SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 19 Chapter 5, Verses 1 to 10 – KARMA VAIRAGYA YOGA

In Chapter 5, Bhagavan Shri Krishna will explain the Karma Vairagya Yoga.  Bhagavan explained Karma Yoga in Chapter 3 while in this Chapter He talks about Karma Vairagya Yoga i.e. Renunciation of actions.  In essence Bhagavan is emphasising the need to renounce the results of fruitive actions.  In these ten verses, He explains how this can be achieved but starts with the postulate that both paths i.e. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga leads to self-realisation and Moksha. Arjuna is naturally perplexed and asks Shri Krishna to explain clearly as to which of these two paths is superior.  Bhagavan said, the renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of work. One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always as a renounced. Such a person, liberated from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

One can attain liberation by means of renunciation while in devotional service and therefore a person in devotional service views the path of Karma Yoga and the path of renunciation (Sanyasa) as one and the same.  Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, a mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy nor result in spiritual advancement. The sages, purified by works of devotion, achieved the Supreme without delay.

The person who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who has complete control over his mind and senses, who is equipoised, is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled as he is engaged in the divine consciousness.  Although seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all as all his acts are dedicated to the Supreme; such a person has no attachment, has no doer-ship, is equipoised and is therefore not affected by sin, just as a lotus leaf remains untouched by water.

5.1      Shloka 5.1

अर्जुन उवाच
संन्यासं कर्मणां कृष्ण पुनर्योगं शंससि।
यच्छ्रेय एतयोरेकं तन्मे ब्रूहि सुनिश्िचतम्।।5.1।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Sannyasam karmanam Krishna punar yogam ca samsasi  |
Yac chreya etayor ekam tan me bruhi su-niscitam ||5.1||
Meaning: Arjuna said, O’ Krishna, You asked me to renounce work, and now You are recommending to work with devotion. Now please tell me definitively which of the two is superior?

The words ‘sannyasyam karmanam’ means ‘renunciation of all actions’ and this contains the word ‘nyasa’ that denotes equanimity. Thus, all actions are recommended to be renounced with equanimity inferring that both Karma (performance of activities) and Sanyasa (renunciation of activities) are being recommended to be performed simultaneously.

Bhagavan had previously explained that actions performed without desire of rewards (Karma yoga) as a pre-eminent discipline.  He also stated that one in Jnana yoga need not perform any action. He further declared that the person who is immersed in ‘Atma or Soul’ has no need to perform Karma Yoga or Jnana Yoga. All these propositions appear to be conflicting, hence, Arjuna is confused and asks Bhagavan Krishna explain it clearly and definitively.

It is difficult for an aspirant of Moksha or liberation to determine if Karma Yoga or Jnana Yoga is more appropriate or is it possible to simultaneously perform both together.

Renunciation and the cultivation of knowledge is Jnana yoga. The performance of prescribed activities is Karma yoga. Bhagavan Krishna declared that Karma yoga was worthy to be followed by those seeking Moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in Chapter 2.  Constant engagement in Karma Yoga will lead to purification of the mind and rid it off all dross. As the mind becomes pure, Jnana yoga would naturally set in leading to knowledge about atma tattva. In Chapter 3, Bhagavan says Karma Yoga alone is enough for attaining Moksha.  Hence, Arjuna is now seeking clarity on which of these paths is superior.

5.2      Shloka 5.2

श्री भगवानुवाच
संन्यासः कर्मयोगश्च निःश्रेयसकरावुभौ।
तयोस्तु कर्मसंन्यासात्कर्मयोगो विशिष्यते।।5.2।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Sannyasah karma-yogas ca nihsreyasa-karav ubhau |
Tayos tu karma-sannyasat karma-yogo visisyate ||5.2||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of work.

A person can perform Karma yoga and renunciation of actions; but of the two, Karma yoga is preferable. While both are equally effective performing one’s duties with full devotion and faith and without the desire of rewards for those actions, it becomes superior.  It ultimately leads to self-realisation.

5.3      Shloka 5.3

ज्ञेयः नित्यसंन्यासी यो द्वेष्टि काङ्क्षति।
निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते।।5.3।।

Jneyah sa nitya-sannyasi yo na dvesti na kanksati   |
Nirdvandvo hi maha-baho sukham bandhat pramucyate ||5.3||
Meaning: One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, liberated from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

The attributes of Sanyasa are being described in this verse.  A person who is equipoised and free from aversion or attraction and free from all dualities is said to be a Sanyasi. The complete cessation of desire for the rewards of action as well as complete renunciation of the influence of all dualities such as happiness and distress, pain and pleasure etc. will lead to liberation.  In this position one is almost oblivious of the external world and has no urge to crave or hate anything and thus is also able to endure the dualities seeing them all as the same. Shri Krishna confirms that such a person easily performs karma yoga without effort and transcends Samsara or the cycle of birth and death.

5.4      Shloka 5.4

सांख्ययोगौ पृथग्बालाः प्रवदन्ति पण्डिताः।
एकमप्यास्थितः सम्यगुभयोर्विन्दते फलम्।।5.4।।

Sankhya-yogau prthag balah pravadanti na panditah   |
Ekam apy asthitah samyag ubhayor vindate phalam ||5.4||
Meaning: Only the ignorant speak of karma-yoga and devotional service as being different from Sankhya yoga, analytical study of the material world. Those who are learned say that anyone who applies himself to either of these paths achieves the results of both.

It is impossible to gain wisdom without renunciation of fruits of action and the relinquishment of enjoyment of the sense objects. Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that both are inherent in each other and not contradictory. One who observes yajna or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord is not sanctified due to its being performed for desires of the rewards upon its completion. But for the same yajna when performed without desires but solely for the propitiation of the Supreme Lord is considered the highest wisdom.

The renunciation can apply to the yogi who follows Sankhya Yoga as well. The ignorant and uninformed mistakenly see these two paths as separate and yielding divergent results; but this is not the case and is well understood by those who are self-realised.

Although karma yoga may go through the path of Jnana yoga it may also independently achieve atma tattva by its own merit. So as long as an aspirant firmly adopts either path with determination they are assured of success.

5.5      Shloka 5.5

यत्सांख्यैः प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते।
एकं सांख्यं योगं यः पश्यति पश्यति।।5.5।।

Yat sankhyaih prapyate sthanam tad yogair api gamyate |
Ekam sankhyam ca yogam ca yah pasyati sa pasyati ||5.5||
Meaning: One who knows that the position reached by means of renunciation can also be attained in devotional service and therefore views the path of karma and the path of renunciation as one and the same.

Both paths lead to the same result as a person performing actions diligently gains spiritual intelligence and achieves Atma tattvas (self-realisation). Grihastas (householders) should aim to perform activities without any desire for rewards. The continuous practice of renunciation of rewards will eventually lead one towards attaining spiritual knowledge.

By meditating on the ‘pranava’ or the primordial mantra AUM (OM), a seeker is assured of achieving liberation when they perform their duties with devotion and without any desire for rewards. But even among these there is a heightened bliss for those who perform actions in the service of  the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna or any of His incarnations.

Actions performed by the one who has renounced the rewards are called Karma that does not add to one’s baggage as these actions based on spiritual intelligence.  ‘Kar’ is understood as action and ‘ma’ is understood as wisdom. Thus, one doesn’t need to take ‘Sanyaas’ for gaining spiritual knowledge.  Even householders with family responsibilities can perform actions in renunciation, if they possess this wisdom or spiritual intelligence.  Hence, there is no difference between renunciation (Sanyasa) and Karma Yoga if the actions are performed as a matter of duty with no desire for the rewards from those actions

The renounced are followers of Jnana yoga or seekers of Vedic knowledge but the goal achieved by them is similar to the one achieved by the followers of Karma.

5.6      Shloka 5.6 

संन्यासस्तु महाबाहो दुःखमाप्तुमयोगतः।
योगयुक्तो मुनिर्ब्रह्म नचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।5.6।।

 Sannyasas tu maha-baho duhkham aptum ayogatah |
Yoga-yukto munir brahma na cirenadhigacchati ||5.6||
Meaning: Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy. The sages, purified by works of devotion achieve the Supreme without delay.

The means to Moksha is attain the state of equanimity and it is achieved through renunciation. The best form of renunciation is to dedicate the actions and rewards always as an offering to the Supreme Lord for His pleasure is true renunciation.  In the Agni Purana it is stated that without renouncing the desire of rewards for one’s actions whatever one might offer unto the Supreme Lord has no merit. Hence, renunciation is truly achieved with equanimity.

In the Nirvana Shatakam, Sri Adi Shankaracharya explains the attributes of the Pure Consciousness (Atma).  An excerpt from that on equanimity is given below:

Na Me Dvesha Raagau Na Me Lobha Mohau, Mado Naiva Me Naiva Maatsarya Bhaavah |
Na Dharmo Na Chaartho Na Kaamo Na Moksha, Chidaananda Rupah Shivoham Shivoham ||
Meaning: I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kama), nor even liberation (moksha). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss i.e. “Pure Consciousness”.

This raises a question then why not circumvent the path of Karma by straightaway renouncing all actions right from the beginning. Bhagavan Shri Krishna says that without karma yoga it is impossible to achieve purity of mind and in the absence of a pure mind it is very difficult and even perilous as the chance of disturbance and agitation are highly likely. Whereas the purified mind of the Sage endowed with equanimity who practices karma yoga, soon perceives the Brahman or realisation of the soul.

5.7      Shloka 5.7

योगयुक्तो विशुद्धात्मा विजितात्मा जितेन्द्रियः।
सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्मा कुर्वन्नपि लिप्यते।।5.7।।

 Yoga-yukto vishuddhatma vijitatma jitendriyah  |
Sarva-bhutatma-bhutatma kurvann api na lipyate ||5.7||
Meaning:  One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses, is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled.

By such worship one becomes ‘Visuddhatma’  meaning ‘purified intelligence’ and ‘Vijitatma’ meaning ‘of controlled mind being absorbed in such worship’ and by this absorption one is ‘Jitendriyah’ meaning ‘acquires control over senses’. Such a person is ‘Sarva-bhutama’ meaning ‘one who realise their own atma and perceive the same atma is in all beings in unlimited variegated forms. Such a person views all beings not by the manifest forms they exhibit in their lifetime; but rather the intrinsic nature of the eternal atma within which is the essential nature of all embodied beings. A person situated in this consciousness is never infatuated or deluded by the erroneous idea of thinking that a temporary material substance can ever by equated to the eternal soul. Such a person due to this understanding is never bound by the actions although performing activities and in a relatively short time achieves atma tattva or realisation of the soul. 

The first step is for a person to contemplate on the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna as the indwelling consciousness within the hearts of all beings as the primary form to achieve equanimity.  And knowing that all beings are under the Supreme Lord’s control is knowing Him as the Supreme Being. In the Agni Purana it states that one who knows the Supreme Lord is present as the indwelling consciousness in all beings, that one achieves purification of mind and realisation of the Atma.

If the Brahman is all pervading and omnipresent and transcends the Prakriti (5 element), then how is a person made of Prakriti possess those attributes of the Consciousness?   Lord Krishna answers this by affirming that those who practice Yoga (the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness) while being engaged in actions with a pure mind, with control over senses and body, and realising that the Atma exists equally in all beings, and is a well-wisher of all beings; such a Yogi having overcome the duality of activity and inertia is not bound by his actions. Having attained the Brahman, peaceful in mind, neither grieving nor desiring, and equipoised in all situations and to all beings, such a one obtains love of the Supreme.

5.8      Shloka 5.8

नैव किंचित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित्।
पश्यन् श्रृणवन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन्नश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपन् श्वसन्।।5.8।।

Naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit |
Pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan ||5.8||
Meaning: A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all.

This verse explains how practicing renunciation leads to achieving equanimity. Energised solely by the all-pervading energy of the Supreme, a person’s mind and body become active. The knowledge that every being is ever dependent on the Supreme Lord is an essential, eternal and absolute truth.

Thus, one is not subject to conceptions of doership, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching which are the functions of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. Moving is the function of the legs, speaking is that of the mouth, hearing that of ears and so forth. Breathing is a function of the vital force and includes all others as it sustains the entire body.

The purport is that one should live their life free from the ego of ‘I-ness’ and ‘my-ness’ and conceptions of doership, knowing that all actions are the functions of the organs and senses and are independent from the individual consciousness.

One who has realised this nature of the atma knows the reality. Such a person reflects that through the senses of perception such as eyes and ears, the senses of action such as the voice, the pranas or life breaths, the physical body functions with all its corresponding objects; but factually is separate as an individual consciousness from all these activities and virtually do not do any of these actions.

5.9      Shloka 5.9

प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्णन्नुन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ।।5.9।।

Pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
Indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan ||5.9||
Meaning: Because while speaking, evacuating, grasping, involuntary opening and closing of the eyelids, he always knows that it is only the material senses that are engaged with their objects and never does he think that he is doing any of them.

The conception of doer-ship is derived from contact with the senses which a living entity is coerced to accept due to actions from past lives. But this doer-ship is not an essential attribute of the Atma and thus it is not necessary to accept that all acts done by the sense organs are performed by the person. Thus, in this way by shunning the doer-ship one is situated in atma tattva or self-realisation.

5.10      Shloka 5.10

ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति यः।
लिप्यते पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा।।5.10।।

Brahmany adhaya karmani sangam tyaktva karoti yah |
Lipyate na sa papena padma-patram ivambhasa ||5.10||
Meaning: One who acts by dedicating all activities to the Supreme, giving up attachment; such a person is not affected by sin, just as a lotus leaf untouched by water.

Whosoever is properly situated in the state of equanimity is not affected by reactions due to karma yoga as one does not desire the rewards of their actions but instead dutifully offer the results of all their actions unto the Supreme Lord. The renunciation of rewards of actions is repeatedly emphasised by Shri Krishna as the method of performing spiritual practice which is the means to gain spiritual knowledge and self-realisation.

