Chapter 13 is called kshetra-kshetrajna-vibhaga-yoga. As the title implies, it deals with the distinction between kshetra and kshetrajna. The kshetra denoting the entire object-contents of existence, has already been defined by Krishna. Krishna has now to define the concept of kshetrajna, the Subject part of our being. But before proceeding with it, he explains what constitutes jnana, the spiritual wisdom. He relates spiritual knowledge to a set of 20 virtues or excellences in very specific and unambiguous terms, making the exposition quite unique and extremely relevant to our interactional life.
Imbuing the mind with excellence
By spiritual wisdom is generally meant the knowledge of the Soul. This knowledge is quite different from all other knowledge we are familiar with. It is a knowledge, which has the effect of bringing about a unique expansion, elevation and subtlety in one’s mind and vision. The whole effect of spiritual wisdom is in the mind, intelligence and ego, the spiritual constituents of man. In fact, the mind, intelligence and ego alone are the spiritual constituents we can think of. All the rest would mean merely the material body and its parts.
Thus, for one who pursues spiritual wisdom, it will verily mean a wholesome change in his thoughts, outlooks and emotions displayed by the mind. Equally so, it would mean a fundamental change in the evaluation and perception of his intelligence. In other words, spiritual pursuit will result in incorporation of a variety of virtues or excellences, each of which will adorn the seeker’s mind and intelligence and will be reflected in his behaviour and character.
This inner adornment is vibrant and functional, not an inactive stationary enrichment. Spiritual qualities, in other words, always enrich the mind and intelligence, to express in thoughts, feelings and emotions on the one hand and visions and perceptions on the other. Herein lies the distinction of spiritual wisdom.
In the preceding chapter dealing with devotion, Krishna had listed 35 distinct qualities that should enrich the devotee, adding that only those devotees who embody these are dear to the Lord. Thus, true devotional growth also should result in equipping and reinforcing the mind and intelligence with the necessary spiritual embellishments.
The entire process of spiritual sadhana is meant to imbue the mind and intelligence with creative, sustaining, assimilative and expressional excellences, by dint of which one will be able to think, articulate and act more effectively. The benefits will be both proto-active (vibrant within) and inter-active.
Krishna proceeds to enumerate spiritual virtues or excellences one after another:
Sublimation of pride, non-ostentation, non-hurting, tolerance or forgiveness, straight-forwardness, adoring and serving the Teacher, cleanliness of body and mind, stability and steadfastness, self-control –
All these are notes that should adorn the mind and intelligence, to be functionally excellent and effective. Else, life will prove victimizing to the seeker.
Amanitvam: Of thousands of people only a rare one thinks of seeking the supreme Reality. So, to be a seeker is itself a rare and great fortune, a blessing. Naturally such a one will merit respect and adoration, at least among the discreet. But should the earnest seeker be focused on such attention and responses? Or, his concern should be to preserve and strengthen his seeking and pursue it for fulfillment?
Respectability is a very important value – a standard for human conduct. In fact, this should be the watchword for any good man, not to speak of a seeker of Truth. Like truthfulness, loyalty and integrity, to be respectable in one’s ways is the most desired pursuit. A truthful person will be respected. Naturally, to be truthful becomes a desired virtue. But to claim that “I am truthful, I am a rare seeker and therefore I should be valued and respected”, will mean nurturing māna (pride).
Respect is something that others feel towards a person. Let them feel it in their own manner and degree. The seeker should not expect any respect from anyone, or persuade anyone about this. Instead, all his attention and watchfulness should be applied to pursue steadfastly the path of seeking virtues. He must find satisfaction and fulfillment in doing so. If others show respect and they find satisfaction in doing so, well, it is their wont. But the seeker’s objective should be in adhering to his sadhana. The moment the mind starts looking for respect or recognition, it gets vitiated, constricted.
Adambhitvam (non-ostentation): By advocating adambhitvam, Krishna provides a clear safeguard and correction for the seekers. As the mind is driven to deeper levels of refinement and sublimation, it becomes more and more spiritually oriented and sublime. This instantly makes it peaceful, cheerful, harmonious and creative. In fact, every virtue, quality or standard Krishna lists here goes to refine the mind and its working.
