Bhagavad-Gita: 18 Chapters in Sanskrit


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Veeraswamy Krishnaraj: Tolerance with love is to speak in tongues of all faiths, hold in the heart the Truth of all faiths and see

all faiths in the face of humanity.


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About the author:

Veeraswamy Krishnaraj, M.D; F.R.C.P (Canada) is a board certified pediatrician in active practice until the end of 1998. He immersed himself in study of Hinduism in depth. He has sufficient knowledge and understanding of Hindu religion that he is confident to publish this book. He kept the words simple, supple, illuminating and to the point, while retaining the original flavor, beauty and grace. Compound words in Sanskrit are a nightmare for the beginner, as they are spliced together compactly in one continuous stretch of characters. He parsed the compound words into digestible syllables or words with superscripts and sequential numbers and rearranged the words in the verse in a readable form in English. In this book, he claims ownership of shortcomings and cedes the rest to Bhagavan. 

This book is good for students, and devotees reading the Bhagavad-Gita in Satsang (true company). Two verses nestle in two boxes in one page with no break or carry-over to the next page. Diacritics help the reader enunciate the words like a Sanskritist. The English words are reader-friendly. Wherever there is a need for elaboration, an addendum supports it.

Simplicity, authority, universality, and profundity are the hallmark of the Bhagavadgita, the Bible of the Hindus. The Bhagavadgita is the Song of the Lord. It provides guidelines for daily living with no dogmas and ritual overtones. It encourages and supports your individuality. It also explains the consequence of errant ways. Total surrender to Bhagavan releases the devotee from the ills of life on earth. Hinduism as a term is an external appellation from non-Hindus. Its true name is Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law or Eternal Order) commensurate with Rta (Cosmic Order). The beauty about the Bhagavadgita is its appeal is universal.



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BG Chapter 17 Gunas and Faith


 Parabel by Jesus Christ

 Mt. 13.18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: Mt. 13.18

Mt. 13.19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. Mt. 13.19

Mt. 13.20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. Mt. 13.20

Mt. 13.21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. Mt. 13.21

Mt. 13.22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Mt. 13.22

Mt. 13.123 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Mt. 13.23

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

Mt. 13:36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."

Mt. 13:37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.

Mt. 13:38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,

Mt. 13:39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

Mt. 13:40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.

Mt. 13:41  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

Mt. 13:42  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mt. 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.  





17.1:  Arjuna said:

What is the status of those who give up the scriptural injunctions and worship with faith? Is it Sattva, Rajas, or Tamas: Goodness, passion, or ignorance?


Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says the following about the Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic form of worship in Saying 239 page 81-82 of Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna.

The man who worships from the very depth of his heart without the least ostentation or vanity is a Sattvic worshipper. The man who gives much attention to decorating his house, makes much fuss about music and dancing, and makes all costly and elaborate arrangements for a rich feast when celebrating the worship of the Deity, is a Rajasic worshipper. The man who immolates hundreds of innocent goats and sheep on the altar, has dishes of meat and wine for offerings, and is absorbed only in dancing and singing  while conducting worship is a Tamasic worshipper.

Faith is the most important asset in a devotee; without it everything else is meaningless. Faith is glorified in all religions. Take Prahalada the devout worshipper and staunch believer in Vishnu. He is the victim of his father's torture for his faith in Vishnu. His father thinks in his arrogance that he is the Supreme Lord of the Universe and wants his son to acknowledge him as such. Prahalada asserts that Vishnu is the Supreme Lord of the Universe. Hiranyakasipu becomes irate and asks his son whether his Vishnu is in the stone pillar of his palace. Prahalada says, "He is in the pillar; He is in the twig. He is here, there and everywhere. There is no place He is not. He was, He is and He will be."  Hiranyakasipu hoists his mace in one wide sweep and smote the pillar; there emerged Narasimha, a man-lion and tore Hiranyakasipu into pieces at the twilight hour at the the threshold of the palace on His lap with His nails.  Thus He saves Prahalada from further torture from his father. The reason why Man-lion emerged from the pillar is that Hiranyakasipu had a boon from Brahma that he will not be slain by god, man, or animal neither in the day nor in the night, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither on earth nor in space, and neither by animate nor by inanimate object. The killing takes place in such manner that all conditions are fulfilled without any violation of the tenets of the boon. A skeptic does not have to accept the validity of this story. The fact remains that God is everywhere and can help the devotee and hurt the devotee's enemy: that is the message.


The Consequence of lack of Faith: Take Moses and his followers, who complained of  extreme thirst from lack of water in their wandering. When God told Moses to bid the rock yield water, Moses' faith faltered, his belief in Yahweh evaporated, doubt rose in his mind about the miracle of water in the rock and Moses smote the rock with his staff in utter frustration. For the dearth of faith at this instance God told him that he would die before the faithful entered the promised land and conquered Canaan for His followers. Moses climbed Mount Nebo, took a panoramic view of Canaan and died in perfect health at the ripe old age of 120 years.


 Maitri Upanisad. Translation by Dr. Radhakrishnan. The Principal Upanisads.  Page 807-808

Definition of Tamas and Rajas.


II.5 And then it has been said elsewhere bewilderment, fear, depression, sleepiness, sloth, heedlessness, old age, grief, hunger, thirst (mental), weakness, anger, unorthodoxy, ignorance, jealousy, cruelty, stupidity, shamelessness, meanness, rashness, unequableness, these are the characteristics of the quality of darkness. Inner thirst, affection, passion, covetousness, hurting others, lust, hatred, deceit, envy, insatiability, unsteadfastness fickleness, distractedness, ambitiousness, acquisitiveness, patronage of friends, family pride, aversion to unpleasant objects and over-attachment to pleasant objects, sourness of utterance and gluttonousness, these are the characteristics of the quality of passion. By these he is filled, by these he  is affected, therefore the elemental self attains manifold forms, yea, attains (manifold forms).



17.2:  Sri Bhagavan said:

The faith of the embodied is of three kinds, born of their own nature: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Thus, hear that from Me.


17.3:   Everyone’s faith is according to his own nature, O Arjuna. A person is of the nature of his faith [faith incarnate]. Whatever his faith is, that certainly, he is.


17.4:  Good people worship the gods, the passionate worship the yaksas and raksasas, and (others who are) the ignorant people worship the spirits and ghosts.


The modern day Yaksas and Raksasas are the crooked, the cunning, the deviant, the deceitful, the corrupt, the immoral, the inhumane, the unprincipled, the greedy, the usurping, and the evildoers.


Yaksas and Raksasas: Yaksas are mysterious beings and their images are common on the Buddhist stupas (monuments). They haunt hills and trees, are considered fertility godlings, and figure much in the Jain lore. The popularity of yaksas waned in the post-Vedic times. According to Buddhist lore, a yaksa jumped out of an image in a temple, bowed to boy Buddha, and asked Him whether he was deva, gandharva or yaksa. Kubera, the god of wealth, is their leader; the yaksas have the ability to metamorphose into any forms, and are Brahma's creation as others are.  Kubera, the god of wealth, is portrayed by artists in the sculpture as potbellied epicure sporting a lotus cup containing soma or some such inebriant, a club, luxuriant swirls of curly hair, and a diadem. The Buddhist version of Kubera, known as Jambhala holds a jewel-bearing mongoose on the left hand and three jewels of Buddhism on the right hand: Right Belief, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct.  


17.5:  Those people, who perform terrible austerities not ordained by the scriptures, given to hypocrisy and ego, impelled by lust, attachment, and strength,


17.6:  Mindlessly torturing the multitude of elements in the (physical) body and Me who dwell within the body, know those ignorant ones are of demonic resolve.


Explanation of the verse: There are very many Tapasvins who torture and torment their own bodies (made of elements--water, air, fire, earth and ether) in the name of Tapas (austerity). Examples of such self-inflicted torture also known as corporeal mortification are prolonged hunger, walking on hot embers, sleeping on nail-bed, body piercing with swords, knives, hooks.... There are similar occurrences in other  religions too. These driven acts come from ego facilitated by strength, misplaced endurance....All these acts are against scriptural injunctions. This is mortification of the body and the individual soul which is part of the Supreme Soul. Self-torture is torture of the Lord dwelling in each one of us. Mortification is denying the existence of God, according to some theologians; punishing the flesh to elevate the spirit is the goal. Our first birth is birth in the flesh and our second birth is birth in the spirit. One does not have to torture his body in any way to obtain spiritual awakening.

Some people are of the opinion that Extreme Athletic training, punishing diets for weight reduction, plastic surgical procedures for other than congenital malformations, and total body tattooing belong to the category of mortification of the flesh.

