Gita: Pilgrimage Towards Liberation

Swami Satyananda Paramahamsa

I have told you that the 18 chapters of Gita are stages of yogic evolution in the path of a sincere aspirant, who starts this great pilgrimage from the point of dejection, frustration depression in the life. And the final stage in the evolution of human consciousness, so far as the spiritual aspirants are concerned, is the liberation of Karma, is the liberation of renunciation, is the liberation of everything, whatsoever. It is where the mind is completely free from attachment, as also free from detachment. The mind is neither attached to attachment, and is not attached to detachments, is not a slave of Vairagya, is not a slave of enjoyment. That is a state that is called Moksha or Nirvana, when the mind is completely free, when the human consciousness is completely free from all kinds of pains, maybe positive or negative. Because according to the highest spiritual science, even the ethical aspirations in life are also to be abandoned after a certain stage, otherwise the ethical conceptions become complexes at a very high level.

Detachment is a very great moral order, all of you know, but there comes a stage in the life of an aspirant that the detachment has got to be kicked off. And the mind becomes free even from detachment. Even in Patanjali Yoga Sutra and other scriptures it is said, after having attained the Samadhi or the mental or the psychic equilibrium up to a certain stage, the spiritual aspirant is redirected to throw even the attainment, even the effort that he makes for samadhi.

To make it more clear, when you sit down for meditation what do you do? You try to avoid all thoughts, and we all do it. We sit for meditation and if any extravagant thought comes to our mind we try to avoid it. And our mind becomes free from outer thoughts, but at the same time we are aware and we are alert that no outer thoughts come into our mind. Even that effort has to be eliminated. This is a sadhana, perhaps most of you are not aware of this stage of practice. In the beginning when you are practicing pratyahara, sense withdrawal, concentration and meditation, you are asked: whenever an outer thought comes to your mind, try to stop it, try to take it out of your mind. So that is an effort which classically and technically known as Samskar Nirodh. Nirodh means to stop, Samskar means sub-conscious impressions.

When the sub-conscious impressions try to come up during the stages of meditation, every aspirant, every Yoga student, tries to check them. He has to do it. There comes a stage in spiritual life when Samadhi is quite close to him or almost he has attained mental equilibrium, then the teacher tells him: now, don't make any effort to cover the tendencies, to control your mind, to control your thoughts. And at the same time a kind of indifference towards all kind of mental attitudes is brought and that is known as vairagya.

And finally even the detachment which you were achieving in the beginning as a moral order to make your Samadhi more efficacious and fruitful, that is also to be renounced. That is the highest stage in spiritual life.

So according to Gita the 18 stages of spiritual evolution begin with Despondency. Then one has to take to the Yoga of Right Understanding. You may call it as Samkhya Yoga or you may even call it Viveka. Viveka means right discrimination, discernment. Even as you discriminate between heat and cold, between good and bad, between a right stuff and the wrong stuff, through your reasonings. In the same manner, first of all when you are nervous and depressed you will have to analyse yourself, you will have to go in to find out the real cause of worry.

Sometimes, some of the members of your family might be creating trouble for you but that may not be so. The reason might be elsewhere, you might consider that this man is the root cause of all troubles but if you go into deep analysis, you will find that the root cause was elsewhere.

So, the right understanding as regards to death, as regards to insults, criticisms and all kinds of negative aspects of human life are to be understood properly, through Viveka. And how does that Viveka come?

They say that it comes through the right person, what they call it here in India saint and in English you call him a saint. A person who can talk to you on the right points and give you the right angle of life. So this is called Samkhya Yoga. In order to achieve success in Samkhya Yoga one important aspect is to be remembered. And that comes in a few shlokas of Gita from 54 to 72 (of second chapter), the Yoga of steadiness of wisdom. You must have heard, you must have read, from shloka 54 onwards up to shloka 72, you have the description of a man whose wisdom has become steady and not fluctuating.

