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...
"Therefore, at all times, remember me and fight."
Whether one considers the continuity of the various chapters of the Gītā, or analyses all the various subject-matters dealt with in it according to the logical method of the Mīmāṃsā school, it follows clearly that (i) the various interpretations, which have been put on the Gītā by doctrine-supporting commentators, who have looked upon the Karma-Yoga as inferior, are not correct; and that (ii) harmonising the Monistic (advaita) Vedānta of the Upaniṣads with the Philosophy of Devotion, and in that way accounting for the mode of life of great and noble people, or, to mention the matter briefly, Karma-Yoga fused with Spiritual Knowledge and Devotion, is the true purpose of the Gītā. Although performing the ritual prescribed in the Śrutis and the Smṛtis throughout life, as directed by the Mīmāṃsā, may be following the injunctions of the Śāstras, yet, this mechanical ritual, which is devoid of Spiritual Knowledge, can never satisfy an intelligent person; and if one considers the philosophy of the Upaniṣads, not only is it difficult to grasp for people of ordinary intelligence, as it is based purely on Reason, but the Saṃnyāsa or Renunciation, advocated by it, conflicts with universal benefit (lokasaṃgraha). Therefore, the Blessed Lord has preached in the Gītā the philosophy of life-long Desireless Action, based on Spiritual Knowledge, and in which the highest importance is given to Devotion, so as to effect a fusion between Intelligence (Jñāna), Love (Devotion), and physical capacity (kartṛtva), and so as to enable the ordinary affairs of the world to be carried on satisfactorily, without prejudicing Release; and it follows from the Commencement (upakrama) and the Conclusion (upasaṃhāra) of the Gītā, that this advice covers the entire sum and substance of the philosophy of the Doable and the Not-Doable, and that the disquisition on the Doable and the Not-Doable was the true reason for preaching this religion to Arjuna. Which Action is righteous, meritorious, just, or beneficial, and which, on the other hand, is unrighteous, improper, unjust or harmful, can be explained in two ways. The one way is not to explain the inherent reason or the justification for the advice, but merely to say that if a particular thing is done in a particular way, it is right, and if done in another particular way, it is wrong.
Injunctions like 'Do not cause death', 'Do not steal', 'Speak the truth' (satyaṃ vada), Act righteously (dharmaṃ cara) etc. are of this kind. These injunctions or courses of conduct are definitely laid down in the Manu-Smṛti, and other Smṛtis, and in the Upaniṣads. But as man is a rational animal, he is not satisfied with such didactic injunctions, and he naturally feels a desire to understand the true reason why they were laid down; and he naturally thinks over and finds out the eternal and fundamental principle at the bottom of these rules of conduct. Going to the bottom of worldly morality in this way, and finding out the underlying fundamental principles, is the purpose of PHILOROPHY (Śāstra); and merely putting together and mentioning the rules, is known as ĀCĀRA-SAṂGRAHA. The code of rules of conduct (ācāra-saṃgraha) relating to the Path of Action is to be found in the Smṛti texts; and the Bhagavadgītā contains a conversational or Paurāṇika, but philosophical (śāstrīya) disquisition on the fundamental principles of that code. Therefore, it is more proper to say that the subject-matter of exposition in the Gītā is THE SCIENCE OF KARMA-YOGA (Karma-Yoga-Śāstra), instead of saying that it is KARMA-YOGA; and this word, that is, SCIENCE OF YOGA (YogaŚāstra) has been used in the Gītā in the concluding portion of every chapter showing the end of the chapter. This Science of Karma-Yoga in the Gītā has been called the Science of Proper Conduct (sadvartana), the Science of Good Behaviour (sadācāra), Philosophy of Ethics, Critique of Ethics, Elements of Ethics, the Science of Duty, the Discernment of Right and Wrong, or the Science of Sociology, by Western philosophers, who either do not believe in the life after death, or consider it as inferior. These are merely Materialistic names; and their way of criticising is also a purely Materialistic way. Therefore, the majority of the persons who have read the books of such Western writers think that Morality or Ethics has not been dealt with in any work in Sanskrit literature.
The most profound philosophy in India is the Vedānta philosophy; and if one considers our modern Vedānta works, they are seen to be principally indifferent about worldly affairs. Then, how can we find in them any consideration of Karma-Yoga or of Ethics? This subject-matter cannot be dealt with in books on Grammar, or on Logic; and in the Smṛti texts, one cannot find anything more- than a code of religious precepts. Therefore, it is the common belief of many persons, that our ancient writers, being steeped- in the deep contemplation of Release, have forgotten to deal) with the subject-matter of Morality or Ethics. This misunderstanding will be removed if one carefully considers the Mahābhārata or the Gītā. But, as the Mahābhārata is a very extensive work, it is very difficult to read the whole of it and to give careful thought to the subjectmatter in it; and: although the Gītā is small, yet, there is a strong belief, that it deals only with the question of Release, on account of the doctrine-supporting commentaries on it. But no one has taken the trouble to think that the Path of Saṃnyāsa and the Path of Karma-Yoga were both in vogue in India from Vedic times; that the numbers following the Path of Karma-Yoga were a thousand times greater than of those following the Path of Saṃnyāsa; and that the great and noble persons, whose lives have been described in the Purāṇas, were supporters of Karma-Yoga. Then, was not even one of these persons' inclined to vindicate the Path of Karma-Yoga followed by him? If it is said that there are no works on Karma-Yoga, because all Spiritual Knowledge is confined to the Brahmin caste, and the Vedāntist Brahmins are apathetic towards Action, that statement too would be incorrect. Because, in the times of the Upaniṣads, and also afterwards, there were Jñānins like Janaka and Śrī Kṛṣṇa among the Kṣatriyas; and even learned Brahmins like Vyāsa, have written the biographies of great Kṣatriyas. In writing these biographies, would, it not be necessary to explain the key-note of the character and lives of those men? This key-note was Karma-Yoga or the philosophy of worldly life; and in order to explain this principle, subtle points of righteous or unrighteous conduct have been dealt with in several places in the Mahābhārata, and ultimately the Gītā has dealt with those principles of Ethics, which have been responsible for the maintenance of the world, consistently with the view-point of Release.
