Lord Krishn has taught Arjun that his cosmic form which he had manifested to him had never been seen by anyone before and would not be seen by anyone in the future. Rather than being known by penance or yagya or charity he can be easily known and approached-as Arjun has seen him-by unwavering devotion and contemplation which is constant and uninterrupted like a stream of oil.
So Arjun was exhorted to dedicate himself to Lord Krishn and remember him; he should perform the ordained deed and better still by surrendering himself to him. Firm and single-minded devotion is the means for achievement of the supreme goal. This naturally whets Arjun’s curiosity to know which one of the two kinds of devotees, they who worship the manifest God like Lord Krishn and they who contemplate the unmanifest Spirit, are superior?
In fact, Arjun has raised this question for the third time here. He had asked Lord Krishn in Chapter 3 why he was urging him to undertake a dreadful task if he thought the Way of Knowledge superior to the Way of Selfless Action. According to Lord Krishn in both ways action is a necessity.
Despite this, however, if a man restrains his senses with unnatural violence and is yet unable to forget their objects, he is an arrogant impostor rather than a man of knowledge. So Arjun was counselled to do the ordained task, the deed of yagya. The mode of yagya, which is a special form of worship and which provides access to the supreme goal, was then elucidated. What difference is there then between the Way of Knowledge and the Way of Selfless Action if the same action-the deed of yagya-has to be embarked on for both? Whereas an affectionate devotee engages in the deed of yagya after having surrendered himself and his action to the desired God, the yogi of knowledge undertakes the same action with a due understanding of his own strength and reliance upon it.
Arjun very humbly asks:
“Which of the two kinds of steadfast devotees,
they who always worship you in your embodied form
and the others who meditate upon your imperishable,
unmanifest Spirit, are superior in their mastery of yog?”
Whether they worship Lord Krishn with self-surrender, a sense of identity with him, and with firm concentration, or they worship the unmanifest and imperishable God in whom he dwells with self-reliance rather than self-surrender, they both follow the way ordained by him. Which of the two, however, are superior?
Lord Krishn sings:
“I believe them to be the most superior of all yogi
who always meditate upon me with concentration
and worship me (the embodied, manifest God) with true faith.”
“And they who restrain all their senses well,
always adore the Supreme Spirit who is beyond thought,
all-pervading, indefinable, filled with equanimity,
immutable and immovable, and formless and indestructible ,
with total concentration, and who serve all beings
viewing them with an equal eye, attain to me.”
These attributes of God are not different from those of Lord Krishn.
“Achievement of perfection by men
who are devoted to the formless God is more arduous,
because they who feel conceited because of their physical bodies
find it more difficult to realize the unmanifest.”
Accomplishment is harder for worshipers who are devoted to the God who is devoid of all qualities because of their attachment to their physical existence. Attainment of the unmanifest, formless God is most difficult as long as a worshiper takes pride in his birth and prowess.
Yogeshwar Krishn was a Godlike accomplished teacher and the unmanifest God was manifested in him. According to him the seeker who, instead of seeking shelter under a sage, goes ahead with trust in his own strength, knowing his present situation and what it will be in the time to come, and with the awareness that he will ultimately realize his own unmanifest, identical Self, begins to think that the Supreme Spirit is no different from him and that he is “him”. Entertaining such thoughts and without waiting for fulfillment he begins to feel that his body itself is the real “he”. So he wanders about in the mortal world, the abode of sorrows, and at last comes to a dead end. But this is not so with the worshiper who goes ahead under Lord Krishn’s gracious shelter.
“And, O Parth, I soon deliver my affectionate devotees
who have set their mind on me and who,
coming under my shelter and dedicating all their action to me,
ever contemplate and worship me-the manifest God-with unshaken intentness, from the abyss of the mortal world.”
Lord Krishn then prompts Arjun to such devotion and throws light upon the way by which it may be accomplished.
Lord Krishn adds:
“There is no doubt whatsoever that you will dwell in me
if you devote and apply your mind and intellect to me.”
Lord Krishn is conscious of his disciple’s weakness, for Arjun has confessed earlier that he considers restraining the mind as difficult as restraining the wind.
“If you cannot firmly set your mind on me; O Dhananjay,
seek me by the yog of incessant practice (abhyas-yog).”
“Practice” here means repeated drawing back of mind from where-ever it roams and fixing it upon the desired goal. But if Arjun is incapable even of this, he should just long for Lord Krishn-only devote himself to his worship, If all his thoughts and actions are only for Lord Krishn, he will have the fulfillment of realizing him.
“In case you are incapable of even following the way of practice,
you may yet secure fulfillment by the performance of actions
which are meant only for me.”
“In case you fail to accomplish even this,
abandon all the fruits of action and rake refuge in my yog
with a thoroughly subdued mind.”
If Arjun cannot even do this, he should give up all desire of the rewards of action as well as considerations of profit and loss, and with a sense of self-surrender find shelter under some sage with an accomplished Soul. The ordained action will then commence spontaneously under the prompting of this accomplished teacher.
Lord Krishn sings:
“Since knowledge is superior to practice,
meditation better than knowledge,
and abandonment of the fruits of action higher than meditation,
renunciation is soon rewarded with peace.”
To engage in action by the Way of Knowledge is better than just the exercise of restraining the mind. Meditation is better than the accomplishment of action through knowledge, because the desired goal is always present in contemplation. Even better than contemplation, however, is the abandonment of the fruits of action, for when Arjun has given up the fruits of action and surrendered himself to the desired goal with the purpose of realizing it, the burden of his exercise of yog is borne by the adored God. So this kind of renunciation is soon followed by the achievement of absolute peace.
Lord Krishn has so far said that the yogi who performs selfless action with a sense of self-surrender has an advantage over the follower of the Way of Knowledge who worships the unmanifest. Both of them accomplish the same action, but there are more hurdles in the way of the latter. He bears the responsibility for his profits and losses himself, whereas the burden of the dedicated worshiper is borne by God. So he soon achieves peace as an outcome of his renunciation of the fruits of action.
~Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans~