(This is the chapter I plan to take up next in my eGurukula, Ancient Indians University, starting this Wednesday at 7.30 am IST. The Wednesday morning batch is full, but interested students can leave a comment and I will make a new batch for them at a mutually convernient time. (Click the link for Complete Gita).
The fifth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita begins with Arjuna expressing a doubt. Does Krishna recommend karma sannyasa (giving up one’s duty) or karma yoga (doing one’s duty giving up attachment to the result)?
Krishna explained that both paths are beneficial, but the performance of detached action (Karma Yoga) is superior to renunciation of action. (Karma Sannyasa). As we have seen earlier detached performance of Karma is the message contained in the first two mantras of the Isa Upanishad also. (Sankara, Krishna, Yagnyavalkya .. Isa Upanishad and Gita)
Who is a sannyasi?
Krishna said that a person who is free from desires and aversion is a Nitya (Eternal) Sannyasi. A person free from duality is easily freed of bondage. Only the naive (balah : children) think that the way of the Sankhyas and the way of the Yogis are different, not the scholars. Practicing even one thoroughly you can attain the fruits of both. He sees truly, who sees that they are in essence the same and lead to the same goal. (Sankhyas refers to those who advocate renounciation of right action and yoga refers to those who do right action in a detached way. – Satya)
What is Sannyasa?
Sannyasa is frequently translated as renunciation.
But to me it means Sat + Nyasa. Keeping in the Sat (Reality or Good). It brings to mind the American colloquialism “keeping it real.” The only point here would be, which is real? The transient sensations that your senses perceive, or the absolute unchanging reality that is called Tat. (Tat literally means “that”). To stay in that Reality which is beyond your sense might require you to forsake many of the pleasures that your senses bring to you. Perhaps that is why Sannyasa has come to be translated as renunciation over the years. – Satya
Krishna said that Sannyasa is difficult for non-karma yogis to attain. Karma Yogis can attain Brahman very quickly. A pure souled Yogi, who has won over himself, who knows that the Self of a being is the Self of all beings is untouched even though he is doing something. The knowers of Truth, know that they are not doing anything even as they sleep, think, see or hear etc. They know that senses move among the sense objects.
A sense object is an interesting concept. It is a sensation or a perception that exists when your senses interact with your environment. Your sensations, perceptions, and interpretations are bound or limited by your sensory organs, your intellect, and your previous learning. Physical objects which you sense are not even an accurate representation of the material, changing world around you — let alone of the Unchanging, Absolute reality that they cannot even attempt to perceive. – Satya
Sarvabhutatma – Bhutama leads to advaita. The “atma” or Self of all, Is the Self of the individual being. When your atma and mine are the same.., where is the question of your sin and my virtue? Of your being worse and my being better? - Satya
Krishna’s advice is to Dedicate right actions (karma) to the Brahman.
First we must recall that karma is right action or duty, akarma is inaction or laziness and that vikarma is wrong or undesirable action.
Then we must realise that the entire karma kanda of the vedas is for citta suddhi, to purify your consciousness, your mind if you will.
So do the right thing and dedicate it to the brahman. Then you will be untouched by Karma. Then your actions will serve to purify your mind. Then you will attain the highest peace and stay free.
Krishna goes further and tells us that : It is Nature That Acts : The Creator has neither created for us doership nor union with the fruits of our action. The Ruler neither accepts the sin nor virtue of anyone.
Then why do we think that we do things and that some things are right and some things are wrong?
It is an illusion caused by the ignorance that wraps up the true knowledge within us. Beings are deluded (muhyati – fascinated – under illusion) because their knowledge is covered by ignorance. If you destroy your ignorance with knowledge, then your knowledge will shine like the sun.
This is also an interesting idea. It is that all beings have Gnyana or knowledge within them. This knowledge is covered by ignorance as smoke might cover up a fire. Knowledge is and has always been in you.
It also speaks of ignorance as an entity or a thing. eg, absence of light is darkness., darkness is not a thing, but a blanket or smoke that can cover up a fire is an actual thing. Like the dirt on the mirror. You have to polish off the dust.. This point is important to certain philosophical debates. – Satya
Some Important Questions :
If “I” don’t have kartrutva or doership then “Who” is to dedicate “my” work to the brahman? If bhutatma is sarvabutatama then who is the brahman that I have to dedicate my actions to?
This hides many ideas.
- A mind under illusion thinks that its a doer and that some actions are right and not others.
- This mind wants to be free and wants to know the truth. (It is a mumukshu.)
- If such a mind practices dedicating its right actions to the universal consciousness, then in time, it will become purified and peaceful and realise that the bhutatma and sarvabhutatma are one and the same, that it is nature that causes all karma, akarma and vikarma. “sarva karmANi manasA sannyasya” : all actions must be “placed in sat” or renounced by the manas or mind.
- Then the method dissolves into the blissful result of knowledge.
- As long as you feel there is right and wrong, and that you have doership, you must do what is right, and as long as you think that you and God are separate you must dedicate your right actions to Brahman.
- What if you “like being a doer” and “like the fun of the illusion”? Then please enjoy yourself.. it is a very rare person who wishes to be free.
Dehi : the dweller in the body.
Krishna says that the dEhI, the one who possesses the body and lives comfortably in this ‘pura’ or city of 9 gates (eyes, ears and so on).. does not do (na eva kurvan) nor cause to do (na kaarayan), once he renounces all his actions by his mind, and is controlled.
The word dehi is generally applied to the aatma or self and not to the body or mind. Thus we can understand the 13th sloka to mean that the jivatma does not acquire karma, once the manas realises that it is not the doer – Satya
Total Absorption in That will purify you and prevent a non return to this world.
Look equally upon all beings. Then you will have conquered the here (sarga – creation) and hereafter will stay in the Brahman. Stay absorbed in the Brahman and remain unswayed by dualities like pleasure and pain. Detachment from sense-objects will lead to bliss in yourself. Pleasures born of sense-objects (perceptions) lead to misery… they always end. But if you can withstand the urges of desire and anger before you leave your body, you will be happy. He whose happiness is within, whose rejoicing is within, whose light is within, that Yogi, established in Brahman, merges with Brahman.
Another interesting idea: to merge with the Great, you have to go into yourself – Satya
The next few slokas introduce us to dhyana yoga which is the 6th chapter of the Gita.
Shut out the sense-objects, concentrate on the point between your eyebrows and then regulate your breathing (prana and apana should be sama.. equal.). Restrain your mind and be free from anger, desire, fear. Set Moksha (freedom or liberation) as your highest goal. Then you will be forever free.
Know Me (Krishna), the enjoyer of all sacrifices and ascetism, the great Lord of all the worlds, the well-wisher of all beings and attain peace.
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