Gita Series – 173: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. Verse 56 – 60

The one, who always takes refuge in Me, though performs actions, attains the imperishable state due to My grace. By mentally surrendering all actions to Me, taking recourse to discriminative intellect, considering Me as the ultimate goal, constantly give your mind to Me. By surrendering your mind to Me, you shall overcome all difficulties due to My grace. If by chance you are not listening to Me, you will meet with destruction. If you are still afflicted with egotism and decide not to fight, your decision will be falsified as you will still be compelled by Prakṛti to fight. Arjuna! Even then if you are not willing to fight, deluded by ignorance, you will be forced to fight helplessly, due to your karma.”

Kṛṣṇa spoke about liberation through knowledge in the previous section and in this section, He discusses about karma yoga. Yoga of knowledge is difficult when compared to karma yoga. In jñāna yoga or the yoga of knowledge, the entire process of liberation happens through the mind as mind is the only tool that is put into use. However, in the case of karma yoga, mind is not the only instrument that is used to attain liberation. Along with mind, the power of one’s affirmation plays a very significant role. A jñāna yogi is completely engulfed in the thought of the Lord all the time.  A karma yogi performs actions and surrenders all his actions to the Lord. The concept of renunciation is important in karma yoga. If renunciation is not practiced, it means the practitioner continues to remain only as an aspirant, unable to move to the stage of a yogi. Renunciation is nothing but surrendering one’s thought of “I” ness which is known as ego. When importance is given to “I”, it leads to desires and attachments. Kṛṣṇa has already said that one who performs actions without attachment attains liberation. The thought of “I” always kindles the fire of ego. An egocentric person can never attain liberation, however hard he pursues the path of spirituality. The very word “I” has no place in spirituality. If anyone uses “I” in spirituality, it clearly means that he continues to be a spiritual infant. It should be understood that one attains liberation only through His grace. One has to seek His grace all the time, instead of remaining egocentric. The Lord is ever ready to shower His grace, when it is sought for by a person whose mind is devoid of any impressions. A mind without any afflictions is the stage, where one is able to remove all sensory impressions and ensures that further impressions are not deposited. A karma yogi is permitted to perform any action, provided he is able to surrender that action to the Lord. A karma yogi advances in spiritual path through the concept of surrender and renunciation and a jñāna yogi advances through his discriminative knowledge and contemplation. Goal is the same in both these approaches, but the path that is to be traversed is different. They cannot be compared and none can affirm that a particular path is better than the other one. Ultimately, it is the mind alone that matters. Liberation of a soul can happen only through the mind. As humanity alone has got the power of mind, liberation is possible only during human birth. Attaining human birth is not an easier task. The entire humanity is blessed by the Lord and none should waste this divine compassion. If one does not develop devotion to the ever compassionate Lord, he is said to be in the darkness of spiritual ignorance. Surrendering to the Lord should happen only through the mind. Any amount of rituals ever satiates Him. What the Lord expects from the humanity is to think about Him all the time. None is barred from performing his prescribed duties. But he has to perform all his actions on behalf of the Lord. This is possible only by mentally surrendering all his actions to the Lord. Repeatedly affirming that the Lord alone performs all his actions makes one to advance in the path of surrender and renunciation.

Even after Kṛṣṇa’s exhaustive teachings, if one continues to be bewildered by the influence of māyā, which is also His own manifestation, he goes without redemption for births. Even after knowing that His grace is always available if sought for through the mind, if one does not make any efforts to seek That, he causes his own destruction. Destruction does not mean his death. Death is nothing but a tiny process by which a soul migrates from one body to another. His death is not an end to his miseries, but just a beginning.

Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna that in spite of all His elucidations, if he still chooses not to fight against his cousins and teachers, then the law of karma takes over, and he will be compelled to fight through the influence of primordial nature, present in the form of Prakṛti A soul and Prakṛti cause the formation of a being. What is destined to happen, will surely happen, which none can postpone or prevent. Nobody can fight against his karmic account, and the karmic account unfolds at the appropriate timings in one’s life. The only way to escape from karmic accruals is to renounce every action to the Lord, by surrendering one’s ego. After all one is not different from the Lord Himself. Arjuna has no option except to fight, as his karma is waiting to unfold that way only. If Arjuna chooses to listen to Kṛṣṇa and kills his enemies, he does not accrue further karma as he acts only at the behest of the Lord. On the contrary, due to ignorance, if he decides to act with ego, he is further afflicted with karmic accruals.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 49 - 53

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 54 - 55

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 61 - 63