[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.41

Amuthan aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Mon Apr 10 13:53:01 CDT 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

whether one follows j~nAna mArga or karma mArga, it is
essential to have a firm and resolute mind. this is
taught by kRShNa in the following verse,

vyavasAyAtmikA buddhirekeha kurunandana.
bahushAkhA hyanantAshcha buddhayo.avyavasAyinAm.. 2.41

O arjuna, whereas the intellect of the irresolute are
many-branched, in this (sA~Nkhya or yoga), the
intellect has a single and firm resolution. 

from the succeeding verses, it is clear that this
verse is aimed at the mImAmsakAs who uphold the
performance of various karmAs for attaining svarga.
but it can also be interpreted otherwise.

the gist of the verse is that one has to be very clear
on what is supposed to be done, after analyzing with
the aid of valid means of knowledge the various
possibilities that present themselves. it is
impossible to achieve anything permanent with a
wavering intellect. the intellect has to be directed
firmly in one direction depending on one's goal. 

the single and firm conviction taught in this shloka
refers either to the proper understanding of the
nature of the self or to the equanimity of the
intellect (sama buddhi) depending on whether it is
addressed to a sannyAsi or to a karma yogi. either
way, this flawless understanding springs from the
right pramANAs (in this case, the upaniShad-s). it is
this firm and resolute intellect that is of great help
in transcending the world of duality. 

it is typical of the vedAs to promise specific results
for almost all the yaj~nAs. thus it appears as if the
vedAs recommend the performance of various karmAs for
gaining the desired results. however, as was stated in
the very beginning of the gItA bhAShya by
bhagavatpAda, the vedAs have only nivRtti as their
ultimate aim. if pravRtti is taught anywhere, it is
only for the purpose of gaining the necessary maturity
for entering nivRtti mArga (= sannyAsa). thus, there
is an overall unity of purpose in the vedAs. one who
does not have this right understanding keeps
performing various types of works for fulfilling
various desires and in the process, only intensifies
his/her bondage. 

one who does not have the necessary qualifications for
sannyAsa has to perform the various shrauta and smArta
karmAs. there isn't much choice in that. the
difference between a karma yogi and a normal person
who performs the same actions lies in the way they are
performed. a karma yogi has the right understanding of
the real import of the shrutIs regarding actions and
does the various karmAs only for gaining chitta
shuddhi. this he accomplishes by performing all his
actions with sama buddhi or equivalently, without any
desire for their fruits. as was stated in a previous
verse, this desireless performance of actions can by
itself destroy karma bandha. what is really necessary
is that the karma yogi should always be firm in his
stance of sama buddhi. 

in the present days, we are forced to dilute some of
these restrictions regarding vaidika karmAs since the
number of people who perform *only* shrauta and smArta
karmAs are countably finite. looking at the way the
world is 'advancing', it seems highly unlikely that
this number will increase in the future. however,
whatever be our profession (laukika karma), it is
imperative to develop sama buddhi if we desire chitta
shuddhi. there is no question of any relaxation in
that. it is the necessity of this firm intellectual
understanding regarding sama buddhi that this shloka
tries to drive home.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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