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Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3 Part I – Karma Yoga
Q: Describe Yoga
Ans: From verse 11-30 knowledge of the Self knowledge (Sankhya buddhi),is revealed. Verse (31-37) explains how this knowledge destroys all bondages, removes confusion, fear and grief leading us to a state of enlightenment.
Yoga buddhi is that attitude which leads us to Self knowledge (Sankhya buddhi), to the state of enlightenment.
Yoga is ‘connect’. Self is happiness but if you’re sad, afraid, confused you’re out of range like being away from WiFi connection.
You’re Sat Chit Ananda, (existence, consciousness, bliss) if you’re out of range from Self, you’re in a remote area..To come back and get connected to presence, Self, is ‘Yoga’.
Karma yoga means we use karma to connect to the source. Jnana yoga means we use knowledge to connect to the source and dhayana Yoga in Bhakti Yoga.
Q: What is shraddha, conviction in Gita?
The understanding of Self should be firm, determination, clear cut conviction. This is shraddha!!
Self knowledge (sankhya buddhi) and the path (yoga buddhi) that will lead us to attain that is by learning the scriptures. Scriptures are the tools that give us the right knowledge. Scriptures, words of realized masters and our experiences are our tools.
Q: What leads to confusion in an individual?
Ans: We see the worldly objects or a person, the mind develops interest, starts liking it, develops a passion to have it and this is called attachment (Kama). When the attachment does not lead to possession of that particular object or person, then the emotion takes over either in the form of fear (bhaya) or anger (krodha). Fear when we feel weak, vulnerable and anger when we feel strong but defeated causing a sorrowful state (Soka). This attachment also leads to delusion (Moha) which is a confused state. At this point, the intellect is paralyzed and unable to make any decision.
Q: What’s our identity in this world per scriptures?
Ans: The absolute identity never changes with time and space. Assumed identity is as mentioned is like we are parent, teacher, sibling, neighbor, friend, professional and with degrees, position, power, authority, titles depending on the role we play. These are all assumed. These often change in the same individual, from person to person or time to time but the real me, the ‘I’ does not change throughout the lifetime whatever role one plays. The ‘I’ absolute identity is the same in a childhood to adolescence to an older person and in all, is ever present.
Many of us through a monotonous life without enquiring the purpose of life. We don’t stop to think or reflect on this question. It is a universal problem that people don’t even try to know who we are. We assume that we are the body. making all totally ignorant of our true identity. That’s why we constantly experience fear, anger, sorrow, confusion, stress trying various methods to keep ourselves cheerful and happy but only for a short period. We set goals, achieve, buy properties and possessions and either we lose them or we lose our energy to enjoy them.
Even then, many are sad on the loss rather than stop to question themselves, ‘who am I?, Where did I come from? What is my goal in life, why am I born?” unless these self enquiry thoughts come to mind, one cannot look for, recognize and realize the true identity, which is everlasting presence of atman in the body. This is the ‘moha’ state of Arjuna in the battlefield.
We are the witness of all actions within this body and around the body
Q: How does Gita helps to face our grief?
Ans: Grief is soka, sorrow. When we are engulfed in sorrow, that emotion totally saps our energy.
Grief starts with fear. Fear of living without the lost one, fear of the unknown situations, fear of life itself. That then leads to self pity, seeking sympathy, which further takes one to anger when others can’t help to minimize this grief. Grief saps our energy completely.
The only way to get out of grief is by right thinking and action, directing one to true Self knowledge. That’s the only way possible to anyone and everyone on this earth. The true Self knowledge is that the Atman present in the body is real one. The body is only temporary and is used as a tool by the atman. Atman is the witness of everything that the mind and body perform..
Atman, which has no beginning or end, is everlasting presence in all bodies whereas the existence of the body is only temporary. Once an individual understands that atman is the permanent substratum, present in every animated body, and everything else is temporal the grief vanishes.
Gita ch 3 emphasises that knowing one’s true identity (Self-knowledge) will remove our grief.
Self knowledge helps us to manage our thoughts and our emotions and choose our actions in the right frame of mind for the common good at all times.
Self knowledge shows us the path not just to be good but to be able to choose to do the right things at all times. That way there is no confusion as to what to do, no regret for what has been done or undone. We live in the present, meeting challenges as and when they come without any stress or tension leading to inner peace, which is moksha.
Q: How does Gita teach us the resilience to deal with life’s challenges?
Ans: Gita is not about God but words from supreme. This chapter teaches seekers to gain enormous mental and emotional strength in dealing with life’s challenging situations.
Endurance, resilience is not an easy quality to anyone, especially when one faces challenges of life. We are often thrown off-guard with sudden unforeseen circumstances, feels helpless and shattered. Resilience is the capacity to handle them in a very objective fashion, with a cheerful disposition.This is possible only when one is able to observe austerity, meaning, a self imposed vow to accept discomforts and forgo pleasures… This can be developed gradually till it becomes a habit, though not an easy task but not an impossible one. For example As per doctor’s advice, a diabetic person cannot eat sugary substance. If he accepts it and is stern about not consuming any of those, that’s austerity. By doing so, he protects his body from further decay. Similarly, runners, hikers have certain austerity they have to follow. Austerity could also defined as a ‘ mental attitude’ with which we handle the situations in life so that we are not shattered, deluded.
Q: What do you mean by the world is not real?
Ans: Real is something that is ever present and not limited to time & space. Everything needs a base, substratum, to change. For example when we see a painting on a canvas with beautiful colors, we initially see the scenery, then, on the next level individual colors and arts like flowers, leaves, As we go deeper down, we see the canvas itself without which nothing can exist. In reality, though the colors and the scenery appears beautiful and draws our attention, it is the canvas on which the scenery is created, without the canvas, there is no painting.
In this case the canvas is real and the painting is unreal but we often see only the painting.
Similarly, the Consciousness that is animating this body is real and the mind, body and intellect are supported by that Consciousness(atman). Without that atman, none of these are functional. The Atman is ‘trikala vatsu’..It is beyond past, present and future.
Q: Explain how confusion and grief. are removed according to Gita?
Ans: From childhood, we are taught about God, prayer, duality etc..But as we grow old, study & accomplish, we should be constantly asking ourselves “Who am I?'” why am I here and What’s my life’s goal?’ This is jnana yoga meaning more of enquiry.
We take on different roles in the society but the absolute identity is the one that never changes, remains in all three states and times. For ex: you’re awake and active, when you’re dreaming, your body is at rest but the mind is active, but when you’re deep asleep both your body and mind are at rest, you enjoy the bliss. Who slept and who knows you slept well? That’s the presence, Atma, Self present in all three states.
It is that which is the substratum of this body, that which supports this body to animate, the one that triggers all hormones and activates all organs is the witness in this body. That is the Self, atman. Once we understand that Self is different from the ego, then we are beyond sorrow, fear, anger and any other emotion.
Q: Science tries to increase the longevity of life, but death is inevitable. Explain from scriptural perspective.
Ans: Everything that is created is bound to dissolve. Everything that comes to life has to face death. There is always an end for every beginning. If a book is created, it won’t last long, If we cook, once it is consumed, the food is not present. Once we start to sing a song, it stops at some point. Constructed building don’t stand forever. Thoughts keep coming and going. Similarly this body, the moment it is born, keep on regenerating by replacing the cells of various organs at different intervals. It is not the same body from childhood to old age. The body is made up of five elements at the time of birth and they merge with the same five elements at the time of death.
According to Vedantic philosophy, every Body goes through six modifications from the Beeja state (exist), birth, growth, modifications, disease and death. So this body comes to this world with an expiry date and I, the ego is not aware of the expiry date. This is natural law.
Q: Celebrate life in the ‘now’, with every person that comes in your life than grieving after the death of the body. Explain why?
Ans: The pure being Atman is ever present, beyond space and time, is present in every BODY, in all species as a reflection, called jivatman. (like the reflection of sun in various bodies of water)
This jivatman is ever present but takes different bodies till it realizes that it is nothing but the pure being. We acquire this body based on our karmic actions. Every action has a consequence and we have earned it. It is as simple as we take a bus to go somewhere, then move on to get a train and then reach the airport and take a plane to the destination. Similarly, based on our karmic needs, we take different bodies and ultimately to reach our destination, moksha. We can get distracted on the way and get down from a bus or a train and get detoured. Then we need to find a different way to reach the destination, that might take longer or shorter with the same transport or a different one.
Exactly the same concept but vedanta calls that mode of transport as bodies. So this body is a means of transportation for the jivatman to its destination. Once we understand this concept, it is now wise to bid farewell to the Body to follow its own path to the destination without grieving.
Q: How are scripture’s teachings relevant to today’s life?
Ans: The scriptures are very much valid today as ever before. They talk about our thoughts, words and actions. As long as human existence is there, these are vital.
What is mind? There is no such thing as ‘mind’ in a physical form. Mind is nothing but flow of thoughts. They come and go with no definite place to pause. The more we try to recall, the more they bring in emotions.
Once we learn to ignore the stray thoughts then the emotions are diminished and we often calm down. The more we retrieve from the database of memories, the corresponding incidences are retrieved, emotions take over and actions performed based on those emotions. or paralyzed leading to inactivity. We tend to encourage such outcomes by giving an extended unwarranted attention to our thoughts.
It is important to endure any challenge when we face with the thought that ‘this too shall pass’. With agitated anxious mind nothing is possible, just like you cannot see the reflection of Sun clearly in a volume of water that has ripples.
Managing the mind, the flow of thought, is very crucial and is the only way by which we can focus on the higher subtle aspect of life.
Understanding the nature of our mind, helps in increasing our forbearance.
It then lets us realize that just like thoughts keep changing, nothing else is permanent. We know the difference between real and unreal, we know the cause has an effect, we choose to do the right thing at all times for we know the consequences of our actions.
Q: Justify using logic (yukti) the basis of belief in rebirth
Ans: Sanathana Dharma philosophy never emphasized on any specific belief. We were always seekers. We did not believe in any faith. Seekers are encouraged to question, enquire and seek the answers to life, individual existence and challenges. Swayam anubhuti (individual experience).
We see plenty of differences from person to person, rich and poor, able and disabled, highly intellectual and the opposite, not to mention the differences in the physical appearances – height, weight, color, structure etc. if we had one life to live, then what is the logic behind these differences? why is it that everyone is not the same, and not come at the same time and go at the same time? Where are we coming from? Why are we different in our thought, word and deeds? Why are we here and Where will we return to? These questions remain unanswered,; whereas the law of karma answers them all.
The second point of thought is that some people always do good things, They are kind, compassionate, helpful, supportive while there are others who are just the opposite, cunning, cheating, jealous, grabbing, hurting, insulting.
How is the first group of people compensated or recognized for their good deeds and how do the second group of people face the consequences of their actions. If all are forgiven then that doesn’t encourage anyone to do any good action. Here also the Bhagavad Gita explains the law of karma as an effective means of understanding life.
Every action has a consequence called papa, sin and punya, meritorious accumulated and experience the effects.
Q: What is dharma?
Ans: Dharma is inherent qualities like the sugar is sweet. There are specific qualities that make us human.
We all have our duties as a sibling, parent, child, employee, employer. Doing one’s duty and in accordance to the inherent disposition is dharma. For example, a surgeon is supposed to cut the body and do the necessary repairs in the patient’s body to improve his health but the surgeon refrains from doing the surgery thinking it would cause injury, then it is adharma. One will not be doing one’s duty, that’s adharma.
Performing Duty, dharma creates merits and gives peace & prosperity. Performing adharmic actions causes demerits. Every thought, word and deed is like a boomerang and will bounce back to the concerned. That’s the law of nature.
Q: How can human come out of sorrow according to Gita.
Ans: This chapters lists the concepts, gives logical explanations and the attitude needed to handle our sorrows in life.
The pure Being, the Atman, which is the real in each & every Body is birthless, deathless &, changeless. The real never perishes, it cannot kill anyone nor can it be killed by anyone. It is the witness and not the doer of actions. Therefore you will not kill them and they will not be killed. Jivatman, the reflection of the ever present Pure Being, existed before the birth of the body and will continue to be alive after the death of the body, continuously taking many more bodies. Atman is never born, never dies. There is no need to grieve on the one that is ever present.
Atman is transmigratory with different bodies, just like we change our clothes depending on the activity or weather conditions or change possessions (TV, Cell phone, computer) even if they are only few years old because we are attracted to the next model or we are disinterested in what we have, so also, our atman decides to quit the current body and get into a newer one. This explains why some lose their body early on and why others linger for a longer period of time in one body. So you should fight knowing that you don’t decide anyone’s death. Why grieve when you are not the killer?
Everything that is born has to perish, that has a beginning will have an end. The body is made up of five elements, combines with the macroscopic five elements and comes back again. Why worry about the inevitable natural law?
Who is that grieves? Joys and sorrows are in the mind in the form of thoughts due to the contact of the five sense organs with the external world or as memories or hopes. These thoughts do not last for ever, also the pain in life is not our choice. When we have to go through them, we might as well accept them AS IS instead of grieving.
The mind that is agitated due to joy and sorrow is not ready for the higher pursuit. Therefore how we respond to the given situation to the physical and mental challenges could be monitored and avoided for sorrow saps our energy obstructing our higher pursuit. If it is going to prevent us from reaching for higher pursuit, then why grieve?
Finally, the real never perishes and the unreal never is. Why should we given them undue reality and suffer?
Accept life AS IS and know the real is ever present and do not grieve for the unreal temporary things and existence is the theme. Not to hold on to sorrow is the sign of wisdom.
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