Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 14

Part 13

Part 15

6 Moksha
Preparation 6-1
Preparatory Action 6-1-2
6-1-2-11 Dharma and Harmony 3(10 to 16)

Karma yoga is proper action with the proper attitude. Sri Krishna presents another facet of karma yoga. A human being is a product and part of nature. If any harm is caused to the whole, the part is also affected. A human being should live in harmony with nature. It is included in the proper attitude of karma yoga. Creation is not an accident. It follows cosmic rules. This cosmic rule may be viewed as a sacrifice or yajna of the creator. The human beings are born of the sacrifices.

Human beings must follow the cosmic law. It will give both material and spiritual benefits. Vedas prescribe the rules of living to maintain cosmic harmony. Scriptures deify different forces of nature, e.g., Varuna for oceans, Maruti for wind, Indra for rain, etc. In the scriptures, a tree is compared to the hair on the body of the Lord, and rivers to the blood vessels of the Lord. If human beings respect the forces of nature, the deities will give prosperity to human beings. Human beings owe more than other living beings because the latter mostly live life by instincts and do not violate nature. Nature and human beings are on the same side and not enemies.

Selfless action is one of the pillars of spiritual growth. Selfless action is to contribute more to the world and take less from the world. The laws of nature are such that by leading a harmonious life, nature gives unasked-for material prosperity. On the other hand, a life without harmony leads to destruction. One who enjoys the gifts of nature without any offering to nature is as bad as a thief. Taking more from nature than giving amounts to stealing. A thief may think that he has gained by his action, but it is shortsightedness. The end is a disaster. Even if a person is not interested in liberation, he must live a harmonious life in his interest and the interest of fellow beings.

Karma yoga is an aspect of dharma. A way of life, by which a yogi maintains the harmony of the creation. We are integral parts of the creation. Our life is interconnected with fellow human beings, with animals, with plants, with rivers and oceans. In short, our life is interconnected with the environment. The verses describe this interconnectedness. In scientific language, it is called the food chain. Rain produces food, sacrifices produce rain. Sacrifices would represent our good actions resulting in punya. These are invisible factors that maintain the cosmic balance, then rain will come at the appropriate time in sufficient quantity. Harmony is maintained by proper actions. Actions are prescribed in Vedas. Human beings and karma are interdependent. God has given Vedas to guide human beings to lead a harmonious life. If a person fails to lead a harmonious life in tune with the wheel of creation and leads a sensuous and sinful, his life is a waste.
6-1-2-12: Natural duties (Swadharma) 18 (41to 48)
6-1-2-12-1: 18(1 to 44) Natural duties are extension of varna system discussed at 6-1-1-7. Proper action is an essential ingredient of karma yoga. As all human beings are not equal, there is a division of labour in the society. The basis of division is aptitude based on three qualities, Sattva (S,) Rajas(R), and Tamas (T). S represents quality of knowledge, R represents action, and T represents dullness, and laziness. Personality and aptitude have a close relationship with the proportions of S, R, and T. Four different combinations of S, R, and T are SRT, RST, RTS, and TSR wherein they are arranged in descending order of their dominance. In SRT, Sattva is dominant, Rajas is less dominant, and Tamas is the least dominant. An SRT person is inclined to knowledge. An RST person is inclined to selfless activity. A RTS person is inclined to a selfish activity. A TRS person is inclined to serve the other three.

Sri Krishna says that the duties of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras have been classified according to three qualities. Brahmas are RST and their duties are control of the internal and external organs, austerity, purity, forgiveness, straightforwardness, knowledge, and wisdom. Kshatriyas are RST and their natural duties are heroism, boldness, fortitude, capability, not retreating from battle, generosity, and lordliness. Vaisyas are RTS and their natural duties are agriculture, cattle- rearing and trade. Sudras are TRS with natural duties in the form of service.
6-1-2-12-2: 18(45 to 48) A human being is born with a certain nature which is a mixture of three qualities. The proportion of three qualities differs from person to person. Nature may be predominantly sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. Nature determines his duties called Swadharma. For spiritual growth, it is necessary to acquire sattvic qualities. However, the transition from tamasic-dominated to rajasic-dominated to sattvic-dominated personality is a gradual process. If one tries to suppress his natural traits forcefully, it may be harmful. Therefore, one should start doing action conforming to his natural traits and gradually try to acquire higher qualities. It is evolution and not revolution.

In 18(45,46), Sri Krishna advises that Swadharma is a guide. A person should be aware of his innate nature and engage in action conforming to it. A person attains the highest by honouring Swadharma and discharging his duties accordingly. By doing so, he does not incur sin provided the action is within the bounds of dharma as prescribed by scriptures. As poison is not harmful to a worm born in it, one does not incur sin by performing a duty dictated by one’s nature. Swadharma is a purifying agent and enables inner and spiritual growth. Even if such an action is of inferior quality, it is better to perform it instead of doing an action of superior quality which is against Swadharma because every action has some defect. By following Swadharma, one grows spiritually.

A person achieves success by adoring t God through his duties. Suppose a person has a sattvic dominant personality. His interest lies in pursuing knowledge. He loves a calm and serene atmosphere. His Swadharma is study. He will succeed if he undertakes an academic career. He will be a failure in business which is action-oriented and rajasic. A person with a tamasic personality has low intellect and cannot take up an academic career. He cannot afford the risk required in business. He is incapable of making decisions. His innate nature is to follow others. He will serve himself and society better by engaging in action suited to his nature, e.g., working class. While following his innate nature, he can also try to acquire higher qualities.

Division of labour is a time-tested scheme. Division of labour does not mean that one job is inferior and the other is superior. Its other name is Swadharma. A person following Swadharma is entitled to respect irrespective of the nature of his action. A seeker dedicates his actions to the feet of God. An offering to God is always sacred.