Beginning with the Veda or the pre-vedic age, Indian Yoga has continued to live uninterruptedly, and there have been in later periods greater clarities, deeper profundities, subtler precisions, effective specialisations, and even variations and enlargement of objectives and methods. It is true that the highest altitudes arrived at in the Veda and the Upanishads have not been surpassed. But this is as it ought to be. For Yoga is a quest of the highest and permanent Truth or Reality and if they are truly discovered they can only remain perennial. At the same time. Yoga has not been looked upon as a closed book; and hundreds of Yogas have been developed; there have even been conflicts and claims and counter-claims in respect of yogic systems. There have also been, like the synthesis of the Veda and of the Upanishads, new systems of synthesis.
The first synthesis of Yoga, after the age of the Upanishads is to be found in the Bhagawad Gita. Opulent and multi-sided intellectuality burst out as the demands of Reason began to assert themselves at the close of the age of Intuition that marked the Upanishads. This intellectuality is evident in the Mahabharata of which the Gita constitutes an important or even a crucial episode. As a result, the Gita is largely intellectual, ratiocinate, and philosophical in its method. It is, indeed, founded on the Truth discovered by
intuition and spiritual experience, and it is so highly esteemed as to be ranked almost as a thirteenth Upanishad.59
The Gita is a continuation of the basic teaching of the Upanishads, although its Vedantic ideas are throughout coloured by the ideas of the Samkhya and Yoga. It must also be stated that the Samkhya in the Gita is not the system of Samkhya Karika of Ishwara Krishna, and Yoga referred to in the Gita is not the Yoga of the Yoga aphorisms of Patanjali. The traditional Samkhya is atheistic, while the Samkhya of the Gita admits and subtly reconciles the theistic, pantheistic and monistic views of the universe. Similarly, the term "Yoga" in the Gita, even while admitting Rajayoga as a part connotes a large, flexible and many-sided system incorporating Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Action to Patanjali is only a preliminary, in the Gita it is a permanent foundation, and it is a means of the highest ascent and continues even after the complete liberation of the soul. Even the idea of Samadhi in the Gita is quite different from the notion of the Yogic trance found in the system of Patanjali.60 At the same time, all that is essential in the Samkhya and Yoga, such as the theory of Gunas, theory of elements of Prakriti, and the idea of a subjective practice and inner change for the finding of the Self, is admitted by the Gita. The central concern of the Gita is to expound a practical system of yoga that it teaches and it brings in metaphysical ideas only as explanatory of its practical system; nor does it merely declare Vedantic knowledge, but it founds knowledge and devotion upon works, even as it uplifts works to knowledge, their culmination, and informs them with devotion as their very heart and kernel of their spirit.
The greatest significance of the Gita lies in the fact that it proposes a solution to a central typical problem of human
life that presents itself at .a certain critical stage of development. We may say that Arjuna to whom the teaching is addressed is a representative man, and the problem that he faced arose at a certain height of ethical concern in the midst of an actual and symbolic battlefield (Kurukshetra which is also dharmakshetra). He had come to the battlefield motivated by the ideal of a fight for justice. But as he gazed at the armies and looked in the face of the myriads of the champions of unrighteousness whom he had to meet and conquer and slay, the revelation of the meaning of a civil and domestic war came home to him. He was then overcome suddenly by a violent sensational, physical and moral crisis. "What after all," he asked himself in effect, "is this fight for justice when reduced to its practical terms, but just this, a fight for the interests of oneself, one's brothers and one's party for possession and enjoyment and rule?" And he concludes that the entire enterprise was a sin and that there is no right nor justice in mutual slaughter. The question was whether Arjuna should be governed by the ethical sense of personal sin in slaughter or by the consideration equally ethical of his public and social duty, the defence of the Right, the opposition .demanded by conscience from all noble natures to the armed forces of .injustice and oppression. When ethical considerations collide — as they often do — can they be resolved at the ethical level? Or else are we to say that the problem is insoluble?
The Gita's solution is neither to escape from the problem "nor declare it to be insoluble. It asks Arjuna to rise above his "natural being and normal mind, above intellectual and ethical perplexities into another consciousness with another law of being and therefore another standpoint for action. For our problems arise because we do not know the origin of our
action; we relate our action to our desire, our preference, our choice; we are not aware that there is universal Prakriti with its three Gunas, which are at the root of our senses, senses of knowledge and senses of action, and of the ego-sense, even of our intelligent will. To deal with our action we have to deal with Prakriti, the universal Nature, the universal machine of action, on which we are mounted and by which we are determined in our desires and our so-called free choice, prakrtim yanti bhutani, nigrahah kim karisyati.
