International Forum for NeoVedantins

Gita for the Beginners: Part 4
Chapter Two Concluded

Then comes the most famous and oft-quoted verse:

"Arjuna, your right is to work only, but never to the fruit thereof. Let not the fruit of action be your object (aim), nor let your attachment lead to inaction." 2/47
Further the Lord adds, "Arjuna, perform your duties dwelling in Yoga, relinquishing attachment, and indifferent to success and failure; equanimity is called Yoga." 2/48.

Hearing the words like Yoga, Yogi, equanimity etc. Arjuna now puts a very relevant question to Sri Krishna. He asks: "Krishna, what is the mark of a God-realized soul, stable of mind, and established in samadhi - perfect tranquility of mind? How does such a person of stable mind (stoic, sthitaprajna) speak, how does he sit, how does he walk?" 2/54

In short, Arjuna wants to know the characteristics of a Yogi established in highest state of realization. The word used is sthitaprajna - one who is established in firm knowledge. As an answer, now Sri Krishna explains the features of a stoic person of knowledge: "Arjuna, when one thoroughly abandons all cravings of the mind and is satisfied in the self through the joy of Self, then that person is called stable of mind." 2/55

In whom all the hankering after sense pleasure has disappeared, and one who is free from passion, fear, and anger such a person is called stable of mind. One whose mind does not react to good or evil, one who is unattached to the outcome is said to have stable mind. And giving one example the Lord says, "Like a tortoise, which draws in its limbs from all directions, the man of stable mind withdraws his senses from the sense objects." 2/58

Yet the sthitaprajna state is not the supreme state, because although external sense objects cease for him and he does not enjoy with his senses, yet taste or desire for them might persist in his mind. This desire to relish mentally must disappear, and this occurs only when one experiences the Supreme Atman.

Therefore, Lord Krishna warns that just to forcibly break oneself from external sense cravings is not enough; one must control the mind to erase all the desires of sense pleasure as well. The freedom should be in thought, words, and deeds!

"As the waters of different rivers enter the ocean, which though full on all sides remains undisturbed, likewise in whom all enjoyments merge themselves without disturbing his mental state, he attains peace. And not one who externally or internally hankers after such sense enjoyments." 2/70

The senses are very powerful and turbulent by nature, and they forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise man practising self-control. Therefore, by controlling the senses one should sit for meditation devoting his whole mind and heart completely to the Highest Truth.

Thus, in the Upanishad sung by the Lord, the science of Brahman, the scripture on Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna ends the second chapter entitled "Samkhya Yoga" (the Yoga of Knowledge).
It is a question of priority and emphasis on the basis of which the great thinkers saw Advaita Vedanta, Vishishtha Advaita (qualified monism), or Dvaita Vedanta (duality) as the principal teaching of the Gita. Thus, Acharya Shankara propounded the theory of that the Gita teaches nothing but pure Advaita, and the only course left to us to access higher knowledge is renunciation and Jnana. On the other hand, Acharya Ramanuja and Madhva emphasized the path of devotion, and separateness of individual soul - Jiva - and higher Soul Paramatman.

Similarly, although all the four paths are mentioned in the Gita, some emphasize Jnana, while others lay stress on karma or devotion and surrender (bhakti). Modern thinkers like Tilak and Vinobha Bhave saw Karma Yoga as the main teaching of the Gita that surely inspired many people during Indian Independence Movement.

Therefore, it is very important to understand at whose holy feet one learns the teachings of this great scripture. Depending upon inclination and preferences of the Teacher the aspirants may derive differing meanings from the same verses. This does not, however, in any way dampen the spirit of the Gita. It continues to inspire thousands of people and would continue to do so in future as well. It is up to us to come to the level where at least a single verse becomes fully applicable in our life, and we experience the truth therein.
Continued Next Part 5 ...

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