From the beginning to the moment of attainment, all action is performed because of the properties of nature, but the man whose mind is clouded with vanity thinks arrogantly that he is the doer. He takes it for granted.
Lord Krishn sings in Chapter Three of Bhagavad Gita:
“Although all action is caused by the properties of nature,
the man with an egotistic and deluded mind presumes
that he himself is the doer.”
But how can we believe that worship of God, too, is brought about by the properties of nature?
The necessary evidence is provided by Lord Krishn in next verse.
“But the wise man,
who is aware of different spheres of the properties of nature
in the form of mind and senses as well as of their action upon objects,
is not a prey to attachment, O the mighty-armed,
because he knows that the mind and senses (gun)
dwell upon objects of perception (gun).”
Seers who have perceived the ultimate essence are aware of the distinction between the properties of nature and action, as also of the fact that these properties are preoccupied with themselves, and are disinterested in their action.
“Essence” here means the Supreme Spirit rather than the five (or twenty-five) elements or primary substances that are countable. In Lord Krishn’s words, God is the only element; besides him there is no other reality. Going across the properties of nature, the sages who dwell in God-the only reality, are enabled to perceive divisions of action according to the properties of nature.
If the predominant quality or property is ignorance (tamas), it shows itself in the forms of lethargy, sleep, and wantonness-in brief, in a general disinclination to action. If the basic property is passion (rajas), the resulting action is characterized by an unwillingness to retreat from worship and a sense of authority. If the dominating property is virtue or quality of goodness (sattwa), the actions prompted by it bear such traits as concentration of mind, meditativeness, a positive attitude towards experience, continuous thought, and simplicity.
Properties of nature are mutable. So the perceptive sage alone is able to see that the excellence or otherwise of action is determined by the constituent properties. These properties effect their work through their instruments, the senses and their objects. But they who have not yet gone beyond these properties, and are still midway, are addicted to whatever they do.
Lord Krishn adds further:
“They ought not to undermine the faith of the deluded
who are unaware of the truth,
because they are enamoured of the constituents of matter
and so attached to senses and their functions.”
Men who have an infatuation for nature get addicted to their actions when they see them gradually evolving towards the level of superior properties. Wise men who know the truth should not unsettle these deceived men who lack in both knowledge and energetic effort. Instead of disheartening them, the wise should encourage them because they can reach the ultimate state where action ceases to be only through the performance of action. After making a careful appraisal of his inborn capacity and situation, the seeker who has resolved to act by the Way of Knowledge must deem action as gifted to him by the properties of nature.
If, on the contrary, he presumes that he himself is the doer, it will make him vain and conceited. Even after progressing on to superior properties he should not get addicted to them. The seeker, on the other hand, who has chosen the Way of Selfless Action, has no need to analyze the nature of action and properties of nature. He has to act only with a total self-surrender to God.
In this case, it is for the God within (Guru) to see which properties are making their entry and which are departing. The seeker on the Way of Selfless Action believes everything – change in properties as well as his gradual elevation from the lower to the higher ones – to be a blessing from God. So, although he is constantly engaged in action, he neither feels the vanity of being the doer nor becomes attached to what he is doing.
Lord Krishn sings:
“So, O Arjun, contemplate the Self,
surrender all your action to me,
abandon all desire, pity, and grief, and be ready to fight.”
Arjun is told to fight, restraining his thoughts within his innermost being, surrendering in a meditative state all his deeds to the God, and in absolute freedom from aspiration, pity, and sorrow.
When a man’s thought is absorbed in contemplation, when there is not the least desire of hope anywhere, when there is no feeling of self-interest behind the act, and when there is no regret over the prospect of defeat, what kind of war can a man fight? When thought is withdrawn from all sides into the innermost spirit, against whom will he fight? And where? And who is there to fight against?
In fact, however, it is only when you enter into the meditative process that the true form of war emerges. It is only then that it is known that the throng of unrighteous impulses, of desire, wrath, attraction and repulsion, and of desire and hunger, all deviations from piety, which are called kuru, are the great enemies that create attachment to the world. They obstruct the seeker of truth by launching a vicious assault. To overcome them is real war. To subdue them, to contract oneself within one’s mind, and to achieve the state of steady contemplation is real war.
Lord Krishn adds:
“Unquestioning and devoted men
who always act according to this precept of mine
are liberated from action.”
Freed from illusion and possessed of feelings of adoration and self Surrender, men who always act in conformity with Lord Krishn’s precept that “one should fight” are also liberated from all action. This assurance of Yogeshwar Krishn is for all of humanity. His doctrine is that one should make war. It may appear from this that this teaching is for warmongers. Fortunately there was the setup of a universal war before Arjun.
But, when we are confronted by no such prospect why do we seek resolution in the Bhagavad Gita or why do we so adamantly insist that the means of liberation from action is available only to fighters of a war?
Truth is quite the contrary. The war, of the Bhagavad Gita is that of the heart-the innermost Self. This is the war between matter and spirit, knowledge and ignorance, Dharmkshetr and Kurukshetr. The more we try to check our thought by meditation, the more the unrighteous impulses emerge as enemies and launch a terrible attack. Vanquishing their demoniacal powers and restraint of thought are at the very center of this war of the divine song. The one who is rid of illusion and engages in the war with faith, is perfectly liberated from the bondage of action, and of birth and death.
But what happens to the one who retreats from this war?
Lord Krishn sings:
“Know that skeptical men,
who do not act in keeping with this precept of mine
because they are devoid of knowledge and discrimination,
are doomed to misery.”
Deluded men, drunk with attachment and lacking in knowledge, who do not follow the teaching of Lord Krishn, or who, in other words, do not wage war in a state of meditation in which there is complete self-surrender as well as freedom from desire, self-interest, and grief, are deprived of the ultimate bliss.
If this is true, why don’t people invariably do so?
Sri Krishn accounts for it thus.
“Since all beings are constrained to act in conformity
with their natural disposition and the wise man also strives accordingly,
of what avail can violence with nature be?
All beings are dominated by their governing property and act under its compulsion. The sage who is blessed with perception also makes his efforts in accordance with his nature. Ordinary men abide in their actions and the wise in their Self. Everyone acts according to the inescapable demands of his nature. This is a self-evident and incontrovertible truth.
It is for this reason that, according to Lord Krishn, men do not follow his teaching even though they know it. Unable to overcome desire, self-interest, and sorrow, or, in other words, attachment and aversion, they fail to act in the prescribed way.
Lord Krishn also points out another reason in next verse.
“Do not be ruled by attachment and aversion,
because both of them are the great enemies
that obstruct you on the way to good.”
Attraction and repulsion lie within the senses and their pleasures. One should not be dominated by them because they are formidable enemies on the way that leads to good and liberation from action; they ravish the seeker’s worshipful attitude.
When the enemy is within, why should one fight an external war? The enemy is in league with the senses and their objects-within the mind. So the war of the Bhagavad Gita is an internal war. The human heart is the field on which there are marshalled the divine and devilish impulses – the forces of knowledge and ignorance, the two aspects of illusion. To overcome these negative forces, to destroy the devilish by fostering divine impulses, is real war.
But when the unrighteous forces are annihilated, the utility of righteous impulses also comes to an end. After the Self is united with God, pious impulses too are dissolved and merge with him.
To overcome nature thus is a war that can be fought only in a state of contemplation.
~Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans~