Articles for Saadhana

In terms of competence or maturity, one like Arjuna who represents the general run of mankind, can take up only the pursuit of karma's (karmani eva the adhikarah), not the exclusive wisdom pursuit (kevala-jnananishtha). But while doing karma's, no sanga (identity or attachment) to the results they fetch at any time should be fostered (ma phaleshu kadacana). This means that the results or fruits of karma should not be viewed as the motivation for doing work (ma karma-phala-hetuhbhooh). At the same time non-action or escape from karma should not be thought of at all (ma the sango’stu akarmani). These are the four tenets laid down initially by Krishna as a requisite for karma yoga saadhana.

Now, how to ensure that karma-phala does not become the motivation for doing karmas? Any karma is taken up with a view to achieve a specific result. The karma itself is a pursuit, which when done properly, ends up in the result aimed at. Being so, how can anyone keep the thought of the results away from karma? The entire Gita gospel constantly strives to set right this delusion and instil the right insight in the minds of people with regard to doing karmas and gaining results in the process.

It is true that every karma aims at a certain result. In fact, karma and its result together form a well-knit sequence. But does the result a karma fetches allow the pursuit of karma to cease or be withdrawn? Or, whenever a result appears, does that by itself become the cause or the starting point of a new sequence of karmas?

When a student writes his examination after year-long studies and is declared promoted, does his effort at studies stop or has it to make a fresh beginning for the next year and the year-end examination? Similarly, when a woman delivers the child after long pregnancy, can she feel complacent? Can she take away her attention and be dis-involved? Or, has she to become even more vigilant and concerned about nursing the child for its proper growth? If earlier it was nurturing the invisible foetus in her womb, it is now rearing the visible child on her lap. The child has now become a separate individual, to be additionally fed, dressed and looked after. It is obviously a much more complex and arduous task, no doubt. Can you call the instance of child-birth an end result then?

When a farmer raises crop and makes the harvest after months, will his effort come to an end? Or, will dealing with the grains, reaching them to the consumer and then making preparation for the next crop, become his immediate attention? The same is the case with the production of goods in any factory. At no stage can a thoughtful man become inactive or insensitive so far as his active involvement in the world is concerned. Like the various bends in a running river, every phase called result, only marks a new link in the whole complex karma-sequence. Is this not sufficient insight to set right the constricted views about the short-living results being any valid motivation for karma?

If at all, the yogic mind should have a comprehensive vision. Karmas are a ceaseless process. Results they fetch from time to time are like the cogs in a revolving wheel. Life and karma go together and will remain always inseparable. No objective result can thus be of any special attachment in taking up or pursuing karma's. As are karmas so also are the results they bring, the two together forming the karma chain. To live in the world is to live through this chain and outlive it. Go on doing karmas wholesomely without getting deluded at any time, by anything.

The question then arises: On what or where else should the seeker’s attention be? What should rightly concern him, if at all?

It is this kind of search and evaluation that Gita wants us to make every time. Krishna answers the question in the next verse, which begins with the statement “fixed or seated in yoga, do all the work you have before you, without let or hindrance, with a readiness and resolve that is independent of the result”. Expand the vision. Take your stand on yoga-buddhi, and outlive the phala-buddhi. Phala-buddhi is the conventional and constricted attitude, and yoga-buddhi is the cultivated or imbibed vision. Bring about the new orientation, a more creative and fruitful integration in your thoughts and evaluation.

 Thus Krishna’s instruction progresses to the next verse:

योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय ।
सिध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 2.48)
In this too, Krishna has presented a set of four formulae explaining how the Yoga-buddhi is to be incorporated. “Yogasthahkurukarmani” means: Do all karma's, but being seated in yoga. The seatedness in yoga is to be accomplished by buddhi. The buddhi should see the need for the yoga outlook and be constantly given to it while doing all actions. Yoga-buddhi is not meant to dislodge anyone from any commitment or involvement, duty or obligation. Instead it is to enable man to take up all tasks and perform them with diligence and devotion. For that whatever constraints or obstructions are there in the mind, should be dealt with and removed. How does yoga-buddhi bring this about? Here comes the second formula of the verse:

Sangamtyaktva: Leaving all sanga. Krishna does not say “leaving results or phalas”. He only cautions that the seeker must proceed with any task keeping sanga away. The word sanga has a special import, which most people fail to grasp. To leave sanga is not to become indifferent to actions or their performance. It is to bring about a new discipline and orientation in the mind by means of the yogic introspection.

