Baghawad Gita, Chapter 14 Summary


Continuing his teachings Swamiji presented the summary of the chapter today.He said the 14th chapter, like theprevious chapter, falls within the third shadkam of the Bhagavat Gita; the third groupof six chapters and I had pointed out that in the third shadkam, Sri Krishna concentrates on Gyana yoga. And therefore we find the topic of Gyana yoga, theessential teachings of the Upanishads, condensed in these chapters, especially the 13th, 14th and 15th chapters. In the 16th and 17th chapters, we will see later, Sri Krishna deals with Gyana-yoga friendly virtues.

Gyana yoga is the pursuit of self-knowledge or atma Gyanam. Though, these three chapters are relatively small, they are very significant chapters and this is known as Gunathraya vibhaga yoga and in this chapter, Sri Krishna deals with the three gunas as the stepping-stones and through these three gunas he takes us to the gunathitha atma. Using the three gunas as stepping stones and going to the gunathitha atma, is the subject matter of this chapter and therefore, it is called guna thraya vibhaga yoga.

Shlokas # 1-4:

And in the first four verses of this chapter, Sri Krishna gives an introduction in which he mentions the subject matter of atma Gyanam as the liberating wisdom and therefore the greatest knowledge. All the other disciplines of knowledge are called apara vidya; inferior knowledge; whereas this is the knowledge, which is called para vidya in the upanishad and raja vidya in the 9th chapter; this knowledge is the greatest knowledge because this alone releases a person from samsara. All the other disciplines of knowledge will make me only smaller and smaller because the more I study I come to know how little I know. So instead of growing bigger in terms of knowledge, I only feel smaller and smaller as I study more, further. This is the only wisdom, which makes me own the fact that, I am Brahman, the biggest. Therefore, Sri Krishna says this is a liberating knowledge, which gives liberation while living and is called jivan-mukti; and it also gives liberation after death, which is then called videh mukti. And by videha mukti we mean freedom from punarjanma or cycle of birth and death.

Thus having introduced the subject matter, later Sri Krishna gives the foundation for the teaching and in that foundation he briefly mentions the process of creation. He points out that God is the cause of the creation, and God consists of two aspects, consciousness aspect and the matter aspect or Chetana and achetana.

In the 7th chapter, Chetana tatvam was called para prakrti; achetana tatvam was called apara prakrti.

In the 13th chapter, Chetana tatvam was called purusha and achetana tatvam is called prakrtihi.

And in the upanishads, chetana tatvam is called brahman and the achetana tatvam is called Maya.

These two principles together are called Ishvara and he is anadi and from this Chetana- achetana mishram alone the entire universe has originated, including every individual as well. And from this we can easily infer that every individual also must be a mixture of Chetana – achetana tatvam because as the cause is, so the effect will be. As the parents are so the children will be. So based on the same principle, I, the individual, is also a mixture of purusha and prakrti; brahman and maya; chetanam and achetanam. Otherwise, technically, I am atma-anatma mishraha.

And from this we can infer that anatma is a part of the mind, which is born out of prakrti, as such it will have the three gunas, which belong to prakrti.

So prakrti is responsible for the origination of my anatma part and therefore; my anatma part will have three gunas and that anatma part is the body-mind complex, otherwise also called ahamkara. So the body-mind complex is equal to the anatma part is equal to the ahamkara part, which is sagunaha, endowed with the three gunas, because it is a product, originating from the prakrti.

And similarly I have got a purusha aspect also; the chetana aspect also; which is called the atma aspect; which is nirgunam in nature and this nirguna atma is technically called sakshi. Therefore saguna ahamkara plus nirguna sakshi; Saguna matter plus nirguna consciousness, is the individual.

Saguna means with guna or properties and nirguna means without guna; or properties or attributes. The pure ahamkara also cannot interact in the world. Pure sakshi also cannot interact in the world. All the interactions are done by the mixture of sakshi + ahamkara.

And the whole aim of this teaching is I should learn to own up more and more of my higher sakshi svarupam, which is the persistent and permanent nature of mine and I should not be over obsessed with my inferior ahamkara materialistic nature. Not that ahamkara should be neglected, because without ahamkara, pure sakshi cannot transact. So ahamkara is needed; but obsession with ahamkara will lead to all types of problem. And therefore instead of seeing myself as ahamkara, I should learn to see myself as sakshi, now transacting through ahamkara. For this purpose, Sri Krishna talked about the creation and the essence of this topic is, I am also a mixture of saguna and nirguna aspects.

And having presented this foundation, Sri Krishna begins the teaching from the 5th verse onwards. He talks about the three gunas of ahamkara, to show that all the three gunas are causes of bondage; we need to know how to make use of them properly, like anything in the creation. If I know how to handle things, it can help me grow; if I do not know how to handle, the very same thing will cause problems.

You take fire, it is a blessing or a curse; it depends upon whether I know how to handle fire. Electricity is a blessing or curse? By itself it is neither; but if I do not know how to handle it, it becomes a curse. Similarly, the three gunas also; if I do not know how to make use of them, they can become binding chains. Word Guna has a second meaning, they is ‘ropes’ or “chains” that bind me.

Shloka’s 5-18 (Analysis of Ahamkara)

And therefore I should have a thorough understanding of the three gunas. So from 5th verse, up to 18th verse, we get an analysis of the three gunas, essentially an analysis of the ahamkara; because ahamkara has the three gunas. And for the convenience of our study, Sri Krishna classifies this analysis into five parts.

First he gives the lakshanam or definition of the three gunas.

Second he gives the mode of bondage; how each guna binds us. This is called bandana prakaraha.

Third, he gives the lingam, indication to find out which guna is dominant in me.

Fourth is Gathi, which means post-death travel; the travel after life.

Fifth is phalam, the consequences of the predominance of each guna.

Sri Krishna gives the definitions: satva is prakashatmakam; rajas is raghatmakam, tamas is mohanatmakam.

Satva is that disposition of the mind, which makes the mind knowledge friendly. So satva makes the mind endowed with that disposition, which is knowledge friendly, which makes the mind a bright mind;

So he is disposed to the acquisition of knowledge; whereas rajo guna makes the mind karma friendly; activity friendly; a disposition, which is suited for dynamism.

Whereas tamo guna makes the mind unfit for, inimical to both others, thus it is neither knowledge friendly nor activity friendly. Such a disposition of mind is called Satva, rajas and tamas are propensity-based definition that indicate disposition of one’s mind.

Then the next one is the mode of bondage. How does it bind? When my mind is knowledge friendly, naturally I become a bookworm; all the time interested in operating the Gyanendriyas; not karmendriya-active person; and therefore I look for an infrastructure, which is conducive to more and more study.

A learning person will first look for those things.  This becomes a bondage when such a conducive atmosphere is not available; then this person becomes restless and unhappy. This is the bondage caused by satva guna.

Whereas rajo guni does not like library or knowledge.

He wants to do a lot of things; and therefore he looks for activity friendly atmosphere; and, when such an atmosphere is there; that mind is very happy and if that is not there he becomes mad.

And tamo Guna is looking for sleep and if it is not available he gets mad.

These are the three types of bandana prakaraha.

Then the lingam, the indication of the three gunas; this is a corollary we get from the previous discussions.

When satva is dominant then Gyanam increases; reading increases; study increases; thinking increases; it is an indication of satva vritti.

Whereas when activity increases, it is an indication of rajo vritti and when sleep and sleepy condition increases, it is an indication of tamo vritti.

And then Sri Krishna talked about the gathi after death. When a Satva dominant person dies he goes to higher lokas; when a Rajas dominant person dies he is born in the manushya loka; because manushya loka is meant for Karma. When tamo guna dominant person dies that person goes down; hence, urdhva gathi, madhyama gathi and adho gathi.