Dambhah implies a hidden note of the mind that yearns to show off in one way or another, one’s spiritual or religious status. To be spiritual or religious is one thing, but to display or show off spirituality or religiosity in talks and acts, is dambha (ostentation).
Krishna thus goes into the very core of the inner personality and tries to remove from it adverse and unwelcome notes that hinder spiritual unfoldment and excellence. Like a clean plane mirror, the seeker’s mind should be pure and blemish-free. The emphasis must be in cultivating true spiritual virtues and deriving the benefits of their enrichment. Svasamvedyam na tu para-pratyaksham – to be felt by oneself and not directly perceivable by others – is the watchword for spiritual sadhana.
Ahimsa is always listed as a top-ranking virtue. Himsa means violence. In its wider sense it means to hurt, harm or hinder others. In its worst, it aims to destroy another’s life, i.e., intending to kill. Himsa can be by thoughts, words and deeds.
To nurture malicious thoughts about another is anti-spiritual. Such thoughts, though aimed at others, are self-destroying. Spiritual life or sadhana should first mean purification and broadening of one’s mind, so as to reflect the feelings and needs of others, nay, of the society at large.
Kshantih means forbearance, which implies not only tolerance, but accommodation as well. The society will always be an assorted group. The seeker, or even the Knower, has to live and move in such a complex society where he will be exposed to all kinds of treatment from various quarters. The ignorant, the deriding, the jealous, the negligent, the aggressive – all will come out with their own characteristic traits, whims and flairs. The spiritual seeker will have to give a place in his heart to every one. He has to appreciate each, remembering that everything is truly a creation of Nature. Large-heartedness, fellow-feeling, vast tolerance, forbearance and forgiveness alone will help him attain such a benevolent vision. At no time should the jnana-sadhaka feel deficient in tolerating and assimilating the situation he is in.
The next in Krishna’s list is arjava (straight-forwardness). This one trait will look after everything else. Being influenced by false values, wrongly assessing deviousness or deception as virtues, there is a tendency on the part of elders to instill in the young and growing minds, knowingly or unknowingly, a measure of stealth or hiding tendency. They even feel that such a trait is necessary, as a note of decency or decorum. As a result, this undesirable note gets strengthened with every event or interaction in life. Thus, people find themselves inextricably enmeshed in hypocrisy, stealth and even deceit. In reality, the root cause for all this is lack of arjava.
Straight-forwardness (arjava) implies transparency and openness. It means being integrated or wholesome in one’s thoughts, words and deeds. It is a great spiritual note.
Acaryopasanam: In spiritual life and seeking, the place and role of the Acarya, the Preceptor or Teacher, is paramount. Knowledge of the Self is the Knowledge of the one Subject that encompasses the whole universe. Except this Subject Self, everything we perceive or interact with is object. Thus, the Subject Self is entirely different from the myriad objects we see and think of.
To understand and realize the Subject may seem a paradox. How can one compare the Subject with any object or objectivity, with which alone the seeker is familiar? The Self, thus not being comprehensible by comparison to anything we know of, continues to be elusive. This fact makes it necessary for the seeker to look intensely for guidance and instruction from a realized Teacher who alone can take him to the threshold of the Self.
The Teacher virtually represents for him the embodiment of the Self and Self-wisdom. To be in close proximity of the Teacher and interact with him fondly and freely means a great deal for the seeker. Guru’s looks, thoughts, words and vision reveal to him the Subject Self, and what its realization means.
Guru provides the necessary confidence, clarity and resoluteness for the seeker to proceed with his seeking and reach the goal safely. See how prudently Krishna evaluated and treated Arjuna’s extreme grief and discomfiture. The tuition had its startling effect. Arjuna’s grieving mind gave place to the enquiring intelligence. The tormented warrior suddenly turned out to be a determined seeker. What would have been Arjuna’s plight if Krishna was not there to treat his tormented mind with the supreme wisdom of the Subject?
It is true, in the association of the Knower, even the worst affliction would turn into a felicity, a misfortune will be revealed as a timely fortune, and death would become festivity. The whole world of objects will be transformed when viewed from the standpoint of the Subject Self. It will shine as the transcendental spiritual splendour.
Another point of very great value for the seeker is the personality sublimation he gets by serving the Teacher fondly with humility and readiness. The subtle deep adverse traits of the mind will be recognized and pointed out by the Teacher, and the seeker can sublimate them very effectively. This sadhana called ego-sublimation or self-effacement, in the presence of the Guru, is very rare indeed. Krishna says that to live in close proximity of the Teacher, serving him in all ways, is an important part of sadhana. It makes purification of the mind and enlightenment far more facile. Acarya-upasana is unparalleled by all means.
Saucam, cleanliness, is a very important part of spiritual life. Generally there is a feeling that ascetics, being given to wandering and indefinite life, are not clean and tidy, because asceticism results from withdrawal from external dependance and a sense of self-denial. It also arises from the earnestness of spiritual quest and the understanding of the greatness of Self-knowledge. However, to deny the external comforts of life does not mean lack of cleanliness or order. Even while lying on the floor, wearing rags, carrying a water-pot and a stick, the spiritual aspirants can still be quite clean and hygienic in their ways. This fact should be known, appreciated and emulated.
Cleanliness is all-fold. Like the body, the mind and intelligence also have to be clean. This means purity. To be pure, innocent and honest is inevitable for spiritual life. While this goes hand in hand with spiritual life, it also renders the inner personality golden, sweet and endearing. The power that cleanliness and purity can bestow is inestimable.
Sthairyam is a very significant quality. It denotes stability. The seeker has to be poised, confident and stable. What is there to worry or be fascinated about? The mind has got ample capacity to assimilate and be enriched by any kind of inputs from the world – be they from people, places or events. Why should the seeker be unduly ruffled at any time?
It is the fervour of sthairyam that leads to the thought of ascetic life, resulting in a wandering mendicant life, unmindful of one’s bodily and other needs. Spirituality means Himalayan stability and poise, confidence and unshakability.
The last quality listed in this verse is atma-vinigrahah. It signifies self-control. Senses, mind, intelligence and ego – none of them should prove to be a hindrance, trouble or torment. Sensory turbulence is very dangerous, even destructive. Mental turmoil is equally devastating. Intelligential disharmony can bring colossal unrest and decline to any extent. How many find it hard to tame their ego!
What is the reason? It is all lack of self-control and discipline. Yatatmatva (self-discipline) is something Krishna has spoken about often. The whole spirituality rests upon self-discipline. The real sadhana consists in this self-disciplining, self-sublimating effort.
To walk the path of Self-knowledge or spiritual life is to be a repository of discipline, moderation, balance, harmony and integration. All these have to be understood and striven for by the seeker.
Understand that here Krishna, a very powerful Ruler, is the Teacher. Arjuna, another powerful Ruler, is the listener. Both have high social responsibility and status in life. So, discussions on Self-knowledge cannot be dismissed as unrelated triviality by anybody in any field of life. It is the most refined and effective wisdom, rendering human life beautiful, benevolent and creative.
The way Krishna describes these important tenets shows how distinct and paramount is the whole enunciation:
Not to be passionate towards sensory objects, to shun egoism, to see clearly the trouble and torment associated with birth, death, old age, disease;
Safeguarding against the pitfall of strong identification with children, wife, household, etc., and being even-minded in the favourable and unfavourable turn of events;
Indriyartheshu vairagyam (dispassion towards sensory objects): There is no teaching on spirituality without emphasis on viveka and vairagya, discrimination and dispassion. On listening to the first words of Krishna, Arjuna instantly took up the line of discrimination. His thoughts were earlier focused mainly on the venerable Bheeshma and Drona. And the reason for it was more of propriety and righteousness than mere sympathy and allied considerations for kith and kin. How to fight those who are to be worshipped wholeheartedly? Where was any enmity between him and them? Any belligerent move against them was unrighteous – impermissible to the right-thinking mind and intelligence!
