The theme of आत्मा being अकर्ता (non-doer) and अभोक्ता (non-experiencer) continues.
It is easy to gloss over आत्मा being अकर्ता (not the doer).
The additional aspect to this understanding is that even the law of कर्म is sustained by आत्मा |
So though आत्मा is अकर्ता (never the doer),
but yet I-आत्मा as though give कर्म a validity, reliability and reality that it actually does not have.
So, from the standpoint of the absolute reality, is कर्म really कर्म?
From the Reality standpoint, some action is performed, as though, by the different waves in the ocean.
What is the reality of the waves? Water- which is सत्यम् |
So, the movement of the waves is really the movement of water.
In a given form, some कर्म is performed by the wave. But what sustains the form of the wave? All the way it is water.
आत्मा sustains the ‘individual wave’, which is water only ( i.e. the individual which is I-आत्मा-consciousness only).
AND also, all movement/ नियति/order of कर्म, I-आत्मा sustain.
Therefore, to delve into this understanding, different kinds of कर्म are mentioned.
In 4.18, we see that the vision of the wise person is revealed in the context of कर्म and अकर्म, अकर्ता and कर्ता |
Then, श्लोक १९-२४ highlight some aspects of a wise person and some aspects of the lifestyle of a wise person.
A wise person can be a गृहस्थ or a संन्यासी | The lifestyle is just where one’s life priorities are.
Importantly, regardless of one’s lifestyle, no one is denied this knowledge.
E.g. King Janaka was a successful king, who continued to manage his kingdom after gaining knowledge.
श्लोक २२ continues with another aspect of the wise person’s way of living-
* श्लोक २२ *
यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सर: ।
सम: सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ॥ २२॥
In this description of a wise person, whatever लाभ (gain) comes, one is संतोषः (happy/content).
This श्लोक makes reference to a संन्यासी going for भिक्षा |
भिक्षा generally is in the form of food, and is just enough for शरीरयात्रा |
For instance, in Rishikesh there would be क्षेत्र-s which would give simple free food of roti with watery dhal to these संन्यासी-s who study there, as भिक्षा |
So, the wise person is the one who is संतोषः with whatever comes. Whatever comes is recognized as प्रसाद | And if nothing comes, then one just makes do, e.g. drinks water from Ganga-Mata. This is यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्ट: |
So, प्रसाद बुद्धि: has to be at a high level in order for one to accept whatever comes. Some things are more easily accepted, and a lot of things one resists and struggles with- for instance the disposition/annoying habits of one’s partner, one’s colleagues, or some things about oneself.
So, समत्वम् and प्रसाद बुद्धि: are to be extended into all areas of my life. This is my साधना | It is not a forceful acceptance; it is to relax and glide into the understanding of dropping resistance.
द्वन्द्व अतीत: ~ not affected by pairs of opposites.
द्वन्द्व(dual), अतीत: (transcends).
If one has राग for one thing, one cannot avoid having द्वेष for the opposite.
E.g. If one has राग for धर्म, one’s tolerance level for those practicing अधर्म is low.
राग is anything that one gets obsessed with, or feels has to be done. It is making anything ABSOLUTE- it must be, always, at all times, places & situations.
Everyone wants to live a धार्मिक life, whether this is discerned or not.
Another example is that just because I am vegetarian, I believe that everyone should also be vegetarian. But this does not make sense because 70% of India is non-vegetarian.
So, if I have a value, and I understand the exceptions to the value, then I have understood the value of the value. E.g. In Ayurveda, allowances are made to consume meat if one lives in the mountainous cold regions, because in these places there is no other vegetation.
So, one should recognize the value of the value. And recognize that for every value, there are exceptions, only then I can be relaxed and balanced. This is not moral relativism or subjectivism. It is recognizing the reality of any value. Because every value is universal, but relative in application.
So with the attitude of द्वन्द्व अतीत:, one is not affected by opposites.
One swings to one extreme, if one position is important to me. If I define myself by my likes/dislikes because this is what makes my personality, then I will be intolerant of anything opposed to that. So, some balance is needed.
One recognizes that आत्मा sustains everything, including the opposites- hot/cold, all seasons, all values etc.
One is also विमत्सर: i.e. free from मात्सर्य (jealousy).
E.g. Jealousy consumed Duryodhana, as he had murderous feelings towards his cousins, and could not stand them being happy. He did not have the पुण्य to reach the stage of recognition that he needed help and should seek guidance from a गुरु to manage this मात्सर्य | So instead of trying to extinguish the jealousy, he justified it, and acted upon it. For him, it was unacceptable for others (the Pandavas) to be happy.
