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Summary of all the 18 Chapters of Bhagawat Gita


Summary of the 18 ChaptersThe Bhagavad Gita is an extraordinary articulation of the fundamental truth of Vedanta, that for all of us, the true nature of the I, the self, is wholeness. That means the formless and the world of form, God and creation, awareness and what arises in awareness, everything and no-thing. The Vedantic teaching is summarized in the famousmahavakhyatat tvam asi, that you are. Infinite, unbounded spaciousness, and all of creation moment by moment, is you! A simple equation. A quite radical statement. It takes the Gita 18 chapters to unfold this knowledge. The first six are abouttvam, you, the student, the seeker of knowledge, with Arjuna serving as the student. The second six are about tat, the infinite splendor of the divinity and creation in its fullness. The final six chapters are the equal sign,asi. The seeker is the sought. That Arjuna is no different from Krishna. Krishna understands this from the beginning, Arjuna understands at the end.Chapters 1 6: Arjuna, the student, the seeker of wisdomChapter 1: Arjunas DespairThe story begins with the battle lines drawn between the armies of the warring cousins, the Dhaartaraastras and the Paandavas. Arjuna is one of the five sons of Pandu, the Pandavas and the good guys in the story. They are upholding dharma, what is right in the way of ruling a kingdom, while their cousins are using deceit and other forms of treachery to maintain power. The Pandavas have done everything possible to negotiate fairly, but the evil cousin Duryodhana still continued to hold the throne illegally. It rightfully belonged to the Pandavas. To uphold dharma, war was necesary.But Arjuna, upon facing the reality of killing his cousins and family friends, throws up his hands in despair. He has Krishna drive his chariot out into the middle of the field between the two armies and he laments to Krishna that he cannot go through with this. Arjuna represents all seekers. Even Arjuna, raised as a prince, educated, renowned and accomplished is subject to sorrow and confusion.Verse 28 and 29:Arjuna said: Looking at these people, my own people well stationed in battle position and desirous to fight, my limbs have lost all their strength, my mouth has gone dry, my body is trembling, and the hairs on my body are standing on end.Chapter 2: Arjunas EnquiryKrishna feels Arjunas pain and suffering, but calls him out for whimpering like a child. Arjuna, taken aback by this, explains his dilemma more concisely and finally asks Krishna to help him with this seemingly unresolvable inner conflict. Sisyasteham, I am your student.In sutra 2-11 the Krishna begins his teaching and the Gita officially commences.Chapter 2 is the most important of all, as it contains the essence of the whole teaching. It begins with the immutability of aatmaa, which is beyond birth and death. If one were to only master this, success would arrive. Fromsutras 55 72,krishna describes stable wisdom, the living embodiment of an awakened one, a wise one who knows the Truth of wholeness. All the knowledge that is needed for enlightenment is presented. Understanding the nature of desire is the key.Verse 48:Remaining steadfast in yoga, oh! Dhanajaya, perform actions, abandoning attachment, remaining the same to success and failure alike. This evenness of mind is called yoga.Chapter 3: On the Nature of Action (Karma)Arjuna recognizes that he wants total freedom, moksha, enlightenment, nothing less. And yet Krishna has told him to get off his ass and join the battle. In India, there is a strong tradition ofsunnyaasa,a life renunciating worldly possessions and rsponsibilities to pursue knowledge. Sometimes this comes after raising a family, but it can come at any time in ones life. Arjuna tells Krishna that he wants to be a sunnyaasi to gain knowledge. He definitely does not want to fight.Krishna goes on to explain the nature of action or karma, and describes what karma yoga is. Much of the Vedic tradition revolves around rituals and pujas, ceremonial actions and prayers. Krishna explains that action does not require a doer, that is a separate egoic self that thinks he or she is acting. The belief in this separate self is the source of suffering, leading to endless harmful actions in the world. The teaching returns to studying the nature of desire.of likes and dislikes. Not to try to eliminate them, which is just another desire, but to see them for what they are and not be held prisoner by them.Verse 5:Indeed no one ever exists for even a second without performing action because everyone, being helpless, is made to perform action by the gunas (tamas, rajas and sattva) born of prakriti.Chapter 4: Karma Yoga: The Renunciation of Action Through KnowledgeKrishna begins by explaining the history of the teaching, how it originated with Isvara (Krishna) and has been handed down from teacher to student over a multitude of generations. An avatar is the absolute divinity manifesting in human body, like Krishna, who appears on the planet when dharma has been disturbed to reawaken timeless knowlege. Krishna has a human form, but is also timeless wisdom. Birth and death are just transitory phenomena and as such he is beyond action. As we will see in the last 6 chapters, this is the truth of all beings. We just dont know this.To be truly free one has to recognize that ones nature is free of all action, unbounded by time and space.