Bhagavad-gita-rahasya (or Karma-yoga Shastra)

by Bhalchandra Sitaram Sukthankar | 1935 | 327,828 words

The English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita Rahasya, also known as the Karma-yoga Shastra or “Science of Right Action”, composed in Marathi by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1915. This first volume represents an esoteric exposition of the Bhagavadgita and interprets the verses from a Mimamsa philosophical standpoint. The work contains 15 chapters, Sanskri...

Chapter 10 - The Effect of Karma and Freedom of Will

[Full title: The Effect of Karma and Freedom of Will (karma-vipāka and ātmasvātantrya)]

karmaṇā badhyate jantur vidyayā tu pramucyate |
  —Māhabhārata, Śānti. (240.7).

"A living being is bound by Karma, and is released by Knowledge."

Although the proposition that, whatever there is in the world is the Parabrahman, and that there is nothing else besides the Parabrahman, is true in effect. When one passes through the sieve of Spiritual Knowledge the various objects in the visible world, which are perceived by the human organs, one has to divide everything into two factors.

They are:

(i) the daily changing, that is, non-permanent Name-d and form-ed Appearance of those objects, and
(ii) the invisible but permanent Paramātman-Element, which is clothed in these Names and Forms.

It is true that these two factors cannot be placed before the eyes individual, in the same way as a substances is analysed and its components separated from each other in Chemistry. But, from the point of view of Knowledge, these two factors could be separated from each other and for convenience of scientific treatment, they are respectively called 'Brahman' and 'Māyā', or the 'BRAHMAN-WORLD' and the 'MĀYĀ-WORLD'. Nevertheless, as the brahman is fundamentally Eternal and Real, the word world is suffixed to it merely for rhyme. The word Brahman-world is not understood as indicating that the Brahman was created by somebody. We have considered, in the last chapter, what is pure form of the Ātman and the highest ideal of mankind are. This is by searching with spiritual eyes, the Brahman-world out of these two worlds, which is not limited by Names and Forms like Time and Space, is internal and independent, and which remaining at the core of the visible world, is the foundation of it. The pure philosophy of the Absolute-Self ends at this point. But, although the human Ātman belongs to the fundamentally to the Brahman-world, yet, like other things in the visible world, it is covered by bodily organs in the shape of Names and Forms, and these Names and Forms in the shape of the bodily organs are perishable. Therefore, every human being is naturally desirous of knowing how it is possible to escape from these Names and Forms, and to attain immortality; and, in order to consider what mode of life has to be adopted for satisfying that desire, which subject belongs to the science of Karma-Yoga, we must now enter the Dualistic territory of the non-permanent MĀYĀ-WORLD which is bound by the laws of Karma (Action). If there is fundamentally only one permanent and independent Ātman, both in the Body and in the Cosmos, the questions which necessarily arise, are, what are the difficulties which are experienced by the Ātman in the body, in Realising the Ātman in the Cosmos, and how those difficulties can be overcome; and, in order to solve these questions, it becomes necessary to expound what Names and Forms are; because, as all objects fall into the two classes of the Ātman or Parabrahman, and the Name-d and Form-ed covering on It, nothing else now remains for consideration except the Name-d and Form-ed covering. As this Name-d and Form-ed covering is dense in some cases and thin in other eases, the objects in the visible world fall, according to Vedānta, into the two classes of sacetana (Activated) and acetana (Non- Activated), and even the Activated are again sub-divided into animals, birds, men, gods, gandharvas, and demons etc.

There is no place where the Brahman in the shape of Ātman does not exist. It is in the stone, and It is in the human being. But, as there is a difference according to whether a light is put into an iron box, or in a lantern with more or less clean glasses, though it may be one and the same light, so also, although the Ātman-Element is everywhere the same, the different divisions of Activated and Non-Activated arise, as a result of the difference in density of the clothing of Names and Forms in each case. Nay, that is the reason why, even among the Activated, the power of acquiring Knowledge is not the same in the case of men and beasts. It is true that the Ātman is the same everywhere; yet, as it is fundamentally qualityless and apathetic, it cannot by itself do anything, without some Name-d and Form-ed means like the Mind, Reason etc.; and, as these means are not fully available to the Ātman except in the human birth, such birth is considered to be the most superior of all. When the Ātman has got this human birth, this its Name-d and Form-ed clothing falls into the two divisions of Gross and Subtle. According to Vedānta, this gross clothing is the embodiment of the mixture of blood and semen; and whereas, muscles, bones, and nerves grow from the semen, skin, flesh, hair etc. grow from the śoṇita, that is, from the blood; and all this is referred to as the 'annamaya-kośa' (covering made up of food). When we pass this covering and go further inside, we come across Life in the shape of breath, that is, the 'prāṇamaya-kośa'; the Mind, that is, the manomaya-kośa; Reason, that is, the jñānamaya-kośa; and ultimately, the ānandamaya-kośa. The Ātman is beyond all these; and therefore, in the Taittirīyopaniṣad, Varuṇa has acquainted Bhṛgu with the various forms of the Ātman by describing to him the various envelopes (kośa) rising from the annamaya-kośa to the ānandamaya-kośa (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.1–5; 3.2–6). Vedāntists refer to these envelopes (kośa'), except the Gross Body, such as the Prana- covering etc., together with the subtle organs and the five Fine Elements (Tanmātras) aa the 'liṅga' or the 'sūkṣma śarīra' (the Subtle Body). But, instead of explaining the fact of the Ātman taking births in various species of life (yoni) by imagining the existence of diverse 'Bhāvas' of the Reason (See p. 261 above ~Translator.) as is done by the Sāṃkhyas, they say that that is the result of Karma-Vipāka, or the fruit of Action. It has been clearly stated in the Gītā, the Upaniṣads, and the Vedānta-Sūtras, that this Karma clings to the support of the Subtle Body, and when the Ātman leaves the Gross Body, this Karma accompanies the Ātman, embodied in the Subtle Body, and compels it to take birth after birth. Therefore, in considering the difficulty which stands in the way of the embodied Ātman attaining the Parabrahman, or obtaining Release, after escaping the cycle of birth and death in the shape of Names and Forms, one has to consider both Karma and the Subtle Body. Out of these, the Subtle Body has been dealt with before, both from the point of view of the Sāṃkhya philosophy, as of Vedānta; and, therefore, I shall not repeat the same subject-matter here. In this chapter, I have considered only the nature of that Karma or Action, whereby the Ātman falls into the cycle of birth and death instead of Realising the Brahman, and also how a man has to live in this world in order that the Ātman should escape that cycle and acquire immortality. Those qualities of Time and Space embodied in Name and Form, as a result of which the fundamental, non- perceptible, and qualityless Parabrahman existing at the commencement of the world, appears in the form of the visible world, are known in Vedānta philosophy as 'Māyā' (Bhagavadgītā 7.24, 25), and that also includes Karma (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.6.1). Nay, we may even say that 'Māyā' and 'Karma ' are synonymous; because, unless some Karma or Action has been performed, it is not possible for the Imperceptible to become Perceptible, or for the Qualityless to become Qualityful.

Therefore, the Blessed Lord has, after first saying "I take birth in Prakṛti by my Māyā" (Bhagavadgītā 4.6), defined Karma later on in the eighth chapter of the- Gītā itself, as:

"The Action, whereby the variegated Cosmos, such as, the five primordial elements etc. comes into existence out of the imperishable Parabrahman is known as 'Karma' " (Bhagavadgītā 8.3).

Karma has been here used in the comprehensive- meaning of Activity or Action-whether it is performed by a human being or by the other objects in the world, or it is the activity comprised in the Cosmos itself coming into existence. But, whatever Action is taken, its result always is that one Name and Form is changed, and another comes into existence in its place; because, the Fundamental Substance, which is covered by this Name and Form, never changes and always remains the same. For instance, by the Action of weaving, the name 'thread ' disappears, and the same substance gets instead the name of 'cloth'; and by the Action of a potter, the name 'pot' takes the place of the name 'earth'. Therefore, in defining Māyā, Karma or Action is sometimes not mentioned at all, and only Name and Form are included in Māyā. Yet, when one has to consider Karma by itself, one has to say that the form of Karma is the same as the form of Māyā. Therefore, it is more convenient to make it clear in the very beginning that Māyā, Names and Forms, and Karma are fundamentally the same in nature- One can, it is true, make the subtle distinction that MĀYĀ is the common word, and its Appearance has the specific name of Names and Forms, and its Activity, the specific name of KARMA. But, as ordinarily it is not necessary to make this distinction, these three words are very often used synonymously. This clothing (or this upādhi i.e., super-imposed covering) of perishable Māyā on one part of the Parabrahman, which is visible to the eyes, has been described in Sāṃkhya philosophy as the three-constituented Prakṛti.

Sāṃkhya philosophers look upon Puruṣa and Prakṛti as two self-created, independent and eternal Elements. But, as Māyā, Names and Forms, or Karma change constantly, it would be logically incorrect to look upon them as of the same standard as the permanent and immutable Parabrahman; because, as the two ideas, 'permanent' and 'non-permanent', are contrary to each other, both of them cannot become applicable at the same time. Therefore, Vedāntists have come to the conclusion that Perishable Prakṛti or Māyā, in the shape of Karma, is not independent, but that the Appearance of a qualityful Māyā is seen in the one, permanent, all-pervading, and qualityless Parabrahman by the feeble human organs. But, it is not enough to say, that Māyā is not independent, and that one only sees this Appearance in the qualityless Parabrahman. Although, according to Vivartavāda, if not according to the Guṇapariṇāma-vāda, it is possible to see this Appearance of qualityful Names and Forms, that is, of Māyā in the qualityless and eternal Brahman, yet, we are faced with the further question, namely, when, in what order, and why, did this qualityful Appearance, which is seen by human organs, appear in the qualityless Parabrahman? Or, to say the game thing in ordinary language, when, and why, did the eternal and thought-formed Parameśvara create the Name-d and Formed,. perishable, and gross universe?

But, as this subject is unknowable, not only to human beings, but even to gods, and to the Vedas, as stated in the Nāsadīya-Sūkta in the ṚgVeda (Ṛg-veda 10. 129; Taittirīya Upaniṣad Bra. 2.8. 9) one cannot answer that question better than by saying:

"This is an unknowable pastime (līlā) of the qualityless Parabrahman, which has been realised by Knowledge." (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.1.33).

One has to take it for granted that ever since the commencement of things, Name-d and Form-ed perishable Karma, or qualityful Māyā, has been seen side by side with the qualityless Brahman. Therefore, Karma embodied in Māyā has been called eternal in the Vedānta- Sūtras (Vedānta-Sūtras 2. 1. 35–37), and even in the Bhagavadgītā, the Blessed Lord has, after saying that Prakṛti is not independent, but "is My Māyā" (Bhagavadgītā 7.14), said further on that this Prakṛti, that is, Māyā, and Puruṣa are both 'eternal (Bhagavadgītā 13.19).

In the same way, in describing Māyā, Śaṃkarācārya has said in this Bhāṣya or commentary, that,

sarvajñeśvarasyā 'tmabhūte ivā 'vidyākalpite nāmarūpe tattvānyatvābhyām anirvacanīye saṃsāraprapañcabījabhūte sarvajñasyeśvarasya 'māyā' 'śaktiḥ' 'prakṛtir' iti ca śrutismṛtyor abhilapyete
  (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 2.1.14.),

I.e., "the Names and Forms imagined to exist in the fundamental Brahman as a result of the ignorance (of the organs), which are supposed to be of the nature of the Ātman of the All-Scient Parameśvara, but of which, it is not possible to say whether they are different or not-different (tattvānyatva) from the Parameśvara, since they are Gross, and which are the root of the (visible) expansion of gross world, are, in the Śruti and Smṛti texts, called the ' māyā', 'śakti' or 'prakṛti' of the allknowing Parameśvara";

And, "as the subsequent universe seems to have come into existence from the Parameśvara on account of His Māyā, this Māyā, though perishable, is essential and extremely useful for the creation of the visible universe, and it is seen to have been given the names of 'avyakta', ' ākāśa ' and 'akṣara ' in the Upaniṣads" (Vedānta-Sūtras Śāṃ. Bhā, 1.4.3).

The Sāṃkhyas look upon the Elements, Knowledge-formed (cinmaya) Spirit, and inactive (acetana) Māyā (Prakṛti) as independent and eternal; 'but, it will be seen from the above, that, though Vedāntists admit the eternity of Māyā from one point of view, they do not accept the position that Māyā is self-created and independent; and on that account, in describing the Māyā embodied in worldly life by comparing it to a tree, the Gītā says,

na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate nānto na cādir na ca saṃpratiṣṭhā
  (Bhagavadgītā 15.3),

I.e., "the FORM, END, BEGINNING, root, or habitation of this tree of worldly life (saṃsāra vṛkṣa) cannot be found".

In the same way, the descriptions which are come across in the third chapter, such as,

karma brahmodbhavaṃ viddhi
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.15),

I.e., "Karma was created out of the Brahman";


yajñaḥ karmasamudbhavaḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.14),

I.e., "even the Yajña springs out of Karma";


sahayajñāḥ prajāḥ sṛṣṭvā
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.10),

I.e., "the Brahmadeva created prajā (sṛṣṭi) and yajna (Karma) at the same time", mean that, "Karma, or Yajna in the form of Karma, and the sṛṣṭi, that is, prajā (the creation) all came into existence at the same time".

Then whether you say that this sṛṣṭi came into existence out of Brahmadeva himself, or, in the words of the Mīmāṃsā school, that it was created by Brahmadeva from the eternal Vedic words, the meaning is the same (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 231; Manu-Smṛti 1.21). In short, Karma is the activity which is to be seen in the fundamental qualityless Brahman, at the time when the visible world began to be created. This activity is known as the Name-d and Form-ad Māyā, and the activities of the Sun, the Moon, and all the other objects in the world have gradually come into existence from this fundamental Karma (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.8.9). Scients have determined by means of their Reason that this, Karma or Māyā, performed at the time of the creation of the universe, which is the foundation of all the activities in the world, is some unknowable pastime (līlā) of the Brahman, and not something independent of the Brahman.[1] But, as the scients cannot go further, it is not possible for them to ascertain 'when' this wonder, or these Names and Forms, or this Karma embodied in Māyā first came into existence. Therefore, when it is necessary to consider only this Karma-world (karma sṛṣṭi), it is usual in the Vedānta science (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.1.35) to refer to this dependent, perishable Māyā and, at the same time, the Karma which is appurtenant, to it, as 'eternal' (anādi). It must be borne in mind that the word 'anādi' in this place does not mean fundamentally ' without beginning ' (nirārambha) and independent, like the Parameśvara, as is maintained by the Sāṃkhyas, but 'durjñeyārambha' that is, "something, the beginning of which cannot be known".

