Bhagavad Gita Lessons
Unit 20: Summary of Gita
Number of Sessions: 20
(281 – 300)
Number of Lessons: 8
Verses: 18.01 – 18.78
On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Comprehend the essence of Gita
1. List the role and nature of Physical and Mental Renunciation.
2. Explain the contents of the Vedas in two stages/ seven steps.
3. Do a self-analysis of your status and identify at which of the seven steps you are currently in and how you wish to proceed.
Lesson 1: An overview
Session: 281 – 282
Lord Krishna started his teaching in the second chapter with a promise that he will remove the sorrow of Arjuna. The purpose of teaching Gita is to give a solution that will remove the sorrow of not only Arjuna but of all the human beings from all types of sufferings and enable them to life joyfully forever.
This solution, namely self-knowledge was given in the second chapter. Since many will not be in a position to convert this information into knowledge, Lord Krishna suggested a method of preparing the mind through Karma Yoga in the same chapter.
Thus, the second chapter contains the entire essence of Vedanta where the problem is identified, solution and the method to administer the solution is suggested. Finally, a complete description of a Joyous Person who has recovered from the sorrow is also given.
Lord Krishna has thus given the summary of Gita at the beginning of his teaching. Then the details are expanded from Chapter 3 to 17 and finally in this eighteenth chapter he is summing up the teaching once again.
Example: A newsreader, giving a summary in the beginning and after reading the detailed news, repeats the headlines at the end.
There is only one path and one destination for the entire humankind.
The only destination is Joyful Living.
The only path is Bhakthi Yoga.
Bhakthi Yoga has three components, namely, Karma Yoga, Upasana Yoga and Jnana Yoga.
Many have not commenced the journey towards Joyful Living. Among those who have commenced the journey, people are at different stages of Bhakthi Yoga, based on the progress made in the previous lifetimes.
Lord Krishna’s teaching provides guidelines for everyone, including those who are yet to commence their journey. For them, Lord Krishna details about the process of creation and highlights the role of the three elements that determines the nature of the individual. He says that one should progressively move from Matter domination to Energy domination to Aura domination. When the Aura Element begins to dominate, one will see the wisdom of joining the royal path of Bhakthi Yoga and reach the destination of Joyful Living soon.
Thus, in this concluding chapter Lord Krishna summarizes his teaching by talking about the following topics
Analysis of the three elements
Benefit of reaching the destination.
Lord Krishna started the teaching in the second chapter with an opening remark that Arjuna does not have to grieve and here in this eighteenth chapter he concludes by saying ‘therefore there is no need to grieve’.
Like a newsreader saying ‘Jaihind’ at the end, Lord Krishna praises the self-knowledge after concluding the teaching and describes the benefit of this knowledge, namely Joyful Living.
Lesson 2: Physical renunciation
Session: 283 – 285
Arjuna wanted to abandon the war and renounce the world. Since he was not able to make a decision, he surrendered to Lord Krishna seeking his advice. After listening to his teaching, he has realized that he did not know the purpose and nature of renunciation. Therefore, he seeks clarification.
Physical renunciation means any action that alters the course of life from the path of material pursuit to spiritual pursuit.
The misconception on renunciation is universal since many do not know the difference between material pursuit and spiritual pursuit. Many are under the impression that the material pursuit is the right path up to the age of about 60 and then one should renounce the world take up to spiritual pursuit to provide for the ‘after-life’. They assume that the young minds do not need the teaching of the Vedanta until the fag end of the life.
The fact is people are searching for happiness through material pursuit. As and when they realize that they are searching in the wrong place, they will have to switch over to spiritual pursuit. This switching over will involve physical renunciation.
Facts on renunciation
1. Renunciation is classified as physical renunciation and mental renunciation.
Physical renunciation is the means and the mental renunciation is the destination.
Physical renunciation may be attempted after one understands the limitation of the material pursuit in giving everlasting happiness. Physical renunciation is done to gain more time for Inquiry and Introspection on the essential teaching of Vedanta.
Mental renunciation happens when one has gained self-knowledge. This means one can continue to possess and enjoy unlimited properties and relationships. There will not be a sense of ownership.
2. Complete physical renunciation is not possible for anyone since one has to depend on the environment for survival.
3. Physical renunciation means giving up the worldly responsibilities and relationships.
Should not depend on anyone nor support anyone.
Should not own any property nor have any possessions.
Should not transact with the world except for survival. All the time should be spent in progressing in the three steps of Jnana Yoga.
Should not have any duties or obligations.
4. It is possible to reach the destination of Joyful Living without any physical renunciation if one can manage the time required for Jnana Yoga. Only when the time becomes a constraint one needs to explore the possibility of physical renunciation.
One should have enough dispassion towards the objects of the world prior to renounce the world. Else, one’s mind will not be available for spiritual studies.
Only when one knows to be happy with self, renunciation will provide time that can be usefully spent. Otherwise, time will be a big burden. People will get bored if they renounce action while the mind is still under the influence of the Energy element.
5. It is not possible to gain knowledge if one does not have mental maturity. Many do not have mental maturity and therefore they should not renounce material pursuit.
6. It is not possible to gain self-knowledge merely by adopting life style of renouncement. If one does not have the mental maturity, then renouncement will do more harm than good.
7. To gain mental maturity one has to remain in the material pursuit and be involved in many actions. However, one should progressively renounce the attachments to the results by practicing Karma Yoga.
8. Renunciation of the results of the actions is a step that is to be crossed prior to attempting physical renunciation. Physical renunciation involves renunciation of actions.
Action should not be renounced unless one has complete mental maturity to gain self-knowledge. It is possible to gain mental maturity only through Karma Yoga, which involves action.
Results of the action should be renounced as a part of Karma Yoga.
Action will not be renounced by a Wise Person who has completed Jnana Yoga because, he is aware that he is not the doer.
Results will not be renounced by a Wise Person who knows that there is no enjoyer.
9. One, who has properly taken up the life of renunciation according to the prescriptions in the Vedas, will continue his spiritual pursuit in the subsequent births until the complete knowledge is gained. Once the complete knowledge is gained, he will be liberated from the Eternal Cycle of birth and death.
From renunciation to Joyful Living
Renunciation does not mean renouncing of happiness. It is not possible to renounce happiness because it is our original nature. The purpose of renunciation is to gain the knowledge about our real nature.
There is no difference in the quality of the happiness that is experienced by all the human beings and the everlasting happiness experienced by a Wise Person. The difference is in the duration. In the case of ordinary people, the happiness is experienced intermittently and for short duration. In case of Wise Person, the very same happiness lasts forever without any interruption.
The difference is because the ordinary people are attached to the objects of the world, while the Wise Persons are not. By renouncing this attachment to the objects, any ordinary person can become a Wise Person.
The path from renunciation to Joyful Living is listed below:
Step 1: Renounce the results of the action. This does not mean that we should not enjoy the results of our action. We need to see that we have to play our part by doing our prescribed work and accept whatever result is given to us by God. This is Karma Yoga.
Step 2: Renounce the actions if there is not enough time to pursue Jnana Yoga. After practicing Karma Yoga until the mind is able to accept the results without being affected by them, one is ready for Jnana Yoga. One can commence Inquiry and Introspection until doubtless knowledge on the essence of Vedanta is gained. If this is not possible due to time constraint, one should renounce the actions, systematically and take up the life style of Sanyasa.
One should not renounce the action because of the following reasons.
Work is too difficult to do.
One is incapable of completing the work.
One feels lazy to work
Life becomes complicated
One should renounce action only after adhering to the following norms:
Should get the concurrence from a teacher on the readiness for spiritual pursuit
Should have gained the basic understanding of the scriptures and find them interesting to learn.
Should handover all the present activities and prescribed duties in a proper manner in such a way no one is affected by the renunciation.
Step 3: Renounce the ownership of all the possessions and properties. This can be done mentally without actually transferring the title of the properties, if one is matured enough. If sufficient dispassion towards the objects of the world is already present, then mere mental transfer is sufficient.
Step 4: Complete Jnana Yoga and gain steady self-knowledge. This will enable Joyful Living.
After reaching the destination, one can resume all the activities. The concept of doer and enjoyer is fully understood by the person who has reached the destination. Therefore, renunciation is no more physical. Mental renunciation towards the objects of the world has become a nature of such persons since they know that the world is an illusion.
Thus, the Wise Person does not have desires because they know the real nature of the world.
Thus, the physical renunciation will lead a person to mental renunciation and mental renunciation will enable a person enjoy the physical comforts and pleasures of the world without the risk of any suffering caused by bondage or attachment.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 01 – 12
18.1 Arjuna asked, Oh Krishna, I wish to understand the purpose of renunciation and the true nature of the renounced order of life [Spiritual Lifestyle].
18.2 Lord Krishna said, To give up the results of all activities is called renunciation by the wise. And to give up the activities born out of selfish desire is called the renounced order of life [Spiritual Lifestyle] by great learned men.
18.3 Some learned men declare that all kinds of desire born activities should be given up, but there are yet other sages who maintain that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should never be abandoned.
18.4 Oh Arjuna! Listen to My verdict regarding renunciation. There are three kinds of renunciation declared in the scriptures.
18.5 Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance/austerity should not be given up. They should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance/austerity purify the mind.
18.6 Renouncing the attachment and results, these activities alone should be performed, Oh Arjuna. That is My definite and the best teaching.
18.7 Renunciation of prescribed duties is improper. If, by delusion, one gives up his prescribed duties, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of Matter.
18.8 Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome, or out of fear, is said to be in the mode of Energy. Such action never leads him to the result of renunciation.
18.9 He who performs his prescribed duties only because it ought to be done, and renounces all attachment to the results. Such renunciation is of the nature of Aura, Oh Arjuna.
18.10 Established in the mode of Aura, he becomes wise, free from all doubts. He neither hates disagreeable work nor is he attached to an agreeable work.
