CHAPTER 10: VIBHUTI YOGA
Identification with the Great and Ideological Affinities
Krshna was advocating the revival of the Rajarshi institution which was in place before the cadres of rich and brave nobles, suraganas and great sages-cum-legislators, maharshis came into existence.
Krshna points out that the Rajarshi was not one elected by the nobles and the sages. On the other hand, he nominated some persons with good demeanour as guardians of the treasury (sura)and some great scholars as legislators.
Neither the suraganas (organized cadres of warriors, a la knights templar of medieval Europe) nor the maharshis (senior sages) of even the Vedic times knew how the Rajarshi institution came into existence, as it was already in place when they came to prominence.
Krshna says, "He who knows me as one who is unborn and not preceded by any other authority and also as the great charismatic leader (mahesvara) of the social world of commoners is not under the influence of ignorance (tamas) and is not deluded though he belongs to the insentient commonalty (martya)."
The sin committed by the ignorant and the deluded can be set at naught only by the recognition that the directives issued by the saintly kings, Rajarshis, the do's and dont's were in the interests of all discrete individuals.
He explained that intellect, wisdom, absence of bewilderment, forbearance, adherence to truth, self-control, calmness, equipoise, non-violence, equal-mindedness, contentment, exertion (tapas) and charity are the traits expected in all individuals (bhutas).
Krshna implies that an ancient Rajarshi had directed all these individuals with varied aptitudes to develop these traits. That Rajarshi was recognized as Lokamahesvara. Who was he?
Krshna says that he agrees with the scheme of social reorganization outlined by the seven great sages and the four (Manus).
[He was in agreement with the seventh council of seven sages headed by Kashyapa and the policies of the four great Manus, Svayambhuva, Tamasa, Raivata and Vaivasvata.]
Krshna points out to Arjuna that one who knows the principle (tattva) of Vibhuti Yoga, the exercise of identifying oneself with the great personages has to remain non-distracted while following this discipline, yoga.
He reiterated that he was the source (prabhava), fount, of all beings, animate as well as inanimate, thoughts and objects created and the persons who created them. All functioned because of 'him''.
Krshna's admirers had their thoughts fixed on him and devoted their lives (prana) to his path (gati), to his mission.
These intellectuals (budhas who belonged to the social periphery peopled by discrete individuals, bhutas) were admirers of his holistic approach though they were not outstanding thinkers. They were engaged in counseling one another,
These counsellors (budhas) and their disciples were constant in their affiliation to his mission and acclaimed him with love and gratitude, as he accepted their praises for his feats.
Krshna gave intellectual exercises and discourses (buddhiyoga) and trained them as his 'missionaries'. He introduced the budhas, the intellectuals to the intricacies of samkhyayoga.
Buddhiyoga covered the introductory lessons for this unified discipline of samkhya and yoga. The budhas came to him for instruction on how to put forth his stand correctly.
He told Arjuna and his companions that out of compassion and generosity for the budhas, he removed their ignorance caused by non-acquisition of formal education. While maintaining his individuality and identity, Krshna dispelled their ignorance caused by that lack. He offered them the shining light of knowledge.
Arjuna was set at rest about the purpose of the great academician, Krshna, staying in the company of the commoners (manushyas), the unorganized individuals (bhutas) and their counsellors (budhas) who had received no formal education. He wanted to know the veracity about the tall claims made about Krshna's status and roles.
Krshna was said to be the supreme, Brahma, the supreme abode and the supreme purifier. Was he that? Was he the splendid aristocraticeternal personage (purusha, social leader)? Was he the first of the nobles (adideva)? Was he unborn (aja)? Was he the all-pervading (vibhu)?
Arjuna had heard Krshna being described so by all sages, particularly by Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa. Krshna himself Had claimed to be so. Was he that that was claimed about him and which he claimed to be?
Arjuna deemed all these claims about Krshna's status and role as being in accordance with the laws of nature (Rta) that were dominant during the early Vedic times. These laws permitted and even facilitated the emergence by any capable person on his own (svayambhu) as an outstanding social leader (purusha), a great intellectual (Brahma) and the first of the nobles and a noted personage (vibhu).
Though Krshna claiimed these statuses and roles and some sages justified his claims, aristocrats (devas) and plutocrats (danavas), the two sections of the new governing elite of the expanded state of natives (janapada) did not concede them. Of course the feudal lords (asuras, daityas) who had been exiled would not have accepted his authority. He was against them and their culture.
The manifest traits of an individual who was honoured as an illustrious person, Bhagavan, were traced as those present in a vibhu, in an adideva, in Brahma, in a purusha.
Only Krshna as the best of social leaders, purushottama,, did personally know his personalty, individuality and identity (atmanam) without being aided by any one, by himself.
Krshna determined and moulded the aptitudes and attitudes (bhavanas) of the various individuals (bhutas) and had become their charismatic leader (Bhutesa).
He was at the same time leader of the nobles (devadeva) and also the head of the entire social universe (jagatpati).
Hence Arjuna asks Krshna to tell him without holding back any fact, the various identifications (vibhutaya) of his person (atma), as a member of the elite (divi) by which personalities he pervaded (his charisma influenced) these social worlds (lokas), organized sectors of the larger society.
Krshna was essentially a yogi. How could Arjuna learn his traits by constant contemplation about him? What were the diverse aptitudes of this head of the (Bhagavata) school whom he was asked to contemplate on? Arjuna requested Janardana (who prodded the people, jana) to tell him in detail his personal endeavour (atmana yogam) in identifying himself with the great personages (vibhutis).
Krshna would however mention only the prominent ones among his personal (atma) identifications and ideological orientations as a noble, deva, for there would be no end if he began to elaborate.
Krshna states that he is one (atma) located (sthita) in all individuals (sarvabhuta), He is essentially a charismatic leader of the individuals of the unorganized social periphery.
The Vibhuti Yoga is to be read not as a fulsome boast byor as a brazen flattery of the author of the Gita but as a contribution to the movement for social integration as recommended to Arjuna by Krshna.
Krshna selected a particular personage from each sector for special honour indicating that he valued that person's contribution more than that of any of its other members.
Among the Adityas, Vishnu features in Krshna's list. Vishnu held the post of Viraj, head of a federal polity of five states and is often referred to as Virata Purusha. Adityas were administrators as well as generals and were one of the four traditional cadres of nobles.
Among the Maruts, another traditional cadre of nobles belonging to the (present) semi-arid areas of the Sarasvati basin (Brahmavarta), he selected Marici for special honour. Marici headed the first council of seven sages convened by Manu Svayambhuva, and was the chairman of the editorial board for drafting Manava Dharmasastra and was nominated to organize the nobility when the new scheme of four varnas was applied to the commonalty (prthvi).
Among the Vasus, landlords, Krshna selected Pavaka, a purifier who held the position of Agni, the civil judge, for honour.
Among the Rudras, who were connected with forests and mountains and were scholars too, Krshna recommended Samkarawho was the first to propound the Rajarshi constitution.
Among those who headed the house of nobles and flaunted the designation, Indra, Vasava merited Krshna's praise. Vasava belonged to the Vasus and was Arjuna's patron.
Next to the nobles (devas) ranked the luminaries (jyotis) who were essentially guides and followed samkhya dialectics to predict the possibilities. Krshna was impressed with Amsuman Ravi (who was a protege of Sagara and became a student of Kapila).
Amongnon-kshatriyas (nakshatras) gandharvas Sasi was selected for praise. She was the wife of an Indra and was a victim of Nahusha's bad intentions, according to legends.
Among the bhutas, who had all the right to survive, men known for their purposive awareness, chetana, deserved greater respect.
Following the samkhya system, Krshna claims that mind is one of the six senses (indriyas) and is superior to the other five.
Among the four Vedas, Samaveda is Krshna's choice (because it is melodious).
Krshna advises Partha (Arjuna) to note that he held Brhaspati to be the chief among political counsellors (purodhasa).
Krshna recognized the status of Skanda as the best army general (senapati). Skanda is identified with Subramanya, Sanatkumara, Karthikeya and Shanmukha.
Among the social legislators, maharshis, Krshna had the greatest respect for Bhrgu, the chief editor of Manava Dharmasastra.Krshna had great admiration for the devarshi, Narada who belonged to the Gandharva sector. He held Chitraratha to be the best among the Gandharvas.
Krshna endorsed the importance of Aumkara, Asvattha tree, Japa, contemplation on a single objective, and gayatri mantra.
Krshna honoured Kapila, proponent of samkhya philosophy as the best of all siddhas. Kapila was a muni, a sage who observed silence.
Among the mariners (sarpas) Vasuki was honoured by Krshna. He was a follower of Vasudeva Krshna and risked his own life in the tug-of-war between the nobles and the feudal lords, devas and asuras. Among the cavaliers (asvas), Krshna admired Ucchasraivas.
Among the gajendras (a sector of nagas who harnessed elephants for several purposes), Airavata was admired by Krshna.
Among the technocrats (nagas) who explored areas beyond the lands inhabited by organized social groups, Sesha (who claimed the residuals) merited Krishna's esteem. He was also known to areas beyond ultima thule (ananta).
Among the free men (naras) who had enlisted themselves in the infantry or manned the rural bureaucracy and police, their chiefs, naradhipas deserved honour.
Krshna was not totally against hedonism. He approved Kamadeva but insisted that sex should be for procreation (prajana) and proliferation of the species. He also appreciated Vasishta's Kamadhenu among the cows.
Varuna, Aryama and Yama were among the eight high officials of early Vedic polity. Krshna held Varuna to be the representative of the Yadas who lived beside seas. He himself was an Yadava and had his seat in Dwaraka, an island. Varuna represented the western region and had extraordinary magisterial powers to haul up those who failed to perform their duties and discharge their debts. Aryama or Mitra was the friendly sheriff who accompanied Varuna. Yama was the magistrate who issued necessary prohibitory orders and maintained equality in treating the offenders.
Among the daityas, Prahlada was held to be the best. This student of Narada was known for his good conduct (sheela) and commanded great respect among all sections of the larger society though his father was a despised feudal lord (asura).
Among the animals, Krshna honoured Mrgendra (lion) to be the best. Among the birds, garuda is Krshna's favourite.Among those who determined the duration of imprisonment etc Kala was the most feared. He determined the time of death. Krshna liked pure breeze (pavana), alligator (makara), Jahnavi (Ganga). Among those who wielded weapons of war he admired (Parasu) Rama.
Among the disciplines of study, he had special interest in study of the deep self (adhyatmavidya).often treated as spiritualism.
He asked the Rajarshi to pay more attention to putting forth the positive point of view (vada). Krshna did not favour the method of null hypothesis (neti neti). He favoured the first of the alphabets, akara. He points out the importance of time and the marks left by it He would face the entire universe in all directions (visvatomukham) and be the.confident donor, dhata
Krshna claimed to be mrtyu, one causing death (destroyer of all) and also the originator of the future.
He had a soft corner for everything feminine, like the great chant, brhatsamam, gayatri metre and the month of margasirsha, He liked dyuta, (dice) and fancy (chalaya). Of course he was for splendour, tejas of the tejasvinis. He admired victory and economic activity
He was for the mellowness and sereneness of sattva and not for delusion that marked ignorance. Krshna identified himself as Vasudeva, a leader of the Vrshnis and with the cause that Dhanamjaya was associated with among the Pandavas.
He admired Vyasa who observed silence on various issues and Usanas, a Kavi. (and proponent of Dandaniti).
Among the different measures of ensuring social and political control, damayata, the most effective is the threat of using force, danda, Krshna concedes.
Those who aspired to be conquerors within the state, jigishus, had to follow the section on political policy, niti, outlined by Usanas, Krshna agreed. Dandaniti was not applicable to inter=state affairs and for establishing an empire. It was for a static state.
On issues pertaining to state secrets, Rajaguhya, Krshna would advise observance of silence. Among those who were in the know of the plans, jnanavata,Krshna claims to have more knowledge than any one else.
He then reiterates his claim that he is the seed, originator of all beings (sarvabhuta). No being, individual, whether moving or not can exist without him, he claims. He has described the various identifications he has made with the great (vibhutaya) he has referred to the different important personages with whose goals he is in agreement with as a noble (deva).
He concludes, But what need is here, O Arjuna, for such detailed knowledge, jnanam? Krshna asks. With but a single aspect of his varied talents, of his creative ability, krtsnam, by being located in it, by entering the social group that is to be reorganized, he is supporting the entire universe, jagat, he claims. His charisma keeps the social universe, jagat, united and stable, even while it undergoes change.
Even if the contributions of the great personages of the past and the then present were not drawn upon to build the new social order, Krshna would be able to bring it into existence by himself, Arjuna knew.
CHAPTER 11: FORM OF UNIVERSAL SOCIETY: VISVARUPA
Arjuna thanked Krshna for having graciously acquainted him with the great secret about his essential personality (adhyatma). This had removed his delusion (moham).
He had heard from Krshna in detail how the sector of discrete individuals (bhutas) came into being and how its members lost their separate identities. He also understood Krshna's undiminished greatness.
Addressing Krshna as the supremecharismatic benefactor and chief (paramesvara) (of the social periphery in particular) as he declared himself to be, Arjuna expressed his desire to see his Isvara form. He was eager to ascertain whether Krshna whom he held to be the best pf the social leaders, purushottama, was indeed an isvara.
Arjuna was perplexed how an aristocrat and a great gentle personage could claim himself to be a highly powerful authority. He asked Krshna to reveal to him his imperishable identity if he could see it. What was Krshna's definitive status? He must have only temporarily played the role of an Isvara, Arjuna suspected.
Krshna asked him to behold (in the gallery in his academy) his numerous forms, belonging to different cadres of nobles (divya) and also of the different vocational classes (varnakrt).that he proposed to create.
He showed him the forms of the different cadres of nobles (devas), Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Maruts and the two Asvins, He asked Arjuna to see the several wonders that had not been witnessed earlier.
Krshna describing how the new social structure that he proposed to create would look like told Arjuna that the latter could see on his body (the vast canvas where it was depicted) whatever he wanted to see.
Krshna offered to make available to him the agency of observers that was available to the nobility (divyachakshu) for this purpose. With Krshna's help he would be able to notice the magnitude of the charismatic authority of the former, his aisvaram.
Sanjaya, the master 'spy' reported to Dhrtarashtra that Krshna enabled Arjuna to perceive the highly imposing form of Hari, the great Yogesvara, an Isvara in the posture of a yogi. .
Did as a teacher, Krshna use different masks to explain his roles? The forms that Krshna showed had many mouths and many eyes and produced wonderful sights of personages wearing rich ornaments and apparels and garlands as nobles did and holding aloft different types of weapons. These evoked boundless surprise. These forms had their faces looking in different directions (visvatomukham). Visva embraced all the social worlds (lokas) and all social universes (jagats). Krshna, the Mahayogesvara, was the great individual, mahatmana, who represented them all. On his body the Pandava saw many divisions of the (newly formed) social universe (jagat) located in one place.
Sanjaya reported to the king that Dhanamjaya who was thrilled by this sight bowed down his head to the noble (deva) and with folded hands told Krshna, that in his body he saw all nobles and other assemblages (samghas) of individuals (bhutas).
