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Author Topic: THE SCIENCE Of RELIGION, By : Swami Chinmayanand  (Read 3625 times)

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THE SCIENCE Of RELIGION, By : Swami Chinmayanand
« on: February 19, 2007, 08:20:51 AM »
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  • Why Work At All ?

    In the second chapter though Krishna insisted that action should; Be undertaken, he concluded it with an eloquent picture of the Man-bf-Perfection,. rooted in wisdom.    Naturally  Arjuna opens the III Chapter with<a pertinent question : (111-1) *'0! Janardana! in case according to you, "wisdom" it nobler than "action", why then, O' Kesava, you force me to engage in this horrible action?" In the earlier part of the last chapter emphasis was on "Get up ready to fight" (Tasmaduttishtha Kounteya yudhaya krtanishcayah). While in the   latter part the   Man-of-Wisdom,   rooted   in his  higher Consciousness was extolled as the Perfect Man. Hence this question. To make it more vivid;the Pandava Prince again asks,, (II1-2) "You are perplexing my  understanding with your  conflicting theories... .tell   me  the  one   path by   which I  can attain  the Highest''^     (Shreyohamapnuyam),,      The   Sanskrit   word Shreyas is often translated as   " prosperity "     Though   " prosperity " is the    nearest    English  word for   Shreyas,   it   is   a   mischievous translation     as    the   term     " prosperity ". in    its    connotation cannot stand apart from   a  suggestion of " one's   own   prosperity at ihe expense of others".   In India from the Vedic times to this date we wish for "Shreyae" which means "prosperity an individual enjoys when all around him prosper! when the nation progresses.    Arjuna wants to know which path he should  follow for the total happiness of his generation --- as a result of which, he too may come to enjoy his share of the general welfare: Shreyas.

    Krishna immediately explains why more than one Path is indicated.    As a science of Self-perfection,  Vedanta is to bless all mankind. Men are mainly of two types — (1) the active and dynamic type, and (2) the intellectual and thoughtful type. For the latter is the Path-of-Wisdom, Gyana Yoga, and for the former, is the Path-of-Action, Karma Yoga. (HI-3) "These two paths were imparted by Me, from the beginning, to this world — the Path-of-Know-ledge for the meditative type and the Path-of-Action for the active type of men".

    Any immature student of Vedanta can easily misunderstand it as a Path-of-Actionlessness --- of inertia, of stupor, of idleness. The State-of-Actionlessness (Naishkarmyam) glorified in our scriptures is not a state of ineffectual slumber, an escape into the caves, a life of passive incompetence within the high walls of a rich monastry. When a science borrows words from the world, it employs them to express a fresh connotation, a new meaning, an unexpected truth. They are technical terms, and such terms employed in any science, we know, have a special wealth of meaning.

    We have already found that when there are Vasanas, there are "thoughts" in the mind, and they express at the body-level, in the world around, as "actions''. If the Vasanas are bad, 'thoughts" are ignoble, and our "actions" criminal. If Vasanas are less, we can have only less "thoughts”, and so less "actions". Therefore, when in an individual Vasanas are all totally eliminated, then "thoughts" are no more — and therefore no more any desire-prom¬pted, anxiety whipped selfish "actions". This State-of-Actionless ness -.- because of a State-of-Thoughtlessness --- due to the State-of-Vasanalessness — is defined as the State-of-Pure-Awareness : the Infinite Reality.

    This Supreme-State of Peace-and-Perfection is indicated in the Vedas either as the State-of-no-Vasanas, or as the State of no actions. Early students of Vedanta may misunderstand that "a dull State of impotent actionlessness is .the State of Realization". So Krishna pointedly says : (HI-4) 'By non-performance of actions none can reach "Actionlessness". By merely giving up action no one can ever attain Perfection".
    Krishna says "Actionlessness" cannot be reached by "not undertaking any activity"; nor by "giving up the work already undertaken". Arjuna is escaping behind the Upanishadic term Naishkarmyam and is trying to give up the battle, and escape from taking any more responsibility. This is the treacherous way of all escapists.

    Then why should we act and get involved in the meaning¬less, painful, sweating problems round us? Why act at all, if "Actionlessness" be the highest State-of-Perfection?

    Krishna explains : (I1I-5J "Nobody can ever remain, even for an instant, without performing action; all are compelled to act, helplessly indeed, by the Gunas, born of one's own nature".

    The meaning of the verse seems to be obvious and clear. But it is only on its analysis that we uncover a compelling truth lived all along by everyone of us every hour, all through our lives!

    Why should we work? Why serve the society? Why undertake great endeavours for the glory of the nation, for the amelioration of human sufferings? Why struggle at all? Let us sit down protesting against the ugliness of life, against the injustices in life, against the exigencies of nature. "Sit-in" --"Go-slow", "Strike", —"retire", "resign", "lie-in", "run-away", "desert-duty", "dropout" — these constitute our modern world's thoughtless means of reaching profitless peace. They think they have "revolted" against the "establishment" .. they have done their best, the very best.

    Alas! They know not the inescapable law of life, that the Creator has not made life to be stagnant. "None can ever remain, even for an instant, without action" (Na hi kashchit kshanamapi jatu tishthatyakarmakrt). "Nature will goad him, helplessly indeed, to act" (Karyate hyavaahah karma). "Everyone acts according to his own nature" (Sarvah prakrtijairgunaih).

    The quality of actions stemming forth from an individual is ordered by the  type of  Vasanas in him. The Vasan as are of three main types : Satwic,   Rajasic and   Tamasic.    These Pure, Active, and Dull-types are the Gunas, born out of the matter-vestures (Prakrti) in us. Born of Prakriti (Prakrtijaih) are the Gunas.
    Thus in any situation even though we may choose not to act, we will be compelled to act according to our own inherent Vasanas. The "strike" or "protest", in whatever form it may express, cannot remain passive; Ultimately it has to express itself in a tra¬gic agressiveness. The mode of its expression depends upon the quality of Vasanas behind us at that time.

    Life is ever active and positive. Life is never passive and negative. Dynamic expressions in action is "life". When all actions have ended the organism is "dead''; while living no organism can ever remain, even for an instant, without activity. (Na hi kashchit kshanamapi jatu tishthatyakarmakrt). Work without, expresses the life within, in every living organism. All work outside, and activities of thoughts within are ended when the organi¬sm is dead. To escape work is to escape "life" and run into "death" : it is suicidal.

    Face life and its upheavals around you. Be active and tirelessly dynamic. Each exertion undertaken is a shooting spark of •life' from the well of existence in you. Fearlessly work. With a clear vision plan and selflessly execute it. Fear not sweat : hesitate not to face disappointments. Live life, so long as you are alive. Grow through work — evolve in work --- expand while striving — make your own life thus rich and sweet. You can! You must!!

    (Courtesy : Geeta Office, Powai)
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