Essays on the Gita (The Mother’s Institute of Research) - Session 9 (11 March 1998)

We had a big gap, so I would like to revise a little bit of what we had said last time. We were describing the condition of Arjuna and the questions that were in his mind. We had a long analysis of the entire description of his own consciousness and to say very briefly, he makes three basic propositions: first is that he is aware of his duty to fight. It is not true that he forgot his duty because of the overwhelming presence of his opponents who were also his kinsmen, but he got overwhelmed by another idea: the duty to fight was counteractive by a perception that to kill and to kill the kinsmen and to kill the kinsmen which would result in the destruction of Dharma, is a sin. So, a duty was confronted with a sense of a sin. So, killing itself, now he began to feel, is a sin, and much worse, by killing to bring about a destruction of Dharma.

These three ideas were put side by side: 'duty to fight', 'the sin in killing the kinsmen', and thirdly, 'to bring about a destruction of Dharma by the killing of the kinsmen'. Between these three alternatives he felt that in performing his duty to fight, he was going to create a disaster for Dharma itself, and therefore he concluded that, ""I shall not fight."

Now, his exposition of his own argument is embellished by three other propositions. One is his declaration: "I do not wish happiness, I do not wish to have kingdom:

न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे ।
न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च ॥ 1.31

Bhagavad Gita,1.31

Na kankshe rajyam na kankshe sukha, I do not wish to have kingdom nor the happiness". The second: "it is better for me to be killed unarmed than to kill my brethren". And the third is: ""it is known that if you destroy the Dharma, you will have no peace anywhere and you will be consign to hell".

Now, you can see that in all these three statements there is a kind of a high profile for himself. It is as if he has now become enlightened, and in that state of enlightenment, he feels quite superior. If somebody says, "I do not want kingdom, I do not want happiness, I want to renounce even if they are available to me", then naturally it is a very high superior profile for oneself, and one feel justified in one's own eyes as well as in the eyes of the others. If one says, "it is better for me to be killed unarmed, than to kill the others", again it means a very high profile for oneself, and one does not want even to defend oneself, what a special kind of abnegation! Self sacrifice of oneself! And thirdly, there is a knowledge that if you destroy Dharma, and you become responsible for the destruction of Dharma, you will have no peace anywhere at all, and you will be consigned to hell, therefore no wise man should ever do it. So, he is attributing wisdom to himself. And to say these words before Sri Krishna: itianususruma, he says, "we here we know, we are told of the great wisdom that if you become responsible for the destruction of Dharma, then for you there is no peace anywhere, you are consign to hell"; and then he declares, he says, "look, what a great sin we were going to commit!", and now because of this new wisdom that now has arisen in his mind, he feels that he is saved from all the evil consequences of the action that he was to going to perform.

We must know that at this stage he does not ask Sri Krishna what is His view. He has come to the conclusion on his own, and he simply says: "I shall not fight". At that stage he has no doubt in his mind that he has weight quite well the different alternatives: the duty to fight, the sin in killing his kinsmen, which thirdly leads to the destruction of Dharma. And therefore the conclusion is that he should not fight. As yet there is no sense of a conflict immediately manifested when he declares: "I shall not fight".

It is only latter on, when Sri Krishna rebukes him, that is in the next chapter, in the second chapter when Sri Krishna rebukes Arjuna and says, "what kind of weakness has possessed you at this wrong hour, what kind of weakness, klaibya, what kind of weakness has overcome your whole personality, as a result of which you speak these words? And then Sri Krishna when He starts on this note, Arjuna confesses that he is confused. And then he repeats his arguments and he says, "how can I kill Bhishma and others. That is his question. So, he confesses that there is before Bhishma, the one who was revered, the one who is so dear, how can he kill him? But at the same time, he confesses that he is कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभावः, he is really in a state of confusion, bewildered, perplexed. And then he says:

पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसम्मूढचेताः।
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे
शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्॥ 2.7

Bhagavad Gita,2.7

शाधि मां now, you rule over me and tell me what is my Dharma, what I should do?" And then follows the great teaching of the Gita which is the main substance of all the chapters of the Gita. Now we dwelt so much upon this because unless we know the question with which the Gita starts, we will not be able to appreciate the answer that comes, and the answer is very complex and unless we know the main issue we won't be able to understand the complexity of the answer.

Now, it is this answer, which constitutes the core of the teaching of the Gita. One can go verse by verse, try to understand chapter by chapter and see how Sri Krishna leads Arjuna from one state of consciousness to the other, until at last he declares that his moha is:

नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत ।
स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव ॥ 18.73

Bhagavad Gita,18.73

That all his bewilderment is finished, vanished. And then he is prepared, and he is ready to fight. It is a long, long argument. As Sri Aurobindo says, "...fluent but at the same time it is a wavy argument".

We must understand that there is a difference between a logical answer and a psychological answer: a logical answer is highly philosophical; a psychological answer can also be philosophical, but it is presented in such a way that it meets the psychological needs of the questioner. And the treatment that Sri Krishna gives to the question of Arjuna is a fundamental psychological imperative. It, as it were, leads Arjuna from his state of consciousness where he was, sunk, and brings him up, little by little. And therefore there are waves of answers: it is not a straight answer. You might even say that it is "ups and downs": while He answers questions at one stage of consciousness, it is followed by another answer which is at a lower level of consciousness, again shoots up to the higher level of consciousness as it happens in the psychological state of the listener.

Take for example: at one stage, Sri Krishna says that 'you have no right to the fruits of action'; and soon thereafter He says, 'if you die you will go to heaven, and if you conquer, if you win, you will enjoy a great kingdom, therefore fight'. Now, in both the propositions, He is stressing the fruits of action: 'if you die you will get heaven, and if you win you will enjoy the kingdom.' So, it might seem as if that answer of that kind of a proposition that was being made was at a lower level. But that is because Arjuna himself is asking the question which is at two levels: one is a seeking of an absolute answer which is absolutely right, absolutely true, without any compromise at all, without any personal considerations at all; on the other hand, he is harping also upon the consequences of whatever he was going to do in fighting, as he himself says, 'if I fight, I will have to kill my kinsmen; and in killing kinsmen, what is the joy of it? Because the joy is best enjoyed, when we share with our own people; but here, the people with whom we would like to share our joy, are themselves to be killed. So, what is the joy in it!' So, he was harping upon the consequences of his action. He was also asking, “if I fight this battle and people are massacred, there will be a great destruction of Dharma." It is the result of his action. So, his argument was tied up with the results of his action. So, Sri Krishna says that if you are looking towards the results of action all the time, then there are only two results of your action: one is that you will finish yourself and you will go to heaven and if you win you will enjoy the kingdom, if this is your consideration as to what will happen as a result of my action.

So, Sri Krishna's argument is therefore multifaceted. And the Bhagavad-Gita therefore should be read as a whole. If you emphasise one aspect against the other, and not understand the complexity of the answer, then one might legitimately make a criticism as if Sri Krishna is wandering from one point to the other, even self contradicting. Asking first of all not to look at the consequences of action at all, and then immediately saying that if you win, this will be the consequences, if you die, that will be the consequences, therefore you act.

Also there are many other tendencies: for example, there is a tendency in Arjuna's mind, to take resort to the greatness of renunciation. In his whole argument, when he says, "I do not want happiness, I do not want kingdom, it is better to be killed unarmed than killing my own kinsmen". In both the statements there is a spirit of renunciation, and he is extolling renunciation and he is taking advantage of an 'apparent' sense of renunciation. Therefore Sri Krishna is also required to answer as to what is renunciation, what is 'real renunciation'; when he says, "I don't want kingdom, I don't want happiness", is it really renunciation? When he says, "let me be killed unarmed", is it really renunciation? This also is a question which Sri Krishna is obliged to answer, because in his own mind he was feeling that he is now basing himself on a very high pedestal of sense of renunciation, and his decision not to fight is based upon a great renunciation. That is why right from the beginning there is in the entire argument, right through the 2° chapter up till the 18° chapter, there is constant repetition of this theme: 'what is renunciation'. And the ideas which are put forward in this connexion, are those of sannyasa and tyaga. What is real sannyasa is, as Sri Krishna explains later on, is 'tyaga'. Renunciation can be understood in two senses: 'outer' renunciation and the 'inner' renunciation. But outer renunciation is not the real renunciation; when you simply say, "I don't want kingdom", it is an 'outer' renunciation, it is not the 'internal' renunciation and that is why Sri Krishna says there is the tyaga. The real sannyasa comes when there is a tyaga, that is the real renunciation; and tyaga is: 'an internal giving up of all desires'. Even when you 'desire to give up', it is also a 'desire'. You should reach a stage where even that desire should not be. Because here when Arjuna was saying: °I do not want the kingdom", it was a kind of a desire of not wanting the kingdom.

Besides, the real sannyasa, the real tyaga is where there is a renunciation of 'egoism': renunciation of 'desire' and renunciation of 'egoism'. The 'true' renunciation is a combined renunciation of desire and egoism.

Now, what Sri Krishna points out is that in all your pronouncements of renunciation, there is a great emphasis on 'your' renunciation: 'you' are renouncing. In other words there is a great emphasis on yourself; that 'you' are responsible, 'you' are taking the decision, that 'you' decide that 'you' do not want kingdom, it is 'your' decision. You are not considering from the point of view of the 'entirety' of the world; you are only looking to your own happiness, you want to be happy because you say that happiness consists in sharing your enjoyment with the people whom you allow, and these are the people which have to be killed; so, what is your judgement, what are the criterion of your judgement; it is 'my' happiness and since 'my' happiness consists in sharing 'my' joy with all the others and since they are going to be killed therefore 'I' will have no joy, therefore 'I' do not want joy. It is purely an egoistic statement that you decide as to what is your happiness and you are actually seeking your own happiness, and since your own happiness consists in giving up this fight, therefore you decided; it is not out of a great renunciation, it is actually your own joy that you are seeking by giving up this fight.

