Gita–An antidote for life in Kali

Radhamohan Das
Contd from previous issue
The Gita gives a comprehensive yogasastra : large, flexible and many sided, which includes the soul’s development and ascent to the spiritual world’s abode. Yogas such as jnana-yoga or the way of knowledge, bhakti-yoga or the way of devotion, karma-yoga or the way of action–are the yogas which concern us.
Jnana or wisdom is the means of liberation from the chain of avidya-kama-karma. Ignorance is the spiritual blindness, not intellectual error. We must purify the soul and kindle the spiritual vision. The passion and desire must be suppressed. Our senses must be controlled. Wisdom and ignorance are opposed to a light and darkness. When one grows into the wisdom, he attains the Supreme. The Gita (5.20) says : “One who is firm of understanding or a self-realized person and unbewildered enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.” The pure human individual pursues this ideal of self perfection.
i) The Way of Knowledge (Jnana-marga):
One can get the goal of perfection by means of three different ways – a) by a knowledge of Supreme, b) by love of the Supreme Person and c) by action for the purpose of the Supreme. The knowledge for the intellectual pathway to perfection is different from that to achieve spiritual wisdom. Wisdom is different form scientific knowledge. Scientific or discriminative knowledge prepares us for the higher wisdom. For knowing the truth, we require a conversion of the soul. This is the development of spiritual vision. Arjuna was granted the divine sight to see the truth with his naked eyes. Each of the teaching of knowledge (jnana), love or devotion (bhakti) and action (karma) uses the practice of dhyanayoga or the way of meditation. Patanjali says : “Yoga is the suppression of the activities of the mind”. But, Maitri Upanishad says : “As fire deprived of fuel is extinguished in its own hearth, so whose mental activities are suppressed, knowledge is extinguished in its own seat.”
Gautama, the Buddha, the greatest jnani or seer whose love for humanity led him to his ministry of mankind for forty years, is an example that sympathy and love for the fellow beings is perfect wisdom and it is not as a matter of duty. To know such truth is to lift up our hearts to the Divine Supreme and adore Him. Such a person who knows the truth is also a devotee and he is the one to whom Krishna is very dear. (Bg 7.17)
Lord Krishna, the teacher is the Yogesvara Who helps us in our life to save ourselves. When the human soul becomes enlightened and united with the Supreme, fortune and victory, welfare and morality are assured. In the opinion of Plato, “There would be no good government in the world until philosophers become kings”. He meant that human perfection is a sort of marriage between high thought and just action. So, according to the Gita, it is the aim for man.
ii) The Way of Devotion (Bhakti-marga) : Bhakti is derived from the root, bhaj, to serve, and means service to the Lord. Narada defines it as intense love for God. According to Bhoja in Yoga-Sutra, it is “the love in which, without seeking results, such as sense enjoyment, etc., all works are dedicated to Krishna, Who is the teacher of teachers.”
Chaitanya says, “I desire not, O Lord, wealth or retinue or a beautiful woman or poetic genius. I pray for spontaneous devotion to the Supreme in every birth of mine.” (Sikshastaka 4) The Bhagavata describes the nine stages of bhakti –Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam padasevanam arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atmanivedanam (SB 7.5.23)
In Narada Sutra : “I abide not in heaven nor in the hearts of yogis; I dwell where My devotees sing My glory.”
When our understanding is enlightened, we perceive that duality is conceived so that there must be worship. Worship is a hundred times greater than liberation (Narada Sutra).
In the Gita, bhakti does not involve any reference to yoga technique or longing for speculative knowledge of the Supreme Divine. In bhakti, the devotee has a sense of utter humanity. He feels that he is nothing. God loves meekness, the utter prostration of the self.
We find bhakti more in women than in men. Love, devotion, mercy and tenderness are found in women. Bhakti emphasizes humanity, obedience, readiness to serve, compassion and gentle love, surrendering, renouncing self-will and experiencing passivity.
In the Bhagavata, it is said that “The young unmarried girls of Gokula observed the vow of worshipping goddess Katyayani by eating only unspiced Khitchri for the first entire month of the winter season to get for them Krishna as their husband.” (SB 10.22.1)
They only want to love and be loved. Here, Radha typifies the loving soul. Bhakti is the soul’s detachment from the world and attachment to God. In bhakti, there is completeness of the surrender rather than in the intensity of the bhakti discipline. One must be emptied of himself, then God takes possession of him. The obstacles to God-possession are our virtues, pride, knowledge, subtle demands, unconscious assumptions and prejudices. After our emptiness of all desires, we should wait in trust on the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Faith is the basis of bhakti. But, Krishna says in the Gita (9.23) : “Those who are devotees of other lower gods and worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way.”
Bhakti leads to wisdom. The indwelling Lord in the soul imparts His grace the light of wisdom to the devotee who is intimately united with the Supreme. The devotee sees God in himself and himself in God. Prahlada says that “The Supreme end of man is absolute devotion to God and a feeling of His presence everywhere.”(SB 7.7.35)
Bhakti in the Bhagavad-gita is “to believe in God, to love Him, to be devoted to Him, to enter into Him.” Such a devotee has the highest knowledge as well as the best energy of a perfect man.
iii) The Way of Action (Karma-marga):
The purpose of the Gita is to convert Arjuna when he refuses to fight by raising difficulties, putting up a plausible plea for abstention from activity and for retreating from the world.
(To be contd)