Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 3 (Part-2)

 

Karma Yogah : Yoga Of Action

T.N.Sethumadhavan

Preamble

We had seen in the previous verses that by citing His own example The Lord described the consequences of not doing any action and proved that for the sake of the world order it is necessary for all of us to perform our allotted duties. Bhagavan continues his sermon and advises that it is incumbent upon even the man of knowledge to perform action for the sake of world amity.

The Text

saktaah karmanyavidwaamso yathaa kurvanti bhaarata

kuryad vidwaam stathaa saktash chikeershur lokasangraham // 3.25 //

As the ignorant men act from attachment to work, O Bharata (Arjuna), so should the wise act without attachment, wishing the welfare of the world.

It is well known that every member of the society by and large always keeps himself busy through out his life time performing actions in his chosen field. A man of Self-realization also works in the world with the same enthusiasm and sincerity as an average man of the society with the difference that the actions of the ignorant are motivated by attachments and anxieties for the fruits of actions while the man of perfection will work without attachment and for the purpose of the welfare of the world at large.

Attachment becomes an obstruction only when it is ego-centric. But to the extent the attachment envelopes the welfare of a larger section of the community it gathers ethical value. Hence the advice to Arjuna is that he must fight as a warrior who is called upon to protect the higher values of living unattached to his ego-centric conception of himself and his people.

The idea is that an ignorant person acts zealously for his personal happiness; but a wise man should act, with the same zeal, for the welfare of others.

na buddhibedam janayed ajnaanaam karmasanginaam

joshayet sarva karmaani vidwaan yuktah samaacharan  // 3.26 //

Let no enlightened man unsettle the understanding of the ignorant people who are attached to action; he should engage them in action, himself performing it with devotion.

This verse is a sort of precaution to the over-zealous explaining the art of giving guidance to others. A society functioning in a particular way should not be suddenly asked to stop and change its direction by a leader. On the contrary the leader should fall in line with the generation and slowly and steadily guide and help them to act in the right direction setting his own example. When a man of equipoise works in the society at large, the chances are that he will start advising on abstract ideologies and ethics which may make the ordinary people to conclude that renunciation of all activities is the direct path to Self-development and thus give up prematurely all work. The men of wisdom are warned not to go against the spirit of the times.

No wise man should unsettle his generation’s firm faith in their actions. He should perform even the ordinary actions in a diviner and better way and set an example to the world in performing actions without any selfish motive or attachment so that the lesser folk may follow his example.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MAN OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE MAN ATTACHED TO ACTION

prakriteh kriyamaanaani gunaih karmaani sarvashah

ahamkaara vimoodhaatmaa kartaa’hamiti manyate // 3.27 //

All actions are being performed by the Gunas of Prakriti. But he, whose mind is deluded by egoism, thinks ‘I am the doer’.

Earlier it was explained how ignorance leads to desires, desires to thoughts and how thoughts in conjunction with mental tendencies i.e.Gunas viz. Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas- manifest themselves in the outer world as actions of different qualities.   Nobler the thought, nobler the action and meaner the thought, meaner the action and so on.

Thus the Gunas modify themselves into the outside world, the body and the senses which are called the modes of Prakriti. They are classified into twenty three categories viz. intellect, ego, mind, the five subtle elements of ether etc., the ten organs of perception and action, and the five objects of senses viz. sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. These are the performers of all action. The word ‘action’ includes all the functions of the organs of perception and action (jnana indriyas and karma indriyas). The self looks on without participating in any way in the action done by the body and the senses. Whatever actions take place in this world are nothing but the operations of the aforesaid modes of Prakriti and the absolute and formless Atma or the Self has really nothing to do with them.

An ignorant man, however, identifies the Self with the aggregate of the body and the senses and calls it as ‘I ‘and thinks that the Self is the doer.