And finally, the consequences of these three gumas were also pointed out; that is the phalam or the consequences in this life. When satva guna increases, Gyana vriddhi occurs; when rajo guna increases, the ambition and activities increase; and when tamo guna increases, nidra and negligence in life increases and his life will be closer to an animal. So thus,  all five topics Sri Krishna discusses from the 5th verse up to 18th.

Shlokas 19 and 20

And then comes the crucial two verses #19 and 20, in which Sri Krishna talks about transcending the three gunas. And for transcending the three gunas one will have to make use of the three gunas. Just as a fruit requires skin for ripening and once it is ripened, it does not require the skin and naturally the skin is shed.

Similarly, the entire spiritual sadhana is a gradual journey from tama pradhana life to raja pradhana life to satva pradhana life to gunathitha life. And how does the scripture accomplish that? The scripture prescribes lot of karma to a person who is now tama pradhana. And what type of karmas? It prescribes Sakama karma.

Selfish activities to fulfill worldly and materialistic desires; In fact scriptures encourage such desires; because it wants to inject desires in the tamoguna person, who is always sleepy and refuses to get up and wants to make him rajo guni.

And once a person has got into sakama karma, then the scriptures, gradually change his status.

At first his rajo guna is tamo guna or tainted rajo guna, the first phase. Then satva guna tainted rajo guna should be the next phase.

What is the difference between the two? Both rajo gunas will activate a person. It will make the person extremely ambitious; it will whip up the ambition but the difference will be initially all desires are personal and selfish-oriented; that means the beneficiary of my activity will be only I, or my family.

Whereas when that rajo guna is converted to the higher rajo guna, sakama karma will be converted into nishkama karma, which means the beneficiaries of my activity will be more and more people. Not only my family alone, but also others will also be benefited.

As the beneficiaries increase, sakama karma is getting converted into nishkama karma. This is travel from tamo guna; from lower rajo guna to higher rajo guna. To use the 4th chapter language, one goes from guna shudra to guna vaishya to guna kshatriya. Guna kshatriya is a person whose life and activities will benefit the entire community and even the nation.

Once a person has lived a guna kshatriya life, which is otherwise called karma yoga, then the scriptures ask you to graduate you to the next stage of a satva guna pradhana life; after the peak of activity, gradually one has to withdraw; from Grihastha ashrama to vanaprastha ashrama may occur

And at this stage alone, the scriptures talk about more of upasana and less of karma. So upasana is the sadhana which converts an extroverted active person into a quiet and withdrawn; and self or atma oriented person. Thus, upasana sadhana makes me a satva pradhana purushaha.

When I become a satva pradhana purusha, the activities are gradually dropped, and one does not feel any guilt because he has contributed to the society sufficiently.

He is not a selfish person he has contributed for so many years. Now he can turn to concentrated spirituality. And not only that, physically also, this person becomes incapable of more activity, by this time.

Thus tama pradhana to raja pradhana to satva pradhana he has reached; by following karma yoga and upasana.

Then, the satva guna to nirguna travel, is a totally different type of travel. There is no corridor connecting satva guna and nirguna. Tamo guna can be changed to rajo guna, rajo guna can be changed to satva guna; but, satva guna can never be converted into nirguna. If satva guna is converted, it will again become tamo guna or rajo guna only. There is no corridor connecting guna thraya and Nirguna or gunathita and therefore the only sadhana available is Gyanam.

So after a person becomes a satva guna pradhana, karma yoga is dropped, upasana is dropped, because they have done their job by making me satva guna pradhana. In fact satva guna pradhana person is called sadhana chatushtaya sampanna adhikari. Then he has to move to Gyana yoga. That Sri Krishna tells us clearly.

As I said the crucial word in that 19th verse is Vetti; meaning, he comes to know. And Sri Krishnadoes not say how to get the knowledge, because he has already said that in the 4th chapter. Knowledge does not automatically happen.  No knowledge, for that matter, can happen naturally.  If you sit quietly in meditation, knowledge does not happen. Then, what should you do?

Gyanina yoga means going to a guru. sthrothriya brahmanishta guru means systematic study of the Vedanta. Not a casual now and then listening to some satsanga here and there, and all of them are meant to inspire you, inspiration is different; teaching is different. Dayananda Swamiji says: Preaching is different; teaching is different.

And systematic study of scriptures includes shravanam, mananam and nidhidyasanam, for a length of time, and there afterwards removing all the doubts by proper mananam or analysis and thereafter internalization of the teaching. So through shravna, manana and nidhidhyasana, I become gunathitha.

Now the question is: How do I become gunathitha by shravanam? As I said, the body, mind complex will be eternally saguna, it would not become nirguna. Then what do I do through Gyana yoga? I learn to dis-identify from the body by knowing the fact that body is only an incidental instrument I am using for worldly transactions exactly like the spectacle and when I remove the spectacles, I am not gone, but I am not able to see the people, similarly when the body mind complex is not there, I do not disappear, but I also do not have the medium to interact with the people; and we do experience such a situation daily; When; during the deepsleep state. And in sleep the body mind complex is temporarily used and then it will be dropped, I should take the instrument as myself.

Then, if I am not the body mind complex, who am I? For that Sri Krishna gave the answer:

in Shloka 14: 20.

I am not the body, but I am the experiencer of the body; I am not the mind; I am the experiencer of the mind; and therefore, all the known attributes belong to the known body mind complex only. This is a very important law. You should remember. Any experienced attribute, belong to the experienced object. If I seegreen color, the color belongs to the eye or the object? The seen color belongs to the seen object; it does not belong to the seer eye. Whatever color I am seeing, they all belong to the objectified-attribute that belong to the objectified-substances; no attribute belongs to the objectifier-I. And therefore all the gunas belong to the body mind complex. “I” am free from all the three gunas. So you do not contact the gunathitha atma, you do not become the gunathitha atma, you own up the fact that I was gunathitha; I am gunathitha, and I will be gunatitha. For how many days, will I be Gunathitha? I am incapable of becoming saguna. So this transformation in the I takes place and this knowledge based transformation is called mokshaha or jivan mukti.

So after death, will I have urdhva gathi or madhyama gathi or atho gathi? If I have satva guna I will have urdhva gathi; if I have rajo guṇa I will have madhya gathi; if I have tamo guna I will have atho gathi. However,if I am Nirguna, I will have no gathi. Aham agathihi asmi. I am agathihi, because I cannot move from one place to another, because I am the atma, the chaitanyam, which is all pervading, in Me the consciousness, the saguna matter appears and in Me the consciousness the saguna matter resolves. And I am never affected by the three gunas. This is called moksha.

And naturally Arjuna is curious to know what will be the lifestyle of such a gunathitha person, and therefore he asked three questions in the 21st verse,

Shloka 14:21:

The three questions are: What are the indications of the gunathitha? Characteristics of gunathitha and then what is the conduct of the gunathitha: acharaha, and the method of becoming gunathithah.

And Sri Krishna gives the answer, the indication is that the very knowledge makes the mind less and less reactive to the situation because the mind has become an enlightened mind and an enlightened mind learns to have the right attitude towards the saguna creation. And what is the right attitude? Understanding that the the proportion of the gunas varies from individual to individual therefore no human being can be like me. And therefore there is no question of compatibility. So looking for compatibility is the worst thing that you can do and even if by chance there is any compatibility between two persons, it cannot be for long, because both have dynamic and changing mind; and therefore differences are natural in anatma. Association and dissociation are natural in anatma. Birth, growth, declension and death are natural in anatma. And therefore I cannot change the anatma, I should only change my attitude. And this changing of the attitude takes place gradually only because the old behavior continues.

And through Nidhidhyasanam, which is called dwelling upon the teaching; I reduce my reactions gradually. Now, when the reactions reduce, knowledge does not Improve; Knowledge does not become brighter, but knowledge seems to improve, because the reactions are decreasing. Just like on a paurnami day, the moon seems to be brighter and brighter in the evening, but you know that moon is not becoming brighter but as the sunlight recedes, sunlight is an obstacle to the brightness of the moon; As the sun light recedes, the moon seems to be brighter and brighter; similarly my reactions come down as a result of the assimilation; as a result nidhidhyasanam.

And as I had said before, we can see the decrease in reaction at three levels: frequency of unhealthy reactions, like frustration, like fear, like insecurity, anger, etc. the frequency of these comes down. Do not expect a flashy transformation. It is not going to happen immedately. It is a gradual assimilation.

Not only frequency comes down, the intensity of the reactions also come down. The decrease in the intensity occurs at three levels; manasam, vachikam, and kayikam. That is why when there is extreme reaction, there is butterfly in the stomach. Before writing an examination, the stomach may get upset and with it mind, speech and body as well. Therefore Arjuna, mental intensity comes down and later even verbal and physical reactions come down.

So this is reduction in intensity and finally there is a reduction in the recovery period also; previously once I got angry it continued for days; but now it comes down in hours; and then it comes down to minutes; then it comes down to seconds; so I get a mental resilience to bounce back, even though I reacted violently, I am able to forget that and continue with my life. So thus nidhidhyasanam, converts Gyanam into Gyana nishta, reducing the violent reaction. But we should remember, reactions can never become zero. Zero reactions are only in the case of a table, the chair, etc. they do not have it; they do not get angry. So our mind is a live mind; therefore we can reduce the frequency, intensity, recovery period, but it can never become zero. Once I reach this state my meditation or nidhidhyasanam becomes slightly different; and that nidhidhyasanam is that I should not be too much obsessed with the mind and its reactions; because to be over obsessed with the mind, is again identification with the mind. That is ahamkara; and therefore, I reduce the reaction and thereafterwards, I learn to distance from my mind, and I do not worry too much about the reacting mind. That is reaction to the reaction.

So every Gita student has to face two reactions; one is the natural reaction to the situation; and the second is reaction to the fact that I reacted, leading to depression.

So, after a some time, I drop my secondary reactions as well; I am not over-obsessed with the reaction of the mind. And I say that I do not have any reaction because I am now the witness of the reacting mind. So one should first reduce the reactions and then give up the reactions to the reactions.

Shlokas 22-27:

This is called Gyana nishta that Sri Krishna tells us about in verses 22 to 27. In the 22nd verses, he is talking about the absence of reaction to the reaction. In one of the guru purnima talks, I have dealt with this topic very, elaborately. Reaction to the reaction is a greater samsara and a Gyani does not react to the reaction. And thereafter as a Gyana nishta I am not obsessed with my mind and its tendencies.

And then the second question was how does he conduct himself in life. Sri Krishna emphasizes that the Gyani has equanimity of the mind; his mind is free from violent reactions and even if there are small reactions, he does not react to those reactions. So samatvam is his acharaha.

Final question of Arjuna was how to become gunathitha? The answer is Knowledge is gained with the bhakthi to the Lord; surrender to the Lord and by the grace of the Lord. May you get Gyanam and that Gyanam is the only solution.

Through Bhakthi you do not get liberation. Through bhakthi you get a conducive atmosphere for knowledge and a conducive personality as well; and then through knowledge you will attain mokshaha. So with this the answers to Arjuna’s question are complete and the 14th chapter is over.

Take Away:

Ahamkara has the three gunas.

Therefore saguna ahamkara plus nirguna sakshi; Saguna matter plus nirguna consciousness, is the individual.

Dayananda Swamiji says: Preaching is different; teaching is different.

I learn to dis-identify from the body by knowing the fact that body is only an incidental instrument I am using for worldly transactions exactly like the spectacle and when I remove the spectacles, I am not gone, but I am not able to see the people, similarly when the body mind complex is not there, I do not disappear, but I also do not have the medium to interact with the people;

I am the atma, the chaitanyam, which is all pervading, in Me the consciousness, the saguna matter appears and in Me the consciousness the saguna matter resolves. And I am never affected by the three gunas. This is called moksha.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy