Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
[Krishna endorses a modus operandi to attain ‘dexterity in action’]
Dear and blessed souls:
Harih Om Tat Sat.
Be not a kṛpaṇa, one with a trifling mind
Krishna hastily warns about the harm that can befall Arjuna if he (Arjuna) does not pursue all his actions seated in yoga. Karma-yoga is immensely noble, rewarding and benevolent. It leads the seeker to fulfilment and also helps the society to flourish. Such being the case, if it is not followed, what would be the grave consequence? Next verse 2.49 answers the question.
Ritualistic and non-yogic actions are degrading, avaram. They are far inferior to buddhi-yoga, meaning karma-yoga. They will only corrupt the performer, leading him to utter downfall. Human life is great, exalted, rare and fulfilling. Having gained such a life, do not try to degrade and destroy it outright.
Therefore, seek refuge under buddhi, samatva-buddhi. Not to do so, says Krishna, will be to become a kṛpaṇa, one with a trifling mind and attitude. Human life is meant to discriminate matters and attain everlasting happiness, freedom and immortality.
Choose the eternal, not the ephemeral
Of all forms of life, the human alone has the potential to strive for the supra-sensory gain, namely Self-knowledge and Self-realization, as described in verse 46. The effort made and time involved for paltry, ephemeral gain as well as lasting spiritual abode is the same. It is done by the same mind and body. Thus the effort is the same, but the gain achieved makes amazing difference.
Does not viveka, therefore, demand that between the short-living and everlasting goals, the discreet mind should choose the everlasting, not the short-living? Is not then one courting inferiority, downfall, if he refuses to accept buddhi-yoga and prefers to stick to the elusive path of desire-based ritualistic and secular actions? Krishna forbids it by all means. Here is a clear exhortation and warning alike!
Krishna defines the benefits and crowning glory of karma-yoga; he equally forewarns the danger of neglecting it and choosing desireful actions, which is degrading in every way. Only when both sides are made clear, the instruction becomes complete and the seeker will be enabled to make the right choice.
Verse 2.50 is even more lucid, confirming and reinforcing. One taking to buddhi-yoga, preserving equanimity towards siddhi and asiddhi while engaged in action is sufficiently integrated. In other words, the buddhi, intelligence, of one given to karma-yoga verily becomes integrated. He becomes a buddhi-yuktaḥ. By dint of the samatva, he preserves and cherishes, he relinquishes at one stroke, both virtue and vice. How lofty is such an attainment!
Normally people aspire to gain sukṛta and avoid duṣkṛta, seek holiness (puṇya) and despise unholiness (pāpa). But here is the karmayogi, the buddhi-yuktah, who not only eschews vice, but also wishes to transcend virtue. When will the mind reach this level of rising above even the attraction for virtue? Only when it has lodged itself in something still loftier, nay the loftiest!
To pursue karma-yoga, to be a buddhi-yuktah, is to live and rejoice in such exaltation. It is like floating in the affluent state, sarvataḥ-samplutodaka-sthāna, engulfed everywhere, as mentioned earlier (2.46). You are living in the world, but by virtue of your yogic vision and pursuit, you are verily sporting in the majestic heights of supreme glory and abundance.
Dexterity in performance
Having said so, Krishna exhorts Arjuna “to devote to yoga, for yoga marks dexterity in performance.” This is a very important assessment, revelation too. Human life implies and calls for an active involvement, effective, beneficial and benevolent in every way. In making activity so, you have to be intelligent and discreet. Yogic orientation will alone enable you to become exceedingly wise and strive wholeheartedly. Spirituality does not imply the least laziness or indifference in any matter. Activity being a corollary of life, it seeks to enrich and empower life the best way – a point that most people fail to take note of. Krishna emphasizes this the most.
Arjuna is now left with no option. He has to get up, well-resolved to continue what he has marched to Kurukshetra for!
By pronouncing that yoga is dexterous activity or dexterity in action, Krishna cuts the very root of the traditional misconception that spirituality means turning away from active life and seeking solitude. What the seeker intends to achieve by his intense austere, contemplational life in forest and isolation can be verily gained during his intense activity in the world, as is Arjuna going to strive for. Yoga is the wonderful art and process by which this seemingly difficult goal is made easy and facile.
