Sankalpa, Vedavada, Karmakanda
Ch. 2, Verses 48-50
Tell me how many of you can understand Sanskrit. If something is spoken in Sanskrit and again translated, then there is no problem.
This chapter number two that we are doing is in a sense a summary of the whole book in many respects. That is why even if we spend some time on this chapter, it will be very worthwhile. I do not want to run through very quickly but explain several important points, which are here in this chapter.
We have seen first of all the concept of Buddhiyoga. In fact, when Sri Krishna begins to answer the questions of Arjuna, He expounds to Arjuna certain statements of knowledge, which are directly related to Buddhiyoga. If one practises Buddhiyoga then whatever is stated by Him about the Self, about its immutability, about its being utterly silent, in which there is no movement and whatever movements are there, are divine movements, not the movements of ordinary three Gunas, the three modes of nature. This is the knowledge that you can get if you utilise your Buddhi in the right manner, that is to say, Buddhi has the right manner of discriminating, if Buddhi is brought up to a point where it can discriminate between two elements in us: one is quiet and another is turbulent. The moment you discriminate between the two, you begin to enter into the true Knowledge of that which is immobile and quiet, that which is immortal. The first part of this chapter was devoted to the results of Buddhiyoga in which you get the Knowledge of the Self, the Knowledge of the soul, the Knowledge of immortality.
There after Sri Krishna says that, “I will now give you the application of Buddhiyoga by which you can be free from action: karmabandhaṁ (II, 39), ‘the bandhaṁ, the bondage that comes to you through action, it is that karmabandhaṁ I shall be able to resolve for you.’
What is it that Buddhiyoga as applied to this field…
There are two ways of liberation from action. One is, when you can, by the process of discrimination arrive at the knowledge of the Self and cease to act. Then, you are liberated from action: you cease to act in the immutability of the Self. You just become quiet, do not do anything at all, you are free from action. But while doing action, also you can be free. And it is that process, which Sri Krishna now is going to expound: how while doing action, you can still be free. All the rest that comes now, that we started reading last time, was connected with this aspect: while doing action, how can you be free from action.
And doing so, first of all, Sri Krishna expounds the view, ─ which at that time had become very prevalent under the influence, or under the appellation of ‘Vedic Works’. As I told you last time, the Vedic knowledge is a very profound knowledge, and Veda itself is a synthesis of Knowledge, Action, and Devotion. And Bhagavad Gita as a whole can be regarded as a summary of the entire process of the Yoga of the Veda, but this ‘integrality’ of the Vedic Knowledge, by the time that we come to Mahabharata, had become obliterated, had become obscure. And the general impression was, that by Veda is meant: ‘the secret of doing works by which our desires can be fulfilled’. This is the way in which Veda had come to be recognised.
In that process the insistence was upon saṅkalpa. Every individual whoever wants to move forward in life should have a saṅkalpa: saṅkalpa, is a kind of a desire expressed firmly and clearly. Secondly, in that process, saṅkalpa had to be offered to the gods. Which god? Any god, because according to the Vedic knowledge, every god can take part of the function of any other god. Therefore, whichever god you feel inclined to, you offer, but, also specifically any particular god, who is known to be in charge of the fulfilment of the desire that you particularly have. If it is wealth, you have one particular god, which is in charge of the wealth. If you want knowledge, it is another, if you want children, it is another. If you want fame, you have another and so on; many kinds of desires that you have for the fulfilment of those desires, you have so many gods especially in charge of those desires, of the domain in which you want to succeed.
You sacrifice a saṅkalpa, your will, to that god. The god in turn answers to your sacrifice and bestows on you the objects of your desires. And by constant process of your giving to the gods and gods giving to you, the whole process of life should be conducted. This was the view at that time of what is called karmakāṇḍa, of the Veda.
Since Sri Krishna is going to analyse the whole process of Karma, He refers first to the view that was prevalent at that time in regard to Karma. And He starts by saying that ‘that’ process is a lower process. It is not the process that He is going to ultimately support. He starts by saying that this is the view of the people who want to remain confined to the ordinary movement of the three modes of nature, and those who do not want to come out, but only wants to arrive at svarga, at this stage of a higher happiness and longer happiness, durable happiness. That is why Sri Krishna refers to it and says that “This is the view of vedavādaratāḥ” (II, 42); ‘rata’ means one who is engaged, absorbed; ‘vedavāda’, not only veda, but vedavāda: that is to say, this is the theory of the Veda, that it is by desire, by saṅkalpa, by offering of the saṅkalpa to the god in particular who is responsible for satisfaction of the particular desire, and by the answer of the god to your sacrifice, that your desire can be fulfilled and you move forward. Those who believe in this, Sri Krishna refers to them as vedavādaratāh, and He speaks in a language of disapproval. In contrast to that Sri Krishna will now tell us, that all those who follow this process are bound by desire. Although desire is to be sacrificed, but then it has to be sacrificed for the sake of success in desire, and then in return you get the answer, and you move forward.