Gita Comes Alive - Season 1


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The Gita Comes Alive - Season 1

 

Welcome to The Bhavagad Gita Comes Alive Weekly Class. Recordings are accessed in this section whether you missed a live class or want to watch one again.

  • Each week contains the discussion from Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi, a Q&A section with questions from participants, and detailed 'Chat' class notes with key concepts, mantras, and critical Sanskrit words and definitions to help your learning journey.
  • The Gita on the Go App in the green menu buttons above will allow you to follow along with the text, and take notes private to your account. 
  • The most recent class recording is posted about 48 hrs after the live class, when editing and processing are completed.
  • These classes are also connected to our Searchie© Streaming Video Service with full transcripts and searchability of the entire class. Click on the Search icon (magnifying glass) in the top right corner of the streaming video window. Type a keyword, for example "atma" and then click the 'blue' time markers to jump to that part of the live video each time the word "atma" was spoken in the class. Have fun learning! 

Click here for Season 2 of the Gita Comes Alive

 

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #01

NOVEMBER 4, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

An initiatory class to set the context that will give you a bigger perspective via a beautiful divine invitation to participate. Gita Comes Alive is designed to deliver the most important truths to us so that we can remember who we truly are.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #02

NOVEMBER 11, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Hummingbird: “Live with Integrity: We become who and what we associate with. Live the way we speak and naturally share this with others since this is what others see when they are around us. This is why the daily practice is so significant. Hear it from the right source, chant the highest vibration mantra, remember them and don't forget them. Live in such a way that we always remember, never forget, do the things that help us remember, don't do the things that make us forget.”

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #03

NOVEMBER 18, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Jeffrey Armstrong describes the Vedic perspective on who we are as an atma, an eternal, individual spark of the divine realm of Brahman – ¾ of existence – on a journey to prakriti – the ¼ realm of existence which is material and unconscious. After visiting prakriti and having all the material experiences and lessons, we return to Brahman, now eligible for a divine relationship with Bhagavan, the Source of Everything. He explains why we long for this divine relationship and beauty while in prakriti, that we can have tastes of it while here, and that Bhagavan wants it with us too. The Bhagavad Gita is a user’s manual for the atma while here in prakriti. The class also includes an initiation into the 12-syllable mantra to Bhagavan which we must practice every day to develop this relationship and while reading the Bhagavad Gita.

Available now!

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #04

NOVEMBER 25, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Kavindra gave us a very brief summary of the Mahabharata, a 100,000-verse epic poem in Sanskrit detailing an inter-familial conflict set up by Bhagavan Shri Krishna as a “leela” which is to teach us and to leave behind an instruction manual to know who we are, how to live, and how to return to the Source of our Existence and be in divine relationship. The Bhagavad Gita is a 701-verse “owner’s manual,” spoken by Bhagavan Shri Krishna to Arjuna 7581 years ago on the eve of this battle on the field of Kurukshetra. The Vedic literature is not “myth,” which comes from the Sanskrit "mythia" and literally means "false" or temporary/illusory. It is actually “iti-hasa” – history, allegory, and metaphor. The Mahabharata was a battle between the devas and the asuras. We see this repeated in our world today, and the message of the Bhagavad Gita is to remember who we are as an atma – a being from Brahman – and to be that “brilliant light shining in the distance when your ship is about to hit the rocks.” The Gita is an invitation to love and be loved by the Source of Everything, and that you deserve nothing less.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #05

DECEMBER 2, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

We begin Chapter 1 in this class. We are introduced to all the players on the field, and the two leaders of the armies in this interfamilial conflict get to choose between having Krishna on their side, or Krishna’s army. The entire conflict is representative of our time as well, a battle between light and dark, suras/devas – who are with the light, and asuras - who are against the light. We are so overwhelmed by the unconsciousness of matter here in the realm of prakriti that it is easy to forget who we are as the eternal divine atma and instead go unconscious or become intentionally oriented to the dark, to greed and selfishness. Just as the battle is about to begin, the conch shells and trumpets have all been blown, Arjuna asks Krishna, who is serving as his chariot driver, to bring him out to the middle of the battlefield so that he can see all those lined up for battle on both sides. He is still so attached to matter and his familial relations that he cannot fight. The 701 verses of the Bhagavad Gita are our user’s manual to life so that we don’t forget who we are as the atma. They are our instructions on how to live life surrounded by unconscious matter and eventually to return to a divine eternal relationship with the source of our existence, Shri Krishna. We are continually reenacting the battle at Dharmakshetra, deciding where we stand, confronting the very root of our attachment to matter and remembering how to be the embodiment of light in the realm of darkness.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #06

DECEMBER 9, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

We delve deeper into Chapter 1 in this class. Arjuna is concerned that this battle will destroy the “dharma” and “kula” structures that keep society integrated. Kavindraji spent quite a bit of time discussing the various social structures and practices – including kula, varna, ashram, jati, shreni, various forms of dharma – that kept society functioning, as well as the difference between these and what have been wrongly called the “caste” system in India, which was in fact a mis-allocated Portuguese word. He also explained what “naraka” means, which is usually mistranslated as “hell” but in reality is a lower level of existence that we can go to, not because of some punishment, but because of the karma that we experience due to the effects of our choices and actions. Again, the Bhagavad Gita is a user’s manual to help us navigate all the complexities of living in this material body and the social body.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #07

DECEMBER 16, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

This week Kavindra Rishi leads us into Chapter 2, on our journey toward learning and mastering The Gita. Today's Episode #7 also features a lively and informative question and answer session. Arjuna, the world’s greatest warrior, has sat down in despondency and quits. Krishna reminds him that he cannot die, he cannot be killed, and he cannot kill. We are all immortal beings – dehis – and are indestructible. The ‘dehi’ is the unburnable, imperishable, immortal consciousness. It resides in the ‘deha,’ the burnable, physical body. At the death of the deha, the dehi takes on a new deha like we change our clothes. As a kshatriya, Arjuna must remember this key teaching and follow his svadharma, the path of the warrior. Krishna tells him “Uttishta – Stand up and do your dharma as a warrior.”

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #08

DECEMBER 23, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

In this week's edition of the Gita Comes Alive, Jeffreyji takes us on a deep dive into the biggest themes from the revered Chapter 2 of the the Bhagavad Gita.This is a session you will want to watch more than once! As Chapter 2 continues, with Krishna telling Arjuna to let this conflict be his yoga. In life, we are always faced with conflict and struggle, and how we respond to it is our yoga. Buddhi/sankhya yoga is discerning what we are - an atma - from what we are not – anything material. “Na iti, na iti” – I am not this, I am not that. Who I am is an atma, and aham brahmasmi, I am Brahman and I come from Brahman, in a conscious relationship with Paramatma. We are so distracted by the desires and attachments of the ten senses and by the flickering nature of the manas that we lose our focus on our self as an atma. Perform all your actions in a state of yogic awareness without attachment to the result. Be the atma. Know you come from Brahman. Be an individual while being part of one great existence.

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #09

DECEMBER 30, 2020 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

In this class Jeffrey reviews all of Chapter 2. This foundational chapter sets the stage for the rest of the conversation, and lays out the basic Vedic philosophy and worldview. You literally CANNOT DIE. Knowing this solves all of the psychological pain and trauma that most people experience. It literally extinguishes fear. Material experiences come and go. Do not be attached to them by always practicing your buddhi yoga - remembering that you are an atma, not any of these material experiences. But do not detach from action - Uttishta! Live your life, fulfill your svadharma, and stand for something in this world! Let this or any conflict be your yoga to always draw you back to remembering this.

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #10

January 6, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

We begin Chapter 3 in this class. In Chapter 2, Krishna had told Arjuna about the two methods of yoga he has been teaching for millennia - sankhya/buddhi yoga, and karma yoga. Arjuna is flustered and frustrated and wonders how he can be a warrior and fight in this battle if he is supposed to sit around all day analyzing what he is not (buddhi yoga - neti neti). Is that how WE are supposed to live our lives?? We would starve! Krishna tells us there is no way to give up karma - action and cause and effect reaction in this world - even by taking samnyasa and going into a monastery. We are made of the 5 elements and we are dragged around by the 10 "horses" of our active and perceptive sense organs, the 5 karma endriyas and the 5 jnana endriyas, and by the memory of past pleasures through the senses. The atma is beyond all these; we need to remember that we are the atma by knowing and naming what we are not - the material world and all its parts (sankhya yoga). The yamas and niyamas and pranayama of ashtanga yoga are how we can break these addictions, and by performing the actions that are appropriate to our stage of life - according to the varna-ashram-dharma culture. The concept of yajna ("yugya") - actions dedicated to universal cooperation and in balance and reciprocity with the laws of nature - is how we are freed from the bondage of cause and effect.

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #11

January 13, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 2 reminded us we are the immortal atma and we are to practice sankhya/buddhi yoga to discern what we are from what we are not. In Chapter 3, Krishna introduces the foundational practices of ashtnaga yoga – the yamas and niyamas – lifestyle practices and restraints to help us keep the 10 senses and the manas under control so that we are not continually led around by our material desires, but rather derive our satisfaction from the atma. We must not be attached to the outcome of our actions, instead dedicating them all to Krishna – this is a new yoga he introduces – Bhakti yoga – as well as acting as Krishna and the noble leaders do – for loka samgraha – holding the world together for the well-being of all.

Krishna also introduces us to the gunas, which force us to act by material compulsion when we are lost in ahamkara – misidentifying ourselves with our body and not our atma. Another key concept is shraddha – an inner certainty based on lifetimes of knowing rather than material evidence – and this also comes in different flavours, depending on one’s guna.

We are also unique according to our dosha/prakriti – our material nature and composition, and this determines our skills, abilities and contribution in the world – our svadharma. If we go against the laws of nature, we produce papa and experience dukkha. If we live in accordance with the laws of nature, we create punya and experience sukha.

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #12

January 20, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

After reviewing the end of Chapter 3, which focuses more on the details of the human condition in matter, we moved on to Chapter 4, where Krishna scales us up to a greater cosmic view of the original descent of yogic knowledge through the deva of the Sun, the Manus, the Rishis, the yugas (yogic scale of cosmic time) and more. Jeffrey explained that the secret of this chapter is that Arjuna is, and treats Krishna as, his best friend and cousin. This is the kind of relationship that Krishna wants with all of us - Krishna wants to LOVE US - but we are so used to seeing the Supreme Being as an all-powerful, vengeful, BIG being or energy that we cannot relate to. This is “achintya” – inconceivable.

Kavindra explained that we already have some sort of relationship with Bhagavan, we just don’t know it, and Bhagavan reciprocates in the same mood as we approach Bhagavan. Arjuna approaches him in the mood of bhakti – devotion. We can offer yajnas to the devas – they do work and they are required for closing the ecological circle of receiving and gratitude, however yajnas are to the devas, not to Bhagavan.

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #13

January 27, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 4 continued in this class. Jeffrey reviewed the concept of fire yajna – an offering made to the devas as a thank you or acknowledgement of the reciprocal relationship we have with them and for all they do to make life possible for us. It is what we now call “ecology.” We are reminded that while yajnas and other vedic rituals do work, they are an offering to the devas and not to the “final destination” i.e., Bhagavan, the ultimate source of all. Chapter 4 introduces the concept of varna – the four basic categories of occupation which distribute responsibility and material empowerment throughout the social body. They are not to be confused with caste, a distortion that colonizers have erroneously named the ancient social fabric of Bharat.

Using our buddhi to overcome our selfish desires and ulterior motives and to act according to our varna and our svadharma is how we can prevent the binding effects of karma (cause and effect). Every action thus becomes a yajna. Finally, Kavindra explained to us the irony that the Christian term “God” actually comes from the Sanskrit word “hutam” – the smoke arising from the so-called “pagan” fire sacrifice (vedic yajna).

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #14

February 3, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

We continue with Chapter Four (v186 to v204) as Krishna continues at length about yajna – the process for giving thanks to the devas for all of material nature and ultimately to Brahman. We must close the loop with the devas through yajna or we are just taking selfishly, acting like animals or worse, asuras. We must do yajna and various forms of tapasya to burn away our material conceptions and karmas, all the while remembering we are the atma on its path towards moksha.

Kavindra reminds us that we must also take material yajna one step further and perform jnana yoga – holding the knowledge of the atma and offering it to the divine. Krishna says there is no karma we cannot burn away if we hold this consciousness.

In concluding the chapter, Kavindra also reminded us that this is not a war – it is a conflict. This conversation is relevant to all of us facing conflict in our lives, and the conflict in our world today between those trying to harmonize with the devas, and the asuras who are stealing and breaking everything. Which side are you on?

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #15

February 10, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

We begin Chapter 5 (v205 - v220), in which Arjuna asks on behalf of us all: between buddhi yoga - the yoga of discernment - and karma yoga - correct actions - which of the two is the most effective form of yoga? Krishna explains that the two are not opposed to each other; they are both methods of approaching the same goal of yoga: relinquishing misidentification of self with matter.

Kavindra explained that in order to be the atma and stand apart from prakriti - matter - as self, we need something greater to meditate upon: Brahman, the ultimate reality, even though prakriti is always demanding our attention. We are the "Mayor of the City of Nine Gates" and we have to remember how to relate to being the mayor, rather than living as the city, entangled in material action and reaction. We must remember "aham Brahmasmi", not "aham kara," while still acting but not being attached to the outcome or identifying as the doer. The key is to keep the analytical part of the sankhya while you keep the action part of the karma yoga - seeing the categories of matter as not-self, while you act within it. Let Paramatma be the driver of your chariot.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #16

February 17, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

In this class we completed Chapter 5 (v221 - v233). Kavindra set the stage by reminding us we are the atma and we cannot die. Sanskrit, the most perfect language, is the vehicle for the message that Bhagavan downloaded thousands of years ago so that we would still have it today, unchanged. The dehi (the atma) is the ruler of the nava dvara pura, the city of nine gates (bodily orifices), controlling (or mostly not controlling) the manas faculty, though we have forgotten that we are the mayor of this body and have been deposed. We cannot control the outcome of our actions or other people; all final outcomes are governed by the laws of material nature.

Krishna gives instruction on how a yogi is to act within themselves, in the world, and how they treat and see other beings. If we can focus the manas, buddhi and the atma on Brahman, and see all other beings as atmas, all our past vrittis and karmas are removed. Then we are on the path of moksha and can reach the highest state of transcendental sukha, pleasure beyond matter. Kavindra reminded us that while Brahman nirvana is one stage of realization, it is not the ultimate destination!

We ended the class with time for a long Q&A session.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #17

February 24th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

In this class we start Chapter 6 (v234). Jeffreyji began the class reading Chapter 5 from start to finish so that we could experience what a complete chapter feels/sounds like without interruption for explanation; just the clear, flowing conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. He reminded us that the single activity of yoga is to control the atma by being the atma, and being aware of being the same as Brahman – “aham brahmasmi!” Being the atma is more interesting than anything that we get or do within matter.

Yet we suffer from “I-AM-nesia” and think we are the body – “aham kara” – and get all tangled up in the gu – matter – thinking it will satisfy us, which it might do, temporarily, but never permanently or even for an extended period of time. Remembering we are the atma solves pretty much any problem we have in matter.

The solution is to cast off all selfish desires within matter, give up attachment to the results of any action you perform within matter, and link yourself to the highest possible reality. With Paramatma seated within our heart and serving as our chariot driver, it really is quite simple. This is yoga.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #18

March 3rd, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

In this class, Jeffrey Armstrong finished explaining Chapter 6 from where we had left off last week – Ch.6 v.27 #260 – then re-read it again from start to finish to again give us the taste of reading a chapter in one sitting. As well, he explained that this is a critical chapter in the progression of the discussion between Shri Krishna and Arjuna, at which point the reader either gets on board or not, accepts that they are the atma or not.

In Chapter 6, Krishna explains to Arjuna ashtanga yoga and how to control the manas, which is chanchala – fluctuating, fickle, and restless. Arjuna says – this seems impossible! Krishna reassures him that even if a yogi fails to attain moksha in this lifetime, the reborn yogi is reawakened in their next life by the sounds of the Sanskrit mantras or other reminders. They resume their yoga at the exact same place they left off in their previous life, so no progress is ever lost. This is the meaning of sukriti – meritorious action that the atma carries from life to life.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #19

March 10th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 7 v.1-19, #281-299

In this class, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi explains the necessity of having a language and vocabulary to discuss what we are not while trying to understand who we are, and how to transition from unrealized, theoretical knowledge - jnana - to realized knowledge - vijnana. In Chapter 7, Krishna explains that there are eight material energies in apara prakriti – Krishna’s unconscious nature that is manifest as matter – yet Paramatma runs through it all like the invisible thread of a jewelled necklace.

