Author Topic: CHAPTER 12 - Bhakti Yoga  (Read 232 times)


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CHAPTER 12 - Bhakti Yoga
« on: April 09, 2019, 11:58:08 PM »
Who are superior - the worshippers of Isvara, or the worshippers of Akshara?

Now Arjuna is supposed to have addressed the Lord thus: - In the discourses beginning with the second and ending with the tenth which treats of Divine Glories, Thou hast taught the worship of the Supreme Self, the Imperishable (Akshara) Brahman, devoid of all upadhis (conditions); and Thou hast also taught here and there worship of Thyself as the Lord of the Universe, associated with the upadhi (condition) of that energy (sattva) which has the power of carrying on all evolutionary process and of knowing everything. And in the (eleventh) Discourse treating of the Universal Form, Thy Primal Form as Isvara manifesting itself as the whole Universe has also been shown by Thee for the same purpose of worship. And having shown that Form, Thou hast exhorted me to do works for Thy sake only (xi. 55), and so on. Wherefore, I ask of Thee with a desire to know which of these two ways is the better.

Arjuna said:
1. Those devotees who, always devout, thus contemplate Thee, and those also who (contemplate) the Imperishable, the Unmanifest, which of them are better versed in Yoga?
Thus: referring to what was said in the last preceding verse, ‘He who does works for Me’ (xi. 55) and so on. Always devout: engaged without intermission in doing works (or the Lord's sake and in doing other things taught before, steadfast in mind. These devotees, seeking nobody else for their refuge, meditate on Thee in the Universal Form just manifested. There are others who, having abandoned all desires and renounced all actions, meditate on the Imperishable (akshara) Brahman - also described above, - who is unmanifest (avyakta. i.e., incomprehensible to the senses), as devoid of all upadhis or conditions. That indeed is said to be manifested (vyakta) which is visible to the senses as the root of the word ‘vyakta’ implies; but this, the Imperishable (Akshara) is not so, These others meditate on the Imperishable, the Unmanifested, as defined by other attributes to be enumerated below. Of the two Classes, who are better versed in Yoga?

The worshippers of Isvara

The Lord says: As to the worshippers of the Imperishable (Akshara) who see rightly and have abandoned desires, let them remain; we shall say later on what has to be said regarding them. But as regards the others:

The Blessed Lord said:
2. Those who, fixing their thought on Me, contemplate Me, always devout endowed with supreme faith, those in my opinion are the best Yogis.
Those devotees (bhaktas) who fix their mind on Me in the Universal Form, the Supreme Lord, and worship Me as the Governing Lord of all Masters of Yoga, who is omniscient, whose vision is free from the timira (purblindness) of attachment and other evil passions, - they who always contemplate Me steadfastly (in the manner described in the closing verse of the preceding discourse), endowed with supreme faith, - these, I think, are the best Yogis. Indeed, they pass their days and nights in incessant thought of Me. Wherefore it is but proper to speak of them as the best Yogis.

The worshippers of Akshara
Are not the others, then, the best Yogis? Stop; hear thou what I have to say regarding them:

3 - 4. Those who ever contemplate the Imperishable, the Indefinable, the Unmanifest, the Omnipresent and the Unthinkable, the Unchangeable, the Immutable, the Eternal, - having restrained all the senses, always equanimous, intent on the welfare of all beings, they reach Myself.
Because the Imperishable (Akshara) is unmanifest. He is not accessible to words and cannot therefore be defined. He is unmanifest not manifest to any of the organs of knowledge. They contemplate the Imperishable everywhere all round. Contemplation (Upasana) consists in approaching the object of worship by way of meditating it according to the Teaching (Sastra) and dwelling for a long time steadily in the current of same thought (continuous) like a thread of descending oil. The Imperishable who is the object of contemplation is thus qualified: He is omnipresent, pervading all like the akasa. He is unthinkable, because He is unmanifest. Whatever is visible to the senses can be; thought of by the mind also; but the Akshara is invisible to the senses and is therefore unthinkable. He is unchangeable (Kutastha) – ‘Kuta’ means a thing which is good to all appearance but evil within. Accordingly it refers here to that seed of samsara - including avidya (nescience) and other things, - which is full of evil within, designated by various terms such as Maya, Avyakrita (undifferentiated), as in Svetasvataropanishad (iv. 10) and in the Gita (vii. 14.) ‘Kutastha’ means He who is seated in Maya as Its Witness, as Its Lord. - Or, ‘Kutastha’ may mean ‘remaining like a heap.’ Hence, He is immutable and eternal. They who contemplate the Imperishable, curbing all their senses, and always equanimous whether they come by the desirable or the undesirable, - they come to Myself. - It needs indeed no saying that they come to Me; for, it has been said that ‘the wise man is deemed My very Self (vii. 18). Neither is it necessary to say that they are the best Yogis, - seeing that they are one with the Lord Himself. But,

5. Greater is their trouble whose thoughts are set on the Unmanifest; for, the Goal, the Unmanifest, is very hard for the embodied to reach.
Great indeed is the trouble of those who are engaged in doing works for My sake, and so on; but greater still is the trouble of those who identify themselves with the Imperishable and contemplate the Supreme Reality, - the trouble arising from the necessity of having to abandon their attachment for the body. The Goal, the Imperishable, is very, hard for the embodied to reach, for those who are attached to their bodies. Therefore, their trouble is greater.