He also saw Brahmana, the Isa, seated on the lotus and also sages (rshis) and 'uragas' (technocrats, nagas) who had been admitted to the (new integrated elite).
During the neo-Vedic era, besides Siva, others too were recognized as yogis and isvaras. The most important among them was Krshna. Similarly the status of Isa was enjoyed besides Siva by Brahma, the chief spokesman of the Atharva constitution. Isas were intellectuals.
Arjuna conceded that he saw Krshna in his endless (ananta) form and fully. He saw several bellies, hands, faces and eyes but he could not see the beginning (adi) (head) or the middle (madhya) or end (anta) (feet) of that figure. He would address Krshna as Visvesvara or Visvarupa.
As Krshna removed the cover above, Arjuna could see Visvarupa's crown and two hands, one holding the mace and the other the discus. These shed glow everywhere and it was not possible to see anything further. The glow was more intense than that of (fire and sun) (anala and arka, agni and surya).
Visvarupa, a technocrat and artisan, tvashta, was more influential than antellectuals and administrators.
Arjuna praised Krshna as the imperishable supreme that is to be known and as the supreme resort of the wider commonalty (visvam), as the guardian of the undying permanent code of social and moral laws (sasvata dharma). [What the first Manu, Svayambhuva recommended is known as Sanatana dharma and what was legislated during the times of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata, is known as Sasvata dharma.]
He thought that Krshna had the status of the Purusha of the ancient times.
Visvesvara or Visvarupa appeared to be highly valorous with infinite hands bearing weapons and was horror evoking. His face was a blazing fire. The sculptor appears to have made its eyes look like the sun and the moon. Its radiance, tejas, appeared to scorch the universe,
Was Visvesvara a fear-evoking deity whose idol was being pointed out to Arjuna?
Arjuna noticed that the space between the nobility (dyau) and the commonalty (prthvi) was pervaded by Krshna alone. He pervaded also the different directions. [Krshna did not deem it necessary to intervene to regulate the two strata of the core society.]
Arjuna commented on Visvarupa's form, "When this wondrous and terrible form is seen the three social worlds tremble."
He was surprised to see that groups of rich nobles were entering the hall where this statue, murti, was kept and some of them fear-struck. They extolled visvesvara. Groups of senior sages and the perfect ones (siddhas) too were seen hailing him and adoring him with hymns. They acknowledged him as their guardian Not only the traditional nobles but also saddhyas and the two asvins and Visvedevas and artisans (using flames, ushmapas) came to honour Visvesvara.
Gandharvas, asuras, yakshas and siddhas were all quite amazed. Arjuna saw more groups joining the admirers. They belonged to higher social cadres and were from all social worlds and social universes.
Visvarupa was awe-inspiring. Seeing the huge form with many mouths and eyes and many arms, thighs and bellies and tusks, the social worlds trembled and so did Arjuna. Visvarupa's tall form touched the ceiling and his wide eyes were glowing. This sight made the soul in Arjuna's body (antaratma) tremble. He found neither steadiness nor balance. What was he seeing?
When Arjuna saw the giant's mouths, terrible with tusks and like Kala (Time that annihilates all) devouring flame, he lost sense of direction and found no balance. He prayed to the Devesa (Krshna who had both statuses, Deva and Isa) to be gracious. He praised Krshna as the abode of the people comprising the social universe (jagat).
Sanjaya told his king that the nobles (devas) had condemned to death Dhrtarashtra's sons along with their governors and groups (samghas). These belonged to areas other than forests and had come to their aid. They and Bhishma, Drona and Karna were rushing to enter the mouth of Kala.
The heads of some warriors were being crushed between the teath of Kala. The prayers of the nobles would be answered by Time, Kala (in due course). It was a prediction.
The warriors who were recruited from the ranks of free men (naras) were rushing into the flaming mouths of Kala, Death, even as the many torrents of rain race towards the ocean. Like moths they perished in those flames.
Addressing Krshna as Vishnu, Arjuna expressed his horror at the scene of the giant devouring all the organized and settled communities (lokas) collected there through his blazing mouths and licking them on all sides. The fiery rays were devouring all the non-settled cadres (jagats) too and they were feeling the heat, Arjuna cried out. He prayed to the fierce form to show mercy (prasida) as a benvolent noble, devavara.
Arjuna wanted to know what Krshna was originally and what his natural role and work was. Krshna explained that he was like Kala, a destroyer (of things that should cease to be). So too, the Rajarshi grew mature while being engaged here in regulating the social worlds.
As he became old he himself became the cause of the weakening of the social world. Hence without the intervention of anyone, as though dictated by Time destruction set in. All the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to be, Krshna pronounced.
Destructive civil war is the result of the inability of the aging head of the state to continue to perform his role as a just social regulator, samahrta.
Krshna urged Arjuna, "Therefore, arise and gain glory. Conquering your foes, enjoy the prosperous kingdom."He pointed out, "By me alone they are slain earlier. Be thou merely the 'occasion' (nimitta matram)".
Arjuna was exhorted to slay those already condemned to death, Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and other warriors. "Do not fear. You will conquer the enemies in battle".
Arjuna remarked that the cadres of the unorganized social universe (jagat) rightly following Krshna rejoiced in him and praised him. He could see the militants fleeing in fear and all groups of siddhas bowing to him in gratitude.
He was not surprised that these siddhas paid homage to the great individual (mahatma) who was greater than the adikartr and Brahmana, the first organiser of the social universe and guardian of the earlier constitution. The new social order proposed by Krshna was superior to the earlier social order. Krshna acknowledged that he was not the first to propose the scheme of four social classes, varnas.
Arjuna proceeded to extol Krshna as the infinite, the charismatic leader who was also a noble, the abode of the social universe (of independent cadres). He also praised him as the imperishable, who is at once the real and the unreal, sat and asat, and that supreme (tat param).
Krshna was the first of the nobles (adideva), the traditionally accepted social leader (purusha) and the highest resort of the larger society (visvam). He was the knower who was to be known and the supreme abode. Krshna, one with endless forms pervades this larger society.
Arjuna hailed Krshna as one who performed the roles of Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varuna and Soma (Sasi). He played the roles of the chief of the people (prajapati) and the head of the larger legislature of elders (prapitamaha).
Arjuna acknowledged Krshna's valour and might and widespread charisma that pervaded all sections of the larger society and admired his identifying with all. He requested Krshna to forgive him for having taken liberties with him as a friend.
He acknowledged that Krishna was the patriarch (pita) of the social world of all discrete individuals (bhutas) (newly formed out of the social periphery, mobile elements and settled groups, cara and acara). This new social world (which deserved the status of jagat because it included persons and groups with diverse orientations), treated him as its teacher (guru) even as the jagat had such a guru. This new structure had theb traits of a loka as well as a jagat.
A new social order had been brought into existence. Krshna was accepted as its charismatic authority Visvesvara and honoured as its creator, Visvarupa.
Arjuna challenged, "None is equal to Krshna. How can anyone be superior to him in the three social worlds as his greatness is inimitable or be source or fount of power?"
He could now see what had not been seen earlier. It was the picture of the new social order envisaged by Krshna to replacce the then unjust and immoral, decadent social world.
He requested Krshna to reveal to him his other form, his other proposal, where Krshna would be the noble, generous, charismatic leader, devesa, a member of the new inspiring cultural aristocracy and also the abode of the social universe, jagannivasa.
In the latter capacity he would be crowned and not be merely a grandsire, prapitamaha. He would bear a mace and a disc in his hands, signifying his coercive power and control over the circle of states. Arjuna desired to see this figure of the four-armed personage, two arms representing the coercive power of the state and two the commonalty guided by the experienced patriarch.
Visvamurti represented this armed commonalty.
Krshna told Arjuna that because he was pleased with the latter he had shown him through his personal power (atma-yoga), through the exercise of his authority and privileges pertaining to the personal department, atmasamstha of the ruler this supreme form.
The four-armed form covered the entire universe, visvam. It was full of radiance, tejas and was endless but was the primordial.
What was shown to Arjuna was the first form of the new social polity and is bound to last forever. None had seen it earlier. It was the beginning of a new social order.
Even the experts who emphasized the study of Vedas, performance of yajnas and offering gifts could not see this murti. Even those appointed to perform prescribed rituals and those who were engaged in severe endeavour to know the unknown could not see this form. The social legislators who drafted the code of conduct for the different classes did not get a view of this holistic society.
Neither the intelligentsia nor the aristocracy nor the organized commonalty had access to this four-armed icon that signified the new social polity of Krshna's vision.
Krshna asked Arjuna not to be frightened by the fierce form (ghora rupa) that he had exhibited. Now he would show him his gentler form that would please him.
Was what Arjuna saw the four-armed Vishnu that we are accustomed to visualise? No. It was a form that Arjuna was accustomed to see. It was that of Vasudeva, Krshna's own form (svakam rupam).
Svakas or devakas had a status lower than that of svas or devas. Krshna was the son of Devaki. Bur others including his teacher, Ghora Angirasa knew him only as the son of Yasodara.
This form of Vasudeva (son of Vasudeva and Devaki) as 'svaka', as an independent noble who however did not belong to the leisure class of nobles, devas, and was dependent on his own talents and vocation comforted Arjuna. Vasudeva was a noble as well as a common worker.
Beholding again this pleasing form of a commoner Arjuna told Krshna, "Janardana, I have now become collected and think correctly. I have reached my natural position and traits, prakrti." The masks were off and the icons that struck fear had been removed. Krshna had become again the activating leader of the natives, jana.
Krshna replied, "You have seen this form which is indeed hardly seen. Even the nobles are ever eager to see this form." He was referring to the Vasudeva form. It was that of a commoner, manushya, without regal raiment and weapons and without a crown and with but two bare arms.
In the form in which you have seen me now, I cannot be seen either by studying the Vedas or by performing tapas, by performing sacrifices or by offering gifts, Krshna said. He rejected the scheme of duties prescribed for the twice-born by the Smrtis.
He pointed out to Arjuna that this form of the former could be known, seen, and its essential principle entered into or identified with as he had unswerving devotion to him.
He expected his devotees to be engaged in work, karma that would promote his mission and accept his supreme authority and to be free from bonds with other organizations. However they should not entertain enmity against anyone and should be friendly with all (sarva) individuals (bhutas).
CHAPTER 12; KRSHNA'S MISSIONARIES
Arjuna wanted to know whom Krshna held to be a better devotee, the one who worshipped him as an ordinary human being or the one who treated him as akshara, and avyakta, the non-decaying and the unmanifest. Which of the two types was to be treated as having a better grasp of the discipline of yoga, systematic endeavour?
Krshna replied that those who had kept the same thoughts in theirminds as he had and were constantly united with his cause and mission and revered him with the highest faith were the best trainees in yoga.
Krshna visualised the Absolute as non-decaying (akshara), undefinable, unmanifest, all-pervading unimaginable, centralized (kootastham), unmoving and fixed. This verse is not correlated to deism or theism or pantheism. It was basically an exposition on social polity. All these aspects are governed by the visualisation of a sovereign state.
Krshna wants the ruler to regulate the group of agencies that convey to him the nature of the external factors and the responses of the other constituents of the state to his moves.
The agencies have to be first regulated. As he regulates them he has to be impartial and pay equal attention to all. He must rejoice in the welfare of all individuals. He had no hesitation in approving an impersonal state if its executives after training in Rajayoga exercised self-restraint and ensured social equity and worked for social welfare.
The difficulty of those thinkers (holding the rank of Pracetas) who are linked to this impersonal authority is more than that of those who vest sovereignty in the ruler personally. For, attaining the goal of the impersonal authority is painful for those who can think only in terms of concrete groups and organizations requiring personal contacts.
Krshna had recommended that all actions should be performed withoutpersonal attachment to them and their rewards. They were to be renounced to him, the external guide (matpara) for assessment.
Those persons whose thoughts (who functioned as Pracetas) were set on him (the Rajarshi) he would speedily deliver from the ocean of mrtusamsara, insentience.
Arjuna should fix his mind and intellect only on his guide. If it is not possible for Dhanamjaya to practise 'samadhi' and fix his thought steadily on Krshna, his teacher and alter ego, he should desire to reach the level of the latter by practice of the lessons in yoga.
If a trainee found that he was unable to master this discipline karmayoga even after practice he could become one whose supreme aim was to perform his teacher's personal work (matkarma), Krshna suggested. By such work for the benefit of his teacher the student could attain perfection.
Most of his followers could not reach that level. Yet they could take shelter in his institute of yoga relinquish the fruits of the training in all deeds, subduing all personal needs.
It is better to seek further knowledge than to be engaged in repetitive practice of the steps already learnt. Of course careful attention to the implications of what has been learnt is superior to being engaged in gathering more knowledge.
Relinquishing of the fruits of labour is superior to such, intensive study. Such relinquishing soon leads to peace. It is not to be treated as unrewarding labour.
Krshna expected his trainee to be without ill-will against anyone and to be friendly with everyone and to show compassion to all. He must be free from egoism and pride and equipoise in pleasure and pain. He is expected to be ever content and a self-controlled person.
Arjuna was being trained in yoga and was expected to join Krshna's mission in creating a new universal society. He was expected to be compassionate and forgive others' wrong-doing. He had to be at the same time resolute and offer himself to Krshna's cause as a thinker and intellectual.
The student of karmayoga was not to withdraw from the society and not to allow the society to keep away from him. This is a note of considerable importance. A trainee who is free from elation and anger, fear and rage is dear to Krshna.
He must have no expectation and be pure and alert, be unconcerned (udasina) about personal needs and undisturbed. Krshna called upon his trainees to give up all personal undertakings.
The trainee must neither rejoice nor grieve, neither desire nor hate and must have relinquished both the auspicious and the inauspicious and be devoted to his teacher. He must treat alike both pleasure and pain and be free from all attachment.
He must treat alike both censure and praise like a silent sage and be content with whatever comes to him. He must be prepared to go from place to place without a fixed abode but must be steady in his views. Ideological commitment to the mission is called for.
The disciples who have faith in this way of life and in Krshna as their supreme guide and follow this noble code of conduct befitting the intellectual aristocracy (dharmyam amrtam) are the best among his followers. they are dear to Krshna.
CHAPTER 13: KSHETRA AND KSHETRAJNA
THE FIELD OF WORK AND THE EXPERT
Arjuna requested his guide, Krshna to explain to him the relation between prakrti and purusha, field of work, kshetra and its knower, kshetrajna, knowledge gained jnanam and what is yet to be known, jneyam.
Krshna compared the body with the field and described the knower of the field as kshatrajna. Krshna knew all the fields. Wisdom lies in knowledge both of the field and its knower. He was dealing with the fields of administration.
He offered to describe briefly what field was and to present its contour and its varieties, distorted versions, from what they had risen, who its knower was and his influence.
He hinted that scholars had taken divergent positions on these aspects. He however recommended the well-reasoned and conclusive aphorisms of the Brahma-sutras.
The fields to be studied are the five great elements (mahabhutas), ego, intellect and the unmanifest (aham, buddhi and avyakta). These eight are the major sections of prakrti. This aphorism draws Arjuna's attention to these features of the new state.
Man's desire and dislike, joy and sorrow and their totality, intelligence and resoluteness constitute the features of (every) field (kshetram) of administation.
