* श्लोक ३५ *
यज्ज्ञात्वा न पुनर्मोहमेवं यास्यसि पाण्डव ।
येन भूतान्यशेषेण द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि ॥ ३५॥
On the confidence of the शास्त्र, we consistently see that once you have a Teacher then you will Know, there’s no other way because that’s the beauty, that the tradition carries you.
One might say~ Oh, I don’t think I’m worthy, I don’t know if I will be able to know completely, etc. No worries. Once you have a Teacher you will Know.
So, this is what भगवान् says.
This is assuming that you have found a Teacher that you can relate to.
Then, the knowledge that you gain as a result of this relationship,
यत् ज्ञात्वा ~ Knowing this Truth i.e. The knowledge of this reality of what the तत्त्वदर्शि is sharing, so gaining that,
यास्यसि न पुन: मोहम् ~ So knowing this truth, you’re not going to be confused again.
The confusion/मोह is because of self-ignorance.
So not knowing what I am, therefore making conclusions about myself and then struggling with my self-judgments~ Why am I like these? I should not be like this, and then when will I be fine, etc.
So, the person is not going to have this मोह/confusion.
And what is the result of this knowledge?
येन भूतानि ~ by this knowledge, in all these beings,
अशेषेण द्रक्ष्यसि ~ you will see completely,
आत्मनि मयि ~ you will see भूतानि(all these beings) in oneself(आत्मनि) and in Me(मयि) .
Here, आत्मनि does not mean सच्चिदानन्द आत्मा, but means in me-the person.
So, it’s not that me-the person will see the आत्मा | That is not how it is.
I am the आत्मा in which all forms are present – that’s the understanding.
It’s like pot space.
One can say- So I finally I stopped identifying with the shape of this pot and the mind. I am the pot space. I am now liberated. No, this is not the understanding, as I am still functioning according to a sense of being bound and enclosed, I just got relief from thinking that I am only this body/mind.
The vision is that I am the आत्मा in which this body-mind is. I am the आत्मा means no boundaries, no limits. So, this body-mind, all body-minds, everything is in this आत्मा |
So, I am that space in which this pot, including the pot belly, and all these other pots, they are all in me.
When I say me- do I think of myself with the name, and the person, and the form etc. Or is it more than that?
मयि means in me, and in me means in the आत्मा |
So, then it’s like this- if you remember when we would paint with watercolors, suppose you put a little drop of blue(रागद्वेष) in a glass of water. So, if you think of yourself as very small, very little, then all of it in this little glass is colored by this blue(रागद्वेष). But when you are this vast expansive bucket of water- if you put the little blue drop, I am so vast and expansive, that I can accommodate one राग/द्वेष and say what’s the big deal?
So, I am this vast expansive consciousness. Expansive is used in the sense of the metaphor of space, but I-आत्मा cannot be described as expansive because there is no more place where I can expand because I am the limitless.
So, if some little irritation/upset is there, then it’s okay, no problem.
But if you’re enclosed in your mind and your patterns and you’re managing and you’re trying to struggle with it, then we all know what happens right?
So, we go into loop thinking- thinking the same thing, and we don’t even tire of it.
If somebody else were to say one statement three times, one would say- You know what, you actually already said it three times. But in our mind, we go on and on and on. Even with no resolution in sight, one doesn’t even get bored of it. And we are excited about it- Oh, let me look at it this way, I think that’s the real reason etc. It’s all entertainment for ourselves.
आत्मनि भूतानि मयि ~ All these- all these different forms, including thought forms(thoughts, emotions, etc.).
All that is seen in me, and that’s the knowledge.
So, this knowledge that you gain from relating to a Teacher with the right attitude i.e. surrender, with the right kind of questions and सेव, then you are not going to be deluded again.
And further talking about the glory of this knowledge, He says-
* श्लोक ३६ *
अपि चेदसि पापेभ्य: सर्वेभ्य: पापकृत्तम: ।
सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि ॥ ३६॥
अपि चेत् – just in case; let’s assume.
Suppose you are the greatest पापी | पापी means the one who has committed all kinds of पाप |
So, let’s assume you have committed all kinds of crimes, and maybe you have served your time, or you may not as you were never caught. But still, you have committed all these different kinds of पाप ~ you’ve hurt lots of people, etc. Then, what? Is there any hope?
भगवान् श्री कृष्ण says- Yes.
So, what will happen? Even if you are like that?
The worst of the lot i.e. पापकृत्तम:,
सर्वं ज्ञान प्लवेन |
प्लव is like a raft/boat.
So, assuming that you are a पापी and you’re floating on this ocean of पाप as you’ve done all kinds of wrong things.
Still, by just one raft of ज्ञानम्/Knowledge,
सन्तरिष्यसि ~ you will cross over all the पाप |
Oh, so that means that I will not be liable, and not have to face the consequences? No.
But what it does is that the one who suffers the effects of one’s कर्म i.e. the कर्ता; the कर्ता’s reality is seen.
I see that I was never the कर्ता | And by extension, I see that I was never the भोक्ता also.
So as my true reality आत्मा, I was never the experiencer.
* श्लोक ३७ *
यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन ।
ज्ञानाग्नि: सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा ॥ ३७॥
If one commits any पाप i.e. some wrong action and therefore you are suffering the results of it, that can be neutralized by some more कर्म – you either do something to minimize the suffering, or you do prayers, or you increase your strength to handle the difficult times, or you share it with people who are close to you and ask them for options/ ideas/ solutions as to how to get over this. Or, just knowing that my family is with me through this difficult time, I will be able to make it. So, we have all these different ways in which we can go through difficult phases in our life.
Now, it may minimize the impact, but the suffering is still there.
So, the suffering is for who? It’s for the भोक्ता i.e. the experiencer because one thinks that I’m the one who’s struggling and suffering and all that.
So then भगवान् gives a metaphor-
Just like the different twigs of wood in a well-lit fire.
What does it do? Once this fire is lit up well, it reduces एधांसि (the wood) to ashes. And this could be any kind of wood- teak wood, or any kind of fine wood etc. But once it’s lit up well, and we all know about forest fires, everything is reduced to ashes.
So too ज्ञानाग्नि: i.e. the fire of knowledge, what does it do?
सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते – it destroys/reduces all your कर्म to भस्म/ash.
In other words, everything is resolved in knowledge.
So, then you say- Oh, but I worked so hard. What do you mean it reduces all actions to ashes? Does it mean that I will not experience anything? No.
The कर्म that is necessary for you to be born again, it destroys that.
The प्रारब्ध कर्म i.e. the कर्म because of which you were born and then you went through whatever X number of years of life, that will continue, but the the rest of your life will no longer be suffering, or the struggle of becoming. You will be free from the constant restlessness, the dissatisfaction- I’m not enough, no matter what I do it’s not enough.
And all of us have to reach this phase. Like alcoholics, you have to hit rock bottom. Now, people may be dissuaded by this, but you have to hit that existential angst that I have tried different things to deal with this dissatisfaction and sense of incompleteness. And it’s not because I have an inferiority complex, or my चक्र-s are not balanced, or I don’t know how to breathe properly (प्राणायाम).
People will say- why don’t you do प्राणायाम, you’ll get मोक्ष |
So, there is a tendency to reduce, and to exaggerate the benefit of one method and say- oh, you know, you just do this one thing. That’s it, you know, and you are free. So, these are all tall claims so we have to be careful.
So then, by extension, one will say- Oh, how can you say then that by knowledge it’s fine?
So, one should test it for yourself, as some great claim is not being made, only what भगवान् श्री कृष्ण is saying is being shared. So, you try- be exposed to वेदान्त and see what it does for you and then you can figure it out.
So here the reality of the कर्ता-भोक्ता is seen.
You see it as मिथ्या, that it has a status of dependent reality, and that it doesn’t define you.
This is important because on the one hand we use a limited definition to define ourselves- I am so and so, with this designation etc. Then we are not happy with it.
So, you stop the game and recognize that all these- whether it’s related to a relationship or a designation is मिथ्या i.e. it has a status of dependent reality, and that it doesn’t define you.
Promotion time is coming up. So, a lot of stress levels are going up and down. The doctors report that a lot of people come in just before a promotion, or just before bonuses are declared.
And then you might be happy with the bonus you receive of $20,000, as it wasn’t expected in pandemic times. Then, you find out somebody else got $21,000 in bonus. So then one wonders- How could that person get more, and that fellow didn’t even do anything? In fact, I had to pitch in and help this person.
So, a little comparison and that’s it- if you want to be miserable, just compare yourself. It is the best cause for misery. You don’t have to look around, memory is enough to compare and then that’s it, or it will trigger- Oh, in childhood I was compared and I thought in adulthood I would be free but no, no freedom there.
So, this ज्ञानाग्नि: is a waking up to the fact that I was in a dream.
And in the dream, I took everything very seriously. And I really suffered.
In fact, in my hurry, I signed certain documents. And then I realized that the house was being mortgaged and I got into some legal wrangle. Then, I never thought that I would go to the police station. I was marched to the police station for inquiry. So, all these things I’ve seen~ what a life of suffering. And then nobody understands me. And I’m struggling to explain myself and suddenly all these people who showed great trust in me and had confidence in me, this is gone. Now I know in these tough times, who my real friends are. So, it’s very sad.
Then suddenly you wake up. And say- Oh, where’s the police station? What am I doing in my bed? No police station, and no summons, and no suffering.
I recognize that I was the intelligence and the material for this entire dream.
And I was the one who gave reality to myself and all these different entities. It felt real to me and therefore the suffering was also real to me.
So I wake up to the fact that all this was just an identity, it was not real.
And it was negated by me.
So you have actually destroyed the reality that you gave the identity of being the कर्ता-भोक्ता |
You were seeking all fulfillment from being the कर्ता-भोक्ता (doer-experiencer).
And now you see- well actually that’s dependent on me the आत्मा, I-the-consciousness that is limitless.
And this body has to go through some कर्म and that’s okay, it’s not a big deal.
So, there is a lightness of being because of this knowledge.
* श्लोक ३८ *
न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते ।
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्ध: कालेनात्मनि विन्दति ॥ ३८॥
So, there can be fire as a purifier for certain metals and so on. But, there is nothing like knowledge that can purify you.
For अंतःकरणशुद्धि we look at the role of यज्ञ – all this offering, and giving, and तपस् i.e. any kind of religious discipline whereby you grow out of your comfort zone.
So, यज्ञ, दान, तप: are very important for अंतःकरणशुद्धि / पुण्य |
But there’s something even greater than that.
Knowledge is greater than all of this.
And having said this, कालेन आत्मनि विन्दति |
So, in time with योगसंसिद्ध: – one who attained some सिद्ध: | सिद्धि is not some supernatural powers. सिद्धि is an accomplishment, so some सिद्ध: through योग |
So, generally in the श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता, when योग is mentioned in the verses, it means कर्म योग, or in some cases there may be a reference to ज्ञान योग |
So, through this कर्म योग i.e. through the right kind of attitude regarding your कर्म and the कर्मफल, the one who attains this preparedness in the mind, that person gains the knowledge.
So this ज्ञान यज्ञ that will purify you, that is the greatest purifier, that is the best यज्ञ, all that has been mentioned.
So for that, the preparation that is required is कर्म योग in all areas of our lives.
कालेन – so, in time… how much time? how much time will it take?
Can we finish the श्रीमद् भगवद्-गीता in a crash course of one week?
We can finish, but the point is will you receive? Because, there is an aspect of applying it to different areas of your life; not the knowledge, but applying the कर्म योग |
The knowledge cannot be applied because it is me.
