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He also wanted the kingdom.

The king-
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA dom was divided into two halves be-
(For Children and Beginners) tween the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
Duryodhana was not satisfied with his
INTRODUCTION share. He wanted the entire kingdom for
himself. He tried several evil plots to kill
Jai: Grandma, I have a hard time the Pandavas and take away their king-
understanding the teachings of the dom. Somehow he took over the entire
Bhagavad-Gita. Would you help me? kingdom of the Pandavas and refused to
give it back without a war. All peace
Grandma: Of course, Jai, I will be talks by Lord Krishna and others failed,
glad to. You should know that this holy so the big war of Mahabharata could not
book teaches us how to live happily in be avoided.
the world. It is an ancient holy book of The Pandavas didn’t want to fight,
Hindu Dharma (also known as Sanatana but they had only two choices: fight for
Dharma or Hinduism), but it can be un- their right because it was their duty or
derstood and followed by people of any run away from war and accept defeat for
faith. The Gita has eighteen (18) chap- the sake of peace and nonviolence. Ar-
ters and a total of only 700 verses. Any- juna, one of the five Pandava brothers,
one can be helped by daily practice of faced this choice in the battlefield.
only a few of its teachings. He had to choose between fight-
The word ‘Bhagavad’ means God ing the war and killing his most revered
or The Supreme Lord, Bhagavan in San- guru, who was on the other side; his very
skrit. ‘Gita’ means song. Thus The dear friends, close relatives, and many
Bhagavad-Gita means the Song of God innocent warriors; or running away from
or the Sacred Song, because it was sung the battlefield to be peaceful and nonvio-
by Bhagavan Shri Krishna himself. lent. The entire eighteen chapters of the
Here is the introduction to the Gita are the talk between confused Ar-
Gita: juna and his best friend, mentor and
In ancient times there was a king cousin, Lord Krishna --- an incarnation
who had two sons, Dhritarashtra and of God --- on the battlefield of Kuruk-
Pandu. The former was born blind; shetra near New Delhi, India, about
therefore, Pandu inherited the kingdom. 5,100 years ago. This conversation was
Pandu had five sons. They were called reported to the blind king, Dhritarashtra,
the Pandavas. Dhritarashtra had one by his charioteer, Sanjay. It is recorded
hundred sons. They were called the Kau- in the great epic, Mahabharata.
ravas. Duryodhana was the eldest of the All lives, human or nonhuman,
Kauravas. are sacred, and nonviolence or Ahimsa is
After the death of king Pandu, his one of the most basic principles of Hin-
eldest son, Yudhisthira, became the law- duism. So when Lord Krishna advises
ful King. Duryodhana was very jealous. Arjuna to get up and fight, this may con-
2 International Gita Society

fuse you about the principle of Ahimsa if Jai: What does compassionate mean,
you don’t keep in mind the background Grandma?
of the war of Mahabharata.
This spiritual talk between the Grandma: Compassion does not mean
Supreme Lord, Krishna, and His devo- pity, Jai. That would be looking down on
tee-friend, Arjuna, occurs not in a tem- others as poor, pitiful creatures. Arjuna
ple, a lonely forest, or on a mountain top, was feeling their pain and their unlucky
but on a battlefield on the eve of a war. situation as his own. Arjuna was a great
warrior, who had fought many wars and
Jai: This is an interesting story, was well prepared for the war, but sud-
Grandma. Can you tell me more? denly his compassion made him not
want to fight. He spoke of the evils of
Grandma: If you come to where I sit war and sat down on the seat of his char-
every evening, Jai, I will tell you the iot, his mind full of sorrow. He saw no
whole story, one chapter each day. Just use in fighting. He did not know what to
make sure your homework is done and do.
you have time to listen. If you agree,
let’s start tomorrow. Jai: I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t
want to fight either. Why do people
Jai: Thank you, Grandma. I’ll be fight, Grandma? Why are there wars?
there to hear more.
Grandma: Jai, there are not only wars
CHAPTER 1 between nations, but quarrels between
ARJUNA’S CONFUSION two people, quarrels between brothers
and sisters, between husband and wife,
Jai: I would like to know first how between friends and neighbors. The
Lord Krishna and Arjuna happened main reason is that people are not able to
to talk on the battlefield, Grandma. let go of their selfish motives and de-
sires. Most wars are fought for posses-
Grandma: It came about in this way, sion and power. But all problems could
Jai. The war of Mahabharata was about be solved peacefully if people could see
to begin after peace talks by Lord both sides of the problem and work out
Krishna and others failed to avoid the an agreement. War should be the last re-
war. When the soldiers were gathered on sort. Our holy books say: One should not
the battlefield, Arjuna asked Lord commit violence towards anyone. Un-
Krishna to drive his chariot between the justified killing is punishable in all cir-
two armies so that he could see those cumstances. Lord Krishna urged Arjuna
who were ready to fight. Seeing all his to fight for his rights, but not to kill
relatives, friends, and soldiers on the bat- needlessly. It was his duty as a warrior to
tlefield and fearing their destruction, he fight a declared war and establish peace
became compassionate. and law and order on earth.
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 3

We humans also have wars going robber must be looking for somebody to
inside all of us. Our negative and posi- rob and kill, so he faced a big problem.
tive forces are always fighting. The If he told the truth, the merchant would
negative forces within us are represented certainly be killed. If he lied, he would
by the Kauravas and the positive forces incur the sin of lying and lose his reputa-
by the Pandavas.The Gita does not have tion. Any immoral act that may harm
stories in it to illustrate the teachings, so others is called sin. Ahimsa (nonvio-
I will add some stories from other lence) and truthfulness are two most im-
sources to help you. portant teachings of all religions that we
Here is a story about negative and must follow. If we have to choose be-
positive thoughts fighting each other that tween these two, which one should we
Lord Krishna Himself told to Arjuna in choose? This is a very difficult choice.
Mahabharata. Because of his habit of telling the
truth, the hermit said: “Yes, I saw some-
1. Mr. Truthful one going that way.” So the robber was
able to find the merchant and kill him.
There once lived a great hermit, The hermit could have saved a life by
who was famous for telling the truth. He hiding the truth, but he did not think very
had taken a vow not to lie and was popu- carefully and made a wrong decision.
larly known as “Mr. Truthful.” No mat- Lord Krishna’s purpose in telling
ter what he said, everyone believed him Arjuna this story was to teach Arjuna
because he had earned a great reputation that sometimes we have to choose be-
in the community where he lived and did tween a rock and a hard place. Lord
his spiritual practices. Krishna told Arjuna that the hermit
One evening, a robber was chas- shared with the robber the sin of killing a
ing a merchant to rob and kill him. The life. The robber could not have found the
merchant was running for his life. To es- merchant if the hermit had not told the
cape from the robber, the merchant ran truth. So when two noble principles con-
towards the forest where the hermit lived flict with each other, we have to know
outside the village. which one is the higher principle.
The merchant felt very safe be- Ahimsa has the highest priority, so the
cause there was no way the robber could hermit should have lied in this situation
find out where he was hiding in the jun- to save a life. One may not tell a truth
gle. But the hermit had seen the direction that harms a person in any way. It isn’t
in which the merchant went. easy to apply Dharma (or righteousness)
The robber came to the hermit’s to real life situations because what is
cottage and paid his respects. The robber Dharma and what is Adharma (or un-
knew that the hermit would tell only the righteousness) can sometimes be very
truth and could be trusted, so he asked difficult to decide. In such a situation,
him whether he had seen somebody run- expert advice should be sought.
ning away. The hermit knew that the
4 International Gita Society

Lord Krishna gave another exam- respected. But the scriptures also say that
ple of a robber coming to a village to rob anyone who acts wrongly or unlawfully
and kill the villagers. In this situation, against you or others, or anyone who
killing the robber would be an act of supports such deeds, should no longer be
nonviolence because killing one person respected, but punished.
may save many lives. Lord Krishna Arjuna was confused about his
Himself, on several occasions, had to duty and asked guidance from Lord
make such decisions to win the war of Krishna. Lord Krishna then instructed
Mahabharata and put an end to all the him on the true knowledge of Atma and
evil-doers. the physical body.
Remember, Jai, do not tell a lie,
and do not kill any living being or hurt Jai: What is Atma, Grandma?
anybody, but saving a life comes first.
Grandma: Atma is also called the
Chapter 1 summary: Arjuna asked his Spirit, or the soul. Atma is never born,
charioteer friend, Lord Krishna, to drive never dies, and is everlasting. Our body
his chariot between the two armies so takes birth and dies, but not Atma. Atma
that he could see the Pandava’s army. supports the body. Without Atma, the
Arjuna felt great compassion to see his body becomes dead. Atma supplies the
friends and relatives on the opposite power to our body, mind, and senses,
side, whom he must kill to win the war. just as air burns and supports fire.
He became confused, spoke of the evils Weapons cannot cut Atma, fire cannot
of war, and refused to fight. burn it, wind cannot dry it, and water
cannot make it wet. Therefore, we
CHAPTER 2 should not grieve over death of the body
KNOWLEDGE OF GOD because the Atma inside the body never
dies. (Gita 2.23-24)
Jai: If Arjuna felt so kind-hearted
for everyone he was supposed to kill in Jai: What is the difference between
the war, how could he go out and Atma (Spirit), soul, and body
fight, Grandma? Grandma?

Grandma: That is exactly what Arjuna Grandma: One and the same Atma
asked Lord Krishna. He said: “How shall dwells inside all bodies. Our body
I strike my grandfather, my guru, and all changes with time. Our old-age body is
other relatives with arrows in battle? different from our childhood body. But
They are worthy of my respect.” (Gita Atma does not change. Atma takes a
2.04) childhood body, a youth body, and an
Arjuna had a good point. In Vedic old-age body during this life, then takes
culture, gurus, the elderly, honorable another body after death. (Gita 2.13) The
persons, and all other superiors are to be Sanskrit word Atma is translated as
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 5

Spirit in English. Spirit is universal and defeat, success and failure. If you are
all pervading. The English word spirit or constantly worried about the results of
soul also means the Spirit residing in in- your studies, you will not be able to put
dividual bodies. In Sanskrit language, we your heart and soul into them for fear of
call this individual soul Jivatma or Jiva failure.
(also spelled as Jeeva). If Spirit is com-
pared to a forest, the individual soul Jai: But Grandma, how could Ar-
(spirit or Jiva) can be compared to the juna fight his best if he wasn’t fighting
tree in the forest. to win and gain something?
The body is called a garment of
Atma. Just as we get rid of an old, worn- Grandma: Arjuna must fight to win,
out garment and put on a new one, simi- but he should not weaken his will by
larly, Atma gets rid of the old body and worrying about the result while he is
takes a new one after death. So death is fighting. He should put all his attention
like changing the garment of Atma. (Gita and energy into every minute of the
2.22) All beings are visible between fight. That energy is what will bring the
birth and death; they can’t be seen before greatest result.
birth or after death and remain in their Lord Krishna tells us that we have
invisible form. (Gita 2.28) Therefore, we full control over our action, but no con-
should not grieve over death of the body. trol over the results of our action. (Gita
We are not the body. We are Atma with 2.47) Harry Bhalla says: A farmer has
a body. Death just means our soul passes control over how he works his land, yet
from one body to another new body. no control over the harvest. But he can-
not expect a harvest if he does not work
Jai: Then why did Arjuna grieve his land with best effort and with tools
over deaths of loved ones on the bat- he has.
tlefield? Why didn’t he want to fight? We should do our best at the pre-
sent moment and let the future take care
Grandma: Arjuna was a very tough of itself.
warrior, Jai, but he wanted to run away
from the horrors of war and lead an easy Jai: Could you tell me more about
life of a Samnyasi, a wandering hermit. the secret of success as told by
Lord Krishna taught us to face the battle Krishna to Arjuna?
of life by giving Arjuna the beautiful
science of KarmaYoga, the art of peace- Grandma: We should be so com-
ful and prosperous living. Chapter 3 of pletely absorbed in work or study as to
the Gita tells us more about this. Arjuna become unaware of everything else,
was worried about the results of the war, even of its results. To achieve the best
but Lord Krishna asks us to do our duty results from what we do, we should be
without worrying too much about the re- focused on the action with undivided at-
sults, such as gain and loss, victory and tention.
6 International Gita Society

Action should be done sincerely ship without its rudder. The desire for
without worrying about its results. The pleasure takes one to the dark alley of
results of the action will be greater if we sin, gets us in trouble, and prevents our
put all attention and energy into the ac- progress. (Gita 2.67) As a student, you
tion itself and do not allow our energy to should set a higher goal for yourself than
be diverted by thinking of results. The pleasure. Put forth your best effort and
result will depend on energy put into ac- concentrate on your studies.
tion. We are asked not to worry about Arjuna was a very good example
results during the course of action. This of such concentration. Here is a story
does not mean that we should not care about him.
about results. But we should not expect
only positive results all the time. 2. The Graduation Test
The secret of living a meaningful
life is to be very active, and do our best Guru Drona was the military
without thinking of our own selfish mo- teacher for both the Kauravas and the
tives or even the results. A Self-realized Pandavas. At the end of their military
person works for the good of all. training came final examination time.
Drona put a wooden eagle on the branch
Jai: What is a Self-realized person of a nearby tree. Nobody knew it was
like, Grandma? just a doll. It looked like a real eagle. To
pass the graduation test, every one of the
Grandma: A Self-realized person is a students was supposed to cut off the ea-
perfect person, Jai. Lord Krishna tells us gle’s head with one arrow.
the mind of a perfect person is not Guru Drona first asked Yudhist-
shaken by difficulties, does not run after hira, the eldest of the Pandavas: “Get
pleasures, is free from fear, desire, ready, look at the eagle, and tell me what
greed, and attachment, and has control you are seeing.”
over mind and senses. (Gita 2.56) A Yudhisthira replied: “I see the
Self-realized person does not get angry, sky, the clouds, the tree trunk, the
is peaceful and happy. branches, the leaves and the eagle sitting
Jai: How can we keep from getting Guru Drona was not very pleased
angry, Grandma? with this answer. He asked the same of
all the students, one by one. Every one
Grandma: We get angry if our desire of them gave a similar answer. Then
is not fulfilled. (Gita 2.62) So the best came Arjuna’s turn for the test.
way to control anger is to control or limit Drona asked Arjuna: “Get ready,
our desires. We should not want too look at the eagle, and tell me what you
many things. Desires begin in the mind, are seeing.”
so we should control our mind. If we Arjuna replied: “I only see the ea-
don’t control our mind, we drift like a gle and nothing else”
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 7

Drona then asked a second ques- tween Atma and body. We are Atma
tion: “If you are seeing the eagle, then with a body. Atma is unborn and inde-
tell me how strong is its body and what structible. One and the same Atma
is the color of it’s wings?” dwells inside all bodies, human or non-
Arjuna replied: “I am only seeing human. Thus we are all connected with
its head and not the entire body.” each other. We should do our duty to the
Guru Drona was much pleased best of our ability without worrying
with Arjuna’s answer and asked him to about success or failure. We must learn
go ahead with the test. Arjuna easily cut from our failures and go forward without
off the head of the eagle with one arrow letting our failures defeat us. To become
because he was concentrating on his aim a perfect person, we need to control or
with a single mind. He passed the test limit our desires.
with flying colors.
Arjuna was not only the greatest KARMA-YOGA, THE PATH OF
warrior of his time, but also a compas- DUTY
sionate KarmaYogi. Lord Krishna chose
Arjuna as a medium to impart the Jai: Why do we have to control our
knowledge of the holy Gita. desires, Grandma?
We all should follow the example
of Arjuna. Read the Gita and be like Ar- Grandma: When you choose wrong
juna. “Arjuna Bano, Arjuna Bano,” my behavior for sense enjoyment, you also
dear grandson! Whatever work you do, choose its results. That is why work has
do it with single-minded attention and to be done for the welfare of all and not
put your whole heart and mind into it. just to satisfy your desires or for per-
This is the main theme of KarmaYoga of sonal gain. One who practices Kar-
the Gita and the secret of success in any- maYoga is called a KarmaYogi. A Kar-
thing you do. maYogi finds the right way to serve and
turns her or his work into worship. In
A word for the youth from Swami KarmaYoga, no work is more important
Vivekananda: or less important than other work.
"Whatever you are doing, put your
whole mind on it. If you are shooting, Jai: Uncle Hari left his family and
your mind should be only on the target. home and went to an Ashram last year
Then you will never miss. If you are to find God. Do we have to leave home
learning your lessons, think only of the to seek God?
lesson. In India boys and girls are taught
to do this". Grandma: No, we do not. In the Gita,
Lord Krishna has given us different
Chapter 2 summary: Lord Krishna taught paths to God-realization. The path you
us, through Arjuna, the difference be- choose depends on your individual na-
8 International Gita Society

ture. In general, there are two types of They give up selfish motives and do all
people in the world: the inward (or stu- work for the greater good of society, in-
dious, introvert) type and the outward or stead of just for themselves.
active type. For the introvert like Uncle
Hari, the path of spiritual knowledge is Jai: But people will work harder if
best. Followers of this path go to a spiri- they have selfish motives, won’t they,
tual master or a guru where they study Grandma?
Vedic scriptures under proper guidance.
In this path, we learn who we are and Grandma: It is true that people may
how we can lead a happy and peaceful earn more if they work for selfish gain,
life. but they will not find permanent peace
and happiness. Only those who do their
Jai: Do we have to read all the scrip- duty selflessly for the good of all people
tures to understand and find God? will find real peace and satisfaction.

Grandma: There are many scriptures Jai: If people don’t work for per-
in our religion, such as the 4 Vedas, 108 sonal gain, will they still do their best
Upanishads, 18 Puranas, Ramayanas, and not become lazy?
Mahabharata, various Sutras and many
others. Reading all of them would be a Grandma: A true KarmaYogi works
difficult task. But Lord Krishna has hard even without personal gain. Only
given us everything we need to know the ignorant work just for personal gain.
about God in the Gita. The Gita has the The world runs smoothly because people
essence of all the Vedas and Upanishads do their duty. Parents work hard to sup-
for the modern time. port their family, and the children do
their part. Nobody can remain inactive or
Jai: Uncle Puri is a farmer and has idle all the time. Most people engage in
no interest in studying the Gita. He some activity and do what they can.
says the Gita is difficult and not for Brahma, the creator, gave his first teach-
common people like him. So how can ing to humanity when he said: Let all of
Uncle Puri realize God? you progress and prosper by helping
each other and by doing your duty prop-
Grandma: Uncle Puri should follow erly. (Gita 3.10-11)
the second path, the path of KarmaYoga
that is described in this chapter of the Jai: What happens if people work
Gita. This is the path of duty or selfless hard just for their own benefit?
service. This path is better for most peo-
ple who work hard to support a family Grandma: They commit sin, Jai. It is
and have no time or interest to read wrong to perform any action selfishly
scriptures. Followers of this path do not without considering its effect on others.
have to leave work and go to an Ashram. Lord Krishna calls such a person a thief,
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 9

useless, and sinful. (Gita 3.12-13) We son came to the door of the family hovel.
should never live and work just for our- "Is that your son?" the nobleman
selves. We should help and serve each asked.
other. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly.
"I'll make you a deal. Let me pro-
Jai: What does a person gain who vide him with the level of education my
follows the teaching of Lord Brahma own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything
and works for the good of society? like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be
a man we both will be proud of."
Grandma: Such a person attains peace And that he did. Farmer Fleming's
and success in this life, reaches God, and son attended the very best schools and in
does not take birth again on this earth. time graduated from St. Mary's Hospital
Here is a true modern story of Medical School in London and went on
how selfless service, discussed in Chap- to become known throughout the world
ter 3, works wonders in life. as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the
discoverer of Penicillin.
3. Sir Alexander Fleming Years afterward, the same noble-
man's son who was saved from the
A poor Scottish farmer one day, swamp was stricken with pneumonia.
while trying to make a living for his What saved his life this time? Penicillin.
family, heard a cry for help coming from The name of the nobleman? Lord
a nearby swamp. He dropped his tools Randolph Churchill.
and ran to the bog. There, sunk to his His son's name? The famous Sir
waist in the swamp, was a terrified boy, Winston Churchill.
screaming and struggling to free himself.
Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what Someone once said: What goes
could have been a slow and terrifying around comes around. This is the univer-
death. sal law of Karma, the law of cause and
The next day, a fancy carriage effect. Help fulfill someone’s dream, and
pulled up to the Scotsman's simple your dream shall be fulfilled too by the
home. A well dressed nobleman stepped Lord!
out and introduced himself as the father
of the boy that Farmer Fleming had Jai: Please give me more examples
saved. of true KarmaYogis, Grandma.
"I want to thank and repay you,"
said the nobleman. "You saved my son's Grandma: You have read the story of
life." Ramayana. Lord Rama’s father-in-law
"I can't accept payment for what I was Janaka, the King of Janakapur. He
did," the Scottish farmer replied, reject- attained God by serving his people as his
ing the offer. own children, selflessly and without at-
At that moment, the farmer's own tachment to the results of his action. He
10 International Gita Society

did his duty as worship of God. Work work just for themselves. The wise work
done without any selfish motive, as a for the welfare of all. The ignorant work
matter of duty, becomes worship of God to enjoy the result of their labor and be-
because it helps God run the world. come attached to it because they think
they are the doer. They do not realize
Mahatma Gandhi was a true Kar- that all work is done by the power sup-
maYogi, who worked selflessly all his plied to us by God. With the power to do
life without any personal motive, just for our duty and the intellect to choose be-
the good of society. He set an example tween right and wrong action, we be-
for other world leaders to follow. There come responsible for our actions. People
are many other examples of selfless per- act wrongly because they don’t use their
sons. intellect and don’t think of the results of
their action on others.
Jai: Is that how our leaders should The wise offer all their work to
work? God with no selfish desire of their own.
The ignorant work only to fulfill their
Grandma: Yes, a true KarmaYogi personal desires. (Gita 3.25)
shows by personal example how to lead
a selfless life and attain God by follow- Jai: Can a common person like me
ing the path of KarmaYoga. (Gita 3.21) do what great people like King Janaka
and Mahatma Gandhi have done?
Jai: If I want to become a Kar-
maYogi, what do I have to do? Grandma: With a little effort, anybody
can follow the path of KarmaYoga.
Grandma: KarmaYoga requires doing Think of whatever work you are doing as
our duty in life the best we can, unsel- your gift to society. If you are a student,
fishly, without attachment to the results your duty is to attend school, do your
of our work. A KarmaYogi remains calm homework, respect your parents, teach-
in both success and failure and has no ers, other elders, and help your brothers,
likes or dislikes for any person, place, sisters, friends, and classmates. In stu-
object, or work. Work done as selfless dent life, prepare yourself to be a good,
service for the welfare of humanity pro- productive citizen by getting a good
duces no good or bad Karmic bondage education.
and leads one to God.
Jai: What kind of work should I do
Jai: It would be hard to work with- when I graduate, Grandma?
out wanting to gain something person-
ally from it. How do we do this, Grandma: Choose the work that you
Grandma? like and can do well. The work should be
suited to your nature. (Gita 3.35, 18.47)
Grandma: Spiritually ignorant persons If you choose work for which you don’t
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 11

have a natural skill or attraction, your because it leads to sinful and illegal ac-
chances of success are limited. You tivities. Always remember that desire
know what you can do best. Trying to be never ends after you get what you want.
someone you’re not is the greatest cause It just leads to new desires and creates
of failure and unhappiness. greed. And if you don’t get what you
want, you feel angry. People do bad
Jai: But shouldn’t I try to find good things when they are angry.
work, like engineering, teaching, or
government service? Jai: How can we control our desire
for pleasures?
Grandma: There is no such thing as
good or bad work. All types of workers Grandma: One way is by the knowl-
are needed to keep society running. edge given in the Gita and by the power
Some work pays more than others, but of thinking. Before you act from desire,
higher paying jobs are usually more dif- always think first of the results of that
ficult and stressful if you are not quali- action. Desires start in the mind and stay
fied for them. If you are qualified for a there. You can control your mind by in-
lower paying job, lead a simple life and tellect and reasoning.
avoid unnecessary items. A simple life When you are young, your mind
means not desiring too many material becomes dirty just as the clear water of a
things. Limit yourself to the basic needs pond becomes muddy during the rainy
of life. Keep your desires under control. season. If your intellect doesn’t control
Lord Buddha said: Selfish desire is the your mind, your mind will run towards
cause of all evils and misery. sense pleasures. This will keep you from
achieving the higher goals of life. So set
Jai: Is selfish desire the reason why a high goal in life to keep your mind
people do bad things? from getting dirty by sensual pleasures
like smoking, alcohol, drugs, and other
Grandma: Yes Jai, our selfish desire bad habits. Bad habits are very hard to
for enjoyment is the cause of all evils. If get rid of, so avoid them to start with.
we don’t control our desires, our desires Always keep good company, read good
will control us, and we will become the books, avoid bad people, and think of the
victims of our own desires. Control your long-term result of your actions.
wants because whatever you want, wants
you also! Jai: Since we know right from
wrong, Grandma, why can’t we just
Jai: Then are all desires bad? avoid doing wrong?

Grandma: No, all desires are not bad. Grandma: If we don’t control our
The desire to serve others is a noble de- mind, it will try to weaken our will and
sire. The desire to enjoy pleasures is bad take us for a ride to the wrong road of
12 International Gita Society

sensual pleasures. We have to watch our of the Gita?

mind and keep it on track.
Grandma: Yes, Lord Krishna is the
Chapter 3 Summary: Lord Krishna men- author of the Gita. It was put together by
tioned two major paths to peace and sage Vayasa who also edited the four
happiness in life. The path chosen de- Vedas. Sage Vayasa had the power of
pends on the individual. It is easy for recalling events of the past and future,
most people to follow the path of Kar- but he could not do the work of both re-
maYoga, the path of selfless service. To calling the Gita spoken by Krishna on
help each other is the first teaching of the battlefield as well as writing it down.
the creator. This keeps society going and He needed a helper to write the Gita.
progressing. We should all do our duty Lord Ganesha, the lord of wisdom, of-
to the best of our ability. Choose the ca- fered to do the work of writing.
reer best suited to your nature. No job is The Gita was first translated from
small. It’s not what you do, but how you the original Sanskrit poetry to Sanskrit
do it that is important. Finally, Lord prose and fully explained in Sanskrit by
Krishna tells us we must control our de- great guru Adi Sankaracharya in the year
sire for pleasures. Uncontrolled desires 800 A.D.
for pleasure lead us to failure and suffer-
ing in life. We must think about the re- Jai: Why is Lord Krishna so impor-
sults of an action before taking it up. tant?
Avoid bad company at all costs.
Grandma: Lord Krishna is considered
CHAPTER 4 the eighth incarnation of the Supreme
THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION God. The Supreme God comes to earth
WITH KNOWLEDGE in different forms from time to time
whenever the forces of evil try to disturb
Jai: The Gita reports what was spo- and destroy the world peace. Lord comes
ken on the battlefield, but who wrote to set everything right. He also sends
it, Grandma? prophets and teachers to help mankind.
His birth and activities are divine and
Grandma: The teachings of the Gita each incarnation (Avataras) has a pur-
are very old. They were first given to the pose. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (or the
Sun-god in the beginning of creation by Bhagavad-Purana) gives details of all ten
Lord Krishna. Over time, this knowledge major Avataras of God. Lord Buddha,
got lost. The Gita in its present form is Moses, Jesus, Mohammad and saints and
the teaching by the Supreme Lord, sages of other religions are also consid-
Krishna, to Arjuna about 5,100 years ered minor incarnations of God. At the
ago. end of the present time period, known as
KaliYuga, the Kalki incarnation will
Jai: So is Lord Krishna the author happen in the very distant future.
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 13

Jai: Will Lord Krishna give us of our deeds. Karma is like depositing
whatever we want in prayer or wor- money in the form of good and bad ac-
ship? tion in the bank. We do not take birth
when all our Karma is used up. This
Grandma: Yes, Lord Krishna will give freedom from the cycles of birth and
what you want (Gita 4.11), such as suc- death is called liberation, Nirvana, Mok-
cess in your study, if you worship Him sha or Mukti. In Mukti one becomes one
with faith. People may worship and pray with God.
to God by using any name and form of
God. The form of God is called deity. Jai: How can we avoid Karma when
One can also worship God without the we live and work in society?
help of a deity.
Grandma: The best way not to earn
Jai: Will we still have to study if we any Karma is not to do anything just for
want to do well in examinations? yourself, but do it for the good of soci-
ety. Always keep in mind that Mother
Grandma: Yes, you must do the work. Nature does everything; we are not the
Do your best and then pray. The good real doer of any action. If we strongly
Lord will not work for you. You will believe this and work as a servant of
have to do your own work. Your work God, we will not earn any new Karma,
should be free from selfish desires, and and all our past Karma will be wiped out
you should not hurt anybody. Then you by Self-knowledge. When all Karma is
will not earn any Karma. finished, we become liberated. This
method of uniting with God is called the
Jai: What is Karma, Grandma? path of selfless action (KarmaYoga).

