Om Namah Shivaya - Om Namo Venkatesaya  

The Song of God - Swami Venkatesananda enlarged 4th edition - 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa

5 - Karma Vairagya Sanyasa Yoga - The Yoga of Renunciation and Action

Om parthaya pratibodhitam bhagavata narayanena svayam vyasena grathitam purana munina madhye mahabharatam advaita 'mrta varsinim bhagavatim astadasa 'dhyayinim amba tvam anusamdadhami bhagavad gite bhava dvesinim
1. Om. O Bhagavad Gita, with which Partha (Arjuna) was illumined by lord Narayana himself and which was composed within the Mahabharata by the ancient sage Vyasa, O divine mother, the destroyer of rebirth, the showerer of the nectar of advaita (oneness) and consisting of eighteen chapters - upon thee, O Bhagavad Gita, O affectionate mother, I meditate.
namo 'stu to vyasa visala buddhe phulla 'ravinda 'yata patra netra yena tvaya bharata taila purnah prajvalito jnanamayah pradipah
2. Salutations unto thee, O Vyasa of broad intellect, and with eyes like the petals of full-blown lotuses, by whom the lamp of knowledge, filled with the oil of the Mahabharata has been lighted.
prapanna parijataya totravetrai 'ka panaye jnana mudraya krsnaya gita 'mrta duhe namah
3. Salutations to Krsna, the parijata or the bestower of all desires for those who take refuge in him, the holder of the whip in one hand, the holder of the symbol of knowledge and the milker of the nectar of the Bhagavad Gita.
sarvo 'panisado gavo dogdha gopala nandanah partho vatsah sudhir bhokta dugdham gita 'mrtam mahat
4. All the upanisad are the cows, the milker is Krsna the cowherd boy, Arjuna is the calf, men of purified intellect are the drinkers, the milk is the great nectar of the Gita.
vasudeva sutam devam kamsa canura mardanam devaki parama 'nandam krsnam vande jagad gurum
5. I salute lord Krsna, the world teacher, the son of Vasudeva, the destroyer of Kamsa and Canura, the supreme bliss of Devaki.
bhisma drona tata jayadratha jala gandhara nilotpala salya grahavati krpena vahani karnena velakula asvatthama vikarna ghora makara duryodhana 'vartini so 'ttirna khalu pandavai rana nadi kaivartakah kesavah
6. With Krsna as the helmsman, verily, was crossed by the Pandava the battle-river whose banks were Bhisma and Drona, whose water was Jayadratha, whose blue lotus was the king of Gandhara, whose crocodile was Salya, whose current was Krpa, whose billow was Karna, whose terrible alligators were Asvatthama and Vikarna, whose whirlpool was Duryodhana.
parasarya vacah sarojam amalam gitartha gandhotkatam nanakhya 'nakakesaram hari katha sambodhana 'bodhitam loke sajjana satpadair ahar ahah pepiyamanam muda bhuyad bharata pankajam kali mala pradhvamsi nah sreyase
7. May this lotus of the Mahabharata, born in the lake of the words of Vyasa, sweet with the fragrance of the meaning of the Gita, with many stories as its stamens, fully opened by the discourses on Hari, the destroyer of the sins of Kali, and drunk joyously by the bees of good men in the world, day by day, become the bestower of good on us.
mukam karoti vacalam pangum langhayate girim yat krpa tam aham vande parama 'nanda madhavam
8. I salute that Krsna, the source of supreme bliss, whose grace makes the dumb eloquent and the cripple cross mountains.
yam brahma varune 'ndra rudra marutah stunvanti divyaih stavair vedaih sanga pada kramo 'panisadair gayanti yam samagah dhyana 'vasthita tad gatena manasa pasyanti yam yogino yasya 'ntam na viduh sura 'sura gana devaya tasmai namah
9. Salutations to that God whom Brahma, Varuna, Indra, Rudra and the Marut praise with divine hymns, of whom the Sama-chanters sing by the veda and their anga, in the pada and krama methods, and by the upanisad, whom the yogi see with their minds absorbed in him through meditation, and whose end the hosts of the deva and asura know not.
real renunciation
V:1 - Arjuna said: Renunciation of all actions, O Krsna, thou praisest, and again yoga. Tell me conclusively that which is the better of the two.
V:2 - The blessed Lord said: Renunciation and the yoga of action, both lead to the highest bliss. But, of the two, the yoga of action is superior to the renunciation of action.
V:3 - He should be known as a perpetual renunciate who neither hates nor desires. For, free from the pairs of opposites, O Arjuna, he is easily set free from bondage.