18.11 It is indeed impossible for a person who is identified with the body to give up all activities. Therefore, it is said that he who renounces the results the action is one who has truly renounced.
18.12 For one who is not renounced, the threefold result of action--desirable, undesirable and mixed--accrue after death. But those who are in the renounced order of life have no such results accrue.
Lesson 3: Mental renunciation
Session: 286 – 288
After explaining the concept of renunciation, Lord Krishna declares that the fact is all human beings actually are leading a life of renunciation but they do not know this fact. True renunciation means giving up all actions and results of actions in the mind. This is the fact because human beings are neither the doers nor the enjoyers. Due to ignorance, people are assuming the roles of ‘doer’ and ‘enjoyer’. This is bondage. Liberation from this bondage can come about if we understand our real nature.
We are engaged in various activities. To do such activities we depend on five factors, namely, our Physical Body, Subtle Body, Causal Body, God and Atman. If we analyze the role of each of these five factors, we will realize the above truth.
Description of Three bodies
We have three bodies, namely, Physical, Subtle and Causal.
Our physical body comprises of all the internal and external organs.
Our subtle body comprises of 19 components, which are not physical. They are five sense organs, five action organs, five life forces, four modes of mind.
Five Sense Organs: Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tasting tongue and Skin
Five Action Organs: Hands, Legs, digestive organs, reproductive
organs and Speaking tongue
Five Life Forces: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udhana and Samana
Four modes of mind: Mind, Intelligence, Ego and Memory
Our causal body comprises of our impressions. The causal body is like a seed, which give rise to subtle body at the time of creation of the universe.
Description of God
God is material cause and intelligence cause of the creation.
Description of Atman
Atman is the only reality on which God projects this illusory universe.
Role of Physical Body in our activities
Physical body is the basis or foundation through which any action is possible. It is the locus of action.
Role of Subtle Body in our activities
Mind is behind all the actions. It is an internal instrument which is essential for doing any action. Mind needs the external instruments, sense organs and action organs for doing action. Finally, all our actions are possible only through the energy provided by our five Life Forces, pranas.
Thus, our subtle body is the instrument through which all actions are done.
Role of God and our Causal Body in our activities
God is the indweller of all the living beings and causes all the actions. The variation that is seen among living beings is due to the composition of the causal body. While God can be called as a common cause of action, our casual body is the special cause of action as detailed below.
Example: The sunshine and rain are common causes that enable all the plants to grow. The difference in the nature of plant and time taken to grow depends on the seed.
Causal body is the seed that give rise to physical body in line with the accumulated impressions. The variations in the physical bodies cause all the variations in the world.
The variations in the subtle body, namely Preferences and Knowledge are due to continuous actions.
Example: The math teacher teaches the subject to all the students in a classroom. Some of the students understand the teaching at much faster pace compared to the others. Some do not understand at all.
This is so because the intelligence and aptitude to learn mathematics differ among the students. This variation becomes more pronounced.
Thus, all the actions happen due to the interaction of God, as the common cause and the causal body as a special cause.
Role of Atman in our activities
Atman does not have any role in our activities. It is a mere witness which remains unaffected by the activities. It does not do anything directly nor induce any of the above four factors to function.
Through the above analysis of the role of the five factors in our activities, we see that Atman is not responsible for anything. Since the real meaning of the word ‘I’ is Atman, we do not do any action.
Renunciation is the recognition of this fact that we are not the doer. We are controlled by our accumulated preferences and impressions on one side and God on the other side. We are powerless and cannot do anything. We are neither affected by action/inaction nor positive/negative results.
We need to understand this scenario and surrender our ego to God completely. We are relieved of all our roles and responsibilities. We will continue to perform all the actions as if we are the tools in the hands of God.
For every rule, there is an exception. This is a rule and God is the exception to this rule. God takes care of creation, sustenance (which includes all the actions by all the human beings) and dissolution of the universe without any flaw. Everything that is happening happens because He is the intelligent cause.
The material cause is also the very same God and therefore, all our three bodies constitute a part of the all-pervasive God.
There is nothing but God. Since we are not independent entities that live separate from the rest of the universe, there is nothing for us to do. This understanding results in mental renunciation, which is Joyful Living.
One is no longer worried about the future and does not have any anxieties. Just as a child, one enjoys the present.
Need for action
With respect to all the subjects in the world, one needs to apply or use the knowledge for gaining the results. For example, the knowledge on how to cook will not feed us. We need to apply the knowledge so that we get the benefit. However, with respect to self-knowledge, there is nothing more to do after gaining the knowledge. Once we know that God is responsible for all our actions, we are relieved of any worry/ anxiety over the future and we are free of any feeling of guilt about the past.
If we do not understand, we need to follow the prescriptions to make our mind matured so that we gain this knowledge. The ultimate knowledge liberates without doing any action. However, to gain such knowledge, one may have to be involved in the action. Such actions are done as Karma Yoga so that the mind is ready to perform Jnana Yoga.