(See Yoga Sutras I-2 and I-3). Krishna now goes into levels of reality. There is an empirical reality: the sun moon, stars, birds, bees, flowers and trees etc. Then there is a subjective reality, the projection we create in our mind from our experiences. But ultimately both are expressions of wholeness, a single reality, Brahman. Of interest to yogis, Krishna introduces the gunas, the three qualities of energy, specifically here relating to the types of human minds. Again we see parallels to Patanjali. Krishna explains to Arjuna that when acts in the world from knowledge, from wisdom, one is free. One does not have to drop out of the world to renounce the false self that believes it is acting. Dont run off to the Himalayas! Stand up and live the life that is already unfolding.Verse 24:brahmaarpanam brahmahavirbrahmaagnau brahmanaa hutambrahmaiva tena gantavyam brahmakarmasamaadhinaaThe means of offering is Brahman. The oblation is Brahman, offered by Brahman, into the fire, which is Brahman. Brahman is indeed to be reached by him who sees everything as Brahman.Chapter 5: Renunciation:Sannyaasa-YogaArjuna still has doubts. He still believes that renuniciation is the key to liberation,moksha.Krishna has praised both karma yoga andsannyaasayoga, so Arjuna asks which is better? Both lead to liberation but these paths present two very different life-styles. Krishna explains thatsannyaasa,although it may look like an easier, faster path, is actually much more difficult, as there is a certain depth of understanding needed before one can truly be asannyaasi.It is not for beginners. Karma yoga actually prepares one forsannyaasa, but it is not a particular practice, like pranayama. It is your whole life, moment by moment. You cannot spend every moment of your life doing pranayama!In sutra 5-20 Krishna uses the termsthira-buddhi,one whose knowledge is unshakable. Variations on the Sanskrit root stha, stable, steady, appear all through the Gita and the Yoga Sutras. In sutra I-3, Patanjali saysTada drashtuhu svarupe avasthanam, Then, ones self-knowledge, the recognition of the true nature, the sva-rupe, of the Self, remains stable. We find in the Gita an 18 chapter elaboration on this sutra. At the end of chapter 5, Krishna introduces dhyana, meditation, as a way to develop stability in the mind. This will be the topic of Chapter 6.Verse 11:Giving up attachment, karma-yogis perform action purely (without attachment) with the body, mind, intellect, and also by the senses, for the purification of the mind.Chapter 6: On Meditation (Dhyana)In Patanjalis first chapter, he distinguishes between two types of meditation (samadhi). The first is with a seed or form (sabija samadhi) toto sustain the mind and weaken the tendencies of the mind to wander into trouble some waters. The second is letting the mind rest in the infinite,nirbijaor seedlesssamadhi.This latter is the meditation Krishna presents to Arjuna. It is resting in grace.If liberation is giving up action, the sense that I am a doer, that requires giving up the urge to follow desires. And you cant give those up unless you know you are already whole, so how do you break the cycle? One aspect of meditation is the process of noticing habits and tendencies that disturb the peace of the mind. We have been hypnotized by our own confusion and we have to de-hynotize ourselves. A disciplined approach has to be undertaken to overcome the confusion. Krishna describe sitting meditation, in a quiet, clean and uncluttered place, to purify the mind. He again uses the termssthiraandsthitah, to indicate a sense of unwavering steadiness. Thus the yogi becomes free from sorrow.Verses 34 and 35:Arjuna says: As we all know, Krishna, the mind is agitation, a strong, well rooted tyrant. I think of it as impossible to control as the wind. Krishna replies No doubt, O mighty-armed (Arjuna), the agitated mind is very difficult to control. But, oh son of Kunti, by abhyaasa (practice) and vairagyam (objectivity), it is mastered.See PYS I-12 (abhyassa vairagyabyam tan nirodhah)Chapters 7 12: Parameshvara; Creator and Creation are One, Brahman

Chapter 7: Jaana Vijaana Yoga (The complete knowledge of Brahman)Here jaana signifies an indirect knowledge, as differentiated from direct knowledge, vijnana, implying that Krishna is revealing the truth of himself, not some other kind of truth. It is immediate, absolute, no questions left, no doubts lingering. Krishna tells Arjuna that this knowledge is rare in the world. Very few seek it at this level, and of the ones who do, still fewer come to fu