There are also many such instances in the other Purāṇas. But, as all other expositions on the subject turn pale by the side of the brilliance of the Gītā, the Bhagavadgītā has become the most important work on the philosophy of Karma-Yoga. I have dealt with the true nature of this Karma-Yoga in the foregoing chapters. Yet, it cannot be said that this exposition of the doctrine of the Gītā is complete, unless one compares the ethical principles propounded by Western philosophers with the fundamental spiritual principles of the Doable and the NotDoable enunciated in the Gītā. In making this comparison, it is also necessary to compare the Philosophy of the Absolute Self in the East with such philosophy in the West. But the knowledge of the Absolute Self in the West has not gone much beyond our knowledge. As this fact is commonly accepted, there is not much of a necessity to compare the- Eastern metaphysical philosophy «with the Western metaphysical philosophy; and the only thing which remains is the comparison of the Eastern with the Western science of Ethics or Karma-Yoga, which science according to many has not been expounded by our philosophers. But, the consideration of even this one subject is so comprehensive, that it will be necessary to write an independent treatise in order to deal with it exhaustively. Yet, as I did not consider it proper to omit this matter altogether from this book on that account, I have touched upon only the most salient and important points in that subject in this concluding chapter.
As the words 'Righteousness' and 'Unrighteousness', or 'Morality' and 'Immorality', can, strictly speaking, be applied only to the Actions of intelligent beings, it can be realised, after even a little consideration, that Morality does not rest only on Action, but rests on Reason. This is what is meant by saying: "dharmo hi teṣāṃ adhiko viśeṣaḥ", i.e., "knowledge of Right and Wrong is the specific quality of man, that is, of intelligent beings". It is true that we refer to a bullock or to a river, as mischievous or terrible respectively, having regard to the effect their action or activity has on us; but if a bullock gives us a push, no one files a suit against him; and if a river gets flooded and crops are washed away, and thereby "great wrong to a great many persons" is caused, no one on that account calls the river bad, or refers to it as a marauder. In answer to this position, many object: once it is admitted that the rules of Right and "Wrong apply only to the affairs of men, what is the objection to considering the rightness or wrongness of the Action of men, merely from the point of view of the Action? But even this question is not difficult to answer. Because, even if one leaves aside lifeless objects or animals born in the unenlightened species of birds or beasts, and considers only the actions of human beings, yet, in as much as the wrongs committed by men in a moment of insanity or unknowingly, are considered forgivable by people, or even according to law, one has necessarily to consider, in the first instance, the Reason of the doer, that is to say, the motive with which he did the act, and whether or not he had realised the consequences of the act, when one is determining the righteousness or the unrighteousness of the doer. It is not difficult for a rich man to give large sums of money in charity as he wishes. But although this his act may be 'good', yet, when one has to decide the true moral value of it, such value cannot be determined merely by considering the fact of this gift made in an off-hand way. One has to consider whether or not the Reason of that rich person was governed by religious faith (śraddhā); and, though, there may be no other evidence except this off-hand charitable gift for coming to a decision on that point, yet, the fact remains that no one looks upon this gift as of the same moral value as another gift made by a person with religious faith; at any rate there is room for doubt. At the end of the Mahābhārata, after the entire question of righteousness and unrighteousness has been dealt with, there is a story which very well brings out this position. In the Aśvamedha sacrifice (yajña) made by Yudhiṣṭhira, when he ascended the throne, millions of people were satisfied, and began to sing his praises for the munificent gifts of food and other objects made by him. Then a lustrous mongoose (nakula) came there and said to them: "All your praises are useless. However great the Yajña made by Yudhiṣṭhira may be, it cannot be equal in merit to that sacrifice which was made for a guest in former days, in this very Kurukṣetra, by a poor Brahmin, who lived by uñchavṛtti, that is, by gleaning grain left in the fields, and who gave all the sattu food, which was spread out before himself and his wife and children, to a hungry mendicant, who suddenly came to beg for alms, just when they were about to start to eat, notwithstanding that he and they had been without food for many days". (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. 90) The mouth and half the body of this mongoose was of gold; and the reason given by him for saying that the merit of the Yajña performed by Yudhiṣṭhira was less than the merit acquired by the poor Brahmin, who had given one seer of sattu grain to a mendicant was as follows: "I rolled about in the remnants of food left over in the house of that Brahmin after the mendicant had partaken of it, and on that account my mouth and half of my body has become golden; but although I rolled about in the remnants of food left over after eating in the pandal erected by Yudhiṣṭhira for the Yajña, the rest of my body has not become golden". In this case, if one sees only what leads to 'the greatest good of the greatest number', by taking into account only the external effects of the Action, one will have to come to the conclusion, that the merit of satisfying one hundred thousand mendicants is a hundred thousand times more than the merit of satisfying one beggar.