Grandma: The Sanskrit word Karma Jai How do we get rid of the Karma
means action. It also means the results of from our past lives?
an action. The word Karma is most
commonly mispronounced as Karma. Grandma: A very good question! True
Every action produces a result called knowledge of the Self (or God) acts like
Karma, which can be good or bad. If we fire that burns away all Karma from our
do our work only to enjoy the results past lives. (Gita 4.37) Selfless service
ourselves, we become responsible for the (KarmaYoga) prepares one to receive
results. If our action harms anyone, we Self-knowledge. A KarmaYogi auto-
get bad Karma, called sin, and we will matically gets Self-knowledge in due
have to suffer in hell for it. If we do course of time. (Gita 4.38) One who has
good to others, we earn good Karma and true knowledge of the Self or God is
get rewarded by a trip to heaven. called a Self-realized or a God-realized
Our own Karma is responsible for person.
our rebirth to enjoy or suffer the results
14 International Gita Society

Jai: Are there other ways to get lib- and Pandava brothers. Many other
eration, Grandma? princes also took military training under
him. Drona was very much pleased by
Grandma: Yes, Jai, there are different Arjuna’s personal service and devotion
methods or ways to reach God. These to him, and he promised him: “I will
methods are called spiritual practices or train you to be the best archer in the
Sadhana. Any action that is beneficial to world.”
society is also called Yajna, Seva or sac- One day a very gentle boy named
rifice. Different types of Yajna are: (1) Ekalavya from a nearby village came to
giving money as charity for a good Drona and wanted to learn archery from
cause, (2) doing meditation, worship and him. He had heard from his mother
yogic exercises, (3) reading the scrip- about master archer Dronacharya, who
tures to gain knowledge of God, and (4) was the son of the sage Bharadwaja and
having control over the mind and other a disciple of sage Parashurama.
five senses. (Gita 4.28) Ekalavya was a jungle boy, be-
Lord is pleased by those who sin- longing to the hunters' community.
cerely perform any one of these Yajna Then, and even today, such communities
and gives them the gift of Self- were considered socially inferior. Drona
knowledge to reach God. Such a person was worried how he could teach a jungle
becomes happy and peaceful. (Gita 4.39) boy along with the royal children. So he
decided not to keep the boy with him
Jai: How about those who just wor- there, and told him: “Son, it will be very
ship a deity everyday? Can they also difficult for me to teach you. But you are
reach God? a born archer. Go back to the forest and
practice well with deep interest. You too
Grandma: Yes, those who worship the are my disciple. May you master archery
deity with full faith also get whatever as you wish!”
they want. (Gita 4.11-12) Most Hindus Drona's words were a great bless-
worship God in the form of a chosen de- ing to Ekalavya. He understood his help-
ity to fulfill their desires. This path is lessness and felt confident that the Mas-
known as path of worship and prayer. ter’s good wishes were with him. He
There is a story in the Mahabharata of a made a clay idol of Dronacharya, in-
devoted KarmaYogi and an ideal student stalled it in a nice place, and began to
who worshipped his guru and got what worship it respectfully by offering flow-
he wanted. ers, fruits, etc. He worshipped this idol
of his guru everyday, practiced the les-
4. Ekalavya, the Ideal Student sons in archery in the Master's absence,
and mastered the art.
Guru Dronacharya (or Drona) was Ekalavya would get up early in
the military teacher (guru) appointed by the morning, bathe himself and offer
grandfather Bhishma for all the Kaurava worship to the master’s idol. He cher-
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 15

ished the words, actions, and training found Ekalavya.

methods of Drona that he had seen at Arjuna said: “Your skill in arch-
guru Drona’s Ashram. He faithfully fol- ery is great. Who is your guru?”
lowed the instructions and continued his “My guru is Dronacharya,” re-
practice. plied Ekalavya humbly.
While Arjuna had personally mas- Arjuna was shocked at the men-
tered archery from Drona, learning from tion of Drona's name. Was this true?
him firsthand, Ekalavya achieved Could his dear teacher teach so much to
equally impressive skill while worship- this boy? If so, what about the Master's
ing the Master from far away. If he could promise to him? When did Drona teach
not do a particular technique, he would the boy? Arjuna had never seen
rush to Drona's image, present his prob- Ekalavya before in his class.
lem, and wait in meditation until a solu- When Drona heard this story, he
tion appeared in his mind. He would remembered Ekalavya and went to see
then proceed further. him.
Drona said: “Your learning has
The story of Ekalavya demon- been very good, son. I am deeply satis-
strates that one can achieve anything in fied. With devotion and practice, you
life if one has faith and works sincerely have done very well. May your
to reach the goal. The story continues: achievement become an example for all
to follow.”
The Kaurava and Pandava princes Ekalavya was very happy and
once went to the forest on a hunting trip. said: “Thank you, oh Gurudeva! I too am
Their leading dog was running forward. a disciple of yours. Otherwise, I do not
Ekalavya, a dark-skinned young man know whether I could have done this
dressed in a tiger skin and wearing much.”
strings of conch-beads, was engaged in Drona said: “If you accept me as
his practice. The dog, on approaching your Master, you must pay my fee after
him, began to bark. Probably wishing to your training. Think it over.”
show off his skill, Ekalavya sent down a Ekalavya smilingly replied:
series of seven arrows in the direction of “What is there to think over, Sir? I am
the barking dog, and his arrows filled its your disciple, and you are my guru.
mouth. The dog ran back to the princes, Please say what you wish, Sir. I will ful-
who were surprised at this skill in arch- fill it even if I have to sacrifice my life in
ery and wondered who the archer was. the effort.”
Arjuna, seeing this, was not only “Ekalavya, I have to demand a
surprised but also worried. He wanted to supreme sacrifice from you to fulfill my
be known as the world's best archer. word to Bhishma and Arjuna that no-
The princes went in search of the body would ever equal Arjuna in arch-
archer who had hit their dog with so ery. Pardon me, son! Can you give me
many arrows in such a short time, and the thumb of your right hand as my fee?”
16 International Gita Society

Ekalavya stared at Dronacharya false guru, a SadGuru and a Parama-

for a while. He could understand the Guru. There are many false gurus who
Master's problem. He then stood up, just pose as a guru. SadGuru is a God-
walked to the Drona’s idol with determi- realized master and is very hard to find.
nation, placed his right thumb upon a Lord Krishna is called the JagadGuru or
stone, and cut it off in an instant, using ParamaGuru, the world-teacher.
his left hand and an arrow. When you graduate from a college
Drona, while feeling sorry for the and enter family life, you will need to
injury he had caused Ekalavya, was at find a guru or a spiritual guide. Mean-
the same time deeply touched by such while, follow your scripture and culture
great devotion. He hugged him saying: and never accept defeat in life.
“Son, your love for guru is unmatched. I
feel a sense of fulfillment in having had Chapter 4 summary: Lord comes to earth
a disciple like you. May God bless you!” from time to time in a life-form to set
Ekalavya got victory in defeat! things right on the earth. The Lord ful-
With the right thumb gone, he could no fills the desires of those who worship
longer use the bow effectively. But he Him. There are four types of spiritual
continued his practice using his left arm. practices or Yajna. Both selfless service
By virtue of his supreme sacrifice, he and Self-knowledge free the soul from
received the grace of God and achieved the bondage of Karma. The Lord gives
distinction as a left-handed archer. He Self-knowledge to those who do selfless
proved that nothing could stop a totally service. Self-knowledge burns all our
sincere effort. By his actions and behav- past Karma and frees us from the wheel
ior, Ekalavya, showed that your inferior or cycles of birth and death.
or superior status is not determined by
the community you belong to but by CHAPTER 5
your vision and qualities of mind and THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
Jai: Previously, you mentioned two
Drona was a great guru, Jai. But paths. Which path is better for most
there are many false gurus in the world people, Grandma, the path of spiritual
who will try to cheat you. knowledge or the path of selfless ser-
Jai: Do we need a guru to reach
God? Grandma: A person who has the true
knowledge of God believes that all work
Grandma: We definitely need a is done by the energy of Mother Nature
teacher to learn any subject, spiritual or and he or she is not the real doer of an
material. But to find a real guru is not so action. Such a person is called a
easy. There are four types of gurus: the Samnyasi or renunciant and has Self-
knower of a subject or a teacher (guru), a knowledge.
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 17

A KarmaYogi works without a Samnyasi and thinker. His name is Adi

selfish motive for the fruits of work. Sankaracharya. A student of the Gita
KarmaYoga prepares one to receive owes him great respect and honor.
Self-knowledge. (Gita 4.38, 5.06) Self-
knowledge leads to renunciation. Thus 5. Adi Sankaracharya
selfless service or KarmaYoga forms the
basis of renunciation (Samnyasa). Both Adi Sankaracharya (or Sankara) is
paths finally lead to God. Lord Krishna the author and promoter of non-dualistic
considers KarmaYoga the better of the philosophy of Vedanta. It states that en-
two paths because it is faster and easier tire universe is nothing but God. He was
for most people to follow. (Gita 5.02) born in the state of Kerala in the year
788 A.D. By the age of eight, he had
Jai: Doesn’t the word renunciation learned all four Vedas, and by the age of
usually mean leaving worldly posses- twelve, was well versed in all Hindu
sions and living in an Ashram (monas- scriptures. He is believed to be Lord
tery) or in a lonely place? Shiva in human form.
He wrote many books, including a
Grandma: The word Samnyasa in the commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita,
strict sense means renouncing (or giving Upanishads, BrahmaSutra and many
up) all personal motives, worldly posses- others. The holy Bhagavad-Gita was
sions and objects. But it also means liv- hidden in Mahabharata as a chapter be-
ing in society and serving society by do- fore Sankara brought it out to us.
ing one’s duty without any personal mo- Sankara took the Gita from Mahab-
tive. Such a person is called Karma- harata, gave it chapter headings, and
Samnyasi. wrote the first commentary of the Gita in
Some spiritual leaders, such as Sanskrit. The first English translation of
Adi Sankaracharya, consider the path of the Gita was done by a British ruler in
renouncing all worldly possessions as the 19th century.
the highest path and the goal of life. He Sankara established four main
himself became a Samnyasi when he monasteries in different corners of India:
was a young boy. at Shringeri, Badrinath, Dvarka, and
Lord Krishna says: “An enlight- Puri. He stopped the spread of Buddhism
ened person or a Samnyasi (or hermit, over Hindu ideals, and restored Hindu-
one who has given up all personal mo- ism to its past glory. According to his
tive) sees the Lord in all. Such a person non-dual philosophy, the individual soul
looks at a learned person, an illiterate (Jiva) is Brahma (God), and the world is
person, the rich, the poor, an outcast, the play of Maya, the illusory kinetic en-
even a cow, an elephant, or a dog with ergy of Brahma.
an equal eye.” (Gita 5.18) He certainly was a Self-realized
I am going to tell you the story of man. But at first, he had the feeling of
a great spiritual leader, hero, guru, duality, of high and low caste. His faith
18 International Gita Society

in the absolute God (Brahma) was not attached to them. An enlightened person
very firmly established in his heart. sees the Lord in all beings and treats
One day, he was going to the everybody equally.
Shiva temple in the holy city of Banaras
after bathing in the holy Ganga river. He CHAPTER 6
saw an untouchable, a butcher, carrying PATH OF MEDITATION
a load of meat. The butcher came on his
way and tried to touch Sankara's feet in Jai: Grandma, you said there are
respect. several paths leading to God. You told
Sankara shouted angrily: “Get out me about the path of duty and the
of the way! How dare you touch me? path of spiritual knowledge. Please tell
Now I have to take a bath again.” me about other paths.
“Holy sir,” said the butcher, “I
have not touched you, nor have you Grandma: The third path is called the
touched me. The pure Self cannot be the path of meditation.
body or the five elements out of which One who is united with God is
the body is created.” (There are more de- called a yogi. The mind of a yogi is
tails in Chapter 13.) peaceful and completely united with
Then Sankara saw the vision of God. A yogi has control over his mind,
Lord Shiva in the butcher. Lord Shiva senses, and desires. He is free from an-
had Himself come to Sankara to firmly ger and greed. A clod, a stone, and gold
implant the non-dualistic philosophy in are the same to a yogi, who sees God in
him. Sankara was a much better person everything and everything in God. (Gita
from that day by the grace of Lord 6.08, 14.24) A yogi sees every being
Shiva. with an equal eye, whether friend, en-
emy, hater, relative, saint, or sinner.
This story illustrates that equality (Gita 6.09) The mind of a yogi remains
with all beings is difficult to practice all calm even during the worst time. (Gita
the time. To have such a feeling is the 6.19)
mark of a truly God-realized person or a
perfect Samnyasi. Jai: Is there a method of meditation
simple enough for children,
Chapter 5 summary: Lord Krishna con- Grandma?
siders the path of Selfless service (Seva)
to humanity without attachment to its Grandma: Yes, there is, Jai. The mind
results as the best path for most people. is your best friend as well as your worst
Both paths, the path of Self-knowledge enemy. The mind is a friend for those
and the path of Seva, lead to a happy life who have control over it and an enemy
here on the earth and Nirvana after for those who do not control it. (Gita
death. Samnyasa does not mean leaving 6.05-06) So you should try to control
worldly possessions. It means not being this enemy. The mind is like wind, very
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 19

