Thursday, 24 May 2018

Actionlessness & State of Brahman

Gita essays 35


After concluding the guna-wise analysis of various topics with a declaration emphasising the point that there is nothing in the creation which is free from the influence of the three guṇas, Satvam, Rajas and Tamas that constitute Prakrithi, Lord Krishna applies the characteristics of various gunas to the social fabric and classifies the entire mankind under four different heads viz. Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Lord Krishna has stated earlier (ch.4-ver.13) that human society is divided fourfold, based on duties and gunas. Now He elaborates further stating that different kinds of duties are assigned to each of these categories of individuals depending on their nature (Swabhava) which in turn depends on the gunas predominant in them.  This classification is based on the quality of the inner personality of the individuals and not on the accident of their birth. The emphasis on Swabhava indicates that human beings are to be treated as individuals and not as types. Predominating guna-wise classification is as follows:

1.     Brahmanas - predominantly  Satva (75%), some Rajas (15%) and a little Tamas (10%).
2.     Kshatriyas - predominantly Rajas (75%) with some Satva (15%) and a little Tamas (10%).
3.     Vaisyas - predominantly Rajas (75%), some Tamas (15%) and a little Satva (10%).
4.     Sudras - - predominantly Tamas (75%) some Rajas (15%) and a little Satva (10%).

The various duties of each of these categories of the individuals depending on their own nature (swabhavajam) are listed by the Lord as follows in verses 42, 43 & 44:

The control of mind and senses, austerity, external and internal purity, forgiveness, straightforwardness, jnanam, vijnanam, and faith in God and Vedas constitute the natural duties of the brahmaṇas born of their own nature. (18-42)
Valour, boldness, fortitude, resourcefulness, not running away from battle, generosity and overlordship are the duties of kshatriyas, born of their own nature.(18-43)  

Agriculture, cattle rearing and trade are the duties of the Vaisya class born of their own nature; action consisting of service is the duty of the Sudra class born of their own nature. (18-44)

A particular combination of gunas arise in a human being not because he is born in a particular group or community but because he is a product of his previous actions performed in his previous lives. Given the faculty of freewill, each human being performs different actions. These actions produce results, some of which are immediate and visible while some are invisible and carried forward as a residue. That which is immediate is enjoyed in that birth itself while the residual results come to fruition as vasanas in some future life.  When each one works according to vasanas in him and fully devotes himself to the prescribed duties, he develops within himself and attains gradually the state of spiritual perfection.  Lord Krishna says all these four professions are equally sacred; they are like the four organs of the body called the society; just as every organ is equally sacred in the body every profession is equally sacred.  Lord Krishna points out that karma yoga consists of worship of the Lord through any profession that a person undertakes. Through any profession a person chooses, he directly contributes to the world by way of benefit to the society. Social benefit is the direct outcome; but to convert it into an act of worship one should have the attitude of offering that action to the Lord.  When one learns to work and achieve in a spirit of surrender to God, work becomes worship free from ego and egocentric desires. Lord Krishna says by so performing one's own duties, svadharma, one can evolve into higher state of self-unfoldment.

Lord is not tired of repeating that sense-control and freedom from desire are essential to spiritual perfection, which Lord calls as “Supreme state of freedom from action (naishkarmya siddhi)”.  Attachments to objects, a sense of ego, are the characteristics of our lower nature. If we are to rise to gain knowledge of our true Self, we must conquer our lower nature with its ignorance and inertia, its love of worldly possessions, etc.  The state of actionlessness or transcending all work does not mean complete withdrawal from all work. Such a question is not possible so long as we live in the body.  What Lord advocates is the state of inner renunciation only. For attaining Brahman from this state of naishkarmya siddhi, Lord highlights nitidyasanam, Vedantic meditation, as the path in verses 51 to 53 thus:
Endowed with a clear intellect, controlling the mind by will, renouncing the sense-objects like sound etc., one should give up likes and dislikes. (18-51)
Resorting to a secluded place, taking limited food, controlling the speech, the body and the mind, taking to detachment, one should be ever devoted to dhyana yoga.(18-52)
Having given up egoism, power, arrogance, desire, anger, and possession, being free from ‘Mine’ notion, (and) remaining tranquil, one becomes fit for becoming Brahman. (18-53)

When our intellect becomes free from its attachments and thus controls our mind and body, then alone we are fit for renunciation of the lower ego-sense and reach for the Infinite Self which is the process of meditation.  Vedantic meditation involves sravanam, mananam as well besides nitidyasanam that involves meditation of the fact that I am akartha and abogtha athma which is different from the body and whose identity is Supreme Brahman.   Lord Krishna after summarising karma yoga as purification of mind for spiritual self-unfoldment, summarises jnana yoga as the means of liberation, highlighting the nitidyasanam.  The qualities required for successful meditation are summarised as
1)  An intellect without tendencies to acquire, possess and enjoy sense objects.
2)   Mind and sense-organs firmly brought under the control of such purified intellect
3)    Sense-organs restrained in their contacts with sense-objects
4)    Mind freed from the influence of likes and dislikes.
Further the true spiritual seeker of higher life must
1)        Seek a quiet place and solitude for sadh ana
2)    Have temperate eating habits
3)    Exercise control over his body, mind and speech
4)    Engage in continuous contemplation of Lord
5)    Lead a life of dispassion.
6)    Give up egoism, power, arrogance, desire, anger, covetousness and the notion of ‘mine’ness

Equipped with the above do’s and don’t’s, the spiritual seeker is fit for becoming Brahman, Lord says.  Becoming Brahman is to get firmly established in Self-knowledge that spells out the identity of one’s Athma with Supreme Brahman.  To know Brahman truly is to know that Brahman is devoid of all names and forms which are caused by maya and He is of the nature of the Absolute. It is also to know that Brahman alone is the essence of the diverse manifestations caused by His maya and He is non-dual, unborn, undecaying, unchanging and of the nature of Pure Consciousness. Entering Brahman is to own up the fact that this Brahman is one’s true Self as Athma and to say comfortably “Aham Brahmasmi”.  The acts of knowing and entering are not two separate and consecutive actions.  For such a person the ego is replaced by God Consciousness, the conception of individuality or `I-ness' ends and he is said to have attained the state of Brahman, oneness with Brahman or Brahma-Ikyam.


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