6-1-1 Preparatory Knowledge
6-1-2 Preparatory Action
6-1-2-7 Self-effort 3(33,34), 6 (5 to 7)
Inherent nature, i.e., nature one is born with, and self-effort are two important factors in human life. Nature is an aggregate of impressions of virtue, vice, etc. acquired in past lives and which become manifest in the current life. 3(33) says that all creatures behave according to their nature. If this is so, there would be doubt about the purpose of scriptural teaching in the absence of personal effort. To dispel it, it is said in 3(34) that a person engaged in scriptures should not come under the influence of love and hatred despite his nature impelling otherwise. When he controls love and hatred with the help of their opposites, then he is in sync with scriptural teachings, and he is not solely led by his nature.
One should know the mechanism to control his nature. There are three levels; nature-to-thought, thought-to-words, and words-to-action. Nature produces thoughts of love and hatred. There is no control over their arrival. However, the decision of whether they need to be allowed to continue or not is under one’s control. It is self-effort. Let thoughts come without feeling guilty about it. At this point, one must use awareness and self-effort to make the appropriate decision.
In chapter 6, Sri Krishna talks about the importance of self-effort from a different perspective. A person should not suffer from an inferiority complex. He should have self-confidence. A person is his own friend and his own enemy. It is up to him what he thinks about himself. He must think that he can control his life. No doubt, God’s grace is available. But as the saying goes, God helps those who help themselves. Faith in oneself should come first before faith in God. There is no other friend except oneself who can bring about liberation from this world. In fact, even a friend is an obstacle to liberation, he is the source of such bondages as love, etc. Therefore, ‘one is one’s own friend’ is justified. Even an external enemy is one’s own making.
With self-effort, a person must exercise control over sense organs and the mind to progress on the spiritual path. Though life is full of pairs of opposites, by self-effort, one can train the mind to be balanced. If he fails to do so, he is his own enemy. He is a ‘killer’ of the Self for he will not gain Self-knowledge and get liberation. It is wrong to think that the fate of a person is already written. Two forces are at work: prarabdha and self-effort; the former is not in one’s control, the latter is. The outcome of an action is determined by the resultant of the two forces.
6-1-2-8 Karma yoga 2(39 to 41,47 to 51), 3(19 to 22, 30), 5(7 to 12), 6(3,4), 18(56 to 60)
6-1-2-8-1: 2(39 to 41,47 to 51)
After concluding a part of his teaching, in 2(38) Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to treat equally joy and grief, loss and gain, and victory and defeat and with this attitude he should fight. Samatva is equanimity of mind and not carried away by any situation and remaining composed and using intellect to deal with even the worst situation. Though both IQ and EQ are important, here emphasis is on EQ. In 2(39), Sri Krishna says that the wisdom which He has imparted so far is from the standpoint of Self-realization and He intends to impart the same wisdom from the standpoint of karma yoga.
Karma yoga has two components: proper action and proper attitude. Proper action is righteous, dharmic action. A proper attitude means selfless action. Since it is a selfless action, it does not entail stress and strain, it is effortless and there is no loss, there is no fear of contrary results. Gain is by way of purity of mind to pursue Jnana yoga, Self-knowledge, and freedom from the cycle of life and death. A karma yogi is focused on his goal, i.e., knowledge about supreme Reality unlike others confused by different aims. The goal of a karma yogi is Self-knowledge and moksha. karma-yoga is an enabling sadhana to make him fit to undertake the path of knowledge.
2(47) onwards deal with karma yoga in detail. The essential ingredients of karma yoga are (i) a person has choice of action, (ii) he has no control over the result of action, and (iii) despite (i) and (ii), a person should not shirk from action. A karma yogi is focused on the process of action without being concerned about the result. He is action-oriented, not result-oriented. The logic behind karma yoga is that the result of action depends on many factors, visible and invisible. Visible factor includes an action for which one has a choice. The doer has no control over invisible factors. The result of action may or may not be as planned. As such, a karma yogi is not attached to the result. He accepts the result, whether it is as planned or otherwise.
A doubt would arise, if there is no attachment to the result of action, there would be no motivation for action. The answer is that a karma yogi considers action as a duty which inspires him. He plans for results also. Once planning is over, he is focused on action only. There is no anxiety about the result. Planning is deliberate and worry is involuntary. A karma -yogi overcomes worry through practice. Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to be a karma yogi and perform duty with even-mindedness towards success and failure.