Yogic enrichment and empowerment are always to the performer’s mind. By pursuing buddhi-yoga, the mind’s delusion will evaporate, and stability and poise will grace abundantly. The activity which is otherwise disconcerting will now become harmonious, beneficial and benevolent. As is the family an aggregate of individuals, so is the society a collection of families, which, in turn, is constituted by individuals. Activities are thus grounded upon individuals. Individual activity consequently is a direct contribution to the society, its welfare and cohesion.
Society’s welfare any time consists of multiple contributions by countless individuals and families. Being so, the contribution of everyone is equally sublime, important and indispensable. Let none think at all that his or her activity is not significant and decisive. Many a drop makes an ocean. The ocean may be huge, vast and deep, but it is made up of drops. Each drop counts in the huge ocean.
It is such a vital contribution from the individual that is getting yogically embellished and empowered. Thus, the spirit of karma-yoga, no doubt makes the activity superb and its contribution invaluable. The three words Krishna uses, namely, ‘yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam’ are paramount in the very prevalence of creation and its overall purpose.
Karma-yogins conquer the spiritual abode
Krishna further elaborates in verse 2.51 as to how buddhi-yoga accomplishes spiritual liberation for the seeker. Those given to truthful introspection (maneeshinah) have been able to attain the supreme spiritual abode, free from all disturbance and ill-health only by means of buddhi-yoga.
Buddhi-yoga has alone the power and scope to overcome, outlive the binding effects of karma (karma-bandha). Earlier Krishna has said that any action done by the human other than as yajña, has full binding effect. So, the binding nature of all activities is something everyone has to reflect upon assiduously and take to karma-yoga, buddhi-yoga, to safeguard against it.
All such binding effects, results of karma can be over-whelmed by the samatva buddhi-yoga. Krishna points that the very birth of one in the world is a bondage. It continues to torment. As Śrimad Bhāgavatam clearly pronounces, life in the world is bound to cause three-fold misery – ādhyātmika, ādhidaivika and ādhibhoutika. This three-fold torment will be effectively mitigated and reversed by buddhi-yoga. Those dedicated to truthful introspection, having taken to buddhi-yoga redress all bondages, karmic results evoke. Overcoming all bondage, karma-yogins win over the spiritual abode, beyond all afflictions and agony.
True that birth itself in the world brings bondage, which is totally dispensable by the power of buddhi-yoga. Bondage is felt by the mind. It can be eliminated only by the dexterous influence of intelligence. Grief, delusion, fear and doubt are the constituents of bondage. All these are driven away by spiritual wisdom, like darkness by light.
The golden way – yogic enrichment
Mind you, Krishna instructs Arjuna, as desired by Arjuna himself. By these instructions, Arjuna’s distress is getting relieved and he becomes peaceful, contented and stable. See the effectiveness of every word of Krishna, and also of Arjuna’s reception of what he hears with full attunement and trust. Bhagavad Gita dialogue is unparalleled and great in every way.
Krishna’s usage of the word kṛpaṇāḥ (miserly, wretched) is very significant, importful. Remember the very first submission of Arjuna (2.7),- “Krishna, I am overpowered by the evil of kārpaṇya and hence, I am deluded about what I should do.” Kārpaṇya dosha means the defect or vice of narrow-mindedness. Mind is unable to think broadly and comprehensively.
How well Krishna remembers his friend’s appeal and shapes his instruction to respond to it significantly every time. How poignantly does Krishna stress the kārpaṇya, narrow-mindedness, of those whose mind is constantly swayed by crisscross thinking about karmic results. There is a golden way of performing with yogic enrichment all kinds of activity that face one from time to time. This will redress all agitations, doubts and fears of the mind, making all activities sublime and effective to the core.
(to be continued)
“Does not viveka, therefore, demand that between the short-living and everlasting goals, the discreet mind should choose the everlasting, not the short-living?”
“By pronouncing that yoga is dexterous activity or dexterity in action, Krishna cuts the very root of the traditional misconception that spirituality means turning away from active life and seeking solitude.”
“Buddhi-yoga has alone the power and scope to overcome, outlive the binding effects of karma (karma-bandha).”
“Overcoming all bondage, karma-yogins win over the spiritual abode, beyond all afflictions and agony.”