matriwords

Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)

Sambhavami Yuge Yuge – Part 2

CONTINUED FROM PART 1


In this part 2 of our special photo-feature the focus is on a few selected teachings from the Bhagavad Gita that speak of the Karmayoga, the Yoga of Works. Invoking the grace of Sri Krishna and taking guidance from the relevant explanations and passages from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Essays on the Gita’ we present here a few summary notes – based on our limited intellect and capability – of selected parts from the Gita.  

The photographs featured here were taken by Suhas Mehra at an exquisite dance-drama performed at Bharat Niwas, Auroville. 

Humbly we offer this work at the feet of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, and the Eternal Flute Player and the Divine Teacher of Kurukshetra, Lord Sri Krishna. 


 

Arjuna seems perplexed after listening to the deep metaphysical truths given by Sri Krishna regarding the permanence of the Atman, the way of being of the yogin stationed in the true self-knowledge, and the Yoga of the Intelligent Will.

Seeking a more definitive guidance he asks Krishna if the pursuit of Knowledge or buddhi-yoga is higher than works why must he engage in a terrible action such as war. He is looking for a “strenuously single road by which the human intelligence can move straight and trenchantly to the supreme good.” (Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, CWSA, Vol. 19, p. 105).

Sri Krishna then teaches him and the humanity the true Yoga of the Works. 

 

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Sri Krishna explains that most aspirants and seekers understand the way of Sānkhya as the path of knowledge and intelligence, and see the Yoga as a path of works and the transformation of the dynamic consciousness. As a result of this ordinarily (mis)-understood distinction the path of Sānkhya leads them to entire passivity and the renunciation of works.

The path of Yoga holds the inner renunciation of desire to be quite sufficient and emphasises the “purification of the subjective principle which leads to action and the turning of works Godwards, towards the divine existence and towards liberation.” (p. 81).

 

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He says that actionlessness is not enjoyed by abstention from works nor by mere renunciation of works, nor does such renunciation or abstention leads one to perfection. One may control one’s senses and refuse to give them their natural play, but if one’s mind continues to remember and dwell upon the objects of sense it is only a false notion of self-discipline.

Controlling one’s senses by the mind, without attachment or clinging to the objects of the senses, and engaging with the organs of action with no clinging to the work or the fruit of the works, one pursues action as Yoga, Karmayoga.

 

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The Gita teaches us that complete inaction is not only an impossibility, since everyone is being made to act helplessly by the modes born of Prakriti, but also an error, a confusion, a self-delusion. Desireless and unattached action, niṣkāmakarma, controlled by the liberated buddhi, done without subjection to sense and passion is the first secret of perfection, says Sri Krishna. The Gita thus speaks of the Yoga of the self-liberating intelligent will finding its full meaning by the Yoga of desireless works.

 

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To emphasise the truth of niṣkāmakarma, Sri Krishna gives his own example and sets up his own standard for Arjuna and the humanity. He says,

“I abide in the path of action… the path that all men follow; thou too must abide in action. In the way I act, in that way thou too must act. I am above the necessity of works, for I have nothing to gain by them; I am the Divine who possess all things and all beings in the world and I am myself beyond the world as well as in it and I do not depend upon anything or anyone in all the three worlds for any object; yet I act. This too must be thy manner and spirit of working.” (p. 138). 

Sri Aurobindo helps us gain a deeper significance of Sri Krishna, the Avatar, giving his own example when he says that this reveals the whole basis of the Gita’s philosophy of divine works.

“The liberated man is he who has exalted himself into the divine nature and according to that divine nature must be his actions.” (p. 139).

 

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Sri Krishna says that so thick and tangled is the way of works in the world, like a deep forest, gahana, that even the sages have been perplexed and deluded as to what is action, what is wrong action, and what is inaction. He speaks of the action by which one is released from all ills.

 

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The one who in action can see inaction and can see action still continuing in cessation from works, is the man of true reason and discernment, says Sri Krishna. The reference here, as Sri Aurobindo explains, is to the Sānkhya distinction

“…between the free inactive soul, eternally calm, pure and unmoved in the midst of works, and ever active Nature operative as much in inertia and cessation as in the overt turmoil of her visible hurry of labour.” (p. 178).

True rationality and the highest effort of the discriminating reason, the buddhi, can help one see this distinction.

 

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Fixing one’s consciousness in the Self, becoming free from desire and egoism, one must perform all works in the spirit of sacrifice to the Lord. An assurance is given that with a firm and sincere faith in the Supreme Self, the Purushottama, and constantly following this path of Works one is released from the bondage of works.

 

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The Gita also teaches us about the significance of pursuing the works according to one’s truer inner nature, one’s law of being, swadharma. Instead of coercing and suppressing one’s true inner nature, which eventually depresses the natural powers of the being, one must practice the path of self-control with right use and right guidance, which is the control of the lower by the higher self.

Such self-control successfully gives to one’s natural powers their right action and their maximum efficiency. Sri Krishna gives Arjuna a concrete advice:

“Better is one’s own law of works, swadharma, though in itself faulty, than an alien law well-wrought out; death in one’s own law of being is better, perilous is it to follow an alien law.”

 

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A bewildered thinker who continues to judge life and works by the external, uncertain and impermanent distinctions of the lower reason remains perplexed. A liberated person, being free from the will of desire and knowing that the Divine is the lord of all his works, undertakes all types of works but his works are burned up by the fire of knowledge. His mind remains without any stain from action, calm, silent, unperturbed, clean and pure. Having abandoned all attachment to the fruits of his works, ever satisfied and without any kind of dependence, he continues to engage in action as per his nature.

TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 3…

GO TO PART 1

To see more photo-features on this blog, click HERE.

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About Beloo Mehra

Beloo is the author of two books, one on Indian Education, titled "ABC’s of Indian National Education" and an ebook featuring a selection of her essays, titled "The Thinking Indian." She holds several degrees in Education and Economics, has extensive teaching experience at school and university level in India and the US, and has a keen interest in the educational, social and cultural thought of Sri Aurobindo. She currently lives in Pondicherry, spends her time doing some reading, some writing, some teaching, some gardening and a whole lot of reflecting on life, living, society, politics, religion, art, literature, India, the World, and everything else under the Sun and the Moon.

8 comments on “Sambhavami Yuge Yuge – Part 2

  1. Alok Singhal
    May 7, 2017

    At some point in my life I was so much into the old teachings…I felt good then​. With time, I lost touch​.

    I did learn and implement a few aspects, though…primarily of not running too much after and being satisfied ​with material desires. Whatever I do, I do for my happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      May 15, 2017

      Thanks Alok for sharing your perspective. Yes often we tend to go away from what we had imbibed as values at some point in life. Maybe that’s also a way of Life making us realise the deeper truth of some of those values in a roundabout way. Who knows?!

      Pursuing something for only material gains can never really bring lasting happiness, this one is for sure though 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zephyr
    May 8, 2017

    I was always deluded into thinking that I was following karma yoga while discharging my duties when I was younger, making it an excuse not to reach out to the divine in ways that I am now learning. But after reading the explanations given by Sri Aurobindo, I realise that it had been steeped in ego and not at all dispassionate or done in a spirit of sacrifice. Well, we learn about everything, including ourselves as we learn to analyse things, don’t we?

    The pics are awesome, Suhas, and add to the beauty of the post. Especially loved the one where the fleecy dupatta covers the dancer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      May 15, 2017

      In the Gita also, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that this whole ‘action’ thing is not easy to comprehend, even for the sages. So it is completely understandable if you and I are deluded into some or the other misunderstanding of what karmayoga is or what karma is 🙂 The ideal of karmayoga that is put before us in the Gita and which Sri Aurobindo so wonderfully explains in his Essays is so high, and yet feels so true to some part of our being. Maybe if we can get in touch with that deepest part of our being which can feel this truth perhaps we can find courage in our other parts to pursue works in the true spirit of karmayog.

      Glad that you liked the pictures. Part 3 (concluding part of this post should be ready soon).

      Thanks Zephyr for sharing your valuable comment. In a way it humanises this post very much.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Complexity of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas challenges the intellect | Selforum

  4. vinodinii
    May 8, 2017

    Good to see you back on the blogging scene, Beloo! The pictures are simply fabulous. Coercing one’s self to do something that is not agreeable to us never works. Shri Krishna’s teachings are indeed worth reflecting on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      May 15, 2017

      Thanks Vinodini for stopping by and for sharing your thought! I am happy you enjoyed the pictures. I agree that it is not easy to pursue a work that is not agreeable to us in some way, but that’s where I think the whole essence of the word ‘sadhana’ comes in – it requires immense practice, detachment and a sense of equanimity. It may take a lifetime to develop these qualities but I believe life has a way of giving us field of experience to practice developing these, even if only a tiny bit.

      Like

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