A person devoted to wisdom gives up the fruits of action. He is of equipoised mind and renouncing results of action eventually gets freedom from birth and death. Selfless action is an essential ingredient of karma yoga. In contrast, selfish action is fraught with miseries. A selfless action makes a doer free from papa and punya which are otherwise associated with any action. For a karma yogi, duty (binding karma) becomes a liberating karma. Since a karma-yogi considers the performance of action as a duty, he is focused on action, enjoys action thereby improving the quality of action. The results of the action do not affect his subsequent actions. A karma yogi is a skilled doer.
6-1-2-8-2: 3(19 to 22,30) Karma yoga is a steppingstone for jnana yoga and liberation. Without karma yoga, jnana yoga is not possible and karma yoga is incomplete without jnana yoga. King Jnanka was a jivanmukta and at the same time ruled the kingdom. Furthermore, a person should engage in action to maintain harmony and order in the world. Sri Krishna cites His case. He is an Avatara. He has nothing to achieve personally nor is there any duty imposed on Him. Still, He is ever engaged in action. If He does not act, there will be confusion in the world because people follow Him. 3(30) presents a simple method for an ordinary person to become a karma yogi.
Dedicate all actions to God and accept results as His gifts. It is Isvara-arpana-bhava and Isvara-prasad-bhava. More on this at 6-1-2-9. As it is an offering to God, there is a focus on action and the best efforts are put. There is no worry about the fruit of action and is accepted with grace as a gift from God. A karma yogi is a skilled doer and a graceful enjoyer.
Sri Krishna addresses the majority of mankind for whom grihastha is suitable as compared to Sanyas. He should purify his mind, and control sense organs. Such a karma yogi in due course becomes a jnani and is not bound by action though engaged in action. Even while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, reclining, breathing, talking, evacuating, opening the eyes, and closing the eyes he knows that his real nature, Atma does not do any of these activities. He is a non-doer as he is different from ten organs. He is a non-enjoyer also. The action does not bind him and does not add to or subtract from his completeness.
A karma yogi dedicates all actions to God thereby renunciates them. The action does not pollute him akin to water not polluting a lotus leaf in a pond. Action takes place at three levels, body, speech, and mind level. There is the absence of ego in all, i.e., devoid of notion of me and mine. He shakes off all attachment for the sake of self-purification (here self means mind). He does not suffer from anxiety about the fruits of action. Consequently, he enjoys peace. In contrast, a person attached to the fruits of action is bound by action and suffers.
6-1-2-8-4: 6(3, 4) Selfless action is the fulcrum around which Karma yoga revolves. A karma yogi engages in action without any personal motive. Action is by way of doing duty and is like a sacrifice. Devoid of any desires, he is on his way to blessedness.
6-1-2-8-5: 12(10 to 12) Though bhakti yoga is the main theme of chapter 12, Sri Krishna briefly touches on karma yoga. In 12(10), doing action for God is said to be a spiritual sadhana. Dedicate all actions to God- Isvara-Arpana bhava. It is included in karma yoga. If it is not possible, one should train his mind and intellect to perform an action without attachment to the result of the action. Renunciation of the result of action purifies the mind. With a purified mind, one undertakes the path of knowledge and reaches the goal of supreme peace- Self-realization.
6-1-2-8-6: 18(56 to 60) A karma yogi is ever engaged in action. He offers all actions to God and leaves the result of action in the hands of God. God is very much in the scheme of karma yoga. There is no secular karma yoga. It is a spiritual discipline in the path of knowing Atma and God completely. A karma yogi worships action and is devoted to it, he is even minded and is a selfless bhakta. He accepts the result of the action without any reservation. Therefore, in 18(58), Arjuna is advised to lead a God-centric life to sail through difficult situations of life. A karma yogi has inner strength. On the other hand, if a person is egoistic and does not heed and neglect the instructions, he is lost in the world. His life is full of thorns. Arjuna is a born kshatriya and his nature is dominated by rajas that demand an active life. He must follow his nature, at least for the time being. Not fighting is against his kshatriya nature. It does not mean that a person should not try to transition from rajas dominated life to sattva dominated life. What is suggested is that the transition should be gradual otherwise it may be harmful.
Contd Part 13