The first sentence of this, itself is very important:
vyavasāyātmikā buddhi rekeha kurunandana |
vyavasāyātmikā, the buddhi which is vyavasāyātmikā, which is concentrated, the buddhi which is concentrated is eka, it is simply one, there is no duality.
bahuśākhā hy anantāś ca buddhayo ’vyavasāyinām ||41|| (II)
“But those who are unsteady, they are multiple branches, and then there is nothing but grief”. Even if you have pleasure now, there is nothing, it is a wildness, or wilderness, or a forest, or a foliage, in which there is plethora, where grief will be constantly pursuing you. This is the basing point of Buddhi yoga applied to Action. Let the buddhi be concentrated.
Having given this basic proposition, the argument takes a turn immediately. Because whenever you speak of Karma, there is the ordinary notion of Karma, particularly in the time when Arjuna was facing this problem, whenever anybody spoke of Karma, people understood Karma in a certain context. Therefore Sri Krishna refers to that psychology, because He immediately senses. A good teacher is that he does not need to be told as what is going on in the mind of the pupil, he looks at him, or he feels automatically at what is happening in the mind of the pupil, and answers to the question of the unasked questions. He has spoken of Karma, and He understands immediately, although He has said very clearly that, ‘Having seen oneness and if you can keep equality, steadiness of your intellect, then you will be free from grief…’, but immediately the word ‘Karma’ implies for Arjuna, what is called ‘Vedic Karma’.
In the time in which this teaching is given, by Karma was meant the ‘Vedic Karma’. Therefore, immediately the argument shifts to that: many people who do not understand the thread of the argument of Sri Krishna, they feel jerks in the argument. And that is because it is not realised that Sri Krishna stands in the battlefield as a teacher, not as an expounder of a theory. If you are giving an argument in a class of philosophy, argument will be straight, but if you are arguing in a field of action, then you should constantly measure up, and see how the pupil’s mind is working, and then you become wavy, undulating, you move your argument according to the turns of the mind of the pupil. The moment he speaks of Karma, Sri Krishna realises that Arjuna is thinking of ‘Vedic Karma’.
Vedic Karma is meant for what? At that time, the theory of Vedic Karma is, that you should desire, and you should get results by actions appropriate to desires, and for that you should do the Vedic Karma: Vedic Karma are prescribed works, not all the Karmas but prescribed works, so now Sri Krishna takes up this question.
“O Son of Pritha! Unwise man speak flowery words and are supposedly followers of the Vedas, and are devoted to the various fruitive activities for devotion to heavenly planes saying that apart from the ritualistic sacrifice there is nothing else.” (II, 42)
The moment ‘Karma’ is spoken of, the idea that is given is ‘ritualistic sacrifice’, and Sri Krishna says, “I am not going to tell you of the ritualistic sacrifice, I am going to talk to you about all Karma, sarvakarmāṇi, and I am not speaking to you of the Karmas, which are undertaken for the sake of desire and for the sake of the fruits of action; and people say that Vedas are connected with Karmas, and that there can be is no Karma without desire, and that there is no Karma without enjoyment of fruits of action. This is all that you have heard, and people speak in the name of the Veda.’
“Indulged in desires, considering heaven the highest goal, they engage themselves in Karmas only for the sake of prosperity and enjoyment. Thus they create a Karmic basis for future embodiments.” (II, 43)
‘That is not the way of coming out of the grief. I am not going to expound to you this theory. My theory is not this. I am speaking to you of Karma but I am speaking to you of Karma, which will freeing you from grief, but this is not the path.’ So He distinguishes it from that Karma.
“Attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, with intellect deprived of discriminative power, they are bewildered by such things and are unable to develop that one-pointed intellect which leads to Samadhi (the super-consciousness).” (II, 44)
Sri Krishna says that so long that you are engaged in that kind of action, you can’t have Buddhi yoga: buddhi cannot be concentrated; it will not be vyavasāyātmikā buddhi, it will be avyavasāyātmikā, it will be that which is not ‘engaged’: this is fleeting like a butterfly going from one place to the other; it cannot be steady.
This is the path of Vedic Karma as known at that time, not Vedic Karma as understood by Vedic Rishis earlier.
Therefore, Sri Krishna says that this Veda, as understood, is:
“O Arjuna! The Karma portion of the Vedas deals only with the three Gunas. Therefore you become transcendental to these three Gunas. Be free from all dualities. Abide in the eternal Sattwa, and having established yourself in the Self rise above Yoga and Ksema.” (II, 45)
These three Gunas are the field of fleeting experiences. The three Gunas can never remain stable; they are constantly fluctuating: ‘So long as your intellect is fixed in these three Gunas, your intellect can never become stable, therefore rise above the three Gunas. Establish in the Indestructible Reality of which I have spoken earlier and act.’
“For the knower of Brahman, the Karma portion of the Vedas serves the same purpose as a small reservoir of water in a place where there is a flood from all sides.” (II, 46)
Once you know, by steady will, steady buddhi, that Reality, then there is flood everywhere. In that flood what is the value of a small well of water? Whatever you get by Karma which is motivated by desire, we will give you that water but that water will be like water of a well, a well, which to the brahmavādin is located in a flood of water, because he possesses the flood of water. What is the point of having the small well of water, which the Vedic Karma full of desires gives you? Therefore come out of that Karma.
This is the argument to dispel from Arjuna’s mind that when he speaks of Karma, he does not speak of Vedic Karma, which is motivated by desire.