The act of understanding himself as different from his matter-vestures is man’s highest Art – the Art of Unveiling the Infinite through the finite. The technique of this ART is the theme of the GEETA!
BHAGAVAD GEETA is an enchanting impossibility; it is at once a SCIENCE and a PHILOSOPHY, and yet, strangely enough, it is neither a scientific philosophy nor a philosophical science. In its eighteen chapters, it explains a PHILOSOPHY-of-LIVING, and while doing so, it expounds and demonstrates the SCIENCE-of-LIVING. When a perfect combination of both SCIENCE and PHILOSOPHY is sung to the “melody of perfection” that KRISHNA was, we have this piece of work – the BHAGAVAD GEETA – an appeal both to the head and to the heart — the secret charm of the Lord’s Song that had enthralled generations, from the day of its production!
GEETA is a PIECE OF ART of strange beauty and it stands apart from everything else in a class all by itself. It is liquid poetry, expounding solid philosophy! In the fluidity of its metre, it crystallizes some of the rarest gems of moral and spiritual values. Its breezy discourses have a solid style. The fluidity of its eloquence falls like merciful rain upon every broken personality, making it whole by its magic touch. It is not a book of science, and yet, it is very scientific in its approach to the theme. It has not the airy nothingness of the familiar philosophical discourses, and yet, all philosophies seem to meet within its ample stretch. An inviting Art of Divine Beauty — every word in it is a detail, at once revealing and inspiring. The pause between the verses is not merely an inevitable blank-period of literary necessity, but something that suggests many a hidden truth!
The PHILOSOPHY of the Geeta reveals to us the glorious purpose in life, inspires and thrills the thinking aspect in man, and the VISION of the smiling Lord of Vrindavan “behind” every name and form, “beneath” every experience, “under” every situation, adds a life-giving joy and maddening ecstasy to the drunken heart of love!!
GEETA is the Lord’s own song, sung to revive His devotees! GEETA sings its song directly to us!! The GEETA serves us!
Amongst the months, I am Margashirsha, says Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Geeta. Margashirsha is the ninth month in the Hindu calendar year. It is also known as Margazhi. It is also called as Dhanur or Shunya Maasa from the day of Dhanur-sankramana. The entire month is conducive for spiritual practices and is therefore dedicated to the worship of the Lord. Social and family celebrations like marriage, gruha pravesha etc., are avoided during this month. The benefits of any religious and spiritual sadhana undertaken this month gets multiplied – manifold times. The Gopis performed the Katyayani Vrata during this month to invoke Sri Krishna’s grace and blessings. Sri Andal undertook the same Vrata seeking union with Lord Ranganatha. Each day, one verse of TIRUPPAVAI composed by Andal are rendered at homes and in temples early in the morning during the Margashirsha month. In almost all the temples, during the Margashirsha month, devotees take a dip in the river or the temple tank and offer pujas very early in the morning during the auspicious Brahma Muhurtha. Japa and Dhyana are also undertaken during the Brahma Muhurtha. In many places, Nagara Sankeerthana is undertaken. With harmonium, tambura and tala (cymbals), devotees go round the streets of the village or town singing the Lord’s bhajans or kirtans to wake up the people who are sleeping. They are also encouraged to join the music or bhajan group. The Nagara Sankeerthana usually concludes in the temple.
One human year is equivalent to one day of the devatas. Six months of Uttarayan Punyakala or Summer Solstice denotes day-time and six months of Dakshinayana Punyakala or Winter Solstice denotes night-time for the devatas. Margashirsha comes almost at the end of Dakshinayana and hence signifies the time just before sunrise for the devatas. Margashirsha denotes the Brahma Muhurtha of the Gods. Therefore to perform our religious and spiritual sadhana during our Brahma Muhurtha in the month of Margashirsha is to align it with the celestial Brahma Muhurtha during this auspicious month. This is extremely significant and immensely beneficial. In this month, during the winter season, the ozone layer is very clean and close to the earth. To benefit from this fresh and pure air as well as benefit from the cosmic energy, we are encouraged to wake up early, open the main door, clean the front porch and draw rangoli patterns (Margazhi kolam). By doing so we are not only exposing ourselves to the healthy positive environment but allowing the pure fresh air to enter our homes. This is followed by puja and other religious and spiritual sadhana at home or in the temples.
Margashirsha is auspicious for Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. In the Vaishnavite temples, Vaikunta or Mokshada Ekadashi and Mukkoti Dwadashi are celebrated in the bright fortnight of the month. The beautifully decorated deity is taken through the Vaikunta Dwara on the northern side of the temple or the parikrama closest to the sanctum which is opened on this auspicious day. The devotees also enter the Vaikunta Dwara along with the Lord. Vaikunta Ekadashi is also known as Geeta Jayanti – the day on which Lord Krishna gave His message in the form of the Bhagavad Geeta to his disciple-devotee, Arjuna. In some parts of the country, especially in the South, Hanuman Jayanti is observed on Shukla Trayodashi day. It is significant to note that Lakshmi Vrata is observed on every Margashirsha Guruvara (Thursday).
Similarly, pujas are offered to Lord Shiva also during the Brahma Muhurtha. Just like the TIRUPPAVAI of the Vaishnavites, the sacred TIRUVEMBAVAI is chanted by the devotees of Lord Shiva. In the famous Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, the Arudra Darshanam is observed on the full moon day of Margazhi with great festivity. Nature is a manifestation of the Lord and the beautiful soothing beams of moon light through the dew (hima) have a profound healing effect on us. The Arudra Nakshatra associated with Lord Shiva signifies the bright golden-red flame. Golden colour represents LIFE-FORCE or the KNOWING PRINCIPLE and red colour represents ACTIVITY. SHIVA TATTVA represents both Life (Energy or Spirit) and Activity (Matter) in each and every particle – micro or macro. Every particle in the Universe resonates the Tandava of the Lord indicating that “activity is the expression of life” which is represented by the icon of the dancing Lord Nataraja. The Divine Dancer also signifies the five great Elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) necessary for creation as well as symbolises the Pancha Kriyas: Srishti (Creation), Sthiti (Sustenance), Samhara (Dissolution), Tirobhava (Veiling) and Anugraha (Showering of Grace).
Apart from rendering the verses from the sacred texts of great saints and singing bhajans during Margashirsha, there are religious discourses, harikathas, classical music, dance and drama performances also organised extensively during this month. Some of the festivals associated with Margashirsha are: Kalabhairava Jayanti, Dattatreya Jayanti (Purnima), Mitra Saptami, Annapurna Jayanti, Vivaha Panchami (Seeta-Rama Kalyana).
The names of the Hindu calendar months starting from CHAITRA to PHALGUNA, progressively refer to the various stages of spiritual evolution. The New Year in Chaitra represents “newness or change for the better”. From here the spiritual yatra starts for a seeker which ultimately gets fulfilled in “Shiva darshan (Shivaratri)” in the month of Phalguna. In this scheme, MARGASHIRSHA represents a very important stage of spiritual practice. MARGA means “path” and SHIRSHA represents the “head or the Higher”. Therefore, MARGASHIRSHA denotes the “path leading to the Higher”, wherein the seeker in his seat of contemplation, constantly and consistently negates the world of plurality (the unreal) and asserts the One Eternal Truth (the Real) which ultimately leads the seeker to the State of Enlightenment.
A disciple once asked his Guru, “Guru Maharaj, we have heard your exposition on all the great scriptures. But when it comes to the Bhagavad Geeta, we feel that it occupies a more special and significant place in your heart?” The teacher smiled and said, “My son! In life, whenever we meet anyone, the first thing we do is to get introduced to each other. But do you realize, we have never got introduced to ourselves at any point of time in our life. Bhagavad Geeta is the text that first introduced me to myself! Self-introduction is the first step towards self-discipline and spiritual life. Hence the Geeta has a very special place in my heart.” It is the style of the scriptures that the entire contents of the text is indicated by a few specific and significant words.
In the Bhagavad Gita: the first chapter, the first verse, the first line and the first word is DHARMA. The last chapter, the last verse, the last line and the last word is MAMA. The entire contents of seven hundred verses of the Geeta is between these two words. If we put the two words together it becomes DHARMA MAMA. On interchanging, it becomes MAMA DHARMA. MAMA means ‘my’. The word DHARMA is derived from the root “dhri” which means “to uphold, sustain or support”. Therefore DHARMA denotes that which holds together the different aspects and qualities of an object into a whole. DHARMA represents “the law of being”, meaning “that which makes a thing or being what it is”. It indicates the essential nature of anything without which it cannot retain its independent existence. So, MAMA DHARMA means ‘my law of being’. If we are to live as true dynamic beings in the world, we must live faithful to our true nature as human beings, and the Geeta explains to Me “my Dharma”. It is not pointing out to someone else’s Dharma, but pointing out to each one of us – our own “my” Dharma.
The Bhagavad Geeta through the seven hundred verses across the eighteen chapters is significantly pointing out to each one of us our own Dharma to be followed in all places, at all times, in all situations, irrespective of who we are, where we are, what we are and how we are, in the materialistic or in the spiritual realm. Dharma takes care of not only individual well-being, but includes collective well-being also.
After understanding what exactly constitutes our Dharma, what is the next step? The first two opening words of the first chapter gives us the instructions. “Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre” can be further split into four words. Dharma – Kshetre – Kuru – Kshetre. ‘Kuru‘ means ‘to do‘. ‘Kshetre‘ means ‘field of activity‘. Therefore, if the words are reassembled it becomes: “Kshetre Kshetre Kuru Dharma“, which means “in each and every field of activity do your dharma“. This is simply aligning ourselves every moment of our lives in and through our daily activities with the Higher Reality, with the Lord.
"Geeta: it is a call to each one of us to get up and fight the battle of our own life, according to our own vasanas (swadharma)"~ Swami Chinmayananda
Mathura means Ananda. It represents the State of Bliss which is our inherent true Nature. Devaki represents the mind with divine and noble traits and Vasudeva represents the intellect which is the master of the sense-organs. Though well-integrated, the mind and intelllect are in the prison of their own bondages in their own Kingdom of Bliss. The reason is the ruling tyrant called Kamsa, the Ego. Kamsa: “Kaha Saha” – represents “one who questions the principles of the Higher Reality”. Every child born to this couple represents the “birth of spirituality” which the ego immediately destroys for its own survival.
It was midnight on the ashtami day (the middle day) of the dark fortnight of the dark month of Sravan during the dark six months of the year, the Dakshinayana Punyakala. The whole of Mathura was asleep. Only Mother Nature was awake and was sending down showers of joy in the form of rain heralding the birth of Lord Krishna. In the thickest of this darkness, Lord Krishna was born. The darkness represents the spiritual ignorance with which the whole world of things and beings is enveloped. The birth of Lord Krishna represents the “birth of spirituality” in an individual. Lord Krishna represents the ‘Light of Knowledge’ which alone can dispel the ‘darkness of spiritual ignorance’ and lead the seeker towards liberation. When an individual chooses to walk the path of righteousness, he is automatically aligned to the laws of Nature and Mother Nature in turn reciprocates. This is indicated by the joyous showers! The very name of the month of Sravana represents LISTENING (to scriptural texts). Krishna is born under the Rohini Nakshatra. Rohini means to move upwards (higher). Rohini is the consort of Lord Chandra (Moon) who is the presiding deity of our mind. Therefore ‘rohini’ represents the noble spiritual desires in a pure mind. Ashtami is very significant. On this day, the moon has the least influence on the oceanic waters. Moon being the lord of our mind, on the ashtami day, the mind is least disturbed by agitations or extroverted thoughts. When do we start our spiritual journey? TODAY! What about the auspicious time? RIGHT NOW! Hence when Krishna was born all the planets were in their most favourable positions!!
Krishna has to be protected from Kamsa and therefore he is taken to Gokula. In the initial stages of our spiritual journey, our mind which is pursuing the spiritual sadhana has to be shielded from our own ego and therefore has to be protected and strengthened all around by noble and virtuous thoughts. This is represented by Krishna growing up amidst the Gopis, the Gopas and the cows in Gokula. They represent sattvic and divine thoughts. ‘Go’ means ‘knowledge or virtues’ and ‘kula’ means ‘family’. Gokula represents the perfect conducive environment for our spiritual growth. Therefore, KRISHNA JANMOTSAVA represents the birth of spirituality within oneself. Krishna stands for Sachidananda, the GOAL to be reached, and all His divine leelas represent the PATH to be pursued by the seeker.
On the auspicious occasion of Krishnashtami, little foot-prints are drawn starting from the main door upto the altar of Krishna in the puja room. They represent little Krishna’s foot-prints. We invoke the Lord to enter and sanctify our home with His auspicious presence. Also, the house represents our body and the Altar (puja-room) represents our heart or the innermost core of our being. The foot-prints starting from the main door upto the Altar represents a mind turned “within” in devotion unto the Lord or a mind in contemplation upon the Higher Reality. Therefore, this little ritual signifies the Lord entering into our heart and making it His permanent abode. It also signifies the merger of the individuality with the Higher to reach the State of Enlightenment.
कृष्णो रक्षतु मां चराचरगुरुं कृष्णं नमस्याम्यहम्
कृष्णेनामरशत्रवो विनिहताः कृष्णाय तस्मै नमः।
कृष्णादेव समुत्थितं जगदिदं कृष्णस्य दासोऽस्म्यहम्
कृष्णे भक्तिरचञ्चलाऽस्तु भगवन् हे कृष्ण तुभ्यं नमः॥