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From: Bharadwaj, Jaganath (jbb0_at_nreca.org)
Date: Mon Jun 22 1998 - 12:53:45 PDT
In the first four chapters, the soul, whose description is given in the second chapter, the goal of attaining its vision and the method to attain such a vision is described. In the third chapter, it is explained that one should give up interest in going to Svarga and other fruits of Vedic karmas. One should understand that all actions are being performed by the three modes of nature or by their controller Sriman Naaraayana. In other words, we should understand that all our activities take place only because He permits it. Arjuna: "Kesava! If you consider Jnaana Yoga to be superior to Karma Yoga, then why do you command me to perform this dreadful Karma Yoga? After all did you not say (in the second chapter verse 49) that Jnaana Yoga is superior to Karma Yoga?" Sri Bhagavaan: "Oh faultless One! It appears that you did not correctly understand what I explained to you before. The right to perform Karma Yoga or Jnaana Yoga depends upon the qualifications of the aspirant to liberation. One who has achieved a state of sinlessness is qualified to perform Karma Yoga. One who has earned substantial merit is entitled to perform Jnaana Yoga. Therefore, each Yoga is meant for a person in a particular stage of spiritual development.." Arjuna: "Janaardana! Why should a person not interested in Moksha take up Karma Yoga? Why should a person interested in Moksha not take up the vastly superior path of Jnaana Yoga?" Sri Krishna: "Arjuna! One does not reach the stage of performing Jnaana Yoga by abandoning duties ordained by the Vedas, i.e. either by never performing them at all or giving them up after having performed them for some time. Only by performing rites ordained by the Saastras, does one attain siddhi (in the context of the qualification to perform Jnaana Yoga). Not otherwise. "Pay attention to the following as well. For a human being in this world, it is not possible to cease action even for a moment. According to how much sin and merit (punya) have matured and are giving fruit at a given moment, the combination of the three modes of nature that affect the individual is determined. The proportion of these three modes determines the nature of the karmas undertaken by an individual. Therefore, by giving up duties ordained in the scriptures, Jnaana Yoga cannot be performed. "Moreover, one who goes directly to Jnaana Yoga without ever having performed Karma Yoga deceives himself and sets up a mere show for the rest of the world." Arjuna: "Krishna! In that case, why did you make the statement that Jnaana Yoga is superior to Karma Yoga?" Sri Bhagavaan: "Paartha! You are destined to continue the Karma Yoga which is as yet incomplete. Karma Yoga is superior to Jnaana Yoga. You cannot maintain your body without performing any karma. Only if you eat, can you sustain the body. Without sustaining the body, there is no question of performing Jnaana Yoga. When you perform Karma Yoga, you are simultaneously performing Jnaana Yoga. Therefore Karma Yoga is superior to Jnaana Yoga." Arjuna: "Vaasudeva! If one earns money and performs karmas like Pancha Maha Yajna etc, will it not lead to an increase in qualities like ahamkaara (the false understanding that the soul is independent and free to pursue any desire), mamakaara (the failure to perceive that everything living and non living is the property of Sriman Naaraayana and consequently coveting possessions), desire, hatred and the like, making it more difficult to give up material attachments?" Sri Krishna: "Earning income that is necessary to perform rites ordained by the Saastras will not bind you to further karma. Only money earned exclusively with a view to increasing one's material comforts binds one into further karma. Performance of duties ordained by Saastras without attachment leads to one pleasing one's worshippable deity. He (one's worshippable deity) then causes a dissolution of the beginningless karma that hinders clear perception of the truth. Clear perception of the truth makes a vision of the soul possible. Therefore, those with spiritual objectives should perform rites like Pancha Maha Yajna and Vaishvadevam and only eat the grains that remain after such offering." Arjuna: "Kanna! According to the Smrita verse "Karamanaa Badhyate Jantuh:", man gets bound by karma. By knowledge, he attains liberation. Therefore, the Sannyaasis who have mastered all branches of spiritual learning do not perform any rites. How can you therefore, expect me to accept that the rites which bind one in Karma, are a source of liberation?" Sri Bhagavaan: "Arjuna! Perform these ordained rites that are intended to please the demigods realizing that I am the soul of these demigods. Let those demigods fulfil your requirements, by providing you with grains, etc. In this way, everyone takes care of everybody else in a symbiotic relationship. Thus leading a life as ordained by scriptures, in a society of devotees serving each other, people will spend their time in meditating upon Sriman Naaraayana as the soul in each devotee and attain liberation. Grains (wealth) has been provided to us so that we may perform these rites ordained in the Vedas and offer the demigods their share of grains. Whoever fails to do so is absolutely a thief. He loses his right to liberation. Not only that. He could land in hell for failure to perform these rites." Arjuna: "Krishna! Do learned Bhaagavatas (Sishthas) also acknowledge Karma Yoga to be an elevated path?" Sri Krishna: "Oh Winner of Wealth! The most learned among Rajarshis like Janaka and Ashwapati attained a knowledge and perception of their souls merely by means of karma (doing their duties without aspiration for its fruits). Such learned people have concluded that even for one qualified to practice Jnaana Yoga, karma Yoga is a more efficient method to attain a perception of the self. Moreover, what is practiced by one who has attained fame in learning and the practice of rites stipulated in the scriptures is identical to what is practiced by one with very little brains. One who has attained fame as a learned Bhaagavata, has to practice without fail the Varnaashrama dharma that his, by birthright. If he gives them up, the smooth flow of the cosmic cycle is upset. (If the Brahmanas give up their duties, the prosperity of the Vaishyas, the ability of the kshatriyas to govern effectively, all get affected. Besides the children of these fallen Brahmanas are unlikely to bring into their practice, what their fathers have given up.) The sin that accrues as a result of giving up one's duties and causing other people to stray from their path, will come in the way of successfully practicing Jnaana Yoga. Arjuna, for one like Me who is all-knowing and who has no desires to be fulfilled, there are no duties. But for the protection of the world, I practice all the rites ordained in the Saastras. If I failed to fulfil my duties, others will give up their duties citing Me as a precedent. Consequently, they will invite their destruction. Therefore, I will be responsible for the spiritual regression of mankind. You should therefore practice Karma Yoga, since you have been born as the son of Paandu, the younger brother of Yudhishthira and have acquired fame as one who is following in the footsteps of his forefathers." Arjuna: "Madhusoodhana! What is the difference between one who practices Karma Yoga with knowledge and without knowledge. Please also explain how does one go about doing his duties, thinking to himself "I am not the doer"?" Sri Bhagavaan: "Paandava! One who has not understood the nature of the soul, or one who considers the body to be the soul, thinks that he has performed every action. One who has understood the truth about the nature of the soul understands that the modes of nature like sattva and Rajas play out their roles in the result of all the actions that are performed by the body. He does not see the involvement of the soul in the execution of these activities. Arjuna! Consider all actions to have been caused by Me. Submit all activities of the body and mind as an offering to Me the Supreme Being. Consider these activities to be a form of My worship. Do not aspire to seek the fruits of these activities as such thoughts can only arise from the presumptuous understanding that the activities of the body are caused by oneself. In such a frame of mind fight the war and perform all other actions." Note from the author:- This is called Saatvika tyaaga.