Shloka # 15:
एवं ज्ञात्वा कृतं कर्म पूर्वैरपि मुमुक्षुभिः।
कुरु कर्मैव तस्मात्त्वं पूर्वैः पूर्वतरं कृतम्।।4.15।।
Knowing thus was work done by ancient seekers after liberation. Therefore you too do only work, as was done by the ancients in bygone days.
Continuing his teachings of Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, Arjuna wanted to escape his Sva-dharma that is killing his own kith and kin. It was causing him great mental distress. And also it is said in the scriptures “By actions one is bound”. Whenever we take up any action there is a strain on our personality. Will we succeed or not is a question that bothers us. This causes anxiety. Also the result of action is not fully dependent on our efforts. Result depends on other factors some of which are not in our control. So, future is uncontrollable. Also, results may not be up to our expectation.
Arjuna is experiencing all this on the battlefield. He wants to escape his Karma. Sri Krishna, however, is teaching him not to escape karma. Maximum you can do is you can change the karma from one action to another action; and often you find that when you change
the field of action, it ends up like falling from the frying pan into the fire. While you can change the action you cannot give up the action. Therefore Krishna wants to teach Arjuna how to be involved in action but not be affected by the action.
Sri Krishna says, only through Gyanam can one insulate his or her mind from the tyranny of action. Once insulated, the action will appear like a game, a leela. For a Gyani it becomes a sport while for an Agyani it is a major undertaking. This method of insulation is available to every being. The method is not a new one. Your own forefathers have used it. Why don’t you use it as well?
Shloka # 16:
किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः।
तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात्।।4.16।।
What is work? What is non-work? In respect of these questions the sages even are deluded. Therefore, I shall elucidate the nature of work, by knowing which you will be delivered from evil.
Sri Krishna presents Gyanam as armor. Once you say Gyanam, the question arises Gyanam about what? It is knowledge of the nature of Karma. Where does it arise? Who does it belong to? This enquiry is important, as we have taken it for granted. Once we thought everything went around the earth. Then science discovered that everything goes around the sun. Thus, when we take action we feel “I am” doing the action. Sri Krishna says “you” are not doing the action.
If you want to get out of stressful situations you need to know about the nature of Karma. It is a very subtle topic.
Even great philosophers are confused about what is action and what is inaction? He says I will deal with this topic now. It is not an academic discussion. It has practical value. By this knowledge you will be freed from all types of Ashudha’s (samsara) or negatives. Do you want to be a thermometer (one that measures a situation) or a thermostat (one that controls a situation)?
An Agyani is enslaved by situations.
A Gyani is master of situations.
Shloka # 17:
कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः।
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः।।4.17।।
Indeed you ought to know about work; also you ought to know about bad work; and, besides, you ought to know about non-work. Profound is the course of work.
Sri Krishna says, not only I am going to teach about Karma, but also about its nature, also about wrong Karma (Vikarma) and also about Akarma (inaction).
I will discuss about action, inaction and wrong action. This knowledge you have to work to gain it.
This is an introduction to Gyanam as an insulating material.
Gathihi: in the shloka means, Swaroopam or nature of action.
Shloka # 18:
कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः।
स बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्।।4.18।।
Whoso beholds non-work in work and work in non- work is wise among men; he is integrated; he does all works.
From # 18-24, Sri Krishna deals with knowledge or solution to all problems. This shloka is the core of chapter #4. It is a very impotent shloka in the entire Gita. It condenses the teaching of all Upanishads. Hence Gita is also considered an Upanishad. Essence of Upanishad is Gyanam. It is discussed in chapter # 2 of Gita and now in Chapter # 4 as well. Shloka # 18 is very significant and a difficult one to understand. This shloka has language of contradictions.
The literal translation is as follows:
“Wise person sees action in in-action.
Wise person also sees in-action in action.”
If you see a thing wrongly, can you be a wise person?
Shankaracharya has written a large commentary on this shloka. This shloka has also been called a knotty shloka of Gita. In chapter 2, shloka 2.69 is also a knotty shloka. These verses are called the knotty verses because when Vyasa wanted Mahaganapathy to become the scribe; Mahaganapathy put a condition that once I start writing, I cannot stop. Therefore, you have to continuously dictate and if you stop for some reason I will leave. Vyasa agreed to this condition of Ganapathy but he placed a condition on Ganapathy as well. He said when you take down my commentary you should know the meaning of it, as well.
Thus, Vyasa composed knotty verses intermittently, to gain some time and Ganapathy some time to grasp them. Such shlokas are called Grantha Grandhi.
As per Vedanta every individual’s personality consists of two parts:
1) Anatma: Consisting of the body, mind thought complex.
2) Atma: consisting of the Conscious principle that makes the body, mind and thought complex sentient. It can be compared to the electricity that makes the bulb illumine. This invisible principle is all pervading and independent and it continues even when the body is gone. There may be many bulbs but the electricity illumining them is one and the same. Similarly the Atma blesses the body, mind and thought complex and thus makes it sentient.
Wise person also sees in-action in action.”
We discussed Atma and Anatma in chapter 2. While there is only Atma, Anatma’s are many. Atma is all pervading while Anatma is limited in nature.
The Atma being all pervading cannot perform any action. Action involves physical or mental movement. So also it is with space, which cannot perform any action. While air, water, and fire can move, space cannot. Therefore, the all-pervading Consciousness is action- less. Hence, it need not renounce Karma. Consciousness is ever free from Karma.
The Anatma (Ahamkara) can never be free from action. It is a material entity. Matter is in eternal motion. Even a standing wall is full of atoms that are in motion.
In the book “ Tao of Physics” the author describes Nataraja’s eternal Dance. How do you know that he is eternally dancing? If you look at his jata, it is always parallel to the ground; when will the jata be parallel to the ground, it is possible only under one condition; when it is fiercely moving; that is why it is Natarāja’s picture as vishwa roopa that is in eternal motion.
Thus, the smallest of atoms and the largest of galaxies are in motion.
Anatma’s motion can never stop. Even if you see it at rest, it is still in motion in a potential form. Karma cannot be given up in Anatma.
Therefore, focusing on Atma own up to the permanent state of its rest. This inaction is called Gyana Karma Sanyasa.
A wise person sees the permanent peace of Atma even though there is action in Anatma. He discovers peace even in Anatma. So, discover peace amidst outer activity. Citing an example, even when the hand moves, the light illumining the hand is not moving. Similarly even when the body moves, the awareness does not move. Actors move but the screen does not move. Therefore, turn your attention to the screen.
“Wise person sees action in in-action.
Discussing the second part of the shloka, action in inaction, when Anatma is resting (sleep) it appears action-less although actions reside in it in potential form. Thus, in sleep, all actions are waiting in seed form. The wise person sees the potential action in the action less-ness of the body mind complex. It means it is explicitly active or potentially active. Atma is ever inactive.
When action overwhelms me we don’t know how to get out of it. We feel overwhelmed. It is like catching the tail of a tiger, after sometime you will tire while the tiger will not. You then look for a place without action or shantam or shivam. This place is my own shanta swaroopam. So a wise person knows how to dip into his own tranquility. Sri Krishna wants to give us a taste of this shantam. This is provided to us during sleep. At that time you don’t have a Karta personality. Deep sleep is absolute Ananda. This is Atma Swaroopam.
For Gyani, this atma ananda is available all the time. He is called a real Yogi or person of fulfillment.
Shlokas # 19-24 are commentaries on shloka # 18.
With Best Wishes,