CHAPTER V

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Introduction

KARMA SANNYASA YOGA OVERVIEW – THE YOGA OF RENUNCIATION OF ACTION I Yogi, Sannyasi, Jnani 1-7 II Their Approach to Action 8-12 III Jnani Defined 13-15 Pathway to Enlightenment 16-21 V Prerequistes to Meditation 22-26 VI Meditation Introduced 27-29 […]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 1 & Verse 2

1. This question of Arjuna’s persists through chapters 3, 4 and now 5. He is not convinced that he should fight the battle and is trying his best to get Krsna to endorse his view that they should both retire to the Himalayas. At a given level there appear to be contradictions. Rise to a higher level and they disappear. You gain clarity. When you understand a thing completely there are no doubts. When there is incomplete understanding confusion arises. Krsna also has been advocating both action as well as renunciation. He concludes chapter 4 by powerfully telling Arjuna to be established in yoga. This adds to Arjuna’s dilemma. He does not understand that renunciation is the effect of right action. One cannot practice renunciation. Arjuna is a rajasika person with many desires gurgling in his system. He has to follow the path of action. Only a person who has offloaded desires and is withdrawn from the world is fit for the path of knowledge.   2. Since Arjuna has not understood the line of reasoning so far he needs adesa instruction, not upadesa advice. So Krsna emphatically says the path of action is better than that of knowledge. However, this is meant only for Arjuna and is not a universal truth. Most people are in spiritual infancy and are full of desires. In the modern world desires are encouraged, promoted and fuelled. In this scenario there are very few people who qualify for knowledge. The few, like Arjuna, [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 3 & Verse 4

3. Who is a sannyasi? Not one who wears ochre robes, lives in an ashram, hermitage, or has retired to the Himalayas. A sannyasi is one who has risen above hatred and desire and is unaffected by the pairs of opposites in the world. You are born with distinct likes and dislikes. While growing you cultivate more loves and hates. Now, as an adult, this bundle of likes and dislikes determines your life. You do things driven by like and you avoid the things you dislike. Through childhood, adolescence and adulthood you merely pick up different sets of likes and dislikes, new toys. There is only lateral movement. No vertical growth. Then you hate what you dislike and desire what you like. This creates problems because what you like may not necessarily be what is good for you and vice versa. Besides, you become hopelessly dependent on the world. You can be happy only when the world presents you with what you like. But the world is a mix of pairs of opposites. It can never give you what you like always. Rise above likes and dislikes. Identify your svadharma, core interest. Zero in on your passion, talent, predominant interest. Let the intellect fix an ideal in the area of your svadharma beyond your selfish concerns. Work dedicatedly towards this goal. Then you will be free from desire and hatred, like and dislike. The pairs of opposites of the world will no longer affect you. You will become a [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 5 & Verse 6

5. The end result of both the Path of Action as well as the Path of Knowledge is the same – God Realisation. The only difference is that yogis, active ones, are at the starting point of the path while the sankhyas, contemplative ones, are towards the end of the journey. Yah pasyati sah pasyati – One who sees, sees. One who sees the totality - how we emerged from Brahman, where we are, what is happening in the world, where we are heading etc. sees. When you see the entirety there is total objectivity, no involvement. Such a person understands that vasanas, nature, will function helplessly. There is nothing you can do about it. So it does not make sense to get upset. Just understand. Accept. Enjoy. Do not condemn. You understand a bhogi will indulge in the world and suffer. You see a yogi acting selflessly for self purification, a sannyasi contemplating upon Brahman and a jnani revelling at all times. You neither denounce the bhogi nor get excited about the sannyasi. You merely empathize. The practical approach is to practise both as per your capacity. Keep acting till you reach a high state of development. Then action will cease by itself. You do not give it up.   6. The starting point is yoga, Path of Action. You cannot directly practice sannyasa. The sage established in yoga soon gets to Brahman. When you are well established in Karma Yoga, Path of Action, you automatically become a [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 7 & Verse 8 – 9

7. This verse describes a jnani who is – Yogayukta – established in yoga, union with Self. He has followed the three practices of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga – paths of service, love and knowledge respectively. Vishhuddhatma – Free from vasanas or desires. Through the three spiritual yogas and meditation he has purified himself of the dirt of vasanas. Thus the causal body is gone. Vijitatma – Conquered the self. The subtle body is eliminated. The mind and intellect are under the control of the subtle intellect or conscience. People have no concept of control and are lost in the maze of perception, emotion and thought. They have no goal and are merely flitting from one indulgence to another. Thus they dissipate their energies and are unable to achieve anything – material or spiritual. Vijitendriya – Subdued the senses. He has perfect control over the senses. Has mastery over their enjoyment and is not a slave to them. The gross body is out of the way. Sarvabhutatmabhutatma - Sees the Self as the Self in all beings. This is the test of Perfection. The ability to see oneself in all beings and all beings in oneself. It is otherness that causes all our problems. Change from competitiveness to cooperativeness. From ‘Me’ to ‘We’. Expand your mind to accommodate the whole world. When you identify with the body you experience maximum separateness. Then your world shrinks. You can be happy only when you are catered to. You [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 10 & Verse 11