The desire for rewards of actions is the fundamental reason for all ego conceptions of being the physical body and also the root cause of bondage in Samsara resulting in the repeated cycle of birth and death. So to make spiritual progress, the desire for rewards should be immediately given up so that one does not get tainted with sinful reactions.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 18 – Chapter 4, Verses 31 to 42 – JNANA YOGA

Bhagavan Shri Krishna, in these twelve verses, explains the divine experience of those who practice Yajnas and likens it to that of tasting nectar.  He also mentions that those who do not perform sacrifices are not fit for this world let alone the heavenly world.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna goes on to elaborate on the different types of sacrifices performed by Yogis and others.  He also explains as to how one should seek knowledge (Atma Jnana) by approaching a spiritual master.  When a seeker learns the Truth, he will know that all living beings are but a part of Shri Krishna—and they are within Him.

As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all reactions to material activities. Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the Self, is not bound by actions and attains Moksha.

4.31      Shloka 4.31

यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्।
नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतो़ऽन्यः कुरुसत्तम।।4.31।।

Yajna-shishtamrta-bhujo yanti brahma sanatanam |
Nayam loko ‘sty ayajnasya kuto ‘nyah kuru-sattama ||4.31||
Meaning: Those who have tasted nectar as a result of performing sacrifice reach the eternal, Ultimate Truth. O’ Arjuna, one who does not perform any sacrifice is not fit for this world let alone the heavenly worlds. 

One should consider one’s life as the oblation offered to the Supreme Lord in full surrender following the injunctions recommended in the Vedic scriptures. In the Brahma Vaivartaka Purana it states that one should realise the Supreme Lord as the yajna and propitiate Him with body, mind and words.

When the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence has been perceived, then the relation between the performer, the activity performed, the recipient of the performance as well as the result of the yajna are not separate from the Supreme Lord.  One who is in such an evolved state will experience the actual presence of the Supreme Lord everywhere and in all situations.

But those who do not perform any yajna i.e. who are “ayajnasya”, such people will not even enjoy the meagre joys of this world let alone the heavenly worlds. They would have wasted a very precious opportunity as a human birth which is achieved after several cycles of rebirth.

Moksha is the true goal of all human endeavour and real purpose of human existence. The Bhagavad-Gita is about attaining Moksha which is the eternal “Summum Bonum” or greatest good eternally for humanity.

4.32      Shloka 4.32

एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे।
कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे।।4.32।।

Evam bahu-vidha yajna vitata brahmano mukhe |
Karma-jan viddhi tan sarvan evam jnatva vimoksyase ||4.32||
Meaning: All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated.

Lord Krishna has described the 12 different performances of yajna or offerings of worship in propitiation to the Supreme Lord that are the means of attaining Atma Tattva or soul realisation performed in Karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities. The words “vitata brahmano mukhe” means all details are mentioned in the Vedas.  All of the mentioned Yajnas earlier are performed by mind, by speech or by the physical body but their actions are of a transitory nature while the Atma or Soul is eternal. Thus comprehending this in reality one will be free from Samsara or the cycle of birth and death caused by actions.

4.33      Shloka 4.33

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप।
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते।।4.33।।

Shreyan dravya-mayad yajnaj jnana-yajnah parantapa |
Sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate ||4.33||
Meaning: O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice of knowledge is greater than the sacrifice of material possessions. O son of Prtha, after all, the sacrifice of work culminates in transcendental knowledge.

Actions by itself amounts to very little and hence they need to be performed with a spirit of sacrifice or offering to the Supreme. The culmination of Vedic actions is spiritual knowledge and actions find fulfillment in Self-realisation.

In the Mundaka Upanisad it states: That acts of yajna or offerings of worship are undoubtedly meritorious in themselves; but superior to them is spiritual knowledge where all doubts are dispelled and the need for all actions terminated.

Lord Krishna instructs that yajna or sacrifice of knowledge is far superior to yajnas performed with dravyam or material ingredients as these bestow only trivial rewards of a transitory material nature. The performance of the yajna of knowledge leads to spiritual knowledge.

In the Bhagavad Purana it is stated that: The performers of austerities, the makers of pilgrimages, the chanters of mantras, the givers of donations and others never reach the achievement of that being who has even one percentage of Vedic knowledge.

All activities culminate in transcendental wisdom if performed with directed intelligence with the objective of gaining spiritual knowledge.

4.34      Shloka 4.34

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया।
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः।।4.34।।

Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya |
Upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah ||4.34||
Meaning: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

By these questions and by being pleased by one’s sincere service such a self-realised being will guide and instruct one on matters related to the ultimate truth because they have direct experience and wisdom of this and thus will remove all doubts about:

  • Who am I?
  • Why was I born?
  • What is my purpose in life?

The self-realised being will dispel all these doubts by proper reasoning and evidence from the Vedic scriptures.  The practical experience from their effort of uniting the individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness, which is the goal of all existence, will also help to guide the seeker. All actions culminate in knowledge when instructed by a self-realised being.

The words “Jnaninah” means experts in the Vedic scriptures and “Darsinah” means those who have realised the Ultimate Truth denoting that all self-realised being will possess Spiritual Knowledge from whom one should seek to attain this knowledge.

4.35      Shloka 4.35

यज्ज्ञात्वा पुनर्मोहमेवं यास्यसि पाण्डव।
येन भूतान्यशेषेण द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि।।4.35।।

Yaj jnatva na punar moham evam yasyasi pandava |
Yena bhutany asesani draksyasy atmany atho mayi ||4.35||
Meaning: And when you have thus learned the Truth, you will know that all living beings are but a part of Me—and they are in Me, and Mine.

The word “atmani” refers to Bhagavan Shri Krishna’s exalted position as the “ParamAtma” or the Super Soul within all living beings by which one realises the oneness of all beings in creation.

Now regarding the situation on the battlefield, Lord Krishna is clarifying to Arjuna that by this knowledge he will no longer be deluded by the illusion of relatives, friends and preceptors dying and the infatuation of thinking that if they did he would not even want to continue living; because with spiritual knowledge he will realise his atma (soul) and will see the same soul in all beings and he will perceive that all souls are part of the Supreme Being.

That all these individual souls are pervaded by the Supreme Being and they are never independent from the Supreme Being in the state of bondage or in the state of liberation.  It can be perceived that the Supreme Being is identical with Lord Krishna. The difference in various beings is only in their outer physical form which is the product of primordial matter but the Atma is purely spiritual and eternal and not subject to any modification.  Thus it is equally situated and established in all beings who were naturally created from material nature. The Atma is not a different or separate entity from the Supreme Being.

By learning this spiritual knowledge, one will never be deluded again by maya or illusion.  One afflicted by Maya falls into the misconception that the Atma or Soul is the physical body causing ego consciousness of I-ness and my-ness. When disassociated from matter,  Atma is similar in all beings and possesses the attributes of the Supreme.

4.36      Shloka 4.36 

अपि चेदसि पापेभ्यः सर्वेभ्यः पापकृत्तमः।
सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि।।4.36।।

Api ced asi papebhyah sarvebhyah papa-krt-tamah |
Sarvam jnana-plavenaiva vrjinam santarisyasi ||4.36||
Meaning: Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge, you will be able to cross the ocean of miseries.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna states that understanding the greatness of this spiritual knowledge will redeem one of all sins. The words “api ced” meaning “even if” and indicates the powerful potency of this spiritual knowledge which can save the most incorrigible sinner.  To emphasise the power of spiritual knowledge, Bhagavan Krishna specifically states in this verse that even the most incorrigible sinner is redeemed if they acquire and apply spiritual knowledge in their consciousness, thereby cross the ocean of miseries (Samsara).

4.37      Shloka 4.37

यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन।
ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा।।4.37।।

Yathaidhamsi samiddho ‘gnir bhasma-sat kurute ‘rjuna |
Jnanagnih sarva-karmani bhasma-sat kurute tatha ||4.37||
Meaning:  As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all reactions to material activities.

Bhagavan Krishna states here that the boat of spiritual knowledge will destroy all reactions to actions both those leading to merit as well as demerit.  One might wonder why should one lose merit points. Unless one loses all merits and demerits, they will continue to be reborn. The merits get a life in heaven but as it diminishes with each day, one is bound to be reborn in lower worlds.   In order to attain Moksha or liberation one has to lose both merit and demerits, thereby purifying the Atma to a state of Sat-Chit-Ananda (eternal bliss).

4.38      Shloka 4.38

हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते।
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति।।4.38।।

Na hi jnanena sadrsam pavitram iha vidyate |
Tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah kalenatmani vindati ||4.38||
Meaning: In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has achieved this enjoys the Self within himself in due course of time.

In this world nothing is as purifying as spiritual knowledge. Then why is not everyone pursuing this? Lord Krishna explains that one must be qualified to gain this spiritual knowledge which comes from prolonged practice of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities that are to be performed without desire for rewards. Then in due course knowledge will arise leading to purity of heart after which Atma tattva or Soul realisation will be achieved.

4.39      Shloka 4.39

श्रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः।
ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।4.39।।

Shraddhaval labhate jnanam tat-parah samyatendriyah
Jnanam labdhva param santim acirenadhigacchati
Meaning: A faithful man who is absorbed in transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.

One might wonder if one can achieve purity of heart through karma yoga and thereby acquire knowledge then what is the necessity for a spiritual master as noted earlier? To address this potential doubt, Shri Krishna states the necessary qualification required to receive spiritual knowledge. A person may acquire knowledge by themselves but the qualities that are essential for such a person to succeed are explained in this verse.

The word “sraddhavan” means a person who has unflinching faith. But mere faith is not enough as it has to be followed up with sincere devoted service to the spiritual master while studying the scriptures under his tutelage. One must also avoid the association of those who are not following the Vedic injunctions as association with them may cause one to deviate from the path of knowledge. So one who is self-controlled attains spiritual knowledge and acquiring such knowledge neutralises the reactions from all extraneous activities.  Such a person perceives the Brahman pervading all existence and achieves Atma tattva or Soul realisation and from that plane attains Moksha or liberation from material existence.

4.40      Shloka 4.40

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति।
नायं लोकोऽस्ति परो सुखं संशयात्मनः।।4.40।।

Ajnas casraddadhanas ca samsayatma vinasyati  |
N
ayam loko ‘sti na paro na sukham samsayatmanah ||4.40||
Meaning: But the ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the scriptures do not attain God consciousness. For the doubting souls there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.

The word ‘ajnah’ means fool or one who is ignorant. The word ‘asraddadhahanah’ means one who has no faith even after being instructed. Bhagavan Shri Krishna speaks of the miserable fate of the ignorant who are devoid of faith. He uses ‘Ca’ twice to indicate that with the guidance of a spiritual master even an ignorant, having faith, can be liberated by performing following the instructions of the Guru.

But a person who has no faith will not engage in any practice or even if he engages may perform their duties without conviction and faith. Bhagavan says that for those who doub the authority of the Vedic scriptures, or the instructions of the spiritual Guru, there is no happiness in this world or the next. How is it possible for a person to become liberated if they doubt the very essence which is the cause of their existence.

The conviction that the Atma or Soul is eternal and the atma is distinct from the physical body is essential for spiritual progress. Whoever doubts the existence of the Atma or Soul or is not sure that it is eternal and hence cannot receive even the smallest percentage of spiritual bliss.

4.41     Shloka 4.41

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्।
आत्मवन्तं कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय।।4.41।।

Yoga-sannyasta-karmanam jnana-sanchinna-samsayam |
Atmavantam na karmani nibadhnanti dhananjaya ||4.41||
Meaning: Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the Self, is not bound by works, O conqueror of riches.

The dual paths of karma yoga or prescribed activities and jnana yoga or cultivation of spiritual knowledge are both concluded in this verse and the next.

Actions do not bind one to material existence who has renounced all desires. All actions offered or dedicated to the Supreme Lord are always renounced and superior. This is characterised by direct perception of the Supreme Lord and the conscious reality that one belongs exclusively to Him which arises only after the realisation of the Brahman that pervades all existence.

One whose mind is unassailable and unwavering, such a person has achieves an unshakeable certitude about the reality and eternity of the soul from the teachings received from the spiritual Guru. No actions performed by such a person in the present or the future can ever bind them.

4.42     Shloka 4.42

तस्मादज्ञानसंभूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनाऽऽत्मनः।
छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत।।4.42।।

Tasmad ajnana-sambhutam hrt-stham jnanasinatmanah |
Chittvainam samsayam yogam atisthottistha bharata ||4.42||
Meaning: Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with Yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.

The sword of knowledge that Lord Krishna is referring to is Atma tattva or Soul realisation and the yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.

All doubts should be completely uprooted from one’s heart and mind.  A person should follow the path that Shri Krishna has so clearly explained, which is to do one’s duty in life according to one’s dharma. Following this path one will acquire the spiritual knowledge that will enable them to cross over the Ocean (cycle of birth and death) and attain Moksha or liberation from material existence.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 17 – Chapter 4, Verses 21 to 30 – JNANA YOGA

Bhagavan Shri Krishna, in these ten verses, explains the various kinds of sacrifices (Yajnas) practiced by Sadhakas or seekers of Self-realisation.  He begins with emphasising that one has to engage in desireless action with a controlled mind and relinquish all sense of doer-ship, and accept with a sense of equipoise the rewards of actions as His blessings.  Such persons are said to be engaged in Karma Yoga and qualify themselves to achieve self-realisation.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna goes on to elaborate on the different types of sacrifices performed by Yogis and others.  He commences with artha-yajnas or offering of donations for worship and propitiation of the Supreme Lord and progresses to the Yajna of pranayama or breath control, and offering of food, different varieties of sacrifice are adopted persons according to their abilities and understanding. Practitioners of these Yajnas eventually realise the Atma or Soul within their heart and perceive the eternal Brahman (ParamAtma or Supersoul) that pervades all existence and leads one to the Supreme Lord.

