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April - June 2024

Bhagavad Gita Chapter II Sloka 45, 46

Sloka 45

Bhagavan Sri Krishna initially taught Atma-anatma vivekam to liberate Arjuna of his sorrows and delusion. To understand this, one needs immense maturity which is acquired by karma yoga. Karma yogi never fails as he does not prioritize Artha-kama (material benefits, sense pleasures); his goal is chitta shuddhi (purification of mind) which he is sure to get.

Material resources are meant to be used for dharma. It is inappropriate to use dharma for acquiring wealth. Hoping for fulfillment in worldly things is misplaced searching and the one who is searching will only focus on unfulfilled desires. He is unwise and will not find peace स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी || 2.70 ||

त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन |
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् || 2.45||

अर्जुन – Hey Arjuna!

वेदा: – karma kanda portion of the Vedas (esp. kamya karma -action desiring material results)

त्रैगुण्यविषया: – product of the three gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas) which is the source of samsara (bondage)

निस्त्रैगुण्यो भव – transcend the three gunas & be free of desires

निर्द्वन्द्वो भव – be equanimous, accept ups and downs

नित्यसत्त्वस्थो भव – develop Sattva guna

निर्योगक्षेम भव minimise earning & protecting belongings

आत्मवान् भव – be careful not to get carried away in the path of Artha, kama

Here, the word ‘Veda’ refers to the teachings about the unseen such as svarga (heaven). Veda gives us the teaching like a sugar-coated pill – the medicine is important not the sugar coating. We should not give importance to what fuels our raga- dvesha (likes and dislikes), with the understanding that it is like the sugar coating.

Sri Shankaracharya says, ‘Be free of desires’ – give up kamya karma. If we continue to do Kamya karma, re-birth to enjoy its benefits becomes inevitable. We should also accept the ups and downs of life. This indirectly conveys that we should avoid prayaschitta karma (atonement of sins) also. It is not possible to nullify all papas by doing prayaschittam. However, Nitya karma such as Sandhya vandanam should be done by grihastas (householders).

Keep developing sattvic guna – good values. Do daily japam, puja (worship) consistently, Study, remain in quietude, be happy, avoid comparison/ jealousy, share belongings with others, and develop such other values.

One should minimize – acquiring what one wishes but does not have and protecting what has been earned. One has to cultivate tremendous maturity to manage life on earth by channelizing one’s effort on moksha rather than on Artha kama.

Do not let the mind remain in Vishaya sukham (sense enjoyments) . B e introverted. Reduce extroverted nature. Develop inner growth. Even if the world cares more for external growth, one should not get carried away by it. Money, name and fame will vanish one day, but it is dharma with Ishvara bhakti which is more important.

One may wonder why Vedas have so many mantras for financial growth and power – they are preliminary lessons. One needs to go through them and grow out of them. It is important to develop good values and become a gunateeta, ashramaateeta, varnaateeta, dvaitaateeta, etc (beyond gunas, not stuck to bachelorhood, household, etc., go beyond occupational classifications, beyond duality). These are teachings for a karma yogi who prepares for karma sanyasa.

Sannyasa is a ritual to give up everything and say aloud that a sanyasi belongs to nobody, and nobody belongs to the sannyasi surrendering fully to Bhagavan. Bhagavan may test a sannyasi but one should remain steadfast in faith.

(To recap, Nishiddha karma is prohibited action. Nitya karma is regular mandatory karma like sandhya vandanam, Ekadashi & Shivaratri vrattam. Naimitika karma are event-based – on birth, death, marriage etc. Nitya, naimitika karma should be done with Ishvararpana buddhi by a karma yogi.)

Sloka 46 – Benefit of karma yoga

यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वत: सम्प्लुतोदके |
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानत: || 2.46||

यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वत: सम्प्लुतोदके – as the use for water in the water pot/ well is limited when there is a large waterbody

तावान् – similarly

सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानत: – jnani has little use for karma kanda of the Vedas

The benefit of kamya karma is much lesser than the benefit of jnana yoga. The benefit of Karma yoga is eligibility to jnana yoga. And in the benefit of jnana yoga everything else is contained, as finite is within infinite. Vishaya sukham (Vishayanandam) folds within Atma sukham (Brahmanandam).

Give up kamya, prayaschitta karma.

Do nitya, naimitika karma with Ishvararpana buddhi. Become eligible for acquiring jnana. Acquire jnana. Immerse yourself in brahmanandam (bliss). Why bother about vishyaanandam (sense pleasures)? Give up sense pleasures for bliss. Whereas if one prioritises sense pleasures, he gets limited happiness which does not give contentment, which is mixed with sorrows, is addictive and lands one in lamentation.

स एको ब्रह्मण आनन्दः | श्रोत्रियस्य चाकामहतस्य || ४॥ Taittriyopanishad ||

Everybody’s Ananda is included in Jnani’s Ananda. Infact, Ananda lies in the resolution of our desire. There is no end to desires. When one desire gets satisfied, another crops up. If it does not get satisfied, some may land up in depression. Giving up desire is the only way to resolve it. And when one gives up, he gets everything.

In the waking state, we need to understand the essence of the scriptures to remove attachment. In sleep state, it subsides even without that understanding as the mind resolves.

तृष्णाम छिन्धी

Bhartruhari’s Neeti Shatakam

Who is a good man? One who does not have desires…

भोगा न भुक्ता वयमेव भुक्ताः, तपो न तप्तं वयमेव तप्ताः ।
कालो न यातो वयमेव याताः तृष्णा न जीर्णा वयमेव जीर्णाः ॥

Desires were not devoured but we ourselves were devoured.

ஆரா இயற்கை அவா நீப்பின் அந்நிலையே

பேரா இயற்கை தரும் (Thirukkural)

Giving up external desires which are difficult to control will make us enjoy Ananda, our intrinsic nature.

In our culture, all sense enjoyments are connected with Ishvara and that will keep the mind clean. Ishvara is the consciousness in the cosmic body.

The purport of this verse of Gita is:

A jnani’s ananda is compared to water in a large waterbody while sense enjoyments are meagre like the water in a well.

Karma kanda (including kamya and prayaschitta karma) is optional for those who need it. It is to be avoided by those who wish to progress in the spiritual path of moksha. Nitya, naimitika karma based on varnashrama should be done in fulfillment of social, family and individual responsibilities.

Another meaning is:

It is enough to use the water in the well. There is no need to go to the large waterbody.

Vedas are vast (like the large waterbody) containing several rituals including kamya karma, but a serious spiritual aspirant need not do all of them. A spiritual aspirant seeking moksha should confine oneself to the mandatory nitya, naimitika karma (which is like the well water).