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Summary of Gyan Yoga PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

Gyan, Buddhi and Mun-indriya-vaasana complex were discussed in the last two columns. It is important to understand the tributes of these three basic factors; because there lies the means of development of techniques for rise and fall. Gyan has to do with knowing by experiencing. And experience is mostly individual. It is difficult to transfer, it is unique to the individual and it is not always reproducible.

Any gyan that also centers the individual is gyan yoga and that is what Krishna has covered so far. Buddhi mostly has a utilitarian purpose. It is the means of expression for the gyana and also for the mun complex. Development of language, mathematics and the lot comes from the buddhi (intellect). A buddhi that also helps in centering process is buddhi yoga and this in Gita is synonymous with karma yoga. Karma is the outlet for the buddhi. Buddhi yoga also leads to clarity (ek buddhi). When buddhi (intellect) works for the mun-indriya-desire complex, it is always divided. The reason of this division is not the buddhi, but it is the mun. We know that one desire of an indriya can hijack the whole individual being. A man in pursuit of say drugs can forget everything that may be wrong with the same drug. This same property or tribute can be used for a centering growth as well. When the mun complex is focused towards a certain image or God this becomes the bhakti yoga. We shall discuss these in later columns.

Gyan may lead to gyan yoga, buddhi to karma yoga and mun to bhakti yoga. Gyan yoga leads to sum-bhava, budhi yoga (karma yoga) leads to sum-buddhi (clarity) and bhakti (devotion) leads to the true understanding of sum-arpan (surrendering). However, these are not watertight compartments. There is a lot of overlap. Whenever someone tries to lock into one and discard the other, the problem arises. Usually the arguments are academic. Krishna has tried to maintain the distinctions between these yogas but at the same time he has been very clear about the similarities and the overlaps. Usually the end point of all these yogas is the same. And most important of all, the results of these techniques should show in our daily life. I love the saying by Ma Shardadevi:

“Many are known to do great works under the stress of some emotion. But a man's true nature is known from the manner in which he does his insignificant daily task.”

The centering has to reflect in real life. Whether it is how to deal with son or daughter or whether it is in sleep; a certain qualitative difference has to be present. Krishna wants Arjuna to become centered. A centered Arjuna will be more productive and will of course be more effective. The times of Krishna and Arjuna were different. The goals of people then were different. They did not use terms like growth, productivity or management skills. The goals used in Gita times were yoga, yagya, freedom from the cycle of life and birth. These were the ultimate desires of the elite in those days. It was understood that clarity and effectiveness will be there as a by-product. But these words have caused us to interpret that Gita or Upanishads were life negative. In my view these terms were not used because it was a given, it was given that once centering happens, effectiveness and clarity followed.

As I described before, reading about riding a bike is not gyana, knowing how to ride a bike is. Similarly gyana is required to be a doctor or a lawyer. A medical student goes through a medical school and reads volumes of material. That in it-self does not make him a doctor. He has to see how other doctors operate or interact when a specific illness situation arises. Let’s say that there is more to becoming a doctor or a lawyer than just reading of books. Books are required. They are the only means of expressing what can be expressed.

The biggest problem or let us say the difficulty with gyana is imparting to others. How can you transfer the knowledge of experience to others? There are limitations, but in certain state of being such a transfer is possible. Your son has bad grades. When he comes home he is able to tell that people at home are unhappy. The unhappiness is in the air. No words need to be spoken. When you are in love, it shows. Words like “I love you” often do not convey the same meaning. A bouque of flowers perhaps does more.

Any gyana that leads to centering is Gyana yoga in my view. Krishna has thus far outlines this technique to Arjuna. Transferring this experience is harder. Some experts in this field talk about the technique of shakti paat. They claim that divine power can be transferred to another being by touching the other being. Divine can be channeled through a person in certain state of being. This may be true to a certain extent, but transferring the whole experience of Brahma is a little different. However, someone in a specific state of being only can attain this. Such a communication in peace and silence happened between Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and also between Buddha and Mahalashyap. And perhaps that is what is happening in Gita to Arjuna. It can also happen to us and what happens is in between the words of Gita. And let us now try t summarise what has been covered by Krishna in gyan yoga:

  1. There is distinction between body and the being. The physical body is one of several bodies. It has the beauty and the fitness; this body ages and also dies. That does not however mark the end. The essence is then carried in seed form (samskaras) by the astral body to another life. Knowing this any suffering to the body is going to pass and so will the happiness. Sum-bhava is the applied part of this knowing.

  2. The whole existence can be divided in to two, Sat and Asat. Sat is eternal and indestructible and asat is destined to perish. Anything that has a beginning and an end is Asat. Also, Asat is always sustained by the Sat. Atma is part of the Sat in our individual existence.

  3. Then Krishna has described the attributes of this Atma. It is never born and it never dies. It cannot be destroyed by any means. Krishna calls on Arjuna not to worry since there is going to be no real death of any one involved. The essence is going to live on. This will lead to make Arjuna fearless, for all fear has origin in fear of death.

  4. Krishna also produces a hypothetical situation to Arjuna. Even if Atma was destructible, there is nothing to worry for. It is going to die anyway; it is just a matter of time. We covered this in our column “Atma and I.”

  5. Krishna then talks about swadharma for Arjuna and goes on to talk about what will happen to Arjuna’s image if he did not fight. It is so interesting that these mundane sounding statements are part of gyan yoga. We have discussed it in our appropriate column on these shlokas.

  6. Finally Krishna emphasizes on the attaining of sum-bhava. Further discussion on this is presented in our column, “Knowing is power” and the following is a paragraph from that:

“Krishna puts tough conditions for Arjuna to fight. For those who think that Krishna believes in Himsa should focus on this shloka. The war in Krishna’s eyes is not for profit or loss and is not for winning or loosing. It in Krishna’s view is simply a response to an inevitable situation where Duryodhana in Mahabharata has left no other choice to the Pandavas. And given this situation, he asks Arjuna to fight but fight with sum-bhava in suffering and happiness, in profit and loss and in victory and defeat.”

Gita continues and so will our columns. We will pick up the shlokas from where we left off.

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