But it is easy to be happy if one revels in the happiness of others.
I-the person do not need to be happy; if another is happy then okay. But this feeling comes with seeing another happy, where one wishes I was like that.
E.g. One easily becomes jealous whilst seeing the lives of others through the filtered lens of Instagram. One thinks- I also want that; why is this not happening in my life.
मात्सर्य is one of the षड्रिपु (6 inimical forces) that exist in all of us.
These षड्रिपु are काम (binding desire), क्रोध (anger), लोभ (greed), मोह (confused thinking), मद (arrogance) and मात्सर्य (jealousy).
These are called enemies because they are not conducive to one’s happiness & growth. When one acts upon it, and it consumes one, it is likely that one will perform an act of अधर्म |
E.g. With binding desire, I must have what I want, regardless of the other.
Then, in chapter 2 we saw that thwarted/obstructed काम results in क्रोध | Therefore it is not completely effective to merely manage one’s anger by various techniques like drinking water, counting to 10 etc., because due to the intensity of काम, क्रोध arises which one is impelled to act upon.
Or, as a result of मोह (confused thinking),one does unthinkable things. E.g. if someone does something wrong, one thinks that that person is inherently bad, and on the basis of this one shames/humiliates the person, but really, I have also made mistakes.
For instance, the 3-year-old falls down and the mother is angry with this child who accidentally tripped whilst attempting to keep up with the mother’s pace. Instead of comforting the fallen child, the immediate reaction is that- it is all your fault, how can you fall down, you are not supposed to fall down.
So, these situations seem instinctual, happening in the spur of a moment, but it is a series of reactions- you fell down, it is your fault, you never listen to me etc.
So, like this one has confusion about all kinds of thinking.
षड्रिपु is part of the psychological landscape. It is synonymous to अपस्मार (the unconscious) seen in the मूर्ति of Dakshinamurthy. This षड्रिपु/अपस्मार are emotions and reactions.
To some extent, they may even be helpful. For instance, how can one have mastery, if one did not have काम or क्रोध?
All of this षड्रिपु is there due to अविद्या which leads to human insecurity. Therefore, one cannot avoid it.
In Psychology, षड्रिपु is referred to as the shadow self.
Literally, we all have a shadow when we walk out in the sun. But metaphorically, this shadow self is also there with these aspects of jealousy, hatred, being judgmental etc.. These can be managed, pushed under the carpet, minimized, or allowed to have free reign.
E.g. People who have the habit of showing anger may have grown up with the idea since childhood that if one does not assert oneself in an angry way, then no one will listen to me. So, this becomes a habitual pattern.
So, we must appreciate what happens to us when one is in the throes of any of these-काम (binding desire), क्रोध (anger), लोभ (greed), मोह (confused thinking), मद (arrogance) and मात्सर्य (jealousy).
Do I just justify it? E.g. With respect to लोभ (greed), do I justify wanting more of everything and find supportive reasons, or do I ask myself- do I really need this.
So, highlighted in this verse is that the wise person is free from jealousy.
So, one is genuinely happy when another is doing well, because one is not threatened by others doing well.
E.g. People who spend a long time on social media feel depressed since one compares oneself to others, and so it reminds oneself that I do not have what those other people have.
If someone is happy, then why can I not be equally happy for that person?
But there is the feeling that- I am not enough, I do not have enough, etc.
The wise person is free from all of this, and not just because of emotional management, but one recognizes that I-आत्मा pervade everything~ all forms.
So, if any form is my form, then if that form is doing well, then that is great because it is my form anyway.
Then with respect to सिद्धि and असिद्धि i.e. any kind of accomplishment or failure, there is समत्वम् |
कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ~ Even if the person is involved in all kinds of projects, really speaking the person is not doing any kind of कर्म |
* श्लोक २३ *
गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतस: ।
यज्ञायाचरत: कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥ २३॥
For this ज्ञानी, सङ्ग (the sense of being attached) to objects/situations has gone away.
This is sometimes misunderstood as ‘practicing detachment’. One mistakenly thinks that ‘being detached’ will free one from all conflicts. No.
It is to understand that I-आत्मा am ever-detached.
So then, what is attached? अध्यास is the extra value that I superimpose/place on relationships/objects that- this will complete me.
All things have their utility value, but the erroneous thinking that this thing/person will complete me is not there for the wise person.
So, this wise person is free from सङ्ग /dependence. Free from Dependence is actually a better translation than detachment for गतसङ्गस्य |
This means I can relate to all people with love and support, but not be dependent on them. These people do not have to fulfill criteria on my behavior checklist manifesto, in order for me to be okay. This is great freedom for me.