4.21      Shloka 4.21

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः।
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिष।।4.21।।

Nirasir yata-cittatma tyakta-sarva-parigrahah  |
Sariram kevalam karma kurvan napnoti kilbisam ||4.21||
Meaning: A person who is devoid of desire, and is with a controlled in mind and intelligence having relinquished all sense of proprietorship over his possessions, and acting only for the sustenance of the body, is not affected by sinful reactions.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the word ‘nirasir’ meaning ‘bereft of expectancy or devoid of all desires for rewards’. The words ‘yata-cittatma’ means to control the mind and focus on the atma or soul, and keep the mind tranquil and equiposed that is free from agitation.  The words ‘tyakta-sarva-parigrahah’ means abandoning all longings for sense objects and pleasures. One should perform all actions dispassionately, as a matter of duty merely as a function of their body; actions performed in this manner will attract no sinful reaction and frees one from this samsara or bondage of birth, death and rebirth in the material existence.

If Karma Yoga is performed in this way by those seeking Moksha or liberation from this Samsara, this in itself is sufficient to lead one to ‘atma tattva’ or realisation of the soul.

4.22      Shloka 4.22

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः।
समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ कृत्वापि निबध्यते।।4.22।।

Yadrccha-labha-santusto dvandvatito vimatsarah  |
Samah siddhav asiddhau ca krtvapi na nibadhyate ||4.22||
Meaning: He who is satisfied with the gain that comes of its own accord, and he who is free from duality and harbours no envy, who is steady in both success and failure, is never entangled while performing actions.

One who is tranquil and is equipoised with the results that are enough to maintain one’s existence, is a person who has acquired knowledge of the Self and has reached beyond the dualities of material existence. Such a person is content and accepts pleasure and pain, acceptance or rejection, sadness or happiness in the same vein.

The word ‘vimatsarah’ means free from malice and envy. One who understands that the past Karma are the reasons for present situation, such a person is not envious of others and does not blame others for their adverse situation and experience.  They learn to accept it with equipoise. The words ‘siddhau-asiddhau samah’ means one who keeps their mind balanced and equipoised in success or failure while performing their duties.

Lord Krishna is saying is that if a person develops and practices this kind of attitude while performing activities they will not be bound to the Samsara or the cycle of birth, death and rebirth in the material world even though they may not be fully following the path of Jnana Yoga.

4.23      Shloka 4.23

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते।।4.23।।

Gata-sangasya muktasya jnanavasthita-cetasah  |
Yajnayacaratah karma samagram praviliyate ||4.23||
Meaning: One who is unattached to material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge, and performs all actions as a sacrifice unto the Supreme Being, all such actions are dissolved and the person merges entirely into transcendence.

Being free from all dependence means to take complete refuge in the Supreme Lord and to be totally under His protection. Liberated means to be free from all sense of pride.

Devoid of attachment to the rewards of actions due to one’s mind being firmly fixed in the bliss of the Atma or Soul and he who performs all actions as an offering of worship for the propitiation to the Supreme Lord will never be bound by the actions.

When one’s mind is always engrossed in contemplation of the Supreme, the attachment to worldly desires is naturally withdrawn. For such a person the sense of ownership and proprietorship are automatically abandoned. Such a person realises the Self and is in communion with the Supreme Being. Living such a life leads to every action performed as a yajna or worship and an offering to the Supreme Being.  For such a person, all the accumulated reactions from the past resulting from previous actions are completely evaporated without any residue.

4.24      Shloka 4.24

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्महविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम्।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना।।4.24।।

Brahmarpanam brahma havir brahmagnau brahmana hutam |
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma-karma-samadhina ||4.24||
Meaning: The sacrificial paraphernalia is the Ultimate truth; the sacrificial fire is the Ultimate truth; the offering of oblations and clarified butter by the Brahmana is the Ultimate truth; for him being fully absorbed in the Ultimate truth by spiritual activities; certainly the Ultimate truth is attainable.

The word ‘Brahmarpanam’ means the paraphernalia used to offer oblations in yajna or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord. All the accessories used in Yajna are also considered to be Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence, along with the offerings of ghee and grain, pulses, and the fire they are offered through as well as the performer of the offering.

Lord Krishna explains that everything used in Yajna can be considered as part of the Brahman. One who realises that the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is actually abiding in all actions, reaches the Brahman.  As everything in existence is factually within the Brahman it can be understood that everything is actually a form of the Brahman. The Brahman or spiritual substratum of reality is surely the destination to be achieved by those who are experiencing it, as it is eternal and permanent. Concentration in the Brahman is considered as a Yajna or propitiation to the Ultimate reality. This is the consciousness of the actions from an aspirant of Moksha or liberation where the Atma or Soul is understood to be non-different from the Brahman.

Consequently actions performed in this consciousness are all known to be spiritual and a person is situated in such perfect knowledge is known to have achieved Atma tattva or Self-Realisation, hence obviating any further need to practice Jnana yoga.

4.25      Shloka 4.25

दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिनः पर्युपासते।
ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति।।4.25।।

Daivam evapare yajnam yoginah paryupasate |
Brahmagnav apare yajnam yajnenaivopajuhvati ||4.25||
Meaning: Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some of them offer sacrifices in the fire of the Supreme Brahman.

In this way, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is draws the distinction between worship of the Devas and propitiation of the Supreme Brahman.  The results one achieves while being continuously immersed in the Brahman while performing every action as Yajna or offering and propitiation to the Supreme Lord is eternal bliss and superior to the transient benefits derived from the worship of the Devas. To show the superiority of this Yajna over all others, Bhagavan presents various types of Yajnas performed by different yogis or those striving to achieve self-realisation, in the next eight verses.

4.26      Shloka 4.26 

श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति।
शब्दादीन्विषयानन्य इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति।।4.26।।

Srotradinindriyany anye samyamagnisu juhvati
Sabdadin visayan anya indriyagnisu juhvati ||4.26||
Meaning: Some (Sanyasis) offer sacrificial oblations such as hearing process and the senses in the fire of the controlled mind, while others (grihistas or householders) sacrifice the objects of the senses, such as pleasing sound and sights in the fire as oblations.

In the fire of the Yajna, the offerings are usually ‘havis’ or ghee and grainseeds that are used in the paraphernalia to perform the Yajna.  In the form of Yajna, the goal of Yajna being the Supreme Lord is offered to Himself. Thus, everything becomes Brahman.

In the Vishnu Sahasranamam (Shloka 105), the significance of Yajna is explained:

Yajnabhrit Yajnakrit Yajni Yajnabhuk Yajnasadhanah      |
Yajnaantakrit Yajnaguhyam Annam Annaada Eve Ca ||105||
Meaning:  He bears the full brunt of the responsibility of taking the Yajna to its successful completion. As the creator, He also created Yajna as a means for devotees to reach Him. He is the Master of all the Yajnas and it is for Him that all the sacrifices are performed. It is He who consumes and enjoys the offerings made in the Yajnas. He is the One Who is sought through the Yajnas. He provides not only the inspiration to perform Yajnas but also the resources to perform the Yajnas. He is the One Who concludes the Yajnas fruitfully and He is the hidden underlying spirit of the noblest of Yajnas. He is eaten by all beings in His form as food and He is the Enjoyer of those who enjoy Him.

When these Yajnas are perfectly performed, there is no scarcity of supplies required for sustenance. Performance of yajnas has many benefits and they ultimately lead to liberation from bondage.

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.4.10), it states that the Brahman alone was in the beginning and it knew itself as the Brahman and manifested into all. Whosoever amongst the Devas becomes awakened to this consciousness indeed becomes this consciousness. It is the same for elevated beings and the same for sages and yogis and it is the same for humans.

The Yogis engage in the spiritual practice of renunciation and are desirous of attaining knowledge of the Brahman. They keep all their senses under control and away from sense objects, and offer these into the fire of self-discipline. Others, like the Grihastas or householders, engage in worldly affairs and indulge themselves in sense gratification but with a spirit of performing Yajna or worship by offering all their actions to the Lord.

4.27      Shloka 4.27

सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि चापरे।
आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते।।4.27।।

Sarvanindriya-karmani prana-karmani capare |
Atma-samyama-yogagnau juhvati jnana-dipite ||4.27||
Meaning:  Those who seek self-realisation, offer the functions of all their senses, as well as the vital force [breath], as oblations into the fire (symbolically) for purification of the mind by Yoga.

The compound words ‘atma-samyama-yogagnau’ means ‘into the fire of self-purification of the mind by Yoga’. This infers that due to spiritual wisdom and knowledge an intense self-restraint and determination is activated.  It is important to understand that a mere control of the senses will not bring the desired result, though this may be the starting point in the process of self-purification.

With constant practice, the mind achieves a state of wisdom when it is no longer a conscious effort to control the senses as the person develops a discriminative intellect wherein the senses are naturally restrained.  When a person reaches this state, they become qualified to unite with the Ultimate consciousness.

Some Yogis offer all the functions of the senses and all the functions of the prana or life breath along with the vital energy of the body in the fire of the purified soul ignited by knowledge. By this Bhagavan Shri Krishna means that such Yogis direct their efforts in disciplining the mind to refrain from the pursuit of sensual activities.

4.28      Shloka 4.28

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे।
स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतयः संशितव्रताः।।4.28।।

Dravya-yajnas tapo-yajna yoga-yajnas tathapare  |
Svadhyaya-jnana-yajnas ca yatayah samsita-vratah ||4.28||
Meaning: There are others who, enlightened by sacrificing their material possessions in severe austerities, take strict vows and practice the yoga of eight-fold mysticism; and study the Vedas for advancement of transcendental knowledge.

Those who donate wealth for Yajnas and also those who perform tapasya or austerities are considered to be offering oblations in Yajna. When such austere penances are offered as propitiation to the Supreme Brahman, the penance itself becomes the Yajna or sacrificial fire. Offering in wisdom is to attain the realisation that all knowledge is ultimately for the realisation of the Atma or Soul which unites with the Supreme.

Here Bhagavan reveals that those who donate wealth for the performance Yajna or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord and to feed the guests are said to be engaged in Artha Yajna.  Some perform austerities such as special fasting or perform Yajna by practicing the eight-fold yoga system such as Yama or forbearance, Niyama or restraint, Asanas or postures, Pranayama or breathing exercises, Pratyahara or withdrawal, Dharana or focused attention and Samadhi or complete absorption in meditation.  Others strive by observing austere penance and perform Yajna by intense study of the Vedic scriptures.

Some others perform Yajnas by going on a pilgrimage to holy places like Jagannatha Puri, Haridwar, Mathura, Kashi, Kanch etc. Some perform Svadhyaya Yajna or the study of the Vedic scriptures. The word ‘yatayah’ means diligent and refers to yatis who persevere to accomplish all the vows they undertake spiritually. The compound word ‘samsita-vratah’ means they who have firm resolve and fixed determination and refers to the Yatis.

4.29      Shloka 4.29

अपाने जुह्वति प्राण प्राणेऽपानं तथाऽपरे।
प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः।
अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति।।4.29।। 

Apane juhvati pranam prane ‘panam tathapare |
Pranapana-gati ruddhva pranayama-parayanah |
Apare niyataharah pranan pranesu juhvati ||4.29||
Meaning: And there are others who offer the outgoing breath into the incoming, and incoming breath into the outgoing; in this way they exercise breath control by checking the flow of both incoming and outgoing breath. This arduous practice is called pranayama i.e. control over breathing. Some of them curtail their eating process and offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice.

Continuing on, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that those who are devoted to practicing pranayama or regulation of the breath,  offer the prana or outgoing breath to the apana or incoming breath and the incoming breath to the outgoing breath. In this way they arrive at the stage of complete restraint of the breath and this is considered to be Yajna or offerings of worship.

Lord Krishna states that those practising the pranayama or breath control are of three levels -one called rechaka or exhalation for 16 beats, puraka or inhaling for 32 beats and kumbhaka or cessation of breath for 64 beats. For every breath the prana or outgoing breath is offered as Yajna or worship into the apana or incoming breath and the apana is offered into the prana. Some others observe fast and curtail their eating and offer that as a sacrifice. 

4.30      Shloka 4.30

सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः।
यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्।।4.30।।

Sarve ‘py ete yajna-vido yajna-ksapita-kalmasah |
Yajna-sistamrta-bhujo yanti brahma sanatanam ||4.30||
Meaning: All these persons are the knowledgeable of the principle of performing sacrifices, and hence become cleansed of sinful reactions, and having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice, they achieve the eternal and Ultimate Truth.

Yogis or those following the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness enjoy the ambrosial nectar of the remnants left over in the time period after the Yajna or offerings of worship are completed. The compound word sista-amrta refers to the remains of nectar after Yajna. Through purity of mind followed by acquisition of knowledge one realises the eternal Brahman.

The Skanda Purana reveals that there are two types of food suitable for eating. First, food that was duly offered to the Supreme Lord and the second is the remnants of the food partaken after the devotees of the Supreme Lord have eaten from His offerings. The third type of food is one which was not offered to the Supreme Lord before partaking,  and hence should never be eaten by one desiring their welfare.

Therefore, one should offer food to the Lord before partaking and such food becomes ‘Prasada’ and paves the path for realisation of the Brahman and the attainment of Moksha as every action is done while contemplating on the Supreme.

In summary, commencing with artha-yajnas or offering of donations for worship and propitiation of the Supreme Lord to the Yajna of pranayama or breath control, and offering of food, different varieties of sacrifice are adopted persons according to their abilities and understanding.  Practitioners of these Yajnas eventually realise the Atma or Soul within their heart and perceive the eternal Brahman (ParamAtma or Supersoul) that pervades all existence and leads one to the Supreme Lord.

 

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 16 Chapter 4, Verses 11 to 20 – JNANA YOGA

Summary

Bhagavan Shri Krishna in these ten verses explains the intricacies of various kinds of actions and inaction together with their implications.

