Summary of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5 (Two Lifestyles & Spiritual Disciplines) (31)


Lesson 31 summarizes 2 lifestyles every person MUST choose while living (householder/saṃnyāsi). And 2 spiritual disciplines all seekers MUST go through, both leading to Liberation (Karma-Yoga & jñāna-Yoga). Aspirant may choose which lifestyle to follow, but may NOT choose which sādhana to follow; whose job is to be prescribed by śruti (scriptures), according to one's temperament / stage of life.

  • In CH5, Kṛṣṇa given summary of what's been taught in chapters 2/3/4.

  1. 2 Types of Lifestyle: niṣṭha-dvayam (HAVE CHOICE)

    1. gṛhasta-āśrama: Life of householder

    Possess and part of society.
    Active lifestyle

    2. sannyāsa-āśrama: Life of renunciate/monk

    No possession. Not part of society.
    Withdrawn secluded lifestyle.

    Two lifestyles also mentioned in CH3.3: loke’smin dvi-vid-hā niṣṭhā, purā proktā mayā-nagha

    • Arjuna's main confusion: Whether sannyāsa-āśrama is compulsory for liberation. Thus question raised beginning of CH 5. Kṛṣṇa clarifies with: sannyāsa-āśrama is NOT compulsory for liberation.

    Person can choose any one of the 2 āśrama's and attain Liberation. Thus there is personal CHOICE regarding which āśrama to live by. Sooner this is settled upon, the better. Else mind will be agitated, fantasizing “What's it like to be on the other side?…

    •  Which āśrama is BETTER? Both are ok, responds Bhagavan (Kṛṣṇa). However gṛhasta-āśrama is better for majority. Example: Human relationships play important role in one's mental sanity or emotional stability, which only helps in contemplating in peace.

  2. 2 Types of spiritual disciplines all spiritual seekers must go through: sādhana-dvayam (NO CHOICE! Scripture Decides)

    •  Misconception: several paths can lead to Liberation. This is FALSE. Jñāna-Yoga alone leads to Liberation. Because no action can reveal what is already True (Brahman). What is already true (that “I am already free”), can only be removed by Knowledge (Jñāna-Yoga).

      Claims that other paths can lead to liberation, like: Kundalini Yoga, Tantra, Karma-Yoga, etc… are NOT supported by the Vedas nor Bhagavad Gītā.

    This means ALL paths serve to purify the mind (just like Karma Yoga). But for the HIGHEST (mokṣa), jñāna-yoga alone is the solution.

    EG: If an artists leaves a pencil on her ear and forgets it's presence after some time… is meditation, asana, prayer, worship, chanting, offering flowers to the alter of God… going to magically manifest the pencil or reveal it's presence? NO.

    Similarly, no action can reveal Ātman.

    The pencil seekers need to be told (by means of knowledge; praṃāna) that the sought is already present right here and now.

    •  There is no CHOICE regarding which sādhana to undertake. Why? A child (ignorant due to limited knowledge) can not discern what is best for it's TOTAL growth (other then candy).

    Thus child needs guidance of a parent. If parent lets child have his-her way, child would be in high risk of self-destruction or turning out to be a detriment to itself and society.

    Similarly, an ignorant “I” can only tell what is best for an ignorant “I”, but not for the true “I” (Ātman), since it doesn't have CLARITY of Ātman as it's true nature, since it's never been told/revealed by means of Knowledge.

    This is why ego needs to be SURRENDER to the hands of the scriptures. Few are willing to surrender to scriptures, since one's long Spiritual resume denies giving control to higher authority. In fact, rebellious attitude is highly prevalent in Spiritual world. Be it towards society or government (which is also Īśvara), that same rebellion carries over to the Scriptures (śāstra). Consequence of this is hoping from one event to another, one video to the next.

    For this reason, ego alone prevents Liberation for most sincere seekers in this lifetime.

    Message: SURRENDER all beliefs/opinions to the authority of śāstra (Advaita Vedānta; whose purpose is to show I and Existence are NOT two) through guidance of a teacher to help convey the message of Vedānta.

    • Conclusion: Everybody requires Karma-Yoga (in this context refers to “mind purfication), and THEN follow by Jñāna-yoga. It's this order whether you like or not. What one contributes, the other does NOT.

