Gita Daily Readings

16th November
Chapter XVII: 16
Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, silence, self-control, purity of nature - this is called mental austerity.

Commentary

With the passage of time and loss of practice, concepts change and words lose their meaning. Who can explain what serenity (prasada) means? This word "prasad" has been used several times in the Gita, but in common parlance it refers to fruits and sweetmeats distributed after worship in temples. Who can fathom the depth of symbolism of the prasad? The sweetmeat given to us is only an external symbol of the sweetness of disposition that God's grace bestows upon the devotee's mind. "Serenity" is used for want of an accurate word. It is not the gravity of a corpse, nor the sour-faced dryness of a pessimist, nor even the unsmiling, worried look of the ascetic who expects the volcano of suppressed emotions to erupt any moment. Serenity is the radiant, glorious though unexcited joy that glows on the face from the presence of God within. It is difficult to define or to describe, but easily recognizable when seen. 

Good-heartedness is not to be mistaken for mere freedom from blood pressure and palpitation. Krishna, you have caught us unawares - the heart cannot be good unless you and you alone reign supreme there! The godless “good" heart is a hypocrite's haven, the devil's paradise. When God is enthroned in it, goodwill prevails; incidentally, “goodwill” on earth is only God's will flowing freely through a pure, egoless and divine heart. The ego's goodwill is what one pays heavily for in business! 

Silence and self-control are disciplines of the mind. This verse is full of riddles. We usually associate silence with speech - the absence of speech. Real silence, however, is a desire-free, disturbance-free, peaceful mind. When there is peace of mind, the self is seen, and "all ignorance born," self-imposed limitations come to light and therefore disintegrate. A mind that is thus ever peaceful, ever alert is itself meditation.

Practice these and the ego will go.

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