Bhagavan says that He rewards everyone in accordance with their actions. As the ultimate dispenser of all rewards, He bestows rewards on everyone regardless of who they offer their homage to; although the rewards are in proportion to the intensity of their worship. He further explains that who seek material rewards, worship the demigods and get their temporary rewards as these manifest quickly.  Only a rare being aspires to attain Moksha and is situated in spiritual intelligence to get free from the cycle of Samsara and achieves liberation from the cycle of birth and death.  Lord Krishna says that even persons with discriminative intellect and knowledge are bewildered in determining the righteous actions and get confused.

If one is seeking liberation from material bondage, one has to understand the distinctions between action, inaction and forbidden actions. He explains that One who has mastered renunciation in action, and action in renunciation of activities, is spiritually intelligent among men.

Such a person is transcendentally situated and is a perfect performer of all actions.  Such a person is understood to be in perfect knowledge, whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. Such a person’s fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge and they are free from bondage of karma.

The nature of spiritual intelligence is to be always tranquil and ever content state. By acting in this way, one assumes the qualities of one in eternal equi-poise and in infinite bliss.

4.11      Shloka 4.11

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्।
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः।।4.11।।

Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham |
Mama vartma anuvartante manusyah Partha sarvasah ||4.11||
Meaning: All those who surrender unto Me in whatever way, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Partha.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (2.3.10) it says:
Akamah sarva-kamo va moksa-kama udaradhih
Tivrena bhakti-yogena yajeta purusam param
Meaning: Whether one is without desire (Dharma), or is desirous of all fruitive results (Artha, Kama), or is after liberation (Mumukshu), one should, with all efforts, worship the Supreme Lord.

“Tathaiva bhajamy” means in accordance with their intensity of faith and devotion.  Lord Krishna reciprocates rewards to all in proportion of their intensity of devotion. It would appear unfair, if Lord Krishna bestowed His benedictions only upon those who worship Him but not to those who are seeking material rewards. To dispel this notion, Bhagavan Krishna states in this verse that whoever approaches Him, whether with desires or without desires, direct or indirect, He rewards them accordingly.

Lord Krishna is the ultimate dispenser of all rewards to everyone, regardless of who they offer their homage to; although the rewards are in proportion to the intensity of their worship.

Lord Krishna’s divine nature is such that even realised saints and yogis find His sublime nature transcendental; yet for all those who are situated in righteousness worshiping any God of their choice, He manifests the way to receive their mode of worship while maintaining their faith.

4.12      Shloka 4.12

काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणां सिद्धिं यजन्त इह देवताः।
क्षिप्रं हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा।।4.12।।

Kanksantah karmanam siddhim yajanta iha devatah   |
Kshipram hi manuse loke siddhir bhavati karma-ja ||4.12||
Meaning: In this world, those who desire success in fruitive activities worship the various Devas, and they get results since it manifests very quickly.

Bhagavan explains that those who seek material rewards, worship the demigods and get their temporary rewards as these manifest quickly.  Only a rare being aspires to attain Moksha and is situated in spiritual intelligence to get free from the cycle of Samsara and achieves liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Only such a rare being would engage in Karma yoga or the performance of prescribed activities as a propitiation to the Supreme Being.

Sriman Narayana is the Moksha dhaata and hence those seeking the higher goal of Moksha worship Him.

“Manuse Loke” means the mortal world and persons in the mortal world are oblivious of the true purpose of human existence i.e. Moksha. Due to a vast accumulation of sinful reactions that have not been exhausted from previous births, they continue to desire immediate results for their actions causing them to accumulate more such reactions. Such people worship demigods for temporary material rewards and foolishly pursue transient material objectives.

In the Katha Upanishad 2.2.13, it says:
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam |
Eko bahunam yo vidadhati Kaman ||
Meaning: The Supreme Lord is eternal, and the living beings are eternal. The Supreme Lord is cognizant, and the living beings are cognizant. The difference is that the Supreme Lord is supplying all the necessities of life for the many other living entities.

The Supreme God is one and the demigods are delegated with powers to manage this material world. These demigods are all living entities (nityanam) with different grades of material power. They cannot be equal to the Supreme God—Narayana, Vishnu, or Bhagavan Shri Krishna.

“Iha devatah” means a powerful demigod while Lord Narayana, Vishnu, Rama or Krishna, are transcendental to material creation.

So, by worshipping the demigods, they get the results, but do not know that the results so obtained are temporary. This verse indicates that people are rarely interested in Moksha and seek mostly material enjoyment, and therefore they worship some other demigod.

Lord Krishna explains that most people perform myriads of actions as they seek material results from their efforts. These material benefits are beseeched in the forms of wealth, power, good health and such other things.  But for Moksha or liberation, the results do not come easy as this knowledge must be refined and perfected through many lifetimes. The purport is that most people worship various other entities because in their present life they have no knowledge and/or no intrinsic interest in Moksha.

4.13      Shloka 4.13

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः।
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम्।।4.13।।

Catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah |
Tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam ||4.13||
Meaning: The four divisions of human society were created by Me according to differences in the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them. And, although I am the creator of this system, know Me as the non-doer, being Immutable.

The Lord is the creator of everything. Everything is born of Him, everything is sustained by Him, and everything, after annihilation, rests in Him. He is therefore the creator of the four divisions of the social order.

The four orders result from a combination of the three Gunas viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Those with predominantly Sattva Guna (piety and noble) possess tranquillity and self- control. As Sattva decreases one’s ability and capacity to be righteous declines and they move further away to Rajas (Passion) and Tamas Guna (Sloth). Thus, these four divisions arise naturally due to the combination of these three Gunas and defines a person’s character and disposition.

The verse refers to the four social orders viz. the Brahmins – the priest and knowledge seekers and disseminators, the Kshatriyas – the Royal class, protector and warriors, the Vaishyas – trading class and merchants, and finally the Shudras – the working class. These were created according to the natural qualities of their prenatal disposition and classified initially accordingly to birth.   Through subsequent actions one can redefine oneself.

The determining factor for all beings is that they come into their various existences as a result of their own Karma. This is because all embodied beings accept a form in accordance to the inherent primal force of their past Karma.  However, one is not defined by birth alone and one’s present Karma can define them to be different.

While Bhagavan is the origin of all creation but He also reveals that He is a non-Doer, meaning its one’s own Karma that defines what they become. He also says that He is not originated from any source. He is independent in Himself and not created from anything.

4.14      Shloka 4.14

मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति मे कर्मफले स्पृहा।
इति मां योऽभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न बध्यते।।4.14।।

Na mam karmani limpanti na me karma-phale sprha |
Iti mam yo ‘bhijanati karmabhir na sa badhyate ||4.14||
Meaning: There is no work that implicates Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me, such a person does not get entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the words ‘mam karmani’ meaning ‘actions do not bind Me’ and further emphasises with ‘mam abhijanati’ meaning ‘One who knows this truth about Me’, does not get entangled.

A question arises as to how is it possible for Bhagavan Shri Krishna to be not implicated by any of the actions and that none of the reactions to His actions are applicable to Him? We can draw a parallel by looking at this analogy. Although fruits, grains or pulses are undoubtedly supported by rain showers, the rain has no attachment not has any desire for tasting and enjoying the fruits. Similarly, in the Creation of various beings, possessing good and evil propensities, performing righteous or unrighteous actions and receiving the bestowal of their reactions, it is the Bhagavan Shri Krishna who sanctions these rewards without any of it implicating Him.

But there is no partiality or injustice coming from Him. Every human being creates their own karma or reactions to actions as defined by the actions they have been performing in life after life since time immemorial.

Lord Krishna confirms here that even those who know Him as the origin of Creation, know that He is not implicated by any activity being transcendental to prakriti or material nature; such individuals also are not bound by their actions having abandoned the fruits of their actions.

The following verse reaffirms it:
Nimitta-matram evasau srjyanam sarga-karmani |
Pradhana-karani-bhuta yato vai srjya-saktayah ||
Meaning:  In the material creations, the Lord is only the Supreme Cause. The immediate Cause is the material nature by which the cosmic manifestation is visible. The created beings are of many varieties and all of them are subject to the reactions of their past good or bad activities. The Lord only gives them the proper faculties for performing their activities but He is never responsible for their past and present activities.

4.15      Shloka 4.15

एवं ज्ञात्वा कृतं कर्म पूर्वैरपि मुमुक्षुभिः।
कुरु कर्मैव तस्मात्त्वं पूर्वैः पूर्वतरं कृतम्।।4.15।।

Evam jnatva krtam karma purvair api mumuksubhih  |
Kuru karmaiva tasmat tvam purvaih purvataram krtam ||4.15||
Meaning: All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding and attained liberation. Therefore, you should adopt the actions performed by the ancient authorities.

Bhagavan says that ancient Seers understood that He was completely delineated although performing such magnificent activities as Creation of all Beings.  They performed their activities free from desire and attachment and thus attained Moksha or liberation.

Bhagavan is encouraging Arjuna to perform Karma Yoga just like the ancient seers such as Vivasvan. Therefore, He recommends that Arjuna act like the Sun-God, who learned this art from the Lord.

4.16      Shloka 4.16

किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः।
तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात्।।4.16।।

Kim karma kim akarmeti kavayo ‘py atra mohitah |
Tat te karma pravaksyami yaj jnatva moksyase ‘subhat ||4.16||
Meaning: Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what action is and what inaction is. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all sins.

Bhagavan says that even persons with discriminative intellect and knowledge are bewildered in determining the righteous actions and get confused.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna now promises to dispel all delusion in the intricacies of this subject.

What is the purpose of performing actions as a matter of duty? The satisfaction consists in the knowledge of knowing why the duty is to be discharged. The knower is the person who performs works aspiring for Moksha. The one who performs work for sense gratification is ignorant (or Baddha Jiva).

4.17      Shloka 4.17

कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं विकर्मणः।
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः।।4.17।।

Karmano hy api boddhavyam boddhavyam ca vikarmanah |
Akarmanas ca boddhavyam gahana karmano gatih ||4.17||
Meaning: The intricacies of action are to be understood and the actions that are forbidden should also be understood.  The subject of renunciation of action is even harder to comprehend.  Therefore, one should know properly understand the intricacies of action, forbidden action and inaction.

The nature of karma or prescribed actions performed for attaining Moksha or liberation from material existence should be understood. Actions which are ‘nitya’ (regular) are to be performed without any attachment or desire. Actions that are ‘naimittika’ (occasional) that are performed for sense enjoyment and/or with a desire for material rewards is known as ‘vikarma’ or ‘improper actions’.  The absence of action known as ‘akarma’ (inaction) is also not an option and this should also be comprehended.

Therefore, the path of Karma is not easily discernible for those seeking Moksha. As the rewards are varied for each type of action, it should be clearly understood by an aspirant of Moksha.  It is important to perform actions with an attitude of renunciation while maintain discipline, equipoise and dispassion.  It is also important to abstain from certain actions and knowing when to act and when to abstain in critical.

4.18      Shloka 4.18

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि कर्म यः।
बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्।।4.18।।

Karmany akarma yah pasyed akarmani ca karma yah |
Sa buddhiman manusyesu sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krt ||4.18||
Meaning: One who has mastered renunciation in action, and action in renunciation of activities, is spiritually intelligent among men. Such a person is transcendentally situated and is a perfect performer of all actions.

There are two categories of persons:

  • The person who performs actions while continuously contemplating on the Atma – this is a stage where one is seeking realisation of the Self
  • The person who immersed within the Atma and perceives the Atma to be performing all actions taking on the role of an Observer – this is a person who has attained Self-Realisation (a Jnani or a Jeevan Mukt)

No one can escape performing actions. In Chapter 3 Verse 22, Bhagavan says there is no prescribed for Him and yet He is engaged in actions to set the right examples for others to follow.

So, it is important to understand what the righteous actions are and how they are to be performed.  Having a dispassionate attitude while performing actions is like ‘Inaction in Action’. Similarly, in certain circumstances abstaining from an action is a conscious choice, for e.g. Observing fast on auspicious days is like ‘Action in Inaction’.  One who practices the above achieves Self-realisation and becomes liberated.

In Narada Purana, it states that the Supreme Lord Krishna is never bound by Cause and Effect as all His actions are to be understood as inaction.

All material actions are visible to the living beings, but what is not visible is the karma or reactions that come with the actions. This results in repeated performance of such actions which keeps them in worldly bondage. Out of compassion, Lord Krishna states the truth of action, inaction and prohibited actions.

4.19      Shloka 4.19

यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः।
ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः।।4.19।।

Yasya sarve samarambhah kama-sankalpa-varjitah |
Jnanagni-dagdha-karmanam tam ahuh panditam budhah ||4.19||
Meaning: One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. The Sages say that such a worker’s fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.

The person performing karma or actions accrues reactions by his attachment to the results and hankering for rewards. This is delusional as desires are imagined and fantasised even before enactment. Lord Krishna explains that the spiritually intelligent person approaches action and inaction with a sense of dispassion and equipoise. Their actions are free from desires and hankering for rewards, and hence their actions are incapable of sprouting reactions.  Such fruitive actions are purified by the fire of perfect knowledge.  And only a person in perfect knowledge can understand that eternal service of the Lord can burn the effects of such fruitive results.

Whoever performs Karma in this manner while constantly contemplating and meditating on the Self, is a person of spiritual intelligence situated in Atma tattva or Self-realisation. For such a person all reactions to their myriads of past actions are singed by the fire of knowledge. 

4.20      Shloka 4.20

त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः ।
कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः।।4.20।।

Tyaktva karma-phalasangam nitya-trpto nirasrayah |
Karmany abhipravrtto ‘pi naiva kincit karoti sah ||4.20||
Meaning: Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.