10. A sannyasi has the mind anchored in Brahman. He dedicates all actions to the goal of Realisation. He is focused on Brahman hence detached from the world. He acts like an actor on stage, never forgetting his true identity. His actions do not result in a backlash of more desires. He functions like a lotus leaf in water. The Sanskrit word for lotus is pankaja which means born in mud. A lotus leaf is born in muddy water, it lives in water and dies in water. Yet it remains untouched by water as it has a greasy surface. We live like blotting paper! Everything affects us. When your attention is on Atman you are totally immune to the changes in the world. If your focus is on a higher ideal you are relatively unaffected by the world. A selfish person with no goal is affected to the maximum and is victimized by the world.   11. Krsna refers to the jnani and sannyasi in the previous verses in the singular, subtly suggesting the rarity of such people. Here he says yogis. Yogis are in the kindergarten of spiritual life and are thus many in number. A yogi is still body-centric hence the verse begins with the word kaya body. The accent is on action. Brahman does not figure in his mind as he is too gross to conceive of the highest Goal. However, he is keen on self development and acts to purify his personality. He fixes an [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 12 & Verse 13

12. A bhogi becomes a yogi by looking beyond the small ‘self’ to a higher ideal. As his focus shifts to the goal he becomes disinterested in the fruit of action. When a tennis player is dedicated to the game of tennis he is no longer interested in the result of every match. A yogi moves through several limited, worldly goals. When he achieves one ideal his attention shifts to a higher one. Thus he moves to the final goal of Realisation. A sannyasi has only one goal – that of the transcendental Reality. The jnani has become the Goal. The ayukta, disunited one, the bhogi, is bound by desire and attachment. Desire causes inefficiency and failure. Desire makes you unhappy. And desire prevents you from achieving the goal. As long as the desire is not fulfilled your mind will be agitated. The yukta, united one, is either a yogi or sannyasi. He is focused on the goal of Realisation. He drops anxiety for the fruit as well as the desire for it. Hence he is not bound.   13. Verses 13, 14 and 15 define a jnani. Having renounced all actions by the mind – Renunciation is mental, not physical. You do not give up actions. You continue acting, dropping desire and attachment that obstruct perfect action. Renunciation is not giving up something you value. It is the understanding of something that is of greater value. Renunciation is the effect. The cause is Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 14 & Verse 15

14. Na kartrtvam - Atman has no doership. It is like petrol in a car. As you develop spiritually you lose the sense of doership which is a form of ego. Na karmani – Atman does not act. Actions are caused by vasanas. Na karma phala samyogam – Atman has nothing to do with the fruit of action. It has nothing to do with the quality of action or the result of action. Just as petrol has no motive, nowhere to go, nothing to achieve. Svabhavastu pravartate – Nature manifests itself. Just separate the person from the qualities. The qualities may be good or bad. The person is Divine. It is the covering, the encrustation that is flawed. It is like a wonderful person who has walked in a storm and is covered with dust and dirt. Krsna has selected words brilliantly to convey the progression in an individual. Verse 13 says ‘dehi’. The person is still living but is Realised. Verse 14 says ‘Prabhu’ to mean Atman with reference to the individual. Verse 15 says ‘Vibhu’ to denote Brahman everywhere. The individual merges with the totality, like a river entering the ocean. You become the all-pervading Reality.   15. Brahman has no connection with papa sin or punya virtue. They belong to matter. A screen in a movie theatre is not affected by either tragedy or comedy projected on it. A mother does not reject her son because he has returned from a football match dirty! Disregard the [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 16 & Verse 17

16. Verses 16 to 21 deal with the pathway to Enlightenment. Na karmani – Atman does not act. Actions are caused by vasanas. The sequence of thought is: Verse 16 – Stages to Truth Verse 17 – That State with reference to the past. Vasanas are destroyed. Verse 18 – With reference to the present the Realised One has equal vision. Verse 19 – The Enlightened One has no more birth. Verse 20 – Realisation with reference to external and internal conditions. Verse 21 – The final state of God Realisation. Long before the sun rises darkness vanishes. This is why dawn, Aruna, is portrayed as the sun’s charioteer. In the same way all doubt, sorrow and misery go long before Realisation. Then the sun follows by itself. Atman reveals Itself after ignorance is destroyed by knowledge. Most people just want respite from agitation and suffering. They may not be interested in getting to Godhood. Far less effort is required to overcome the challenges of life and be in a happy zone. Then the confusion, doubt and indecision go. You gain strength and clarity. You become confident. You are able to handle the problems of life. You are at peace with yourself. In this peace you gain knowledge of Self. The two ailments we suffer from are vikshepa agitation and avarana shrouding of Atman. Vikshepa goes first and then you overcome avarana.   17. Realisation is described as the state of non-return. This is true even in the worldly [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 18 & Verse 19

18. Pandita literally means one who has knowledge of Self. In the present the Pandita has equal vision towards: - A Brahmana, highly sattvika person endowed with knowledge and humility. A person of refinement, an extraordinary human being. - A Svapaka, predominantly tamasika person steeped in ignorance. - A cow, dog and elephant. In the animal kingdom the cow seems to represent sattva, the dog rajas and elephant tamas. In short the wise person has equal vision towards all. His focus is on Atman and he understands that the differences are because of gunas. He sees the wide spectrum of beings but understands the one Spirit behind the variations. He is unaffected by the manifestation of gunas. An unwise person imposes uniformity and creates differences. He is affected by the gunas. He is happy with gunas that suit him and unhappy with those that do not cater to him. So it is selfishness that is the root cause of affectation and sorrow. Cultivate the unifying vision of oneness by looking beyond the qualities and traits to the person. Understand that everyone is a helpless victim of his/her gunas.   19. With reference to the future the wise one has no birth. Birth, sarga, is caused by the fuel of vasanas. You move from one experience to the other driven by vasana, desire. You are helplessly catapulted through the cycle of birth and death by your own vasanas. Birth causes bondage, sorrow and suffering. You are crushed by the changing [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 20 & Verse 21

20. In verses 20 to 29 Krsna speaks of renunciation which precedes meditation and Realisation. The first step is to be neutral to the pleasant and unpleasant. Steady and unaffected through the pairs of opposites. This is achieved by growing to a higher realm. When a man plays chess with his nephew it does not matter whether he wins or loses. His happiness rests on other factors. The child is greatly affected. An actor is unmoved by fortune or misfortune in the play because he gets his fee either way! Once you wake up you are untouched by tragedy or comedy in the dream. Similarly, a wise person maintains an unaffected poise through physical, emotional and intellectual fluctuations as his attention is on Brahman. Sthirabuddhi – steady intellect. Single-pointed focus. We have the intellect on various things and get distracted. Only when you are focussed on Brahman are you steady, fulfilled and happy. On Enlightenment Buddha said he had achieved what had to be achieved and was fulfilled – krtakrtya and krtartha. Asammudha – Undeluded. We are deluded and believe happiness can be obtained from the world. The wise one is convinced that it lies within and is seeking it. He knows the real worth of the world and all that it has to offer is zero. Then you become Brahmavit, knower of Brahman, and are established in Brahman.   21. There are three types of joy – vishayananda or sense enjoyment, bhajananda or emotional and intellectual thrills, and [...]

Bhagavad Gita Chapter V – Verse 22 & Verse 23

22. In verses 22 to 26 Krsna gives the prerequisites to meditation. Sense enjoyments give pleasure in the beginning but sorrow in the end. They are rajasika happiness. They are described here as ‘wombs of sorrow’. They continuously give pain and misery because: 1. They are unending. Fulfil one desire and more come up. None satisfy completely, leaving you cheated and frustrated. Unfulfilled desires give mental agitation and stress. 2. Every successive contact yields less pleasure until you reach a state of no joy at all. The contact no longer gives satisfaction but when you are denied the contact you get pain. This is called neutralization. 3. Sense contact has a beginning and an end. It is temporary, ephemeral, passing. The wise one does not depend on them. He experiences them, enjoys them but does not indulge in them. He understands their limitations. Bhoga indulgence and sukha happiness do not go together. It is yoga spiritual practice that enables sense enjoyment. Only a spiritual person enjoys.   23. You have desires for sense enjoyment. What is to be done with them? If you indulge in them you get neutralized and suffer. If you abstain from them you get frustrated and suffer. The first step is to bring your intellect in place. Scan your desires through the intellect. Let the intellect decide which desires to fulfil, how and when to fulfil them and which desires to shelve. Discipline, refine and regulate your mind with the intellect. Then desire which is [...]

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