The master, kshetrajna, who knows his field well must have developed the traits of absence of pride, absence of pretentiousness, harmlessness, forbearance, uprightness, service of teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-restraint, determined abstinence from all pleasures of the senses, absence of egotism, treating as defective giving importance to birth and death, aging, disease and sorrow, detachment, constant equanimity in thought under all circumstances whether desired or undesired.
These factors would be assessed with respect to the trainee who would be administering a given field employing individuals with different tastes, preferences and outlooks.
These factors were memtioned in the manual that Krshna used. It differs from Brahmasutras of Badarayana and Arthasastra.
Krshna would also assess whether the trainee in yoga was devoted to him only or had other guides and loyalties and other considerations too and whether he was unflinching in his devotion.
The trainee in yoga had to stay in a secluded seminary which was however not a centre for theology or a monastery. The trainee was expected to keep away from social groups and social and political turmoil and people's legislatures.A trained official was to be also a missionary and a social organizer.
On the basic issue of what jnanam is Krshna cites Brahmasutra: Permanence in the knowledge of the deeper personality (adhyatma) and perception of the essence of the purpose of such knowledge alone is declared to be jnanam. All that is different from this is ajnanam, non-knowledge.
He offers to describe what is to be known (jneyam) by knowing which one gains lasting benefit. He calls it'anadi matparam Brahma', the constitution whose beginning cannot be traced by anyone and which could be presented only by Arjuna's teacher, Krshna who was then functioning as his alter ego (matpara).
It is likely it was not in vogue when the laws were based on the principles of truth. But it cannot be said to have been declared as invalid as per those laws (na sat na asat). The aphorisms of Brahma-sutra which Krshna upheld were not claimed by him to be new guidelines.
He pointed out to an icon with many heads and faces looking in all directions and with ears, hands and feet too on all sides. But the trunk is one. 'He' sees all, hears all, goes towards all and embraces all, the icon signifies. It stands embracing all in the social world (loka) (of commoners) (like the Purusha icon of the famous Purusha-Sukta.
It was so realistic that he (Brahma) appeared to have the traits of all the indriyas (senses) though it was devoid of them. It was an icon and not a living being.
Krshna claims that the person represented by this icon is unattached (asaktam) and (yet) supports all. He is without traits (nirguna) and yet enjoys the results of all the traits. He is both nirguna and saguna.
Arjuna was being trained to become a Rajarshi, a stoical ruler. He had to emulate the ideal intellectual, Brahma and be also an extrovert willing to bear the responsibility for the deeds of his subordinates and subjects.
His charisma is not confined to the unattached individuals (bhutas) (of the social periphery). It influences both the stationary (acara) groups and the mobile (cara) ones.
It is too subtle to be known (avijneyam) by empirical studies (by the knowledge obtained through verification of the logical conclusions arrived at by the theoreticians),
The charismatic authority of the great intellectual, Brahma, stood undivided and yet it appeared to be distributed among the bhutas (the five political sectors, amatya, paura, janapada, kosa and danda).
The Rajarshi whose role Krshna had assumed for pedagogical purposes, had to be known (jneyam) as the supporter of all individuals (bhuta bhartru). He had dissolved (by absorption) the identities of the existing cadres and had created a new one and dominated it.
Arjuna was required to note the unravelling of the secret behind Krshna's mission. This is what is to be known (jneyam). What is theknowledge (jnanam) that is worth being known (jneyam) and is also the one to be reached (gamyam)?
It is the recognition of this great personage as one who has a special seat in the hearts of all. Krshna describes this charismatic figure as the light (jyoti) of all lights (jyotishas), as one beyond the ignorance (tamas) of the masses.
He had explained briefly what was meant by 'kshetra', what knowledge acquired (jnanam) was and what was the knowledge to be acquired (jneyam). This knowledge would enable the student to adopt Krshna's orientation. He was being trained to know this field (kshetra), to be a kshetrajna.
Then he deals with the relation between prakrti and purusha, a major concern of samkhya dialectics and Kapilas school of philosophy.
Deists refuse to accept that both prakrti and purusha are primordial and that neither was anterior to or an evolute of the other. Krshna held both to be primordial (anadi)
He points out that variations (vikara, departure from the norm) in beings and in the innate traits (gunas) originate in Prakrti. They are results of incongruities within physical matter and hence Purusha is not to be described in terms of inborn traits. It (he) is above the three gunas and is not governed by them..
The diverse combines of the three traits, sattva, rajas and tamas of the activated. Prakrti lead to mutation and emergence of numerous species and cadres. Purusha is nirguna while Prakrti is saguna.
Diversity was the inevitable result of the emergence of an active human species, from the level of being inert masses, some becoming active with rajas rising above tamas.
It is advisable to keep aside the interpretation that prakrti and purusha meant body and soul or matter and energy.
Krshna depended on his version of Brahmasutra when he presented the aphorisms distinguishing between prakrti and purusha while he was tracing the cause behind social purposes and clarifying the jurisdictions of the two, working masses (prakrti) and the leader (purusha).
Prakrti is the cause (hetu) of work (karya) of the worker (karana) and the sense of duty (kartavya).
Purusha is the social leader who is expected to enable the commoners experience happiness (or undergo sufferings). What the worker would enjoy was determined by the purusha under whom he has to work.
Neither the cause (hetu) nor the purpose (karana) comes under the purview of the worker (karana) who does the work (karya) as his duty.
The causative factor is traced to natural aptitude (svabhava, prakrti) and the purpose is determined by the leader of the work group (purusha). Krshna was teaching principles of Karmayoga.
Krshna envisaged a participant leader and not an indifferent leader who stayed aside allowing the workers under him enjoy the benefits or suffer the losses.
He was located in prakrti leading the workers from within the work-group. It was not a master-servant relation but a leader-follower relation.Krshna's purusha was not an agent of the masters who were aristocrats drafting labour for the latter.
The leader's association with and belonging to the mass society, prakrti, brings forth the natural traits of the workers as well as those of their leader, prakrtijaguna.
Krshna was explaining to Arjuna and other students the principles of karmayoga as applicable to different types of workers and their leaders. The intellectual would be advised to set aside the tendency to look down upon the masses and treating then as subaltern. He too enjoys or suffers with others of the mass society whom he has to lead.
Hence the purusha too like the prakrti is saguna and not nirguna.
Krshna implies with reference to his scheme of varnas based on inborn traits and corresponding vocations that the social leader (purusha) is born in the social unit of the mass society (prakrti) that he leads.
The term, purusha, was used to denote the other one in the body, the para purusha. He was not a member of the work-group, deha or body. He was said to be the second observer and he had to witness the agreement between the leader and the other members of the work-group engaged for a specific task and endorse it and permit the work to be begun. He was the supporter, financier, and hence was entitled to be a beneficiary. He was not a participant leader.
He who knows purusha and prakrti along with their inborn traits (that are common to both), though he works, that is, follows all economic and other activities, is not born again.
Krshna concedes that by meditation (dhyanam) one may see (pasya) the self (atmanam) in himself (atmani) by himself (atmana). He may not need a teacher to guide him how to recognise his personal aptitudes and potentials.
But others need training in Samkhyayoga (in the appreciation and application of dialectical methods) and in Karmayoga (in proper performance of ones duty, work), as he stresses. Krshna treated Samkhyayoga as unified discipline and Karmayoga as its subsidiary.
Rajayoga and Brahmayoga were special sections of Yoga meant for select trainees while Karmayoga was open to all members of the society.
Yet others, who are ignorant (of the three options mentioned above) hearing from others (their experiences) treat the latter as experts and worship and follow them. By memorising and repeating what they had heard, they too go beyond the level of the insentient
Krshna asks Arjuna to know that whatever is produced, whether it is of the quality (sattvam) of an immobile object or of a mobile object or person is the result of the united endeavour (samyogam) of the kshetra and the kshetrajna, the field and the expert in that field of work.
Social work requires co-operation between the commoners engaged in work in a particular area and the expert who guides them. Such united work leads to production.
Kshetra, the field of administration, and kshetrajna, the expert in that field are treated as prakrti and purusha respectively, the masses and their guide and leader-director. Krshna highlights this basic position in Karmayoga. Neither the workers nor the intellectuals by themselves can deliver the goods.
They have to work together, if there has to be increase in goods producedor manpowercreated.
Krshna says "He who sees the supreme benevolent charismatic chief (paramesvara) interested in the welfare equally of all individuals (bhutas) (of the periphery)". The socio-economic background of karmayoga is not to be neglected.
Sarvalokesvara who had jurisdiction over all the organized social worlds including the new settled commune of the social periphery was an expert in all fields, Kshetrajna.
The knower of the field, the expert, the kshetrajna, sees in all directions and notices that every worker seeshim, Isvara, seatedequidistant from all and looking equally in all directions
Hence the worker, the performer of the duty assigned does not reduce self by himself, that is, avoids flagging in his endeavour and personal ability. He strives and reaches the highest goal. Co-operative or mass endeavour requires supervision. Presence of an impartial head of the state is not adequate to ensure that work is done as required.
Krshna says: "One who sees that all actions are being done by prakrti, the masses or the constituent and that the (atma) individual with an identity is not the doer realises the correct position, sees."
'When the worker observes that the diversities in the aptitudes of the discrete individuals (bhutas) are centralised and that they spread out from there only then he falls in step with the constitution (Brahma)."
The Paramatma, the highestof the individuals who do not function as members of any social body is located in the human body (and not anywhere else in the cosmos or beyond it). He is without traits (nirguna) and is not characterized by any particular trait. According to this new concept his ability never wanes.
This extraordinary personage does not work nor is affected by the (good or bad) work done by others. He too is a man but is a stoic and enjoys total immunity. He belongs neither to the working class nor to the leisure class though he belongs to a social group like the commoners.
Krshna says that there is another such individual (atma) who may be compared to the minute particles in the open space, stratosphere, that move everywhere and is not influenced by what others do. This too is not a reference to 'God'.
Krshna refers to the imperceptible social conscience present in all. Even the soul of the economic man can stay untainted by rewards and attachments.
Krshna is concerned with the issue of onus that the ruler has to accept for the sins of omission and commission that others in the country are guilty of. One is personally responsible for what one does in his personal capacity. In other cases it is his group or leader or master who requires him to commit that act has to bear the onus and not he.
Krshna seeks to create a new cadre that would be free to mingle amongst all but without ostentation, unnoticed and without seeking a share in the achievements of the group.
Unlike the small cadre of Paramatmas without any societal duties who stood aloof and above others this common cadre would mingle with all. It would take the onus for the acts of others. It arouses and upholds social values and social conscience.
Krshna was building a trained social bureaucracy. As the lone sun illumines this created world the kshetri, the chief administrator of the field illumines and guides that field (kshetra).The Kshetri, the Paramatma of Krshna's vision enlightens all.
One has to understand, see through the eyes of wisdom the distance between the field of work (kshetra) and the position of the expert (kshetrajna) (that is, that the expert is far away from the field and yet guides the workers in that field including its master, kshetri). This scholar strives for the liberation (moksha) of the individuals (bhutas) from the mass society (prakrti). I
In other words, he calls upon the individual not to be carried away by mass hysteria but to maintain his identity and bring it to bear on the society and its conscience. He has to recognise his talents and assert his identity.
Such a scholar attains the status of a Paramatma, a member of the cadre of great souls who are aware of their talents and illumine the paths of others.
CHAPTER 14: SOCIAL REORGANISATION AND THE THREE TRAITS
Having acquired the knowledge of the best type and of all fields the silent sages, munis, went ahead from Krshna's institute of samkhya and yoga to join the other siddhas who had attained perfection in their respective fields, Krshna told Arjuna.
The siddhas after receiving the necessary training in Krshna's academy had entered into his code of conduct (sadharma), that is, had accepted his theory of dharma that treated all beings as equal.
They would not be required to go through the training again when the new society of fluid cadres (sarga) was created and the existing one was dissolved.
Their status as the perfect, best and highest in the existing social order would not be disturbed when the new one based on his scheme of varnas was created. They would be implementing that scheme.
Krshna handed over the scheme to the chief justice and upholder of the constitution, Brahma and it would regulate the formation of all classes and cadres. (It was like man casting his seed in a woman's womb and the foetus growing there.)
Krshna likened his role to that of the genetic father pita. The womb imparts the distinct traits to the child.
The great intellectual, Brahma, and the trained scholars, siddhas, gave definitive structures and assigned the functions and suggested theorientations of the different classes of the larger society, born of all the wombs; that is, the classes were nurtured by the school of Brahma while the main principle to be followed was suggested by Krshna and accepted by the siddhas trained in his academy and deputed to join the school of jurisprudence, Brahma.
Krshna posits that the three gunas, traits (sattva, rajas and tamas) have emerged from prakrti. They tie down the imperishable soul to the body. In other words none can function independent of his social group.
Of these three traits, gentleness (sattvam), as it is pure, untainted, enlightens, illumines and causes non-illness. It binds the individual to those who promote happiness and knowledge. Krshna's definitions of the terms, sattva, rajas and tamas need attention.
Sattva leads one to be attached to those who are learned, happy, contented and faultless. Rajas leads him into association with all who are active as members of workers guilds, organisations of traders, political oligarchies, administrative machinery and vocational communities. Tamas sector covered the dull and the inert and the inept and the uneducated and unintelligent.
Rajas has the trait of passion (raga). The passionate are included in this sector. Rajas originates in craving (trshna) and in association (sanga). It binds fast by attachment to work.
Tamas, inertia, is the product of ignorance, ajnanam. it deceives all those who are members of social bodies by making them chase the mirage. It ties down the uneducated and misled individual to low status as he is negligent (pramada) of the importance of the work assigned to him. He is indolent and dreams.Most of the inert and indifferent persons are so because they are not properly educated.
Sattvam, gentleness, goodness andenlightenment, attaches one to those who seek happiness (sukham, comfort) whilw rajas, dynamism and ambition, to those who are active and work.The earlier formula that Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vis were marked by the predominance of sattva, rajas and tamas respectively needed fine-tuning.
[Social thinkers, social scientists and social activists would do well to recognize the features of social engineering, social reforms and restructuring undertaken by Krshna.]
The sattva sector when ot comes into being as designed by him is expected to overpower the other two sectors.
To prevail over the powerful politico-economic strata that control the economic state and the uneducated and misled inactive population that has fallen victim to delusion, those who are trained in samkhya and yoga and are not agitated and have mastered all the disciplines of study have to be encouraged. Else the 'rajas' sector would prevail over the other two
The economic state overrules all intellectuals, both the simple intelligentsia and the counter-intelligentsia. It is amoral.
If the tamas sector which is under the sway of the counter-intelligentsia becomes predominant both the positive intelligentsia and the economic state would suffer. [This happens often when reckless ideologues inspire revolutions and sweep the world and states collapse and no moral authority survives to stop the holocaust. This secret lies behind this aphorism couched in truism.]
During the later Vedic era the larger society with over forty cadres was stratified on the basis of the three gunas with each class having three levels, lower, middle and higher and gradation within each of the nine sub-classes. It was not a classless society. Manava Dharmasastra tried to bring all these cadres under one of the four varnas, social classes, Krshna was not sanguine about this proposal.
