Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: December 18, 2016 Reading time: 22 minutes
School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (email@example.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control.
Arjuna starts off by expressing confusion – which is better, performing action or renouncing it? Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, both jñāna-yoga (sāṃkhya) and karma-yoga are one (eka) and reach the same goal, Brahman. However, the path of renunciation is very difficult and painful. In any case, even renunciation requires action, so renouncing the outcome of action is an easier method of reaching Brahman.
A person merges with Brahman when he has advanced in cleansing of the Soul (ātmaśuddhaye), views everything as one (sama-dṛṣṭaye), has an intellect that is immersed in an unchanging state of peace (Brahman) with complete focus on an unchanging state of peace (Brahman) (verse 18-19).
The citta (consciousness).
Example of citta and in daily life.
When we go to a funeral or cremation, our identity (puruṣa) has already been conditioned (dharma) about how the self-identity must be projected.
Hence, we dress and act sombre at a funeral, we are serious in a temple or church and joyous at a wedding. Similarly, when we meet a friend, we show happiness and at a business meeting, we present appropriate behavious. Finally, when we are alone, our consciousness keeps reaching out for subjects, we dream, imagine situations and sometimes reflect on ourselves.
This projection of our Self and our experiences is our consciousness (citta). The fact is, the change in our demeanour occurs because our consciousness (citta) takes on the atmosphere of the environment naturally. Consequently, citta always mirrors with the same identity as its environment to avoid damage to self-worth (asmitā).
If the individual were to behave contrary to dharma (conditioning or accepted practice), the environment will reject the projection of the individual (dveṣa) leading to psychological damage of the asmitā (self-esteem).
How should we perform karma?
Māyā (illusion) is driven by guṇa (attitude) which drives conditioning (dharma). Guṇa comprises tamas (delusion), rajas (passion) and sattva (harmony). So, we can transcend māyā and experience the nature of Self by taking the following actions:
As a result, senses become controlled and Self is isolated from the actions. Also, this allows clarity in cognition (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya), the two key requirements for betterment in Yoga which allow the Soul to transcend māyā and merge with the Truth (Brahman).
The sanyāsin does this by shutting out external objects, fixing the gaze between the eyebrows (nāsikāgra- dṛṣṭi) and equalising their incoming (prāṇa) and outgoing (apāna) breath (vāyu) and moving it within the nostrils (nāsābhyantaracāriṇau) (verse 27).
It is important for any student of Yoga to understand the physiology and prāṇa movements that occur in this practice.
Breathing physiology – part 1 – flow of air into the nasal passage.
First, air is sucked into the respiratory system through the nostril. How does this occur?
The diaphragm is a muscle which separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity. In fact, it is anchored on the lower ribs. So, during inhalation, the diaphragm moves down, creating a negative pressure in the thoracic cavity. Consequently, this draws in air from the atmosphere.
Breathing physiology – part 2 – flow of air and awareness (prajñā).
The result of the above movement of air is,
All this results in an awareness of being alive.
There is a slight drop in temperature of the incoming air due to the venture effect, which is compensated by the warm air in the nasal cavity and sinuses. This is why, there is often condensate over the bridge of the nose and, also the reason for the nose being the coldest part of the face.
When the yogī equalises the incoming and outgoing breath at the nasal cavity, the air flow gets regulated to one where turbulence is slowly minimised and then made insignificant. As a result, the main senses of touch, smell and hearing are shut down. When the yogī focuses his awareness by gazing between the eyebrows, sight is also brought under control. This is why the above verse 27 is so important.
Sannyāsa is easier said than done. It requires effort, sacrifice and ability to endure pain and grief.
The Saṃskṛtaṃ words are in red italics.
संन्यासं कर्मणां कृष्ण पुनर्योगं च शंससि ।
यच्छ्रेय एतयोरेकं तन्मे ब्रूहि सुनिश्चितम् ॥ ५-१॥
Arjuna said (1) On the one hand you praise renunciation of action and at the same time recommend its performance. So, tell me conclusively, between these, which is better? (saṃnyāsaṃ karmaṇāṃ kṛṣṇa punaryogaṃ ca śaṃsasi । yacchreya etayorekaṃ tanme brūhi suniścitam ॥ 5-1॥).
संन्यासः कर्मयोगश्च निःश्रेयसकरावुभौ ।
तयोस्तु कर्मसंन्यासात्कर्मयोगो विशिष्यते ॥ ५-२॥
ज्ञेयः स नित्यसंन्यासी यो न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षति ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते ॥ ५-३॥
Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (2-3) Both renunciation and performance of action lead to the highest bliss but of the two, renunciation of action is superior to merger with action (saṃnyāsaḥ karmayogaśca niḥśreyasakarāvubhau । tayostu karmasaṃnyāsātkarmayogo viśiṣyate ॥ 5-2॥). Know this that he is a complete ascetic who neither hates nor desires, is free from opposites, truly that person becomes free from bondage easily (jñeyaḥ sa nityasaṃnyāsī yo na dveṣṭi na kāṅkṣati । nirdvandvo hi mahābāho sukhaṃ bandhātpramucyate ॥ 5-3॥).
साङ्ख्ययोगौ पृथग्बालाः प्रवदन्ति न पण्डिताः ।
एकमप्यास्थितः सम्यगुभयोर्विन्दते फलम् ॥ ५-४॥
यत्साङ्ख्यैः प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते ।
एकं साङ्ख्यं च योगं च यः पश्यति स पश्यति ॥ ५-५॥
संन्यासस्तु महाबाहो दुःखमाप्तुमयोगतः ।
योगयुक्तो मुनिर्ब्रह्म नचिरेणाधिगच्छति ॥ ५-६॥
(4-6) The harmonisation of knowledge philosophy is distinct and only the childish speak of them not the learned even though when one is established then truly fruits of both are obtained (sāṅkhyayogau pṛthagbālāḥ pravadanti na paṇḍitāḥ । ekamapyāsthitaḥ samyagubhayorvindate phalam ॥ 5-4॥). The philosophical state obtained by yogīs is also reached when one that sees knowledge also sees action (yatsāṅkhyaiḥ prāpyate sthānaṃ tadyogairapi gamyate । ekaṃ sāṅkhyaṃ ca yogaṃ ca yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati ॥ 5-5॥). Renunciation is painful to obtain without implementation of yoga but when harmonised in yoga, the ascetic quickly goes to Brahman (saṃnyāsastu mahābāho duḥkhamāptumayogataḥ । yogayukto munirbrahma nacireṇādhigacchati ॥ 5-6॥).
योगयुक्तो विशुद्धात्मा विजितात्मा जितेन्द्रियः ।
सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्मा कुर्वन्नपि न लिप्यते ॥ ५-७॥
नैव किञ्चित्करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित् ।
पश्यञ्शृण्वन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन्नश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपञ्श्वसन् ॥ ५-८॥
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ॥ ५-९॥
(7-9) A purified soul is harmoniously merged and becomes a victorious soul when it has subdued the senses (yogayukto viśuddhātmā vijitātmā jitendriyaḥ ।), that soul which sees sentient souls in all souls when acting is also not tainted (sarvabhūtātmabhūtātmā kurvannapi na lipyate ॥ 5-7॥). I do not do anything is what the yogī who knows the Truth should cognise even when he is seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, sleeping, breathing, speaking, evacuating, holding, opening the eyes, closing the eyes also. (naiva kiñcitkaromīti yukto manyeta tattvavit । paśyañśaṛṇvanspṛśañjighrannaśnangacchansvapañśvasan ॥ 5-8॥ pralapanvisṛjangṛhṇannunmiṣannimiṣannapi ।). In fact, his senses move separated from sense objects (indriyāṇīndriyārtheṣu vartanta iti dhārayan ॥ 5-9॥).
ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति यः ।
लिप्यते न स पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा ॥ ५-१०॥
कायेन मनसा बुद्ध्या केवलैरिन्द्रियैरपि ।
योगिनः कर्म कुर्वन्ति सङ्गं त्यक्त्वात्मशुद्धये ॥ ५-११॥
(10-11) He who has based his actions in the Brahman and who acts after abandoning all attachment (brahmaṇyādhāya karmāṇi saṅgaṃ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ ।), he is not tainted by consequences and is like a lotus leaf in water (lipyate na sa pāpena padmapatramivāmbhasā ॥ 5-10॥). The yogī performs action using the body, cognitive apparatus, logical reasoning, senses; abandoning attachment and acting for purification of the Soul (kāyena manasā buddhyā kevalairindriyairapi । yoginaḥ karma kurvanti saṅgaṃ tyaktvātmaśuddhaye ॥ 5-11॥).
युक्तः कर्मफलं त्यक्त्वा शान्तिमाप्नोति नैष्ठिकीम् ।
अयुक्तः कामकारेण फले सक्तो निबध्यते ॥ ५-१२॥
सर्वकर्माणि मनसा संन्यस्यास्ते सुखं वशी ।
नवद्वारे पुरे देही नैव कुर्वन्न कारयन् ॥ ५-१३॥
(12-13) Having merged with abandonment of fruits of action he obtains highest peace (yuktaḥ karmaphalaṃ tyaktvā śāntimāpnoti naiṣṭhikīm ।). However, he that is driven by desire and clings to outcome is bound to karma (ayuktaḥ kāmakāreṇa phale sakto nibadhyate ॥ 5-12॥). So, he that has detached cognition from all action controls happiness (sarvakarmāṇi manasā saṃnyasyāste sukhaṃ vaśī ।), resting in the ramparts of his nine-gated city, not acting, nor causing action (navadvāre pure dehī naiva kurvanna kārayan ॥ 5-13॥).
न कर्तृत्वं न कर्माणि लोकस्य सृजति प्रभुः ।
न कर्मफलसंयोगं स्वभावस्तु प्रवर्तते ॥ ५-१४॥
नादत्ते कस्यचित्पापं न चैव सुकृतं विभुः ।
अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं तेन मुह्यन्ति जन्तवः ॥ ५-१५॥
(14-15) Brahman is neither the initiator nor the doer in the created world, also not driven by the embrace of the union of desire for fruits with inherent personality (na kartṛtvaṃ na karmāṇi lokasya sṛjati prabhuḥ । na karmaphalasaṃyogaṃ svabhāvastu pravartate ॥ 5-14॥). Brahman does not accept of anyone their demerits or even merit (nādatte kasyacitpāpaṃ na caiva sukṛtaṃ vibhuḥ ।), this occurs on account of ignorance shrouding knowledge in deluded people (ajñānenāvṛtaṃ jñānaṃ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ ॥ 5-15॥).
ज्ञानेन तु तदज्ञानं येषां नाशितमात्मनः ।
तेषामादित्यवज्ज्ञानं प्रकाशयति तत्परम् ॥ ५-१६॥
गच्छन्त्यपुनरावृत्तिं ज्ञाननिर्धूतकल्मषाः ॥ ५-१७॥
(16-17) Wisdom destroys ignorance of anyone the Soul shines like the Sun with highest knowledge (jñānena tu tadajñānaṃ yeṣāṃ nāśitamātmanaḥ । teṣāmādityavajjñānaṃ prakāśayati tatparam ॥ 5-16॥). Those with intellect absorbed in that, Soul established in that, with focus on that, with that for the goal go without return when wisdom removes all impurities (tadbuddhayastadātmānastanniṣṭhāstatparāyaṇāḥ । gacchantyapunarāvṛttiṃ jñānanirdhūtakalmaṣāḥ ॥ 5-17॥).
विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि ।
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिताः समदर्शिनः ॥ ५-१८॥
इहैव तैर्जितः सर्गो येषां साम्ये स्थितं मनः ।
निर्दोषं हि समं ब्रह्म तस्माद् ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिताः ॥ ५-१९॥
(18-19) Those endowed with knowledge and humility will view a Brahmana, cow, elephant, dog, and even an outcast, and learned people with equal gaze, (vidyāvinayasampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini । śuni caiva śvapāke ca paṇḍitāḥ samadarśinaḥ ॥ 5-18॥). Thus, even they conquer creation by which inequality is established, the cognition remains spotless, consequently the equal Brahman is therefore established in Brahman (ihaiva tairjitaḥ sargo yeṣāṃ sāmye sthitaṃ manaḥ । nirdoṣaṃ hi samaṃ brahma tasmād brahmaṇi te sthitāḥ ॥ 5-19॥).
न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम् ।
स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढो ब्रह्मविद् ब्रह्मणि स्थितः ॥ ५-२०॥
बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत्सुखम् ।
स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते ॥ ५-२१॥
(20-21) Importantly, one should not rejoice at obtaining a favourable outcome, nor grieve when an unfavourable outcome (na prahṛṣyetpriyaṃ prāpya nodvijetprāpya cāpriyam ।), with steady intellect that is undeluded, one that has knowledge of Brahman get established in the Brahman (sthirabuddhirasammūḍho brahmavid brahmaṇi sthitaḥ ॥ 5-20॥). The detached soul, when dealing with external contacts, finds within the Self, that infinite happiness as one that has merged with the Brahman enjoys (bāhyasparśeṣvasaktātmā vindatyātmani yatsukham । sa brahmayogayuktātmā sukhamakṣayamaśnute ॥ 5-21॥).
ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दुःखयोनय एव ते ।
आद्यन्तवन्तः कौन्तेय न तेषु रमते बुधः ॥ ५-२२॥
शक्नोतीहैव यः सोढुं प्राक्शरीरविमोक्षणात् ।
कामक्रोधोद्भवं वेगं स युक्तः स सुखी नरः ॥ ५-२३॥
(22-23) In fact, all outcomes born from external contact, they cause suffering only (ye hi saṃsparśajā bhogā duḥkhayonaya eva te ।) they have a beginning as well as an end, so wise people do not find delight in them (ādyantavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣu ramate budhaḥ ॥ 5-22॥). Anyone who can withstand before liberation from the body, impulses born of desire and anger, he becomes united with Brahman, he is a happy man (śaknotīhaiva yaḥ soḍhuṃ prākśarīravimokṣaṇāt । kāmakrodhodbhavaṃ vegaṃ sa yuktaḥ sa sukhī naraḥ ॥ 5-23॥).
योऽन्तःसुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तर्ज्योतिरेव यः ।
स योगी ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं ब्रह्मभूतोऽधिगच्छति ॥ ५-२४॥
लभन्ते ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृषयः क्षीणकल्मषाः ।
छिन्नद्वैधा यतात्मानः सर्वभूतहिते रताः ॥ ५-२५॥
कामक्रोधवियुक्तानां यतीनां यतचेतसाम् ।
अभितो ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं वर्तते विदितात्मनाम् ॥ ५-२६॥
(24-26) Who finds happiness within, even who has internal pleasure from illumination from Brahman, that yogī attains absolute freedom and merges with Brahman (yo’ntaḥsukho’ntarārāmastathāntarjyotireva yaḥ । sa yogī brahmanirvāṇaṃ brahmabhūto’dhigacchati ॥ 5-24॥). ṛṣis (seers) achieve absolute freedom due to cleaning of impurities, cutting of duality, rejoicing in the welfare of all beings (labhante brahmanirvāṇamṛṣayaḥ kṣīṇakalmaṣāḥ । chinnadvaidhā yatātmānaḥ sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ ॥ 5-25॥). Detached from desire and anger ascetics control their consciousness in all situations (abhitaḥ = on all sides), are evolved souls who exist in absolute freedom (kāmakrodhaviyuktānāṃ yatīnāṃ yatacetasām । abhito brahmanirvāṇaṃ vartate viditātmanām ॥ 5-26॥).
स्पर्शान्कृत्वा बहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरे भ्रुवोः ।
प्राणापानौ समौ कृत्वा नासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ ॥ ५-२७॥
विगतेच्छाभयक्रोधो यः सदा मुक्त एव सः ॥ ५-२८॥
भोक्तारं यज्ञतपसां सर्वलोकमहेश्वरम् ।
सुहृदं सर्वभूतानां ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिमृच्छति ॥ ५-२९॥
(27-29) Excluding external stimuli outside bring gaze inside between the eyebrows (sparśānkṛtvā bahirbāhyāṃścakṣuścaivāntare bhruvoḥ ।). Then, equalise inhalation and exhalation, moving it within the nostrils (prāṇāpānau samau kṛtvā nāsābhyantaracāriṇau ॥ 5-27॥). With the senses, cognition and logical apparatus of the sage are focused on liberation, desire, fear, anger leave and he forever and truly becomes free (yatendriyamanobuddhirmunirmokṣaparāyaṇaḥ । vigatecchābhayakrodho yaḥ sadā mukta eva saḥ ॥ 5-28॥). He enjoys fruits of his austerity and becomes Lord of all worlds who is affectionate to all creation and comes to me in peace (bhoktāraṃ yajñatapasāṃ sarvalokamaheśvaram । suhṛdaṃ sarvabhūtānāṃ jñātvā māṃ śāntimṛcchati ॥ 5-29॥).