    • Should I do 2 sādhana's together OR one after the other? Kṛṣṇa says: One after the other. 

    ORDER: Karma-Yoga (prepares mind for…) > Jñāna-Yoga (leads to Liberation)

    This doesn't mean Karma-yogi (one who's main duty is to purify mind by means of various sādhana's) shouldn't read Scriptures.

    On beginning Karma Yoga is DOMINANT and Jñāna-Yoga is secondary.

    Later stage (after mind is sufficiently purified) – Jñāna-Yoga becomes DOMINANT and Karma-Yoga becomes secondary or unnecessary.

    Karma-Yoga (Verse 7-12):

    • Essence of Karma Yoga is: Proper Attitude + Proper Action

    • Proper Action:

    1. niṣkāma/sāttvic-karmāṇi: Actions contribute to max purity to spiritual progress. Selfless action: beneficiaries are more.

    2. Sakāma/rāga-karmāṇi: Selfish actions, where beneficiries are MIN. Max is: Me + My family. Produces LIMITED spiritual progress.

    3. Tamasa/niṣīdati-karmāṇi: Harmful actions. I get much benefit, society is harmed by actions. Pull down spiritually.

    • Proper Attitude: I do all actions as worship to Lord. Dedicate all your ACTIONS to the Lord.


    By devoting actions to Lord, the implication is: There is something more important then my own likes/dislikes.

    Remember: likes/dislikes is generally the MAIN reason or cause which agitates the mind, which prevents jñāna-yoga working… which prevents Liberation.

    So question is: How to eliminate likes/dislikes? Through Karma-Yoga (meaning: proper action + proper attitude).

    Summary: As long as one does actions to serve their own needs/wants, the likes/dislikes (rāga/deveṣa) are strengthened. Solution is to move your actions to category of niṣkāma/sāttvic-karmāṇi.

    • Whatever consequences of my action, accept gracefully. This is called prasāda-buddhi. Because every experience in one's life is result of on's own actions. Motto: “Whatever I get, I deserve”. 

    When something unpleasant happens, never ask “Why me?“. Because it's indirectly charging Bhagavan with injustice. Instead say: “Lord, I'm aware what I'm going through is result of my own past actions, whether I remember them or not. Give me strength to learn from this so I can move on and evolve to an even better human being so I can serve you even more.”

    • Result of Karma Yoga: Mind becomes spiritually oriented. Materialistic tendencies weaken. Interest in Śāstra increases and converts from a Causal interest TO a Wholehearted full-time interest.

     Conclusion: Everyone must go through purifying actions to prepare/ready mind for comprehension/assimilation/understanding of Jñāna-Yoga… which leads to Liberation.

    Jñāna-Yoga (Verse 13-21)

    • What is Jñāna-Yoga? Systematic and consistent study of spiritual scriptures, for length of time, under guidance of competent ācārya/teacher.

    • Benefit of result of Jñāna-Yoga: Recognition of Ātma; real/core nature of Individual. Ātma is nature of consciousness: Caitanya svarūpaḥ ātma

    • What is Consciousness?

    • Not part, property, product of body-mind.

    • It IS independent principle which pervades and enlivens the body-mind.

    • Not limited by boundaries of body-mind.

    • All pervading. Meaning what? Tell me, within a wave of an ocean, where can you NOT find the water (H2O)? Nowhere. The whole of wave (body-mind) is pervaded by the water (Consciousness). This is why you can never be away from yourself.

    Consciousness IS your Awareness, which is exactly the same Awareness of all entities in creation including animals/insects/plants. You're aware reading these words, right? Of course. That's because Consciousness (Brahman) is all pervading as we already mentioned above with wave/water analogy. This Awareness, YOU ARE.

    Consciousness survives and continues to exist AFTER fall of body.

    •  Being all pervading, like space, it's free from all actions. In presence of space, all actions take place within it or because of it.

    • One light (Consciousness) shines on all objects in room. Objects do actions (eternal cause-effect phenomena caused by Īśvara, althogh Īśvara is free of the obhects and their causes-effects… else one would attribute a criminal to the Lord). Light is not involved in the objects nor the results of the objects. Hence light (Consciousness/I) is free from puṇya/pāpa and 3 karma's (saṃcita, prārabdha, agami).

Recorded 8 Jan, 2019

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