The Gita and its Synthesis of Yoga - preface



In his immortal book 'Essays on the Gita’, Sri Aurobindo has explained the fundamental value of the yoga of the Gita and the contribution it can make to the new age of development in the following words:

"We of the coming day stand at the head of a new age of development which must lead to such a new and larger synthesis. We are not called upon to be orthodox Vedantins of any of the three schools or Tantrics or to adhere to one of the theistic religions of the past or to entrench ourselves within the four corners of the teaching of the Gita. That would be to limit ourselves and to attempt to create our spiritual life out of the being, knowledge and nature of others, of the men of the past, instead of building it out of our own being and potentialities. We do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future. A mass of new material is flowing into us; we have not only to assimilate the influences of the great theistic religions of India and of the world and a recovered sense of the meaning of Buddhhism, but to take full account of the potent though limited revelations of modern knowledge and seeking; and, beyond that, the remote and dateless past which seemed to be dead is returning upon us with an effulgence of many luminous secrets long lost to the consciousness of mankind but now breaking out again from behind the veil. All this points to a new, a very rich, a very vast synthesis; a fresh and widely embracing harmonisation of our gains is both an intellectual and a spiritual necessity of the future. But just as the past syntheses have taken those which preceded them for



their starting-point, so also must that of the future, to be on firm ground, proceed from what the great bodies of realised spiritual thought and experience in the past have given. Among them the Gita takes a most important place." (Essays on the Gita Vol. 13, SABCL, p8)

Sri Aurobindo has also summed up the argument of the Gita in the following two paragraphs:

"The argument of the Gita resolves itself into three great steps by which action rises out of the human into the divine plane leaving the bondage of the lower for the liberty of a higher law. First, by the renunciation of desire and the perfect equality works have to be done as a sacrifice by man as the doer, a sacrifice to a deity who is the supreme and only Self though by him not yet realised in his own being. This is the initial step. Secondly, not only the desire of the fruit, but the claim to be the doer of works has to be renounced in the realisation of the Self as the equal, the inactive, the immutable principle and of all works as simply the operation of universal Force, of the Nature-Soul, Prakriti, the unequal, active, mutable power. Lastly, the supreme Self has to be seen as the supreme Purusha governing this Prakriti, of whom the soul in Nature is a partial manifestation, by whom all works are directed, in a perfect transcendence, through Nature. To Him love and adoration and the sacrifice of works have to be offered; the whole being has to be surrendered to Him and the whole consciousness raised up to dwell in this divine consciousness so that the human soul may share in His divine transcendence of Nature and of His works and act in a perfect spiritual liberty.

The first step is Karmayoga, the selfless sacrifice of works, and here the Gita's insistence is on action. The second is Jnanayoga, the self-realisation and knowledge of



the true nature of the self and the world; and here the insistence is on knowledge; but the sacrifice of works continues and the path of Works becomes one with but does not disappear into the path of Knowledge. The last step is Bhaktiyoga, adoration and seeking of the supreme Self as the Divine Being, and here the insistence is on devotion; but the knowledge is not subordinated, only raised, vitalised and fulfilled, and still the sacrifice of works continues; the double path becomes the triune way of knowledge, works and devotion. And the fruit of the sacrifice, the one fruit still placed before the seeker, is attained, union with the divine Being and oneness with the supreme divine Nature." (Essays on the Gita Vol. 13, SABCL, pp 34, 35)

The modern epistemology has come to be confined to the problems of the knowledge of the world as it seems to us, — in all its divided forms and atomistic formulations, and it forbids the seeker to venture into the realm of the knowledge of God and Soul and their relationship with the world. And yet, the contemporary world demands from humanity a vast and unprecedented effort to transcend the barriers of all denials, including denials of materialism as also denials of asceticism and world-negating philosophies and spiritual disciplines. We are in a need of a new epistemology, a new philosophy of a denial of denials and a new synthesis of yoga in which spiritual disciplines of the past can all be reconciled and in which a path is opened up for an actual and living synthesis of Spirit and Matter. It is in the context of this great need that we need to turn to the great synthetic spirit that we find in the Gita and also to the "message of union with Para Prakriti, which is one of the master-concepts of the Gita.

Yoga is both a science and a technology, and yoga is,



therefore, capable of answering the disabling hesitations of scepticism as also the facile comforts of agnosticism, — not only in terms of the affirmative knowledge it can provide but also in terms of the methodologies by which that knowledge can be confirmed and verified. It is important that yoga is studied as a methodised effort, and therefore, we should ask the question as to what are the affirmations of the yogic knowledge aid what have been the methods by which the yogic knowledge can be confirmed, modified and expanded, as we do in respect of every discipline of science.

In this book special effort has been made to show how the knowledge of the Vedas and the Upanishads is confirmed by the processes of yogic methods, and how that knowledge has been expounded in the Gita as also by the discovery of a new method of yoga, —the method of all-embracing self- surrender to the Divine. This method has been expounded in the last chapter of the Gita, and it is significant that it is this method, as applied fully, has been instrumental in the development of the new knowledge that we find in the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and in the development of the new synthesis of yoga, which has come to be called Integral Yoga.

This book does not dwell on philosophical issues, but its interest is in the descriptions of the yogic experiences that we find in the Gita as also in the description of the methods by the application of which the yogic knowledge contained in the Gita can be arrived at and can also be confirmed by process of verification by any seeker who wishes to have the proof, — experiential proof — of the synthesis of yoga that we find in the Gita,

Kireet Joshi


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