According to the Gita, there are three preliminary steps that we need to take. First, we must observe the chain of connection between our senses and our intelligent will, so that we may, by means of Buddhi Yoga, the yoga of the Intelligent Will, direct that Will towards the object on which it can become stable, unmoved, fixed, to arrive at the state of sthitaprajna, samadhistha. According to the analysis of the Gita, the mind normally lends itself to the senses; it observes the object of sense with an inner interest; by that attachment comes, by attachment desire, by desire distress, passion and anger when the desire is not satisfied or is thwarted or opposed, and by passion the soul is obscured, the intelligence and will forget to see and be seated in the calm observing soul; there is a fall from the memory of one's true self, and by that lapse the intelligent will is also obscured, even destroyed. For the time being, we become passion, wrath, grief and cease to be self and intelligence and will.6' This must be prevented. All the senses must be brought utterly under control; for only by an absolute control of the senses can the wise and calm intelligence be firmly established in its proper seat.
It is by the act of intelligence and by mental self- discipline, that the first step can be taken. The second
important step is contained in the famous prescription that __ "Thou hast a right to action, but only to action, never to its fruits; let not the fruits of thy works be thy motive, neither let there be in thee any attachment to inactivity".62 This is practicable means of overcoming the knot of desire in which we are entangled. For desire is centrally fixed in the pursuit of attainment of fruits of action; therefore if fruits of action cease to be the motive of action, the knot of desire can be greatly loosened. Indeed, this is not the mahavakya of the Gita, not the last word, for that is still to come much later; but the practice of this step will lead to the perception of the mechanism of the Universal Prakriti and also the glimpse of that which transcends Prakriti. For beyond the Prakriti, there is the immutable Brahman, described in terms reminiscent of the Upanishadic description, luminous, pure, sustaining the world but inactive in it, without sinews of energy, without flaw of duality, without scar of division, unique, identical, free from all appearance of relation and of multiplicity. And there is still a Beyond, higher than the Highest, the Lord of Prakriti, the Purusha, who subsists simultaneously in the inactive Purusha, Akshara Purusha, and active Purusha, Kshara Purusha. He is the Purushottama.63 The third preliminary step is to realise that "Action is far inferior to the Yoga of Intelligence; take, therefore, thy refuge in intelligence."64 This is the prescription that startles Arjuna and Flexes him, since it seems to imply renunciation of 'action. But as Sri Krishna explains, while intelligence is superior to action, action is superior to inaction. Therefore, while seated in intelligence, in Samkhya, one must do actions, be fixed in Yoga. For it is by Yoga of Intelligence these large visions of Prakriti and origin of Prakriti will come to the seeker. And, as a result, the seeker will begin to
consecrate himself to the Divine and to give up his whole self to the Divine. As Sri Krishna states: "He (the seeker) must sit firm in Yoga, wholly given up to Me."65
These three steps prepare the seeker for a more advanced and integral sadhana. "To action alone hast thou the right"— was the first formulation of the categorical imperative. But now comes the second, the higher imperative; it says in effect that one has to realise that even to action one has no right; for the individual is not the doer of action; action is engendered at one end by Prakriti, that too, lower Prakriti, Apara Prakriti, and at the other end by the Supreme, Purushottama, by means of Para Prakriti, higher Prakriti. At the source of everything, lower and higher, is the One Doer, the Supreme, who is both mutable and immutable, the Doer who is also devoid of doing, who is eternally free. Towards this status of knowledge and this status of action the seeker has to move forward.
And what are the means? Works' themselves are the means. That is why it is Karma yoga. But which works? All works. For all works in their totality find their culmination and completeness in knowledge of the Divine, sarvam karmdkhilam partha jnane parisamdpyate.66 There is, however, an important condition. All works are to be performed with sacrifice as the object. Sri Krishna declares, "By doing works other than for sacrifice, the world of men is in bondage to works; for sacrifice practise works, 0 son of Kunti, becoming free from all attachment".67
We have here the reiteration of the Vedic Yoga of Yajna,
not in its ritualistic sense, but in its esoteric sense, which is made explicit in the Gita. The universal energy into which action is poured is the Divine; the consecrated energy of the giving is the Divine; whatever is offered is only some form of the Divine; the giver of the offering is the Divine himself in man; the action, the work, the sacrifice is itself the Divine in movement, in activity; the goal to be reached by sacrifice is the Divine. Says Sri Krishna:
"Brahman is the giving, Brahman is the food-offering, by Brahman it is offered into the Brahman-fire, Brahman is that which is to be attained by Samadhi in Brahman- action."68
Between the individual who offers his works as sacrifice and the Supreme, who is above all action and is the Real Doer and from whom all moves out as His sacrifice, there is a huge gulf and forest of obstacles. All that constitutes the gulf and all obstacles are to be offered as sacrifice in the fire of purification and concentration. As the Gita explains:
"Some offer their senses into the fires of control, others offer the objects of sense and all the actions of the sense and all the actions of the vital force into the fire of the Yoga of self- control kindled by knowledge".69 The offering of the striver after perfection may be material and physical, dravya yajna; or it may be the austerity of his self-discipline and energy of his soul directed to some high aim, tapoyajna, or it may be some form of Yoga like the Pranayama of the Rajayogis or Hathayogis, or any other yoga yajna. All these tend to the 'purification of the being all sacrifice is a way towards the attainment of the highest.
