Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canto III : the Yoga of Action

Fine, argues Arjuna : the steady-minded man is superior, because his mind thinks clearly. If mind, reason, thought, knowledge are so precious, why not stick to contemplation, which is pure, instead of recommending action, which is physical, impure ? Why say : 'Fight' ?Why not just : 'Think' ?

Krishna's answer is the key shloka 35 of Canto III : 'shreyam-svadharma' (one's own dharma is the best). At any given time a human being stands at the crossroads of four dharmas : sva-dharma (me-ness, self-preservations), kula-dharma ( family duties; geneological roots); yuga dharma (the spirit of the age, the nexus of the epoch; say Marxism, capitalism, Freudianism, feminism - in the twentieth century), and sanatana-dharma (the eternal values that mankind cannot change but which persuade mankind to change itself into, hopefully, a better, nobler, more 'human' species).

Arjuna is caught in a conflict of four dharmas. He thinks his sva-dharma is to lay down arms; his family Kshatriya dharma advises him to do battle; the dharma of the Dvapar-Yuga demands taking sides in the doomsday clash; and the sanatana dharma states that all life is sacred and the atman cannot perish.

Which dharma should he choose ? Only the naive, facile and overzealous will say that the sanatana dharma is always the best. Krishna's advice seems to be : Remember the heirarchy : lowest is the flesh; then come the senses; then the mind; the intellect; the atman. Steady yourself with your Self (samstabhi-atmanam-atmana) -- and choose. That is your dharma -- that is your choice.

Arjuna asked :

If as you say, Krishna, knowledge excels actions, why do you urge me to this terrible war ?

You bewilder me with confusing speech : tell me that one truth by which I may find you.

Krishna replied :

From the beginning, two methods are offered : for the contemplative the Yoga of knowledge, for the active the Yoga of action.

No one reaches perfection through inaction : no one reaches perfection by renouncing work.

For look, not a moment gives rest, not a moment is without work. The senses, products of Nature, compel all to work.

He is a fool and a scoundrel who, abstaining from action nevertheless sits and dreams up sensual visions.

But he excels, who commands his senses by his mind, and progresses in the Yoga of work.

To work is better than not to work. Inaction will not keep the even the body together. Therefore, Arjuna, work, but work selflessly.

All deeds are traps, except disciplined deeds. Hence the need for selfless action.

When the world was created, Prajapati said : ' This world will be your wish-fulfilling cow.'

Worship the gods with this, and they will listen; and mutually shall the great good come.

The gods will satisfy your desires. He is a thief, who takes satisfaction, and gives back nothing.

Those who eat sanctified food, are cleaned of wrong, but the selfish who eat for themselves, eat filth.

Food is the cause of life, from rain is food born; ritual produces rain, and ritual is born of karma.

Karma comses from the Vedas, and the Vedas from Brahma. Brahma depends on worship.

His life is futile, who is not aware of this wheel's revolutions, who lives merely to wallow in his senses.

But he who is merged in the atman, content in the atman, at peace in the atman, for him deeds are not fetters.

To work and not to work mean nothing to him; he does not need outside help.

Do what must be done, Arjuna, and do it selflessly; selfless action is the path to perfection.

Through work did Janaka and others reach perfection; do your work for the good of your fellow-beings.

People will always imitate a superior, following the example set by his action.

I have no duty, I have nothing not attained and nothing to attain, yet even I persist in work.

For if I were to stop working, men would follow my example.

If I did not work, the three worlds will crumble, judgment would blur, chaos follow, and all being perish.

The wise man must act, even as the work-obsessed fool does, but shedding selfishness, and pursuing knowledge.

Leave aside the fool's work-centred reasoning; let the learned learn more through selfless work.

All action is performed by the senses; confused by his ego, man thinks 'I am the doer'.

But the man who sees the nature of matter and the nature of karma, who sees how the senses play on the senses, he is not deceived.

There is no need for those who know truth to humiliate the dull witted workers who are attached to their senses, and deceived by the senses.

Offer all your actions to Me, and take rest in the atman, crush hope and the ego, and fight -- rid of your doubts.

They also escape the fetters of action who devote themselves to Me, in full faith.

But those who carp, and shun my teaching, and confusing themselves, lose clear vision, they are doomed.

Even the wisest man must conform to this nature. How will stubborness help ?

Desire and disgust are products of nature. No man must live in the shadow of either -- they are his deadly enemies.

One's own dharma, however imperfect, is better thatn another's, however perfect. Better death in own's dharma; another's dharma can be treacherous.

Arjuna asked :

But what is it, Krishna, that propels man to wrong-doing against his true desire ?

Krishna replied :

It is greed, Arjuna, and it is anger, created by the terrible and heinous rajas-guna. Treat them as your enemies.

As smoke smothers fire, as dust films glass, as womb enfolds seed, so greed destroys judgment.

Greed is a fierce fire. It destroys judgment. If fools the wise.

It hides in the mind, the intellect and the senses. It destroys the atman by working through them.

Therefore, first control the senses. Destroy this heinous enemy of knowledge.

They say the senses are higher than the flesh; the mind is higher than the senses; the intellect is higher than the mind, and the atman is higher than the intellect.

Steady the atman in the atman. Strengthened by pure consciousness, destroy the great enemy called kama !

1 comment:

latestnews_blogger said...

One's own dharma, however imperfect, is better thatn another's, however perfect. Better death in own's dharma; another's dharma can be treacherous.

"swadharme nidhanam sreyaha,paradharmo bayavaha"

Beautiful lines of Karma Yoga.

it is so easy to get enticed by another job ,often forgetting the benefits of the role one is already act according to one's own nature is the only method to live in peace & joy..