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...
"That man, who, by his actions, by his mind, and by bis speech is continually engrossed in the welfare of others, and who is always a friend of others, he alone, Jājali, may be said to have understood what Morality (dharma) is".
That school of thought according to which nothing remains to be done by way of duty after a man has acquired the Knowledge of the Brahman and his mind has become extremely equable and desireless, and according to which a Jñānin should, on that account, give up entirely the painful and insipid activities of a transient worldly life with an apathetic frame of mind, can never think that the Karma-Yoga, or the mode of life appropriate to the state of a householder, is a science which deserves consideration. They admit that before a man takes Saṃnyāsa, his Mind must have been purified and Know- ledge acquired; and they, therefore, admit that one must lead one's worldly life in a way which will purify the Mind and make it sāttvika. But, if one believes that leading the worldly life till death is foolish, and considers it to be the highest duty of everyone in this life to renounce the world (take Saṃnyāsa) as early as possible, Karma-Yoga has no in- dependent importance; and the scholars, who belong to the School of Renunciation, do not trouble to deal with the question of the doable and the not-doable in the state of a householder, beyond, concisely and when occasion arises, considering how one should lead one's worldly life, and advising that one should go up the ladder of the four states of life (āśrama) described by Manu and other philosophers and reach as quickly as possible the last step of that ladder, namely, of Saṃnyāsa. That is why Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya, who was the principal protagonist of the Path of Renunciation in the Kaliyuga, has in his commentary on the Gītā either belittled the statements in the Gītā advising Energism or considered them to be merely laudatory, and drawn the ultimate conclusion of the Gītā that the whole of it has supported the doctrine of the Abandonment of Action (karmasaṃnyāsa); or why other commentators have, consistently with their own doctrines, stated the import of the Gītā to be that the Blessed Lord advised Arjuna on the battle-field to follow only the renunciatory paths of Release, namely, the path of pure Devotion, or the Pātan̄jala-Yoga. There is no doubt that the Knowledge of the Absolute Self included in the Path of Renunciation is faultless; and that the equability of Reason, or the desireless state of mind produced by it, is acceptable to and admitted by the Gītā. Nevertheless, the opinion of the Saṃnyāsa school, that one must entirely abandon Action in order to obtain Release is not acceptable to the Gītā; and I have shown in detail in the last chapter that the most important doctrine laid down by the Gītā is, that the Jñānin must, even after the acquisition of Knowledge, perform all the activities of life, with the help of the feeling of indifference to the world and the equability of mind, which results from the Realisation of the Brahman.
When it is admitted that,
(ii) even Jñānins must desirelessly perform all the duties of worldly life, and so give to ordinary people a living example of a good and pure life, since it is the desire of the Blessed Lord that the world should not be so destroyed and that its activities should go on without a hitch; and that
(iii) this path is the most excellent and acceptable of all, it becomes necessary to consider in what way such a Jñānin performs the activities of his worldly life; because, as the life of such a Jñānin is nothing but an example set by him to other people, the consideration of that example automatically discloses to us the device sought by us for making a true discrimination between morality (dharma) and immorality (adharma), between the doable (kārya) and the non-doable (akārya) and between the duty (kartavya) and the non-duty (akartavya).
This is the important difference between the Path of Renunciation and the Path of Karma-Yoga. That man whose Pure Reason (vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ) has become capable of realising the identity, that "there is only one Ātman in all created things", on account of its having become steady by means of mental control, must also possess a Desire (vāsanā) which is pure. And when his Practical Reason (vāsanātmikā buddhiḥ) has in this way become pure, equable, mine-less (nirmama) and sinless, it is impossible that he should commit any sin or any Action obstructive of Release; because, (i) whatever Action is prompted by a pure desire, is bound to be pure, seeing that in the usual order of things, there is first a desire, and that such desire is followed by appropriate action; and (ii) whatever is pure, is promotive of Release. We have, therefore, in this way found such a preceptor as will give to us a visible reply, in the form of his own life, to the difficult question of the discrimination between what should be done and what should not be done (karmākarma-vicikitsā), or, between what is a duty and what is not a duty (karyākarya- vyavasthiti), (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 1.11.4; Bhagavadgītā 3.21). Such a preceptor was- standing in life before Arjuna in the form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa: and this preceptor has, after clearing the doubt in the mind of Arjuna that a Jñānin must abandon such Action as warfare etc.
because it created bondage, given to Arjuna clear advice as to the device by which one can lead his life in this world, without committing sin and consistently with the science of the Absolute Self (adhyātma), and induced him to fight. But, it is not possible for everyone to get such preceptors; and one also ought not to entirely depend on the external activities of such saints, as has been mentioned by me towards the end of the third chapter, when I was considering the proverb "mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ" (i.e., "follow the path which has been followed by the great"). It is, therefore, necessary to minutely examine the course of life of those Jñānins, who are examples to the whole world, and to consider what the true fundamental element in that course of life is. This subject is known as the Science of Karma-Yoga; and the state and the actions of the Jñānins mentioned above, is the foundation of this science. If all men in this world become Knowers of the Ātman and Karma-yogins in this way, there would be no necessity of a Science of Karma-Yoga.
It is stated in one place in the Nārāyaṇīya religion, that:–
ekāntino hi puruṣā durlabhā bahavo nṛpa |
yady ekāntibhir ākīrṇaṃ jagat syāt kurunandana ||
ahiṃsakair ātmavidbhiḥ sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ |
bhavet kṛtayugaprāptiḥ āśīḥ karmavivarjitā ||
(Śān. 348.62, 63).
That is, "it is difficult to find many persons who fully and completely follow the Bhāgavata doctrine, which is 'Ekāntika', that is, Activistic. If this world is filled with Self-knowing: harmless Jñānins, following the Ekānta doctrine, who continually tax themselves for general welfare, all 'āśīḥ karma', that is, desire-prompted or selfish Action, will disappear from this world, and the Kṛta-yuga will come again!";
Because, as all persons will be Jñānins in such a state of things, no one will cause harm to no one. Not only that, but everyone will always keep before his own mind in what the general welfare lies, and regulate his conduct accordingly, with a pure and desireless frame of mind. It is the opinion of our philosophers that such a state of society existed at some very ancient date, and that it will recur again (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 59.14); but Western scholars say on the authority of modern history, that though such a state of things never existed before, it is possible that such a state of things may come into existence, sometime or other in the future, as a result of the advancement of mankind. However, as I am not now concerned with history, I may without being contradicted say, that according to both opinions, every person in this state, which is supposed to be the highest or the most perfect state of society, will be fully a Jñānin, and every Action of his is bound to be pure, beneficial, and moral, or the pinnacle of dutifulness. The well-known English biologist Spencer has expressed this opinion at.the end of his work on Ethics; and he says that the same doctrine had been formerly laid down by the ancient Greek philosophers. For example, the Greek philosophe Plato says in his work that, that Action which appears to be proper to the philosopher, must be beneficial or just; that ordinary persons da no understand these principles of Ethics; and that they must, therefore, look upon the decisions of philosophers as authoritative. Another Greek philosopher named Aristotle says in his book on Ethics (3. 4) that the decision given by a Jñānin is always correct, because, he his understood the true: and this decision or conduct of a Jñānin is exemplary for others.
A third Greek philosopher, named Epicurus, in describing such an exemplary and highly cultivated Jñānin, says that he is,
My readers will realise how similar this description is to the description given in the Bhagavadgītā of the Steady-in-Mind (sthitaprajña), of the one who is beyond the three constituents (triguṇātīta), or of the highest Devotee (parama-bhakta), or the Brahman-merged (brahma-bhūta).
In the Bhagavadgītā, the characteristics of the Sthitaprajña have been mentioned in three or four places in the following words, namely:
yasmān nodvijate loko lokān nodvijate ca yaḥ
I.e., "one, of whom people do not get tired, and who is not tired of people";
Or, who is always cheerful, and always free from the doubles of joy and sorrow, fear and dislike, happiness and unhappiness, and is always content with himself ("ātmany evātmanā tuṣṭaḥ", Bhagavadgītā 2.55); or, one whose Reason is not moved by the three constituents ("guṇair yo na vicālyate", Bhagavadgītā 14.23); or, one for whom praise or adverse criticism, honour or dishonour is just the same, and who, realising the identity of one Ātman in all created things (Bhagavadgītā 18.54) does his duty with an equable frame of mind, without Attachment, courageously, and enthusiastically; or, is,
I.e., "one who looks upon earth, stone, and gold as the same"—(Translator.);
And this state is known as the State of the Perfect (siddhāvasthā), or the Brahmī state. The Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha and other works refer to this state as the state of being free from re-birth (jīvanmuktāvasthā). As this state is extremely difficult of accomplishment, the German philosopher Kant says that the description given by Greek philosophers of such a state, is not of the state of any living being; but that they have personified the 'Pure Desire', which is the root of all Ethics, in order to impress the elements of pure morality on the minds of people; and have created this picture of a super-Jñānin and moral person out of their own imagination. But, our philosophers say that such a state of things is not an imaginary state, and that it can be accomplished by man in this life by mental control and effort; and we have seen actual examples of such persons in our country. Nevertheless, such a thing is not a matter of ordinary occurrence, and there is possibly only one among thousands who makes any effort in this direction; and it is clearly stated in the Gītā that only one, out of the thousand who makes an effort in this direction, ultimately attains this beatific ideal state, at the end of innumerable lives (Bhagavadgītā 7.3).
However difficult of accomplishment this state of a Sthitaprajña (sthitaprajñāvasthā) or this state of being free from re-birth (jīvan-muktāvasthā) may be, it follows from the description of such a man, which has been given above, that the man, who has once accomplished this ultimate state, does not need to be taught any laws about what should be done or should not be done, i.e., of Ethics; because, as the purest, the most equable and the most sinless frame of mind is the essence of morality, laying down laws of Ethics for such a Sthitaprajña would be as unreasonable as imagining that the Sun is surrounded by darkness, and holding up a torch for it. There may be a doubt as to whether or not a particular person has reached this highest of states. But, when once it has been established by whatever means that a particular person has reached this state, no proposition is possible, except the Metaphysical proposition mentioned above, regarding the merit or de-merit of his actions. Just as regal authority is vested in one independent person or collection of persons, and as, according to some Western jurists, the ruler is not governed by any laws, though the ruled are so governed, so also are the Sthitaprajñas vested with authority in the kingdom of Ethics. No Desire exists in their minds; and, therefore, they are not induced to perform Action by any motive, except the fact that it is a duty enjoined by the Śāstras; and therefore, the words sin or meritorious action, morality or immorality, can never be applied to the conduct of such persons, who are filled by a stainless and pure desire.
They have gone beyond the bounds of sin and merit. Śaṃkarācārya has said that:
nistraiguṇye pathi vicāritam ko vidhiḥ ko niṣedhaḥ |
"laws dictating what is proper and what improper do not apply to persons who have gone beyond the three constituents";
And Buddhistic writers have said that:
"Just as the purest diamond does not require to be polished, so are the actions of that person who has reached the state of Absolution (nirvāṇa) not required to be limited by rules of conduct" (Milindapraśna 4.5.7).
