Bhagavad Geeta is the song of lord Krishna. It was delivered in the battlefield of Kurukshetra some 5000 years ago to Arjuna who was his beloved friend and disciple. It has been influencing thinkers of world since then. Originally its 700 verses were part of sage Vyasa’s epic Mahabharata. I will take verses of Geeta from my reading and discuss them with you.
Today I am taking verses 5th and 6th from chapter 3, Karma Yoga:
Everyone is compelled by the modes of nature working inside them to act. No one could be without doing Karma even for a moment. ||5||
One who forcibly controls sense organs but keeps thinking about sensory objects is called a hypocrite. ||6||
Krishna is explaining importance of performing duties to Arjuna who is terrified of battlefield. In previous verses he tells him that there are two ways to know self–one is to realize it by doing meditation as Jnanis do and another is to perform devotional service of lord. Without these two if you declare yourself a renunciate you will be merely deluding yourself.
In these two verses he tells him something of utmost importance. Everyone has karmic impulses inside them. There is no one who has transcended Karma completely. Either mode of goodness(sat), passion(raj) or inertia(tam) is dominant in our nature and we have to act according to it. Our natural urges don’t let us remain inactive even for a second. When you are inactive or asleep, some thought or the other is in operation. Only in deep trance or sleep there is no Karma. Other than those two states we are always doing some Karma, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
Now if someone restrains his sense organs and gives up working without having burnt the seeds of Karma first, he is very likely to fail in the true realization. Let’s take an example to make this clear:
Suppose you have read about importance of Mauna(silence.) You start practicing it but you have not understood it fully. Silence truly means controlling speech and thoughts but you are only controlling speech. Now you sit among people who are talkative and they start calling you Yogi. Your mind is turbulent and so many thoughts keep running. This makes you a hypocrite. Now you develop negative Karma for speech. How does it happen? You have grown to believe that you are special since you can control speech, whereas truth is you are not really practicing silence, just forcibly controlling speech. Now what will happen? When you speak you will speak harsh. You will hurt people with your speech and that in turn will hurt you back. So do you get the result of Mauna in this case? No.
Similarly without really having grown in detachment you declare yourself a celibate. Now you avoid company of people of opposite sex to maintain that status. You force yourself to stay away from them but your mind is constantly hankering after sensual pleasures and you keep thinking about people of opposite sex and at the same time avoid their company. What will happen after some time is –you will be drawn back to such company vehemently and since you had taken pride in the declaration of celibacy -its negative vector –that is excessive lust will force you to indulge in ways which will disturb you and others.
If you have taken a vow of renunciation without having realized what it means, just to avoid worldly duties, you will be thinking about sensual pleasures and not really doing any devotional service. Which will create certain situations to make you work hard for attaining and retaining material pleasures like householders do and even worse, thereby defeating the purpose of renunciation and making you worldly which you were so against to begin with.
In the next verse Krishna tells about the importance of detached actions. If someone tries to advance in spiritual values like silence, celibacy and renunciation while doing detached service, he is very likely to succeed in his endeavors and this is known as Karma Yoga.