restless and difficult to control, but you Dhruva was deeply hurt by his
can control it by regular practice of step-mother’s insulting words. He went
meditation. (Gita 6.34) Guru Nanak said: to his mother, weeping. His mother con-
Master the mind, and you master the soled him and told him to take his step-
world. mother's words seriously and pray to
Lord Vishnu, who is the helper of all be-
A Simple Method of Meditation ings.
Dhruva left the kingdom for the
The best time to meditate is in the forest with a determined mind to see
morning before going to school. Sit in Lord Vishnu and reach a higher place.
your meditation or Pooja room. Hold On the way, he was met by the celestial
your waist, spine, chest, neck, and head sage Narada. Narada gave him the 12-
erect, motionless and steady. Close your syllable mantra: "Om namo bhagavate
eyes, take a few slow, deep breaths. Re- vasudevaya" for worshiping the Vishnu
member your favorite deity and ask his form of Lord Krishna. Dhruva wor-
or her blessing. Mentally chant OM for shipped Vishnu for six months, and Lord
five minutes. If your mind starts to wan- Vishnu appeared before him. Vishnu
der here and there, bring it back gently to promised that Dhruva's wishes would be
concentrating on your favorite deity. fulfilled and he would reach the highest
There is a story of a child named heavenly seat of the Polestar, which is
Dhruva in our scriptures who got his not destroyed even when all the worlds
wishes fulfilled using the path of medita- are destroyed.
tion. Dhruva returned to the kingdom.
When the King grew old, he decided to
6. The Story of Dhruva crown Dhruva as the King. Dhruva ruled
for many years and in the end reached
Dhruva was the son of king Ut- the Polestar granted by Lord Vishnu. It
tanapada and Suniti. King Uttanapada is said that the entire Zodiac is made up
was very fond of his second wife, Su- of planets, stars, etc. All rotates around
ruchi, and used to be mean to Suniti, the Polestar. To this day, when Indians
Dhruva's mother. One day, when Dhruva see the Polestar, they remember Dhruva,
was five years old, his step-brother was the devotee of perfect purity of mind and
sitting on his father's lap. Dhruva also firm determination.
wanted to sit there. But his step-mother
stopped him and dragged him aside. Jai: What happens to a yogi who
She spoke rudely to Dhruva, say- does not become successful in this life?
ing: "If you want to sit on your father's
lap, you should have been born to me Grandma: No spiritual practice per-
instead of to your mother. At least now, formed by a yogi ever goes to waste. The
pray to Lord Vishnu, so that He will unsuccessful yogi is reborn into a rich or
make this happen." spiritually advanced family. The unsuc-
20 International Gita Society

cessful yogi regains the knowledge he names. In a real sense, God is not the
had in the previous life and tries again to creator of the universe, but He Himself
become perfect from where he or she left becomes everything in the universe. He
off. No spiritual effort is wasted. manifests as Brahma, whom we call the
creator. Actually, Brahma and all other
Jai: How can I become the best yogi, deities (gods and goddesses) are just
Grandma? names of different powers of the one and
only One God. People think Hindus wor-
Grandma: To be the best yogi, see all ship many gods and goddesses, but that
beings as yourself and feel their pain and is due to lack of true knowledge. The en-
pleasure as your own. Lovingly think of tire universe is a manifestation of God.
God with supreme faith, and always This is the highest philosophy that you
keep your mind on Him. (Gita 6.47) may not understand completely now.

Chapter 6 summary: The third path to Jai: How does one God become so
God is yoga of meditation. To be the many things in the universe?
best yogi, see every being as yourself,
and feel the pain and pleasure of others Grandma: According to the Samkhya
as your own. A very simple method of theory of creation, God’s energy (Atma
meditation uses the sound vibration of or Spirit) itself becomes Nature or mat-
OM. No spiritual practice is ever wasted. ter, made up of the five basic elements.
The entire creation is born and sustained
by different combinations of these two
CHAPTER 7 energies: Spirit and Matter. (Gita 7.06)
SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND He is in the form of light in the Sun and
ENLIGHTENMENT the Moon; He is in the form of mind and
strength in human beings. He digests our
Jai: How was our whole universe food and supports our life. We are all
formed, Grandma? Does it have a connected by the same Spirit as jewels in
creator? a necklace are connected by the same
thread. (Gita 7.07)
Grandma: There is a creator behind
any creation, Jai. Nothing can be created Jai: If God is everywhere and in
without somebody or some power be- everything, why doesn’t everyone un-
hind it. Some power is needed, not only derstand and love and worship Him?
to create it, but also to support and run it.
We call that power God, the Absolute, Grandma: That is a good question, Jai.
the Supreme in English, and Krishna, Generally, people have a false idea of
Ishvara, Bhagavan, Shiva in Sanskrit. God because everyone is not given the
Other religions call that power Allah, Fa- power to understand Him. Just as some
ther, Jehova, Devi and many other people can’t understand calculus or even
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 21

elementary mathematics, so people who Grandma: Lord Krishna is the name

have no good Karma, can’t know, under- of the Supreme God. Some sects of Hin-
stand, love, or worship God. duism call the Supreme God as Lord
Shiva. People of other religions call Him
Jai: Then who are the ones who un- Buddha, Jesus, Allah, Father, etc. Other
derstand God? deities (gods) are a part of His power.
Just as all rain water goes to the ocean,
Grandma: There are four types of so worship of any deity goes to Krishna,
people who worship or seek to under- the Absolute. But a beginner should
stand God: (1) those who are sick or in chose just one of the many deities and
some kind of trouble or seek help in do- establish a personal relationship by do-
ing well in their studies or work, (2) ing Pooja, or at least Namaskara, every-
those who are trying to get the knowl- day to the chosen deity. The personal de-
edge of God, (3) those who want money, ity then becomes your personal guide
and (4) the wise ones who know God. and protector. The personal deity is
(Gita 7.16) Lord Krishna considers all called IshtaDeva or IshtaDevi, your per-
four types of people as devotees. The sonal god.
wise one is the best because a wise per-
son worships God without wanting any- Jai: You said that the entire uni-
thing from Him. Even such wise ones verse is only another form of God. Is
completely know God only after many God formless or can God take forms?
births. (Gita 7.19)
Grandma: This big question not only
Jai: If I worship Krishna, can I get confuses children, but also puzzles
good grades in an examination or get adults. Answers to this question created
rid of sickness? various sects or groups in Hinduism.
One sect, called Arya Samaj, believes
Grandma: Yes, He fulfills the desires that God cannot have forms and is form-
of all who believe in Him and who al- less. Another group believes God has a
ways worship and pray with firm faith. form. A third group believes God is
God is both our Father and Mother. You formless and takes forms. Still others be-
should ask God what you want in a lieve God is both with form and without
prayer. He fulfills the desires of His sin- form.
cere devotees. (Gita 7.21) I believe everything has a form.
Nothing in the world is formless. God
Jai: Then why doesn’t everybody has a form, which is invisible to our
worship Krishna? Why do we worship physical eyes. He cannot be understood
Lord Ganesha, Shri Hanumana, by the human mind or described by
Mother Sarasvati and many other dei- words. Supreme Being has a transcen-
ties? dental (or out of this world) form and a
Supreme Personality. He has no origin
22 International Gita Society

but is the origin of everything. He has no taught us that God is in all beings, ani-
beginning or end. The invisible God is mals as well as human. Therefore, I
the cause of the visible world. Invisible thought it was only the elephant-god that
does not mean formless. Everything we was coming, so I didn’t run away.”
see is another form of God. At this the guru said: “Yes, my
Here is a story about practical ap- child, it is true that the elephant-god was
plication of seeing the Supreme in all be- coming; but the mahout-god asked you
ings as mentioned in Gita 7.19. to get out of way. Why didn’t you trust
the mahout’s words? Also, the elephant-
7. See God in All Beings god does not have the Self-knowledge
that all are God!”
In a forest lived a holy man who God dwells in all beings. God is
had many disciples. He taught them to even in the tiger; but you cannot hug the
see God in all beings and to bow down tiger on that account! Be close only with
before them. One day a disciple went good people, and keep away from the
into the forest to get wood for fire. Sud- evil-minded. Keep away from the un-
denly he heard a shout. holy, the evil, and the impure.
“Get out of the way! A mad ele-
phant is coming!” 8. The Unseen
Everyone but the disciple of the
holy man ran away. He saw the elephant One day a 6-year-old girl was sit-
as God in another form, so why should ting in a classroom. The teacher was go-
he run away from it? He stood still, ing to explain evolution to the children.
bowed before the elephant, and began The teacher asked a little boy:
meditating on God in the form of the “Manav, do you see the tree outside?”
elephant. Manav: “Yes.”
The mahout (trainer) of the ele- Teacher: “Manav, do you see the
phant shouted: “Run away! Run away!” grass outside?”
But the disciple didn’t move. The Manav: “Yes.”
animal grabbed him with its trunk, threw Teacher: “Go outside and look up
him to one side, and went on its way. and see if you can see the sky.”
The disciple lay unconscious on the Manav: “Okay. (He returned a
ground. Hearing what had happened; his few minutes later.) Yes, I saw the sky.”
god-brothers came to him and carried Teacher: “Did you see God any-
him to the hermitage. With the help of where?”
some herbal medicine, he regained con- Manav: “No.”
sciousness. Teacher: “That’s my point. We
Then someone asked, “When you can’t see God because he isn’t there. He
knew the mad elephant was coming, why just doesn’t exist.”
didn’t you leave the place?” A little girl spoke up and wanted
He answered: “Our guru has to ask the boy some questions. The
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 23

teacher agreed, and the little girl asked knowledge.

the boy:
“Manav, Do you see the tree out- CHAPTER 8
Manav: “Yes.”
Little Girl: “Manav, do you see Jai: I don’t have a big spiritual vo-
the grass outside?” cabulary, Grandma, so I don’t under-
Manav: “Yessssss!” stand many words that I hear at the
Little Girl: “Did you see the temple. Can you explain some of them
sky?” in a simple way?
Manav: “Yessssss!”
Little Girl: “Manav, do you see Grandma: I will explain some of the
the teacher?” Sanskrit words, so listen very carefully.
Manav: “Yes” You may not completely understand
Little Girl: “Do you see her mind these terms at your age.
or her brain?” The Spirit that is inside all living
Manav: “No” beings is called Brahma in Sanskrit.
Little Girl: “Then according to Brahma not only supports living beings
what we were taught today in school, she but also supports the whole universe.
must not have one!” This is the formless nature of God, the
Absolute. Brahma is beginningless, end-
God cannot be seen with our less (or everlasting) and changeless;
physical eyes. He can be seen by the therefore, it is also called Eternal
eyes of knowledge, faith, and devotion Brahma. The word Brahma often gets
only. (Gita 7.24-25) For we walk by confused with the word Brahma, the
faith, not by sight. He answers our creative force or creator of this universe.
prayer! The word Brahma is also spelled as
Brahm or Brahman. The word Brahman
Chapter 7 summary: There is only one often gets mixed up with another term,
God, who is called by many names. Brahmana, also spelled as Brahmin,
Devas, Devis, or deities in our religion which refers to the upper caste or intel-
are nothing but the names of different lectual class of people in India. I will ex-
powers of One Absolute God. Deities are plain this term later in Chapter18.
different names and forms of God’s ParaBrahma, Paramatma, Father,
powers to help us worship and pray. Mother is the Supreme Being, Who is
Four types of people worship God. The the origin of everything, including
entire creation is made up of five basic Brahma (Spirit or Atma).
elements and the Spirit. God is both The word Karma has several
formless and with form. God can take meanings. Generally, it means to do or
any form. One cannot know the true na- work. It also means the stored up fruits
ture of God unless one has spiritual of one’s work over past lives.
24 International Gita Society

Various powers of Brahma are

called Daiva (or Deva, Devi, Devata). 9. The Story of King Bharata
We worship these powers to get our
worldly desires fulfilled. When Sage Vishvamitra was busy
Ishvara is the power of God that creating his own universe; Indra, the
stays in the bodies of all living beings to King of heaven could not tolerate that.
guide and control us. So he sent a beautiful heavenly dancer,
Bhagavan simply means power- Menaka, to disturb him from his work.
ful. This term is used for God. We call She succeeded and bore sage Vishvami-
ShriKrishna also Bhagavan Krishna. tra's daughter, Shakuntala. She was
Jiva or Jivatma means living be- raised in the hermitage of sage Kanava
ings that take birth, have a limited life after Menaka left for heaven.
span, and die or change form. One day a King named Dushyanta
wandered in the hermitage of sage
Jai: How often should I remember Kanava. There he met and fell in love
and worship God to make sure that I with Shakuntala, whom he secretly mar-
remember God when I die? ried in the hermitage. Afterwards, she
gave birth to a baby boy named Bharata.
Grandma: We should form the habit He was very handsome and strong, even
of remembering God before taking our during his childhood. Bharata looked
food, before going to bed, after getting like the son of a Deva. When he was
up in the morning, and before starting only six years old, he used to play in the
any work or study. jungle by tying up baby wild animals,
such as tigers, lions, and elephants.
Bharata became the king after
Jai: Are we always reborn as human Dushyanta. Bharata was the greatest
beings? king of the land. Even today we also call
India BharataVarsha, the land of King
Grandma: Human beings can take any Bharata. He had nine sons, but none of
one of the 8.4 million life-forms on them seemed fit to rule after him, so he
earth. Hindus believe in life after death. adopted a qualified child, who took over
Lord Krishna said: “Whatever object one the kingdom after Bharata. Thus, King
remembers at the time of death, that ob- Bharata laid the foundation of democ-
ject one gets after death. During death, racy.
one remembers whatever thought existed There have been several other rul-
during most of one’s lifetime.” (Gita ers by the name of Bharata such as
8.06) Therefore, one should always re- Bharata, the younger brother of Lord
member God and do one’s duty. (Gita Rama and Maharaja Bharata. Here is a
8.07) story of Maharaja Bharata:
Here is a story to illustrate the
theory of transmigration of souls. A devotee named Maharaja
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 25

