Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (CHAPTER 6)

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 CHAPTER 6

THE YOG OF MEDITATION

Whenever there is rank growth, in the name of dharm, of too many customs and practices, of forms of worship and prayer, and of schools and sects, some great Soul appears, makes his advent to demolish them, and to install and strengthen the one and only God, as also to broaden the path of action that leads to him. The practice of renouncing action and thus of being known for wisdom were also all too prevalent in the age of Krishn. That explains why he affirms, for the fourth time, at the beginning of this chapter, that action is an essential, inevitable requirement of the Ways of both Knowledge and Selfless Action.

He told Arjun in Chapter 2 that there was no more propitious a way for a Kshatriy than to fight. If he loses the war, he will be rewarded with godly existence, while victory will bring him ultimate bliss. Knowing this, he should fight. Krishn further pointed out to him that he had imparted this precept to him in regard to the Way of Knowledge: the precept that he should wage war. The Way of Knowledge does not imply inactivity. While it is true that the initial urge comes from an accomplished teacher himself, the follower of knowledge has to engage in action after self-appraisal and due judgement of the pros and cons, and of his strength. Fighting is thus unavoidable on the Way of Knowledge.

In Chapter 3, Arjun asked Krishn why, when he thought the Way of Knowledge superior to that of Selfless Action, he was prompting him to sinful acts. In the prevailing circumstance he found the Way of Selfless Action more hazardous. Thereupon he was told by Krishn that he had imparted both the ways, but according to the provisions of neither of them is it allowed to go along without the performance of action. A man does not achieve the state of actionlessness by just not commencing work, nor does he attain to ultimate liberation by abandoning an undertaken enterprise. The ordained process of yagya has to be accomplished for both the ways.

So Arjun was well acquainted with the truth that, whether he prefers the Way of Knowledge or the Way of Selfless Action, he has to act. Yet he again asked Krishn in Chapter 5 which of the two ways was better from the point of view of outcome; And which was more convenient? Krishn replied that both were equally propitious. Both the ways take one to the same goal and yet the Way of Selfless Action is superior to that of Knowledge, because no one can gain yog without acquitting himself of selfless action. The required action is the same in both cases. There is thus now no ambiguity about the fact that one cannot be either an ascetic or yogi without performing the appointed task. The only difference is between the attitudes of the wayfarers who tread along the two ways.

 
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1. ‘‘The Lord said, ‘The man who performs the ordained task without desiring its fruits, rather than the one who just gives up (lighting) the sacred fire or action, is a sanyasi and a yogi.’’’

Krishn insists that only that man who has made true renunciation or achieved yog who engages in the one action that is worthy of doing with absolutely no desire for any rewards. No one becomes a sanyasi or a yogi by just desisting from the ordained action. There are many kinds of work, but out of them the action which is fit to be undertaken and which is ordained is only one. And this one action is yagya which means "worship," the one means for the attainment of God. The practice of it is action; and the man who does it is a sanyasi and a yogi. If a man has just stopped lighting fire or tells himself complacently that he has no use for action because he possesses Self-knowledge, he is neither a sanyasi nor a doer of selfless action. Krishn further speaks about this:

 
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2. "Remember, O Arjun, that yog (selfless action) is the same as renunciation (knowledge), for no man can be a yogi without a total rejection of desire."

What we know as renunciation is also yog, for no man can be a yogi without giving up all his desires. In other words, sacrifice of desire is essential for men who have chosen either of the ways. Superficially it appears so easy, for all that we need to do in order to become a yogi- sanyasi is to claim that we are free from desire. But according to Krishn it is by no means so.

 
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3. "Whereas selfless action is the means for the contemplative man who wishes to achieve yog, a total absence of will is the means for one who has attained to it."

Performance of action to achieve yog is the way for the reflective man who aspires to selfless action. But when repeated practice of the deed gradually brings one to the stage at which the final outcome of selfless action emerges, absence of all desire is the means. One is not rid of desire before this stage; and-

 
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4. "A man is said to have achieved yog when he is unattached to both sensual pleasure and action."

This is the stage when a man is not given to sensual pleasure, nor to action. When the culmination of yog is once reached, who is there beyond to strive and look for? So there is no longer any need of even the prescribed task of worship and, therefore, of attachment to action. This is the point when attachments are completely broken. This is renunciation-(sanyas); and this is also achievement of yog. While a worshipper is still on his way and has not yet arrived at this point, there is nothing like renunciation. Krishn then speaks about the profit that accrues from the attainment of yog:

 
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 5. "Since the Soul enshrined in a man is his friend as well as foe, it is binding on a man to lift himself by his own effort rather than degrade himself.’’

It is man’s duty to work for the salvation of his Soul. He must not tempt him to damnation, for the embodied Soul is both his friend and enemy. Let us now see, in Krishn’s words, when the Self is a friend and when an adversary.

