Lesson 25 wraps up a summary on Bhagavad Gītā’s chapter 3 on Karma Yoga – as means of purifying the Mind and living in harmony with the WHOLE. We also undertake some common questions between Arjuna and Śrī Kṛṣṇa regarding Karma Yoga path of Liberation.
- Who is a “thief”?
iṣṭānbhogānhi vo devā dasyante yajñabhāvitāḥ
tairdattānapradāyaibhyo yo bhuṅkte stena eva sah
“The devas, nourished by sacrifice, will give you the desired objects”. Indeed, he who enjoys objects given by the devas without making offerings (in return) to them, is verily a thief. (3.12)
- What prompted Arjuna to ask the following question in the beginning of the third chapter?
jyāyasī cetkarmaṇaste matā, buddhirjanārdana
tatkiṁ karmani ghore māṁ niyojayasi keśava
If it be thought by you that ‘Knowledge’ is superior to ‘action’, O Janārdana, why then, do you, O Keśava, engage me in this terrible action? (3.1)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa vehemently (fiercely) argued against Arjuna’s decision not to fight but to renounce the glory of success and retire to the quietude of the jungle to live there the life of a monk seeking the Divine.
In his arguments, at one moment, the Lord advised Arjuna that it was his duty to work without getting himself preoccupied with its result.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa had also warned him, ‘let not thy attachment be toward inaction’. Later on, the chapter concluded (verses 2.55-2.72) with the inspired advocacy of the path of knowledge. Naturally, Arjuna felt confused as to which of the paths he was to follow for his self-development.
In fact, the arguments raised by Lord Kṛṣṇa in his discourse create a grave doubt as to which exactly is the path that will take a seeker easily to the Realisation of the Absolute in Him. Is it: (a) Knowledge, (b) Action, (c) both together practiced in a synthesis, or lastly, (d) is it the total renunciation of both? It is this which prompts Arjuna to ask the above question.
- Why does the Bhagavad Gītā advise a man to act vigorously?
Man is ever agitated under the influence of the triple tendencies of sattva, rajas and tamas.
Even for a single moment he cannot remain totally Inactive. Total inactivity is the character of utterly insentient matter.
Even if we are physically at rest, mentally and intellectually we are active all the time, except during the state of deep sleep. So long as we are under the influence of these three mental tendencies (guṇas), we are helplessly prompted to labour and to act.
Therefore, not to act at all is to disobey the laws of nature, which will bring about a cultural deterioration within us. A person who remains inactive physically will get dissipated in his thoughts. Therefore, the Gita advises him to act vigorously, with the right attitude of mind, so that he may avoid all internal waste of energy and learn to grow in himself. (3.5)
- How does Karma Yoga become a technique of Self-Liberation?
By withdrawing the organs of perception from their unprofitable fields of activity, we save on the inner energy which would otherwise be spent through the organs of activity.
Further, because of our inner attitude of non-attachment while working, no new vāsanās are gathered by our mind; on the contrary, the mind gets purified by the removal of the existing mental dirt. The very field of activity which ordinarily becomes a snare to capture and imprison the Jīva… itself becomes the exact art of Self-Liberation. (3.7)
- What is the difference between the activities of the ‘wise’ and the’ignorant’?
Everybody works in their own given fields of activity with enthusiasm and deep interest, all day through, every day of the year and through their entire life-time. Man is seen to wear himself out in the strain of constant activity. Irrespective of his health, careless of the severity of seasons, through joy and sorrow, man constantly strives to earn and to hoard, to gain and to enjoy.
A Man of Self-Realisation also works in the world with as much diligence and sincerity, tireless enthusiasm and energizing joy, burning hopes and scalding fears as any ordinary man striving in the competition of the market-place.
The only difference between the two is that whereas the ignorant acts and is motivated by his attachment and anxiety for the fruits… a Man of Perfection will work in the world, without attachment, only for the purpose of the redemption of the world. (3.25)
- How should a ‘wise man’ guide his generation?
na buddhibhedaṁ janayedajñānāṁ karmasaṅginām
joṣayetsarvakarmāṇi vidvānyuktaḥ samācaran
Let no ‘wise man’ unsettle the minds of ignorant people, who are attached to action; he should engage them in all actions (I am doer/enjoy. ahaṇkara – ego), himself fulfilling his duties with devotion.
No ‘wise man’ should unsettle his generation’s firm faith in action. He must himself diligently perform the ordinary actions in a diviner and better fashion, and he must make himself an example to the world, so that lesser folk may automatically imitate him and learn to follow his unfaltering footsteps. (3.26)
- What is the notion of the ignorant man while acting?
All actions are performed by the guṇas. The ignorant man deluded by egoism thinks “I am doer/enjoy” (ahaṇkara – ego).
- Even a ‘man of knowledge’ acts in accordance with his own nature.” Explain.
Even the ‘man of knowledge’ acts in conformity with his own nature, which is determined by the pattern of thoughts that arise in him.
At any given instant of time, each one of us is determined by the thoughts that are in us at that moment; and the thoughts in us always get pattemised by the channels of thinking, designed by the thoughts which we had entertained in the past.
The nature of each individual is decided by the style of thinking which each is capable of.
The ‘man of knowledge’ mentioned here indicates one who has read and understood thoroughly the technique of action as explained in this chapter.
Even when he knows the technique, the Lord says that it is not easy for him to follow it, because his mind is designed to carry his thoughts through egocentric and selfish channels, ever panting to gain some desires.
Because of these past impressions (vāsanā), even an honest student finds it hard to practise this simple looking technique of action in his life. (3.33)
- What are one’s internal foes that prevent one from right living?
indriyasyendriyasyārthe rāgadveṣau vyavasthitau
tayorna vaśamāgocchettau hyasya paripanthinau
Attachment (likes) and aversion (dislikes) for the objects of the senses abide in the senses; let none come under their sway; for they are his foes. (3.34)
Attachment and aversion for objects are the internal forces that loot away the joys of right living.
Example: One’s Like says “I want tasty food!”. So one overeats. But in actuality body needs only 1/3 of the food to function optimally. The effect of this person like is extra weight gain and an unhappy self-image in the long run. Not to mention loss of energy and motivation to contemplate.
Thus Like of something as innocent as “Food” – has series of detrimental effects in long run.
- How is desire conquered?
Desire is conquered by the Knowledge of the Self. This is made clear in the following verse:
evaṁ buddheḥ paraṁ buddhvā saṁstabhyātmānamātmanā
jahi śatruṁ mahābāho kāmarūpaṁ durāsadam
Thus knowing Him, who is superior to intellect, and restraining the self by the Self, slay you, O mighty-armed, the enemy in the form of ‘desire’, no doubt hard indeed to conquer. (3.43)
The Bhagavad Gītā reference guide used is found here.