The third chapter of the श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता concluded with the teaching of how Arjuna and all of us can overcome binding desire. ‘Binding’ is specified, to distinguish binding desire from काम | काम is a valid pursuit according to the वेद | Binding desire is when काम debilitates one, and I must have it by hook or by crook.
The permanent solution to binding desire is understanding that I am ever दृग् (Seer), I am never दृश्यम् (seen). The seen is the desire and all that comes along in its wake.
In transaction, one can manage desires~ by prioritization, making desires goal-oriented, being process-focused, and aligning desire with धर्म | However, true independence from binding desire comes from recognizing my स्वरूप and abiding in it.
The divisions into chapters of श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता is only for our sake, depending on the topic being elaborated by भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: | श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता talks of 18 योग:-s. योग: here means topic. And each chapter is titled according to the predominant topic spoken about within.
* श्लोक १ & २*
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् ।
विवस्वान्मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत् ॥ १॥
एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदु: ।
स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्ट: परन्तप ॥ २॥
This Chapter Four talks of ज्ञान in the form of कर्मसंन्यास |
भगवान् begins Chapter 4 by outlining the lineage of the Teaching.
Based on all that has been said so far in all verses, the two main topics we have seen are-
(i) the nature of आत्मा; ज्ञानम्,
(ii) the lifestyle that helps one to get (i).
If one is pursuing धर्म, अर्थ, काम, alongside with मोक्ष, then this lifestyle of कर्म योग is prescribed.
If we look at the time we dedicate to वेदान्त, it is about 4 hours/month for गीता अमृतम् | This does not amount to much time over the timespan of a year. If we compare this to a weekend camp immersive experience where there is ~8-10 hours of classes; this can equate to over 2 months of classes (using the above 4 hours/month).
So, one hour/week is so little. But even with this little time of one hour/week, the power of this tradition is so great, that one’s life can be changed.
Here, भगवान् is saying that all that I have told you about knowledge and the 2 lifestyles i.e. कर्म योग & संन्यास, that I have pretty much said all that I needed to say, and I have given you the Teaching.
This is what is meant by इमम् |
इमं योग ~ This योग refers to knowledge and the lifestyle (कर्म योग & संन्यास).
संन्यास is an exclusive pursuit of मोक्ष, where धर्म, अर्थ, काम are pursued to the least minimum.
We have seen in Chapter 3 that no one can live without doing कर्म |
The संन्यास does minimum कर्म alone, leaving all time & effort for learning & teaching.
Whereas with कर्म योग lifestyle, one pursues other things alongside pursuit of मोक्ष- श्रवणम् (attending classes), contemplating on what is learnt and applying it to one’s life etc. This is done with the ultimate purpose in mind, so that when one is ready, one pursues ज्ञानम् full-time.
संन्यास is both a lifestyle and it is indicative of knowledge.संन्यास means सम्यक् (well done/completely) न्यास: (giving up) i.e. giving up completely.
So, if it is a lifestyle, then it is a choice of how one wants to live one’s life. There are vows involved in accepting संन्यास | And only a select few will take it, and only a select few are ready for it.
But what is non-negotiable is the संन्यास of कर्म in the form of ज्ञानम् |
So, संन्यास लक्षणम् is कर्म संन्यास |
कर्मसंन्यास is to give up completely my notion/identity of being a limited person.
But, I cannot even give up an opinion, so how do I give up this strong notion of being a limited individual?
So here the sense of identity that I gained recognition & self-worth from and held on to,
in the light of knowledge, I give it up by seeing the Truth of it.
Also, previously भगवान् has spoken of कर्म योग as a disposition and lifestyle, and as an approach to कर्म & कर्मफल |
Here भगवान् says that, प्रोक्तवान्~ All I have said,
I have taught to विवस्वान् (सूर्य भगवान्).
विवस्वान् did not keep this knowledge to Himself, He did not get too precious about it.
He passed it on to मनु, who taught it to इक्ष्वाकु |
So, here we see भगवान् referring to important figures in the particular Teaching lineage of the सूर्य सम्प्रदाय |
*N.B.* – एवं परम्पराप्राप्तम्
The knowledge gained, has been gained through the परम्परा i.e. it is a Teaching tradition that has been handed down from one generation to another.
And was it only for the ऋषि-s? No. It was also for राज-s who were Sages, e.g. King Janaka, in addition to the ऋषि-s.
This shows that people who were highly accomplished also had a value for this knowledge. They were not consumed by धर्म, अर्थ, काम only. They also pursued मोक्ष |
कालेन – since time has elapsed,
योगो नष्ट: ~ this योग (Knowledge) that I taught you, which has been going on in the lineage, It has declined in the world.
(नष्ट means destroyed, but in this context, it means that it has declined)
भगवान् is not lamenting about this, it is just a statement of fact.
Often, we initially join class with great enthusiasm. Then, life happens, and we miss class, and feel badly about it and then drop out. Instead of thinking- Oh I missed class, so I should try to catch up; this resignation is there.
And then our clever mind uses cognitive dissonance to explain away, and rationally justify either at the conscious or subconscious level why we cannot keep up so that we don’t feel badly about ourselves.
The ones who stick with it are very few in every generation.
Here on the battlefield, भगवान् is talking to Arjuna in द्वापर युग on the cusp of कलियुग, and even then there were very few takers for this knowledge.
And now in कलियुग with the complete decline of धर्म, there is even less interest.
Importantly, as भगवान्, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: is highlighting the परम्परा |
परम्परा is the lineage of the flow of knowledge that takes place from one generation to another.
सम्प्रदाय is used interchangeably with परम्परा | सम्प्रदाय means that which is given completely. [सम्यक् – good, well done, completely; प्रदानम्-giving]
E.g. In academia/ “academentia”, insecurities can come up, so the secular knowledge isn’t completely shared between teacher & student.