So, of this person, who is free from dependence, who is मुक्त: (liberated),
the चेतस् (mind), where is it rooted/anchored? ज्ञानावस्थित ~ It is rooted in self-knowledge.
So, what does this person do? One continues to do कर्म, because it is not possible for someone to not do कर्म, but this कर्म is performed for the sake of यज्ञ i.e. it is worshipful कर्म | So, everything is an offering.
The कर्म of such a person is समग्रं प्रविलीयते |
With अविद्या gone, due to विद्या/knowledge, there is only the कर्म of this lifetime that the wise person is exhausting.
So, if this person dies, in this person’s कर्म bank account there is a bunch of कर्म; so to whom will that कर्म go to?
The one who claims the कर्म i.e. पुण्य or पापा, is the कर्ता (doer). And the कर्ता is no longer there with the death of the body of a जीवन्मुक्त i.e. with विदेहमुक्ति | But really, even before death, there is no कर्ता, since कर्तृत्वम् (sense of doer-ship) has been falsified.
कर्तृत्वम् has been seen to be मिथ्या with a status of dependent reality.
So, the wise person who is free from अविद्या, is also free from its grandchild कर्म & its effects.
So, all कर्म is to be looked upon as यज्ञ |
यज्ञ is commonly referred to as a ‘sacrifice’. But a more suitable though loose translation is a ‘fire ritual offering’.
To do a यज्ञ, the वेद is the प्रमाण (means of knowledge).
What does one do in a literal यज्ञ?
There is the होम कुण्ड (fire pit) in which different rituals are performed for different goals/ends.
In a given ritual, there will be the one performing the ritual, and in most cases because we do not know how to perform the ritual, we depute the pandit/priest/purohit, who is professionally trained, to perform the ritual on our behalf.
The fire is kindled in order to invoke the grace of अग्निदेवत |
अग्निदेवत is the best courier service to all the देवत-s, as whatever oblations are offered, faithfully and totally it is taken to the appropriate देवत | We know this because the वेद tells us so.
As a part of the ritual, a 5-fold offering is made. The principle is that 5 symbols of the पञ्चमहाभूत (5 great elements) are used, since the entire world is made up of these पञ्चमहाभूत |
(i) पृथिवी- food/fruits are offered.
(ii) आप – water is offered.
(iii) अग्नि – fire is present, since all offerings are made to अग्नि |
(iv) वायु – मंत्र-s are chanted; fragrance is used.
(v) आकाश – flowers are offered.
So, this 5-fold offering indicates that all that I can offer to You is made up of the पञ्चमहाभूत, and I am symbolically offering this to You.
So then, can anything be offered? No. A यज्ञ has a protocol with stipulations. There are many do-s & don’t-s. For instance- how big the fire should be, when you need to offer. The materials that are used for यज्ञ should be clean & pure, and are especially put aside for use in the यज्ञ |
The वेद tells that if I perform a certain ritual, then I will get the specific results.
From the standpoint of perception, a यज्ञ may seem like a weird action with a few people seated around a hot fire, offering things into the fire which become ash at the end of the ritual, and there is chanting going on. So, an onlooker may think that this looks crazy.
But from the Vedic standpoint, it is awe-inspiring.
The difference between these 2 reactions is only श्रद्धा, because in the latter case one understands the principle behind the ritual, and comprehends that I am able to offer all this and that I trust that-
(i) this ritual will help,
(ii) this ritual is a powerful one because it has been revealed to me by the वेद,
(iii) the ritual tells me things that I do not know,
(iv) I am invoking the देवत/देवत-s. And when I invoke the देवत, the देवत will come,
(v) I invoke the देवत’s grace, and the देवत will bless me because I do the यज्ञ sincerely with devotion.
Towards the end of the ritual, the priest will say “न इदम् मम” ~ meaning that I give You totally, that I fully surrender all materials to You. This statement is needed because we all have a tendency to hold on to things.
So, the offering is made to the different देवत-s.
A long ladle is used to make the offerings of ghee etc. And there are stipulations- for instance only when certain मंत्र-s or words are uttered, then the offering can be made. Also, one looks closely at the kind of flame created (there are 7 kinds of flame). And it is also said that the form of the देवत appears in अग्नि i.e. the fire takes the form of that which is there in the ध्यान श्लोक | E.g. Just before ललित सहस्रनाम or विष्णु सहस्रनाम, there are contemplative verses that helps one to have a form to arrest the mind.
