Gita Daily Readings

5th December
Chapter
XVIII: 29
Hear thou the threefold division of intellect and firmness according to the gunas as I declare them fully and distinctly, Oh Arjuna.

Commentary

With unambiguous clarity the dynamics of action have been dealt with. We have been told what our inner self should be like, what the characteristics of our actions should be and in what light they should be performed. Yet Krishna is not satisfied!

"Knowledge" (the light) itself is often classified as superior and inferior. The superior aspect of this knowledge (the light) was described in verse 20. A novice seeker, not very spiritually evolved, might not find that description quite satisfying; and even in the case of an intelligent seeker whose ego still revels in the deep slumber of ignorance, that description might be misinterpreted to the ego's own advantage.

The compassionate Lord comes down to the level of the seeker and analyzes this factor still further. Here we have the classification of knowledge as the discriminating principle, buddhi. This buddhi itself can also be either pure, passionate or dull. A clear understanding of the classification makes it possible for one to ascend the ladder and attain a sattvika state.

In the following verses, another wonderful truth unfolds itself. In order to reach our destination, we need three things: a light outside (the sun, the moon, a lamp, etc.); the sense of sight within; and the spirit of perseverance. The last is what has been called "firmness" in this verse. Firmness is a quality, neither good nor bad - as is everything in this universe. All too often we tenaciously cling to childish ideas and ideals, resisting all good influences that endeavor to guide us, in the false belief that it is the devil tempting us and that we should tenaciously stick to our own ideas and practices. Degenerate forms of idolatry, patriotism, a sense of social and domestic responsibility - are some instances where tenacity might mean bondage.

It is good to remember that any theory or idea that distracts the attention from the simple truth is to be discarded, while one which leads towards the center, towards the simple truth within, is useful.

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