His quest thus suddenly became truly spiritual, philosophical. He sought sreyas, and sreyas alone, adding that his mind did not look to enjoyment either in this world or in another. Arjuna’s words reveal how dispassionate his heart was. Viveka and vairagya had clearly dawned in him, making him fit to receive the subtle spiritual instruction. It is in such a background that Krishna’s spiritual exposition becomes relevant. Dispassion is a quality that cannot be dispensed with in any spiritual instruction, for ascetics as well as householders. In fact dispassion is a necessary quality for success in any walk of life. True, Bhagavad Gita, ever since it has transpired, has remained a spiritual gospel. And the reason for it is obvious. Its tone, content, message and emphasis have consistently adhered to the true spiritual notes throughout.
Those who take Bhagavad Gita as a Gospel of Action and would like to rejoice in worldly or secular pursuits in an exclusive manner, should not fail to reflect on this fact and moderate their thoughts and addictions. Let it be clear that dispassion is a quality that always enriches everyone – a spiritual seeker as well as a secular person. That alone adorns the Soul-wisdom and renders the seeker strong, wholesome and independent.
Indriya-artha means sense-object. Indriya-artheshu means the entire range of sensory objects, which verily includes the whole world with all its contents. Towards all this, says Krishna, the attitude should be that of dispassion. Do not crave for any sensory object. Let not world objects be the seeker’s master. Let them be, if at all, subservient to the seeker. Looking at the bounteous world, seeing the thrills and allurements it provides, let no servility be allowed to creep into the mind.
To be spiritual is not to look for one’s delight and fulfillment in the objects of the world. The mind that generates delight through any object of the world can also provide delight without such objects. Delight in reality belongs to the mind alone. It is verily the mind’s own gift. It may be occasioned by an external medium or spontaneously generated internally.
People in general, due to ignorance, seek to satiate their senses by courting sensory objects. This habit prevails till one grows to be a sadhaka. When the spirit of sadhana takes over the mind, the focus shifts from the objects to the Inner Spirit. Krishna is quite emphatic on this, although he is speaking to a warrior in the battlefield.
What is vairagya? It is the direct impact of knowing the perishable nature of the world – its contents, sentient and insentient alike. This one plight of perishability is sufficient to question man’s attraction towards them. At the same time, the Spirit that enlivens the body is not perishable. Should not then the Imperishable Spirit within be dearer than the external perishables?
Krishna also explains how to make such dispassion grow stronger. While presenting a precept, how to apply it in our life is also clearly shown. This is where our scriptural treatises excel. Ponder repeatedly and well over the trouble and torment associated with birth, death, old age as well as disease. Worldly life abounds in all these. In fact, these are fates and plights any living being has to course through. What does Krishna mean? Think of anyone’s birth. Neither is birth a creation of the born one, nor is it an event brought about fully by another. To marry and live in the company of each other is very much in keeping with the scheme and process of Nature. As a natural corollary of married life, children too are born, making the couple their parents.
Except undergoing the biological processes leading to conception and birth of a child, the parents do not have any creative role as such in forming the physical body of the offspring. Everything takes place governed by Nature’s laws and processes. In fact, an animal baby and a human baby are born alike. Only in their potentials and possibilities, Nature has built in some distinctions and differences.
None can predict with certainty what kind of a child will be born, with what character, looks and intelligence. Death is the last phase of life. It is definite that the born will die, but none can say when and how. As the growth of the foetus after conception results in birth of the child, so too the growth following birth leads to old age. How many are there for whom old age is a crowning maturity and fulfillment? Every one seems to curse and lament over old age and the disadvantages it brings. Disease is another factor that intrudes into life. Grief of various kinds is a sure constituent of life.
Thus, observed well, human life in the world does consist of a variety of doshas (defects or evils). Should not one be mindful of these? A good seeker cannot but reflect upon these. Krishna exhorts us to do so. Such a habit or pursuit will go to generate, strengthen and deepen dispassion in the mind.
