sacrifice 

11 – Sattvic Sacrifice
Sacrifice that is offered according to scriptural injunction with the only thought, “this is given.” This sacrifice is sattvic.

Sacrifice offered without the purpose of fruits (without using your will to fulfill desires) is sattvic.

12 – Rajasic Sacrifice
But sacrifice offered out of pride and deceit, with the intent of personal benefit, that sacrifice is rajasic

13 – Tamasic Sacrifice
Sacrifice offered without faith and contrary to scriptural injunction, with no food offered, and with no mantras or giving, that sacrifice is tamasic.

Austerity (Tapas)

Austerity of Body

14
Honoring God, the twice-born (Brahmanas, God-people), gurus and sages, through purity, goodness, continence and non-violence, is austerity (tapas) of the body.

  • Twice-born – ‘born again’ or ‘reborn’.

Today, the usual translation of Brahmanas means priests. However, God-people are those who live in harmony with the Real. It is the purpose of their lives. Brahmanas (or Brahmins, temple priests) have more recently (a few thousand years ago) been set aside as the highest caste, but also rightly include scholars, teachers, gurus and sages.

Purity, goodness, continence and non-violence in all your actions is Tapas of Body. 

Austerity of Speech

15
The practice of reciting sacred texts, and the use of words that do not cause distress and are truthful, inoffensive and beneficial, is austerity (tapas) of speech. 

Tantric yogi reciting mantra then drinking whiskey from a skull.
Tantric yogi reciting mantra and drinking whiskey from a skull.

Reciting sacred texts also means reading and study of sacred texts. This was written at a time when not everyone could read and the memorization and recitation of scriptures was customary.

Tapas refers to purification by fire (energy). This is different than the elimination of impurities.

When you are careful not to cause distress when speaking, reciting or teaching, and being truthful in an inoffensive manner that is also beneficial, this is the Tapas of Speech.

Austerity of Mind

16
Clear-mindedness, gentleness, monitoring speech, self-restraint and pure-heartedness, is austerity of mind.

Clear-minded also means peaceful or serene. Monitoring speech also means silence. Self-restraint is self-control. Pure-heartedness is sincerity and empathy. 

Austerities of Body, Speech and Mind

17 – 19
(17) These three austerities — body, speech and mind — practiced with ardent faith by those without expectation of return benefit, are sattvic austerities that last.

(18) Austerities undergone with pride and for the purpose of gaining honor, respect and adoration, are rajasic, unsteady and impermanent.

(19) Austerities performed out of ignorance that torture oneself, or for the purpose of destroying or overpowering others, are tamasic.

Giving

20 – 22
Feeding the needy(20) Gifts given at the proper time and place, without expectation of reward, to worthy persons who have done no prior favor, with the only idea, “this is given,” is sattvic giving.

(21) But gifts given grudgingly, with the aim of personal benefit or the expectation of reward, is rajasic giving.

(11) Gifts given at the wrong time and place to the unworthy without paying respect, but with contempt, is said to be tamasic giving.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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Spiritual Leadership will take you where you want to go while you advance spiritually and improve your life. In the process, you will influence the advancement of everyone on Earth, and even the Earth itself.

Spiritual Leadership is not a replacement for anything you may already be doing, but will augment any spiritual avenues you already travel, and open up new vistas.

Please contact me at durgama.com/contact if you would like to know more about this program.

Helping you advance spiritually is my mission.
Saving the world is the result of our success.


The Fast Track

Surrender Meditation

Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga
Spontaneous Experiential Meditation

Slip into a natural state of meditation with ease. Experience the relief of reaching a true meditative state without any effort and without using your will.

Receive shaktipat and become initiated into the original meditation of ancient masters from which meditation techniques were eventually derived.

Increase your knowledge base and begin Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, Surrender Meditation. Though correct knowledge you will increase your progress by a thousand times, and bring about even deeper meditation and amazing experiences.

Shaktipat Intensives with Durga Ma are held in Phoenix, Arizona


“Every step you take pulls every one of us with you.”

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The Divine & the Demonic, Bhagavad Gita, Ch 16, Vs 1 – 5

Heaven

 Because the Divine has already been given much attention, this chapter focuses mostly on the Demonic. Though it begins and ends with Divine characteristics, it addresses the outcomes of both. 


The Divine

1 – 3
The Blessed Lord spoke:
Fearless, pure-hearted, steadfast and firm in the knowledge and practice of uniting (yoga); generous, self-restrained, sacrificing, studying the scriptures and the self, observing austerities (tapas), sincere; 
non-injurious, truthful, free of anger, renounced, peaceful, non-slanderous; compassionate toward all beings, non-covetous, gentle, modest, dependable; vigorous, patient, content, pure, and free of malice and vanity. These are the characteristics of those endowed with Divine qualities.

