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Author Topic: THE SCIENCE OF RELIGION  (Read 20651 times)

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Offline JR

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« on: April 04, 2007, 09:50:59 AM »
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  • By  Swami Chinmayananda

    In the previous chapter emphasis was on dedicating the personal ego at the altars of a higher understanding and to act selflessly, whatever be the types of problems facing the individual. The constant insistence was, “Arise, O Bharata. Do not yield to circumstances - battle against falsehood with a steady right¬eous mental attitude in yourself.” Thus keep on inspiredly acting under all circumstances, with a dedication of your ego at the alter of the world. Act in the Yagna-spirit. The chapter was entitled, (jnaanakarmasamnyaasayoga)- renunciation of Karma in the knowledge.

    Here the same topic is taken up for a more thorough Investigation and a more exhaustive study. It is very easy for spritual masters to tell us to renounce the ego.  But what exactly consti¬tutes ego?   Where exactly does it come into play?   If thus we can clearly know its identity and its usual fields of activity, per¬haps, we as seekers, may be able to apprehend the ego, capture and destroy it.

    In this chapter, Krishna clearly points out the two main fields in which the ego asserts itself and confuses us in our life’s path.  Ego expresses both in our sense of agency the doer-ship, and in all our sense-of-enjoyment the enjoyer-ship. The sense of ego, the I-do mentality is ever with us.  And in all experiences, good or bad, we have the I-enjoy-sense. Here enjoyment means experiencing.  I am hearing a pleasant song, here I am hearing is the expression of the sense-of-agency, and a pleasant song is the expression of the sense-of enjoyment.  The play of this pair of ideas summarises the autobiography of the ego in us.  If these two false urges are renounced, what is left is the infinite experience of the Pure Self.  In this chapter the technique of ending this ego is discussed, hence the chapter is called, The Way of Renunciation.

    Spiritual terms have a knack of getting clouded behind thick layers of vaporous interpretations, commentaries, notes, etc. which they gather in the passage of time. People come to read new meanings in old terms and soon the terms are found to be loosely employed in new contexts, hearing unexpected loads of fresh meanings.  Arjuna finds the eighteen Geeta discourses a very convenient occasion to clear his doubts and to get at a re-defini¬tion of many such confusing terms.  Krishna elaborately explains them all and there is the charm of spontaneity in every one of Krishna’s crisp definitions and exhaustive explanations. This chapter opens with Arjuna’s demand to know what exactly is meant by renunciation of action (Karmasamnyaasa), and by performance of right action (yoga).

    In explaining these two terms, within the span of some 29 simple verses, Krishna packs an entire philosophy of action, at once selfless, dedicated and inspired.

    The description of the Lord as the mighty actionless centre of the active, dynamic world-of-beings is superb for its sheer poetry. The charm and magic of such verses especially where Arjuna is made to understand the Immaculate Self, Ever Pure, even in the most hardened criminal, soar to impossible heights of breath-taking beauty.

    Throughout this chapter He scattered thumb-nail pictures of an egoless Man of Perfection  his physical behaviour in life, his mental attitudes to life, and his intellectual evaluation of life.  Every aspect of the Man of Perfection is so vividly brought out that any sincere student must feel that he has a nodding acquain¬tance with such men of wisdom.

    Arjuna, a spirited man of action, has no patience with ideal pictures of perfection, however expressive and fascinating they be.  He is characteristically suspicious of impractical idealism, drea¬ming bluffs and Utopian visions. This impatience with ideal dreams is essentially the genius of the Aryan Folk. At every step they demanded, and they have been provided with the detailed instruc¬tions how the vulgar ego and its endless passions can be totally removed from the bosom of the seeker.  The Upanishads are rich in them. The eighteen chapters of the Geeta are strewn with them.  The closing verses of the Vth chapter in Mantra form spell out the essential techniques involved in the art of meditation.

    Running all through chapter V are the main points so far developed and enlarged upon in the previous chapters. The entire Geeta palace is thus built up carefully wherein ideas and thoughts are systematically developed, scientifically explored, logically sta¬ted and poetically expressed.  Thought by thought, the philosophy develops to grow out into an unquestionably perfect way of life.

    No where in the Geeta is there a condemnation of this world or an over emphasis of the other world.  In and through life and life’s actions a path is shown, whereby each of us, doing our duties, and performing our actions, cannot only serve the world around, but get our within purified our insights deepened and our awareness brightened.

    Life when properly lived can round the sharp edges in our character, and thus polished, our personality can come to reflect the rays of the Lord’s own glory.

    Total transmutation of life is the goal kept in view in the Geeta.  Man, when he lives righteously the life of the spirit, shall grow out of his present evolutionary status, into new heights, expressing his own inherent subtle beauties.  Man arrives at his final destination, the animal-man ends, and the God-man arises.

    A Popular    Doubt

       In the previous chapter, Krishna forcefully belaboured to convince his listener that man must strive to renounce, and thus eliminate his ego and egocentric passions from his   heart, when his hands and legs are vigorously employed in actions of  pure service in the world outside.  This Krishna termed as Sannysa,  but earlier there was a call to action a roaring demand to take up the pursuit of Yoga.  “Take  refuge in Yoga, arise O Bharata.”     ( yogamathishtothishta bharata ).  These were the concluding words of the last chapter.

    Naturally, the alert and vigilant intellectual in Arjuna suspects a palpable contradiction in the discourse of Krishna.  The warrior prince knows no hesitation.  He immediately shoots his doubt at Krishna.  The opening verse of this chapter is Arjuna’s doubt.  He asks, (V~l)  “You recommend enunciation of action and again you emphasise its performance.   Of these two which one is the better path; this you tell me decisively.”