Bharata, the son of a saintly King heaven and live there forever?
Rishabha Deva, also ruled over our en-
tire planet. He ruled for many years but Grandma: Those who have done good
eventually renounced everything to take work here on earth go to heaven, but
up spiritual life of an ascetic. Although they have to come back after enjoying
he was able to give up his opulent king- the pleasures of heaven. (Gita 8.25, 9.21)
dom, he became attached to a baby deer. Those who have been naughty and bad
Once when the deer was absent, Maha- go to hell for punishment and also come
raja Bharata was so disturbed that he be- back to earth. Those who have gained
gan to search for it. While searching and salvation (Nirvana) do not take birth
lamenting the deer's absence, Maharaja again. They become one with God and
Bharata fell down and died. Because his go to His Supreme Abode, called Pa-
mind was fully absorbed thinking of the rama-Dhama). The Supreme abode is
deer at the time of his death, he naturally higher than heaven.
took his next birth from the womb of a
deer. Jai: How can we gain the Supreme
This is the theory of transmigra- Abode, the house of God?
tion of the soul, which we believe. Some
western philosophers believe in reincar- Grandma: Those who have the true
nation. The reincarnation theory is based knowledge of God are called God-
on the assumption that a human soul realized and reach the house of God.
takes birth only as humans, not as ani- They do not reincarnate. This is called
mals. The theory of transmigration the path of no return. (Gita 8.24) This
seems more universal than the theory of path is blocked for the ignorant and per-
reincarnation. sons without the necessary qualities,
Jai: If living beings go through cy- such as austerity, faith in God, and
cles of birth and death, how about the knowledge of God. Only those who have
Sun, Moon, Earth, and stars? Do they these qualities will walk this path of no
also take birth and get destroyed? return. Those who have not realized
God, but have done good work, go to
Grandma: The entire visible creation heaven by virtue of their good Karma
has a life span. The visible worlds, such and take birth on earth again until they
as stars and planets, have a life span of perfect themselves and become Self-
8.64 billion years. During this period, the realized. (Gita 8.25)
entire visible cosmos is created and de-
stroyed. (Gita 8.17-19) But Brahma is Chapter 8 summary: Some of the com-
everlasting and is never destroyed. mon Sanskrit terms have been explained,
which you will understand better as you
Jai: If some people do not come grow older. The theory of transmigration
back to this world after death, what and the cycle of creation and destruction
happens to them? Do they go to of the universe were also explained. A
26 International Gita Society

very simple and easy method of God- the Moon, and the wind; fire, trees,
realization is to always remember God earth, and stones, in the same way as
and do your duty. everything made of gold is gold. That’s
why Hindus see and worship God in the
CHAPTER 9 stone and the tree as if these are God
SUPREME KNOWLEDGE AND Himself in that form.
Jai: If everything comes from the
Jai: If God comes sometimes on Lord, then will everything become the
earth, is He the same as we are, or is Lord again, as everything made of
He different from us? gold can be melted into just gold
Grandma: This is a very good ques-
tion, Jai. It has been answered both Grandma: Yes, Jai, the cycle of crea-
ways. For example, look at my chain and tion and destruction keeps on going. It’s
my ring and this gold coin. They are all like turning my chain and ring and coin
made of gold, so you can see them as into gold again and then using the gold
gold. And you can see everything else to make new jewelry and coins. (Gita
made of gold as gold. They are different 9.07-08) The entire creation appears and
forms of gold. But you can also think of disappears again and again.
them as separate things --- a chain, a
ring, or a coin. The chain, the ring, and Jai: If Lord is us, and we all come
the coin are nothing but different shapes from the Lord, then why doesn’t eve-
and forms of gold. In the same way, we ryone love and worship Lord?
can look at the Lord and His creation as
nothing but an expansion of the Lord Grandma: Those who understand this
Himself. This viewpoint is known as truth worship God. They know the Lord
non-dualistic (or Advaita) philosophy. is our Lord, and we are from Him, for
The other viewpoint sees God as Him, and we depend on Him, so they
one reality and creation as a different re- love and worship Him. But the ignorant
ality but dependent on God. This dualis- do not understand or believe in universal
tic (or Dvaita) philosophy considers ob- God.
jects made of gold (such as a chain and a
ring and a coin) different from gold. Jai: If I pray to God everyday and
(Gita 9.04-06) love Him and offer Him flowers or
fruit, will He be pleased and help me
Jai: Is that what people mean when in my studies?
they say God is everywhere and in
everything? Grandma: Lord Krishna said in the
Gita that He takes care of all the needs of
Grandma: Yes, Jai, God is the Sun, His devotees who worship Him with
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 27

strong faith and loving devotion. (Gita Me through those deities.” (Gita 9.23)
9.22) We can worship any deity we feel close
to. That favorite deity is called Ishta-
Jai: Does that mean that God loves Deva, our own personal god (or the
only those who pray and worship guardian angel) who becomes our per-
Him? sonal guide and protector.

Grandma: God loves all of us the Jai: Why do we offer fruits and
same, but if we remember Him and pray flowers to God?
to Him, we come closer to God. So we
all should think of God, worship Him, Grandma: Lord Krishna said in the
meditate, and bow down to Him with Gita that anyone who offers Him a leaf,
faith, love, and devotion. a flower, a fruit, water, or anything with
love and devotion, He not only accepts
Jai: I would like to be close to the it, but eats the offerings! (Gita 9.26)
Lord Krishna, Grandma. How can I That’s why we always offer our food to
have more faith in Him and love Him God with a prayer before we eat it. Food
more? offered to God is called Prasada or
Prasadam. Anybody can reach God who
Grandma: Just think of all the nice worships Him with faith, love and devo-
things God does for us. He gives us so tion. This path of devotion is open to all
many different foods we enjoy. He gave of us.
us the Sun for heat and light. Look at the Here is a story about the power of
beautiful sky with the Moon, the stars faith.
and clouds in the night. This is all His
beautiful creation, so think how beautiful 10. A Boy Who Fed God
the creator Himself must be! Worshiping
God is saying thank you for His kind- A noble man used to worship his
ness. Praying is asking for what we need family’s deity everyday with food offer-
from God. Meditating is connecting with ings. One day he had to go out of his vil-
the Supreme power to get help and guid- lage for the day. He said to his son, Ra-
ance. man: Give the offering to the deity to-
day. See that God is fed.
Jai: If there is only one God who The boy offered food to the deity
gives us everything, why do you have in the shrine, but the image would nei-
so many deities in your prayer (Pooja) ther eat nor drink nor talk. Raman waited
room, Grandma? Why don’t you just a long time, but still the image did not
worship the one Lord Krishna? move. But he totally believed that God
would come down from His throne in
Grandma: Lord Krishna said: “Those heaven, sit on the floor and eat.
who worship other deities, also worship Again and again he prayed to the
28 International Gita Society

deity, saying: “O Lord, please come comes a saint because he or she has
down and eat the food. It is already very made the right decision. (Gita 9.31)
late. Father will get angry if I did not Here is a story about such a rob-
feed you.” The deity did not say a word. ber.
The boy wept and cried: “O Lord,
my father asked me to feed you. Why 11. The Great Highway Robber Sage
won’t you come down? Why won’t you
eat from my hands?” We have two very popular epics
The boy wept for some time with or historical tales. The first one is the
a longing soul. At last the deity came Holy Ramayana. The other one is Ma-
down smilingly from the altar in human habharata. The Bhagavad-Gita is a part
form and sat before the meal and ate it. of the Mahabharata. It was written about
After feeding the deity, the boy 3,100 years B.C.E. Originally, the Holy
came out of the prayer room. His rela- Ramayana may have been written about
tives said: “The worship is over. Now 1.75 million years ago, according to lat-
bring the Prasadam for us.” est findings of NASA. The original
The boy said: “God has eaten eve- writer of Ramayana was a sage named
rything, He did not leave anything for Valmiki. After Valmiki, many other
you today.” saints have written Ramayana, the story
They entered the prayer room and of Lord Rama that all children should
were speechless with wonder to see that read. The legend is that Valmiki was
the deity had really eaten every bit of the given the power by sage Narada to write
offering. the entire episode before the event actu-
ally happened.
The moral of the story is that God In the early part of his life,
does eat if you offer food with full faith, Valmiki was a great highway robber. He
love, and devotion. Most of us don’t made a living by robbing travelers. One
have the faith Raman had. We don’t day, the great celestial saint Narada was
know how to feed Him! It is said that we passing by when Valmiki attacked him
must have faith in God like a child or we and tried to rob him. Narada asked
shall not enter the supreme abode, the Valmiki why he was doing that. Valmiki
house of God. said that this is how he supported his
Jai: Grandma, what if a person is a The sage told Valmiki: “When
sinful thief or robber. Can that person you rob a person, you commit sin. Do
also love God? your family members want to share that
sin also?”
Grandma: Yes, Jai. Lord Krishna has The robber replied: “Why not? I
said in the Gita: If even the most sinful am sure they do.”
person decides to worship Me with lov- The sage said: “All right, go home
ing devotion, such a person soon be- and ask everyone if they will share your
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 29

sins along with the money you are bring- footprints in the sand. He noticed that
ing home.” many times along the path of his life
The robber agreed. He tied the there was only one set of footprints. He
sage against a tree and went home and also noticed that it happened at the very
asked each member of his family, say- lowest and saddest times in his life.
ing: “I bring you money and plenty of This really bothered him, and he
food by robbing people. A sage told me questioned the Lord about it.
that it is sinful to rob people. Will you “Lord, You said that there is no
share my sins?” one hateful or dear to You, but You are
No one in his family was willing always with those who worship You
to share his sin. They all said: “It is your with love and devotion. (Gita 9.29) I
duty to support us. We can’t share your have noticed that during the most trou-
sin.” blesome times in my life, there is only
Valmiki realized his mistakes and one set of footprints. I don’t understand
asked the sage what to do to atone for his why, when I needed You most, You left
sins. The sage gave Valmiki the most me alone.”
powerful and the simplest “Rama” man- The Lord replied, “My dear child,
tra to chant and taught him how to wor- you are my own soul. I love you, and I
ship and meditate. The highway robber would never leave you, even if you leave
gave up his sinful activity and soon be- Me sometimes. During your time of trial
came a great sage and writer by the and suffering, when you see only one set
grace of guru Narada, the power of man- of footprints, that was because then I
tra, and his sincere spiritual practice. carried you. When you have trouble, it is
caused by your own Karma. That is
Here is another story, Jai, that you when you are tested and can grow
should always remember. It illustrates stronger.”
the verses of the Gita that say Lord
Krishna takes care of all of us. (Gita The Lord Krishna said in the Gita:
9.17-18) “I personally take care of the needs of
devotees who always remember and love
12. The Footprints Me.” (Gita 9.22)

One night, a man had a dream. He Chapter 9 summary: The dualistic phi-
dreamed he was walking along the beach losophy sees God as one reality and
with the Lord. Across the sky he saw creation as a different reality dependent
scenes from his life. For each scene, he on Him. Non-dual philosophy sees God
noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; and His creation as One. God loves all of
one belonging to him, and the other to us the same, but He takes personal inter-
the Lord. est in His devotees because such a per-
When the last scene of his life son is closer to Him. It is like one gets
came before him, he looked back at the more heat if one sits close to the fire.
30 International Gita Society

There is no unforgivable sin or sinner. but another form of God. The creation
The fire of sincere repentance burns all has come out of God’s energy called
sins. Maya. Everything comes from Him and
eventually goes back to Him. God is
CHAPTER 10 One, but has become many. He is eve-
MANIFESTATION OF GOD rywhere and in everything. (Gita 10.19-
39) He is the Generator or creator, Op-
Jai: If Lord Krishna said He will erator or maintainer, and Destroyer of all
take care of us if we always remember beings. He creates everything, including
and adore Him, then I want to know the sun, moon, stars, wind, water, air,
and love God. How do I do that, fire, and even our thoughts, feelings, in-
Grandma? tellect, and other qualities. We can see
His glory and greatness throughout crea-
Grandma: The love of God is called tion. The beautiful sky with earth and all
devotion (Bhakti). If you have devotion, the planets you see is only a small part of
God will give you the knowledge and His glory. Seeing God everywhere puri-
understanding of the Self. (Gita 10.10) fies our mind and makes us a better per-
The more you know and think about son.
God’s glory, power and greatness, the Here is a story about why we
stronger your love will grow. Thus the know very little about God. (Gita 10.15)
knowledge and love of God go together.
13. The Four Blind Men
Jai: God is so great, and powerful,
how can I really know Him? Four blind men went to see an
Grandma: Nobody can fully know One touched the leg of the ele-
God. He is the cause of cosmic energy phant and said, “The elephant is like a
and power, a cause that will remain a big pole.”
mystery. God is unborn, without begin- The second touched the trunk and
ning or end. Only God can really know said, “The elephant is like a thick club.”
God! (Gita 10.15) If anyone says, I The third touched the belly and
know God, that person does not know. said, “The elephant is like a big jar.”
Anyone who knows the Truth says: I do The fourth touched the ear and
not know God. said, “The elephant is like a big hand
Jai: Then what can we know about Thus they began to quarrel
God, Grandma? amongst themselves as to the shape of
the elephant.
Grandma: God knows everything, but A passer-by, seeing them thus
nobody can know God. According to quarreling, said, “Why are you all quar-
Sankara, the entire creation is nothing reling?” They told him the problem and
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 31

asked him to be the judge. and has no beginning or end. The entire
The man said: “None of you has universe is the expansion of a tiny frac-
seen the elephant. The elephant is not tion of His energy. (Gita 10.41-42) All
like a pole; its legs are like poles. It is deities are just the names of His various
not like a thick club; its trunk is like a powers. Worshiping God with faith, us-
thick club. It is not like a big jar; its belly ing any name, form, and method gives us
is like a big jar. It is not like a fan; its ear what we want and helps us become good
is like a fan. The elephant is all these --- and peaceful.
legs, trunk, belly, ears and much more.”
In the same way, those who argue THE VISION OF GOD
about the nature of God have known
only a small part of His Reality. That’s Jai: You said we can know a little bit
why sages say God is “neither this, nor about God. Is it possible for people to
that.” see God, Grandma?

