Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 3: Sankalpa, Vedavada, Karmakanda: Chapter 2, Verses 48–50 (8 September 1998)

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 (2.39), ‘the bandhaṁ, the bondage that comes to you through action, it is that karmabandhaṁ I shall be able to resolve for you.’

What is 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, you can also 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 the 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 the 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” (2.42); ‘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.

The analysis of Sri Krishna, He says, is that, ‘If however you examine the whole process of karma, you will find that you have right to action but no right to fruits of action. Whereas those people who are engaged in vedavāda, they want to possess the result, they want to claim the result, they want to enjoy the result, they want to cling to the result’. And this is, according to Sri Krishna, a mistake, an error. If, as a matter of fact, you have no right over the results and still you want to claim results, to cling to results is based on some kind of ignorance; that process itself is the result of ignorance. That is why the great and famous sentence, which is chapter 2, verse 47, He says:

karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana |
mā karmaphalahetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi ||2.47||

This is the famous verse of the Bhagavad Gita, according to many, this is the greatest message of the Gita; but as you shall see later on, this is the ‘first’ message but ‘not the last’ message of the Gita. This is not the mahāvākya of the Gita, this is the first vākya; mahāvākya will come much later: but it is the starting point. The first great sentence of the Gita is this:

“To action alone have thou the right, but not to its fruits. Do not therefore act for the sake of the fruits of action. But at the same time therefore, do not cling yourself to inaction.” (2.47)

In one sentence you might say, one of the most important elements of karmayoga is expounded, based upon the truth that since for fruits of action you have no right, (this the buddhiyoga tells you when you discriminate all the aspects of karma) this is the one conclusion that you arrive a. Just as by Buddhi you discriminate between the ‘Immobile’ and the ‘Mobile’, (that we saw already earlier) similarly when you analyse the action by buddhi you realise that you have no right over fruits of action. Once you do action what results it will produce, it is no more in your hands! It is like the bullet, which goes out of your gun. Once it has been thrown out, it is now no more in your hands as to what will happen. It is not in your hands, even if you try to make it in your hands, it is not in your hands. Knowing this fact, it follows that you should not therefore cling to the fruits of action, it is not in your hands. And whenever you do the action, do not do the action for the sake of ‘enjoyment’ of the fruits of action. Even if fruits are produced, you remain with regard to the fruits equal minded. But do not cling to them, because it means that you have a right to them, which is not true.

And the next few sentences, which are here, are expository of this basic proposition. We shall read them, and then we shall come back again to reflect upon them. The next one says:

yogasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanaṁjaya |
siddhyasiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga ucyate ||2.48||

In the last sentence we saw that even though you are not to cling to the fruits of action, even though the enjoyment of the fruits of action is not to be the motive of your action, still you should continue to act. But how will you act then? If ultimately you are not going to enjoy the fruits of action, (and normally people act only for the sake of that), and still you have to act, then how will you act? Therefore Sri Krishna says, yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi, ‘you do action’, but how? yoga-sthaḥ, ‘be settled in yoga’; saṅgaṁ tyaktvā, now this is a very important word saṅgaṁ tyaktvā, ‘you give up the attachment’. The entire root of all bandhaṁ, all bondage is saṅgaṁ, attachment. The whole Gita’s teaching that all bandhaṁ, all kind of bondage is because of attachment. Therefore, saṅgaṁ tyaktvā yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi, ‘give up the attachment,’ and when this will be done then what will happen? siddhi-asiddhi, ‘whether you succeed or you fail’, in regard to both of them samo bhūtvā, ‘you will become equal minded’. And then He defines what is yoga, because the first word was yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi, ‘you be settled in Yoga and do actions’. Now, He says what is Yoga? samatvaṁ yoga ucyate, the equanimity, the complete equality of consciousness in regard to honour or dishonour, success or failure, this state of consciousness itself is Yoga: this is the definition of yoga. That if you can attain to a state where you are equal, in regard to pleasure or pain, in regard to wealth or poverty, in regard of honour or dishonour, success or failure, then you are said to be in Yoga. With that state of consciousness do the karma.