On completion of Jnana Yoga, one realizes that the God is the only doer and surrenders to God completely. This complete surrender is the result of complete knowledge. It is not possible to give up all the actions and claim that God controls everything in our life if we do not have the complete knowledge of self and God.
Partial knowledge will lead to partial surrender. Vedanta and Gita contain the ultimate truth. However, people understand the same according to their level of intelligence and mental maturity accumulated over the countless previous births. Many do not get an opportunity to learn the contents of the Holy Scriptures because they are busy dealing with the world. Their action will enable them to learn that they need to read the user manual provided by God so that they get what they seek, namely, happiness. When they start reading their understanding will be limited as it happens when one attempts to learn any new subject. When they partially understand the validity of the contents, they will surrender to a competent teacher. This partial surrender will lead to complete renunciation. They will completely surrender all the actions to God and will commence Joyful Living.
Atman does not have any role to play in the multitude of activities seen in the world. It is changeless and does not prompt any action. A person who either kills or prompts another to kill is guilty of a crime. A witness is a person who is not involved in the crime in anyway except that the event has happened in his presence. Similarly, Atman is the witness to all our actions and it is not associated with the action in any way.
Those who see Atman as the doer are ignorant and they do not see the world in the correct perspective. It takes time and effort to get this right vision. The process of gaining this knowledge is called Jnana Yoga. Once the right vision is gained, one is enlightened.
Effect of the right vision
Until one gain steady knowledge revealed in the Gita, one will continue to have the distorted vision of the world. When the correct vision is gained, one is enlightened and following are the results.
1. I am not the doer. Enlightened people know correctly that they are not the doers and therefore there is no feeling of guilt. There is no desire in them to prompt them into action.
2. I am not the enjoyer. It is the nature of creation to be in action all the time. A part of these actions is seen as enjoyment. For example, when one eats food, one set of inert object (food) goes to nourish another inert object (enjoyer). There is no feeling of inadequacy driving towards fulfillment.
When it is realized that one is neither the doer nor the enjoyer, one reaches the true renunciation. Renunciation is seeing the world as it is without superimposing false notion.
Role of self-awareness and ego
Animals do not have self-awareness. Human beings are not only aware of themselves but they develop a strong ego. This ego leads them to assume that they are independent entities separate from the world. Both are wrong. The whole creation is a single entity and all the human beings are inseparably attached to it. They cannot do anything on their own and both pleasure and pain are mere mental projections. True renunciation happens when we see the reality that just as animals we are also bound. Therefore, true renunciation is not a physical action but mental acceptance of the reality.
Physical renunciation is the method or practice that leads to mental renunciation. After mental renunciation, one may abandon physical renunciation. It is quite possible to rule the world, become the richest person in the world and entertain unlimited friends and relatives, while remaining the state of mental renunciation.
Mental renunciation is not a state of meditation. It is being aware of the reality all the time so that one is not attached to anything that is ephemeral.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 13 – 17
18.13-14 Oh Arjuna, learn from Me, the five factors which bring about the accomplishment of all actions. These are declared in the Vedanta to be the body, five-fold Energy, the twelve instruments, the doer, and ultimately the divinity.
18.15 Whatever right or wrong action a man performed by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors.
18.16 Therefore, one who thinks that the connectionless atman as the doer due to lack of a refined intellect does not see. He has a distorted vision.
18.17 One who knows that he is not the doer and whose intelligence is not entangled, though he kills every living being in this world, is not the slayer. Nor is he bound by his actions.
Lesson 4: Analysis of the three elements
Session: 289 – 290
The creation is born out of AEM and everything in the creation is made out of these three elements. The proportion in which these three elements are mixed up determines the nature of the object. In case of human beings, the composition of these three elements determines the quality of life.
There are three powers vested in the human beings. They are,
1. Power to know
2. Power to desire
3. Power to act
Actions are in the form of determination (will to act) in the mind, speech and physical actions. All the actions arise from desires. Desires arise from knowledge. It is not possible to desire an unknown object. Therefore, the entire process of action seen in the world can be listed in the following steps.
Step 1: Collection of data from the environment through the five sense organs
All our interaction in the world is captured through our five sense organs and collected as data within the mind. Mind process this data into useful information for responding to the world.
Step 2: Compilation of this data into information based on the intelligence
When a mobile device is seen by an illiterate villager, the data is converted into information, which is different from what an educated businessperson with worldwide exposure will perceive.
Step 3: Conversion of this information into knowledge based on the intelligence
When a mobile phone is scrutinized by a teenager and middle-age executive, their intelligence classify the product differently based on their priorities in life.
Step 4: Knowledge becomes desire.
When this knowledge shows that the goal can be achieved by acquiring the product, there will be desire in the mind.
Step 5: Determination or will power decides the strength of the desire based on the strength of the knowledge.
Step 6: Action is done to fulfill the desire.
Everyone is continuously engaged in various actions powered by their desires.
Step 7: Enjoying the results of action.