But, will this conclusion be correct, not from the point of view of religion merely, but even of morality? Acquiring a large amount of wealth, or getting an opportunity of performing big acts for the benefit of others, does not depend merely on anybody's virtuous conduct; and if one has to consider the small act performed by the poor Brahmin according to his means as of little ethical or religious merit, because it was not possible for him to perform a large Yajña for want of money, one will have to come to the conclusion that the poor need never entertain the hope of becoming religious or moral like the rich. According to the principle of Freedom of Will, keeping his mind pure was a matter within the control of the poor Brahmin; and if there is no doubt that his charitable instinct was as pure as that of Yudhiṣṭhira, then, notwithstanding the smallness of the act performed by him, the ethical merit of this Brahmin and of the small act performed by him, must be considered to be the same as that of Yudhiṣṭhira and of the magnificent Yajña performed by him. Nay; from the fact that he made a self-sacrifice by making. a gift of food in order to save the life of a mendicant, not- withstanding that he himself was poor and without food for many days, it follows that his Reason was purer than that of Yudhiṣṭhira; because, it is a universally accepted fact that purity of mind, like courage and other qualities, is truly proved only in times of adversity; and even Kant has, in the beginning of his book on Ethics, expressed an opinion that that man whose moral rectitude does not flinch even in times of adversity is the truly moral man. The same thing is conveyed by what was said by the mongoose. But the purity of the heart of Yudhiṣṭhira had been tested not only by the Yajña performed by him after he had ascended the throne, that is, in times of prosperity, but also before that, that is, on many trying occasions, in adverse circumstances, just as in the case of the Brahmin; and as the proposition of the writer of the Mahābhārata was, that Yudhiṣṭhira was morally great, even according to the subtle law relating to righteous and unrighteous conduct laid down above, he has called the mongoose a 'reviler'. Still, from the statement in the Mahābhārata that that Brahmin attained the same final state which is reached by people who perform the Aśvamedha Yajña, it follows that though the merit of the act of the Brahmin might not, in the opinion of the writer of the Mahābhārata, have been greater than that of the Yajña of Yudhiṣṭhira, yet, he certainly looked upon the ethical or religious merit of both as at least the same. Even in ordinary life, we follow the same principle, and consider the moral merit of a millionaire giving a thousand rupees for a pious object, as the same as that of a poor man who gives one rupee by way of subscription.
It is likely that this illustration might be considered by some as new, on account of the use of the word 'subscription'; I, therefore, say that in the exposition of Morality and Immorality made in the Mahābhārata, while the story of the mongoose was being told, it is said:–
sahasraśaktiś ca śataṃ śataśaktir daśāpi ca |
dadyād apaś ca yaḥ śaktyā sarve tulyaphalāḥ smṛtāḥ ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva.90.97),
That is, "a man who owns a thousand giving a hundred, a man who owns a hundred giving ten, or someone according to his ability giving only a drink of water, all these (acts) are of the same merit, and equally beneficial";
And the same is the purport conveyed by the sentence,
This principle has been adopted not only in our religion but also in the Christian religion. The Lord Christ has said in one place that: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke. 12.48); and there is a statement in another place in the Bible, that one day, when the Lord Christ had gone to church and the work of collecting funds for charitable purposes was going on, He said:–"Verily I say unto to you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they, which have cast into the treasury" (Mark. 12.43 and 44), on seeing an extremely poor widow giving both the pice which she had, in charity. This clearly proves that even the Lord Christ had accepted the position that the merit of an act has to be determined by reference to the Reason of the doer; and that when the Reason of the doer is pure, even a small act is very often of the same ethical merit as a larger act. If one considers the effect of the impurity of the Reason on the moral merit of an Action, in the opposite case, that is, when the Reason is not pure, it will be seen that killing in self-defence a man who has attacked you for murdering you, and killing a rich traveller for the sake of his money, are ethically entirely different, though the act of killing is the same in both the cases. The German poet Schiller has described a similar incident towards the end of his drama William Tell; and the distinction which has been made by him there between two externally exact actions, on account of the purity or the impurity of the Reason, is the difference between the 'abandonment of self- interest' (svārtha-tyāga) and the 'destruction of self-interest' (svārthahatyā). This shows that whether the two acts are unequal or are equal to each other, the difference between them, from the point of view of Morality, arises from the difference between the motives of the doers. This 'motive' is also known, as 'Intention', 'Desire', or 'Reason'; because, although the scientific meaning of the word 'Reason' is the 'Discerning, organ', yet, as 'Knowledge', 'Desire', and 'Intention' are all the results of the activity of this mental organ, it is usual to also refer to all these as 'Reason'; and as has been stated before, the Equable Reason of the Sthitaprajña is a combination of the steadiness of Pure Reason and the purity of Practical Reason. The Blessed Lord did not ask Arjuna to consider how many persons would be benefited or how many persons ruined by the war being carried on. On the other hand,. the Blessed Lord has said, "Whether Bhīṣma will die or Droṇa will die as a result of the carrying on of the war, is a minor consideration; the principal question is with what frame of Reason you are going to enter the fight; and if your Reason is like that