Gita Daily Readings

14th November
Chapter XVII: 14
Worship of the gods, the twice-born, the teachers and the wise; purity, straightforwardness, celibacy and non-injury are called the austerities of the body.

Commentary

Tapas is “heat, burning fire.” This fire has three functions symbolized in the three aspects of shakti (God as mother): Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati. The “destructive” Durga burns impurities; the benign Lakshmi purifies; and Sarasvati the goddess of wisdom illumines. This classification is no gradation of importance! One is as important as the other. If illumination is regarded as the most important, it should be remembered that it can come only after the destruction of the baser nature - which is, therefore, more important!

The practices mentioned here will effect this threefold miracle in the physical part of our being.

“Worship of the twice-born” might include those who are “born again” in God, those who are God's devotees and saints, and need not necessarily be taken to refer to the higher castes. In India, even when the caste system prevailed, there were many “low-caste” saints who were adored by people of higher castes!

When all our talents and faculties are God-ward directed, when they are restrained from wandering along the pleasure-grooves of sense-enjoyments, the threefold inner transformation is effected. It should be remembered that while it is essential that the senses (the external physical organism) should be controlled, it is useless to waste one’s inner powers foolishly suppressing their natural urges such as hunger. The impulse to suppress any natural urge is often a very strong ego. Once again, the invisibly subtle middle path must be clearly seen, by the grace of God, and carefully trodden. The only aids in this spiritual march to the goal are constant vigilance, faith and sincerity. Our Master always stressed the fact that if we take care of the positive side (e.g. worship of the gods), the negative aspects (e.g. Just, anger) will die a natural death. Otherwise, vain is the struggle to eradicate evil.

The middle path cannot be seen physically or automatically. “Constant vigilance” (in the words of my Master) is needed, and that itself is the path, the march and the goal.

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