Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
For a karma- yogi, action is not a mere activity, but a full-fledged sadhana ennobling, elevating and enlightening. When imbued with such a note, action enriches and sublimates the performer. It then equally enriches the society considerably.
Dear and blessed souls:
Harih Om Tat Sat.
When yoga-buddhi adorns the mind
Krishna now goes to the next verse 2.48. He gives a brief but comprehensive definition of karma-yoga, in which yoga-buddhi always adorns the mind of the performer. Krishna wants to make the performer excel as a spiritual seeker and knower, in and through all his acts and activities. For a karma- yogi, action is not a mere activity, but a full-fledged sadhana ennobling, elevating and enlightening. When imbued with such a note, action enriches and sublimates the performer. It then equally enriches the society considerably.
One can thus elevate oneself as an adorable personality, from whom flows eternal spiritual wisdom as enshrined in Vedic Upanishads and the immortal epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Sages Valmiki, Vyasadeva, Shuka Muni, Ashtavakra and Adi Shankara are beacons of this stature. The potential is, however, open to all.
Krishna continues his exhortation to take up all activities, remaining inwardly seated in yoga. What does it mean? Abandon, leave, the delusional clinging (saṅga). What is this saṅga, how to figure out whether one has it, and if yes, how to leave it, becomes the instant query.
To this, Krishna’s response is categorical: “Become equal and even-minded to siddhi and asiddhi, whether the outcome of what you do is desired or otherwise’’. Such samatva, equanimity, Krishna says, is the ultimate spiritual attainment! This is a beautiful orientation the performer brings about in his attitude, while doing all his activities. It acts as an additional inner enrichment, accompanying all performances.
Result ingrained in the effort
Dear souls, reflect on this proposition deeply until the idea, its essence, becomes crystal clear. Every activity is designed to bring a certain outcome. True. Whatever you do in the way of action is an effort, endeavour, to gain a desired fruition. If you walk to reach a place, will not every step you place virtually bring the destination nearer, and before long, will you not reach the destination?
Is not thus the result ingrained in the effort? With every measure of effort, are you not getting the outcome in degrees? Can the outcome be separated from the effort? Should not the focus be in doing what you do with attention, care and precision? Apart from doing what is called for to get at the result, is there anything else to be considered in the context of activity and its proper fruition?
Think of boiling a potful of water. What do you have to do? Fill your pot suitably with water, place it on the oven and light it. Will not the water boil after a time? What other action do you have to do in the process? Simply, make sure that the flame is on. If you have any other minor work to do in between, attend to it carefully, and come back in time to the boiling water-pot. You will find the small work is done, and the water also is boiled.
This is true with every activity. Then why should an intelligent man go on debating upon the fruition of his effort, courting anxiety, agitation, doubt and fear?
Students facing examinations
Think of a student studying in a school. One after the other, the teachers explain different lessons. Let the student attend to their teaching with full interest, also to the prescribed homework. When both are done well, will not the lessons be his mental stock? With timely revision, can he not write the examination with relaxation and steadiness?
A student is asked to write for two and a half hours or so after a year of learning the subject. What is there additional in examination? Is there any scope for worry, tension or unease? Is not examination an opportunity to write what the student has learnt over the year? Mind you, the student is only learning and he writes examination once a year, may be in a lesser period. For the whole year he learns and in the examination hall he writes. Is not this writing a fitting complement to his learning?
Are not both equally effort and activity? Where is the difference? If he has learnt and has written well, he will also fare well. Where is the need for any worry, agitation or crisscross expectations?
For a good student, who has studied and written well, can there be anything other than the desired fruition of passing creditably?
A very good Cost Accountant once told me: “Along with friends, I went and wrote the examination. My preparation was reasonably good. On coming out of the examination hall, we started sharing our performance. Others asked me as to how I had done. My answer was, ‘I cannot say. It can be anything like a mere pass or even a distinction.’ When the results were announced, we found, I had distinction.” What do you say about it?