The confusion arose over a misunderstanding of verse forty one of the previous chapter!
The word 'samnyasa' meant (and means even now to the narrow-minded, orthodox bigot) giving up of all activities and enjoyments.
Enjoyment was supposed to cause attachment and action provided the fuel to keep the wheel of karma revolving.
To talk of samnyasa and activity in the same breath was obviously a contradiction in their eyes.
The famous story of queen Cudala in the Yoga Vasistha brings out the kernel of renunciation graphically.
Renunciation should be of that which is 'mine'.
Worldly objects belong to the world; renouncing them would be like the beggar in South India renouncing his claims to the throne of England: they do not exist!
Attachment to worldly activities may be replaced by attachment to so-called spiritual activities, with no real spiritual benefit!
If a king enjoys his cup of wine, a mendicant might sip a cup of milk with equal pleasure!
Patanjali warns us that even the 'bliss' of savikalpa samadhi is an extremely subtle substitute for sense-pleasure.
Real renunciation is abandonment of egoistic acceptance and rejection, love and hatred, likes and dislikes.
Real renunciation is renunciation of the only thing that 'belongs to me' viz., ignorance, the foolish ideas of 'I' (in relation to the body) and 'mine' (in relation to the objects of the world).
Longing and aversion both spring from false values.
By giving both up one is freed from their bondage while remaining active.
the value of pleasure
V:4 - Only the ignorant speak of devotional service as being different from the analytical study of the material world. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both.
V:5 - One who knows that the position reached by means of analytical study can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees study and devotional service to be on the same level, sees things as they are.
Why does man 'renounce' objects of sense-enjoyments?
When a scorpion falls into your lap, why do you throw it away?
Because you fear it will sting you.
The sting will give you pain and take away happiness - sense-pleasure, which you wish to enjoy!
You value that pleasure and you credit the scorpion with the power to take it away.
Similarly in the case of other objects; you super-impose on them a certain exaggerated value in relation to your own egoistic pleasure-instinct.
So long as this valuation lasts, even their renunciation is of no value.
For, the renunciation of pleasure is motivated by the desire for pleasure (euphemistically called supreme bliss or heaven).
Knowledge deflates this value.
In the light of knowledge the man of wisdom perceives the whole universe (of which his body and mind are parts) as the body of God with the countless beings doing their duty as cells in it.
Likewise, such a man's body and mind obey his will, unfettered by his self-arrogating ego.
Being established in this knowledge, he finds that the only factor to be renounced is ego and its private reactions (likes and dislikes): even this is not 'renunciation', as the ego as an independent entity is non-existent - knowledge enables one to realise the unreal as unreal.
God rules the wise man's body and mind which function according to his will.
It cannot be otherwise.
Knowledge of God gives knowledge of his will and this will is done by the yogi spontaneously.
Knowledge and action are two sides of the same coin.
To be established well in one is to practise both!
dynamic living
V:6 - Merely renouncing all activities yet not engaging in the devotional service is hard to realise. But the wise engaged in devotional service can achieve the supreme without delay.
V:7 - One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled.
This renunciation of egoism, private desires and hopes is impossible without the practice of yoga (which is described in the next two verses).
It will be seen therefrom that the practice of this yoga involves dynamic living.
Without this dynamism one might fall into the error of clinging to inflated, subtle, false values, after unwittingly renouncing the right values - even as a man who peels a banana sitting inside a railway compartment might throw the fruit out of the window and put the skin into his mouth!
The ever-watchful yogi acts in this world in the right spirit.
He finds that life itself offers him countless opportunities of discovering his own hidden evils, of purifying his heart, of detecting the wiles of the cunning ego, of understanding the innumerable guises in which his own lower self might appear and lead him astray, and of piercing the veil of maya.
He who practises the yoga described in the next few verses will discover that the world, far from being a hindrance, is truly a great help in the practice of yoga.
The Bhagavatam assures us that that is truly the purpose of the Lord's creation - to help the souls to evolve, to awaken and to lead them to enlightenment.
The yogi must realise that his self is the self of all; and how can he do that if he 'renounces' the world and all activities?
It is in the context of an active life in the world that yogi discovers how the momentary experiencer (the ego) is turned into a permanent entity by a trick of memory (the me).
This discovery is the ending of the ego, and the arising of the spirit of yoga.
a subtle snag
V:8 - A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all.
V:9 - Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.
There is a subtle snag here; it is not as though the 'I' feels greatly superior to all these activities and makes this declaration as a business executive might: "I do nothing, my staff is efficient."
The 'I' itself loses its first person-ness, being absorbed in the cosmic being.
Failure to appreciate this will land us in perversion and terrible vanity.
The truth has to be discovered, not assumed and asserted.
This is possible not by a physical or even psychological withdrawal from the world but by an unceasing enquiry into the source of all action - not 'I' but 'God'.
Is it possible for one to be devoid of this and yet continue to live and act?
Yes; though, in the very nature of phenomena such people are bound to be extremely rare.
To give a crude analogy, they function like plants.
Plants have life and perhaps wonderful intelligence.
Even today scientists are struggling to discover what makes the grass green and why it is capable of manufacturing food direct from the elements, whereas man has to depend upon plants for his nutrition.
The plants have no individual ego-sense.
They respond to God's nature, to his will.
Similarly the egoless man responds to God's will rather, he serves as a clear channel, absolutely nonresisting, for his will.
But in his case the guiding factor is intuition, a ray of God's own omniscience, which lets him do God's will spontaneously.
Since there is no egoistic intelligence in him, he is not even aware of this intuitive wisdom.
But we can recognise him by the total absence of personal selfish desires in him and by the unbroken peace that he radiates.
He is no longer man, but he is God.
the ego is not permanent
V:10 - One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results to the supreme, is not affected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.
V:11 - Yogis, having abandoned attachment, perform actions only by the body, mind, intellect and also by the senses, for the purification of the self.
The emphasis on 'abandoning attachment' is worth meditating upon.
Those two words are like a double-edged sword without even a handle - it is difficult to hold!
Likewise it is difficult to realise this state of nonattachment.
The man who says: "I am not attached to anything" is terribly attached to that estimation of himself!
It is not 'doing this' or 'refraining from this' that is the criterion; for both may be born of 'attachment'!
No guidance whatsoever can be given here - the mind may get attached to the guidance, and mistake the description for the truth.
Only the vigilant yogi knows what this means.
The yogi is ever mindful of the presence of God in himself (which he had mistaken for the 'I') and the omnipresence of God in all beings.
He endeavours to keep this awareness steady in his mind all the time.
But the mind might play wonderful tricks with him, too.
A pleasurable object or person might appear to be truly full of God; and the yogi might find his mind sticking to it (incidentally, the Sanskrit word for 'friendship' is 'sneha' which also means 'glue'!).
He has to retrieve his heart from it with skill but retain the right attitude to God's omnipresence.
Again, the ego might assert itself and proclaim that God is the indwelling presence, specially manifest in the yogi's heart, goading him to keep away from this or that.
The ego might speak in God's voice!
The ego might spread a subtle net of self-importance in which the yogi might be caught.
If, however, he is able to find the subtle middle path - without withholding himself and without getting attached - he will live in God, doing his will, never tainted by the sin of egoism.
The second verse gives freedom of action not only to the body and the senses, but to the mind and the rational faculty.
The ego? It has no permanent existence.
renunciation is liberation
V:12 - The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not in union with the divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.
V:13 Mentally renouncing all actions and self-controlled, the embodied one rests peaceful in the nine-gated city, neither acting nor causing others to act.
Whether the doer of all actions is God himself, or whether it is his nature (prakrti), it is certainly not the individual ego.
The individual ego rises and falls with every action or experience; the real ego is part of God's nature!
The whole universe is the body of God in which his will prevails, guided by his consciousness.
In this context, renunciation of desire for 'fruits of actions' is the most natural and sensible thing to do!
Even the most vital organ in our body (the heart), which functions day and night, does not demand a reward!
Yet we, who are little parts of a cell of the body of God do nothing unless assured of a reward!
This desire is bondage.
Its renunciation is liberation.
When this is clearly seen, the desire does not arise at all.
Even as every cell of our body receives its nourishment and life-force as long as it does its job, even so we shall receive from God what we deserve.
Why beg for it?
Krsna asks us to atomise ourselves and regard our self as the citizen of this nine-gated city, the body.
The body has its own king (God) and administration (God's nature or prakrti).
The citizen enjoys peace, prosperity and security by merely living in obedience to the law.
It is useless on his part to suffer the king's headaches.
The same analogy can be applied to us who are cells in God's cosmic body.
He is the doer or perhaps he causes his nature to do; but we neither do anything nor do we cause anything else to do.
It is the motor which rotates the many wheels, not the other way round.
God is the Cosmic motor.
how does one wake up?
V:14 - The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature.
V:15 - The Lord accepts neither the demerit nor even the merit of any; knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded.
There is plenty of work to do in the Lord's good world - but it is his world, his body.
His life, power, nature or Shakti is the motive force.
His consciousness or intelligence is the guiding force, His own body, the universe, is the field.
The innumerable microcosmic beings are cells in that body, joyously and purposefully participating in his work, sharing his life, power and nature, and united with his consciousness or intelligence.
The individualised fraction is not the whole; but it is nondifferent from the whole and when it realises its true nature as such, it is indivisibly one with the whole.
Egoism is a mysterious deluding power.
Individuation is inherent in the infinite as a potentiality all the time.
Creation is the actualisation of this potentiality.
Like the unperceivable dot on the circumference of a circle, like the raindrop which has not isolated itself from the rain bearing cloud, it should be (and is) ever one with the infinite (though misunderstood to be only part of it).
How this assumes independence of the infinite is a mystery!
Is it ever independent of the infinite, in truth?
But, thank God, such division is a product of ignorance.
When this ignorance is removed it will vanish.
Even the law of cause and effect is based on this ignorant and egoistic idea of agency.
In God, in his eyes, there is neither cause nor effect, neither merit nor demerit, neither heaven nor hell, neither bondage nor liberation.
None of these affects him; and none of these helps him in us to reveal himself.
All of them function in the darkness of our soul-slumber.
They will vanish when we wake up.
How does one wake up? Wake up!
V:16 - When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime.
V:17 - Their intellect absorbed in That, their self being That; established in That, with That as their supreme goal, they go whence there is no return, their sins dispelled by knowledge.
When one wakes up, his dream with all the dream-objects (pleasant and unpleasant), dream-experiences (happiness and misery), dream-actions (good and bad), dream-creations (heaven and hell) and the dream-personality (bound to a delusion) vanish.
Man immediately realises that he is a cell in the body of God, that his self is the self of all, that by virtue of his oneness with the all, he is the all!
Not the deluded and ignorant 'I', but God's nature prevails here, and functions in him, as it functions in the entire universe.
This, however, is not mental activity, nor intellectual assent, nor a pious belief.
It is realisation; one who has it need not intellectualise it or verbalise it.
The yogi who has this knowledge enters the state of sleepless sleep.
In sleep, too, our entire physical organism functions, in obedience to God's nature.
We are at peace and we commit no sin.
The man who lets God's nature or will prevail even during the waking hours is at peace and commits no sin.
He lives in the constant awareness that Brahman alone is true, the 'world' as such is false perception, and the individual soul is, in essence, one with Brahman.
His self realises its identity with the supreme self.
It is not a question of faith or belief, but firm conviction, an unshakable one like the conviction 'I am a human being', needing no proof.
This conviction, permeating every thought, word and deed, itself is his goal.
With ignorance, egoism and self-limitation gone, he is not subjected to limitation (birth) any more!
sin is ignorance
V:18 - The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and an outcaste.
V:19 - Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already situated in Brahman.
This doctrine of essential equality or 'sameness' is difficult for the ignorance-conditioned intellect to grasp.
It is not the dull and drab sameness of uniformity in which all skins will be treated to have the same colour, all noses and faces will be standardised by plastic surgery, all men (and all beings) will eat the same food, wear the same clothes and will be treated in identical manner.
The sage views all in the same light.
He does not forget that they have different duties, places and needs - as cells in different parts of the one body of God.
He recognises that the dog and the cow are one in God, and this recognition takes the form in him of attitudes and actions as befit the different roles allotted to them.
The application of this doctrine is not as simple as it sounds!
For, it is the seeing of sameness that is vital, and any action that substitutes this seeing will lead us astray.
This 'sameness' is the nature of God.
God is faultless and spotless.
We see that also in his nature, the five elements are all pure and purifying.
The self is identical with God and thus free from sin.
Sin is ignorance.
In the dark, you see some animals moving in the backyard.
You throw a stone and go to sleep satisfied that they have gone.
They were but shadows!
But the 'stone-throwing' created an impression in your mind.
In our lives such actions give rise to tendencies that lead to sin and rebirth.
The enlightened soul does not get involved in delusion, sin, and therefore birth and death!
Absorbed in 'sameness' it realises its eternal oneness with Brahman, the infinite.
a double-edged sword
V:20 - A person who neither rejoices on achieving something pleasant nor laments on obtaining something unpleasant, who is self- intelligent, unbewildered, and who knows the science of God, is to be understood as already situated in beyondness.
V:21 - Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure or external objects but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realised person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.
The knowledge outlined in the preceding verses is a double-edged sword.
The clever, cunning and pleasure seeking ego often uses it in pursuit of its own revelry in the darkness of ignorance.
Hence, the ancient sages had wisely withheld this knowledge from the unclean hands of the undisciplined soul.
Krsna, while throwing the gates of knowledge open to all, exposes 'the other edge' of the sword clearly.
It is easy to say "God's will" or "I see God in all", when the mind and senses are pampered and the ego is inflated.
It does not demand spiritual heroism to demonstrate brave equanimity when life is smooth and fortune is smiling.
But, just as night follows day, their counterparts follow them.
Then is the time to demonstrate true equilibrium of mind! If you can truly be indifferent to misfortune, dishonour, failure and pain, you are a yogi.
This is possible by a twofold sadhana:
1. Detach the mind from external contacts.
Reduce the self to zero.
In your own heart experience the bliss of God.
2. Expand.
Know that the self is the all-pervading Brahman.
Realise you are the all.
Enjoy the perennial bliss.
In (1) the external disturbing elements do not even touch you.
In (2) you identify yourself with them too; you are the robber and you are the robbed - you have only changed the lost object from one hand to the other!
You will ever be happy.
However, unless this sadhana springs from, or is at least accompanied by self-knowlegde, it will lead either to hypocrisy or, worse, to repression of emotion.
sense pleasure is not eternal
V:22 - An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, O Arjuna, which are due to contact of the senses with the material objects; such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.
This applies even to our own physical body!
When there is a rash on the skin, scratching it feels pleasant, but the result is a worsening of the condition.
When there is high fever the tongue likes food and drink which aggravate the misery.
As cells in the body of God, this is true of us.
These 'cells', conditioned perversely by the pleasure-seeking ego, indulge in 'contacts' which are harmful.
The soul, which is forever one with the supreme being, is carried away by these momentary sense-pleasures.
They are not eternal.
When they come they appear to be pleasant, but this is soon followed by their departure which causes unpleasantness over prolonged periods.
This tragedy, however, is the direct result of the mind labelling and liking the momentary experience as 'pleasure', thus making it desirable and giving rise to a craving for repetition.
A careful observation will reveal that, in truth, the so-called worldly pleasures are 'the mothers of pain'.
By looking at the offspring, it is possible to know the genes of the parent.
We know that in this world every indulgence in worldly 'pleasure' is sooner or later followed (as its offspring) by great pain.
The pleasure that gave birth to this pain should, logically, have been pain only.
It was; but was mistaken for pleasure.
This definition must qualify the wise man whose characteristics we studied in the foregoing verses.
He is naturally not interested in worldly pleasures.
Mark that Krsna does not ask him to shun them!
There is no struggle involved in this.
He who is blissful in God is just not interested in worldly pleasures, in perpetuating them by thought.
Even the description of these pleasures as 'wombs of pain' and 'limited by time' is but a statement of fact and not a preventive threat!
We should not forget that the yogi is tranquil, not even frightened by contact with worldly objects.
the goal of man
V:23 - He who is able, while still here in this world to withstand, before the liberation from the body, the impulse born of desire, he is a yogi and a happy man.
V:24 - One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.
In the inner depth of one's being is the point of contact with Brahman the absolute.
It is significant, therefore, that modern science has turned its searchlight of analysis on the 'nucleus', the subtler than the cell structure, for a knowledge of the fundamentals.
No wonder, either, that herein is discovered amazing intelligence, power and order.
Are we on the threshold of a scientific discovery of God?
We, too, shall find our peace and bliss, light and life, in that innermost depth where the soul is God.
We shall realise that the force of God's love holding the whole universe together is misunderstood by the soul as the source of that sense-pleasure which is easily experienced.
The soul foolishly desires such pleasure, transferring it to external objects.
The yogi clears this mist of ignorance and rejoices within the self.
Pleasure is not the goal of Indian ethics or religion.
If personal pleasure is good (and so the goal of man), then there would be chaos in this world; for what is pleasant for one causes pain in another; and someone's pleasure is always bought at the expense of another's.
Krsna, therefore, deliberately turns man's vision away from pleasure-seeking desire.
Pleasure and pain will still seek us out, on account of past karma, but if we refrain from desiring pleasure and hating pain, karma will work itself out and we shall be liberated.
the bliss of the wise
V:25 - One who is beyond duality and doubt, whose mind is engaged within, who is always busy working for the welfare of all sentient beings, and who is free from all sins, achieves liberation in the Supreme.