Most of us, or I should say everyone of us, has wisdom and not that we lack wisdom. We know. But it does not remain steady. For some time it comes to us but at the moment of need, when it has to come to our help, we do not get it. At that time all negative thoughts come to our mind. So, therefore, the knowledge which you call Samkhya Yoga has to become steady. Always it has to sustain you, always it has to guide you. So, that is more important in Samkhya Yoga. Otherwise even after having right understanding you may loose it during those moments when everything is against you. And when this right understanding has been practiced for some time the aspirant should not continue it. Because if you practice this Yoga of Right Understanding for very long time you will get used to it. Then the mind will again start becoming depressed and nervous. So the third stage is: you have to take up to Karma Yoga.

According to Gita the Karma Yoga is hard work, ceaseless work, efficiency, work with equilibrium and work without getting affected to the Karmas that the work bring to you. It may be success or it may be failure or it may be a mixture of both, success and failure both, you should not worry about it. Work for the sake of self purification, work efficiently in order to yoke all the tendencies of your mind, work with equilibrium in order to succeed in the work, but if you do not get the desired results you should not worry. That is called Karma Yoga and this Karma Yoga is to be practiced in every sphere of life. And there are certain conditions which are given in Gita about which we shall discuss later on.

But do you think that through Karma Yoga alone comes peace? No, that is the third stage. Karma Yoga alone will not bring Peace, otherwise many people who practice Karma, serve in the hospitals selflessly, would have attained Peace. Peace will come only by renunciation of work and knowledge both, of Karma and Jnana both . You should not have the self consciousness that 'yes, I have enough knowledge' or that 'I am doing a lot of Karma'. That should be absolutely absent. If the Sadhaka who has been practicing the Yoga of Right understanding and Karma Yoga begins to feel that he is the Karta or he is the Doer, or that he knows everything, then again the Ashanti will come, then again restlessness will revive. But even after that, if he feels that I know very little and I am not doing enough Karma, then the Shanti will begin to come.

Next stage is Karma Sannyas, Yoga of Renunciation of Fruits of Action. Whatever work you do, maybe good or maybe bad, that brings about certain results, such as success failure and a mixture of both. Then keep your mind detached.

And thus the Gita talks about another stage. The Yoga of meditation. At this stage the meditation begins. And true it is. Any man picked up from the street, ask him to meditate. He will go mad. He can not meditate, impossible it is. And if he does, his brain will become dizzy, because he has not attained the purification of mind. So, Gita says, no first of all you should try to suppress, you should try pacify, the dejections, the negative attitudes of your mind and then you should take to meditation only after you have become free from the fruits of your karma, when the karmas do not bind you, when the karmas do not effect you, you remain untainted from your own karma, from your own actions, then you should start meditation. But how do you know that you are ready for meditation?

Swami Sivananda used to say, when your day-to-day works do not cause much worry and much anxiety and when you begin to take interest in your own work and do not think that it is a burden, or you do not think that you are working for your livelihood, taking out your livelihood, when you become aware of the spiritual purpose of all the works that you are doing, not the material or the national or the patriotic or social or the economical, no, the spiritual purpose in all the actions that you are doing, it is that time when you should start your meditation, otherwise not.

Then comes the Yoga of Wisdom and experiences. And then the Yoga of Imperishable Brahman. And then comes the Yoga of Raja Yoga: such as the Kriya Yoga, Pranayama and other things which you have been practicing, they are parts of Raja Yoga: Yama, Niyama, Truth, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, what you talk all about. That comes only after you have transcended some of the limitations of your mind. Then you should take it up.

Usually it is found that the people who are unqualified and not ready, they are given the lessons on Yama and Niyama and they become dull. Then they are given lessons on higher stages of Yoga and they also grow dull. It is therefore the Gita. says: after having purified yourself, then you start meditation. You have certain experiences and in experiences you try to have certain realisation of Imperishable Cosmic Being. Then you should start Raja Yoga.

And after the Raja Yoga is started and it is completed then the Glories come, that is Vibhuti which is called Psychic powers. And after having attained the psychic powers, that is the 10th chapter which we finished today, the Yoga of Divine Glories. We don't call it psychic powers, Gita does not call them Siddhi, but the word Gita used is vibhuti, means Glories of the Divine. You see any miracle. What is that? It is the glory of divine, some divine being.

