Be like a Bee!

'Krishnam vande jagadgurum' I bow down to Krishna, the World-Teacher - courtesy: HinduWebGraphics

Today we celebrate Gita jayanti. The Bhagavad Gita forms part of the great Indian Epic, the Mahabharata. The words of this “song celestial” have flowed from the Lord, Sri Krishna Himself. The Gita chanting is generally preceded with what is known as “Gita Dhyanam” – nine introductory verses in praise of Bhagavad Gita. Originally published in our quarterly magazine “JYOTI” of July-September 2007 issue, this article, focussed on seventh verse, was transcribed from the weekly Gita Talks that I deliver on Tuesdays, between 7 and 8 p.m. at the Ramakrishna Centre, Glen Anil.

Let us recollect what Swami Vivekananda says:

Gita is the best commentary we have on the Vedanta philosophy – curiously enough the scene is laid on the battlefield, where Krishna teaches this philosophy to Arjuna; and the doctrine which stands out luminously in every page of the Gita is intense activity, but in the midst of it, eternal calmness. This is the secret of work.

May this lotus of the Mahabharata, born in the lake of the words of the son of Parashara (Vyasa), sweet with the fragrance of the meaning of the Gita, with many stories as its stamens, fully opened by the discourses on Hari, the destroyer of the sins of Kali, and drunk joyously day by day by the six-legged bees of good men in the world, become the bestower of good to us.     Gita Dhyanam, 7

It is customary to recite the meditative verses (dhyana shlokas) before beginning the study of Srimad Bhagavad Gita proper.  The poet-devotee, who composed these nine verses, has charmingly explained the purpose, principle and the practice of the Gita in these meditative verses.

Vast and deep

In the above seventh verse, he stresses the utmost importance of the knowledge contained in the Mahabharata.  He says that the Gita is like a full-blown lotus, grown in the vast lake of words dictated by the son of the Sage Parashara, thereby meaning Sri Veda Vyasa (author of the Mahabharata).  The significance of not saying the name of Vyasa but indicating him as son of Parashara lies in the wonderful combination of wisdom of the Rishi with practical sense of a fisher woman, Satyavati who was the mother of Vyasa.  Sage Vyasa, like his father Parashara, had a broad, vast knowledge of the Vedas and like his mother, Satyavati, who would go deep into the river to catch fish, also went deep into the meaning of Vedas.

Petals and fragrance

The full-blown lotus has an extremely sweet fragrance and many soft petals.  The insight of the Gita is said to be the fragrance and the varied stories cum sub-stories that form the elaborate Mahabharata, the petals.  The lotus is full blown by the speech of Lord Sri Krishna, who is verily Hari Himself.

Bee Pic3The poet-devotee further says that in this world noble men joyously drink, day by day meaning again and again, the nectar issuing from the lotus flower like “a six-legged bee”.

The drink and the drunk

A bee continues its unending search for nectar from many flowers.  But it is the flower that is most beautiful and exuberantly filled with sweet honey that attracts it the most.  Likewise, we have a number of scriptures.  Of them, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, which forms part of the world’s largest epic, the Mahabharata, contains that nectar which makes the learner go beyond birth and death.

The insight that the Gita provides in controlling our life’s destiny is unparallel.  The Gita gives us wonderful courage to deal with the many challenges that life poses.  In order to gain the rich experience that the Gita enumerates, noblemen – men of character – searching for the true meaning of life come to study the Gita.

The poet-devotee of the meditative verses compares a noble-minded person with the untiring bee.  Bees, unlike other insects or birds, go much deeper into flowers.  They go to the very source.

So it is clear that if we want to obtain the knowledge of the Gita, superficial study is not enough.  Merely chanting the Gita may give us a sense of peace; a little more study may lead us on a good path to enjoy the blessings of a noble life.  But only a deeper study can provide the knowledge of Atman (Soul) which is the real nectar of the Gita.  Like a bee, we must go deep – meditate deeply on each verse of the Gita.  This will light up the lamp of knowledge that is within each of us.  Mahapurush Maharaj, known as Swami Shivananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna once said, “…You must meditate on them.  Then, only will you assimilate them.  Hari Maharaj [Swami Turiyananda] used to meditate on each verse until he had mastered it.”

Legs that lead

Furthermore, the poet-devotee has used the words “six-legged” when describing the bee.  This also has a profound significance.  Merely being noble may not be sufficient to understand the inner meaning of the Gita.  Perhaps the man who is only “two-legged” has to acquire another “4 legs” in order to grasp the inner meaning of the words that flow from Lord Sri Krishna’s lips.

