Bhagwad Geeta

Chapter 12 - Bhakti Yoga

Chapter 12, Verse 1

Arjuna requests Krishna to clarify the doubt, whether which path is better. Is it a better path to worship Lord Krishna? Arjuna has seen both the forms of Lord Krishna the form which is abstract, and which pervades the entire universe and the form which is human like. Hence Arjuna has got the doubt which is a better form to worship for Yoga.

Chapter 12, Verse 2

Lord Krishna answers the prayer of Arjuna. he says the superior devotee is one who worships God alone and nothing else. Also, there are two elements in the worship of God. Worship with mind and worship with heart. Lord Krishna says the devotee who worships God with both heart and mind will attain him and such a devotee is superior.

Chapter 12, Verse 3 & 4

Lord Krishna continues answering the prayer of Arjuna as to which form of worship is better to reach the God and have the union of the individual soul with supreme soul. In shloka two he says those people who worship him with only God in mind and nothing else will reach him. he is basically taking about bhakti. The devotion to God if it is 100% then they can reach God.

In these two shlokas Lord Krishna says that even if people worship the formless, attribute less and all-pervading entity then they can reach God too. provided they work for the welfare of others and also all the senses are under full control. in other words, if people have complete control over senses, and they are working not for their welfare but for the welfare of others and worship the formless God they can also reach God too.

In one path complete devotion is needed and in other paths, complete control over senses is needed. in both the paths senses are totally directed to God and nothing external. Both are different ways to reach God.

Chapter 12, Verse 5

In this shloka Lord Krishna gives the reasons why it is difficult for people worshipping the formless entity to reach him. He says such people affiliate themselves with their own bodies and ultimately their ego overtakes them. if they can have a personal god which has attributes and form the mind can easily comprehend that form. in the earlier chapter, Arjuna was asking Krishna again and again to reveal his normal form. This is because a normal human form is easy for the human mind to grasp and worship. TO be devoted to a formless entity requires a lot of motivation. motivation is easy for worshipping in the form which has attributes.

Chapter 12, Verse 6 & 7

This is one of the most powerful shlokas of Geetha. Those people who surrender all activities unto the lord, being attached with the god and meditating on him, with exclusive worship of the god with an unwavering mind mastering the art of yoga (uniting the individual consciousness with supreme consciousness) ,for such persons God will be the deliverer from the death and the cycle of existence. Here we can observe that once a person is devoted to God and totally immersed in him, there is no need for anything in this world, and he is automatically delivered from the worldly pleasures and pains and his goal is the God.

Chapter 12, Verse 8

This is the shloka given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna as a kind of guide for all future actions of Arjuna. Lord Krishna is preaching the path of Bhakti yoga to Arjuna, and he says it is the best for a person to follow when he wants to worship the personal form of god. Lord Krishna says people should focus on the God and apply the intellect of the person to reach him. a person should conduct his daily activities in such a manner that they are for the God. a person should ask himself at every step of his life, will this act please God? if it pleases God the person may do the activity, if it does not, please God then he should not do that activity. in this way, if a person uses his intelligence and discrimination to reach God, he will reach God one day.

Chapter 12, Verse 9

A solution is given here for people who fail to concentrate on the God completely for all the time. It is mentioned that if people can perform Abhaya yoga remembering the God, then also, they can reach him. what is abhyasa yoga? yoga is the method of uniting the individual consciousness with supreme consciousness When a person performs yoga it means his mind is in total control of the person. If the mind of a person is in total control and in that state of control, he thinks about the qualities of God then also the person can reach the God.

Chapter 12, Verse 10

Lord Krishna says that a person can remember God by the performance of abhyasa yoga. if they find it difficult to remember God all the time, then Krishna offers a solution. he says that such people should do activities dedicated to God. In fact, in the modern world, we find it very difficult to remember God all the time because we are busy in activities. Lord Krishna says if people can do activities that are for the lord or if people do activities that are for the welfare of others without any personal motive, then they can reach Lord. The choice is remembering God while performing activities or performing activities that bring us closer to God. these are the two paths suggested for people in Kaliyuga.

Chapter 12, Verse 11

If performing activities for the Lord is also difficult then the path suggested is to perform abhyasa yoga by controlling the mind and renouncing all the results. The third option makes a person selfless, not working for himself but working for the welfare of people.

The four paths may be summed up as complete devotion to God, remembering God always while performing activities, performing activities for the God, renouncing activities for the self and working for the welfare of the people. There is a wide choice given for people to pursue the path they like.

Chapter 12, Verse 12

In this shloka Lord Krishna shows us hierarchy as to what is better among the paths he mentioned in the previous shlokas.