This is the import of the statement, made by Indra to Pratardana in the Kauṣītakyupaniṣad (Kauṣītakyupaniṣat or Kauṣītakī Brāhmaṇopaniṣad 3.1), that the Self-knower (ātmajñānin) is "untouched by the sins of matricide, patricide, or infanticide"; or of the statement in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 18.17), that "a man who has totally lost the feeling of individuation (ahaṃkāra) is untouched by sin or merit, even if he kills others (See Pañcadaśī 14.16 and 17); and the same principle has been repeated in the Buddhistic work called 'Dhammapada' (See Dhammapada, stanzas 294 and 295). Nay, according to me, the statement of St. Paul, the disciple of the Lord Christ, in the New Testament of the Bible that: "all things are lawful for me" (1. Cori. 6.12; Romans 8.2), or the statement of St. John that: "it is not possible that any sin is committed by those who have become the sons (perfect disciples) of the Lord" (John. 1.3.9) conveys the same import. Those who have got into the habit of arriving at a decision about morality by merely considering the external Action, without attaching proper importance to mental purity, may consider this doctrine as strange; and some people perversely interpret 'not bound by rules of right or wrong' as meaning 'one who commits any wrong he likes,' and distort the doctrine mentioned above by me as meaning "the Sthitaprajña is at liberty to commit any sin he likes". But, just as the fact that a blind man does not.see a pillar, is not the fault of the pillar, so does the fact of these objectors, who have become blind because they support a.particular doctrine, not clearly understanding the meaning of the doctrine mentioned above, not become a fault of the doctrine. Even the Gītā accepts the position that the purity of anybody's mind has first to be tested by his external actions; and the Metaphysical science does not wish to apply the abovementioned doctrine to those imperfect persons, the purity of whose mind remains to be tested, even a little, by that test. But the case is different with the man who has reached the state of perfection, and whose mind has undoubtedly become entirely merged in the Brahman and infinitely desireless; and although some Action of his might appear improper from the ordinary point of new, yet, as it is admitted that his mind is perfectly pure and equable, it follows that such Action, however it appears to the ordinary observer, must be essentially sinless; or, it must have been committed for some ethically correct reason, and is not likely to be founded on avarice or immorality like the actions of ordinary people. The same is the reason why Abraham in the Bible was not guilty of the sin of attempting infanticide, though he was about to kill his son; or, why Buddha did not in our the sin of murder, when his father-in-law died as a result of his curse; or, why Paraśurāma was not guilty of matricide though he killed his own mother. And the advice given in the Gītā to Arjuna by the Blessed Lord that, "if your mind is pure and stainless, you will not be guilty of the sin of having killed your ancestor or your preceptor, though you may happen to kill Bhīṣma and Droṇa in warfare, according to the duty of the Kṣatriyas, and without having any hope of any benefit to be derived thereby; because, in such circumstances, you have become merely an instrument for carrying into effect the desire of the Parameśvara" (Bhagavadgītā 11.33), is based on the same principle. We see in ordinary life that if a millionaire snatches away money from a beggar, the millionaire is not called a thief, but it is believed that the beggar has committed some wrong, and that on that account the millionaire has punished him. This argument applies still more appropriately, or more fully, to the conduct of the Sthitaprajña, the arhata, or the devotee of the Blessed Lord; because, the Reason of the millionaire may on occasion falter, but it is a settled fact that such emotions cannot touch the Reason of the Sthitaprajña. As the Parameśvara, the Creator of the universe, is untouched by sin or merit, notwithstanding that He performs all Actions, so also is the state of these saints, who have become merged in the Brahman, always holy and sinless. It may even be said that laws of conduct are framed on the basis of the Actions performed by such persons on previous occasions, of their own free will; and on that account, these saints become the fathers of those laws of behaviour, and are never the slaves of them. Such illustrations are come across not only in the Vedic religion, but also in the Buddhistic and Christian, religions; and this principle was accepted even by the ancient Greek philosophers; and in the present age, Kant has in his book on the science of Ethics proved this by conclusive reasons.
When it has thus been proved what the unpollutable original spring or the stainless model of all rules of Morality is, such persons as want to scrutinise the fundamental principles of Ethics, or of the doctrine of Energism (karma-yoga) must minutely examine the lives of such holy and stainless saints.
That is why Arjuna has asked Śrī Kṛṣṇa the following questions in the Bhagavadgītā, namely:–
sthitadhīḥ kiṃ prabhāṣeta kim āsīta vrajeta kim
I.e., "how does the Sthitaprajña speak, sit, move about?";
Or, in the fourteenth chapter,
I.e., "how does a man go beyond the three constituents, (become a triguṇātīta), what is his behaviour, and how is such a man to be recognised?"
As an assayer tests the golden ornament, which has been taken to him for examination, by comparing it with a sample piece of hundred carat gold in his possession, so also is the behaviour of the Sthitaprajña a test for deciding between the duty and the non-duty, the just and the unjust; and the implied meaning of these questions is that the Blessed Lord should explain to Arjuna what that test was. Some persons say that the descriptions which have been given by the Blessed Lord of the state of the Sthitaprajña or of the Triguṇātīta, in reply to this question, are of Jñānins following the Path of Renunciation, and not the Karma-Yoga; because, it is with reference to such persons that the adjective 'nirāśrayaḥ' (i.e., homeless.~Translator.), (Bhagavadgītā 4.20) has been used in the Gītā.; and in the twelvth chapter, where the description of the Sthitaprajña devotees of the Blessed Lord is being given, the words "sarvārambhaparityāgī" (i.e., "one who has abandoned all ārambha or commencement of Action—Translator.), (Bhagavadgītā 12.16), and "aniketaḥ" (i.e., "one who has no abode"—Translator.), (Bhagavadgītā 12.19), have been used clearly. But the words 'nirāśrayaḥ' or 'aniketaḥ' do not mean 'one who does not remain in a home, but roams about in a forest', and they must be taken as synonymous with "anāśritaḥ karmaphalam" (i.e., "not taking shelter in the Fruit of the Action" ~Translator.), (Bhagavadgītā 6.1), that is to say, as meaning 'one who does not take shelter in the Fruit of Action', or, 'one, the home of whose mind, is not in that Fruit', as will be clearly seen from my commentaries on the translations of those respective verses. Besides, it is stated in the description itself of the Sthitaprajña, that "he moves about among the objects of pleasure, keeping control over his organs", that is, he performs Actions desirelessly (Bhagavadgītā 2.64); and, in the stanza which contains the word 'nirāśrayaḥ' occurs also the description, "karmaṇy abhipravṛtto 'pi naiva kiṃcit karoti saḥ", that is, "he is free from and untouched by all Actions, though he performs them". The same argument must be applied to the use of the word 'aniketaḥ' in the twelvth chapter; because, in that chapter, after having praised the abandonment of the Fruit of Action (not the Abandonment of Action), the Blessed Lord has gone on to describe the characteristics of His devotees, in order to explain what peace (śānti) is obtained by performing Action after abandoning the Hope for Fruit (phalāśā); and in the same way, a description has been given in the eighteenth chapter, of a person who has been merged in the Brahman, in order to explain how peace is obtained by performing Actions without being attached to the Fruit of Action (Bhagavadgītā 18.50). It, therefore, becomes necessary to come to the conclusion that these descriptions are not of persons who follow the Path of Renunciation, but of Karma-yogins. It is not that, the Knowledge of the Brahman, the peace of mind, the Self-identification (ātmaupamya), or the Desirelessness of Mind, of the Karma-yogin Sthitaprajña, is different from those.of the Saṃnyāsin-Sthitaprajña. As both are perfect Knowers of the Brahman, the mental frame and the peace of mind are the same in either case; but the one is merely engrossed in Peace (śānti), and does not care for anything else; whereas, the other is continually bringing into use his peace of mind and his Self-identification in his activities of ordinary life, as occasion arises. This is the important difference between the two from the point of view of Karma. Therefore, that Sthitaprajña, whose personal conduct has to be taken as an example for determining what is right and what is wrong in ordinary life, must be one who performs Action, and not one who has abandoned Action or is a beggar (bhikṣu). The sum and substance of the advice given to Arjuna in the Gītā is, "it is not necessary to give up Action, nor can you give it up; but. Realise the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman and keep your pure Reason (vyavasāyātmikā buddhi) equable like that of a Karma-yogin, so that your Practical Reason (vāsanātmikā buddhi) will thereby also become pure, mine-less, and saintly, and you will not be caught in the bondage of Karma"; and that is why in explaining to Jājali the principle of Ethics embodied in the stanza quoted at the beginning of this chapter, namely, "that man who, by his Actions and by his speech, is continually engrossed in the welfare of others, and who is always a friend of others, may alone be said to have understood what morality (dharma) is", Tulādhāra has mentioned Karma, side by side with Speech and Mind, and even before mentioning them.
It is not necessary to explain principles of Ethics in detail to that man, whose mind has become equable towards all created things, like that of a Karma-yogin Sthitaprajña or a Jīvanmukta, and all whose selfish interests have been merged in the interests of others. He may be said to have become self-enlightened or a 'buddha'. As Arjuna had reached that stage, it was not necessary to give him any advice beyond, stating: "make your mind equable and steady, and instead of falling in the futile mistake of giving up Action, make your mind similar to that of the Sthitaprajña, and perform all. Action which has befallen you according to your status in life." Yet, as this Yoga in the shape of equability of mind, cannot, as has been stated above, be attained by everyone in- one life, the life of a Sthitaprajña must be a little more minutely examined and explained for the benefit of ordinary people. But, in making this disquisition, one must also bear in mind that the Sthitaprajña, whom we are going to consider, is not a man living in a society which has reached the perfect state of the Kṛta-yuga, but is one who has to live in a society in this Kaliyuga, in which almost all people are steeped in. their own selfish interests. Because, however great and. complete the Knowledge of a man may be, and whatever the state of equability of Mind which he has reached, it will not do if he adopts the practice of harmlessness, kindness, peacefulness, forgiveness etc., which are permanent virtues of the highest order, in dealing with persons whose minds are impure, and who are caught within the toils of Desire, Anger etc. It need not be said that the rules of Right and Wrong, applicable to a society in which the majority is of avaricious persons, must be at least somewhat. different from the rules of Right and Wrong and of Absolute.
Ethics applicable to a society in which every person is a. Sthitaprajña; otherwise, saints will have to leave this world, and evil-doers will he the rulers everywhere. This does not mean that saints must give up their equable frame of mind; but there are kinds and kinds of equability of mind. It is stated in the Gītā that the hearts of saints are equal towards "brāhmaṇe gavi hastini" (Bhagavadgītā 5.18), i.e., "Brahmins, cows, and elephants". But if, on that account, someone feeds a Brahmin with the grass which has been brought for the cow or feeds the cow with the food which has been cooked for the Brahmin, shall we call him a wise man? If persons following the School of Renunciation do not attach any importance to- this question, the same cannot be done by people who follow the Karma-Yoga. The Sthitaprajña lives his life in this world, taking into account what the nature of Right and Wrong was in the perfect state of the Kṛta-yuga, and deciding what changes are necessary in those rules, in this world of selfish persons, having regard to the difference of Time and Place; and it will be clear from what has been stated in the second chapter above, that this is the most difficult question in Karma-Yoga. Saints perform their duties in this life apathetically, and only for the benefit of such selfish people, instead of getting angry with them, or allowing their own equability of mind to change on account of their avaricious tendencies. Bearing this principle in mind, Śrī Samartha Rāmadāsa has, after having in the first part of the Dāsabodha dealt with the Knowledge of the Brahman, started in the eleventh chapter a description of the activities performed by such Sthitaprajñas or saints for social welfare, with indifference to the world, or desirelessly, and with the intention of instilling wisdom into such people (Dāsabodha 11.10; 12.8–10; 15.2); and he has stated later on in the eighteenth chapter, that one should thoroughly understand and grasp the traditions, stories, stratagems, devices, circumstances, intentness of pursuit, inferences, cleverness, diplomacy, forbearance, acuteness, generosity, Metaphysical Knowledge, devotion, aloofness, indifference to the world, daringness, assiduity, determination, firmness, equability, discrimination, and numerous other qualities of such Jñānins (Dāsa, 18. 2).
But as such disinterested persons have to deal with avaricious persons, the ultimate advice of Śrī Samartha is:-
Meet baldness with boldness;
impertinence by impertinence;
villainy by villainy;
must be met
In short, when a man descends from the state of perfection to ordinary life, it is undoubtedly necessary to make some changes in the rules of Right or Wrong which apply to the highest state.