What then, are the “six-legs” that a noble man has to possess?  They are discrimination, detachment, devotion, deep yearning, deliberate effort and divine knowledge,.  Once a person of noble character possesses these “six-legs” he will be able to hold onto the slippery petals and drive himself deep into the nectar of inner meaning.  Therefore, a study once or twice is not enough.  “Again and again” one must devotedly pursue the study so that the bad samskaras – mental impressions – that are gained from birth to birth can be removed by continuous study of the Gita.

Thus the poet-devotee concludes in this verse of Dhyana Shloka on Srimad Bhagavad Gita, propounded by the Lord Himself, is great, bestows welfare and removes all the impurities that are born of this age (Kali Yuga).


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22 thoughts on “Be like a Bee!

  1. Dearest Maharaj
    I just finished reading your post. What inspired me are the lines in the last paragraph where you have emphasized on the real reason for repeated reading of Bhagawad Gita. I read Gita published by Gorakhpur Press. It was first Gita that my father gifted me and I still possess that version only. I still read that Gita as its easy for me to recall and relocate the slokas.
    But there the significance of Gita Dhyanam is not included. As a result I was never aware of these slokas by the poet. In fact I have heard about Gita Mahatmya from my Mother- she used to say that its essential to learn Gita Mahatmya before reading Gita. If i am not wrong then this Gita Mahatya and Gita Dhyanam are same.
    I may sound bit demanding but will you please share me your descriptions on other 8 introductory slokas? I know that you are very busy and occupied in Mission’s activities, lectures and have time constraints so may I request you to share the same one at a time in your blog so that all the devotees can gain wisdom from them.
    Honestly speaking, we are bereft of your lectures, so we will be highly obliged if you can make the same available for us when ever you are free.
    Thanking you in anticipation.
    Pronam to your Holy feet
    Arnab Lahiri
    Bokaro, Jharkhand, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Arnab
      Glad to know that you have been reading Gita regularly. Yes, your mother is right when she advised you to read the Mahatmyam also. Our ancients wrote such hyms in order that we may develop shraddha in the scriptures. Well, Gita Mahatmyam is NOT the same as Gita Dhyanam. Both are different hyms. You will find them here.
      Mahatmyam gives in detail that what ome may expect from the study of Gita and by extolling the glory of Gita, it brings a high level of reverence in the reader’s mind so that the study becomes intensive. But Dhyanam is to cogitate mentally about the import of Gita, its subtle philosophy and its benefits too.
      No, it does not appear to me a ‘bit demanding’ and I consider it as your loving implore that I should place the meaning of all the rest 8 verses of Dhyanam also in this blog. Yes, its a good idea. The problem is all my Gita class Talks are stored in digital format. Each Gita Talk is not less than 60 minutes. And I am yet to find somebody who can play the recorded Talk and transcribe in Word so that I can edit suitably (for the reading pleasure). I have no time to sit in front of computer and listen and at the same time transcribe it. Its a huge task. If by His grace, I can find some one who is ready take up this onerous task willingly then it would be much easier to bring it out in print.
      May Master give us the patience to accomplish what He wants!
      Swami Vimokshananda


      1. Dear Maharaj
        ||Sarvasastramayee Gita||
        I am ever indebted to you for your explanation on Gita Mahatmyam and Gita Dhyanam. I just finished reading the same from the link that you have mentioned in your post. I am really grateful to you for granting my wish.
        Maharaj- It seems that you need someone who can play the recorded talk of your lectures and transcribe them in words. Please give me the opportunity to carry on with this Holy work. I will be blessed if by the grace of Holy Trio I am given the chance to carry on with this task to serve you. I have read Srimad Bhagwad Gita, Srimad Bhagwatam, Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Writings of Swami Vivekananda, The Principal Upanisads (Dr. S Radhakrishnan as well as Swami Ranganathananda Maharaj) Brahmasutra (Samkarabhasya), Rishi Aurobindo and many more books on Indian Philosophy in details. I am sure that my little knowledge on Religion and Philosophies (both Oriental and Occidental) that I have gained so far will help me to complete this mammoth task.
        I can assure you that I will try to do utmost justice to your lectures and talks if given a chance. I may be bit late in completing the task since right now I am doing my Masters in Business but trust me, I will complete the whole task with my best of calibre.
        Its always my dream to serve the greater purpose some way or the other. Please give me the chance to serve Lord Krishna, His Gospel and Thakur. I am ready to give my level best to convert this dream project into reality.
        Thanking you in anticipation of your favorable response to my petition.
        Pronam to your Holy feet.
        Arnab Lahiri
        Bokaro, Jharkhand, India


        1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
          Dear Arnab
          I am indeed overwhelmed at your kind offer. I have no words to thank you for extending your helping hand. Well, if that is Master’s wish, then let it be so. I have no doubts about your credentiality. Ok. I shall send you the Talks in a CD. Try whether it is comfortable to do the transcribing. You may inform me by separate mail of your full postal address.
          With best wishes
          Swami Vimokshananda


  2. Revered Maharaj
    Hope you are well.
    For some time, I have been thinking of really reading the Gita, this post has provided me with new inspiration. Thank you very, very much.
    Please bless me!
    New Delhi, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Skendha
      Yes, No more delay! Quick! start reading Gita!
      As the great Sanskrit Subhashitani says in one verse:
      Parishramena hi sidhyanti kaaryaani, na manorathe |
      Na hi suptasya singhasya pravishanti mukhe mriga ||

      Only hardwork brings success not the mere desire.
      A deer doesn’t just fall into the mouth of a sleeping lion.
      So, Shubhasya sheegram!
      (Anything good, we should go after ASAP!)
      Swami Vimokshananda


  3. Pranams Maharaj,
    We are back to Kolkata after a memorable south India trip. We have visited so many temples in and around Thanjore and Nellai districts.
    It is very useful to read about Bhavagat Gita. We chant full 18 chapters on every ekaadashi at Sankara hall in Kolkata. We also chant dhyana slokas and Gita mahathmiyum.
    After coming back i have gone through your earlier posts also.
    Kolkata, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear jaya
      Happy to know that you all have safely returned from visiting many temples in South India. Each temple is unique and an architectural marvel. Besides, the spiritual fervour that is added, while having darshan of the Gods and Goddesses is very valuable.
      Facility of travel and eating houses at every street corner, even in places inaccessible before, has made pilgrimage a sight-seeing affair with many. Many more are attracted by the sculpture and the art that has gone into the building of the temples. But little do they care to think of the Deity that dwells in the temple. Sri Ramakrishna used to say ‘People are enamoured of the garden, but rarely do they seek to know the owner.’ After completing pilgrimage, it is necessary to ruminate over the pure thoughts and emotions that are generated in one’s mind on the occasion of one’s visit to a holy place. Hope you are doing that now!
      Thanks for evincing interest in the posts! Yes, chanting of Gita on ekaadashi days is very conducive to concentrate mind on God. Keep it up!
      May Bhagawan Krishna guide you!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  4. Revered Maharaj,
    My pronam to you. Once again you have reminded us of Thakur’s eternal plea to mankind, and what better way than our sacred Srimad Bhagwad Gita.
    Yes, in this troubled world of consumerism, we need to fall back on our scriptures to recharge and reinvent ourselves. This sacred book of ours is produced at all times, during birth, sacred thread, marriage and even death. It is awesome and inspiring.
    For those who are not conversant with this epic, Thakur’s answer script is ready at hand, TAGI- renunciation to achieve GOD.
    With sincerest pronam
    Yours in the Lord,
    Ritayan Chatterjee
    Kolkata, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Ritayan
      You have rightly said about the ‘need to fall back on our scriptures’! When conflicting challenges appear before us, in the absence of well-meaning saints nearby, scriptures alone can give that wonderful guidance. Gita is said to be sarva-saastra-mayi. How inspiring to learn from Swamiji’s life that this book was the intimate companion with him during his wanderings all over the country.
      May Gita guide you ever!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  5. Respected Maharaj,
    Pranam to you.
    Your blog gives us an opportunity to go through your observations and expurgate us from the travails of the material world.
    I would agree with Arnab. Can you please spare some time for us and explain the Gita Dhyana shlokas one by one, so that we can benefit from them.
    Warm regards..
    Kolkata, India


    1. ||SRi Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Sudeep
      Welcome to this blog, Sudeep! Thanks for your suggestion. In my response to Arnab I have explained the difficulties in transcribing my Talks here into text. Well, if, by His grace, it becomes possible, I would definitely place all the remaining 8 Talks in series.
      Hope you are still in Kolkata.
      With best wishes
      Swami Vimokshananda


