“The paths leading man to god or Truth are said to be many. I will speak only of the shortest. It is to recognize God as the Self in you and then to find Him out. What is the distance then between you and God, between you and yourself? Ah, there is no distance at all, a full Zero! Yet, how dare you say to find God and Truth is hard?’’ 

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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Krishna has made it amply clear that the true and effective tyaga, renunciation can be only at the level of mind and intelligence. He further enunciates that through karma-yoga the requisite level of purity can be had. Thus, the karma-yogi focuses on setting right his evaluations and assessments of the mind. As a result of sankalpa-tyaga, all cravings become extinct. Peace and expansion dawn.

Krishna’s words are a full assurance to the karma-yogi. There will come a stage for the seeker of karma-yoga when his mind drops its identification both towards the sensory objects in the world and the various actions he is enjoined to perform. Like a boat sailing in water or an air-borne vehicle cruising in space, his personality lives and moves in the world, clinging to none and nowhere, outliving every place and event. It remains untainted and unaffected. When thus the anushvanga, wrong identification, is completely eliminated, then indeed he becomes a yoga-arudhah, says Krishna.

यदा हि नेन्द्रियार्थेषु न कर्मस्वनुषज्जते ।
सर्वसङ्कल्पसन्न्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते ।।

When one does not engage in activities that are for sensory fulfillments, and renounces all such deliberations, he is said to be established in yoga.

That such yoga-arudhatva is very much possible, and that it certainly can be attained, is the call and assurance of Bhagavad Gita. Yoga- arudhatva is a clear inner, mento-intelligential state of sublimity, enrichment and expansion. Previously Krishna had called it a state of anabhisnehatva (2.57). The narrow egoistic identification gives way to a broader heart and larger vision. With that, the mind becomes free, light and poised both towards the sensory objects around and the various actions linked with them.

Again, this is an interactional sublimity, active enrichment, not a withdrawal or cessation-oriented process. This point should be particularly noted.

Ascending spiritual ladder

Now comes a very strong and great exhortation in the Bhagavad Gita dialogue, which instills the dual notes of enlightenment and emboldenment. For discreet readers, listeners and thinkers, this exhortation is sufficient to bring a thorough change in their otherwise weak and undecided life. It can as well change the plight and fate of a society:

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ।।
बन्धुरात्माऽऽत्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः ।
अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 6.5, 6.6)

Elevate yourself by your own intrinsic power. Never enervate or degrade yourself. One’s self alone is one’s friend, and equally so one’s enemy.

For one with sufficient self-control and orientation, his self will be a friend; for one devoid of this self-control and self-orientation, he himself will be his enemy.

Every individual, says Krishna, has within him adequate mental and intelligential potential to elevate and upgrade his life to the extent needed. None can be excused for pleading any lack in the inner resources for creative elevation and achievement. All that a seeker may need to gain is a proper insight into his inner being and the art and process of self-refinement and self-mastery. Krishna’s call is thus to elevate oneself by himself. Never should anyone on any ground degrade himself at any time.

This is an open declaration that the possibility and resources to strive for and achieve self-elevation reign in adequate measure within every individual. There is no reference here to external resources. Krishna reminds all of the self-sufficiency potent or reserved in every human being.

Mythological narrations may tell us that each person is governed by factors that have preceded his bodily birth in the world. Heavenly bodies hovering in the sky are also said to exert their powers and influences on the earthly denizens. Likewise, many other theories and formulations may also be cited. But as against the worth and efficacy of all these, comes the sublime and categorical message of Bhagavad Gita, the supreme and profound Scripture of the world: Elevate yourself by yourself.

The Supreme Lord of the Universe does not impose any kind of doership, enjoyership or sufferership on anyone (5.14). Our own nature drives us to action. But we assume we are responsible and enjoy or suffer as a consequence. The whole triple process – doership, enjoyership and sufferership – is a product of ignorance about the true position of things. Ignorance in any sphere can work untold havoc. In gaining right knowledge alone lies the solution and correction for all the constricted and distorted notions.

It is true that body-wise an individual is quite limited, restricted. As its growth is arrested after a few years, so is its power of activity restricted greatly. But such restriction and limitation are annulled the moment he accesses his inner, supra-material mind and intelligence. These inner faculties provide ample potential and possibility. Everyone is free to shape himself, to reform himself, and to improve his powers and attain whatever he ideally aims at. In this, there is no hindrance.

The quality of thoughts and attitudes, emotions and inspirations, values and ideals will determine the direction the seeker will take and the possible outcome of his seeking. To upgrade and elevate oneself, everyone has equal and unhindered opportunity; and so also the possibility to slide down. The upbringing, circumstances and association one has had are contributory factors, no doubt. But none of these can take away the intrinsic scope and freedom from any human in carving out his fate and gaining the desired elevation, enrichment and expansion.

Krishna stresses that the way for elevating oneself is by exercising the necessary restraint over the senses and the mind. For this, the rational intelligence has to be employed. The rational intelligence should give the right and timely direction and guidance to the mind; and the mind must act upon the message to influence the senses effectively. The integral process will then result in the desired improvement, strength and cohesion. No external agent can thwart or dissuade this self-regulational and self-improvemental pursuit. Be sure of this fact, says Krishna.

Do not blame anyone for your degeneration. For the plight or fate you are in, the cause inheres in yourself. To set it right, first of all understand the freedom, the scope and the potential the mind holds within it. And then make the necessary effort for gaining whatever change or improvement you want. The whole of Bhagavad Gita beckons you for such a determined endeavour.

This exhortation for self-effort and self-elevation is quite in line with what Krishna spoke earlier (3.34). “Attraction and repulsion inhere the sensory objects. Do not fall a prey to them. Know them to be your stark enemies.” Are not the same caution and compulsion sounded here too, but in a more thorough and vigorous note?

Discovering the supreme in and through interactions

These are again statements which are solely secular and practical in nature. The message is universal, all-enfolding. Maintaining the same note, Krishna makes the next pronouncement, unique in many ways:

जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः ।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 6.7)

For the peaceful and self-regulated person, the Supreme Self is established in cold and heat, in sukha and duhkha, as well as in praise and blame.

By pronouncing “the Supreme Self is established for him (paramatma samahita:)”, Krishna emphasizes how the process of self-refinement and sublimation underscores everything of spiritual life and attainment. In other words, all religio-spiritual pursuits have but one aim of orienting and enriching one’s own personality, the crowning fulfillment of all forms of sadhana. Thinkers and seekers should not fail to keep this fact in mind.

Self-knowledge and Self-realization are not, in truth, a short-term experience or vision. They have a broad base, a great depth and an equally lofty magnitude. The attainment is not something to be gained for a short duration, by a particular discipline or process. The refinement and sublimation it calls for and implies, have a profound and far-reaching effect. In the whole process, the Knower counts far more than mere Knowledge. The Knowledge, as such, may be held to have an abstruse or abstract note, but the Knower cannot be so.

The body is only the material visible part of one’s total personality. It is animated and activated by the supra-material mind, its emotions and intelligence, its rationality. These inner agencies should receive greater attention in the pursuit of Self-knowledge. When the inner personality gets refined, sublimated and integrated, that will mark the finale of the whole sadhana.

Krishna explains how this is so. His words are extremely revealing. They should set any seeker to think and reflect deeply. The paramatma will be established even when the self-sublimated Knower remains interactive and encounters sukha and duhkha, praise and blame. Krishna speaks about sukha-duhkhas again and again, because these are the twins the mind constantly generates and tries to preserve. The world of objects can, at any time, bestow only these two to the mind. Even mind’s own independent thoughts and imaginations result only in sukha and duhkha. External factors causing or fetching these may be many, but sukha and duhkha are the only recurring creations of the mind.

One offers praise because he likes to do so. It is his act and creation. Leave it to the praising individual. Let him express his praiseful words, delighting himself in the process. Let equally a blamer make his blaming remarks. Do not own up what either does. Does not an action belong to the actor? Let the praise and blame then remain with those who indulge in them. What has the seeker to do in the process?

Both the actions and their actors should be left to themselves. Once the sadhaka is able to gain such self-sublimation, the whole plural world will lose its allurement. The entire plurality, left to itself, can instill only the sukha-duhkha dual, nothing more, nor less. When sukha and duhkha, like praise and blame, are treated and sublimated in the mind by the mind process itself, it will disarm the world of its plurality and coat it with a wholesome divinity.

Colours will shine before the eyes, but none of them will have the power to attract or repel the mind, because the mind has now mastered the art of remaining sublime all the time. The multiplicity of colours will thus stand neutralized or homogenized in the mind. Once this takes place at all levels – sensory, emotional and intellectual – what possible adversity of the whole world of infinite plurality can thrust its dominance on the mind? The affluence of external, objective plurality will reign, but all that will have no adverse consequence on the mind of the Knower. Such unaffectedness of the mind and the sublimity of perception of the intelligence will together make the Knower unassailable in all conditions and circumstances.

That is how Krishna says that for the self-sublimated person, the param¡tm¡ gets established in sukha-duhkhas as well as in praise and blame. This is not a state of inwardness or absorption. On the other hand, it is one of intense objective interactional sublimity and wholesomeness.

The key to such a functional, vibrant state lies in taking up the inner process of self-integration, self-refinement and sublimation. The inspiration for such a pursuit will be derived from the enlightenment and exposure, like the one Krishna provides to Arjuna. The seeker has to be alert in imbibing what is exposed and then pursuing it as a full-fold sadhana, personality orientation.

This verse is generally explained in another manner also: For one who is sufficiently controlled in meeting sukha and duhkha, praise and blame, the paramatma gets established (paramatma samahitah). He has gained poise over praise and blame, sukha and duhkha. By him, the Knowledge and Realization of the Self is had.

As pointed out in other instances, this is also a statement in which Krishna gives a practical interactional note to the otherwise sublime spirituo-religious sadhana.

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(From the Series Essential Concepts In Bhagavad Gita - Volume 3)