To this position, Materialistic philosophers raise the following objection, namely: if, when one descends from the perfect state into ordinary society, one has to deal with many things with discrimination, and modify Absolute Ethics to a certain extent, where is the permanence of Ethical principles, and what becomes of the axiom "dharmo nityaḥ", i.e., "Morality is immutable," which has been enunciated by Vyāsa in the Bhārata-Sāvitrī? They say that the immutability of Ethics from the point of view of Metaphysics is purely imaginary, and that those are the only true rules of Ethics, which come into existence consistently with the state of society at particular periods of time, on the basis of the principle of the 'greatest good of the greatest number'. But, this argument is not correct. Just as the scientific definition of a straight line or of a perfect circle does not become faulty or purposeless, because no one can draw a straight line without breadth or a faultless circumference of a circle as defined in Geometry, so also is the case with simple and pure rules of Ethics. Besides, unless one has determined the absolutely pure form of anything, it is not possible to bring about improvements in the various imperfect forms of it which we come across in life, or to ascertain the relative worth of the various forms after careful consideration; and that is why the assayer first decides what is pure hundred carat gold. Persons who live only according to the times, and without taking into account the absolute form of Ethical principles, will be in the same position as sailors on a ship, who guide the rudder on the boundless ocean, considering only the waves and the wind, and without taking into account the compass, which shows the cardinal directions, or the Polar star. Therefore, even considering everything from the Materialistic point of view, it is necessary to first fix some principle of Ethics, which is- unchangeable and permanent like the Polar star; and once this necessity has been admitted, the entire Materialistic argument falls to the ground. Because, as all enjoyment of objects of pleasure which causes pain or happiness falls into the Name-d, and Form-ed, and therefore, the non-permanent or perishable category of illusory objects, no principle of Ethics based on such enjoyment, that is, on merely external effects, can be permanent- Such Ethical principles must go on changing as the ideas of the material, external, pain and happiness on which they are based, change. Therefore, if one has to escape from, this perpetually changing state of Ethics, one must not take into account the enjoyment of objects of pleasure in this illusory world, but must stand on the sole Metaphysical foundation of the principle, "there is only one Ātman in all created things"; because, as has been stated before in the ninth chapter, there is nothing in this world which is permanent except the Ātman; and the same is the meaning conveyed by the statement of Vyāsa: "dharmo nityaḥ sukhaduḥkhe tv anitye", i.e., "the rules of Ethics or of pure behaviour are immutable, and happiness and unhappiness are transient and mutable". It is true that in a society which is full of cruel and avaricious persons, it is not possible to fully observe- the immutable Ethical laws of harmlessness, truth, etc.; but one cannot blame these Ethical laws for that. Just as one cannot, from the fact that the shade of an object cast by the Sun's rays is flat on a flat surface, but is undulating on an undulating surface, draw the inference that the shade must be originally undulating, so can one not, from the fact that one does not come across the purest form of Ethics in a society of unprincipled persons, draw the inference that the imperfect state of Ethics which we come across in an imperfect society is the principal or the original form of Ethics. The fault here is not of Ethics, but of the society; therefore, those who are wise, do not quarrel with pure and permanent laws of Ethics but apply their efforts towards elevating society, so as to- bring it to the ultimate highest state. Although our philosophers have mentioned some exceptions to the permanent laws of Ethics in dealing with avaricious persons in society, as being unavoidable, they also mention penances for acting according to such exceptions; and this will also dearly explain the difference pointed out by me in previous chapters in explaining to my readers that Western Materialistic Ethical science bare-facedly supports and propounds these exceptions as laws, and by confusion of thought, looks upon the principles of discrimination between external results, which are useful only for fixing these exceptions, as the true laws of Ethics.
I have thus explained that the true foundation of Ethics is the frame of mind and the mode of life of the Sthitaprajña Jñānin (the Steady-in-Mind scient); and why, although the laws of Ethics to be deduced from the same are permanent and immutable in themselves, they have got to be varied in an imperfect state of society; and, how and why the immutability of fundamental laws of Ethics is not affected, though these laws may be varied in that way. I shall now consider the question first mentioned by me, namely, what is the hidden significance or fundamental principle underlying the behaviour of a Sthitaprajña Jñānin in an imperfect society. I have stated before in the fourth chapter that this question can be considered in two ways: the one way is to consider the state of mind of the doer as the principal factor; and the other way is to consider his external mode of life.
If one considers the matter only from the second point of view, it will be seen that all the activities of the Sthitaprajña are prima facie for' the benefit of the world. It is stated in two places in the Gītā that, saints who have acquired the highest Knowledge, are "engrossed in bringing about the welfare of all created things", that is, they are "sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 5.25 and 12.4); and the same statement also appears in various places in the Mahābhārata. I have stated above that the laws of harmlessness etc., which are followed by Sthitaprajña Jñānins, are in fact 'dharma', or the model of pure behaviour.
In explaining the necessity of these rules of harmlessness etc., and in describing the nature of these laws of Ethics (dharma), the Mahābhārata contains various statements explaining their asternal usefulness, such as:–
I.e., "non-violence and truthfulness are laws of Ethics, beneficial to everybody";
dhāraṇād dharmam ity āhuḥ
I.e., "it is called dharma, because it maintains the world";
dharmam hi śreya ity āhuḥ
I.e., "that is dharma, which is beneficial";
prabhavārthāya bhūtanāṃ dharmapravacanaṃ kṛtam
I.e., "laws of Ethics have been made for the amelioration of society";
I.e., "laws of Ethics have been made in order that the activities of society should go on, and that benefit should be acquired in this life and the next".
In the same way, it is stated that, when there is a doubt between what is right and what is wrong, the Jñānin–
lokayātrā ca draṣṭavyā dharmaś cātmahitāni ca |
(Anu. 37.16; Vana. 206.90)
That is, "should discriminate between external factors like the usual activities of men, laws of Ethics, and one's own benefit",
And decide what is to be done; and the king Śibi has, in the Vanaparva, followed the same principle for discriminating between right and wrong (Vana. 131.11 and 12). From these statements, it will be clearly seen that the 'external guiding factor' of the mode of life of a Sthitaprajña, is the advancement of society; and if this is accepted as correct, the next question which faces us is: why do Metaphysicians not accept the Materialistic Ethical law of 'the greatest happiness or, (using the word 'happiness' in a more extensive meaning), benefit, or advantage of the greatest number'? I have shown above in the fourth chapter that the one great drawback of the principle of the 'greatest happiness of the greatest number' is, that it does not provide for either, the happiness or amelioration resulting from Self-Realisation, or the happiness in the next world. But this drawback can to a great extent be removed by taking the word 'happiness' in a comprehensive meaning; and the Metaphysical argument given above in support of the immutability of Ethical laws, will, therefore, not appear of importance to many. It is, therefore, necessary to again give a further elucidation of the important difference between the Metaphysical and the Materialistic aspect of Ethics.
The question whether a particular act is ethically proper or improper can be considered in two ways: (1) by considering merely its external result, that is to say, its visible effect on the world; and (2) by considering the Reason or the Desire- of the doer. The first method of consideration is known as the MATERIALISTIC (ādhibhautika) method. In the second method, there are again two sub-divisions, each of which has a different name. I have in the previous chapters referred, to the doctrines that (i) in order that one's Action should be pure, one's Practical Reason has got to be pure, and that (ii) in order that one's Practical Reason should be pure, one's Pure Reason, that is, the reasoning faculty, which discriminates between what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, has got to be steady, equable, and pure. According to these doctrines, one has to see whether the Practical Reason which prompted a particular action was or was not puro, in order to determine whether the Action is pure; and when one wishes to consider whether the Practical Reason was or was not pure, one has necessarily to see whether the Deciding Reason was or was not pure. In short, whether the Reason or the Desire of the doer was or was not pure, has ultimately to be judged by considering the purity or the impurity of the Deciding Reason (Bhagavadgītā 2.41). When this Deciding Reason is considered to be an independent deity, embodying the power of dis- crimination between Right and Wrong (sadasadvivecana-śakti), that method of consideration is called the INTOTTIONIST' (ādhidaivata) method; but if one believes that this power is not an independent deity, but is an eternal organ of the Ātman, and on that account, one looks upon the Ātman, instead of the Reason, as the principal factor and determines- the pureness of Desire on that basis, that method of determining principles of Ethics is known as the METAPHYSICAL (ādhyātmika) method. Our philosophers say that this Meta- physical method is the best of all these methods; and although the well-known German philosopher Kant has not clearly enunciated the doctrine of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, he has commenced his disquisition of the principles of Ethics, with a consideration of Pure Reason, that is, in a way; from the Metaphysical point of view; and he has clearly stated there his reasons for doing so. Green is of the same opinion: but these matters cannot be dealt with in detail in a small book like this. I have, in the fourth chapter above, explained by giving a few illustrations why, in finally deciding questions of Ethics, one has to pay more special attention to the pureness of the Reason of the doer, than to the external result of his Actions; and this subject-matter will be further considered in the fifteenth chapter when I will compare the Western and the Eastern ethical laws. For the time being, I will only say that, in as much as it is necessary that there should be a desire to perform any particular Action before it is actually performed, the consideration of the propriety or the impropriety of such Action, depends entirely on the consideration of the purity or the impurity of the Reason. If the Reason is sinful, the Action will be sinful; but, from the fact that the external Action is bad, one cannot draw the conclusion that the Reason, also must be bad; because, that act may have been performed by mistake, or as a result of a misunderstanding, or as a result of ignorance; and in these cases it cannot be said to be ethically sinful. The Ethical principle of 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number' can apply only to the external results of Actions; and as no one has so far invented any external means for definitely measuring the external results of such Actions in the shape of pain or happiness, it is not certain that this test of Morality will always give us a correct result. In the same way, however wise a man may be, if his Reason is not pure, it is not certain that he will on every occasion behave in a morally correct way. And the position will be much worse if Mb own selfish interests are in any way affected in that matter; because, "svārthe sarve vimuhyanti ye 'pi dharmavido janāḥ" (Śriman Mahābhārata Vi. 51. 4), i.e., "all are blinded by selfish interests, even if they are well-versed in Morality" ~Translator.). In short, however much a man may be a Jñānin, or well-versed in Morality, or wise, if his Reason has not become equable towards all created beings, it is not certain that his Actions will always be pure or morally faultless. Therefore, our philosophers have decided definitely that in dealing with ethical problems, one must consider principally the Reason of the doer, rather than the external results of his Actions; and that equability of Reason is the true principle underlying an ethically correct mode of life.
And the Blessed Lord has given to Arjuna the following advice on the same principle in the Bhagavadgītā:
Some say that the word 'buddhi ' in this stanza is to be understood as meaning 'Jñāna' (Knowledge), and that a higher place has been given to Jñāna, as between Jñāna and Karma. But, according to me, this interpretation is incorrect. Even in the Śāṃkarabhāṣya on this stanza, the word 'buddhi-yoga' has been interpreted as meaning 'samatva-buddhi-yoga' (the Yoga of equability of Reason); and further, this stanza occurs in that part of the Gītā which deals with the Karma-Yoga. Therefore, this stanza must be interpreted with reference to Karma only; and such an interpretation is also naturally arrived at. Those who perform Actions fall into the two categories of (i) those who keep an eye merely on the fruit–for example, on the question, how many persons will be benefited thereby, and to what extent; and (ii) those who keep then- Reason equable and desireless, and remain unconcerned as to the Fruit of the Action, which (fruit) results from the combination of Action (karma) and Destiny (dharma). Out of these, this stanza has treated the 'phalahetavaḥ', that is, 'those who perform Action, keeping an eye on the result of the Action', as kṛpaṇa, that is, of a lower order from the ethical point of view; and those who perform Action with an equable Reason as superior. That is what is meant by the statement in the first two parts of the stanza, namely, "dūreṇa hy avaraṃ karma buddhiyogād dhanañjaya", i.e., "O Dhanañjaya, Action alone is very much inferior to the Yoga of the equable Reason"; and that is the answer given by the Blessed Lord to the question of Arjuna "How shall I kill Bhīṣma, Droṇa and others?" The implied meaning of this is, that one has to consider not merely the Action of dying or of killing, but the motive with which that Action has been performed; and therefore, the advice has been given in the third part of the stanza that: "Rely on your Reason (buddhi), that is, on the equable Reason (samabuddhi)"; and later on, in the summing up in the eighteenth chapter, the Blessed Lord has again said:–"Perform all your Actions, relying on the Yoga of the equable Reason". That the Gītā, looks upon the consideration of the Action itself as inferior, and of the motive which inspires the particular Action as superior, will be apparent from another stanza in the Gītā. In the eighteenth chapter, Karma has been classified into sāttvika, rājasa, and tāmasa. If the Gītā had intended to consider only the result of the Action, the Blessed Lord would have said that those Actions, which produce the greatest good of the greatest number, are sāttvika; but, instead of doing so, it is stated in the eighteenth chapter that, "that Action is the most excellent, which has been performed desirelessly, that is, after abandoning the Hope for the Fruit of the Action" (Bhagavadgītā 18.23). Therefore, the Gītā, in discriminating between the doable and the not- doable, attaches a higher importance to the desireless, equable, and unattached Reason of the doer, than to the external result of the Action; and if the same test is applied to the conduct of the Sthitaprajña, it follows that the true principle involved in the mode of life of a Sthitaprajña is the equable Reason with which he behaves towards his equals and his subordinates; and that the welfare of all created beings resulting from such a mode of life is the external or concomitant result of that equability of Reason. In the same way, it is improbable that the man whose Reason has reached the perfectly equable state, will perform Action with the sole idea of giving merely Material happiness to other people. It is true that he will not causa harm to others. But, that cannot be considered to be his. principal ideal; and all the activities of a Sthitaprajña are directed towards more and more purifying the minds of all the persons forming a society, and thereby enabling such persons- to ultimately reach the Metaphysically perfect state he himself has reached. This is the highest and the most sāttvika duty of mankind. We look upon all efforts directed merely towards the increase of the Material happiness of human beings as inferior or rājasa.