of a Sthitaprajña, you will incur no sin if Bhīṣma and Droṇa are killed while you are performing your duty with that pure and untarnished Reason. You are not fighting with a Hope of Fruit in the shape of causing the death of Bhīṣma. You have only asked for a share of that kingdom to which you have acquired a right by birth; in order to avoid the war, you, have not failed to take it lying down as much as possible, and have even tried conciliatory ambassadors; but when you saw that this course of propriety and of gentleness was of no avail, you have started the war, as there was no other alternative. For this, you are not to blame at all; because, it is your duty, to acquire these rights ultimately by fight, if necessary, in the interests of public welfare, according to the religion of Kṣatriyas, instead of wasting time in begging like a Brahmin, (Śriman Mahābhārata U. 28 and 72; and Vanaparva 33.48 and 50)". Accepting this logical reasoning of the Blessed Lord, Vyāsa has satisfied Yudhiṣṭhira later on in the Śāntiparva (Śān. Ch. 32 and 33). But though the Reason is thus considered to be the superior factor in deciding what is right and what is wrong, it becomes necessary to explain what is meant by Pure Reason; because, as both the Mind and the Reason are evolutes (vikāra) of Matter (prakṛti), they can inherently be of three kinds, that is sāttvika (static), rājasa (active) and tāmasa (ignorant). Therefore, the Gītā has said that, that Reasoning Faculty which Realises the Form of the permanent Ātman, which (Ātman) is beyond the cognizance of Reason, which (form) is common to all created things, is to be called the pure or the sāttvika Reason in the Philosophy of Karma-Yoga. The sāttvika Reason is also known as the Equable Reason; and the word 'Equable' means "which recognises and Realises the unity or identity of the Ātman which inhabits all created things". That Reason which does not Realise this identity, is neither pure, nor sāttvika. When one has thus decided that this Equability of Reason is the most important factor in determining questions of Morality, the next question which naturally arises is, how to recognise this evenness or Equability of Reason; because, as the Reason is an internal organ, one cannot see by one's eyes whether it is good or bad. Therefore, in order to find out whether or not the Reason is pure and equable, one must in the first instance consider the external Actions of the man; otherwise, a man will by his mouth say that his Reason is pure and equable, and by his hands do whatever he likes. Therefore, the Śāstras have laid down the proposition that the true Knower of the Brahman has to be recognised by considering his nature; arid that if he is a mere talker, he is not a true saint. In describing the characteristics of the Sthitaprajña or of the Devotee of the Blessed Lord, the Bhagavadgītā principally describes how such persons behave in the world towards other people; and in the thirteenth chapter, 'Jñāna' (Knowledge) has also been defined in the same way, that is, by explaining the effect of Jñāna on a man's nature. From this it will be seen, that the Gītā does not say that one need not at all consider the external Actions of a man. But, although behaviour, that is to say, external Action, and principally external Action in times of adversity, has to be considered in order to test whether the Reason of any particular person–and specially of another person–is or is not Equable, yet, we must also bear in mind, that we cannot come to a faultless conclusion as to the morality of a person merely from his external behaviour. Because, although under certain circumstances, an external Action may be small, yet, its moral value is as high as that of a big act, as will be proved from the story of the mongoose mentioned above. Therefore, our Śāstras have laid down that (i) whether the external act is big or small, and whether it is beneficial to one person or brings happiness to many persons, that cannot be given higher importance than as being an evidence of a pure Reason; that (ii) after deciding to what extent the Reason of the doer is or is not pure, by considering this external Action, one has ultimately to decide the morality or otherwise of such Action, by reference to the purity of Reason to be ascertained in this way; and that (iii) questions of Morality cannot be properly decided merely by considering external Actions. And, that is why the Equable and Pure Reason, that is, Desire, has been given a high place in the Karma-Yoga in the Gītā, by saying that "the Reason is superior to the Action" (2.49).
mānasaṃ prāṇinām eva sarvakarmaikakāraṇam |
manonurūpaṃ vākyaṃ ca vākyena prasphutaṃ manaḥ || (Nā. Pañ. 1.7.18).
That is, "the Mind is the only cause (the root cause) of all the Actions of mankind. As the Mind is, so does the man speak; a man's Mind expresses itself in what he says".
In short, the Mind (that is, the determination of the Mind) comes first, and then all Actions take place. Therefore, Buddhist writers have also accepted the doctrine of the Gītā relating to Pure Reason for distinguishing between the Doable and the Not-doable.
For example, in the well-known Buddhistic work on Morality" known as Dhammapada, it is stated right in the beginning that,
That is: "the Mind, that is, the activities of the Mind come first, and the righteous or unrighteous Action comes afterwards; (this being the order) the Mind is considered as principal and superior in this matter, and all these tendencies (dhammā) must be said to be based on the Mind; therefore, according as the Mind of the doer is pure or vicious, so does his speech or action become good or bad; and he enjoys happiness, or suffers unhappiness, accordingly later on".
Similarly, Buddhist writers have also accepted the corollary drawn from this doctrine in the Upaniṣads and in the Gītā. (Kauṣītakyupaniṣat or Kauṣītakī Brāhmaṇopaniṣad 3.1; and Bhagavadgītā 18.17), that the Sthitaprajña, whose mind has once become completely pure and desireless, cannot afterwards be guilty of any sin, and that whatever he does, he is free both from sin and merit; and it is stated in many places in Buddhistic works that the 'arhat' that is, the 'man who has reached the state of perfection', is always pure and sinless (Dhammapada, 294 and 295; Milinda-Pra. 4.5.7).