The deluding energy of the gunas obscures the presence of Bhagavan in the material realm, yet every “charismatic” person, such as a star athlete, is expressing an extra measure of a siddhi or bhaga that comes from and is like Krishna. We adore them because they remind us of Bhagavan. There are four kinds of people who seek Bhagavan, however the ones who seek knowledge of him with single-minded devotion are most priya - beloved – to Him, and those who see Vasudeva (Bhagavan) behind everything are very rare indeed.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #20

March 17th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 7 v.20-30, #300-310

In Episode 20, Jeffrey Armstrong gives us a brief overview of the evolution of the Vedanta teachings post-Buddha Dharma, which progressively highlighted the individuality of the atma. This is important because starting with Chapter 7, Krishna emphasizes the atma and bhakti yoga – personal relationship with Bhagavan, which is not possible if one believes that the ultimate conclusion is nothingness/emptiness or white light/unified energy alone. Relationship can only be undertaken by individual beings/persons.

We can serve the devas if we wish – and Krishna will help facilitate that – but they are not the Ultimate. We are attached to the body and to the temporary satisfactions from the devas and all the little pieces of Bhagavan that attract us within matter, however these all come from Bhagavan. We can instead have a direct personal relationship with Krishna, but we must be ready & qualified for it, ask for it, and not be intimidated by the immensity of Bhagavan.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #21

March 24th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 7 v.28-30 & Chapter 8 v.1-10, #308-320

In this episode, Jeffrey reviews that last few verses in Chapter 7, which reminds us of who we are and why we are here – to remember that we are a part of Brahman and what we are to do at the death of the body. Through Arjuna’s questions, important Sanskrit words with no simple English translation are introduced and explained in Chapter 8.

Krishna gives various methods for us to meditate upon Paramatma. Krishna says: I am Adhiyajna ‘present in everyone’s heart’. Jeffrey elaborates on these important verses and points out that it is our use of free will that determines if we choose to come back for another material life on the earthly realm, on a deva realm, or we could choose to meditate on Adhiyajna and achieve moksha – liberation from matter and repeated birth and death.

Jeffrey also clarifies the ultimate destinations and the different meditations on the nothingness/emptiness, oneness/white light, and what happens when you meditate on “where the beauty came from”: Adhiyajna – Shri Krishna, the source of all beauty.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #22

March 31st, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Recap of Chapters 1 - 7 & Chapter 8 v.17 to end

In Episode 22, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi highlights key verses from each of the first seven chapters, leading us to where we had left off in Chapter 8, to remind us of the evolution and buildup of Krishna's teachings to Arjuna (on our behalf).

In Chapter 8, Krishna gives us the clearest summary so far as to exactly who we are, where we are from, where we could go, and the name of that process – bhakti yoga. This information about the two realms – prakriti and Brahman, and our journey as atmas within matter – is presented as science, not faith. This initiation and invitation by Bhagavan explains everything beautiful and attractive within prakriti, and that underlying it and pervading all of prakriti is a state of loving being and an abode where it is permanently available.

This destination is available to all of us. Perfected ashtanga yogis know how to time the moment of their death so that they reach this ultimate destination. Krishna’s deeper message in sharing this is that WE are in charge of our coming and going to the material world! And the further bhakti secret of this chapter is that if you decide to connect with Bhagavan in a loving mood, Bhagavan cannot say no! It is the one rule he wants to be bound by – the rule of love, the rule of bhakti.

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #23

April 7th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 9 v.1–21, #339-359

In Episode 23 we begin Chapter 9.

Foreign, colonizing cultures have accused the Vedic culture of being pagan, of worshipping many gods, and of having a discriminatory caste system. Jeffrey Armstrong explains that if these foreign accusers had actually taken the time and trouble to read this chapter, they would have understood what the Vedic santana dharma culture was really about. In Chapter 9, Krishna so clearly explains the roles of the devas and devis in the hierarchy of the Vedic cosmology that it is nearly impossible to conclude that this was misinterpreted or misunderstood, but rather was intentionally twisted and misrepresented. The Vedic yajna process is indeed aimed at the devas – the laws of nature – in thanks for their providing all we need, but they are not the ultimate destination or receiver of human yajna. Bhagavan is, and clearly says so.

These foreigners may also be shocked to know that their word for God, their almighty Supreme Being, not only comes from the Sanskrit huta, but means "the smoke arising from a pagan fire ceremony." Sanskrit, on the other hand, has hundreds, if not thousands of descriptive names that describe the single highest Source of everything.

Chapter 9 is directed primarily at the raja – leader – group of people, as it is they who most critically need to hold the larger view of the Vedic perspective in order to be dharmic leaders. In his discussion, Jeffrey (Kavindra Rishi) also explained the system of varnas – groupings of professions – which existed in the Vedic culture and in the Sanskrit educational system that was intentionally destroyed by the British, and which has since come to be wrongly called “caste.”

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #24

April 14th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 9 v. 20 – 34, #358-372 (end of chapter)

In Episode 24, we complete Chapter 9. In Chapter 9, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi explains that Krishna is giving Arjuna some of the deepest secrets, getting ready for and building up to Chapter 10, the heart of the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna explains that most people are performing yajna to the devas. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is necessary as a thank you for all we receive from the laws of nature and keeping things in balance; modern ecology comes from this.

