Monday, June 10, 2013

Ladder of Devotion : Gita Ch 12

We often talk about devotion from Narad Bhakti Sutras, Srimad Bhagavatam, Ramayan's NavdhaBhakti, etc. Rarely do we look into Bhakti (devotion) expressed by the epitome of devotion Himself, Krishn, in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12!

Om Sri Krishnaya Namaha - Sri Gurave Namaha

Commentary by Swami Chinmayananda

Summary Sloka

Bhagavad Gita 12.12

sreyo hi jnanam abhyasaj
jnanad dhyanam visisyate
dhyanat karma-phala-tyagas
tyagac chantir anantaram
'Knowledge' is indeed better than 'practice' ; 'meditation' is better than 'knowledge' ; 'renunciation of the fruits-of-actions' is better than 'meditation' ; peace immediately follows 'renunciation. '


When a divine philosopher gives a discourse for the benefit of a disciple who is confused and broken-down, it is not sufficient if he merely enumerates the dry philosophical truths; he must so beautifully arrange his ideas that the very scheme of the discourse must help the student to gather all the ideas together in a bunch. The stanza, now under review, gives us one of the typical examples in Krishna's discourse wherein he directly makes an attempt to systematise his theoretical disquisitions into a well-arranged pattern of thought.

Here we find a sequence of ideas, arranged in a descending order of importance. When once this ladder-of-ideas is brought completely within a seeker's comprehension and when he learns the art of moving up and down this ladder, he will master almost all the salient points so far expounded in this chapter.
BETTER INDEED IS KNOWLEDGE THAN PRACTICE --- Spiritual practices are not mere physical acts but are disciplines that should ultimately tune up our mental and intellectual levels. The inner personality cannot be persuaded to toe the line with the physical acts of devotion unless the practitioner has a correct grasp of what he is doing. An intellectual conversion is a pre-requisite to force the mind to act in the right spirit and to gain a perfect attunement with the physical act. A correct and exhaustive knowledge of what we are doing, and why we are doing it, is an unavoidable pre-condition for making our Yoga fruitful. Therefore, it is said here that a knowledge of the psychological, intellectual and spiritual implications of our practices is greater in importance than the very external Yogic acts, or 'devotional performances.'

MEDITATION IS SUPERIOR TO KNOWLEDGE --- More important than mere KNOWLEDGE is meditation upon the very 'knowledge' so gathered. The technical explanation --- of the why and the wherefore of religious practices --- can be more easily learnt than understood. To convert our learning into our understanding, there must be necessarily a process of intellectual assimilation and absorption. This cannot be accomplished by a mere factual learning of the word-meanings. The students will have to understand, in a hearty enthusiasm, the very meaning of the Shastra, and this is possible only through long, subjective, independent ponderings over the significant terms in the Shastra-declarations. The process of inward assimilation of knowledge can take place only through meditation. Hence, in the hierarchy of importance, "meditation" has been give a greater place than the "KNOWLEDGE OF THE TECHNIQUE."

BETTER THAN MEDITATION IS THE ABANDON-MENT OF FRUITS-OF-ACTION --- Meditation is an attempt of the intellect to fly from the fields of its present knowledge to a yonder destination of a better understanding. In this flight to a vaster field, the intellect must have the necessary energy and equipoise. Meditation can never be possible for an individual in whom all energies and steadiness of mind are shattered by the agitations created by his own ruinous imaginations of the future. In our discourses upon the previous stanza, we have already shown how our anxiety for the future generally depletes our vitality to face the present. All fruits-of-actions definitely belong to the FUTURE, and to be  over-anxious about them is to invite a lot of idle agitations into our bosom. Stormed by these agitations, we lose all our equipoise and such an individual has no ability to meditate upon and thereby assimilate the silent significance of the great Shastras. Therefore, Krishna here gives a greater place of importance in his ladder-of-ideas to "THE RENUNCIATION OF THE FRUITS-OF-ACTION."