Many Hindus perform minor mortification such as starving for a day or so for rituals and expiation of sins. The Rev. Michael Geisler writes, "Self-denial helps a person overcome both psychological and physical weakness, gives him energy, helps him grow in virtue and ultimately leads to salvation. It conquers the insidious demons of softness, pessimism and lukewarm faith that dominate the lives of so many today" (Crisis magazine July/August 2005). Enduring pain and not feeding the fire of hunger increases one's spirit, according to the practitioners.

Celibacy and asceticism, forms of denial, are practiced in Hinduism and other religions and are mortification of the body.

The cancer patients who suffer involuntary pain receive medications to alleviate the pain and yet they suffer; under those circumstances some priests believe in the saying, "Blessed be pain! Glorified be pain! Sanctified be pain!" It is because Jesus Christ suffered the pain and shed blood for humanity. Suffering the pain has salvific effect. Jesus fasted for forty days and nights as a preparation of His ministry. Thus there is a connection between pain and spirituality.

According to Hinduism, we are all born with impurities of the soul which are removed by pain and suffering. Karma can be happiness or pain and suffering. Every time a Hindu suffers pain and suffering, he invokes his karma as the cause.

In his wonderful Tristan, Gottfried von Strassburg says, 'They tell me there are those who seek only happiness and peace. Let God give them peace. I seek the life that has both bitterness and sweetness simultaneously'." 

A form of pathological mortification of the flesh is resorted to by patients with Munchausen's syndrome which "is a factitious disorder in which otherwise healthy individuals seek to hospitalize themselves with feigned or self-induced pathology in order to receive surgical or other medical treatment". Some patients have undergone several surgical procedures and explorations by presenting a textbook description of surgical abdomen to doctors. 

Paedophilia and corporeal punishment of children are also a form of torture perpetrated on defenseless children. Child labor, child prostitution, and child soldiers are also a form of abuse and torture of children.

Though pain and suffering are glorified in religion, the doctors of the same faith take their oath to relieve pain and suffering in their patients; that is the paradox between and separation of religion and medical profession.


17.7:  The food dear to all is also of three kinds. (So are the) Sacrifice, austerity, and charity. Hear the differences between them.


17.8:  The foods that augment a long  life, existence, strength, health, happiness, and pleasure are juicy, smooth, firm, and hearty. (Those) foods are dear to Sattvic (people).


17.9: Rajasic people like foods that are bitter, sour, salty, very hot, pungent, dry and burning and cause misery, grief and sickness.


17.10: Foods that are improperly cooked, wanting in flavor, putrid, stale, left-over, and unfit for sacrifice are dear to the Tamasic person.


17.11:  Sacrifice performed according to injunctions with no desire for fruit, with conviction in the mind and a sworn duty is good (sattva).


17.12:  That which is performed for the sake of dambha (ostentation), and motivated by expectation of fruits, O best of the Bharatas, you know that as sacrifice in Rajasic nature.


 (O best of Bharatas, you should know that a sacrifice is in Rajasic nature, when damba [ostentation] and expectation of fruits motivate performance.)  


17.13:  Sacrifice that is performed without prescribed rules, in which no food is donated, no mantra is chanted, no compensation is paid, and no faith (is expressed) is declared Tamasic.


17.14:  The worship of the gods, the twice-born, the guru, and the wise; purity, honesty, celibacy, and ahimsa: these are (said to be) the penance of the body.


Dvija: the twice-born, Brahmana.

There are twice-born in three castes. They are the Brahmanas, the Ksatriyas, and the Vaisyas; the Sudras are not the twice-born. By custom, it is said that a Brahmin is not a Brahmana until he goes through the triple-cord ceremony: That is his second birth, at which time he is full of knowledge, and well versed in the Sruti, the Veda. Brahma and Brahman are eponyms for Brahmana, Brahmin, and Brahma-Bandhu. Brahmana is one who knows Brahman. BU3.5.1 Brahmana is one who originated from the mouth of Brahma.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says the following in his book Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, page 93, sayings 294. The first birth of a man is from his father; Upanayana marks his second birth, and Sannyasa the third.