He says that knowledge is better than practice. Acquiring knowledge will let you save a lot of effort. without knowledge, people will be wasting time in pursuing activities that don’t yield the right fruits. Imagine a person whose illusion is broken away because of knowledge and knows what the right path is. with the right knowledge, a person pursues the right path, and he will attain success. If there is no knowledge people will be involved in activities that are not right for the human being.

Lord Krishna then says meditation is better than knowledge. if a person is meditating, he will learn things on his own instead of acquired knowledge. Thus, Krishna says meditation is very important.

Then Krishna says actions performed without any self-motivation are better than motivation. it is true that people do actions for “their” benefit. “Their” here means for their mind’s benefit. if a person’s mind is benefitting from an activity the person pursues it. instead, if a person is motivated not for the benefit of his brain but for the benefit of others then it is superior to meditation.

Thus, we can see that performing actions without the concept of self, has the highest rating given by Krishna among all other activities. this concept of self-less actions encompasses meditation, knowledge, and action. it has everything included in it.

Chapter 12, Verse 13 & 14

These two shlokas are one of the most powerful shlokas of Geetha. It mentions the qualities a person should have to achieve success in any endeavour in life. if the success is achieving God, then nothing like that, if success is in achieving some worldly attainment also, the principles are same. They are:

  • A person should be advestha: No hatred towards anyone, any person or anything in life.
  • Friendship/ wishing wellness of all creatures – humans, non-humans.
  • Compassion for all creatures including himself.
  • No sense of proprietorship/ownership towards actions.
  • Equanimity in distress and happiness.
  • Tolerant towards beings and also self.
  • Contentment with what a person has.
  • Staying in Yoga (no double voice in mind) only one voice.
  • Self-controlled.
  • Determined to achieve what a person wants.

These are the qualities a person should have to achieve whatever a person wants. I think entire Geetha till now is to explain these concepts and get clarity in a person ass to what should be achieved in life. whether is it worldly achievements or God. Geetha clarifies what is better to achieve and then says what are the qualities that are needed to achieve the decided goal.

Chapter 12, Verse 15

In this shloka, Lord Krishna explains the type of person who is dear to God. He says that a person who is free from mundane pleasures, free from fear, free from anxiety, anger is dear to God. expanding this he says a person should not cause hurt to any other person and a person who is not hurt by another person in the world is dear to God. it basically means a person who follows non-violence i.e., does not hurt others through words, thoughts, deeds and who practices non-violence on himself (not affected by thoughts, words, deeds of others) is the person close to God. Lord Krishna basically means a person should be selfless and when a person is selfless, he doesn’t think about himself and thinks about the welfare of the fellow human beings.

Chapter 12, Verse 16

Continuing further the qualities a person needs to be closer to God, Krishna says the person should be desireless (should not desire anything for his good), free from worries and agitation, and is unconcerned with mundane avagations of life. The person who is closer to God knows where he needs to put the effort.

Chapter 12, Verse 17

One who does not rejoice unnecessarily, and one who does not grieve unnecessary, one who does not dislike anything and one who does not desire anything, one who is neutral to what is auspicious and what is inauspicious and who is engaged in devotional service to the God, such is the one dear to the God.

Here if we make an analysis of what Krishna says we can observe that he is asking us to be neutral to what is happening in the surroundings. Whatever the circumstance is the person should be neutral. Neutral in his reaction to the external world and pursue his goal with dedication. if the goal is devotion to God nothing like that if the goal is something else the path to pursuing the goal is given by the God.

Chapter 12, Verse 18 & 19

In this shloka lord, Krishna summarizes what is meant by equanimity. Equanimity is being equal to what is happening around us. equanimity is having a state of mind which treats everything equally.

Equanimity is explained by Krishna as:

  • A person who treats both an enemy and friend as equal.
  • Equal in his reaction when he receives honour and dishonour.
  • Impartial to heat, cold, happiness and distress.
  • Exempt from attachment.
  • Equipoised while receiving praise and abuse.
  • Contemplative before speaking and silent most of the time.
  • Satisfied with whatever comes on its own accord.
  • Not attached to anything in domestic life.
  • Fixed in determination.
  • Indulging in devotional service to the God.

The above are the qualities of a man who is equipoised. We can see that a person must have a goal in life and in pursuit of that goal he should have equanimity.

Chapter 12, Verse 20

The chapter closes by Lord Krishna saying that people who are resolute in their devotion to the God by worshipping him with devotion are very dear to him. the words “shraddha” and “dharma amrutam” are important in this shloka. Shraddha is resolute determination. I am unable to translate this word but even Shirdi Sai Baba uses the words Shraddha and saburi while calling his devotees to have resolute faith in God. The path of worship is said to be righteous that means there is nothing wrong in worshipping God.

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