As a foot-note to his own declaration, he adds how renunciation of our anxiety for the future immediately brings about a healthy condition within ourselves. "PEACE IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWS RENUNCIATION." In fact, in Hinduism, renunciation (Sannyasa) is nothing other than "giving up all our clinging attachments to the pleasures arising out of our contact with the external sense objects."

As a result of this renunciation, therefore, a dynamic quietude comes to pervade the bosom in which the intellect can meditate upon the knowledge of the Shastras, and thereby understand the ways of self-development as explained therein. And when, with this knowledge, one uses one's seat of meditation, one is assured of definite success and steady progress.

Previous Shloks Chapter 12

Bhagavad Gita 12.1

arjuna uvaca
evam satata-yukta ye
bhaktas tvam paryupasate
ye capy aksharam avyaktam
tesham ke yoga-vittamah
Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship you, and also those who worship the imperishable, the unmanifested --- which of them are better versed in YOGA?

Bhagavad Gita 12.2

sri-bhagavan uvaca
mayy avesya mano ye mam
nitya-yukta upasate
shraddhaya parayopetas
te me yuktatama matah

The Blessed Lord said: 2. Those who, fixing their mind on Me, worship Me, ever steadfast and endowed with supreme faith, these, in my opinion, are the best in YOGA.

Bhagavad Gita 12.3 - 4

ye tv aksharam anirdesyam
avyaktam paryupasate
sarvatra-gam acintyam ca
kuta-stham acalam dhruvam
sarvatra sama-buddhayah
te prapnuvanti mam eva
sarva-bhuta-hite ratah

3. Those who worship the imperishable, the indefinable, the unmanifest, the omnipresent, the unthinkable. the unchangeable. the immovable and the eternal, . . .

4. Having restrained all the senses, even-minded everywhere, rejoicing ever in the welfare of all beings --- verily they also come unto Me.

Bhagavad Gita 12.5

kleso ’dhikataras tesam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham
dehavadbhir avapyate
Greater is their trouble whose minds are set on the 'Unmanifest' ; for the goal, the 'Unmanifest, ' is very hard for the embodied to reach.

Bhagavad Gita 12.6 - 7

ye tu sarvani karmani
mayi sannyasya mat-parah
ananyenaiva yogena
mam dhyayanta upasate
tesam aham samuddharta
bhavami na cirat partha
mayy avesita-cetasam

6. But those who worship Me, renouncing all actions in Me, regarding Me as the Supreme Goal, meditating on Me with single-minded devotion (YOGA) . . .

7. For them, whose minds are set on Me, verily I become, ere-long, O Partha, the Saviour, (to save them) out of the ocean of finite experiences; the SAMSARA.

Bhagavad Gita 12.8

mayy eva mana adhatsva
mayi buddhim nivesaya
nivasisyasi mayy eva
ata urdhvam na samsayah
Fix your mind on Me only, place your intellect in Me; then, (thereafter) you shall, no doubt, live in Me alone.

Bhagavad Gita 12.9

atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
abhyasa-yogena tato
mam icchaptum dhananjaya
If you are unable to fix your mind steadily upon Me, then by the 'YOGA -of constant-practice, ' seek to reach Me, O Dhananjaya

Bhagavad Gita 12.10

abhyase ’py asamartho ’si
mat-karma-paramo bhava
mad-artham api karmani
kurvan siddhim avapsyasi
If you are unable even to practise ABHYASA-YOGA, be you intent on performing actions for My sake; even by doing actions for My sake, you shall attain perfection

Bhagavad Gita 12.11

athaitad apy asakto ’si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
tatah kuru yatatmavan
If you are unable to do even this, then taking refuge in Me, self-controlled, renounce the fruits-of-all-actions

This concludes the first 12 mantras of the 20 mantras in Chapter 12.

 Om Tat Sat

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