V:26 - Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realised, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.
The whole series of verses describing the nature of a wise man should be read together in order to obtain a clear picture of Krsna's idea.
Half-knowledge is like jumping half the width of an abyss.
'Sameness' is Brahman; and if we get firmly established in perfect equanimity and equilibrium of mind, we shall realise our oneness with the absolute.
That sounds simple! But that is only part of the definition.
The wise man is full of dispassion.
He does not allow himself to be led away by desire and hatred - the two emotions (e-motion, i.e. externalised movement) that lead the soul away from its centre, Brahman.
That seems simple, perhaps, especially to a dry kill-joy ascetic.
But this again is only partial description.
Such dispassion must be born of an inner experience of supreme bliss.
The wise man is full of it.
He is convinced of its reality.
You may think: "Perhaps even this is not so difficult after all; people have discovered drugs which will create an inner wonderland." Oh, no....
This bliss is not hallucination, but an inner light. It is not a fool's paradise, but the paradise of the sage who sees the self in all and is, therefore, vigorously engaged in the promotion of the welfare of all beings!
Such bliss is the true, perfect, perfection.
introduction to May
We are now dealing with an exciting part of the scripture.
In this, Krsna hands us the key to the kingdom of eternal bliss.
When we enter the spiritual path of yoga, we should be prepared to face one enigma after another.
Our reaction to environment and opportunity is largely determined by our own preconditioning (mainly brought forward from previous incarnations); but this is not absolute and we even have the privilege of wiping away the whole ugly picture of past vicious tendencies, if only we care to be awake, alert, see and recognize them and vigilantly exercise our free-will to eradicate them.
While we depend very much on divine grace for our spiritual practice and progress, the Lord himself will continue to remain aloof and witness them.
Here we are thrown upon our own resources, as it were; but, however much we try, the ultimate experience is God's gift which he will bestow upon us only when there is no egoistic receiver.
We shall, of course, not know when this false ego has been totally negated; for then who is there to know?
These are some of the enigmatic paradoxes we encounter on our march to God - but an intelligent understanding of the principles involved makes the pursuit a deeply interesting spiritual adventure.
In our spiritual practice, the guru will help and without him we may get lost.
Fellow spiritual aspirants may help too.
However, no-one but your own pure (purified) mind can lead you towards God.
That pure mind alone is your best friend.
Even the Guru's instructions must be assimilated and made your own.
Otherwise, a lifeless imitation might result.
Spoon feeding by the Guru will cripple the inner God-given faculties, producing dullness and spiritual suicide.
You have to discover the great truth yourself.
Modern scientific knowledge is highly unscientific in this respect.
It has a label for everything, including psychological expressions and experiences.
This robs us of our greatest opportunity to know, intimately and immediately.
The words 'infinite', 'eternal' , 'absolute' that we come across on a printed page create an illusion of understanding and knowledge within us, thereby preventing immediate and intimate knowledge of the real, inner meaning (not the dictionary meaning) of these words - the truth they indicate.
We might, of course, make use of all these crutches, but without feeling complacent enough to dispense with our own legs!
Krsna very carefully warns us against such spiritual sloth and slavery.
inner experience
V:27 - Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils - thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, the transcendentalist becomes free from desire, fear and anger. One who is always in this state is certainly liberated.
V:28 - With the senses, the mind and the intellect always controlled, having liberation as his supreme goal, free from desire, fear and anger, the sage is verily liberated for ever.
It is all very well to talk of inner experience of the supreme bliss, the spiritual light, and so on, but that is not enough.
Intellectual understanding or theory is the starting point, but it is useless unless translated into practice, leading to the realization that the theory vaguely suggests.
Krishna is one hundred per cent practical in his approach to life in the world and to God-realization, and introduces here the way in which the inner spiritual experience is to be had by the seeker after the reality.
Experience of the 'sameness' is prevented by the desire-filled mind and deluded intellect identifying the self with passing phenomenal experiences had via the limited, finite and deceptive senses, and the consequent creation and adoption of false values.
Hence, Krishna's yoga consists in inner enlightenment in which the seeker's scale of values is radically altered, the spiritual truth taking the place of the older material ones until the evaluating ego dissolves itself in choiceless awareness (witness consciousness).
Here, again, one should know the art of discerning and disconnecting the disturbing elements!
Krishna describes this technique in detail in the next chapter.
Behaviorism (a school of western psychology) recognizes that fear, rage and love are the three innate emotions even of an infant - the natural or animal instincts.