It is Sri Krishna who discovers this subtlety of what we may be called 'rationalisation' or even 'self deception': in order to escape from the problem that one faces, the usual psychology of individuals is to find dignified excuses, so you do not have to fight, you do not have to act. The problem becomes so difficult, you cannot face it; what is being demanded is so difficult, you do not want to face it, you do not want to do it; there is a great weakness, klaibya. But you do not want to admit to yourself that it is out of weakness. Therefore, there is a kind of rationalisation or a kind of self deception. You create a golden plated argument in which what you say seems so dignified and so wonderful, and in India the idea of tyaga is regarded so great that if you declare that you are doing this because of sacrificing something, it looks wonderful. Taking advantage of this idea, Arjuna is rationalising and says, 'I do not want kingdom, I do not want happiness'. But it is not this, actually he wants happiness but he says my happiness consists in sharing the joy with my own people; it is not really that he does not want happiness. If you read the argument, it is very clear that he wants happiness but happiness consists according to him in sharing the joy with your own people; the emphasis is on 'my own people', svajana, that is the word used svajana, 'with my own people, I want to share the joy and these are the very people whom I am asked to kill; so, how can I have enjoyment? Therefore I do not want the kingdom; I do not want happiness'.

In the whole statement of Arjuna, there is first a 'confusion of values'. Secondly there is a 'subtle egoism'. There is a 'desire'. There is even 'Tamasic

inertia': I do not want to fight' has within it a very subtle kind of inertia, Tamas. All these elements put together gives a state of mind that Arjuna had. And Sri Krishna unveils all these aspects sometimes ruthlessly, sometimes very quietly so Arjuna may really see for himself where exactly his arguments were wrong and fallacious.

So, the first statement will be that the Gita should be understood as a whole and we should not press one statement against the other and try to see how the different statements are made by Sri Krishna at different times, in what context and how they all aim together from an ultimate highest point of view. If you don't do it we shall fall into some kind of difficulty. And this difficulty is found in the fact that the Bhagavad­Gita had been interpreted in so many different ways. As a result today in India, we really do not know what the Bhagavad-Gita's message is. There are several interpretations and different people are giving different messages out of the Gita. And this being such an important work, something that is so much revered in the country that if you have, in regard to this great work different interpretations, it really creates a tremendous confusion in the country.

Therefore it is necessary to reconsider, to review the whole of the Gita and try to see his entirety. Take for example: there is a view that the Bhagavad-Gita teaches an emphasis on the path of Knowledge. There is another view which says that the Gita teaches only the path of Devotion. A third will say that the Gita teaches only the path of Action. And each advocates, believes that although the other two elements are present, those two elements are subordinate and ultimately to be transcended. According to those who believe in the path of Knowledge, there is a general theory that Action can prepare you for salvation but cannot give it, that is to say: you can use action up to a certain point like a crutch or like a ladder; you rise from one point to the other but having reached a certain point you throw it away and only when you throw it away you can really enter into liberation. So, the highest path is ultimately the path of Knowledge; action is only a kind of a crutch, a kind of a help in the beginning for some time. Now, if you read the Bhagavad-Gita throughout, you will find many sentences which will confirm this view.

Sri Krishna uses the word niyatao karma: do the work which is prescribed niyatao karma. Sri Krishna uses the word nirvana: you go into complete extinction of all karma. Therefore, taking advantage of these propositions, one can conclude therefore the Bhagavad-Gita says that if you want to do action what I am asking you to do is niyato karma, is prescribed for you: "you are a Kshatriya, you should do this work, but ultimately, having done it, the only salvation lies only in nirvana. You resort to the path of knowledge and enter into complete silence of your being and that is your ultimate salvation, your perfection". Now, this is one interpretation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Now, this interpretation does not give adequate place to the constant exhortation that Sri Krishna makes in the 'beginning', in the 'middle' and even at the 'end', on 'action'. Even after giving the supreme secret, in Sri Krishna's own words, Sri Krishna says: "Act and now fight". Even after giving the supreme secret, that when you reach the supreme stage of your consciousness, the ultimate thing to be done is to fight and to act. Now, this emphasis is subordinated by those who believe that the teaching of the Gita is for the path of Knowledge. And therefore, there are controversies of all kinds, whether this statement by Sri Krishna are subordinate statements, or major statements or principal statements. And who can decide this? Unless you make the whole study thoroughly, you yourself come to the conclusion as to what is the really the upshot of all what Sri Krishna has to say.

Now, as against this view there are others who believe that Sri Krishna considers 'devotion' as the real path. It is not the path of Knowledge, nor the path of Action. It is the path of Devotion that is emphasised by Sri Krishna throughout. Now, here also we can have so many statements with the Gita which can confirm this; even in the second chapter itself after stating so much about Knowledge and about Action. The last sentence says that: "Now, you put yourself into Me and that is your ultimate salvation." So, "Put yourself into Me" that is Devotion. So, even in the second chapter itself which is largely detailing the path of Knowledge and Action, with a greater emphasis on action, even that chapter ends ultimately by an emphasis upon 'submitting yourself to Me', to the Divine. And then, when you come to the other chapters, the chapters 9, 10, 11, 12, where Sri Krishna describes who is the dearest to Me, mama priyao, who is the dearest to Me, that is the description that they give, and this is the description of a devotee, one who is a real Bhakta is dearest to Me; and even the last sentence of the Bhagavad Gita:

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्ष्ययिष्यामि मा शुचः ॥ 18.66

Bhagavad Gita,18.66

seems to be giving you the ultimate point of complete devotion and surrender to the Divine, and this is the highest. Now, this line of argument subordinates all the propositions which are made in favour of Knowledge, the idea of nirvaoa for example, the idea of complete silence, complete peace, the knowledge of the Self, knowledge of putastha, one who is absolutely established within one self, where Sri Krishna says that "all actions ends in knowledge"; this is also one of the great statements of the Bhagavad-Gita: all actions ultimately result in Knowledge, culminate into Knowledge. All these statements are subordinated, and we are told that these are only steps but ultimately the highest state is only that of devotion to the Supreme Divine. Therefore cultivate this supreme devotion, and whenever you do any kind of activity of Knowledge or Action it is only a stepping stone but the real ultimate grounding, ultimate resting place is in Devotion. It also subordinates all propositions regarding action, as all actions are simply a stepping stone until you reach the supreme divine, and then when you reach there all actions drops away, and there is only the surrender to the divine, and ecstasy of the union with the divine.