In कर्म, there can be a lot of variables, e.g. how the materials are procured, how they are offered, the level of devotion etc.) So, even in यज्ञ, there is no perfect कर्म, which is why we ask for forgiveness at the end of the यज्ञ | Because though we do it with the right intention, it is possible to commit an error/omission, so we ask that this कर्म done completely with our full heart be accepted.
And then in order to complete the ritual, दक्षिणा is given to whomsoever performed the ritual on one’s behalf.
So, this is the वैदिक ritual/ यज्ञ |
Now, this same metaphor of यज्ञ is being used for the next verse.
* श्लोक २४ *~ Beautiful verse on यज्ञ
ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥ २४॥
This verse is chanted before we eat, like grace before meals.
For any कर्म, there are different कारक-s involved.
Here, the vision of the wise person is that all that is here is ब्रह्मन्-the limitless and that is me.
So, how will the कर्म of that person be?
ब्रह्म अर्पणम्(ladle/मंत्र-s) – the ladle used for the कर्म is ब्रह्मन्; the मंत्र-s chanted as offering is ब्रह्मन् |
Because if one is saying that all that is here is ईश्वर, then is there a place where ईश्वर is not? Or is there a time when ईश्वर is not there?
In one’s dream, is there any part of the dream that I do not touch? The whole dream has come from me- the entire intelligence & material of the way that things are in the dream has all come from me. E.g. If I dream of a safari in Tanzania- the various animals, the safari jeep, the grasslands – all are me, I am there everywhere.
So, this vision of the wise person is that the instrument that I am using, or the मंत्र-s that I am chanting are ब्रह्मन् |
ब्रह्म हवि: – हविस् are the oblations that are offered, e.g. barley or rice. So, what is offered is also ब्रह्मन् |
Where is this being offered? ब्रह्माग्नौ (7th case) – It is being offered into the अग्नि/fire. This is also ब्रह्मन् |
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यम् – This sincere seeker who wants to ‘reach’ ब्रह्मन्; this seeker is also ब्रह्मन् |
ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना – This person sees that all the कर्म resolves in ब्रह्मन् |
The law of कर्म is sustained by ईश्वर | The स्वरूप of ईश्वर is ब्रह्मन्- the limitless being.
ईश्वर is just the name given to that function which helps different things to manifest.
So, all the way, the कारक-s- the कर्ता (doer), the कर्म performed, the instrument used, the purpose for which the person is doing (e.g. to have a child, or to have harmony between husband & wife, or appeasing a particular planet) – all of them are ब्रह्मन् |
So, ब्रह्मन् is not missed in day to day living.
There is no learning of the theory of वेदान्त, and then this is followed by practice. There is no divide like this.
In other disciplines of knowledge this is possible. E.g. in कर्मकाण्ड there is this divide. Also, when one is learning Sanskrit, just श्रवणम् is not enough, one has to practice a lot. Also, just by knowing the recipes in a cookbook, the food is not produced.
So, there are some things to be understood, and some things to be done on the basis of the knowledge that one has.
But the person gets confused and thinks- okay, I get what वेदान्त is saying, so now what should I do? If this question is asked, then one has not gotten what वेदान्त is saying.
If by doing the कर्म which one is supposed to do, one feels good, then the person should do this कर्म |
So, the vision of the wise person is that everything is ब्रह्मन् |
It is easy to say that everything is ब्रह्मन् and gloss over it.
OR, in the context of this metaphor provided we recognize that each though different is seen as ब्रह्मन् – the form is different, the purpose is different; but all of it is sustained by ‘is’-ness. This is ब्रह्मन्, This is me.
The कर्म which is performed, whether it be a यज्ञ as mentioned in this श्लोक, or otherwise is ब्रह्मन् |
So, in the upcoming verses, we will see a series of कर्म that one performs, that one can relate to.
The theme to take away from this श्लोक is that in the offering/surrender, there is knowledge, and all the factors are ब्रह्मन् |
The more we see this, the more is our attitude of surrender.
* श्लोक २५ *
दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिन: पर्युपासते ।
ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति ॥ २५॥
These योगिन: i.e. these different people who are given to कर्म योग, what do they do?
They perform यज्ञ, and in that they invoke दैवम् i.e. grace, the different deities. And so, this is their form of worship.
And what do the others do? Others refer to the संन्यासी-s.
So, two lifestyles are being mentioned continuously in the श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता –
(i) कर्म योग is where one is pursuing धर्म, अर्थ, काम, along with मोक्ष. So right now, one has a lot of life priorities that are very important to one, e.g. I want my kids to be married, and I want to be a grandparent etc.
In कर्म, there are a lot of variables that one has no idea about. One is working hard on a project, and has made all the effort, and somehow things do not work out. So then, what should one do?