If the light of wisdom emerges from all the nine gates of the (legendary gandharva city), body politic, then it may be understood that there has been development in the sattva trait of the people. It is not enough to have a highly educated cadre at the apex of the society. All the nine classes, three each of sattva, rajas and tamas, of the comprehensive society should be educated and cultured.
If the social polity and economy is marked by covetousness, insistence on economic activity based on personal interest, stress on entrepreneurial activities, restlessness and craving for pleasure then there is increase in rajas.
When darkness, ignorance increases, the tendency to avoid the prescribed duties including vocations and economic activities increases. The growing neglect of duty (nivrtti) is to be deplored. Presumptuousness and indifference (pramada) and pursuit of mirage (moham) increase as men neglect acquisition of jnanam, knowledge and karma, performance of duties. Krshna would describe such a society as mrtyusamsara, a highly insentient society.
He was not confining himself to the options open to individuals when he outlined this picture to Arjuna. His sweep was macro-sociological.
When to dissolve the existing unjust social order? If the dissolution should take place when the sattva trait is increasing, that is, if the authority for protection of the body politic is removed when there is an increase in the awareness of the good of all, this responsibility would be taken over by an alternative authority who is a valid stand-by.
The latter is the pure community of those who know the best (uttama) knowledge, that of the siddhas (trained in samkhya and yoga).
If the dissolution of the existing social order should take place when the trait of rajas is dominant, the new authority that would replace the present one would be born among those attached (sanga) to work (karma). A rajas leadership is replaced by another rajas group rather than by a sattva group.
When the state is run by autocrats, it is not the covetous plutocrats or the entrepreneurs who would come to the fore while intelligentsia cease to be content with what they have and the masses are deluded by the wayward counter-intelligentsia. Instead a dynamic proletariat would take over the economic state.
The new rajas, dynamic authority that can replace the capitalist state would have to rise from the organized proletariat, karmasanga.
If the dissolution of the existing unjust social order were effected when inertia, indifference and dreams characterize all the social sectors, that is, when tamas dominates the society, it would be an invitation to disaster. The new authority emerging then would have been born in the womb of a fool, mudha, Krshna warns.
Krshna's school of Karmayoga did not take kindly to domination by proletariat and economic corporations (karmasangas), and by political oligarchies. It upheld sattva, gentleness and enlightenment that characterize the cultural aristocracy.
It called upon all to perform their assigned duties well even if they were not rewarding. The time when the existing unjust and irrational order has to be dissolved and a new one introduced has to be decided weighing all the above possibilities.
Krshna draws attention to the adage that the result of well-performed (sukrta) duty or action (karmana) is gentleness and flawlessness.
Knowledge (jnanam) leads one to develop his sattva trait. This leads to acquisition of further knowledge. On the other hand, ignorance (ajnanam) is the cause of tamas, inertia, inactivity and indifference to duty and delusion. it again leads to ignorance, ajnanam. This vicious circle has to end.
All those characterized by sattva,gentleness, at whatever level they might have been placed in the earlier social hierarchy had opportunities for social ascent to the highest level of that sector.
There can be no classless society even after providing for the best type of education to all. Rajas and tamas cannot be wiped out totally.
When the trainee in Rajayoga as an observer of the social developments perceives that there is no activist (kartaram) and men are totally under the influence of their inborn traits and are unable to overcome these, he may be said to have acquired the highest knowledge.
Krshna summarizes his solution to the dilemma faced by civilizations: "When a member of an organized body rises above the traits emerging from association with that body, he is freed from the ways determined by birth, death, old age and sorrow and attains the level of the nobles."
Arjuna was advised to get this aristocracy associated with his mission so that 'sattva' might pervade and percolate to all the strata and sections of the society.
What is the way of life, achara, of the leader who has risen above the three traits, gunas? What is the code of conduct for such a leader? How does he rise above the three gunas, that is, above Brahmans, Rajanyas, and Vis? Arjuna wanted to know the code of conduct that governed the Rajapurohita who had unlike the Rajarshi access to the nobles.
The stoical leader, a trained yogi, is seated indifferent to and unperturbed by these traits that dominate and impel the activities of others in the society. He stands apart (avatishthati) from others and their activities, without wavering (na ingata), knowing that it is only the traits, gunas, that have not been disciplined which are in operation (vartanta).
He himself should be steady and keep himself away from these actions and be indifferent to glories heaped on him and to brickbats thrown at him.
As per the Rajarshi constitution as amended by Krshna and introduced in his edition of Rajavidya, Rajarshi was free after retirement to take over the role of the Rajapurohita. But the successor to that Rajarshi had to consent and the Rajapurohita must have retired along with the Rajarshi.
The stoical leader is a master of all situations. He does not abhor when the atmosphere of light prevails or when intense activity prevails or when all are under the spell of delusion.
He treats as similar clod of earth, stone and gold, the agricultural workers, the masons and the miners. He is firm in mind and does not react to censure and flattery.
The Rajarshi treats both honour and disrespect with equal indifference, As a ruler he treats both friend and foe alike. He does not take sides. He has to be impartial between those who were dear to him and those who were not members of that group of intimate friends. He has to be impartial even at the inter-state level between his friends and his enemies.
A social leader of the calibre of a Rajapurohita or a Rajarshi should be able to take up the challenge of leadership whether the society is under favourable (sattva) influence or under that of the rajas group which is ambitious or that of the deluded (tamas). He does not long for that position when he is required to step down.
This aphorism of Krshna's socio-political manual (a version of Brahmasutra) suggests that he desired a radical reorganization of the society at the earliest and was waiting for a selfless but capable leader to help him.
The stoic treats both sorrow and happiness on par (sama). That is, he treats on par the activities of those who are gentle (sattva) and are hence happy (sukham) and those of the greedy (rajas) who are destined to suffer sorrow (duhkham). He stays by himself (svastha) at ease and does not mingle with the intellectuals or with the Rajanyas too much. He has to treat both on par.
Krshna declares that he who serves him without wrong intentions or wrong methods but with devotion and following the methods of yoga rises above all the three traits.
One who rises above the restraints imposed by the inborn traits is slated to be the next incumbent as recommended by the Brahma code.
Krshna tells Arjuna that the former is established in the status of a Brahmana, among the nobles and is one who will never lose that calibre and status.
He is trained and authorized to reorganize the administration along the lines of the Brahma code. He is the only one at that high privileged position enjoying the bliss of one who is not surrounded by courtiers. Krshna was interpreting Rajavidya and his version of Brahmasutra.
CHAPTER 15 PURUSHOTTAMA:
THE NOBLEST PERSONAGE
Krshna proceeds to explain to his student, Arjuna, the relationship between the Brahmana, the intellectual authority who was alone at the highest position and the commoners and the other ranks of the society, by drawing his attention to the model of the asvattha tree kept in his academy. Its root was going upwards and branches were going downwards. It was said to be imperishable, avyaya. The Vedic scholars described its leaves as producing notes similar to those of the Vedic chants.
Its branches, in fact, spread both downwards and upwards, Krshna points out to Arjuna. It is nourished by natural traits (gunas). It has the objects of senses, worldly interests that allure all men, for its twigs (that is, matters of easier grasp). These refer to the subsidiary and newer sections of the society represented by this tree. To be precise, this tree tries to portray the continuing society.
Its new roots, emerging as subsidiary roots from the branches and the twigs, go downwards as offspring (anusamtata). These subsidiary roots go downwards (adha) to the social world of commoners (manushyaloka) and get bound (anubandha) to work (karma), worldly duties.
As the nobility developed interest in nobler ideas and loftier concepts that are characteristic of the cultural aristocracy and began simultaneously to grow in numbers, its different cadres, branches, began to develop worldly interests. They got thereupon rooted in bhumi, the commonalty, manushyaloka, and began to be nurtured by the traits, gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas). As these nobles, devas, came out of their isolation and established contacts with the commoners as their leaders, they gradually lost their identity and distinguishing traits of conduct as a flawless cultural elite.
The original model, rupam, of the asvattha tree was not available then at Krshnas institute where Arjuna was being briefed. What was present had no end or beginning and was not fixed to its pedestal. The firm-rooted tree (rooted above and also below, that is, rooted in cultural and spiritual interests and also in mundane and worldly ones), had been cut with firmness by an instrument from its attachment by some detractors, Krshna pointed out with sadness to Arjuna. The aristocracy had tended to become a vain leisure class noted for conspicuous consumption, a parasite surviving on the surplus produced by the commonalty. Who was responsible for the decadence of the nobility?
The details of the path to be followed to attain that status, the status of the Brahmana, the guide of the nobles, devas, have to be learnt from those who have reached that status from which there is no return. The aspirant has to tell such a guide explicitly that he wants to reach that status of the first personage (adi purusha) from whom have emanated the ancient (purani) practices (pravrtti), activities to be engaged in by every one according to his own nature.
The concept, daivam insisted on the equality in status of all nobles, devas, while paurusham pointed out the superiority of the talented over the commoners. Krshna has traced the transition from the one to the other with the aid of the asvattha allegory. Neither has to be treated as having divine status.
Both were far superior to the commoners, manushyas, the nobles, devas, as a class, and the leaders, purushas, as individuals. This aspect of the theory of the elite emerging from the allegory of the asvattha tree needs attention.
Who can reach the status of the adi purusha, the first personage, who was almost equal to a deva, a noble? He is to be not stupid. He has to be free from pride and delusion and must have conquered the fault of association, (that is, must have no association with his family or clan, house or vocation, etc). He must have his sexual desires stilled (after fulfillment), (that is, must have reached the vanaprastha stage of life, retired to the forest abode). He must be ever deeply devoted to the development of his inner personality and freed from the dualities known as pleasure and pain. Then he can rise to the imperishable permanent status (padam), that is, the status of the first personage (adipurusha).
These social leaders, purushas, might have before their retirement from their occupations and worldly activities, pravrtti, belonged to the cadre of Kshatriyas, who were headed by Aditya the general who was in charge of raising and training soldiers. Or they might have been intellectuals, who respected Soma. Or they might have been members of the commonalty, prthvi, vis, that received guidance from the official designated as Agni (fire) and was known as Pavaka, the purifier, who headed the peoples court. These social leaders, purushas, who had retired from their occupations, stayed in Krshnas high abode (paramam dhamam), from where they did not return to their previous positions.
Krshna had a status far above those of the nobles, the sages and the commoners. But he had risen from a humble position and was glad to be among the ordinary living beings (jivabhutas), individuals of the social periphery who were at the meagre subsistence level and had no achievements to their credit or property in their possession. Krshna says that he is part of the undifferentiated commonalty, amsa of prakrti. He was tracing the stages by which the cadre of purushas, leaders rose.
Even a living being engaged in battling alone against the unknown could draw to himself (karshata), the five senses and the sixth (the mind). He could conquer himself, exercise self-restraint, a conquest necessary to exercise charismatic appeal when he moved among others in the undifferentiated society. This ability was part of his personality. Krshnas statement, mama eva amsa (a fragment of me) has to be read in this light.
The terms, jivaloka and jivabhuta, pertain to the pre-society which had no structure and had not developed social orientations, a pre-requisite for the emergence of social institutions. The purusha-prakrti relation covers the leader-follower relationship, the deva-manushya relation the one between the patron and the beneficiary and Isvara-bhuta relation that between the charismatic chief and the mesmerized individual.
Only when the undifferentiated mass society, prakrti is activated, a purusha can emerge from within it. When its members function as unattached individuals, bhutas, they tend to develop faith in their charismatic leader, Isvara, who has the traits of both the noble (deva) and the social leader (purusha).
Krshna says, When the Isvara takes on a body and when he leaves it, he takes up the role of regulating (samyata) (the senses and the mind) and moves like wind that carries the perfumes from their places. (8) As he takes over the governance of a region or community or social body (sariram) or as he leaves one and takes over the role of regulating the entire state, he plays the role of the Vedic official designated as 'Vayu'. his heritage.
The terms, Brahma, Purusha, Isvara, Visvesvara etc. should not be used imprecisely and indiscriminately as referring to God. Each had a distinct social connotation. The charisma exercised by the Isvara was a temporary one. It had the touch of his older associations. Like any commoner, this leader enjoys the pursuit of the objects of senses, worldly interests dictated by the five senses and also by the mind. Isvara was deified only later.
Krshna who has temporarily identified himself with such a commoner cannot be identified in his true capacity by the fooled. Whether when he leaves the scene of the life of the commoner and rises to a higher social stratum or when he stays among the commoners and enjoys worldly life like those under the influence of their inborn traits, gunas, the deluded do not notice his real personality.
Only one endowed with the eye of wisdom, an expert in samkhya dialectics who can notice the latent factors behind the manifest events sees (pasyanti) his personality.
Krshna refers to the advantages of training in yoga, which discipline his institute offered. Training in samkhya helped one to become an ideologue while training in Karmayoga made him a successful social activist.
The yogis who strive perceive their guide, Krshna, seated n their ranks. He is seated among the yogis, the activists. He is a participant leader belonging to the group of activists, yogis.
Krshna says that the unintelligent, whose personalities are not moulded properly do not perceive this participant leader in their midst, do not recognize him though they too strive to be good activists.
As a charismatic leader Krshna had an extraordinary ability to enlighten the entire social universe (jagat). It is compared to the splendour (tejas) of the sun (Aditya) that moves in the (sky, social world of the nobles), the moon (Chandra) and the fire (Agni).
Aditya, Chandra and Agni had with respect to the three social worlds, patriciate, frontier society and commonalty respectively a status commensurate with that of the Isvara with respect to all the social universes comprising those who had not settled down as organized clans and communities.
Krshna proposed to widen the ambit of jagat and to include in it not only all the individuals constantly on the move but also the clans and communities that had settled in the open areas that were not claimed or populated by traditional clans.
Krshna hints that Arjuna should realize that the former as a charismatic leader influenced the entire larger social universe (jagat). This universe included the aristocrats, the agro-pastoral commonalty and the frontier society and its sages and also those on the move as social groups or as individuals, as discrete jagats, social universes with weak social bonds or as bhutas, individuals with no social bonds.
As the three social worlds came together administration passed into the hands of a composite eight-member ministry representing all the sectors of the larger society. It was headed by Indra and had Aditya, Agni and Soma as its members along with Varuna, Pracetas, Vayu and Yama.
Like the rays of the sun, the Isvaras prowess enters the soil, the agro-pastoral village and (through its produce) supports (dharaya) all the beings (bhutani). He nourishes all herbs, medicinal plants. He provides the juice for all plants
Krshna proposes to create a new universal society, visva, of free men, naras, amalgamating the three social universes (jagats) and the three social worlds (lokas) and all the individuals, bhutas, outside these. The leadership of this larger society is assigned to Agni.
Krshna says, I becoming the universal man (vaisvanara, (agni) and located in the body of all living creatures and mingling with their inward breath and outward breath digest the four kinds of food.
Krshna declares, I am lodged in the hearts of all. From me (are born), smrti, jnanam and apohanam (forgetting). I am to be known by all the Vedas. I am the creator of Vedanta. I am the Vedavid, the knower of the Vedas. Who is the speakerKrshna or Vyasa?
He points out that there are two categories of social leaders, purushas, in this social world, loka, (of commoners), kshara and akshara. Every one has the right and must have the ability to determine his personal life as an independent, self-steered person, as a purusha. But many lose this status. They fall under the category, kshara, the perishable. The attempts of the bhutas (individuals of the unorganized sector) to regulate their ways of life by themselves fail soon. But the attempts of some of those in the organized sector, kootastha, in the social collectives, to rise to the level of purushas (leaders) from that of manushyas (commoners) or of naras (free men) or of bhutas (discrete individuals) are fruitful. They fall under the category, akshara the imperishable.
There is another purusha who is superior to both the person who is ahead of others for a short period, the kshara type and the person who leads organized groups for a long time, the akshara type.
The third type of leader is the ideal one and the best, uttama purusha, also called paramatma. [This term has later been used to refer to God.] As the charismatic chieftain, Isvara, whose influence never gets exhausted (avyaya), he enters (avisya) (the lives and activities) of the members of all the three social worlds nd supports them. The uttama purusha is referred to as paramatma, the supreme person when he does not actively participate in social life nor even provides active leadership but has the talent and calibre that can be brought to bear on the society imperceptibly and also on its leaders when necessary.
He is hence revered. But when he enters the field of social polity as a charismatic chief, Isvara, he is able to mould the outlooks and functions of all the three social worlds, the aristocracy, the agro-pastoral commonalty and the industrial economy of the frontier society. He is capable of effecting and sustaining this integrated society.
The Isvara or uttama purusha or paramatma is a highly charismatic leader who enjoys the confidence of all the three social worlds and bears the responsibility for the welfare of all the three. He is far above the leaders (purushas) of the collectives who are superior to the purusha, the official who is trained in his duties (that is, trained in Karmayoga) but holds his position only for a brief period.
Krshna was claimed to be a Purushottama. He tells Arjuna, As I surpass the ksharam (the perishable type of leaders who can be given duties of trained personnel only for a short duration) and the aksharam (the imperishable type of leaders of social groups, collectives including the state, and who may hold their positions for life tenure), I am celebrated in the world (loka) of scholars, that is, in their writings, as Purushottama.
Krshna's academy must have accepted the holistic approach of Krshna and revered him as Purushottama, the best of personages. Krshna adds that the undeluded who knows him personally as the Purushottama is a knower of all (sarvavid). He has studied all the disciplines. Such a trainee worships, acclaims (bhajati), him with all empathy (sarvabhavena).
He tells Bharata, This secret science has been taught by me. By knowing this, one will become wise, pragmatic (buddhiman) and will have fulfilled his duties. Krshna taught Arjuna the confidential sections of the science of polity, Rajavidya. By following its recommendations, the aspirant could raise himself to the status of Purushottama.
CHAPTER 16: DETRACTORS OF THE NEW SOCIAL ORDER
Krshna summarizes the noble traits that are traditionally associated with persons born in high families. The ideal cultural aristocracy is not greedy or aggressive. It is modest and not conceited. It is neither a ruling elite nor a rich leisure class. It is liberal, upright, compassionate and educated and seeks further knowledge. It evokes neither fear nor dislike, neither contempt nor jealousy.
The feudal lords (asuras) too like the nobles (devas) described above were born in high families. But they were guilty of pretentiousness, arrogance, excessive pride, rage, harshness and ignorance.
The new social order would be preceded by the dissolution of the undesirable section of the ruling elite. A pruned cultural aristocracywould be retained as a separate social class but not as the
ruling class. Those with asura traits would be taken into preventive custody while those who had noble traits (daiva-sampada) would be exonerated (vimokshaya).
Krshna then classifies the multitude of unorganized, unattached fluid (sarga) population of individuals who did not belong to any clan or community of the social world (loka) of agro-pastoral commonalty into two groups. He classified the bhutas, the discrete individuals of the social periphery as those who exhibited noble (daiva) traits and those with asura orientations.
Krshna was referring to the dilemma that the natives (jana) of Janasthana experienced after the feudal lord, Bali, was exiled by Vamana. The natives (jana) with asura traits did not know what activities (pravrtti) they were to be engaged in and when they were to refrain or retire (nivrtti) from them. The issue of pravrtti vs nivrtti should be discussed keeping this context in mind and not in abstract terms.]
The liberated natives of Janasthana did not know what purity (of thought and action) was. They did not know what the prescribed conduct (achara) was. They were not trained in the code based on truth (satya). [Vamana, Urukrama who took three steps against Bali and forced his guide, Usanas, to retire, withdrew after allowing the people (jana) to govern themselves. But many of them continued to admire Bali who had given them social security and a clean and stable administration.] The concept of 'satya' as known truth was not accepted. Social laws, dharma, had not yet been brought into force. Social practices, achara, were not uniform. Krshna pities the people of Janasthana for their plight.
Some of Krshna's detractors who were attuned to the 'asura' culture and Bali's social policy said that the new social universe (jagat) that he proposed was not according to the laws based on the principled of truth (asatyam) and that it had no foundation (apratishtham) (was not attached to the janapada).
Krshna had proposed that settled native communities would be under the state while the new social universe (jagat) comprising the mobile gandharva cadres who were not engaged in economic activities and discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social universe would decide how to govern themselves. [Bali's state based on Usanas's Dandaniti recognized only settled clans and economic communities and asked the mobile cadres to leave his territory.]
Krshna stopped this eviction and allowed the latter cadres including the individuals of the periphery to determine their ways of life and method of governance. They would have a social guide, jagatguru, as suggested by the gandharva cadres rather than a benevolent charismatic leader, isvara, with economic and political power as the bhutas had. The gandharva option led to absence of polity.
The detractors claimed that the new arrangement had not been brought about through mutual consent, between individuals and groups concerned. They argued that the new universal society, jagat, proposed by Krshna was the product of lust (kama) [and not a state based on economic criteria (artha) or common social values (dharma)]. It was the product of 'rape' and was illegal, they said.
It was a union to which the defeated and helpless people, jana, of Janasthana had not consented. They resisted the creation of a single social universe, jagat, comprising all the organized social worlds (lokas), the free social universes (jagats) and the social periphery (of bhutas).
The universal society and its non-coercive and non-coerced political structure (state) could be raised only on the ruins of the feudal order and the feudal state.
Krshna charges that holding fast to the view that the constitution of the integrated state, janapada and the integrated society, jagat, bringing together all the settled communities, lokas, and the non-settled mobile cadres, jagats, is unreal and illegal and as being not consented to by the settled native population, jana, these narrow-minded intellectuals are causing loss to themselves by their cruel deeds. They resort to violence as they resist its promulgation. They rise up as enemies of the integrated society (jagat) seeking its decay. These detractors were claiming themselves to be advocates of purity (ethnic purity, to be precise) (suchivrata, persons who had taken the vow to be pure).
Krshna condemns this claim of the illiberal thinkers. There was no purity of thought or intent in what they did. These intellectuals and their followers had given themselves to insatiable lust, ostentation, pride and intoxication of power. They were caught in the grips of delusion, pursuit of the mirage. They held wrong notionsand acted with impure resolves.
The concept of sovereignty of the nation-state did not give real help to the settled population as its advocates were moved by lust for power.
Loaded with incomparably many cares that would end only with the dissolution of the existing unjust social order they deem gratification of desires as the highest aim, assured that 'this is all'.
Krshna holds that the feudal lords and their counsellors are hedonists who thrive by promoting fatalism and helplessness among the subjects.
Bound by hundreds of desires and given over to lust and wrath these detractors strive for hoards of wealth by adopting unjust methods for gratification of their desires.
Krshna warns all (especially the people of Janasthana) that the feudal lord openly proclaims his lust for wealth and territory.
The feudal lord who exploits his own people continues to annex the wealth of every one and proceeds to become the Isvara, as his charisma continues to grow though he is an exploiter because he is a conqueror of new lands. The vain emperor then boasts, "I am successful in my aims and am mighty and happy".
Hedonism had overcome the rich and the mighty. "I am wealthy and belong to the elite (abhijana) of the local population. Who is like unto me?" challenge the plutocrats who have been honoured as aristocrats and the aristocrats who have become plutocrats.
These (yakshas) parade their ability to give alms to their subordinates and serfs and enjoy such scenes of the poor kneeling before them to receive alms. They boast, for they are deluded by ignorance, by utterances that fail to give them the right knowledge.
Bewildered by several thoughts (diverse opinions of different schools) and entangled in delusion and getting addicted to gratification of lust they fall into impure ghetto. Krshna draws attention to the decadence of the elite. The aristocracy that has become plutocracy falls.
Honouring themselves, obstinate, filled with pride and arrogance of wealth they perform sacrifices with pretentiousness and ostentation and without regard to procedures. Krshna was against conspicuous consumption and the culture of the noveau riche even as he was against feudalism.
Krshna tells Arjuna, "Given over to conceit, might, pride, lust and rage, these jealous chieftains despise me for being present in their own and others' organizations".
They could not prevent his being a leader with followers in every group including those of his detractors. Krshna declares that these rich and cruel chieftains would be deposed when the existing social order full of iniquity is dissolved. They were the lowest of the free men (naras).
Krshna says that he repeatedly casts them into the wombs of asuras. They would be at the lowest level in social life.
Addressing those who believed in rebirth he pronounces, "Getting into the class of asuras these fools even after repeated births (chances given to get reformed) will not have access to me. They would go to the lowest level."
He had assigned the decadent rich to 'naraka'. "The three gates to the penitentiary are lust, wrath and greed. By these traits one ruined oneself." Therefore one should abandon the three vices, he advises.
He can get retrieved (vimukta) and come out, if he thereafter practises what is good for him he can reach the highest level. But some deliberately discarded the rules of the code (sastra), the new sociopolitical constitution and functioned as prompted by desire. Krshna did not give them reprieve. "They do not attain perfection or happiness or the highest level".
Krshna directs Arjuna to follow this code as enshrined in his version of Rajavidya. "Let it be your authority for determining and organizing what is to be done (karya) and what is not to be done (akarya)." "Knowing what is in accordance with the rules of this code you ought to do your work, duty (Karma) here (iha, in this academy)". Thus Krshna installed Arjuna as his nominee to lead his mission and its training camp after training him adequately for this role.
CHAPTER 17: REORGANIZATION AND DEDICATION, SRADDHA
Arjuna wondered whether the rules of this code were so sacrosanct that even those who performed voluntary sacrifices with dedication should not overlook them.
What was the status of these sacrifices? Were they to be held as of the sattva type or of the rajas type or of the tamas type? He wanted Krshna to answer this question, as the latter was not sanguine about rituals though he advocated the continuance of the Vedic tradition of Yajnas.
Referring to the vast organization of trained leaders that he had built Krshna says that all of them were naturally sincere and devoted, sattvik, though leaders could be categorized as sattvik, rajasi and tamasi.
Such a voluntary organization was not provided for in the constitution, he briefed Arjuna, who was next in command It was a social institution intended to take over the governance of the society if the state collapsed. It had come into existence for a specific purpose,
The sattvika (gentle) among the trainees offered voluntary sacrifice to the traditional nobles, devas. The rajasa, aggressive elements offered support to the plutocrats, yakshas and their guards, rakshas. The uneducated masses, tamasi, offered sacrifices to honour the dead and to support the repatriated troops, bhutaganas. All these sacrifices were offered with sincerity, sraddha.
The gentle (sattvika) intelligentsia insisted on paying tributes to the nobility (devas) in the form of yajna, traditional sacrifice. The politico-military order (rajanya-kshatriya classes) would accept domination by the plutocracy and its political arm and pay the levy (bali) in the form of yajna.
The traits of the recipients of these offerings were similar to those of the persons who offered them. The new state proposed by Krshna was based on compromise among several sectors.
It would be a state consented to by the commonalty and intelligentsia on the condition that there would be no extorted levy. The new state had to give up Usanas's scheme.
The new plutocratic (yaksha) state that replaced the feudal (asura) administration would be confined to the industrial economy (itara-jana). It would have no control over the agro-pastoral economy (of jana) or the social universes (jagats) of punya-jana groups which were not part of either economy.
The cadres belonging to the jagats would consent to maintain the repatriated soldiers (bhutaganas) in return for protection offered by them against anti-social elements (asuras and rakshasas)
The native commonalty, jana, consented to maintain the families of the soldiers who had fallen in the struggle against the feudal order.The course and terms of social dynamics are not simplistic.
Most of the society was eager to be free from the state. It was not ready to pay tax (kara) which unlike yajna was not voluntary though it was not coercive and arbitrary like bali.
In the general population, jana, who had rallied behind the activists devoted to Krshna some were tapasvis, engaged in academic research. They did not stick to the new code but were not against it.
Some unwise (acetasa) persons (those who did not agree with the Arthasastra of Pracetas) were harassing the groups of individuals newly settled in communes (bhutagrama) by Krshna. The latter followed Samkarshana's policy of common ownership and collective tilling of lands. [Sanatkumara and Prthu were for private ownership and personal tilling.]
Krshna had to reorient the rural bureaucracy. Krshna asserts,I am in their body, antasarirastham. Without knowing his intimate association with these communes, these acetasa, administrators who disregarded the rules forced the agriculturists, to contribute to his cause and mission.
Krshna felt hurt when his followers were harassed. The determination with which these unintelligent persons mobilized material resources from these villages was similar to the methods of extortion which the feudal lords resorted to, Krshna complains.
The agriculturists were contributing in kind for the maintenance of Krshna's institution. Krshna sorts this food into three types, sattvika, rajasi and tamasi.
Krshna redefines offerings. What is offered without expectation of reward and is in accordance with the prescribed procedures, bearing in mind that it is one's duty to perform sacrifice and which is satisfying and non-coercive is of the sattvika type.
But the sacrifice made with the intent of receiving a reward (phalam) whether spiritual or mundane, or for ostentatious display of one's wealth is of the 'rajasa' type.
A sacrifice performed without adhering to rules and where only grains are offered and not prepared food and where the Vedic hymns are not chanted and fees are not paid to the eligible priest and which is devoid of sincerity and faith, sraddha is declared to be of 'tamasi' type.
With the introduction of the larger society amalgamating all the social worlds and social universes and accommodating the unattached individuals, bhutas, and classifying them into four classes, varnas, a new approach to the practice of yajnas became necessary.
Performance of sacrifices became a duty for all placed in the higher varnas. It was social service rendered by them to support common causes and the poorer sections of the society rather than an attempt to please the rich and seek their patronage. Yajna has to benefit both its performer and the recipients who are needy but not greedy. The concept, sraddha, dedication, is linked to this social purpose.
While yajna was re-instituted, tapas had to be redefined. Krshna would treat all individuals who are engaged in strenuous endeavour for attaining a specific goal within the ambit of social benefit and are respected by the masses at large as 'tapasvis'.
They are free men (naras) and not commoners (manushyas) or social leaders (purushas).Tapas denoted self-regulated and concentrated endeavour that could be for personal spiritual uplift or for enhancement of personal talents for pursuing a social cause. It has three notes, physical, cultural and mental.
The tapasvi honoured the nobles,the Brahmans and the teachers and the scholars (prajnas) who were aware of the relationship between the self and the environment and were deemed to be wise. Though he might not be interrupted in his silent, personal endeavour, he did not claim to be superior to the above. He was not necessarily a member of the ecclesiastical order or of the elite or of the academia or even of the intelligentsia. He could have been even from the class of workers.
