* श्लोक ३१ *
यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम् ।
नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतोऽन्य: कुरुसत्तम ॥ ३१॥
यज्ञशिष्टामृत – अमृत is nectar. शिष्ट is what is left over at the end of the यज्ञ, for instance in a proper fire ritual offering, there will only be भस्म (sacred ash) left. And of course, there is the नैवेद्यम् that is offered, i.e. some food that is offered, which is received as प्रासाद |
So, it can be that kind of प्रासाद, or the कर्म that we’re doing and therefore the कर्मफल that we are getting as प्रासाद |
So, those who partake of that, i.e. those who look upon it as प्रासाद, what happens to them?
यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम् – they gain ब्रह्मन्, That is eternal.
So, the attitude of प्रासाद बुद्धि: is the attitude that कर्म is done with. And there is no secular कर्म, as all कर्म is sacred. It’s up to me whether I recognize it or not.
Why is it sacred? Because it is pervaded by भगवान् | And, if one has a problem with भगवान्, then one should get over it, or resolve it.
So, throughout the day one is involved in all kinds of कर्म – the people I am meeting, the situations that are in front of me, whatever be the nature of my work, my interactions with people, and in terms of दम, how I am using my sense organs. So, it is to recognize that this is a यज्ञ- there is discipline involved, so therefore all of धर्म comes into the picture.
So, all that is leftover i.e. a cultural representation meaning कर्मफल after the कर्म is over; one gains this.
Because of looking at one’s different kinds of कर्म as कर्मफल प्रासाद, so then what happens is that one’s resistance to people, to situations, and to oneself reduces. One does whatever one can, and then one is in the right frame of mind to undertake the inquiry into ब्रह्मन् | So, it is really referring to अंतःकरण शुद्धि, because this कल्मषा: i.e. the impurities that are mentioned, are really रागद्वेष | So, even just performing one’s कर्म with the attitude of surrender and that whatever I am experiencing is प्रासाद, including my breath, that helps me to gain ब्रह्मन् through अधिकारित्वम्/preparedness.
Now, one of the things we note in the शास्त्र, i.e. including the श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता, is that there is स्तुति (praise) and therefore there might be an element of exaggeration. And there is also निन्दा (criticism) i.e. something is criticized or the limitations of something is pointed out, so that we can decide accordingly.
So here in the first line of this verse #31, it is not that you do कर्म, and you gain knowledge. Rather, it is highlighting that you gain the अंतःकरण शुद्धि so that you have the right mind to inquire into ब्रह्मन् |
Otherwise, one can be stuck, and for instance say- how do I deal with the hurt that I experienced 20 years ago? That can be the constant theme for some. So then one needs some other techniques, and there are a lot of techniques to help oneself.
So, contrasting the first line with the second one- so for the one who does not ~ अयम् न यज्ञ: i.e. for the one who does not perform कर्म with this attitude of यज्ञ/surrender, this person does not gain much in this world.
And कुत: अन्य:?~ And so what will the person gain in some other world? (rhetorical question). Because, in this world you are not able to make the most of it, so in another world, what are you going to gain?
It’s like this- So if somebody is dying, this dying person very rarely says that I’m ready to go now. So, suppose Lord Yama comes, and Lord Yama can come to anyone at any time, one does not have to be at the ripe old age of 95 years for Lord Yama to come. So, Lord Yama comes and says- Come with me. Then, the dying person says- No, no, no, please, I don’t want to die. So, Lord Yama can very well say- Why not? Your time is up. Whatever you wanted to do, if you’ve not done it in the past 50 years, what are you going to do in another one year of your life?
So really, what are we waiting for? One thinks- I will do this on one fine day, so we have our reasons for it. But all the people who are struggling, who don’t want to die, well what is one going to do tomorrow, which one was not able to do today?
So, this living a complete life i.e. living your life by your priorities is not necessarily about achieving X Y Z in the context of कर्मफल | It’s about making the adequate effort towards one’s priorities.
Because, is there really a time when something is done? Only one’s cake can be done, nothing else can be really done.
What can be done? Only cake. That’s it.
So, one says- Oh, I wanted to have a child. Well the कर्म related to this is never really done, until the child is no more (i.e. dies). So, there will always be something which will preoccupy one.
Any venture is like this. For instance, even if one sold off one’s company, from time to time you’d like to know what’s happening and then you realize- oh no, these people are making a mess of it. So then of course, you will appoint yourself as advisor, and then they don’t bother about any of your advice. So now what shall one do?