Krishna declares: "Every Brahmana is my body, be he learned or unlearned. Even this four-armed form dwelling in Vaikuntha is not dearer to Me than a Brahmana. A Brahmana is full of all Vedas, and I too, am full of all Devas." A Brahmana who neglects the Gayatri should not touch Tulsi (sacred Basil dear to Vishnu) leaves or take the name of Hari. A twice-born who neglects the Gayatri is like the lowest Chandala. What will he gain by worshipping Sri Krishna? If a miscreant is born in the family...sin will soon enter relatives of the same gotra...will share his guilt. ... should perform expiation for it. Page 214-215, Principles of Tantra by Woodroffe.

Brahmachari ThAkura says, "Whether one is a Brahmana, a Sannyasi, or a Sudra, if he is fully conversant with all the truths regarding transcendental knowledge of Sri Krishna, he can become a guru."


Ramanuja, a Brahmana, is the personification of wisdom, purity, honesty, celibacy, ahimsa, bhakti, prapatti, saranāgati and so forth. A nominal Brahmana or Brahma-Bandhu is one who can recite and not understand the meaning of the Vedas. Chandogya Upanishad 6.1.1: Brahma-bandhu is not learned in Vedas, who is a Bahmana only by birth. Sāyana compares Brahma-bandhu to one of the lifeless columns that bear the weight of a superstructure or a roof. He is also compared to a donkey that knows the weight, but knows not the fragrance of sandalwood. What the tongue knows, the hand knows not. So also, the one who mouths the Vedas knows not what practitioner, Guru or yogi knows. This Guru is worthy of our worship. According to Tait. UP (1.2.2-3-4-5), the mother, the father, the teacher, the guest, and the Brahmanas are worthy of our worship. It further says that we should ignore any defects in them and only follow what is blameless in them. A Brahmana by birth, if he does no japa or lacks faith in Gayatri, is a Yavana, a foreigner, according Tantra Sastra. Non-recitation of Gayatri is denying the existence of Mantrasakti, which controls Brahmanda (Brahma's egg = Hiranyagarbha = Golden Egg = phenomenal world) and appears as eternal Consciousness. Gayatri may be mere letters and phrases to a non-believer but to a Sadhaka, it illumines his spiritual heart. Mantra carries energy and its contact and friction with the mind in the pit of consciousness generates the light of Brahman illuminating the spiritual heart. Sayings are advisory, but Mantra is the precursor of Sakti. Mantra is eternal like Brahman; it wastes not; it decays not; it dies not.

Brahma's egg = Hiranyagarbha: Various cultures speak of the first manifestation of the world in the form of an egg. "It seems to have been a favorite symbol, and very ancient, and we find it adopted among many nations." Bryant, III. 165. Traces of it occur amongst the Syrians, Persians, and Egyptians; and besides the Orphic egg amongst the Greeks, and that described by Aristophanes, part of the ceremony in the Dionysiaca and other mysteries consisted of the consecration of an egg; by which, according to Porphyry, was signified the world.  Whether this egg typified the ark, as Bryant and Faber suppose, is not material to the proof of the antiquity and wide diffusion of the belief that the world in the beginning existed in such a figure. A similar account of the first aggregation of the elements in the form of an egg is given in all the Puráńas, with the usual epithet Haima or Hiranya, 'golden,' as it occurs in Manu, I. 9. Here is another analogy to the doctrines of antiquity relating to the mundane egg: and as the first visible male being, who, as we shall hereafter see, united in himself the nature of either sex, abode in the egg, and issued from it; so "this firstborn of the world, whom they represented under two shapes and characters, and who sprung from the mundane egg, was the person from whom the mortals and immortals were derived. He was the same as Dionusus.--H.H.Wilson: Vishnu Purana, Chapter II.


The one who knows the Imperishable as Brahman is a Brahmana (Brhad Upanishad 3.8.10). The last statement in the Upanishad absolutely eliminates any doubt that only Brahmins have the privilege to know the sacred scriptures and learn about Brahman. The birth caste of a person is irrelevant. For Yoga sadhana, a Guru's guidance is recommended. A Guru transfers spirituality to his pupil by sparsa (touch), Dharshana (sight), and Sankalpa (thought). Ramana Maha Rishi was known to have conveyed his wisdom, grace and bliss just by casting his eyes on the visitors.

