Listening to Krishna’s Discourse, Arjuna is perplexed, “What actually is this self that You are referring to, o Krishna? What is the nature of this self? If it is Adhyatma or Soul, then what is Adhibhuta or Matter? Where does the Absolute, God, Brahman fit in? Who is this being, this Adhiyajna working through the body? And, how do You explain karma or the actions performed by the Adhiyajna, the one residing in the body? Is there any Adhidaiva, Super Intelligence in charge of all the affairs?”
Arjuna’s perplexity is an intelligent one. A dull mind, a mind that is only mindful and unable to see the bigger picture, can never ever ask such questions.
A dull mindful mind is always reactive. Sometimes the reaction is fast, and we pat our shoulder, “Wow, great, you are dynamic!” At other times, we are lazy and the reaction is very slow. Or, there is no reaction at all. All the same, however, no reaction is also reaction.
A Mindful Mind Tries to Pose as all knowing, as if it has all the answers. It is too egoistic to admit that there are many things under the sun, of which he has no knowledge whatsoever. Whereas, an Intelligent Mind does not suffer from the disease of egotism. It knows its limitation.
In this Eighth Dialogue, Arjuna is undergoing transition. He is leaving behind the realm of mindfulness and creeping, yes, creeping slowly but surely, towards the domain of intelligence.
This is proven by the last part of his question, he is not finished yet: “And, tell me o Krishna, at the time of death, how do those of steadfast mind realize the supreme state of consciousness that You represent?”
He Knows that Krishna is no ordinary being. He represents the Supreme Consciousness, yet, He is very much reachable. The state of consciousness that He represents is not His monopoly alone, it can be attained by anyone whose mind is steadfast.
Now, what is a steadfast mind? A steadfast mind is a Transformed Mind, it is Buddhi, an awakened mind. It is the Intelligence.
The dull witted will never ask such questions. They are busy praying to God, to the deities, even to their Gurus for petty material benefits. Sometimes it is about their business, at other times about their relationship, and they are always looking for instant solutions, “Please pray for me, o Guru, so all my problems are solved.”
We are even Too Lazy to Pray. We need our Gurus to pray for us. This is how we allow ourselves to be manipulated and exploited, “Okay, I shall pray for you, believe that all is well, you just have to…..” And, they list out all the terms and conditions to earn such grace.
Krishna is not promising an instant solution to all problems. Arjuna is also not asking for such foolish solution. He is beseeching Krishna to direct him, to help him see what is the rightful course of action for him.
Arjuna’s perplexity in this dialogue is not the same as his despondency or confusion in the first dialogue.
Krishna Answers: “Brahman, the Supreme Being is the Imperishable One. The Individual Soul or Jivatma is Adhyatma; and all activities that cause the birth or existence of beings throughout the universe – that is karma.
“Arjuna, know everything that is perishable as adhibhuta or matter; as the Purusha, the Collective Consciousness of all beings that manifests as Intelligence or Adhidaiva, the True Selfsupports all matters and material worlds.
“And, as the Singular Witness of all things, I am also present in the innermost being of all as Adhiyajna.
“One who leaves the material body, thinking of Me alone even at the time of death, attains My state; there is no doubt about it.”
The State Krishna is Referring to is the State of Oneness, the Supreme Consciousness. But there is a catch here, an unwritten catch. We cannot leave our material or physical body thinking of Him, of the State of Consciousness that He represents if we do not practice it while alive.
So, it is only when and if we live that state while still having this physical body, that we can possibly think about it while leaving the body. Krishna is telling Arjuna to live consciously at all times.
Krishna warns Arjuna, “what you think about at the time of death becomes the reality upon your death, and the seed for your next birth.”
Krishna’s Message, therefore, must be Understood as the message of living responsibly. We are responsible for our life here, at this period of time, as well as for life heareafter. Whatever happens, including the nature of our next birth, depends upon what we do now, today, in this very life.
The core message of the Gita is Karma Yoga, fully engaged in and with this world, at the same time fully detached to. This detached engagement, Krishna says, “leads to the Supreme Goal” – the state of Pure Supreme Consciousness where God Is, or rather the State of All That Is. This state is also referred to as the state of Sat Chitta Ananda, the Absolute Truth, Supreme Consciousness, and Pure Bliss – all three in one, inseparable.
All Beings are Subject to Birth and Death, while life goes on. The Oceanic Life is not affected by the rising and falling waves of innumerable births and deaths. As long as we identify ourselves with the rising and falling waves, we are subject to birth and death, to pain and pleasure, to heat and cold, and all other dualistic experiences. And, we are affected by such experiences.
But, as soon as we we identify ourselves with the ocean, then nothing can possibly affect us. We do not even become the ocean. It is not a matter of becoming anything. It is a matter of realizing that, “That Ocean I am.” It is only then that we can truly enjoy the game of life. Births and deaths are happening, but we are not affected. Both sanity and insanity exist, but we remain aloof.
Once We Master this Art of Detached Engagement, we are freed of all ignorance, all delusions, all pseudo identities. We realize that the changing characters, the changing roles we are playing in this drama of life do not define us. We are above all such roles and characters. Then, and only then we can truly enjoy the show, the theatre. Not otherwise, never otherwise.
Krishna, further, explains the two eternal paths taken by human beings since time immemorial: “the bright and the dark… Proceeding by one of them, one reaches the supreme state from which there is no return; and proceeding by the other, one returns to the mortal world, i.e., becomes subject to birth and death once more.
“Knowing thus the secret of these two paths, O Arjuna, no Yogi or Practitioner of Yoga in the form of detached engagement gets deluded. Therefore, Arjuna, at all times be steadfast in Yoga in the form of equanimity…”
The Two Paths are the Paths of Pure Wisdom and Ignorance – Light and Darkness. Those who understand the nature of this drama, this theatre of life pursue the path of wisdom, while those who believe in pseudo identities, those who take their make believe roles as their identity live and die in ignorance.
They return again and again to learn their lesson, to understand the nature of life, of all things. Krishna ends his discourse in this 8th dialogue of Gita by stating that: “The Yogis – those who live and work with the spirit of detached engagement – realizing this profound truth, doubtless transcends all the rewards enumerated for the study of the Vedas or Scriptures as well as for the performance of sacrifices, austerities and charities, and attains the supreme and primal state.”
Many of us Half Baked, Unripe Devotees, interpret Krishna’s injunction as an approval to shun all Vedic studies, to stop pursuing that store house of perennial wisdom, philosophy and ancestral sciences and arts which are all relevant to this day.
There are, among us, those who shun all meaningful rituals and adopting new ones of lesser value, since, they argue, “Krishna has said so in so and so chapter of the Gita, verse so and so.”
No, our argument proves that we have not understood the quintessence of Krishna’s teachings. He is not telling us to drop anything. He is simply stating, explaining the state of consciousness of those who have attained the highest state of consciousness. They no longer need to set specific timings for worship, rituals, studies, etcetera; for, their lives become worshipful.
The Question is: Have we reached that state of consciousness? No, we have not. So, until then all those external disciplines are necessary, important. We cannot drop them.
We cannot stop our car in the middle of the highway, the toll road. We have to use the car until we reach, we arrive at our destination. Once, we are there, we can park the car.
While on our way to the final destination, detached engagement must be practiced. That is the Life Traffic Rule that we must adhere to if we want to drive safely and reach the destination in a good shape. Once we have reached the destination, no traffic rules are necessary. We simply have to park the car, and enjoy the bliss of consciousness, the eternal joy of being home…