ye yathā mām prapadyante
tāns tathai’va bhajāmy aham,
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvasaḥ (4.11)
[4.11]:”O Parth, as men worship me, even so do I accept them, and knowing this the wise follow me in every way.”
Sri Krishn rewards his worshippers according to the nature of their devotion; he assists them in the same degree. It is the worshipper’s dedication that is returned to him as grace. Knowing this secret, the righteous conduct themselves with single-mindedness according to the way laid down by him. They who are dear to him act according to his way. They do what he ordains them to do.
God shows his favour by standing with the worshipper as a charioteer; he begins to walk along with the worshipper and manifest his glory. This is the form of his loving care. He stands up for the destruction of forces that generate wickedness and to protect righteous impulses that provide access to reality.
Unless the worshipped God acts as the earnest charioteer who alerts at every step, despite his dedication and closing his eyes in meditation, and all other endeavours, the worshipper cannot cope with the adversities of the material world successfully.
How is he to know how much distance he has covered and how much more remains to be covered? The adored God stands inseparably with the Self and guides him: that he is now at this point, that he should do this, and walk like that. Thus the gulf of nature is gradually bridged and, guiding the Soul ahead by gradual steps, God at last enables him to merge into him.
Worship and adoration have to be performed by the devotee, but the distance on the path which is covered by the devotee is only by God’s grace. Knowing this, men who are pervaded by divine sentiment through and through follow Sri Krishn’s precept.
kānkṣantaḥ karmaṇām siddhim
yajanta iha devatāḥ,
kṣipram hi mānuṣe loke
siddhir bhavati karmajā (4.12)
[4.12]:”Desiring fruits of their action, men worship manifold gods, for the rewards of action are then earned quickly.”
Desiring accomplishment of action within this human body, men take to the worship of many gods-that is, they cultivate the several righteous impulses.Sri Krishn has told Arjun to perform the ordained action, which is performance of yagya, a way of worship, in which the incoming and outgoing life-breaths are offered to God as oblation and the outward-looking senses are burnt out in the fire of self-restraint, and whose final outcome is the attainment of God.
The true meaning of action is worship and this is again clarified later in this chapter. The outcome of this action is oneness with the eternal God, supreme goal: the state of total actionlessness. Sri Krishn says that men who follow his way, worship gods for the attainment of actionlessness, that is, they strengthen the divine impulses within.
Sri Krishn said in Chapter 3 that Arjun ought to practice yagya to foster gods-to strengthen his righteous impulses. He will progress more and more as these impulses are gradually strengthened and augmented. Thus, advancing step by step, he will at last achieve ultimate bliss.
This is the final stage of the process of spiritual advancement that has to be gone through from the beginning to the end. Stressing the point,Sri Krishn says that they who follow him, even though aspiring for accomplishment of action in their human bodies, tend the righteous impulses which quicken the advent of the state of actionlessness. Never failing, the process invariably succeeds.
What is meaning of “quickly” or “soon” here? Is it that no sooner do we commence action that we are rewarded with final achievement?
According to Sri Krishn, it is decreed that this height can be only gradually conquered, moving step by step. No one can leap across to the summit at once and bring about a miracle like the revelations that teachers of divinity now a days claim for abstract meditation.
cāturvarṇyam mayā sṛṣṭam
tasya kartāram api mām
viddhy akartāram avyayam (4.13)
[4.13]:”Although I have created the four classes (varn )-Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudr-according to innate properties and actions, know me the immutable as a non-doer.”
Sri Krishn represents himself as the maker of the four classes. Does it mean that he has divided men into four rigid categories determined by birth? The truth is rather that he has divided actions into four classes on the basis of inherent properties.
All the same, as he tells Arjun, he-the imperishable God-is a non-agent and should be known as such. The innate property (gun) of a being or of a thing is a measure, a yardstick.
If the dominant property is that of ignorance or darkness (tamas), it will result in an irresistible inclination to laziness, excessive sleep, wantonness, aversion to work, and compulsive addiction to evil in spite of the realization that it is evil. How can worship commence in such a state?We sit and worship for two hours and we try to do it with the utmost earnestness, and yet we fail to secure even ten minutes that are truly propitious. The body is still and quiet, but the mind which should be really quiet soars aloft weaving webs of fancies. Waves upon waves of speculation toss it.
Then why do we sit idly in the name of meditation and waste time?
The only remedy at this stage is it dedicate ourselves to the service of wise men who dwell in the unmanifest and of those who have gone ahead of us on the path. This will subdue negative impressions and strengthen thoughts that are conducive to worship.
Gradually, with the diminishing of forces of darkness and ignorance, there is the growing sway of the quality of rajas, and a partial awakening of the property of good and moral virtue (sattwa) as well, because of which the worshipper’s ability is elevated to the Vaishya level. Then the same worshipper begins spontaneously to imbibe qualities such as control of the senses and to accumulate other virtuous impulses.
Proceeding further on the path of action, he is endowed with the wealth of righteousness. The property of rajas now grows faint and tamas is dormant. At this stage of development the worshipper steps on to the Kshatriya level. Prowess, the ability to be immersed in action, unwillingness to retreat, mastery over feelings, the capacity to carve his way through the three properties of nature-are now the inherent features of the worshipper’s disposition.
With yet further refinement of action, sattwa makes its approach, at which there is the evolution of virtues such as control of the mind and senses, concentration, innocence, contemplation and abstract meditation, and faith as well the capacity to hear the voice of God-all qualities that provide access to Him. With the emergence of these qualities the worshipper comes to belong to the Brahmin class.
This, however, is the lowest stage of worship at this level.When ultimately the worshipper is united with God, at that point-the highest point-he is neither a Brahmin, nor a Kshatriya, nor a Vaishya, nor a Shudr.
So worship of God is the only action-the ordained action. And it is this one action that is divided into four stages according to the motivating properties. The division was made, as we have seen, by a saint—by a Yogeshwar. A sage dwelling in the unmanifest was the maker of this division. Yet Sri Krishn tells Arjun to regard him, the indestructible and maker of varn, as a non-doer. How can it be so?We will see this in next verse.
na mām karmāṇi limpanti
na me karmaphale spṛhā,
iti mām yo’bhijānāti
karmabhir na sa badhyate (4.14)
[4.14]:”I am unsullied by action because I am not attached to it, and they who are aware of this are in the like fashion unfettered by action.”
Sri Krishn is unattached to the fruits of action. He said before that the deed by which yagya is accomplished is action, and that the one who tastes the nectar of wisdom generated by yagya merges into the changeless, eternal God.
So the final consequence of action is attainment of the Supreme Spirit himself. And Sri Krishn has overcome even the desire for God because he has become identical with Him. So he is also unmanifest like God. There is now no power beyond for which he should strive. So he is untouched by action, and they who know him from the same level, from the level of God realization, are also not bound by action. Such are the realized sages who have reached the level of Sri Krishn’s accomplishment.
avam jñātvā kṛtam karma
pūrvair api mumukṣubhih,
kuru karmai’va tasmāt tvam
pūrvaiḥ purvataram kṛtam (4.15)
[4.15]:”Since it is with this wisdom that men aiming at salvation from worldly existence have also performed action in earlier times, you too should follow the example of your predecessors.”
In the past, too, men desiring salvation had acted with the same realization: that the patterns of action are severed when as the final outcome of his action the doer is one with God, and when he is liberated from desire even for him.Sri Krishn belongs to this state. So he is untainted by action and, if we have what he has, we too will be freed from the bonds of action. Whoever knows what Sri Krishn knows from his elevated position will be freed from action.
So whatever Sri Krishn might have been, the unmanifest God or an enlightened sage, his attainment is within the reach of all of us. It was with this kind of wisdom that earlier men aspiring for salvation had set upon the path of action. It is for this reason that Arjun is told to do what his predecessors have done. This is the only way that leads to the sublime good.
So far Sri Krishn has stressed the performance of action, but he has not yet explained what this action is. He only mentioned it in Chapter 2 and told Arjun to listen to him on selfless action. He described its special features, one of which is that it gives protection against the terrible fear of birth and death. He then dwelt upon the precautions that have to be observed in its performance.
But despite all this he has not pointed out what action is? He later added, in Chapter 3, that, whether one prefers the Way of Knowledge or the Way of Selfless Action, action is a necessity in each case. One becomes neither wise by renouncing action nor emancipated from action by just not undertaking it.
They who suppress their organs of action with violence are just arrogant hypocrites. So Arjun should act, restraining his senses with the mind.Sri Krishn told him to do the ordained action, which is performance of yagya, to clarify the meaning of action. And now in this chapter he has told Arjun that even scholars of great erudition are confounded by the problems of what action is and what actionlessness is. So it is important that action and actionlessness are understood well.
[As expounded by most revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans]
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