Jai: What about people who do not Grandma: Yes, Jai. But not with our
believe in God? physical eyes. God does not have hands
and legs like we have in our world. But
Grandma: Such people are called when God is pleased by our selfless ser-
atheists or disbelievers. They do not be- vice (Seva) and devotion, He may appear
lieve in the existence of a creator be- in a vision in dream. He can show Him-
cause they cannot comprehend how such self in any form, or in the form of one’s
a cosmic person or power can exist. So personal god (IshtaDeva).
they question and doubt the existence of
God. Their doubts may be erased some- Jai: Is there any other way to see
day when they find a real spiritual mas- God?
ter or guru by the grace of God. Atheists
are those whose journey towards God Grandma: The best way to see
has not yet begun. Doubts arise even in God is to feel His presence in everything
the minds of believers; therefore, just because everything is part of God. Yogis
have faith, believe in God, and do your see the whole world as God’s expansion.
duty. Everything is just another form of God.
Knowing this, we can see God all around
Chapter 10 summary: Nobody can know us. The entire universe is God, and we
God, the Supreme Being, because He or are His children and tools. (Gita 11.33)
She is the origin of all beings, the cause God uses us to do His work. He is within
of all causes. Everything, including our all of us.
body, mind, thoughts, and feelings, Here is a story about God being
comes from God. He is the creator, sup- always with us, but we cannot see Him
porter, and destroyer of all. He is infinite with our physical eyes. (Gita 11.08)
32 International Gita Society

great soul and a very dear friend of

14. God Is with You Krishna, Lord showed him His cosmic
form. What Arjuna saw is described in
A man wanted to smoke and went great detail in Chapter 11 of the Gita.
to a neighbor’s house to get fire to light Here is a brief description of the
his charcoal. It was in the dead of night, cosmic form of Krishna that Arjuna saw.
and the householder was asleep. After he He saw the whole world with all gods,
had knocked and knocked, the neighbor sages, Lord Shiva, as well as Lord
finally came down to open the door. Brahma, seated on the lotus in the body
At the sight of the man he asked, of Krishna. Lord had many arms,
“Hello! What’s the matter?” mouths, stomachs, faces, and eyes. His
The man replied, “Can’t you body had no beginning or end. Bright
guess? You know I am fond of smoking. light was shining all around Him. Arjuna
I have come here to get fire to light my also saw all his cousins, along with
charcoal.” many other kings and warriors, quickly
The neighbor said, “Ha! Ha! You entering into Lord’s fearful mouths for
are a fine neighbor, indeed! You took the destruction. This cosmic form of Krishna
trouble to come and do all this knocking was very frightful to see, so Arjuna
at the door in the dead of night! Why? wished to see Krishna in the four-armed
You have a lighted lantern already with Vishnu form with a crown, holding a
you!” conch, discus, club and lotus in His
hands. Krishna then showed His four-
What we seek is very near and all armed Vishnu form to Arjuna.
around us. Everything is God in different Afterwards, Krishna showed His
forms. Everything in creation is within beautiful human form and comforted Ar-
His gigantic form! juna, who was afraid. Then Arjuna be-
Another way to see God is to de- came peaceful and normal again. Lord
velop devotion and good qualities. Lord Krishna said that He can be seen in this
Krishna said if we have no attachment, four-armed form only through devotion.
selfish desires, hatred, enmity, or vio- (Gita 11.54)
lence towards any being, we can reach
and see God. (Gita 11.55) Chapter 11 summary: We cannot see
God with our human eyes. We can see
Jai: Has anybody seen Krishna as Him only in a vision or trance
God? (Samadhi). We can also see Him all
around us. The entire creation is nothing
Grandma: Yes, many saints and sages but the body of the creator, and we are
have seen Lord Krishna in various part of the cosmic form of God.
forms. Mother Yashoda saw Krishna’s
cosmic form. Arjuna also wanted to see CHAPTER 12
Krishna as God. Because Arjuna was a PATH OF DEVOTION
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 33

concentrate my mind, Grandma. My

Jai: Should we worship or meditate mind starts to go everywhere. What
every day, Grandma, or just on Sun- should I do?
Grandma: Don’t worry, this even
Grandma: Children should do some happens to adults. Try to concentrate or
form of worship, prayer, or meditation focus again and again. With practice,
everyday. Good habits must be formed you will be able to focus your mind well,
early. not only on God but also on your study
materials. This will help you get good
Jai: You said that God is formless grades. You can also pray to God and
but also has forms. Should I worship worship by offering fruits, flowers, etc.
God as Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Durga, to your IshtaDeva with love. Also, re-
or should I worship a formless God? member the Lord of learning, such as
Lord Ganesha, Hanumana, or Mother
Grandma: Arjuna asked Lord Krishna Sarasvati before starting your studies.
the same question in the Gita. (Gita Don’t be selfish. Work hard. Accept the
12.01) Krishna told Arjuna that worship results of your work without getting up-
of God with a form with faith is easier set by bad results. Try to learn from your
and better for most people, especially for failures. Never give up and improve
beginners. But a true devotee has faith in yourself.
everything: the formless God, and God
with a form, such as Rama, Krishna, Ha- Jai: Is that all I have to do,
numana, Shiva, and the Divine Mother Grandma? Did Krishna say anything
Kali, Durga. else?

Jai: How should I worship, Grandma: You should also develop

Grandma? good habits such as obeying your par-
ents, helping others in need, not hurting
Go to the worship or meditation anybody, being friendly to all, saying
room before going to school and pray. sorry or asking forgiveness if you hurt
Sit straight, close your eyes, take a few anyone, keeping your mind calm, being
slow and deep breaths, remember your grateful to those who have helped you,
IshtaDeva and ask his or her blessing. and saying thank you. God loves and
Focusing your mind on your IshtaDeva helps those who act in this way. Such
with eyes closed is called meditation. people are called devotees or Bhakta.
You may also silently repeat a mantra (Gita 12.13-19) If you don’t have any
such as ‘OM’ or ‘Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, one of these good habits, try hard to de-
Ram’ a few times. velop them. (Gita 12.20)

Jai: When I start to meditate, I can’t Jai: Is it possible for a child to be a

34 International Gita Society

Bhakta? shouted the King.

“Not unless it is the wish of Lord
Grandma: I already told you the story Vishnu,” replied the child.
of Dhruva. Now I will tell you the story The King tried his best to get
of another child Bhakta. His name was Prahlada to change his mind, but nothing
Prahlada. worked.
He then ordered his guards to
15. The Story of Bhakta Prahlada throw Prahlada into the ocean, hoping
that would frighten Prahlada into prom-
Hiranyakasipu was the king of ising not to worship Vishnu anymore.
demons. He performed a very difficult But Prahlada remained loyal to Vishnu
spiritual practice, and Lord Brahma gave and kept praying to Him in his heart with
him a boon that he could not be slain by love and devotion. Guards tied him to a
man or beast. The boon made him arro- huge rock and threw him into the ocean.
gant, and he terrorized all the three By God’s grace, the rock fell away and
worlds, saying that there were no gods Prahlada floated safely to the surface of
other than himself and everybody must the water. He was surprised to see
worship him. Vishnu on the shore.
He had a son named Prahlada, a Vishnu smiled at him and said,
religious child who always worshipped “Ask me anything you want.”
Lord Vishnu. This angered his father Prahlada, replied, “I don’t want
greatly; he wanted to drive the thought kingdom, wealth, heaven, or a long life. I
of Vishnu from his son’s mind, so he just want the strength to always love
turned him over a strict teacher to train You and never turn my mind away from
him to worship only Hiranyakasipu as You.”
God and not Vishnu. Lord Vishnu granted Prahlada’s
Prahlada not only refused to listen wishes.
to the teacher, but started teaching the When Prahlada returned to his fa-
other students to worship Vishnu. The ther’s palace, the King was stunned to
teacher was very angry and reported this see him alive.
to the King. “Who brought you out of the
The King burst into his son’s sea?” he demanded.
room, and shouted, “I hear you have “Lord Vishnu,” said the child,
been worshipping Vishnu!” simply.
Trembling, Prahlada said softly, “Do not say that name before
“Yes father, I have.” me,” shouted his father. “Where is your
“Promise me that you will not do Lord Vishnu? Show him to me,” he chal-
that again!” demanded the king. lenged.
“I cannot promise,” Prahlada “He is everywhere,” replied the
immediately answered. child.
“Then I will have you killed,” “Even in this pillar?” asked the
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 35

King. our body, is made of five basic elements

“Yes, even in this Pillar!” replied or matter. These elements are: earth, wa-
Prahlada confidently. ter, fire, air, and ether or an invisible
“Then let him appear before me in element. We have eleven senses: five
whatever form he wants,” cried Hiran- sense organs (nose, tongue, eye, skin,
yakasipu and broke the pillar with his and ear); five organs of action (mouth,
iron club. hand, leg, anus, and urethra); and a
Out from within the pillar jumped mind. We smell through our nose, taste
a being called Narasimha, who was half through our tongue, see through the
man and half lion. Hiranyakasipu, stood eyes, feel touch through skin, and hear
helplessly before him. Frightened, he through our ears. We also have a sense
called out for help, but none came. of feeling by which we feel pain and
Narasimha picked up Hiranya- pleasure. All these give our body what it
kasipu and placed him on his lap, where needs to work. (Gita 13.05-06) The
he mauled his body and tore it apart. Spirit or Atma inside our bodies is also
Thus Hiranyakasipu met his end. called Prana. It supplies power to the
God blessed Prahlada for the deep body to do all work. When Prana leaves
faith he placed in Him. After the death of the body, we are dead.
Hiranyakasipu, demons were crushed,
and the Devas took over the world once Jai: You said God is the creator of
again from demons. To this day, the the universe. How do we know there is
name of Prahlada is counted among the a creator or God?
great devotees.
Grandma: There has to be a creator
Chapter 12 summary: The path of devo- behind any creation, Jai. Somebody or
tional love of God is very easy to prac- some power made the car we drive and
tice. This path consists of daily deity the house we live in. Somebody or some
worship, offering fruits and flowers, power created the sun, the earth, the
singing hymns (Bhajans) in praise of the moon and the stars. We call that person
glory of God, and developing certain or power God or the creator of this uni-
good habits. verse.

CHAPTER 13 Jai: If everything has a creator, then


Jai: Grandma, I can eat and sleep Grandma: This is a very good ques-
and think and talk and walk and run tion, Jai, but there is no answer. God has
and work and study. How does my always existed and will always exist.
body know how to do all this? God is the origin of everything, but God
has no origin. Good Lord is the source of
Grandma: The whole world, including everything, but He or She has no source!
36 International Gita Society

ocean of His reality.

Jai: Then, what is God like, We can’t describe Brahma. In a
Grandma? Can you describe Him? trance we can know Brahma, but in
trance reasoning and intellect stop alto-
Grandma: It is impossible to describe gether. This means one does not retain
God directly. The Supreme Being can the memory of experiences in trance
only be described by parables, and in no (Samadhi). One who knows Brahma be-
other way. His hands, feet, eyes, head, comes Brahma-like (Gita 18.55) and
mouth, and ears are everywhere. He can does not talk, just as the salt doll melted
see, feel, and enjoy without any physical into the ocean and could not report the
sense organs. He does not have a body ocean’s depth. Those who talk about
like us. His body and senses are out of God have no real experience. Thus,
this world. He walks without legs, hears Brahma can only be experienced and
without ears, does all works without felt.
hands, smells without a nose, sees with-
out eyes, speaks without a mouth, and Jai: Then how can we know and un-
enjoys all tastes without a tongue. His derstand God?
actions are wonderful. His greatness is
beyond description. God is present eve- Grandma: You can’t know God by
rywhere at all times, so He is very near mind and intellect. He can be known
(living in our heart) as well as far away only by faith and belief. He can also be
in His Supreme Abode. He is the creator known by Self-knowledge. One and the
(Brahma), the sustainer (Vishnu) and the same God lives in the body of all beings
destroyer (Shiva), all in one. (Gita as spirit and supports us. That is why we
13.13-16) must not hurt anybody and must treat
The best way to illustrate why no everybody equally. (Gita 13.28) Hurting
one can describe God (Gita 13.12-18) is anybody is like hurting your own Atma.
the story of the salt doll. The spirit in the body is the witness, the
guide, the supporter, the enjoyer, and the
controller of all events. (Gita 13.22)

16. The Salt Doll Jai: What is the difference between

the creator and His creation?
Once a salt doll went to measure
the depth of the ocean so it could tell Grandma: From a non-dualistic point
others how deep the ocean was. But of view, there is no difference between
every time it got into the water, it the two. The difference between the
melted. Now, no one could report the creator and creation is like the difference
ocean’s depth. That’s how impossible it between the sun and the sun’s rays.
is for anyone to describe God. Whenever Those who have Self-knowledge truly
we try, we melt into the big, mysterious understand the difference between the
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 37

creator and the creation and become not take it and began to make the sound
God-realized. (Gita 13.34) The entire of a sheep again. Gradually, however, it
universe is His expansion, and every- got the taste for blood and began to like
thing is nothing but Him. God is both the meat.
creator and the creation, the protector Then the wild tiger said: “Now
and the protected, the destroyer and the you see, there is no difference between
destroyed. He is within us, outside us, you and me. Come along and follow me
near, far, and everywhere. into the forest. ”
If God’s blessing comes to you,
He will let you know who you really are We have been thinking that we
and what your real nature is like. are this body which is limited in time
Here is a story how Supreme Soul and space. We are not this body. We are
becomes individual soul (Jiva), forgets the all-powerful Spirit in the body.
its real nature and tries to finds out its
real nature. (Gita 13.21) Chapter 13 summary: Our body is like a
miniature universe. It is made up of five
17. The Vegetarian Tiger basic elements and powered by the
Spirit. Any creation must have a creator
Once a tigress attacked a herd of or some creative power behind it. We
sheep. She was pregnant and very weak. call that power by various names such as
As she sprang on her prey, she gave birth Krishna, Shiva, Mother, Father, Ishvara,
to a baby tiger and died within a couple Allah, God, Jehova, etc. God cannot be
of hours. The baby tiger grew up in the known, seen, described, or understood
company of the lambs. The lambs ate by a human mind. The creator Himself
grass, so the baby tiger followed their has become the creation like the cotton
example. When they made sounds, the has become the thread, the cloth, and the
baby tiger also made sounds like a dress.
sheep. Gradually it grew to be a big ti-
ger. One day another tiger attacked the CHAPTER 14
same herd of sheep. The tiger was sur- THREE MODES OF NATURE
prised to see a grass-eating tiger in the
herd. Running after it, the wild tiger at Jai: Grandma, sometimes I feel lazy,
last grabbed the cub, and the grass-eating and at other times I am very active?
cub began to make sounds like a sheep. Why is that?
The wild tiger dragged it to the
water and said: “Look at your face in the Grandma: We all pass through differ-
water. It is just like mine. Here is a little ent states in order to do certain things.
meat. Eat it.” These states or modes (Gunas) are three
Saying this, the wild tiger put types: the mode of goodness (Sattva), the
some meat into the vegetarian tiger’s mode of passion (Rajas), and the mode
mouth. But the vegetarian tiger would of ignorance (Tamas). We come under
38 International Gita Society

the influence of these three modes. and we treat everybody like ourselves.
Sometimes one mode becomes more Such a person depends on nobody but
powerful than the other two. God.
The mode of goodness makes you
peaceful and happy. In this mode you Jai: It must be very hard to rise
will study scriptures, will not harm any- above these three modes. How can I
body, and will work honestly. When you rise above the three Gunas,
are in the mode of passion, you become Grandma?
greedy for wealth and power. You will
work hard to enjoy material pleasures Grandma: To rise above the three
and will do anything to satisfy your self- Gunas is not very easy, but it can be
ish desires. When you are in the mode of done with a little effort. If you are under
ignorance, you can’t tell the difference the mode of ignorance, you must stop
between right and wrong action, and will being lazy, stop putting off what you
do sinful and forbidden activities. You should be doing, and start helping others.
become lazy and careless, lack intelli- This will bring you to the mode of good-
gence, and have no interest in spiritual ness. If you are under the mode of pas-
knowledge. (Gita 14.05-09) sion, you must give up being selfish and
greedy and help others. This will bring
Jai: Do these three modes of nature you to the mode of goodness. After
control us, Grandma, or do we have reaching the mode of goodness, you can
control over what we do? rise above the three Gunas by devotion
to God. Lord Krishna said: One who
Grandma: Actually, these three modes serves Me with love and devotion rises
are the doers of all the actions. (Gita above the three Gunas and becomes fit
3.27) When we are under the influence for God-realization. (Gita 14.26)
of the mode of goodness, we do good Here is a story about the nature of
and right actions; under the influence of three Gunas.
the mode of passion, we do selfish ac-
tions; and under the influence of the 18. Three Robbers on the Path
mode of ignorance, we do bad things or
become lazy. (Gita 14.11-13) We must Once a man was going through a
rise above the three Gunas to attain lib- forest when three robbers jumped on him
eration (Nirvana). (Gita 14.20) and robbed him.
One of the robbers then said,
Jai: What are we like when we have “What is the use of keeping this man
risen above the three Gunas? alive?”
He was about to kill him with his
Grandma: When we have risen above sword when the second robber stopped
the three Gunas, we are not affected by him, saying: “What is the use of killing
pain and pleasure, success and failure, him? Tie him to a tree and leave him
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 39

here.” tion. You can escape the influence of

The robbers tied him to a tree and three Gunas by sincere effort, devotion
went away. to God and His grace.
After a while, the third robber re-
turned and said to the man: “I am sorry; CHAPTER 15
are you hurt? I will untie you.” THE SUPREME PERSON
After setting the man free, the
thief said: “Come with me. I will take Jai: Grandma, I am confused by the
you to the public highway.” difference between Supreme Spirit,
After a long time, they reached Spirit, Divine Beings and individual
the road. souls. Will you please explain them
Then the man said: “Sir, you have again?
been very good to me. Come with me to
my house.” Grandma: Yes, Jai, these are terms
“Oh no!” replied the robber, “I you should understand well.
can’t go there. The police will know it.”
The Supreme Spirit is also called
The forest is this world. The three the Supreme Person, the Supreme Being,
robbers are the three Gunas: goodness, the Supersoul, the Absolute, Father,
passion and laziness. It is they who rob Mother, God, Ishvara, Allah and by
us of Self-knowledge. Laziness wants to many other names. The Supreme Spirit
destroy us. Passion ties us to the world. is called ParaBrahma, Paramatma, Pa-
Goodness frees us from the grasp of pas- ramaShiva, or Krishna in Sanskrit. The
sion and laziness. Under the protection Supreme Spirit is the source or the root
of goodness, we are rescued from anger, of everything. There is nothing higher
passion, greed, and laziness. Goodness than the Supreme Spirit.
also loosens the bonds of the world. But Spirit (Brahma or Atma) is a part
goodness is also a robber. It cannot give of the Supreme Spirit that expands and
us the pure knowledge of God. It can supports the entire cosmos.
only show us the path leading to the Divine Beings (Devas, Devis),
house of God. We have to rise above the such as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, and
three Gunas and develop love of God. many others, are the expansions of
Brahma (Spirit).
Chapter 14 summary: Mother Nature Individual Souls (soul or Jiva), such
puts us into these three modes or gears to as all living beings, are the expansions of
get her work done through us. Actually, Divine Beings.
all work is done by these three Gunas of The Supreme Spirit and Spirit do
nature. We are not the doers, but we are not change and last forever. Divine Be-
responsible for our actions because we ings come out of Spirit and have a very
are given a mind and free will to decide long life span. Individual souls or the
and choose between right and wrong ac- living beings have a very limited life
40 International Gita Society

span. 19. A Story of Baby Krishna

If you compare the creation with a
tree, then the Supreme Lord Krishna (the Baby Krishna had an elder half-
Supreme Spirit) is the root of the tree. brother named Balarama. Both played
Atma or Brahma (also spelled as Brah- together in the village of Gokul.
man, Brahm) is the trunk of the tree. The Krishna’s birth mother’s name was
cosmos are the branches of the tree, and Devaki. His father’s name was
the holy books, such as the Vedas, Vasudeva. Krishna is also called
Upanishads, and Gita, Dhammapada, Vasudeva. Krishna spent His childhood
Torah, Bible, Koran, etc. are its leaves. years under the care of Aunty Yashoda.
Individual souls, such as living beings, Both Balarama and Krishna were the fa-
are the fruits and flowers of the tree. Do vorites of the village milkmaids. Their
you see how everything is connected and mothers loved them proudly. Yasoda and
part of the Supreme Being? Rohini (Balarama’s mother) dressed
their young boys colorfully, Krishna in
Jai: How about planets, such as the yellow with a crown of peacock feathers
Sun, and the Moon and the stars? in His hair, and Balarama in blue. The
two boys went from place to place, mak-
Grandma: The entire visible world, ing friends wherever they went. Most of
such as the Sun, Moon, Earth, other the time they got into a lot of trouble!
planets, and galaxies, was created by One day, they were playing out-
Lord Brahma and is supported by Lord side with a few of the other village boys,
Vishnu and is destroyed by Lord Shiva. digging in the dirt, making mud pies, and
Remember that Brahma, Vishnu, and getting very dirty. After a while, one of
Shiva are a part of the energy of the the older boys ran to mother Yashoda
Spirit or Brahma. The light energy of the and said, “Krishna has been a bad boy,
Sun also comes from Brahma, and He has been eating clay!” Yashoda was
Brahma is a part of the Supreme Being, annoyed with her young son. She had
Lord Krishna. The sages tell us that eve- also been hearing other complaints from
rything is nothing but another form of villagers that Krishna had been stealing
Lord Krishna, the Supreme Being. butter from their houses.
Krishna is inside and outside everything. She came out of her house and
He has actually become everything. The asked Krishna angrily, “Did you really
One has become all. He also comes to eat clay, Krishna? How many times have
earth in human form to establish law and I told you not to put things in your
order (Dharma) when needed. (Gita mouth!”
4.07-08) Krishna didn’t want to be pun-
Here is a story when the Supreme ished, so he played a trick on mother Ya-
Lord Himself incarnated as Krishna shoda. He opened His mouth wide and
about 5,100 years ago. said, “See, Mother, I haven’t been eating
anything. These boys are just lying to get
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 41

me in trouble.” you are from his “Tales and Parables of

Yashoda looked inside Krishna’s Shri RamaKrishna.” Swami Vivekan-
mouth. There, in the little boy’s mouth, anda was one of his most famous disci-
she saw the whole universe --- Earth and ples. Swami Vivekananda was the first
stars, the wide empty space, the entire Hindu monk who came to the USA in
galaxy and the Milky Way, the oceans 1893. He established the Vedanta Soci-
and the mountains, the Sun and the ety in New York. RamaKrishna led a
Moon. All were contained within His very simple life, depending on God for
mouth. She realized then that Krishna his daily food and other necessities of
was Lord Vishnu incarnate, and she was life. He would not accept any money. He
about to fall before Him and worship. was married to Sarada Ma, whom he
But Krishna didn’t want her to treated like his mother and never had any
worship Him. He just wanted her to love child. Sarada Ma used to tell her disci-
Him the way mothers love their children. ples: “If you want peace of mind, do not
He could have come to earth in any form look into others’ faults; rather, look into
to fight the demons, but He liked being a your own. No one is a stranger; the
little boy to a mother and a father who whole world is your own.“ Sarada Ma
had performed many difficult spiritual also warned her disciples not to be too
practices to have God as their child. close with persons of the opposite gen-
Baby Krishna realized that His trick had der, even if God came in that form.
been a big mistake! RamaKrishna worshipped Goddess Kali
Quickly, He spread His power of as his personal deity in a temple at Dak-
Maya over her. The next minute Ya- shineshvar near Kolkatta. This temple
shoda was holding her son as usual, with still exists today.
no memory at all of what she had just
seen in Krishna’s mouth. Chapter 15 summary: The creation is
changeable and does not last forever. It
You should read interesting sto- has a limited life span. Brahma or Atma
ries of Krishna’s adventures and tricks does not change and is eternal. It is the
with village milkmaids when you get cause of all causes. Krishna is called
time. ParaBrahma or the Supreme Being. He is
The Lord also comes as a saint or also called the Absolute because He has
a teacher to teach us from time to time. no origin. He is the source of Brahma.
Here is a story of such a saint: Everything in the universe comes out of
Brahma. The entire visible world and its
20. The Story of Shri RamaKrishna creatures are created by Brahma, the
creative power; sustained by Vishnu’s
The Lord came to this earth as sustaining power and destroyed by
RamaKrishna, born on February 18, Shiva.
1836, in the village Kamarpukur of West
Bengal. Most of the stories I have told CHAPTER 16
42 International Gita Society

DIVINE AND DEMONIC QUALITIES Desire, anger, and greed are very
destructive. Lord Krishna calls these the
Jai: I meet different types of stu- three gates to hell. (Gita 16.21)
dents in the class. How many types of Here is a story about how greed
people are there, Grandma? leads to sorrow.

Grandma: Generally, there are only 21. The Dog and the Bone
two types (or castes) of people in this
world, the good and the bad. (Gita One day a dog found a bone. He
16.06) Most people have both good and picked it up in his mouth and went to a
bad qualities. If you have more good lonely corner to chew it. He sat there and
qualities, you are called a good person, chewed the bone for some time. Then
and if you have more bad qualities, you the dog felt thirsty and picked up the
are called a bad person. bone in his mouth and walked over a
small wooden bridge to drink water from
Jai: If I want to be a good person, the creek
what qualities must I have? When he saw his own reflection
in the water, he thought there was an-
Grandma: You must be honest, non- other dog with a bone in the river. Be-
violent, truthful, without anger, calm, coming greedy, he wanted to have the
without harmful talk, kind, not greedy, other bone also. He opened his mouth to
gentle, forgiving, and humble. These are bark and take the bone from the other
also called divine qualities because they dog. As soon as he opened his mouth to
lead us to God. grab the other bone, the bone dropped
out of his mouth and fell into the creek.
Jai: What bad habits should I The dog realized his mistake, but it was
avoid? too late.

Grandma: Hypocrisy, telling lies, ar- Greed can be overcome by being

rogance, pride, jealousy, selfishness, an- satisfied with what one has. A satisfied
ger, greed, harshness, ungratefulness, person is a very happy person. A greedy
and violence --- these are bad qualities person cannot find true peace and happi-
because they lead us away from God. ness in life.
Bad qualities also lead us to do bad
things and get us into trouble. Do not be Jai: How can I know what to do and
friends with people who have bad quali- what not to do?
ties because they do not know what to do
and what not to do. Always be grateful Grandma: Follow your holy books,
to those who have helped you. Ingrati- Jai. Saints and sages tell us what to do
tude is a great sin for which there is no and what not to do in our holy books.
remedy. Have faith in God, and listen to your
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 43

parents and elders. parents, and her five husbands cheerfully

We should develop as many good accepted what fate had given them and
habits as possible. But no one has only lived happily.
good habits and no bad habits. Good
Lord usually puts good and bad habits in The moral of the story is that one
the same package. cannot find a husband or wife with all
Here is a story about how Queen good or bad qualities, so one must learn
Draupadi discovered this truth from her to live with whatever is given by fate.
own experience. There is no perfect spouse because no
one has only good habits and no bad
22. The Story of Queen Draupadi habits.