Whoever has completely given up all desires and attachments for rewards of actions, and is also ‘nitya-trypto’ or ‘totally content and immersed’ in the Atma or Soul, self-satisfied with no dependence on anything for material existence, such a person although seen to be intently performing various prescribed actions is in reality performing no action (inaction in action) that has any binding effect. Such a person might appear to be performing various activities externally but internally that person is cultivating spiritual knowledge, thus is exempt from any binding effect from results.

The nature of spiritual intelligence is to be always tranquil and ever-content state. By acting in this way, one assumes the qualities of the eternally equipoised and enjoys infinite bliss.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna! 

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 15 Chapter 4, Verses 1 to 10 – JNANA YOGA

In the first three verses of this fourth Chapter, Bhagavan Shri Krishna sums up the Karma Yoga from the last Chapter before moving on to Jnana Yoga.  Bhagavan says, “I handed down this imperishable Supreme Discipline, which has decayed over course of time, to the shining Sun, even though this has not always been well preserved.” 

Surprised, Arjuna asks, “Later was your birth, and earlier was the birth of the Sun, then how did you teach the sun?” Then, Shri Krishna says:
“Whenever sacred duty (Dharma) decays and chaos (Adharma) prevails, I incarnate myself. I’ve incarnated myself several times, and you’ve taken several births, I know all of them but you don’t remember them.”

It is good to do one’s own duty honestly, but at the same time, one should aim at purification of the heart and mind as well. If work is done by completely surrendering to God, then that work becomes a Supreme Action. The course of action is very deep and secretive; therefore, intelligent people become free of the bondage of action by understanding the subtle nature of action properly. Unattached action becomes a sacrificial action.

Emphasizing on the fact that all actions done to realize this Supreme Knowledge are the best of actions, Shri Krishna says to Arjuna:
You go to the great men who have realized the True Self to understand this Supreme Knowledge. These great men will shower upon you the sacred knowledge of True Self, if you seek for this Knowledge from them humbly, bow with due respect in front of them, and serve them with a devoted heart. Nothing can purify your heart and mind more than this True Knowledge. By seeking shelter in this Knowledge, destroy the doubt arising in your heart out of ignorance with the sword of Knowledge. Arise for the battle performing disciplined action and keeping your mind stable.

The man who is full of faith (Shraddha), who is devoted, and who has subdued the senses, obtains this Knowledge. Having obtained Knowledge, he at once experiences Supreme Peace. The ignorant, the faithless, the doubting self goes to destruction; there is happiness in neither this world, nor the other for the doubting.”

To become a Sannyasi, it requires mature mind and a contemplative disposition that cannot be gained overnight.  Also knowledge is something that is gained from a Guru who is well accomplished.  It is also important to understand that when the word “Yoga” is used in the Bhagavad Gita, it refers to “Jnana-Yoga” for a Sannyasi and “Karma Yoga” for others.  Both lead to the same destination of gaining “Moksha” when properly practiced with the right attitude and commitment with a spirit of renunciation of results of action.

4.1      Shloka 4.1

श्री भगवानुवाच
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम्।
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत्।।4.1।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam  |
Vivasvan manave Praha manur iksvakave ‘bravit ||4.1||
Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna says, “I instructed this Imperishable Science of Yoga (uniting the individual consciousness with the Absolute Consciousness) to the Sun God, “Vivasvan”, and Vivasvan instructed it to his son Vaivastava Manu, who in turn passed on the knowledge to his son King Iksvaku”.

Bhagavan Krishna begins the fourth chapter by giving context to the origination of the Jnana Yoga. He explains that He Himself gave instructions in the past to Vivasvan, the Sun God, on how to master the science of uniting the individual Consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness.  Lord Krishna taught this imperishable yoga for the benefit of the humans and for the preservation of Universal order. The Sun God, Vivasvan, passed on this knowledge to his son Vaivastava Manu who later gave it to his eldest son Iksvaku.

4.2      Shloka 4.2

एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदुः।
कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप।।4.2।।

Evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh |
Sa kaleneha mahata yogo nastah parantapa ||4.2||
Meaning: In this way the saintly Kings mastered this Supreme Science received through the line of disciplic succession; but during the course of time this knowledge of uniting the Individual Consciousness with the Ultimate was scattered and lost, O’ the conqueror of enemies (Arjuna).

Lord Krishna mentions the great tradition of passing on the knowledge through disciplic succession from one generation to the next.  But with efflux of time and degradation of human intelligence, the number of qualified recipients of this great knowledge dwindled and the knowledge was lost.

4.3      Shloka 4.3

एवायं मया तेऽद्य योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातनः।
भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम्।।4.3।। 

Sa evayam maya te ‘dya yogah proktah puratanah |
Bhakto ‘si me sakha ceti rahasyam hy etad uttamam ||4.3||
Meaning: This very ancient science of uniting the Individual Consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness, which is a supreme secret, is being instructed by Me to you because you are My devotee and a dear friend.

Lord Krishna confirms that the same ancient Yoga or the Science of uniting the Individual Consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness, which He imparted aeons before to Vivasvan, emphasising it as a Supreme secret, is now being instructed to Arjuna because he is His devotee and dear friend Arjuna.

Bhagavan Krishna saw Arjuna as qualified to receive this Yoga, because Arjuna had surrendered unto Lord Krishna as a disciple. As this Yoga is highly confidential it should not be revealed to those who have no faith nor to those who are unqualified.

The Bhagavad-Gita as it is the essence of the sublime wisdom of all the Vedas and encapsulates the mysteries of Vedanta and no one other than Bhagavan Krishna could have delivered this.

4.4      Shloka 4.4

अर्जुन उवाच
अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वतः।
कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति।।4.4।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Aparam bhavato janma param janma vivasvatah  |
katham etad vijaniyam tvam adau proktavan iti ||4.4||
Meaning: Arjuna said: You were born after the Sun-God Vivasvan, who is senior to you by birth. How am I to understand your statement that You instructed this science to Sun God in ancient times?

While this is a legitimate question on the anachronism in Shri Krishna’s statement, what is notable is the phrasing of the question by Arjuna.  He approaches it in a polite manner and by way of seeking to understand rather than reject it outright as preposterous.  While Arjuna is a devotee, disciple and a friend of Shri Krishna, this did not preclude him from asking questions of the Lord.

The purpose of inquiry from men of wisdom, as given in the Agni Purana, has a dual purpose. First is reconfirmation of the knowledge of eternal principles that they already possess. Second is that their explanations offer additional clarification.

Arjuna was not a novice bereft of Vedic knowledge. He had received instructions from his father Indra, the chief of the celestials, and had a good understanding of Bhagavan Krishna’s supreme position.

The reason Arjuna asked such a question was to get clarification on Bhagavan’s previous manifestations. He was seeking answers to several questions such as:

  1. Are avatars real or illusory?
  2. Under what circumstances does Bhagavan manifests as avatar?
  3. What is the nature of the body the avatar assumes?
  4. Are all the avatars expanding from Lord Krishna?
  5. Are all the avatars omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent?
  6. Are all avatars transcendental to the cycle of birth and death?
  7. Are all avatars able to fulfill all desires?
  8. What is the time schedule which avatars manifest themselves?

Bhagavan Krishna gives explanations in subsequent verses that answers the above questions.

4.5      Shloka 4.5

श्री भगवानुवाच
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन।
तान्यहं वेद सर्वाणि त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप।।4.5।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava carjuna  |
Tany aham veda sarvani na tvam vettha parantapa ||4.5||
Meaning: Bhagavan says, Many births of Mine and also of yours have passed, O’ Arjuna; I can remember all of them, but you cannot!

In the Brahma-Samhita (5.33), it states:
Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca
Vedesu durllabham adurllabham atma-bhaktau govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami.
Meaning: “I worship Govinda, the primeval God, who is the original person—absolute, infallible, without beginning, although expanded into unlimited forms, still the same original, the oldest, and always youthful. Such eternal, blissful, all-knowing forms of the Lord not easily accessible through the Vedas but is obtainable by pure unalloyed devotion of the soul.  He is one, without a second”. 

Ramadi murttisu kala-niyamena tisthan nanavataram akarod bhuvanesu kintu
Krishnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami (Brahma Samhita 5.39)
Meaning: I worship Lord Govinda, the primeval Lord, who manifested Himself personally as Kṛiṣhṇa and the different avatars as Rama, Nṛsimha, Vamana, etc., as His subjective portions.

In the Vedas also it is said that the Lord, although one without a second, nevertheless manifests Himself in innumerable forms. All those multi-forms are understood by the pure, unalloyed devotees, but not by a mere study of the Vedas- “Vedesu durllabham adurllabham atma-bhaktau”. 

The difference between the Bhagavan Krishna and Arjuna is that the Bhagavan remembered all the prior incidents, whereas Arjuna could not remember. While Arjuna is addressed herein as the mighty hero who could subdue the enemies, he is however unable to recall the incidents from his past births. Therefore, a living entity, however great in material estimation, can never equal the Supreme Lord.

Though Arjuna is a devotee of the Lord, he sometimes forgets the nature of the Lord, but by the divine grace of the Lord, a devotee can at once understand the infallible condition of the Lord.  Whereas a non-devotee cannot understand this transcendental nature and consequently these descriptions in the Bhagavad Gita cannot be understood by non-believers.

Devotees like Arjuna are constant companions of the Lord, and whenever the Lord incarnates, the associated devotees also appear in order to serve the Lord in various capacities. Arjuna is one of those devotees, and in this verse it is to be understood that some millions of years ago when Bhagavan Krishna imparted the secret knowledge to Sun God Vivasvan, Arjuna was also present although in a different capacity. Anyone who is a constant companion of the Lord is certainly a liberated person, but is not and cannot be equal to the Lord. The Lord is described in the Brahma-samhita as infallible (acyuta), which means that He never slips, even though He is in contact with the material world.

Bhagavan is advaita, which means there is no distinction between His body and Himself. Everything in relation to Him is spirit—whereas the conditioned soul is different from his material body. And, because the Lord’s body and self are identical, His position is always different from the ordinary living entity, even when He descends to the material platform.

What the Lord is confirming is that His present incarnation is as real as Arjuna’s present life reincarnation and that the ones from the past are real as well, subtly implying that there is a fundamental difference between the two of them. The nature of the avatars, and how they manifest together with their purpose for incarnations is given in the next few verses.

4.6      Shloka 4.6

अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन्।
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय संभवाम्यात्ममायया।।4.6।।

Ajo ‘pi sann avyayatma bhutanam isvaro ‘pi san  |
prakrtim svam adhisthaya sambhavamy atma-mayaya ||4.6||
Meaning: Although I am birthless and My transcendental body is Imperishable, and I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in My original transcendental form by my internal potency.

The Lord has spoken about the unique nature of His birth, Although He may appear like an ordinary person, yet He remembers everything of His many, many past “births”, whereas a common man cannot remember what he has done a day or a week before.

Here, Bhagavan explains His prakrti or His form. Prakrti means nature as well as svarupa, or one’s own form. The Lord says that He appears in His own body. He does not change His body, as the common living entity changes from one body to another. The conditioned soul may have one kind of body in the present birth, but he has a different body in the next birth. In this verse the words “ajo pi sann avyaya atma” meaning He is unborn having an imperishable body.

Whenever He appears, He does so by His internal potency. Despite the fact Lord Bhagavan Krishna grows from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth, astonishingly enough He never ages beyond youth. We never see a picture of Bhagavan in old age because He never ages like us, although He is the oldest person in the whole creation. Neither His body nor His intelligence ever deteriorates or changes. Therefore, it is clear that in spite of His being in the material world, He is the same unborn, eternal form of bliss and knowledge, changeless in His transcendental body and intelligence.

His appearance and disappearance are like the Sun’s rising, moving before us, and then disappearing from our eyesight. His appearance and disappearance are completely different from that of any ordinary, common living entity, it is evident that He is eternal, blissful knowledge and He is never contaminated by material nature.

The forms and places where the Supreme Lord resides as described in the Vedic scriptures:

  1. He is the spirit who luminously resides in the interior of the Sun
  2. He is the spirit who luminously resides in the etheric region of the heart
  3. He who is immortal and eternal
  4. He who manifested all the Devas and humans
  5. He who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent
  6. He who is resplendent and all pervasive
  7. He who is transcendental to prakriti or material nature
  8. He who by His omniscience knows the actions and qualities of all beings

4.7      Shloka 4.7

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदाऽऽत्मानं सृजाम्यहम्।।4.7।। 

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata  |
Abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham ||4.7||
Meaning: Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.

The use of “srjami” is significant in this Shloka as it means that the Lord manifests Himself as He is and is not be understood as creation. He appears by His own will whenever there is a predominance of “adharma” or atrocities. Principles of righteousness are laid down in the Vedas and as righteousness diminishes Bhagavan chooses to appear to re-establish Dharma and protect the noble people.

In Srimad Bhagavatam, the principles of dharma, or righteousness, are the direct orders of the Supreme (dharmam tu saksat-bhagavat-pranitam). These principles are clearly indicated throughout the Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavan directly orders, at the end of the Bhagavad Gita, that the highest principle of dharma is to surrender unto Him only, and He undertakes to protect and rid one of all sins.

He can advent Himself anywhere and everywhere, and whenever He desires to appear. In each and every incarnation, He speaks as much about Dharma as can be understood by the particular people under their particular circumstances. But the mission is the same—to lead people to the practice of Dharma and grant them salvation.

4.8      Shloka 4.8

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय दुष्कृताम्
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ।।4.8।। 

Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam |
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ||4.8||
Meaning: For the protection and deliverance of the devotees and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of dharma (righteousness), I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

The words “Paritranaya Sadhunam” means protecting the virtuous and such protection applies to specifically for the devotees like Prahlada, who was a great devotee of the Supreme Lord even as a child.  The saintly devotees, the eminent Vaishnavas who diligently seek refuge in Bhagavan every moment and in everything they do. These persons feel that without perceiving the Supreme Lord, without chanting His names, without continuously reminiscing over His phenomenal leelas and without meditating on Him there lives are devoid and empty and they find it difficult to even carry on their existence. For these devotees even a single moment of absence from the Lord is like a lifetime.