But ब्रह्मविद्या is the only thing that can be given completely, because the knowledge is of me as completeness/पूर्ण.
So, it is सम्यक् प्रदानम् – completely given, because I am पूर्ण i.e. I am complete in & of myself.
Therefore, सम्प्रदाय reflects the lineage/teaching tradition that is the central aspect of Sanatana Dharma Hinduism.
There is no central institution in Hinduism.
The सम्प्रदाय is the lineage of knowledge which is dotted across the landscape of Bharat that has kept Sanatana Dharma alive.
The methodology is very thorough since it is immersive learning, with one cycle of learning being 12 complete years full-time.
Each सम्प्रदाय/Teaching tradition/lineage has a central deity, e.g. Lord Shiva, Ganapati Baba, Devi Mata, with different ways of worship/practices, and various dispositions on how they look at wealth, health, the world, and the relationship between the world and the individual.
However, there are a lot of commonalities, though the सम्प्रदाय-s may be different. For instance, there is agreement that everything is sacred, even if there are different ways of looking at reality.
For example, Reality may be looked at as द्वैत with two separate entities of the individual and भगवान् | Or, it can be considered that I am part of ईश्वर | So, there may be different ways of looking at Reality.
But, what is important is the culture of reverence which is present in all सम्प्रदाय-s.
So, one can travel anywhere within India and feel at home if one goes to a temple, or meets a religious person from another सम्प्रदाय |
We see this deep श्रद्धा at pilgrimage sites, e.g. at प्रयाग् we see different people of all ages praying to any form of भगवान्~ from different deities, to the river, or to the milestones on the roadside, and it is accepted by all, it is okay.
This culture of reverence that is there, is borne of the recognition that all that is here is sacred, all is ईश्वर | This culture is transmitted through the entire culture associated with every सम्प्रदाय/lineage.
So, importantly in these verses we see-
~ ब्रह्मविद्या is given completely.
~ Specific names are mentioned in श्लोक १ to highlight the role of the सम्प्रदाय for learning to take place.
~ The mention of the सम्प्रदाय also shows that this teaching is not something new, it has been around for a long time.
* श्लोक ३ *
स एवायं मया तेऽद्य योग: प्रोक्त: पुरातन: ।
भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम् ॥ ३॥
अयं मया प्रोक्त:~ all this said so far, by me,
it is पुरातन: ~ it is old, but ever new i.e. it is ancient but ever relevant.
So, possible concerns that Arjuna may have had at this time are:
– So then is this ancient knowledge applicable to me?
– Would our friendship last after भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: teaches me?
– What does भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: think of me?
Therefore, to remove Arjuna’s probable concerns, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: says-
You are my भक्त, you are my सखा (friend).
भगवान् also says that I am telling you one great secret~ उत्तमम् रहस्यम् |
This Teaching is considered a रहस्य/secret.
It is not that one wants to deny/deprive someone of this knowledge,
but at a minimum, in order for one to understand, there should be भक्ति, with trust in भगवान् |
Some relationship with भगवान् is important, or else this knowledge has no point.
Therefore, we should reclaim trust if it has been eroded in life. Otherwise, we may not trust anyone, and always be second guessing their intention, and this can translate to doubts in the relationship with the Teacher who is part of the Teaching lineage.
So, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: assures Arjuna, telling him that you are dear to me as a भक्त/devotee and as a friend, and this is why I am sharing this Knowledge with you.
Arjuna may have also thought, why did you not tell me this earlier, when we spent 12-13 years in the forest.
So, this could also be why भगवान् श्री कृष्ण: reassures Arjuna in this way.
This highlights the relational aspect of a Teacher-student relationship.
The Truth is actually glaringly obvious. But one has been looking externally/outwardly.
E.g. Even now, though one is studying वेदान्त, if one sees or hears an ad on the secret to ultimate happiness, one will check it out since the senses are turned externally outwards and one thinks that something external will give this happiness to me. Similarly, there is an appeal to the idea of a short crash course versus 12 years of study.
But metaphorically, भगवान् has hid that which is most precious in one’s own heart. So, I am the problem, but I am also the solution.
I have looked all over, went on all pilgrimages ~ spiritual and psychedelic, but really I am that पूर्ण that the वेद talks of.
But then one asks ~ how is it possible that I am पूर्ण? Therefore, the Truth remains a secret, because even if it is revealed to me, I do not fully assimilate it..
The basis of the Teacher-student relationship is both devotion & friendship.
Friendship is one of the most under-rated & undervalued relationships, but it is the basis of all relationships as there is an emphasis on equality. One is not trying to change the other, only support.
For instance, in marriages, once friendship is there, one can weather any storm.
But, if there are too many रागद्वेष, then this can be a problem.
So, this knowledge which is a part of the Teaching lineage, this knowledge which is given completely, भगवान् is sharing now with Arjuna because he is dear to Him, he is His सखा/friend.
And this knowledge is not something new, it is present in every सम्प्रदाय/मठ |
मठ is a traditional institution of learning in India, with different teaching traditions.
In some मठ-s, the teaching tradition is relegated only to initiates.
There may be Public Teaching which is accessible to all, but then advanced level is only taught to certain people because they have gained a certain maturity for it.
Also, not all सम्प्रदाय-s will teach अद्वैत वेदान्त; others may have विशिष्टाद्वैत, द्वैत etc.
But, one is respectful to all मठ-s | For instance, though in उपनिषद् class the argument of द्वैत may be demolished, one always treats people from the द्वैत सम्प्रदाय respectfully.
We must remain united as Sanatana Dharma, with no divisions due to differing theological positions, with धर्म remaining as a framework in one’s interactions with the other.