So then one should acknowledge the grace of भगवान् |
This is objectivity; this is not being religious. One recognizes that I am not controlling the law of कर्म – I do not know what पुण्य or पापा is going to fructify, and so I make an attempt to gain some पुण्य, and also learn to be okay with knowing that I have done my best. I have done this कर्म, and may I have the strength to deal with whatever I get.
Because a lot of our conflict is because of our resistance- we do not want things to be in a particular way.
So, this is what the कर्मयोगी does i.e. performs a lot of rituals.
Nowadays, very few people perform अग्निहोत्र | अग्निहोत्र used to be a very important part of the Hindu lifestyle.
अग्निहोत्र is a ritual that is performed in the morning and in the evening, and is for the well-being of the family. But there are stipulations there. Once one decides to perform अग्निहोत्र, then it is a commitment until one’s death. So, people don’t take up this कर्म due to concerns about not being able to perform if I am travelling etc. So, what has happened now is that people perform पूजा | And even so, people have hesitation about पूजा |
So, the कर्मयोगी-s perform these.
Because the कर्मयोगी wants धर्म, अर्थ, काम, then taking care of the invisible variable is a good thing to ask.
E.g. If one goes to a coffee chain and orders coffee, one does not hesitate in telling the barista about what kind of coffee one wants. So, if one does not hesitate to tell the coffee-guy, then why is there this great hesitation to tell भगवान् what I want? This difference in standard in asking for what I want is incomprehensible.
But one has the thinking that I must not ask भगवान् for anything. So then why is it okay to ask Amazon to deliver things to me? One asks everyone specifically for what one wants, but the being who can help me and sustains all of me from the form standpoint, one does not ask. There need not be any hesitation to ask. Whom else should one ask? One should ask the one who is more powerful than me, who continues to bless me every moment.
So as a कर्मयोगी one should ask.
If one is blessed with so much पुण्य, that everything worked out well, and one is very hardworking and has never really had to ask, then okay. But if one has to ask, then one should not hesitate to ask.
So, the कर्मयोगी can perform all these different rituals.
The last ritual that is done by a संन्यासी is the one to become a संन्यासी | In this ritual, one thanks all the देवत-s, saying that you have blessed me with so much, and that I no longer need all these different things that you have blessed me with, and also I am not vying for your position. देवत is also a position/role, and one can aim for a देवत’s position if one does elaborate मंत्र साधना over many lifetimes.
After this last ritual, the संन्यासी no longer has a relationship with अग्नि, in the sense that one no longer wants things in terms of धर्म, अर्थ, काम |
So whatever minimum is gotten for शरीरयात्रा is enough.
In order to reach this level of maturity, one would have been there, done that, and realized that I can manage without all of this.
So, what does the संन्यासी do?
To do any कर्म is expensive- one needs the material and the दक्षिणा for the pandit/purohit.
So, the संन्यासी offers oneself. This is not सती with offering oneself into the fire.
It is ब्रह्माग्नि i.e. the fire of knowledge.
So, what is offered? अहंकार |
This ज्ञान यज्ञ i.e. this ritual of knowledge is spoken of here. And later on, भगवान् श्री कृष्ण will talk of this ज्ञान यज्ञ being more superior to any other कर्म, because all other कर्म-s strengthen the identity of being कर्ता |
The कर्ता(doer) cannot help but be affected, as the कर्ता is the भोक्ता, so what is done affects one. If one is doing- one may get, or not get, or get different from what is expected, so one is always affected. This is the drama of the life of the कर्ता-भोक्ता |
But, for the one who starts the enquiry, the अहंकार commits suicide and is no longer there. Because in the recognition that everything is ब्रह्मन् / ईश्वर, there is nothing left to be offered.
But, initially there is an offering.
So, all wrong/false/मिथ्या notions which can be negated and so do not have absolute reality, are offered into the fire of Self-knowledge.
So, two lifestyles are given, and the way in which the यज्ञ should be performed in each lifestyle is given.
Arjuna is on the battlefield, so what is भगवान् श्री कृष्ण talking to him about यज्ञ ?
So, He does not literally mean यज्ञ, as all the यज्ञ-s that would have been needed to be performed to help secure victory would have previously been performed, so what यज्ञ is भगवान् speaking of?
So, He is talking of the whole understanding of offering/surrender and what that means because in the vision there is surrender, and also in the surrender, there is vision. Both ways one can look at this.
Then further, He talks about self-mastery.
If one cannot do these rituals, still everyday one is listening, watching, speaking, eating/drinking. So, one can make these activities into यज्ञ |
This we shall see more of in the next class…