Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ch 12 :levels of devotion - pt1


In this particular chapter we see Bhagwan Krishna at his benevolent best,
coming down to the level of even the most mundane of us seekers, and giving us
as much latitude or as many concessions as could possibly be given, while we
mature and evolve as aspirants.

The section involving slokas 10,11 grades bhaktas into sakaama bhaktas and
nishkama bhaktas.
Those who are the devoted to the Lord for some gain, and those who are devoted
to the Lord with no motive. The latter or Parabhaktas or Jnanis or Gunateetas
and for them the devotion is as spontaneous as any other bodily function, and
these "devotees" the Lord terms as the ones most dear to him.
tulya-ninda-stutir mauni santusto yena kenacit aniketah sthira-matir bhaktiman
me priyo narah

Those individuals who are not parabhaktas and are endowed with bhakti with a
motive, there are again two grades - motives being materialistic, and motives
being spiritual.

When the motive is spiritual - to achieve sadhanachatushtaya sampatti - then
such a devotee is a jijnasu. He does not care for any material wealth - his
overwhelming aim is spiritual growth, and a desire for "self"-knowledge or a
desire for one-ness with the Supreme Self - Ishwara - and as we know - they both
amount to the same thing.

When the motive is materialistic that too the Lord accepts as a valid bhakti -
it results in a build-up of faith that hopefully will evolve into the two higher
forms of bhakti.

Now with specific references to the two verses you mentioned

abhyase 'py asamartho 'si mat-karma-paramo bhava
mad-artham api karmani kurvan siddhim avapsyasi

athaitad apy asakto 'si kartum mad-yogam asritah
sarva-karma-phala-tyagam tatah kuru yatatmavan

If thou art unable to practise even this Abhyasa Yoga, be thou intent on doing
actions for My sake; even by doing actions for My sake, thou shalt attain
perfection.

If thou art unable to do even this, then, resorting to union with Me, renounce
the fruits of all actions with the self controlled.

The issue of nitya-naimittika karmas in today's day and age can be replaced by
the concept of looking at one's work as one's duty.
Let us take an example of a teacher.

Now Ishwara has imparted to him or her skills that enable this person to
impart education to some young minds in his school.
His duty is to do the best job he possibly can.

So what the Lord means by saying do works for my sake is this:
Recognize that you are in this place in time by His Grace. Whatever you do is
for His sake alone. Do your best - be the best you can be. Do not be slack in
your work. Do not be disinterested in your work. Do not be neglectful of your
work. Why? Not because you want a promotion, not because you want to win the
best teacher award at the annual ceremony, not because you want a monetary
reward from a rich child's parent, but because you are doing this to please the
Lord of All. This action of yours, this role that you are playing - you will
play because this is what is your best way thank Him for all that He has
equipped you with, and endowed you with.
And this can be of true of ANY job. Each one of us is engaged in something
where we are contributing our bit to society, to the Order. And in return we are
rewarded with certain comforts and rewards we ought not to take for granted. It
is His Grace alone that has given us some mediocre abilities to do certain
things that soceity values or requires and repays us accordingly. It is my duty
that I do with diligence as my token of appreciation to the Lord this action.

This then is what is meant by "do actions for My sake" What is the benefit of
this frame of mind? The benefit is mani-fold.
The most important benefit for me as a jijnasu is antahkaranashuddhi - my mind
does not entertain too many conflicts. If my work is appreciated it is OK, if it
is not, then that is also OK. If I make a profit or not, I am concerned not with
anything else other than doing the best job I can and devoting it to my dear
Ishwara.

The next benefit is - I become a more efficient worker - "yogah karmasu
kausalam". By removing my mind about unnecessary anxieties and worries about my
work I focus on the job at hand. My entire mind-intellect-body is fully attuned
to and fixedly converged on the job at hand. If i am sachin tendulkar, i am not
worried about how i have failed two matches in a row, or how much endorsement
money i can make if i make a century, or whether they will make me captain if i
succeed or anything else - my entire inner equipment is directed at this moment
simply at facing the ball and scoring the run. Because my aim is to do this as a
token of offering.

The third benefit is as my sense of kartrtvam decreases, so does my sense of
bhoktrtvam.

Now let us say I at the stage of maturity and development I now am in, I am
not able to do this. Yes, it is all very nice to say that I want to do this work
for Ishwara's sake, but if my boss does not give me a raise this year, I am
going to get angry. If someone else gets promoted I am going to be in a
unpleasant frame of mind. I am doing this job, because i want to make a lot of
money, be able to afford good cars, a palatial house, good education for my
children, etc etc. For this level of a seeker, Bhagwan Krishna comes down one
notch further. He says "OK, no problem. Just do me a favor(!), whatever you gain
with your desire-prompted actions, accept it not as a result of your actions,
but as my Grace!!" - How inclusive is this philosophy!!! In other words, develop
"prasadha-buddhi".
At the time I engaged in a particular transaction, of course it was self-ishly
motivated - i did it to gain something materialistic - but now that i have
obtained the result - let me look at the result not as a result of my
accomplishment, but as a "gift" from the Lord.

Before I would pat myself on the back when i made money and puff up with pride
and arrogance, now i touch it to my eyes and say "O Lord, this is nothing but
Your Grace, and I accept it humbly as your child." just as a baby would lovingly
accept something from his mother.

How does this help? It makes me a accepting person. And a accepting mind is a
more mature mind, a mind less in conflict, a mind less in turmoil, and such a
mind lends itself to spiritual growth, to enquiry, to meditation, etc.

It is important to also note that while prasadabuddhi is useful when we gain
something good, it also is useful when the result is a loss, or worse we gain
something bad.
In that case also, relinquishing "ownership" of the fruits of our action, and
accepting the result as the Lord's offering, helps us accomodate and accept - i
did what i did with such-and-such in mind, but this is what i got, this is what
was the result. Such is His Will, and I accept it knowing that this being His
prasada is what is in my benefit. I may not be able to see it or recognize it
now, but in someways known only to Him, this will help me grow as a person, as a
individual."

What if I cannot do that also? Then, as Swami Paramarthananda-ji would say so
nicely, all that even Bhagawan can say is "best of luck in the next human
janma!"


Humble pranams
Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah
Shyam

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