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June 19, 2022

Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4: Verse 13 - Verse 18)


In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 4th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 13 - 18. Sri Krishna gives details about the varna system, and why it was created. However, Krishna has left this to humans with the details. There is no need for the caste system today, it has very little purpose. Sri Krishna explains how to transcend the rules of karma and that is by not being attached to the results of the actions we do. We are instructed by Sri Krishna to follow the path of the ancient rishis who wanted moksha and follow this path of Karma Yoga - transcend the results of our actions. This is where the Bhagavad Gita will evolve the definition of what is karma and akarma. We must know the subtle differences with action despite how difficult it is to understand. Sri Krishna explains how a perfected yogi can tell the subtleties of material cause and effect between inaction in action, and action in inaction. 

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

I hope you enjoyed listening to the 31st episode of the Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.

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Transcript

Rahul N Singh:

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 are currently looking at chapter Four. If you would like to support the Bearded Mystic Podcast, do sign up to the Patreon page, the details are in the show notes and video description below. You get exclusive benefits like guided meditations and conversations with the Bearded Mystic, which is a Patreon exclusive podcast.

Also every Saturday at 11:

00 AM. Eastern standard time, there is a free virtual zoom meditation class. You can find the details in the show notes and video description below. Let's do a recap. In the last episode, we looked at Chapter 4, verses 9 to 12. In that episode, we learned that Sri Krishna instructs us on how we must accept his divine birth and understand its purpose. If we do then we attain him as the Supreme Atman or Brahman, when we die, and we will no longer be in the cycle of birth and death. Sri Krishna further explains that those that get over their desires, their fear and anger and who focus on the Supreme itself are completely purified through knowledge and simple living when they attain the same Brahman, which is Krishna's own divine nature. Whatever approach we take with Sri Krishna, he will reciprocate that completely, the importance of this verse is to highlight that even if people do not want to have liberation, there is still something that they can attain maybe a more favorable birth or so on, but it will not be Krishna's Supreme reality or the understanding of the Gyana of Brahman. And that can only be fulfilled in this transactional reality itself, within Maya is when we can understand this Formless Awareness. Today we will be looking at verses 13 to 18. Verse 13. The four varnas were originally created by me as a way of distributing responsibility and material empowerment throughout the social body. Each person is suited for a specific occupation according to their energetic state and inherent abilities. Even though I originally created this system, I am not directly involved in the details of it's working. We're going to look at the whole verse together. And obviously Sri Krishna is explaining the varna system, also known as the caste system and he explains how it was about distributing responsibility, like through job groups, like we do at work and it was through a social system. It was just a group up jobs and that was it. The main thing was whatever someone's talents are, they should follow that route. And that is by following your own nature. If you love numbers, then you become a mathematician or you become an accountant. If you love law, you end up being a lawyer. That is your inherent nature. If you want to be a writer, you'd be a writer, a podcaster, be a podcaster. You just follow whatever is in your inherent nature. Nothing more than that. According to your state of mind, your state of being, that's what you do. Despite this being created for the benefit of everyone, it has become a system of oppression because what's happened is we say that if you're born in this family, this is what you are. This was not the intention behind creating this system. It was always meant to be individual, not based on just a family that has become an evolution of the system, but it has to further evolve. So today we need to ensure that this system is evolving because the details of it's working depends on us. Not Krishna Sri Krishna has nothing to do with how it is working today. He only created the system. Remember he created the system in whatever form he was before. Not necessarily as Sri Krishna right now in the mahabharat. We need to ensure that the Varna system or the caste system is not being utilized to oppress others, to put people down, to put down other people's rights. No, if we're still doing this, then that means that we have not understood the sameness that we all have. This Atman, this Brahman and therefore each individual i s special. Now each individual has their own talents and the system should support that. And no system in this world right now has this in mind. Basically, everyone wants you to get probably a nine to five job or go through the school system or in terms of work, you must have a business. We're told on how to live our lives. So there is still a system. Is this the best system? No. Is it the system that Sri Krishna intended? No. We have to ensure that, when we guide our children going forward, that we tell them to go according to what their nature is and support them in their dreams. If a particular job is not paying well, then we need to make sure that that job is paid well. For example, if someone is an artist, that we support artists, that they should have a minimum wage or a minimum income, that the government should support them. And if they need to put checks and balances in place, do so. But the thing is nobody should be taken away from their inherent talent because the moment they do this then people will have anxiety. And not only just anxiety, they will have stress and depression. So why should we have a system that exacerbates this? In fact, we should look at a system that will solve these issues. That is the most important thing. Today as the caste system stands, it is obsolete and no longer is important. Anyone still following it is doing so out of ignorance. If you still think you're a Brahmin or a Kshatriya or whatever caste there is, it's due to ignorance. It has no purpose today. For example, a Brahmin is now able to be a CEO of a company. If they really care about tradition, like they claim to be, then why not just have an Ashram and study the scriptures. That should be your job. That is your caste, but no. Now the Brahmin wants to be a businessman. So if that's the case, then that means the title of a Brahmin or the grouping of a Brahmin has no meaning. Therefore let's get rid of this. Yeah, we don't need this. It's all due to ignorance. It has no purpose today and no way should this jati or this caste system reduce the value of another human being. Remember that we are all human beings and beyond this humanness is this Formless Awareness, which we all share, which we all are, therefore, let's get rid of this notion of caste. There's no need for it. There's no need for this division. If Brahman is indivisible, then so are you, so is this Formless Awareness, which is your essential nature. If you have attained the Supreme Atman, what can be your caste? What caste do you hold? What is true to you? If you are beyond change, beyond birth and death, then what is your caste? So I think today we don't need this. If we do not evolve the teachings to today's times, it will not stand strong. We will find that this Dharma will lose its value. And that is something we need to avoid from happening. So let's continue on with the evolution. If we are to maintain this caste system, then let's bring it to its original form, which was to ensure that each and every person has the ability to do the job they need to do according to their inherent talents and abilities, instead of condemning others as lazy or whatever, maybe they're lazy because we're not utilizing their talents. And this is how we need to see it. That is the difference. If we can't abolish the caste system, let's revitalize it into something that is not about dividing people, but enhancing human life, enhancing the standard of living here on this planet earth. So the context of this whole verse really is Sri Krishna gives details about the varna system and why it was created. However, Krishna has left this to humans to deal with the details therefore, we need to either ask the question, whether there's a need for the caste system today, or whether we need to reevaluate its purpose. Verse 14. My karma 'action within material nature' does not bind me in any way because I am not attached to the results of what I do. Therefore, anyone who acts in the same way that I do will no longer be bound by the stringent rules of karma. So we're going to break this down. Very important verse and the verse that we need to really understand. My karma ' action within material nature' does not bind me in any way because I am not attached to the results of what I do. So Krishna here's establishing that even though he commits to action within this world, it does not bind to him. Yeah. He's not attached to the results, therefore those actions have no impact on him. Why? Because he's not seeing himself as a body and mind. He's seeing himself as a Supreme Atma. Therefore, if we adopt the same level of thinking, no results of actions will have its impact upon us and it will not bind us either. Remember he's talking about his action within material nature. Not necessarily just actions on a spiritual level because he isn't attached to the results of these actions, karma yoga is something that he is practicing to the best of his ability and showing us that we can do the same. Therefore people who are attached to the results of what they do, they will be bound to the results of their actions. We understand that if we are constantly thinking about the outcome, therefore that outcome and the results, we're gonna have the negative impacts of that. Then he further on says in this verse that therefore anyone who acts in the same way that I do will no longer be bound by the stringent rules of karma. We all have the capability to act in the same way, be in the same way. And it's important for us to read between the lines that Krishna is saying we are the same. We have the same abilities because we are all the Supreme Atman. We are all this Supreme Brahman, this Ultimate Reality. That's constantly there in the background, as the witness consciousness, this Formless Awareness. We have to, we have to bring this to the forefront as much as possible in times of meditation. This is important because the more we do that, the more we associate ourselves with the Formless Awareness, with Brahman and less as the body and mind complex. Those individuals who acted just as Krishna does, who have trained their viveka, their discernment to understand that they are not in control of the outcome or the results of their actions, they are not bound by the rules of karma. They transcend beyond it. This is the whole intention. This is the whole point. It's transcendence. And when we act in karma yoga, understanding that the outcome or the results will have no effect upon us because we are the Supreme Atman, we will be free. This is the whole point. The stringent rules, remember stringent is used here to say that these rules do not change. They're very strict. They're very binding. Therefore do not get fooled to think that you can manipulate, or you can get yourself out of this. This is very important to understand. The context of the whole verse is that Sri Krishna explains how to transcend the rules of karma. And that is by not being attached to the results of the actions that we do. Verse 15. Since the very beginning of human life, the ancients seeking moksha 'ultimate freedom from the reactions of their karma' acted in this way. Therefore perform your actions just as the ancients did. We'll look at the whole verse. It's repeating the same thing as before that, even the ancient rishis, the sages from the very beginning, they performed the actions like we do in their day-to-day life, but they also got themselves free from the reactions of their karma. We must do the same thing. Some of them were householders, we are householders today. Majority of us. So it applies to us today, too. What is important is to attain that Gyana, that knowledge, that wisdom, and live in this knowledge all the time, by sharpening up our buddhi, making our Buddhi the foundation of understanding what is permanent and what is temporary, what is changeless and changing and build upon that intellect and therefore, we can perform actions just as they did. Understanding that when we perform an action, we bring that Formless Awareness to the forefront so that the results go to the Formless Awareness and not to us. And when it goes to the Formless Awareness, what you can say is the action or the result, dissolve away. Those who want to moksha or mukti must perform actions, just like Sri Krishna explained in the previous verse. That's what's required. The context of the whole verse is we are instructed by Sri Krishna to follow the path of the ancient rishis who wanted mukti and follow this path of karma yoga and to transcend the results of our actions. Verse 16. What is karma 'action' and what is 'akarma' inaction? Even the ancient Seers who compiled the Vedas were sometimes confused on this subject. So now I will explain karma to you. so that you achieve moksha or freedom from the negative reactions to all your actions. When we think of all of our actions, even from the past lives, present and any actions we do in the future, but let's break this down a little bit. So the first line I'd be looking at is what is karma 'action' and what is akarma 'inaction'? Even the ancient seers who compiled the Vedas was sometimes confused on this subject. This is an important question about what is action and inaction and we will look at that in a further verse and we will break it down a little bit. And it's been a hot topic for a lot of people. You know, what is action? What is inaction? Even today, people want to know whether there's God's will or there's free will, what is it? Is it better to be a householder or is it better to be a renunciant? So even the sages of the Vedas, they were confused about this. They didn't come to a conclusion on this matter. And Sri Krishna wants to have a conclusion on this. The reason being is the whole concept of action and inaction and what influences these things is where the main matter lies. For example, if you say that everything is God's will then actually every karma and akarma or action and inaction belongs to God. Therefore God needs to face the consequences. Why do we? So this is a question that would come up. If we have free will then we are definitely responsible, when we do act and when we do not act. Then Sri Krishna further on says so now I will explain karma to you so that you achieve moksha ' freedom from the negative reactions to all your actions'. So now Sri Krishna wants to explain one thing specifically, basically, what would take someone to achieve moksha ' freedom from the negative reactions to all your actions'. Context of this whole verse is this is where the Bhagavad Gita will evolve the definition of what is karma and akarma ' action' and 'inaction'. Verse 17. The intricacies of karma are difficult to understand. One should be able to discern the subtle differences between correct action, inaction and forbidden action. We'll look at the whole verse together. We need to understand that understanding karma is difficult. It is very nuanced. It's very subtle in its meanings and its workings. So it's difficult to give a one liner to it. We cannot give one-liners to this definition of karma. Hence it's been continuously talked about. Now it is, as I mentioned, it's intricate and nuanced. Therefore, if we're looking for some black or white answer or binary answer, it is ridiculous. It's literally not understanding what karma is. However, we must be able to discern between the subtle differences between correct action, inaction and forbidden action. Sri Krishna will now answer this doubt. We must know the subtle differences with action, despite how difficult it is to understand. What I will say is correct action is that according to the scriptures and to our guru. Inaction is when we refuse to do an action because of whatever reason and forbidden action what is guided for us to not do according to the scriptures and the guru. Verse 18. One who perceives inaction in action and action in inaction has mastered the subtleties of material cause and effect. The state of awakened buddhi, a highly refined discernment is characteristic of a perfected Yogi. So we'll look at the first line. One who perceives inaction in action and action in inaction has mastered the subtleties of material cause and effect. This does require some thought and some contemplation. It's not good to just assume we know what it means. We have to really think about it. When I was thinking about this verse and I was writing my notes for it. I was literally thinking about how I could explain this in a simple way, which is digestible for not only you, but for me too. So these are my thoughts and let's have a look if we can decipher what this means. What does inaction in action means and action in inaction means? For example, within someone performing actions on the transactional or relative level, we need to understand that the Supreme Atman is there within, and that is always still, so inaction does not do any action therefore it's always that witness consciousness. Now the appearance may be from a reflection that there is someone performing actions, but within there is no doership. So the aspect or agent of doership is gone when someone is acting as Brahman, when someone is being that Formless Awareness, but performing actions in the body and mind. So we're seeing the body mind as a reflection but we have to also remember that Formless Awareness does not do anything. Therefore, the doership has gone. Someone may see action in inaction. For example, someone may choose not to get angry at a situation or choose not to hurt someone with their body or words. So outwardly it appears that nothing is happening, but within there could be great turmoil, there could be anger. There could be anxiety. There is still action being created. Even the creation of a thought is an action. Although it appears as inaction, we do not know what's going on. Even with emotions, it may be that we're angry inside and we're thinking about what we're going to do to that person, if the circumstances allowed it to be so, so even though it looks like there is inaction, there is action still going on. Yeah. Even the fact someone chooses not to act is an action. That is still an action. So that is what we need to understand, a very nuanced point, but we can understand it. There may be suffering within, like I said, there could be great turmoil within, although that person appears to be stoic from the outside. So don't get fooled by the appearance is what we need to understand. This person has mastered the subtleties of action and inaction. They can see the whole picture, not simply what is presented in physical, but also the intention. Someone can be busy in the world, but remain calm. There is stillness within their mind and heart. Although they're doing actions in the world, their mind is focused on this eternal witness consciousness, this Formless Awareness constantly. Someone may appear to be doing nothing, but inside they could be suffering or scheming about how to harm another, that person is creating action and creating karmic consequences. If somebody performs an action, like for example, someone helps another person with an issue they have, maybe they feed another person, but they do not look to have any reward from that because within they understand they are the Formless Awareness, that is inaction in action. Now action in inaction is when someone understands that if they feed another bite to this person, that person will be in suffering. Therefore the action in their inaction is not to feed them. So although it appears that they're not doing anything, there is an action there. There is still something being performed. So it's about understanding that subtlety. They see that whole picture. Yeah. So the person who can perceive both has mastered the subtleties, the nuance between cause and effect. Then this state of awakened buddhi, this highly refined discernment is characteristic of a perfected Yogi. When our intellect is sharpened and awakened through Gyana and through wisdom, then our intellect or our buddhi can then be utilized because we can use our viveka, our discernment. This is a characteristic of a realized being, someone who's established in Brahman, in Formless Awareness. The context of the whole verse is really explaining about how we can be a perfected Yogi, and we can tell the subtleties of material cause and effect between inaction in action and action in inaction. So we can see the whole picture and that is the point. This is the end of the episode. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family who may enjoy this content. Do follow me on social media to keep getting updates, subscribe to the monthly the Bearded Mystic newsletter, or you can join The Bearded Mystic Podcast discord server, all the details are in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast, do check out the podcast Patreon page, as I mentioned in the beginning. There is extra content that you get. The details are in the show notes and video description below. Please rate and review the podcast on our website www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com and the details again, are in the show notes and video description below. Please do like, and comment on this video and subscribe to this YouTube channel. Thank you very much for listening. We'll end with the Shanti mantra. Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti Aum Peace Peace Peace Namaste.