I want to address the question of ahimsa (non-violence) in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Jain is derived from Sanskrit word Jina, meaning victor: victory over desires and passions and liberation from Samsara. Ahimsa is nonviolence in thought, word, and deed to any living being, including plants. True ahimsa is impracticable.  There are certain measures that one can employ to minimize violence. A Jain ascetic sweeps the path couple of steps ahead, when he walks, in order not to injure or kill minute insects. He wears a mask over his mouth not only to prevent minute insects from getting into the mouth and dying, but also to soften the impact of the air molecules against the throat and its turbulence. When the monk falls overboard, he does not swim with violent flailing of arms for that causes turbulence and violence to water. He just lets the water currents take him to the shore. This is Ahimsa extreme.  A Jain feels that his jiva (soul) is a translucent crystal, which becomes progressively opaque from inflow (deposit) of multi-colored soot of karma. Killing makes the crystal black with no passage of light. He feels that his jiva is contaminated if he eats meat even accidentally. A Buddhist has a more lenient view of ahimsa. If he eats meat accidentally without his knowledge, he is not contaminated.  Buddha died from eating poisoned meat unknowingly.

In Puranic literature certain rules have been laid down with regards to eating of meat.  An ascetic eats only roots, leaves and fallen fruits. Yajnavalkya states in Garuda Purana (1.97.1-10) that the animal products such as wool and silk are purified by sprinkling them with a mixture of fresh cow’s urine and hot water. Consecrated meat on special occasions is fit for consumption without any fear of accumulating bad karma. Killing animals and eating their meat at other times guarantee that the eater goes to hell and stays there for as many days as there are hairs on that animal.

Plants, animals, and human beings have souls, the difference being the degree of sentience and more correctly the expression of sentience in these entities. All living entities have sentience but the degree to which it is expressed is different, man having the highest and the plants the lowest.  All living entities have one pervading Supreme Soul. Killing a living entity is violating that Soul in that living entity and by extension the Soul of the meat eater, which is Atman or Brahman. Discreet violence to plants to the extent to sustain life without killing of animals is the object of Ahimsa. Consciousness sleeps in stone, feels in flora, senses in fauna and thinks in man. Sentience runs parallel with consciousness. In Puranas, sacrificial offerings of seeds older than three years are recommended in the belief  that the older seeds lack the ability to germinate and produce living plants.

Students of Hinduism from both East and West say that there was cow slaughter in ancient times in India. The kings made horse sacrifices (Asvamedha) for various reasons. Asoka, Buddhism and Jainism succeeded only to a certain extent to lessen the horse sacrifices, until it fell into disuse in the ninth century C.E.


17.15:  Speech that is not frightening, truthful, pleasing, salutary, and (promotes) practice of Vedic recitation, is said to be austerity of word.


17.16:  The serenity of mind, gentleness, silence, self-restraint and purity of nature are called penance of mind. 


17.17:  Three kinds of penance performed with utmost faith by men of yogic pursuits without expectation of any fruits are called Sattvika.


17.18:  If the motivation for penance is to receive accolade, honor, and reverential attention, and hypocritical in nature, it is said to be Rajasic and its gains are unsteady and impermanent.


17.19:  Penance performed with foolish stubbornness and self-hurt or to cause destruction of others is said to be Tamasic or darkness. 


17.20:  Charity given to the deserving, who can make no return, in a proper place and time and to a worthy person, is regarded as sattvic or virtuous. 


17.21:  Charity is regarded Rajasic [imbued with passion], when the service is rendered unwillingly in anticipation of return in kind.  


17.22:  Charity given at the wrong place and time to an unworthy person (the undeserving) without respect and with contempt is said to be Tamasic.


17.23:  OM TAT SAT is regarded as the threefold designation of Brahman. Accompanying this and at the beginning of creation, the Brahmanas, the Vedas, and the Sacrifices were decreed.


(The Brāhmanas, the Vedas, and the Yajna were ordained in the past.)


 The Principal Upaniṣads by Dr. Radhakrishnan, Page 46-47. (Sep 17, 2013)

It is not the mechanical performance of a sacrificial rite that brings about the desired result, but the knowledge of its real meaning. Many of the Brāhmaṇa texts are devoted to the exposition of the mystic significance of the various elements of the ritual. By means of the sacrifices we 'set in motion' the cosmic forces dealt with and get from them the desired results. The priests who knew the details of the aim, meaning and performance of the sacrifice came into great prominence. Gods became negligible intermediaries. If we perform a rite with knowledge, the expected benefit will result. Soon the actual performance of the rite becomes unnecessary. Ritualistic religion becomes subordinate to knowledge. (See Franklin Edgerton: 'The upaniṣads : What do they seek and Why ?'  Journal of the American Oriental Society, June, 1929.)

The Brāhmaṇas are convinced that life on earth is, on the whole, a good thing. The ideal for man is to live the full term of his life on earth. As he must die, the sacrifice helps him to get to the world of heaven.

While the Vedic poets hoped for a life in heaven after death, there was uneasiness about the interference of death in a future life. The fear of re-death, punar-mṛtyu becomes prominent in the Brāhmaṇas. Along with the fear of re-death arose the belief of the imperishability of the self or the ātman, the essential part of man's being. Death is not the end but only causes new existences, which may not be better than the present one. Under the influence of popular animism, which sees souls similar to the human in all pares of nature, future life was brought down to earth. According to the Satapatha Brāhmaṇa, a man has three births, the first, which he gets from his parents, the second through sacrificial ceremonies, and the third, which he obtains after death and cremation. (trīr ha vai puruṣo jāyate, etan nu eva mātus ca adhi pitus ca agre jāyate; atha yaṁ yajnaḥ upanamati sa yad yajate, tad dvitIyaṁ jāyate; atha yatra mriyate yatrainam agnāv abhyādadhāti sa yat tatas sambhavati, tat tṛtīyaṁ jāyate. XI. 2. 1. 1. See Indian Philosophy by Radhakrishnan Vol. I, Ch. III.)



OM Tat Sat: “AUM That is Truth.” OM is the seed of all mantras. Prajāpati is the origin of language in this universe and uttered the very first syllables: bhūh, bhuvah, svah. In the beginning, He brooded and brooded, and out came AUM. “As all leaves are held together by the stalk, so all speech is held together by AUM.” Bhūh, bhuvah, svah are this world, the space, and the beyond, and the fourth (mahah) is the sun and the Brahman, the Absolute. Prānava (AUM) is insentient. Then why should we offer worship to it? AUM is the symbol (Prati / substitute) for Brahman and Isvara and therefore worshipping AUM is as good as offering worship to Brahman or Isvara. OM is Brahman in sound form; it is natural to conclude that Brahman and AUM are the same: “That is Truth" (OM Tat Sat). OM is refuge from fear of death. Please see supplement section to read more on AUM and its association with states of consciousness: waking, dream, deep sleep, and Turiya.

Brahmanas, Vedas, and Sacrifice: What have they to do with the Greeks?

Joseph Campbell is of the opinion that Indus Valley civilization belongs to the Dravidians. They were tree worshippers like the Mesopotamians; later it was the Bodhi tree of the Buddha. Indus Valley is unique in that only there a Yogi in Asana posture sitting under a tree, was surrounded by animals, the Yogi having the form of Siva (date 2000 B.C.) A dancer frozen in stone is Siva, according to Joseph Campbell. A lean girl wrought in bronze with bracelets and jaunty looks gives the appearance of Devadasi, the temple dancer. Mesopotamia, according to Joseph Campbell was known for "dancing priestess." This, he believes, is a connection between the civilized worlds of Egypt, Mesopotamia and India.

Indus Valley Dravidian culture is the origin of Yoga, and Saivism has its roots there. Around 1500 B.C., Aryans came to India from the North. Campbell says that the Aryans were cousins of the Dorian and Achaean Greeks, who at the time of coming to India, invaded Crete and overran its civilization. (There are opinions contrary to the premise that Aryans were invaders. The dissenters say that Aryans were Indians from the beginning and moved to other countries from India. See below writings by Fuerstein)

He observes further that the Aryans were nomadic warrior people, while the Indus Valley Dravidians were city dwellers. The Dravidians were traders, and agriculturalists with a settled community. The Aryans lived off the herds, ate meat and drank milk. That was why milk, meat, butter were the original offerings to gods. Offerings of seeds and cereals came later. People were hunters or herders first and later some became grain gatherers and still later grain growers; there was a conflict between the hunters or herders and the gatherers or cultivators of grain. The ancient city people of the Indus valley were mainly cultivators and very civilized. They had a good city planning and a good sewer system.  Then came the herding Aryans, who invaded, conquered and denigrated the native grain cultivators of the Indus valley.  In their contact, conflict and conjunction, the Aryans became civilized.

 The Aryans introduced their system of Varnasrama dharma of castes: Brahmins, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. This division of Brahmins and Ksatriyas on the upper crust created tension with the Vaisyas and Sudras of lower crust, which was unknown before the arrival of Aryans.

    The Aryans brought their fire sacrifice, holocaust (burnt offerings), hymns, animal sacrifice, sharing of the meat from their Greek cousins. The Greeks had alters, burning fires, animal sacrifices, holocausts, and sharing of the meat. Joseph Campbell is of the opinion that the Aryans brought all these cultural practices with them. He gives an interesting perspective why the Aryans prayed to the elements, fire, water, earth, sky, ether, thunder, clouds. These elements were their constant companions in their wanderings, their world worthy of reverence and worship. Each element is god and the aggregate of all elements is Brahman; thus, Brahman is everywhere and in everything. The all-consuming fire is the cavernous mouth of Agni, Fire god, who carried the oblation to the respective god. Indra was the god of thunder and Lightning. They performed sacrifices with fire and burnt offerings. Agni god was the carrier of libation to other gods, who in turn sent their blessings and goodwill; the chanting of doxological hymns pleased gods who rewarded the votaries with bounty, cattle... The hymns and Mantras became part of the Vedas. The nomadic Aryans built makeshift altars with specifications to offer sacrifices; the altar was the microcosm of the macrocosm he saw and wondered. Geography has a large part to play in the kind of gods, religion, philosophy, culture, social mores the people have. The gods of the desert, of the plains, of the rain forest, of the jungle, of mountains, of rivers, of volcanoes have their own individual stamp, though they all coalesce into Brahman.

Joseph Campbell says that in hunting or herding cultures, a sacrifice is made; it is as it were a gift or bribe to the deity that is being invited to do something for us or to give us something. A well-known Indian religious leader says that the sacrifices appeal to the baser instincts of gods.

Brahmin was the officiating officer (priest) in the performance of sacrifice; dispatching oblations through god of fire, Agni, they exerted influence on the recipient gods; thus, the Brahmin was stronger than god; he was god in human form on earth.  In some circumstances the gods were even afraid of them for a Brahmin's curse was deleterious to gods. Without the Brahmana, the gods won't be receiving their timely sacrifices. Now you see that gods depend on the Brahmana for survival. Even Lord Vishnu had to be born on this earth in incarnations on account of the curse of a Rishi, Bhrgu Muni.


 Indo-Aryans and Dravidians are one race, Dravidians belonging to the Mediterranean branch of the Caucasian race.

Language and race have nothing to do with one another, and skin color is not too reliable, either.  Strictly speaking, the Dravidians are “members of the same Mediterranean branch of the Caucasian race” as the “Aryans” are (Feuerstein et al., p. 140).  Thus the Dravidians, who were conceived of as linguistically distinct, may have been wrongly separated from peoples to whom they were genetically related. 

In their book titled, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, authors Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak and David Frawley reinterpret and re-evaluate archaeological findings and the Hindu scriptures and arrive at several conclusions.

  1. The civilization described in the Vedas is none other than the Indus Valley Civilization.
  2. This civilization predates the ancient civilizations of the Middle East.
  3. The Aryans are a people originated in the Indus Valley who later migrated to Central Asia and Europe.



17.24:  Therefore, Veda-ordained sacrifice, charity, and penance are always initiated by incantation of AUM by the teachers (expounder) of Brahman.


Brahma-Vādi:  discourser on sacred texts, defender, or expounder of the Vedas


17.25:  The persons longing for moksa do sacrifice, penance, and various acts of charity without seeking the fruits, after incanting "TAT."


17.26:  "SAT" is used in the sense of existence and goodness. The sound "SAT,” O Partha is used for auspicious action.


Prasasthē: auspicious


17.27:  Firmness in sacrifice, penance, and charity is also called "SAT." The act serving the purpose of the Supreme is called "SAT."


17.28:  Whatever offering, gift, penance, or any other act performed without faith is called "ASAT." It is null and void here or hereafter (after death).  


            Taittiriya Upanishad (1.11.3) says that faith, plenty, modesty, fear, and sympathy are the five rules of gift giving.


Prēthya: after death, next world, in the life to come, hereafter

End BG Chapter 17 Gunas and Faith

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