Yoga recognizes these emotions, too, and demands that the yogi should be free of them, in order to attain perfection.
god's grace
V:29 - Knowing Me as the enjoyer of sacrifices of renunciations and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all realms, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace.
We need God's Grace to achieve success in anything, most of all in our spiritual quest.
That grace is available to us all, pervading all throughout our lives.
There is a reason for it.
God is the dearest friend of all beings, and this friend-indeed will enable us to overcome all obstacles and crown all our efforts with success.
Nor is it difficult to propitiate God and earn His Grace, for He is the enjoyer of all sacrifices and austerities.
All our actions and services, all our charities and austerities, all our prayers and adorations reach God.
If only man recognizes this great truth, then his whole life and all his actions are spiritualized and sublimated.
Every action that he performs and every prayer that he offers flows towards the Lord, deepening and widening the channel day after day and hour after hour, so that at the same time God ' s Grace may flow towards him in ever-increasing abundance.
No one need despair.
No one need fear obstacles.
With a changed angle of vision the seeker looks upon obstacles as stepping stones.
The thing that obstructs our smooth progress along the corridor is not an obstacle, but a step meant to lead us upward and onward!
God's Grace alone will enable us to see it in this light and God is waiting to shower his grace on us!
It is God's Grace that enabled all this to be written, it is God's grace that enables you to listen to his song!
Divine life is divine grace.
Om Tat Sat
Thus in the Upanishad of the Bhagavad Gita, the Science of the Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fifth chapter entitled: Karma Vairagya Sanyasa Yoga - The Yoga of Renunciation and Action.

gri ganesaya namah! sri gopala krsnaya namah! dharo 'vaca bhagavan paramesana bhaktir avyabhicarini prarabdham bhujyamanasya katham bhavati he prabho
1. The Earth said: O Lord! The supreme one! How can unflinching devotion arise in him who is immersed in his worldly life, O Lord?
sri visnur uvaca prarabdham bhujyamano hi gita 'bhyasa ratah sada sa muktah sa sukhi loke karmana no 'palipyate
2. Lord Visnu said: Though engaged in the performance of worldly duties, one who is regular in the study of the Gita, becomes free. He is the happy man in this world. He is not bound by karma.
maha papadi papani gita dhyanam karoti cet kvacit sparsam na kurvanti nalini dalam ambuvat
3. Just as the water stains not the lotus leaf, even so, sins do not taint him who is regular in the recitation of the Gita.
gitayah pustakam yatra yatra pathah pravartate tatra sarvani tirthani prayaga 'dini tatra vai
4. All the sacred places of pilgrimage like Prayaga, etc., dwell in that place where the book, the Gita, is kept and where the Gita is read.
sarve devas ca rsayo yoginah pannagas ca ye gopala gopika va 'pi narado 'ddhava parsadaih
5. All the gods, sages, yogi, divine serpents, gopala, gopika (friends and devotees of lord Krsna), Narada, Uddhava and others (dwell there).
sahayo jayate sighram yatra gita pravartate yatra gita vicaras ca pathanam pathanat srutam tatra 'ham niscitam prthvi nivasami sadai 'va hi
6. Help comes quickly where the Gita is recited and, O Earth, I dwell at all times where the Gita is read, heard, taught and contemplated upon.
gita 'sraye 'ham tisthami gita me co 'ttamam grham gita jnanam upasritya trimllokan palayamy aham
7. I take refuge in the Gita and the Gita is my best abode. I protect the three worlds with the knowledge of the Gita.
gita me parama vidya brahma rupa na samsayah ardha matra 'ksara nitya sva 'nirvacya padatmika
8. The Gita is my highest science, which is doubtless of the form of Brahman, the eternal, the ardhamatra (of the sacred monosyllable om), the ineffable splendour of the self.
cidanandena krsnena prokta sva mukhato 'rjunam veda tray! parananda tattva 'rtha jnana samyuta
9. It was spoken by the blessed Krsna, the all-knowing, through his own mouth to Arjuna. It contains the essence of the three veda, knowledge of the reality. It is full of supreme bliss.
yo 'stadasa japen nityam naro niscala manasah jnana siddhim sa labhate tato yati param padam
10. He who recites the eighteen chapters of the Gita daily, with a pure, unshaken mind, attains perfection in knowledge, and reaches the highest state or supreme goal.
pathe 'samarthah sampurne tato 'rdham patham acaret tada go danajam punyam labhate na 'tra samsayah
11. If a complete reading is not possible, even if only half of it is read, he attains the benefit of giving a cow as a gift. There is no doubt about this.