Now, there is a third school which speaks of the Gita as the gospel of Works. And if there is one thing which the Gita emphasises, and for which there does not seem much argument at all, is that one must do work, and the whole Bhagavad-Gita is nothing but an enunciation of what work, what is work? And how the work is to be done? Which kind of work is to be done? Is there any special kind of work? Or any work? So, it is said that the whole of the Bhagavad-Gita is nothing but an examination of this, and which begins with action, exhortation to action, and ends with an exhortation to action. So, once again one can put forward a line of argument to support that the whole of the Bhagavad-Gita is nothing but a teaching of Karma Yoga; that Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga are subordinate; ultimately, all this is to culminate in Karma Yoga.

So, there have been interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gita on all these three lines, and therefore so much controversy in our country; but really speaking, all the three propositions are true in themselves. Sri Krishna teaches that supreme knowledge is the most desirable thing, that supreme devotion to the divine is the most desirable thing, and the highest action is the most desirable thing; and all the three propositions stand together in the Bhagavad-Gita; they are not opposed to each other.

To show that this is the case we have to read the Gita in minute detail so that we may not miss any important clue to what is called a "synthesis of Karma, Jnana, and Bhakti", a real synthesis, and what is the ground of synthesis. According to some, even synthesis is not possible; ultimately you have to make a choice between one or the other, although you may use one or the other as a subordinate, as a ladder, but ultimately you have to make a choice and the right choice should be that one which is advocated by one or the other.

So, there is a question of a synthesis. Is synthesis possible? Can you combine Knowledge and Action? Can you combine Devotion and Action? Is it possible at all, even psychologically? There are some people who believe that if you go into the path of Knowledge, action is really impossible. And there are many states of our own even of the ordinary life, when you start reading the book and get absorbed in it, and somebody call you for some work, it is a very difficult tension in the mind to come out of this reading pursuit of knowledge, and then to start doing some work: the two seem to be so conflicting with each other psychologically. So that you may even say that Action and Knowledge can never be combined together it is impossible. And when you reach the highest state of Knowledge, highest state of silence, in silence can there be any action at all? The two are opposite of each other. Knowledge consists of arriving at "The silence of the Self". The Self which is perfect in itself, the self which needs nothing, which wants nothing, which is self sufficient, which is self existent, when you reach into that there is a complete nirvana, complete extinction of any movement: it is an immersion into a peace of a peace, a peace into peace, silence into silence, and therefore to do any action is an impossibility. Where there is a complete silence, how can there be action?

Therefore, there is an argument that you can never have a synthesis of Knowledge and Action; you can have action until you arrive at a certain high level of silence, as a concession, as if a lollypop to a child, but ultimately it has to be given up, because when you reach into silence no action is possible. And yet, Sri Krishna speaks of the muktasya karma, Sri Krishna speaks of the karma of one who is liberated, mukta, one who is completely liberated, one who is in absolute nirvana; having reached nirvana, Sri Krishna speaks of a tremendous flow of action. But how is this synthesis possible, unless that in the very nature of silence action is possible to synthesise? Therefore, Sri Krishna has to explain to Arjuna that Reality itself is a miraculous and a marvellous being who combines in himself akshara and kshara; He is at once Akshara and Kshara; He is at once Immobile and Mobile. If the Reality itself is capable of this union of Immobility and Mobility, then surely you can reach a state of consciousness where you can be also immobile and mobile. Therefore to say that in silence there is no place for action is not true because in the Reality itself these two states obtain simultaneously. The Divine who needs nothing, who wants nothing, who is self-existent, perfect, as Sri Krishna himself says, "'I need nothing and yet I am all the time active". He says, ""not for a single moment I remain without action, although I need nothing, I am perfect". This combination, since it is rooted in the reality itself, therefore it is possible for us to arrive at this unity and this synthesis.

Now, similarly it is said about Bhakti that if you remain in the state of ecstasy or union with the divine, everything else seems to be so stuff less, so tasteless, so much without meaning at all; the enjoyment of the union with the divine is so sweet, so wonderful, that there is no tongue which can describe that joy, and when you are seated in that state of consciousness, all idea of knowing God is worthless, all idea of doing work is worthless, what is this! When you are in a state of complete ecstasy of union, what is this work we are talking about! What is this knowledge you are talking of! In the state of enjoyment do you care for knowledge? Whether He is one or two or three, whether Reality is one or dual or triple or Trinity: all these discussions are useless when you are absolutely enjoying. When the sugar is being eaten, you don't discuss the composition of sugar, you are absolutely absorbed in the enjoyment of the sugar. So, the Bhakta says that all this talk of knowledge, this discussion of entering into a complete silence, what is this complete silence in which there is no ecstasy, no enjoyment as compared to this enjoyment and sweetness, what is this dryness of this knowledge in which there is only silence? But this union, this sweetness, this hundred of relationships that you can establish with the divine, you can play hundreds of games with the divine, both of hide and seek and of a complete union manifest. As compared to that, what is this in knowledge? And what is this action! Doing this action or that action, what difference does it make? This world is all the time, sometimes better, sometimes worse, and this goes on, and on, and on, whether you do this or you do that, ultimately of what meaning? Ultimate meaning is to be able to arrive at a point where you can forever enjoy this relationship with the divine and ecstasy, and that is the supreme state; and Sri Krishna himself says, "Bhakta is my dearest": so, where is the place for action? Of course action you can do if you like, but there is no necessity of it , no inevitability of it, and after all when you are situated in the state of ecstasy even to do action is not possible. Just as the jnani was saying that when you are seated in the state of knowledge, action is impossible; similarly, when you sit yourself in the state of devotion, action is not possible, it is going down on a lower level of doing so many machinations of action, various kind of devices that you employ, various kind of means and ends you join together. What is all this? Sit all the time in complete union with the divine and enjoy hundreds of relationships with the divine.

On the other end the Karma Yogi says: what is this knowledge, what is this devotion? If you cannot change this world, there is so much of poverty in this world, there is so much of ignorance in this world, so much of division in the world, so much of inertia in this world, so much of quarrel and strife, so much of seeking, is it not possible to set this world into some order? And how can you put this in order without action? And what is the point in sitting in silence, or sitting in enjoyment when there is so much squalor and strife and poverty and strife in this world? How can you enjoy the peace of this Nirvana, how can you enjoy the Ananda of union with the divine when there is so much of pain and suffering in this world? If God is only ecstasy, if God is only silence, surely this is not the God which I want, I want that God who can really succour the poorer, the downtrodden, the one who is suffering, and heal the pain of this world. I want that God who comes on this earth, and cures all the ills of the world. So, what is the need and what is the point in achieving that God if He cannot really act in this world masterfully, triumphantly, and destroy all that is obstructing the highest on this earth.

And Sri Krishna also says the same thing in the Bhagavad-Gita. You will find so many statements in the Bhagavad-Gita where Sri Krishna says, "That one who attains to the highest, he still has an action to do, and only then he can do that action which really needs to be done in this world, lokasamgraha, the highest action is lokasamgraha, the means by which the world can be united". Unity is the fundamental point in the highest action. All suffering in the world, all pain in the world is nothing but a movement of disunity and disintegration. When you have pain, it is a sign of some disintegration in the body, something is split, something is torn; even mental suffering is nothing but some kind of disintegration, something is torn in the mind, in the heart. All suffering in the world is because of disintegration. Therefore, if you really want to cure the pain and evil in the world, which you must, then your highest action will be that which will unite, sangraha, which will bring together loka, all the people. And actually you must do it because if you don't do it, it is a denial of God. If this world is a manifestation of God, or if God is the supreme ruler of this world, and if you do not have the answer to the evil in this world, it is shame to God; God who is omnipotent, who is good, who is wonderful, if he can allow in his own kingdom this kind of suffering, what kind of god is it? So, if God is the supreme, omnipotent Reality, then He must have in Him the secret by which this suffering can be cured. And what is Yoga if you cannot attain that kind of a secret by which you can bring from God that cure by which suffering can be healed.

That is why Sri Krishna says that if you do not fight, what will happen? lokasaugraha; in fact, He says in the beginning... Arjuna says that, "If I fight and if the people are killed there will be a destruction of Dharma". As against that Sri Krishna says that, '"There will be a great disunity in the world if you do not fight; it is only to bring about the real unity in the world that really fighting is necessary". Therefore, there is a tremendous emphasis on action, but an action which proceeds from the highest level of consciousness. And here again, the secret of the synthesis of action and devotion is emphasised. You can do the highest action of lokasamgraha, only on one condition: only when you can approach the Divine, only when you can become united with the Divine. How can you bring from the Divine the secret, the elixir by which life can be made permanent, by which unity can be brought about? Only when you can touch the Divine, unite yourself with the Divine.

That is why the highest action can proceed only from the highest devotion, only when you are united yourself with the Divine, you have found your heart in the heart of God, when you are seated in the heart of God, when only that secret knowledge is given to you by which you can really come on this earth and rectify the evils of this world. Until you have reached this point you cannot do your Karma Yoga properly; you can really do Karma Yoga only when you are united with the Divine; unless you become Bhakta, really, you cannot attain this condition.

Even without Bhakti, Sri Krishna says, you cannot attain the highest knowledge. According to Sri Krishna, knowledge is not merely the knowledge of the state of silence. The supreme knowledge is knowledge of God, both as immobile and mobile; it is the knowledge of Purushottama, who is neither Akshara nor Kshara but transcends both and He is the Purushottama. He is one and yet He is capable of multiple manifestations. He is one and yet capable of relationships with so many multiplicities in different ways: it is that which is the nature of Reality. Therefore, even if you want to get the supreme knowledge, you cannot get the supreme knowledge unless you have union with the Divine, with devotion; only devotion can give you that knowledge which reconciles immobility and the mobility of the Divine: merely if you become immobile you don't get the secret of the synthesis of immobility and mobility. So, if you want to know the Divine as both mobile and immobile, there is only one way: to approach the Divine with supreme devotion. So, even the condition of supreme knowledge is supreme devotion; and it is supreme knowledge and supreme devotion which is the real condition of supreme action. You cannot really get the secret of action unless you attain to the highest state of union with the divine and also a complete immobility of the self and oneness with the Divine.

