THE DILEMMA OF THE RAJAYOGI
Krshna explains the methodology of Yoga to Arjuna. One who performs action, karma, to fulfill certain duties (karyam) without depending (anasrita) on their rewards (karmaphala) is a samnyasi and yogi and not the one who does not sit in front of the fire (niragni) and nor the one who does no work (akriya). (1)
Samnyasa, renunciation, does not exempt one from performing the duties assigned to him under the asrama scheme in accordance with his innate traits and aptitudes. It only calls upon him to perform those duties without expecting rewards. This attitude has to characterize his entire life and not merely his fourth stage of life, samnyasa asrama.
The householder, grhastha, sat before the fire and performed sacrifice, yajna. What he sacrificed went to maintain the three non-economic social cadres, nobles, sages and elders, devas, rshis and pitaras who graced it. He had to earn his livelihood and protect his family by pursuing a vocation assigned to or permitted for his class, varna. One who had retired from his vocation and stage of a householder and moved to his forest abode as a vanaprastha had to however continue to perform sacrifice. In samnyasa asrama one was free from pursuing a vocation and from performing sacrifice. For the samnyasi had no wealth to sacrifice and he was independent of the society and its units.
Samnyasa that a karmayogi practises is distinguished from the samnyasa stage of life. The latter is optional and demands non-pursuit of any vocation. Krshna expects every one, whichever class he may belong to and stage of life he may be in, to observe samnyasa, renunciation. One who has undergone training in this spirit and performs his duties as a professional or as a worker is a Karmayogi. An intellectual who has been so trained is a Brahmayogi. An administrator or king who has received such training and functions impartially is a Rajayogi. Krshnas academy gave training for all the three. Arjuna was receiving training in Rajayoga.
Krshna asks him to know (viddhi) that the teachers spoke of renunciation (samnyasa) (of attachment to work and of rewards but not of work itself) as yoga, for no one who has not given up the prior commitments and resolves (samkalpa) to attain certain personal objectives can become a yogi. (2) This enigmatic postulate needs scrutiny.
Krshna's academy did not offer to train those who came to it expecting to get trained in the specific methods necessary for attaining their predetermined goals or for fulfilling their resolves not all of which might be honourable or desirable. What the objective should be, the teacher would determine and not the student. The yogi works towards the goal set for him by the academy on behalf of the society. Whether the work leads him to that goal or not, he continues to work in the prescribed manner. And he continues to work even after reaching that goal. The spirit of renunciation marks this.
Krshna then distinguishes between muni and yogi. The silent sage, muni, tries to climb the wooden dais (aruruksha) to become a yogi. The observer of this act states that karma, duty, is the cause, karanam, for this effort at ascent. Cause, karanam, precedes the work being done for a specific purpose, karyam. In the case of a muni, the earlier work accomplished impels the latter effort and hence becomes the karanam, the cause of the latter. The muni is silent on what his plan is. We see his actions but we do not know what his goal, purpose, is or what his original resolve was. That resolve, samkalpa was the first karanam, cause.
This non-expression of intent places the muni at a level lower than that of the yogi. The yogi has given up his prior resolves and has no personal goal at all and yet does his duty. The higher authorities determine towards what he should work. When the muni has mounted the seat of the yogi (yoga arudha), the reason, karanam, for this act of ascent, for taking over the role of a yogi comes to be known. Sama, tranquillity is what he has been after and hence he prefers to become a yogi. When the muni gets rid of the doubts vexing him and becomes tranquil, he may proceed to get trained and accepted as a yogi. (3)
Krshna respected Kapila, a muni, as the best among the Siddhas. Kapila who had expounded Samkhya dialectics was however not an advocate of Yoga. Krshna advocated both and treated them as a composite discipline. Only one, who is tranquil, is free from all doubts and from internal agitation can master Yoga. Krshna explains that one has to be first free from attachment to the objects of senses, that is, to physical comforts and sensual pleasures and to the actions (karma) themselves (even if these are pleasant duties preferred by him from the many permissible ones). He must have renounced all resolves (sarva-samkalpa-samnyasi). Then only he becomes eligible to sit on the mount (arudastada), ready to embark on the course of training in Yoga. (4)
Personal Effort and Self-Conquest (5, 6)
Before introducing Arjuna to the niceties of Rajayoga, Krshna acquaints him with the general principles of yoga. One became a muni or a yogi or a Rajarshi by his personal efforts. Let one raise oneself (uddhara atmanam) and not demean oneself (avasadayet atmanam). Ones rise or fall in status is because of his good deeds or bad ones. Krshnas philosophy is positive, is practical and constructive and not utopian or excessively idealistic. One is not to be dependent on others including ones brothers for social ascent. Ones self (atma) is ones friend, brother. One is ones own enemy. (5) What did Krshna imply? The context calls for attention to the training of the Rajarshi.