As a result, desire .begins to fall away ego-sense begins to disappear; the hold of gunas begins to loosen; the seeker
gains equality, samatvam, and becomes free from the modes of the Nature, nistraigunya; his soul takes its poise not in the insecurity of Prakriti, but in the peace of the immutable Brahman, even while his actions continue in the movement of Prakriti.
Or, one even begins to gain entry into Para Prakriti, Higher Nature, and becomes a channel, instrument, nimitta matram, of the Supreme Divine. One realises Him as the Sole Doer, and there follow momentous consequences. Here are now the heights, the revelation of the secrets, even .of the Supreme secret, rahasyam uttamam, and the vision of the inter-relationship of individual action, world-action and God-action.
The question that Arjuna had raised can now be answered at this stage. The question: What ought I to do? can be transformed into the question; What is the Supreme Will acting through me? It is only if we know the Supreme Will and if we can give ourselves to that Will, — not because we are compelled, but because of our irresistible attraction born out of our own nature, swabhava, and our own inevitable law of development, swadharma, or by that Supreme Love born out of our own inmost being, soul, jiva, in its inalienable union with the Supreme — then the human problem can be solved, our human life be delivered out of its confusions and crookedness into the clarity and freedom of divine life.
The idea, on which this possibility is founded, is the conception of the individual soul in man as in its eternal essence and its original power a ray of the supreme soul and
Godhead and here a veiled manifestation of him, a being of . his being, a consciousness of his consciousness, a nature of ,his. nature, but in the obscurity of avidya, of this mental and physical existence self-forgetful of its source, its reality, its true character. Hence, there is the double nature of the Soul in manifestation, — the original nature in which it is one with its own true spiritual being, and the derived nature in which it is subject to the confusion of egoism and ignorance. The latter has to be cast away and the spiritual has to be inwardly recovered, fulfilled, made dynamic and active. Through an inner self-fulfilment, the opening of a new status, our birth into a new power, we return to the nature of the spirit and re-become a portion of the Godhead from whom we have descended.
The basis of this self-fulfilment in divine Nature is to be found in "the essential knowledge, attended with all the comprehensive knowledge, by knowing which there shall be no other thing here left to be known."70 As a foundation of this integral knowledge, the Gita makes a deep and momentous distinction between two Natures, the phenomenal and the spiritual Nature:
"The five elements (conditions of material being), mind, reason, ego, this is my eight-fold divided Nature. But know my other Nature different from this, the Supreme, which becomes the Jiva and by which this world is upheld."71
If we study this in conjunction with the doctrine of the three Purushas, we get the basis of the path of Divine Love and also its synthesis with the path of knowledge and path of works.
Says Sri Krishna:
"There are two Purushas in the world, the kshara and
the akshara. Kshara is the totality of all the beings; and That which is above, imperturbably, is called akshara. But there is another and higher Purusha; it is called the Paramatman. It is He, the imperishable Lord, who penetrates the three worlds and supports them. Because I am above the kshara, above the akshara and superior to it, I am glorified in the world and in the Veda under the name of Purshottama."72
The practical effect for the seeker in the battlefield of life is that one has to ascend into the divine nature; one must, as already indicated, first fix oneself in a perfect spiritual equality and rise above the lower nature of the three Gunas. Next, there is also an ineffable eternal multiplicity of the Purushottama, a highest truest truth behind the primal mystery of soul manifestation. The Infinite has an eternal power and unending action of his divine Nature, and in that action the miracle of soul personality emerges from play of apparently impersonal forces, prakritir jivabhuta. This is possible because personality too is a character of the Divine, although this personality is something exalted, universal and transcendent, immortal and divine. That mystery of the supreme Person is the secret of love and devotion.
A new dimension is added to yoga. The spiritual person, the soul in us comes in front, becomes purohita in the sacrifice, to use the Vedic image, and it offers itself and all it has to the eternal Divine, the Supreme Person of whom it is a portion, amsha.73 The completeness of knowledge finds itself in the self-offering, this uplifting of our personal nature by love and adoration; the sacrifice of works receives by it its consummation and perfect sanction. It is, then, through these things that the soul of man fulfils itself, most
completely in this other and dynamic secret, this other great and intimate aspect of the divine nature and possesses by that fulfilment the foundation of immortality, supreme felicity and right law of action.
When, by the union of the yoga of works, knowledge and devotion, the individual rises to the realisation of the triple Purusha and of the divine Prakriti, the seeker is able to act out of a tranquil universality and oneness with all things and creatures. In what Sri Krishna calls his supreme word,74 it is declared that when this yoga is perfected, and when the seeker become fixed in it, avikampena yogena yujyate, he is able to take up whatever poise of nature, assume whatever human condition, do whatever world-action without any fall from his oneness with the divine self, without any loss of his constant communion with the Master of existence. "The sages adore Me with fervour and devotion," says Sri Krishna, "their thought becomes full of Me, their life is melted in Me, and their speech utters only of Me, and their joy is concentrated in all the contentment of the being, all the play and pleasure of the nature."75 There is, Sri Krishna continues, a continual union from moment to moment in the thought and memory, there is an unbroken continuity of the experience of oneness in the spirit. "I uplift the blazing lamp of knowledge in them and destroy the ignorance of the separative mind and will."76 Thus the Eternal is fulfilled in the individual spirit and individual nature; the individual spirit is exalted from birth in time to the infinitudes of the Eternal.
Becoming Brahman, assumption .into the self of eternal silence brahmabhuya, is not final objective, but only the necessary immense base for a greater and more marvellous
divine becoming, madbhava. For that perfection, we have also to act in the power, shakti, Prakriti. Transcending the law of the gunas of the lower Prakriti, we have to enter into inner immobility, we have to discover our jiva, its swabhava swadharma, and the faculties and powers of the divine Prakriti, where the divine Will becomes manifest, not only both in its comprehensive wideness but also in its specificity as it has to work out in each individual. One is bestowed the boon of the vision of the world-spirit, as it was given to Arjuna, one comes to know also the secret of the descent of the Divine Himself in the physical, of the avatara, and one comes to know also the special manifestations of the Divine, vibhuthis. Love gives knowledge, and knowledge ends in love as its crown; knowledge becomes the foundation of a constant living in the Divine; and works end in knowledge; Love is the highest motive of works, and works give us the highest fulfilment in love. In the balanced synthesis of the yoga of the triple path, each is a mean, and each is an end; all are complementary, and all unite in a complex harmony. Works do not bind the doer, that is what the Isha Upanishad had declared. And the Gita reiterates it with an expanded emphasis: "And by doing all actions always lodged in Me, he attains by My grace the eternal and imperishable status."77 In that state, our works proceed straight from the Self and Divine within us, are a part of the indivisible universal action, are initiated and performed not by us but by a vast transcendent shakti. All that we do is done for the sake of the Lord seated in the heart of all, for the Godhead in the individual and for the fulfilment of his will in us, for the sake of the Divine in the world, for the good of all beings, lokasamgraharthaya', for the fulfilment of the world action and the world purpose — for the sake of the Purushottama.
The synthesis of Yoga that the Gita gives us brings out the mystery of our own soul and its relationship with the Supreme, as also the mystery and miracle of the Supreme, purushottama, and His relationship with our soul. As a consequence, a nearest oneness in all the being, profoundly individual in a divine passion even in the midst of universality, even at the top of transcendence is here enjoined on the soul as its way to reach the Highest. The life of the Jiva has to be utterly the life of the Purushottama in him. The individual has to be utterly passive, in every way, sarva bhavena, to the Supreme. The laws of ignorance, of the tamas, rajas, sattwa, of the ego, even the laws of yoga are but crutches on the way; they do not bind that sweetest and freest relationship of the individual and his Lord; all dharmas are to be abandoned; there are no laws, not even of yoga, for there is only yoga, union, complete and integral; that is the true relationship, and once that relationship is accepted, the only imperative is that of the unconditional and categorical surrender to the Supreme. This is the secret of secrets, which Sri Krishna reveals:
"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 al! Dharmas and take refuge in Me alone. I will deliver thee from all sin and evil, do not grieve."78