Conclusions (Part 4)

This article is part 119 of 127 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga

What about the jñānī? He too has to perform karma but instructing him is not necessary. He performs karma without any guidance. Karma is imperative as long as the body exists. Life in the physical plane implies contact with the world. Even the most knowledgeable cannot escape it. If that is the case, what is so unique about a jñānī’s knowledge? The answer is that a jñānī’s karma does not result in individual results for him. It was mentioned that good karma is understood from the rules and restrictions of the śāstras. Who is it that requires rules and restrictions? For him who has remnants of selfishness and ego. A complete jñānī however has not even an iota of selfishness and ego; for, in his perspective, nothing other than the ātmā exists. The śruti declares:

dvitīyādvai bhayam bhavati|

(Bṛhadāraṇyaka Up.)

(Fear is indeed because of the second)

We could also say "dvitīyādvai pāpam bhavati" (pāpa is indeed because of the second). For the root cause for pāpa is fear - the fear that another’s existence can cause one harm. Anger stems from that fear. The possibility of pāpa is because of the existence of another. But what exists is one - Brahma! Nothing apart from it exists in reality. The separateness of the world from the ātmā is merely an appearance, not real. For a person who has realised this, there is no sense of I and mine. Who will be subjected to such a person’s pāpa? Pāpa occurs only if there is another entity. Therefore whatever a jñānī does is bereft of pāpa. Whatever be his karma it is only the quality of sattva that manifests itself there. Why should there be rules and restrictions for one established in sattva? Whatever is done with musk results in fragrance, not stink. Whatever be the reason for Devarṣi Nārada to open his mouth, music will be the result. Even his curse is pleasing to the ears. No discordant note exits his throat.

Śāstra, Guru, and the disciplic tradition are all external testimonies. They are required for those without jñāna, or with incomplete jñāna. For one of pure sattva, these external motivators and rules are unessential. He can decide - based on his internal testimony - by himself on what is suitable and what is not. He performs good karma without the need for rules and prohibitions. The set of good activities that is performed by ordinary people guided by external testimony such as śāstra and traditions is dharma. The good karma that happens without any external requirement is adhidharma. Good karma is a means for the seeker of jñāna. For one with jñāna, however, good karma becomes his innate characteristic. The seeker of jñāna performs good karma through effort. The jñānī’s good karma is an effortless blossoming of his inner character. dharma is an instrument. Adhidharma is the attainment.

Thus we see that while karma is not a limitation for the jñānī, it is not prohibited. Whatever good karma a seeker performs with desire or fear, a jñānī performs too - but as effortlessly and naturally as breathing in and out. The seeker’s efforts bear fruit for himself. However, the seer’s efforts bear fruit for the world as he does not desire anything for himself.  Such a seer is a jīvanmukta. All of this is talk about those much above us - those who fly in the sky. Can earth-lubbers like us understand the stratospheric heat and cold changes or respiratory and digestive issues experienced by a Russian astronaut couple? The level of those jñānīs is like that of these astronauts.

For ordinary folks like us, this instruction of Śrī Ānandatīrtha is worth following.

kuru bhuṅkṣva ca karma nijaṃ niyataṃ haripādavinamradhiyā satatam |
harireva paro harireva gururharireva jagatpitṛmātṛgatiḥ ||


This verse can be called the essence of the BhagavadGītā. Karma performed with such a mindset becomes yajña.

8. Meditation upon reality: This is an essential exercise for the manas that should be done only for personal purification. Charity and other acts result in some benefit to others. However, meditation upon reality is done purely for oneself. The divine should be reflected upon in a tranquil place every day, at least for a few moments. Jñāna cannot result from mere book study.

yogī yuñjīta satatam ātmānaṃ rahasi sthitaḥ ||

-BG 6.10

ātmāsaṃsthaṃ manaḥ kṛtvā na kiñcidapi cintayet || 

-BG 6.25

9. Surrender: This is very difficult to achieve. The essence of surrender and the essence of renunciation are the same.

manmanā bhava madbhakto madyājī māṃ namaskuru ||

-BG 9.34; 18.65

gatirbhartā prabhuḥ sākṣī nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṃ suhṛt |

-BG 9.18

ananyāśicantayanto mām ||

-BG 9.22

sarvadharmānparityajya māmekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja ||

-BG 18.66

Bhagavān has thus assured us at several places in the Gītā. “If you trust me, you will not come to any trouble. I say this as your friend - trust my words.”
These words of assurance bring to mind Śrīrāmacandra’s assertion in the śrīmadrāmāyaṇa.

sakṛdeva prapannāya tavāsmīti ca yācate ।
abhayaṃ sarvabhūtebhyo dadāmyetadvrataṃ mama ॥

-Rāmāyaṇa, 6.18.33

Surrender is saying to Bhagavān - “I have faith only in you; I don’t trust myself’”. During surrender to Bhagavān, we could say that we have no faith in others. But it is difficult to say that we do not have faith in ourselves. The notion of the personal “I” has to go. This indeed is śaraṇāgati or prapatti. This is the perfect form of bhakti - its pristine state. Saṃnyāsa is the same. The ego should be uprooted. Our ordinary bhakti has traces of ego in it. When those traces are got rid of and bhakti is purified, it becomes śaraṇāgati.

10. Tranquillity is paramount: Tranquillity is beyond pleasure and enjoyment. What does the mind experience after studying the Rāmāyaṇa or the Bhārata? We could say that it is more sorrow than happiness. Is there a rasa (emotion) that is beyond pleasure and pain? Yes. It is tranquillity or śānti. One should realise that śānti is paramount. The main difference between us and other countries is this. We say that tranquillity is happiness.

aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham | 

-BG 2.66

śāntamu lĕka saukhyamu lĕdu

-Śrī Tyāgarāja

The happiness of Western countries, instead of being based on tranquillity, is marked by passion for enjoyment. Matthew Arnold ponders upon the same repeatedly. What do you want? Peace? Or enjoyment? Their concept of pleasure is one of sensuous titillation. Snuff for the nose, wine for the tongue, speed for the body, touch and friction for the skin and excitement for the mind - these constitute their happiness. Our (the indic) concept of happiness, however, is to minimise such passions and excitement.

vihāya kāmānyaḥ sarvānpumāṅścarati niḥspṛhaḥ.
nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ sa śāntimadhigacchati ||

-BG 2.71

eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha ||

-BG 2.72

yasmānnodvijate loko lokānnodvijate ca yaḥ
harṣāmarṣabhayodvegairmukto yaḥ sa ca me priyaḥ ||

-BG 12.15

The state of mokṣa is one of supreme tranquillity. It is the life of a jñānī. All disparate and different objects become one from the vantage of the jñānī. The mark of a complete jñānī is subject-object integration. When the differences of inside and outside, me and you, and higher and lower no longer count, it is the experience of Brahma. Such a person who has attained this state has no enmity with anybody and neither does he fear anybody. Isn’t fear manifested only when there is something other than ourselves?

dvitīyādvai bhayaṃ bhavati |

It is not possible to reach that Brāhmic state in a couple of days. However, it is a state that has to be constantly pursued by us. A person who has attained that state has no enemies. The world becomes his playground. All transactions of life become a sport.

The essence of these ten practices is to purify and elevate the jīva, forming the pre-requisite for the experience of paramātmā. For one who has practised these ten, the experience of the divine becomes closer according to his prior deeds and tendencies. The BhagavadGītā can only show us the method to attain the Supreme Reality; it cannot bring the Supreme Reality to our hands. The attainment of an object depends on the calibre of the recipient.

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.


Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

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