Fearless (abhaya, ‘no fear’) also means safe and secure. For those of you who practice Surrender Meditation, your surrender is compromised when you do not feel safe and secure. Without this security there is always the possibility of interruption. At some level, you know this and will restrain your surrender, even subconsciously. Hence the need for complete privacy during surrender sadhana.

Self-restrained (dama) means self-controlled, and also, ‘home’. You need a place to live that is home to you, where you are alone and feel safe from interruptions in order to practice non-static meditation. Outside of your meditation however, self-control, the ability to restrain from actions that are inappropriate, will save you from violations of ahimsa (non-injury) that would otherwise impair your progress. This is difficult if you don’t have a meditation practice that is completely private and allows for the purification of such impulses.

Outside your meditation room you must always be mindful of ahimsa, non-violence of any kind. This requires a degree of self-control that will keep you safe from losing ground. This first universal spiritual principle is the most important principle of all and qualifies the remaining nine. Violating it restricts your progress and can even stop it completely.

Sacrificing is the act of surrendering yourself to Absolute God in meditation and accepting what God brings.

Study of the scriptures and the Self is the practice of self-honest self-study and mindfulness, as well as the study of Yoga scriptures, where you can monitor your progress. Studying the self will lead to the study of the Self and Self Realization. The study of yogic scriptures will lead you to mastery, independent freedom and liberation. 

Observing tapas (‘to melt or burn’) refers to the process of purification by fire (energy). You do not stop this purification process that is brought on by the practice of surrender Yoga. You may find yourself witnessing it, you may even want it to go away, or you may find it fascinating, but you don’t interfere with it. 

Free of Anger. Anger is thought to be a destructive emotion. But we know that suppression of emotions is harmful, so how do we manage this? In Surrender Meditation, we are securely private and we don’t worry about this; it is taken care of by the meditation. In Life however, in our normal state we must be self-controlled and able to not react in anger. We do this by observing our feelings and reactions.

This little trick of observing will cause a separation between you and the anger, and put you in a position of extreme power. By observing the anger, you curtail the compulsion to act on it — because it is impossible to be what you observe. Thus suppression is avoided, you have not violated ahimsa (non-violence), and both the other guy and your own progress are safe.  

You cannot be what you can see.

Renounced means essentially the same thing as sacrifice. What you are renouncing is your body, feelings and mind and the use of your will. You sacrifice these to Absolute God in meditation. Renouncing the role of the doer of action in this way, during this time, you accept whatever happens (or doesn’t happen). 

The Demonic

4
Deceit, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance, are qualities the Demonic possess.

Destination: Heaven or Hell

5
Divine qualities lead to liberation, whereas Demonic qualities lead to bondage. Do not worry, Arjuna, for you are born with divine virtues.

We said earlier that Arjuna represents you, so you are also being reassured.

  • Bondage – the state of being a slave
  • Liberation – freedom, including freedom from compulsory rebirths
Jesus and Krishna in heaven
Jesus & Krishna

We in the west have had it very good compared to most people on this planet. Those of you who have had it easy (are educated and not starving or enduring tortures) may opt for returning, believing that you have some control over your next life. So getting free of rebirth may not be of interest to you. But you should think again, and read other chapters, such as chapter fourteen, and clear this up for yourself.

If you insist on believing that you can control the nature of your next life, yes you can, but probably not the way you think. Your control over your future relies solely on your ability and willingness now, in this lifetime, to master the qualities of the Divine as mentioned in this and other chapters, by mastering the ten universal spiritual principles (Ten Keys to Success).

This chapter tells us what we need to know. It clearly says, Divine qualities lead to liberation (you are free), and Demonic qualities lead to bondage (you are a slave). It’s your choice. Saying “I don’t believe in this” is not going to change it.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

The Fast Track

Surrender Meditation

Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga
Spontaneous Experiential Meditation

Slip into a natural state of meditation with ease. Experience the relief of reaching a true meditative state without any effort and without using your will.

Receive shaktipat and become initiated into the original meditation of ancient masters from which meditation techniques were eventually derived.

Increase your knowledge base and begin Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, Surrender Meditation. Though correct knowledge you will increase your progress by a thousand times, and bring about even deeper meditation and amazing experiences.

Shaktipat Intensives with Durga Ma are held in Phoenix, Arizona


Make a Difference

Have a Positive Impact on the World

Become a Spiritual Leader

Spiritual Leadership will take you where you want to go while you advance and improve your life. In the process, you will influence the advancement of everyone on Earth, and even the Earth itself.

Spiritual Leadership is not a replacement for anything you may already be doing, but will augment any spiritual avenues you already travel, and open up new vistas.

If you would like to know more about this program, please contact me at durgama.com/contact 

Helping you advance spiritually is my mission.
Saving the world is the result of our success.
Durga Ma

He who hesitates is lost.
Swift and resolute action leads to success.
Self-doubt is a prelude to disaster.
Joseph Addison


“Every step you take pulls every one of us with you.”