From what has been stated above the Western Intuitionist school, which worships and takes the decision on questions of Morality from the deity of Conscience, and the Western Materialistic school, which asks you to decide all questions of Morality by the sole external test of the greatest.good of the greatest number', will both be seen to be one-sided and. scientifically insufficient; because, Conscience is not some independent thing or deity, but is included in Pure Reason; and when it has been so included, the decision of Conscience about the Duty and the Non-duty can never be faultless; because, the Conscience of every man is sāttvika, rājasa or tāmasa according to his inherent nature. And if you say that questions of Morality have to be decided by the purely external material test of 'the greatest good of the greatest number', the Reason of the doer is left entirely out of calculation; and if someone has taken in advance skillful precautions for reducing as far as possible the injurious external effects of his theft or of his immoral behaviour, one has to say that his evil doings are less objection- able from the point of view of Materialistic Morality. That is why the Vedic religion is not the only religion which has insisted on the purity of the body, the speech, and the mind (Manu-Smṛti 12.3–8; 9.29); but, even in the Bible, adultery or immoral behaviour is not considered purely a bodily sin; and a man's looking with immoral intentions towards a woman not his wife, or a woman looking with similar intentions towards a man not her husband, have also been considered, adulterous (Matthew. 5.28). And in the Buddhistic religion, it is stated that the purity must be not only bodily but also of the speech, and of the Mind (Dhamma. 96 and 391). Besides, Green says in addition that if one considers only external happiness as the highest ideal, there is a chance of rivalry between men and men or between nations and nations for acquiring it, and of quarrels arising in consequence; because, it is, as a rule, not possible for a person to acquire the external, means of obtaining external happiness without reducing the happiness of others. The same is not the case with the Equable Reason. This internal happiness is self-obtained, that is to say, it can be acquired by any one for himself without interfering with the happiness of another. Not only is this so, but that man, who has acquired the inherent nature of behaving with equability towards all created things by realising the unity of the Ātman, cannot either secretly or openly commit any sin; and it does not remain necessary to say to him: "Always consider in what the greatest good of the greatest number lies". Because, in the ease of a man, it necessarily follows that whatever he does, will be done by him after proper consideration. It is not that proper consideration is necessary only for determining the correctness of moral Actions. What should be the state of a man's conscience when he makes that proper consideration, is the important question; because, the conscience of everyone is not the same. Therefore, when one says that Equability of Reason must always inhabit the Conscience, it is not necessary to also say that one should take into proper account the welfare of the greatest number, or of all created beings, or of the entire creation. Western philosophers have now started saying that man has duties not only towards all living beings in the human species, but also towards living beings among dumb animals; and these duties must be included in the philosophy of the Doable and the Not-Doable; and it will be seen that from this comprehensive point of view, the words 'welfare of the entire creation' (sarvabhūta-hita) are more comprehensive than the words "the greatest good of the greatest number of human beings"; and that, all this is included in Equability of Reason. If, on the other hand, one takes the case where the Reason of a particular person is not pure and equable, then, although he may be perfectly capable of deciding by calculation in what 'the greatest good of the greatest number' lies, it is not possible that he will be inclined towards moral Action;, because, being inclined towards any good Action, is the quality of a Pure Mind, and not of a calculating Mind. If someone says that we need not consider the inherent nature or the mental frame of such a calculative person, and that if his calculation is correct, a correct decision is arrived at between the Duty and the Non-Duty, and we get what we want, than, such a position is wrong. Because, although everyone ordinarily understands what is pain and what is happiness, yet, in discriminating between various kinds of pain and happiness, one has in the first place to decide what value has to be assigned to which particular pain or happiness; and, as there does not now exist any definite external instrument like a thermometer for deciding these values, nor is there any likelihood of such an instrument being invented in the future, everyone has to decide the true value of any particular pain or happiness with the help only of his own mind. But, as the man who is not saturated with the feeling of Self-Identification (ātmaupamya), according to which "another man has the same feelings as I", cannot properly gauge the intensity of pain or happiness, he cannot make a true valuation of this pain or happiness; and then there is a natural mistake in the values of pain and happiness taken by him for arriving at a decision, and there is very often a chance that all his calculations will go wrong. Therefore, one must not ascribe much importance to the calculating process of 'considering' in the phrase 'considering the greatest good of the greatest number'; and one has ultimately to say that the true seed of Morality is that Pure, Self-Identifying and greedless Reason which has become Equable towards all created things, and by which the true value of the pain or happiness of the greatest number of other persons has first to be decided. Morality is the inherent nature of a Conscience which is mineless, pure, loving, equable, or, in short, which is endowed with the sattva constituent; it is not the result of mere discriminating calculation. Therefore, when Yudhiṣṭhira had ascended the throne after the Bhāratī war, and Kunti, who had been made happy by the prowess of her sons, was about to leave the kingdom along with Dhṛtarāṣṭra in order to live in the woods, she did not expatiate on the advice of doing 'the greatest good to the greatest number', but simply said "manas te mahad astu ca"(Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. 17.21), i.e., " O, my son, may your Mind be always great". Those Western philosophers, who have maintained that considering in what the greatest good of the greatest number lies, is the true, scientific, and easiest test of Morality, have, in the first place, taken for granted that everyone has the same pure Mind as themselves; and with that data, they have given advice as to the way in which questions of Morality should be solved. But, as the data of these philosophers is not correct, their principle of determining questions of Morality becomes one-sided and insufficient. Not only is this so, but their writings give rise to the foolish impression that if instead of troubling about making his Mind, nature, or moral character more and more pure and sinfearing, a man learns to make a proper calculation about the external effects of his Actions, that will be quite enough for him to become 'moral'; and therefore, those persons who have not overcome their selfish natures, become crafty, scheming, or hypocritical (Gītā 3.6); and the whole of society is likely to suffer to that extent. Therefore, the doctrine of the Gītā that, (i) considering the external effects of Action, even merely as a test of Morality, is insufficient and inferior (kṛpaṇa); and that (ii) in this matter, that is, in Karma-Yoga (a) one has ultimately to rely on the Equability of Reason, which is expressed in external Actions, and which remains unchanged even in times of adversity, and (b) the true test of Righteous Action is Knowledge-full and unlimited Pure Reason, or rectitude, is, in my opinion, more to the point, more comprehensive, more correct, and more faultless than the Western Intuitionist or Materialistic doctrines.
Leaving aside the Materialistic and Intuitionist works on the Philosophy of Ethics by Western writers, and considering only those works which deal with the subject purely from the Metaphysical point of view, it will be seen that in them, as in the Gītā, Purity of Reason is considered of greater value than the Action itself. For instance, take the 'Metaphysics of Morals' and other books on Morality written by Kant.
Although Kant has not adopted the doctrine of the unity of the Ātman in all created beings, yet, after minutely considering the question of Pure Reason and Practical Reason, he has come to the conclusions that:
(1) rather than determining the ethical value of any particular act, by considering its external result, namely, how many persons will be benefited and to what extent, one should determine that value by considering to what extent the Practical Reason (vāsanā) or Desire of that person is pure;
(2) this Desire (or Practical Reason, i.e., vāsanātmaka buddhi) of a man can be considered to be pure, stainless, and independent, only when,, instead of being engrossed in the happiness of the organs, it remains continually within the control of the Pure Reason (that is to say, when it acts according to the dictates of the Pure Reason regarding the Duty and the Non-Duty);
(3) there is no necessity of laying down rules of Morality for that man whose Desire has become purified in this way, as a result of the control of the organs, after it has been so purified; these rules are necessary only for ordinary persons;
(4) when the Desire has been purified in this way, whatever acts it inspires the man to do, are dictated after considering "what will happen to me, if someone else does to me what I do to him," and
(5) this purity or independence of Desire cannot be accounted for, unless one leaves the world of Action (karma-sṛṣṭi) and enters the world of the Brahman (brahma-sṛṣṭi). But as the ideas of Kant regarding the Ātman and the world of the Brahman, were to a certain extent incomplete, Green, though he belonged to the school of Kant, has, in his Prolegomena to Ethics (§§ 99, pages 174–179 and 223–232) first laid down that the inaccessible
Principle, which saturates the external world, that is, the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa) is partly incarnated in the shape of the Ātman in the piṇḍa (that is, in the human body); and he has later on laid down the propositions that (i) it is the intense Desire of that permanent and the independent Principle in the human body, namely, the Ātman, of Realising its most comprehensive, social, and all-pervading form, which compels human beings to perform good actions and that (ii) the permanent and un- changing happiness of man lies in this Realisation, whereas the happiness afforded by objects of pleasure is non-permanent. In short, it will be seen that though this point of view of both Kant and Green is Metaphysical, yet, Green has justified the discrimination between the Doable and Not-Doable, and the Freedom of Will, on the basis of the Pure Ātmic form which is seen uniformly expressed both in the Body (piṇḍa) and in the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa), instead of confining himself to the activities of Pure Season. Although, these doctrines of Western Materialistic moral philosophers are not identical with the doctrines of the Gītā mentioned below, one will certainly see the strange similarity between the two.
These doctrines of the Gītā are as follows:
(1) the Desiring (i.e., vāsanātmika) Reason of the doer, is of higher importance than his external Actions;
(3) that Sthitaprajña whose Reason has become equable and steady in this way, is himself always beyond Rules of Conduct;
(4) his behaviour, or the Rules of Morality arising out of his Self-Identifying Reason, become authoritative and standards for ordinary men; and
(5) there is only one Principle in the shape of the Ātman, which pervades both the Body (piṇḍa) and the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa), and the Ātman within the body craves to Realise (this is Release, or Mokṣa) its pure and allcomprehensive form; and when a man has Realised this pure form, he acquires the Self- Identifying (ātmaupamya) vision towards all created things.
Yet, as the doctrines of Vedānta philosophy with reference to the Brahman, the Ātman, Illusion (Māyā), Freedom of Will, Identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, Causality etc., are much more advanced and definite than the doctrines of Kant and Green, the disquisition on Karma-Yoga made in the Gītā. on the authority of Vedānta and of the Upaniṣads is metaphysically much more unambiguous and complete; and the modern German Vedāntist Prof. Deussen has, in his book Elements of Metaphysics, accepted this same method of dealing with Ethics. Deussen was a follower of Schopenhauer, and he has accepted in toto the doctrine of Schopenhauer that "it is impossible to destroy unhappiness, unless Desire is destroyed, in as much as Desire is the cause of worldly life; and it is the duty of everyone to destroy Desire"; and he has clearly shown in the third part of his book referred to above, how all principles of Ethics can be substantiated on the basis of this Metaphysical proposition. After showing that Desireless Action is the sign and the result of Destruction of Desire,, since(i) Abandonment of Action is totally unnecessary for destroying Desire, or after Desire has been destroyed, and (ii) the fact whether Desire has been destroyed or not, can be proved by nothing so well as by Actions performed desirelessly for the benefit of others, Deussen has laid down the proposition that, Desirelessness of the Mind, is the root of proper behaviour and of Morality; and he has at the end of his argument quoted the verse "tasmād asaktaḥ satataṃ kāryaṃ karma samācara" (Bhagavadgītā 3.19), which shows that he must have thought of this argument by reading the Gītā. Whatever may be the truth, the fact that these ideas were universally current in our country long before Deussen, Green, Schopenhauer, and Kant, and even possibly hundreds of years before Aristotle, is not a small matter. Many persons are now-a-days under the impression that Vedānta means giving up family life and entering the dry process of acquiring Release; but this idea is not correct. Vedānta philosophy has come into existence for considering as scientifically as possible such deep and difficult questions as, (i) going beyond whatever can be actually seen in the world and determining who man is, (ii) determining what the Principle at the bottom of the universe is, (iii) defining the relation between man and that Principle, and. what the highest ideal of man in this world is, having regard to that relation; (iv) finding out the mode of life which must be adopted by man in order to reach that ideal, or (v) in what way,, which ideal can be reached etc. etc.; and strictly speaking, the whole of Ethics, or the consideration of how men should be- have towards each other in worldly life, will be seen to be a part of that profound philosophy. Therefore, KarmaYoga has to be justified on the basis of Vedānta; and whatever the followers of the Path of Renunciation may say, Vedānta philosophy undoubtedly falls into the two divisions of Pure Vedānta and" Moral or Practical Vedānta, in the same way as Mathematics is divided into Pure Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. Kant even says that the moot questions about the 'Parameśvara" (the Highest Ātman), 'Immortality,' and 'Freedom (of Will)'" have come into the human mind, only as a result of considering the Ethical questions, "How should I behave in the world?", or, "What is my true duty in this -world"?; and that deciding: questions of Morality by a calculation of the pure external happiness of mankind, without satisfactorily answering these ethical questions, will result in encouraging the animal instincts in the human mind, which are fascinated by objects of pleasure, and thereby cutting at the very root of the principles of true Morality. It is not necessary now to explain in so many words why and how Vedānta has entered the Gītā, even if the subject-matter of the Gītā is Karma-Yoga. Kant has written two books on this subject, which are known as the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical Reason. But as the Bhagavadgītā not only deals with both these subjects consistently with the philosophy of the Upaniṣads, but also includes a disquisition on the Path of Devotion based on Religious Faith, it has become acceptable and authoritative on all hands.