The word “duskrtam” applies miscreants and represents the lowest of mankind who engage in acts of cruelty and inflict misery on Lord’s devotees. The Lord has many agents who are quite competent to vanquish demons. But the Lord especially descends to appease His unalloyed devotees, who are harassed by the demons. Although Prahlada Maharaja was the son of Hiranyakashipu, he was nonetheless persecuted by his father; although Devaki, the mother of Bhagavan Krishna, was the sister of Kamsa, she and her husband Vasudeva were persecuted. Therefore it is said here that to deliver the devotee and vanquish the demon miscreants, the Lord appears in different incarnations.

There are various kinds of avatars, such as Purusa avatars, Guna avatars, Leela avatars, Saktyavesa avatars, Manvantara Avatars and Yugav avatars—all appearing at various points of time.  Bhagavan descends for protecting His pure devotees and to re-establish Dharma.

The Supreme Lord is complete within Himself so there is nothing to be gained for Him by any action; yet and still He still performs unlimited activities. The word “glanir” in the previous verse does not mean decline as is often translated but it means obscure. What happens is that dharma becomes obscure to the masses due to material influences on the mind, agitated by the effects of sense gratification by the onslaught of maya or illusion. When such times arise the purpose of human existence becomes distorted and consequently the activities of humans become more and more degenerated and humans become degraded. At this time, Dharma of human beings is said to be glanir or obscured.

Bhagavan is also designated as Brahman which means eternal in time and dynamic in creativity and is the all-pervading luminosity of His effulgence. It is not inert or passive. The word Brahman which is derived from the root ‘brh’ means to grow, to burst forth which infers constant, continuous creativity, perpetually manifesting. That which is dynamic and creative cannot remain static and passive. The dynamic, spontaneous, creative impulse is what is known as the Supreme Lord Leela or divine pastimes. In this verse, Bhagavan explicitly reveals that He comes to protect the righteous and to vanquish the sinful miscreants and to personally re-establish dharma or eternal righteousness. Sam-sthapana-arthaya infers to establishing one’s true nature. The Lord’s divine nature assumes His divine form.

So, in summary the following reasons of Lord Krishna’s avatars or incarnations is for:

  1. protecting the virtuous
  2. destroying the wicked
  3. re-establishing dharma or eternal righteousness which had become obscured.

The words “Yuge Yuge” means from millennium to millennium and indicates that Bhagavan may appear at any time and his incarnation is not limited to any particular Yuga.

4.9      Shloka 4.9

जन्म कर्म मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः।
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन।।4.9।।

Janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah |
Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna ||4.9||
Meaning: O’Arjuna, One who knows the transcendental nature of My birth and activities does not take his birth again in this material world upon relinquishing his body, and such a person attains My eternal abode.

One who can understand the truth of the appearance of Bhagavan is already liberated from material bondage, and therefore he returns to the abode of God immediately after quitting the present material body. Liberation of the living entity from material bondage does not come easy. Even the yogis attain liberation only after great penance and many births. But a sincere devotee, simply by understanding the transcendental nature of the Lord, attains the abode of the Lord after ending this body and is freed from the material bondage.

In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that the Lord has many, many forms and incarnations: advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Although there are many transcendental forms of the Lord, they are still one and the same Supreme Brahman. One has to understand this fact with conviction, although it is incomprehensible to mundane scholars and empiric philosophers.

As stated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Atharva Veda:
eko devo nitya-lilanurakto bhakta-vyapi hrdy antaratma iti ca ||
Meaning: The one Supreme Personality is eternally engaged in many, many transcendental forms in relationships with His unalloyed devotees.

One can attain the perfect stage of liberation from birth and death simply by knowing the Supreme. It should be clearly understood that the mere knowledge of the facts and details of the Supreme Lords appearance and divine pastimes will not enable one to attain liberation from the material existence without having first applied this learning fully into one’s life and all that one’s life encompasses.

Put more succinctly such a person possessing accurate discriminative knowledge from disciplic succession regarding Bhagavan’s incarnations and divine pastimes becomes free from all sins which stand in the way of coming to Him. Such a person will attain Him by placing implicit reliance and full faith in Him in the manner described in previous verses.  By keeping Him at the centre of all their activities, by making Him the be all and end all of their lives, they makes themselves extremely dear to the Lord which qualifies their existence for attaining Him.

4.10   Shloka 4.10

वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः।
बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः।।4.10।। 

Vita-raga-bhaya-krodha man-maya mam upasritah |
Bahavo jnana-tapasa puta mad-bhavam agatah ||4.10||
Meaning: Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purifled by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.

In the previous verse, Lord Krishna declares that those that truly know Him attain Him. Now in this verse, Bhagavan is laying out the necessary requirements for attaining Him and states, “vita-raga-bhaya-krodha” meaning completely freed from passion, fear and anger.

Passion is obsessive attachment to sense objects and material world. Fear is abhorrence of frightening situations due to lack of faith in God. Anger is a state of mind that blows up when one’s ardent desires are frustrated by obstacles.

To get free from these three, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by a bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of the devotional life is called bhava, or transcendental love. This clearly indicates that jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge is essential for the mind to control the senses.

According to Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, the science of devotional service:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya
tato ‘nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah||
Meaning: In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In next stage one becomes initiated by an accomplished spiritual master, and under his instruction the devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a burning desire for hearing about the Lilas of the Supreme Lord. This desire matures into Bhakti bhava, and later turns into an eternal love for God in the form of prema, the highest and perfect stage of life. In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

So, by beginning with devotional service, under the guidance of the bonafide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations, one can ultimately attain to the abode of the Supreme Lord.

The devotees of the Supreme Lord, who desire Him alone and who serve Him with love and devotion, only they can truly comprehend the sublime transcendental mystery of His divine appearances, pastimes, forms, abode and nature.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 14 Chapter 3, Verses 31 to 43 – KARMA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna, through these final verses of Chapter 3, explains the powerful influence of Kama or lust. In these verses, Lord Krishna explains the priority of the faculties humans possess starting from the physical body to the senses to the mind to the intellect to the Atma.  The senses are superior to the physical body because if the senses are agitated they will transfer this agitation to the physical body and knowledge will not arise in the mind. The mind is superior to the senses and can stop them but if the mind is intent on sense gratification then knowledge will not arise.

Now in conclusion Lord Krishna establishes the fact that one should try to their utmost to destroy the powerful enemy known as Kama or lust. Knowing that Kama is the mightiest enemy, one must destroy it by withdrawing the senses, keeping the mind steady and the intellect resolute in Sattva Guna (the mode of goodness).

Thus ends the Third Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita covering the Karma-yoga, or the Discharge of One’s Prescribed Duty as an offering to Bhagavan Krishna, and conquer lust through constant contemplation of the Lord.

3.31     Shloka 3.31

ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः।
श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः।।3.31।।

Ye me matam idam nityam anutisthanti manavah       |
Sraddhavanto ‘nasuyanto mucyante te ‘pi karmabhih ||3.31||
Meaning: One who executes his duties according to My injunctions and who follows this teaching faithfully, without envy, becomes free from the bondage arising from their actions.

Bhagavan Krishna explains that it is important that one should execute the prescribed duties with complete faith, without harbouring any envy, and dedicate the fruits of such actions to the Supreme Being.  Such a person is assured to be liberated from the bondage of this Samsara.

3.32     Shloka 3.32

ये त्वेतदभ्यसूयन्तो नानुतिष्ठन्ति मे मतम्।
सर्वज्ञानविमूढांस्तान्विद्धि नष्टानचेतसः।।3.32।।

Ye tv etad abhyasuyanto nanutisthanti me matam  |
Sarva-jnana-vimudhams tan viddhi nastan acetasah ||3.32||
Meaning: But those who, out of envy disregard these teachings and do not practice them regularly, are deluded and bereft of all knowledge. They are deviated from the purpose of human existence and devoid of spiritual consciousness, and are doomed to ignorance and bondage.

Those who perform prescribed Vedic activities while renouncing the results of their actions gradually gain spiritual knowledge and attain Moksha.

In this verse, Bhagavan Krishna points out that those persons who disrespect, ignore and refuse to follow the injunctions of scriptures, are fools bereft of spiritual knowledge and in such a state of ignorance all their activities are fruitless and they are hopelessly entangled in the cycle of birth and death, ad infinitum.

Spiritual intelligence is what determines the light of knowledge in the material existence. In the absence of spiritual knowledge, darkness and ignorance prevails, and knowledge becomes flawed resulting in permanent entanglement in this Samsara.

3.33     Shloka 3.33

सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेर्ज्ञानवानपि।
प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति।।3.33।।

Sadrsam cestate svasyah prakrter jnanavan api  |
Prakrtim yanti bhutani nigrahah kim karisyati ||3.33||
Meaning: Even a knowledge person acts according to his own nature as all living entities are controlled by their own nature. What can repression accomplish?

If it is so beneficial to follow the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita, then why is not everyone following them? As an answer to this question, Bhagavan Krishna explains that a person acts according to their own nature as determined by Samskaras or impressions from past lifetimes, and because of the influence of prakriti or material nature interacting with the three Gunas, or the modes of Sattva (goodness, constructive, harmonious), Rajas (passion, active, confused), and Tamas (darkness, destructive, chaotic).

Even persons of wisdom in Vedic knowledge are hostage to their own nature. So what to say of the ignorant? The purport is that although it may be possible for such persons to abandon desires and attachment, the necessary purity of mind does not manifest to evoke feelings of dedication to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

With the overpowering influence of these deep rooted habits how can the words of the Vedic scriptures impose restraint on such a person? One is helplessly carried away by the forceful current of past life actions and impressions.

The objects of the senses are perceived through the sense organs. For e.g. hearing is perceived by the ears through sound, seeing is perceived by the eyes through sight, smelling is perceived by the nose through smells and so on. For each of the senses, one has affection and the desire to enjoy through them. But the same senses operate depending upon attraction or aversion to the sense objects. For sense objects that are pleasing one has attraction for pleasure and for sense objects that are displeasing one has aversion to displeasure. All these habits are conditioned from ancient predilections of past life reminisces. Such dualities of attraction and aversion obstructs one who would want to succeed in jnana yoga by subjugating their sense. These dualities which can be understood as different degrees of love and hate, hold a person in an iron grip and forcefully drive them to commit actions that are in conformance with the attributes of one of the three gunas of goodness, passion or sloth to which one’s nature adheres to from past life impressions. Thus, one is being constantly diverted from the real purpose of human existence, that of atma tattva or realisation of the soul and their precious human life is wasted in pursuing sense objects.

3.34     Shloka 3.34

इन्द्रियस्येन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ।
तयोर्न वशमागच्छेत्तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ।।3.34।।

Indriyasyendriyasyarthe raga-dvesau vyavasthitau   |
Tayor na vasam agacchet tau hy asya paripanthinau ||3.34||
Meaning: Attraction and repulsion for sense objects are felt by embodied beings, but one should not fall under the control of senses and sense objects because they are stumbling blocks to the path of self-realisation.

The senses are constantly being drawn by the force of attraction and aversion. Although Bhagavan Krishna is emphasising that the effect of restraining the senses has a temporary effect only still, by exercising restraint regularly, it opens up the possibility of slowly dampening the desires and may eventually develop a lasting effect. Of course, past life impressions have a deep rooted influence on all living entities, even in the case of Brahma and others, but there is still the possibility to modify the impact by practising restraint in a regulated manner.

If everyone must act according to their nature and no living being is void of their nature then the purpose of teaching the Vedic scriptures by the spiritual master could be deemed futile and unnecessary. To emphasise this point Bhagavan Krishna repeats the word ‘indriyasya’ twice to underline all the senses.

One who is fortunate to hear through the ears the holy words of the Vedic scriptures from the spiritual master should never come under the influence of attraction and aversion because they are two great obstacles on the path of Moksha. These two, Raga and Dvesha, act as obstacles and deviates them to the false path of desires, attachment and enjoyment of sense objects.

The spiritual master teaching the Vedic scriptures rescues an aspirant from being under the influence of the dualities of attraction and aversion and guides them in the right path of offering one’s actions as yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord which is the best and surest way to attain liberation. So learning the Vedic scriptures from the spiritual master is never futile and is highly beneficial and essential.

Lord Krishna confirms that a person who embarks upon the path of jnana yoga or the cultivation of spiritual wisdom should not fall again under the influence of dualities of raga and dvesha as they undermine all efforts. The dualities of love and hate, attraction and aversion are a person’s most potent enemies and they completely frustrate one’s attempts for higher understanding.

3.35     Shloka 3.35

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्।
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः।।3.35।।

Sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah para-dharmat sv-anusthitat     |
Sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah para-dharmo bhayavahah ||3.35||
Meaning: It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though they may be faulty, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, as performing duties of others is fraught with danger.

In this verse, Lord Krishna is emphasising the fact that one should perform the duties one is designated or assigned to do. Arjuna was a Royal Prince educated, trained and having the might to uphold and protect dharma. Although war enacts terrible suffering it was necessary and appropriate for Arjuna, as a Kshatriya, to engage in it.

It should not be presumed that a person abstaining from their prescribed duty and take up an ascetic life is a superior choice. What is the purpose of a warrior if not to fight on the battlefield to protect and defend Dharma.

The essence of Karma Yoga is to perform one’s prescribed duties with commitment and dedication, and with a spirit of renunciation of results.  The path of karma yoga is performed by one most easily as it naturally befits the person skills who is performing it.  Bhagavan Krishna emphasises that performing one’s duty, even if badly, is far superior to perform another one’s duty with perfection as it is fraught with danger.

3.36     Shloka 3.36

अर्जुन उवाच
अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुषः।
अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः।।3.36।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Atha kena prayukto ‘yam apam carati purusah |
Anicchann api varsneya balad iva niyojitah ||3.36||
Meaning: Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrsni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?

A living entity, as part and parcel of the Supreme, is originally spiritual, pure, and free from all material contamination. Therefore, by nature it is not subjected to the sins of the material world. But when it comes into contact with the material nature, it acts in many sinful ways without hesitation, and sometimes even against its will.

As such, Arjuna’s question to Bhagavan Krishna is very pertinent and he seeks to know the reason for a person to do sinful acts against it’s will. When a living entity despite fighting with itself to not sin, ends up in sinful acts as if impelled by a force not within its control.

There are numerous reasons why a person may be compelled to engage in sinful activities. The word ‘atha’ denotes what factors with which one is influenced to act in sin. Arjuna is keen to understand the underlying reasons or forces that strongly provokes someone to to act in an unrighteous manner even when the person knows that its not in his best interest to act that way.

Arjuna beseeches Krishna to tell him the reasons so that if he could understand the causes, it would be possible for him to develop strategies to counter it.

3.37     Shloka 3.37

श्री भगवानुवाच
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः।
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम्।।3.37।।

Sri-Bhagavan Uvaca
Kama esa krodha esa rajo-guna-samudbhavah |
Mahasano maha-papma viddhy enam iha vairinam ||3.37||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: It is lust which when unsated turns into anger, arising from the mode of passion; Know this lust to be insatiable, extremely sinful which is all-devouring and the greatest enemy in this world.

Bhagavan Krishna, in this verse, explicitly confirms the root cause and great impeller of sins to be “Kama” or “Lust” which is known to forcefully compel one’s senses to race impetuously towards sense objects. When lust is impeded and desires are frustrated it turns into anger, hence “Krodha” or anger is also a form of Kama as they both arise out of Rajo Guna or the mode of passion.

This suggests that to control lust one has to increase one’s Sattva guna or the mode of goodness.  The effects of Rajas can be decreased with conscious focus on Sattva that can lead to a decreased level of desires. By controlling desires one can control lust and by controlling lust one can controls anger. Thus, one should note that both lust and anger are interconnected but by controlling lust one can control anger. But Kama is extremely difficult to control once it has been stimulated because it is insatiable. It does not get sated even after enjoying all forms of wealth and pleasure.  The desires increase much like a fire when oil is poured on it. It rages out of control rapidly and when it is impeded it explodes into anger destroying everything in its path like a devastating forest fire.

Bhagavan Krishna says that Kama and Krodha are the greatest enemies and the forces that impel one to perform sinful acts.

3.38     Shloka 3.38

धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निर्यथाऽऽदर्शो मलेन च।
यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम्।।3.38।।

Dhumenavriyate vahnir yathadarso malena ca  |
Yatholbenavrto garbhas tatha tenedam avrtam ||3.38||
Meaning: As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, similarly, the knowledge is covered by this lust.

Bhagavan gives three examples of layers that act as barriers to knowledge and represents the degrees of covering of the living entity by which the pure consciousness is obscured. This covering is nothing but lust under different forms like smoke enveloping the fire, dust on the mirror, and the womb encasing the embryo.

When lust is compared to smoke, it is understood that the fire of the living spark can be perceived. In other words, when the living entity performs his duties though not consistently, he may be likened to the fire covered by smoke. Although fire is necessary for smoke, there is no overt manifestation of fire in that early stage.

The dust on the mirror refers to the need for a cleansing process of the mirror of the mind which can be achieved by meditation and chanting of Lord’s Namas.  The embryo encased by the womb is an analogy that illustrates the helplessness of the child and its total dependence for everything. This stage of living condition can be compared to that of inanimate objects that they are devoid of all consciousness.

It is clear from Bhagavan Krishna’s examples that that everyone is afflicted by Kama to some degree in this world.  When the senses are excited, Kama or lust manifests itself explosively completely covering the Atma, which is why Kama is such a formidable adversary. Kama covers the Atma in a thick envelope rendering it difficult to be perceived.

3.39     Shloka 3.39

आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा।
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च।।3.39।।

Avrtam jnanam etena jnanino nitya-vairina  |
Kama-rupena kaunteya duspurenanalena ca ||3.39||
Meaning: Thus, a man’s pure consciousness is covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire.

Lust is never sated just as fire is never extinguished by a constant supply of fuel.  Therefore, this lust is the symbol of ignorance by which the living entity is kept within the material world. While one enjoys sense gratification, it may be that there is some feeling of happiness, but actually that so-called feeling of happiness is the ultimate enemy of the sense enjoyer.

One on the path of jnana yoga knows from the scriptures that moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death can never manifest itself until first attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation.

The word ‘Kama-rupena’ means in the form of lust and the word ‘duspurena’ means ‘it is never satisfied’. The word ‘analena’ means ‘like a fire’ which denotes the burning fire of Kama which is never satisfied and is insatiable. When the object of its desires has been acquired and the senses fully gratified then at once Kama wants more and looks for something new. It is never satisfied.

It is said that Kama covers the Atma as smoke covers fire, as dust prevents one from seeing a reflection in the mirror.  This Kama prevents one from perceiving their Atma and keeps a person imprisoned in material existence just as a womb envelops the embryo and keeps it dependent.

Therefore, Kama or lust is an eternal adversary, and to achieve self-realisation one has to overcome lust.

3.40     Shloka 3.40

इन्द्रियाणि मनो बुद्धिरस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते।
एतैर्विमोहयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम्।।3.40।।

Indriyani mano buddhir asyadhisthanam ucyate  |
Eetair vimohayaty esa jnanam avrtya dehinam ||3.40||
Meaning: The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust, which veils the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.

Mind is the centre of all the activities of the senses, and thus the mind is the reservoir of all ideas of sense gratification; and, as a result, the mind and the senses become the repositories of lust. Next, the intellect becomes ingrained with such lustful propensities.  Lust filled intellect influences the spirit soul to acquire the false ego and identify itself with matter, and thus with the mind and senses. The spirit soul becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakes this as true happiness.

This false identification of the soul is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:

Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
Sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma idyadhih
Yat-tirtha-buddhih salite na karhicij
Janesv abhijnesu sa eva gokharah [S.B. 10.84.13]
Meaning: A human being who identifies this body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of birth as worship able, and who goes to the place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is no better than a cow or an ass.

The senses becoming excited and agitates the mind and the mind becoming engrossed and envelops the intellect with this Kama. By revealing where Kama or lust covertly resides, Bhagavan Krishna is giving knowledge and guidance to control it.

The senses, the mind and the intellect which controls the discriminatory faculty, is where Kama or lust covertly resides and exercises its dominion over the Atma or Soul. Through Kama, the senses, the mind and the intellect become addicted to craving for sense objects. Kama seizes hold of the embodied beings and beguiles them by clouding their intellect and then Kama covers and envelops the Atma or Soul.

3.41     Shloka 3.41

तस्मात्त्वमिन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ।
पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञाननाशनम्।।3.41।।

Tasmat tvam indriyany adau niyamya bharatarsabha  |
Papmanam prajahi hy enam jnana-vijnana-nasanam ||3.41||
Meaning: Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.

Bhagavan Krishna advises Arjuna to regulate the senses from the very beginning so that he could curb the greatest sinful enemy i.e. lust, which destroys the urge for spiritual progress, and specifically, the yearning for knowledge of the Self. 

‘Jnanam’ refers to knowledge of the Self or in other words, knowledge that the Soul is distinct and not the body.  ‘Vijnanam’ refers to specific knowledge of the spirit soul and knowledge of one’s constitutional position and its relationship to the Supreme Soul.

It is explained thus in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
Jnanam parama-guhyam me yad-vijnana-samanvitam
Sarahasyam tad-angam ca grhana gaditam Maya || [S.B. 2.9.31]
Meaning: The Knowledge of the Self and of the Supreme Self is very confidential and mysterious, being veiled by Maya.  It has to be realized in conjunction with devotional service and the necessary process is being explained by Me. You may take it up carefully.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is the maintainer and energiser of everything in Creation.  Srimad Bhagavad-Gita gives us that knowledge, specifically knowledge of the Self. The living entities are part of the Lord, and therefore they are simply meant to serve the Lord.

But Kama envelops the mind and the intellect and is an obstacle to achieve Atma tattva or Soul realisation; but even after the Atma tattva is achieved, Kama is so powerful that it is able to influence even the jnanis.  We see this in many Puranic stories where the even the like of great Sage Vishwamitra is afflicted by Kama. Kama is never sated and thus vigilance is required at all times before moksha or complete release from the material existence is attained.

Now Lord Krishna explains how to restrain Kama or lust which is so terrible and destructive to the development of a human being and which is the root of all evils because it obscures true knowledge.

The teachings of the spiritual master leads to inner wisdom that arises from meditation and reflection on the Supreme Lord. One must, therefore, withdraw the senses away from the sense objects from the very beginning and should remain resolute with a steady mind.

Bhagavan Krishna emphasises the need to vanquish this great enemy known as Kama, which is so terrible, that destroys both Jnana (Knowledge of Self) and Vijnana (Knowledge of the Supreme).

3.42     Shloka 3.42

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः।
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः।।3.42।।

Indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah  |
Manasas tu para buddhir yo buddheh paratas tu sah ||3.42||
Meaning: The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.

The senses are the outlets for the activities of lust. Lust resides within the body, but it manifests itself through the senses. Therefore, the senses are superior to the body as a whole. But the mind is superior to the senses as it is active even when the body may be silent and at rest—as it does during dreaming. But, above the mind there is the determination of the intelligence, and above the intelligence is the soul. These outlets are suspended when there is superior consciousness. Therefore, when the soul is directly engaged with the Supreme, naturally all other subordinates, namely, the intelligence, mind and the senses, will be automatically engaged in the Supreme.

In the Katha Upanishad (1.3.10), it says:

इिन्द्रयेभ्यः परा ह्यथार् अथभ्यश्च परंमनः।
मनसस्तुपरा बुद्धबुर्द्धेरात्मा महान्परः॥

Indriyebhyaḥ para hy artha, arthebhyash ca param manaḥ |
Manasas ca para buddhir buddher atma mahan paraḥ  || (1.3.10)
Meaning: Beyond the senses are the rudiments of objects, beyond these rudiments is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, and beyond the intellect is the great Self.

Therefore, if the mind is directly engaged in the service of the Lord constantly, then there is no chance of the senses becoming engaged in other ways.

Lord Krishna explains the priority of the faculties humans possess starting from the physical body to the senses to the mind to the intellect to the Atma. The senses are superior to the physical body because if the senses are agitated they will transfer this agitation to the physical body and knowledge will not arise in the mind. The mind is superior to the senses and can stop them but if the mind is intent on sense gratification then knowledge will not arise. The intellect is superior to the senses and the mind but if the senses are passive and the mind is not agitated; then if the intellect decides contrary and is inclined to enjoy, it will overrule the senses and the mind and directs them both to pursue pleasure. So knowledge will not arise there as well but when the senses are withdrawn from the sense objects this impulse subsides. So what is more powerful than the intellect? We see that it is Kama or lust that is greater. When Kama takes over, the mind becomes clouded and the intellect is obscured by it.  The intellect reflects and contemplates actions that will gratify the senses veiling the true Knowlegde of the Atma. So, Kama is the greatest enemy of the human being because it obscures knowledge of the eternal soul.

The five senses are the main impediments to spiritual development and are arranged in a hostile formation against it. As long as the senses are primarily occupied in the pursuit of pleasure and delight in sense objects, the realisation of the Atma will never manifest.

What happens if all three aspects – the senses, the mind and the intellect were tranquil and passive? The unwavering answer is that Kama or lust which arises from desires, covertly resides deep within the heart and is always craving for sense gratification. This Kama is so powerful that it will assert its mastery over all of them and has a domineering effect by driving them to pursue actions and seek sense gratification, thereby obscuring the light of knowledge and the realisation of the Atma.

However, that which is the most powerful with its domain in the spiritual marvel is the Atma and is designated by the pronoun ‘sah’.

3.43     Shloka 3.43

एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना।
जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम्।।3.43।।

Evam buddheh param buddhva samstabhyatmanam atmana |
Jahi satrum maha-baho Kama-rupam durasadam ||3.43||
Meaning: Thus knowing the individual consciousness to be superior to the intelligence, O’ the mighty armed one, steady the mind by self-realisation and conquer this insatiable and formidable enemy known as lust.

In the immature stage of material existence, philosophical speculations and artificial attempts to control the senses by the so-called practice of yogic postures can never help a man toward spiritual life. One must be engaged in continuous contemplation of the Lord while performing one’s prescribed duties to gain spiritual intelligence.  However, that in itself is not a guarantee in attaining self- realisation as the powerful effect of lust needs to be firmly uprooted to gain Atma tattva.

Now in conclusion Lord Krishna establishes the fact that one should try to their utmost to destroy the powerful enemy known as Kama or lust. Knowing that Kama is the mightiest enemy, one must destroy it by withdrawing the senses, keeping the mind steady and the intellect resolute in Sattva Guna (the mode of goodness). It is important to slay this enemy Kama which will attack the mind and senses in various ways causing one to fall into delusion before one becomes powerless to resist. Kama is extremely difficult to overpower and is tenacious and formidable, yet if one dedicates all actions to Lord Krishna with their mind fixed on Him they can overcome it.

So the knowledge of Vedic wisdom and meditation on the Supreme Lord are combined as panacea to neutralise Kama from its location in the senses, mind and intellect and then destroy the great enemy.  This path of selfless action unattached without conception of rewards should be practiced according to one’s capacity and knowledge as a means of gradually achieving renunciation.

So it should understood that Kama or lust is able to dominate even the intellect and thus is antagonistic to jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic spiritual knowledge. So one must, with firm resolve, restrain the senses right from the very beginning and keeping the mind resolutely established in the Atma, and destroy this powerful enemy known as Kama by firmly uprooting it.

