THE BHAGAVAD GITA
THE SIVANANDA TRANSLATION WITH COMMENTARY BY SWAMI VENKATESANANDA
THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY
The Bhagavad Gita is a small scripture of seven hundred verses, a part of the epic Mahabharata which describes the conflict between the hundred vicious sons of Dhritarashtra and the five pious sons of Pandu. The scripture was revealed by the Lord incarnate, Sri Krishna, to one of the five pious sons, the warrior Arjuna, on the battlefield.
There are some who wonder: would it have been possible for Krishna and Arjuna to have had the frame of mind needed to discuss yoga, with the war looming large over their heads? But, can it not be that Krishna wanted to teach us a lesson through this very act of revealing the scripture on the battlefield? Yes, philosophy is not for discussion over a club table, in the words of my Master, nor should it recline in an armchair and be treated as an intellectual pastime. That is the sole object with which these few thoughts are offered at the feet of the Lord seated in your heart.
Why does Krishna go into all these discussions concerning the ultimate truth? For the very simple reason: action which is not backed up by true understanding is itself bondage. Any action or right knowledge that is backed up by right understanding, is itself liberation. It is as simple as that. That is also what we are told right at the very beginning of the Yoga Vasistha. The bird does not fly with only one wing. It has two wings and in the middle is the bird. One wing is knowledge, the other is action, and in the middle is life! Your life is not merely understanding or merely doing. The unawakened mind, when it listens to the revolutionary philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, is capable of only one thing - misunderstanding. This is why understanding alone is not enough. It is like trying to fly on one wing, which is impossible. (The other wing is Karma yoga.) Similarly, action alone is not enough either; understanding is the other wing.
Who is the doer of the action? The doer of the action at one point is the enjoyer of the experience at the other end. If, for instance, you pick up a cane and bring it down, you are the striker and the other is the struck. Your action is his experience, and his action is your experience. Therefore, we are all bound together, brought together by every action that proceeds from one or the other. With clear understanding of this, you instantly become aware of the inner source of this action, and therefore of the source of experience. The source of expression is the source of experience. It is called expression at one end of the cane, and experience at the other end. You and the other are one. It is the same fool who hits and who is hit. This is not, Do as you would be done by. In that there is duality; but here there is no duality. The cane is only one. At one end what happens is called expression and at the other end what happens is called experience. Therefore, you are not hitting and nobody is hit. It is the cane which keeps jumping around! When this truth-in-action is directly realized, there arises wisdom beyond experience and expression.