Shloka # 49:
“ Work impelled by the desire for fruit is indeed far inferior, evenness of mind being far above it. O Arjuna, Take refuge in the evenness of intelligence. Pitiful are those impelled by the desire for the fruits of works.”
Shloka # 50:
“With the intelligence of evenness one discards (in this world) both good and evil woks (i.e, the merits and demerits of works) Therefore strive to secure this Yoga; Yoga is skill in works.”
Sri Krishna presented Karma yoga in Shlokas 47 and 48 respectively. He will elaborate on them in Chapter 3. Here he only hints at important aspects of karma yoga.
Chapter 3 has two aspects of Karma Yoga.
- Karma Part: Or proper action, legitimate action, or Sattvic action.
- Yoga Part: Meaning bringing a proper attitude during action.
As a Karta I should have a healthy attitude. Doing a job I do not like, every day, week after week, one cannot have a healthy attitude. It spoils the mental health, which in turn spoils the physical health as well.
I should love what I do. For every action I do, I will also reap the result. The boss may praise me, promote me or snub me for my action. Even in receiving the feedback I should have a healthy attitude, as a bhoktha. One needs a proper attitude towards Karma as well as Karma Phalam.
Here it is all about proper attitude alone. Samatvam, means an undisturbed mind. A stressed and strained mind is not a Karma Yogi’s mind. That is the reason there are so many courses in stress management today.
What is the benefit of Karma Yoga?
Immediate benefit is peace of mind. There is no stress or strain. Even relationship improves. However, Gita is talking about the ultimate benefits. First, mind becomes more refined. Interest in self-knowledge increases, as mind becomes purer and purer. Self-knowledge becomes more appealing. So, wherever he goes he will see only this topic. Soon, he will come to an appropriate Guru. Under him he graduates from Karma Yoga to Gyana Yoga. He then gets Gyanam and is then ultimately freed or liberated.
Definition of Karma Yoga is:
- Means balance of mind
- Kushala Yoga: Means skill in action.
What is skill in action?
It is not the expertise in action. Performing an action repeatedly will make one skilled at it. Shankaracharya gives a beautiful definition; if proper attitude is not there; karma can lead to more and more strain and tension. It can lead to more and more samsara. However, karma yogi is one who uses the very same karma and uses it to attain liberation.
So, the conversion is in attitude, not in action. Thus, cobra’s poison used appropriately can even become a medicine. If inappropriately handled Karma can create stress.
Therefore conversion from binding Karma to liberating Karma by a change in attitude towards the action is the essence of Karma Yoga.
“Wise men, united with the intelligence of evenness discard, indeed, the fruits of works; they are liberated from the bondage of birth and attain the status which is free from all sufferings.”
What are stages leading to liberation?
First stage is Budhiyukthaha: Proper attitude to life and experiences. Here buddhi means proper attitude. Here buddhi also means bhavana. This is born out of right discrimination; without discrimination healthy attitude cannot come about. What is this right discrimination?
The right discrimination is that “ Inner growth is more important than material growth.” Initially more and more money is important. Later, one considers Dharma and Moksha as more important.
Artha Kama (material well being) must be balanced with Dharma and Moksha or Atma Sukham (Atma’s well being).
Describing Navarthari, Swamiji says, we worship Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.
- Durga- for 3 days; Durga signifies health and strength
- Lakshmi for 3 days; Lakshmi signifies wealth and it should not be ignored.
- Saraswathi for 3 days. Saraswathi signifies material and spiritual knowledge.
Navarathri is a balanced approach to all three aspects of one’s life.
Second stages is Nithya Anithya viveka also brings a proper attitude that inner growth is more important than material growth.
Then what is the third stage? The first two stages are not sufficient to attain the ultimate goal; a person has to come to jnana yoga, finding out the true goal of life.
What is the goal of life? Look at nature. A seed grows to become a plant. Plant becomes a tree. The tree bears fruits and contributes to the world. Then, at its highest point of growth, it starts to wither away.
So it is also with animals.
I, as a human, am also an integral part of creation. There is a difference between animals and humans. Animal’s growth is only physical. Human being grows physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. Human grows to show love, compassion and a capacity to share. Vasudaiva Kudumbakam.
Humans also want to discover the answer to the questions such as: who am I? Is there a God? Unless I discover the answers, I cannot attain spiritual growth. A karma yogi has to not only grow physically but also emotionally, spiritually or intellectually, and that is said here by the word, maniṣiṇaḥbhutva. So one should attain this knowledge called jnana yoga.
The fourth and final stage where is where they are freed from their shackles of Samsara. Raga, Shoka and Moha; or the cycle of life and death; or mortality signifies samsara.
(Note: Raga means dependence and attachment. Shoka means grief and sorrow. Moha means conflict and confusion. Raga means depending on external things or people or situations to be happy. As long as I depend upon people to be happy, my happiness is always in danger. Any time, that person may go away from me or die causing sorrow.)
These are the shackles of life. Freed of these shackles the Karma Yogi becomes a Muktha as long as he is alive. I continue in this world, the world continues in me, but I am not affected by it all. This is known as Stitha Pragyaha or Jivan Mukthi. At this stage, the mind becomes light and enjoyable.
What would you do, if your own mind were a burden to you? Wherever you go, the mind also comes with all its problems. Therefore the greatest tragedy is my own mind becoming my enemy. Jivan mukti is that state, where the mind is the lightest; a gift of God, which enjoys love, compassion, relaxation and ananda. He enjoys this stage till his Prarabdha Karma Lasts. After that he becomes a Videhi Mukthi or merges with God or Ana-mayam.
Karma yoga> Gyana Yoga> Gyanam> Jiva mukthi>Videhimukthi.
Sri Krishna expands on all these areas in future chapters. In Chapter 18 Sri Krishna summarizes everything.
Shlokas 52 and 53 are elaboration of previous verses on benefits of Karma Yoga.
Shloka # 52:
“When your intellect goes beyond the mist of delusion, you will win detachment from both what is to be heard and what has been heard.”
Intellect will cross over its confusion; there will be clarity of thinking and clarity of life. Generally people think moksha is the goal of some Sanyasis with nothing better to do. Actually Moksha is inner maturity. Value of moksha becomes clear. Importance of spiritual goal becomes clear.
Kalilam: Intellectual impurity, regarding priorities of life. Aviveka is called mohaḥ, and this mental confusion alone is called kalilam; Kalilam means the dirt or the Intellectual impurity regarding course of life; regarding the priorities of life. This confusion reduces as one becomes a karma yogi and leads a religious life.
The more one leads a religious life and when Atma Anatma knowledge comes, dispassion towards all external dependencies also develops.
Srotavya here means dependencies on rituals prescribed by Vedas such as for job, money etc. As a person becomes wiser, he realizes that any dependence is bad. External world and things are unpredictable, as such risky. Therefore, karma yogi is one who understands external dependence means fear; total fearlessness can come only when I learn to depend upon God or myself.
So therefore, learn to switch your dependence from the world to God and finally from God to myself. Thus, the one who understandsthat this psychological dependence is not good does not want to hold on to it anymore. This is called nirvedam or dispassion towards external objects and relationships.
Dispassion does not mean, hatred, we continue to love and help others, only we do not want to seek help from them. It is learning to be independent of all the known and unknown external dependences. This is the benefit of a religious life. This is the first stage.
Shloka # 53:
“You will win this supreme yoga when your intellect, bewildered by Vedic texts, becomes firm and unwavering in concentration.”
As a person becomes interested in self-dependence, scriptures come and tell him “You do not have to depend on anything. You have within you the eternal source you can depend upon”.
Citing an example: Depending for water on the corporation until somebody tells you your own property has an abundance of water underneath.
So also with Atma. You have to tap into this Atma that is a perennial source of everything. Your innermost nature is atma. It is the source of security; source of love; and source of ananda. I can even start distributing from my source. I don’t ask if you love me? I can now love you unconditionally, inspite of all your faults.
So, therefore, there is a big switchover, that is the discovery of purṇatvam, abhayatvam, and anandaha, within oneself. And this is called self-discovery. Many people want love and care. This confused mind, which was struggling as to where to turn to, to get some love and care with no one enquiring about us? Now it decides to go to its inner most source. It discovers the Atma.
Samadhi means poorna Atma, ever secure, embodiment of love. Fullness expressed outside is love.
Citing an example say you won something very big or accomplished something outstanding. On that day you are so full that you will forgive everyone. Sharing and tyagam come easily when you are full.
Imagine a state of mind in poornathvam, even temporarily. To such a mind compassion and love comes naturally.
Swamiji cautions, Self-discovery should be free of two obstacles.
- Doubt regarding my poornathvam or Samsayaha.
- Habitual notion that I need external factors to make me happy. Example: A smoker cannot imagine a life without it. So, also with coffee. These habits shackle us. This notion does not go away even after self-discovery. These are Vasanas that do not go away. It is called Viparyaha.
First one is called saṃsayaḥ; second one is called viparyaḥ. These two are powerful obstacles to knowledge, therefore, even after gaining knowledge, one should eliminate these two.
Such a person is called Stithprajna or the one who does not depend upon anyone, except himself. By himself, here means the big Self. Then alone can one attain Moksha or freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from begging and internal bankruptcy.
This concludes Sri Krishna’s teaching on Karma yoga. Now Arjuna is allowed to ask some questions in the tradition of Vedanta.
With Best Wishes,