So, this ‘whatever could have been gained in this world’, if we don’t have an element of acceptance, then there is a constant restlessness because nothing is enough- what people do for one is not enough, one is ever dissatisfied with all of one’s relationships because they don’t understand me, and one doesn’t understand them etc.
And then in terms of one’s कर्म, because there is not acceptance- one thinks I must strive for more, and I’m ambitious etc., so the कर्म that I’m doing is never enough. One can’t sleep peacefully, one is just lengthening this to-do list, and then day after day there is restlessness, it’s not enough, it’s never enough.
So, even the satisfaction of having pursued धर्म, अर्थ, काम in this world, and enjoying the results of it is not available to one because there is no acceptance, there is no element of surrender.
Then, what shall we say? Even if one goes to some tourist destination like Mauritius, there also one finds fault- there are some who are like this, anywhere they go, they will always find fault, from the airport to the driveway. Now it’s a different thing if you’re in the business of hotels, but at least one will appreciate something that is nice.
This constant fault finding in everything and everyone, it helps one to sink into depression.
So that’s what is being referred to- that there’s nothing there if we are not able to have a value for acceptance or for surrender.
* श्लोक ३२ *
एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे ।
कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे ॥ ३२॥
एवं – in this manner,
all these different यज्ञ-s,
बहुविधा यज्ञ:- different and various यज्ञ were elaborately mentioned.
And it is not that भगवान् श्री कृष्ण is saying this on His own, as these are mentioned in the वेद – ब्रह्मणो मुखे | So these are all the words of the वेद | The other word for वेद is ब्रह्म |
विद्धि कर्मजान् – may you realize that all of these are born of कर्म,
तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा – knowing these,
you will be free- विमोक्ष्यसे ~ you will be liberated, you will be free.
So, referring to the nature of all कर्म, with respect to any kind of कर्म- whether one is taking care of one’s child, or going to work, or signing a check for some contribution, whatever be the nature of कर्म, it is dependent on me, i.e. me as in the कर्ता |
But is the कर्ता an independent entity- self-existing, self-revealing, self-illumining entity? No.
The कर्ता(doer) is really the आत्मा | The कर्ता is a being who is performing कर्म and has the sense that I am performing कर्म |
Then, how is कर्म performed? With करण i.e. with different kinds of instruments- the अंतःकरण (mind) and बाह्यकरण (body).
भगवान् आदि शङ्कराचार्य has a very nice word referring to this body-mind instrument i.e. कार्य-करण-सङ्घात |
सङ्घात is something that’s been put together, like an assemblage. कार्य means effect. करण means instrument.
So, this assemblage, which is an effect (effect means there’s a cause), and has these different instruments i.e. body mind, etc. So, the word itself reveals that it cannot exist on its own.
The कर्ता/doer, has a great sense of pride- inflated or deflated, depending on who acknowledged all the work that I have done, or who has deflated my ego, etc.
For this कर्ता, the कर्तृत्वम् i.e. the sense of doer-ship, does it exist on its own?
कर्ता does not exist on its own. It needs all this करण for all the कर्म to be performed.
Then, what is there between one कर्म and the other? Although it may be in a fraction of a second, what is there? It is me-चैतन्य-consciousness-आत्मा | Between 2 thoughts I am there, between two कर्म I am there. When I sleep, कर्ता is not there- even if I am kicking someone in bed during sleep, I am not aware of it.
So, what is always there? आत्मा | And आत्मा is ever अकर्ता i.e. never the doer.
So आत्मा is not touched by कर्म- पुण्य, पापा etc. i.e. कर्मफल |
आत्मा is the very basis of all कर्म, and even this entity called the कर्ता |
So, the कर्ता is the आत्मा | But आत्मा is not कर्ता. This has to be understood well.
कर्ता (doer) is the आत्मा | When one really starts to define the कर्ता- am I my mind? No, I am there in and through the different thoughts of the mind. Am I my body? There are times when I’m in the zone, when I’m dancing to trance music, then I don’t think that I have a body, although I’m dancing, what a unique experience. Okay, so I don’t really feel that I have a body. So, am I the body? Because when we ask this question, we are attempting to arrive at something that defines me, without which I cannot exist.
So, without the mind, I still sleep very soundly- metaphorically and literally also, as everybody can hear when I am sleeping so soundly. So, I am very much there.
So, neither the mind can define me, nor the body can define me.