And after the manifestation of the Divine Glories or vibhuties, then the vision of the Cosmic Purusha, the Cosmic Being takes place within, with eyes closed. Then the whole Cosmic Being in which all the worlds, all the universes, all the suns and stars, every thing is included, that Universe is seen in miniature. And when this is finished then starts Bhakti Yoga. Prior to that all those who practice Bhakti, they practice Bhakti as a part of their mind. That is an expression of their psychologically complex mind. Sometimes at earlier stages, you won't mind if I tell you, Bhakti is a form of neurosis. Bhakti for Rama can be said as Rama neurosis. Devotion for Christ can be said as Christ neurosis. You Understand the point. Because they are not purified. You brood, instead of brooding over the worldly affairs, you brood over, well, Rama or Christ or anything. Instead of loving a girl or a man or a boy you love Christ or Rama.

Well, it is the expression of your lower mind. And that does not help you much, I can tell you. Because real Bhakti starts when you have seen Him. It is also said in the Ramayana that how can you have Bhakti for the Lord when you have not seen Him. How can you love one whom have never met. At least you must have a glimpse. I love you because I have seen you once, when you were passing through the train. But if I did not see you, I did not see your picture, how do I do it.

In the same way, manner, we love God. We have actual devotion for God if we have once a glimpse of Him and this chapter will tell you that there is a glimpse of the Cosmic Purusha in which all the rivers, all the stars and everything that the Universe contains are seen by the person within himself. And then the devotion begins to grow. The experience is so awe-inspiring that you can't but become a Bhakta. You have got to become a Bhakta and you can not help it.

And when the real Bhakti begins then you are able to distinguish, then you are able to effect distinction, between the body and the one who dwells in the body. At present you have only heard from me and the books that within this body there is the astral being, behind it there is another being and behind that being, there is another being. Some times in meditation you see something like that. A little colour, a little picture, a little aura. That is all. But are we sure that there is some dweller in the body? And if sometime a hard boil Communist comes to you, a good thinker and he comes to you, he can convince you that there is nothing beyond the body. Certainly he can convince you that there is nothing beyond the body and maybe you might also start believing what that Swamiji was telling all rubbish. It is all the body that is killed and finished. It has happened, it is happening and will happen. It is because we only know, we have only heard, that behind the body here is the body owner, the indweller of the body, the Purusha, but you have never seen.

It is after having attained the Vision of the Purusha and after developing Devotion or Bhakti or true love for Him that you are able to distinguish between the body and the indweller of the body.

And then it is at this moment that the three fold aspects of nature through which the entire Cosmos is governed, can be seen. The Sattwic - the Sattwa, the Rajasic - the Rajas and the Tamasic - the Tamas: these threefold Cosmic Forces. Not the ethical forces, please, because usually we Hindus, when a man sleeps too much, we call him: Ah! he is a Tamasic man. When the man becomes angry too often we say: he is a Rajasic man. When a man is like a Sadhu and Saint then we say: he is a very Sattwic man. That is the ethical aspect, but here in Gita it is not the ethical aspect, but it is the Cosmic aspect. In the Cosmos also three Gunas are preponderate. The Static, the Dynamic and the power in equilibrium, the nature is in equilibrium. So, Sattwic forces, Rajasic forces and Tamasic forces, these three fold forces in the Universe cause all kind of things, you see. And that time you are able to make a clear cut distinction, mentally, intellectually, intuitionally - and not before that.

And then comes the Awakening of Kundalini. Then you see the tree whose roots are up stairs and whose branches are down stairs. I think those who have read the 15th chapter first two shlokas, they know there is tree, and you know this is tree (indicating the spinal column). The roots are here (in the brain) and these roots nourish the tree. All this different limbs of the body are the different branches of tree. If you want to go the roots of the tree you have to start not from the root but from the top, the top which is topsy-turvy. So this Kundalini Yoga begins now.

And after having attained this Kundalini Yoga then the aspirant is to make a clear cut distinction between the divine and not-divine. At present most of us can say, well, this is the divine and this is not divine, this is right, this is wrong, this is Dharma, this is Adharma, this is God and this is Rakshasa. But that is our personal view. We do not know whether we are right or wrong.

Our division, the division we make that this is Rakshasa is because you do not like that man and therefore, whatever he does is demoniacal. And we like this man, therefore whatever he does is right. Who knows, the efficiency about which we talk so much maybe demoniacal. May be the good behaviour which is feeing accepted by all the codes of ethics may not be divine, maybe demoniacal. How are we to deal it now?

So, for that also a certain amount of intellectual evolution is required, the purity of mind is required. If you go to a drunkard, he always loves the man who drinks and the man who does not drink is a third rate man, unfit for his society, does he not say that? Well, that is the depth of his conception that much he knows. So, therefore, in order to understand what is divine and what is demoniacal, I think we should prepare our minds first, and then decide it finally. And not necessarily join one of the groups now itself, without proper analysis and without proper realisation.

And before we start the final stage in spiritual evolution, that is before we attain Shanti - inner peace, there comes a vision, in which the man sees his faith clearly as he sees his other or as he sees anybody else, or as he sees himself. The faith is seen in different stages of evolution. And finally, the culmination of faith is liberation.

You know, liberation is not salvation. It is not Mukti, it is not Nirvana, as understood by us. It is a stage which we experience in this life, with this life and for this life. And after having attained the liberation by Tyag, after having attained this liberation what happens to a person? Does he leave the body and enter the heavens? No. Or does he becomes a Superman and walks on air and fire or water? No. Or does he give up his job and money and family and live in the jungle? No.

Then what happens to him? That's all. He was restless, he was disturbed every now and then, his judgments were incorrect, his mind was full with complexes and mental errors and it was not at Peace. Calamities might come and go, disturbances might continue, well, they do continue, nobody can help it. The death and birth, positive and negative, everything will continue in his life. But he looks at them as if he is a witness. Even sometimes he himself experiences joy and pain in himself either due to other family affairs, but he is not pained, he is not affected. He looks to those things as if he was the witness of the happenings either in his own life or in the life of the others. Death in his family is just a simple affair, for which he does not lament whatsoever and at the same time if anything great has happened in his life, he might become a Prime Minister or he might become a President, he knows that this is nothing, this is the simplest thing that a man can have. So, he looks at the world with activity, co-operation, but indifference.

That is the concept of a man in Gita. A man working, a man living the world, a man doing all kind of things. But a man thinking one thing. He does not attach himself with the happenings and affectations of life. That is called Moksha.

So, these are the 18 chapters of Gita which we shall discuss point by point so that nothing is left to understand. But before I complete it, let me tell you that this Gita is a part of the great epic Mahabharata and this dialogue is between, you know between whom? 'No'. It is not a dialogue between a higher Soul and a lower Soul. It is a dialogue between a blind person and a person with the divine eyes. Dhritrashtra, the king, was blind and Sanjaya, the man of divine eyesight, he is looking, he narrates the whole Gita. So the man with the divine eyes is the narrator and the man having no eyes, the blind man, is the hearer. Always, it is like that. Gita is told by one who has eyes, Gita is heard by one who has no eyes. It is always that.

Then it is a dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna. It is also a dialogue neither on the mount, nor in the jungle, nor in the shores of an ocean, nor in an Ashram, but it is a sermon amidst the battle field, when the arrows are about to shoot forth, when on both sides you see nothing but two strongholds of enemies, trying to kill each other, any moment the Bigul (signal for starting the war) is given. At that moment the sermon is given. You can understand the dramatic situation. It is not in peace, that the sermon is given. It is not in peace, that the sermon is to be taken.

Gita is not for one who has attained peace. Gita is not for one who has renounced. Gita is not for one who is dead. Gita is for one who has to step up in the turmoil and the wilderness of life. Nothing but confusion, nothing but troubles, nothing but dejections. Everywhere you find wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and for such a person is Gita.