Draupadi was the common wife Chapter 16 summary: Generally, there

of five Pandavas. She was the daughter are only two types of human beings: the
of a Rishi in her past life. She was very good or divine and the bad or demonic.
beautiful and virtuous, but in her past Most people have both good and bad
life, due to her past Karma, she had been qualities. Getting rid of bad habits and
unable to get married. This made her un- cultivating good habits are necessary for
happy. So she started austerity to please spiritual progress.
Lord Shiva. After a long and difficult
austerity, she pleased Lord Shiva, who CHAPTER 17
asked her to choose a blessing of her THREEFOLD FAITH
choice. She asked for a husband who
would be very religious, strong, a very Jai: Grandma, how do I know what
good soldier, good looking, and gentle. foods to eat?
Lord Shiva granted her wish.
In the next life, she was married Grandma: There are three types of
to five brothers, but she was not very foods, Jai. (Gita 17.07-10) The foods
happy with this strange situation. Drau- that bring long life, virtue, strength,
padi was a great devotee of Lord health, happiness, and joy are juicy,
Krishna, who knows the past, present smooth, substantial, and nutritious. Such
and future of all beings. He knew of her health foods are the best. They are called
sorrow and explained what she had Sattvik or healthy food.
asked for in her past life. Lord Krishna Foods that are very bitter, sour,
said it was impossible for one man to salty, hot, oily, and acidic are called Ra-
have all the qualities she wanted in her jasika or undesirable foods. Such junk
husband, so she was married to five hus- foods are unhealthy, cause diseases, and
bands in this life, who shared all these should be avoided.
qualities among them. Foods that are not well cooked,
After hearing this explanation spoiled, tasteless, rotten, burned, left-
from the Lord Krishna Himself, she, her over, and impure (such as meat and al-
44 International Gita Society

cohol) are called Tamasik or bad foods. think about it and pray to God with faith.
One should not eat such foods. (Gita 17.03) Always think about what
you want to be, and your dream can
Jai: How should I speak to others? come true.
Here is a story about a crow that
Grandma: You should never tell a lie. had faith.
Your words should not be harsh, bitter,
nasty, or insulting. They should be 23. The Thirsty Crow
sweet, useful, and truthful. (Gita 17.15)
One who speaks politely wins the heart It was a hot summer day. A crow
of all and is liked by everybody. A wise was very thirsty. He flew from place to
person should speak the truth if it is place looking for water. He could not
helpful and keep quiet if it is harsh. To find water anywhere. Ponds, rivers, and
help those in need is the universal teach- lakes were all dry. The water in the well
ing. was too deep. Crow was very thirsty for
water. He flew and flew. He was getting
Jai: How should I help others? both tired and thirsty, but he did not give
up the search.
Grandma: It is our duty to help those At last he thought death was near
who are less fortunate and can’t help and remembered God and started to pray
themselves. Help anyone who needs for water. He saw a pitcher of water near
help, but never expect anything in return. a house. This made him very happy as he
Charity is not only the best, but also the thought there must be water in the
only use of wealth. We all should help a pitcher. He sat on the top of the pitcher
good cause. Give back what belongs to and looked into it. To his great frustra-
the world. But there are responsibilities. tion he found that the water was at the
Money given in charity should be earned bottom of the pitcher. He could see the
by lawful means. And we must make water, but his beak could not reach the
sure that the receiver is not a person water. He became very sad and started to
likely to use the gift for evil purposes. think how he could reach the water.
(Gita 17.20-22) Suddenly an idea came into his mind.
There were stones near the pitcher. He
Jai: Will God give us what we want picked up stones from the ground, one
if we sincerely pray for it? by one, and started dropping them into
the pitcher. The water began coming up.
Grandma: Full faith in God makes Soon the crow could reach it easily. He
things happen. There is nothing impossi- drank the water, thanked God, and hap-
ble for faith. Faith works miracles. One pily flew away.
must have faith before starting any work.
It is said in the Gita that we can become Thus it is said, “Where there is a
whatever we want to be if we always will, there is a way.” The crow did what
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 45

we all should do. He did not give up. He You can succeed in any work if
had faith that his prayer would be an- you work hard with strong faith. Be en-
swered. thusiastic about what you want, and you
Here is another good story: will get it. We are the creation of our
own thoughts and desires. Thoughts cre-
24. The Rabbit and the Turtle ate our future. We become what we al-
ways think of. So never think a negative
A turtle always moves very thought or allow doubt to enter your
slowly. His friend, the rabbit, often mind. Keep going toward your goal. You
laughed at the slow turtle. One day, the cannot get anything through laziness,
turtle could not bear the insults and chal- negligence, and delay. Keep your dream
lenged the rabbit to run a race with him. alive in your heart, and it will come true.
All the animals in the jungle laughed at All difficulties can be removed by faith
the idea because a race is usually be- in God and a firm determination to suc-
tween equals. A deer volunteered to be ceed. But the fruits of success must be
the judge. shared with others. If you want your
The race started. The rabbit ran dream to be fulfilled, help fulfill some-
fast, and soon he was ahead of the turtle. one else’s dream!
As the rabbit came closer and closer to Here is a story of a man who
the winning post, he felt sure of winning. learned that God helps those who help
He looked back at the slow moving tur- themselves.
tle, who was far behind.
The rabbit was so sure of winning 25. A Man Who Never Gave Up
that he thought, “I will sit under the tree
and wait for the turtle. When he comes Yava was the son of a sage who
here, I shall run fast and cross the finish practiced hard penance to get the bless-
line before he does. This will make turtle ings of Indra, the King of Devas. He tor-
angry, and it will be fun to see the turtle tured his body with austerities and thus
insulted.” awakened the sympathy of Indra. Indra
The rabbit then sat under a tree. came before him and asked why he was
The turtle was still far behind. A cool hurting his body.
wind was blowing gently. After some Yava answered: “I wish to be a
time passed, the rabbit fell asleep. When great scholar of the Vedas. It takes a
he woke up, he saw the turtle crossing long time to learn the Vedas from a
the finish line. The rabbit had lost the teacher. I am practicing austerities to get
race! All the animals in the jungle were that knowledge directly. Bless me.”
laughing at the rabbit, and he learned a Indra smiled and said: “Son, you
valuable lesson: are on the wrong path. Return home, find
a good teacher, and learn the Vedas from
“Slow and steady wins the race.” him. Austerity is not the way to learn;
the path is study and study alone.” With
46 International Gita Society

these words, Indra went away. time and never give up until you get
But Yava would not give up. He what you want. Do not let negative
did his course of spiritual practice (aus- thoughts, such as delaying to start work,
terities, penance) with even greater ef- laziness, and carelessness stand in your
fort. Indra again came before Yava and way.
warned him again. Yava announced that Before starting or ending any
if his prayer was not answered, he would work or study, repeat OM TAT SAT, the
cut off his arms and legs one by one and threefold names of Brahma.
offer them to the fire. No, he would
never give up. He continued his penance. Jai: What does OM TAT SAT mean,
One morning, during his austerities, Grandma?
when he went to bathe in the holy Ganga
River, he saw an old man on the bank Grandma: It means Krishna, the Al-
throwing handfuls of sand into the river. mighty God, only exists. OM is used be-
“Old man, what are you doing?” fore starting any work or study. OM
asked Yava. TAT SAT or OM Shantih, Shantih,
The old man replied: “I am going Shantih, is also used at the end of any
to build a dam across the river so people act.
can cross the river easily. See how diffi-
cult it is now to cross it. Useful work, Chapter 17 summary: There are three
isn’t it? ” types of food --- Sattavik, Rajasik and
Yava laughed and said: “What a Tamasik --- and they affect our well-
fool you must be to think you can build a being. Tell the truth in a pleasant way.
dam across this mighty river with your Give charity to a deserving candidate,
handfuls of sand! Go home and do some and give it wisely to avoid its misuse.
other useful work.” You can become whatever you want to
The old man said: “Is my work be if you work hard towards your goal.
more foolish than yours of learning the
Vedas, not by study, but by austerities?” CHAPTER 18
Yava now knew that the old man LIBERATION THROUGH
was Indra. Yava earnestly begged Indra RENUNCIATION
to grant him learning as a personal wish.
Indra blessed him and comforted Jai: Grandma, I am confused by dif-
Yava with the following words: “I grant ferent terms you used. Please explain
you the wish you want. Go and read the to me clearly what is the difference be-
Vedas; you will become learned.” tween renunciation (Samnyasa) and
Yava studied the Vedas and be- selfless work (KarmaYoga)?
came a great scholar of the Vedas.
Grandma: Some people think renun-
The secret of success is to keep ciation means walking away from fam-
thinking about what you want all the ily, home, possessions, and living in a
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 47

cave or the forest or any other place out- and Shudra --- were based on the mental,
side society. But Lord Krishna defined intellectual, and physical abilities of per-
Samnyasa as giving up the selfish desire sons. The worth of the individual --- not
behind all work. (Gita 6.01, 18.02) In the birth or social level one was born
KarmaYoga one gives up the selfish de- into --- was the deciding factor. But
sire of enjoying the results of one’s these four orders are often mistaken for
work. Thus a Samnyasi is an advanced the caste system of modern times in In-
KarmaYogi who does not do anything dia and elsewhere. The caste system is
for personal benefit. based on birth only.
Those who were interested in
Jai: Does that mean I can’t do any- learning, teaching, preaching, and guid-
thing for myself that gives me pleas- ing people in spiritual matters were
ure? called Brahmanas or intellectuals. Those
who could defend the country, establish
Grandma: That depends on what kind law and order, prevent crime, and ad-
of pleasure you have in mind. Actions minister justice were called Kshatriyas,
such as smoking, drinking, gambling, the warriors. Those who were good in
and taking drugs appear enjoyable in the farming, cattle-raising, business, trade,
beginning, but definitely produce harm- finance, commerce, and industry were
ful results in the end. Poison may taste known as Vaishyas or businessmen.
delicious when you drink it, but you Those who were very good in service
know its deadly results when it is too and labor work were classed as Shudras
late. On the other hand, actions, such as or workers.
meditation, worship, and helping the People are born with certain abili-
needy, seem difficult or boring in the ties or could develop them through train-
beginning, but give very useful results in ing and effort. Birth into a family at a
the end. (Gita 5.22, 18.38) A very good certain social level, whether high or low,
rule to follow is to avoid any activity does not decide one’s worth.
that seems pleasurable in the beginning The four Varna system was work
but causes harmful effects in the end. assigned according to individual’s skills
and ability. Unfortunately, the four work
Jai: What kinds of activities in soci- classifications became degraded into
ety are available, Grandma? hundreds of rigid castes to the detriment
of this great Dharma. Swami Vivekan-
anda considers modern day caste system
Grandma: In the ancient Vedic way of in India as a big blot on the face of our
living, activities of human beings were great way of life (Dharma). Even some
divided into four universal types of hu- of our educated immigrants from India
man labor described by Lord Krishna. are forming caste-based associations
(Gita 4.13, 18.41-44) These four divi- here in the USA!
sions --- Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya,
48 International Gita Society

Jai: How can anybody living and Some time later, he went as usual
working in society attain liberation? to beg for food and stood before the door
of a house. The housewife was busy
Grandma: Work becomes worship serving her husband with food and
when done as a service to the Lord and seemed to forget the holy man waiting
without selfish attachment to the results. outside. After her husband had been fed,
If you work honestly for which you are she came out with food, saying, “I am
suited, you incur no Karmic reaction and sorry to have kept you waiting long.
attain God. Forgive me.”
If you take on work that was not But Kaushika, burning with anger,
meant for you, such work produces said: “Lady, you have made me wait for
stress, and you will not be very success- a long time. This is not fair.”
ful. It is important to find proper work “Kindly forgive me,” said the
that best suits your own nature. So you woman. “I was serving my sick husband
should know yourself before you can de- and hence the delay.”
cide on the job that will be suitable for “It is good to attend the hus-
you. (Gita 18.47) Then your work will band,” replied Kaushika, “but you seem
not produce stress and will encourage to be an arrogant woman.”
creativity. “I kept you waiting only because I
There is no perfect job. Every job was dutifully serving my sick husband,”
has some faults. (Gita 18.48) You should she replied. “Please do not be angry with
not be concerned about such faults in me. I am no crane to be killed by your
your duty in life. You can attain God by angry thought. Your anger cannot harm a
doing your duty with devotion to God woman who devotes herself to service of
and keeping your senses under control her husband and family.”
by some spiritual practice. Kaushika was surprised. He won-
The following story illustrates that dered how she knew of the crane inci-
one can attain Self-realization by sin- dent.
cerely doing one’s duty. (Gita 18.46-58) She continued: “O great one, you
do not know the secret of duty, or that
26. I am no Crane anger is the greatest enemy that dwells in
human beings. Go to the village Rampur
A holy man named Kaushika had in Mithila and learn the secrets of doing
acquired great spiritual powers. One day, one’s duty with devotion from Vyadha
he sat under a tree meditating. A crane at Raj”
the top of the tree soiled his head with its Kaushika went to the village and
droppings. Kaushika looked up at it an- met the man named Vyadha Raj. He was
grily, and his angry look killed the bird surprised to learn he was selling meat at
instantly. The holy man was pained a butcher’s shop. The butcher got up
when he saw the dead bird lying on the from his seat and asked: “Honored sir,
ground. are you well? Did that pure lady send
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 49

you to me? I know why you have come. Chapter 18 summary: Lord Krishna said
Let us go home.” that there is no real difference between a
The butcher took Kaushika to his KarmaYogi and Samnyasi. A Kar-
house where Kaushika saw a happy fam- maYogi gives up the selfish attachment
ily and was greatly amazed at the love to the fruits of work, whereas a
and respect with which the butcher Samnyasi does not work for any per-
served his parents. Kaushika took his sonal gain at all. There are two types of
lesson from the butcher on doing one’s pleasures --- helpful and harmful. Soci-
duty. Vyadha Raj did not kill the ani- ety has different work to suit different
mals; he never ate meat. He just carried people. One should choose work wisely.
on his family business after his father You can get God-realization while living
retired. in society by following the three D’s ---
Afterwards, Kaushika returned to Duty, Discipline and Devotion to God.
his house and began to serve his parents,
a duty which he had neglected before. OM TAT SAT

The moral of this story is that you

can reach spiritual perfection by honestly
doing whatever duty is yours in life. This
is a true worship of God. (Gita 18.46)
Lord Krishna lives within all of us
and guides us to work out our own
Karma. (Gita 18.61) Put forth your best
effort, and gladly accept the results as
His will. This is called surrendering to
God. (Gita 18.66) The gift of spiritual
knowledge is the best gift because the
absence of spiritual knowledge is the
cause of all evil in the world. Spreading
spiritual knowledge is the highest devo-
tional service to Lord Krishna. (Gita

Everlasting peace and wealth are

possible only when you do your duty
well and also have the spiritual knowl-
edge given in the Holy Gita by Lord
Krishna. (Gita 18.78)
Writer: Ramananda Prasad, Ph.D.
Editor-in-chief: Doret Kollerer
Graphic design:

Editorial Board:

Alka Sood
C. J Chionh
Devaki Wagle
Jay Mazo
Kalavati Patel
Nikhil Raina
Sadhana Prasad
Sanjay Prasad
Sean Wilmut
Usha Gupta
Ved Vatuk

A note on pronunciation: "a” is hard “a” sound as in Rama.

letter “a” in Sanskrit or Hindi words is soft “a” different from “a”
The Bhagavad-Gita for Children 51

Story no. and name Page No.