The Rajarshi had to be neutral between his supporters and their opponents while discharging his duties. He had to depend on his own acumen and not on others. Training in Rajayoga gave him the confidence needed to discharge his duties fearlessly and impartially. He was dependent on self-effort to rise in the comity of rulers.
In the ancient Indian political constitution, the king, the ministry, the janapada or rural spread, the paura or the fortified capital, the treasury, the army and the external ally were the seven organs or constituents of the state. While dealing with inter-state relations, the enemy had to be taken into account and watched as the eighth relevant constituent. The constitution described the king (rajan or svami) as atma-samstha, the kings personal establishment or institute. Its members were the king, the queens, the princes, the Rajapurohita and the five sections of the institution of spies and informers, chakshus and charanas.
Krshna seems to suggest that inclusion of the friend and the foe, mitra and amitra, in the list of constituents of the state is unnecessary. The kings friends and foes are within his atma-samstha, within himself. The Rajarshi constitution that preceded the above seven-fold structure advocated by the Dharmasastra and the eight-fold one recommended by Arthasastra had a two-fold arrangement, Rajan and Rajyam, King and State. The ministry janapada, paura, treasury and army were the five autonomous sectors of the State.
Krshna points out that for one who has conquered oneself (that is, who has controlled his senses, mind and intellect), one's atma is one's own kinsman (bandhu). For one who has not conquered oneself it will be his enemy, working against him. (6) This statement is not to be held as drawing attention to the role of the conscience in ensuring ones good conduct and is not to be skipped over as stating but the obvious. The Rajarshi constitution recognized a dichotomy between Rajan and Rajyam, between the King and the State, with the troubles, vyasanas, of the former not afflicting the latter and the afflictions of the latter not troubling the former. For, autonomous boards headed the latter and the king was but a nominal head of the state and not a sovereign.
The Rajarshi was not the head of the executive. He was but a counsellor. The friends and foes of the king were among his queens, sons, courtiers and retinue. He had to keep them under his control with the help of his institution of chakshus (spies) and make the atmasamstha safe for him. Arjuna had to keep in mind this political theorem. Krshna recognized that the Rajarshi constitution required amendments. The hiatus caused by the misapplication of the rules of dichotomy had to be undone.
The Atharvan constitutions were based on sabha and samiti, deva and manushya, rajanya and kshatriya, Rajanya and Brahmana, intellectuals and commoners, political power and economic power and other dichotomies and attempts at reaching balance among these conflicting interests. The Rajarshi constitution tried to remove their crudities. This feature of the ancient Hindu polity needs attention as these dichotomies revealed by samkhya dialectics continue to prevail. Resolution of conflicting interests born of divergence in human nature was a major task and mission undertaken by political grammarians like Krshna who were attached to the schools of samkhya and yoga.
Paramatma, the Great Soul and the Common Will (7)
He tells Arjuna that paramatma (the greater soul, in common parlance) is entrusted (samahita) with one who has conquered oneself (jitatmana) and is serene (prasanta), that is, is unperturbed in the midst of cold and heat, joy and sorrow, honour and dishonour. (7) In the comity of rulers, the highest position is to be assigned to one who is self-restrained, to one who had conquered oneself, to a jitatma. 'Paramatma then would have referred to the person who represented the undivided collective will. The Rajarshi who presided over the assembly of rulers was not an emperor. As a trusted overlord, he was a trustee of public funds and exercised the role of the samahita and ensured equity in social welfare and social justice.
Krshna would amend the Rajarshi constitution to enable the Rajarshi who was serene and unruffled to climb above the level of a mere counsellor and be able to settle the disputes among the subjects and the junior rulers. Performance of Rajasuya sacrifice entitled him to play this role. Of course it was not easy to make all the subjects and subordinate rulers and other rulers accept him as the supreme arbitrator. [Would Arjuna be able to play that role of a supreme judge?]