As I told you earlier there are two ways of liberation: one is to attain to immobility and cease to work; the other one is while doing work, you can still become liberated, provided this condition is fulfilled. You attain equality with regard to the fruits of action and still if you can do the action, then you are free, even while doing action.

Now is a very important statement, and which ultimately shakes Arjuna as a result of which the whole of the third chapter is triggered off. When we will come to the 3rd chapter we will find that Arjuna starts by asking a question, which is related to this statement.What is that?

dūreṇa hyavaraṁ karma buddhiyogāddhanañjaya |
buddhau śaraṇamanviccha kṛpaṇāḥ phalahetavaḥ ||2.49||

He says that “Buddhiyoga is much superior to action, therefore take resort to buddhi”, to the intelligent will. “Those who seek after the desires, they are really pitiable”, kṛpaṇāḥ: those who desire for fruits of action, they are like beggars, they want certain things, and they stand in the line of begging, they kṛpaṇāḥ phala–hetavaḥ. Those who have desires of phala, (of the fruits), they are kṛpaṇāḥ, they are misers, they are absolutely pitiable people, but “you, take resort to intelligent will, and this intelligent will is superior to action”. In fact, naturally Arjuna says in the 3rd chapter, he says, “O Sri Krishna, if buddhi is superior to action, then why don’t you tell me to go to only intelligence and give up action altogether”? If this is superior, if buddhi is superior then why do you ask me to do action, and that too, ghoraṁ karma, this kind of karma? If you just see the 3rd chapter, the very first sentence, where Arjuna says:

jyāyasī cetkarmaṇaste matā buddhirjanārdana |
tatkiṁ karmaṇi ghore māṁ niyojayasikeśava ||3.1||

jyāyasī cet; jyāyasī, means ‘much more desirable’; karmaṇa, more desirable ‘than Karma’; if Buddhi is much more important, much more preferable to action, then, tat kiṁ karmaṇi ghore māṁ niyojayasi keśava, “O Keshava why do you ‘niyojayasi’, why do you enjoin me”, ‘māṁ’, means ‘me’, māṁ niyojayasi , why do you enjoin me; kiṁ karmaṇi ghore, you are enjoining me into this ghore karma, into this horrible action.

This question is related to this sentence, which Sri Krishna puts here. And therefore, this is a very important statement in the argument of the Gita. We must remember that Sri Krishna speaks like a good teacher who expounds the problems in a very regular and in the same time in a very winding manner. A good teacher does not explain everything in such a way that logically everything is said at once. That is because the student, his mind is limited, and his concentration is upon a limited field. If immediately everything is told then his mind is not able to understand it. Therefore, the answer is given, which immediately satisfies that particular question in the mind, but since it is not the whole of the teaching certain threads will come out: those threads are on which the student will ask further questions, and the teacher expects questions because he knows that he has not expounded the whole thing. Some questions are bound to come up, and yet he makes the statement deliberately so that the questions do come up, preparing the student to ask further questions so that a greater knowledge can be given.

While saying first of all that, ‘you give up the fruits of action, do not do any action for the sake of the fruits of action’, yet he says, ‘yet you continue to act’; how do you act? ‘yoga-sthaḥ’. By settling yourself into Yoga you do the action. What is settling into Yoga? ‘samatvaṃ’. You attain to a state where you do not have ‘siddhi-asiddhi’, whether you succeed or you fail, in both the conditions you will remain equal: with this state of mind, you act.

Having said all this now is the bombardment: this action is much inferior to knowledge: this action is inferior to knowledge. And that is why Arjuna’s mind is deflected, and he expounds his own deflection in the 3rd chapter; as soon as he gets the chance to asking the question, he raises the question starting from here, because Sri Krishna Himself says that dūreṇa hy avaraṁ karma buddhi-yogād dhanañjaya (2.49); mere action is inferior,( avaraṁ means inferior), to Buddhiyoga, to Buddhi, to Knowledge; buddhau śaraṇam anviccha, “therefore resorts to buddhi; kṛpaṇāḥ phala-hetavaḥ, those who are full of desire, they are like pitiable people”.

We can anticipate something of the answer, so that our own mind becomes quiet at this moment. Because this is a very important question: if knowledge is superior to action, then why should there be karmayoga at all? Why not jnanayoga alone? This is one of the issues of the Bhagavad Gita, if knowledge is superior to action, then why the process of karmayoga at all? Let us all do jnana yoga! We must first of all remember that Sri Krishna does not say that karmayoga is inferior to buddhiyoga. We must see very clearly, He says, “Karma, action is inferior to buddhiyoga”, but He does not say that “Karmayoga is inferior to Buddhiyoga”. But when you listen to the statements, perhaps you may not understand the distinction: karma is inferior to knowledge, but Karmayoga is not inferior to knowledge, or to Yoga of Knowledge.

Secondly, karmayoga itself becomes powerful only when you know that in the hierarchy of forces of knowledge, action, and devotion…because there are only three forces in the world. If you analyse the psychology of a human being, you find there are only three tendencies in human beings: cognitive, conative, affective. If you read any book on psychology, you will find that psychology all over the world agree that human tendencies are three fold: cognitive, conative, affective. ‘Cognitive’ is the tendency to know; ‘conative’ is the tendency to act; ‘affective’ is the tendency to feel. In the totality of the whole psychology of human beings these are the only three powers. In these three powers there is a relationship. What is the relationship? Cognition is always superior to affection and conation. Conation is always inferior to cognition. Affection is both the crown of cognition and conation and also the inspiring force of the highest knowledge and the highest action.

This is a very important statement, so let us dwell upon it, because the entire relationship of Jnana yoga, Karmayoga and Bhaktiyoga, the synthesis of which is the whole teaching of the Bhagavad Gita rest upon this interrelationship between these three tendencies.

We must know that the aim of the Bhagavad Gita is to resolve the problem of life: the problem that Arjuna raises is an incidental question, because Arjuna is a symbol of the problems that life confronts with everybody in the world. You might say it is a typical example of every human being: at a certain time the problem of life confronts you, in the way it confronted Arjuna. Therefore, the answer to the question that Arjuna raises, cannot be answered, cannot be given on a very whimsical ground, which is something incidental, or casual. It has to be answered with some very fundamental truth. The most serious problem of life can be resolved only when you know the fundamental truth of life. The answer that could ultimately satisfy Arjuna could be a Yogic answer.

This word ‘yogic answer’ again has to be defined: what is yogic answer? There are many kinds of answers: there are pragmatic answers, practical answers; there are theoretical answers; there are intellectual answers; there are answers, which are temporary; there are answers, which create further questions; there are final answers, full answers, durable answers. The full answers, durable answers, final answers are what may be called ‘Yogic answers’. In the ultimate analysis, at the bottom of everything, if you really want to resolve any problem, Sri Krishna says, “You go to the most fundamental things, try to get highest possible knowledge, survey the whole realm of knowledge, and then ask your question in the context of the realm of knowledge, total realm of knowledge, and then derive the answer out of it; it will be the truest answer, final answer, lasting answer.”

The question that Arjuna had put was such a question, that neither pragmatic answer, nor theoretical answer, nor intellectual answer, nor philosophical answer, nor any temporary answer would have satisfied him. That is why Sri Krishna is obliged to give him an answer, which is a ‘yogic answer’, and He says that, “Your question is such, that it can be answered only if you go to the most depth of everything”.

In that analysis, He first of all expounds what is called ‘Buddhiyoga’. This is the first step in the answer. Why buddhiyoga we have to start with, — because our highest faculty, in our consciousness, is buddhi. What are our faculties? Our faculties consist of senses, which Sri Krishna says are ‘indriyaṇi’, that is our lowest faculty in our entire complex. Behind indriya(s) is the manas, is the mind; there is a relationship between manas and indriya(s): manas is superior to indriya(s), because if the mind is absent, even when the senses are cognisant of certain things, he will not cognise them: a mosquito might biting me here, but if my mind is not attach to it, I will not notice it; I may look at the huge ocean, but if my mind is occupied with something else, I will not be able to visualise the ocean before me, I will be somewhere else. Even if indriya(s), even if the senses are looking at things, if mind is not enjoined with the senses, the senses will not be able to take cognisance of things. indriya(s) are connected with manas. Behind the manas is the ahaṁbhāva, is the ego–sense. Behind the ego-sense is the buddhi; and beyond the buddhi is the ‘one’ who really exercises the buddhi: “buddheḥ parāt puruṣaḥ”. Beyond the buddhi is puruṣa, the one who observes, who thinks, who discriminates. This is the whole line of our capacities. These capacities again are three fold: cognitive, conative, affective.

Among all these faculties, if there is one supreme faculty, which you can take hold of, through which you can try to arrive at a complete answer to any question, is buddhi. That is why the Bhagavad Gita starts with Buddhiyoga. If you take hold of Buddhi…and then He says: what is buddhi? Buddhi is a discriminative intelligence. The intelligence, which is capable of standing behind: all objects, all movement…this is a special quality of the buddhi, buddhi is that which can become aware of itself. indriya(s) cannot become aware of themselves; manas to some extent; ahaṁkāra to some extent; but buddhi is the one faculty by which it can become aware of itself, (when I am angry I may not realise that I am angry; afterwards, I become aware that ‘oh! I was angry’). The self-consciousness is best reflected in the operations of buddhi. That is why Sri Krishna first of all, starts with buddhi. You take hold of the buddhi, and recognise that this buddhi can discriminate between that which is ‘Mutable’, and that which is ‘Immutable’: this is the first result that you can get, if you ‘really’ practise buddhiyoga.

The question is: what is the definition of Yoga? By buddhiyoga, certainly you can achieve the discrimination between ‘Mutable’ and the ‘Immutable’. But what is Yoga? In the Bhagavad Gita you will find several meanings of the word ‘Yoga’. Even just now we saw: ‘samatvaṁ yoga ucyate’ (2.48). Then there will be another afterwards sometimes, it will be said: ‘karmasu kauśalam yogaḥ’ (2.50). The kauśala in karma is also yoga, ‘yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam’: there is also the definition of Yoga. He speaks of Sankhya yoga, He speaks of Karmayoga, He speaks of Jnanayoga, He speaks of Bhaktiyoga, He speaks of Yoga as such. What is the meaning of Yoga?

The answer that is common to all the propositions, which are here, is: it is basically “one pointed concentration”. In this chapter, you will see Sri Krishna makes a distinction between vyavasāyātmikā buddhi (2.44), the buddhi which is ‘vyavasāyātmikā’, that which is impelled by desires and activities of all kinds, and a buddhi which is ‘sthitaprajña’: the Buddhi which is stable, concentrated, ekāgra.

Yoga is that intelligence, which is concentrated. Buddhiyoga means: when you can concentrate Buddhi on a pure discrimination: you make your Buddhi, which is normally flickering, but which is capable of steadiness, (this is the speciality of buddhi) buddhi also can flicker and does flicker, but by yoga, that is to say by taking buddhi from the ‘mobile movement’, you make it ‘stable’.

If you light a flame and if there is air and wind, the lamp will constantly go on flickering; but if you remove all the air, and all the disturbing movement of wind, then the flame will automatically be steady, and the light will be perfect within limits but the light will be perfect, because of the steadiness of the flame.

This is the possibility with regard to the buddhi. indriya(s): this is very difficult to make them steady; manas is also very difficult to make it steady; the one element in us which is easier to deal with, in making it steady, is buddhi. That is why you start with Buddhiyoga and by Buddhiyoga you make your intelligence absolutely steady. When the intelligence is steady, then there is luminosity, in that luminosity you will see everything as it is.

This ‘seeing-as-it-is’, is very important; normally we do not see things as they are. We see things as if we are spectacled: if we have blue spectacles right from our birth, attached to our eyes, we shall never know what is whiteness, what is redness; because blue eyes will always be there, and we will see everything blue. Normally you may say that every human being is born with some kind of spectacles already fixed. That is why it is necessary to take off those spectacles, and see things as they are. And the best way of doing it is: to make the intelligence absolutely stable. Let it not flicker, and when it does not flicker, there will be immediate discrimination; as soon as you see the light everything will be clear. What is stable and what is mutable immediately you will be able to make a distinction. Similarly, as soon as the intellect is stabilised, the first thing you will see is that there is ‘mutability’, and there is ‘immutability’. This is the distinction that we will see when the intellect is completely steadied. It may take time, but if it is done, then this is the consequence you will get, you will realise the ‘immutability’. And, by realising the immutability, you will become free from mutability. Knowing the two conditions simultaneously, and knowing the distinction between the two, you will be able to withdraw from mutability and go to immutability. And that is the ‘moksha’; the moment you can come out of mutability and enter into immutability, you are liberated from mutability, you are no more, unsteady. That is one way.

Sri Krishna says, “the same buddhiyoga, you apply to action”, and this is such a method, that even while doing action, you will feel free. It is thatyoga, which Sri Krishna is expounding to us; while doing action, you still remain free from action. How to do that? First proposition He makes is, that ‘you realise that in the field of action, there are two parts: there is the ‘will’, and there is a seeking for the ‘fruit of will’”. Or you might say there are three things: there is a will; there is an action; and action, which is meant to bring about a certain result. In this process, as far as result is concerned, our tendency is not only to ‘produce’ a result, but our attitude is to ‘enjoy’ the result. In fact, we are doing action for the enjoyment of a result. There is a subtle distinction between ‘will’, ‘action’, ‘result’, and ‘desire to enjoy the result’. In this respect, Sri Krishna says, “first of all make a distinction between ‘action’ and the ‘result’ and see that on ‘result’, you have no right”. As far as your decision to act is concerned, it is done in your mind, so, let us say, you have a right to action; but once the action is thrown into the field, that over the result you have no right at all, it happens automatically, whatever happens you cannot determine afterwards. This is the first result of Buddhiyoga: you know the distinction between action, and result, and how the result is beyond you.

Knowing this, you become free from the clutches, from the results of the fruits of action. And then you arrive at a ‘samatvaṁ’; the arrival a of samatvaṁ itself can be called ‘Yoga’. Just as Yoga is a concentration, and which leads you to the ‘steadiness of the flame’, similarly samatvaṁ leads to the ‘steadiness of action’. Your activity, normally which is flickering all the time, now becomes steady. Your action becomes strong, powerful, because now there is no wavering in the action; we are not troubled by clinging to the desires, and to the fruits of action: that action is karmayoga, an action, which is ‘action’, not an unsteady action. And action, which is action: to arrive to a stage when you can really act, without unsteadiness; that is karmayoga. This is the first definition of karmayoga you get here.

Question: Action done with buddhiyoga and a steady mind is not most of the time successful?

Answer: Yes, of course. But, the point is: remember, Sri Krishna does not say, ‘that you should not act’, He only says, “do not cling to the enjoyment of the fruits of action”. In fact, the secret of every effective action is karmayoga. You cannot effectively act if you are not doing karmayoga.

Question: And, another thing, as you said, ‘to resort to buddhiyoga that is the outcome of a certain development?

Answer: That is right.

Question: That will be done by evolution only?

Answer: That is right. You cannot give this advice to one who is not already on the level where he can make a transition from rajas to sattwa, or who is already in sattwa. This advice, Sri Krishna gives to Arjuna because Arjuna is already sattwic. That is why this advice is given to him.

Question: The recoil was sattwic?

Answer: True! Because sattwa is never free from rajas and tamas, but he was predominantly sattwic. That is why this whole question arises because he is in search of dharma: he is asking: ‘what is right? What is wrong?’ Only a sattwic mind asks this question! rajasic mind does not ask this question! Tamasic mind does not ask this question! His recoil was tamasic, but his question is not tamasic.

Question: But does that not mean that Gita is relevant only to a certain extent of the intellectually developed?

Answer: You know, your question is so important, because we often say that Gita is relevant to our times, and is relevant to the people of the world, and it is true that since this whole teaching is addressed to Arjuna who was a master man, who was a representative of humanity at that time, he was Vibhuti, he was Sattwic; therefore this kind of teaching is relevant to him. How can we say it is relevant to everybody? And yet towards the end of the Bhagavad Gita, when you come to the close of the Gita, Sri Krishna says, “What is true to one man can be true to the whole of humanity, provided that some body ‘really’ wants”. That is the only condition toward the end which is left out: that anybody…say even if a man is very wicked, and evil, if he turns resolutely, then he will be liberated and uplifted; therefore it is…although it is given to Arjuna, who is sattwic in his mentality, and therefore we might say it is relevant to sattwic people in the world, and you cannot teach everybody, but Sri Krishna towards the end says that, “even if a man is wicked, even if he is mūḍha, but if he turns resolutely, then this teaching will be relevant to him”, because then he will be uplifted. And in that sense therefore, you might say that the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita is relevant to anybody who ask the question sincerely: everybody in the world therefore, anybody who sincerely want, whatever his present situation, whatever he has done in the past, if today he says, “I really want a true solution”, then this teaching will be relevant.

