Third chapter Bhagavad Gita begins with a concise summary of how knowledge is attained and the formula for lasting prosperity (BG 3.3). Additional topics include:
- The cycle of ages: satya, treta, dvapara, and kali yugas.
- Why do some people resist pursuing what would make them happy?
- Who are the demigods (devas), what do they do and what is our relationship with them?
Read Chapter 3 verses and purports for verses 13-24 in Bhagavad Gita As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Mentioned in this podcast
Abbreviations used in these notes: BG for Bhagavad Gita
TEXT 1: Arjuna said: O Janārdana, O Keśava, why do You want to engage me in this ghastly warfare, if You think that intelligence is better than fruitive work?
TEXT 2: My intelligence is bewildered by Your equivocal instructions. Therefore, please tell me decisively which will be most beneficial for me.
loke ’smin dvi-vidhā niṣṭhā
purā proktā mayānagha
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O sinless Arjuna, I have already explained that there are two classes of men who try to realize the self. Some are inclined to understand it by empirical, philosophical speculation, and others by devotional service.
na karmaṇām anārambhān
naiṣkarmyaṁ puruṣo ’śnute
na ca sannyasanād eva
Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.
TEXT 5: Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
TEXT 6: One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.
TEXT 7: On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Kṛṣṇa consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior.
TEXT 8: Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work.
TEXT 9: Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.
TEXT 10: In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Viṣṇu, and blessed them by saying, “Be thou happy by this yajña [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.”
TEXT 11: The demigods, being pleased by sacrifices, will also please you, and thus, by cooperation between men and demigods, prosperity will reign for all.
TEXT 12: In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajña [sacrifice], will supply all necessities to you. But he who enjoys such gifts without offering them to the demigods in return is certainly a thief.
Four yugas, or epochs, make up one cycle which last about 4.3 million years. Each yuga has specific characteristics:
- Satya yuga: the golden age, lasts about 1.7 million years, the process for self-realization is meditation on Vishnu.
- Treta yuga: the silver age, lasts about 1.3 million years, the process for self-realization is sacrifice (yajna).
- Dvapara yuga: bronze age, lasts about 860,000 years, the process for self-realization is worship of deities within temples.
- Kali yuga: iron age, our current yuga, lasts about 430,000, the process for self-realization is the chanting of God’s names. We are currently about 5,000 years into Kali yuga.
- Deva – demigod, empowered being
- Yajna – sacrifice; any action offered as a gesture of love for God (and not contrary to scriptural standards)