This is not the final step. Enjoyment strengthens the preferences, which makes the desires more strong and refined. As a result, the exposure to the world leads to further desires and further action. Thus one is caught in eternal cycle.
The process is same among all the human beings. However, it differs widely based on the composition of their mind. Lord Krishna describes the effect of dominance of each of the three elements on these seven steps in the verses from 18 to 39.
The underlying message is simple. One should strive to move away from Matter dominance and Energy dominance to Aura dominance. However, this cannot be done overnight. Since the personality of each person is shaped by the experience of countless lifetimes, it is not possible to make any dramatic changes. One should understand the current composition and strive to move forward.
The creation is the product of AEM. Only living beings have all the three elements, Aura, Energy and Matter. Inert objects are made up of Energy and Matter with negligible quantum of Aura. The quantum of Aura determines the quality of intelligence and the quality of intelligence enables improvement in the quality of life.
The message given in Gita is the supreme secret. People understand it according to their level of intelligence. Only those who comprehend the ultimate truth reach the destination of Joyful Living. Others need to strive to increase the quantum of Aura.
Following are the suggestions to improve the quantum of Aura.
1. Live according to Dharma and avoid Adharma
2. Confess to elders/ wise persons in the society and listen to their advices.
3. Have faith in God and follow the religious practices of the tradition.
4. Eat food with more Aura content.
5. Keep the company of people who have higher Aura content.
6. Study the Holy Scriptures under the guidance of a competent teacher.
As the quantum of Aura increases, it will be progressively easier to identify ways and means to commence the journey towards Joyful Living.
The first step in the journey is Karma Yoga.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 18 – 40
18.18 Instrument of knowledge, the object of knowledge and the knower are the three factors, which motivate action; the instrument of doing work, the work or object of work and the doer comprise the threefold basis of action.
18.19 In accordance with the three modes of material nature, there are three kinds of knowledge, action, and doer of action. Listen as I describe them.
18.20 That knowledge by which one non-dual, imperishable Brahman is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of Aura.
18.21 That knowledge by which different and varied living entities are seen in different living beings is knowledge in the mode of Energy.
18.22 That knowledge by which only the individual body is seen as the whole, which is unreasonable, untruthful and petty, is said to be in the mode of Matter.
18.23 Action performed in accordance with duty, which is performed without attachment, without likes and dislikes, by one who is not attached to the results, is called action in the mode of Aura.
18.24 Action performed with great effort by one seeking to gratify his desires, and which is done with egoistic attitude, is called action in the mode of Energy.
18.25 Action performed delusion without considering the consequences, which inflicts injury and is impractical, is said to be action in the mode of Matter.
18.26 The doer who is free from attachment, who is free from egoism, who is enthusiastic and resolute and who is unaffected by success or failure, is in the mode of Aura.
18.27 The doer who is attached to the results of the action, who wants to enjoy them, who is greedy, envious and impure and subject to elation and depression, is in the mode of Energy.
18.28 The doer who is undisciplined, uncultured, arrogant, deceptive, harmful, indolent, depressed and procrastinating is in the mode of Matter.
18.29 Now, Oh Arjuna, listen to the complete and detailed teaching on threefold division of intellect and of the will according to the three modes of nature.
18.30 Oh Arjuna, that intelligence by which one knows what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared, what is binding and what is liberating, is in the mode of Aura.
18.31Oh Arjuna, that intelligence which cannot distinguish between Dharma and Adharma, between prescribed and prohibited actions, is in the mode of Energy.
18.32 Oh Arjuna, that intelligence which considers Dharma as Adharma and Adharma as Dharma, under the spell of delusion and darkness, strives always in the wrong direction, is in the mode of Matter.
18.33 Oh Arjuna, that determination which is unbreakable, which is sustained with steadfastness by practice, and thus controls the mind, life, and the sense organs, is in the mode of Aura.
18.34 Oh Arjuna, that determination which is fueled by the desires for the results in economic development and sense gratification is of the nature of Energy.
18.35 Oh Arjuna, that determination which holds on to fear, sorrow, depression, and indulgence is in the mode of darkness.
18.36 Oh Arjuna, now please hear from Me about the three kinds of happiness in which one indulges because of habit and comes to distress at the end.
18.37 That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of Aura.
18.38 That which in the beginning may be just like nectar but at the end is just like poison and which is derived from contact of the senses with their sense objects is said to be happiness of the nature of Energy.
18.39 That which in the beginning and in the end born out of delusion and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be happiness of the nature of Matter.
18.40 There are no living beings, either here or in the heaven, which are free from these three modes of material nature.
Lesson 5: Essence of Karma Yoga
Session: 291 – 292
Human beings are continuously involved in action. They have no choice but to be in action since the very nature of creation is to be in change all the time. The world is a place where learning is activity based. All human beings do some activity or other and in the process, they learn to live life happily.
The nature of the action they do depends on their aptitude, skill and capability. This in turn is determined by the composition of the three elements that goes into making them. Every living being is under the influence of these three elements all the time. However, progress from Matter Dominance to Energy Dominance to Aura Dominance happens continuously. Depending on the stage of refinement, each individual possess different sets of aptitude, skill and capability.
The vocation should be chosen according to this constitution and the vocation thus chosen can be called as ‘Natural Profession’. It is not possible to make a Matter Dominant person to do the work of an Energy Dominant person. Even if on their own volition if people choose a different vocation, they will soon realize their mistake and they will revert to their natural profession.
Every profession has many positive and negative aspects. It is not advisable to shun a particular profession quoting the negative aspects associated with it, since it is impossible to find a profession without negative aspects. The only criterion is to check whether the chosen profession is the natural profession as determined by the personality. Within the natural profession, one can choose different options based on the job location, working hours etc.
Many are under the assumption that they are engaged in a profession for earning money. This is not true. The only purpose of any activity undertaken by the individual is to refine his mind and to make him eligible for receiving the ultimate knowledge revealed in Vedanta. This purpose is fulfilled if an individual performs his allocated duty as a dedication to God.
Professions may yield varying material benefits. However, all professions are equal in giving the opportunity to the individual in refining the mind. How well this opportunity is utilized, determines the progress of the individual towards Joyful Living.
Thus, how an activity is carried out is more important than what activities are carried out. The fact is there is no important or unimportant job. The job of a president of a country is as important as the job of a cobbler working on the pavement. There is nothing to be achieved in this world. God is so powerful that everything that needs to be done for the sustenance and growth of the creation will be done by his grace. Our role is to ensure that the job is done with the right attitude. The right attitude is to dedicate all our work to God and accept both the positive and negative results as a gift from God.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 41 – 48
18.41 Oh Arjuna, according to the dominant mode of the material nature, work is done by Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras.
18.42 Peaceful mind, sense-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, self-knowledge, and faith in Vedas are the qualities by which the brahmanas work.
18.43 Heroism, power, determination, and resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the qualities by which the Ksatriyas work.
18.44 Agriculture, cattle-rearing and business is the work for the vaisyas, and physical labor and service to others are the work for the sudras.
18.45 Engaged in his own duty, every man can attain purity. Now please hear from Me how this can be done.
18.46 By worshipping, through his own duty, the God, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, man can attain purity.
18.47 It is better to engage in one's own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another's occupation and perform it perfectly. Doing the duty, according to one's nature, one does not incur sin.
18.48 Every endeavor is covered by some sort of fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore, one should not give up the work, which is born of his nature, Oh Arjuna, even if such work is full of fault.
Lesson 6: Essence of Jnana Yoga
Session: 293 – 294
Karma Yoga enables one to gain mastery over sense organs and the mind. It also allows the intelligence to grow without being tormented by likes and dislikes. Slowly, the Aura content in the person increases and he sees the futility of material pursuit in earning everlasting happiness. Then he attempts spiritual pursuit.
The movement from material pursuit to spiritual pursuit will mostly be gradual. Slowly more spare time will be spent towards spiritual pursuit and when one gains sufficient momentum, Jnana Yoga may become a full time occupation. One has to spend more time and effort to progress in the Jnana Yoga.
One should not renounce physical action until one gains minimum required control over sense organs and mind. After gaining control, one should commence Jnana Yoga. If there is not enough time to pursue the steps of Jnana Yoga, one should renounce physical action since the only goal at this stage is to reach the destination of Joyful Living.
Milk has the potential to become curd. Similarly, everyone has the potential to become enlightened.
Milk has to be heated up as a first step, which can come about with the association with fire. Similarly, our mind has to be matured, which can happen only when we interact with the world. Material pursuit is an essential component in making the mind matured.
Milk should not be continuously on fire. Similarly, if we continue our material pursuit forever it is not possible to learn how to live life joyfully. At the right stage, we should remove the fire. The right stage varies person to person. Doing Karma Yoga is the right way to take off the pressure that arises in the material pursuit.
Milk should not be allowed to cool down completely. When we retire from our profession due to old age, we are completely cooled down and such state is not conducive for further processing. We should still have some fire left in us for us to complete the steps of Jnana Yoga. Besides, the purpose of pursuing Jnana Yoga is to learn to live life joyfully and such knowledge will be of little use if we learn it at the fag end of our life.
Milk cannot become curd on its own and it needs external inputs. Similarly, we can never hope to gain liberation from suffering on our own. We need inputs from a competent teacher. We should learn the contents of Holy Scriptures from the teacher. This is the first step in Jnana Yoga, learning the central message of Vedanta.
Milk has to internalize the external input in order to become curd. Similarly, the teacher can help us by giving inputs. It is not possible for anyone to help us to internalize the teaching. Extensive use of logic and our analytical skill play a vital role. We need to reflect on the same, think about it, write about it and talk about it so that we gain doubtless knowledge and transform ourselves as an enlightened person.
Milk when it becomes curd is not vulnerable to external environment. Similarly, enlightened person is not affected by the events of the world.
