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Fundamental excerpts from the book “Bhagavad Gita – by Michael von Brück & Bede Griffiths”

Fundamental excerpts from the book “Bhagavad Gita – by Michael von Brück & Bede Griffiths”

[Last Update: 12.01.2017]

Please note that the version/edition I read was in German language. I’ll translate the German version back into English. For more information, see below in the indication of source!

I’ll start with a quote from the Gita::
The blind ones will dislike/disregard me if I take a human form. They are not able to understand my higher being in which I am the Lord of the Creation.

Color marking and their meaning

Color: gren        →         my wording / comment
Color: blue        →         elementary important from the book

Prakriti

Page 86 →
These thoughts are derived from the Samkhya philosophy. Thereafter all activities of the natural forces are modifications in the prakriti. Purusha on the other hand is mind, consciousness and completely inactive. This view is expressive in the goddess Kali who dances on the lying body of Shiva. Shiva is here pure consciousness, mind, inactive and perfectly quiet. All energy and activity comes from the female principle/nature – the prakriti.

Guru, the education

Page 93 →
The ancient spiritual doctrines are supposed to have been handed down authentically in unbroken lines of tradition from the origin of time to our present time. Yoga is as old as the world. Therefore you have to trust yourself to a guru who has been initiated by another guru, etc.

For any kind of education we always need a good guru (= teacher). Otherwise we will “always” be surrounded from the darknesPage A guru who found themselves in ignorance or who intentionally spreads the darkness (e. g. knowledge hiding) of course can’t be a good guru.

Four Yugas

Page 94 →
In the Hindu chronology four yugas or ages are distinguished. In the beginning there was a Golden Age, where man was close to God and lived according to dharma without needing to be instructed. According to the Hindu tradition man stood on four legPage Then in the Silver Age he stood on three. In the Bronze Age on two and now we live in the Iron Age the kali-yuga where man stands on one leg and everything is threatened by collapse.

Modern man has rather the opposite idea of a curve of progress so that in the course of time human development advances to the better whereby the man of the twentieth century means that his life-form corresponds to the crown of humankind, history and the Creation.

These are two very different points of view. Each with its own validity. We mean gradually to advance while the ancients were the opinion that the transcendent wisdom was eternal and had been recognized by man from the beginning. We certainly advance in quantifying knowledge and in technological feasibility but not in this essential wisdom. Now it is revealed to Arjuna by Krishna. He reveals it to him because »you are my worshiper and friend«. The term which is used for this is bhakta. This word is a keyword in the Gita. The word bhakta contains the syllable bhaj. It originally means »partake in«, »participate in something« and also »participate through affection«. These different meanings remain. But at the time of Gita the word meant »love« and »loyalty«. It is a devotional love that is constant and reliable but not a passionate one.

Avatara

Page 98 →
7:
Whenever the order (morality) of the world goes down and disorder increases, you descendant of the Bharata, then I’ll create myself.

8:
As a sanctuary for the righteous and destruction of the evildoer to restore the order of the world, I’ll create myself from time to time.

In this context time means “era”.

The word srijami has the syllable srij which means »creating« or »projecting«: I project myself, I create myself. This is the meaning of the word Avatarthe coming of God into the world. One speaks of ten classical Avatars or the incarnation Vishnus and Krishna is one of them the eighth Avatar.

The tenth avatar is called Kalki-Avatara which initiates the purifying procesPage

Kundalini-yoga: Seven chakras / psychic energy points

Page 135/136 →
It is said that the divine energy is concentrated at the base of the spine. It is coined as an image of a coiled snake and this energy has to flow bit by bit upwards through the individual centres.
The first centre at the base of the spine is called muladhara. Above that is the centre of the sexual power called svadhishtana. It is the centre of creating life energy. Above this the manipura chakra is the centre of emotional life. Then the main centre comes which is called anahata chakra. It is the seat of the will and emotion where the person opens to otherPage Above that the laryngeal centre lies which is called vishuddha chakra where the ability of the subtle energies like speech, poetry and music are centred. The next higher centre is the ajna chakra which is seated at the point between the eyebrowPage This is the place of pure intelligence. It is the point between the eyebrows which is mentioned here in the Gita text. Finally at the top of the head the so-called thousand-leaved lotus the sahasrara chakra. All these energies merge at this point at the apex where they open themselves to the Divine Light. This is the point where the person is unfolded to perfection and attains its perfection.

Page 150 →
9:
Who treats friends, companions and enemies, neutral, opponents and relatives, as well as good and evil in a same way will qualify oneself.

The supervisory authorities – ideal hierarchy

Page 160 →
Consciousness is supposed to control the senses. If the senses remain uncontrolled they behave like wild horses of a bad charioteer. But when they are controlled by the consciousness they resemble well-ridden horses, and the carriage can be easily controlled.

In Katha-Upanishad the human faculties are divided into three: the senses (indriyas), the mind (manas) and the higher rationality (buddhi).

Yoga

Page 174 →
3:
From thousands of people only few strives to perfection and among those who strive to perfection no one knows me really.