Who could become a Rajarshi? (8)
One who has conquered his senses (vijita indriya) and whose thirst for jnana and vijnana is satisfied may become such a judge. Knowledge acquired through empirical methods is called jnana. Knowledge acquired through reasoning and extrapolation is called vijnanam. A Rajarshi must have acquired both. He is seated at the highest position in the gathering (kootastha) and dominates the proceedings as the head of a centripetal state. He receives all offerings whether only clod of earth (loshta) or stone, ores (asma) or gold (kanchana) and treats all, rich and poor as equal, sama. He is a yukta, as a person trained properly in yoga, that is, in Rajayoga. The yogi is not tempted by wealth. (8)
The Rajarshi is well educated and is self-restrained and has control over all the institutions of the state. The jitatma, one who has conquered oneself, the atmasamstha, controls all the members of his personal establishment and then proceeds to control the other organs, indriyas of the state and becomes vijitendriya. Then he becomes paramatma, representing the will of all. The kootastha occupies the central position in the organized state. He is a yukta, a trained personage, and is highly educated. He wins the respect of all as he treats every one with equal respect.
Rajarshi as the Head of the Circle of States (9)
Such a Rajarshi is the best suited person to head the circle of states, mandala, which has four states within the ambit of his reach, those of his friend, his enemy, the indifferent and the intermediate or neutral (mitra, ari, udasina and madhyasta). While dealing with them this centrally situated (kootastha) ruler exhibits equal-mindedness, intellectual evenness (sama buddhi). He is impartial while dealing with those who have hatred for him and those who are his kin (bandhu) or with those who are pious (sadhu) and those who are sinners (papi). (9)
He is impartial not only within his state but also in inter-state relations. He excels in his conduct as the head of a multi-state organization with an uneasy political equilibrium. Krshna is outlining a political theorem based on self-restraint and impartiality that abhors hunger for power. Non-acquaintance with the theorems of Arthasastra based on Samkhya dialectics has led to misinterpretation of this verse.
Deliberation in Solitude (10, 11)
A yogi should engage (yunjitam) himself (atmanam) constantly (satatam) alone (ekaki), situate (sthita) inprivacy (rahasi) as one who has controlled his thinking (yata-chit-atma) and be free from personal desires (nirasi). He must not surround himself with possessions (aparigraha). (10) This would enable the Rajarshi to deliberate by himself in solitude unencumbered by worldly interests. He does not deliberate in the company of friends and ministers. The Rajarshi needed a guide, a Rajapurohita, lest he should be arbitrary in his decisions and autocratic in his ways.
Of course, unlike ordinary rulers, a Rajarshi could be impartial and come to right conclusions after considering all points of view. For, he was a yogi. Krshna recommends deliberation in solitude. The Rajayogi like other yogis has to choose a suitable place for this purpose. This does not mean that they were seeking secret powers. The yogi selects a clean (suchi) region (desa) and establishes (pratishta) himself (atmana) on a stable (sthira) seat, neither very high nor very low, a seat covered by deer-skin, kusa grass and sheet of cloth. (11) This is the popular imagery of a yogi in a sitting position. (Other positions are meant for other purposes.) The Rajayogi can become the ruler only of a small state where the people are honest. The Rajarshi may not be able to control violent groups.
Trainee and Vow of Celibacy (12-15)
Sitting on such an elevated seat, having controlled (yata) his thinking (cetas) and the senses and concentrating (ekagra krtva) the mind for self-purification (atma-visuddhaya), let him be engaged (yunjyat) in yoga, Krshna directs. (12) The teacher introduces his student to the first steps in yoga. Krshna directs him to hold the body, head and neck erect and still and look fixedly at the tip of his nose and not to allow his eyes to wander. As a serene person (prasanta atma), fearless and firm in his vow of celibacy (brahmachari-vrata), balanced and subdued in mind (mana samyamya), let him sit as a properly equipped person (yukta), Krshna directs. (13)
He asks Arjuna who took this posture of a Yogi to think of the former, the teacher in front of him and fix his attention on matpara who is his alter ego. Arjuna should fix his attention on Krshna rather on the soul within him. This externalizing the focus is intended to relieve Arjuna of the strain caused by internalizing the focus with closed eyes. (14) The yogi who has controlled his mind (manas) and keeps himself (atmanam) ever engaged (yunjam) (with his attention ever fixed on alter) attains quickly (adhigacchati) peace (santi). He also experiences the greatest emancipation (paramam nirvanam) by identifying himself with the institution that belongs to his guide, Krshna (matsamstha) (15). Krshna wasin the position of a Rajapurohita and Arjuna in that of the Rajarshi under training. The latter is enabled to recognize the role of the former and follow his instructions.