He however observed and practised personal purity, uprightness, celibacy and non-violence. He was a puritan but was not aggressive. None need be afraid of him. He was not engaged in harassing others or himself.
Krshna treats these as physical aspects of tapas, as personal demeanour. The tapasvi would not utter angry words but would speak out the truth, in a pleasing and comforting tone. He was engaged in regular practice of self-education. Krshna implies that the tapasvi was not an adherent or advocate of any school of thought but would encourage every one to find out on his own what the truth is and how to adhere to it.
The tapasvi is not a teacher. He is learning by himself and teaching others to learn on their own. But he does honour the traditional teacher. This is cultural or aspect of his endeavour.
Serenity of mind, softness, silence (on matters not palatable), self-control(keeping within limits), controlling by oneself the conflicting tendencies in his personality and thinking, and purity of nature and outlook mark the mental frame of the tapasvi.
Krshna would visualize the tapasvi as a highly sociable personage and not as one to be feared or suspected or despised and kept at a distance and kept away from.
Of course, the tapasvi needs solitude for his endeavour at self-development. Krshnas academy had prescribed sacrifice, yajna, as a course of discipline and so was performance of tapas, a part of its curriculum in yoga.
The three-fold endeavour and conduct and observance of purity in physical demeanour and thought and speech and outlook, that is practised with sincerity and attention in relation to others and for higher and non-personal purposes of free men (naras, who are not members of clans and communities) who do not expect rewards is said to be sattvik, gentle and serene.
A commoner (manushya), (who workis as a member of a clan or community) cannot be called tapasvi even if he works strenuously. The purpose and result of the arduous task undertaken and engaged in by the missionary has to benefit others while improving his ability to do good deeds. The use of the term nara is significant. The sattvik type of tapasvi is highly respected.
If a social activist of the tapasvi cadre works ostentatiously and expecting felicitation, honour and worship then his work (though socially beneficial and elevating his calibre) is said to be passionate, rajasa. Such work is fluid and unfocussed and hence cannot last, Krshna points out to Arjuna. Such proud activists do not leave a permanent mark.
Any endeavour, tapas, made with a foolish obstinacy or by torturing oneself or for causing harm to othersis said to be unwise and dark (tamasa), unenlightened. Krshna stood for positive, selfless, harmless, facile, gentle, sattvik type of concentrated social endeavour (tapas), and personal development. This was what he expected from his missionaries.
The new social code to which Arjuna was introduced asked the three higher varnas, classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, to be donors, to offer gifts to the needy.
With the merger of the plutocrats, yakshas, in the new social system as devatas on par with the aristocrats, devas, the purpose of the yajna system had to be amended. (Samkarshana recommended this merger; Krshna opposed it.)
It had to be prescribed that the beneficiaries should be the needy and not the ruling class, which could utilize proceeds from levy (bali) and tax (kara) to meet its requirements. Similarly the rules regarding gift (danam) required refinement. [It is inadequate and unfair to present a translation of these verses overlooking their significance by not attending to the above aspects of social change and social dynamics.]
That gift alone, which is made to one who is not expected to help the donor in return, is a gift (danam) given in pursuit of duty, it needs to be remembered. It must be given after ascertaining the eligibility of the place and time and of the recipient as described in the manual. Such a gift (to the deserving) alone is sattvika and it is to be encouraged.
Arjuna was being trained in Rajayoga to become an administrator. He had to learn the aphorisms pertaining to civil law. He had to know the social and economic codes in addition to the political codes. The rules (vidhi) of the code with regard to these gifts had to be observed by all including the ruler.
It is not enough for him to be a liberal donor. This was a major issue on which Vamana confronted Usanas and Bali. This aphorism gives the verdict of Krshna and Badarayana on it.
That gift which is made with expectation of help in return or for returning a help given by the recipient earlier to the present donor or with expectation of gain in the future or when given it only harms the recipient is said to be forcible, passionate, rajasa type.
These rules are in tune with the definitions given by Kautilya about what is pure gain and what is impure or doubtful gain. Kautilya adopted samkhya dialectics to arrive at his definitions. Krshna too follows this method.
The rajasa type is not honest. It is not positive aid. It is not welcome. According to the new code this motivated act of generosity would not be valid (that is, would not be eligible for exemption from tax) unlike the positive, prudent, honest, sattvika type of aid. It is necessary to recognize the context of this instruction to Arjuna.
A new tax law was being introduced. If a gift is made to an undeserving person or at a wrong time or at a wrong place without proper (legal) rites (that is, if its permanence is not vouched for under oath and by independent witnesses in the presence of witnesses for both the parties and of their heirs as required by civil law, vyavahara), it is said to be tamasa in type (one made in ignorance of law or ignoring law). A gift offered with contempt is of this low category.
Validation of a gift required its being made uttering the pranava, the single syllable, Om (Aum) as insisted on by Urukrama (Vamana). [It was an age when no one took oath in the name of God, personal or impersonal or on any holy book.] But Usanas and Bali challenged this. Krshna endorses Vamanas stand. The contempt with which Bali gifted away his ill-gotten wealth was contemptible and condemnatory, Vamana pointed out.
A 'tamasa type of gift was irregular. Both the donor and the recipient could lose claim to it. They might be further penalized if the gift was not sanctified by the utterance of Om. Arjuna was being briefed on this new provision in the socio-political code.
Socio-Legal Obligations and the Maxim, Aum Tat Sat
Arjuna wanted to know why the new code had prescribedthe pronouncement of the words, aum tat sat, (as obligatory for validating all promises and deeds, wills and gifts). Krshna explained that it was a directive of the Atharvan socio-political constitution.It had three distinct notes.
Krshna says that by this pronouncement, in the past, the Brahmanas, the Vedas and the Yajnas were sanctified, that is, were prescribed their respective jurisdictions. These words had to be uttered by the priest before the sacrifice could be held as properly performed.
The feudal warlordswho were guided by the constitution that was drafted by Usanas, refused to recognize this requirement.
However, the gandharvas had consented to honour the pranava, Aum. To be precise, they had conceived it and passed to the commoners, free men (naras) this concept of pranava, Aum, representing all the accumulated knowledge, the utterances of the sages.The gandharva culture upheld the freedom of the individual to develop oneself in all fields to the highest level. Aum tat sat became the maxim of the new integrated society.
Krshna clarifies that the acts of sacrifice (yajna), gift (danam) and endeavour (tapas) were always undertaken after uttering the syllable aum (by all present).
The Brahmavadis, the socio-political ideologues-cum-activists and jurists, who followed the provisions of the Atharvaveda, Brahma, laid down this condition in accordance with the rules mentioned in it (vidhanokta).
One who did not utter this syllable was treated as a dissenter and kept out. Even if one accepted all other provisions of the social and political codes, he stood liable to be debarred from the society if he did not consent to honour pranava, aumkara.
Though Bali had consented to take the vow to speak the truth, and be a Satyavrata, he had not been initiated, as he did not accept the socio-legal obligations that proceeded from the utterance of the syllable, Aum. He did not recognize the existence of an Ultimate (God).
To be treated as one speaking under oath, one had to utter the syllable, Aum, in the prescribed way before commencing his averment. Every social or personal act had to be preceded by this utterance. Else its motive was suspect. Aum bound one to his word whether he was a deist or an atheist or an agnostic.
The various acts, yajnas, danam and tapas, are to be preceded and succeeded by the utterance of the syllables, Aum and tat (in that way). This indicated that the performer of these acts continued the tradition and that he (and his sons) would continue it.
Tat indicated that he continued to be associated with the past of his society and acknowledged with gratitude the benefits it had given to his ancestors and agreed to continue its tradition. [The term, moksha, is not to be interpreted as freedom from the cycle of births and deaths. The performers of these duties were not expecting fresh rewards.]
The term, sat has the tone (bhava) of piety, goodness (sadhu). It is employed in that sense. Krshna implies that he does not import the meaning of permanence, sat, an eternal truth. It does not have the import of an ever-valid law. It is used in a purely cultural sense.
The word, sat, is also attached to legally valid action, he points out to Partha. It is approved as its intention is good and as it is the utterance of a pious person. It is a solemn declaration.
It may be a new one and may not have been backed by a long tradition and may not survive forever. Yet it has to be approved by the competent magistrate (prasastra). Sat is the seal of approval to a noble act. [It needs to be noted that Krshna was teaching Arjuna the science of abstraction and not abstract metaphysics or theology.]
Krshna holds that the position, stance, sthiti, in yajna, tapas and danam, taken by the performer of that act is said to be sat, erect and polite, indicating that the performer does not waver in his mind and is on a strong moral ground. So also any action (karma) done for such purposes is called satkarma, a noble, pious and hence valid act.
No authority, social or political, economic or religious, cultural or legal, can question satkarma as it benefits only others and not the performer of that act.
Approved sacrifices, whether traditional or new, and gifts and endeavour which helped the society and the needy were free from state intervention. The new code has to be understood and implemented correctly, Krshna briefs Arjuna. Whatever offering was made in the sacrifice (yajna), gift (danam) given, endeavour (tapas) undertaken without a sense of dedication (sraddha) was declared to be asat, unreal, null and void.
The performer and the priests had to utter Aum, and Aum tat respectively and the prasastr (magistrate) who presided over the event had to utter Aum tat sat. Only then that act was valid. The magistrate was expected to certify that it was an act performed with sincerity.
[Neither the performer would be entitled to any benefit by way of concessions in return for selfless good deeds nor his successors would benefit if the procedure laid down were not followed, that is, if the expression Aum tat sat is not uttered.]
This was a major issue, which the institutions of law, religion, administration and economy had to grapple with. Krshna advises Arjuna to be alert to the above implications of this expression. The spirit of dedication has to pervade all noble acts.
CHAPTER 18: THE MISSION
Krshna clarifies the two concepts, 'samnyasa and tyaga'. Samnyasa is mandatory while tyaga is voluntary. The former is renunciation and the latter is relinquishment.
No right to abstain from work. Those who were not involved in matters spiritual declared that the prescribed duties, (yajnas, dana, tapas) were not to be given up.
The manishinas demanded the right not to work while others refused to grant such a right. Krshna declares that the duties, sacrifice, charity and strenuous endeavour are not to be given up at any stage.
Manishinas had accepted these as purificatory rites. But these individualists did not recognize the concept of the duty of the individual to the society or that of the society to the individual.
One may become a samnyasi only shortly before one's death. But the prescribed rites must be performed as duty, giving up attachment to the fruits. According to Krshna this is the best solution.
No grhastha or vanaprastha was to renounce any prescrined duty. The abandoning of the prescribed duty under the influence of delusion is proclaimed to be an act of tamas, ignorance.
As per Krshna's manual on work (karma), one of the rajasa type is refused retirement benefits and social security and exemption from taxes and levies if he relinquishes his position and abandons his post and work because it is painful or out of fear.
Krshna describes three types of tyaga, relinquishment. Only approved relinquishing was was eligible for retirement benefits and exemption from taxes (tyagaphala).
One who performs a work as a prescribed duty that ought to be done and gives up attachment to it and to its fruits is regarded as one performing sattvika type of tyaga.
The prudent and wise intellectual who is an expert in his field of study, who has relinquished his earlier post and whose doubts about the correctness of his action are dispelled and who is serene has neither aversion to unpleasant work, nor preference for pleasant work.
It is not feasible for one in a responsible post to give up his duty fully. But he can give up the fruits of that work. He is said to be a tyagi, one who has relinquished his position and benefits attached to it.
For those who have not given up the rewards of work, three options are open.
These rewards might be paid after their death as desired by them to their nominees or to the causes and organisations as stipulated by them in their wills. If they had not willed to whom these accrued wages and perks and retirement benefits were to be paid, these might be paid off without ascertaining the desire of anyone. Or these might be paid partially to those purposes and partially to the natural heirs.
The presence and operation of all the five causative factors (karanas) which are created in the scheme that leads to siddhi, completion of every type of work is essential and is to be ensured..
The seat or post occupied by the authority (adhishthanam) that issues the order to the officer (karta) to do the specific work must be clear. The different organs of state that are to be activated (karanam)and the different types of work systems (cheshta) have to be clearly mentioned.
These four are connected with the civil bureaucracy of the commonalty (manushyas). The endorsement of the elite (devas) who make available the necessary funds for completing the project has to be obtained before commencing it, according to Krshna's manual.
The above five factors were pertinent to the deeds of the free men, naras, who manned the rural bureaucracy. Whatever work, duty or vocation, a free man (nara) initiates, by body or speech or mind whether in accordance with the provisions of the legal codes or in violation of them, the five causative factors are relevant.
They facilitate performance of the work (karma), leading to the end product (karyam) and has to be identical with the purpose in mind (karanam) before commencing the project. [New projects often violate existing laws.]
[Social action has to be within the framework of rationality and so too social projects envisaged. Such rationality can be observed only by free men who are not bound to follow the codes of their clan, community, region or class. They must be made to observe it.]
Krshna deplores that despite this provision, the unmoulded (akrta) intellectual looks upon himself as the sole executive (karta) ignoring the other four causative factors.That perverted person has no vision. Rajavidya condemns bureaucratic arrogance. Karmayoga calls for the fulfillment of all the five factors for an action to be rational and legitimate.
The trained executive is not egotistic or self-appointed. His intellect is not sullied by personal likes and dislikes, ambitions and obsessions. Though an authorized executive may slay such cadres of perverts he is not deemed to be a killer. He is not bound by the results of his deed, for he is not acting on his own or in pursuit of his personal goals (or ideological aims).
He cannot be impeached as having exceeded his powers, if he were to eliminate the perverts. He has acted under the authority of his post and not in his individual capacity. His act is constitutionally valid and he cannot be accused of manslaughter.
[This aphorism is about public administration and political governance. It needs immunity against being hauled up for just and proper discharge of duty. Krshna was dispelling Arjuna's hesitation.]
Karmayoga and Rajayoga use samkhya and nyaya to examine the issue, "What incites an act, karma chodana?" What precedes approved performance of duty? It is the knowledge of what has to be done. It has three facets, jnanam (process of acquisition of knowledge), jneyam (determining of what knowledge is to be acquired) and parijnata (who will be the person who alone will know it). Krshna has in his view Rajaguhya, the confidential knowledge that he has imparted to his trainee, Arjuna to act in the desired manner (karma chodana).
The executive, who knows what he has to do peruses the work rota (karma samgraha). It specifies the organizations to be involved in that work (karanam), the nature of the work (karma) assigned and the person who is to execute (karta) it. Krshna's manual institutionalizes bureaucratic procedure. it is not to be a government of the whimsical autocrat.
Krshna directs all the three facets, jnanam, karma and karta, to be assessed. There would be three column qualitative rating (sattva, rajas, tamas) to judge the traits of the executives and their assignments. This is done before launching the project.
The knowledge by which one sees in all individuals (especially of the periphery, sarva bhuta who are not organized groups with common orientations) a single outlook that is undivided even in diverse sectors is known to be serene (sattvika). The sattvika approach recommends perceiving a lasting 'unity in diversity' in the universal social order.
A sagacious planner has to take into account the existence of a common will among the entire population in spite of the latter being composed of diverse social sectors, cadres, classes, communities and discrete individuals with their own individual views and attitudes.
If the knowledge gathered indicates that in the larger society comprising all individuals there are diverse attitudes because of their being separate from one another it is rajasa.
The sociopolitical theory that asserts and stresses social pluralism to the exclusion of social unity and a latent common bond among all reflects trends that promote egotism, selfishness, individualism, conflict and competition and are centrifugal.
It does not recognize the existence of a common will and the need to work for common weal. it does not concede that there can be unity in diversity. it denies the existence of and even desirability of social unity and practicability of arriving at one spirit, emotional integration. Such an approach is harmful and promotes mutually aggressive 'rajasa' postures.
Even stress on national and ethnic identities without conceding the existence of a universal society with a common past and a common destiny despite diversity is 'rajasa, aggressively political.
The knowledge which ignoring the causative factors clings to a single purpose as if it were the whole created system is invalid. [It is irrational to ignore the intents of the duly installed authorities, the authorized executive, the permitted systems of administration and the will of the cultural aristocracy which may permit or veto any project.]
Such a move has no metaphysical or dialectical validity and is trivial. It is pronounced as 'tamasam'
All the five factors impose their conditions and propose limits on what may be done and what can be done. The social planner has to take into account the existence of a latent common will as well as the many diversities in wills and has to address himself to both.
If the rajasa denies the existence of a common will and expostulates on the diversities, the tamasa tends to inter the diversities that are real and promotes the concept of unity in an erroneous way as the concept of one undivided state or nation or society. [It is unwise to propagate the slogan of 'one race, one people, one culture, one god, one religion, one faith and one law'.]
The sagacious do not seek to annul any of the several dharmas in vogue. The tamasa approach seeks to wipe out these [in the name of a casteless classless society with no national boundaries or religious barriers]. It has a single purpose, control of all things, control over all beings.It ignores the causative factors, the procedural requirements and the constitutional obligations.
Karmayoga does not steamroll diversities nor succumbs to them. It upholds unity in diversity. A work which is prescribed and regulated by the code and is performed without attachment and without love or hate and without expecting rewards is 'sattvika', It is performed as duty. Detachment is not indifference to work.
Work that pleases does not fall within the ambit of sattvika. Indifference to duty is tamasa while attachment to the work performed is rajasa.
A work that is done with great vigour by one who seeks to fulfill his desires or who is impelled by egotism is 'rajasa'. Even a good social work gets tarnished because of egotism and personal interests and fanaticism of the social worker.
A good social worker is gentle and duty-bound unlike the motivated, aggressive political activist. A work commenced under delusion without regard for its resultant commitments or loss or injury and without foreseeing the manpower required to execute it is 'tamasa'. Karmayoga defines the science of labour, work. Krshna objected to unplanned and unapproved enterprises.
Krshna distinguished three ways in which a social project funded and finalized by a higher authority was undertaken. It had to promote unity despite diversities present and without annulling them. It was non-aggressive, well-planned and non-speculative.
Krshna then describes the traits expected in the official (karta) who was required to execute it. The ideal executive is free from attachment. He is a free individual but is not an egotist or individualist (ahamvadi). He is steadfast, determined and zealous even while implementing a project not conceived by him and is not in pursuit of personal interests.
He is not elated by success or disheartened by failure. His approach and outlook do not get distorted by the result. He is sattvik.
The executive who is passionate eagerly seeks the fruits of his work, is greedy, violent and corrupt and is given to bouts of joy and grief is of the 'rajasa type. Assertiveness often becomes harsh and merciless.
The executive who is untrained and unsuitable for the work assigned, is uncultured and crude, raw and unmoulded, is obstinate, deceitful, procrastinating, despondent, non-constructive and indolent is of tamasa type.,
Krshna then distinguished three types among administrators-intellectuals who needed both steadfastness (dhrti) and intellect (buddhi).
The sattvika type knows what action is to be performed by one in tune with his nature and when he should cease to perform it, when he should retire from that vocation or task.
He knows what purpose (karya) is to be accomplished and what is not to be striven for, what one should dread to do and what he need not dread to do. He knows what deeds are proscribed and which ones are not. He knows which duty is obligatory and which is not.
The comprehensive manual on work (karmayoga) ensures that a good administrator is not reckless. He knows what duties to perform and how to perform them and when to retire. The intellectual who has no correct appraisal of what is dharma and what is adharma and what goal is desirable (karya) and what is not desirable (akarya) is of rajasa type He is not intelligent enough not to be confused over the merits of his action.
Krshna was briefing Arjuna on the role of a Rajarshi, a judge-cum-administrator, trained in samkhya dialectics. He does not resort to laws of expediency. The concept of freedom to choose one's occupation not interfered by any authority cannot be conceded, even as the concept of equality of all cannot be conceded by the judiciary. [Liberty and equality are concepts subject to scrutiny by the principles of jurisprudence based on social welfare and rationalism.] The rajasa type leads to injustice against good and pious persons.
An intellect that has been overcome by a social environment full of indolence, indifference and pursuit of the mirage, holds what is blatantly adharma, immoral and anti-social, to be dharma. It sees all things and purposes of acts from a perverted angle. Such an intellectual who is morally decadent is tamasi.
The trainee is warned against the counter-intelligentsia, perverted intellectuals.
An administrator is superior to an executive. He has to be firm in his adherence to dharma. Steadfastness (dhrti) supports the activities of the mind, breath and senses. When one does not allow these to go out of control and is naturally steadfast in his mission it is said to be sattvik. Rajasi lacks self-restraint.
The executive who performs his duties properly and resolutely but has other expectations which are not honourable and are incidental personal benefits is rajasa type.
Both despair and fanaticism are 'tamasi'. The type of determination with which a perverted intellectual refuses to give up his dreams, unwarranted fears, unnecessary grief, despondency and fanaticism is 'tamasi' in nature. Tamas covers ignorance and inertness, dreams and timidity, despair and fanaticism.
This veils the perception of the right goals and leads one to making his proficiency available for anti-social acts.
Krshna presents three types of comfort (sukham) attained at the end of discomfort (duhkham). Beatitude, sukham, is gained only after rigorous practice, which is painful. This is like medicine, which in the beginning is bitter like poison but in effect is life-saving, sweet like nectar (amrtam). This beatitude springs from serene (prasada) understanding of ones self, self-realization and personal intellect (atmabuddhi).
An intellectual who seeks to know himself can attain this serene joy. This is not training in 'buddhiyoga'; training in using rigorously logical methods to comprehend all events and trends, but is one based on self-analysis to ensure that the code is adhered to. This final comfort which is serene and satisfying,is sattvik in nature.
The executive (and so too the administrator) has to note that corrective measures when first introduced are likely to be unwelcome. But as the people get accustomed to them, they would find these advantageous and would be pleased with them.
But there are steps that are pleasant in the beginning but prove to be harmful later. The comfort that is sweet in the beginning emerges from contact with the objects of senses is of rajasa type. It proves to be harmful and is antithetical to the sattvika type of comfort.
The training in Krshnas academy of samkhya and yoga required rigorous control over pleasures of the senses and observance of celibacy. It would benefit the trainee later if not at once.
Krshna's analysis presents tamasa too as another antipode to sattva. The tamasa, unintelligent comfort is in being under delusion both in the beginning and in the end .
Both the prologue and the epilogue may appear to be pleasing but inactivity or sleep marks the whole career. Indolence and indifference to or neglect of duties and lack of self-awareness lead to this life of inactivity. The executive who does not work falls in this category. Krshnas academy has no place for such a candidate. The tamasa suffers from self-deception, is self-enchanted. He cannot prove useful to the mission. He is not necessarily ignorant or incapable of providing dynamic leadership. He has to be shaken out of his indolence and delusion.
These minor but significant nuances are to be paid attention while analyzing these three types, sattva, rajas and tamas. [It is imprecise to describe these as goodness, passion and dullness, especially in this frame.] The three-fold paradigm of gunas, inborn traits, needs to be presented in a rational manner.
Krshna points out that in the (core) society comprising the two social worlds and, of nobles and commoners, there is no one who is free from the three inborn traits. Krshna found many of the nobles to be as frail as the commoners were. They too are men. They too belong to prakrti. The three traits have emerged from, prakrti.
Purushas are able social leaders and devas are aristocrats who do not necessarily have the ability to lead the commoners.
Krshna would hence categorize the nobles, devas on the basis of their inborn traits. While, in the core society, the aristocrats were referred to as devas, their equivalents in the frontier society were known as devatas and in the social periphery as isvaras. None of these were 'gods'.
All the members of the core society, nobles and commoners, are brought under the four-fold classification Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vis and Shudras. .
This extended classification (pravibhakta) is based on vocations assigned to them. These are correlated to the predominant trait or personal tendency (svabhava) of the individual. Krshna rules out all other criteria.
Even aristocrats are covered by thisclassification.They would not be placed in a separate higher class though he personally favoured their being retained as such a class. They too are to be merged in the masses, prakrti, and assigned to the different varnas, classes.
This scheme was to be applied to the two social worlds, divam and prthvi. Krshna did not propose to extend it to the third social world, antariksham, the frontier society of forests and mountains.
The three social universes, jagats, too were not covered by this scheme and so too the unorganized individuals, bhutas, of the social periphery. The real challenge lay in bringing all these under this natural classification.
Those who have in their personal nature, the traits of serenity , self-control, persistence in endeavour, purity, forbearance and uprightness and have received knowledge through formal education and gained further knowledge through extrapolation of that knowledge and have faith in the existence of an Ultimate (astikam) are eligible to perform the duties of an intellectual (Brahmakarma), Krshna says.
This intellectual may become a teacher or a jurist. He is not presented as a priest though being a believer (astika) he may become a priest (purohita, in common parlance).
Dharmasastras have not stipulated that a Brahman should believe in the existence of God even as they cannot be said to have not made it obligatory for orhers to believe in the existence of God. Even atheists were eligible to be treated as Brahmans and appointed as teachers.
Brahmakarma was distinct from these. One who interpreted and presented the stand of Brahma or the constitution as incorporated in the Atharvaveda for consideration by the appropriate bodies, house of nobles (sabha) and council of scholars (samiti) and for their considered action was said to be performing Brahmakarma. He was more than a guide. His view could not be ignored.
He was astika because he treated all beings as having souls. Hence he held all men as being equally eligible for the rights assured by the constitution. He believed in the sanctity of this constitution. Only a believer in the existence of such a soul that runs through all beings can be expected to be a humanist. The jurist has to be a humanist, rational, egalitarian and humanitarian. Brahmakarma is the role of the ideologue, Brahmavadi.
[Rationalism of the highest order leads one to conclude that such a soul, atma, exists in all beings. This is not blind faith in God or fear of God. Krshna does not give agnostics and atheists a place in this class, varna, which has been tuned to faith in the existence of an eternal soul in every being.]
The astikas were not necessarily worshippers of a personal god. The nobles (devas) honoured those believers who held that the soul could not slay or be slain. The patriciate, nobles, could perform the role of the intellectual elite. But the feudal lords, asuras, could not, for they were inhuman and lacked forbearance.
Krshna does not refer to the duties of performance of yajnas, sacrifices, studying and teaching Vedas, and offering and receiving gifts (dana) or to performance of tapas. The stress is on jnanam and vijnanam that need mastery of samkhya and nyaya systems.
The traits mentioned in this verse are listed as minimum desiderata for one being entrusted with Brahmakarma, the functions of a jurist. The Brahmana as a professional priest or teacher is not mentioned here.
Valour, splendour, steadfastness, alertness, not fleeing in battle, generosity, charismatic leadership (isvarabhava) are the natural traits (born) in one who is fit for the duties (karma) of a protector (kshatra), ruler and administrator. Social leaders (purushas), charismatic chieftains (isvaras) and also generous nobles (devas) have their place in this class.
Once again, the conventional duties of the Kshatriyas that are dilated on by the Dharmasastras do not find mention here.
Krshna deals with Kshatra karma and not with conventional Kshatriya dharma or Kshatra dharma. He is concerned with providing stable and liberal governance that would ensure confidence among the people.
The new social order was confined to the core society. It was possible to absorb the unorganized individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery and their intellectuals (budhas) and leaders (isvaras) in it with the assurance that the new state would treat all beings as equal. But it was still confined to the agro-pastoral core society that was engaged in agriculture, protection of cattle and trade. All those engaged in these economic activities were declared to be Vaisyas. These vocations are in tune with their natural traits.
Those who are not highly educated and are not valorous either are assigned to the Vaisya class. Those who are fit only to render service and have the aptitude for rendering such service are assigned to the vocations of the Shudras. The Shudras are not in the agrarian sector or in the commercial economy. They are in the services sector as attendants, nurses, cooks etc. Krshna does not bring the industrial economy under this classification.
Krshna however expected it to follow the pattern set for the core society. Social classification is not to be viewed as necessarily antithetical to social integration. Stratification is an inevitable sequel to classification.
All except those performing Brahmakarma and Kshatrakarma and service to others (paricharya) were absorbed in the Vaisya varna. Serving others was termed Shudrakarma. The new core society of the agro-pastoral plains continued to be a composite of organized clans and communities.
Naras, Free Men and Personal pursuits, Svakarma
But there were many persons who did not pursue the vocations engaged in by other members of their families. These free men, naras, were not subject to the codes of their clans and communities that had been fitted in the four-varnas scheme, mostly in the Vaisya varna which took over the status of the commonalty, Vis, of the later Vedic times. The free men, naras, were permitted to follow the respective vocations of their choice, svakarma, according to their pleasure, abhirata, and gain perfection, samsiddhi, in them.
Krshna assigns and recommends to the intelligentsia the role of the upholders of constitutional law, Brahmakarma and to the political order headed by the Rajarshi and guided by the Rajapurohita the task of guaranteeing social stability and protection, liberal governance and equality before the eyes of law, Kshatrakarma.
In pursuance of such a social polity, he stabilizes the vocations pursued by the Vaisya clans and communities of the core society but permits the free men (naras) to pursue the vocation of their choice and become accomplished in it. Varna assignment would not come in the way of this pursuit. The doors of all the four varnas were open to the free men.
Krshna then describes how the free men could get their wishes of following their chosen occupations fulfilled. It is not sound to state that the above verse warns one not to attempt work beyond his nature. Rights of naras to choose occupation were extended to bhutas.
A manava attains (vindati) perfection (siddhi) by honouring (abhyarchya) the rules of the occupation opted for by him as svakarma. Such men are self-employed and are free to adopt any occupation provided they abide by the code laid down by the guild or corporation. The latter is not permitted to bar others from pursuing that vocation.
The manavas were not considered to be subjects of any particular ruler or residents of any particular area. They were 'citizens of the world' and could not be prevented from following any vocation they chose to follow.
This statement throws open all occupations to those who are sincere in following the code governing the vocation concerned. The system of activity (pravrtti) of all the unattached individuals is pervaded by this theme.
The clans, communities, guilds and corporations are required not to obstruct these pursuits that are in tune with the innate traits and aptitudes of the individuals. This is the approach of the Manava school of thought.
The varna classification of the larger society has to be effected without disturbing the traditional vocations followed by the clans and communities and the individuals according to their natural tendencies.
The varna system of distribution of duties and vocations does not envelop the entire human society.
The free men, naras, choose to do what pleases them. The unattached individuals, bhutas, do what they do as they can not but do them, for they are impelled by their needs and are not acting as units of clans or as persons who had dropped out of the clans. The manushyas function as clans and communities and are not independent of them.
The Manava School (of Pracetas) would try to secure for all freedom and non-obstruction needed to pursue the vocation they are capable of or in need of pursuing.
This Manava dharma, the code of rights and duties of a human being, which transcend kuladharmas, jatidharmas, desadharmas and varnadharmas, permitted every one to continue to perform the vocation he has inherited or been assigned on the basis of his clan or community, region or class or is accustomed to as an individual or has opted for as a free man.
It is better to follow ones own dharma, code of conduct, (svadharma) however imperfectly correlated it may be to his innate trait (viguna) than to follow perfectly a duty, a work, assigned to another (paradharma) person or group.
Even as the clans and communities are called upon not to stand in the way of the individual resorting to a vocation that is in tune with his innate trait and aptitude, the individual is called upon not to resort to a vocation assigned to another though he may find it to be more in tune with his guna, inborn trait, than the one assigned to him. One does not incur guilt (kilbisham) when he does a work, duty, in accordance with his personal aptitude (svabhava) and directed and regulated (niyata) by that aptitude, Krshna says.
Neither the society nor its organizations and institutions including those of the state may fault one for choosing a vocation that is in tune with his aptitude and performing the duties and exercising the rights, dharma, associated with that vocation, karma.
Those who have not accepted Varnadharma, the duties prescribed for the class to which they are assigned or have not been accepted by the varna to which they have been assigned may function independently under Svadharma, the code of conduct prescribed for those who have chosen their vocations by themselves. This explanation is related to the issue of mixed classes.
Both the proponents of Varnasrama Dharma and its critics are required to reconsider their positions in the light of this comprehensive plan outlined by Krshna and recommended by him to his trainees for implementing. The new social order seeks to be a holistic and balanced one.
Does the new social order reassign positions, duties and vocations? May one change one's vocation? Arjuna raises these questions with reference to the rights of the individual and they need precise answers.
One should not give up the vocation, duty, karma, he is accustomed to from birth (saha-ja), Krshna states. He refuses to treat any recognized vocation as infra dig.
The hereditary vocation, even if it is defective (sadosham), is to be performed by one born in the clan or community following that vocation. Some abandoned them in preference to new ones. But all new ventures (sarva arambha) are clouded by defects, he says.
Krshna does not countenance giving up traditional vocations and practices by any group. This is a rider to the permission granted in the previous verse for every one to follow a vocation in tune with his natural aptitude.
Svadharma (personal duties including vocation and correlated rights) once assigned or opted for on the basis of one's natural trait, svabhava, and a pleasing vocation is taken up as svakarma, is institutionalized and guarded against encroachment by and threat from others. It is not to be given up, chasing the wild goose. This is pragmatism rather than traditionalism. Social stability has to be guarded against the perils of fluidity.
The intellectual aristocracy of siddhas who rank higher than the cultural aristocracy of nobles, devas, have no vocation to follow, no duty to perform. The cultural aristocracy too had been relieved of all societal duties and the duties of protection and administration had been assigned to the new Kshatra cadre.
Having attained perfection (siddhi), the intellectual proceeds through supreme attention to and application of the knowledge acquired by him to rise to the level of the ideal intellectual (Brahma), the authority on all issues pertaining to the socio-political constitution as incorporated in the Atharvaveda (Brahma).
Krshna offers to brief Arjuna about this ascent of the 'siddha' to the status of 'Brahma' the high constitutional authority who is entitled to give the verdict on what is 'dharma', the approved conduct.
He is endowed with 'pure' intellect. He is self-regulated and is steadfast in his stands. He has given up attractions to all matters that are appreciated through senses like sound. He is not carried away by praises or affected by criticisms. He has cast aside passion, deep emotional attachment and longing for any person or object and aversion to persons or things.
He (Brahma, chief justice) has trained himself to follow the rules impartially and give his verdict objectively without allowing his personal opinions and ideological position to sully it. He does not waver when he is required to pronounce his verdict.
After attaining perfection in his field of study, the siddha, an aspirant to the position of a jurist, Brahma, dissociates himself from the company of intellectuals too and leaves the academy where lectures were delivered, hymns chanted and debates conducted.
As he is confident of his knowledge, he may proceed to dwell in solitude, eating but little, controlling his mind, body and speech and be ever engaged in meditation. He takes recourse to the ways of life of a 'vairagi' whose desires and passions have been drained..
Krshna might give only an outline of the topics covered by them and highlight the views of the authorities in those fields He did not give intensive training in these in his academy.
The graduates who wanted to master all fields of study had to first move to places where they could stay alone and meditate on what they had already learnt, leading the life of a 'vairagi'.
The 'vairagi' is free from egotism, assertiveness or forceful expression of one's view, arrogance, desire and wrath and also from possessions and companions. He is without the feeling of 'mineness' and is tranquil and is slated to become 'Brahma'.
The expression, 'Brahmabhuya', means attaining the status of and being ordained as the highest authority entitled to pronounce the final verdict onconstitutional issues and enforce it.
What had been declared in the past, as the steps to be taken have to follow in the order prescribed and cannot be avoided according to the 'vairagi'.
In Krshna's scheme, a yogi had to become a siddha and then a meditator and next, a vairagi, before he became eligible for elevation to the status of the highest intellectual, Brahma.
The Rajarshi had to be a Vairagi', a stoic, as described above before he mastered all fields of study pertaining to the society and the state and became entitled to interpret constitutional law, Brahma. A member of the council of 'Brahma' had to be more than a siddha. He should have mastered all fields of study and become a dispassionate stoic with no possessions or retinue, a vairagi who has given up all attachment. He is a believer in destiny rather than a cynic.
Having become a 'Bahmabhuta', a member of the council of Brahma, the highest authority entitled to interpret the constitution, and hence a 'pleased person' he neither grieves for those whom he has left behind or who have fallen on the way nor entertains further expectations.
He treats all individuals as equal. Such a councillor is his best devotee, Krshna claims. He is not a cynic or pessimist. He has undertaken the mission to create a new social order that would treat all unattached individuals of the unorganized social periphery as equal.
Krshna asks Arjuna and other trainees to note that only persons who are not attached to and are not members of any socio-economic group or class would be able to join his mission. The intellectuals among them are able to appreciate it better.
Such a devoted intellectual comes to recognize Krshna's greatness and real personality including his outlook, philosophy.Having known the philosophy behind his mission and its vastness and prospects, this great intellectual joins him.
Those yogis who had graduated as 'siddhas', and had meditated on what they had learnt and become 'vairagis', joined the council of Brahma. It had approved his mission to create a new social order based on the equality of all beings and this mission began from the social periphery while the core society of nobles and commoners that included the free men, and the followers of the Manava school of thought, consented to adopt the four-varnas scheme.
This participant in Krshna's mission performs continually all his duties and taking shelter in Krshna's abode obtains his grace. He stays at that level, post, permanently and without any loss to his status as a free individual. Krshna's mission does not call upon the participants to lose their identities though it expects them to be devoted to it and its leader.
Having renounced all his actions as a thinker to Krshna's judgement and purposes the trainee (appointed as Brahmabhuta, a member of the highest council of Krshna's academy) resorts to imparting Buddhiyoga. He becomes a teacher of epistemology (Buddhiyoga),
Arjuna could become the head of the faculty of Buddhiyoga if he followed Krshna's counsel and was devoted to him. Buddhiyoga was the launching pad for getting mastery over samkhya and yoga. The latter covered Brahmayoga, Rajayoga and Karmayoga.
Arjuna was exhorted to carry out his mission. Fixing his thoughts on Krshna and his mission, Arjuna with the grace of the latter could overcome all his difficulties. But if out of conceit he did not listen to Krshna's counsel he would perish Krshna warned.
If staying in self-conceit he thought that he would not fight his career and vocationwould have been used improperly. It would be deemed that the training he had received as a Kshatriya soldier was being misused.
And the masses, prakrti, would compel him to fight, Krshna pointed out to him. If the leader, purusha, sat aside without carrying out his duty, to mobilize and lead the masses, the latter would not lie idle. The masses, prakrti, will make the leader, purusha, do what he ought to do.
Would Arjuna be not able to act independent of the mass society that he was expected to lead? Even if he had selected his vocation in accordance with his personal aptitude (svabhava) it would oblige him to fight. He would not be free to choose between fighting and not fighting.
Svakarma did not grant the right to opt out. His nature (svabhava) would be dictating his action and he would involuntarily (avasa) do that duty (karishyasi), that is, enter the field to battle against his kinsmen.
Such persons who were not able to choose their own occupations but had to follow any available one were covered by the concept, 'bhuta'. The manushyas performed their duty as expected by their clans or communities.
The purushas acted as expected by the masses, prakrti, whom they were to lead. The free men, naras, followed their personal preferences and were not bound even by the limits prescribed by their aptitudes. But the discrete individuals, bhutas had been advised by their leaders, Isvaras, and counsellors, budhas, to confine themselves to the limits prescribed by their aptitudes, svabhavas, and obey their dictates and not seek to perform a duty that was not theirs or fail to perform a duty that was theirs. Svadharma and svakarma were based on svabhava, in their case.
The bhutas, unattached individuals, who acted under the impulse of their personal aptitudes, would not be faulted. They followed their charismatic leader, Isvara, whom they cherished in their hearts (hrdde). He was able to manipulate them, move them around by his invisible charisma (maya), as if they were mounted on a machine (yantra).
Krshna was such a leader and he desired that Arjuna too should develop such a charisma, be one who inspired others and not be but one brought to duty by the desperate masses.
The charismatic leader, Isvara, acts and makes all bhutas, all the individuals of the social periphery act as he desires. Of course he too can make them act only within the limits set by their natural talents and natural aptitudes. A Rajarshi has to learn this lesson.
As a charismatic leader, Isvara, Arjuna would be able to act in any way, take up any role to please his followers and would not be confined to any particular way of life or vocation. He would be able to gain this versatility as an overlord and successor to Bharata by surrendering himself in all respects to Krshna's guidance.
By his grace, 'prasada', Arjuna would obtain the highest peace, 'param santi' (absence of internal conflicts) and a permanent place 'sasvata sthanam'.
Arjuna was then a wanderer, an exile from his country. His need was to get a firm foothold among the people of the social periphery and that needed adaptability. He had taken asylum in Krshna's academy and with the support of the latter he was expected to become the overlord.
Krshna reminded Arjuna that he had imparted the latter the knowledge of the 'secret of secrets', that is, the highly confidential matters pertaining to social polity that he was expected to assist in bringing about to fruition. He should reflect on all of it and then act as he chose to. Krshna would counsel him and not coerce him. He would be free to fight or not to fight.
Krshna was a teacher of samkhya and yoga. He had a mission to complete. He had trained Arjuna to support him in that mission, and be even second in command. But this was only a temporary position that Arjuna would be occupying. [His permanent position would be that of a Rajarshi and overlord, a charismatic leader and successor to Bharata.] Krshna had taught him Rajavidya, Rajayoga and Rajaguhya.
Krshna, as an ideal teacher felt it his duty to introduce Arjuna to the "secret of secrets" so that he might resolve to rise to the occasion and lead the movement for the reorganization of the social order. Krshna knew that Arjuna though permitted to do as he chose, would do what he was moulded to do. Krshna however found that given the freedom to do as he pleased, Arjuna was not able to make up his mind.
He repeated to Arjuna the highest of all secrets, that is, Rajaguhya, for Arjuna was dear to him. Hence he told Arjuna what was in the interest of the latter. It was persuasion and not indoctrination of any particular religious tenet or metaphysical system or socio-political ideology.
What this secret, guhya, was, the Gita does not reveal.
Vyasa knew what the secret that clinched the issue and roused Arjuna to action was. But others were not to know it. Krshna urged him to adopt his viewpoint and stance on all issues and become his devotee, offer 'sacrifice' to him and respect him. Then, Arjuna could join his mission. Krshna promised to accept him, as he was dear to him.Arjuna should give up all his duties and rights (sarvadharma) (whether they were under the provisions of kuladharma or jatidharma or varnadharma or svadharma) and be free from all bonds even as a samnyasi is.
He should go as a wandering mendicant (vraja) to Krshna alone for asylum and protection (saranam). Krshna would exonerate him from all sins that might follow his failing to perform his prescribed duties to his family, clan, community and class before joining his mission. Did Krshna urge Arjuna not to worry about the laws and practices but to trust Him (God?) and bow to His will?
Vyasa tells his disciples that Krshna had prevailed on Arjuna to leave his home and family and join the mission without being worried about their fate.
Arjuna was not to reveal to any one where he was going and with whom he was taking refuge and what his mission was. Only other members of his mission who were 'tapasvis' strenuous in its fulfillment might know about his joining it. Those who were not devoted to Krshna or spoke ill of him should not be told about it.
The secrets of social polity with respect to the creation of the new social order after bringing down the existing one might be shared with Krshna's other followers. Krshna was sure that his devotees would appreciate it and join his movement.
Arjuna might as Krshna's confidante part with this secret plan to Krshna's devotees (among the elite). The commoners of the core society were expected to support it. This mission expected members of the third social world, bhuva, too to join it. Krshna was optimistic about the response that it would get despite the utterances of his detractors who were jealous of his increasing popularity.
He hoped that one who studied this dialogue between him and Arjuna on issues pertaining to the social and moral codes, dharma, would offer all his knowledge as in a sacrifice, yajna, for his mission. Vyasa hoped that the intelligentsia would approve it and contribute to its fulfillment. Sanjaya who heard a report of it must have arrived at a similar conclusion.
It was not easy for the commoners who were organized in clans and communities or even for the groups engaged in the industrial economy of the frontier society to come out openly in favour of the move to dissolve the existing social system and create a new one. The intelligentsia could however propagate this cause.
Krshna expected positive response from free men, naras. They did not feel bound to toe the lines of the clans and communities in which they were born. A free man, who listened with intent to this conversation without envywould be freed from (mukti) the (few) restrictions on him and admitted to the auspicious community of those who had performed virtuous acts.
Krshna hoped that Arjuna had heard his counsel with his thought (cetasa) fixed to one point and that his lack of knowledge and delusion had been destroyed .In other words, he must have by now overcome the 'tamas' trait.
Arjuna replied that his delusion had been lost and that he had received through Krshna's grace the lessons that he would remember. He would stand firm with his doubts gone. He promised to act according to Krshna's advice.
Sanjaya (Dhrtarashtra's reporter) had heard this wonderful dialogue between Vasudeva and the great personage, Partha, being narrated in thrillingly by Romaharshana (a disciple of Vyasa).
He also acknowledged that Vyasa was gracious enough to permit him to hear this great secretthe yoga taught by Krshna, the Yogesvara himself. Vyasa must have recorded the dialogue and the secrets unfolded to Arjuna by Krshna in his academy.
Sanjaya was thrilled with joy as he recalled this wondrous and 'meritorious' dialogue between Kesava and Arjuna. Sanjaya was able to see Krshna in the form of Hari, which was highly exotic and thrilling.