Gita essays 36
After a brief reference to Karma-yoga with emphasis on swadharma and swabhava, Lord Krishna made a short reference to Jnana yoga highlighting the role of nitidyasanam. When one gets established in Athma Jnanam, one remembers his identity with Brahman spontaneously which Lord described as entering Brahman. Then Lord takes up a brief revision of Bhakthi yoga with emphasis on surrender for receiving Lord’s Grace. For not all are comfortable in pursuing Jnana yoga with its disciplines of mananam and nitidyasanam, even though they may start enthusiastically with sravanam. Surrender to Lord is not out of fear or weakness but out of love for the Lord, the highest form of selfless pure love which Lord reciprocates as His Grace to His devotees. Surrender is not a passive act of physical prostration but a constant continuous remembrance of God in all contacts and transactions to the accompaniment of mental renunciation of ‘I’ness and ‘My’ness in all activities. Lord prescribes different modes of saranagathi for different types of devotees of which first one is propounded in verse 56 as:
Doing all actions ever taking refuge in Me, one obtains the eternal, indestructible state or abode by My Grace(18-56).
The above prescription of surrender is made keeping in view aartha bhakthas and artharthi bhakthas. They are not interested in Jnanam but have devotion to God and are also devoted to their material pursuits which take priority over devotion to God. Lord does not want them to change their physical ways, only he wants the change in their mind setup. They should accord devotion to God priority always substituting ‘I’ consciousness with God consciousness at all times. Giving up their ahamkara and selfish motives, they must work selflessly seeking His Grace. In short, what they do, they should do as a service to God and what they get they should accept as the blessing of God.
He then assures Arjuna that one can overcome all obstacles and achieve peace and success while doing his swadharma without ego and without sense of doership, surrendering himself to Lord. But at the same time He also strikes a note of warning that if because of ego one abandons the path shown by the Lord, and strikes a different path driven by his egocentric desires then he will perish without achieving anything worthwhile. He applies this to Arjuna’s life itself and warns him that if out of ahamkara, he decides not to fight and leave the battlefield to take up a life of renunciation, this may not be possible. It will turn out to be a temporary mental aberration only as his Kshatriya swabhava will not let him stay away from the battlefield deserting his fighting brothers and may force him to join the battle rather helplessly, when it may be too late either for his or their good.
After cautioning Arjuna, Lord reminds him of Iswara tatvam. Iswara as the Supreme power lives in everyone’s heart and guides everyone’s development. The relations of one’s inborn nature and fateful compulsion are in His hands. As puppets are moved by a string-puller seated behind the scene, so also the created beings move and act on the stage of the world under the control of the Lord seated in the hearts of all. So we must be conscious of the Divine on all the planes of our existence. Arjuna is called upon to understand the will of God and do his duty. He must surrender unto Him and put himself totally at the service of the Lord without any reservations. Then by His grace Arjuna’s delusion will be dispelled and he will attain inner harmony and peace.
With these words Lord wants to end His advice to Arjuna and give him a free rein to decide on the best course of action in the light of this advice and act freely as per his decision. But then His love for Arjuna is so strong that he feels like adding a few more touches before calling it a day. And He again emphasises saranagathi in two more verses before proceeding to sum up the benefits that these words of advice can confer on one and all. The first of the two verses runs as:
Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, offer worship to Me, bow down to Me. you shall come to Me alone; I truly promise to you (for) you are dear to Me.(18-65)
This can be seen as an advice of surrender to Jijnasu bhakthas for whom God is a priority goal. They do not have the Ikya Jnanam but are committed to acquire Iswara Jnanam. Lord advises them to make Him as the only goal, surrender to Him their ego and body consciousness and act without the sense of doership in all their activities. This can also be seen as a final summary of Karma/Bhakthi yoga.
The second of these verses is the final advice coming from Lord. This can also be seen both as a prescription to surrender for Jnani bhakthas and also as the gist of Jnana yoga. The verse runs as:
Renouncing all actions, take refuge in Me, the non-dual; I will liberate you from all sins; Do not grieve.(18-66)
This is the final teaching verse of Gita as the later verses are only winding up verses; and therefore Sri Ramanujacharya calls this the ‘Charama-Sloka’ meaning the final verse. The teaching that started from the verse 11 of the 2nd chapter concludes with this verse and this verse is considered to be a very important one and also a confusing one as this is open to several different interpretations. All actions relate to body-mind complex and so renouncing all actions is possible only when one gives up mentally one’s identification with the body-mind complex. One non-dual Lord is the Advaitic Nirguna Brahman and surrendering to Him is through Athma Jnanam realizing one’s oneness with the Nirguna Brahman as Athma. This in turn leads to the realization that as Athma one stands liberated always, as Athma is ever untouched by Punyam as well as Papam and it is only through adhyasa mistakenly saddled with Punyam, Papam and bondage. So Lord’s advice can be interpreted as “ Realize through Jnanam your true identity as Athma, that is the non-dual Nirguna Brahman and shed your false identification with the body-mind complex; thereby freeing yourself mentally from all the notions of punyam-papam and Dharmam-Adharmam, be a liberated Self here and now.”
After concluding the advice Lord makes a few general remarks concerning the study and teaching of Gita and also the phalam. He first advises that one who has no faith, discipline, devotion and desire to know should not be given this knowledge. Then He declares that one who imparts and the one who receives this wisdom will attain the Lord Himself And even the one who merely hears this with faith will also attain higher worlds. Then Lord Krishna asks Arjuna whether his delusion is gone to which Arjuna replies positively with grateful acknowledgement and promises to abide by the Lord’s teaching.
Sanjaya who had been so far broadcasting the happenings in the battlefield to Dhridharashtra now tells the blind king how fortunate he was to hear this advice direct from the Lord and how thrilled he feels to have had Cosmic vision of the Lord, Viswarupa darsan. Sanjaya concludes his remarks with the declaration:Where there is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, and where there is Arjuna, the wielder of the bow, there will be permanent wealth, victory, prosperity and justice. (18-78).