Even though the Self or the soul has no relation with actions, the unwise man identifying himself with the body and the senses associates himself with the different actions of the body and thus assumes himself to be the doer of those actions. In other words he thinks it is he who resolves, he who reflects, he who hears, he who sees, he who eats, he who drinks, sleeps, walks and so on and thus traces every action to himself. Thus he ascribes to the Self all the characteristics that really belong to the Gunas. That is why action becomes the cause of bondage to him. It is the reason for him to go through the process of repeated births and deaths to reap the fruits of those actions

BUT THE ENLIGHTENED MAN FEELS DIFFERENTLY

tattwavittu mahaabaaho gunakarma vibhaagayoh

gunaa guneshu vartanta iti matwaa na sajjate // 3.28 //

But he who has true insight into the respective spheres of Gunas and their actions, holding that it is the Gunas ( in the form of senses, mind etc.) that move among the Gunas (objects of perception) does not get attached to them, O Mighty Arjuna.

As a contrast to the attitude of the ignorant man explained in the previous verse, Sri Krishna here explains the attitude of the wise man who knows that the Self is entirely distinct from the Gunas, their classification and functions.

The enlightened man who has obtained insight into the categories of the gunas and actions, attributes every action of the mind, intellect, senses and the body to the fact that it is the product of these gunas in the shape of all instruments of perception such as the mind, intellect and senses that are moving within the sphere of their respective objects, which are also products of the gunas and that he has no relation with either.  Therefore, he does not get attached to either any action or to their fruits in the shape of agreeable or disagreeable experiences.

The difference between the active enlightened man and the active ignorant man is that the former is beyond the influence of the gunas and considers himself as a non-doer while the latter is controlled by the gunas and feels that everything is being done by him.

prakriter gunasammoodhaah sajjante gunakarmasu

taan akritsnavido mandaan kritsnavin na vichaalayet // 3.29 //

The man of perfect knowledge should not unsettle (the understanding of) the foolish who is of imperfect knowledge, who deluded by the Gunas of nature, attach themselves to the functions of the Gunas.

Ignorant people perform actions with the expectation of results.  The wise, who have knowledge of the Self, should not disturb the conviction of such ignorant persons (people of insufficient knowledge, or men of meager intelligence) because if their minds are unsettled they will give up actions themselves and plunge themselves into inertia.

Therefore, in the beginning they should be encouraged to perform actions irrespective of their attachment to its fruits and gradually they should be taught the goal of selfless activities for the attainment of Self-realization.

HOW SUCH PERSONS OF IMPERFECT UNDERSTANDING SHOULD PERFORM ACTIONS?

mayi sarvaani karmaani sannyasyaadhyaatma chetasaa

niraasheer nirmamo bhootwaa yudhyaswa vigatajwarah // 3.30 //

Surrendering all actions to Me, with the mind intent on the Self, freeing yourself from the longing and selfishness, fight unperturbed by grief.

THIS VERSE IS THE HEART OF THIS CHAPTER CONVEYING ITS CENTRAL THEME. THE LORD REVEALS TO ARJUNA THE DEFINITE DISCIPLINE THAT WOULD LEAD HIM TO HIS HIGHEST GOAL.

Here the word `me’ means not Sri Krishna, the person but the Supreme Self, the Divine Being, the Supreme Lord, the Eternal and the Omniscient, the Self of all.  The Lord asks Arjuna to fight on surrendering all activities unto Him, with the mind always concentrated on the Self. Surrendering all actions does not mean inactivity but acting without attachment and the sense of possession with regard to them. Actions performed with egocentric and selfish motives become a bondage. Actions performed without attachment and desires are not actions at all in as much as they are not capable of producing any painful reactions.

It also means giving up of wrong motives behind actions. Purification of motives is possible only when the mind is made to concentrate on the Self and the Divine glory.  Actions performed with such mind cannot be ordinary actions but they will be activities performed for the sake of The Lord and are the expressions of the Supreme Will through an individual.

The Lord further advises action without longing, ego and mental perturbance. Longing is an expectation of a happening at a future point of time. Ego is one’s own self-estimation based on his past.  To act without ego and longing thus means acting without the memories of the past or the anxieties about the future but to live in the present.  Even in the present there is a chance for the man of action to waste his time and energy in unnecessarily worrying about his activities through his inborn nature. This anxiety and worry is what is called here as mental fever or perturbance.