 
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6. "The Self is a friend to the man who has overcome his mind and senses, but he is an enemy to one who has failed to do so.’’

To the man who has vanquished his mind and senses, the Soul within is a friend, but to the man who has not subdued his mind and senses, he is an enemy.In the fifth and sixth verses Krishn thus insists repeatedly that a man should redeem his Self by his own effort. He must not degrade him, because the Self is a friend. Besides him, besides the Self, there is neither any friend nor any enemy. It is so because, if a man has restrained his mind and senses, his Soul acts as a friend and brings him the highest good. But, if a man’s mind and senses are not restrained, his Soul turns into an enemy that drags him to re- birth in lower forms of life and to endless misery. Men are fond of saying, "I am Soul." So there is nothing for us to worry about. We cite evidence from the Geeta itself. Isn’t it said there, we ask, that weapons cannot pierce and fire cannot burn and wind cannot wither the Self? He, the deathless, immutable and universal, is therefore me. Believing so, we pay little heed to the warning in the Geeta that this Soul within us can also descend to an inferior, degraded level. Fortunately, however, he can also be saved and elevated; and Krishn has made known to Arjun the action which is worthy of being done and which leads the Soul to absolution. The following verse indicates the qualities of a benign, friendly Self.

 
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7. "God is ever and inseparably present in the serene heart of the Self-abiding man who is unmoved by the contradictions of heat and cold, happiness and sorrow, and fame and infame.’’

God dwells inextricably in the heart of the man who rests in his own Self and reacts evenly to the dualities of nature such as heat and cold, pain and pleasure, and honour and humiliation. Perfect repose flows through one who has conquered the mind along with the senses. This is the stage when the Soul is liberated.

 
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8. "The yogi, whose mind is quenched with knowledge-both divine and intuitive, whose devotion is steady and constant, who has conquered his senses well, and who makes no distinction between objects ostensibly as different as earth, rock, and gold, is said to have realized God.’’

The yogi who has achieved this state is said to be endowed with yog. He has reached the crowning point of yog which Yogeshwar Krishn has portrayed in verses 7-12 in Chapter 5. Perception of God and the consequent enlightenment are knowledge. The worshipper is but grovelling in the mire of ignorance if there is even the slightest distance between him and the adored God and the desire to know him remains unfulfilled, What is called "intuitive" knowledge (vigyan) 1 here is knowledge of God’s functioning through things, acts, and relations (the manifest universe) which reveal how he is all-pervading, how he prompts, how he guides innumerable Souls simultaneously, and how he is knower of all times-past, present, and future. He begins to guide from the very moment when he makes his advent in a heart as the revered one, but the worshipper is unable to know this at the initial stage. It is only when he has reached the culmination of his contemplative exercise that he gains full awareness of God’s ways. This is vigyan. The heart of the man who is accomplished in yog is satiated with this achievement combined with his knowledge of God and accurate insight. Continuing with his account of this adept in yog, Krishn adds:

 
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9. "That man is indeed superior who view all with an equal mind: friends and foes, the antagonistic, indifferent, neutral or jealous, kinsmen, and the righteous as well as sinners.’’

After perception of god, a sage is both equal and even-minded. Krishn said in the last chapter that sages who are blessed with knowledge and discrimination regard with an impartial eye a Brahmin, an outcast, and animals so diverse as a cow, a dog, and an elephant. The verse under discussion complements what was said before. That man is doubtlessly a man of excellence who looks equally at all kinds of people, from the highest to the lowest, from the most virtuous to the most wicked, and from the most loving to the most malicious, irrespective of their feelings for him. He looks at the course of Souls within them rather than at their external deeds. The only difference he, therefore, sees between diverse beings is that while some have ascended to higher steps and gotten close to the state of purity, others have lagged behind and are still lingering on the lower steps. All the same, he sees the capacity for salvation in all.In the next five verses, Krishn describes how a man comes to the possession of yog, how he practises yagya, the nature of the place where the deed is performed, the seat and the posture of the worshipper, the laws which regulate his food and recreation, and sleep and wakefulness, and the quality of effort required for the accomplishment of yog. The Yogeshwar has done this, so that we too are enabled to perform the appointed deed of yagya by following his precepts.A brief review of the relevant points is necessary at this point. Yagya was named in Chapter 3 and Krishn said that yagya is the ordained action. In Chapter 4, then, he elaborated the nature of yagya in which the outgoing breath is sacrificed to the incoming breath, the incoming breath offered as oblation to the outgoing breath, and the mind is restrained through serenity of the vital life-winds. The precise meaning of yagya is, as we have seen, "worship," the deed that enables the worshipper to traverse the path to the adored God. Krishn has also dwelt upon it in Chapter 5. But matters such as the seat of the worshipper, the place of worship, the posture of the worshipper, and the manner of worship have not yet been touched upon. It is only now that these subjects are taken up.

 
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