World will continue to alternate between pleasure and pain. We need to refine our mind. It is like walking in the forest with appropriate shoes instead of attempting to roll out a carpet or removing the thorns from the forest. Similarly, we need to refine our mind through Karma Yoga and gain the right knowledge through Jnana Yoga instead of attempting to correct the world. If we do not do this, we will have wrong knowledge about the world thinking that it is the source of our happiness and sufferings.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 49 – 54
18.49 One who has self-mastery, whose intellect is detached from material pursuit and who is free from desire attains the supreme goal of action less ness through renunciation.
18.50 Oh Arjuna, learn from Me in brief how one who has attained purity attains Brahman, which is the supreme culmination of knowledge.
18.51 Endowed with a clear intellect, having restrained the mind with determination, having renounced the objects of sense gratification one should give up likes and dislikes.
18.52 Having gained detachment, resorting to a secluded place, taking limited food, restraining the body, speech and mind, one should be ever devoted to meditation.
18.53 Having given up egoism, power, arrogance, desire, anger and possession, being free from ‘I’ and ‘mine’ notions remaining tranquil, one becomes fit for becoming Brahman.
18.54 Having become Brahman, the tranquil-minded one neither grieves nor desires. He is equally disposed to every living entity. He attains supreme devotion towards Me.
Lesson 7: Essence of Bhakthi Yoga
Session: 295 – 296
Bhakthi Yoga is the single path that transports an ordinary human being, caught in the whirlpool of pleasure and pain into a Wise person who lives joyfully. The first step in Bhakthi Yoga is to have faith in God and follow the prescribed path. One will progressively know Him better as the mind becomes more matured through Karma Yoga. Then one has to gain the knowledge of the absolute truth through Inquiry and Introspection. Upasana Yoga involves meditation on the knowledge gained so that it becomes the steady knowledge. This completes the process of Jnana Yoga and one becomes Brahman. Thus Bhakthi Yoga includes Karma Yoga, Upasana Yoga and Jnana Yoga.
Bhakthi Yoga commences with the practice of rituals in praise of the God and ends with becoming Brahman. Action leads to attitude. Initially one is expected to perform action (Karma Yoga) as a dedication to God. This practice enables one to gain the knowledge. Knowledge changes the attitude one has towards world and God. One starts gaining the right vision of distinguishing between the absolute reality and the relative reality.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 55 – 62
18.55 One who has supreme devotion to Me can know Me truly. When one is in full consciousness of Me, he can enter into the kingdom of God.
18.56 Engaged in all kinds of activities ever depending on Me, one reaches the eternal and changeless goal by My grace.
18.57 Keeping Me as the supreme goal, dedicate all activities to Me and do work as Karma Yoga and remain with your mind fixed on Me.
18.58 With your mind fixed on Me, you shall cross over all obstacles by My grace. If, however, you do not listen to Me, you will perish.
18.59 If you do not act according to My direction and do not fight, then your resolve will be in vain. Your nature will compel you to fight.
18.60 Oh Arjuna, bound by your own duty born out of your nature, you will helplessly do that which you do not want to do because of delusion.
18.61 God resides in everyone's heart, Oh Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities as though they are seated on a machine.
18.62 Oh Arjuna, surrender unto Him wholeheartedly. By His grace, you shall attain supreme peace and eternal abode.
Lesson 8: Completion of the teaching
Session: 297 – 299
Lord Krishna concludes his teaching by summarizing the contents of the Vedas as follows:
Setting the goal: Joyful Living
All the human beings want to be happy all the time and no one wants to be unhappy anytime during their lifetime. In other words, every human being wants to avoid all the negative emotions like sorrow, anger, anxiety, worry, frustration, boredom and such and live joyfully.
The only purpose of Vedas is to guide the human beings to achieve this goal. Vedas provide this guidance in two stages.
Stage 1: Teaching the ‘Right’ and the ‘Wrong’, through the first part of the Vedas, Vedapoorva, in the following four steps.
Step 1: Work hard in Material pursuit
The first part of Vedas recommends, material pursuit, as a method to achieve the above stated goal of all the human beings. It is not possible to live like animals if one wants to reach the goal of joyful living.
Step 2: Follow Dharma and avoid Adharma
The first part of the Vedas also teaches the human beings the right and wrong ways of working, while progressing towards their goal. It says clearly that the mindless pursuit of material prosperity without adhering to the principles of Dharma will defeat the purpose. Negative emotions will invariably haunt a person who does Adharma in life. Therefore, it is not possible to reach the goal of joyful living if Dharma is violated.
Step 3: Do Good Actions and Avoid Bad Actions
In addition to pursuing material goals, human beings are advised to help others and not hurt anyone. This will enhance the possibility of reaching the goal of Joyful Living faster.
Step 4: Surrender to God
One should believe in the all powerful God and pray to Him while doing his work. He should make offerings to God to acknowledge the fact that without Him it is not possible to survive and prosper in this world.
Through the above four steps, one is advised to work towards the goal of Joyful Living. The happiness that comes through material gains is limited. Whatever be the extent of progress one makes in material pursuit, it is not possible to achieve complete satisfaction. Man will continue to feel insufficient. This knowledge is expected to be gained by human beings through experience by following the above four steps in the first stage.
The purpose of the first part of the Vedas is to offer a sample of happiness that is potentially inherent in us. But for these recommendations, human beings would have remained like animals. By offering them fleeting happiness, Vedas attract human beings into action. This sharpens their intelligence making them eligible for the next stage.
Stage 2: Teaching the ‘Real’ and the ‘False’, through the second part of the Vedas, Vedanta, in the following three steps.
As a human being progress through the first stage, comprising of the four steps, slowly it dawns upon him that it is impossible to reach his goal of joyful living through material pursuit. Then he is ready to assimilate the following steps taught in the Vedanta.
Step 1: Karma Yoga
No significant change in the external activities is suggested in this step. One should continue his Material Pursuit but with the right attitude. Earlier, one was working with an objective of correcting the environment so that he can reach his goal of joyful living. Now, after realizing the futility of the prosperity, one should continue the very same set of activities with the focus on correcting one’s own mind and not the environment.
It is recommended that one take up a Chosen Profession that suits his aptitude, skill and capability. He should try to achieve perfection in work without attaching any importance to the results of his actions.
Step 2: Upasana Yoga
One should spend time to refine the mind through meditation. In addition, one should completely surrender to God. During the first stage only a part of the earnings were offered to God. Now, the entire work is done as worship. The ego has to completely surrender to God.
After attaining the required level of mental maturity through Karma Yoga and mental focus through Upasana Yoga, one must abandon all the actions in material pursuit and spend time and effort on learning the essence of Vedanta.
Step 3: Jnana Yoga
This is the final step where one learns the central message of the Vedanta from a competent teacher. Once he learns ‘I am Brahman’, one is liberated.
Life will become joyful. The goal is reached.
Thus, through the above seven steps, all the human beings are guided towards their goal of Joyful Living.
After summarizing the teaching of the Vedas, Lord Krishna gives the complete freedom to Arjuna to decide on his future course of action. Lord Krishna did not give any commandments on what needs to be done. After giving the complete teaching, the student is expected to act according to his level of understanding.
The only purpose of the existence of Vedas is to guide the human beings into freedom. Therefore, Vedas do not bind an individual to follow the teachings provided therein by providing list of dos and don’ts. It is left to the discretion of the student. It depends on what he wants in life. Vedas, clearly states the link between the action and results. Everyone will get what he deserves.
While every human being wants to live joyfully, some of them do not have the intelligence to know that joyful living is their goal. They are free to act without paying any attention to Vedas. As and when they identify their goal in life as Joyful Living, they can take the guidance from Vedas.
Since Arjuna is highly intelligent and has trust in the words of Lord Krishna, he could see the meaning of the highest secret revealed in the Vedas. Therefore, Lord Krishna gives him the freedom of deciding his future course of action.
Lord Krishna concludes the teaching by saying that there is no need to grieve, which was his opening statement at the time of commencement of the teaching.
Lord Krishna highlights the importance of this teaching and says that this should not be revealed to those who do not have trust in Vedas. He also praises those teachers who spread this knowledge to the deserving students.
Chapter 18: Science of liberation
Verses: 63 – 78
18.63 Thus, I have explained to you the most secret of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
18.64 Because you are My very dear friend, I am telling this most secret knowledge. Hear the ending summary again from Me, for it is for your benefit.
18.65 Worship Me and surrender unto Me. Always think of Me in all your actions. Thus, you will reach Me without fail. I promise you this because you are dear to Me.
18.66 Having renounced all actions, surrender yourself to Me, the non dual. I shall liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve.
18.67 This secret knowledge may not be explained to those who are without austerity, nor devoted, nor desirous of hearing, nor to one who criticizes Me.
18.68 With supreme devotion towards Me, he who explains this supreme secret to My devotees shall reach Me alone. There is no doubt.
18.69 Moreover such a person who serves me is dearer to Me than anyone else, nor will there ever be one more dear.
18.70 And I declare that he who studies and understands this sacred conversation, through his intelligence is worshiping Me.
18.71 Even that person who merely listens this with faith and without criticizing becomes free from sins. He shall attain the sacred worlds belonging to the planets where the pious dwell.
18.72 Oh Arjuna, have you heard this attentively with one-pointed mind? Has your delusion born of Matter, gone completely?
18.73 Arjuna said, Oh Lord, my delusion is now gone. I have gained the knowledge by Your grace, and I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
18.74 Sanjaya said, thus, I heard this wonderful and thrilling dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna.
18.75 By the mercy of Vyasa, I have heard this supreme secret directly from the master of all, Lord Krishna himself, who was speaking personally to Arjuna.
18.76 Oh King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I rejoice, being thrilled at every moment.
18.77 Oh King, when I remember the wonderful form of Lord Krishna, I am struck with even greater wonder, and I rejoice again and again.
18.78 Wherever there is Lord Krishna and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.
OM TAT SAT