Wise men endowed with the yog of discrimination renounce the fruits arising from their action and are liberated from the bondage of birth and death. They achieve the pure, immortal state of oneness with God. At what point, though, will a man be inclined to the performance of such action/ “Karm” as per Bhagavad Gita?
Teaching of Yogeshwar Krishn is that the very moment Arjun’s mind, indeed the mind of any worshipper, has steered safely across the marsh of attachment, and when it is completely free from yearning for either children or riches or honour, all its worldly ties are broken. It will then be receptive, not only to what is proper for hearing, but also to the idea of renunciation, making it an integral part of its action according to what it has learnt.
When Arjun’s mind, at present riven through and through by the contradictory teachings of the Ved, achieves the state of steady contemplation of God, it will become changeless and constant, and then he will master the skill of even minded discrimination. He will then achieve the perfect equilibrium which is the ultimate state of immortality. This is the crowning point of Yog.
Teaching of Sri Krishn is that no man can ever even for a fraction of a second live without action because the three properties of matter born from nature compel him to act. As long as nature and its properties are, no man can be without action. As per Sri Krishn, all actions cease to be and dissolve into the most exalted knowledge: the knowledge obtained from meditation on the sublime truths which teach man to be aware of his own Self and how he may be reunited with the Supreme Spirit.
The fire of this knowledge annihilates all action. What really the Yogeshwar means by this is that action ceases to be when Yog has gone beyond the three properties of the material world, and when a clear outcome of the meditative process comes forth in the form of a direct perception of as well as dissolution of the Self in God.
But before this completion of the ordained task, action does not end and we are not rid of it.
He is a superior man who exerts inner (rather than external) control over his senses, so that his mind is freed from passions, and who does his duty in a state of total desirelessness. Now, although we have known that work has to be done, the difficulty is that we do not yet understand the precise nature of this work. That is also Arjun’s problem and Sri Krishn now proceeds to resolve it.
And now in Chapter Three, Verse Eight, Sri Krsihn sings:
niyatam kuru karma tvam
karma jyāyo hy akarmaṇaḥ,
śarīrayātrā’pi ca te
na prasidhyed akarmaṇaḥ (3.8)
“You ought to do your prescribed action as enjoined by scripture, for doing work is better than not doing any, and in the absence of it even the journey of your body may not be completed.’’
Arjun is prompted to do prescribed action-the ordained task-which is distinct from all other kinds of work. Performance of this action is preferable to inaction, because if we do it and traverse even a small part of our way, it can rescue us from great fear of birth and death. Performance of one’s spiritual duty – the ordained action- is, therefore, the better course. By not doing it we cannot even complete journey of our Soul through different bodies. This journey is usually interpreted as “sustenance of the physical body.” But what kind of sustenance is this? Are we a physical body? This Soul, the embodied Self, that we know by the name of Purush-what else has HE been doing except making his physical journey through endless lives? When clothes are worn out, we change them and put on new ones. Just so, this whole world, from lowest creatures to most highly evolved, from Brahma to its most distant limits, is mutable. Through births, low and high, this Soul has been making his physical journey since an unknown beginning. Action is something that completes this journey.
If there is yet to be another birth, the journey is still incomplete. The seeker is still on his way, travelling through bodies. A journey is complete only when the destination is reached. After being dissolved in God, Self does not have to travel any further through physical births. The chain of the Self’s rejection of old bodies and assumption of new ones is now broken. So action is something that frees the Self, the Purush, from the necessity of journeying through bodies. Sri Krishn tells Arjun: :”By this action you shall be freed from the evil that binds the world.” So action, as used in the Bhagavad Gita, is something that liberates from the bondage of world.
However,the question of what this ordained action is still remains unresolved. Sri Krishn now begins to answer this question.
Yogeshwar Krishn sings in next verse:
tadartham karma kaunteya
muktasangaḥ samācara (3.9)
“Since the conduct of yagya is the only action and all other business in which people are engaged are only forms of worldly bondage, O son of Kunti, be unattached and do your duly to God well.’’
Contemplation of God (Yagya) is the only real action. That conduct is action which enables the mind to concentrate on God. It is a prescribed act and, according to Sri Krishn, tasks other than this are only forms of worldly bondage. Anything other than performance of this yagya is a form of slavery rather than action. It is important to remind ourselves once more of Sri Krishn’s injunction to Arjun that he shall be freed from evils of this world only by doing the one real work. The accomplishment of this work, of yagya, is action; and Arjun is urged to do it well in a spirit of detachment. It cannot be performed without disinterest in the world and its objects.
So conduct of yagya is action. But another question that now arises is what this worthwhile act of yagya is? It is only in Chapter 4 that it is clarified what that yagya is-the doing of which is action. It is evident from this that it is Sri Krishn’s way that he first describes the characteristic features of the subject he has to elucidate in order to create a respectful attitude towards it, then points out the precautions that have to be observed in the course of its performance, and only finally expounds main principle. Before we proceed, let us recall what Sri Krishn has said of another aspect of action: that it is a prescribed ordained conduct and that what is usually done in its name is not true action.
The term “action” was first used in Chapter 2. Its characteristic traits as well as the precautions needed for it were pointed out. But the nature of this action has remained unspecified. In Chapter 3, Sri Krishn has so far said that no one can live without action. Since man lives in nature, he must act. Nevertheless there are people who restrain their sense organs by use of force, but whose minds are still occupied with objects of the senses. Such people are arrogant and their efforts are vain.
So Arjun is told to restrain his senses to perform the ordained action. But the question yet remains: what action should he perform? He is told that the accomplishment of yagya is action. But according to Sri Krishn, they simply are not what he means by action. Whatever other than yagya is done is only a form of worldly bondage, not true action. The performance of yagya is the only real action.
True that yagya is action; but what is yagya? It is only in Chapter 4 that he will elaborate the concept of the action which is fit to be done. A proper understanding of this definition of action is the key to our comprehension of the GIta.
All men are engaged in some work or the other, but that is different from true action. Some of them do farming, while others are engaged in trade and commerce. Some hold positions of power, while others; are just servants. Some profess that they are intellectuals, while others earn their living by manual labour. Some take up social service, while others serve the country. And for all these activities people have also invented contexts of selfishness and selflessness. But according to Sri Krishn, they simply are not what he means by action. Whatever other than yagya is done is only a form of worldly bondage, not true action. The performance of yagya is the only real action.
In Chapter Four, Sri Krishn has elucidated Yagya in more than a dozen ways which are collectively but a portrayal of the mode that provide access to the Supreme Being. In fact all the different form of Yagya are internal processes of contemplation : form of worship that render God manifest and known. Yagya is thus the special, ordained means by which a worshipper traverses the path that leads to God.
In brief, Yogi offer as oblation the functions of all senses and operations of life-breaths to the fire of Yog that is lit up by knowledge of God. When restraint is integrated with the Self and the operations of breath and senses are stilled, the current which stimulates passions and the current which propels one towards God merge into the Self. The outcome of yagya then emerges as God-realisation, the culmination of this spiritual exercise.
As some offer their exhalation to inhalation, others offer their inhaled breath to the exhaled breath, while yet others practise serenity of breath by regulating their incoming and outgoing breath.
Meditators on the Self, sacrifice vital air to apan and similarly apan to pran. Going even higher than this, other Yogi restrain all life-winds and take refuge in the regulation of breath (pranayam).
Yet others who subsist on strictly regulated breath and offer their breath to breath, and life to life, are all knowers of yagya, and the sins of all who have known yagya are destroyed.’
Yagya is the only exercise that transports one to God the very moment it is complete. Do any other work you like if it takes you to God in the same way. In fact, all these forms of yagya are but internal processes of contemplation-forms of worship which make God manifest and known. Yagya is the special ordained mode that helps the worshipper to traverse the path that leads to God. That by which this yagya is accomplished, regulation and serenity of breath, is action. The true meaning of “action” is therefore “worship.
Bow down in lotus feet of Revered Gurudev for such teaching to me.
And hence now we have come to a solid conclusion with a metaphysical vision what truly “Niyat Karm” and “Karm” is as per teachings of Bhagavad Gita.