However, Krishna reveals that first, all yajna eventually goes to Him anyway, and secondly, that when we are ready, we can go directly to Him and have a direct, personal relationship with Him, the highest ultimate Source, not the devas. All we have to do is approach Krishna with love, offering Him a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or some water, and Krishna Himself goes into ecstasy and is madly in love with us. Jai!

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #25

April 21st, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 10 v.1 - 18, #373 - 390

Chapter 10 is considered the core – the very heart – of the Bhagavad Gita.

At the beginning of this class, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi reminded us that all the words in English that represent the idea of God, a Supreme Being, or a divine reality actually come from Sanskrit. This is ironic, since the people and culture where Sanskrit originated were derogatorily called pagans by those whose name for God comes from the Sanskrit hutam – which means the smoke from a pagan fire sacrifice, yajna. The point is that it is nearly impossible to discuss the Ultimate Divine Source and other transcendental concepts in English, because English simply does not have the vocabulary to represent them.

Chapter 10 contains 4 key verses – v. 8-11, #380-383 – that summarize its overall message and are the heart of the Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 10 very clearly defines and describes Krishna as the origin of all existence and the Being upon whom all this rests, and He (Krishna) wants a direct personal relationship with us, all the atmas in existence and it is entirely up to us whether we choose to be in relationship with Krishna or not, and we can chose what kind of relationship that will be. (See previous classes on the 5 Rasas at JeffreyArmstrong.com).

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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #26

April 28th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Ch. 10 from v.15 #387 - end & reprise v.1 (#373) – end 

In Episode #26, we finished the second half of Chapter 10. Then Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi re-read it from beginning to end to give us the flavour of hearing the conversation directly between Shri Krishna and Arjuna without interruption or interpretation.

In Chapter 10, Krishna gives us a sampling of all the various strengths and potencies he possesses. For example, of greatest warriors, he is Arjuna. However, Arjuna – or the greatest in every category – is but a fraction or facet of Krishna. All the things and experiences we long for in matter are but a fraction (and a disappointing one at that) of what we can experience with Krishna. 

Jeffrey explains a great secret that Krishrna shares in this chapter. Of all yajna, chanting japa mantra is the greatest. In other words, the key to reaching Krishna is to chant his mantras or call his name. A secret of Sanskrit is that “the name is the same.” When you chant a mantra and repeat Bhagavan’s name with love (bhakti), you are connecting directly to Bhagavan and invoking a direct, personal, intimate relationship. And when you do that, Bhagavan cannot resist!

Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya!



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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #27

May 5th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 11 v.1 - 32, #415 - #446

Chapter 11 is such a profound chapter. Arjuna asks to see Krishna’s aishvara rupa or Parama Rupa Aishvara, the form by which he pervades and supports everything in this Universe. Krishna gives special divine eyes to Arjuna so that he may see Bhagavan’s jagat purusha – His universal form. He sees so many wondrous and terrifying forms, including His virata rupa, His ‘cosmic form blazing in all directions in every color’, consuming everything, into whose mouth everything material is rushing endlessly.

Overwhelmed and trembling with fear, Arjuna asks Krishna “Who are You?” The answer: He is kala – time – come to devour all. It is this form of Bhagavan which Oppenheimer quoted at the first nuclear explosion in New Mexico, as he watched the destruction he helped unleash on the world. It also appears to be the only aspect of Bhagavan that the Abrahamic religions adopted.

Yet, if we focus only on this terrifying, all-consuming form of Bhagavan alone, Jeffrey Armstrong reminds us, we miss out on a key secret of this chapter: that the sweet, loving, gentle and friendly form of Bhagavan – Hari, who removes all inauspicious things, and his consort Shri, who bestows all auspiciousness – are sitting inside each one of us on the couch of our heart, waiting for us to invite them into a beloved relationship with us. All we need to do is turn around and ask.

Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya!



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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #28

May 12th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 11 v.26 - 55, #440 - 469

Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi again points out that the descriptions of Bhagavan in this chapter, could only and unmistakably describe that Being who is the Ultimate Supreme Being and who is the purna – full – avatar. They could never apply to or describe a lesser avatar or a human being who is a “prophet” or representative of the Supreme Being.

Chapter 11 is the chapter where Bhagavan reveals his true magnitude to Arjuna. In this “wake-up” chapter, Arjuna has asked a question of Krishna, his cousin, best friend and chariot driver “who are you really” and Krishna finally “drops his cover.” He reveals the form of Himself that is time itself, eating and destroying all material existence. Overwhelmed, Arjuna begs Him to return to his friendly two-armed form.

The bhakti secret of this chapter is that first we must establish and secure our individual self. Everyone around us is just temporary so we can’t keep any of them. We must approach Krishna for the everlasting ecstatic relationship that can’t be had with another human being, and then we must stay in the right mood (rasa) to experience the direct intimacy that we want with Bhagavan – either in the mood of servant, best friend, parent, or yes, even intimate lover with the Supreme Being.

Gita Comes Alive: Episode #29

May 19th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 12 v.1 - 20, #470 - 489 (end of chapter)

Chapter 12 is an introduction to bhakti yoga, the yoga of loving service and devotion. Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi explains that while the Bhagavad Gita introduces us to the concept of bhakti yoga and the ultimate conclusion of the Vedas, it mainly deals with “political Krishna” and is the user’s manual for living in the material world. It leads us to Brahman – the formless, luminous realm – but does not go into detail as to the intense, individualized activity going on within Brahman. These deepest secrets of bhakti and an ultimate, intimate relationship with Bhagavan Shri Krishna are, rather, given in the Bhagavad Purana–Shrimad Bhagavatam. The Bhagavad Gita prepares us for these deeper lessons and secrets.  

Now Arjuna asks Bhagavan if those yogis who seek to merge with the formless, quality-less Brahman still come eventually to Bhagavan the way bhakti yogis do. The secret is that no matter which path we follow, every step we take to become ‘beloved’ or priya – the source of the English word ‘free’ – results in us becoming more and more irresistible to Bhagavan, and hence approaching moksha. The formless path, Krishna clearly says, is indeed the harder path. Kavindra explains that this is because we live in a material world of distinction, and even within transcendental Brahman, distinctions continue to exist, so trying to live without distinction is very difficult. The material world is a place of damage and heartache which understandably causes us to want to abandon our individuality and merge into the light or into emptiness. Chapter 12 is an invitation to instead embrace transcendental love and beauty as an eternal individual and remember that that is our true source and nature.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #30

May 26th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 12 reprise v.1 - 20, #470 - 489 (end of chapter)

Chapter 12 is such a key chapter in the Bhagavad Gita and in the exposition of bhakti yoga that Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi spent a second class on it. He began by explaining that the Vedas say there are four basic problems at the root of human suffering in the material world – birth, death, old age, and disease. Because of these, human beings end up on one of two inevitable paths – they give up trying to enjoy the beauty of life and go to nihilism, to the emptiness, or to the oneness/white light of Brahman. The other option is to seek the source of all the beauty we’ve been chasing that inevitably causes our suffering in the material world – because we can’t hold onto it – and trace it back to its origins in and the activities within Brahman.

At the beginning of Chapter 12, Arjuna asks Bhagavan which of these 2 paths is His preferred – for yogis to return to the formless Brahman, or for yogis to engage in bhakti yoga – relationship, service, and adoration of Bhagavan. At the heart of this question is whether we should abdicate or embrace our individuality, both in the material body and once out of it. Krishna’s answer: He prefers the yogic path of devotion. Although both paths eventually lead back to Him, renouncing individuality is the more difficult because it goes against all we know and experience, in both the material and the transcendental realms.

The deeper secret of this chapter is that the more we move toward Krishna in bhakti yoga, releasing attachment to the fruits of matter and the other steps enumerated by Him in this chapter, we become ‘priya’ to Him. He can’t resist us and is inviting US to a relationship with Him! Despite this relationship being with the Ultimate Source of Everything, we can experience it as a relationship of equals, and unlike relationships (and anything else) in matter, the relationship with Bhagavan is enduring and eternally satisfying. Jai Shri Bhagavan!


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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #31

June 2nd, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 13 v.1 - 19, #490 - #508

Chapter 13 sees a change in tone and the nature of the content from the previous chapter. Kavindra Rishi | Jeffrey Armstrong explains that Chapter 13 is the quantum science chapter, where you get it that the Bhagavad Gita is not an invitation to blind faith and fear, as some religions are, divorced from science, and which they have used to justify a rape and pillage culture in the name of something higher.

Rather, the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas are a science class where you learn not to define yourself by your circumstances or by your material body, which is mostly a remnant of experiences from the past which you can’t control. You can, however, control your consciousness, because it is not material. Each individual is being invited to perfect their individuality, which is eternal, to be established as and be satisfied in the atma, with no external stimulation determining your state of being.

Chapter 13 explains the three departments of matter which are overseen by the three divine couples and the three gunas (dynamic states of matter) associated with them: Brahma / Saraswati: creative - rajas; Vishnu / Lakshmi: maintaining - sattva; and Shiva / Durga: recycling, destruction - tamas. Scientists do not ask what the intelligence behind the creation and operation of the universe is, because they ascribe that to the domain of religion. In contrast, the Vedas are a body of knowledge that links material reality with the ultimate reality from which we have all come, also connecting us with the scientific processes that are conducting the material world we are living in. According to the Vedas, it is ALL purposeful.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #32

June 9th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 13 - Discernment of the Quantum Field and Its Knower, Part 2 | v.19 - 35, #508 - #524 (end)

As we continue in the second half of Chapter 13, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi explains that we are being initiated into a process of analyzing the difference and relationship between us and prakriti - the unconscious energy - understanding what and who we are and are not. The Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas teach that we are each a conscious, individualized actor living inside of temporary matter - the kshetra or field - which makes us forget that we are an atma, an immortal individual. Krishna invites us to become analytical, practicing sankhya yoga to remember the difference between our self and matter. In this process, we fall in love with Krishna and become mad bhakta 'deeply and fully devoted to Me'.

Chapter 13 explains material aspects of the 'field' - our material body and the world we live in. The information about the field helps us to answer existential questions such as what we are here for and what kind of work we should do. It gives us the ability to differentiate ourselves from prakriti and look at our self as the atma, a body of energy that attracts and has matter orbiting it, just like the sun. Unless we can see ourselves this way, we will be dragged around by our material hungers and the body will always want more.

In this chapter Jeffrey retained many of the Sanskrit words as they cannot be translated in a one-word English equivalent. It is important that the reader learn and understand these words to grasp the larger Vedic worldview being taught here.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #33

June 16th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 14 - The Gunas: The Three Dynamic States of Matter | v.1 –27, #525 – #551 (end)

In Chapter 14, Krishna explains the gunas, how they work, how they keep us bound to matter and how can we recognize when someone has gone beyond the gunas. Our transcendental atmas are born into the material plane and are bound to matter through the gunas – threads or ropes of matter – which control all of our reactions. Our previous lives’ karmas, our experiences, environment, choices, behaviours and associations will determine what guna we are born into and then the three gunas further binds us to matter through attraction to different kinds of material experiences. Sattva is illuminating and happy; rajas is creative and pleasure-seeking; and tamas is endarkening and destructive. The gunas are always competing for dominance, are always changing, and if we are not careful our consciousness can become endarkened by wrong association.

We may think we are in control of our actions and their outcome, but in truth it is the gunas that determine our actions. The key to achieving moksha is to recognize the states of the gunas and to go beyond their binding influence. Even sattva is still a material attraction to happiness and beauty yet, from here we rise upward. The person who is in full consciousness of these material conditions sees clearly that all transformation within matter is simply the result of the gunas and regains their divine state of being and is qualified for moksha and a bhakti relationship with Bhagavan.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #34

June 23th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 15 | The Supreme Being and the Tree of Life | v.1 - 20, #552 - #571 (end)

Chapter 15 begins with Bhagavan explaining that the universe is a giant cosmic tree with roots, branches and leaves reaching upward and downward, extending everywhere. The tree has grown around us and we are twisted in its roots - the gunas. Bhagavan tells us we need to cut the ropes of matter with the axe of Vedic knowledge, free our atma from karma, and enter the final destination.

This chapter thus explains how the material world works, like a giant city being run by the devas and devis who are the functionaries that keep it operating, just like a city does; how the atma operates within matter and moves from life to life according to the gunas; the nature of Brahman - the transcendental realm beyond matter - and how to reach it; and finally, how to attain an ultimate relationship with Bhagavan, the Purusha Uttama - the Supreme Person beyond matter.

Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi explains that while Brahman is attainable as a formless white light or as emptiness, this chapter emphasizes a third Vedantic conclusion - the eternal individuality of both the atma and Paramatma. We came here from Brahman as amshas - individual and distinctive facets of Bhagavan - and indeed it is ONLY as individuals that we have a bhakti relationship with Bhagavan.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #35

June 30th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 16 | Devas and Asuras: The Enlightened and Endarkened Beings | v.1–24, #572–#595 (end)

In Chapter 16, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that there are two kinds of beings on Bhumi Loka ‘Mother Earth’ – those with or developing enlightened deva qualities, and those of the endarkened asura nature. He goes on to explain in detail what the qualities of the devas and asuras are.

Jeffrey Armstrong explains that in his Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive translation, he explicitly set out these descriptions in numbered lists to highlight these qualities and to prevent the reader from simply glossing over long narrative descriptions. It forces the reader to pay attention to the detailed characteristics of devas – those beings who play in the light and cooperate with the ritam, the laws of nature – and the characteristics of the asuras – those beings who intentionally go against the laws of nature and act out of selfish greed and malice.

We humans mostly find ourselves in the middle of this see-saw or tug-of-war, being drawn first one way and then the other. Although we are at our core atmas, beings of light, we have come to the realm of prakriti, the material world, a place which is intrinsically dark, cyclic, and temporary. The natural inclination is to be drawn down into the darker realms unless one consciously and continually raises one’s guna toward the sattvic. We choose our state of consciousness by mantra, meditation, and association; this is yoga. The secret is that we must fill ourselves with a higher love and emotion than what matter offers us – by having the ultimate friendly relationship with Bhagavan.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #36

July 7th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 17 | How the Gunas Modify our Most Essential Actions: Shraddha, Yajna, Tapasya, Dana | v.1–28, #596–#623 (end)

Jeffrey Armstrong introduced this chapter with a detailed explanation of the three stages of creation or departments within matter – everything is born/created, has some duration, and dies. These stages reflect the three gunas or scientific descriptors of the energetic states of matter – rajas, sattva, and tamas. There are 5 basic elements of matter and they are woven in a dynamic process of the gunas, which are always changing, to create everything material. The gunas also apply to the way anything is done and, instead of evaluating something as “good” or bad,” it can be assessed for how sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic it is. Is it in harmony with the laws of nature (sattvic), is it being done for selfish reasons (rajasic), or is it ignorant and destructive (tamasic)?

In this chapter, Krishna describes the actions, behaviours, and characteristics of people in sattva, rajas, or tamas, what kinds of foods are sattvic, rajasic or tamasic, and how the gunas apply to the most essential activities of shraddha, yajna, tapasya, and dana. While the gunas are all material and the goal of yoga is Brahman which transcends the gunas, moksha/Brahman can only be attained from the platform of sattva. The vedic phrase “aum, tat, sat” is the key to making this transition from prakriti to Brahman.

The Vedic library of knowledge can seem very detailed and complex, however the gunas themselves are not complicated at all. They can be so simply summed up: it comes; it stays; it goes. Yet they are such an important part of the Vedic vidya that Krishna saved it for the second to last chapter of the whole book. Whatcha guna do? 😊 Hari aum tat sat.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #37

July 14th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 17 Review & Chapter 18 | Secrets of Moksha & The Final Goal of Yoga | v.1 – 16, #624 – 639

As we come into the homestretch of the Bhagavad Gita, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi first reviewed Chapter 17, the lead-up to the final chapter which also discusses yajna, tapasya, and dana. He gave us the understanding of what yajna in particular is all about, especially the agnihotra (fire) yajna, how foundational it is to the Vedic worldview, how important it is for us to stay in balance with the ritam (laws of Nature or more accurately, rhythms of life), and how it is the basis for what we now call ecology. Yajna – what we have called “rituals” – are really the “routines” and basis for how we must conduct our daily lives in balance with Nature and with each other so that we can continue to live on Mata Bhumi, our Mother Earth.

