Bhagavad Gita ( Topic-wise)Pt16

Part 15

Part 17

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-1-2 Preparatory Action

6-1-2-15 More on preparatory disciplines 2(41 to 45,60 to 68), 4(39,40), 16(21 to 24) 18(50 to 53)

6-1-2-15-1: 2 (41 to 45,60,61) A person is required to prepare himself adequately to undertake jnana yoga. Karma yoga is one such preparatory discipline. All religious practices like puja, charity, and sacrifice come under karma yoga. An essential ingredient of karma yoga is selfless action resulting in the purification of the mind. A seeker does not long for enjoyment and affluence. He has the one-point conviction that his goal is Self-knowledge. Vedas prescribe various rituals for the fulfillment of desires in this world and worlds post-death. The desires are different permutations and combinations of three qualities. If the desire is fulfilled, there is happiness. It is not permanent because the object of desire is subject to change. Worldly objects and related desires exist in pairs of opposites.

Sri Krishna’s advice is to gradually isolate from them. Rajas and tamas should be gradually replaced by sattvic qualities without desires for acquisition and preservation. In due course, dispassion towards all qualities should be cultivated. For inner growth, a person should shift from selfish action to selfless action. One should regularly practice meditation on God and develop detachment towards sense objects. It may not be possible to achieve complete detachment. As wise people also find it difficult, constant alertness is required.

By practice, a karma yogi controls his mind and sense organs. He enjoys sensory objects in a controlled manner without being affected by likes and dislikes and without disturbing peace of mind. He engages in God-centric spiritual disciplines. In contrast, if the mind and senses are discursive, it is not possible to progress on the spiritual path. When senses move among sense objects and the mind is attached to senses, discrimination is lost. It is like a boat on river water carried away by wind. Controlling the mind is as difficult as controlling the wind. He who has controlled his senses has a steady mind.

6-1-2-15-2: 2(62,63) Raga and Dvesha are two notorious impediments in the path of spiritual journey. Raga is attachment and Dvesha is aversion. Vedantic scriptures tirelessly warn a seeker to guard against them. In a pair of verses 2(62,63), Sri Krishna enumerates eight steps in which attachment arises and leads to spiritual downfall. The world is full of sense objects and a person cannot shut the senses from being impacted by them. Yes, a seeker may try to avoid the sensory objects. It may or may not work.

In an earlier verse 2(60), it is said that even for a wise person, the mind is susceptible to the vagaries of turbulent senses, not to talk of a practitioner. The problem stems when the mind plays mischief by constantly thinking about sense objects. It is a slippery slope. Unless it is arrested, there is a danger of free fall as it gives rise to attachment and identification with the object. Attachment leads to desire in the form of emotional dependence. If the desire is obstructed or unfulfilled, anger springs. It is the red zone because anger causes delusion and the distinction between right and wrong is obscured. The person forgets whatever values he has learned and accumulated. His intellect stops functioning as if it has surrendered. He is prepared to commit adharmic actions in pursuit of the desire. A person whose intellect is destroyed has reached the bottom of the slippery slope. He is lost.

The slippery slope is to be arrested before it is uncontrollable, i.e., at the start of dwelling on sense objects and before the threat of attachment. Suppressing the attachment is counterproductive. Vedanta does not approve of it. An effective method to avoid dwelling on sense objects is to understand the real nature of sense objects: they are impermanent and cannot supply continuous happiness. Vedanta is emphatic that sense objects are devoid of any happiness. If one desire is fulfilled, another takes over. Expecting uninterrupted happiness from sense objects is self-deception. However, a sincere seeker should overcome attachment by practice. It is not possible for a person leading a family life to be without any desire. In such a situation, he should distinguish between binding and non-binding desires. A binding desire is prohibited as it involves emotional dependence. A non-binding desire is without such dependence and a person is not perturbed if it is not fulfilled. A person prefers coffee but he is not perturbed if tea is served. T is to convert desires into preferences.

6-1-2-15-3: 2(64 to 68) Obsession with sense objects is a source of evil, namely, attraction and repulsion. As perceiving of sense objects by sense organs is unavoidable, it is necessary for a seeker to control them. A seeker who can subdue the mind and sense organs effortlessly is serene and self-poised. When there is serenity, there is no sorrow because a serene mind is conducive to wisdom. In contrast, a mind lacking serenity is discursive. There is no peace and happiness. A wandering mind is captivated by sense organs and the wisdom is carried away like the wind carries away a boat. The conclusion is that wisdom becomes firm when sense organs are controlled as though turning a blind eye to sense objects.

