Class: Bhagavad Gita #1
Updated Date: 2015-08-18

Karma Yoga and Sannyasa

There is an end to be accomplished - Sarva Karma Sannyasa. The means for achieving this is karma Sannyasa.

The end is the same - the ultimate end is not open to choice. The means is also open to two choices - you can be a Sannyasi or a Karma Yogi. The ultimate end cannot be plural; it is singular.

In fact it is assumed (wrongly) that the means are many, the end is the same. The Gita says the means is one and the end is also one. In the means, life styles can be two.

First understand the end. Unless you have the end in view, the means cannot be determined. To see something, your eyes will perceive it given adequate light and correct distance. If adequate means are employed then knowledge takes place. This is true of inferences also. A one-step inference (called anumana) is that if you see smoke, you infer there is fire. A multi-step inference (arthapatti) would be a theory about the Big Bang or black holes. Each step is a conclusion in itself.

By analyzing human aspirations, without any assumptions, we can come to certain conclusions. The human being is self conscious like other animals (because every animal recognizes its own species). So there is self-identity, but the self-consciousness is inhibited - so inhibited that it can't make a self-judgment - so the fragile self-identity is protected. In this alone, human aspirations become apparent.

If I see myself in any way limited (parchanyaha) (time, space, skill, knowledge, strength, looks, height - wise) then I am not acceptable to myself. Your conclusion makes you sad. Occasionally this sadness disappears when I forget my conclusion. That is a window to my Self. Whenever I am happy, I do not remember that I am a wanting person. Happiness or sadness is only centered on myself, not on any other object. So the whole life's struggle is to forget my conclusions. My problem is I remember myself.

All that is required for me to be unhappy is to identify myself with my conclusions. Either this is true or it is untrue because it is a judgment - any judgment can be wrong or it can be right. If "I am deficient" is right then there is no way of my becoming happy. Momentary happiness is a window to the possibility of my judgment being wrong. I see myself occasionally happy in spite of my well-entrenched conclusion that I am deficient in many ways. To be happy is not possible if any of these limitations is intrinsic to my self. The "happiness is inside you" style of paperback promises is meaningless unless understood. The paperback approach gives a certain doubt about your own conclusions.

No experience can be trashed as wrong; only a conclusion can be wrong. If the self is happy it cannot become unhappy. If the self is unhappy it cannot become happy. So, the experience of being occasionally happy gives rise to doubt that perhaps my conclusion is incorrect. Am I (the self) really unhappy? Conclusions are not unfounded BUT they can be wrong.

The body does not feel it is fat. Body is limited. Am I limited or am I fat?

What you want to be (not deficient), you are. By a process of becoming you can never become what you are not. If the "I am limited" conclusion is wrong, then what is the other possibility? That I have to know myself is the end. What is the means? The Knower does not have a means of knowledge to know the knower. So he has to employ another means of knowledge.

Basically, you are a cognitive entity; you are the knower. Desirer or doer comes later. Vedanta is a means of knowledge revealing the truth about yourself. Where you have no access, words have an access. It is nothing else but a means of knowledge like a mirror. The more you know, the fewer the choices. For the ignorant, there are many choices.

Student questions

If the end must be in view, then how to determine the means? Is this what Arjuna is asking?

In order to see, one must have eyes (instrument of seeing), and proper conditions such as adequate light. Is this an analogy to learning Vedanta? If so, is the working instrument the mind? What are the proper conditions?