But, although we are not in a position to say definitely when and why the Knowledge-formed Brahman first began to take up the Appearance of the visible world, yet, the rules by which the further activities of this Karma in the shape of Māyā go on, are fixed; and many of those rules can be determined by us. The order in which the various Name-d and Form-ed objects in the world came into existence out of the fundamental Prakṛti, that is, out of eternal Karma in the shape of Māyā, has been described by me according to the Sāṃkhya philosophy in the eighth chapter of this book; and I have, in the same place, mentioned the doctrines of modern Material sciences for comparison. It is true that Vedānta does not look upon Prakṛti as self-created like the Parabrahman; but, as the further development of Prakṛti, according to Sāṃkhya philosophy, is acceptable to Vedānta, I will not repeat that subject-matter here. Yet, in the order of the creation of the universe from fundamental Prakṛti in the shape of Karma, which has been described above, I have nowhere considered the ordinary rules according to which man has to suffer the results of Karma (Action). It is, therefore, necessary to consider those rules now. This is known as 'KARMA-VIPĀKA' (effect of Karma). The first of the rules relating to Karma-Vipāka is that once the Karma is started, its activity or expansion continues without a break; and, though the day and night of Brahmadeva may be over and the universe destroyed, yet, this Karma survives in the form of a seed; and, when the universe begins to come into existence again, fresh sprouts grow out of that seed of Karma.

It is stated in the Mahābhārata that:

yeṣāṃ ye yāni karmāṇi prāk sṛṣṭyāṃ pratipedire |
tāny eva pratipadyante sṛjyatmānāḥ punaḥ punaḥ ||
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 231, 48, 49; Bhagavadgītā 8.18 and 19).

That is, "those very Actions which have been committed by any "being in the previous world, find him again and again (whether lie may will it or no)".

Not only is it that,

gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 4.17)

I.e., "the effects of Karma are unfathomable"–but, even the persistence of Karma is very difficult to get rid of.

Nobody has got rid of Karma. The wind blows by Karma. The Sun and the Moon move on account of Karma; and Brahmadeva, Viṣṇu, Sankar, and other qualityful gods also are all tied up in Karma. All the more so, Indra and ethers. Qualityful (saguṇa) means, defined by Name and Form; and being defined by Name and Form means Karma, or the result of Karma. In as much as it is not possible to say how Karma, in the shape of Māyā, first came into existence. it is also not possible to soy when man first got involved in the cycle of Karma. But, once he has got into that cycle, however he may have got into it, he cannot later on, that is, after his Name-d and Form-ed body has bs3n destroyed, escape taking up different Forms in this world as a result of his Actions. Because, as Material scientists have now definitely established, the energy of Karma is never destroyed, and that energy which appears to-day under one Name and Form, reappears under another Name and Form when the former Name and Form has been destroyed;[2] and, if he cannot escape taking up other Names and Forms after one Name and Form has been destroyed, one cannot definitely say that these various subsequent Names and Forms will be lifeless, and that it is not possible for them to be something different. This recurrence of Names and Forms is known as the cycle of births and deaths, or saṃsāra, according to the Philosophy of the Absolute Self; and that Energy, which is the foundation of these Names and Forms, is synthetically called Brahman, and distributively, Jīvātman. It is stated in the Mahābhārata and in the Manu-Smṛti, that, strictly speaking, this Ātman. neither comes to birth nor dies; that it is eternal, that is, perpetual; but that, as it is involved in the cycle of Karma, one cannot escape taking up another Name and Form, when one Name and Form has been, destroyed; one has to suffer tomorrow for what one does to-day, and day after to-morrow, for what one does to-morrow; nay, one has to suffer in the next birth for what one does in this birth, and in this way the cycle of the universe is continually going on; and that the results of these Actions have to be borne not only by ourselves, but even by the sons, grand-sons, and great-grand- sons, who come to birth out of our Name-d and Form-ed body (Manu-Smṛti 4. 173; Ma. Bhā, Ā. 80.3).

Bhīṣma says to Yudhiṣṭhira in the Śāntiparva that–

pāpaṃ karma kṛtaṃ kiṃcid yadi tasmin na dṛśyate |
nṛpate tasya putreṣu pautreṣv api ca naptṛṣu ||
  (Śān. 129.21)

That is: "King, although a particular man may not be seen to suffer the results of his evil actions, yet, his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons have to suffer them";

And we actually see that some incurable diseases recur hereditarily. In the same way, the fact of one person being born a beggar, and another person being born in the family of a king, has also to be explained by the theory of Karma; and, according to some, this is the proof of the correctness of the theory of Karma. Once this cycle of Karma is started, the Parameśvara Himself does not interfere with it. Seeing that the entire universe is going on by the will of the Parameśvara, who other than the Parameśvara can be the giver of the fruit of our Actions (Vedānta-Sūtras 3.2.38; Kau. 3.8)?

And, for this reason, the Blessed Lord has said,

labhate ca tataḥ kāmān mayaiva vihitān hi tān
  (Bhagavadgītā 7.22),

I.e., "the desired result, which is prescribed by Me, is acquired by man".

Vedānta, therefore, comes to the ultimate doctrine that though the act of prescribing the result of an Action belongs to the Parameśvara, yet, in as much as these results are fixed according to a man's good or bad Actions, that is, according to the worth of his Action, Non-action, or Bad action, the Parameśvara is, strictly speaking, apathetic in this matter; and that, therefore, if there is the distinction of good or bad among men, the Parameśvara does not, on that account, become liable to the blame of partiality (vaiṣamya) or cruelty (nairghṛṇya), (Ve. Sū, 2. 1. 34); and with reference to this position, it is stated in the Gītā that:

samo 'haṃ sarvabhūteṣu"
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.29),

I.e., "I am equal towards all",


nādatte kasyacit pāpaṃ na caiva sukṛtaṃ vibhuḥ ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 5.14, 15)

That is: "the Parameśvara does not accept either the sin or the meritorious Action of anybody; the cycle of the inherent effects of Karma or Māyā is continually going on; each created being has to suffer happiness or unhappiness according to its own Actions".

In short, although it is not possible for human reason to explain when Karma was first started in the world by the desire of the Parameśvara, or when man first came within the clutches of Karma, yet, in as much as the further consequences or fruits of Karma are found to result according to the laws of Karma, human reason can come to the definite conclusion, that every living being has been caught in the prison of eternal Karma in the shape of Names and Forms, from the very commencement of the world. This is what is meant by the quotation given at the commencement of this chapter, namely, "karmaṇā badhyate jantuḥ".

The words 'saṃsāra', ' prakṛti', 'māyā', 'visible world', or 'rules or laws of creation' (sṛṣṭi) mean the same thing as ' the eternal course of Karma'; because, the laws of creation are the laws which govern the changes which take place in Names and Forms; and, from this point of view, all Material sciences come under the denomination of Māyā defined by Names and Forms. The rules or limitations of this Māyā are hard and comprehensive; and therefore, even a pure Materialist like Haeckel, who was of the opinion that there is no Fundamental Element which is at the root of or beyond the visible world, has laid down the proposition that a man must go where the cycle of creation drags him. According to this philosopher, the feeling which every man has, that he should obtain a release from his perishable Name-d and Form-ed Appearance, or that he will obtain immortality by doing a- particular thing, is a mere illusion. Not only are the Ātman or the Paramātman not independent, and not only is immortality a humbug, but, no human being in this world is a free agent to do any particular act. As whatever act a man does to-day is the result of what has been done before by him or by his ancestors, it is also never dependent on his will, whether or not to do a particular thing. For example, a desire to steal nice things belonging to others comes into existence in the hearts of particular persons against their will, as a result of previous Actions or hereditary impressions; and they are inspired to steal that particular thing. In short, these Materialists are of the opinion that the principle mentioned in the Gītā, namely, "anicchann api vārṣṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 3.36), i.e., "a man commits sin, although he might not desire to do it", applies in all places in the same way, that there are no exceptions to it, and that there is no way of escaping it. From this point of view, a desire which a man gets to-day is the result of his Action of yesterday, and the desire he had yesterday was the result of his action of day before yesterday; a man can never do anything by his independent volition, as this chain of causes is endless; whatever happens is the result of former actions or of destiny, because people give the name Destiny to predestined Karma; and, if a man is, in this way, not free to do or not to do a particular Action, it becomes futile to say that he should improve his conduct in a particular way, or that he should, in a particular manner, realise the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman and purify his intelligence. Like a log which has fallen in the stream of a river, one must without demur go wherever Māyā, Prakṛti, the laws of Creation, or the Stream of Karma drags him, whether that is progress or regress. In reply to this, some other evolutionist Materialists say that in as much as the form of Prakṛti is not steady, and Names and Forms continually change, man should watch and find out by what rules of creation these changes take place, and bring about such a change in the external creation as will be beneficial to him; and we see in actual life, that by following this logic, man utilises fire or electricity for his own benefit. Similarly, it is our experience that human nature can to some extent be altered by effort. But, the question in hand is not whether or not there can be a change in the formation of the universe or in human nature, nor whether or not man should effect such a change; and we have, at the moment, to determine whether or not a man is in a position to control or to yield to the inspiration or desire which he has to bring about such a change. And if, from the point of view of Materialistic philosophy, the fulfilment or non-fulfilment of this desire is pre-destined by the laws of Prakṛti, or of Karma, or of the Creation, according to the principle 'buddhiḥ karmānusāriṇī', then it follows, according to this philosophy, that a man is not free or independent to do or not to do a particular Action. This doctrine is known by the. name ' vāsanāsvātantrya' (Freedom of Desire), or 'icchāsvātantrya' (Freedom of Will), or 'pravṛttisvātantrya' (Freedom of Inclination) And if one considers the matter purely from the point of view of the Effects of Karma (karma-vipāka) or of the purely Materialistic philosophy, one has to come to the conclusion that no man has got any kind of freedom of inclination or freedom of will, and that every man is circumscribed in all directions like the unbreakable iron ring fixed on the wheel of a cart. But, if one takes the evidence of his own Conscience in this matter, it will be seen that although one may not possess the power of making the Sun rise in the West, yet, we believe that doing or not doing, after careful consideration, whatever one intends to do by his own hands, or, where there is one course which is sinful and another which is meritorious, or one course which is righteous and another which is unrighteous, choosing the good or the bad course out of the two, is a thing which is subject to the control of a man's desire. We have now to see whether this belief is right or wrong. If one says that this belief is wrong, then those who commit thefts or murders are judged to be wrong-doers on the basis of this belief, and are' punished accordingly; and, if one says that it is correct, then the Theory of Karma, or the Theory of Karma-Vipāka or the laws of the visible creation fall to the ground. As in the Material sciences,' one has to consider only the actions of gross substances, this question does not arise there. But, it acquires importance in the science of Karma-Yoga, which deals with the duty and the non-duty of those who have- acquired Knowledge, and it has to be answered; because, if it is definitely proved that there is no freedom of inclination for man, then the science of right or wrong (vidhiniṣedha-śāstra), which shows how to purify the mind, or explains whether a particular thing should be done or should not be done, or whether a particular thing is righteous or unrighteous, automatically loses need of consideration (Ve. Sū, 2. 3. 33);[3] and the height of manhood will consist in remaining in the eternal bondage of Mahāmāyā or Prakṛti, whether personally or as a result of heredity. Or, where is there any manhood left at all? Manhood will have to be considered if a person is in a position to control anything at all. What can there be except imprisonment and serfdom where a man has not the smallest authority or will? Like the bullocks tied to a plough, everyone will have to toil under the authority of Prakṛti, and as our poet Shankara says, "the shackles of the inherent qualities of substances" must be perpetually kept by oneself on his feet! The attention of all scholars has been fixed on the question of the Freedom of Will, as a result of Karma-Vāda (Theory of Karma) or Daiva-Vāda (Theory of Destiny) in our country, and of the Theory of Providence in the Christian religion in former years, and of the Theory of the Laws of Nature propounded by Materialistic philosophers in modern times; and any amount of discussion has taken place, and is still taking place on this question. But as it is impossible to deal with the whole of that matter here, I am in this chapter dealing only with what the idea of the Bhagavadgītā and of Vedānta philosophy on that question is.

It is true that the course of Karma is eternal, and that even the Parameśvara does not interfere with the course or cycle of Karma which has once been started. But according' to our philosophers, the doctrine of Adhyātma (Philosophy of the Absolute Self), that the visible world is not purely Karma or merely Names and Forms, that there is some imperishable independent Ātman-formed Brahman-world which is clothed by these Names and Forms, and that the Ātman within the human body is a particle of that permanent and independent Parabrahman, shows the path for getting out of this seemingly unconquerable difficulty. But, before explaining this path, it is necessary to complete the description of the process of the Effects of Karma, which has remained incomplete. It is not that the rule that one has to suffer according to what one does, applies only to a particular individual. A family, a. community, a nation, or even the whole universe cannot.escape suffering the consequences of their Actions in the game way as an individual cannot do so; and in as much as every human being is born in some family, some community, or some country, it has to some extent to suffer on account of the Actions not only of itself, but also of the community or society, such as, the family etc. to which it belongs, But, as one has to refer ordinarily only to the Actions of a particular individual, the divisions of Karma, in the Theory of the Effects of Karma, have been made primarily by reference to a single individual. For instance, Manu has divided the evil actions of a man into bodily (kāyika), vocal (vācika) and. mental (mānasika); and of these, prostitution, murder, and theft are called bodily Actions; the four Actions, namely, speaking what is painful, speaking an untruth, speaking what is derogatory, and speaking what is incoherent, are called vocal Actions; and the three Actions, namely, desiring the wealth of another, desiring the evil of another, and false insistence, are said to be mental Actions; and having in this way classified evil Actions or sins into ten kinds (Manu-Smṛti 12.5–7; Śriman Mahābhārata Anu. 13.), their effects are next enumerated. Yet, this differentiation is not final; because, later on, in this very chapter, Karma has again been divided into sāttvika, rājasa, and tāmasa; and the characteristics of these three kinds of qualities (guṇa), or of Karma, which have been given there are primarily the same as those given id the Bhagavadgītā (Bhagavadgītā 14. 11–15; 18. 23–25; Manu-Smṛti 12. 31–34). But, the division of Karma which one commonly comes across in the subject of the Effect of Actions is different from both these divisions; and according to that division, Karma is divided into 'saṃcita' (Accumulated). 'prārabdha' (Commenced), and 'kriyamāṇa' (Being-suffered). Whatever Action has been performed by a man upto date, whether he has performed it in this birth or in the previous births, is his 'saṃcita', i.e., 'Accumulated' Karma. This saṃcita is also known as 'adṛṣṭa' (invisible), or, in the terminology of the Mīmāṃsā school, 'apūrva' (strange). The reason for this terminology is, that any particular Action is visible only during that particular time when it is being performed; and when that time has gone, it does not any more remain in its actual form, but all that remains is its subtle, that is, invisible, or apūrva, that is, strange effects (Ve. Sū, Śāṃ. Bhā. 3. 2. 39,40). Whatever may be said, the words 'saṃcita', 'adṛṣṭa', or 'apūrva' undoubtedly mean the 'accumulation' of the effects of all the various Actions performed upto the moment of performing the last Action. It is not possible to suffer the effects of all these Accumulated Actions at the same time; because, the consequences of these Accumulated Actions can produce either good or bad, that is, mutually contrary effects. For instance, some Accumulated Actions lead to heaven, whereas others lead to hell; and, the results of all of them cannot possibly be enjoyed at one and the same time, but have to be enjoyed one after the other; and therefore, those out of the 'saṃcita' (Accumulated) Actions, of which the results are first begun to be suffered are known as 'prārabdha' (Commenced Actions), or 'that saṃcita, which has started'. In the Marathi language, the word 'prārabdha' is very often used synonymously with 'saṃcita'; but it will be seen that this meaning is not correct, and that scientifically speaking, 'prārabdha' is only a sub- division of 'saṃcita', which is the total aggregate of Actions. prārabdha is not the whole of saṃcita, but that portion of saṃcita, the effects (kārya) of which, one has begun to suffer for; and, therefore, 'prārabdha' is also called 'ārabdha-kārya' (Commenced Action). In addition to Commenced and Accumulated Action, a third division of Karma is ordinarily made, namely, the 'kriyamāṇa'. 'kriyamāṇa' is a derivative participle indicating the present tense, and means 'that Action which is now going on, or which we are now performing'. But, whatever we are now doing is the result of the Commenced Karma, that is to say, of that portion of Accumulated Karma which we have commenced to suffer for. Therefore, I do not see any reason for making the third division, 'kriyamāṇa' (Being-suffered). It is true that one can differentiate between.

Commenced and Being-suffered Karma by saying that the Commenced Karma is the cause and the Being-suffered is its effect (phala), that is to say, its product (kārya). But, this distinction is of no use in the process of suffering the results of Actions. Some word is necessary to indicate those Actions, out of the Accumulated Karma, which one has not yet commenced to suffer for, that is to say, which remain over after the Commenced is deducted from the Accumulated. Therefore, in the Vedānta Sūtras (Vedānta-Sūtras 4.1.15), Commenced Karma is known as 'prārabdha-kārya', and all the Actions which are not 'prārabdha' are known as 'anārabdha-kārya' (Actions, which one has not yet begun to suffer for). In my opinion, it is scientifically more accurate to divide Accumulated Action (saṃcita-kārya) into prārabdha-kārya and anārabdha-kārya in this way; and therefore, instead of understanding the word 'kriyamāṇa' (Being-suffered) as a derivative participle indicating the present tense, we can look upon it as indicating the future tense on the strength of the Sutra of Pāṇinī: "vartamāna sāmīpye vartamānavadvā" (Pā. 3.3.131), and interpret it as meaning "that, which is to be suffered for, soon in the future"; in this way, kriyamāṇa will mean anārabdhakārya, and the words prārabdha (Commenced) and kriyamāṇa (To-be-Suffered) will respectively be synonymous with ārabdha-kārya (Commenced Karma) and anārabdha-kārya (Uncommenced Karma) of the Vedānta-Sūtras. But now-adays, at any rate, no one interprets the word 'kriyamāṇa' in that way; and kriyamāṇa is interpreted as meaning the Actions which are now being suffered for. But, if it is taken in that meaning, not only has one to call the result of prārabdha by the name kriyamāṇa, but the interpretation becomes further subject to the serious objection, that none of the words 'saṃcita', 'prārabdha' or 'kriyamāṇa' can be used for showing the anārabdha-kārya. On the other hand, it is also not proper to disregard the ordinary meaning of the word 'kriyamāṇa'. Therefore, instead of accepting the commonly accepted divisions of Karma in the saṃcita, prārabdha, and kriyamāṇa, in discussing the process of suffering the results of Actions, I divide Karma into ārabdha-kārya (Commenced Karma) and anārabdha-kārya (Uncommenced Karma); and that is also scientifically more convenient. The action of 'suffering' is divided, according to the tense, into 'that which has been suffered' (past), 'that which is now being suffered' (present), and 'that which has still to be suffered' (future). But, in the science of the Effects of Karma, Karma cannot be divided into three divisions in this way. Because, that portion of Accumulated Karma (saṃcita), which is suffered for after having become Commenced Karma (prārabdha), produces results which go again to swell the ranks of Accumulated Karma (saṃcita): and, therefore, in considering the question of the suffering for Actions, it is not necessary to divide saṃcita further than into prārabdha, which means that which one has begun to suffer for, and anārabdha, which means that which one has not yet begun to suffer for. When the effects of all Actions have, in this way, been classified into a two-fold division, the science of the effects of Karma now tells us about the suffering of those effects, that Accumulated Karma is all that has to be suffered for. Out of this, those Actions, the suffering of the effects of which has resulted in one's acquiring the present birth, that is to say, that portion of Accumulated Karma which has become Commenced Karma, cannot be escaped suffering for–"prārabdhakarmaṇāṃ bhogād eva kṣayaḥ". In the same way as an arrow, which has left one's hands, cannot come back, but must go on upto its destination, or, as once the wheel of the potter starts to revolve, it will go on revolving until the force of the revolution has been exhausted, so also does prārabdha, that is, that Karma for the results of which one has begun to suffer, go on. Whatever has been started, must come to an end; there is no escape from it. But, the same is not the case with the Karma, which is anārabdha-kārya. One can totally annihilate all this kind of Karma by means of Knowledge. As a result of this important difference between the Commenced Karma (prārabdha kārya) and Uncommenced Karma (anārabdha kārya), the scient has got to patiently wait for a natural death, even after having acquired Knowledge, that is to say, until the Karma, which has started with his body coming to birth, comes to an end. If instead of doing so, he puts an end to his life, then, although he may have destroyed his anārabdha Karma by means of Knowledge, yet, he will have to take another birth for suffering the effects of that prārabdha karma, which made him take the former birth, and the suffering of which has remained incomplete as a result of his perversity in putting an end to his life; and both the Vedānta and the Sāṃkhya philosophy have drawn the conclusion that on that account he will necessarily not attain Release (Ve. Sū, 4.1.13–15 and Sāṃ. Kā, 67), Besides, committing suicide in defiance of these natural laws will be another Karma, which will have been started, and it will be necessary to take another birth to suffer the consequences of that Karma. From this, it will be clear, that from the point of view of the doctrine of Karma, even suicide is a madness.

I have now mentioned the divisions of Karma from the point of view of suffering the Effects of Karma. I shall now consider in what way, that is, by what device one can escape the bonds of Karma. The first of these devices is that prescribed by the supporters of the Karma-Vāda (Doctrine of Karma), 'anārabdha-kārya' has been defined by me above as those Accumulated Actions, for which one has to suffer in the future–whether they can be suffered for in this life or it is necessary to take other births to suffer them. But, disregarding this meaning, some followers of the Mīmāṃsā school have found out a way, easy in their opinion, for obtaining Release. As has been stated before in the third chapter, Karma is divided by the Mīmāṃsā school into nitya (daily), naimittika (occasional), kāmya (desire-prompted), and niṣiddha (forbidden). Out of these, if one fails to perform the daily Actions like saṃdhyā (worship at twilight) etc., one incurs sin; and the occasional Actions have to be performed whenever the occasion arises. Therefore, according to the Mīmāṃsā school, both these kinds of Actions have to be performed. That leaves the kāmya and the niṣiddha Actions. Out of these, one incurs sin by performing the niṣiddha (forbidden) Actions, and, therefore, they should not be performed; and as, by performing the kāmya (desire-prompted) Actions, one has to take birth after birth to suffer their effects, they too should not be performed.. When a man, in this way, mentally balances the effects of Actions, and gives up some Actions and performs others according to the prescribed rites, he must automatically obtain Release: because,; the prārabdha-karma is exhausted by its being suffered for in this life; and by performing the daily and the occasional Actions and eschewing the forbidden ones in this life, one escapes perdition; and by giving up desireprompted Actions, there does also not remain the necessity of enjoying heavenly happiness. When the suffering in this world and in hell and in heaven has thus been exhausted, no other state is possible for the Ātman except Release. This doctrine is known as 'karma-mukti' or 'naiṣkarmya-siddhi' (salvation by absistence from Action). The state in which in spite of performing an Action, one is in the same position as- if one did not perform it, that is to say, in which the doer does not suffer the bondage of the sin or the merit of the Action, is known as the 'naiṣkarmya' state.

But, Vedānta philosophy has proved that, one does not fully succeed in naiṣkarmya by this device of the Mīmāṃsā school (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 4.3.14); and for the same reason, the Gītā says:

naiṣkarmya does not result from abstinence from Actions, nor does one obtain. Release by giving up Action
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.4).

In the first place, it is impossible to eschew all the forbidden Actions, and Ethics itself says that by making a naimittika (occasional) prāyaścitta (self-imposed penance), one does not entirely get rid of the sin of having performed that forbidden Action. Yet, even taking, it for granted that such a thing is possible, the statement of the Mīmāṃsā school that by suffering for the 'prārabdha' Karma, and 1 performing the various performable Actions in the manner mentioned above in this life, or by not performing them, one exhausts accumulation of saṃcita Karma, is itself not correct; because if the results of two accumulated Actions are contrary to- each other, e. g., if the effect of one is heavenly happiness, and that of the other, the tortures of hell, then, as it is not possible to suffer both at the same time and at the same place, it is impossible to exhaust the suffering for the effects of the entire 'saṃcita' Karma by the 'prārabdha' which has been started in this life, and by the Actions which have to be performed in this life.

It is stated in the Parāśaragītā in the Bhārata that:—

kadācit sukṛtaṃ tāta kūṭastham iva tiṣṭhati |
majjamāmsya saṃsāre yāvad duḥkhād vimucyat ||
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 390. 17)

That is, "sometimes, the meritorious Actions previously performed by a man wait (to give him their beneficial effects) until he has escaped from the pain of this worldly life";

And the same argument applies to the Accumulated sins. Thus, suffering the effects of Accumulated Karma is not exhausted in one life, and some portion of the Accumulated Karma, always remains over as anārabdha-kārya (Uncommenced Karma); and, even if all Actions in this life are performed in the manner - mentioned above, one still does not escape having to take another birth for suffering the Uncommenced Karma which is part of the Accumulated Karma. Therefore, Vedānta philosophy has come to the conclusion, that this seemingly easy device of the Mīmāṃsā school for obtaining Release, is false and misleading. No Upaniṣad has mentioned this way of escaping the bondage of Karma. This device has been erected merely on the foundation of inference, and this inference does not stand the test till the end. In short, expecting to escape the bondage of Karma merely by performing Karma, is as foolish as expecting a blind man to save another blind man by showing him the right way. Well; if one does not accept this device of the Mīmāṃsā school, and sits idle without performing any Action, expecting thereby to escape the bondage of Karma, that too is not possible; because, not only does the suffering for the Uncommenced Karma remain in balance, but the idea of giving up Karma, as also the act of sitting idle are both (omasa Actions in themselves, and one cannot escape having to take another birth in order to suffer the effects of these tāmasa Actions, simultaneously with suffering for those of the Uncommenced portion of one's Accumulated Karma (See Bhagavadgītā 18.7 and 8). Besides, so long as this body is alive, breathing, sleeping, sitting and such other Actions continue; and, therefore, the position of giving up all Actions also becomes untenable; and it has been stated in various places in the Gītā, that no one can even for a single moment escape Karma in this world (See Bhagavadgītā 3.5; 18.11).

When it has thus been proved, that whether the Action be good or bad, man must always be ready to suffer the effect of it by taking some birth or other; that Karma is eternal and that even the Parameśvara does not interfere with its unbreakable continuity; that it is impossible to give up all Actions; and that one cannot escape the bondage of Karma by performing some Actions and not performing others as advised by the Mīmāṃsā school, the next question which crops up is:–how can one satisfy the natural desire of a human being to escape the cycle of Karma in the shape of perishable Names and Forms, and to go and be merged into the Immortal and imperishable Element, which is at the root of -.that cycle. In the Vedas as also in the Smṛti texts, many devices, such as, sacrifices etc. have been prescribed for obtaining benefit in the life after death. But, from the point of view of the philosophy of Release, all these are of a lower order; because, even if one attains heaven by performing meritorious acts like sacrifices etc., yet, when the benefit of.that meritorious Action is over, one does not escape having to come back again to the land of Action (karmabhūmi) sometime or other, though it may be after the expiry of a very long period of time (Śriman Mahābhārata Vana. 259 and 260; Bhagavadgītā 8. 25 and 9.20) In short, it is quite clear, that this is not the correct path for being merged into the immortal substance and finally and permanently escaping from the troublesome cycle of births.and deaths by escaping the clutches of Karma. According to -the philosophy of the Absolute Self, Jñāna (knowledge) is the only way to permanently escape this troublesome cycle, that is to say, to obtain Release. 'Jñāna' does not mean the knowledge of the ordinary things of life (vyavahāra-jñāna), or the knowledge of the creation defined by Names and Forms, but the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman. This is also known as 'Vidyā, and the word 'vidyā' which has been used in the line "karmaṇā badhyate jantuḥ vidyayā tu pramucyate", i.e., "a man is tied by karma and released by vidyā", which has been quoted in the beginning of this chapter, means 'Jñāna' (Knowledge).

In the Bhagavadgītā. the Blessed Lord says to Arjuna:–

jñānāgniḥ sarvakarmāṇi bhasmasāt kurute tathā 'rjuna |
  (Bhagavadgītā 4.37).

That is, "all Karma is reduced to ashes in the fire of Knowledge";

And also in the Mahābhārata, it has been stated in two places, that:–

bījāny agny upadagdhāni na rohanti yathā punaḥ |
jñānadagdhais tathā kleśair nātmā saṃpadyate punaḥ ||
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Vana. 199. 106, 107: Śān. 311. 17).

That is, "in the same way as a seed, which has been burnt, will not take root, so also when the suffering (of Karma) has been burnt by Jñāna, it does not have to be suffered for again by the Ātman."

In the Upaniṣads also, there are several phrases- which mention the great worth of Jñāna, as follows:–

ya evaṃ vedāhaṃ brahmāsmīti sa idaṃ sarvaṃ bhavati
  (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.10),.

I.e., "he who realises that he is the Brahman, becomes immortal Brahman";

Or, in the same way as water does not adhere to the lotus leaf, so also is that person who- has acquired the Knowledge of the Brahman not defiled by Karma (Chāndogyopaniṣad 4.14. 3); or, one who realises the Brahman obtains salvation (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2. 1); or, he, who has Realised. that everything is saturated by the Ātman, is not at any time affected by sin (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.23);


jñātvā devaṃ mucyate sarvapāśaiḥ
  (Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 5.13; 6.13),

I.e., "a man escapes from all bonds after he has acquired the knowledge of the Parameśvara ";


kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi tasmin dṛṣṭe parāvare
  (Muṇḍakopaniṣad 2.2.8),

I.e., "when one has Realised the Parabrahman,. all his Karma is destroyed";


vidyayāmṛtam aśnute
  (Īśāvāsyopaniṣad 11;, Maitryupaniṣat (or Maitrāṇyupaniṣad) 7.9),

I.e., "by vidyā (Knowledge), immortality is attained";


tameva viditvāti mṛtyum eti nānyaḥ panthāḥ vidyate 'yanāya
  (Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 3.8),

I.e., "by Realising the Parameśvara, one acquires immortality; there is no other path for attaining "Release."

And if we consider the matter scientifically, we become more convinced of the same conclusion. Because, although whatever there is in the visible world is an embodiment of Karma, yet, in as much as that is a pastime of the Parabrahman which is the foundation of the entire universe, no Karma can affect the Parabrahman; and, the Parabrahman though responsible for the doing of all things yet remains un- affected. As has been stated in the beginning of this chapter, all the objects in this world are divided into the two classes, Karma (Māyā) and Brahman, according to the philosophy of the Absolute Self. The only thing which he, who wishes to escape from one of these classes, that is, from Karma, can do, is to go into the other class, namely, into the Brahman; because, there being two fundamental classes of all things, there is no third state, which is free from Karma other than the Brahman-state. But, in order to achieve this Brahmanstate, it is necessary to first properly understand what it is; otherwise, one will go to do one thing and actually do another thing.

It will be like:

vināyakaṃ prakurvāṇo racayāmāsa vānaram,

I.e., "I wanted to make an image of Gaṇapati, but (not succeeding in it) I have made an image of a monkey."

Therefore, it follows logically from the philosophy of the Absolute Self, that the true means of escaping from the bonds of Karma is to acquire a true knowledge of the form of Brahman, that is to say, of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, and of the unattachedness of the Brahman. The same meaning is conveyed by the statement of the Blessed Lord in the Gītā that: "he who realises that Karma does not affect Me, because I am not attached to it, becomes free from the bonds of Karma" (Bhagavadgītā 4.14 and 13.23). But, it must not be forgotten that the word 'Jñāna' in this place does not mean merely bookish knowledge, or the mere mental process, as has been stated in the very beginning of the Śāṃkarabhāṣya on the Vedānta-Sūtras. 'Jñāna' means 'the state of becoming brahmībhūta (merged in the Brahman), or the Brāhmī-state, which a man acquires after having acquired Spiritual Knowledge and conquered his organs.' The whole of this meaning is intended in each place. The' same definition of Jñāna according to the philosophy of the Absolute Self has been mentioned at the end of the last chapter; and even in the Mahābhārata (Śān. 320.30), Janaka has said to Sulabhā that:–"jñānena kurute yatnaṃ yatnena prāpyate mahat", i.e., "when a man has acquired Jñāna, which means Jñāna in the form of mental activity, he is inspired to effort; and by this path of effort, he ultimately reaches the Mahat-Element (Parameśvara)". The philosophy of the Absolute Self cannot tell one anything more than what path has to be followed, and where one has to go, in order to attain Release. When philosophy has told one these things, it is for everybody by his own efforts to remove all the thorns or obstacles which there may be in the path prescribed by it, and to clear up the load, and ultimately attain the ideal by that road. But, even this effort may be made in different ways, such as, the PātañjalaYoga, Meditation on the Absolute Self, Devotion, or Renunciation of the fruit of Effort etc. (Bhagavadgītā 12.8–12); and on that account, a man is very often confused. Therefore, the Gītā after first mentioning the Desireless Karma-Yoga as the most important of these means, has also described in the sixth chapter the various devices of yama (restraint)–niyama (religious observance)–āsana (pose)–prāṇāyāma (control of breath)–pratyāhāra (withdrawing the organs from the objects of sense)–dhāraṇā /'keeping the mind collected)–dhyāna (meditation)–samādhi (mental absorption into the object of meditation) etc. which are appurtenant to it; and from the seventh chapter onwards, it is stated how this Realisation of the Parameśvara is acquired, while observing the Karma-Yoga, by means of meditation on the Absolute Self or by the easier Path of Devotion (Bhagavadgītā 18.56).

Though it is thus established beyond doubt that Abstention from Action is not the way for escaping the bonds of Karma; that ultimate Release is attained only by keeping the Mind pure, by Realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, and by behaving like the Parameśvara; and that the idea of giving up Action is an illusion, because, no one can escape Karma, yet, the fundamental question, whether it is within the control of man to make that effort which has to be made in order to acquire the Knowledge necessary for making this course of Action successful, or whether he must go wherever Name-d and Form-ed Prakṛti will drag him, still remains unsolved.

The Blessed Lord Himself has said:

prakṛtiṃ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṃ kariṣyati
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.33),

I.e., "what will determination do?; every living being is bound to- act according to its inherent tendencies";

And that,

mithyaiṣa vyavasāyas te prakṛtis tvāṃ niyokṣyati,

I.e., "your efforts and determination are useless; your Prakṛti (inherent tendencies) will drag you even where you do not want to go" (Bhagavadgītā 18.59 and 2.60);

And even Manu has stated that,

balavān indriyagrāmo vidvāṃsam api karṣati
  (Manu-Smṛti 2. 215),

I.e., "the organs are too much even for scients";

And the sum and substance of the process of Causality (karma-vipāka-prakriyā) is the same; because, once one admits that all the desires in the mind of a man are the result of previous Karma, one has to come to the conclusion that man has to move perpetually from one Karma, to another Karma in the cycle of Destiny. Nay; one may even say that the inspiration to escape Karma, and Karma, itself, are mutually antagonistic. And, if this is true, then one falls into the impossible position (āpatti) than no man is. free to acquire Jñāna (Knowledge). To this the answer of the philosophy of the Absolute Self is that, in as much as the Element which is the support of the Name-d and Form-ed visible world also circulates in the gross human body in the form of an Ātman, the Actions of a human being are to- be considered from the point of view both of the Body and of the Ātman. Out of these, in as much as the. Ātman-formed Brahman is fundamentally one, and only one, it can never be dependent; because, in order that, one should be dependent on another, the distinction of 'one' and 'another' must remain. In the present place, that 'another' is Name-d and Form-ed Karma. But Karma is non-permanent, and is essentially the pastime (līlā) of the Parabrahman; and, therefore, although it acts as a covering over one part of the Parabrahman, it can undoubtedly never enslave the Parabrahman; besides, as I have already stated before, that. Ātman which synthesises all the activities in the world of Karma, and gives rise to one's knowledge of the creation, must be different from the Karmaworld, that is to say, it must belong to the Brahman-world, It, therefore, follows that the; Parabrahman and the embodied Ātman (śarīra-ātman), which is fundamentally a part of the Parabrahman, are both fundamentally independent, that is to say, that they are both outside the province which is subject to the control of Prakṛti. Oat of these two, the Paramātman is eternal and all-pervading, and is always in the pure and released state; and that is all the knowledge which human intelligence can get of it. But, as the Jīvātman (personal Ātman), which is a part of the Paramātman (Supreme Ātman), is caught inside the cage of the Body and Reason and the other organs, though fundamentally it is in a pure and released form, and quality less, and a non-doer, the inspiration which it gives to- the human mind, can be actually perceived by us by personal experience. Although there is no force in free vapour, yet, when it is enclosed in a vessel, it begins to exert a pressure on that vessel. In the same way, when the Gross Body burdened by previous Karma, and the organs, enclose the Jīva (personal Ātman), which is a particle of the Supreme Ātman (Bhagavadgītā 15.7), the bodily organs acquire the desire and inclination to do those Actions which can liberate it (the Jīva) from this enclosure, (or, which are favorable to Release); and, that is what is known in ordinary parlance as, 'the independent tendencies of the Ātman'. The reason for my saying in 'ordinary parlance' is that, in its pure released state, or, 'from the philosophical aspect of it', the Ātman is desireless and a non-doer (akartā), and all the activity is of Prakṛti (Bhagavadgītā 13.29 and Śāṃkarabhāṣya 2. 3. 40). But, Vedāntins do not with the Sāṃkhyas say that this Prakṛti, of its own accord, performs Actions which favour Release; because, if one says so, it follows that gross Prakṛti can blindly release even those who have no Knowledge. And, we cannot also say that, that Ātman which is fundamentally a non-doer, will, of itself, that is to say, without any provocation, and by inherent tendencies, become a doer. Therefore, Vedānta explains the independence of the Ātman by saying, that although the Ātman is fundamentally a non-doer, yet, on account of the provocation, of the enclosure of the body, it, to that extent, becomes apparently a provocator or inspirer; and, when by reason of some cause or other, the Ātman acquires this foreign power of provocation, this provocation is distinct from the laws of Karma and independent, 'Independent' (when applied to the Ātman) does not mean 'non-provocative'; and the Ātman in its fundamental, pure state is also not a doer. But, instead of every time giving this lengthy explanation, it is usual to speak of this as the independent tendency, or the inspiration, of the Ātman. This inspiration which is received by the organs through the Ātman as a result of its being enclosed in an enclosure, and the inspiration which is received by the organs as a result of their contact with the objects in the external world, are two entirely different things. Eat, drink, and make merry are the inspirations of the organs; and the inspiration of the Ātman tells us to perform actions which are favourable to Release. The first kind of inspiration belongs purely to the external world, that is, to the Karma- world; whereas the second inspiration, namely, that of the Ātman pertains to the Brahman-world; and as these two kinds «f inspiration are at the outset mutually contradictory, the greater part of a man's life is spent in the mutual warfare between them.

Out of these, when a man does not accept the inspiration from the Karma-world in matters of doubt (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 11.10.4), but begins to act according to the independent inspiration of the Ātman–and that is, what is understood by true ātma-jñāna (Spiritual Knowledge), or ātma-niṣṭhā (devotion to the Ātman)–all the Actions which he performs are naturally favourable to Release; and, ultimately,

viśuddhadharmā śuddhena buddhena ca sa buddhimān |
vimalātmā ca bhavati sametya vimalātmanā |
svatantraś ca svatantreṇa svatantratvam avāpnute ||

That is:–"the fundamentally INDEPENDENT embodied Ātman becomes merged in the permanent, pure, knowledgeful (buddha), untarnished, and INDEPENDENT Supreme Ātman" (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 308.27–30).

This is. what is meant by the statement above that Release is obtained by knowledge. But, on the other hand, when the inherent tendencies of the gross body and organs inspired by Prakṛti, that is to say, the inspirations from the Karma-world become predominant, a man goes to perdition. It is with reference to this independent  power of the enclosed embodied Ātman to force the body and the organs to perform Actions favourable to Release, and in that way, to obtain Release by the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, that the Blessed Lord has explained to Arjuna the principle of the independence of the

Ātman or of self-dependence, in the following words.–

uddhared ātmanātmānaṃ nātmānam avasādayet |
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 6.5)

That is, "man must obtain his Release himself; he should not allow himself to be discouraged by anything; because (each one) one is one's own brother (benefactor), as also one's own enemy (destroyer)".

And, it is with the same idea that the Yoga-Vaśiṣṭha has deprecated Destiny, and with great detail extolled the eminence of manhood (Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 2. sarga. 4–8). When a man acts in this way, realising the principle that there is only one Ātman in all created things, his conduct is described as sadācaraṇa (meritorious Action), or Action favourable to Release; and, as it is the independent nature of the Jīvātman to inspire the body and the organs towards Action of this kind, the conscience of the evil-doer always bears testimony in favour of meritorious Action; and, therefore, even evil-doers repent of their evil deeds. Intuitionists refer to this matter as the independent inspiration of a deity in the form of Con- science, but considering the matter from the scientific point of view, Reason cannot possibly escape the bonds of Karma, as it is an evolute of Gross Matter; and it is clear, that this inspiration must come from the Ātman which is outside the Karma-world. In the same way, the expression 'Freedom of Will' used by Western scholars is not correct from the point of view of Vedānta philosophy; because, as Desire or Will is an inherent tendency of the Mind, and as Reason, and along with Reason, the Mind, are, as stated in the eighth chapter, also the un-self-intelligible evolutes of Gross Matter in the shape of Karma, it (the Mind) cannot by itself escape the bondage of Karma. Therefore, Vedānta philosophy has laid down that true independence is not of the Mind, nor of the Reason, but of the Ātman. It is not necessary for anybody to give this independence to the Ātman, nor can anyone 1 deprive the Ātman of it. When the particle of the independent. Supreme Ātman gets caught within an enclosure, it, of itself, and independently, gives an inspiration to the Mind and to- the Reason in manner mentioned above. If anyone disregards- these inspirations of the internal organs (antaḥkaraṇa), we must with the Saint Tukārāma say:–Who has thereby lost anything? one has oneself done harm to oneself ॥ (Tukārāma's Gāthā 4448)

The same principle has been referred to in the Gītā in the words,

na hinasty ātman ātmānam,

I.e., "he who does not ruin himself, obtains the highest salvation";

And the same principle has again been clearly repeated in the Dāsabodha (Bhagavadgītā 13. 28; Dāsabodha 17. 7- 7–10). The fact that a man naturally feels that, he can do a particular thing independently, notwithstanding that he is tied down hand and foot by the laws of an apprently inpregnable Karma-world, cannot be explained in any way as satisfactorily as by concluding, as stated above, that the Brahman-world is different from the Gross Material world.. Therefore, that man who does not accept as correct the science of the Absolute Self, must either accept the position of the eternal slavery of mankind in this matter, or he must give up the question of the independence of inherent tendencies as unsolveable. I have explained the independence of inherent tendencies, or Freedom of Will, on the basis of the proposition of Non-Dualistic Vedānta, that the

Jīvātman (personal Ātman) and the Paramātman (Supreme Ātman) are fundamentally uniform (Vedānta-Sūtras Śāṃ. Bhā, 2. 40). But for those who do not accept this Non-Dualistic doctrine, or when Dualism has to- be accepted in order to justify the Path of Devotion, it is said that this power of the Jīvātman is not its own power, but is received by it from the Parameśvara. But, in any case, it is always said that in order to acquire this power, the Jīvātman must first make the necessary effort, having regard to the- principle enunciated in the Ṛg-Veda, that "na ṛte śrāṃtasya sakhyāya devāḥ" (Ṛg-veda 4. 33. 11), i.e., "the gods do not help anyone except the man who makes effort, until he is tired"; and the principle of personal effort, and inferential!? the principle of the Freedom of the Ātman, is left intact (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.3.41, 42; Bhagavadgītā 10.5 and 10).