The Whole World Is One Family


Lord Krishna Returns to His Gentle Human Form – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 11, Vs 47 – 51

Lord Krishna and Radha
Lord Krishna in His gentle form with His beloved Radha

This post addresses the Lord’s affection for Arjuna, spiritual practices that will not produce the vision of His Cosmic Form, the impact of tapas, and Krishna’s return to his gentle human form to pacify Arjuna.

In the story of the Mahabharata war, this Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna. Listening in, we receive the teachings of Lord Krishna as he relates them to Arjuna.

47
The Blessed Lord spoke:

Because I am pleased with you (Arjuna), by means of my Yoga Power I have shown you this glorious and infinite Cosmic Form of Mine, which has never been seen before by anyone but you.

Anyone other than Arjuna? Remember that Arjuna represents You.

48
Not by the knowledge-sacrifice or recitation, not by giving, not even by fearless kriyas or formidable tapas can I be seen in this form in the world of men by anyone other than you, O Hero of the Kurus.

What Krishna is saying is that the vision of the Cosmic Form will not happen as a result of these many well-known practices. These practices are not being faulted, but noted as ineffectual for the purpose of gaining the vision of the Cosmic Form, which, by now, you may be thinking to be a gift you do not especially wish for. However, if you do, the next few posts will be helpful.

Knowledge Sacrifice – the study and teaching of scriptures

Oral recitation – recitation of the scriptures

Giving – charity, imparting, teaching

Kriyas – spontaneous purifying actions occurring in meditation, ‘ritual’

Tapas – the heat that melts away impurities

Knowledge Sacrifice. We have learned that sacrifice is synonymous with surrender as it applies to Yoga, but here it is attached to a word that means ‘true and sacred knowledge’ (veda). These written teachings are scriptures; the ‘sacrifice’ is the study of these texts — one surrenders to Truth as found in these writings, and they in turn present their meanings.

Oral RecitationLong ago, it was customary to memorize scriptures for the purpose of their preservation, learning and teaching, and for contemplation with regard to one’s sadhana (practices) and daily living. The oral recitation of these texts was a common practice.

Giving is a spiritual practice for gaining merit through seva (selfless service) and dana (gifts, donations, charity). With it one acquires positive karma that can be used for improving one’s life and for doing yoga sadhana, and increasing one’s chance of attaining heaven or liberation.

Kriya is often translated as ‘ritual’. Rituals are practiced in temples, in the home, and in meditation, or as meditation.

In surrender yoga, kriya (‘performed action’) refers to actions that arise spontaneously in Natural Surrender Meditation. These actions occur for the purpose of purification, and are performed not by the meditator, but by Shakti Herself: Divine Energy.

This meditation is so profound because it is based entirely on Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Truth, the way things really are): “Even though acting one does nothing.”

In the beginning, the meditator is confused about who or what is performing these actions, but with sufficient practice and the surfacing of amazing new experiences, the meditator gradually comes to understand the source of these actions, these ‘rituals’.

Tapas. As a result of one’s surrender and the occurrence of kriyas, tapas begins automatically. The body leaves behind the coldness that prompted a dozen blankets, and one begins to feel very hot. This is the advent of tapas: ‘to heat, burn or melt’. Now impurities are beginning to get transformed or burned away within the body rather than just getting removed. Over time, the heat is turned up and one’s tapas becomes formidable, heralding the arrival of Kundalini at Her new home at the 6th chakra.

In more recent times, some yogis have taken up tapas as a practice of a most unusual and extreme nature:

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We in the West may see these people as indulging in mortification of the flesh and look down on them and their practices. But we must remember the earlier teachings about thinking only of God/Truth at all times. These men and women have taken this teaching seriously and given up everything for God. They wear no clothes, accept what comes for their sustenance, and maintain tapasya at all times. By living their tapas they live in constant awareness of God. I have the deepest respect for them. Because of our all-inclusive presence within each other as beings, their tapasya is helping to keep this world in tact and your life better than it might otherwise be.  औं नम: शिवाय (Om namah Shivaya).

49
Having seen this terrible form of Mine, be not afraid or bewildered. With your fears dispelled, now see my previous form and be pleased once again! 

  • Terrible form – the Cosmic form described in verses 9-31.

50
Samjaya spoke:
Speaking in this way to Arjuna, the Son of Vasudeva (Krishna) revealed again his gentle two-armed form. The Great Souled One, resuming his previous form of beautiful appearance, pacified the fearful Arjuna.

51
Arjuna spoke:
Seeing this, Your gentle two-armed human form once again, O Agitator of Men, my thoughts are composed and I am restored to my normal consciousness.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

Surrender  Meditation & Life Mastery

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