It is not a theory, it is not a system that one can apply elsewhere.
One cannot say- I will practice being the आत्मा | No, you can’t.
I am already the आत्मा |
But if I’m not able to see it, then for that we have to clear the mind because the mind is full of all these other things. So, we can do that, with the right attitude i.e. कर्म योग |
So, the ‘in time’, it really depends on people’s maturity. And this maturity is not age dependent. We see very young people who are very mature. And then we see 85-year-olds who are not, so there is quite a range.
The maturity that life brings, and a certain duty orientation- because you work on your रागद्वेष-s, you are still open, you are receptive, you are cheerful. All that comes from living a good life, living a life of धर्म |
Not constantly annoyed, irritated, disgusted. If so, then you better do something about it.
So, because there’s enough to get flustered about in this world, but you have taken charge of your body, your mind, and there is some level of mastery.
So, one always asks- how much mastery? Well, just enough for you to understand the truth.
Do you understand it now? – Oh, it’s not so clear.
Okay, then please keep working on the mastery aspect.
Because it is just about seeing the truth, seeing that I am the आत्मा in which all forms exist.
So, one of the things we have to be clear about is that वेदान्त is not an escape for the problems in my life.
That I could see the reality of the कर्ता, but there are things to be managed- maybe I’ve been laid off, or maybe I have to figure out where I am, what do I want to do with my work, etc.
And so I cannot escape into the vision of वेदान्त and it will all take care of itself.
If I have that attitude of surrender, and I’m willing for the consequences of that, which has its implications on the family and so on, then that’s fine, that’s great.
Then that’s surrender all the way.
And maybe it may be helpful, but it may not be helpful either.
Because the rules of the game in कर्म are different.
What does it mean that the rules of the game in कर्म are different?
Suppose my work involves me to network with people. Suppose my work involves that I am constantly churning out certain things. Then, that’s exactly my स्वकर्म, my स्वधर्म |
I cannot say- Oh, but you know, this कर्ता is all मिथ्या |
I may do, I may not do, it’s okay though – No.
कौशलम् is very important- there is no compromise in this.
And so indeed, if the vision is clear for you, you are free enough to apply कौशलम्, what’s wrong?
You can work hard, and play by the rules of the game, whatever is the game~ whatever be the nature of your work.
Maybe you can tweak the rules also, maybe you can add a few more rules of your own.
But you can’t say- Oh, but I wish everybody had वेदान्त knowledge and I wish we didn’t fight at our workplace. People will think you’re crazy. And maybe you are, because this is not to be applied here.
So, it’s not that we need to have two parallel tracks i.e. it is not that what you do at your work is different from what you do in the वेदान्त class.
No, but just understand that in व्यवहार, there are alternatives always. With respect to कर्म- you can do, you need not do, you can do differently, you can use your imagination, you can play and figure it out- figure out what works for you and so on.
But don’t escape into वेदान्त and neglect the कर्म that is to be done.
Because that is your धर्मक्षेत्र i.e. your battlefield. That’s where you need to grow. You need to deal with your रागद्वेष, you need to be applying your कौशलम् and your समत्वम् and so on.
If you say- no, I just can’t do this anymore. Really, if you have reached that stage where you feel that you have completed your कर्म journey, then maybe you take time off and immerse yourself in वेदान्त, or anything else for that matter. But until you feel that sense of relative completion, you are not ready.
So, it’s very important to be honest with oneself that I’m not ready, and that’s okay.
कालेन आत्मनि विन्दति –
In time you are preparing yourself, you are maturing, you are ripening and the more you work on your maturity, then the vision is a cakewalk. But otherwise you’re exposed to the vision but the preparedness and maturity is not there. And, so you feel that neither can you enjoy all the things with your earlier friends, nor can you really enjoy this वेदान्त because you’re sort of in between.
So, you can have it all.
And so, we can bless ourselves with the right kind of attitude and apply the knowledge that we have appropriately.