Atmasamstha and Matsamstha: Rajarshi and Rajapurohita
The terms, atmasamstha and matsamstha are notions related to political philosophy. Matpara has to be read in the light of the strain caused by inward looking, by the dependence on atmasamstha, by the need to be on the alert against threat from members of the kings household and retinue. By parting with all his cares on this score to the Rajapurohita the Rajarshi becomes free from the onus for their misdeeds and acts of omission and commission. The Rajarshi has to trust the Rajapurohita. He enjoys the highest immunity when he acts under the guidance of the Rajapurohita who enjoys a good rapport with the house of nobles, devas, and can hence ensure that the ruler is not indicted by that house for any lapse. Paramam nirvanam is an expression in the lexicon of the political grammarians, indicating such exoneration.
The Rajapurohita took on his shoulder the onus and no body could proceed against him. He was not a member of any ecclesiastical order. He is not to be likened to the cardinals and bishops of the medieval Christian states. He was not a member of the judiciary or of the executive or even of the legislature. His role was distinct from that of Brhaspati who controlled the civil administration including the armoury and treasury. It was different from that of the Prajapati, the chief of the people, who convened and presided over the two houses of legislature, sabha and samiti, the house of nobles and the council of scholars. The message of the Gita can be understood correctly only if we have a proper appreciation of the above aspects of the socio-political constitutions of the late Vedic and early post-Vedic times. This historical context is not to be overlooked.
Training of a Rajayogi (16-27):
Yoga is not meant for the person who eats too much or for one who abstains too much from eating or for one who sleeps (dreams) too much or for one who keeps awake too much. It is not for the epicure or for the austere. It is a middle path for the average person. It is for those who are temperate in food and entertainment, ahara and vihara, and are balanced in sport, cheshta, and work, karma, and are properly regulated both in dream, svapna and wakefulness, avabodha. One need not be afraid of this discipline. Such balance follows the training in yoga that destroys all sorrow, duhkham. (16, 17) Krshnas academy did not allow indulgence in pleasures, nor did it impose excessive restrictions.
The preliminary training required that the student disciplined his thinking, chittam, and focused on the inner self, atma and was free from all desires, sarvakama. When he was so disciplined, that person, atma was held to be best suited, a yukta, for training in yoga. Krshna recalls the comparison with the lamp that does not flicker in a windless place and points out that the faculty of thought, chittam, of the yogi that is under control, yata, does not get disturbed. The yogi is one engaged (yunjanam) in harnessing (yogam) his self (atma). (18,19) He has to keep away from distractions.
When curbed by adherence to the rules governing practice of yoga, when one ceases to think (chittam) (in a wayward manner), he sees himself in himself (atmanam) and rejoices in himself (atmani). Realization of ones inner abilities, self-recognition leads to sober delight. Yoga is not a joyless discipline. It makes the trainee find joy in himself, in identifying himself with his soul. He does not seek joy in external objects. When he finds endless pleasure that he grasps intellectually rather than through his sensory organs, he reaches the (standard) yogic state. Then he does not move away from the essential philosophy (tattvata) of the discipline of yoga. As pointed out earlier, he realizes through this training that That (tat) art (asmi) thou (tvam). On gaining that status of yogi, there is no greater gain beyond it. Established in it (in the state of yoga), he does not get disturbed by (events of) deep sorrow, Krshna explains. (20,21,22) Thus he recommends training in yoga.
In the next verse, a profound aphorism, Krshna pronounces in unambiguous terms what he terms yoga. The disconnection (viyogam) from union (samyogam) with sorrow (duhkham) is to be known (vidyat) by the name, yoga. One must perform (yokta) this yoga with certainty (in its benefits) (niscayena), and with undismayed (anirvinna) thought (chetasa). (23) There need be no doubt that yoga would keep away all sorrow. Krshna advises Arjuna to practise it renouncing (tyaktva) all (sexual) desires (sarvakama) without leaving any residue (aseshata). He implies that training in yoga calls for strict observance of celibacy. Arjuna had found it difficult to control his thirst for sexual joy.
