In the performance of action without coveting the fruits there of, the initial impulse or the seed is not destroyed. It also does not give rise to any evil. So selfless action, even though done in small measures, frees us from the great fear represented by birth and death. That necessitates reflecting over the nature of such action and walking at least a few steps along its path.
Worshipers who have renounced the vanity of earthly possessions have trodden this path, but so can those who lead the life of householders.
Sri Krishn tells Arjun to just sow the seed, for the seed is never destroyed. There is no power in nature, no weapon, which can destroy it.
The material world can only cover it up momentarily and hide it for a while, but it cannot wipe out the initial inspiration, the seed, of the act of spiritual accomplishment.
According to Lord Krishn, even the gravest of sinners can doubtlessly cross over by the ark of knowledge. He means exactly this when he says that if the seed of selfless action is just planted, it is imperishable. It does not even have any adverse outcome in so much as it does not abandon us midway after showing us how we can progress towards spiritual attainment. Even if we give it up, it works doggedly on for our final liberation.
This is why selfless action, even in a small measure, provides freedom from the great dread of birth and death. Once planted, even after repeated birth, the seed of such action takes us to the realization of God and to emancipation alike from pleasure and from pain.
The question is what we have to do if we choose the Way of Selfless Action.
Lord Krishn sings:
“On this auspicious path,
O Kurunandan (Arjun),
the resolute mind is one,
but the minds of the ignorant are divided and many.”
The mind which is earnestly and firmly oriented to selfless action is unified. Selfless action is only one and its outcome is also one. Spiritual accomplishment is the only true achievement. The gradual realization of this attainment by fighting against forces of the material world is an enterprise. This enterprise and resolute action, with a single goal are also one and the same.
Then what about those who propagate more than one mode of action?
In Sri Krishn’s view they are not true worshipers. The minds of such men are endlessly divided and that is why they conjure up endless ways.
Lord Krishn adds further:
“Desire-ridden men, O Parth,
who are given only to listening
to Vedic promises of rewards for action,
who believe that the attainment of heaven is the highest goal
of temporal birth and its activities,
and who speak pretentious words to describe the many rites
and ceremonies that they regard as conducive
to the achievement of
worldly pleasure and power,
are ignorant and bereft of discernment.”
The minds of such men are riddled with endless dissensions.
Covetous and attached to the tempting promises made by Vedic verses, they regard heaven as the most sublime goal and they believe in nothing beyond this. Such ignorant men not only devise numerous rites and ceremonies, the performance of which is expected to bring such rewards as the next birth, sensual enjoyment, and worldly dominion, but also flaunt them in flowery and affected language.
To put it differently, the minds of men without discrimination have infinite divisions. They are addicted to precepts which promise fruits of action and accept the pledges of the Ved as final and authoritative. They regard heaven as the highest goal. Because their minds are split by many differences, they invent numerous modes of worship. They do speak of God, but behind the cover of his name they build up a whole multitude of ritual ceremonies.
Now, are these activities not a form of action?
Sri Krishn denies that these activities are true action. Lord Krishn states that ignorant minds are divided minds, because of which they formulate an unlimited number of rites and ceremonies that are not real action. They not only expound them but also give utterance to them in figurative language.
Lord Krishn sings:
“Delighted by ornamental words and attached
to worldly pleasures and dominance,
men without discrimination have irresolute minds.”
Minds which are affected by the tempting words of such people are also corrupted and they also fail to accomplish what is worthwhile. The people whose minds are enamoured of such words, and who are attached to sensual enjoyment and temporal power, are deprived of their capacity for action; they are bereft of resolve for the true action that is a prerequisite of contemplation of the worshiped God.
But who are the people that lend their ears to these unwise men?
Of course, rather than being knowers of the Self within and the Supreme Spirit without, they are the ones who are addicted to sensual pleasure and temporal power. The minds of such men are lacking in will for the action that is needed for the ultimate union of the Self with the Supreme Spirit.
What exactly is the meaning of the assertion that they, too, are mistaken who are blindly devoted to Vedic pronouncements?
Sri Krishn speaks about this in next verse:
“Since all the Ved, O Arjun, only illumine the three properties,
you should rise above them, be free from
the contradictions of happiness and sorrow,
rest on that which is constant,
and be unconcerned with getting what you do not have as well as
with protecting what you have,
in order to dedicate yourself to the Self within.”
The Ved only illumine the three properties of nature. So Arjun should go beyond the sphere of action laid down by the Ved.
How to do this?
Sri Krishn advises Arjun to liberate himself from the conflicts of joy and sorrow, concentrate on the one changeless reality, and desire neither the unobtained nor the obtained; so that he may devote himself single-mindedly to the indwelling Self. This is how he can rise above the Ved.
But is there any precedence of anyone going beyond them?
Sri Krishn says that as a man transcends the Ved, even so he comes face to face with the Supreme Spirit, and that the man who is aware of him is a true Vipr, a Brahmin.
Lord Krishn concludes:
“After the final absolution a man does not need the Ved,
just as we do not need a pond
when there is the all-stretching ocean around.”
When a man is surrounded by the ocean on all sides, he has no use for a pond. Just so a Brahmin who has gained knowledge of the Supreme Spirit has no use for the Ved. That means that the one who knows God transcends the Ved, and that man is a Brahmin.
So Sri Krishn counsels Arjun to rise above the Ved and be a Brahmin.
Arjun is a Kshatriy and Sri Krishn is exhorting him to be a Brahmin. Brahmin and Kshatriy are, among others, names of qualities that are inherent in the dispositions of different varn (or what are now more commonly known as castes).
But the varn-tradition is originally, as we have already seen, action-oriented rather than a social provision determined by birth.
What use has he for a petty pond who has availed himself of the crystal current of the Ganga?
Some use a pond for ablution, while others wash their cattle in it.
A sage who has known God by direct perception has the same kind of use for the Ved.
They are undoubtedly useful. The Ved exists for stragglers who lag behind.
~ Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans ~
~ mrityunjayanand ~
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