Anahankara (egoism): To eschew ahankara, to be free of the ego, is very important, adds Krishna. Anahankara means overcoming kartr-bhoktr bhava, the feeling of doer-ship and enjoyer-ship.
How can one foster ego, and with regard to what can one be egoistic? Krishna has already explained how a tattvavit (a knower of Truth), always carries the notion “I do not do anything at all” (naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattvavit - verse 5.8). Again, did he not point out “The Lord of the Universe has not forged kartrtva, karma and bhoktrtva on anyone at all” (Verse 5.14)?
Krishna does not speak of anahankara of an inactive or idle person. He enjoins it as a quality of the active and interactive Knower. Not to have ego when doing nothing is easy. But to be free of ego while doing everything calls for spiritual enlightenment. Anahankarata is essential to the seeker, and natural to the Knower.
Next comes the most crucial statement of Krishna. Mind you, Krishna was not a sannyasin, nor was Arjuna. The seeker has to safeguard, he says, against the conventional notes of inner identification. He wants the spiritual seeker to safeguard against mental and intellectual victimization. Hence, well in advance he prescribes dis-identification and dis-attachment for this purpose.
Every event of Nature should be viewed alike, in the same background. This applies to all relationships, including children, married partner and household too. Like a Trustee looking after the affairs entrusted to him, a parent should bring up the child, entrusted to him by Nature. Every household will have parents and children. To live in a family, and at the same time not to foster any identification with the family members, will no doubt appear to be incongruous, even repugnant. But when Krishna says that such identification is wrong and detrimental, one has to heed it with sufficient introspection. Krishna was himself a householder! We have to understand what he means by asaktih and anabhishvangah.
Let there be all concern, good wishes and love. But all this should be in the background of dis-attachment (asaktih), so that none of these notes will bring affliction or agitation.
Anabhishvangah (dis-identification) is a specific quality that does not allow the mind to get glued to the closely related – be it the son, daughter or anyone else – with so much of attachment that the relationship results in affliction and bondage. But this abhishvangah is what invariably takes place. To identify oneself with another, as a result of which the other’s fate makes you suffer irreconcilably, is by all standards unacceptable. Seekers have to outlive such bondages.
A doctor has to treat a patient with love and concern. But can he become identified with the patient to such an extent that the mere sight of the patient enfeebles and disables him from treating the patient? It is one thing to foster relationship, but it is altogether different to be identified with it. The second part is the one to be mended.
Our relationships with the people and the objects around are to make our life happy and harmonious. If on their account, the reverse happens, then the whole purpose is lost. Spiritual wisdom cannot permit such incongruity. It cautions and corrects the mind in this regard.
Krishna now lays down a very common interactional discipline, moderation and refinement. In fact, it is a superb note of sublimation, within which everything else gets covered.
Samacittatvam: This is a tenet Krishna has been emphasizing right from the 2nd chapter. It began with his words: sama duhkha sukham dhiram (2.15), while describing the principle of karma yoga. He has repeatedly incorporated this throughout (2.38, 2.48, 4.22, 5.18, 5.19, 5.20, 6.9, 6.29, 6.32, 12.13, 12.18, 12.19, 13.9, 13.27, 13.28, 14.24). The significance of samatva is evident.
Life has to course through many events, interacting with various persons, places and circumstances. But all this variety falls into two categories, namely ishta (desirable) and anishta (undesirable). The basis for it may be anything – personal, professional or societal. Any situation or any person we interact with can be either desirable or undesirable. Towards both, the seeker should foster the same note of hearty reception. Once this is ensured, all his agitation and counter notes of the mind will dissolve. In doing so, lies his spiritual enrichment and fulfillment. The mind will go on broadening every time, and a new vision and impetus will begin to work.
Spiritual pursuit is not merely contemplative. It is vibrantly interactional, in all fronts – be it personal, familial or societal. Discussing characteral, behavioural and interactional virtues, Krishna focuses on the significant austere notes of spiritual life and seeking. Spirituality has its distinction from religious life, wherein the emphasis is invariably on an external distant God.
When one turns spiritual, his focus is on himself – the different levels of his personality – to incorporate in it the appropriate wisdom, refinement and sublimity. It is for this reason that Krishna has been explaining how a seeker must unfailingly imbibe spiritual sublimation. By way of elaboration, he lists a number of virtues and excellences that inevitably go with spiritual wisdom, so much so that to be spiritual is to be a repository of such sublimational virtues.
Unflinching devotion and loyalty to Me, the Teacher, who exposes the supreme Truth; the habit of seeking seclusion and finding joy in it; lack of interest in and disinclination to be with crowds…..
These austere notes always go with spiritual inclination and should naturally grace a seeker. In other words, if one becomes a seeker of the supreme Reality, he will spontaneously be given to these. These sublime notes alone will be delighting the seeker’s mind.
Spiritual life definitely implies turning to the one great Source within, to find all the interest, delight, inspiration, creativity and fulfillment there. For one given to spiritual seeking, this kind of inner turn, this subjective devotion and affinity, is an indispensable, inevitable development.
Normally, devotion (bhakti ) is taken to be a clinging to an external God sensorily and emotionally. Impelled by such an addiction, the devotee indulges in ceremonial worship, praise and adoration of his beloved Deity. But in spiritual life, such flair loses its relevance. The usual religious practices, can at best be mere preliminaries.
True devotion must have its relevance and focus in the subtle pulsations of mind and intelligence. Everything about these comes to be observed, evaluated, improved and refined at every stage. Such inner attunement and refinement alone will mean true seeking and a clear means for spiritual attainment.
An important part of spiritual wisdom, says Krishna, is the preservation of unflinching or unswerving devotion to the Teacher. The external God could be an object of faith to begin with. But, when a devotee like Arjuna stands as a seeker, aspiring for sreyas (lasting goodness and fulfillment), one like Krishna, who can take up the role of a Teacher, alone can fulfill the quest.
Obviously, for such a seeker, the external God or faith on anything external does not arise at all. He is driven and empowered by his quest. He places it before the Knower Teacher, with resolve and pious resignation.
It is for the Teacher then to tell the seeker in very clear terms, what he has to do, as does Krishna to Arjuna. The seeker then has to pin his attention on whatever is heard from the Teacher and imbibe it wholeheartedly. He has to make it a full, vibrant, wholesome pursuit.
That determines the degree of his success. No desultoriness, distraction or distrust should intercept his commitment.
Krishna uses two words here, characteristic of such spiritual devotion and fidelity:
Ananyayoga (unflinching steadfastness and resolve): The seeking mind has to be watchful, self-observant to ensure that such ananyata is imbibed and preserved throughout. In the 11th chapter, after revealing the visvarupa, Krishna pin-pointed how ananya-bhakti alone would empower the seeker to gain the universal visvarupa dimension.
The second word Krishna adds is avyabhicarini bhaktih. This is a very poignant phrase, which must go deep into the seeking mind. Vyabhicara generally means waywardness. The wavering mind goes on looking to many a source for its delight and endearment. There is no sense of selection or resolve in its flair. Not to stick to anything is its wont. It lacks fixity of purpose, faith or restfulness.
Krishna disallows such an attitude outright. To be a seeker is to be adorned with discrimination, evaluation and resoluteness. In the devotional relationship with the Teacher, the spiritual seeker must foster an unwavering, singular attitude. Then only the seeking becomes wholesome and will fruition. How well Arjuna accepts Krishna’s instructions and focuses his attention on them is important, nay the sole consideration. The seeker’s reliance on the Teacher and his words is the decisive factor in leading to fulfillment.
The goal is the inner Soul. It rests within one’s own body. Why should the seekers not then be focused within themselves and achieve the end the earliest? Obviously, fullness of attention, fixity of purpose, wholesomeness in resolve and dedication are the only lack, causing hindrance. All these are the witchcraft of the mind, caused by vyabhicara (waywardness) and lack of ananyatva (exclusiveness). As the supreme Reality is but One, the loyal approach to It should be equally singular. That is why Krishna emphasizes ‘unswervingness’ and ‘exclusiveness’ in such powerful words.
Vivikta-desa-sevitvam: By this is meant cultivation of the spiritual habit of seeking lonely and secluded places to spend there as much time as possible. How does such a practice help?
As long as the seeker is in the company of people with their hectic secular activities, his mind and senses will be prone to get involved with the same trends. Distractions and resultant tensions cannot be avoided. It is very difficult not to react to situations, places and people. Every interaction will have its sure impact in the mind.
It is not possible for the senses to be active without involvement of the mind. So initially, the best way will be to leave such worldly interactional pressures and go to a place or situation where such external pulls would not be. Seclusion becomes a desirable, nay natural, choice.
In the absence of external interactions, the mind will be inclined to look into itself, its own subtle working. Introspection then becomes natural. Once that is on, the process is bound to bestow its sublime effects. Very soon the seeker will develop spiritual and philosophical reflection, vicara, marking the beginning of zeal and depth in seeking.
Krishna develops and emphasizes the idea further by laying down the tenet of aratih-jana-samsadi. The desire, nay urge, to be with a crowd or gathering is characteristic of the human heart. Festivals and melas have become a cultural routine for this reason. Even the poor folk of villages have the yearning for festivals and congregational festivity. They love to spend for such events, squeezing their meagre resources.
But the spiritual seeker must mark a clear distinction, a departure from this. If his focus is on the inner Soul, the merry-making company with others will not be of any help to him. What he should seek is as much of aloneness as possible. That alone will give him the chance to look within and strive to build up spiritual depth and expanse. More of purity, piety and self-abidance will then begin to adorn him.
People generally grumble about loneliness as they grow old. Youngsters too do not like the plight. If the old do understand and take to spiritual pursuit with sufficient interest and dedication, they will not be bothered by loneliness.
There are a number of Texts ranging from the Upanishads to the Puranas and allied scriptures. All of them discuss spiritual and philosophical truths and principles. One can, according to his sensibility, take to any of these. Loneliness will then be creatively rewarding. Often people say that they have no time to read and think. If seclusion is adopted as a much desired virtue, it will resolve their problem and make spiritual pursuit easy and comfortable.
Krishna now comes to the last two points, the acme of the discussion on wisdom constituents:
Being constantly given to spiritual introspection, betaking to the true object of life as determined by the tenets of wisdom – all these together constitute true wisdom. Everything else is sheer ignorance.
Krishna discloses the real discipline, refinement, steadfastness, and exclusiveness that mark jñana sadhana.
Adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam: A true seeker must be given to imbibing spiritual wisdom consistently and wholesomely. This is the task of the mind and intelligence. Normally the mind thrives on thinking about sensory variety. That has to be substituted by engrossing itself in spiritual thoughts and association. It will be greatly facilitating if the seeker goes to the Teacher and lives in his close proximity. In such closeness, with spiritual sublimation, he will have sensory restraint and regulation.
Whenever the Teacher discusses wisdom, he can listen to it. At other times, he can closely serve him. Serving the teacher is a composite sadhana. It calls for deep and wholesome attention, application. An assiduous disciple must be attentive to whatever the Teacher wishes or wants – he will be keen to fulfill it in time without being told repeatedly. He must be so reflective, sensible and discreet that he will be able to anticipate, sense and act on the wishes of the Teacher before being expressly told.
All disciples are not alike. Then comes the disciple of the second category, who has to be specifically told every time about the wishes or needs of the Teacher. Only then the disciple will take steps in performing the seva. If for any reason the Teacher omits to point out matters, the disciple too misses them. Consequent difficulties are inevitable. There is yet a third category of disciples. Even when pointed out, told and reminded, they feel helpless in fulfilling the tasks well in time.
The task of every seeker must be to fall in the first category. However, living in close association with the Teacher will certainly help to gain the quality Krishna lists under this head: adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam.
Tattva-jnana-artha-darsanam: Artha means the object of pursuit. Life’s object must be determined on the basis of the values and assessment made by spiritual wisdom, as revealed in the Vedic Upanishads and allied Scriptural Texts.
Supremacy of spiritual wisdom
Vedas reveal the nature of life, its purpose, the contemporary and eternal values of life, and the means to attain these. Adequate comparative study and assessment are there in Vedic deliberations on (i) the karmic ritualistic path aimed at specific ends in this world and beyond and (ii) the wisdom path that aims at gaining Self-knowledge, on the ground that therein alone lies fulfillment of human life. By reading or hearing the message of Vedas, the seeker has to arrive at his ultimate objective with discretion. Guided and instructed by Krishna, this is what Arjuna did.
Pointing out first the unborn and undying nature of the Soul, Krishna showed the importance and utility of Self-knowledge. He then explained, by a comparative study, the futility of all rituals and allied means.
The same point he stresses again and again. All karmas are by far lower to buddhi-yoga, he said in the 2nd chapter (2.49). Krishna was very vociferous in insisting upon cultivating indifference towards the promises in the ritualistic portion of the Vedas, by characterizing them as dealing with only the three gunas and their ramifications (2.45). In fact, any present or future form of such karmic means and assumptions for attaining some ends before or after death will be verily futile.
One seeking to know the wisdom, namely yoga, transcends the entire ken of Vedic rewards (6.44), said he. Likewise he compares very strongly the plights of different types of worshippers like deva-vratas, pitr-vratas and bhutejyas, to show how trifling, trivial, their sense of values and aim in life are. One given to worshipping the supreme Reality attains the Supreme itself, whereas the others remain low and poor in every way (9.25).
At the same time the effort as well as the effort-maker is the same in all cases, but the outcomes they work for and beget are a striking baffling contrast. Yet, none feels impelled to strive for the highest and the best! How candid is the analysis!
Throughout every chapter, whether it is about karma, yoga, wisdom, sannyasa, meditation, guna-traya or the rest, Krishna instills jnana, and jnana alone. On the basis of this revelation the seeker should determine his goal and the means to achieve it.
The sthita-prajna and sthita-dhi, the Knower, the tattvavit, gunateeta are the models Krishna presents during the great discussion. The seeker thus has a beautiful variety of instructions and examples before him to decide upon his own fate and course of effort. In fact, it is only to correct, broaden, elevate and also to refine the seeker’s perception, sense of values and goal that Krishna continues the discussion, providing more and more evaluation and insight.
Embellishments – characteral, behavioural & interactional
Thus we have an amalgamation of twenty spiritual characteristics, which together, emphasizes Krishna, alone constitute true spiritual wisdom – as a personal attainment as well as functional enrichment. On analysis, one finds that these fall into three basic divisions or categories.
The first is solely personal, to be gained as part of the enriched and enlightened personality of the seeker or Knower. Proper exposure, contemplation and assimilation of these should enrich the perception or evaluation, guiding the seeker’s thoughts and attitudes, aims and objectives. We can call them as characteral notes. Amanitvam, kshantih, arjavam, etc. come under these ‘personal enriching notes’.
Then come the behavioural norms and embellishments. While the characteral notes always remain static, the behavioural ones display themselves when the seeker begins to express himself. The way he speaks, acts, treats others, receives and looks at the various events of the world is extremely important. They must always have an elevating and expansional effect. His response based on inputs from his eyes and ears, subsequent thoughts and attitudes, all come under this category. One expresses through responses and moves. Adambhitvam, vairagyam, duhkha-dosha-anudarsanam, asaktih, anabhishvangah – these are behavioural in their nature.
The interactional features constitute the third group. Any interaction will have to be with others. Broadly speaking, persons, places and events are the three factors that constitute this sphere. Thus samacittatvam, aratih-jana-samsadi and vivikta-desa-sevitvam fall under this group. This is the most complex aspect of human life, calling for sufficient enlightenment, skill, expansion and functional sublimity. Krishna has dealt with all these three segments while enunciating the 20 spiritual constituents of wisdom.
The seeker has to study these, and reflect upon their import and relevance. By so doing, he must absorb and imbibe them as much as possible. The process should be on until in his character, behaviour and interaction these find ample place, empowering and delighting himself as well as helping and enriching others around.
(From Essential Concepts in Bhagavad Gita - Volume 5)