The idea is that we must engage in work by self-surrender to the Lord who presides over cosmic existence and activity. “Thy will be done” should be our attitude in all work. We must do the work with the sense that we are the servants of The Lord. The word `fight’ indicates individual’s confrontation with circumstances and situations in daily life.

RESULT OF SUCH ACTION BASED ON SURRENDERING IT TO THE SUPREME

ye me matam idam nityam anutishthanti maanavaah

shraddhaavanto’nasooyanto muchyante te’pi karmabhih // 3.31 //

Those men who constantly practice this teaching of mine with faith and without finding fault are also freed from the bondage of all actions.

Shraddha -faith- is a mental attitude.  It is faith in one’s own Self, in the Scriptures and in the teachings of the spiritual preceptor.  It is a combination of the higher emotions of reverence and humility. It is the sincerity of purpose.

Sri Krishna advocates Karma Yoga as a path that takes one ultimately to the Supreme because through desireless activity alone when performed with full faith and without criticism and questioning we will be able to bring about Vasana-exhaustion and thus make the mind purer for its meditative purposes.

The words ‘they too are freed from the bondage of all actions’ are intended to show that when by pursuing this discipline it is possible even for an ordinary person to get over the binding effects of action by surrendering the results of action to the Supreme, it should be much easier for Arjuna to attain that state.

WHAT IS THE HARM IF THIS ADVICE OF THE LORD IS NOT FOLLOWED?

ye twetad abhyasooyanto naanutishthanti me matam

sarvajnaanavimoodham staan viddhi nashtaan achetasah // 3.32 //

But those who find fault with my teaching and do not practice it, deluded in all knowledge and devoid of discrimination, know them to be doomed to destruction.

Sri Krishna warns here that those who are obstinate in finding fault with His teachings without practicing them are doomed for destruction.  Such people will be more and more deluded and will lose their discrimination.

Karma Yoga is a way of life and one has to live it if one wants to receive His grace. The path of work is a process of elimination of desires in us. When egoism and egocentric desires are eliminated the work done through such pure mind is a divine action which will have enduring achievements.  To the extent an individual does not practice this efficient way of work he loses his discriminative capacity and ultimately will meet his destruction.

ACTION IS DRIVEN BY ONE’S OWN NATURE

sadrisham cheshtate swasyaah prakriter jnaanavaan api

prakritim yaanti bhootani nigrahah kim karishyati // 3.33 //

Even a wise man acts in accordance with his own nature; beings will follow nature; what can restraint do?

The question as to why some people do not follow the teachings of The Lord and instead act on their own is answered in this verse; the reason is that their lower nature proves too strong for them. Every one is conditioned by his thoughts which in turn are influenced by his nature (tendency) or prakriti. Even an honest person finds it difficult to practice the technique in life shown by The Lord because of his own mental conditioning overwhelmed by his incapacity to pursue the path of action.

Prakriti is the mental equipment with which one is born as the result of the past acts performed in a previous life. This nature is the mainspring of the man’s action. This must run its course; there is no escape from this and even God cannot prevent its operation (Shankara). Even He ordains that past deeds produce their natural effects.

Restraint or forcible repression of senses for renouncing activities cannot be of much avail since actions flow inevitably from the workings of Prakriti and the Self is only an important witness. This indicates the omnipotence of the nature over the Self which makes us to act according to our nature, the law of our being. However, this is not a statement of despair to the effect that there is no scope for personal exertion to reach the highest goal and that the teachings of Sri Krishna are all purposeless. On the other hand it is a call to find out our true being and give expression to it as explained in the next verse.

ROLE FOR PERSONAL EXERTION

indriyasye’ndriyasyaarthe raagadweshau vyavasthitau

tayor na vasham aagacchet tau hyasya paripanthinau // 3.34 //

The love and hatred that the senses feel for their objects are inevitable. But let none come under their sway; for, they are his enemies.