Salvation by worship of Isvara
 Later on we shall describe the conduct in life of the worshippers of the Imperishable (Akshara - Upasakas). Because of the necessity there is for abandoning attachment to the body.

6 - 7. But those who worship Me, renouncing all actions in Me, regarding Me Supreme, meditating on Me with exclusive devotion (yoga); for them whose thought is fixed on Me, I become ere long, O son of Pritha, the deliverer out of the ocean of the mortal samsara.
Me: the Isvara, the Lord. Exclusive: having no other object of worship except Myself, God in the Universal Form. Devotion (Yoga): samadhi or steadfastness of mind. Those who are engaged in contemplating Me exclusively, I, the Lord, will lift up from the ocean of mortal samsara, since their thoughts are fixed on Me in the Universal Form. - Samsara is an ocean, because it is very hard to cross beyond it. Because it is so, therefore,

8. Fix thy mind in Me exclusively, apply thy reason to Me. Thou shalt no doubt live in Me alone hereafter.
Fix thy mind (manas) - thy purposes and thoughts - in Me, the Lord in the Universal Form. Fix in Me thy reason (buddhi) also which resolves and determines. What will be the result? Listen: Thou shalt without fail abide in Me as Myself, on the death of this body. Thou shalt not doubt it.

Abhyasa - Yoga

9. If thou art unable to fix thy thought steadily on Me, then by yoga of constant practice do thou seek to reach Me, O Dhananjaya.
If you cannot fix your thought on Me steadily in the manner I have mentioned, then seek thou to reach Me in the Universal Form, by yoga of constant practice (abhyasayoga). Practice (abhyasa) consists in withdrawing thought from all quarters and fixing it again and again on one particular object. ‘Abhyasa-yoga’ means samadhana or steadfastness of mind acquired by such practice.

Service of the Lord

10. (If) thou art not equal to practice either, then be thou intent on (doing) actions for My sake. Even doing actions for My sake, thou shalt attain perfection.
Even if thou doest mere actions for My sake without practicing yoga, thou shalt attain perfection; thou shalt first attain purity of mind, then yoga or steadfastness, then knowledge, and then perfection (moksha).

Abandonment of the fruits of actions

11. If thou art unable to do even this, then refuged in devotion to Me, do thou abandon the fruits of all actions, self-controlled.
If thou canst not even be intent on doing actions for My sake as thou hast just been taught, then do thou perform actions renouncing them all in Me, and abandon the fruit of those actions. Now He extols the abandoning of the fruits of all actions.

12. Better indeed is knowledge than practice; than knowledge is meditation more esteemed; than meditation the abandonment of the fruits of actions; on abandonment, Peace follows immediately.
Knowledge is better than practice accompanied with ignorance; better than that knowledge is meditation (dhyana) with knowledge; better than meditation with knowledge is the abandonment of the fruits of actions. From such an abandonment of the fruits of actions, accompanied with the qualification mentioned above, cessation of samsara and of the cause thereof follows immediately; it admits of no delay.
Abandonment of the fruit of all action is taught as a means to Bliss in the case of an ignorant person engaged in action, only when unable to tread the paths taught before, but not at first. Wherefore the act of abandoning the fruit of all action is merely extolled by the declaration, in this verse, of the superiority of one over another; for it has been taught as the course to be adopted when a man is unable to follow the paths already taught.
In what way does it (the declaration) form a mere praise? In the Kathopanishad (vi. 14) it is said that immortality results from the abandonment of all objects of desire; and this is a truth quite familiar to all. And all objects of desire are fruits of actions enjoined in the sruti and in the smriti. In the case of the enlightened person who is steadily engaged in contemplation, Peace immediately follows the abandonment of desires.
Now mere abandonment of desires constitutes a factor of even an ignorant man's abandonment of the fruits of actions; and because of this point of similarity, mere abandonment of the fruits of all actions is praised - with a view to create a desire to follow the course - in the same way that, in saying that the ocean was drunk by the brahmana sage Agastya, even the brahmanas of this age are praised for the mere reason that they too are brahmanas. Thus, it has been taught that Karma-Yoga accompanied with the abandonment of the fruits of actions is a means to Bliss.

The life of the Akshara-upasakas

Here, it is by presupposing a distinction between Isvara and Atman, the Lord and the Self, that Yoga - which consists in concentrating thought on the Lord, on the Universal Form, - and the performance of works for the sake of the Lord have been taught. As it is hinted - in the words ‘If thou art unable to do this either '(xii. 11) - that Karma - Yoga is associated with ignorance (ajnana), we should understand that the Lord here means to say that Karma-yoga is not meant for the worshipper of the Akshara, for him who sees no distinction (between the Lord and the Self). Similarly, the Lord shows the impossibility of the worship of the Akshara to a Karma - Yogi. To explain: Having - in the words 'They reach Myself (xii. 3) – declared that the worshippers of the Akshara are independent as regards the attainment of liberation (kaivalya), the Lord (xii. 7) has shewn - in the words ‘for them I become the deliverer’ (xii. 7) - that the others are dependent on the Lord on an external Being. If these were deemed as the very Self of the Lord, they would be the very Akshara themselves owing to their realization of the identity; so that it would have been inappropriate to speak of them as persons to be delivered by the Lord. Moreover, the Lord who is preeminently well-wisher of Arjuna recommends to him only Karma-Yoga (iv. 15) based on an idea of distinction and quite dissociated from right knowledge. Nor would any man like to be subordinate to another after knowing himself to be the Lord through proper sources of right knowledge; for, the two are mutually opposed states. Therefore it is with reference to the worshippers of the Akshara, to the samnyasins who are devoted to right knowledge and have abandoned all desires, that He proceeds to teach those attributes - such as ‘absence of hatred of any being’ - which form the direct means to immortality.

13 - 14. He who hates no single being, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egoism, to whom pain and pleasure are equal, who is enduring, ever content and balanced in mind, self-controlled, and possessed of firm conviction, whose thought and reason are directed to Me, he who is (thus) devoted to Me is dear to Me.
He hates nothing, not even that which causes him pain. He regards all beings as himself. He is friendly and compassionate. He is full of compassion for the distressed: i.e., he has offered security of life to all beings, he is a samnyasin. He does not regard anything as ‘mine’ and is free from egoism, from the notion of ‘I’. Pain and pleasure do not cause in him hatred and attachment. He remains unaffected when abused or beaten. He is always content; he thinks he has enough whether he obtains or not the means of bodily sustenance. He is also satisfied whether he comes by a good thing or not. He is a Yogi, always steadfast in thought. He has a firm conviction regarding the essential nature of the Self. This samnyasin has directed to Me exclusively his Manas - purposes and thoughts - as well as his Buddhi - the faculty of determining. Such a devotee is dear to Me. The same truth which was indicated in vii. 17 – ‘I am very dear to the wise man and he is dear to Me’- is here described at length.

15. He by whom the world is not afflicted and who is not afflicted by the world, who is free from joy, envy, fear and sorrow, he is dear to Me.
He: the samnyasin. Joy consists in the elevation or exhilaration of the mind (Antah-karana) on attaining an object of desire, and is indicated by horripilation, tears, and so on.

16. He who is free from wants, who is pure, clever, unconcerned, untroubled, renouncing all undertakings, he who is (thus) devoted to Me is dear to Me.
He is indifferent to the body, the senses, the sense objects and their mutual connections. He is possessed of purity both internal and external. He is able to decide rightly on the spot in matters demanding prompt attention. He does not take the side of a friend and the like. He habitually renounces all actions calculated secure objects of desire, whether of this world or of the next. Moreover,

17. He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil, he who is full of devotion is dear to Me.
He does not rejoice on attaining what is desirable. He does not fret on attaining what is undesirable. He does not grieve on having to part with a beloved object. He does not desire the unattained.

18 - 19. He who is the same to foe and friend, and also in honor and dishonor: who is the same in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain: who is free from attachment: to whom censure and praise are equal: who is silent, content with anything, homeless, steady-minded, full of devotion; that man is dear to Me.
He has no attachment for objects of any kind. He is content with the bare means of bodily sustenance. It is said (in the Mahahharata): ‘Who is clad with anything, who is fed on any food, who lies down anywhere, him the Gods call a brahmana. (Santi-parva, Moksha Dhrma, 245 - 12) He has no fixed abode, he is ‘houseless’ as has been said in another smriti. His thought is fixed steadily on the Supreme Reality. The enumeration, which was commenced in xii. 13, of the various attributes of the samnyasins - the worshippers of the Akshara who are constantly devoted to the knowledge of the Supreme Reality - is concluded as follows:

20. They, verily, who follow this immortal Law described above, endued with faith, looking up to Me as the Supreme, and devoted, they are exceedingly dear to Me.
They: the samnyasins. Immortal: as leading to immortality. Above: in the portion beginning with xii. 13. Looking up to Me as the Supreme: whose highest Unsurpassed goal is Myself, the Imperishable Self. Devoted: resorting to the highest devotion, which consists in the knowledge of the Supreme Reality. What was implied in the words, ‘I am exceedingly dear to the wise man’ (vii. 12) has been explained at length and concluded here thus: ‘They are exceedingly dear to me.’ The meaning of the verse is: Because he who follows the Immortal Law which has been now described becomes exceedingly dear to Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, therefore this Immortal Law should be zealously followed by every seeker of Liberation, by everyone who desires to attain to the Supreme Abode of Vishnu.

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