To the doctrine of the Gītā that in order to decide between the doable and the not-doable, one has to attach a higher importance to the pureness of the motive of the doer than to- the result of the Action, the following mischievous objection has been raised, namely, if one does not take into account theresult of the Action, but merely considers the pureness of the motive, it will follow that a person with a pure Reason can commit any crime he likes; and that he will then be at liberty to perform all sorts of crimes! This objection has not been imagined by me, but I have as a matter of fact seen objections of this kind which have been advanced against the Gītā religion by some Christian missionaries. But, I do not feel the slightest compunction in characterising these allegations or objections as totally foolish and perverse. Nay, I may even go so far as' to say that these missionaries have become as incapable of even understanding the Metaphysical perfection of the Sthitaprajña described in the Vedic religion on account of aa over-weening admiration for their own religion, or of some other nefarious or evil emotions, as a black-as-ebony Negro from Africa is unfit for or incapable of appreciating the principles of Ethics accepted in civilised countries. Kant, the well-known German philosopher of the nineteenth century, has stated in several places in his book on Ethics, that one must consider only the Reason of the doer, rather than the external result.
of his Action, in deciding questions of Ethics. But, I have nowhere come across any such objection having been raised to that statement of Kant. Then how can such an objection apply to the principle of Ethics enunciated by the Gītā? When the Reason has become equable towards all created beings, charity becomes a matter of inherent nature; and therefore, it is as impossible that a person who has acquired this highest Knowledge, and is possessed of the purest Reason, should commit sin, as that nectar should cause death. When the Gītā says that one should not consider the external result of the Action, that does not mean that one is at liberty to do what one likes. The Gītā says: though a person can hypocritically or with a selfish motive, appear to be charitable, he cannot hypocritically possess that equability of Reason and stability, which can arise only by Realising that there is but one Ātman in all created beings; therefore, in considering the propriety or the impropriety of any Action, one has to give due consideration to the Reason of the doer, instead of considering only the external results of his Action. To express the matter in short, the doctrine of the Gītā is that Morality does not consist of Material Action only, but that it wholly depends on the Reason of the doer; and the Gītā says later on (Bhagavadgītā 18.25), that if a man, not realising the true principle underlying this doctrine, starts doing whatever he likes, he must be said to be tāmasa or a devil. Once the mind has become equable, it is not necessary to give the man any further advice about the propriety or the impropriety of Actions.
"This has only one merit-producing meaning there is only one Ātman, that is, God in all created beings.”
(Tu. Tukārāma's Gāthā 4428.9).
But, although the essential basis of proper conduct (sadācaraṇa) is the equable Season, I must repeat here that, one cannot from that fact draw the inference that the man who performs Action, must wait for performing Action until his Reason has reached that stage. It is the highest ideal of everybody to make his mind like that of a Sthitaprajña. But it is stated already in the commencement of the Gītā, that because this is the highest ideal, one need not wait for performing Action until that ideal has been reached; that one should in the meantime perform all Actions with as much unselfishness as possible, so that thereby the Reason will become purer and purer, and the highest state of perfection will ultimately be reached; and that one must not waste time by insisting on not performing any Action until the perfect state of the Reason, has been reached (Bhagavadgītā 2.40).
A further objection is raised by many that, although it has in this way been proved (i) that the ethical principle of 'sarva- bhūta-hita' or of the greatest good of the greatest number ' is a one-sided and superficial (śākhāgrāhī) principle, as it applies, only to external Actions, and (ii) that the 'equability of Reason' according to which 'there is only one Ātman in all created beings' is a thing which goes to the root of the matter (is mulāgrāhī), and must, therefore, be considered as of higher importance in determining questions of Morality, yet, one does not thereby get a clear idea as to how one should behave in ordinary life. These objections have suggested themselves to the objectors principally by seeing the worldly behaviour of Sthitaprajñas, who follow the Path of Renunciation. But anybody will see after a little thought, that they cannot apply to the mode of life of the Karma-yogin Sthitaprajña. Nay; we may even say that no ethical principle can more satisfactorily justify worldly morality, than the principle of considering that there is only one Ātman in all created beings, or of Self- identification (ātmaupamya). For example, let us take tha doctrine of charity, which has been given an important place in all countries and according to all codes of Ethics. This doctrine can be Justified by no Materialistic principle, as satisfactorily as by the Metaphysical principle that ' the Ātman of the other man is the same as my Ātman*. The utmost that Materialistic philosophy can tell us is, that philanthropy is an inherent quality which gradually grows, according to the Theory of Evolution (utkrānti-vāda). But not only is the immutability of the principle of philanthropy not established by that philosophy, but, as has been shown by me before in the fourth chapter, when a man is faced with a conflict between his own interests and the interests of others, the 'enlightened selfish', who would like to sit on two stools, thereby get a chance of justifying their own attitude. But even to this, an objection is raised by some, that it is no use proving the immutability of the principle of philanthropy. If everyone tries to serve the interests of others believing that there is only one Ātman in all created beings, who is going to look after his interests; and if in this way, his own interests are not looked after, how will he be in a position to do good to others? But these objections are neither new, not unconquerable. The Blessed Lord has answered this very question in the Bhagavadgītā on the basis of the Path of Devotion, by saying; "teṣāṃ nityābhiyuktānāṃ yogakṣemaṃ vahāmy aham" (Bhagavadgītā 9.22), (i.e., "I look after the maintenance and welfare of those persons, who are permanently steeped in Yoga" ~Translator.); and the same conclusion follows on the Metaphysical basis. That man, who. is inspired with the desire of achieving the benefit of others, has not necessarily to give up food and drink; but he must believe that he is maintaining and keeping alive his own body for the benefit of others. Janaka has said (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. 32) that the organs will remain under one's control, only if one's Reason is in that state, and the doctrine of the Mīmāṃsā school that, 'that man is said to be amṛtāśī, who eats the food which has remained over after the performance of the sacrificial offering', is based on the same idea (Bhagavadgītā 4.31). Because, as the Yajña is, from their point of view, an Action for the maintenance and conduct of the world, they have come to the conclusion, that one maintains oneself and should maintain oneself, while performing that act of public benefit; and that, it is not proper to put an end to the cycle of Yajñas for one's own selfish interest.
Even according to the ordinary worldly outlook, one sees the appropriateness of the statement made by Śrī Samartha Rāmadāsa in the Dāsabodha that:–
That man is continually achieving the good of others;
That man is always wanted by everybody;
Then what can he need I in this world? (Dāsabodha 19.4.10).
In short, it never happens that the man, who toils for public welfare, is found to suffer for want of being maintained. A man must only become ready to achieve the good of others with a desireless frame of Reason. When once the idea, that all persons are in him and that he is in all persons, has been fixed in a person's mind, the question whether self-interest is distinct from the interest of others, does not arise at all, The above-mentioned foolish doubts arise only in the minds of those persons who start to achieve 'the greatest good of the greatest number', with the Materialistic dual feeling that 'I' am different from 'others'. But, the man who starts to achieve the good of others with the Monistic idea that "sarvaṃ khalv idaṃ brahma" (i.e., "all this which exists is the Brahman" ~Translator.), is never assailed by any such doubts. This important difference between the Metaphysical principle of achieving the welfare of all created beings, on the basis that there is only one Ātman in all created beings, and the Materialistic principle of general welfare, arising from a discrimination between the duality of self-interest and othersinterest, or from the consideration of the good of the multitude, has got to be carefully borne in mind. Saints do not achieve public welfare with the idea of achieving public welfare. Just as giving light is the inherent quality of the Sun, so does achieving the good of others become the inherent quality of these saints, as a result of the complete realisation of the unity of the Ātman in all created things; and when this has become the inherent quality of a saint, then, just as the Sun in giving light to others also gives light to itself, so also is the maintenance of such a saint achieved automatically by the activities directed by him towards the interests of others. When this inherent tendency of doing good to others is coupled with an unattached Reason, saints, who have realised the identity of the Ātman and the Brahman, continue their beneficent activities, without caring for the opposition they come across, and without trying to discriminate between whether it is better to suffer adversity or to give up public welfare; and if occasion arises, they are even ready to and indifferent about sacrificing their own lives. But, those who distinguish between self-interest and other'sinterest, and begin to discriminate between what is right and what is wrong by seeing which way the scale turns when they weigh self-interest against other's-interest, can never experience a desire for public welfare, which is as intense as that of such saints. Therefore although the principle of the benefit of all created beings in acceptable to the Gītā, it does not justify that principle by the consideration of the greatest external good of the greatest number, but looks upon the consideration of whether the numbers are large or small, or the consideration of the large or small quantity of happiness, as short-sighted and irrelevant; and it justifies the equability of Reason, which is the root of pure conduct, on the basis of the eternal Realisation of the Brahman which is propounded by Metaphysical philosophy.
From this it will be seen how a logically correct justification of one's making efforts for the benefit of others or of universal welfare, or of charity, can be arrived at from the point of view of Metaphysics. I will now consider the fundamental principles, which have been enunciated in our Śāstras for guiding the behaviour of one person towards another in society, from the point of view of equability of Reason.
The principle that,
I.e., "the man for whom everything has been merged in the Self (Ātman)",
Behaves towards others with a perfectly equable mind, has been enunciated in the Īśāvāsya (Īśāvāsyopaniṣad 6) and Kaivalya (Kaivalyovaniṣad 1.10) Upaniṣads, in addition to the Bṛhadāraṇyaka, as also in the Manu-Smṛti (Manu-Smṛti 12.91 and 125); and this same principle has been literally enunciated in the sixth chapter of the Gītā, in the words
sarvabhūtastham ātmānaṃ sarvabhūtāni cātmani
I.e., "he sees himself in all created things, and all created things in himself—(Translator.).
The Self-identifying (ātmaupamya) outlook is only another form of this principle of believing in the unity of 5.tman in all created things, or of the equability of Reason. Because, if I am in all created things, and all created things are in me, it naturally follows that I must behave towards all created things, in the same, way as I would behave towards myself; and, therefore, the Blessed Lord has told Arjuna, that that man must be looked upon as the most excellent Karmayogin Sthitaprajña, who "behaves towards all others with equability, that is, with the feeling that his Ātman is the same as the Ātman of others"; and he has advised Arjuna to act accordingly (GH. 6. 30–32). Ab Arjuna was duly initiated, it was not necessary to further labour this principle in the Gītā. But, Vyāsa has very clearly shown the deep and comprehensive meaning embodied in this principle, by enunciating it in numerous places in the Mahābhārata, which has been written in order to teach Religion and Morality to ordinary people (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 238.21; 261.36).
For example, in tha conversation between Bṛhaspati and Yudhiṣṭhira in the Mahābhārata, this same principle of identifying one's Ātman with others, which has been succinctly mentioned in the Upaniṣads and in the Gītā, has at first been mentioned in the following words:–
ātmopamas tu bhūteṣu yo vai bhavati pūruṣaḥ |
nyastadaṇḍo jitakrodhaḥ sa pretya sukham edhate ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Anu. 113.6)
That is, "that man, who looks upon others in the same way as ha looks upon himself, and who has conquered anger, obtains happiness in the next world";
And then, without completing there the description of how one person should behave towards others, the Mahābhārata goes on to say:–
na tat parasya sandadhyāt pratikulaṃ yad ātmanaḥ |
eṣa saṃkṣepato dharmaḥ kāmād anyaḥ pravartate ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Anu. 113. 8)
That is, "one should not behave towards others in a way which one considers adverse or painful to oneself; this is the essence of all religion and morality, and all other activities are based on selfish interests";
And it lastly says:–
pratyākhyāne ca dāne ca sukhaduḥkhe priyāpriye |
ātmaupamyena puruṣaḥ pramāṇam adhigacchati ||
yathāparaḥ prakramate pareṣu tathā pare prakramante 'parasmin |
tathaiva teṣūpamā jīvaloke yathā dharmo nipuṇenopadiṣṭaḥ ||
(Anu. 113.9 and 10).
That is, "in the matter of pain and happiness, the palatable or the unpalatable, charity or opposition, each man should decide as to what should be done to others, by considering what his own feelings in the matter would be. Others behave towards one, as one behaves towards others; therefore, wise persons have stated, by taking that illustration, that dharma means behaving in the world, by placing oneself in the position of others".
na tat parasya sandadhyāt pratikulaṃ yad ātmanaḥ,
I.e., "one should not behave towards others, in a way which one considers adverse or painful to oneself—(Translator.)
Has also appeared in the Viduranīti (Udyo. 38.72); and later on, in the Śānti-parva, Vidura has explained the same principle again to Yudhiṣṭhira (Śān. 167.9). But, "do not cause pain to others, because that which is painful to yourself is also painful to others ", is only one part of the doctrine of Selfidentification; and some people are likely to be assailed by the doubt that, we cannot deduce from this doctrine the definite inference that: "as that which is pleasant to yourself will also be pleasant to others, therefore, behave in such a way that pleasure will be caused to others ".
Therefore, Bhīṣma in, explaining the nature of dharma (Morality) to Yudhiṣṭhira has gone further and clearly indicated both the aspects of this law in the following words:–
yad anyair vihitaṃ necched ātmanaḥ karma pūruṣaḥ |
na tat pareṣu kurvīta jānann apriyam ātmanaḥ ||
jīvitaṃ yah svayaṃ cecchet kathaṃ so 'nyaṃ praghātayet |
yad yad ātmani ceccheta tat parasyāpi cintayet ||
(Śān. 258.19, 21)
That is, "one should not behave towards others in that way in which one, by considering one's own happiness, desires that others should not behave towards one. How can that man, who desires to live himself, kill others? One should always desire that others should also get what one oneself wants".
And in mentioning the same rule in another place, Vidura has, without using the adjectives 'anukūla' (favourable) and 'pratikūla' (unfavourable), laid down a general rule, with reference to every kind of behaviour, in the words:
tasmād dharmapradhānena bhavitavyaṃ yat ātmanā |
tathā ca sarvabhūteṣu vartitavyaṃ yathātmani ||
That is, "control your organs, and behave righteously; and behave towards all created beings, as if they are yourself",
Because, as Vyāsa says in the Śukānupraśna,
yāvān ātmani vedātmā tāvān ātma parātmani |
ya evaṃ satataṃ veda so 'mṛtatvāya kalpate ||
(Ma. Bhā. Śān. 238.22)
That is, "there is in the bodies of others, just as much of Ātman as there is in one's own body. That man who continually realises this principle, comes to attain Release".
Buddha did not accept the existence of the Ātman; at any rate, he has clearly stated that one should not unnecessarily bother about the consideration of the Ātman.
Nevertheless, in teaching how Buddhist mendicants should behave towards others, even Buddha has preached the doctrine of Self-identification (ātmaupamya) in the following words:–
yathā ahaṃ tathā ete yathā ete tathā aham |
attānaṃ (ātmānaṃ) upamaṃ katvā (kṛtvā) na haneyya m ghātaye ||
(Suttanipāta, Nālakasutta, 27)
That is, "as I am, so are they; as they are, so am I; taking (thus) an illustration from oneself, one should not kill or cause (the) death (of anybody)".
Even in another Pāli treatise called Dhammapada, the second part of the above stanza has appeared twice verbatim; and immediately thereafter, the stanzas occurring both in the Manu-Smṛti (5.45) and Mahābhārata (Anu. 113.5) have been repeated in the Pali language in the following words:–
sukhakāmāni bhūtāni yo daṇḍena vihiṃsati |
attano sukhamesāno (icchan) pecya so na labhate sukham ||
That is, "that man, who for his own (attano) benefit, kills with- a rod other persona, who also desire happiness (like himself), does not obtain any happiness after death" (pecya = pretya).
As we see that the principle of Self-identification is recognised in Buddhistic works, although they do not admit of the existence of the Ātman, it becomes quite clear that these ideas have been taken by Buddhist writers from Vedic texts. But this matter will be further considered later on.
The above quotations will clearly show that even from ancient times, we Indians have believed that that man, whose state of mind is,
sarvabhūtastham ātmānaṃ sarvabhūtāni cātmani
I.e., "all created things are in me, and I am in all created things”—(Translator.),
Always conducts himself in life by identifying others with himself; and that that is the important principle underlying such conduct. Anyone will admit that this principle or canon (sūtra) of Self- identification used in deciding how to behave with other persons in society, is more logical, faultless, unambiguous, comprehensive, and easy than the Materialistic doctrine of the 'greatest good of the greatest number'; and is such as will easily "be grasped by even the most ignorant of persons. This fundamental principle or mystic import of the philosophy of Right and Wrong (eṣa saṃkṣepato dharmaḥ) is justified in a more satisfactory way from the Metaphysical point of view than from the Materialistic point of view, which takes into account only the external effects of Actions; and therefore, the works of Western philosophers, who consider the question of Karma-Yoga merely from the Materialistic point of view, do not give a prominent place to this important doctrine of the philosophy of Right and Wrong. Nay, they attempt to explain the bond of society on merely external principles like the 'greatest happiness of the greatest number' etc., without taking into consideration this canon (sūtra) of the principle of Self-identification. But, it will be seen that this easy ethical principle of Self-identification has been given the highest place not only in the Upaniṣads, the Manu-Smṛti, the Gītā, the other chapters of the Mahābhārata, and the Buddhistic religion, but also in other countries and in other religions. Tha commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Levi. 19.15; Matthew, 23.39), to be found in Christian and Jewish religious texts, is nothing but this rule in another form. Christians look upon this as a golden rule, that is to say, as a rule as valuable as gold; but their religion does not explain it by the principle of the unity of the Ātman. The advice of Christ that, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Matthew 7.12; Luke 6.31) is only a part of the sutra of Self-identification; and the Greek philosopher Aristotle has literally enunciated this same principle of behaviour for men. Aristotle lived about 300 years before Christ, but the Chinese philosopher Khūn-Phū-Tse (corrupted in English into 'Confucius') lived 200 years before Aristotle, and he has enunciated the above rule of Selfidentification by a single word according to the practice of the Chinese language. But, this principle was enunciated in our country, long before Confucius, in the Upaniṣads (Īśāvāsyopaniṣad 6; Kenopaniṣat (= Talavakāropaniṣat) 13); and later on in the Bhārata, and the Gītā; and also an the works of Maratha saints by such words as: "like unto oneself; one should consider others" (Dāsabodha 12. 10. 22): and here is also a proverb in Marathi which means, 'one should judge the world by one's own standard'. Not only is this so, but it has been Metaphysically explained by our ancient philosophers. When one realises that (i) religions other than the Vedic religion have not logically justified this generally accepted canon, though they have mentioned it, and (ii) that this canon cannot be logically justified in any way except by the Metaphysical principle of the identification of the Brahman with the Ātman, one will clearly see the importance of the Metaphysical Ethics preached in the Gītā, or the Karma-Yoga.
This easy principle of 'Self-identification', (ātmaupamya) which regulates the mutual behaviour of persons living in a society, is so comprehensive, so easy to understand, and so universally accepted, that when once one lays down the rule: "Realise the identity of the Ātman in all created beings, and behave towards others with an equable frame of mind, as if they are yourself", it is no more necessary to lay down such individual commandments as: be kind to others; help others as much as possible; bring about their welfare; put them on the path of advancement; love them; do not get tired of them; do not hurt their feelings; behave towards them with justice and equality; do not deceive any one; do not deprive any one of his wealth or of his life; do not tell anyone an untruth; bear always in mind the idea of bringing about the greatest good of the greatest number; behave towards all, looking upon them as the children of one and the same father, and as if they were your brothers etc.
Everybody soever naturally understands in what his happiness or unhappiness lies; and, as a result of the family system, he realises the truth of the rule that he must love his wife and children in the same way as he loves himself, according to the doctrines,
ātmā vai putranāmāsi
I.e., "your son is the same as yourself"—(Translator.),
I.e., "your wife is half of your body"—(Translator.).
But, the ultimate and most, comprehensive interpretation of the canon of Selfidentification is, that the highest idea of manhood and the most complete fructification of the arrangement of the four states of life consists in: (i) realising that family life is but the first lesson in the science of Self-identification, and (ii) instead of being continually engrossed in the family, making one's Selfidentifying Reason more and more comprehensive, by substituting one's friends, one's relations, or those born in the same gotra (clan) as oneself, or the inhabitants of one's own village, or the members of one's own community, or one's coreligionists, and ultimately all human beings, or all created beings, in the place of one's family, thereby realising that that Ātman, which is within oneself is also within all created beings; and that one should regulate one's conduct accordingly. And, it then naturally follows that the sacrificial ritual etc., or Karma, which enhances one's capacity to achieve this ideal state, is a purifier of the Mind, and a moral act, that is, such a duty as ought to be performed in the state of a householder.
Because, as I have already explained before, the true meaning of the word 'citta-śuddhi' (purification of the Mind) is the total elimination of selfishness, and the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman; and the writers of the Smṛtis have enjoined the performance of the various duties pertaining to the state of a householder only for that purpose.
ātmā va are draṣṭavyaḥ
I.e., "see first who the Ātman is"—(Translator.).
The philosophy of Karma-Yoga, which has been based on the foundation of the Knowledge of the Supreme Self, advises everyone not to limit the extent of the Ātman by saying "ātmā vai putranāmāsi"; and says that one should, realise the inherent comprehensiveness of the Ātman by feeling that,
loko vai ayam ātmā,
I.e., "your Ātman is the whole universe"—(Translator.),
And that everyone should regulate one's activities, believing that,
udāracaritānāṃ tu vasudhaiva kuṭuṃbakam,
I.e., "the whole universe is the family of noble-minded persons".
And I am confident that, in this matter, our philosophy of Karma-Yoga will not only be not inferior to any other ancient philosophy of Karma-Yoga, but will even embrace all such philosophies like the Parameśvara, Who has embraced everything and has remained over to the extent of 'ten fingers'.
But, even to this position an objection is raised by some that: when a man has by this Self-identification acquired the comprehensive Vedantic vision of,
I.e., "the universe is the family"—(Translator.),
Not only will virtues like pride of one's country, or of one's family or clan, or of one's religion etc., as a result of which some nations have now been fully advanced, he totally destroyed, but even if someone comes to kill us or to harm us, it will become our duty not to kill him in return with a harmful intent, having regard to the words of the Gītā: "nirvairaḥ sarvabhūteṣu" (Bhagavadgītā 11.55) (i.e., non-inimical towards all created beings—Translator.), (See Dhammapada, 338); and as a result of evildoers being unchecked, good persons will run the risk of being the victims of evil deeds; and, as a result of the preponderance of evil- doers, the entire society or even a country will be destroyed.
It is clearly stated in the Mahābhārata itself that,
na pāpe pratipāpaḥ syāt sādhur eva sadā bhavet
(Ma. Bhā, Vana. 206. 44),
I.e., "do not become an evil-doer in dealing with evil-doers, but behave towards them like a saint";
Because, "enmity is never done away with by enmity or by evildoing"–
That, on the other hand, the man whom we defeat, being inherently evil-minded, becomes more evil-minded as a result of the defeat, and is only waiting for the chance of revenging himself again–"jayo vairaṃ prasṛjati"; and that, therefore, it is proper to circumvent evil-doers by peace (Śriman Mahābhārata Udyo. 71.59 and 63). And these very stanzas in the Bhārata have been copied in the Buddhistic treatises (See Dhammapada, 5 and 201; Mahāvagga, 10.2 and 3); and even Christ has repeated the same principle by saying: "Love your enemies" (Matthew, 5.44), and, "but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew, 5.39), or "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other" (Luke, 6.39). The same was the advice of the Chinese philosopher Lā-O-Tse, who lived before Christ, and there are even stories of this having been done by Ekanātha Maharaj and others from among our Maratha saints. I have not the slightest intention of belittling the sacred importance of these examples, which show the highest development of the principle of forgiveness or peace. There is no doubt that the religion of Forgiveness will, just like the religion of Truth, always remain permanent and without exception in the ultimate or the most perfect state of society. Nay, we even see in the imperfect condition of our present society, that results are achieved on various occasions by peace, which cannot be achieved by anger. When, in trying to find out what warriors had come forward to help Duryodhana, Arjuna saw venerable persons like ancestors and preceptors among them, he realised that in order to circumvent the evil-doings of Duryodhana, he would have to perform not only Action, but also the difficult action of killing by his weapons those preceptors who had sold themselves for money (Bhagavadgītā 2.5); and he began to say, that according to the rule, "na pāpe pratipāpaḥ syāt", it was not proper for him to become an evildoer because Duryodhana had become an evil-doer; and that "even if they kill me, it is proper for me to sit quiet with a 'noninimical' mind" (Bhagavadgītā 1.46). The religion of the Gītā has been propounded solely for solving this doubt of Arjuna; and on that account, we do not anywhere come across an exposition of this subject, similar to the exposition made in the Gītā. For instance, both the Christian and the Buddhistic religions adopt the principle of Non-Enmity, as is done by the Vedic religion; but it is nowhere clearly stated either in the Buddhistic or in the Christian religious treatises,–or at any rate not in so many words–that it is not possible for the conduct of a person, who gives up all Energistic Action and renounces the world, disregarding universal welfare and even self-preservation, to be in all respects the same as the conduct of the Karma-yogin, who, notwithstanding that his Reason has become noninimical and unattached, takes part in all Energistic activities with that same non-inimical, and unattached Reason. On the other hand, Western moralists find it very difficult to harmonise properly the advice of Non-Enmity given by Christ with worldly morality, and Nietzsche, a modern German philosopher, has fearlessly stated his opinion in his works, that the ethical principle of Non-Enmity is a slavish and destructive principle, and that the Christian religion, which gives a high place to that principle, has emasculated Europe. But, if one considers our religious treatises, one sees that the idea, that the two ethical and religious courses of Renunciation and Energism are to be distinguished from each other in this matter, was accepted by and was well-known not only to the Gītā but even to Manu. Because, Manu has prescribed the rule, "krudhyantaṃ na pratikrudhyet", i.e., "do not become angry in return towards one who has become angry towards you" (Manu-Smṛti 6.48), only for Saṃnyāsins, and not for the householder or in regal science. I have shown above in the fifth chapter, that the method adopted by our commentators of mixing up the mutually contradictory doctrines pertaining to the two paths of Renunciation and Karma-Yoga, without taking into account what dictum applies to which path, and how it is to be used, gives rise to a confusion regarding the true doctrine of KarmaYoga. When one gives up this confusing method adopted by the commentators on the Gītā, one can clearly understand in what sense the word Non-Enmity (nirvaira) is understood by the followers of the Bhāgavata religion or Karma-yogins.
Because, even Prahlāda, that highest of the devotees of the Blessed Lord, has himself said that,
I.e., "therefore, my friend, wise men have everywhere mentioned exceptions to the principle of forgiveness",
In order to show how the Karmayogin householder should behave on these occasions. It is true that the ordinary rule of the doctrine of Self-identification is, that one should not cause harm to others by doing such Actions as, if done to oneself, would be harmful; yet the Mahābhārata has made it clear, that this rule should not be followed in a society, where there do not exist persons who follow the other religious principle, namely, "others should not cause harm to us", which is a corollary from this first principle. The word 'equability' is bound up with two individuals, that is, it is relative. Therefore, just as the principle of Non-Violence is not violated by killing an evil-doer, so also is the principle of Selfidentification or of Non-Enmity, which is observed by saints, in no way affected by giving condign punishment to evil-doers. On the other hand, they acquire the merit of protecting others by having opposed the injustice of evil-doers. That Parameśvara, than Whom nobody's Reason can be more equable, Himself takes incarnations from time to time for protecting saints and destroying evil-doers, and thereby brings about universal welfare (lokasaṃgraha), (Bhagavadgītā 4.1 and 8); then? how can the case of ordinary persons be different? To say that the distinction between those who are deserving and those who are undeserving, or between what is proper and what improper, disappears, as a result of one's vision having become equable in such a way that he says: 'vasudhaiva kuṭuṃbakam' (i.e., "the whole world is my family"–Trans) or of one's giving up the Hope for Fruit of Action, is a confusion of thought. The doctrine of the Gītā is that mine-ness (mamatva) is the predominant factor in the Hope for Fruit; and that unless that feeling is given up, one cannot escape the bondage of sin or merit. But, though I may have no object to achieve for myself, I nevertheless commit the sin of helping evil-doers or undeserving persons, and of harming deserving saints and even society itself to that extent, if I allow someone to take that which he ought not to get. Just as, though a multimillionaire like Kubera goes to purchase vegetables in the market, he does not pay a lakh of rupees for a bundle of coriander leaves, so also does the man, who has reached the state of perfection, not forget the discrimination as to what is good for whom. It is true that his Season has become equable. But, 'equability' does not mean giving to a man the grass, which is fit for a cow, and to a cow, the food which is- proper for a man; and with the same intention, the Blessed Lord has said in the Gītā that that sāttvika charity which is to be made as dātavya, that is, because it is a duty to give, must be given, considering "deśe kāle ca pātre ca", that is, considering the propriety of the place, the time, and the; deservingness of the person (Bhagavadgītā 17. 20). In describing this equable state of mind of saints, Jñāneśvara has compared them to the earth. The earth is also known as "sarvasahā" (i.e., one who bears everything—Translator.). But, if this bearer-ofeverything earth is given a kick, it proves its ' equability ' by giving to the kicker an equally strong counter-kick.
This clearly shows how one can make a non-inimical (nirvaira) resistance, even when there is no enmity an the heart; and that is why it is stated in the chapter on Causality of Action above (Effect of Karma) that the Blessed Lord remains free from the blame of partiality (vaiṣamya), cruelty (nairghṛṇya) etc., notwithstanding that He deals with people.as:
ye yathā māṃ prapadyante tāṃs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
I.e., "I give to them reward in the same manner and to the same extent as they worship me".
In the same way, in ordinary life and according to law, no one calls the Judge, who directs the execution of a criminal, the enemy,of the criminal. According to Metaphysics, when a man's Reason has become desireless and has reached the state -of equability, he does not of his own accord do harm to anybody; and if somebody is harmed as a result of something which he does, that harm is the result of the Karma of such other person; or in other words, the desireless Sthitaprajña does not, by the act which he performs in these circumstances–even if it appears as terrible as matricide, or the murder of a preceptor–incur the bondage or the taint of the good or evil effects of the act.' (Bhagavadgītā 4.14; 9.28; and 18.17). The rules of self-defence included in criminal law are based on the same principle.
There is a tradition about Manu that when he was requested by people to become a king, he at first said:–
"I do not wish to become a king for punishing persons who commit sins, and to thereby incur sin";
But when in return,
tam abruvan prajāḥ mā bhīḥ kartṛneno gamiṣyati
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 67. 23),
That is, "people said to him: 'do not be afraid, the sinner will incur the sin, and you will acquire the merit of having protected the people",
And, when on top of it, they further gave him a promise that: "we will give to you toy way of taxes that amount which will have to be expended for the protection of the people", he consented to become a king. In short, the natural laws of a reaction being equal in intensity and effect to the action, which is seen in the lifeless world, is translated into the principle of 'measure for measure' in the living world. Those ordinary persons whose Mind has not reached the state of equability, add their feeling of mineness (mamatva) to this law of Cause and Effect, and making the counterblow stronger than the blow, take their revenge for the blow; or if the other person is weak, they are ready to take advantage of some trifling or imaginary affront, and rob him to their own advantage, under pretext of retaliation. But, if a. man, whose Mind has become free from the feelings of revenge, enmity, or pride, or free from the desire of robbing the weak as a result of anger, avarice, or hatred, or free from the desire of obstinately making an exhibition of one's greatness, authority, or power, which inhabits the minds of ordinary people, merely turns back a stone which has been thrown at him, that does not disturb the peacefulness, noninimicality,. and equability of his Mind; and it is on the other hand his duty, from the point of view of universal welfare, to take such retaliatory action, for the purpose of preventing the predominance of wrong-doers and the consequent persecution of the weak in the world (Bhagavadgītā 3.25); and the summary of the entire- teaching of the Gītā is that: even the most horrible warfare which may be carried on in these circumstances, with an equable state of mind, is righteous and meritorious. It is not that the Karma-yogin Sthitaprajña disregards the religious doctrines of behaving non-inimically towards everybody, not doing evil to evil-doers, or not getting angry with those who are angry with one.
But, instead of accepting the doctrine of the School of Renunciation that 'Non-inimicality' (nirvaira) means inactivity or non-retaliation, the philosophy of Karma-Yoga says, that 'nirvaira' means merely giving up 'vaira' or 'the desire to do evil'; and that in as much as nobody can escape Karma, one should perform as much Karma as is possible and necessary for retaliation or for social welfare, without entertaining an evil desire, and as a matter of duty, and apathetically, and without Attachment (Bhagavadgītā 3. 19); and therefore, instead of using the word 'nirvaira' by itself, the Blessed Lord has placed the important adjective 'matkarmakṛt' before it, in the stanza:
matkarmakṛn matparamo madbhaktaḥ saṅgavarjitaḥ |
nirvairaḥ sarvabhūteṣu yaḥ sa mām eti pāṇḍava ||
Which (word 'matkarmakṛt') means 'one who performs Action for Me, that is, for the Parameśvara, and with the idea of dedicating it to the Parameśvara'; and the Blessed Lord has thus interlocked non-inimicality with Desireless Action, from the point of view of Devotion. And it has been stated in the Śāṃkarabhāṣya and also in other commentaries that this stanza contains the essential summary of the doctrine of the Gītā. It is nowhere stated in the Gītā that one should give up all kind of Action, in order to make one's mind non-inimical (nirvaira), or after it has become non-inimical. When a man in this way performs that amount of Action which is necessary for retaliation non-inimically and with the idea of dedicating it to the Parameśvara, he commits no sin what- soever; but what is more, when the work of retaliation is over, the desire to wish the good of the person whom he has punished, by Self identification, does not leave his mind.
For example, when Bibhīṣaṇa was unwilling to attend to the obsequial ceremonies of Havana, after the sinless and non-inimical Rāmacandra had killed him (Rāvaṇa) in war, on account of his (Rāvaṇa's) evil doings, Śrī Rāmacandra has said to Bibhīṣaṇa:–
That is; "the enmity (in the mind of Rāvaṇa) has come to an end with his death. My duty (of punishing evil-doers) has come to an end; now he is my (brother), just as he was your (brother); therefore, consecrate him into the fire".
This principle mentioned in the Rāmāyaṇa has also in one place been, mentioned in the Bhāgavata (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 8. 19. 13); and the same principle is conveyed by the traditions in the Purāṇas that the Blessed Lord had afterwards benevolently given an excellent state to those very evil-doers whom He Himself had killed.
Śrī Samartha has used the words "meet impertinence by impertinence" (see p. 524 above—Translator.) on the basis of the same principle; and in the Mahābhārata, Bhīṣma has, on the same principle, said to Paraśurāma:–
yo yathā vartate yasmin tasminn evaṃ pravartayan |
nādharmaṃ samavāpnoti na cāśreyaś ca vindati ||
(Ma. Bhā. Udyo. 179.30)
That is, "there is no breach of religion (immorality) in behaving towards another person in the same way as he behaves towards you; nor does one's benefit thereby suffer";
And further on in Satyānṛtādhyāya of the Śāntiparva, the same advice has again been given to Yudhiṣṭhira in the following words:–
That is, "Religion and Morality consist in behaving towards others in the same way as they behave towards us; one must behave deceitfully towards deceitful persons, and in a saintly way towards saintly persons".
So also in the Ṛg-veda, Indra has not been found fault with for his deceitfulness, but has on the other hand, been praised in the following words:
I.e., "O, sinless Indra! you have by deceit killed Vṛtra, who was himself deceitful";
vrajanti te mūḍhadhiyaḥ parābhavam |
bhavanti māyāviṣu ye m māyinaḥ ||
That is, "those, who do not become deceitful in dealing with deceitful persons, are themselves destroyed".
But in this place it must also be borne in mind that if it is possible to offer retaliation to an evil-doer by a saintly act, such saintly act should in the first instance be attempted; because from the fact that the other man has become an evil-doer, it does not follow that one should also become an evil-doer with him, nor does it follow that others should cut their noses because someone has cut' his own nose; nay, there is even no Morality in that.
This is the true meaning of the canon,
na pāpe pratipāpaḥ syāt,
I.e., "do not become an evil-doer towards an evil-doer"—Translator.);
And for the same reason, Vidura, after having first mentioned to Dhṛtarāṣṭra in the Viduranīti, the ethical principle that,
na tat parasya sandadhyāt pratikulaṃ yad ātmanaḥ,
I.e., "one should not behave towards others in a way which is undesirable from one's point of view",
Immediately afterwards says:–
akrodhena jayet krodhaṃ asādhuṃ sādhunā jayet |
jayet kadaryaṃ dānena jayet satyena cānṛtam ||
(Ma. Bhā. Udyo. 38.73, 74)
That is, "the anger (of others) should be conquered, by one's peacefulness; evil-doers should be conquered by saintliness; the miser should be conquered by gifts; and falsehood should be conquered by truth".
This stanza has been copied word for word in the Buddhistic treatise on Morality in the Pali language, known as the Dhammapada, in the following stanza:–
akkodhena jine kodhaṃ asādhuṃ sādhunā jine |
jine kadariyaṃ dānena saccen ālīkavādinam ||
And, in the Śāntiparva of the Mahābhārata, Bhīṣma, in counselling Yudhiṣṭhira, has praised this ethical principle in the following terms:–
karma caitad asādhūnām asādhu sādhunā jayet |
dharmeṇa nidhanaṃ śreyo na jayaḥ pāpakarmaṇā ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 95.16)
That is, "the asādhu, that is, 'evil' actions of evil-doers (asādhūnām) should be counteracted by saintly actions; because, even if death follows as a result of righteousness or Morality, that is better than the victory which follows from a sinful action".
