Ch. 2, Verses– 55–72
Three steps of Karma Yoga – sthitaprajña
I would very much like the first six chapters to be done very well, because the first six chapters are difficult on account of the manner in which the exposition is made. What remains of the 2nd chapter for us to do is perhaps the most important part of the chapter.
As you know we have started in the 2nd chapter emphasising what Sri Krishna says: the distinction between the Buddhiyoga, as applied to the process of knowledge, and Buddhiyoga as applied to the process of action. What Sri Krishna has said is that it is possible to be in the state of freedom, freedom from all grief, if you follow the process of knowledge by applying Buddhiyoga. And then Sri Krishna says that Buddhiyoga if applied to action that even while doing action, you can have the experience of freedom.
We had three important sentences which we underlined. First was the famous sentence: karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana (II, 47), “To action alone hast thou the right, and not to the fruits of action.” This is, you might say, the first step of Karmayoga, although many people regarded it to be the last and final message of the Gita, but this is only the first step.
There are two other statements, which we emphasised: yoga samatvaṁ ucyate (II, 48), “The equality of consciousness is what is called yoga”: the Karmayoga means state of equality while doing action. If you can maintain a state in which there is no desire for honour or dishonour, pleasure or pain, happiness or misery, gain or loss, merely doing an action, if that state is maintained, that state of equality itself is called Karmayoga. This is the second statement.
The third statement that we saw was: yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam (II, 50), “The proficiency of action, even when there is no desire for the fruits of action, when you can attain that proficiency, that is the sign that you are a Karmayogin.” This statement was necessary because very often, when there is no desire for the fruit of action, then, the process of action becomes very loose, lethargic, indifferent, negligent. As many people do their duties, for the sake of duty, but then there is not that much of application, of consciousness, therefore, Sri Krishna says that, “Even when you do not have desire for the fruits of action, your proficiency of action should be perfect.”
Question: The proficiency of action also includes the completion of a particular action?
Answer: Absolutely, that’s why; your action should be perfect, take for example: Arjuna’s function or action was to shoot enemies, and shoot perfectly well. If there is any kind of deficiency in that action, it is not action. There must be perfection of the means of action, the force applied in the action, the intention in producing the result, no negligence of the consequence of action. Action by definition means: “Will applied to the production of result”. To produce the result, and yet not to have the desire for the fruit of action, this a very subtle distinction, that even when you do not desire the fruit of action, your intention must be to produce the result, and do everything to produce the result, and yet, you have no desire to enjoy the fruit of action. That state is called the state of Karmayoga. These are three statements that are very important in the second chapter.