Bhagavagd Gita - Session 21- Track 2101

We had finished the 5th chapter last time; and 6th chapter we had already started earlier and we had finished the first four verses of the 6th chapter.

Now the 5th verse is one of the most important verses in the Bhagavad Gita. You might say it is the key to the entire yogic effort, which is described in the Bhagavad Gita, it says:

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet |
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ ||5|| (VI)

In simple translation, it means: “One should raise the self by the self, one should not allow the degradation of the self; the self itself is the friend of the self; the self itself is the enemy of the self.”

Now, this statement may seem to be somewhat unintelligible: how is the self the friend of the self? How is the self the enemy of the self? And what do you mean by saying that one should raise oneself by the self and one should not lower the self by the self? This means that there is a concept of double self; the self which double: there is the higher self, and there is the lower self in us. Now, this statement is again needs to be studied in the context of two others statements, which have come earlier.

If you open the chapter n°3, and see the verse n°28, there is one phrase: guṇā guṇeṣu vartanta. This one sentence, one phrase is a very important phrase in the context of this particular verse: guṇā guṇeṣu vartanta. Now, the word guṇā is usually used in the term of Prakriti; because the theory is that Prakriti consists of three Gunas: triguṇātmāka prakṛti: the Prakriti is triguṇātmāka, it has got Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. So, it simply says that Prakriti is active everywhere, and in this Prakriti, the qualities work among the qualities; the Gunas work among the Gunas; the whole world is nothing but activities of the three Gunas: Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. There is nothing more than this in all this Prakriti: this would be one of the meanings of this statement.

Now, this seems to be further re-affirmed in the same chapter, when you come to verse n°33. There, there is a full sentence:

prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati || (III, 33)

All the creatures are ruled by Prakriti; nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati, suppression: of what avail the suppression be? nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati, everything is moved by Prakriti, this whole movement of suppression, how will it be of any use? Elsewhere it is also said that even the Jnani gets impelled by the speed of the Gunas, of the Prakriti.

Now if you read the Bhagavad Gita only in the light of these two or three statements, then, this statement coming in chapter n°6 may seem to be a contradiction. If Prakriti alone is active, and any movement of control is of no avail, then the question is: how is one to raise oneself by oneself? Because raising oneself implies control, implies doing something other than what Prakriti wants us to do, and going beyond it. If you want to raise yourself, then, whatever is happening by the force of Prakriti, you have to raise it. So, it may seem that if the Bhagavad Gita says:

prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati, and if this is the ultimate statement of the Bhagavad Gita, then this may be unacceptable; and there may be a contradiction between the two. And that is why some people who don’t read the Bhagavad Gita as a whole, they say that Bhagavad Gita has some inner contradictions: once you state this and then now you state this! But the Bhagavad Gita has to be studied as a whole; and this is what we have to repeat again and again. The Bhagavad Gita is an exposition of a teaching, which is very large, and it is and exposition which is done step by step.