Nay, the Buddhists do not accept the theory of the Ātman, or of the Parabrahman; but though they do not accept the theory of the Realisation of the Brahman or of the Ātman, their religious treatises contain the advice that

attanā (ātmanā) codayattānam,

I.e., "one must put oneself into the right path";

And in support of that doctrine, it is said that:

attā (ātmā) hi attano nātho attā hi attano gati |
tasmā sañjamaya 'ttāṇaṃ assaṃ (aśvaṃ) bhaddaṃ va vāṇijo ||
  (Dhammapada, 380).

that is, "one is the owner of oneself, and there is no other redeemer for oneself except one's Ātman; therefore, just as a merchant keeps under proper control his good horse, so must one keep oneself under proper control"; and the importance and the existence of the freedom of the Ātman is there shown in the same way as in the Gītā. (See, Mahāparinibbāṇa-sutta, 2.33–35). The French Materialist Comte must also be included in this class; because, although he does not accept the theory of the Absolute Self, yet, he has, as a matter of personal experience, that is to say, without any logical justification accepted the fact that every person can by his own efforts improve his conduct and his circumstances.

Although, it has in this way been proved that (i) the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman is the most successful method for escaping the bonds of Karma, and acquiring the metaphysically perfect state of Realising that there is only one Ātman in all created beings, and that (ii) it is within the control of everybody to acquire that Realisation, yet, we must also remember the second fact, that.even this independent Ātman cannot get rid of this mill-stone of Prakṛti round its neck in a moment. As, though an artisan is very skilful himself, he cannot do anything without implements, and he has to spend some time in repairing the implements, if they are not in proper condition, so also is the case with the personal Self. It is true that the personal Self is free to give to the organs the inspiration to acquire Knowledge; yet, scientifically, it is fundamentally quality less and isolated, or, as stated above in the seventh chapter, it has eyes, hut is lame (Maitryupaniṣat (or Maitrāṇyupaniṣad) 3. 2, 3; Bhagavadgītā 13. 20); and therefore, it does not possess the implements which are necessary (e. g., the wheel, to a potter etc.) for doing a particular Action according to a particular inspiration. The Body, the Reason, and the other organs are evolutes of Matter. Therefore, the personal Self has got to bring about its own Release, through the medium of the bodily organs etc., which it has got according to its Commenced Action (prārabdha-karma). As the Reason is the most important organ among the bodily organs, the personal Self (Jīvātman) has to first inspire the Reason, if it has to get anything done by any of the organs. But, having regard to one's inherent tendencies, which depend on previous Action, it is not certain that this Reason will always be pure and sāttvika. And there, fore, in order that this Reason should be released from the meshes of three-constituented Matter, and become introspective- sāttvika, and Self -devoted (ātmaniṣṭha), that is, such as will listen to the dictates inspired by the Self, and decide to perform only such Actions as are beneficial to the Self, one has to practise Renunciation (vairāgya) for a considerable length of time. Even then, hunger, thirst, and other corporeal needs and those Accumulated (saṃcita) Actions, for the consequences of which one has begun to suffer, do not in any case leave one till death. Therefore, although the Ātman is free to give to the corporeal organs the inspiration to perform Actions favourable to Release, yet, as all the subsequent Actions have to be performed through Matter, as a result of the superimposition of a corporeal body on the Ātman, it (the Ātman) is, to that extent, dependent, like a carpenter, a potter, or other artisans; and, it has first to purify its implements, namely, the corporeal organs etc., and to keep them under its control (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.3.40). This thing cannot be achieved at once, and has to be acquired gradually and courageously; otherwise, the organs will positively rear up on their haunches like a frightened horse. Therefore, the Blessed Lord has said that Reason needs the help of courage (dhṛti) for acquiring control over the organs (Bhagavadgītā 6.25); and later on in the eighteenth chapter, dhṛti has, in the same way as Reason, been divided into the sāttvika, rājasa and tāmasa classes (Bhagavadgītā 18.33–35).

Out of these, one has to discard the rājasa and tāmasa stages, and to control the organs in order to make one's Reason sāttvika. Therefore, the place, method of sitting, and the food, proper for the performance of this Yoga in the form of practising control over the organs, have been described in the sixth chapter of the Gītā. And, it is further stated in the Gītā that when practice has been performed in this way "śanaiḥ, śanaiḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 6.25), i.e., gradually, the Mind (citta) becomes steady, and the organs come under one's control; and thereafter, after the lapse of a considerable length of time (not at once), one realises the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman; and by the acquisition of Knowledge, the bondage of Karma is broken: "ātmavantaṃ na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya", i.e., "such a person who has realised the Ātman, cannot be bound by Karma (Bhagavadgītā 4.38–41). But, because the Blessed Lord has prescribed the practice of Yoga in solitude (Bhagavadgītā 6.10), one must not understand the import of the Gītā as being that one should give up all the activities in the world, and spend one's life in the practice of Yoga. Just as a merchant starts business with what little capital he has, and gradually acquires vast wealth by such business, so also is the case of the practice of Karma-Yoga prescribed in the Gītā. This Karma- Yoga has got to be started by exercising as much control over the organs as is possible, and thereby, gradually, more and more of control over the organs is acquired. At the same time, it is also not proper to always sit in a gossiping place; because, thereby the habit of concentration, which has been acquired by the Mind, is likely to weaken. Therefore, when one is continually practising Karma- Yoga, it is necessary to spend some time every day or at intervals in solitude (Bhagavadgītā 13.10). But, the Blessed Lord nowhere says, that for that purpose one should give up one's ordinary activities in life. On the other hand, this control of the organs has been prescribed in order that one should be able to perform one's activities in life with a desireless frame of mind, and the advice of the Gītā is, that while control of the organs is being practised, one must simultaneously, continually, and according to one's own abilities, practise the desireless Karma-Yoga, and not wait till one has acquired complete control over the organs.

According to the Maitryupaniṣad and the Mahābhārata, one «an acquire equability of Reason within six months, if one is intelligent and determined (Maitryupaniṣat (or Maitrāṇyupaniṣad) 6. 28; Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 239. 32; Aśva. Anugītā. 19.66). But, a doubt is likely to be raised here, that this sāttvika, equable, and Self-devoted frame of the Mind, which has been described by the Blessed Lord, may not be acquired by some, as a result of their inherent nature, even in six years, to say nothing of six months; and that, if this practice remains incomplete, not only will perfection or Release not be reached in this life, but the practice will have to be started from its very commencement in the next birth; and, if the practice in this next birth also remains incomplete, as in in the previous births, such a person will never acquire perfection. And, on that account, it is also likely to be believed that one must learn to acquire the non-subjective and nonobjective mental absorption (nirvikalpa-samādhi[4]) by practising the Pātañjala Yoga before starting the practice of the Karma-Yoga. Arjuna was beset by this very doubt, and he has in the sixth chapter of the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 6. 37–39) asked Śrī Kṛṣṇa, what a man should do in these circumstances. To this question, the Blessed Lord has replied that, as the Ātman is immortal, the impressions received by it in this life through the Subtle Body, whatever they may be, are not destroyed; and that such a 'yogabhraṣṭa' (apostate from Yoga), that is, one who has abandoned the Karma-Yoga without having completely acquired it, starts his efforts in the next birth from the point where he has left off in this birth; and that, in this way, gradually "anekajanmasaṃsiddhas tato yāti paraṃ gatim" (Bhagavadgītā 6.45), i.e., "he ultimately acquires perfection after many births, and obtains Release". The statement in the second chapter that "svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt" (Bhagavadgītā 2.40), i.e., "even a little practice of this method, that is, of the Karma-Yoga, redeems a person from great danger", is with reference to this proposition. In short, although the Ātman of a person is fundamentally independent, yet, as a result of the impure inherent nature of the Body, which a person has acquired as a result of his previous Actions, it is not possible for him to acquire complete Release in one life. But on that account, "nātmānam avamanyeta pūrvābhir asamṛddhibhiḥ" (Manu-Smṛti 4.137), i.e. "no one should despair, nor should one waste one's whole life in practising the Pātañjala-Yoga, that is, the mere gymnastic exercise of the organs, by a foolish insistence that one will acquire complete Release in one life". The Blessed Lord has said in the Gītā, that there is no haste where the Ātman is concerned; that, one should acquire as much Yogic strength as can possibly be acquired in this life, and.start the practice of Karma-Yoga; that thereby, the Mind gradually becomes more and more sāttvika, and pure; that, not only this small practice of the Karma-Yoga, but even the mere desire to practise it, will forcibly push forward a man as if he had been put into a grinding mill, and ultimately cause the complete merger of the Ātman into the Brahman, if not to-day, to-morrow, and in the next birth, if not in this birth; that, therefore, even the smallest practice of the Karma-Yoga, or even the desire to practice it, is never wasted; and that this is the most important characteristic feature of the Karma-Yoga (See my Commentary on Bhagavadgītā 6.15.). One must not restrict one's attention to this life, and give up coinage, but should continue one's practice of performing desireless Action, independently, courageously, and according to one's own abilities. This bondage of Matter which one considers to be indissoluble in this life or to-day, as a result of pre-destination (prāktana-saṃskāra) will become gradually and automatically loose, by the gradually increasing practice of Karma-Yoga; and when this goes on for some time, "bahūnāṃ janmanām ante jñānavān mām prapadyate" (Bhagavadgītā 7.19),–sometime or other as a result of the complete acquisition of Knowledge, the bondage of or the dependence on Matter is broken, and the Ātman at last acquires its fundamental or perfect qualityless free state, or Release. What is impossible for a man? The wellknown proverb, 'if a man performs the proper duties of manhood, he will become the same as the Nārāyaṇa', is only a repetition of this proposition of Vedānta; and, it is on this very account that the writer of the Yoga-Vaśiṣṭha has, in the chapter dealing with those who desire Release (mumukṣu), praised the worth of Effort, and laid down the firm proposition, that by Effort everything is ultimately achieved (Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 2.4.10–18)., Although it has in this way been definitely proved, that the personal Self is fundamentally free to make the effort of acquiring Knowledge, and that by ceaseless effort based on self-dependence, it, sometime or other, escapes from the clutches of pre-destined (prāktana) Karma, yet, it remains to give some' further explanation as to what is meant by the annihilation of Karma (karma-kṣaya), and when it takes place, 'karma-kṣaya' means the total, that is, the balanceless release from the bonds of Karma. But, as has been stated before, though a man may have acquired Knowledge, yet, in as much as he does not escape Karma (Action) in the form of drinking, eating, sleeping, sitting, etc. so long as his body lives, and, in as much as his Commenced (prārabdha) Karma is not annihilated' otherwise than by suffering, he cannot determine to destroy his body by suicide. Therefore, although all the Karma done before the acquisition of Knowledge is annihilated by the acquisition of Knowledge, yet, the scient has to perform some Karma or other, so long as he is alive, even after the acquisition of Knowledge. Then, how is he to be released from this- Karma?; and, if there is no such Release, there is no- annihilation of the previous Karma, nor is there any Release (mokṣa) later on. The answer of Vedānta philosophy to this doubt is, that although Karma, in the shape of Names and' Forms, does not at any time leave the Name-d and Form-ed body of a scient, yet, in as much as the Ātman is competent to adopt or reject such Karma, a man can, by conquering his organs and destroying the Attachment, which exists in the case of every living being towards the Karma, so to say, kill the sting of Karma, though he may be performing it. Karma is inherently blind, lifeless (acetana), and dead. It does not by itself either catch hold of or leave anybody; inherently, it is neither good nor bad. But, a man, by allowing his Self to get entangled in this Karma, gives it the character of good or bad, beneficial or malefic, by his Attachment (āsakti). Therefore, when this; Attachment in the shape of a feeling of mine-ness (mamatva) comes to an. end, the bondage of Karma may be said to be broken; then let that Karma remain or not remain.

On the basis of this proposition, it is stated in the Gītā in several places that: true abstention from Action (naiṣkarmya) consists in this, and not in the abandonment of Action (Bhagavadgītā 3.4); your jurisdiction extends to the performance of Action, you cannot control getting or not getting the fruit of the Action (Bhagavadgītā 2.47);

karmaindriyaiḥ karmayogam asaktaḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.7),

I.e., "let the organs of Action perform their various Actions without entertaining any hope for the fruit";

tyaktvā karmaphalāsaṅgam"
  (Bhagavadgītā 4.20),

I.e., "having given up the fruit of Action";

sarvabhūtātmabhūtātmā kurvann api na lipyate
  (Bhagavadgītā 5.7),

I.e., "that man, whose mind has become equable towards all created things, is not bound by Actions, though he may perform them";

sarvakarmaphalatyāgaṃ kuru
  (Bhagavadgītā 12.11),

I.e., "give up the fruit of all Actions";

kāryam ity eva yat karma niyataṃ kriyate
  (Bhagavadgītā 18.9),

I.e., "those who perform whatever Action befalls them, looking upon it as a duty, are sāttvika";

cetasā sarvakarmāṇi mayi saṃnyasya
  (Bhagavadgītā 18.57),

I.e., "dedicate all Actions to Me when you act".

The question whether or not the scient should perform all Actions which arise in life, is an independent question; and the doctrine of the Gītā on that point will be considered in the next chapter. We have, for the present, to consider only what is the real meaning of the dictum that all Karma is reduced to ashes by Jñāna; and from the quotations from the Gītā which have been given above, the opinion of the Gītā, on this question becomes quite clear. We apply this logical argument everywhere in ordinary life. For instance, if a person unintentionally gives a push to another person, we- do not call him a rowdy; and, even under the criminal law, death caused by mere accident is not looked upon as murder. If fire burns a house, or a deluge washes away a field, does one consider the fire or the rain as criminals?

If one considers only Action by itself, there will be found in every act some or other fault, defect, or evil, from the point of view of the human being; because,

sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛtāḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 18.48),

I.e., "just as fire is enveloped in smoke, so also is all Action (ārambha) enveloped in some fault or other".

But the fault which the Gītā advises one to give up, is not this fault. The Gītā, has laid down that the evil or virtue, which we ascribe to any particular Action of a man, does not lie in the Action itself, but depends on the frame of mind of the man who does it; and, from this point of view, eliminating the evilness from an Action, means the doer of the Action keeping his Reason or Mind pure (Bhagavadgītā 2.49–51); and, even in the Upaniṣads, importance is attached to the Reason of the person who performs the Action, as follows:

nana eva manuṣyāṇāṃ kāraṇaṃ bandhamokṣayoḥ |
bandhāya viṣayāsañgi mokṣe nirviṣayaṃ smṛtam ||
  (Maitryupaniṣat (or Maitrāṇyupaniṣad) 6. 34; Amṛtabindu. 2)

That is: "the mind of a man is the only (eva) cause for his being bound (by Karma) or being Released; when the mind is enslaved by objects of pleasure, it is bound; and when it goes beyond those objects (becomes nirviṣaya), that is, when it becomes desireless (niṣkāma), or unattached (niḥsañga), that is Release".

The Bhagavadgītā has principally stated in what way one can acquire this equability of the mind by the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman; and when this state of mind has been acquired, Action is totally destroyed, notwithstanding that it is performed. Karma is not destroyed by becoming homeless (niragni), that is, by Renunciation (saṃnyāsa), and by giving up sacrificial ritual to fire etc.; nor by remaining Actionless (akriya), that is, by remaining idle without performing any Action whatsoever (Bhagavadgītā 6.1). Whether a man desires it or no, the wheel of Matter will go on; and, therefore, man must also move round and round with it (Bhagavadgītā 3.33; 18.60). But, that man, who does not dance as a dependent on Matter like an ignorant person, but keeps his mind steady and pure by control of the organs and performs all Action, which befalls him in the ordinary course of life, as a duty merely, and calmly, and without allowing his mind to become attached, is the true emotionless (virakta) man, the true Steady-in-Mind (sthitaprajña), and one, who may be said to be truly merged in the Brahman (Gī. 3.7; 4.21; 5.7–9; 18.11.). A scient may perhaps renounce the world, and give up the Action of ordinary life, and go and sit in a forest; but it is wrong to imagine that by his having, in this way, abandoned the duties of ordinary life, he has annihilated them (Bhagavadgītā 3.4). One must bear in mind the principle that whether he performs Actions or not, the annihilation of his Karma is the result of his having attained equability of mind, and not of his having abandoned, or of his not performing, Action. For explaining the true nature of the annihilation of Karma, the illustration given in the Upaniṣads and in the Gītā (Chāndogyopaniṣad 4.14.3; Bhagavadgītā 5.10), that the scient, that is, one who performs Actions by dedicating them to the Brahman, or without Attachment, is not touched by Karma, in the same way as water being on the leaf of the lotus flower does not adhere to it, is more appropriate, than the illustration that Karma is burnt by Knowledge, in the same way as fuel is burnt by fire. Karma is essentially never burnt, nor is it at all necessary to burn it. If Karma is Name and Form, and if Name and Form means the visible world, then how is this visible world to be burnt up?; and, assuming for the sake of argument that it is burnt, then, according to the theory of Satkārya-vāda, the utmost that can happen, is that its Name and Form will be changed. As Name-d and Form-ed Karma or Māyā changes eternally, man cannot totally destroy this Name-d and Form-ed Karma, however much of a Self-knower he may become, though he may, as he wills, bring about a change in the Name and Form; and such a thing can be done only by the Parameśvara (Ve. Sū, 4. 4. 17). But, the seed of goodness or evilness, which did not exist inherently in this gross Karma, and which a man instills into it by his feeling of mine-ness, can be destroyed by him; and what has to be burnt up by him, is this seed. That man alone who has burnt this seed of mine-ness in his ordinary activities, by maintaining an equable frame of mind towards all created things, is the Blessed, the Accomplished (kṛtakṛtya), and the Released; and his Karma is said to have been burnt by the fire of Knowledge, though he may be performing all Actions (Bhagavadgītā 4.19; 18.56). In as much as the being burnt up of Karma in this way is entirely dependent on the Mind being free from objects of pleasure, and on the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, no time is lost in such Realisation performing its function of destroying Karma, in the same way as fire begins to exercise its function of burning, the moment it comes into existence. The moment Realisation comes, Karma is immediately destroyed. Nevertheless, the moment of death is considered to be mora important than all other times in this matter, because death is the last moment in a man's life; and, though the Uncommenced Accumulated Karma may have been destroyed by previous Realisation, yet the Commenced (prārabdha) Karma is not destroyed. Therefore, if this Realisation of the Brahman does.not continue till the end, the good or bad Actions which may have been performed in the meantime as a result of Commenced Karma, will become desireful (sakāma), and one will not be able to escape having to take a fresh birth to suffer their consequences. It is true that that man who has become really Released from birth (jīvanmukta) is not subject to this fear. But, when one is considering this subject-matter scientifically, one has also to consider the possibility that the Knowledge of the Brahman, which has been acquired before death, may not continue till the end. Therefore, philosophers consider the exact moment of death as of greater importance than the time before death; and they say that the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman must necessarily take place at that moment, that is, at the moment of death; and that other- wise Release is not possible. On the basis of this theory the Gītā, on the authority of the Upaniṣads, states that: "by remembering Me at the moment of death, and Realising that there is no other than I, the man is Released" (Bhagavadgītā 8.5). According to this proposition it follows that, any man, who has spent the whole of his life in evil deeds, will become Released by Realising the Parameśvara at the moment of death, which, according to some, is not correct; but, if one considers the matter carefully, it will be seen that there is nothing wrong in it. The man who has spent the whole of his life in evil deeds cannot acquire purity of mind, and Realise the Brahman at the moment of death. As in all other matters, it is necessary to acquire the habit of devoting the Mind to the Brahman; and, it will be very difficult, nay impossible, for the man who has not even once in his lifetime Realised the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, to get that experience suddenly at the moment of death. Therefore, the second important teaching of the Gītā in this matter is, that everyone should continually carry on the practice of abstracting his mind from the objects of pleasure, so that there is no difficulty in that state of mind being present at the moment of death, and the man being thereby ultimately Released (Bhagavadgītā 8.6, 7 and 2.72). But, for critically examining this philosophical doctrine, let us suppose that someone, as a result of the impressions of previous lives, Realises the Parameśvara suddenly only at the moment of death. No doubt, the case of such a man will be perhaps one in a hundred thousand, nay, one in a million; but, we have to disregard the fact that such a case is difficult to come across, and to consider for the present what will happen if.such a case actually takes place. As Realisation has come to such a man, though only at the moment of death, the Uncommenced Karma of such a man is destroyed, and the Commenced Karma comes to an end at the moment of death by its having been suffered for in this life. Therefore, such a man has no Karma left which has to be suffered for; and, it then necessarily follows, that he becomes free from all Karma, that is, from the cycle of life (saṃsāra). This proposition has been expounded in the Gītā, in the stanza: "api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananyabhāk", i.e., "even a great evil-doer will be released, if he worships the Parameśvara with the idea that there is no one else to worship"; and it has been accepted even by the other religions of the world. It may be borne in mind that the word 'ananyabhāva' signifies the state of mind of a person, whose mind is fully merged in the Parameśvara, and the person who 6imply utters the words "Rāma, Rāma" by the mouth, while his mind is engaged somewhere else, is not meant. In short the importance of the Realisation of the Parameśvara is such that the moment it comes, all the Uncommenced Accumulated Karma is destroyed at a stroke. Whenever this state of Mind comes, it is welcome; but our philosophers have concluded that it is essential that such a state should continue in existence at the moment of death, or, if one has not acquired that Realisation before death, that one should acquire it at least at the moment of death; otherwise, some desire or other will remain in balance at that moment, and re-birth will not be averted; and if re-birth is not averted, Release (mokṣa) also becomes impossible.

We have so far dealt with the questions, what the bondage of Karma is; what is meant by the destruction of Karma; and how that is brought about, and when. Now, I will shortly consider the state in which those persons who have not escaped the bondage of Karma, and destroyed the consequences of Karma find themselves after death, according to the Vedic religion, and close this chapter. This question has been dealt with at great length in the Upaniṣads (See Chāndogyopaniṣad 4.15; 5.10; Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 6.2.2. 16; Kau. 1.2.3). And all these Upaniṣads have been harmonised in the third pāda of the fourth chapter of the Vedānta-Sūtras. But, it is not necessary to go into the whole of that discussion here, and we have only to consider the two courses which are mentioned in the Bhagavadgītā (Bhagavadgītā 8.23–27). The Vedic religion is divided into two well-known divisions, Karma-kāṇḍa and Jñāna-kāṇḍa. The original meaning of the Karma-kāṇḍa out of these, is the worship of the Sun, Fire, India, Varuṇa, Rudra and other Vedic deities by sacrificial ritual, and obtaining children and grand-children, and cows, horses, or other wealth in this life, and a happy state after death by the grace of those deities. As at the present day, this sacrificial ritual of the Śrutis has more or less ceased to exist, people devote themselves to the worship of God, and to the meritorious Actions, like charity etc., enjoined by the Śāstras, in order to achieve this object. But, it is clear from the Ṛg-Veda that in ancient times, people used to worship these deities by sacrificial ritual not only for personal benefit, but also for the benefit of the community; because, the Sūktas in the Ṛg-Veda are full of praise of the deities Indra etc., whose favour had to be acquired for these purposes; and everywhere we come across prayers like "O God! give us children and wealth"; "make us live a hundred years"; "do not kill us, or our children or our warriors, or our cattle".[5] As these ritualistic practices are common to the three Vedas, this course of worship was known in ancient times as 'trayī dharma; and there is a detailed description in the Brahmanas as to the way in which they are to be performed. But, as the ritual prescribed for these various sacrifices was different in the different Brahmanas, doubts arose as to which one was correct. Therefore, Jaiminī has made a collection of explanatory rules for bringing about harmony between these mutually contradictory ritualistic directions. The rules laid down by Jaiminī are known as 'Mīmāṃsā-Sūtras' or the 'PūrvaMīmāṃsā'; and, therefore, the ancient Karma-kāṇḍa came later on to acquire the name of the 'Mīmāṃsaka-mārga'; and, as that name is still in vogue v I have made use of it on various occasions in this book. But, it must be remembered that though the word 'mīmāṃsā' came into vogue only in later times, this Karma-mārga of sacrificial ritual has been current from very ancient times. The word 'mīmāṃsā' occurs nowhere in the Gītā, and that is why we find in it the words 'trayī dharma" (Bhagavadgītā 9.20–21), or, 'trayī-vidyā' instead, Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads are Vedic treatises, later in point of time than the Brahmanas, which describe the sacrificial ritual laid down by the Śrutis. As these treatises maintain that sacrificial ritual is inferior, and that the Knowledge of the Brahman is superior, the religion described in these later works is known as 'Jñānakāṇḍa'. Yet, as the different Upaniṣads contain different ideas, it was also necessary to harmonise them. This has been done by Bādarāyaṇācārya in his Vedānta-Sūtras, which are also known as the Brahma-Sūtras, or the Śārīra-Sūtras or the Uttara-Mīmāṃsā. In this way, the Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā and the Uttara-Mīmāṃsā are at present the two treatises which deal with the Karma-kāṇḍa and the Jñāna-kāṇḍa' respectively. Strictly speaking, both these works fundamentally discuss the meanings of Vedic expressions, that is to say, of the Mīmāṃsā; yet, it is usual to refer to the followers of the Karma-kāṇḍa as 'Mīmāṃsakas', and to the followers of the Jñāna-kāṇḍa as 'Vedāntins'. The followers of the Karma- kāṇḍa! that is to say, the Mīmāṃsakas say that the observance of the four months, and of the sacrificial ritual, such as, the Jyotiṣṭoma-yajña, etc. are the important doctrines of the Śruti religion; and that according to the Vedas, he alone will acquire Release who performs that Karma, Whoever he may be, he must not give up this sacrificial Karma; and if he does so, he must be taken to have abandoned the Śruti religion; because, the Vedic sacrificial ritual was created at the same time as the Universe, and the virtuous circle of men performing it and pleasing the deities, and the deities in return producing rain and the other things needed by men, has been going on from times immemorial. At present, we do not attach much importance to these ideas, because the Śruti religion of sacrificial ritual is not now in vogue. But, as the state of things was different at the time of the Gītā, the importance of this circle of sacrifice has been described as above in the Bhagavadgītā (Bhagavadgītā 3.16–25). Nevertheless, it becomes clear from the Gītā, that as a result of the Knowledge conveyed in the Upaniṣads this Karma ritual had even then acquired an inferior place from the point of view of Release (2.41–46); and this inferiority has increased later on by the growth of the doctrine of non-sacrifice (ahiṃsā). It is clearly mentioned in the Bhāgavata religion, that although sacrificial ritual is prescribed by the Vedas, the appurtenant slaughter of animals is not a proper thing, and that the ritual should be performed by offering only grain (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 336. 10 and 337). On that account, (and also to some extent, because the Jains later on raised the same kind of objection), the ritual prescribed by the Śrutis has at present reached such a state, that persons who keep burning a perpetual fire as prescribed by the Śrutis (that is, agnihotris) are rarely to be come across even in sacred places like Benares, and one hears that somebody has performed an animal sacrifice like the Jyotiṣṭoma, only sometimes in 20 or 25 years. Yet, as the Śruti religion is the root of all Vedic religion, the respect felt for it still continues, and the Sūtras of Jaiminī have become authoritative as a science explaining its meaning. But, although the Śruti ritual has in this way fallen into the back-ground, the other ritual mentioned in Smṛtis like the Manu-Smṛti etc.–which is known as the five principal sacrificial rites (pañca mahāyajña)–is still in vogue; and the same argument is applied to them as to the cycle of sacrificial ritual prescribed by the Śrutis mentioned above. For instance, Manu and other Smṛti writers have mentioned five daily sacrificial rites to be performed at home, which do not entail the slaughter of animals, namely, the study of the Vedas as a brahma-yajña, oblations to the ancestors as a pitṛ-yajña, oblations into the fire as a deva-yajña, offering of food as bali as a bhūta-yajña, and entertaining guests as a manuṣya-yajña; and the ritual prescribed for a man in the state of a householder is, that he should partake of food after he has in this way satisfied respectively the Ṛṣis, the ancestors, the deities, the spirits of the departed, and men, by these five sacrifices. (Manu-Smṛti 3.68–123). The food which remains over after the performance of these sacrifices is known as 'amṛta', and the food which remains over after everybody has eaten is known as 'vighasa'.(Manu-Smṛti 3.285). The 'amṛta' and the 'vighasa' is the proper and beneficial food for the householder; and it is stated not only in the Manu-Smṛti, but also in the ṚgVeda and in the Gītā, that if a person does not follow this precept, but eats food only by himself, he eats 'agha' or sin, and he is to be known as 'aghāsī' (Ṛg-veda 10.117.6; Manu-Smṛti 3. 118; Bhagavadgītā 3.13).

Besides, these five principal sacrifices, the Upaniṣads and the Smṛtis also consider other acts which are productive of public benefit, such as, charity, truth, kindness, and nonslaughter as proper for the householder (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 1. 11); and, in these texts we find the clear statement:

prajātantuṃ mā vyavacehetsīḥ,

I.e., "enlarge thy family, and perpetuate thy generation."

All these Actions are looked upon as a kind of sacrifice, and the Taittirīya-Saṃhitā explains the reason for performing them by saying that a Brahmin comes to birth with three kinds of indebtedness, namely, to the Ṛṣis, to the deities, and to his ancestors. Of these, the indebtedness to the Ṛṣis must be satisfied by the study of the Vedas; the indebtedness to the deities, by sacrifice; and the indebtedness to the ancestors, by procreation; otherwise, there is no Release for him (Taittirīya Saṃhitā 6. 3. 10. 5).[6]

There is a story in the Ādiparva of the Mahābhārata that Jaratkāru did not follow this precept but started austere religious practices before marrying; that, as a result of his having thus destroyed his possible children, he saw bis ancestors named Yāyāvara dangling in the air; and that, in. performance of their injunctions, he later on married. (Ma, Bhā. A. 13). It is not that all this Karma or sacrifice is to be performed only by Brahmins; and as even women and Śūdras are competent to perform all other Karma, except the Vedic sacrificial ritual, all the Karma performed according to the classification of the four castes made by the writers of the Smṛtis–e. g., warfare by Kṣatriyas etc.–is also a YAJNA. (sacrifice); and the word YAJNA has been used in this comprehensive meaning in these texts.

Manu has said that whatever is proper for anyone, is his religious austerity (TAPA), (11. 236); and it is stated in the Mahābhārata that:

ārambhayajñāḥ kṣatrāś ca haviryajñā viśaḥ smṛtaḥ |
paricārayajñāḥ śūdrāś ca japayajñā dvijātayaḥ ||
  (Ma. Bhā. Śān. 237. 12)

That is "ārambha (industry), havi (corn etc.), service, and prayer are the four Yajñas, which are proper for the Kṣatriyas, the Vaiśyas, the Śūdras, and the Brahmins respectively.”

In short, as Brahmadeva has created all the human beings in the world and with great propriety prescribed for them their various duties (Karma) in life (Śriman Mahābhārata Anu. 48.3; and Bhagavadgītā 3.10 and 4.32), all the Karmas enjoined by the Śāstras for the four classes, are Yajñas in a way; and if all these Yajnas or Śāstraenjoined Karma, or trades, or duties are not kept going by everybody according to his own status, the entire community will suffer, and will ultimately run the risk of being destroyed. It, therefore, follows that Yajnas, in this comprehensive meaning, are always necessary for public benefit.

Here a question arises as follows:–as this course of life, in which predominance is given to Yajnas, and which is proper for the householder according to the Vedas and according to the arrangement of the four castes made by the Smṛtis, is nothing but the performance of Karma, will a man, who performs this household Karma properly in the manner prescribed by the Śāstra, that is, morally, and according to Śāstric injunction, thereby escape the cycle of birth and death?

And if he escapes that cycle, then where is the importance of Jñāna? The Jñāna-kāṇḍa and the Upaniṣads clearly say that unless a man realises the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, and acquires apathy towards Karma, he will not escape the cycle of birth and death, or from the Name-d and Form-ed Māyā or Illusion; and if one considers the religion laid down by the Śrutis and the Smṛtis, it will be seen that Karma predominates the life of everybody, which (life) is nothing but a Yajña in its comprehensive meaning. Besides, it is clearly stated in the Vedas themselves, that no Karma performed for the sake of Yajna, creates bondage, and that heaven is attained only by the performance of Yajñas. Even if the question of heaven is kept aside, Brahmadeva himself has laid down the rule that rain does not fall unless India and other deities are kept satisfied, and the deities are not satisfied except by the performance of a Yajña. Then, what escape is there for anybody, unless he performs Yajñas or Karma?

The chain of creation has been described by Manu, and in the Mahābhārata, the Upaniṣads, and even in the Gītā as follows:–

agnau prāstāhutiḥ samyag ādityam upatiṣṭhate |
ādityāj jāyate vṛṣṭir vṛṣṭer annaṃ tataḥ prajāḥ ||

That is, "when the material sacrificed in the Yajña reaches the Sun through the medium of the fire, the Sun causes rain, rain causes food, and the food causes living beings" (Manu-Smṛti 3.76; Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 262.11; Maitryupaniṣat (or Maitrāṇyupaniṣad) 6. 37; and Bhagavadgītā 3. 14).

And if these Yajnas are to be performed by Karma, how will it do to give up Karma? If the Karma in the shape of Yajñas is given up, the wheel of the world will come to a stop, and nobody will have anything to eat. The answer of the Bhāgavata doctrine and of the Gītā science to this objection is, that they do not ask anybody to give up the sacrificial ritual (Yajña) prescribed by the Vedas, or any other Karma in the shape of Yajña prescribed by the Smṛtis or performed in ordinary life; that they accept the argument that if this cycle of Yajnas, which has been going on from times immemorial is stopped, the world will become desolate; and that, therefore, they also lay down the proposition that nobody should give up.' Yajnas which entail Karma (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 340; Bhagavadgītā 3.16.). Nevertheless, it has been clearly stated in the Jñāna-kāṇḍa, that is, in the Upaniṣads themselves, that unless Karma is destroyed by Jñāna and Renunciation, there can be no Release:. and therefore, they harmonise both these propositions and come to the conclusion that all Actions or Karma must be performed,. giving up the desire for the fruit or reward, and desirelessly or with an apathetic frame of mind (Bhagavadgītā 17.19).

If one performs the sacrifices, such as, the Jyotiṣṭoma etc., prescribed- by the Vedas, with a frame of mind which entertains the hope of heaven, one will undoubtedly reach heaven; because, what is laid down in the Vedas cannot be false; yet, in as much as heaven is not permanent, the Upaniṣads themselves say that:–

prāpyāntaṃ karmaṇas tasya yat kiṃceha karotyayam |
tasmāt lokāt punarety asmai lokāya karmaṇe || [7]

That is, "when the fruit of meritorious Action in the shape of sacrifices etc. performed in this life, is exhausted by enjoyment in heaven, the orthodox performer of the Yajña has to come back once more from heaven to this Karma-world or earth." (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4, 6; Vedānta-Sūtras 3. 1. 8: Śriman Mahābhārata Vana. 360. 39);

And even the way of coming down from heaven is described in the Chāndogyopaniṣad (5.10.3–9).

The following slightly derogatory statements in the Bhagavadgītā, namely,

kāmātmānaḥ svargaparāḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 2.43),

I.e., "desire-filled, persons running after heaven" (Translator.),


traiguṇyaviṣayā vedāḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 2.45),

I.e., "the Vedas, which deal with matters relating to the three constituents" (Translator.),

Have been made with reference to these orthodox persons; and it is again clearly stated in the ninth chapter that:

gatāgataṃ kāmakāmā labhante
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.21),

I.e., "such persons have to move backwards and forwards between the heaven and this world".

This moving backwards and forwards cannot be escaped otherwise than by the acquisition of Knowledge; and unless these transitions are over, the Ātman does not get true bliss, perfection, or Release. Therefore, the summary of the advice given in the Gītā to everybody is, that one should perform not only the sacrificial ritual etc., but also all other acts prescribed for the four different castes, realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, and with equability of mind, and unattachedly,. so that one will keep going the cycle of Karma and at the same time be Released (Bhagavadgītā 18.5, 6.). It is not that a Yajña or sacrifice is performed merely by uttering the word "idaṃ amuka devatāyai na mama" (i.e., "this is for such and such a deity and not for me" ~Translator.) with reference to some deity, and offering' sesamum, rice, or animals into the sacrificial fire. It is more meritorious to offer up animal tendencies like, Desire, Anger etc., which are in everybody's body, by way of sacrifice into. the fire of mental control in the shape of an equable frame of mind, than to slaughter the animals themselves (Bhagavadgītā 4.33); and it is in support of this proposition, that the Blessed Lord has said both in the Gītā and in the Nārāyaṇīya-Dharma that; "from among the sacrifices, I am the sacrifice in the shape of prayer", that is, the highest form of sacrifice (Bhagavadgītā 10.25; Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 3.37.); and the Manu-Smṛti says, that by continual prayer a Brahmin attains Release, whether he does anything else or not (Manu-Smṛti 2.87). The most important element in a Yajna is the giving up of the idea of mine-ness (mamatva) with, reference to the object thrown into the sacrificial fire, by uttering the words: 'na mama' (i.e., 'this is not for me'), at the time of the throwing; and the same is the underlying import of charity etc. Charitable gifts stand on the same footing as sacrificial Yajñas. In short, one may say that doing a particular Karma, in which there is no selfish purpose, with a pure frame of mind, is a Yajña in itself. When one accepts this definition, of a Yajña, all acts done with a selfless and desireless frame of mind become a great Yajña in a comprehensive meaning, and the doctrine of the Mīmāṃsā school that no act performed for the purpose of a Yajña becomes a source of bondage, which has reference to sacrifice of wealth, applies to all desireless actions. And as, in performing these actions, the desire of fruit has also been given up, the man has not to move like a shuttle between heaven and earth, and he ultimately acquires the blissful state of Release, though lie may be performing all that Karma (Bhagavadgītā 3.9). In short, although saṃsāra (life) entails the performance of Karma or Yajña, the performers fall into two divisions, namely, those who go through life (samara) in the manner prescribed by the Śāstras, but with the desire of reward (the orthodox ritualists), and those who go through life with a desireless frame of mind, and merely as a duty (the scients). And the doctrine of the Gītā, is, that persons falling in the first of these divisions, that is to say, the pure orthodox ritualists, obtain non-permanent fruit in the shape of heaven ete., whereas the others, that is, the Jñānins who perform all Actions by Jñāna or with a desireless frame of mind, obtain permanent reward in the shape of Release. The Gītā nowhere asks us to give up Karma for the sake of Release. On the other hand, it is clearly stated in the commencement of the eighteenth chapter that the word 'tyāga' = giving up, has been used everywhere in the Gītā as meaning not the denunciation of Action, but the Renunciation of the reward of Action.

As the fruits of Action which are obtained by the orthodox ritualists and by the scients following the Karma-Yoga, are in this way different, those persons have to go to different spheres by different paths after their death; and these paths are respectively known as 'pitṛyāṇa' and 'devayāna' (Śān. 17. 15,16); and these two paths are described in the eighth chapter of the Gītā on the basis of the Upaniṣads. The man who has acquired Knowledge–and he must have acquired this Knowledge at least at the moment of death–(Bhagavadgītā 2. 72) goes and reaches the sphere of the Brahman, after his body has fallen and has been burnt in fire, through that fire, passing through the flames, daylight, the bright half of the month and the six months of the uttarāyaṇa; and as he attains Release there, he does not take birth again and come back to this mortal world; but, that man, who has been a mere orthodox performer of ritual and has not acquired Knowledge, reaches the sphere of the Moon, through the smoke of the same fire, and through night, and the dark half of the month, and the six months of the dakṣiṇāyana; and when he has enjoyed the reward of all the meritorious Actions, which he has performed, he again returns to this world. This is the difference between the two paths (Bhagavadgītā 8.23–27). As the Upaniṣads use the word 'arciḥ' (flame) instead of 'jyotiḥ' (flame), the first path is also called 'arcirādi', and the second path is called 'dhūmrādi'. When one hears in mind the terminology that our uttarāyaṇa (period during which the Sun is seen moving towards the North) is the day of the deities living on the North Pole, and our dakṣiṇāyana (when the Sun is seen moving towards the South) is their night, it becomes quite clear that the first out of these two paths, namely, 'arcirādi' (jyotirādi) is lighted from beginning to end, and that the other one or the dhūmrādi is one of darkness throughout. In as much as Jñāna (Knowledge) is an embodiment of light, and the Parabrahman is "jyotiṣāṃ jyotiḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 13.17), i.e., "the brilliance of all brilliance", it is only proper that the path taken by the scients (Jñānins) after death should be lighted; and the adjectives 'śukla' (white) and 'kṛṣṇa ' (black) used in the Gītā with reference to these two paths, mean that they are respectively lighted and dark. The Gītā does not mention the stages subsequent to the uttarāyaṇa, but the Nirukta of Yāska contains a description of the spheres of the Gods, the Sun, the lightning, and the mental Puruṣa, which come after the uttarāyaṇa (Nirukta 14. 9); and the descriptions of the devayāna given in the various Upaniṣads are harmonised in the Vedānta-Sūtras in which all the subsequent stages after the uttarāyaṇa, namely, the year (saṃvatsara), the spheres of the air, the Sun, the Moon, lightning, Varuṇa, Indra, Prajāpati, and ultimately, the sphere of the Brahman are described (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 5.10; 6.2.15; Chāndogyopaniṣad 5.10; Kauṣītakyupaniṣat or Kauṣītakī Brāhmaṇopaniṣad 1. 3.; Vedānta-Sūtras 4.3.1–6).

I have thus far given the description of the various stages in the devayāna and the pitṛyāṇa paths; but as the stages of the day, the bright half of the month, and the uttarāyaṇa among them commonly denote Time, the questions which next arise are whether the devayāna and the pitṛyāṇa have or at any time had or had not, any reference to Time. Although the words, day, night, bright half of the month etc. denote Time, yet, the other stages which are mentioned, namely, fire, flame, sphere of air, sphere of lightning etc. do not denote Time; and if one believes that a scient reaches different spheres after death according as he dies during the day or during the night, the- importance of Jñāna also comes to an end. Therefore, in the Vedānta-Sūtras, the words, fire, day, uttarāyaṇa etc. are not understood as denoting Time, but are interpreted as referring, to the deities embodied in those ideas; and it is stated that these deities take the Ātmans of the ritualists or of Jñānins to the sphere of Moon, o? the sphere of Brahman, by different, paths (Vedānta-Sūtras 4.2.19–21; 4.3.4). But, there is a doubt, as to whether or not this opinion is acceptable to the Gītā; because, not only does the Gītā not mention the subsequent stages of the uttarāyaṇa, which do not denote Time, but the Blessed Lord has Himself made a definite reference to Time in mentioning the two paths, in the words- "I shall mention to you that TIME, dying at which TIME the Karma-Yogin returns or does not return" (Bhagavadgītā 8.23); and, there is a statement in the Mahābhārata, that when Bhīṣma was lying on the bed of arrows, he was waiting for the uttarāyaṇa that is, for the time when the Sun begins to move towards the North, for giving up his life (Bhī. 120; Anu. 167). From this, it is clear that at some date in the past, the day, the bright half of the month, or the uttarāyaṇa were looked upon as proper times for dying. Even in the Ṛg-Veda, where the devayāna and the pitṛyāṇa are described (Ṛg-veda 10.88.15; and Br. 6.2.15),. a meaning denoting ̥ Time is intended. For this and many other reasons, I have come to the conclusion that when the Vedic Ṛṣis were living near the Meru or the North Pole, that is to say, near the place in the Northern hemisphere, where the Sun is continually visible above the horizon for six months, the lighted period of the uttarāyaṇa, lasting for six months, must have come to be considered an appropriate time for dying; and, I have made a detailed exposition of this theory in another work of mine. But, whatever the reason may be, there is no. doubt that this belief is a very ancient one, and this belief has become merged, at least indirectly if not directly, in the belief in the two paths of the devayāna or the pitṛyāṇa; nay, according to me, one can trace the idea of these two paths to this belief. Otherwise, there is no explanation for the fact that two words having distinct meanings, namely, kāla (Time), (Bhagavadgītā 8.23) in one place and 'gati' (goal), or 'sṛtī' (path), (Bhagavadgītā 8.26 and 27) in another place, have been used in the Bhagavadgītā with reference to the devayāna and the pitṛyāṇa. In the Śāṃkarabhāṣya on the Vedānta-Sūtras, it is stated that the

Time-denoting meaning of the words devayāna and pitṛyāṇa is the one described in the Smṛtis, which is applicable only to the Karma-Yoga, and that the true Brahmajñānin reaches the sphere of Brahman through the light-ed path described in the Śrutis which is governed by deities; and in this way, the 'Timedenoting' and the 'deity-denoting' meanings have been disposed of (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 4. 2. 18–21).. But in my opinion, if one considers the original Vedānta-Sūtras themselves, the meaning given by Bādarāyaṇācārya of the word 'devayāna' as deity-denoting, by taking the words uttarāyaṇa etc. as referring to deities, and not to Time, must have been the one in general acceptance; and it is not proper to believe that the path mentioned in the Gītā is an independent path- different from this path of devayāna mentioned in the Upaniṣads. But, there is no necessity to go into such deep waters here; because, although there is a difference of opinion on the question whether the words, day, night, uttarāyaṇa etc. in the devayāna and pitṛyāṇa were, from the historical point of view, originally Time-denoting or not, yet, there is no doubt that this Time-denoting meaning ultimately dropped out, and that these two words devayāna and pitṛyāṇa have ultimately come to commonly and definitely mean, that whenever a man may die, and without any reference to the time when he dies, the Jñānin reaches the other world by the lighted path according to his Karma, and the orthodox ritualist reaches it by the dark paths. Therefore, whether one considers the words 'day' and 'uttarāyaṇa' as indicative of deities as Bādarāyaṇācārya says, or one considers them figuratively as the rising stages of the lighted path, the proposition that the ordinary meaning of those words in those contexts is indicative of the path followed, is not affected.

But, whether it is the devayāna or the pitṛyāṇa, these paths are obtained only by those who perform the Karma recommended by the Śāstras, that is, righteous Karma; because, it is quite clear that though the pitṛyāṇa path is of a lower order- than the devayāna path, yet, as it takes a person to the sphere of the Moon, which is a kind of heaven, he must have performed some righteous Action or other, prescribed by Śāstras, in this life in order to have deserved experiencing the happiness of that sphere (Bhagavadgītā 9.20–21), It is, therefore, clearly stated in the Upaniṣads that those persons who do not perform in this life even a little of the righteous Karma prescribed by the Śāstras, but are steeped in the performance of Actions which are 'kapūya', i.e., sinful, cannot obtain either of these paths and immediately after death, they either take birth in the 'tiryak' species, that is, in the species of birds, beasts etc., or repeatedly go to the sphere of Yama, that is, to hell. This is known as the 'Third' path (Chāndogyopaniṣad 5. 10. 8; Kaṭhopaniṣad 2. 6. 7); and it is stated even in the Bhagavadgītā that purely demonian (āsuri) or sinful persons attain this low state (Bhagavadgītā 16.19–21; 9.12; Ve., 13; Nirukta 14.9).

I have so far explained the manner in which a human being reaches three different states after his death, having regard to his Karma, according to the ancient tradition of the Vedic religion. It is true that Release is attained only by the devayāna path out of these three; yet, this Release is attained only ultimately, after rising step by step through the various stages of the arcirādi (pitṛyāṇa) path. This path has also the other names of ' krama-mukti' (gradual Release); and, in as much as ultimate Release is attained by going to the sphere of the Brahman after the fall of the body, that is, after death it is also called 'videha-mukti' (body less Release); but the pure philosophy of the Absolute Self asks why it should be necessary for the man, in whose mind the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman is continually present, to go anywhere else to reach the Brahman, or to wait for death. The Knowledge of the Brahman which is acquired by the worship of symbols like the Sun etc. taken for worship, that is to say, by the worship of the qualityful Brahman, is, in the beginning, a little incomplete; because, thereby the mind conceives the ideas of the sphere of the Sun, or of the sphere of the Brahman, and there is a risk of these ideas remaining fixed in the mind, to a greater or less extent, even at the moment of death. It is, therefore, proper to say that in order to remove this defect and attain Release, such persons must go by the devayāna path (Vedānta-Sūtras 4.3.15); because, it is a firm doctrine of the philosophy of the Absolute Self that every man reaches after death a 'gati' (goal) which is consistent with' the desire or 'kratu' present in his mind at the moment of death (Chan. 3. 14. 1). But, the man, in whose mind there does not. exist the Dualistic differentiation between the Brahman and his own Ātman resulting from the worship of a qualityful Brahman, or for any other reason (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.7), has evidently not to go anywhere else for attaining the Brahman, in as much as he is perpetually Brahman-natured, It is for this', reason that Yājñavalkya has told Janaka in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.6) that the vital airs (prāṇa) of the man who has become totally desireless, as a result of the pure Realisation of the Brahman, do not go anywhere else–"na tasya prāṇā utkrāmanti brahmaiva san brahmāpyeti";–and that such a person is always full of the Brahman and merged in the Brahman; and there are statements both in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka and the Katha Upaniṣads that such a person "ATRA brahma samaśnute" (Kaṭhopaniṣad 6.14), i.e., "Realises the Brahman HERE"; and on the authority of these Śrutis. it is stated in the Śivagītā, that it is not necessary to leave one's place in order to obtain Release. The Brahman is not such a thing that it can be said to be in a particular place, and not to be in a particular place (Chāndogyopaniṣad 7.25; Muṇḍakopaniṣad 2.2.11).

Then, where is the necessity for the person who has acquired complete Realisation to go to the sphere of the Sun through the uttarāyaṇa, by these gradual steps, in order to attain the Brahman?

brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati
  (Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.2.9).

I.e., "that man who has realised the Brahman, has become the Brahman in this world",

That is, wherever he is; because, in order that it should be necessary for somebody to go to another place, the distinction between the one place, and the other place, which depends on Time or Space, must have remained; and these differences cannot exist in the final, that is to say, the Non-Dual and Supreme Realisation of the Brahman.

Therefore, why should that man, whose permanent mental state is:

yasya sarvam ātmaivā 'bhūt
  (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.4.14)


sarvaṃ khalv idaṃ brahma
  (Chan 3. 14.1),


ahaṃ brahmāsmi
  (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.10),

I.e., "I myself am the Brahman",

Go to another place for attaining the Brahman? He is always Brahmified (brahma-bhūta).

As stated at the end of the last chapter, there are descriptions in the Gītā itself, of such supreme scients, in such words as follows:–

abhito brahma nirvāṇaṃ vartate viditātmanām
(Bhagavadgītā 5.26),

Since the man, who has given up the Dualistic feeling and Realises the nature of the Ātman, has not to go anywhere else for attaining Release, though he may have to wait for death in order to exhaust his Commenced Karma, the reward of Release in the shape brahma nirvana is always in front of him;


ihaiva tair jitaḥ sargo yeṣāṃ sāmye sthitaṃ manaḥ
  (Bhagavadgītā 5.19),

I.e., "those men, in whose minds the equality of all created beings in the form of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman is fixed, have conquered both life and death in this world (without having to depend on the devayāna path)";


bhūtapṛthagbhāvam ekastham anupaśyati,

I.e., "that man for whom the diversity in the various created things has disappeared, and who has begun to see them unified (ekastham), that is, as of the same nature as the Parameśvara, has 'brahma saṃpadyate", i.e., ' gone and joined the Brahman' " (Bhagavadgītā 13.30). In the same way, the meaning of the words "who knows essentially" in the sentence "the Karma-Yogin WHO KNOWS ESSENTIALLY the devayāna and pitṛyāṇa paths, is not confused" which has been quoted above, seems to be "who has Realised the ultimate form of the Brahman" (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 7. 15. 56), This is the complete Brahmified (brahma-bhūta) state, or the most supreme Brahmī-state, and Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya has stated in his Śārīraka-bhāṣya (Vedānta-Sūtras 4.3.14), that this is the most Supreme or the most complete state of the Realisation of the Absolute Self. Nay, in order to acquire this state, a man must be said to have become the Parameśvara in a way; and, it need not be said further, that persons who have thus become Brahmified may be said to have gone beyond the rules of what should be done and what should not be done in the world of Actions; because, as the Realisation of the Brahman is always awake in the case of these people, whatever they do is always inspired by a pure and desireless frame of mind, that is to say, is always free from sin or merit. As it is not necessary to go somewhere else or to die, in order to attain the Brahman after this state has been reached, such a Steady-in-Mind devotee of the Brahman (sthitaprajña brahmaniṣṭha) is known as 'jīvan-mukta' (birth-released), (See Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 3.9). Though Buddhists do not admit the existence of the Ātman or of the Brahman, yet, they have accepted the position that this desireless state of a jīvan-mukta is the ultimate ideal of man; and they have accepted this doctrine with nominal verbal differences in their religious treatises (see the Appendices). Many persons say that as this ultimate self-less state is naturally antagonistic to the ordinary Actions of life, the man, who has reached this state, automatically escapes Karma and becomes an ascetic (saṃnyāsin). But, as will be seen from the exposition in the next chapter, this position is not accepted by the Gītā; and the doctrine of the Gītā is that it is more proper for the Birth-released man to go on performing all Actions, till he dies, desirelessly, and for the public benefit, as is done by the Parameśvara himself. This doctrine of the Gītā has also been accepted in the Yoga-Vaśiṣṭha (Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 6. U. 199).


Footnotes and references:


"What belongs to mere appearance is necessarily sub- ordinated by reason to the nature of the Thing-in-itself " Kant's Metaphysics of Morals (Abbot's trans, in Kant's Theory of Ethics. p. 81). [In one edition, this page is shown as 18 ~Translator.]


It is not that this idea of re-incarnation has been accepted only in the Hindu religion or by theists. Although the Bu Id Lists do not believe in the Ātman, yet, they have wholly adopted the theory of re-incarnation into their religion; and, even in the twentieth century, the inveterately atheistic German philosopher Nietzsche, who pronounced that 'God is dead', has accepted the theory of re-incarnation. He has said that lie was inspired with the idea or explanation that: as the perpetually recurring transformations of the energy of Karma are limited, and Time is eternal, a Name and Form which has once been created, must occur again; and, therefore, the cycle of Karma is established even from the point of view of the Material sciences. (Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence, Complete works, Engl. Translator. Vol. XVI. pp. 235–256).


This portion of the Vedānta-Sūtra is nailed the 'jīvakartṛtvādhikaraṇa', and the first of these Sūtras is 'kartā śāstrārthavatvāt', that is to say, 'in order that the science of right or wrong should have any significance, the Jīva (Personal Self) must be considered as a doer'. When one considers the Sūtra of Pāṇinī (Pa. 1.4.54) that:–"svatantraḥ kartā" (i.e., the doer is independent), the word" 'kartā' conveys the impression of Freedom of Self; and it will be been that this adhikaraṇa deals with that question.


'nirvikalpa-samādhi' is defined in Apte's Sanskrit dictionary as: "an exclusive contemplation upon the one entity without the distinction and separate consciousness of the Knower, the Known and the Knowing, and without even self-consciousness" (Apte, 3rd Edition, 1924) ~ Translator.


These prayers are to be come across in many places but instead of mentioning all of them, I will only mention the prayer which is come across in every day worship, namely,

mā nastoke tanaye mā na āyau ma no goṣu ma no aśveṣu rīriṣaḥ |
vīrān mā no rudra bhāmito vadhīr haviṣmantaḥ sadamittvā havāmahe
  (Ṛg-veda 1.114.8)


The statement in the Taittirīya Saṃhitā is as follows: "jāyamāno vai brāhmaṇas trībhir ṛṇavā jāyate brahmacaryeṇa rṣibhyo yajñena devebhyaḥ prajayā pitṛbhyaḥ eṣa vā anṛṇo yaḥ putrī yajvā brahmacāri vāsīti."


In reading the second part of this stanza. 'punaretyasmai ' should be broken up as 'punareti' and 'asmai' so that the requisite number of letters will not be found wanting. One has to do this very often in reading Vedic treatises.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: