Prince Arjuna has not experienced Self-Knowledge even after Sri Krishna’s elaborate discourse on the nature of Self, why he needs to fight the war and what his duties are. From Chapter 2, Verse 39 onwards Sri Krishna starts his explanation in regards to the means for one to experience Self-knowledge through Karma Yoga (Buddhi Yoga). For one to experience Knowledge, the mind needs to be purified. Purity of mind is measured by its nobility. An ignoble mind is an impure mind with ignoble thoughts such as jealousy, greed, etc. Impurity of mind can also come from a lack of studying.
In the following verses, Sri Krishna continues to explain the techniques for purifying the mind.
Chapter 2, Verse 45
त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ॥४५॥
traiguṇyaviṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna,
nirdvāndvo nityasattvastho niryogakṣema ātmavān. (45)
The Vedas deal with the three states (gunas), O Arjuna. Rise above the three gunas to a state of pure spiritual consciousness. Freeing yourself from dualities, eternally fixed in Truth, and freed from all thoughts of material gain and preservation, be established in the Self.
Any action will take you only to three modes of state – tāmasik, rājasik, and sātvik. Krishna tells Arjuna to go beyond these three states – to transcend the three gunas (the mind).
Tips to become nistraigunya (a state above the three gunas – desireless)
- Let your mind not be occupied with the dualities. Neither happiness nor joy is your goal. Neither loss nor gain is your goal. These dualities represent all the experiences that one has in life.
- Be ever established in purity so that there is the least delusion in terms of our perceptions. This can be practiced by performing all actions as worship to the Lord. Be firmly established in karma yoga.
- Yoga is to acquire what you don’t have. Kshema is protecting what you have acquired. Don’t be occupied with these two goals.
- One can be free from this natural greed of yoga and kshema by being firmly established in the Self.
The urge to acquire and anxiety to possess, the agitations that come from the experiences of the dualities, come when the Self identifies with the body, mind, and intellect, and the ego is formed. Krishna is showing us the path to detach our identification with the body, mind, and intellect and to be established in the real nature of Self, which is free from anxieties and beyond the experiences of this world.
Chapter 2, Verse 46
यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः सम्प्लुतोदके ।
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः ॥४६॥
yāvānartha udapāne sarvataḥ samplutodake,
tāvānsarveṣu vedeṣu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ. (46)
Vedas are as much of use as the small well of water when there is a flood everywhere, for one who realizes the Absolute Truth.
Here Vedas are referring to the ritualistic portion of the Vedas which promises the fulfillment of various desires. These can be useful only as long as the mind is filled with desires for sensory satisfaction. To a sincere seeker who has come to experience the Self, these ritualistic portions are not useful when compared to all he/she has comprehended in the perfection that he is living in the infinite bliss of the Self.
After having realized the Self, with no boundaries and dimensions, the limited satisfaction one gets with the ritualistic portion of the Vedas holds no charm for one who is Self-realized.
Chapter 2, Verse 47
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥४७॥
karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana,
mā karmaphalaheturbhūrmā te saṅgo’stvakarmaṇi. (47)
You have a right to work only, but you are not entitled to its fruits. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.
To act without expectation of results may seem impossible to the one who is not practicing this and understanding only mentally. But when you practice this in life, you will realize that this is the secret to all real achievements. Arjuna is at this time not ready for the knowledge to become his experience. To purify the mind that is sullied with impurities, Sri Krishna is advising Arjuna on how to live an inspired life and thus is preparing him for Self-realization.
To avoid the mental dissipation of energy, work with the best efforts that you can put forth with dedication towards the noble cause, without worrying about the results. Such work always succeeds, that is the law of activity in the world. In short, Sri Krishna is saying not to waste the present moment with the anxieties of rewards of the action and live in a future moment that is not yet there. The idea is that future will take care of itself and provide great achievements and accomplishments when work is performed in the above-stated attitude.
This verse gives four points for a true worker –
- he should be concerned with action alone
- he should not be concerned with the results
- he should not entertain a motive for the fruits of the action
- the above ideas do not mean he should sit back without performing any action.
Do your action because it’s the right action not because of the results of the action. The work itself is the reward.