Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 8

Part 7

Part 9

6-1-1-2: Three types of Action 14(16 to 18)
The consequences of actions with the predominance of different qualities are different. Gati is the consequence after death and phala is the consequence of actions in the present life. A sattvic person undertakes good and noble activities and earns spiritual growth in the form of peace, balance, tranquility, and freedom from stress, tension, and anxiety. A sattvic person enjoys harmony and peace. In the case of a rajasic person, there is activity and material prosperity but there is tension, anxiety, stress; there is strain, and other negative emotions. A tamasic person is lethargy driven and prefers not to act because of delusion and ignorance. He wastes the gift of human birth.

14(18) talks about the destination (Gati), i.e., consequences after death. People in whom sattva is predominant go to one of the six higher worlds (lokas). Rajasic people neither go up nor down, they are only in the earthly world. Tamasic action leads to lower worlds e.g., Patala. Each loka has a different time and space. It cannot be measured in terms of human time and space. It is like our dream objects and experiences. The lokas are in terms of experience. A higher loka is qualitatively superior where body and sense organs and sense objects are more refined. The field of experience depends on the medium. A bat’s body hears a sound not heard by a human being. Different lokas are different planes of experience.

6-1-1-3: Discrimination 9(13 to 15, 20, 21, 22, 26 to 34)
9 (13 to 15): Noble persons who are predominantly sattvic are observant of normal worldly life and find that the world is full of duality and pairs of opposites. Nothing is permanent. The worldly objects do not give permanent happiness and security. They are discriminative and turn to the immutable, infinite God with single-minded devotion. Because of their punya karmas, God appeals to them. They are not tired of glorifying God and rejoicing His glories. They have a firm resolve and prepare themselves for gaining the highest knowledge of God. The preparations comprise karma yoga, upasana yoga, acquiring ethical values, and living accordingly. Devotion to God is not a single sadhana. It constitutes levels of sadhana. In the initial stage, God is considered the creator of the world. In the next stage, God is considered in Its cosmic form. It has a defect in the sense that bad things in the world are also God. In the final stage, the world is considered as the manifestation of God. The world is a lower reality, and it does not taint God, the Absolute reality. It is a knowledge-based appreciation of God. Knowledge is a sacrifice. Different jivas are at different stages of spiritual growth.

9(20,21): A selfish bhakta worships God as a means for material benefits. Karma kanda of Vedas prescribes different rituals for different material benefits obtained in this life or afterward in other worlds. If the rituals are carried out strictly according to scriptural injunctions, then the sought-after results are assured. The benefits are perishable and limited by time whether the benefits are enjoyed in this world or other worlds, e.g., heaven. After exhausting the punyas responsible for the benefits, one returns to a lower world. No fresh karma is generated in worlds other than the human world. Other worlds are only for experiencing the results of karma. Though no sin attaches to a selfish bhakta, he is an inferior bhakta since he is satisfied with perishable material gains. A Selfless devotee is superior as his worship is to know God. He is a middle-level bhakta, a jnani in the making.

9(22): The highest bhakta realizes the God as his very Self and that he is complete. The completeness makes him free from any binding desires. He has no duties. He lives for the welfare of the world. For basic needs of life, he does not make any extra efforts, unlike other bhaktas. God therefore takes care of his needs- acquisition and preservation. He has taken refuge in the Lord. Therefore, the Lord Himself arranges to procure what he does not have and protects what he has.

9 (26 to 34): Sri Krishna dwells more on selfless bhakti as it promotes spiritual growth. It purifies the mind. It has no rigid rules and regulations. The general rule is that the greater the end, the more complicated the procedure to get it. Selfless bhakti is an exception. The goal is God, the infinite but the procedure is simple. God gladly accepts small offerings, e.g., a leaf, a flower, or water. What matters is the motive. The offering should be done with a pure mind. A selfless bhakta is neither a crisis bhakta nor a materialistic bhakta. He is a seeker of God on his way to become a jnani bhakta. A selfless bhakta follows a very simple method. He dedicates all his actions to the God. The actions may be eating, charity, various austerities (silence, fasting), or any mundane action. He does not ask for anything in return. It is an attitudinal change.

Selfless devotion is powerful and yields spiritual benefits in the current life and next births. A selfless devotee is born in a cultured and spiritual family. In the interim stages of sadhana, papa is avoided and punya is cultivated. As he matures, even punya is discarded because it is also a bondage like a golden chain. A seeker is finally freed from the bondage of action including punya.

A selfless bhakta becomes a qualified seeker of knowledge and on gaining Self-knowledge, he claims liberation and ‘merges’ in God. By implication, a selfish bhakta cannot be liberated and merge with God. It does not mean that the God is partial. 9(29) clarifies that He is impartial and has no preferences. It all depends on the quality of the bhakti. A person who worships God as a goal with devotion, He exists in him, and he is close to God. The equation is straightforward. Closeness to God is in direct proportion to devotion to God. God’s grace is uniformly available to all but to taste it one must be eligible.

If a man of bad conduct worships God with one-pointed devotion, he has resolved rightly and is fit to be considered good. This shows the power of bhakti. Bhakti does not see who, what, and where you are. It is open to all including bad people and those with deficiencies and can be started at any stage of life, unlike jnana yoga which requires preparations. Bhakti has different stages, and a person can pick up from any stage according to his capacity.

There is an important message. A person suffering from mental guilt of having committed mistakes is also entitled to begin bhakti. A saint had a past, and a sinner has a future. Turning to God is momentous and a bhakta gradually acquires virtues and does not fall. He may not materially prosper but there is spiritual progress. He climbs the ladder and leaves behind materialistic stages.

9(32) says that those who are born of sin, namely, women, vaisyas, and sudras can also realize God by undertaking the path of bhakti. The idea is that people with some guna related deficiencies can take to bhakti and attain liberation. Swami Parmarthananda clarifies that as a woman are generally emotions, woman, in the present context, represents emotional persons who are more attracted by Saguna God. A vaisya is rajasic and inclined to wealth and a sudra is predominantly tamasic. It is implied that for virtuous brahmins and devout royal sages who are already qualified and spiritually advanced, the journey is smooth. A guna-brahmin is predominantly sattvic because of his spiritual progress in past lives. A guna-kshatriya is a rajasic person, an extrovert but he differs from a guna-vaisya. A guna-kshatriya is selflessly active and a guna-vaisya is selfishly active. Sri Krishna’s sincere advice is to begin spiritual sadhana irrespective of stage.

9(34) delineates a niskama devotee as one with five virtues: devotion to God, God is the goal, not losing sight of God as the goal, converting every moment of life into a purificatory exercise, surrendering to the Lord, and doing everything with the Lord’s blessings. In the initial stages, the real nature of God need not be known, God can be imagined as a person. Gradually from single form go to cosmic form, and finally to formless. Contd Part 9