tribhagam pathamanas to ganga snana phalam labhet sadamsam japamanas to soma yaga phalam labhet
12. He who recites one-third part of it achieves the merit of a bath in the sacred Ganga, and he who recites one-sixth of it attains the merit of performing a soma ritual.
eka 'dhyayam to yo nityam pathate bhakti samyutah rudra lokam avapnoti gano bhutva vasec ciram
13. That person who reads one chapter with great devotion attains to the world of Rudra and, having become an attendant of lord Siva, lives there for many years.
adhyayam sloka padam va nityam yah pathate narah sa yati naratam yavan manvantaram vasundhare
14. If one reads a quarter of a chapter or even part of a verse daily, he, O Earth, retains a human body till the end of a world-cycle.
gitayah sloka dasakam sapta panca catustayam dvau trin ekaih tad ardham va slokanam yah pathen narah candra lokam avapnotii varsanam ayutam dhruvam gita patha samayukto mrtomanusatam vrajet
15,16. He who repeats ten, seven, five, four, three, two verses or even one or half a verse, attains the region of the moon and lives there for ten thousand years. Accustomed to the daily study of the Gita, the dying man comes back to life again as a human being.
gita 'bhyasam punah krtva labhate muktim uttamam gite 'ty uccara samyukto mriyamano gatim labhet
17. By repeated study of the Gita he attains liberation. Uttering 'Gita' at the time of death, one attains liberation.
gita 'rtha sravana 'sakto maha papa yuto 'pi va vaikuntham samavapnoti visnuna saha modate
18. Though full of sins, one who is ever intent on hearing the meaning of the Gita, goes to the kingdom of God and rejoices with lord Visnu.
gita 'rtham dhyayate nityam krtva karmani bhurisah jivanmuktah sa vijneyo deha 'nte paramam padam
19. He who meditates on the meaning of the Glita, having performed a lot of good actions, attains the supreme goal after death. Such a man should be known as a jivanmukta (sage liberated while living).
gitam asritya bahavo bhubhujo janaka 'dayah nirdhuta kalmasa loke gita yatah paratn padam
20. In this world, taking refuge in the Gita, many kings like Janaka and others have reached the highest state or goal, purified of all sins.
gitayah pathanam krtva mahatmyam naiva yah pathet vrtha patho bhavet tasya srama eva by udahrtah
21. He who fails to read this Glory of the Gita after having read the Gita, loses the benefit thereby, and the effort alone remains.
etan mahatmya sahyuktam gita 'bhyasam karoti yah sa tat phalam avapnoti durlabharn gatim apnuyat
22. One who studies the Gita, together with this Glory of the Gita, attains the fruits mentioned above and reaches the state which is otherwise very difficult to attain.
suta uvaca mahatmyam etad gitaya maya proktam sanatanatn gitante ca pathed yas to yad uktam tat phalarnlabhet
23. Suta said: This greatness or Glory of the Gita which is eternal, as narrated by me, should be read at the end of the study of the Gita and the fruits mentioned therein will be obtained.
iti sri varaha purane gri gita mahatmyam sampurnam
Thus ends the Glory of the Gita contained in the Varaha purana.

This was a glimpse of the gospel of Lord Krishna - simple, direct, yet profound. It is not one of pessimism or escapism, but is full of robust common sense. And if it sometimes seems to be puzzling, it is because common sense is so uncommon in the complex world of today.
You may be quite certain that one direction is east and the opposite direction west. But, if you move a little, you suddenly discover that east and west meet you! You are the divider, and from another point of view, you are the meeting point. In fact, it is the mind that creates all this duality which multiplies into endless diversity, creating conflicts and confusion all the way through.
There is only oneness and cosmic unity. There just cannot be two infinites or two omnipresences. The origin of the perception of diversity is enshrouded in mystery - maya. But Krishna boldly assumes responsibility for even that! "I am seated in the hearts of all; from me are memory, knowledge, as well as their absence, " says He.
The manifest universe is the body of God, and the supreme spirit is the indweller. Even this distinction was made to suit human analogy and to satisfy the duality-ridden intellect. We make an arbitrary distinction between our body and our spirit which seems to be justified because at one stage - death - the spirit leaves the body. This, obviously, does not apply to the Lord and His Body, for He is eternal and infinite, and does not leave His Body.
What a sublime vision! What a world-uniting doctrine! What a fountain of love! What a soft blow to shatter all distinctions and differences! What a divine cord of love to unite all mankind in oneness - divinity!

Swami Venkatesananda

Om Tat Sat
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