So, it is because the Reality itself is synthetic, Reality itself is integral, therefore it is possible to integralise Knowledge, Action, and Devotion. There is no artificial building of bridges, there is no artificial construction between knowledge and action and devotion: that is automatic. If you really want to know the supreme divine, you can know only through devotion; if you want to be united fully with the divine you can do only in the condition of supreme knowledge; if you really want to do supreme action, it can be only on the basis of supreme knowledge and supreme devotion. Each one is as it were a complement of the other. You cannot be perfectly perfect without perfect perfection of knowledge, action, and devotion. In fact, this is the real teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita.

There is one point however, which has been brought forward very powerfully in our times, and since what is brought forth is mistaken, it is best to take note of it, and to deal with it properly. The mobile world has one conception of what may be called the highest action. We just now referred to the highest action in the Bhagavad-Gita; in contrast to that, there is also a view of the highest action in the modern world, which is largely brought out from the western point of view, which consists in declaring that highest action is that which serves man the best. Highest action is that, which consists of 'charity', of 'social service', 'public work', 'philanthropy', and that is the reason why many people today when they are in search of really good action, good work, they are given this gospel: join social work, do social service, serve the sick, tend to the poor, distribute your will among the poor, give some wealth where there is need, and we are told this is the highest action that we can perform in this world.

And those who want to promote the teaching of the Gita, very often they want to derive this very message from the Gita. They also interpret the Gita in such a way as if the Gita also teaches social service, philanthropy, charity, serving of the people; and the whole of the Karma Yoga of the Gita is so presented, as if it coincides exactly with the modern gospel of social service. And you can certainly find so many statements in the Gita which can supports this view; I spoke just now of lokasamgraha: the highest action according to the Gita is that which unifies the people. And what can unifies the people best but social service, philanthropy, charity, and serving the sick and the poor? This is the kind of answer that can be given, very readily??? , lokasamgraha, is the highest ideal of the Gita and lokasamgraha would mean all kinds of social service, therefore the Gita's teaching is exactly identical with the modern view of highest action. And therefore, the Bhagavad-Gita is supposed to be directly relevant to the present time. So, all the glory to the Gita, the teaching of the Gita, so ancient, is still valid today in this life, in this form. Now, 'this' view is a 'mistaken' view, 'this' is an 'error', it is not a real reading of the Bhagavad­Gita. The Bhagavad-Gita is not a gospel of social service as understood today; not that it is not a social service. Gita's teaching would certainly teach a social service, but not in the sense in which it is understood today. Now, very often this idea of social service is also put forth as a gospel of duty: this is also the modern idea.

Modern idea is that when you can do your action, not for your personal profit, but when you do for others. And when you do for others, what is it for? It is to perform your duty. To serve others is my duty, and when I do it for others, it is for duty. So, the doctrine of "duty for duty's sake"; is also presented as if it was the teaching of the Gita.

nln kama se vi ?niokama seva, that is right; when you don't do anything for your own self, or for your own desire, but you do it as a duty.

If you read the Gita's teaching properly, then we shall find that this is not the message of the Gita. Take for example: Buddha left his kingdom, his wife and the child. Was it his duty to leave his kingdom? Was it his duty to leave his wife and child? Was therefore Buddha right in doing what he did? Vivekananda, it is said, went thrice to Kali, under the advice of Ramakrishna when he wanted to have joint some job, for the maintenance of his family; and every time that he approached Kali and ask for a boon, he said give me knowledge, devotion, action. He forgot to ask to secure a job. When he explained the whole thing to Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna said, "What you need is Yoga." He had to give up serving his mother in order that he may practise Yoga. What was his duty? Does the Gita tell Vivekananda, "go back, don't do Yoga, go back, serve the job and fulfil the duty of the family." Would that be the meaning of the Gita? If you want to be right from the Gita, what is the message? If 'duty' is the message of the Gita...

...the fact is that 'duty' is a concept which is confined to human relationships. It is the duty of a father to bring up the child, to educate the child and to secure happiness for the child. It is the duty of the employer to give the right conditions to the employee and to give him the pay and to see that he works properly. It is the duty of the employee to see that all the tasks assigned to him are fulfilled. It is the duty of the lawyer to defend his client, even though he may know that the client is guilty, and he may have to hide the fact that he is guilty, but it is his duty as a lawyer. It is the duty of the judge to send the criminal to the gallows. It is the duty of the soldier, if commanded to kill, if his own brother becomes an enemy, it is his duty. But we know that duties clash with other duties. The judge may believe that, although it is duty to send a criminal to the gallows, he may believe that taking human life is a sin, it is false, it is wrong. His conscience would not allow him to become an instrument of taking the life of somebody else. The law may allow it! Law may give a duty to me as a judge, but my inner conscience may oppose it. What law demands, duty may not allow; what duty demands the law abhors; which of the two is to be accepted?