    Now we are really confused.  The two paths seem contradic¬tory.  One suggests that all actions must be renounced (Sanyasa and the other exhorts us to actively participate and   get involved in the problems besetting us socially and individually.)

    Here the subtle meaning is lost on  Arjuna.  Krishna rightly feels that his audience may  comprise many like us who would make the same mistake.  Renunciation of the ego in actions is termed as Renunciation of action (karmanam sannysa) and giving up our anxieties for the enjoyment of the fruit of action is called yoga (karmayoga).

    In fact, the state of perfect Awareness of the universal one¬ness can fill the bosom only when both the ego and its passions are eliminated.  These create the I-do mentality (Ahankara), the sense of agency, the vanity of doership (karthrothabhavaj ), and enjoyership (bhoktruthobhava).    These together consitute the psychological block that exiles us from our divinity, culture and obility, that hurls us into an arena of a selfish life of sense ratifications.  The ways of giving up the sense-of doership (karthtrotha-ava) constitutes renunciation of work (karmanamsannyasa) and i.e., ways of dropping the sense of enjoyer-ship forms Yoga (kar-layoga).   So then   renunciation of the ego and service of the world is Sannyasa while to curb the anxiety to enjoy the results of actions and thus serve the world is Yoga.  Once we understand what the Sastras mean by these terms, our doubts should lift readily.  The Pandava Prince pointedly wants to be guided to a single path, either total renunciation Sannyasa, or (complete action ) Yoga.

    As a true teacher Krishna understands the very source of this confusion in Arjuna and takes up the job of clearing it for him.  Announces Krishna, (V-2) “ Both renunciation of action and performance of action lead to freedom, but of these, performance of action is superior to the renunciation of action.  In sannyasa, the renunciation-of-action, we are required to give up our sense of agency the powerful ego-sense, in us.  This is indeed more difficult for a beginner, than Yoga, the performance -of-action, wherein we are only asked to shed our anxiety to enjoy the fruits of action, our sense-of-enjoyer-ship, the irrepres¬sible pursuit of desire fulfilment.  Therefore, Krishna declares, “Of these performance-of-action is superior to renunciation-of-action.” (thayoshtu karmasannyasath karmayogo vishityate ).

    Why does Krishna insist that Sannyasa is so very difficult and why is Yoga so vigorously recommended as the easier of the two paths ?

    The Lord in the following verse intelligenty hints at the subtle difficulty in the pursuit of the path-of-renunciation of the ego by holding up to us the purity and glory of a true Sannyasin. Says the Lord, (V-3) “He is to be known as a constant Sannyasin who neither likes nor dislikes; for, free from the pains of opposites, O mighty-armed, he gets easily freed from bondage.”

    So a Sannyasin is not one who has shaven his head clean; and who wears an ochre-robe. But he is one from whom the ego sense has fled completely.  He has neither likes nor dislikes (yo na dweshtti na kaamkshati).

    Likes and dislikes for the objects of the world arise from our Vasanas.  When we have Vasanas, things which are unconducive to their satisfaction are things we like, and things which are unconducive are things we dislike.  Thus the texture of our Vasanas decide our likes and dislikes.  A smoker likes cigarettes! and a drunkard likes his glass of whisky.    When Vasanas are changed, then likes and dislikes also change.
    He is to be considered as a constant Sannyasin (jneyahl sa nityasammnyaasee ), who has neither likes nor dislikes (yo na dweshti na kaamkshati.) Therefore, a Sannyasin he who has no Vasanas and consequently no likes and dislikes.  Whatever comes to him is welcome.  He neither loves nor hates, for he is no longer functioning in the relative field of the ego.

    Such an individual who has sublimated his ego has risen above the planes of mere intellectual existence.  With our discriminative intellect we judge and classify the world outside as good or bad, beautiful or ugly, joyful or sorrowful.   Our likes and dislikes are maintained and brought  into play by the intellect faithfully dancing to the rhythm set by   the Vasanas in each of us, “O mighty armed soldier, he who is free from the pairs of opposites, is easily set free from bondage, (nirdwando hi mahaabaaho  sukham bandhaat pramucyate).

    Such one lives in a fresh field of awareness.   He is free from the desires of the intellect, thoughts of the mind and the  passions and lust of the flesh.   He is no more a suffering mortal, he soars to the stature of a God-man on earth.

    A seeker in the early days of his Sadhana cannot hope all of a sudden to achieve this egolessness, this Sannyasa.  Hence Krishna insisted that Performance of action is easier than renunciation of action.
    Through selfless dedicated actions undertaken in a devoted Yagna-spirit, the existing Vasanas can be exhausted and thus is achieved the final victory over the ego and its tyrannies.

    Totally selfless, divinely prompted, sheer inspired activities can spring forth only from one in whom the ego is no more bloc¬king the flood of the Infinite Melody.  One through whom it flows in an unimpeded flood is a true Sannyasin.  Sublimation of the ego is the goal, desireless activity without anxiety to enjoy the fruits is the means. 
    Pursue the means and reach the Goal in time.

    (Courtsey: Geeta Office, Powai)
    Dt. 25-1-76

    The Editor, Shri Sai Leela

    I am obliged to Shri R. S. Pujari, for answer to my ques¬tion, as published in English Sai Leela of Nov. 1975 (page 31).  I think there cannot be any other answer.  But who can really know the ways and whys of Saints? As is said and rightly too, To know a Saint, one must be a Saint.

    Sincerely yours
    V. B.  Nandwani
    Bombay, 16
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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