When your action becomes steady then it is real action, and no more reaction, no more inaction, no more partial action, but a real action, that is steadiness of action, it becomes real Karmayoga. When Buddhiyoga was really buddhiyoga, when buddhi becomes steady, similarly action becomes steady. But this action becomes steady by what power?

By what power that action becomes steady? — By the power of Buddhiyoga. If intelligence does not become steady, Karma will not become steady. This is the relationship between the two. If you want to make your action steady, the condition will be that your intelligence must be steady. That is why He says that karma is inferior to the yoga of intelligence: that is the condition. Mere action by itself will never lead you to liberation from action, ‘mere action’. We are all doing action all the time; it does not mean that we are all the time getting liberated. You can become liberated while doing action, only when first you become steady in your intelligence. This is the relationship between intelligence and action.

Why is this relationship? Basically if you go still beyond all this propositions, you realise that ultimate Reality is Satchitananda. We have taken this subject at length; ultimate Reality is Satchitananda. If you examine the whole world, which is in movement, you see behind it, a pure Stable. The pure Stable is the Pure Existent. The pure Existent is Immutable, but He is not only immutable. He is not only Sat; He is also Chit; and Chit has two aspects: Consciousness and Force. The logic is: Sat first, Chit second, Force third. Action is force. Force depends upon Chit; Chit is consciousness of which buddhi is a fundamental characteristic power at a certain level. Buddhi is not the highest power from the point of view of consciousness. Beyond buddhi also there are many other powers, but in our complex buddhi is the highest power, nearest to consciousness. Buddhi, which represents Chit, is higher than action or force; and higher than Chit, is Sat, is the Immutable.

‘This’ being the ultimate structure of the world, the powers also have got their interrelationship accordingly. If you are already stabilised, absolutely stable, then you do not even need Chit and force; because that is the most primary thing, basic thing. But, being settled in the pure state of ‘Being’, you are capable of ‘Conscious-Force’: so, you might say that Conscious-Force is your instrument, you are the master. Wherever there is Sat, it is the master; that is the relationship; the relationship between Sat and Chit is, that Chit is one with Sat; Sat is one with Chit, and yet Sat is more than the Chit. This is the special kind of relationship that exists between Sat and Chit. Sat is the most fundamental; essence is most fundamental. Whatever manifests the essence is subordinate; it comes out of the Sat, — of the essence. Therefore, manifestation is always subordinate to the Stable. If the sstability goes away even the movement will ultimately fritter away. It is only on the basis of inexhaustible, unmovable, absolute self-existence that all movements can have as a basis. Movement is always dependent upon the Sat; Sat does not depend upon the movement.

Similarly, Chit has two aspects: Consciousness and Force. Consciousness is more primary, in relation to the force: Shakti; that is why we use the word Chit-Shakti. Chit is primary; Shakti is secondary. Chit can exist without force; but force can never exist without the Chit. Therefore action is always inferior to Chit. And this is what Sri Krishna says that, “Action is inferior to Knowledge”. But therefore, it does not follow therefore, that action is nothing: although it is inferior it does not mean that it is nothing and therefore to be thrown away. In the totality of reality, all elements are needed: Sat is needed, Chit is needed, action is needed, Ananda is needed. When you combine Sat and Chit, the union of the two is ananda. Therefore all movement, all creativity arises out of ananda.

You find therefore, the Reality is one, but it is triple; the Reality is one, but it is Sat, Chit, and Ananda. It is because of this, that we have got so many faculties, and these faculties relate themselves primarily to Sat, or to Chit, or to Ananda. And then, their inter-relationships are established on the basis of the original, the primary Sat, Chit and Ananda. The powers of Ananda are all subordinate to the powers of Chit and Sat. But also, Ananda is always a culmination; it is dependent, but ultimately all of them culminate in Ananda. This is the special privilege of Ananda. Ananda is always a culmination, is a crown. When you do all your actions perfectly, when you really become “be”, then there is prasāda, there is a complete happiness and complete deliverance, śāntiṁ, sukham, prasādam. This is the condition that you arrive at, when you completely “be” and completely “act”, when you are completely steadied, when you are yoga yukta, when you become completely engaged in Yoga, then this is the result, Ananda is the culmination.

This question Sri Krishna will answer in the 3rd chapter. But at the moment He simply makes a statement which bombards Arjuna for the time being.

dūreṇa hy avaraṁ karma buddhiyogād dhanañjaya |
buddhau śaraṇam anviccha kṛpaṇāḥ phalahetavaḥ ||2.49||

“O Conqueror of Wealth! Karma is far inferior to the practice of Buddhiyoga, therefore, seeking refuge in the intellect perform selfless actions, because those who want to enjoy the fruits of actions are kṛpaṇāḥ, are pitiable”.

Sri Krishna does not stop here to expound why Karma is inferior to Knowledge, but He continues, because His main purpose here, is to emphasise ‘how while doing action you can be free’. And the one important thing is that you cannot be free unless you regard karma to be inferior to knowledge, and unless you do Buddhiyoga, and you make your buddhi steady, then your karma will become steady. So, He says:

buddhiyukto jahātīha ubhe sukṛtaduṣkṛte |
tasmād yogāya yujyasva yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam ||2.50||

He says:you become united with buddhi and when you do that you will be able to give up the distinction between sukṛta and duṣkṛta, you will no more be bewildered by what is right action and what is wrong action. Therefore, unite yourself with Yoga and when you do yoga, your karma will become kauśalam”; and that, efficiency of action, as He rightly pointed out, that when you do real action by yoga, your action becomes most effective. Do not therefore neglect to do work, do not therefore do work negligently, do not merely to do because of duty ‘I am doing it, I have to be here at 5 o’ clock, then I will go away’: that is only a sense of duty, but it is not kauśalam, it is not proficiency, it is not the complete perfection of action.

Let us delve upon this sentence very importantly because sukṛta-duṣkṛte ubhe jahātīha: “you will be able to abandon the right and the wrong”. This is a very difficult sentence; we have to go back to the question of Arjuna. When Arjuna started his argument, as to why he will not fight, the sting of the argument was: ‘I want to do the right action, I want to avoid the wrong action, and I find that if I fight it will be wrong action, therefore not fighting is for me the right action’: that was his conclusion. If you take the whole argument, the totality of the argument is only this: ‘if I fight, there will be a lot of evils, which will be produced; I want to avoid all the evil, I want to do the right thing, therefore I will not fight; that is the right action’.

Sri Krishna delves upon it and says: “you are distinguishing between the right action and the wrong action, but I am giving you the key by which even this question will not arise; you are troubled because you want to decide what is right, what is wrong! But I will give you the key by which, this question will not arise, jahātī; you will be able to abandon both the questions, what is right and what is wrong; if you do this, buddhi-yukto, if you really become completely concentrated in your buddhi, and if you do the action perfectly well, then you will go beyond the question of what is right and what is wrong; what is good action, what is evil action”.

And this is true for everybody, just apply this: make your mind completely steady, you arrive at a samatvaṁ; you say: ‘whatever the result, I will be able to bear it, whatever the result, I am doing this action, whatever the result I will bear it’, but you do your action fully well, perfectly well; if you do it, then the action that you will do, will be independent of right and wrong. You are not doing a right action, you are not doing a wrong action, it will be “the action” which will be able to avoid the distinction between the right and the wrong: it is “the action”.

This is true of everybody, in any situation; when you have a doubt whether it is right or wrong, and you are very confused, then this is the one alchemy given by Sri Krishna. Take whatever action you are doing, you are not sure if it is right or wrong, but whatever the results of that action, you decide to take them absolutely freely, and you say that you will not be afflicted, same kṛtvā. But do the action perfectly well, without negligence, don’t do merely as a duty, but really do it thoroughly, then you will have no problem of right or wrong.