In fact the whole teaching of the Gita is a criticism of the idea of duty. It is a critic of duty. Arjuna had come to the battlefield with an idea of his duty to fight; he knew that it was his duty to fight for the sake of justice, but this duty was in conflict with what he thought was sin, with what he saw was the destruction of Dharma. So, when one duty collides with another duty, or another concept of conscience of a higher law, then there is a confusion and a perplexity. Surely therefore, the Gita cannot be a gospel of duty which is a very simple proposition that you should do your duty, and if the Bhagavad-Gita ultimately after doing all this, ultimately said to Arjuna, "look this is your duty, therefore fight": if this is the consequence of the Gita, the whole making of the teaching falls down. Surely, this is not the Gita's teaching. The Gita points down that when duty collides with duty, it is a sign that you have reached a limitation of your consciousness, and you have to break this limitation of consciousness.

There is a kind of a human duty which can never be fulfilled properly; even when people think that there is no clash with another duty, but if you really examine any state of duty, you will find that there are clashes of duties. There are clashes between one principle of action and the other principle of action, at different levels different kinds of actions would be justified. The search for the Truth, the necessity of the search for the Truth may collide with Buddha's duty to his kingdom and to his wife and the child; the search for the Truth is of a greater value. Therefore, Sri Krishna says, 'There is like a divine obligation, not a human duty, there is a divine obligation'. Unless you find out the supreme command, not the call of the duty which are only human commands, which are based upon ordinary concepts of relationship between man and man; and duty can exist only when you do not have the idea of God. You decide only upon human relationships to maintain your human life properly, you require certain rules of actions; and as long as you remain in that field, duty may have a justifiable place, but human life is not made only for human arrangement of things. Human life itself is a result of a greater scheme.

Therefore unless and until you reach the highest state of the divine consciousness, you cannot really do what is the right thing to be done. That right thing may be disobedience to your duty as in the case of the Buddha: he did not perform his duty, went away to the Tapasya. It may be fulfilment of duty also: there may not necessarily be a conflict between your duty as a human being considered from the human point of view, and the divine obligation; there may not be. But even when the two coincide, you perform whatever was prescribed by duty, not because it is prescribed as a duty but because you have discovered the will of the divine. And how are you sure that it is the will of the divine? And Sri Krishna's answer is, 'until you have reached the point where you feel complete freedom of action, and until you find action proceeding from that state of freedom, you have not entered into the gates of the divine work'. Work is certainly the gospel of the Gita, you must work but what work? It is not human work. The gospel of the Gita is the gospel of 'divine work' and the divine work can be discovered only when you reach the highest of knowledge which gives you a complete peace within yourself, complete devotion to the divine and then the work that proceed from 'this' state, it is 'that' work which is enjoined by the Gita.

Now, these are the general statements which we can make regarding the core of the teaching; and if you want to sum up the whole thing very briefly, it can be said as follows: an individual must begin upwards wherever he is, according to his

predominant inclination, and since every individual in any sense is always engaged in some activity, as Sri Krishna says, 'nobody can remain without doing some activity or the other'. Therefore, it is best to start with activity, and do the Karma Yoga. And what is the meaning of Karma Yoga? To change the very motive of action, to change the direction of action. Whatever activity you do, outwardly it may remain the same, but inwardly the 'motive' of action and the 'direction' of action and ultimately even the 'form' and the 'scope' of action will change.

The motive of action in order to change it, you have to pass the three stages: the first stage is won where you do not desire the enjoyment of the fruit of action. This is the first stage, mimimrantama: §ai ', of changing the very motive and direction of action: 'inwardly, do not try to enjoy the fruits of action' on the proposition that you have no right to the fruits of action: you can enjoy something over which you have right, but you have no right over the fruits of action. At this stage you can be allowed to have a right to action, at this stage, in the first stage. That is why the statement:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥ 2.47

Bhagavad Gita, 2.47

"To action alone has thou the right, but not to the fruits of action".

And this is regarded as very often as the mahavakya, the last gospel of the Bhagavad-Gita, but this is not the last statement of the Gita, it is a statement of the Gita at one stage of development, and you might say the very first stage of the development, because latter on, Sri Krishna says, "you have no right even to action". In the first stage he says, "You have no right to the fruit of action".

But secondly, Sri Krishna says, "you have no right even to action itself". He says the whole action itself is a huge machine, a huge Prakriti is at work and you are a small form in the machine. What you think is your work is actually the consequence of the huge machine of universal action, so you have no right even to action.

Therefore, in the second stage do not regard your action as your action. And offer the action to the divine from whom ultimately all actions proceeds. Because even behind the universal machine of action, there is a supreme will from where the actions proceeds; therefore whatever action you are doing do not claim it is your action; you offer it to the divine

And also consider that God is the doer.

That is right, this is the third step; second you offer to the divine; third step is when you 'perceive', not only 'believe' but you 'perceive' that God is the doer. But before you can perceive that God is the doer, you have to pass through a stage of Jnana Yoga: this is where the Jnana Yoga enters into the entire scheme of the synthesis of Yoga. We may start with action and you can successfully arrive at a point where you can go on offering action to the divine, but then the question will arise: who is the divine? And therefore, the knowledge of the divine becomes necessary. So, it is in this second stage that Jnana Yoga becomes necessary. And when you come to know what is divine, you discover that it is at once Akshara and Kshara; and you can see that you can also enter into complete immobility, and can become completely free from action. It is at this point that you are required to go beyond it, beyond immobility. And when you try to go beyond immobility, Bhakti Yoga starts; because when you approach the divine who is not only immobile and also mobile and the ruler and master of the world, then you begin to unite yourself as a soul, as a child of God with the divine. The real Bhakti begins to operate at this stage. So, the true knowledge of the divine also cannot come without that devotion, the full knowledge of the divine; intimate knowledge of the divine cannot come without devotion; you can know the divine as immobile without devotion, but if you want an integral knowledge of the divine, you cannot have it without devotion. Therefore, the third step is to enter into a state of devotion to the divine. When you do that, then you begin to see the divine as the doer; because now you have got the heart of God as it were, from where the action really proceeds.

Simultaneously do we discover our identity also?

It is sometimes identical, sometimes simultaneous, sometimes it is one after the other, it depends upon your previous development. In some cases it may be simultaneous, it may be at once, it depends on the previous understanding, for example it is said, Sri Krishna got illumined only by one word of his teacher. As I have said earlier:

उद् वयं तमसस् परि ज्योतिष् पश्यन्त उत्तरम् |
देवं देवत्रा सूर्यम् अगन्म ज्योतिर् उत्तमम् ||

ud vayaṃ tamasas pari jyotiṣ paśyanta uttaram |
devaṃ devatrā sūryam aganma jyotir uttamam ||

The Veda 1.50.10

These are the words spoken by the guru Ghora to Sri Krishna and Chhandogya Upanishad says that as soon as these words were uttered by the rishi, Krishna was illumined. He came to supreme knowledge; this is what Chhandogya Upanishad says: the son of Devaki, Krishna, He heard only one word from his teacher and this is the word He heard, this verse which I recited just now and He got illumined. So, it can happen it different cases in different ways but normally it is when you enter into devotion to the Divine: when you reach the heart of the Divine then the secret of His action can become manifest, the real secret of action of the Divine, a luminous understanding of Divine's action. In fact you might say, God gives the gift when you are absolutely united with Him, then He whispers into you, "This is my word, this is my highest action". This is why Sri Krishna, after showing to Arjuna the vi§varupadar§ana, in the ??? chapter, and the last six chapters of the Bhagavad Gita are reserved for giving the supreme word paramam vacao, the last six chapters of the Bhagavad Gita are given in order to show what happens after highest devotion is obtained, and if you want to reach highest work, the supreme secret, that comes only when you have reached the heart of God, then God's action begins really to operate.

So, till that time we are only doing Karma Yoga but we are not Karma Yogi, it is only sadhana, we are trying to find out what is divine's will. You offer the action, that is Sadhana, but you still do not know what is the Divine's action, what He does really intend, what is His command. So, Sri Krishna gives that command only at the end. But now when you give up everything, all Dharmas you give up, all ideas of duty, all ideas of laws of action, all standards of conduct, whether it is Sattwic or Rajasic or Tamasic or all kinds; this is what the last six chapters describe you all the forms of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, with regard to adhi' : _: hata, with regard to tsei^:-ha, with regard to Karma, with regard to everything, even sraddha, different kinds of sraddha, different kinds of dana, different kinds of tapasya, different kinds of sacrifice, all Sattwic, Rajasic, Tamasic, all the laws of conduct, having described them all, these are all processes of Karma Yoga, you do all of them but still the utmost secret is, when you go into the very heart, giving up everything into the divine, then the divine's command comes to you: "Fight". The Divine is a divine obligation, not that it was his duty to fight, therefore he was to fight: that is not the answer of the Gita. Sri Krishna says that, "You have come here only with the idea to fight as a Kshatrya, you are in conflict because you find that this idea of duty is colliding with another higher idea which you have; both of them are lower actually. It is only when you go to the heart of God that what is to be done is revealed to you and you do it, that is the highest obligation, the divine obligation, that transcends all sense of duty, it is to be done because God wants to: you are a servant of God, slave of God, what He wants that is to be performed." That is the supreme condition to which the Gita leads us ultimately.

So, I have described to you what I can say is the core of the teaching of the Gita. The entire argument, what steps Sri Krishna leads us to this, is itself a marvel and it is a tremendous study by itself. But I had not intended to speak of this, I have only promised that I would go to the end of this point and the core of the teaching. I have said only the first four chapters I will deal with, and I have completed the fourth chapter today. So, I think we can now close this series and we shall see later on, if some more is to be done. All right?

Question:... Gods answers to do some things, and if it collides with our relation with God, and......, the duty which man has to do is to understand.... God?

That is to say, even what we have to do as a duty, ultimately has to be done as an offering to God, and then to discover what God wants us to do.

Question:.. God wants us to do

Answer: So, that can come only at that point.

  • Question: That will come later*

In the case of Arjuna, it came to him, that was, "fight!'' That was Sri Krishna's command at that point as far as Arjuna was concerned. As far as 'we' are concerned, we have to find out again ourselves by proceeding on these lines. That is why Gita's teaching is universal; everyone can now proceed on these lines, lines are given, the pitfalls are given, and the way in which we can overcome the pitfalls are also given. So, for each one has to make an effort and find out, therefore Yoga is a living process.

Everybody has a different command of God, so everyone will be different, because everyone's relationship with God is different; so according to his relationship with the divine will be the command for him.

Question: It is like a continuous..

Yes, Lord is really universal, so it has many aspects.

Question: And it is like a continuous..

Continuous, yes, absolutely.

Question: Available every moment..

Yes, quite right; alright, I think we shall stop here today.