Lord Krishn is unattached to the fruits of action. He has taught 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.
Lord Krishn sings in Chapter Four, verse Fourteen of Bhagavad Gita:
“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.”
So the final consequence of action is attainment of the Supreme Spirit himself. And Lord 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 Lord Krishn’s accomplishment.
Lord Krishn adds:
“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. Lord 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 Lord 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.
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.
Lord Krishn told him to do the ordained action, which is performance of yagya, to clarify the meaning of action. And now 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.
Lord Krishn sings further:
“Even wise men are confused
about the nature of action and actionlessness,
and so I shall explain the meaning of action to you well,
so that knowing it you may be emancipated from evil.”
What are action and the state in which there is no action?
Even men of learning are confounded by these questions. So Sri Krishn tells Arjun that he is going to expound well the meaning of action to him, so that he can be freed from worldly bondage. He has already said that action is something that liberates from the fetters of temporal life.
Now, again, he stresses the importance of knowing what it is?
“It is essential to know the nature of action
as well as of actionlessness,
and also that of meritorious action,
for the ways of action are (So) inscrutable.”
It is of the utmost importance to know what action is and what actionlessness is, as also the action which is free from all doubt and ignorance and which is undertaken by men of wisdom who have renounced all worldly desire and attachment. This is imperative because the problem of action is a great riddle.
Some commentators have interpreted the word ‘‘vikarm’’ in the text (which has been translated here as “meritorious action”) as “forbidden or prohibited action” and “diligent action,” etc. But the preposition vi prefixed to the root karm here denotes merit or excellence. The action of men who have attained to the ultimate bliss is free from all uncertainty and error. For sages who dwell and find contentment in the Self, and love him and the Supreme Spirit, there is neither any profit in accomplishing action nor any loss in forsaking it. But they yet act for the good of those who are behind them. Such action is pure and it is free from all doubt and ignorance.
We have just seen “meritorious action.” So we are now left with action and actionlessness. They are explained in the next verse, and if we do not understand the distinction between the two here, we will perhaps never understand it.
Lord Krishn sings:
“One who can perceive non-action in action
and action in non-action is a wise man
and an accomplished doer of perfect action.”
Action means worship; and the accomplished doer is one who sees non-action in action, that is, who contemplates God and yet believes simultaneously that rather than being the doer, he has only been prompted to action by his inherent properties. Only when this ability to see non-action has been mastered and the continuity of action is unbroken, should one believe that action is proceeding in the right direction. The man with this insight is a wise man. verily a yogi, endowed with the means by which the individual Soul is united with the Supreme Spirit, and a doer of perfect action. There is not even the slightest error in his performance of action.
Briefly, then, worship is action. A man should practice it and yet see non-action in it, that is, realize that he is just an instrument while the real doer is the underlying property. When we know that we are non-doers and there is yet constant and unimpeded action, only then is made possible the performance of that action which results in the ultimate good.
My noble teacher, the revered Maharaj Ji, used to say to us, “Until God turns into a charioteer to restrain and guide, real worship does not begin.” Whatever is done before this stage is no more than a preliminary attempt to be admitted to the way of action. The whole weight of the yoke rests on the oxen and yet the ploughman is the one who drives them, and the ploughing of the field is said to be his accomplishment·
Even so although all the burden of worship is borne by the worshiper, the real worshiper is God because he is always by the devote, urging and guiding him. Until God delivers his judgement, we cannot even know what has been done through us.
Are we yet settled in the Supreme Spirit or are we just roaming about in the wilderness of nature?
The worshiper who thus goes ahead on the spiritual path under God’s guidance, and who acts with constant belief that he is a non-doer, is truly wise; he knows the reality and he is indeed a yogi.
Let us recall briefly, for the sake of better understanding, what Sri Krishn has said about action and yagya, so far. What is usually done in the name of action, he has said, is not action. Action is a prescribed undertaking-the performance of yagya. Whatever else besides it is done is not action. According to Sri Krishn anything apart from this that is done is worldly bondage rather than action. From what Sri Krishn has spoken about the nature of yagya, it is evident that it is a particular mode of worship which guides the devotee to the adored God and effects his dissolution in Him.
For the performance of this yagya one has to subdue the senses, control the mind, and augment pious impulses. Concluding this part of the argument, Lord Krishn said that many yogis depend upon serenity of breath during silent recitation of the deity’s name by restraining the life-winds, in which state there is neither internal volition nor coming into the mind of any desire from the external environment.
In such a state of total restraint of the mind, when even restrained mind is dissolved, the worshiper merges into the changeless, eternal God. This is yagya, the performance of which is action. Therefore, the true meaning of action is “worship;” it means divine adoration and practice of yog. So far only a distinction has been made between action and non-action, awareness of which will guide the worshiper on to the right path and enable him to trend effectively on it.
~ Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans ~
~ mrityunjayanand ~
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