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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Soul Science God Philosophy > Gita Summary > 03 Karma Yoga

Title: Chapter 3 Karma Yoga

User: Bhushan Nityananda dasa     Date: 2007-06-11 19:51:15


C H A P T E R   T H R E E


Summarized & Narrated into Question Answer Form

Based on the COmmentary of Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti

By Purnachandra dasa prabhu ACBSP

Please support the Author by ordering these Gitamrta Audio tapes

by writing to Purnacandra dasa, Radha-Krishna Temple, 10 Soho Street, London W1, U.K.




Arjuna:  O Kesava, why do You want to engage me in this ghastly war if you think that intelligence fixed in devotion is superior to fruitive work?




Krishna:  My dear Arjuna, listen. It is true that pure devotional service is the best, but it is obtained only by the mercy of a pure devotee.  Therefore, I have already blessed you, nistraigunya bhavarjuna, so that you may become free from the modes of nature and then by Providence you'll get the mercy of My devotee. To become free from the modes, you should perform your work of fighting.  Then you'll get mercy.




Arjuna:  You are explaining clearly, but my intelligence is still per-plexed.  If you think that I am unqualified for pure devotion, then give me knowledge so that later I'll be qualified for bhakti.  But why engage me in passion?




Krishna:  You are My dear friend.  How can you be confused?




Arjuna:  I'm not really confused, but please tell me decisively just one thing, then I'll fix my mind on that.




Krishna:  If I had spoken two different things then your question would be meaningful.  But I have spoken about one thing. I have said that there are different stages of the same thing.  Some try to realise the self through jnana-yoga and others through karma yoga.  But unless the heart is pure, knowledge will not come.  And unless one works according to sastra, one's heart will not be purified.




You see, Arjuna, not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.  The renunciation of duties cannot be accomplished if the heart is still unclean.  If one takes sannyasa at such a stage then he will be forced to act and take up materialistic work.  Attachment and false ego will make him work.  A sannyasi who controls the external senses but thinks of sense gratification is a fool --- a pretender.  This kind of person is controlling the working senses but his heart is not clean.  He'll get neither knowledge nor advancement. On the other hand, if a sincere house-holder engaged in varnasrama duties tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins detached karma yoga, he is by far superior.  He will make gradual progress and come to knowledge.




Therefore, do not try to give up activities and become a jnani --- that type of renunciation is useless.  In that situation you will find it difficult to even maintain the body.  Even a jnani must actively beg, but ksatriyas cannot beg.  Therefore your duty is to maintain the kingdom, collect taxes, and make advancement.




Arjuna:  But Krishna, the living entity becomes bound by activity.  Why then are you asking me to work?




Krishna:  Work offered to Visnu for His satisfaction is yajna, which causes no bondage.  It is the fruitive desires that cause bondage, Arjuna.  So work without desire.  Such work is called niskam karma.




Arjuna:  What if a person cannot perform niskam karma?




Krishna:  Then he should perform sakam karma and offer the fruits to the Lord in a religious sacrifice.  Then his material desires will be satisfied through the sacrifice and gradually he will get knowledge and liberation.




Arjuna:  How will his desires be fulfilled?




Krishna:  The demigods will be pleased and then they will satisfy him.  Since they are in charge of the various necessities of life, they will supply them to him.  But he who enjoys such gifts without offering them to the demigods in return is certainly a thief.  Saintly persons, however, are relieved from this sin because even the food they eat is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.




Try to understand, all humans subsist on food grains which are dependent on rain.  Rain is produced by performance of sacrifice and sacrifice is performed by prescribed duties.  Prescribed duties are given in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme Lord.  Therefore the Supreme Lord is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.  He Arjuna, one who does not follow this system of Vedic sacrifice certainly leads a life of sin.  Concerned only for the satisfaction of his senses, such a person lives in vain.




But for one whose aim of life is self realisation, there is no duty because his heart is like a clean mirror.  Such a self realised person has no purpose to fulfill in the discharge of his prescribed duties, nor has he any reason not to perform such work.  Nor has he any need to depend on any other living being.  For him there is no need to satisfy the demigods nor fear obstacles from them.  The demigods sometimes become envious of the increased knowledge in the jnani. But even a demigod's weapon of beautiful apsara women cannot disturb such a person.  A self-realised person does not need to work, but you are not on that platform, Arjuna.  You are not qualified to act like a jnani, nor are you overly attached. Therefore you must do your prescribed duties without attachment to the results - that is niskam karma.  Then you will become liberated and see the soul.




Arjuna:  Are there any examples of persons who acted in this way?




Krishna:  Yes, kings such as Janaka attained perfection solely by performance of prescribed duties.




Arjuna:  But I feel that I'm already on the jnana platform, Krishna so why should I work?




Krishna:  Even if you are, you should perform your duty for the sake of educating the people in general.  Set the example. Otherwise foolish people will imitate you.  They will renounce work and fall down.  They will consider that they are like you.  But if you fight, it will help the common people follow sastra.  Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow.  He Partha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three worlds nor am I in want of anything, and yet I am engaged in prescribed duties.  I am the Supreme Lord and have appeared in the Yadu dynasty, still, if I am careless about sastric rules, everyone will follow My example and fall down.  If I did not perform work, then all people would follow My path.  I would be the cause of creating unwanted population and  that would destroy the peace of all beings.  Try to understand this Arjuna.  As ignorant men perform their duties with attachment to the results, the learned may also act but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.  Because the hearts of those attached to work are not pure, giving up work will not purify them, but degrade them. Rather, they should be told to work, but without attachment to the results.




Arjuna:  But Narada told Vyasadeva that, "You've made people work, but you haven't explained the goal of life, only working in varnasrama."




Krishna:  Narada spoke about devotion.  I am speaking about knowledge.  To engage in devotion it is not necessary to first purify one's heart.  I am speaking on a different topic so there is no contradiction, Arjuna.




Arjuna:  If people in knowledge and people in ignorance both work then what is the difference?




Krishna:  The person bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities, but one in knowledge sees that activities are actually carried out by the modes of nature. One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth does not engage himself in sense gratification because he knows the difference between devotional work and fruitive work.  But the ignorant who are bewildered by the modes of nature engage themselves in material activities and become attached.  However, the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior. Therefore, Arjuna, just like a servant works for a king, surrender all your work unto Me with full knowledge of Me, but act without thinking that you are the doer.  As a king orders his servant, I am ordering you to fight and accept the kingdom but do so on the spiritual platform.  Anyone who follows Me faithfully, without envy, will definitely become liberated.  But those who, out of envy, do not have faith in these teachings and do not follow them, become lost.




Arjuna:  You are the Supreme Lord and Your opinion is given in sastra.  People know that they will go to hell if they do not follow, so why do they not follow?




Krishna:  Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows the nature he has acquired from the three modes.




Arjuna:  Nature is very powerful, Krishna.  Even one in knowledge is controlled by it, as You Yourself have just said.  But You are like a king, so why don't You make a law which everyone will fear and obey?




Krishna:  What you're saying is reasonable, but it won't help because people are controlled by their senses and will break the sastric laws just as they break state laws.  Even though a person may have knowledge of the results he will still perform sins, misguided by his own nature.  That will cause him great problems and he will go to hell.


Arjuna:  Then what is the solution Krishna?




Krishna:  As I said Arjuna, niskam-karma will purify one's material desires, not repress them.  What can repression accomplish?  But if one's heart is very dirty one cannot even engage in niskam-karma.  This kind of person is difficult to change, but he can improve by associating with a pure devotee, like Narada Muni.




Arjuna:  If everyone is controlled by nature, then the rules and


regulations of sastra are useless.




Krishna:  No. The knowledge gathering senses are attached to mundane things and averse to scriptural injunctions.  One who desires ultimate benefit should not become controlled by the senses, which are like theives on a journey.  Since time immemorial people have engaged in mundane activities and  have developed attachment to material things.  This attachment causes hatred of devotional life and pulls them to mundane life.  Sastra tries to switch this attachment and aversion by engaging one on the proper path to guide oneself. That's why sastric rules and regulations are not useless.




Arjuna:  You have said that by giving up animalistic attachment and by following sastra one's heart will become purified. Therefore wouldn't it be better if I lived as a brahmana?




Krishna:  The svadharma of a ksatriya is fighting.  Do not create your own idea of religion, Arjuna.  Accept the authority of the Vedas.  Just as one perceives form by the eyes and not by any other sense, one knows religion by the Vedas.  Those statements of the Vedas in the imperative mood are dharma.  Even if one dies by doing one's duty it is better than doing another's duty which will ultimately be the cause of fall down.  Do not follow the example of Parasurama and Visvamitra, who changed their positions.  They became powerful by austerity and could do that. Dronacarya's position is also not glorious because he is a brahmana who is fighting.




Arjuna:  Krishna, what is it that drives one to sinful acts, even unwillingly as if engaged by force?




Krishna:  It is lust Arjuna, which is born of passion and later becomes anger.  It is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.  As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the soul is similarly covered by different degrees of lust.  A wise person's pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and burns like fire.  The senses, mind, and intelligence are the sitting places of this lust.  Through them, lust covers the real knowledge of the soul and bewilders him.  Therefore, Arjuna, start by controlling the senses which are the easiest of the three to control.  One's mind may still be attracted, but one can control the senses.  Mind control will come later.  Lust is very, very sinful and it causes one to act despicably, so it should be destroyed at any cost.




Arjuna:  But how can one do that?




Krishna:  The working senses are superior to dull matter.  Mind is higher than the senses, intelligence is still higher than the mind, and the soul is even higher than the intelligence.  Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the senses, mind, and intelligence, Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence directed towards one's pure identity.  Thus by spiritual strength conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.