Gita Study: Class 34


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2 verse 48 conclusion, 49 and 50

 Highlights of today’s class:

Verse 2.48 (continued from last class)

yogasthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya | siddhyasiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga ucyate ||

Doing what is to be done is Worshiping Isvara:

  • For a karma yogi work that is done is done as a worship of Isvara. Why is this? Nobody can remain without doing action at any time. A karma yogi converts such action into a means for gaining antah-karana-suddhi. A karma yogi appreciates that Isvara’s order is also manifest in the form of karma and karma-phala. He or she plays a role in this order as a cog in Isvara’s wheel. Identifying what action is to be done (per the kausalam definition we saw), doing it and receiving its outcomes with prasada buddhi (per the samatvam definition we saw) – is the approach of the karma yogi. This process becomes a worship of Isvara.
  • Later in the 18th chapter Lord Krishna says that by doing what is to be done by you at a given time, you are worshiping the Lord. “yatah pravrttirbhutanam yena sarvamidam tatam svakarmana tamabhyarcya siddhim vindati manavah” – Gita 18.46.
  • Action or karma that is to be done by me at this time and place is called svakarma. When I do it, I am in harmony with Isvara, the Lord. This is why whenever you do exactly what you have to do, you find satisfaction. Even if it is something you do not want to do, once you do it, you feel great about it. Because you are in harmony with Isvara. A karma yogi recognizes this.

Verse 2.49

durena hyavaram karma buddhiyogaddhananjaya| buddau saranamanviccha krpanah phalahetavah ||

  • In this verse Lord Krishna compares action performed with the attitude of karma yoga (called buddhi yoga here) with action performed without. Action performed not as karma yoga is far inferior (durena hyavaram) to that performed as karma yoga.
  • Lord Krishna also says in this verse that those who perform action merely for the results and not for antah-karana-suddhi and moksha are krpanah. krpanah translates to misers or weaklings or pitiable ones.
  • Why are such people (mere karmis and not karma-yogis) krpanah? Because they were given an intellect but they don’t use it.
  • The reference to the word krpanah is from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in the conversation between Sages Yajnavalkya and Gargi. “yo vai etadaksharam aviditva asmanlokan praiti sah krpanah” meaning, “Indeed one who leaves this world without knowing the imperishable self is a krpanah“.
  • For these reasons Krishna asks Arjuna to take refuge in karma yoga (buddhau saranam anviccha).

Verse 2.50

buddhiyukto jahatiha ubhe sukrtaduskrte | tasmadyogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam ||

  • In this verse also Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to take resort to karma yoga (tasmat yogaya yujyasva) giving the reason that a karma yogi overcomes both punya and papa (sukrta and duskrta) here in this life itself (iha).
  • In this verse Lord Krishna also gives the second definition of yoga viz. yoga is kausalam in doing karma. kausalam stands for discretion or ability to interpret dharma, to ascertain what is to be done in a given situation.
  • The connection between karma yoga and overcoming or rising above punya and papa is through intermediate steps of antah-karana-suddhi and atma-jnana. Karma yoga leads to antah-karana-suddhi, which leads to atma-jnana by which one knows oneself to be the non-doing atma who does not incur either punya or papa.
  • Karma yoga is the necessary step in this chain. A question arises whether one can skip karma yoga and directly attain atma-jnana. It is like asking if one can register for a Ph.D degree without completing high school. Just as completing high school is a prerequisite for registering for a Ph.D, pursuing karma yoga is a prerequisite for abiding in atma-jnana or moksha.

om tat sat


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