6-1-2-15-4: 4(39,40) Sense objects indeed give pleasures but they have a beginning and an end. Carried away by sensory pleasures, a person overlooks their downside. They are mixed with sorrow. If desire is not fulfilled it leads to anger. Therefore, a seeker should keep a safe distance from them. Along with control over sense organs and mind, a seeker should have faith in the scriptures. A critic is a loser, not the scriptures.

6-1-2-15-5: 16(21 to 24) A seeker should be ever alert and guard against three enemies, namely, desire, anger, and lust. They cause spiritual downfall and are the door to hell. By controlling them, spiritual sadhanas become smooth. If a person lives a life of whims and fancies and discards scriptural injunctions, there is no hope for him. He sinks. His mind is impure and unfit for spiritual discipline. A layperson may not distinguish between evil and virtuous deeds. He should take the help of the scriptures. They are time-tested guides. Faith in the scriptures is an important prerequisite. Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to lead a scripture-based life.

6-1-2-15-6: 18(50 to 53)
Sri Krishna lists some sattvic traits a seeker should try to acquire.
Control of mind and pure intellect Fortitude and perseverance Detachment from sense objects Giving up hatred, ego, pride, desire, anger, and superfluous possessions Liking for solitude Moderate diet Meditation The list is not exhaustive. It is suggestive.

6-1-2-16 Guru 2(4 to 8), 4(34,35), 18(67)
6-1-2-16-1: 2(4 to 8) Everything wants to be in its natural state. A human being wants happiness. It means his natural state is happiness. But the world in which he lives is beset with happiness and sorrow. Unfortunately, happiness is not permanent and is mixed with sorrow. He cannot change the world and get permanent happiness. Therefore, he must think of changing himself and see if he can get permanent happiness and freedom from suffering. Scriptures assert Self-knowledge provides a permanent remedy. A seeker goes through four stages to get spiritual knowledge. In the first stage, he knows that he has a problem of suffering. In the second stage, he knows that it is futile to blame external factors for he can change external to an extent only. So, he must change from within. He tries on his own. In the third stage, he comes to know that he is helpless. In the 4th stage, he seeks outside help. He takes refuge in an outside source. It is called Sarnagat.

Arjuna has gone through the first stage in the first chapter and has discovered the problems of attachment, grief, and delusion. He discovers his helplessness to find a remedy. Though he is overpowered by his attachment to kith and kin and decides not to fight, in a corner of his mind, his conscience tells him that he is a Kshatriya and that he must fight for the sake of Dharma. He doubts his wrong decision. It is a positive sign. There is a possibility of inquiry. Sri Krishna has listened to Arjuna in utter silence and not offered any help. Only in verse 2(7), Arjuna expresses his helplessness and admits that his mind is confused regarding his duty. He surrenders to Sri Krishna and requests him to instruct what is good for him. Sri Krishna accedes to Arjuna’s request and becomes a teacher. The idea is that a person does not have the necessary knowledge to solve his problems. Knowledge comes from outside sources in the form of scriptures and teachers.

6-1-2-16-2: 4(34,35),18(67)
Sri Krishna’s teachings are not his invention. They are already in the scriptures. He has repackaged them. A teacher does not start teaching on his own. A qualified student should show humility by prostrating before the teacher. Then it is obligatory on the part of the teacher to accept the student and teach. Scriptures contain the knowledge and to understand the scriptures, a teacher is required. Independent study of scriptures is discouraged. The teacher should belong to a lineage of teachers and should have necessary skill to transmit the knowledge to student. Lineage means the teaching has been transmitted from a teacher to a student who has in turn transmitted to his student. There is continuity in teaching. A guru teaches what he has been taught with the help of scriptures, reason, and human experience. Everyone is not fit to receive the teaching.

A student should have an intense desire to learn and should be humble and accept that he is ignorant. He cannot afford to be arrogant. He must empty his mind of preconceived notions and listen to the teacher with an open mind. He should have shraddha in the scriptures and Guru. If he does not understand any part of teaching, he is free to get his doubts cleared by the teacher. It is incumbent on the teacher to remove doubts. Inquiry is key to learning. The student should serve the teacher. It has twin purposes. It purifies the mind. Secondly, it opens a channel of communication between the teacher and the student. Guru must know the mental status of the student so that he begins accordingly.

A teacher is a mirror to show the scriptures to the student using reason and human experience. Blind faith has no place. The teacher teaches, ‘Thou Art That’. If the student has assimilated the teaching he will affirm: I am Brahm. The teaching is profound. The teacher should not impart it to an unqualified student. It is prone to misinterpretation by an unfit student thereby setting a wrong tradition.

Contd Pt 17

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