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Knowing your true self PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

yada te moha-kalilam
buddhir vyatitarisyati
tada gantasi nirvedam
srotavyasya srutasya ca

When your intelligence has passed out of the dense forest of moha, you shall become nirvedam (indifferent) to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.||2:52||

sruti-vipratipanna te
yada sthasyati niscala
samadhav acala buddhis
tada yogam avapsyasi

When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness.||2:53||

These are the two last verses in the description of buddhi yoga in the 2nd chapter by Krishna, before Arjuna asks questions related to this. Whole of Gita is interactive. Krishna makes his points and Arjuna asks more questions. And here is where Krishna gets to the core of our being.

We all live our life and feel that we know ourselves. I am a painter. I am unhappy because my neighbor makes noises and my wife does not listen to me. My son is not doing what he should and all of us are in a misery. In fact Buddha goes on to say to such a life that ‘life is misery.’ I go to a psychologist about my problem and then I go through a few sessions of psychoanalysis. I find out that I had an unresolved complex problem with my growing up. I go under hypnosis and then realize that I was tortured when I was 3 year old. And the cycle continues. Sometimes psychoanalysis makes us feel that it goes deep in our being; no it does not. It might go into our past, but it does not touch our inner core.

Krishna’s journey starts by dropping of this layer where misery prevails. The American dream states, “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” Krishna will disagree with that. He promises, “life, liberty and happiness.” Pursuit is for excellence and greatness. And it starts from being happy. There is no need to pursue happiness; in fact once you know that conditioning of moha is the cause of your misery; it becomes easy to reach a steady state of happiness by dropping of moha.

We have discussed about this dropping of moha in our previous article, “Two steps to dropping of moha.” It is as if we are walking with a fake identity and we are convinced about that identity as being real. Let us bring our previous example of alcohol intoxication again to try to understand it. An alcoholic or a drug abuser lives in a different world. All he wants is to stay in that intoxicated state of existence. He or she cannot imagine a life without alcohol or their fix of the drug. Even if they stop the drug or the alcohol, the craving continues. In fact, an alcoholic is at best a recovering alcoholic. He is never recovered.

Moha is not so similar to intoxication. It is more a conditioning. Once dropped it is dropped. We then for the first time find out our true identity and our true potential. Buddhi (intellect) is revealed to us in full clarity for the first time. This is what Krishna is talking about here. Krishna says that at this juncture we reach the state of nirvedam. Nirvedam is an interesting Sanskrit word. Some have translated nirvedam as meaning indifference. But that does not do justice to this word nirvedam.

Let me try to explain it. Veda (meaning any knowledge) are important to a point. Then they do not have a meaning in real life. I used books and lectures of my professors to get through the medial school. I became a surgeon. I remember my first skin incision trying to do a minor surgery. I knew every line of what I had read or heard about ‘how to make an incision,’ but still my hands were not working with my mind. I was just making scratches. I had to make ten such scratches just to get through the skin. Now I do surgery all the time. I have written several papers. I have described new techniques. And I can now say with confidence that the knowledge has to be dropped or superseded to be able to become a good surgeon. Krishna is implying the same when he says that by dropping of the conditioning of moha, one reaches to a point when even the words of Krishna (whatever is known) or of future Krishnas are superseded (or transcended). Krishna is not teaching to become indifferent to Vedas; he merely is pointing to the limitation of Vedas.

I would like to summarize the conditioning part that we have addressed in previous columns. Thoughts are the starting point of attachment. Moha is attachments with deeper roots and produces the conditioning. Desires and thoughts are inter-related. A question commonly asked is, “Is progress possible without desires?” It is like an alcoholic asking himself, “Is life possible without alcohol?” We all know that life is better without alcohol intoxication, but we are not sure if life will go anywhere without desires. Krishna who is there already knows that life is so much better without the conditioning of moha (moha-kalilam). We still have to find out. And truly speaking no amount of logic is going to help until we get on to that path. There is inertia and a fear of loosing our treasure that we call desire. That is all we have. Life appears shaky without it.

Krishna says that such a person is called a yogi. Buddhi is no more torn in different directions. Intellect becomes steady (achala). Such a person is steadfast (sthitapragya). This is what Shankaracharya has called nischaltattva. These are statements. These are techniques that lead to a state of existence where a person becomes decisive; he is centered and steady. No amount of words or word combinations can really describe this state of being. These are just indications and hints to a being of a different kind. We will have to travel the path to get there. It is easy to understand the intoxication of alcohol or drug because we were normal before we got intoxicated. It is harder to understand the conditioning of moha (moha kalilam), because that is our normal state of being. Gita continues and so shall we in columns to come.

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