Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapters V & VI

At the beginning of this Chapter 5, Arjun again seeks a clear cut of decisions from Shree Krishna. Remember Arjun is  a warrior and not a philosopher. While he listens to the explanations of Shree Krishna, at times he wants to simply told which path to follow. 

His direct question to Shree Krishna in the first verse of Chapter 5  – Tell me clearly which is better between Samnyaas and Karma Yog?

Shree Krishna also gives him a direct answer:

  • Verse 2 Samnyaas and Karma-Yog are both valid and capable of bringing you Shreya (to the beneficial state). But between Karma-Yog and Samnyaas (तयोस्तु कर्म-संन्यासात) , Karma-Yog is the better or more notable (कर्म-योगः विशिष्यते).
After giving such a direct answer, Shree Krishna gets more philosophical and explains that Karma-Yog and Samnyaas are not mutually exclusive or separate.  This is stated clearly in Verses 4 and 5:

  • Verse 4, Line 1 – That Samnyaas and Yog are different (सांख्य योगः पृथक), say (mental) children (बालाः प्रवदन्ति), not the Pandit (न पंडिताः)
  • Verse 5, Line 2 – Samnyaas and Yog are One (एकं सांख्यं च योगम च); He who sees it , He sees (gets) it  (यः पश्यति स पश्यति)
He who sees it, he gets it. What a clear cut declaration. The rest of Chapter 5 is devoted to a more detailed elaboration and the need to control emotions for achieving either.  This is a variation of the celebrated discussion about Stable Buddhi in Section 5 of Chapter II.

Thus Endeth Chapter V named Samnyaas Yog (संन्यास योग ) of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad (उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.

At the beginning of Chapter VI, Shree Krishna makes a direct statement. In this statement, he again declares the unity between Karma-Yog and Samnyaas. But he distinguishes both these from non-action or avoidance of action and he links the Section 2 of Chapter II in the process.

Verse 1, Chapter VI

  • One who Does Karma (कार्यं कर्म करोति यः) without the excuse of the fruits of the action (अन-आश्रितः कर्म-फलं); he is a Samnyaasi and a Yogi (स संन्यासी च योगी); but one who avoids doing the Action is not (न अक्रियः).
This is the first time since Chapter II that the words Kaaryam and Karma are used simultaneously. Remember the word Karma means Action, while the word Kaarya or Kriyaa mean the act of doing Karma. This is brought home in the last two words where the A-Kriya or the one who refrains from doing or performing the action is derided.

Much of Chapter VI is devoted to the same concepts as Chapter 5 about how Yog, Samnyaas are linked and how the mind has to be prepared to act with stable Buddhi.

As we said earlier, Arjun was a warrior. He could understand philosophy. But often he needed clear guidance. This is why Shree Krishna goes back to the Chapter 4 concept of He, Shree Krishna, as the Supreme.

  • Verse 30 – One who sees me everywhere (यः माम पश्यति सर्वत्र) and who sees everything in me (सर्वं च मई पश्यति); I never forsake him (तस्यां अहम् न प्रण-श्यामि) and he is never forsaken from me (स च मे न प्रण-श्यति).
The next few verses cover how to keep the mind centered on the Shree Krishna and away from various distractions. This is why this Chapter is called Dhyaan-Yog (ध्यान योग ).

The importance of Karma-Yog and the overriding importance of followership of Shree Krishna is stated in the last two definitive verses of Chapter VI. 

  • Verse 46 – The Karma-Yogi is considered greater than the Tapasvi (the sages who do penance in forests); The Karma-Yogi is considered greater than the Dnyaani (people with knowledge) and greater than people who do Yadnya or Vedic Rituals. Therefore O Arjun, Become a Karma-Yogi (तस्मात् योगी भव अर्जुन).

  • Verse 47 – Among all the Karma-Yogis (योगिनाम अपि सर्वेषाम), the one who worships me in his inner self (अंतरात-मनः श्रधा-वान भजते यो माम), I consider him the most accomplished (स मे युक्ततमो मतः) .
As we said, the Bhagwat Geeta is to direct Arjun towards his actions. This is why, from time to time, Shree Krishna simply gets very direct, reminds Arjun to trust, obey and worship him.

Thus Endeth Chapter VI named Dhyaan Yog ( ध्यान योग ) of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad (उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.

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