This is an attempt to awaken curiosity to read the holy Gita. I am sharing a few nuggets verbatim from the chapters of the book, with the hope that this gets you started at your own pace. There are many commentaries on The Gita. This version is based on “The Scripture of Mankind” Translation by Swami Tapasyananda.
This is an overview of the 5th chapter titled “Karma Sanyasa Yoga” (Communion through Renunciation)
This chapter focuses on 2 things
- The harmony of the paths of knowledge & work
- The way of the illuminated ones
The harmony of the paths of knowledge & work
Arjuna is confused. His predicament is logical as Lord Krishna has been stating points which do look contradictory. The question he poses here is similar to what he raised in the 3rd chapter. He seeks a clear unambiguous answer on what he should follow.
He queries – “On one hand you seem to advocate the abandonment of all karma in one breath and in the next you praise the discharge of all actions in a disinterested manner” – Which of these two should I follow?”
Lord Krishna explains
A contemplative life characterised by abandonment of all actions (Sankhya), as also the discharge of all actions with detachment (Yoga) – are both valid spiritual paths. They may look different but they are the same. There is a however an important link between them. Without undergoing the discipline of detached action it is vain to abandon all external action, for it will result only in idleness and hypocrisy.
He clearly states that as paths they may be distinct but the spiritual realisation they confer on the aspirants is the same.
He further clarifies
The attainment of detachment in action is the very essence of spiritual life. Once this is attained it is immaterial whether one abandons external action or not. One who is truly detached is now fit to be united with the Supreme.
The way of the illuminated ones
For a person with such detachment he feels that it is Prakrit (Nature) of which the body & mind is a part that works and reaps the fruits – not he. And the Holy Spirit is the only unconcerned witness of all these movements of Prakrit.
Remaining in that state of Spirit consciousness he is not impacted by any experiences of life – pleasant or unpleasant. His dealings with all – has a sense of equality. Since he knows that they are all the unaffected Spirit and not the body to which the distinction of high & low, rich and poor apply.
In this embodied state he has full control over his passion and senses. Knowing that contactual joy only brings sufferings. He turns for satisfaction inwards towards the bliss of the Supreme Spirit of which he is a part.
He becomes an adept in the practise of Samadhi and can anytime withdraw from the surface life of the body and be merged in the bliss of the Spirit within.
Excluding all sense perceptions, fixing the look between the eye brows, steadying the flow of Prana (outgoing breath) and Apana (incoming breath) thru the nostrils, controlling the senses, mind & intellect, devoid of desires, fear and anger – and aspiring for liberation alone – a meditative sage so established is liberated for ever.
Points to ponder
A traditional Advaitin would argue that there is total contradiction between both paths.
By work or Karma the ancients meant Srauta Karma the work explained in the Vedas which were purely ritualistic and Smarta Karma – Duties imposed by the law codes, which were partly ritualistic and partly as per your state of life. It was held that performing these works will help one to attain the purity of mind & intellect which then would give one the competence needed for the contemplative disciple called as Sankhya.
When one has attained that competence one should abandon all Karma. To continue the practise of Karma Yoga afterwards is like husking the already husked paddy. Karma has therefore to be completely abandoned at a certain stage.
In the Vedic society if a Brahmin or Kshatriya lived without performing his ritualistic duties it was considered degrading. Those who had gone beyond the need of it were therefor expected to take to the Ashram or the Forest
To be continued ……..
Reference for previous chapters
Chapter – 4 : Gyan Karma Yoga” (Renunciation of Action in Knowledge)
Chapter – 6 : Coming soon