GITA CHALISA (FORTY SLOKAS) FOR DAILY PRAYER
(Compilation for a Discourse by N. R. Srinivasan, July 2011)
Mahabharata war was fought on the field of Kurukshetra. Throughout Mahabharata war, the position of Lord Krishna is one who guides Arjuna's chariot. The chariot of life throughout this battle is guided by Lord Krishna. Arjuna goes on doing his duty fulfilling his assigned duties (kartavya karma). It is Krishna who takes the chariot wherever is right for him to take it. In the very first line of Bhagavadgeeta, the celestial song, Kurukshetra is described as Dharmakshetra, the field of righteousness. According to mythology, Kuru, the common ancestor of both Pandavas and Kauravas, received the blessings from Indra, the ruler of the heaven, that anyone who died on that field either in war or while engaged in some form of religious austerity would attain heaven. It is a field where victory would be decided in favor of the one who is righteous and it is a field for right action (kuru= do). As we all know, Kauravas died in this Kurukshetra fighting the war and reached the heaven, though defeated lock, stock and barrel. Pandavas being righteous were sure of the victory in Dharmakshetra; being righteous they would have reached heaven not necessarily being killed in a war as heroes. They enjoyed thus best of both worlds, being righteous in spite of early set backs and earned immortal fame as well as immortality.
Arjuna on arriving at the battle field in a chariot driven by Lord Krishna is very much agitated. He casts off his bow and arrows and sits down in front of Krishna unwilling to fight this war and kill his close relatives and kinsmen. It is this that prompts his mentor Lord Krishna to begin his discourse in the form of celestial songs Bhagavadgeeta, in the role of a Guru, Arjuna being the sole disciple. The only other person who could closely listen to this narration was Dhritarashtra, the blind king, through the running commentary of Sanjaya, his charioteer, on the entire Mahabharata War. Vedavyasa gave Sanjaya, the divine vision that gave him the ability to see remotely all that happened on the battle field, and describe it to Dhritarashtra by telepathy remote control. It is Vedavyasa who gifted to us the benefit of this wisdom in the form of narration between Lord Krishna and Arjuna while writing Mahabharata Story with the help of Lord Ganesha, an ideal combination of Supreme Intellectuals. Geetaa is the most celebrated Hindu Scripture because its honored guest author is Bhagavaan (Krishna), the Lord of the Universe. 'Krish' connotes existence and 'na' bliss. Krishna is the Being who combines Existence, Knowledge and Bliss, that is "Sachchidaananda". No doubt Jayadeva discovered Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) in him and took him out of Dasaavataara. He is the one who saves his devotees from distress. He is also called Jana-ardana because he guides people (Jana) to attain true prosperity and deliverance (aardana). Arjuna in Sanskrit means "clear white light"—the brightness and clarity. Arjuna (Nara) manifests the clarity of pure devotion by which Lord's (Narayana's) wisdom may be heard, and by which Universal Form may be perceived. Geetaa vision brings forth the ideal combination of Nara and Narayana for universal benefit. Therefore this Geetaa discourse between Krishna and Arjuna (Krishnaarjuna samvaada) is invaluable and monumental.
Krishna places before Arjuna two options—to run away from the world and observe the path of renunciation which Sadhus follow to uplift them alone, that is Jnaanayoga or to do one's prescribed duties and live with the world that is Karmayoga to uplift the whole society. If a man's action is determined with good reasons unwavering, and if that is done without any desire for reward, he is bound to be God himself or one with God. Lord Krishna elaborates this theme to the agitated Arjuna through a lengthy discourse of wisdom clearing all his doubts. He also brings forth powerfully how Bhaktiyoga (path of devotion) is an inseparable part of both Jnaanayoga and Karmayoga.
"Why do you grieve for those who are not worthy of grief?" asks the Lord. The wise neither grieve for the living nor the dead. Arjuna being a wise man should not grieve and do what he is expected to do as a wise ruler and a great warrior. (II-11)
It is natural for a human body to go through life's cycle—childhood, youth, old age etc. Again this body of a human being acquires another body after mortal death to repeat these cycles if need be. Just as person discards old garments and puts on new garments, the living entity within us, whom the wise call as Jeevaatma, acquires new body after death in this birth (casting away the old body). (II-22)
While doing one's duty, one should treat pain and pleasure, gain and loss, and, victory and defeat alike—the goal should be to do one's duty under all circumstances. Such a person will not incur sin, treading on the path of duty of righteousness or right deeds. (II-38)
Such a person performing his duty should control only on his action but should not control or claim over the results. One should not be inactive and fruits of work should not be his motive also. Working to the best of one's ability without thinking of the result or reward is called Karmayoga. A Karmayogi becomes free from both vice and virtue in this life itself. Such an action in this life will not result in a rebirth for him. He attains salvation and becomes one with the Supreme. (II-47; 50)
A storm takes away a boat on the sea and such a boat will never reach its destination. The wandering senses, take away from the mind the intellect, and such a person is devoid of senses, when intellect is gone. (II-67)
There is the power and hidden energy behind all our actions. But due to ignorance, we all feel that we alone are responsible for that glory. (III-27)
The Self within us (the God within us) is superior to our Intellect. By controlling our mind with purified spiritual practices that is through intellect, we kill the mighty enemy Lust, called Kaama. Buddha repeatedly said life is full of misery because of the greed. (III-43)
We have the divine assurance in Geeta, where Lord says, that whenever there is a decline in the righteousness (dharma) and predominance of unrighteousness (adharma), he will manifest himself as an avataara (incarnation) to protect the good, to transform the wicked and re-establish world order(dharma). This divine guarantee is not for one time; it happens again and again for the protection of the good and transformation of the wicked depending on the need. (IV-07; 08)
A yogi, one who accomplishes everything is the one who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, to dwell on the right path. The realization of Self as God himself shall be realized by the one who considers everything as His manifestation and as His act. (IV-18)
There is nothing in this world superior to the true knowledge of the Supreme Being. One who is devoted to his duty (Karmayogi) discovers this truth in himself, in course of time. But true renunciation (sanyaasa) is difficult to attain without Karmayoga. A saint equipped with Karmayoga quickly realizes the Self within and attains salvation, free from shackles of the world (samsaara) that is freedom from being born again and again. (IV-38; V-06)
When one dedicates all work to the Lord, without any selfish motive, he remains untouched by sin like the lotus leaf that never gets wet by the dirty waters or the mire that surrounds it. (V-10)
Those who see the divine being in every thing are not separated from the Lord, and the Lord is also not separated from such a person. (VI-30)
There are four types of people in this world, who seek the Lord—the distressed, the seeker of Self knowledge, the seeker of wealth (prosperity) and the enlightened, one who has experienced the Supreme like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in recent times. The last one is one in several millions. After many births the enlightened one, resorts to the Supreme, realizing that everything he sees is but the manifestation of the Supreme. (VII-16; 19)
The ignorant one thinks that the Lord takes forms or incarnates, not knowing the Lord is formless, incomparable and incomprehensible. Remembering whatever objects one leaves the body at the end of life, one attains that object. It is because of the constant thought of the object one remembers that object at the end of life and achieves it. (VII-24;
Logically, if one remembers the Lord and does his duty, he shall certainly attain Him, if his mind and intellect are ever focused on Him. A yogi (matured spiritual seeker) who is steadfast in his thinking of the Lord, without wavering, easily attains Him. The Lord takes care of the material and spiritual welfare of the devotees, who are ever steadfast and who always remember the Lord with single minded contemplation. (VIII-07; 14; IX-22)
Lord accepts whatever is offered to him by the pure hearted with devotion—a leaf, a flower, a fruit or mere water. IX-26)
One should fix his mind on the Lord, devoted to Him, worship Him and surrender to Him. One can certainly reach the Lord by setting him as the supreme goal and sole refuge and unite himself with the Lord. Lord is the origin of all. Every thing emanates from him. The wise people understand this and adore him with love and devotion. The one who does all works for the Lord, to whom He is the supreme goal, who is his devotee, who has no attachment and who has no enmity towards any being attains the Lord all the time.
(IX-34; X-08; XI-55)
Focus the mind on the Lord and let the intellect dwell upon the Lord through meditation and contemplation and thus reach the Lord, who is one's final goal. The one, who sees the same eternal Supreme Lord dwelling in all mortal beings, as Atman or Self, truly sees the Lord. One, who offers service to the Lord with love and unswerving devotion, becomes fit for salvation. The God is within all of us. The memory, self-knowledge and the removal of doubts and wrong notions all come from the Lord. He is the author of Vedanta and the knower of Vedas. Knowing Him one gets all the knowledge of the Vedas and that of Vedantins. (XII-08; XIII-27: XV-15)
Lust, anger and greed are the three gates of Hell leading to the downfall of Jeeva, or cause for human bondage. Therefore one must give up these three. (XVI-21)
Speech that is non offensive, truthful, pleasant and beneficial and which is used for the regular study of scriptures is called holy gospel or austerity of word. (VII-15)
What and who is Lord? This can be understood only by devotion. Having known the Lord one immediately merges into the Lord, becomes one with the Lord. (XVIII-66; 68)
Setting aside all other pursuits (dharmas), one should surrender completely to the will of God with firm faith and loving contemplation. Lord will liberate him from all his sins. There is no need to grieve any more. One, who propagates this supreme secret philosophy amongst the devotees, shall be doing the highest devotional service to God and shall certainly reach his abode. Ramanujacharya spread this secret amongst his followers as one of the three secrets—Rahassya Traya Saara, the other two mantras being: "Om namoe Naarayanaaya" and "Sriman Naaraayana charanam Saranam prapadye".
The Geeta ends with this last sloka: "Wherever there will be Krishna, the Lord of yoga in all scriptures i.e. "Saastras" and Arjuna with the weapons i.e. "Sastras" of duty and protection, there will be ever lasting morality, prosperity and happiness. Mastering the knowledge of scriptures like Krishna, the Jnaanayogai and mastering the right use of the weapons like Arjuna, the Karmayogi—both are important and necessary for peace and prosperity of a Nation. (XVIII-78)
Important messages of Geeta are contained in 40 Slokas called Geeta Chaleesaa. This has been the basis on which the above message is conveyed from the Song of the Celestial, the Holy Geeta. One needs to cultivate divine virtues like serenity, regularity, absence of vanity, sincerity, simplicity etc. Bhagavad Geeta contains a catalogue of virtues one ought to cultivate. List of forty virtues are given in verses 12.13-19 describing the qualities of an ideal devotee or a self-realized person (Brahmajnaani).
Swami Sivananda puts them in the form of a small song, eighteen all important virtues one ought to develop and practice. They are:
Serenity, regularity, absence of Vanity,
Sincerity, Simplicity, Veracity,
Equanimity, Fixity, Non-irritability,
Adaptability, Humility, Tenacity,
Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity,
Charity, Generosity, Purity—
Practice daily these eighteen "ities",
You will soon attain immortality;
Mr. So-and-So is a false non-entity;
You will abide in eternity and infinity;
You will behold unity in diversity;
You cannot attain this in the University.
Lord Krishna gave his last parting discourse to his cousin brother Uddhava, a staunch devotee of his, on the eve of his departure from the arena of this world:
- Do your duty, to the best of your abilities, to Me, without any selfish motive, and remember Me at all times--before starting a task, at the completion of a task, and while inactive.
- Practice to look upon all creatures as Me alone in thought, word and deed; and mentally bow down to them.
- Arise, awake and perceive through the activities of mind, senses, breathing and emotions—that all the power of Me is within you all times, and is constantly doing all the work using you as a mere instrument.
Uddhava spent rest of his life as a Sanyasi (recluse), doing meditation, contemplation and Japa of Bhaagavata Mantra—"Om Namoe Bhagavate Vaasudevaaya".
Geeta prompts everyone to do his duty without any expectation of reward or desire in this battlefield of the world, directing that one should perform one's duty following the scriptural injunctions, thereby meaning follow the teachings of Lord Krishna who is the very embodiment of Saastras (scriptures). Geetaa is the gospel of action, selfless action and fruit forsaking action.
This lecture has been prepared for the Vedanta Class at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN, by N.R.Srinivasan extracting, abridging and editing from:
- Vrinda Nabar & Shanta Tumkur, The Bhagavadgita, Wordsworth Classics, Hertfordshire, SG129ET, U.K.
- Dr. Ramaprasad, The Bhagvad Gita, American Gita Society, Fremont, CA, USA.
- Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Gita, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, India.
- Swami Sivananda, Religious Education, Divine Life Society, U.P., India.
- Swami Chidananda, The Gita Vision, Divine Life Society, U.P., India.
Dhritaraashtra uvaacha—Dhritaraashtra said:
Dharmakshetre kurukshetre samavetaa yuyutsavah |
Maamakaah paandavaaschaiva kim akurvata sanjaya ||(1-01)
Sanjaya Uvaacha-Sanjaya said:
Tam tathaa kripayaavishtimasrupoorna-aakuleskshanam |
Visheedantam idam vaakyam uvaacha madhu-soodanah || (2-01)
Bhagavaan Uvaacha--The Lord said:
Asoechyaan anvasochas tvam prajnaavaadaamscha bhaashase |
Gataasoon agataa-soomscha naanu-sochanti panditaah || (2-11)
Dehenasmin yathaa dehe kaumaaram yauvanam jaraa |
Tathaa dehaa-ntara-praaptir dheeras tatra na muhyati || (2-13)
Vaasaamsi jeernaani yathaa vihaaya navaani grihnaati naroeparaani |
Tathaa sareeraani vihaaya jeernany-anyaani samyaati navaani dehee || (2-22)
Sukhaduhkhe samae kritvaa laabhaa-laabhau jayaajayau |
Tatoe yuddhaaya yujyasva naivam paapam avaapsyasi || (2-38)
Karmanyevaa-dhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana |
Maa karma-phalahetur bhoor maa te sangostv-akarmani || (2-47)
Buddhiyuktoe jahaateeha ubhe sukrita-dushkrite |
Tasmaad yogaaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam || (2-50)
Indryaanaam hi charataam yan manoe- auuvidheeyate |
Tadasya harati prajnaam vaayur naavam ivaambhasi || (2-67)
Prakriteh kriyamaanaani gunaih karmaani sarvasah |
Ahankaara-vimoodhaatmaa kartaaham iti manyate || (3-27)
Evam buddheh param buddhvaa samstabhy-aatmaanam aatmanaa |
Jahi satrum mahaabaahoe kaamaroopam duraasadam || (3-43)
Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glaanir bhavati bhaarata |
Abhyutthaanam adharmasya tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham || (4-07)
Paritraanaaya saadhoonaam vinaasaaya cha dushkritaam |
Dharma- samsthaapanaarthaaya sambhavaami yuge yuge || (4-08)
Karmany-akarma yah pasyed-akarmani cha karma yah |
Sa buddhimaan manushyeshu sa yuktah kritsna-karamakrit || (4-18)
Brahmaarpanam Brahma havir brahmaagnau brahmanaa hutam |
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma-karma-samaadhinaa ||( 4-24)
Na hi jnaanena sadrisam pavitram iha vidyate |
Tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah kaalenaatmani vindati || (4-38)
Sanyaasastu mahaabaahoe dhukham aaptum ayoegatah |
Yogayuktoe munir brahma na-chirena-adhigacchati || (5-06)
Brahmany-aadhaaya karmaani sangam tyaktvaa karoti yah |
Lipyate na sa paapena padma-patram-ivambhasaa || (5-10)
Yo maam pasyati sarvatra sarvam cha mayi pasyati |
Tasyaaham na pranasyaami sa cha me na pranasyati || (6-30)
Chaturvidhaa bhajante maam janaah sukritinoerjuna |
Aartoe jignaasur arthaarthee jnaanee cha bharatarshabha || (7-16)
Bahoonaam janmanaam ante jnaanavaan maam prapadyate |
Vaasudevah sarvam iti sa mahaatmaa sudurlabhah || (7-19)
Avyaktam vyaktim aapannam manyante maam abuddhayah |
Param bhaavam ajaanantoe mamaavyayam anuttamam || (7-24)
Yam yam vaapi smaran bhaavam tyajaty-ante kalevaram |
Tam tam evaiti kaunteya sadaa tadbhaava-bhaavitah ||(8-06)
Tasmaat sarveshu kaaryeshu maam anusmara yudhya cha |
Mayyarpita-manoe-buddhir maam evaishyas-asamsayam || (8-07)
Ananya-chetaah satatam yo maam smaranti nityasah |
Tasyaaham sulabhah paartha nitya-yuktasya yoginah ||(8-14)
Ananyaas-chintayantoe maam ye janaah paryupaasate |
Teshaam nitya-abhiyuktaanaam yoga-kshemam vahamy-aham || (9-22)
Patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktyaa prayacchati |
Tadaham bhaktyupahritam asnaami prayataatmanah || (9-26)
Manmanaa bhava madbhaktoe madyaajee maam namskuru |
Maam evaishyasi yuktvaivam aatmaanam mat-paraayanah || (9-34)
Aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate |
Iti matvaa bhajante maam budhaa bhaava-samanvitaah || (10-08)
Matkarmakrin matparamo madbhaktah sanga-varjitah |
Nirvairah sarvabhooteshu yah sa maam eti paandava || (11-55)
Mayyeva mana aadhatsva mayi buddhim nivesaya |
Nivasishyasi mayyeva ata oordhvam na samsayah || (12-08)
Samam sarveshu bhooteshu tishthantam paramesvaram |
Vinasyatsv-avinasyantam yah pasyati sa pasyati || (13-27)
Maam cha yoe-avyabhichaarena bhaktiyogena sevate |
Sa gunaan samateetyaitaan brahma-bhooyaaya kalpate || (14-26)
Sarvasya chaaham hridi samnivishtoe mattah smritir jnaanam apoehanam cha |
Vedaischa sarvair-ahameva vedyoe vedaantakrid vedavid-eva chaaham || (15-15)
Trividham narakas-yedam dvaaram naasanam-aatmanah |
Kaamah krodhah tathaa lobhas-tasmaad etat trayam tyajet || (16-12)
Anudvegakaram vaakyam satyam priyahitam cha yat |
Svaadhyaaya-abhyasanam chaiva vangmayam tapa uchyate || (17-15)
Bhaktyaa maam abhijaanaati yaavaan yas-chaasmi tattvatah |
Tatoe maam tattvatoe jnaatvaa visate tad-anantaram || (17-55)
Easvarah sarva bhootaanaam hriddese-arjuna tishthati |
Bhramayan sarva-bhootaani yantraa-roodhaani maayayaa || (18-61)
Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maamekam saranam vraja |
Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyoe mokshyishyaami maa suchah || (18-66)
Ya imam paramam guhyam madbhakteshv-abhidhaasyati |
Bhaktim mayi paraam kritvaa maam evaishyaty-asamsayah || (18-68)
Sanjayo Uvaacha-Sanjaya said:
Yatra yogesvarah krishnoe yatra paarthoe dhananjayah |
Tatra sreer-vijayoe bhootir- dhruvaa neetir matir mama || (18-78)
[The above 40 slokas (hymns) of Bhagavadgeeta are recommended for daily chanting and contemplation by the American Gita Society, Fremont, California. They contain the essential teachings of Lord Krishna to Arjuna. Sanjaya repeats them for the blind king Dhritarashtra. The main body of the discourse above conveys the meaning of these forty selected slokas.]
Harih Om tatsat Harih Om tatsat harih Om Tatsat
Sree Krishnaarpanam astu subham bhooyaat
Om Saantih Saantih Santih
May Lord Krishna bless us all with goodness, prosperity and peace!
Talking to Arjuna on the subject of Moksha (Liberation) through renunciation Lord Krishna says:
"Sraddhaavaan anasooyascha srunuyaad-api yo narah | So-api muktah subhaal-lokaan praapnuyaat punyakarmanaam ||"—whoever hears this (sacred dialogue in the form of Geetaa) with faith and cavil, becomes free from sin, and attains heaven –higher worlds of those whose actions are pure and virtuous.
"One who is regular in the study of Geetaa becomes happy, peaceful, prosperous and free from the bondage of Karma though engaged in the performance of worldly duties. The one who studies Geetaa every day is not tainted by sin just as mire does not stain a lotus leaf. The Geetaa is the best abode of lord Krishna. This supreme science of the Absolute (Parabrahman) containing essence of all Vedas was spoken by the Lord Himself for the benefit of humanity. One need not study any other scripture if he or she seriously studies Geetaa, contemplates on the meaning of verses, and practice its teachings in one's daily life. The grace of Geetaa cannot be described. Geetaa is the heart, the soul, the breath, and the voice of the Lord. No austerity, vow, fasting and continence equal the study of Geetaa. Its teachings are simple as well as abstruse and profound. New and deeper meanings are revealed to a serious student of the Geetaa every time he studies Geetaa and the teachings remain ever inspirational."
Geetaa contains 700 slokas. The philosophy and science of Geetaa are contained in 300 slokas. Its commencement starts with "Asochyaan anyasochastvam" --don't grieve who are not to be grieved in 2-11 and its closure ends in sloka 18-66 "maa suchah" --do not grieve. It may not be possible to chant all these 700 slokas or even the 300 slokas, selected by the Kalpataru Research Academy of Sringeri Sarada Peetham. American Geetaa Society as well as the International Society has picked up 40 Slokas only calling them Geetaa Chaaleesa similar to Hanumaan Chaaleesaa. These 40 slokas are like Upanishadic Mantras and are ideally suited for daily Paraayana. Of course Geetaa contains the essence of all the Upanishads and can be called Mantras. It is strongly recommended to chant these 40 Mantras daily and get the benefit of Divine Grace.