Thus ends the Third Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita covering the Karma-yoga, or the Discharge of One’s Prescribed Duty as an offering to Bhagavan Krishna, and conquer lust through constant contemplation of the Lord.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 13, Chapter 3, Verses 21 to 30 – KARMA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna, through these ten verses, explains the importance of performing actions without desire or attachment to the results. In these verses, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains the importance of performing actions even by the spiritually awakened in order to set examples for other to follow.  Actions performed in the spirit of sacrifice or Yajna results in the purification of the body, mind and intellect. When the mind is sanctified, one can contemplate on the path of liberation, and all these collectively lead to purification of the Soul (Atma), thus paving the path for liberation. Bhagavan instructs Arjuna to surrendering all his actions works unto Him, with the mind intent on Him, and free from desires for gain, without Doership, Egoism, and lethargy to pick up his weapons and fight.

3.21     Shloka 3.21

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः।
यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते।।3.21।।

Yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah |
Sa yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate ||3.21||
Meaning:  Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world follows.

The word ‘Sresthah’ means great personality or a leader. Whatever actions a great person performs others will try to emulate them. People look for inspiration and often look up to a role model or a leader and they try to follow them.  A leader cannot ask his or her followers to adopt high standards if they do not lead by example and practice those high standards. Hence, great personalities should always act in an exemplary manner to set the standard for the rest of the people.

An Acharya or a teacher should follow what he preaches to gain credibility, respect and followership. The Guru’s teaching should be based on the principles set out in the scriptures and practiced by other great Gurus.

3.22     Shloka 3.22

मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन।
नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव कर्मणि।।3.22।।

Na me parthasti kartavyam trisu lokesu kincana  |
Nanavaptam avaptavyam varta eva ca karmani ||3.22||
Meaning: O’ Son of Prtha, there is no duty prescribed for Me within all the three worlds. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I need to obtain anything—and yet I am engaged in work.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna is clarifying that, although He is the Supreme Bhagavan Shri of all, there is no activity prescribed for Him, He has no needs as He already possesses everything but He still performs activities to set examples so that all the world will benefit from it.

In the Svetasvatara Upanishad, it says:
tam isvaranam paramam mahesvaram tam devatanam paramam ca daivatam |
patim patinam paramam parastad vidama devam bhuvanesam idyam ||6.7||

tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate |
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate sva-bhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca ||6.8||

Meaning: The Supreme Bhagavan Shri is the controller of all controllers, and He is the greatest of all the Devas. Everyone is under His control. All entities are delegated with particular power only by the Supreme Bhagavan Shri; they are not supreme themselves.  He has nothing to achieve for Himself, nor has He any bodily form like that of an ordinary living entity. No one is equal or superior to Him. His great power alone is described in in the Vedas to be of various kinds, and His knowledge, strength and action are described as inherent in Him.

Without any objective whatsoever the Supreme Bhagavan Shri Krishna according to His creative impulse performs all actions perpetually.

3.23     Shloka 3.23

यदि ह्यहं वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः।
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः।।3.23।।

Yadi hy aham na varteyam jatu karmany atandritah |
Mama vartmanuvartante manusyah partha sarvasah||3.23||
Meaning:
For, if I did not engage in activities, O Partha, certainly all men would follow My path in all respects.

People cite examples of noble men and leaders to justify their actions as legit. If Bhagavan Shri Krishna, the son of King Vasudeva from the Vrishni dynasty the foremost of the righteous, failed to perform activities then so many others would follow in His footsteps citing Him as an example. Bhagavan Shri Krishna is stating that He would be at fault for leading them in the wrong way if He disengaged from all activities.

3.24     Shloka 3.24

उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका कुर्यां कर्म चेदहम्।
सङ्करस्य कर्ता स्यामुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः।।3.24।।

Utsideyur ime loka na kuryam karma ced aham |
Sankarasya ca karta syam upahanyam imah prajah ||3.24||
Meaning: If I cease to perform My activities, then all the inhabitants of all worlds would ruin. And I would become the cause of an unvirtuous population, and would destroy all living entities.

The word ‘Sankarasya’ means ‘unwanted or not a virtuous population’ and such a populace will disturb the peace and it will eventually lead to chaos in the society. To avoid this decay, duties or dharma is prescribed for everyone which when followed will ensure peaceful and orderly life while creating the path for spiritual progress in life.

The purport is that great harm would come to people if Bhagavan Shri Krishna were to refrain from performing His actions and so He always carries out His actions for the welfare of the world.

When Bhagavan Shri Krishna took birth as the son of the great righteous King Vasudeva, He conducted Himself in a manner befitting his position in the society i.e. as a prince of the Royal Kshatriya or warrior class. If Bhagavan Shri Krishna were to act in any other manner, all of mankind would begin to imitate Him thinking that such actions were virtuous and worthy actions. Bhagavan Shri Krishna is explaining that if He failed to perform activities, everyone would misinterpret this and would try to emulate it or follow His example.  This could lead them down the wrong path causing anarchy and drive them away from the path of Self-realisation.  This would be considered as a serious offence and Bhagavan Shri Krishna would be faulted for setting a wrong example.

The subtle message to Arjuna is that as a great warrior, who is famous for never having been defeated in battle and famed for his righteousness, should not shy away from the battle.  He should fight to protect dharma and lead by example for the other noble Kshatriyas who would be inspired by him and follow him. Thus, it can be understood that for specially qualified people, the prescribed activities become assume greater significance and these must be performed by them as they set the standards for the rest of the world to follow.

3.25     Shloka 3.25

सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत।
कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्िचकीर्षुर्लोकसंग्रहम्।।3.25।।

Saktah karmany avidvamso yatha kurvanti Bharata |
Kuryad vidvams tathasaktas cikirsur loka-sangraham ||3.25||
Meaning: O’ Arjuna, even as the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned must act, but without attachment, for the welfare of the world.

A person established in spiritual consciousness should also perform prescribed actions, but without attachment, in order to guide the masses towards the path of virtue. Those devoid of knowledge, work with attachment totally engrossed in their actions. But the person with spiritual wisdom, being able to discriminate between the Atma (Soul) and the physical body, is not perplexed. Such a person should perform the prescribed duties without attachment, in an exemplary manner that inspires the public, as a matter of duty.

3.26     Shloka 3.26

बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम्।
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन्।।3.26।।

Na buddhi-bhedam janayed ajnanam karma-sanginam |
Josayet sarva-karmani vidvan yuktah samacaran ||3.26||
Meaning: Let not the wise disrupt the minds of the ignorant who are attached to fruitive action. They should not be encouraged to refrain from work, but to engage in work in the spirit of devotion.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna states that a person of Vedic spiritual wisdom should impart knowledge to other in a simplified manner.  More importantly they should not disturb their routine and confuse them with teachings that might lead them to abandon their duties. The spiritually wise should merely encourage the ignorant to continuously perform their daily activities as a matter of duty but without attachment to results and with full devotion and commitment.

Those who have desires and are attached to performing actions to obtain the fruits of such desires and hence, are unable to master Jnana yoga, that requires rigour and disciplined approach.

For a vast majority of people, following karma yoga as a means to achieve self-realisation (Atma-tattva) is recommended.  Let the wise act and behave like one performing karma yoga and set an example by their actions. In this manner the great souls can inspire the whole society to perform righteous activities so that eventually their minds will become purified and they can advance spiritually and attain Atma-tattva. 

3.27     Shloka 3.27

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः।
अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताऽहमिति मन्यते।।3.27।।

Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah |
Ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate ||3.27||
Meaning: The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.

The difference between the actions of a person of wisdom and those who are ignorant is explained in this verse. The person of wisdom recognises that the whole material existence is influenced by the three Gunas or the modes of material nature (Sattvic, Rajas or Tamas).  

The one who is ignorant is dominated by the senses assuming that they are the Doer’s and cause of their actions and thus stricken with false ego they perform all actions with attachment and desires. On the other hand, a person of wisdom recognises that all actions are but the result of the interaction of the three Gunas and performs all actions as a matter of duty remaining detached and free from desires.

A question may arise as to why should the spiritually wise perform actions that are usually performed by the ignorant men? What then is the difference between a spiritually awakened soul and an ordinary person?  Bhagavan Shri Krishna clarifies this point with the word ‘prakriteh’ which means that the actions are impelled through the medium of the three Gunas.  One who is perplexed by false ego believes that they are the physical body and that the physical body is the doer of all their actions.  While the spiritual person performs the actions with no attachment to results and with equanimity.

The Vedas explain that the Atma (Soul) is the doer but this is only experienced when Moksha or liberation from material existence is attained. The impressions of the Atma expresses itself through the medium of the physical body in proportion to the purity of the mind. Yet the ignorant perceive their physical body as the doer of all their actions while in actuality all actions are performed by the interaction of material nature, the three Gunas and the false ego. Because of this misconception, the ignorant person believes that they are their physical bodies and hence doer of their actions.

3.28     Shloka 3.28

तत्त्ववित्तु महाबाहो गुणकर्मविभागयोः।
गुणा गुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा सज्जते।।3.28।।

Tattva-vit tu maha-baho guna-karma-vibhagayoh |
Guna gunesu vartanta iti matva na sajjate  ||3.28||
Meaning: One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed, does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for fruitive results.

Who is a Tattva-vit?  According to Srimad Bhagavatam, Tattva-vit is one who knows the Absolute Truth. That person of Vedic spiritual wisdom knows the exact distinction between prakriti or material nature and the Gunas along with their agents – the five senses.  Such a person does not get attached or is beguiled into thinking that they are the doer of their actions.

The tattva-vit is competent in discerning in all activities the properties and influences of the three Gunas as they manifest themselves through one’s actions. The one who becomes proficient in discerning the manifestation of the three Gunas in all their actions will not commit the error of assuming that they are the Doer.

3.29     Shloka 3.29

प्रकृतेर्गुणसम्मूढाः सज्जन्ते गुणकर्मसु।
तानकृत्स्नविदो मन्दान्कृत्स्नविन्न विचालयेत्।।3.29।।

Prakrter guna-sammudhah sajjante guna-karmasu |
Tan akrtsna-vido Mandan krtsna-vin na vicalayet ||3.29||
Meaning: Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of knowledge.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna says that one should not disturb the minds of the ignorant who are still deluded by Prakriti (Nature) and the spiritually awakened should let them continue to perform their duties.  Although attached to the results of their actions, they are at least doing their daily duties.

One should contemplate and reflect on the Atma and its essential nature which is purely spiritual. The Atma performs no material activity but has association with actions through the Gunas due to its union with Prakriti (Nature). Thus, in its association with Prakriti (Nature), there is doer ship but where the actions are performed without attachment to results and with an attitude of equanimity, there is none.  

The attributes of nature are those that are abducted by the senses thus delusion arises and the conception of false ego enjoying the sense objects impels a reaction. Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the word ‘Guna-karmasu’ meaning that the reactions from actions influenced by the modes of Sattva (Goodness), Rajas (passion) and Tamas (sloth).  It should be understood that the impulses that come from the sense objects are secondary attributes and they have reactions that bind one to Samsara, the cycle of birth and death.  Such ignorant persons are not qualified for Jnana yoga but are competent for karma yoga or performing their duties. Eventually in the course of their lifetime there will be a glimmer of comprehension of the utter futility for attachment for such actions.

The conclusion is that one situated in Vedic wisdom and is a prominent leading figure in society should also perform prescribed Vedic activities in Karma yoga even though such a person is a knower of Atma-tattva. By acting in this way and performing Vedic activities without attachment lesser men will follow his example and perform in a like manner.

3.30     Shloka 3.30

मयि सर्वाणि कर्माणि संन्यस्याध्यात्मचेतसा।
निराशीर्निर्ममो भूत्वा युध्यस्व विगतज्वरः।।3.30।।

Mayi sarvani karmani sannyasyadhyatma-cetasa |
Nirasir nirmamo bhutva yudhyasva vigata-jvarah ||3.30||
Meaning: Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with mind intent on Me, and without desire for gain and free from egoism and lethargy, fight.

This verse clearly expresses the purpose of the Bhagavad Gita. In this verse, Bhagavan Shri Krishna orders Arjuna to fight as if He was his Commander.  While Arjuna was also reflecting on how he would be accruing myriads of sins by fighting and slaying all the warriors in the battle. Now he is being instructed by Shri Krishna to cheerfully join the fray and perform his prescribed duties as a “Yagna” or offering in Karma Yoga.

The words ‘adhyatma-cetasa’ means ‘with the mind absorbed in the Atma within the heart’. So dedicate the mind and all activities to the Supreme Being in the heart represented by the eternal atma. The word ‘nirasih’ means one who is free from desires, free from hankering for the rewards of all actions while eschewing all vanity. The word ‘nirmamah’ means without a sense of ego, and by prohibiting all ego constructs of I-ness and my-ness, and relieved from the fever of mental delusion, discharge the duties at once without attachment. Thus, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is instructing the warrior Arjuna on how he get about to fight his enemies.

The person who performs their activities in this ordained manner is automatically exempted from all reactions when performed with dedication but with no attachment.  The Supreme Being accepts such actions as offerings to Him and takes complete responsibility of the surrendered devotee freeing them from bondage. This is the quintessence of Karma Yoga.

In the Svetavatara Upanishad (6.2) it says, It should be known that energy assumes various forms such as  earth,  water, light, air and  ether  at  the  command  of  Him,  who is the master of Gunas and  the maker of time, who is omniscient, who is Pure Consciousness itself , and by whom all this is ever enveloped.

Even the Yagna offered to Him is possible only with His mercy and grace. Devotion to the Supreme is its own reward and bequeaths His mercy and grace perpetually.  With this attitude of performing one’ duties as a service to Him and without any attachment to the results, one is relieved of bondage to actions.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat