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The Empire of I PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

gatasa]gasya muktasya j@|n|vasthita cetasa+
yaj@|y|’carata+ karma samagra= pravil$yate

All Karmic bonds of a Karma-yogi ? who is free from attachment, whose mind is fixed in Self-knowl¬edge, and who does work as a service to the Lord ? dissolves away. (4.23)


There is no desires left in him
He is centered in gyana (knowing)
He is always in company of
And with the Parmatma
All his karma is done
By the yagya methodology
(Surrendered to Parmatma)
He does not do any karma for himself
And thus, his doing is always a non-doing
He is always free from the bondage of karma. ||4:23||

How and when do we become free from attachments? Krishna has always been talking about this. This is one of the core teachings of Gita. Why is there so much emphasis on something that is so dear to all of us? We all are in the business of making the empire of attachments. What do we talk about everyday in our lives? Take a note of your one day routine. Just note down what you do and talk about the whole day. It is all about me or mine. I get up in the morning. I go to work. I come back home. I help my wife do the cooking. I call my son on the telephone. I ask him to expand his empire of his attachments. His attachments (empire of I) is an extension of my empire. I will continue to exist (after I die) through his empire. I want to make sure that his empire has a solid foundation in my life time. My relatives come home over the weekend. They want to see the ornaments my wife has got made in India.

Where does it end? Arjun is also talking about his attachments in the first chapter of Gita. How can I (Arjun) kill my friends, relatives and Gurus? How can Arjun destroy his own empire (of I). We talk about right and wrong. Right most of the time is what nourishes our empires. Wrong most of the times is what hurts our empire. Let us examine what lies behind this ‘empire of me’. It will then be possible to talk about how to get rid of this I. What helps sustain this me, mine and I? The subtlety that is behind the existence of I is the ego. Ego is the sustaining force behind the existence of I.

It is important to understand that attachments and expectations go hand in hand. No- expectations will lead to non-attachment and non-attachment will lead to no-expectations. Both together will lead to accepting of whatever comes. Gita has touched these points from all directions. I have emphasized the accepting part more than non-expectation, simply because it is more practical to understand. The relationship between the three is very close. Achieving any one also means achieving all three.

Krishna is talking here about non-attachment in relation to Karma Yoga. A person with non-attachment also works. His work does not create any bondage. All Karma (actions) produces bondage if ‘I’ exists. If ‘I’ has dissolved, no action is binding. Krishna adds one other condition here. Non-attachment is important but it is also important to be a gyani (wise). Krishna uses the word, “gyanavasthita-chetasah.” This has a similar meaning to sthitapragya used in 2nd chapter.

In other words a centered person who is in a state of non-attachment works; all his work is done without any bondage. Such a person is not creating any empire. He eats but the “I” is separate from eating. The process is the same. The body is eating; the ‘I’ stays outside. The world exists as it does for me and you, yet it is not an extension of me, mine or I. Arjun was not ready to fight because of his me, mine and I attachments. Now he may fight, but it will be not for me, mine and I. The health of infrastructure of existence needs to be maintained. Arjun may be a tool for establishing this health. We may all remember him as a hero. The essence of Arjun may still remain outside of this event.

Krishna also brings in the word yagya here in this shloka. What does he mean by saying yagyacharatah (following the path of yagya). Who is yagyacharatah? The ego has gone. “I” has dissolved. Such a person has no attachments. The ‘I’ has disappeared. We are yet to learn more about yagya. In short, yagya ends in complete disappearance. Ego can be dropped. If it is dropped, it is still lying somewhere and can be picked up. The “I” can return. The possibility is there. In case of yagya ego is burnt. There is no trace of it to be found. There is no question of it being picked up again. “I” disappears completely; only Is-ness remains. The concept of yagya goes deep and far. It is far beyond the rituals we call yagya. We will explore more about yagya in next several shlokas and continue our journey through Bhagavad-Gita.

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