Page 199 →
A story is told of a Yogi Tapasvi Maharaj who died with the age of 185. He could feel his death and tell others when exactly his death will occur so that a judge from Bangalore was a witness of his death. This judge also wrote a biography about the Yogi.

The yogi was treated three times during his long life with a special medicine called kaya-kalpa which is from specific herbs from the Himalayas. This herbal treatment initiated the rejuvenation process. It was only possible to do this three time in his long life because the effect diminished.

Difference between Jnana (wisdom) and Vijnana (science)

Page 207/208 →
This is about jnana the supreme wisdom that we can call uniting* knowledge or intuitive wisdom. It differ from vijnana (science) the differentiable knowledge. Most people only knows vijnana. They can only differ impressions with their discursive mental abilities and never attain jnana. But when one has attained jnana, vijnana the differentiable knowledge is in it. Jnana and vijnana belongs together.

* uniting knowledge means that all the knowledge is focused (to a point)

Page 213 →
10:
Under my supervision, the Nature gives life to animate¹ and inanimate² beings. For this reason, Kunti’s son, the universe is in constant motion.

¹ With animate beings is the classical biological definition of living organism is meant.
² With inanimate beings are thinks like stone etc. meant.

11:
The blind ones will dislike/disregard me if I take a human form. They are not able to understand my higher being in which I am the Lord of the Creation.

The three basic characteristics of the nature

Page 311, 314, 315 →

Sattva:
Light, intelligence, the good, clarity, harmony

Rajas:
Energy, courage, strength, greed, movement, restlessness

Tamas:
Rest, laziness, darkness, inaction, chaos, ignorance, idle

Pravritti is the force that push people to outside activity, in contrast to nivritti which is a accumulated force that is centred or inward.

The word trishna, a Buddhist word which means »clinging to life« or »thirst for dasein«. It is the thirst for dasein which make us blind in this world.

Page 316 →
Ajnana (ignorance) is the key word here. How jnana (wisdom) is the effect of sattva, so is ignorance the effect of tamas.

Page 319 →
The yield of good action is nirmala which means defile or pure. The yield of rajas is duhkha which means suffering and pain. The yield of tamas is ignorance or in Sanskrit ajnana the darkening of consciousness.

Commonly the two terms rajas and tamas are associated with negative aspect in contrast to the word sattva which always been used for positive aspects nowadays. We should also take a balanced attitude and realize that the energies of rajas (energy) and tamas (strength and solidity) are also necessary for a balanced life.

Please keep in mind that every organism need also rest (tamas) to regenerate.

16:
It is said that the yield of benevolent action is marked by purity and immaculate but the yield of energy (rajas) is suffering, the yield of idleness is ignorance (tamas).

17:
Knowledge comes from purity and greed comes from energy. Negligence, blindness, and ignorance are results of laziness.

18:
Those in purity goes upward. The energy-stamped remain in the middle. Those of idleness-stamped from the lowest of the basic characteristics goes downwards.

Brahman, Atman, etc.

Page 324 →
27:
I am the fundament of Brahman (BrahmanBrahma), the immortal and immutable. I’m also the eternal universal order and the unique salvation.

Page 331 →
10:
Whether it leaves the body, stays or enjoys is characterized by the basic qualities. The blinded can’t see the Brahman. Only those who have the eye of wisdom can see it.

Ordinary people sees with mind and senses, but the wise man realizes that mind and senses are all rooted in the atman. We need the third eye, the eye of wisdom, to discover the Christ within ourselves in the physical person.

Page 338 →
19:
Who recognizes me free from delusion as the Supreme Divine Spirit recognizes everything and shares in me with his whole being, descendant of Bharata.

Page 348 – 354 →
4:
Hypocrisy, arrogance and haughtiness, anger, rudeness and ignorance, these are the characteristics of them, Pritha’s son, who are inimical to God.

5:
It is said that those who believes in the divine existence leads to liberation and those who are inimical to God to bondage. Don’t worry Pandu’s son you’re the one who believes in the divine existence.

6:
In this world there are two types of created beings: one that believes in God and the other one don’t believe in God. The first group has already been discussed in detail. Now listen to me, Pritha’s son, about the others.

7:
The beings who are inimical to God are not aware of the difference between turning towards to the world and turning away from it, nor of purity and right moral conduct. Truth can’t be found in them.

8:
They say that the world is neither true nor having a Divine Existence and was not created by God. Was it arisen by desire?

People who are inimical to God do not know what to do and what to leave. This is not that they are not active, but they know neither purity nor morality nor truth.

This is an indeed for the unbelievers at all times and in all religions.

9:
People who join this view lose themselves and are of little discernment. They are doers of barbarity which ends with destruction of the world. They are enemies.

10:
They are dependent on insatiable desire and full of hypocrisy, pride, lust. Since they have taken false path through their blindness, they act according to unmoral rules of life.

Kama is lust or desire, the passion, which can make people blind as we saw in the second chapter. This is the reason why people do bad thing against their will.

11:
They have succumb to an immeasurable worry which only ends with the death and make the lust their ultimate goal. They are convinced that this is all what exist.

12:
Tied up by a hundred fetters of expectations, falling into desires and anger, they are embarrassed by pleasure by unjustly accumulating richness.

19:
I hurl over and over again such kind of cruel people who hate, are barbarous and impure, in the cycles of rebirths to the lap of mothers who are inimical to God.

This will not be the case in the purification process of the Kali-Yuga. These kind of people will get to know the infinite suffering. They will neither be reborn nor attain to the lap of God.

Page 378 →
One of the great intuitions of the Gita involves that the source of all that happens in the world, is an eternal reality. Only our ignorance leave us believe that the space-temporal phenomena are the only one truth.

Page 380, 381, 382, 383, 384 →
Acts which are driven by Rajas (24, 27, 31, 34, 38)

  • An action which is carried out with a great effort to fulfil desire or also from ego, is designated as energy-stamped.
  • Passionate, demanding for the fruit of doing, avaricious, violent, unclean, driven by joy and grief – such behaviour is called energy-stamped.
  • Rationality, oh Pritha’s son, which wrongly differentiates between right and wrong, what to do and what to leave is energy-stamped.
  • But permanence, Arjuna, by which duty, lust, and wealth, adherent and greedy for success, such permanence is energy-stamped, o Pritha son.
  • Happiness, which at the first sight resembles the nectar of immortality through the combination of senses and objects, but which is in the course of time poisoned, is regarded as energy-stamped.

Acts which are driven by Tamas (25, 28, 39)

  • An act which is carried out with ignoring the consequences e. g. destruction or injury to others and also of one’s own strength, which is driven by blindness is called idleness-stamped.
  • Unbridled, vulgar, stubborn, wicked, disingenuous, lazy, depressed and hesitant such an act is called idleness-stamped.
  • Rationality, Pritha’s son, which regards injustice as right because it is enveloped by darkness and reverses all things to the contrary is called idleness-stamped.
  • Happiness, which at the beginning as well as at the end represents a blindness of the self because it is made up of drowsiness, laziness and negligence is called idleness-stamped.

Acts which are driven by Sattva (26, 33, 37)

  • Free from attachments, without being self-centred, filled with consistency and determination, unperturbed by success and failure such an act is called purity-stamped.
  • Permanence, oh Pritha’s son, through which the functions of thought, life energy and the senses are unified by an unbroken yoga practice, such a permanence is called purity-stamped.
  • What appears at the beginning as poison but in the course of time it seems to be as nectar of immortality that is happiness which is proclaimed as purity since it springs from its own reason and clarity.

It is useful to check whether one’s attitudes and actions are characterized by the qualities of sattva, rajas or tamas. The three basic characteristics must have to come in harmony in the course of our maturation process. Tamas and rajas should be full controlled by the sattva quality, which must penetrate everything.

The word for permanence is dhritya. The syllable dhr is the same which is in the word dharma and which means the law that directs everything in the universe reliably and also describes our obligation.

A basic perspective of the Gita is that the path of virtue seems difficult at the beginning but later brings joy and fulfilment. While the path of vice appears initially attractive and enjoyable but finally ends in sorrow and suffering. A similar experience is expressed in the Gospel according to Matthew (7:13) »Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.«

Page 384, 385 →
40:
Neither on earth nor by gods in heaven is there a being that is free from these three basic characteristics which are given by the nature itself.

Here the word “gods” is used in plural. This is a translation / understanding mistake of the author. In this context the Devas are meant. These and similar mistakes can be also found in other author or translators works.

In the Indo-European language family including the German language, the word God describes the only truth. In the Dravidian language family for which officially the Tamil language belongs and in Sanskrit, there are different terms for the word god:

Para-Brahman, Purushothaman, Purusha, Paramporul, Iraivan, Kadavul etc.

These terms refer to the only divine true but with different names such as Shiva, Murughan, Pillaiyaar, Vishnu, etc. but according to their definitions they must not necessarily have to be referenced to (Shiva Murughan Pillaiyaar Vishnu …). What I’m trying to explain is that e.g. the word Purusha can also mean husband.

Please note that Shiva and Parvathy or Purusha and Prakriti are a duality only at first sight. They are two bodies but one soul.

Here the basic distinction of the reality in purusha (spirit) and prakriti (matter) is given. Creation arises from the unity of both and is characterized by the three basic qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. When sattva dominates, the good is created. When rajas dominates, violence arises. When tamas dominates, everything sinks into darkness and death.

Note

≡ (means: congruent)

This is a mathematical symbol of identity. This symbol expresses that both sides separated by the symbol are identical. What I want to explain is that the names of the divinity Shiva Vishnu, stands for the identical divinity. There are not two different gods. Only different names for the one true deity.

Source

Michael von Brück & Bede Griffiths: “Bhagavad Gita – Mit einem spirituellen Kommentar von Bede Griffith. Aus dem Sanskrit übersetzt, eingeleitet und erläutert von Michael von Brück”, (1993), ISBN: 3-466-20373-2

Original Edition in English

River of Compassion: A Christian Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita” by Bede Griffiths, (1987), Element Books, 1995 reprint: ISBN 0-8264-0769-2

Online available as German eBook

University library, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) PDF-file (ca. 31MB)