Are we then doing a process of reductionism? It seems like it, but we are just negating what we thought is our identity. So, really speaking, the doer is आत्मा, because when we keep going in the inquiry, what is it that defines me? Thoughts don’t define me. Experiences don’t define me, because they come and go. One’s relationships don’t define me because they’re not always there, or they are not there in the same intensity, as sometimes we come together and then we drift apart. So, it’s not a constant. For instance, in no way is my relationship with my parents a constant, because it changes over a period of time.
Everything is changing- my body is changing, my mind is changing, what is it that is not changing? So, it is the आत्मा, That which illumines the body, mind etc.
Therefore, we can say आत्मा is not the doer, but the doer is आत्मा |
If I say I am not the doer, then there will be some indifference. And this is what happens in modern वेदान्त | In the modern teachings of non-duality, one says that I am not the doer. So, there is a temporary relief and it’s a great thing. But then if one keeps on repeating it, without understanding that आत्मा is not the doer, but the doer is आत्मा, if one doesn’t get the entire equation, then one will want to run away from all कर्म | Then, in the name of non-duality teachings, one is only furthering one’s राग and द्वेष |
So, one thinks- I am not the doer, I’m not going to do. But anyway, कर्म doesn’t define me. So then, what is wrong with doing any kind of कर्म?
So, understanding that the nature of the कर्ता, irrespective of the nature of the कर्म that one does, that is indeed the आत्मा so,
अकर्मणि कर्म य: पश्येत् – ४.१८
The vision of the wise person is that though the person may be doing lots of कर्म, the truth is that आत्मा is अकर्ता i.e. never the doer. And there might be somebody who’s not doing any कर्म but has a very strong identity of the fact that I gave up all my कर्म as a संन्यासी | But, this is of no use. Why? Because the sense of कर्तृत्वम् i.e. the sense of doer-ship, which is just notional, which is just an idea, it’s a story that we tell ourselves in order to feel significant. That story, if that continues in my life, then there is no wisdom. So, whether one is performing lots of कर्म, less कर्म, the truth is that आत्मा was never the doer. And आत्मा is That which illumines all doing and even the sense of doer-ship.
* श्लोक ३३ *
श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञ: परन्तप ।
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ॥ ३३॥
In this श्लोक, भगवान् speaks about how ज्ञान यज्ञ i.e. this religious discipline of knowledge, is superior to all these disciplines/यज्ञ-s that were just mentioned.
Really? Even better than giving दानम् and all? Yes, ज्ञान यज्ञ is better than all of this. Why? Because, for any other कर्म, there is- कर्ता/doer, कर्म and कर्मफल | And, we are subject to कर्मफल i.e. the results of कर्म which is limited- there can be less than expected, more than expected, or completely different to what we want, and so on. So, then there’s always a struggle.
But this ज्ञान यज्ञ is so unique, because everything is swallowed in it. So, the कर्ता is swallowed, कर्म is also swallowed, and the कर्मफल is also swallowed, in the sense that when I abide in the nature of the आत्मा, then I am free from the sense of bondage that is experienced because of my identity as कर्ता |
With the कर्ता identity, when days are good, one can thump the chest and say like He-man that I’m the master of the universe. But, then when everything is not so good, one says- what a lousy day, I’m not happy with the way this day has gone, I should have done more, and then I beat myself up about why didn’t I do etc.
So, with this कर्ता identity one cannot win- one wins some, one loses some, and we kind of manage with it.
But in ज्ञान यज्ञ, the reality of the कर्ता is being pointed out- that I am the आत्मा, I am the limitless being that happens to have this कर्ता role. It’s just a role, so one should not take it too seriously, one should walk lightly with it.
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ- So all the कर्म, any kind of कर्म, what happens to it? Everything dissolves in knowledge. In the sense that the आत्मा that is me, is the basis of the त्रिपुटी/triad- आत्मा illumines the कर्ता(doer), आत्मा illumines कर्म, and आत्मा illumines the कर्मफल. So any triad that is taken~ knower-known-knowledge, or कर्ता-कर्म-कर्मफल, all of it is swallowed/resolved in knowledge.
Knowledge of what? Not knowledge of Ethereum, rather knowledge of आत्मा |
So, I-आत्मा am the very basis of all the identities.
Therefore, attention should be shifted to who I really am. And then all the other things drop away i.e. the worry, and the build-up drops away.
Then, the next verse which we will look at next time, talks about the attitude towards knowledge and therefore, the attitude towards the Teacher.