Relationship between Knowledge, Action and Devotion
At the root of the synthesis of the yoga of the Gita is a clear and indispensable relationship that exists between cognition, conation and affection. Knowledge, which is the fruit of cognition is always superior to mere action, since knowledge aims at the discovery of the ultimate foundation of all that is and all that becomes, and the attainment of knowledge is always foundational and nothing that vibrates in cognition, conation and affection can attain to perfection without the attainment of the foundation that can be seized by the processes of knowledge, jñāna. One of the basic truths of the karma yoga is, as Sri Krishna declares, that knowledge is far superior to works, and that all works culminate in knowledge:
“jyāyasī karmaŋ ah buddhih”1
“sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ jñāne parisamāpyate”2
However, since all yoga is an endeavour and a mighty effort, there has to be in the human consciousness that need, that all-conscious imperative need, which provides perennial force of seeking, which is indispensable as a motive force at all stages of development. And this need must have its root not in mere desire, which is required to
1 BG., III.1
2 Ibid., IV.33
be eliminated in due course from the psychological complex of the seeker, or curiosity or quest which can at one stage or the other is satisfied and therefore gets arrested, but in the unveiling of that urge of love which can continue to operate not up to the point of union with the object of love but even after that object is attained, since there is no end of the intensity and permanence that love unabatedly seeks. Indeed, considering the urge of love and its place in the totality of human psychology, that urge is the unfailing and perennially fresh motive force of yoga as also its crown, the sovereignty of which is immortal in its constant flow. This is the reason why in the synthesis of the yoga of the Gita, the motive force of self-surrender and love has been assigned that indispensable place with such an emphasis that the yoga of divine love and the yoga of self-surrender is woven in the synthesis right from the beginning in some degree or the other, but gradually increases and ultimately ends in the crowning achievements of this great, vast and synthetic yoga.
It is true that the first step in the Gita’s yoga is karma yoga, and yet in the first six chapters where karma yoga is particularly worked out in its main stages, the foundations of jnana yoga are also laid down in these chapters, and a preliminary synthesis of karma yoga and jnana yoga is underlined. Even though the yoga of divine love is not distinctly marked out, still in these six chapters, there is sufficient hint that emphasizes not only the discovery of the immobile Self but also of the Lord of works, and even of Him, who even being Impersonal is yet described in terms of Supreme Personality, māṁ,3 to whom one can approach
3 Vide., Ibid., II.61, III.30, IV.10
with love and increasing surrender, culminating in intenser and completer self-surrender. In the next six chapters there is insistence on knowledge, and the states and contents of self-realization, and knowledge of the true nature of the self and the world are described, not only in terms of essence but also in terms of fullness of essential details (jñānam and vijñānam).4 But the sacrifice of the works continues and the path of Works becomes one with but does not disappear into the path of Knowledge. In these six chapters (VII–XII), the yoga of divine love becomes more and more pronounced and the steps of Bhakti yoga are expounded with insistence on devotion, on adoration and seeking of the supreme Self as the Divine Lord. But the emphasis on the path of knowledge and the attainment of knowledge is not subordinated; only it is raised, vitalized and fulfilled; and still, the sacrifice of works continues; the path becomes the triune way of knowledge, works and devotion. The bhakta who is loved most is the bhakta who has true selfknowledge, God-knowledge and world-knowledge and who is engaged in works as an offering to the Master of selfenergising and all-giving sacrifice. That is the path that leads to the state of immortality, the state of union with the divine Being, identity with the Self and oneness with the supreme dynamic divine Nature, and the state of transcendence of the three gunas of lower nature, – the state of triguŋātīta, and the state of sādharmyaṁ.
In the last six chapters (XIII–XVIII), the entire synthesis of yoga of the Gita is reviewed from a special standpoint,” the standpoint of the relationship between Purusha and Prakriti, and the precise relations between the supreme
4 Ibid., VII.2
Purusha (Purushottama),5 the immutable Self (Akshara Purusha),6 and the mobile Self (Kshara Purusha), as also the intimate relations between Purushottama and the higher nature, Para Prakriti, which manifests multiplicity of individual souls (parāprakŗtir jīvabhūtā).7 This standpoint also clarifies the relationship between the Jiva (individual Soul) and lower Prakriti, aparāprakriti, and her Gunas. Finally, these chapters show action of gunas of the lower Prakriti, and how they can be transcended into the state of triguŋātīta or state beyond the three gunas. These chapters delineate the culminating method of the Gita’s integral yoga, which is contained in the real mahāvākya of the Gita: “Become My minded, My lover and adorer, a sacrificer to Me, bow thyself to Me, to Me thou shalt come, this is My pledge and promise to thee, for dear art thou to Me. Abandon all Dharmas and take refuge in Me alone. I will deliver thee from all sin and evil, do not grieve.”8 In other words, the constant and culminating method of the synthesis of this Yoga is to progressively take refuge in the indwelling Lord of all Nature and turn to Him with one’s whole being, – with the life and body and sense and mind and heart and understanding, – with one’s whole dedicated knowledge and will and action, sarvabhāvena, in every way of conscious self and instrumental nature. For all other Dharmas or norms of action are only a preparation for that highest Dharma which is the law of divine nature and divine action, and all processes of Yoga are only a means by which we can come first to some kind of union, and finally, to an
5 Ibid., XV.17
6 Ibid., XV.16
7 Ibid., VII.5
8 Ibid., XVIII.65, 66
integral union with the Master and supreme Soul and Self of our existence and with the Supreme Nature of the Supreme Lord.