Chapter 18 begins with Krishna explaining to Arjuna the difference between sannyasa and tyaga. Sannyasa is when a person gives up all activity in the world and enters a monastery. Nonetheless, the actions of tapasya, yajna, and dana are still required of a sannyasa, however it is understood that they will be done sattvically. Tyaga is when a person still lives in the material world but gives up attachment to the outcome of action. In this case, their activities, including the required tapasya, yajna and dana, will still be in a guna – sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic.

Krishna also explains the five factors that influence the outcome of any action within matter. In Chapter 18 v.16, #639, Krishna clearly states that anyone who believes that free will is the sole determiner of any outcome is not activating their buddhi and is foolish.


Gita Comes Alive: Episode #38

July 21st, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 18 - Part 2 of 4 | Secrets of Moksha & The Final Goal of Yoga | v. 16 – 41, #639 – 664

As the last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, it is preparing us for the last chapter of being within matter as well, i.e., moksha – pulling away from the necessity for wanting or needing anything from matter. However, there are three things that nobody should stop doing, including those who have renounced matter either permanently (sannyasa) or temporarily (tyagi): tapasya, yajna, and dana. These can be performed in any of the three gunas: sattva, rajas, or tamas.

In the first half of the class, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi gave a detailed explanation of each of these three key Vedic activities – tapasya, yajna, and dana. They have been consistently mis-defined by Western and even Indian interpreters, especially when using Christian or colonizing terminology that does not apply to Vedic concepts. He stressed the importance of using the correct Sanskrit terminology when discussing these three key concepts, and in general when sharing the Vedic vidya (knowledge). Jeffrey emphasized that the very misguided and destructive – tamasic – path that western, now global, civilization is on is directly connected to our lack of correct understanding of and adherence to these three critical activities, which specifically address keeping the world in balance and harmony.

As we worked our way into the verses, Kavindra explained that Krishna is teaching us how to recognize the different kinds of people according to their guna, so that when we share this knowledge, we know with whom and how to share it. As well, this information on the gunas is connected to the doshas and finally to the occupational categories to which each person is inherently best suited. A society that uses this information to educate and then employ its citizens wisely takes better care of its people and is in balance. By contrast, we are on the verge of total system collapse. It is time for this knowledge to reach a broader audience.


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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #39

July 27st, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Chapter 18 - Part 3 of 4 | Secrets of Moksha & The Final Goal of Yoga | v. 40 - 62, #663 – 685

In this third class on Chapter 18, Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi explained that Krishna has been giving us a scientific explanation that everything within matter is happening in a guna. Krishna is reminding us how to be our true self as the atma while still being encased in a body.

Chapter 18 contains very important verses about the four occupational categories that come from an understanding of one’s material body and its inherent strengths and skillsets. Krishna says we must perform the occupation that we are best suited for – our svardharma. Kavindra explained that this teaching was twisted by the colonizers into the ‘caste’ system, and the lack of attention to this ‘varna dharma’ system is at the root of our social breakdown.

As we get closer to the end of the chapter, Krishna switches to discussing how to focus on our self as the atma and developing a direct relationship with Him. It is the faculty of ahamkara which causes us to misidentify self with matter instead of as the atma, the witnessing particle of Brahman which attracts matter. We practice sankhya yoga – neti neti – to discern our self from matter and focus on Bhagavan instead.

Kavindra recommended a mantra for this ishvara pranidhana to turn back to Bhagavan rather than getting caught up in the material world. The key is not to give up action within matter – you can’t anyway unless you take vows of sannyasa – but to act while not attaching to the outcome. Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.


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Gita Comes Alive: Episode #40

Aug. 11th, 2021 with Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi

Bhagavad Gita Summary & Chapter 18 - Part 4 of 4 | Secrets of Moksha & The Final Goal of Yoga v.61 – 78, #684 – #701

Tonight was the last class in our first year-long series on The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation. Jeffrey Armstrong | Kavindra Rishi started out by highlighting key verses in the first 11 chapters, leading us to the final few verses in Chapter 18 where we had left off last class.

The basic teaching and initiation of the Bhagavad Gita, presented in Chapter 1 by Bhagavan Shri Krishna to his best friend and cousin, warrior Arjuna, is that each one of us on the ‘field’ of existence is an ‘atma’ – an eternal individual who cannot die or be killed. Our body is just our clothing. The atma cannot be destroyed and never do we cease to exist – to forget this is the first error we make as embodied humans. The purpose of the descent of the avatar was to come to earth at the time of the Mahabharata War to leave us these teachings in an experience and a conversation that could not be forgotten.

In the next several chapters, Bhagavan teaches us different methods, techniques, tools and understandings by which to inhabit the material body and to differentiate between it and our true self, the atma. Further along, Bhagavan explains who He is and the importance of bhakti yoga – developing a personal relationship with Him as the Source of Everything. This teaching is indeed the culmination of the Bhagavad Gita, as we fast-forwarded to the end of Chapter 18. Bhagavan Shri Krishna, the Source of Everything, is offering us a non-violent, friendly, loving, intimate, personal relationship with Him. This is what we have been seeking all along, but which has continually, unavoidably evaded us as we chase objects of beauty rather than the source of all that beauty. It is not possible to achieve any degree of permanent satisfaction in matter, as matter is never anything but temporary.

Krishna teaches us that we should not give up action within matter, but to release all attachment to the outcome of our actions. Our ultimate goal should be to be permanently surrendered and intimately connected as eternal, equal individuals, with both Hari and Shri, the feminine and masculine divines, in this life and beyond.


 

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