In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 3rd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 1 - 5. Arjuna begins with wanting to establish what the best process is going to be for him. Is it the path of knowledge or the path of action? Arjuna’s confusion needs to be eliminated and Arjuna wants to know what path of Yoga will help him. Shri Krishna then responds and guides us that there are two paths that have always been in existence. One is of Wisdom and Knowledge for those inclined towards analytical thinking and second is the path of karma where some are inclined towards action. Both can get someone to self-realization in various degrees. Sri Krishna is ensuring that Arjuna’s doubts can be answered, so he tells him the importance of not running away from action and that moksha is not attained by just taking sannyas and entering into a monastery. No matter what you are, who you are, we are all subject to perform actions because we are manifested in this world. Whatever actions we do, we will receive the reaction or response to it.
Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong Available here on Amazon
If you would like to dwell deeper in the Bhagavad Gita, I recommend Swami Gambhirananda's translation with Adi Shankara ji's commentary: Available here on Amazon
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Hello and welcome to The Bearded Mystic Podcast. And I'm your host, Rahul N Singh. Thank you for joining today and for taking out the time to either watch or listen to this podcast episode. Today, we will be continuing on with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita, and we will be beginning chapter three today, which is titled Karma Yoga. Now, if you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast and if you have found value in what you've been listening to or watching, please do join The Bearded Mystic Podcast, Patreon community. You can find the link in the video description or show notes below. So let's do a recap. We finished chapter two last week and we looked at verses 70 to 72. There Krishna explained how a person that is full of peace, who's not overwhelmed by their material desires can watch all these desires appear and disappear. The unrestrained ones run towards the sense desires and the current of those desires are endless. They're always continuously occurring within us and they are endless and limitless until one has the knowledge of Brahman, their True Self. The Sage only functions to maintain the body and yet has no attachment to the body and therefore is always at peace. Whatever is received is not considered as one's own, but just needed for a particular function. The knower of Brahman remains as Brahman now and forever. And this wonderfully sums up what chapter two is all about. Now we're going to begin with chapter three and we're going to be looking at verses one to verses five. This chapter begins with Arjuna asking particular questions. The first verse. Arjuna said, O Krishna, if it is your opinion that enlightened introspection through the discerning use of buddhi is the best process of yoga, then why do you ask me to engage in this ghastly conflict? So the first line is Arjuna said, O' Krishna, if it is your opinion, that enlightened introspection through the discerning use of Buddhi is the best process of yoga. This first line that we going to be looking at, we know that Arjuna is asking as a sincere devotee, as a disciple. He's addressing what he's understood at this minute. He knows his mind is not clear, he just wants to make sure that he understands Krishna's words and just seeks for that clarification. We know that in chapter two, how it's necessary to utilize Gyana Yoga or Sankhya Yoga, and to have that discernment between the Real and the unreal. Now, 'buddhi' here that Arjuna's understanding is, is that it's just knowledge. 'Buddhi' here is to be understood as that mind, that acts without any expectation for any results, because it is centered in Brahman. But here Arjuna thinks that Buddhi is knowledge only and does not see it as the unfluctuating awareness of Brahman, the understanding of what Sat is. Then he asks that question that if you've given this knowledge of what is Real and unreal, then why do you engage me in this ghastly conflict? And this is a valid question. If utilizing the intellect and realizing Brahman is the best process of yoga and is the one Supreme way to get there, then why does Arjuna need to fight? Why does he need to act and therefore face consequences and face reactions for this? So he's asking the right question and if knowledge is Supreme and renunciation is the best thing then this is what he only needs to do. He does not need to fight in this war. But see, the renunciation is not about not doing any action. If we remember renunciation in chapter two was the renunciation of the results or the fruits of our actions. That's what Shri Krishna says. But obviously we see that Arjuna did not fully understand this point. And like us, we need clarification. We'd probably have the same questions too. So let's not mock Arjuna for these questions. We should actually thank him for asking what we're thinking. When our thinking is not clear, we have such doubts. So the context of this whole verse is that Arjuna wants to establish what is the best process going to be for him and whether it should be the path of knowledge or the path of action. Next verse. He continues on and says that your seemingly contradictory instructions have confused my buddhi, tell me the one best path of yoga by which I can attain the highest outcome. So he says your seemingly contradictory instructions have confused my buddhi. So he's talking about his mind being confused and Arjuna knows that Shri Krishna cannot give contradiction here. And he understands that there's no way that these two paths are contradictions. So there is a bit of a understanding there, and that's really good. Now, what Arjuna wants to know is how he can intellectually understand what is the better path here. That's what he wants to know, he wants proper instruction. He wants a clear instruction. He understands that his mind is still a bit hazy and bit confused. So then he asks, tell me the one best path of yoga by which I can attain the highest outcome. Simply, does he need to fight in this war and accumulate the results of those actions or is he meant to renounce and leave the war and just attain wisdom? What is he meant to do? And if attaining wisdom is the highest and from what he understood from the previous chapter that we learned from, he thinks that attaining wisdom will be the highest, hence his confusion as we knew from the previous line. But what Arjuna needs to understand is that the path of action and knowledge, they reach the same place. Krishna will have to explain this to him so he can understand. The context of this whole verse is that Arjuna's confusion needs to be eliminated and whatever contradictions he's been finding needs to be removed so that Arjuna can know what path he needs to take. In verse 3, now Krishna will speak. 'Shri Bhagavan said, there are two methods of achieving Self Perfection that I have taught since time immemorial. The first is Gyana Yoga of the sankhya darshan, which is pursued by those inclined to analytical thinking. The second is Karma Yoga, which is pursued by those inclined to action.' So the first line is that 'Shri Bhagavan said there are two methods of achieving Self Perfection that I have taught since time immemorial.' We know that what Krishna is talking about here is two paths that have been there from the very beginning, since this world has been manifested, this universe has been manifested. There's two methods that Arjuna can take that will achieve Self Perfection. So there will have the same goal in mind. And these methods have been here forever, they're not something new either. Now, whatever path Arjuna will choose, it will take him to the highest and it will take him to Self Perfection or it'll take him to mukti, to moksha, towards liberation. So Shri Krishna says that the first is Gyana Yoga of the Sankhya darshan, which is pursued by those inclined to analytical thinking. So in chapter two, we know that we've learned about Gyana Yoga, which is the discernmen of Sat and asat, the Real and unreal, the changing and Changeless. If you're intellectually inclined and you would like to just focus and analyze on what is Real and unreal, then that's the perfect path for you. Now, those people tend to be single-mindedly focused on this path and they will only contemplate on the discernment of the Real and unreal. They will give up all other modes of life and will give us all duties of life. In the pursuit of this understanding, in the pursuit of this darshan. Those people, that will be inclined to continuously think about this One, this Ultimate Truth, Ultimate Reality Sankhya Yoga is the one place. Gyana Yoga is their method. The second is karma yoga, which is pursued by those inclined to action. Now, if you think about it, everyone performs actions. This can be actions that serve the world and whoever is inclined towards those actions, which most of us are, Karma Yoga seems to be the way. In fact, in this world, can we be without any action? So for example, we are householders, we are performing actions accordingly. If we are in the brahmacharya stage, the stage where we are children, we are learning, isn't learning an action? The context of this verse, the setup that Shri Krishna's giving is that there's no contradiction here. There's always been two paths and they all lead to that one goal. One is the path of knowledge, Gyana Yoga, for those that are able to go through that single minded focus of analytical thinking. And the second is a path of karma, where one is inclined towards action. Both can lead someone to self-realization. Verse four. Shri Krishna continues that 'one cannot avoid karma must simply by giving up action nor does one attain perfection by taking sannyas and entering into a monastery. First line one cannot avoid karma simply by giving up action. Shri Krishna is very clear here that simply saying that one will not do action is not enough and neither can one avoid karma. And there's three types of karma. There is sanchita karma, which is a store of karmic debts that we've accumulated from previous births. Ultimately whatever we do in life, these karmas will come up. Even if we renounce life and we say we were only going to be focusing on Gyana Yoga, it's impossible. Even the pursuit of Gyana yoga will have action. We cannot renounce everything. There's parabhda karma, which is that part of one's sanchita karma, which must be worked out in the present life because in the law of karma implies determinism in human activities, parabdha karma is often translated as destiny. And then there's agami karma which is new karma accumulated in the present lifetime, which is carried forward in to future lives. So nobody can escape action. Whatever you've done in the previous life, you will have to explore in this life and whatever you do in this life may go into future lives or in this life. Nobody escapes action even the pursuit of knowledge, as I mentioned is a subtle form of action as well. We need to remember that Shri Krishna has told us to not be attached to the fruits of our actions. We are not to think about the results. We are just to act knowing that we are the Atman, we are Brahman. We are pure consciousness. Karma of past lives and this life will always appear until we die or attain liberation. The next line Shri Krishna says, nor does one attain perfection by taking sannyas and entering into a monastery. Shri Krishna is addressing Arjun's dilemma before where he said he would leave and he will become a beggar. If you remember, Arjuna has mentioned this previously. Simply by taking sannyas will not be enough. Arjuna is a warrior and he is a prince and has a right over the kingdom, he needs to perform his actions. So going into monastery and taking sannyasa doesn't mean that one will move on psychologically. Arjuna could leave and then will still be thinking about the war and what the outcome would be of the war. What would happen to the people? What will happen to his brothers? What will happen to his wife? That will constantly haunt him, even though he has claimed renunciation, just in the form of action of not fighting in this war, but even leaving the war is an action in which he will have to face his karma too, he will have to face the results. So it's very important that we exhaust the influence of our desires and results within our manas, this requires us to act. Here we need to understand that until we get rid of every desire that we have, that we want to achieve until we exhaust those things, we're not going to go towards knowledge. We're not going to go towards Gyana, we're not going to go towards wisdom. We must renounce the doership of all actions. That's what Shri Krishna has been telling us because the Atman does not act. The Atman is not the doer. Only the body and mind acts. Therefore, all karma happens to the body and mind and if we think we are the body and mind, then we're going to face the fruits of those actions. But if we know we're not this body and mind, we are not going to face the fruits of those actions because we are established in Brahman. Yeah remember in the previous chapter we looked at being of steady wisdom that steady unfluctuating awareness of Atman and Brahman. So the outer appearance of renunciation is not enough for mukti. By entering a monastery can one truly give up action? Who will feed the monk? Who will serve others in the monastery? Who will clean the temple? Who will perform the rituals? Therefore Shri Krishna is ensuring that Arjuna's doubts are answered here. He's establishing that even if you go to the monastery, you still have to perform some actions. Shri Krishna will talk more about this and establish more of that understanding later on. The context of this whole verse is to ensure that one, Arjuna doubts are answered and two, so he can tell him the importance of not running away from action, and that moksha is not just attained by taking Sannyasa and renouncing life and entering a monastery and living in a monastery. There's much more to that. Now verse five. No one can exist even for a moment without acting and receiving the karma of their actions. Everyone is within the grasp of Prakriti and is forced to act because of the constant fluctuations of the gunas. So no one can exist even for a moment without acting and receiving the karma of their actions. And this is very true. Who can escape actions? Who can escape karma? No one, not even renunciants. Remember the parabdha karma, the actions from previous births that they have to address in this lifetime. That's always going to catch up. Whether it is the memories that we have in this mind, those will appear. If we have desires from previous lifetimes that have not been exhausted in this lifetime, they will appear even if we are a monk. So every action has a consequence that we label as good and bad. We have to understand this and without action, where is life and all its activities. Yeah. Every even meditation is an action. People need to understand that renunciation is only about results, not actions themselves. We cannot renounce actions, but we can renounce the results and its implications upon us. We can do that. We are in control of that. The only people that don't accumulate karma or don't perform actions are dead people. Those that die, they don't. And as long as you breathe, you are always going to be performing karma. Always. The second line to that verse, Shri Krishna says that everyone is within the grasp of prakriti and is forced to act because of the constant fluctuations of the Gunas. As we know there is , there is sattva, tamas and rajas, purity, inertia, and activity. They are the basis of our human existence. When we are pure, we have a still mind and we're able to remain in the flow of existence. When we are lazy, we cannot be bothered to do anything. And when we are active, then our mind isn't focused and is here, there in everywhere. So no matter who you are, what you are, our body is part of prakriti, it's part of nature and the manifest world of objects. So we cannot avoid action. Even seeking knowledge, as I mentioned, is an action. Doing meditation is an action, the fruits of which we have no control over. And that's the thing that creates buddhi yoga, is that understanding that we are not going to receive the fruits of actions because we are Brahman. We are this Ultimate Reality. Nature wants us to perform actions and we should, the moment we go against nature, the more nature will impose itself upon us. So to sustain nature, we need to look after our bodies. We need to clear our minds and we need to understand we have a part of ourselves in nature. And therefore not have any duality or resistance to it. The context of this whole verse is that no matter what you are, who you are, we are all subject to perform actions because we are manifested in this world. Whatever actions we do, we receive the reaction or response to it. It's very important that we go according to our nature and act accordingly. If we know that we desire something, then we need to work on that desire and see its beginning and its end. Even if we mentally do it and not physically go and act according to that desire. But we need to look at the thought of that desire and see where it begins and where it ends to transcend it. Then we are ready for that wisdom. This brings us to the end of this episode. Just to remind you that a new episode is uploaded every Sunday. You can follow me on social media to keep getting updates, details are in the show notes and video description below. You can subscribe to the monthly The Bearded Mystic Newsletter. Details are in the show notes and video description below. You can join The Bearded Mystic Podcast discord channel the details again are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast as I mentioned in the beginning of the episode, there are a number of ways that you can do so. If you would like to utilize Patreon, you can get extra content by paying something monthly. Or you can give a one-time donation and you can find those ways to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast in the linktree account. If you can please rate and review the podcast, that would be greatly appreciated. I would like to thank you for listening to this episode. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti Aum Peace Peace Peace Namaste.