  6. Pronam Maharaj,
    Thanks for such an appropriate example “honey and the bee”!
    Pronam to your holy feet!


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Rabi
      Happy that you enjoyed the analogy! Thats how our ancestors made reading of scriptures so much easy!
      Just imagine how they had such sharp mind to bring into focus lofty ideas by giving day to-day examples with which ordinary folk are familiar! Thats one of the unique features of our Master too. He has explained most difficult philosophic principles with analogies that just stuns us.
      May you get delight in reading further!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  7. Dearest Swamijee
    I enjoyed the wonderful analogies used (the lotus, nectar, fragrance etc). The explanation is indepth and therefore very insightful. Makes one yearn for more!
    Thank you so much!
    Love and Aum,
    Cape Town, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Pranisha
      Happy that you enjoyed the analogy! Thats how our ancestors made reading of scriptures so much easy!
      Just imagine how they had such sharp mind to bring into focus lofty ideas by giving day to-day examples with which ordinary folk are familiar! Thats one of the unique features of our Master too. He has explained most difficult philosophic principles with analogies that just stuns us.
      May you get delight in reading further!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  8. Om Namo Narayanaya Maharaj
    How are you? I have not seen or spoken to you in a while but your inspirational words, warm, kind and loving nature, is always felt from miles away.
    Thank you for the invitations and the links to the blog. I read the blog and the replies from people across the world. It is really inspiring.
    I acknowledge and agree with the part that says “The Gita gives us Great Courage to deal with life’s many Challenges.” And the true meaning of life comes from the study of the Gita.
    Everyday I open to a page and read. It is my message for the day. Sometimes it gives me the same verse, repeated, for the next few days. These verses are then really speaking deeply to me. They become the ray of light that cuts through the darkness of the complexities of life. Opening the Gita to read a verse before going to sleep also allows good thoughts to filter through our mind while asleep and keeps us at peace while in sleep state, and allows us to wake up with a relaxed mind. “Spiritual Journey”
    Thank you for always being there for us all.
    Pranam till next time
    Kind Regards
    Rekha Ramjogi
    Johannesburg, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Rekha
      Your habit of reading Gita everyday is deeply appreciated. In Tamil there is a proverb :
      paada paada raagam, poda poda taalam”
      repeated singing brings out raaga and repeated practice brings out taala.
      Practice must always follow after reading. An interesting incident in the life of Acharya Vinoba shows that he not only was fond of reading but also practicing it.
      Sri Krishna says in the Gita:
      Mat karma krin mat paramo mad bhaktah sanga varjitah |
      Nirvairah sarva bhuteshu yah sa maameti paandava ||

      O Pandava! He who performs all his duties for MY sake, depending on ME, fully devoted to ME, has no attachments and is free from malice towards all beings, reaches ME.
      Once, Vinobaji was travelling through villages. He had to stay in a school. The school surroundings gave a very bad smell. He enquired and found to his dismay that there was a lot of human excreta all over the place. He called the children and asked who cleans the place. The children said it was the servant. They complained that the servant was not coming to duty and hence the bad smell. Then Vinobaji asked them who makes this place dirty. Nobody answered. He asked the children why not they who make the place dirty keep it cleaned also. He brought a broom and bucketful of water and started cleaning the place. All the children realised that there is no difference in whatever work they do. It is the attitude that is important in life.
      Swami Vimokshananda


  9. Poojya maharaj,
    I read the comments in the blog. It is simply superb. I first happened to read Gita commentary by Swami Chidbhavanandaji and immensely liked it. It simply shows the road to Self beyond ego. This book is my constant companion. I read somewhere that Swami Gahananandaji often used to cite shloka 22 of chapter 6 how one should remain unmoved despite adverse circumstances.
    Let me try to imbibe at least something in life.
    Chennai, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Sridhar
      Indeed Revered Swami Chidbhavanandaji’s translation of Gita in Tamil as well in English has been a favourite of hundred-thousands. Even today, before going to take Gita class here, I invariably refer to this brilliant work.
      Yes, late Revered Swami Gahananandaji Maharaj was an epitome of Gita teachings. His life was exemplary. It is our dharma to imbibe what we see in great saints so that our life is enriched. I don’t know whether you have gone through some of my nostalgic memories about Revered Gahananandaji Maharaj here.
      May all saints inspire you further!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  10. Dear Swamijee
    Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Please accept humble Pranam at thy feet!
    The Gita, being the “Crest Jewel of all the scriptures” is our guide, and Eternal holy Companion on our journey to seek the “Truth”. I cannot but recall how much benefit that we derive in attending Revered Swamijee’s Gita classes here. Indeed during the Gita classes we are, as if, transported to the very battlefield of Kurukshetra to witness the Lord’s Instructions to Arjuna! Such graphical descriptions are very rare to hear! We are blessed to listen week by week how simply Swamijee explains “word for word” the text of the Gita in making us understand the hidden philosophy in the text.
    Once again “Thank You” Swamijee for the brilliant classes and practical explanations!
    With loving Pranam!
    Pietermaritzburg, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Avithaa
      Thanks for your appreciative comment!
      If at all my humble service in the form exposition on Gita gives any one some light, it is, know verily the Master’s grace. I firmly believe that He alone makes me conduct the class and if He wants, He can withdraw ‘this instrument’ any time.
      Intensify your study. Those students who take down notes and discuss among themselves are indeed appreciated.
      May the Lord who is in every one’s heart (jnaana deepena bhaaswata) ‘light the lamp of knowledge’ within!
      Swami Vimokshananda


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