Chapter 6: Dhyana-yoga
kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ
sa sannyāsī ca yogī ca
na niragnir na cākriyaḥ
Translation: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said one who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.
Krishna is going to talk about the Dhyana yoga in detail which is meditative yoga process. Meditative yoga means the 8 fold yogic process by which one can get the perfection of yoga by attaining the Supreme Lord at the end. This is prescribed for people in Satya Yuga, because the mode of goodness is prominent and people can live longer and practice this Dhyana yoga and attain perfection. Before speaking about Dhyana yoga Krishna wants to repeat one message. The message he is giving here is:“Anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ”, don’t be attached to the results of your work. That is the first point.
“Kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ” you have to perform your prescribed duties. You cannot give up prematurely. And you are not entitled to the results.
If you do these two things then you are a real sanyasi. Doesn’t matter which ashram you belong to, which Varna you follow. Just do your prescribed duties and offer the results to the Supreme. This same message Krishna was giving in the Second, the Third chapters of Bhagavad Gita too repeatedly, because he is afraid that Arjun after hearing the Dhyana Yoga will decide to go to forest, will never fight the battle. So Krishna wanted to make sure Arjuna is not confused more. The very reason Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita was Arjuna got bewildered in the battle field of Kurukshetra. Arjuna came to the battle field with Ksatriya nature that he want to fight for the rights, establish dharma, protect people and have a royal comfort. But after seeing all his cousins, grandfathers, teachers, friends etc. He did not want to kill them thinking it was a sin and decided not to fight. So Krishna did not want Arjuna to be more confused.
Arjuna is exactly representing all of us. We sit down to do something, some obstacles come and immediately we give up. Krishna chastised Arjuna telling he is impotent, it is a strong word for a Kshatriya. Arjuna wanted to change his nature to Brahmana. Krishna says that is not going to work. You cannot change your Varna just like that, because you are frustrated or afraid off failure. If obstacles are in your path for achieving your goal that is not going to elevate you because you are not purified yet. When you are purified you can change in to a Brahmana. You are not entitled for prescribed duties but you still do it to set an example for others like how Srila Prabupad did. So that was the message Krishna was giving. Krishna wanted to make sure that Arjuna hears this message before he starts to hear about Dhyana yoga. So he is giving a summary of what he talked previously repeatedly so that this concept is very important for all of us also.
Who is a real Sanyasi?
A real Sanyasi is the one who does not give up prescribed duties but who is not attached to the results and offer the results to the Supreme Lord.
Why we should not give up our prescribed duties prematurely?
We should not give up our prescribed duties prematurely and act whimsically because our original nature will come back. Without purification if we have to give up our prescribed duties which is like theory only, sounds really good but not practical. Because our nature actually our desires are going to be there only. You are going to carry your desire wherever you go. For example a person is saying he want to be a sanyasi. For outside world he will be a sanyasi but the actual desire carrying within himself for that particular role will be to enjoy. So that desire will be growing and growing within him and one day he might fall down. This can happen to us too. This can be compared to a cargo culture. You will be carrying your unpurified desires from one place to another that is the first point. Second point is you cannot escape from your inner consciousness. It will come back to you. Running away or turning back when problem comes is not always a solution. The problem will come back to you with different people involved, different situations, until you learn how to solve it. That is the material nature. That is why Krishna give a practical way, he says not to run away from problems, but to confront it in a god conscious way and use all the resources given to you and with that solve the issue and make it better for you and others rather than suffering more
What is Varnashrama? How does the transformation of soul take place?
Transformation of the soul is gradual process. The growth and life is organic that is Vedic culture all about. It should be gradual not abrupt. That Is what Varnashrama system is all about. Varnashrama system is established by the Lord himself. It is clearly stated in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4: verse 13
Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
Translation: According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable
Here Krishna says that he established the Varnashrama system based on the GUNA and KARMA not based on CASTE. Original Varnashrama system is not based on birth but based on quality and actions which determines which Varna you belong to. It is meant to form a structure for people so that they can have a fulfilling occasional life based on their competency, inherited from previous life, and also situated spiritually according to their level of consciousness and gradually progress towards the ultimate goal of life which is to love and serve Krishna.
In Varnashrama system the society is divided in to four Social and four Spiritual orders. According to your competencies, or comfortless you can do certain job or certain work. The four Varna’s are the Brahmana or priest class, Kshatriya or the administrators, Vaishya or Business persons and the Sudra or worker class ( In one sense we are all Sudras in this material world because we work for somebody). And the four ashramas are: – Brahmacari or a student life is from 0 or 1 to 25 years. It is the foundation for the rest of the ashramas, and determines a structure in spiritual life. Then guided by a Guru , comes the Grihastha ashram, where you get married, have kids for procreation, then after all your responsibilities are over you retire for Vanaprastha practicing complete renunciation detached from all family ties and dedicate your time for your Nithya duties or Spiritual duties, that is Sanyasrama. So we can understand that is a gradual and organic process.
Krishna is very practical person. The very reason we are in this material world means we had some attachment to material things. So Krishna decided to enable the living entities in to take over material environment also. But in the end of the day we also need to achieve our goal of life, otherwise there is no difference between humans and animals. So Krishna created the Varnashrama dharma so the living entities can do both simultaneously and at some point spiritual life will be prominent for them.
Sometime every rule has some exceptions. For example Kardama Muni, he got married to Devahuti and got a beautiful son, Kapila Dev which is the Supreme Lord himself. After some time Kardama Muni wanted to take Sanyas. His son said it is glorious act and that he will take care of his mom. Another example is when Srila Prabupad was in the planet he was giving sanyasi initiation and making sanyasi’s wherever he went. But these are not ordinary souls, they came to help Srila Prabhupad, in his mission and they are already purified. In the purified stage doesn’t matter the prescribed duties, they can change, because the desires are purified.
What is desire?
Desire means: default consciousness. We all have a default direction for our consciousness. If no body watches you what you will do that is what you are. Since we are conditioned for millions and millions of years our default nature of our consciousness is to enjoy something material or material sense gratification. Purity in practical sense means your default direction of consciousness towards Krishna and then you don’t have anything else to do. You see Krishna, that is what all the purity about.
We all have our own behavior predisposition. It means we have our own character and nature, which will be always different from others. Some say it is due their prarabbdha karma, others say it is due to genetic inheritance. We inherit from our parents some physical and personality traits which are passed on from one generation to another. But scriptures does not contradict, replace or substitute genetics, absolutely none. But why did we come to one particular family and what decides that. The atmosphere how we are raised, what condition we are raised, what is the social, political, economical, environment conditions that we have been raised, that will also will impact our behavior. For example, take a case about twins born in a family, their DNA or genetic disposition is almost same but they cannot have the same behavior or taste. One may interested in Artistic field other will be interested in Business field. . Physical characteristics is biological inheritance. You are born to a parent and look like your parent. For twins the genetic disposition is nearly identical. But their taste is very different, where it is coming from. Other example is take the famous Musical maestro’s in the world, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, and Niels Bohr. If children are inheriting the behavioral predisposition from the parents then the parents should be musical maestros also or geniuses, but most of the time these personalities are born for mediocre parents. Again the question is why is like that when science does not have an answer to our question. Our Scriptures gives a holistic explanations of all these scenario’s mentioned above which genetics cannot answer. Scriptures are not replacing genetics or substituting genetics. In fact it is complimenting it by giving additional information so that we can understand all these things very well.
There is a beautiful verse in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, and Verse 8 where Krishna introduces the concept of reincarnation.
Śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
Translation: The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another, as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another.
Krishna clearly gives an amazing revolutionary message that in condition state the living entity carries the conception of body, life from one body to another body. This is called reincarnation or karmic background that is whatever actions we perform in this life and whatever desires we develop is stored in our subtle body that is the mind, intelligence and false ego. At the time of death the soul carries the subtly body and goes to the next body. So in the examples mentioned above the talents comes from the subtle body in previous life
We have our own predominated nature by default called as Svabhava. It is like by default how you act if you are in a situation. For example, a Vaishya person or business person for every problem is an opportunity. Money mindedness is their nature sometimes they try to make money honestly or sometimes dishonestly out of greed and later becoming Adharmic. Svabhava and Swakarma comes from your previous life. In previous life in subtle body everything is stored, all our actions, our experiences, our desires too. So we come to this world with our own Svabhava and our own Swakarma. When we act based on our nature and our Svabhava we will degrade. Krishna wants to protect the living entities, so he let them have Svabhava and Swakarma and came up with the concept of Swadharma. By given your nature how you should act according to the guidelines of Scriptures. You should earn money in ethical way by following the guidelines of scriptures so that you won’t’ sin nor degrade otherwise what happens is you will suffer later and you have to come back again in this material world and suffer if there is no one to guide you. For example suggested above Vaishya’s can earn money under the Vedic frame work like cow protection or farming. If you are an administrator the Varna dharma defines that if you want to be a powerful man control and conquer follow the guidelines based on your nature. Swadharma can equate to Varnashrama dharma. But the environment also impacts our behaviors also. Where we grew up, the cultural context which you grew up, the parentage we got, all these things also impact and Krishna has given us free will. How do we exercise our free will, with choices or freedom which we have? Freedom to choose our will is also impacted by the culture we have grown up. We got this opportunity to practice Vedic culture due to Prabhupad’s mercy. So in Varnashrama system, the Varna dharma takes care of our conditions or surroundings, the Ashrama dharma takes care of our inner conditionings or purifications. So we can see that the behavioral predisposition comprises of two determinants or factors, one is Svabhava and other is Svakarma, if it is guided it becomes Svadharma, then you are protected. Then you can gradually progress and achieve the highest goal in life.
What is Dharma?
The term Dharma comes from a word “Dhru”, that which sustains ones’ existence. It is inseparable from our existence. Our duty is to love and serve god. So in condition state our core tendency to love and serve is towards material things. So Varna dharma takes care of that aspect. Krishna does not say only love him by abandoning our families. We have desires and we have the tendency to love and serve also so Krishna understands that. So he advises us to be situated in a particular Varna and take care of that tendency of ours and at the same time parallely love and serve Krishna and that should be our ultimate motive. As we complete our responsibilities, our mind will be very peaceful, then we come to a platform where our core tendency will only be to love and serve just the Supreme Lord. So that is the idea. Varnashrama system has to be practiced because it is organic.
This system of Varnashrama is pretty much wiped out in India now there is no Vedic culture, instead it is the caste based system which is totally corrupted that is not what Krishna wanted. The reason why it got corrupted is India had been an occupied country for may be hundredths of years. The Mughals, British, French, Persians , Dutch etc. are all were ruling us, so protecting the Vedic wisdom and preserving it and perpetuating it was the duty of the Brahmin class. They did not have any malicious intention but it was a need in hour. But in due course of time it got degraded. They start to impose on innocent people new rules, like if you are not born in a Brahmin family you don’t have access to Vedic system. Later in due course of time, the system got degraded. But this system will still prevail in a corrupted condition or in a purified condition because it is established by the Supreme Lord, and it will exist in some form until Kaliyuga is done.
Varnashrama system is a gradual thing, but there is an elevated path also. Srila Prabupad gave pure devotional service. Before Vaishnava Acharya’s like Ramanujacharya and entire line of our (ISKCON) Disciplic succession they fought against this caste based Varna system. They want to distribute this devotional service to every individual. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the first person to give the chanting of the holy name freely. Earlier it was hidden and only known by Brahmana’s and you have to be born in the Brahmin’s family to chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Mahaprabhu initiated people who are not even capable of taking initiation. He initiated people outside the Hinduism like the Muslims, example is Haridas Thakur. Srila Prabupad came to the West, where there was no Vedic culture and made millions of devotees that is a miracle. This is purely Vaishnava mercy, and that is conclusion of the Vedic knowledge. It cannot be safe under one’s own family. Krishna also condemns it in Mahabharata when Ashwatthama the son of Drona, was a Brahmana and he did abominal act by killing Draupadi’s five sons while they were sleeping. Krishna declares that Ashwatthhama lost the qualification of becoming a Brahman. Even we can see that some greatest sages are from unprivileged environment, like Valmiki who was a hunter. He used half kill animal and enjoy their suffering, He became a top most sage later and wrote Ramayana. Matanga Risi are some examples. Srila Prabupad wanted everyone be a Brahmana and do Brahminical activities that was his goal and faith in the process. All these happened due to Mahaprabu’s mercy that which was not practiced by everybody is practiced now and available freely. It is like a person who does not have any knowledge of gold buying fake gold. So we need knowledge then only we can buy the pure gold. To understand this process we need knowledge. And see what the ultimate value we are getting is. It is a privilege for us to come, associate and practice devotional service.
What is the result of getting attached to the fruits of our work?
If we get attached to the fruits of our work, or the results we won’t be able to do any activity properly. It will increase our ego and won’t be able to accept that Krishna is the enjoyer. Also the results are temporary not permanent. We suffer a lot if we get attached to the result. We think since we are doer, we should get results. For any results to come to us three things are important. (The Three “J “)
Jiva: Without our endeavor nothing will happen, we have to put our best effort.
Jagath or material nature: have to provide us the facilities and make everything conducive for us to achieve it
Jagadish: We need the mercy of Supreme Lord
Even if we put the best effort if material nature is not conducive, and if we don’t get the blessings of Jagadish we cannot say we did something or achieved something. To achieve something or to get results we need all the three mentioned above otherwise we won’t get the result in first place.
Also we should understand that if we engage our self in material sense gratification we are bound to this material world only. Every sense gratification we involve the desire to enjoy that particular things increases and we have to come back taking repeated birth and death. It is source of misery. In Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 5, Verse 22 Krishna says
Ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā
duḥkha-yonaya eva te
na teṣu ramate budhaḥ
Translation: An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kuntī, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.
Sense gratification is a source of misery. The pleasure that we experience by engaging in sense gratification will be our very source of our misery. We cannot enjoy for a long because happiness in short lived or temporary. Material enjoyment is like a parabola. You kick a ball it will start going up and comes down. Even if we enjoy it will come to an end. That cause suffering. But the actual course of suffering is our desires which will never end and if our desires are not fulfilled then we are in a state of misery. We cannot escape from material sense gratification because we are in a condition stage it has to be regulated to start with, according to scriptures
Why desire never ends
The nature of our soul is to have desires. We are pleasure seeking entity and we always wanted to have happiness. In conditioned stage we want to enjoy the material life. But that is not permanent, we have to suffer. So we have to control our desires, and try to do our duties without any attachment and give our fruits of our action to Krishna so that we won’t be entangled in this material world.