Attachment and aversion of the sense organs to sense objects are natural to every one. Although the sense objects as such are not capable of attraction or repulsion it is the mind which produces such agitations because of its being conditioned by vasanas. Thus mind develops attachment for the agreeable objects and aversion for disagreeable ones. Sri Krishna does not advise running away from the sense objects but emphatically says `Let none come under its sway’ meaning that one should be a master of the senses and not their victim.

If we do not interfere attachments and aversions will determine our acts. So long as we act in certain ways because we like them and abstain from some others because we dislike them we will be bound by our actions.

But if we overcome these impulses from our egocentric ideas and act from a sense of duty, we cannot be the victims of the play of Prakriti. Thus in the process of controlling the mind – stopping it from running after the objects of attachment and aversion –   lies the personal exertion for the seeker.  That is his Purushartha.

Linking this advice to the previous verse it can be understood that it is not possible for anybody to renounce all his activities forcibly. But man can by changing the aim of his life, turn the course of life from one direction to the other.  In other words, avoiding likes and dislikes he can convert his actions as aids to God-realization.

DANGER IN PERCEIVING OTHER’S DUTIES AS BETTER THAN ONE’S OWN

shreyaan swadharmo vigunah paradharmaat swanushthitaat

swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayaavahah // 3.35 //

Better is one’s own duty, though imperfectly performed, than the duty of another well performed.  Better is death in the doing of one’s own duty; the duty of another is fraught with peril.

Although the word Dharma is meant here as duty, in a special sense it is one’s own basic nature or vasana. Swadharma is the type of vasanas one finds in his mind. To act according to one’s taste, inborn and natural, is the only method to live in peace and joy. To act against one’s vasanas is to act in terms of Paradharma which is fraught with danger.

Here the Swadharma of Arjuna is that of a prince and not that of Brahmana . He wanted to take up the latter abandoning the former. In this verse Sri Krishna reminds him that to act according to his own vasanas or Dharma, even though imperfect, is the right path for his development. It is dangerous to suppress one’s own personality expression and imitate the activities of others, however divinely they may be. There is more happiness in doing one’s own work even without excellence than in doing another’s duty well. We must play our part, manfully, be it great or small.

The implication is that Arjuna’s thought of desisting from fight and going in for the calm and peaceful life of a Brahmana is prompted by man’s natural desire to shun what is disagreeable and adopt what is momentarily agreeable to the senses.  He should on no account yield to such weakness. It is indeed much better for a person to die while discharging his own duty, though it may not have any merit, than doing the duty of another, though it may be performed in a perfect manner, because the duty of another has many pitfalls.

THE ENEMY IS DESIRE AND ANGER

arjuna uvaacha

atha kena prayukto’yam paapam charati poorushah

anicchannapi vaarshneya balaad iva niyojitah // 3.36 //

Arjuna said

But under what compulsion does a man commit sin, in spite of himself, O Varshneya, and driven, as it were, by force?

This question raised by Arjuna is illustrative of our daily situations. Everybody knows what is right and what is not right, what is good and what is bad. Yet when it comes to action people are invariably tempted to commit the wrong.

Arjuna’s query is why this paradoxical confusion between one’s ideology and one’s own actions. The Divine in us wants us to achieve great things but the animal in us wants us to do most abominable things many times much against our will. We seem to be constrained by an outside force. Arjuna wants to know the cause for this peculiar phenomenon.

sri bhagavaan uvaacha

kaama esha krodha esha rajoguna samudbhavah

mahaashano mahaapaapmaa viddhyenam iha vairinam // 3.37 //

Sri Bhagavan said

It is desire, it is anger born out of the quality of Rajas, all sinful and all devouring ; know this as the foe here (in this world).

The cause of all sins and wrong actions in this world is desire. Anger is also a desire expressed in another form. When a man’s desire is not gratified he becomes angry with those who stand as obstacles in the way of their fulfillment.  When a desire arises the quality of Rajas in a man urges him to work for its satisfaction.