Sanga arises when one becomes obsessed with the results of whatever is being thought of or done. Despite the fact that the result is always an irresistible consequence of  any performance, the mind begins to brood over the happiness it will have when the performance succeeds, or the despondency it will suffer if the performance fails to produce its expected outcome. This trouble and torment, which arises because of sheer ignorance and delusion and which hinders the proper performance of any work, is called sanga. This trait of the deluded mind, which spoils the very performance of karma's, will leave when the buddhi becomes enlightened about the laws governing karma's and their fruition. The way for such enlightened performance is shown by the third formula:

Siddhi-asiddhyoh samibhootva: Be sam a (equal, impartial, equally tuned) to both siddhi (success) and asiddhi (failure). How can such samatva, equal vision, towards success and failure be developed? It is here that the Yoga seeker has to do some basic thinking and introspection. Verily yoga-budhhi comes in here and here alone.

Siddhi means fruition of karma,  the karma bringing the expected result. Asiddhi denotes the absence of such proper fruition. It is for the sake of siddhi that any time any karma is taken up and done. Where is then any question of the karmas not attaining fruition, in the normal scheme of things? Karmas and their results are, it has been seen, inseparable from each other. So why should the performer constantly get worried about the results appearing properly in time? By such worrying, will the fruition be the least helped or speeded up? In fact, after deciding upon any course of action, which will always be for getting a specific end, performing it in degrees or stages is in fact getting at the result or fruition too in degrees. Besides thus doing the work properly, there is nothing else to be looked into or worried about for achieving the result. Right performance is itself begetting the right result too.

In spite of all this, the fact remains that man goes on troubling himself with the siddhi of what he does and also the possible asiddhi. The mind is given to generate an overpowering note of desire or greed for siddhi, and equally so an over strong note of fear about any possible asiddhi. The desire and fear together go on stifling the mind so much that the performance is itself disturbed variously. Rather than helping the performance in achieving the desired fruition, the reverse happens. Is it right to give room to such an adverse plight, man being intelligent and capable of thinking about matters properly?

The right course will be to think fundamentally about the factors that constitute karma, its performance and fruition. In the 18th chapter, verse 14 provides the right insight in this matter:

अधिष्ठानं तथा कर्ता करणं च पृथग्विधम् ।
विविधाश्च पृथक्चेष्टा दैवं चैवात्र पञ्चमम् ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 18.14)

There are, in all, five factors governing the performance and fruition of an action. The performer, namely man himself, his body, comes first. Next comes the field, or ground, on which he performs. This can be the great earth itself, or a small place like a factory or a trade centre. Then come the different means or  instruments by which the action is executed.  Then follow the various processes done by these instruments. These four are quite readily available. The care and caution to be exercised about all these rest with man. In fact, planning, selection, performance, activation, motivation and the like –– all these come within these four factors. Adequate attention and effort have to be employed in these four.

Sri Krishna then emphasises the next crucial factor, the fifth–pancamam, as he puts it. He calls it daiva. Daiva denotes that which acts quite independent of all these four, and hence is clearly beyond man’s control. That is how it has come to be recognized as the providential factor. Just like the fact that we are living upon the earth which is not our creation, and which has its own structure, nature and course, the fifth factor reigns always besides and beyond human control. We refer to our body as ours, but verily it survives on air, which is not made by us. How can the body then be strictly ‘ours’?

It is true we have intelligence and we can apply it quite effectively in all matters. The mind also has its full scope. Thus the wish, will and choice become quite relevant in human life and creativity. But do all these alter the fact that we are living  and moving within a given world, under  given conditions? Can the world and these conditions be subjected to our choice and control in full measure? Thus nature surrounds man in everything. The world as  a big  aggregate also circumscribes us everywhere. Giving due importance to this basic fact, it is held that the course of man’s life in the world always depends upon the combined operation of daiva and manusha – Providential and human factors. At no time can one divest the Providential factor from human effort completely or vice-versa. Their close interdependence is a factor to be recognized in all spheres of our life, in judging all our actions and their consequences.

To accept this position is not to discourage the timely responses and effort of man in any field. It is merely to inform him about the facts and truths of life and instill in his mind sufficient clarity and strength. Right knowledge always infuses confidence and stability.

To understand how daiva closely combines itself with manusha in every act that man takes up and does, take cultivation as a task or venture, without which mankind cannot live and eat. We first have before us the mother earth – the Providential factor, on which alone any cultivation can be thought of. But the land has to be cleaned, ploughed and processed – all this depending solely upon man and his effort. Again the seeds, plants and creepers, many of which contribute to our food and nourishment, have to come from Nature. Nature (daiva) has provided quite an assortment of these, but to select the seeds, tend them well and sow them in time when weather factors are favourable, come within man’s discretion and effort. Even when these are properly cared for, the sprouts and the plants will need water, sunshine and other factors, all of which depend upon Nature again.

When the cultivation suffers from lack of water, due to delayed rains, is man supposed to remain helpless and dejected? Not at all. He must think, using his mind and intelligence, of evolving irrigational measures to redress the crisis and safeguard against it in future. Thus constructing dams, making canals and other facilities become a definite part of man’s ingenuity and effort. Even when all these are thoughtfully done, will everything be safe? The dams may themselves go dry. Or, instead, due to heavy rainfall, there may be devastating floods! Thus to begin with, to proceed with, and also to end with, human efforts are always closely linked with Providential factors. A combined operation of these two alone determines everything in man’s life upon earth.

So, just like timely fruition of man’s efforts, the rare non-fruition also cannot be eliminated from the course of life. But this does not mean that the karmas we do will always, or even for the major part, have non-fruition or wrong fruition. The unexpected may sometimes occur. Such a possibility is clearly there within the world. What is the rational man, especially the Yogic seeker, to do before it? He should surely develop a proper insight whereby the whole possibility is understood and absorbed by him, and this should in turn build up a depth and poise in his mind.

It is such a poise that Krishna implies by the third formula: sidhyasiddhyoh samibhootva. Instead of longing for siddhi, fruition, which is unnecessary and serves no purpose other than what the karma done would fetch irresistibly, he should preserve an impartial attitude towards any kind of outcome that will finally follow. Similarly, in place of fearing a negative or adverse outcome, or non-fruition, his mind should have the confidence and stability to reconcile with whatever finally emerges. The desire for siddhi and the fear of asiddhi, both should give place to the lofty note of impartiality and all-assimilativeness. In constantly cultivating and reinforcing this lofty note through every performance, lies the saadhana of a Yogic seeker.

Now comes the fourth formula : samatvam yoga ucyate, the last quarter of verse 2.48. The evenness, harmony, the deep and full note of impartiality, which enriches one while doing his karmas as well as facing their outcome, is itself the yoga. The yoga saadhana, the yogic attitude, verily signifies preservation of such an inward flexibility and fullness. In understanding how indispensable such samatva is in the context of taking up and performing actions, and in constantly rearing and reinforcing it, consists the seeker hood. This will not merely keep the mind free of its undue oscillations and weakness, but also imbue it with great strength and confidence for doing any kind of karma and for meeting any outcome it fetches.

By defining Yoga as samatva, Gita has struck a distinct note in spiritual wisdom and its actual pursuit. Karmayoga does not consist in doing karma's, but in cultivating and preserving the mind-samatva while performing, before performance and after  completion. Do not confuse this yoga-sadhana with doing karma's. The seeker has to be quite thoughtful and contemplative to understand the import.

Do not look anywhere else to find out what yoga is. The concept is presented as well as defined here unambiguously.

Sama and  samatva are two words which Gita presents and emphasises throughout. Samatva is first a concept. It next becomes a pursuit. Then it ripens into the spiritual perfection of the seeker. As the seeker grows in his sadhana, the note of samatva also becomes deeper and finer.

Gita first relates samatva to sukha and duhkha (2:15)

समदु:खसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते ।।

By the contact of the five senses with the innumerable objects of the world, life produces internally only the twin alternates of sukha and duhkha. And these go on deluding man. He prefers sukha and abhors duhkha. But such a dual position has no meaning or purpose. Sukha is itself not an independent experience. It only means a difference from duhkha. In fact, the cessation of duhkha alone goes by the name sukha. For sukha to be, duhkha has first to be. Is there then any sukha at all, distinctly, independently? For sukha to become experiential, duhkha must first be undergone. Duhkha which thus enables sukha to be felt, cannot become detestable or unacceptable. Duhkha cannot be treated as an intercepting factor. It is verily a complement to sukha.

Why should either of them be preferred or abhorred? The dheerah, the wise one, who thus gives an equal place or importance to both, alone becomes fit and ripe for liberation. The state of liberation can be thought of only for such a deeply wise person. Our buddhi has to dwell upon the very constitution of sukha and duhkha. Realizing their interdependence, their complementary nature, it has to  evolve a new  point of view of being impartial to both, harmonious with both, neutral and welcoming to both. This new note becomes constant by its very nature. In sukha it makes itself prominent; in duhkha too, it remains equally relevant and strong. Thus sukha and duhkha become less significant, and the samatva towards them becomes more pronounced and functional.

Samatva thus becomes a full pursuit, constant and ever-relevant to the mind, its responses and creations. It gradually grows,  deepens and begins to overwhelm the sukha-duhkha notes. Sukha & duhkha emerge and subside only on the surface of the vast and deep evened mind. As bubbles and ripples they become more a display of beauty, and the deep waters only shine more being enriched by them. Previously they were viewed as disturbance, but now they are not so. They stand ornamental to the mind’s depth and vastness.

Here, in introducing karma yoga also, Gita presents the same samatva, in relation to siddhi and asiddhi. Siddhi and asiddhi are outcomes of actions when first thought of. But, when deeply considered, these outcomes merely bring about in the mind sukha and duhkha. And as such, samatva is the full answer to them. Let the siddhi and asiddhi thoughts be met by the samatva attitude of the mind. Whenever siddhi tries to seduce, meet it by the strength of impartiality and samatva-buddhi. Whenever asiddhi intercepts, as a fear or apprehension, dissolve it by the same damatva-buddhi. Thus mind and buddhi complement each other. The individual ego enables this complementariness, preserves and perpetuates it. And the normal worldly mind becomes now a spiritual satva. Instead of being a playground for ignorance, the mind becomes a forum for the display of wisdom.

What is mind? It is but an expression of Consciousness. The supreme Reality is the Consciousness. As flame is an expression of fire, so too is mind of the Consciousness. Normally it expresses and reveals the vishama (non-equal, uneven) notes. All the pairs of opposites felt or viewed by the mind come under the vishamatva. By right introspection and exposure, when the truth of vishamatva as well as the need for samatva is well known, well absorbed, the vishama notes begin to become weaker. Like darkness before light, the vishamatva, an illusion brought about by the mind conventionally in every one, begins to vacate. If the spiritual vision and its pursuit is kept up vigorously, the whole illusion and its hold on the saadhaka will leave and become extinct, or nearly so. And equally, samatva will prevail. The prevalence of the second, the extinction of the first, is what verily constitutes spiritual attainment.

This dawning of samatva, experienced as a personal note of poise, harmony and majesty, is what goes by the name Self or Soul.

Tthroughout the Yogavasishtha dialogue, which transpired in the palace of Ayodhya between the 16-year old Rama and the elderly Sage Vasishtha, the one theme Vasishthadev repeatedly presents is the sama-buddhi of man. The one graced by samatva, says Vasishthadev, is even adored by the great yogis, ascetics and munis. So rare and excellent is the sublimity of the mind graced with samatva.

Bbefore the samatva sublimity, the entire world, whose creations are vishamas and vishamas alone, stands as nought; the heaven and hell flee; birth and death cease for ever; prosperity and adversity also vanish. With samatva gracing one’s mind, the seeking gets fulfilled; wisdom gets crowned; mortality melts and Immortality emerges forth.

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(Part of the Series Essential-Concepts-In-Bhagavad-Gita) 
 Shloka Text :  Shloka 35 - Satyena labhyastapasa   Short Message : Eternal Nature of Our Dharma    Publication : Vedantic Way of Living -->