Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gita 3.3

I have been giving a weekly class in the Bhagavad-gita at the ashram. We are currently doing the third chapter. A couple of months ago, one student gave me a Hindi edition of Osho's Karma-yoga, which is a series of lectures on the third chapter. Somewhat to my own surprise I found it not only fairly orthodox philosophically, but insightfully so.

In his discussion of 3.3, Osho made much of the introverted and extraverted personality types, which he said were these two--jnanis and karmis. Shankara, as everyone may well know, introduces the Gita with a discussion of karma and jnana, saying that jnana or consciousness alone gives liberation and that no amount of "works" will liberate one. Shankara also denies that there is any possibility of liberation by a combination of knowledge and works. Now, devotees know that our acharyas say that bhakti alone grants liberation, or the results of jnana and karma. But where is bhakti in this verse? So far, in the second and third chapter, there have been only two things discussed--sankhya and yoga--so where does bhakti fit in?

Madhusudana Saraswati, in his introduction, states that the middle six chapters of the Gita are meant to form a bridge between the earlier karma section and the later jnana section in the final six chapters, since karma and jnana are so radically opposed. Osho, however, says that though the two kinds of nishtha ultimately result in the same attainment, the two natures (introvert and extravert) are radically and irreconcilably opposed, "ne'er the twain shall meet." At the same time, he accepts the siddhanta stated in 5.3 that the attainments of the yogi and the jnani are the same.

It should also be remarked that this third chapter, though often interpreted by devotees in terms of bhakti (Prabhupada, for instance, consistently explains the chapter in terms of "Krishna consciousness," which has barely a hint or mention anywhere in the entire two chapters (except 2.61, mat-paraH, not in all editions and rather out of context, and 3.30, more credible).

Another thing, we generally think of the yogi in the ways that the sixth chapter speaks of him, as someone who is inner-looking. But when Krishna brings up the subect of yoga in 2.39, he is speaking of the external process, as he again does here in 3.3. Devotees also generally consider themselves to be antar-mukha rather than bahir-mukha (I am speaking here of a psychological disposition, not an attitude towards God). However, after mulling over the abovementioned considerations

The following diagrams are an attempt to clarify my thinking on the subject.

(1) This diagram shows the usual conception described by Shankara and his followers. The bahirmukha is a pravritti-marga follower, the antarmukha follows the nivritti-marga. These are otherwise refered to in the Gita as (1) yoga or karma and (2) sankhya or sannyasa. The identity of the atman and brahman are said to be the knowledge or consciousness that is the state of liberation, tat tvam asi. Shankara and Osho say, never the twain shall meet. There is no compromise between the two attitudes and one has to follow one's predisposition to the very end. For Shankara, the extraverted attitude is NEVER the source of liberation. In other words, you cannot attain Brahman by any means other than the introspective process.

(2) This diagram shows where bhakti stands in this scheme, along with various other attitudes and qualities. Becoming, i.e., the characteristic of the phenomenal world, is on the external side. Bhakti is principally seen by Advaita-vadins as a part of the external scheme that must ultimately be discarded. In the achintya-bhedabheda scheme, we need to recognize the identity of Brahman and Atman, but they are held in mutual tension.

Karma and bhakti are sometimes confused, even by Bhaktivedanta Swami and most of the modern karma-yogis. This is because they do not really think much past Paramatman. If you understand yoga in the Gita way as karma-yoga, it is easy to see how Paramatman is the goal of yoga. It is not as easy where Patanjala yoga is concerned, for their goal is kaivalya, which has through the ages become entirely assimilated to Brahma realization. Bhakti to Bhagavan is the only pure bhakti; bhakti to Paramatman is usually on the lesser levels discarded by Mahaprabhu in the teachings of Ramananda Raya (CC Madhya 8, eho bahya age koho ar).

(3) This last diagram is meant to show the psychological divisions where introversion is seen as particular to the culture of the ashraya, extraversion as the culture of the vishaya. This has various aspects, including the contrasting ideas of rasasvadana as a form of enjoyment as opposed to active and selfless seva. Again, the mutual intersectedness and nourishment of one for the other cannot be discounted.

The two principal attitudes of Vaishnava bhakti are also separated here, one in which Krishna alone is the vishaya and Radha the ashraya, in which the bhakta identifies with Radha as the samashti or macrocosmic manifestation of bhakti to Krishna (Bhakti Devi), and the other where Radha and Krishna together are the vishaya and the manjari is the ashraya.

For the Advaitins, etc., the division of ashraya and vishaya is automatically suspect, and both are considered upadhis, one on the microcosmic, the other on the macrocosmic scale. This is meant to be understood to take place within the inherent intuition of oneness.

Radhe Radhe !!

1 comment:

Piriti Nagar Basi said...

I'm stealing your diagrams. Consider them copylefted!

Don't sue me later.

Use it or lose it!