The desire-anger-emotion combination of three-in-one is the root cause which makes an individual to compromise with higher values of existence.  Once the virus of desire enters the intellectual computer the results are bound to be chaotic, blocking out the entire wisdom because desire is never satiated by its gratification. One gets rid of desire only through the constant practice of detachment. Therefore Sri Krishna says desire is the man’s greatest enemy on the earth because man commits sin only at the command of desire against his will and better judgment which lands him in terrible suffering in the form of repeated birth and death.

HOW DOES DESIRE AFFECT MAN?

dhoomenaavriyate vahnir yathaadarsho malena cha

yatho’lbenaavrito garbhas tathaa tenedam aavritam // 3.38 //

As fire is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dust and as an embryo by the womb, so is this (knowledge) enveloped by that (desire).

`This’ means true knowledge or wisdom and `that’ means desire which is clearly stated in the next verse. The three different examples refer to the different degrees to which desire in the form of ignorance envelopes and conceals the inner Light in man and delude our capacity to think rationally.

Discrimination is blocked by the sense of attachment in the mind for the worldly objects. Desires fall under three categories depending upon the quality of attachments – Tamasic – inert, Rajasic – active, and Sattwic -divine.

Even Sattwic desires veil the discrimination just as smoke envelopes fire where rise of the slightest wind of discrimination can dispel the smoke of desire. The veiling is thin and hence it requires only a little effort to remove it.

For the Rajasic where intellect is covered by desire prompted agitations, the example is of wiping out of dust on a mirror. Here the covering by the impurities is complete as compared to the Sattwic. In the case of smoke fire can be at least perceived while dust completely blocks the reflection in a mirror. Hence, in this case the efforts for the removal of the dirt of desires require more time and effort.

In the case of a Tamasic, diviner aspects are completely shut out from the view by base animal instincts. The case of a foetus covered with amnion fluid in the womb is given as an illustration. Here there is no method of removing the covering until a definite period of time is elapsed. Similarly the low desires can be removed only after a longer period of spiritual evolution a Tamasic has to undergo.

aavritam jnaanam etena jnaanino nityavairinaa

kaamaroopena kaunteya dushpoorenaanalena cha // 3.39 //

O Son of Kunti, wisdom is enveloped by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is unappeasable as the fire.

Desires are insatiable. They are never satisfied by the enjoyments of the objects of the desires. They grow more and more as does the fire to which fuel is added. Desire screens off our capacity to discriminate right from the wrong, real from the unreal. The ignorant man considers desire as his friend because his senses are gratified. The wise man knows by experience that desire will bring nothing but suffering to him. He knows that the enemy in the form of desire does not allow the ideas of discrimination, dispassion and disinterestedness to get a hold in the mind of a seeker and presents obstacles in the path of his spiritual progress.  Hence it is said to be the constant enemy of the wise but not the ignorant.

SEAT OF DESIRE

indriyaani mano buddhir asyaadhishthaanam uchyate

etair vimohayatyesha jnaanamaavritya dehinam // 3.40 //

The senses, the mind and the intellect are said to be its seat; through these it deludes the embodied by veiling his wisdom.

If the enemy’s hide-outs are known it is easy to capture him. Similarly Sri Krishna gives the clues to Arjuna as to where the enemies of wisdom lurk so that he can locate and eliminate them. The Lord says the senses, the mind and the intellect are seats of action for the desire to play havoc with the inner serenity and equipoise of a man. The sense organs transmit the stimuli received from the objects of enjoyment to the mind which working in close collaboration with the intellect starts living in the experience of sense enjoyments.  To eliminate the inner enemy of desire at its source – sense-organs, mind and intellect- is the crux of the problem.  How it is to be achieved is explained in the following verses.

CONTROL THE SENSES AND DESTROY THE DESIRE

tasmaat twam indriyaanyaadau niyamya bharatarshabha

paapmaanam prajahi hyenam jnaana vijnaana naashanam // 3.41 //

Therefore, O the Best of the Bharatas, controlling the senses first, you kill this sinful thing, the destroyer of knowledge and wisdom.

Sri Krishna states that the first step to kill desire is to control the senses. Desire is referred to here as a sinful thing posing a threat to both knowledge and wisdom. Desire is a sinful thing because it leads us to live a life of lowly nature.

Adi Sankara defines Knowledge – Jnana – as the knowledge of the Self acquired through a study of the scriptures and from a teacher. This is an indirect knowledge or Paroksha Jnana. Vijnana or wisdom is the direct knowledge or the personal experience, anubhava, of the things so taught or Self-realization – Aparoksha Jnana. Thus desire oriented agitations are not only an impediment to our direct personal spiritual experiences but also to our indirect way of acquiring knowledge through the study of scriptures.

indriyaani paraanyaahur indriyebhyah param manah

manasastu paraa buddhir yo buddheh paratastu sah // 3.42 //

They say that the senses are superior to the body; superior to the senses is the mind; superior to the mind is intellect; and one who is superior even to the intellect is He – The Self.

evam buddheh param buddhwaa samstabhyaatmaanam aatmanaa

jahi shatrum mahaabaaho kaamaroopam duraasadam // 3.43 //

Thus knowing Him who is superior to the intellect and restraining the self by the Self, O Mighty armed, destroy the enemy in the form of desire, no doubt hard indeed to conquer.

These two verses conclude the third chapter of The Gita giving the seeker a technique to conquer desire, the inner enemy. The Upanishadic method of meditation for the withdrawal of ego from the outer world of sense objects to the inner world of the Self for the purposes of curbing desire oriented tendencies and thereby achieving Self-discovery is commended here. These verses give us the hierarchy of levels of consciousness.

The physical body is gross, external and limited. As compared to this the senses are superior because they are subtler and more internal and have a wider range of activity.  Superior to the senses is the mind as it can direct the function of the senses (as it can undertake the work of the senses also). Superior to the mind is the intellect because it is endowed with the faculty of discrimination and finality; when the mind doubts, the intellect decides. But The Self is superior to even the intellect because the intellect draws its power to illuminate from the Self alone. The Self is the indweller in the body, the Witness of the activities of the body, senses, mind and intellect.

Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to conquer desire with this understanding of the superior power of the Self, though it is difficult to achieve. The Lord points out that a man of discrimination and dispassion will be able to achieve this by increasing his Sattwic quality and by appealing to the indwelling Presence, The Self, through meditation. This controlling of the lower self i.e. the mind with the knowledge of the Higher Self is termed here as ‘restraining the self by the Self’.

The technique of meditation is a conscious withdrawal of all our identifications with our body, mind and intellect and thereby turning our awareness or desire-faculty towards our diviner existence where the ego is under the perfect control of the Self with no desires to agitate the mind any more.

Thus a constructive re-organization of life is taught here by the Gita without the suppression or rejection of the life’s situations.

“This Chapter expounds the necessity for the performance of work without any selfish attachment to results, with a view to securing the welfare of the world, with the realization that agency belongs to the modes of prakriti or to God himself.” – Dr.S.Radhakrishnan.

om tat sat

iti srimad bhagavadgeetaasu upanishatsu brahma vidyaayaam yogashaastre sri krishnaarjuna samvaade karmayogo naama tritiyo’dhyaayah

Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the third discourse entitled  The Yoga of  Action.

Concepts and Issues

In view of what was told earlier the wise and the ordinary man should always be engaged in activities, the only difference being the former performs action with selfless motive while the latter does it with selfish motives. Here The Lord warns Arjuna that the man of knowledge should desist from advising the ignorant to improve as it is likely to be misunderstood by the latter resulting in the cessation of action by them. To avoid such consequences, the wise should set an example by sticking to the path of action.

Ignorance of the nature of the Self creates desires, desires generate thoughts, and thoughts produce actions. Due to ignorance and ego we think that we perform, we succeed etc. while actually the actions are performed by the organs of action in us. Because of the imperfect understanding we consider we are the doers and hence we get attached to the anxiety for enjoying the fruits of our actions. But in the case of a wise man, who identifies himself with the Self and has gone beyond his ego sense, there is no attachment for the fruits of actions because he knows that he, the Self, is not the performer of actions and that it is only the sense organs which do the work.

The ignorant can understand the higher values of action by dedicating himself to the service of the society at large with pure selfless actions. All actions have to be offered free from selfish motives at the feet of The Lord.  Such actions without selfish motives are not done by the individual; he is only a medium through which the Divine Power manifests itself, through all its actions. Those who perform actions in this unselfish spirit, with full faith in The Lord and His teachings are released for ever from the bondages caused by action.  The ignorant who criticize His teachings and work to promote their selfish interests meet their own downfall.

The vasanas (impressions, tastes and inclinations brought over from the previous births) order our intellect and we cannot pursue any path other than that ordered by the direction of our own present vasanas. Man’s present behavior and attitude to life are mostly governed by his past actions -vasanas. However, he can raise himself if he masters his senses that produce attachment and hatred.  He should try not to become a slave of his own senses.

The mind is the storehouse of vasanas.  By giving up selfish actions and attachment to their rewards, the vasanas do not get multiplied and the ego, the sense of `I’, ceases to exist.

One’s own duty is the best for oneself for one’s own spiritual advancement. Sometimes, man is forced to commit evil deeds in spite of all his efforts against them. This is because of dual personality in everybody – good and evil are found in varying proportions. Good thoughts prompt good actions and evil thoughts encourage evil deeds.  This lower nature is called ignorance which breeds desires.  Desire is the root cause of all evil.

Just as smoke veils the bright fire, dust the reflecting surface of a mirror and the unborn child by the mother’s womb, so also the desire veils the Ever Pure Self, the all-illuminating self-knowledge. Desire acts through the organs of perception and organs of action at the mental and intellectual levels. So the first task to destroy desire is to check and control senses. If that is accomplished the All-illuminating Perfect knowledge reveals itself to be experienced as the Self.

Man is made up of the physical body, the senses, the mind and the intellect. Beyond all these the pure Atman or the Self shines. The strategy to conquer desire is to govern the mind by the intellect.

With meditation upon the Self purify the intellect.  In him who has thus become one with the Self, the Lord of the Lords, all desires are completely at rest for ever.

Live as the Gita Teaches You to Live

All human problems arise when the mind is extroverted through its immediate agents viz. the senses. The mind seeks happiness which is its real nature.  Due to lack of understanding it tries to derive happiness through the senses and goes out to the world of objects. Instead, if the mind is drawn back to its source, which is the Supreme Consciousness, it begins to experience inexpressible happiness.

Man without thoughts (individual consciousness) is God and God with individual consciousness becomes man.

The Lord asks us to go beyond the three Gunas -Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas and be aware of the functions of intellect, mind and senses.  The seat of desire is up to the level of the intellect.  When the intellect and mind merge with consciousness within, the desires lose spontaneously their potency like a wave merging in the ocean.

In this Chapter the Lord showed from various points of view the necessity of performing one’s prescribed duties and how to perform such duties by dedicating them to God and renouncing all desire, attachment and the sense of possession keeping in mind that the agency for performing the work belongs to the modes of prakriti or to God himself..

He also stressed that one should not come under the sway of likes and dislikes while performing one’s duty. He brought out clearly that desire is the root for all the evils and appealed that the desire should be conquered by the control of the mind by the intellect.

Points to Ponder

  1. What are the urges against which we must guard ourselves?
  2. What is the notion of the ignorant man while acting?
  3. How the wise man is not bound by actions and their results?
  4. What is that which propels a man to act in a particular way even if he does not wish to act that way?
  5. How does desire bring disaster to an individual’s personality?
  6. How to destroy desire, the inner enemy of man?
  7. Write short notes on
    • Spirit of Sacrifice – `Yagna’
    • Organs of Perception
    • Organs of action
    • Inaction
    • Vasanas
    • Seats of desire
    • Swadharma and Paradharma.
  8. Next time we will take up Chapter 4

    Harih Om

 

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