Excellence is a mental acquisition
For the karma yogi, the sole attention will be to keep the mind even and equipoised. He will be ready either for a plus or minus from any quarter whatsoever. Normally it will be plus, rarely alone a minus. A mind free of anxiety and botheration will enable the intelligence to function well. And the result will be exceedingly good.
Mind is not an insentient rock. It is immensely flexible. It can assimilate any thought, perception or point of view. All that has to be done is to expose it to this yogic attitude of enrichment. Yogic excellence is a mental acquisition, not interfering with your activities, but enriching and empowering them every time. Sadhana is not physical. It is mento-intellectual. Know this well.
Equalness and equipoise of the mind
Krishna concludes the proposition by adding three more words, constituting the fourth quarter of the verse: “samatvam yoga ucyate”. Dear students, be attentive and do not miss the import of these words. Yoga-buddhi, the yoga part while doing karma, consists in installing and preserving samatva – equalness and equipoise in the mind.
It is the qualitative enrichment intelligence imbues into the mind, as Arjuna does on receiving Krishna’s exposure, tuition. It is a mento-intellectual effort as well as outcome. Intelligence gets enlightened by exposure, and mind sublimated. In the whole process, mind and intelligence alone work, not the body and senses.
Let the bodily activity be; let the yogic orientation also be, simultaneously, like the lake and lotus in it. Both complement each other, like night and full moon, making your personality graceful, more resourceful every day.
Tell me now: Is karma-yoga a proposition of losing or gaining? Is not Arjuna’s grief dissolving in its own source? In this process, is there anything to fear or doubt? Is not the whole spiritual tuition, an exposure about the mind, its attitudes; and intelligence, its knowledge-treasure? The entire course is one of addition and enrichment, not subtraction or impoverishment. How great, ennobling and fulfilling is outside and inside alike!
A ladder to ascend
Notice that in the previous verse as well (2.47), Krishna has given four steps, sūtras, aphorisms, each leading to the other. The four together make a whole proposition, formula. What are the four segments? He enlightens Arjuna about (i) Arjuna’s competence and what course fits in with him. Arjuna is fit only to pursue a life of intense activity, not jñāna-niṣṭhā, wholesome wisdom pursuit. (ii) While being active what he should do to make the pursuit yield the grand spiritual fruition. He should leave saṅga, delusional clinging. Activity is not to be restricted or tampered with. Delusional clinging alone has to be dropped. In other words, the mind has to remain untainted, pure and brilliant. Is this not desirable for everyone? (iii) Krishna then emphasized that Arjuna should not be one who takes to work only looking at what result it would fetch. For, that would be very myopic and would breed grave disharmony. (iv) And Krishna said that Arjuna should not prefer to be lazy or idle, finding activity too cumbersome.
Here in this verse, (i) he asks Arjuna to do all activity, but seated in yoga-buddhi. He again defines (ii) the yoga part of karma, namely leaving delusional clinging (saṅga). He follows it (iii) by defining how to drop the saṅga, by making the mind even towards whatever follows as a result! (iv) This inner evenness of the mind is itself the yoga, its pursuit and perfection. See how well the four propositions blend to make a full, whole formula for yogic activity.
The two verses together, in other words, the eight aphorisms in their proper sequence, will be the be all and end all of spiritual sadhana, its fruition and fulfilment.
““Become equal and even-minded to siddhi and asiddhi, whether the outcome of what you do is desired or otherwise’’. Such samatva, equanimity, Krishna says, is the ultimate spiritual attainment! ”
“For the karma yogi, the sole attention will be to keep the mind even and equipoised. He will be ready either for a plus or minus from any quarter whatsoever. ”
“Mind is not an insentient rock. It is immensely flexible. It can assimilate any thought, perception or point of view. All that has to be done is to expose it to this yogic attitude of enrichment. ”
“Activity is not to be restricted or tampered with. Delusional clinging alone has to be dropped. In other words, the mind has to remain untainted, pure and brilliant.”