But, if the evilness of evil-doers is not circumvented by such saintly actions, or, if the counsel of peacefulness or propriety is not acceptable to such evil-doers, then according to the principle "kaṇṭakenaiva kaṇṭakam" (i.e., "takeout a thorn by a thorn" ~Translator.), it becomes necessary to take out by a needle, that is, by an iron thorn, if not by an ordinary thorn, that thorn which will not come out by the application of poultices (Dāsabodha 19.9, 12–31); because, under any circumstances, punishing evil-doers in the interests of general welfare, as was done by the Blessed Lord, is the first duty of saints from the point of view of Ethics. In enunciating the proposition "evilness should be conquered by saintliness", the fact that the conquest of or the protection from evil is the primary duty of a saint, is first taken for granted; and the first step to be taken for attaining that result is mentioned. But, it is nowhere stated by our moral philosophers, that if protection against evil-doers cannot be obtained by saintliness, one should not give 'measure for measure', and protect oneself, but should allow oneself to become a victim of the evil-doings of villains; and it must be borne in mind that, that man who has come forward to cut the throats of others by his own evildoings, has no more any ethical right to expect that others should behave towards him like saints. Nay, it is clearly stated in our religious treatises, that when a saint is thus compelled to perform some unsaintly Action, the responsibility of such unsaintly Action does not fall on the pure-minded saint, but that the evil-doer must be held responsible for it, as it is the result of his evil doings (Manu-Smṛti 8.19 and 351); and the punishment, which was meted out by the Blessed Buddha himself to Devadatta, has been justified in Buddhistic treatises on the same principle (Milinda. Pra. 4.1.30–34). In the world of lifeless things, action and re-action always take place regularly and without a hitch. It is true that as the activities of a man are subject to his desires, and also, as the ethical knowledge necessary for deciding when. to use the trailokya-cintāmaṇi-mātrā (infallible remedy) in dealing with evil-doers, is very subtle, even a meritorious person is at times in doubt as to whether that which he would like to do is right or wrong, moral or immoral–"kiṃ karma kim akarmeti kavayopy atra mohitāḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 4.16), (i.e., "what should be done and what should not be done is a question which puzzles even learned persons" ~Translator.). On these occasions, the right thing to do is to take as authoritative the decision which is arrived at by the pure mind of a saint, who has reached the highest state of complete equability of Reason, instead of depending on the wisdom of wise persons, who are always more or less subject to selfish desires, or merely on one's own powers of reasoning and discrimination; because, as arguments and counter-arguments wax in direct ratio with the power of inferential logic, these difficult questions are never truly or satisfactorily solved by mere wisdom, and. without the help of pure Reason; and one has to seek the shelter and protection of a pure and desireless preceptor to arrive at such a solution. The Reason of those law-givers, who are universally respected, has become pure in this way; and, therefore, the Blessed Lord has said to Arjuna in the Bhagavadgītā that:–"tasmāc chāstraṃ pramāṇam te kāryākārya-vyavasthitau" (Bhagavadgītā 16.24), i.e., "in discriminating between what should be done and what should not be done, you must look to the authority of the religious and moral treatises". At the same time, it must not be forgotten, that saintly law-givers like Śvetaketu, who come later in point of time, acquire the authority of effecting changes even in these religious principles.
The prevalent misconception regarding the conduct in. life of non-inimical and peaceful saints is due to the fact that the Path of Karma-Yoga is now practically extinct, and the Path of Renunciation, which considers all worldly life as discardable, is on all hands being looked upon as superior The Gītā neither advises nor intends that when one becomes non-inimical, one should also become non-retaliatory. To that man who does not care for universal welfare, it is just the same whether or not evil-doers predominate in the world, and whether or not he continues to live, But, the philosophy of Karma-Yoga teaches us that though the Karma-yogins, who have leached the most perfect state, behave non-inimically towards all created beings, recognising the identity of the Ātman in all, they never fail to do that duty which has befallen them according to their own status in life, after discriminating between who is worthy and who unworthy, with a frame of mind, which is unattached; and that any Action which is performed in this manner, does not in the least prejudicially affect the equability of Reason of the doer. When this principle of the Karma-Yoga in the Gītā has been accepted, one can properly account for and justify the pride of one's family, the pride of one's country, or other similar duties on the basis of that principle. Although the ultimate doctrine of this philosophy is that, that is to be called Religion which leads to the benefit of the entire human race, nay of all living beings, yet, as pride of one's family, pride of one's religion, and pride of one's country are the ascending steps which lead to that highest of all states, they never become unnecessary. Just as the worship of the qualityful (saguṇa) Brahman is necessary in order to attain to the quality less (nirguṇa) Brahman, so also is the ladder of pride of one's family, pride of one's community, pride of one's religion, pride of one's country etc. necessary in order to acquire the feeling of "vasudhaiva kuṭuṃbakam" (i.e., "the whole universe IB the family" ~Translator.); and as every generation of society climbs up this ladder, it is always necessary to keep this ladder intact. In the same way, if persons around one, or the other countries around one's country, are on a lower rung of this ladder, it is not possible for a man to say that he will always remain alone on a higher rung of the ladder; because, as has been stated above, those persons who are on the higher steps of that ladder, have occasionally to follow the principle of 'measure for measure', in order to counteract the injustice of those who are on the lower steps. There is no doubt that the state of every human being in the world, will improve gradually and reach the stage when everyone realises the identity of the Ātman in every created being. At any rate, it is not improper to entertain the hope of creating such a frame of. mind in every human being. But, it naturally follows that so long as everyone has not reached this ultimate state of development of the Ātman, saints must, having regard to the state of other countries or other societies, preach the creed of pride of one's country etc., which will for the time being be beneficial to their own societies. Besides, another- thing, which must also be borne in mind is that, as it is not possible to do away with the lower floors of a building, when the higher floors are built; or, as the pick-axe does not cease to be necessary, because one has got a sword in one's hand; or, as fire does not cease to become necessary, because one has also got the Sun, so also does patriotism, or the pride of one's family, not become unnecessary, although one has reached the topmost stage of the welfare of all created things. Because, considering the matter from the point of view of the reform of society, that specific function, which is performed by the pride of one's family, cannot be got merely out of pride of' one's country, and the specific function, which is performed' by the pride of one's country, is not achieved by the Realisation of the identity of the Ātman in all created beings, In- short, even in the highest state of society, patriotism and pride- of one's family and other creeds are always necessary to the same extent as Equability of Reason. But, as one nation is prepared to cause any amount of harm to another nation for its own benefit, on the basis that the pride of one's own country is the only and the highest ideal, such a state of things is not possible if the benefit of all created beings is looked upon as such ideal. If there is a conflict between the pride of one's family, the pride of one's country, and ultimately the benefit of the entire human kind, then, according- to the important and special preaching of that Ethics, which is replete with Equability of Reason, duties of a lower order should be sacrificed for duties of a higher order.
When Vidura was advising Dhṛtarāṣṭra, that rather than not give a share of the kingdom to the Pāṇḍavas, at the desire of Duryodhana, and thereby run the risk of the whole clan being destroyed in the resulting war, he (dhārtarāṣṭrā) should give up the single individual Duryodhana, though Duryodhana was his son, if he was obstinate, he (Vidura) in support of his position has said:–
That is, "for protecting a family, one person may be abandoned; for a town may be abandoned; and for the protection of the Ātman, even the earth may be abandoned."
The principle mentioned above is borne out by the first three parts of this stanza, and the fourth part of the stanza enunciates the principle of the protection of the Ātman. As the word 'Ātman' is a common pronoun, this doctrine of Selfprotection applies to a united society, community, country or empire, in the same way as it applies to an individual, and when one considers the rising gradation of one man for a family, a family for a town, a town for a country, etc., one sees clearly that the word Atman, must be considered to carry a higher value than all the other things. Nevertheless, some selfish persons, or persons unacquainted with ethical principles, sometimes interprete this part of the stanza in quite a perverse way, as importing merely selfishness, it is therefore necessary to mention here that this principle of protection of the Ātman is not the same as the principle of selfishness. Because, these moral philosophers who have declared the path advocated by the self-worshipper Cārvāka as devilish (See, Bhagavadgītā Chap. 16) cannot preach to anyone the destruction of the universe for one’s own selfish interests. The word 'arthe' in the above stanza does not indicate merely a selfish interest, but must be interpreted as meaning 'for defending oneself against a calamity, if it has come'; and the same meaning is also to be found in dictionaries. There is a world of difference between selfishness and protection of the Self (Ātman). Causing the detriment of others, being inspired by the desire of enjoying objects of pleasure, or by avarice, and for one’s own benefit is selfishness. This is inhuman and forbidden, and it is stated in the first three parts of the above stanza, that one must always consider the benefit of the multitude, rather than of an individual. Yet, as there is one and the same Ātman in all created things, everyone has an inherent natural light of being happy in this world; and no single individual or society in the world can ever ethically acquire the right to cause the detriment of another individual or society by disregarding this universal, important, and natural right, merely because the one is more than the other in numbers, or in strength, or because the one has a larger number of means than the other for conquering the other. If, therefore, someone seeks to justify the selfish conduct of a society, which is bigger in numbers than another society, on the ground that the benefit of a larger multitude, is of higher importance than the benefit of an individual or of a smaller multitude, such a method of reasoning must be looked upon as demonical (rākṣasī). Therefore, the fourth part of the stanza says, that if other people behave unjustly in this way, then the inherent ethical right of everybody of protecting himself, is of higher importance than the benefit of a larger multitude; nay, of even the whole world; and this has been mentioned along with the matter explained in the first three parts of the stanza, as an important exception to the principle enunciated in them.
Further, it must also be realised, that one can bring about universal welfare only if one lives; therefore, even considering the matter from the point of view of universal benefit, one has to say with Viśvāmitra that,
jīvan dharmam avāpnuyāt,
I.e., "one can think of Morality, only if one remains alive";
Or, with Kālidāsa that,
I.e., "the body is the fundamental means of bringing about Morality";
Or, with Manu, that,
ātmānaṃ satataṃ rakṣet,
I.e. "one should always protect oneself".
But although this right of self-protection thus becomes higher than the benefit of the world, yet, as has been mentioned above in the second chapter, saints are, of their own will, willing on several occasions to sacrifice their lives for their family, or country, or religion, or for the good of others; and the same principle has been enunciated in the three parts of the above stanza. As on these occasions, the mac of his own free will sacrifices his important right of Self-protection, the ethical "value of such an act is considered higher than that of all other acts, Yet, it becomes quite clear from the story of dhārtarāṣṭrā, mentioned above, that mere learning or logic is not sufficient, to rightly determine whether such an occasion has arisen, and that in order to arrive at a correct decision on that matter, the inner consciousness (antaḥkaraṇa) of the person, who wishes to decide, must first have become pure and equable. It is not. that Dhṛtarāṣṭra was so feeble-minded as not to understand the advice which was given by Vidura. But, as has been stated' in the Mahābhārata itself, his Reason could not become- equable as a result of his love for his son. Just as Kubera is never in need for a lakh of rupees, so the man whose Mind has become equable, experiences no dearth of the feeling of the identity of the Ātman in the members of a family, or a country, or in co-religionists, or any other inferior orders of identities. All these identities are included in the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman; and saints carry on the maintenance and welfare of the world by preaching to different persons either their duty to their country, or their duty to their family f or other narrow religions, or the comprehensive religion of universal welfare, as may be meritorious for a particular- person on a particular occasion, according to the state of his- Reason, or for his own protection. It is true that in the present state of the human race, patriotism has become the highest religion; and even civilised countries utilise their learning, skill, and money, in contemplating on and preparing for the destruction of as large a number of persons in as short a time as possible, from a neighbouring inimical country, as- soon as the occasion arises. But Spencer, Comte, and other philosophers have distinctly maintained in their works, that one cannot, on that account, look upon that as the highest, ethical ideal of the human race; and I do not understand how that objection, which has not been raised to the doctrine preached by them, can become effective as against the doctrine of the identity of the- Ātman in all created beings, which arises from our Metaphysical philosophy. As, when the child is young, one has to make its clothes as will fit its body–or perhaps slightly bigger, because it is growing–so also is the case with the Realisation of identity of the Ātman in all created beings. Be it a society or an individual, if the ideal placed before it, in the shape of the identity of the Ātman in all created beings, is consistent with the spiritual qualification of that individual or society, or at most a little advanced, it will be beneficial to it; but if one asks that society or individual to achieve something, how excellent soever, which is more than it can accomplish, it will never be benefited by it.
That is why the worship of the Parabrahman has been prescribed in the Upaniṣads by rising gradations, though in fact the Parabrahman is not circumscribed by any grades; and though a warrior class is not necessary in a society in which everyone has reached the state of a Sthitaprajña, yet, our religion has included that caste in the arrangement of the four castes, having regard to the contemporary state of other societies in the world, and on the basis of the principle,
ātmānaṃ satataṃ rakṣet
I.e., "protect yourself at all times"—(Translator.);
And even in that highest and ideal state of society which has been mentioned in his works by the Greek philosopher Plato, the highest importance has- been given to the class which becomes proficient in warfare by constant practice, because that class occupies the position of protectors of society. This will clearly show that though philosophers are always immersed in the contemplation of the highest and purest of ideas, they never fail to take into account the then prevailing imperfect state of society.
When all things have been considered in this way, it becomes clear that the true duty of scients is (i) to keep their own Reason free from objects of pleasure, peaceful, non- inimical, and equable, by Realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman; and (ii) without getting disgusted with ordinary ignorant people, because they themselves have attained this high state of mind, and without perverting the Reason of such ordinary people, by themselves abandoning worldly duties and accepting the state of Abandonment of Action (karmasaṃnyāsa), to preach to people whatever is proper for them, having regard to prevailing conditions, and to place before their eyes the living example of a model moral life, in the shape of their own desireless adherence to duty, and (iii) in that way to place all on the path of betterment, as gradually and peacefully as possible, but at the same time enthusiastically. This is what is done by the Blessed Lord by taking various incarnations from time to time; and the sum and substance of the entire philosophy of the Gītā is, that scients should follow the same example, and should at all times continue to do their duty in this world desirelessly, and to the best of their abilities, and with a pure mind, and without an eye to the Fruit; that they should be willing to lay down their lives, if necessary, while they are doing so (Bhagavadgītā 3.35); and that they must not under any circumstances fail in their duty. This is what is known as universal welfare (lokasaṃgraha); and this is the true Karma-Yoga. It was only when the Blessed Lord had explained to Arjuna this wisdom about what should be done and what should not be done, on the basis of Vedānta, simultaneously with explaining Vedānta to him, that Arjuna, who at first was on the point of giving up warfare and taking up the life of a mendicant, was later on ready to participate in the terrible war–not only because the Blessed Lord asked him to do so, but voluntarily. This principle of the equable Reason of the Sthitaprajña (Steady-in-Mind), which had been preached to Arjuna, being the fundamental basis of the philosophy of Karma-Yoga, I have in this chapter taken that as a hypothesis, and after having explained how the highest principles of Ethics are justified and explained on the basis of that principle, I have afterwards shortly stated the prominent parts of the philosophy of Karma- Yoga, such as: how people should behave towards each other in society from the point of view of Self-Identification; what modifications become necessary in the principles of Absolute Ethics, as a result of the law of 'measure for measure', or as a result of the worthiness or unworthiness of the person one has to deal with; as also how saints living in morally imperfect societies have to follow principles of morality, which are exceptions to the general principles etc. If the same method of argument is applied to the questions of justice, charity, philanthropy, kindness, nonviolence, truth, not-stealing and other eternal principles, and if even a separate treatise is written on each of these subjects, in order to show what modifications will have to be made in the case of each of them, as occasion arises, consistently with the present morally imperfect state of society, they will not be exhausted; and that is also not the principal object of the Bhagavadgītā. I have, in the second chapter of this book, touched on the questions of how a conflict arises between Non-Violence and Truth, or Truth and Self- Protection, or Self-Protection and Peacefulness etc., and how, on that account, there arises at times a doubt as to what should be done and what should not be done. It is clear, that on such occasions, saints make a careful discrimination between 'ethical principles,' 'ordinary worldly affairs,' 'self- interest', 'benefit of all created things' etc., and then arrive at a decision as to what should be done and what should not be done; and this fact has been definitely stated by the śyena bird to king Śibi in the Mahābhārata; and the English writer Sidgwick has, in his Book on Ethics, propounded the same principle in great detail, and by giving many examples; but the inference drawn from this fact by several Western philosophers, that the accurate balancing of self-interest and other's- interest, is the only basis for determining ethical laws, has never been accepted by our philosophers; because, according to our philosophers, this discrimination is very often so subtle and so 'anaikāntika', that is, so productive of so many conclusions, that unless the Equability of realising that 'the other man is the same as myself, has been thoroughly impressed on one's mind, it is impossible to arrive at an invariably correct discrimination between what should be done and what should not be done, merely by inferential reasoning; and if one does so, it will be a case of 'the pea-hen tries to dance because the 'the peacock dances'. This is the main drawback in the arguments of Western Utilitarians like Mill and others. If because an eagle, swooping down, takes a lamb in its claws high up in the air, a crow also attempts to do so, he is sure to come to grief; therefore, the Gītā says, that it is not sufficient to place reliance merely on the outward devices adopted by saints; and that one must depend on the principle of an equable Reason, which is always alive in their hearts; and that Equability of Reason is the true root of the philosophy of Karma-Yoga. Some modern Materialistic philosophers maintain that SELF-INTEREST is the basic foundation of Ethics; whereas others give that place to PHILANTHROPY, that is, 'the greatest good of the greatest- number'. But I have shown above in the fourth chapter, that, these principles, which touch merely tie external results of Action, do not meet all situations; and that one has necessarily to consider to what extent the Reason of the doer is pure. It' is true that the discrimination between the outward effects of Action, is a sign of wisdom and far-sightedness. But, farsightedness is not synonymous with Ethics; and, therefore, our philosophers have come to the conclusion that the true basis of Proper Action does not lie in the mere mercenary process of discriminating between different external Actions; and that' the HIGHEST IDEAL (paramārtha) in the shape of Equability oft Reason, is the fundamental basis of Ethics; and one comes to- the same conclusion if one properly considers what the most perfect state of the Personal Self (Jīvātman), is; because, though many persons are adepts in the art of robbing each other by avarice, nobody says that this cleverness, or the futile- Knowledge of the Brahman, consisting of knowing in what? 'the greatest good of the greatest number' lies, is the highest ideal of everyone in this world. That man alone is the highest of men, whose Reason is pure. Nay; one may even say that the man, who, without having a stainless, non-inimical, and pure mind, is only engrossed in the calculating discrimination between outward Actions, runs the risk of becoming a hypocrite (See Bhagavadgītā 3.6). If one accepts Equability of Reason, as the basis of the philosophy of Karma-Yoga, this objection, does not arise. It is true that by taking Equability of Reason as the fundamental basis, one has to consult saints for' determining between morality and immorality, in circumstances of exceptional difficulty; but there is no help for that. Just as when a man is down with a very serious illness, its diagnosis or treatment is impossible without the help of a clever doctor so also will it be futile for an ordinary person to proudly imagine that he will be able to arrive at a faultless- decision between morality and immorality, without the help of saints, and merely on the basis of the principle of 'the greatest good of the greatest number', when there is a difficult and doubtful situation. One must always increase Equability of Reason by constant practice;, and when the minds of all the human beings in the world gradually reach the state of perfect Equability in this way, the Kṛtayuga will start, and the highest ideal or the most perfect state of the human race will be reached by everyone. The philosophy of the Duty and NonDuty has been evolved for this purpose; and, therefore, the edifice of that philosophy must also be based on the foundation of Equability of Reason. But, even if one does not go so deep as that, but only considers Ethics from the point of view of the test of public opinion, the theory of Equability of Reason expounded in the Gītā, is seen to be more valuable and more consistent with fundamental principles, than the Western Materialistic or Intuitionist philosophies, as will be apparent from the comparative examination of these different principles made by me later on in the fifteenth chapter. But, before coming to that subject, I shall deal with one important part of the explanation of the import of the Gītā, which still remains to be dealt with.
Footnotes and references:
See Spencer's Data of Ethics, Chap. XV, pp. 215–21,8. Spencer has called this 'Absolute Ethics'.
Epicurus held the virtuous state to be a "tranquil, undisturbed, innocuous, non-competitive fruition, which approached moat nearly to the perfect happiness of the Gods", who "neither suffered vexation in themselves, nor caused vexation to others". Spencer's Data of Ethics, p.278; Bain's Mental and Moral Science, Ed. 1875, p. 530. Such a person is known as the 'Ideal Wise Man'.
The statement from the Kauṣītakyupaniṣad is: "yo mām vijānīyati nāsya kenacit karmaṇā loko mīyate na matṛvadhena na pitṛvadhena na steyena na bhṛuṇahatyayā"; and the stanzas in the Dhammapada are as follows:-
mātaraṃ pitaraṃ hantvā rājāno dve ca khattiye |
raṭhṭhaṃ sānucaraṃ hantvā anīgho yāti brāhmaṇo || (294)
mātaram pitaraṃ hantvā rājāno dve ca sotthiye |
veyyagdha pañcamaṃ hantvā anīgho yāti brāhmaṇo || (295)
That is, (294) "in killing a mother or a father, or two kings of a warrior race, or destroying a whole kingdom with its inhabitants, a Brahmin (still) remains sinless"; (295) "in killing a mother, a father, two Brahmin kings, and an eminent man, to make up five, a Brahmin (still) remains sinless"—Translator.)
This idea in the Dhammapada has evidently been borrowed from the Kauṣītakyupaniṣad. Bat the Buddhistic writers do not take those words in their literal meaning of matricide or patricide, and have understood mother (mātā) as meaning thirst (tṛṣṇā), and father (pitā) as meaning self-respect (abhimāna), But, in my opinion, these writers have adopted these figurative meanings only because they have not properly understood the principle of Ethics conveyed in this verse. In the Kauṣītakyupaniṣad, before the verse "matṛvadhena pitṛvadhena" etc., it is stated by Indra that; "even if I kill Vṛtra, a Brahmin, I do not thereby commit any sin"; and it is quite clear from this, that actual murder was referred to. The commentary of Max Müller on this verse in his English translation on the Dhammapada (S. B. E., Volume X, pp. 70 and 71) is, according to me, due to misunderstanding.
"A perfectly good will would therefore be equally subject to objective laws (viz., laws of good), but could not be conceived as obliged thereby to act lawfully, because of itself from its subjective constitution, it can only be determined by the conception of good. Therefore, no imperatives bold for the Divine will? or in general for a holy will; ought is here out of place, because the volition is already of itself necessarily in unison with the law". Kant's Metaphysic of Morals, p. 31. (Abbot's trans, in Kant's Theory of Ethics, 6th Ed). Nietzsche does not accept any Metaphysical basis; yet, in the description of a superman given by him in bis books, he has said that such a person is beyond good and evil, and one of his books is entitled Beyond Good and Evil.
"In the second place, ideal conduct such as ethical theory is concerned with, is not possible for the ideal man in the midst- of men otherwise constituted. An absolutely just or perfectly sympathetic person could not live and act according to his nature in a tribe of cannibals. Among people who are treacherous and utterly without scruple, entire truthfulness and openness must bring ruin". Spencer's Data of Ethics, Chap. XV, p. 280. Spencer has called this 'Relative Ethics'; and he says that: "On the evolution-hypothesis, the two (Absolute and Relative Ethics) presuppose one another; and only when they co-exist, can there exist that ideal conduct which Absolute Ethics has to formulate, and which Relative Ethics has to take as the standard by which to ultimate divergencies from right, or degrees of wrong".
See Kant's Theory of Ethics trans, by Abbott, 6th Ed., especially Metaphysics of Morals therein.
The literal meaning of this verse is:–Dhanañjaya! (pure) Action is very much inferior to the Yoga of the (equable) Reason; (therefore), rely on (the equable) Reason. Those (persons), who perform Actions keeping an eye to the Fruit of Action, are 'kṛpaṇa', that is, of an inferior order".
"The second proposition is: That an action done from duty derives its moral worth, not from the purpose which is to be attained by it, but from the maxim by which it is determined". The moral worth of action "cannot lie anywhere but in the principle of the will, without regard to the ends which can be attained by action". Kant's Metaphysic of Morals (trans. by Abbott in Kant's Theory of Ethics, p. 16. The italics are the author's and not our own). And again, "When the question is of moral worth, it is not with' the actions which we see that we are concerned, but with those inward principles of them which we do not see", p. 24. Ibid.
The word 'sūtra' is defined as,
alpākṣaram asaṃdigdhaṃ sāravad viśvatomukham |
astobham anavadyaṃ ca sūtraṃ sūtravido viduḥ ||
Those various meaningless letters which are added in a mantra for the purpose of convenience of recitation, without adding to the meaning, are called 'stobhākṣara' (complementary words). There are no such meaningless words in a sūtra, and therefore, the adjective 'astobham' has been used in the definition above.