The yogi has to be uninfluenced by his prior commitments (samkalpa). He has to discipline the group of senses (indriyagramam) by the mind (manas) on all sides (samantata). (24) Though he was introducing Arjuna to the daunting general principles and methods of yoga, Krshna was dwelling subtly on the challenges before the Rajayogi. Rajayoga, training in administration and governance, rejected resort to coercive techniques. The state has to be a voluntary union of social groups and territorial communities. All rules that smacked of coercion had to be eased. This note is implicit in the terms, viyogam, samyogam and yogam. United, organized endeavour, yogam, should not be a cause of sorrow. The ruler or administrator must not be mentally upset or lose confidence while performing his duties. He should have no personal ambitions and should not be tied down to his original resolves.
In other words, neither personal interests nor ideological commitments should bind the Rajayogi preventing him from performing his duties objectively and impartially. (Krshna warns against treating mind as yet another sense. The mind has to master the five senses. Of course, it is not identical with intellect that is superior to it and the senses.) It is a new career that the prince has embarked on as he consents to be under the teacher of yoga. He has to cut himself off from the ambitions he has cherished and nursed so far.
Krshna tells him, One gains motionlessness, tranquillity (uparam), slowly by means of intellect (buddhi) which is held (grhitaya) in control by ones steadiness (dhrti) and by fixing the mind (manas) on the personal sector (atmasamstha). Let him not think of anything else. (25) The student of Rajayoga should first master the department directly under his personal supervision, atmasamstha. The five organs or indriyas of the state, amatya, janapada, paura, kosa and danda, bureaucracy, rural assembly, urban council, treasury and army, that were referred to as indriyagramam were to be kept within bounds by the minister whose role is likened to that of the mind. In the Atharvan polity, the equivalents of these five constituents were the eight member executive ministry, samiti that had scholars and elders as its members, sabha or house of nobles, sura or rajyalakshmi that was earlier under Indra and later under Brhaspati, and sena, army.
Under the Rajarshi constitution, the chief minister was part of the atmasamstha, the organ of the state directly under the king. This enabled the king to be engaged in intellectual pursuits unencumbered by the cares of the state. It needs to be clarified that the above comparison and contrast have been presented here to dispel the likely suspicion that the political note has been stressed only to dispute the note of pursuit of spiritualism through self-restraint. Yoga does deal with self-restraint but Rajayoga dealt with political affairs.
The Rajarshi has to be well versed in administration, especially of the department under his personal supervision. Krshna does not favour introducing the prince simultaneously to all the fields of governance. Let him restrain (niyamya) and bring back to the control, influence (vasa) of the self (atmani) whatever makes the wavering (chanchala) and unsteady (asthira) mind (manas) wander away (nischarati). (26) Even within the sector under the kings personal control, some might tend to differ from his stand and seek other goals. The minister (mind, manas) is often unsteady and fails to abide by rules. He has to be restrained and kept under the kings personal influence and brought back whenever he tends to walk out or does not fall in line.
Krshna was teaching Arjuna Rajayoga. Many annotators have left out of scrutiny several verses of the Gita as they overlooked this correlation. They were dwelling mainly on the relations between Man and God, with theology. Krshna points out that the best happiness (uttamam sukham) is obtained by the yogi whose mind (manas) is serene, peaceful (prasanta), whose trait of aggressiveness (rajas) is calmed (santa) and who is guiltless, non-vindictive (akalmasha) and who has identified himself with the highest intellectual (Brahma). (27) Krshna was describing the benefits accruing from training in Rajayoga.
Brahmabhutam: Cadre of Independent Intellectuals (28-31)
Brahmabhutam is not to be interpreted as becoming one with God. A Rajarshi began his career with a predominance of rajas in him, even as the other kings, Rajans, did. This trait has to be tamed by Rajayoga. He was to become a member of the cadre of independent intellectuals of the constitution bench (Brahmabhutam). Rajayoga would restrain 'rajas and not enhance it. It does not deny the king joy. But it severely restricts him from sexual pleasures (Kama). It prevents sadistic pleasure in being vindictive, kalmasha, but offers positive happiness, sukham, the highest form of which is sereneness, prasanta. Rajayoga lifts the king to the level of an intellectual and curbs the tendency to use violence against dissenters. The yogi (Rajayogi, in particular) has to become free from vengefulness. He must be ever concerned with the administration of the department under his personal supervision and ensure that it is smooth. Here he would be in touch with (samparsam) intellectuals (Brahma). This contact would enable him to easily experience the highest happiness, Krshna says. (28)
Let us not introduce mysticism in what is essentially a political system. Brahma referred to the Atharvaveda, which incorporated the socio-political constitution of the Vedic times. The experts in it were known as Brahmavadis. The Rajapurohita was such a Brahmavadi. After election to his post, the King was not to entertain vengefulness against his rivals.
The king had to be impartial and always consult his political counsellor (Rajapurohita). The latter belonged to his royal retinue, atmasamstha. This would ensure him peaceful governance and happy life. Training in Rajayoga took the Rajarshi away from the company of aggressive Rajans and brought him under the influence of the sedate intellectuals.
Rajayogi and his charisma among unattached individuals
But this would not cut him off from the commonalty. The person well trained (yukta) in yoga (Rajayoga, in particular) has to establish himself (atmanam) in all individuals (sarvabhutani) and has to deal with all persons with the same attitude (sarvatra samadarsana). (29) The Rajayogi who identifies himself with the experts in the constitution (who have been trained to be objective) develops a charismatic relationship with all unattached individuals, bhutas. For, he treats them all as equals and looks after their welfare. Though he belongs to the intelligentsia, he does not neglect the commoners. We are deliberately restricting the applicability of the term sarvabhutani to those who are not members of any of the organized social groups.
The state does not supplant the society. It is not a substitute for the society. It has to supplement the society. Families (kutumbas), clans (kulas) and communities (jatis) looked after most of the population. But the bhutas who were mainly discrete individuals of the unorganized social periphery did not have the benefit of protection from such social organizations. These bhutas looked up to the state and the state under the Rajarshi looked after them. In this chapter Krshna presents the Rajarshi institution as a social necessity and as a social welfare structure. As the significance of this institution began to be lost sight of, the yogi came to be visualized as but one who looked at all beings whether human or not as endowed with souls and feelings and as requiring equal attention.
Krshna presented himself as a model to be emulated. He who sees me everywhere (sarvatra), sees every thing in me. I am not lost (pranasya) to him and he is not lost to me, Krshna assures. (30) This verse is not a mere declaration that God is in every being and that God would bless the person who realizes this.
The charisma of the Rajarshi requires his identifying himself with all and not with only some social sectors or individuals. He should not conduct himself as the head of a sect or community or ethnic unit. He has to be seen as the representative and wellwisher of all even as Krshna was. The Rajarshi constitution did not accept the cleavage between svapaksha and parapaksha, the party of the king and those of others. This cleavage was however a bitter reality and could not be easily undone. Krshna says that the subjects should be able to recognize their ruler as one who has the welfare of all as his policy and mission. They should trust him and he should not neglect any one who trusts him. This is charisma.
Krshna explains, The yogi who is established (asthita) in ekatvam, that is, who learns samkhya and yoga as a single discipline (intellectual reasoning and endeavour as a composite faculty) recognizes and acclaims (bhajati) that I am located in all beings, individuals (sarvabhuta-sthitam). Even though they may follow various types of vocations (sarvatha vartamana), they abide (vartata) in me. (31) Training in Karmayoga is open to all.
The bhutas who did not belong to any specific socio-economic group needed this training more than those belonging to a clan or community that had its traditional vocation and got all its members trained to continue it. These unattached individuals were given training that would help them to pursue a vocation. This note is implicit and needs to be recognized. These bhutas were indebted to Krshna for enabling them to pursue the vocation of their own choice. To whichever social class his devotee might belong or vocation he might pursue, he followed Krshnas school of thought that treated samkhya and yoga as a single discipline. (The term ekatvam is not a call for Krshna monotheism.)
Only Brahmans could teach the three Vedas, Trayi, (Rg, Yajur, and Sama). Only experts in agriculture and veterinary science or in trade could teach Varta, the science of economic occupations and only government officials and magistrates could teach Dandaniti, political science. Some held that only Brahmans could teach Anvikshiki (Samkhya, Yoga and Lokayata) as it was treated as a subsidiary of Trayi. But Krshnas stand permitted all to study Samkhya and Yoga and all trained in these sciences to teach them. We are not to miss this note. Krshna appealed to the Yogi to emulate him and treat all as equal.
Parama Yogi, the Best among Yogis (32-41)
He advises Arjuna, One who sees all as equal and sees every thing as the image of himself (atma) whether in pleasure or in sorrow is the best (parama) yogi. (32) The Rajayogi is not to hold that he is superior to and different from others. Those who are trained well in yoga, that is, in performance of social and administrative duties identify themselves with all. But Arjuna found it difficult to translate this call for evenness, samya, into practice. He acknowledged that his mind was restless (chanchalavat) and saw no stable foundation (na pasyami sthitim sthiram). He was not speaking for himself only. Most persons found the mind (manas) to be fickle (chanchalavat), tormenting and dragging one off course (pramati) or strong (not mellow) (balavat) and obstinate (drdha) and hence unable to be moulded. Like the wind, it is difficult to restrain (nigraha) the mind. (33, 34)
Krshna agreed that the mind is restless and that it is difficult to restrain it. But he claimed that by constant practice (abhyasa) and dispassion (vairagya) one could control it. It is hard to master yoga if one is not self-regulated and even (asamyata atmana). But for one who has his self under his influence (vasya atmana), it is possible to obtain that mastery. (35, 36) Arjuna was worried over the difficulty in getting ministers who were not fickle or obstinate. In political sociology manas, mind was a reference to ministers. Krshna wants that the Rajarshi should practise self-restraint and dispassion and be even-handed and use proper methods to keep his department, atmasamstha, under his control.
Arjuna then wanted to know what path one should take if he could not control himself (that is, his personal department) despite faithful adherence (sraddha) to the rules of yoga (that is, to the system of governmental action). What should he do if the minister (mind) wandered away from yoga (the code of governmental action) or if he, the ruler failed to attain perfection in that science of regulation and perfect fulfilment of all duties (yogasamsiddhi)? (37) What would happen to the Rajarshi if he failed to follow the rules? Arjuna was seeking clarification on aspects of the training in administration that he was undergoing and not only in basic yoga.
Yoga was not a mere superior version of pranayama, regulation of breath. Karmayoga was the science of socio-economic action, vocations and social duty. Buddhiyoga dealt with intellectual endeavour. Rajayoga was the science of socio-political action. Krshna was acquainting Arjuna with the theorems that covered all these three fields. Would the trainee who had failed not perish like a rent cloud (balloon) (chinna-abhram) without any hold (ubhayam) and be deprived of both facilities (vibhrashta) (of both the statuses, Rajanya and Brahmana) and be not installed (apratishta) (as a saintly ruler)? He (the trainee who has failed) would be bewildered about the path that led him to the status of an intellectual, a Brahmana, a guardian of the constitution (Atharvaveda or Brahma). Arjuna wanted Krshna to dispel his doubts. None else could dispel them.
Rajayoga was intended to raise the Rajanya, a prince to the level of a Rajarshi who was almost equal to a Brahmana, an intellectual who could give an authoritative interpretation of the constitution, a jurist who held the scales even. One who failed in this training would not be entitled to be either the head of the executive or the head of the judiciary and legislature, either a Rajan or a Brahmana. He could not become a Rajarshi or a Rajapurohita. Both these positions required training in Yoga, that is, in Rajayoga. Would a trainee who failed to become aRajarshi under the new constitution be barred from functioning as an ordinary ruler, Rajan, and also as a teacher? Arjuna wanted to be enlightened on this issue. (38,39)
Krshna then clarified that whatever he learnt would not get destroyed (vinasa). There would be no destruction for him, that is, for the trainee who followed his instructions, either here or in the stage hereafter. He could only gain and not lose any position. For, never does one who does good (kalyanakrt) tread the path of woe (durgati). (40) The two stages are those of a Rajanya and a Rajarshi. If Arjuna failed to qualify for the post of a Rajarshi, yet he could become popular as a ruler if he gave primacy to social welfare measures.
Training in Rajayoga is necessary to become the head of the judiciary as well as the legislature besides presiding over the executive. Sattva, sobriety attained by a Rajarshi tempers his aggressiveness, Rajas. The alternative need not be a return to the Atharvan practice of electing one endowed with raw aggressiveness, Rajas. The ruler may be one who is gentle and is engaged in executing social welfare measures, kalyanakrt, who upholds and guards the welfare of the society, lokakshema. Though the trainee fails to get his Rajas tamed and Sattva enhanced his good acts would stand him in good stead, Krshna assures.
As he has attained the social world (loka) of those who have done virtuous deeds (punyakrta) and has resided (ushitva) there for many years, almost permanently (sasvata sama), the trainee who is expelled as unfit for the class of yogis (yogabhrashta) takes birth in (gets entry to) the house of the pure (suchina) and rich (srimata), that is to the ranks of the aristocrats, (abhijana).(41) The trainee who has failed is not necessarily immoral. He may not be admitted to the cadre of Brahmanas or to that of the Rajanyas. But he may be admitted to the higher ranks of the Vaisyas, the new aristocracy engaged in carrying out social welfare measures.
The social world (loka) of punyakrtas has to be distinguished from the loka of the kalyanakrtas, the social workers. The former gained personal merit through the good deeds done by them while the latter got no personal gains. Both needed training in yoga. The former adhered to rules of personal ethics whether they were deists or not; but they were not engaged in economic activities.
During Krshna's times, Gandharvas, Kimpurushas and Kinnaras were known as punya-jana. Some of them could get admitted to a cadre next to the aristocrats, devas. [Later, the term, kimpurushas was used to refer to the leaders of the forest society and kinnaras to eunuchs.] But they were not social activists. Krshna visualizes the emergence of a rich class that has taken up social service as its mission.
The trainee in yoga could become 'punyakrta' by joining the ranks of the rich benefactors or 'kalyanakrta' by becoming a social worker if he is not selected for the cadre of administrators or of political counsellors and jurists.
Place in the Faculty, Kula (42-47)
Or they may join the faculty (kula) of yogis who have the ability to distinguish between good and evil (dhimatam). Birth (janma) in or admission to such a social world (loka) is more difficult to attain. (42) Very few are born in the family of yogis. Rajarshi was not a hereditary post. Only princes and administrators who had the benefit of training in Rajayoga could become Rajarshis. A prince who got this training could become a teacher of Rajayoga, if he found it difficult to occupy the position of a stoical ruler, Rajarshi or a constitutional guide, Rajapurohita. There were lower ranks in administration or in the academy where his talents would be useful. Krshna was drawing attention to the alternative prospects that awaited the trainee in Rajayoga who failed to make the grade.
There, in the company of other yogis, he experiences intellectual endeavour with no dissociation between intellectual pursuits and perfection in performance of duties undertaken (buddhisamyogam). He had already practised this in his earlier career as a student (purvadehikam) of physical activities (the physical aspects of yoga). With this new training (disciplining the intellect through theoretical exercises in the company of teachers, members of the faculty in the academy), he strives for perfection in all fields (samsiddha). One who joined the faculty as a teacher of samkhya-yoga, buddhisamyoga, and mastered the theoretical aspects of the training in practical administration could proceed to master allied fields of study. (Siddhas were however not on the faculty of Krshnas academy.) This was an exciting offer. (43) (It is irrational to introduce the concept of union with God.)
Krshna then explains the advantages of joining such a faculty (kula) of yogis. The earlier training in the physical aspects of yoga takes him ahead irresistibly (avasa). One who seeks to have an insight (jijnasu) in yoga goes beyond the letter of the Vedic (including Atharvan) prescriptions, (shabda Brahma). Even perfection does not satisfy him, Krshna implies. (44)
The student of Rajayoga wants to know more about the purposes of the rules prescribed by the Vedas. The yogi who diligently practises (prayatna yatamana) what he has mastered and is cleansed (samsuddha) of all faults (kilbisha), procedural errors, perfects himself (samsiddha) in all fields. For this he has to go through many births (anekajanma), that is, by going through many stages of training and many courses of study, and attain the highest level (param gati). (45)
The postulate that one must go through several births before attaining heaven needs to be handled with caution. Samkhya does not uphold this postulate for dialectics does not accept as true what is not known and what cannot be known. Both the manifest and the latent can be known. Krshna then describes how a yogi can become a siddha and rise still further. The yogi is superior to the tapasvi, a meditator. He is also greater than a jnani, the knower. He is greater than the karmi, the doer (an executive). Hence, become a yogi, Krshna urges Arjuna. (46)
It is not adequate to be recognized as a meditator who seeks to master the technique of achieving the goal. Similarly, it is not enough to gain theoretical knowledge of the concerned field of study or action or to be a perfect executive. Of all yogis (self-trained activists), one who follows, worships (bhajati) Krshna with full faith (sraddha) and with his inner self (antar atma), focussed on the latter, on his teachers steps (matgatena), is the best attuned in yoga, Krshna says. (47) He calls upon all to follow his school.