If, keeping the question of Release aside for the time being, 'Equability of Reason' is accepted as important, as being the moral principle involved in the discernment of the Doable- and the Not-doable, it also becomes necessary to briefly consider why and how other paths arose in the Philosophy of Ethics, in addition to that of the Metaphysics of the Gītā. Dr. Paul Carus, a well-known American philosopher, answers- this question in his book on Ethics by saying that: "a man's ideas about the fundamental principles of Ethics vary according to his idea of the mutual relationship between the Body (piṇḍa) and the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa). Unless there is some definite belief regarding the inter-relation between the Body and the Cosmos, no question of Morality can really speaking arise. It is possible that we may behave morally, although we may have no definite belief as regards this inter-relation; but, as this behaviour will be like something done in sleep, it would be more proper to refer to it as some bodily (kāyika) activity resulting from bodily laws, instead of referring to it as moral behaviour". For instance, a tigress is ready to sacrifice her own life for protecting her cubs; but we do not say that this her behaviour is a moral act, but we say that it is her inherent nature. This answer very well explains how several schools of thought have arisen in the matter of principles of Ethics. Because, that principle which solves the questions, 'Who am I?', 'How was the world created? ', 'What is my use in this world?', etc., is the principle by which every thinking person ultimately decides the question how he is to behave towards other people in his life. But these questions cannot be answered in the same way in different countries and at different times. According to the Christian religion, which is in vogue in Europe, the Creator of man and of the Universe is the qualityful Parameśvara mentioned in the Bible; and it is stated there that He first created the world, and laid down the Commandments of moral conduct for man; and Christian philosophers were originally of the opinion that these Commandments, which were laid down consistently with the idea relating to the Body and the Cosmos mentioned in the Bible, were the root of all Morality. When it was found later on that these Commandments were insufficient to meet all the ordinary activities of life, it came to be maintained that the Almighty (Parameśvara) had given Conscience to man in order to supplement or clarify these Commandments. But, as they later on realised the difficulty that a thief and an honest man have not the same kind of Conscience, there came into vogue the opinion that (i) although the Will of the Almighty was the foundation of Ethics, yet this His Will had to be ascertained by considering in what the greatest good of the greatest number lay; and that (ii) there was no other means of understanding the nature of that Will. All these opinions are on the basis of the belief of the Christian people, regarding the mutual interrelation of the Body and the Cosmos, to the effect that some qualityful Almighty is the creator of the world, and that it is His Desire or Commandment that man should act morally. But when, as a result of the growth of the Material sciences, it came to be seen that the doctrines enunciated in the Christian scriptures regarding the creation of the Body and the Cosmos were not correct, the question whether there was or was not some creator of the world like the Parameśvara came to be left aside, and the question whether, or not the edifice of Ethics and morality could be erected on the foundation of things which were actually visible began to be considered; and it began to be maintained that the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number, or the growth of 'humanness', were the visible principles which were the fundamental principles of Ethics. In this exposition, no reason is adduced as to why a man should try to obtain the greatest good of the greatest number; and it is only said that such is the constantly growing inherent tendency of mankind. But, as human nature also includes other visible tendencies like selfishness etc., there arose differences of opinion even in this school of thought. It is not that these expositions of Ethics are entirely faultless. But, as all the philosophers belonging to this school of thought, placed no belief or confidence in the proposition that there is at the bottom of the universe some imperceptible Element, which is beyond the visible objects in the universe, they have always attempted to somehow or other explain away all the difficulties which arise in their path by some external or visible principles. It will be seen from this how, although everyone is in favour of Ethics and Morality, there is always a divergence in the various expositions, on account of there being different opinions regarding the construction and the inter-relation of the Body and the Cosmos; and that is why I have divided the exposition of Ethics into three divisions in the third chapter of this book according to the Materialistic, Intuitionist, and Metaphysical view-points regarding the construction of the Body and the Cosmos; and have afterwards considered individually the most important doctrines of each school of thought. Those who believe that the entire visible universe was created by some qualityful Parameśvara, do not consider the question of Morality beyond considering the Commandments of the Almighty as given in their scriptures, or the dictates of Conscience, which according to them, was created by the power of that Parameśvara. I have called this school of thought the 'Intuitionist' (ādhidaivika) school; because, a qualityful Parameśvara is after all a deity. Those who believe that there is no invisible Principle at the root of the universe, or that if any such principle exists, it is inaccessible to human intelligence, erect the edifice of Morality on the foundation of the principle of the greatest good of the greatest number or the highest development of humanness, which are visible principles. I have named -this school of thought, the 'Materialistic' (ādhibhautika) school. Those who believe that there is some eternal and intangible Principle like the Ātman at the root of the Name-d and Formed universe, take the exposition of Ethics beyond the Materialistic exposition; and they decide' the question of the duty of human beings in this world by harmonising the Knowledge of the Ātman with Morality or religion. This school of thought has been named by me 'Metaphysical' (ādhyātmika) school. The actual practical Morality of these three schools is one and the same; but, as the opinion of each school of thought regarding the construction and inter-relation of the Body and the Cosmos is different, the fundamental principles of Ethics are slightly different in, each school. Just as Grammar does not create a new language, but only finds out the rules relating to the language in ordinary use, and helps the growth of that language, so is the case with Ethics. Ever since the day on which the human being came into existence in this world, man has been keeping his conduct pure with the help of his own intelligence, according to the circumstances of his country and of his times; and those highprincipled and noble-minded people, who have come to birth from time to time, have laid down rules for the purification of behaviour, in the shape of inspirational commands (codanā), according to their own ideas. The philosophy of Ethics has not come into existence for breaking up these rules and making new rules. Rules of Ethics, such as, "Do not commit murder", "Speak the truth", "Do good unto others" etc., have been in vogue from ancient times. But Ethics has to consider only what the basic principles of Morality are, in order that it should be convenient to expand those principles of Morality; and therefore, whatever school of ethical thought is taken, the rules of Ethics, which are now in vogue, are everywhere more or less the same. The only differences which arise in these rules, are regarding the form of the exposition of those rules; and the statement of Dr. Paul Carus that the chief reason for these differences is the difference of opinion regarding the construction and inter-relation of the Body and the Cosmos is seen to be true.
The fact that Modern Western Materialistic philosophers, who have written on the subject of Ethics, such as, Mill, Spencer, Comte etc., have given up the easy and comprehensive principle of Self-Identification (ātmaupamya) and have attempted to erect the edifice of Morality on the external principle of 'Universal benefit' (sarvabhūta-hita), or 'the greatest good of the greatest, number', is due to the fact that their opinion regarding the construction of the Body and the Cosmos is different from the ancient opinions. When this has been thus proved by me, those who do not accept these newfangled opinions, and wish to give deep consideration to such questions as "Who am I?"; 'What is the thing known as the universe?"; "How do I perceive this universe?"; "Is the external world independent of me, or not?"; "If so, what is the fundamental element at the root of it?"; "What is the relationship between that Element and myself?"; "Why should one man sacrifice his life for the sake of another?"; "If it is true, according to the rule, 'whatever has come into existence, is sure to die', that the world on which we live along with all created beings is sometime or other going to be destroyed, why should we destroy our own happiness for the sake of future mortal generations?"; or, those persons again who are not satisfied with the solution, that philanthropy and other mental tendencies are the inherent tendencies of the visible, non- permanent, world of Action, and who wish to go to the root of these tendencies, cannot but turn to the eternal philosophy of the Absolute Self. And that is why Green has started his book on Ethics with the doctrine that the Ātman which comes to Know the perceptible world, must be different from that perceptible world; and that is also why Kant has first dealt with Pure Reason and then written his Critique of Practical Reason or of Ethics. Although the statement that man is born for the happiness of himself or of many, may appear tempting at first sight, it is not really correct. If one considers for a moment whether those noble souls, who are prepared to sacrifice their lives only for the sake of Truth, do so only with the motive that future generations should have more and more of physical happiness, one is forced to admit that man must be having something as his highest ideal in this world, which (ideal) is more important than the transient material happiness of himself or of others. Which is that ideal? Those who have Realised the permanent, eternal, Element in the shape of the Ātman, which is clothed in the Name-d and Form-ed, that is, visible, though perishable, Appearance- of the Body and the Cosmos, by personal Realisation, reply to this question by saying that the first duty of every intelligent person in this world is to Realise the eternal, superior, pure, immortal, and all-pervasive form of his own Ātman, and to be merged in it.
That man, who has in this, way Realised the Unity of the Ātman pervading all created things, and every atom of whose body and organs is saturated with this Knowledge, does not stop to contemplate on the question whether the world is or is not transient, but automatically takes to the work of universal benefit, and becomes the protagonist of Truth. Because, he has fully Realised the true nature of the Eternal Truth, which is untouched by past, present, or future. This metaphysically perfect state of a man is the original source of all rules of Morality; and this what is known in Vedānta as 'Release' (mokṣa). Whatever system of Morality is taken, it cannot be independent of this ultimate ideal; and, therefore, in expounding Ethics or the Karma-Yoga, one cannot but surrender oneself to this principle. The desire for universal welfare is only a tangible form of the intangible fundamental principle of the Unity of the Ātman in all created things; and the qualityful Parameśvara, and the visible world, are nothing but visible forms of the imperceptible, allpervasive, Ātman, which is embodied in all created things. And not only is Knowledge incomplete, unless one has gone beyond these visible forms and Realised that imperceptible form, but the highest ideal of every human being in this world, namely, reaching the ultimate perfect state of the Ātman in the Body, is not attained unless this Knowledge has been acquired.
Take the case of Morality, or of worldly life, or of religion, or of any other Science, Metaphysical Realisation is the ultimate culmination of all of them; of:
I.e., "O Pārtha, all Action whatsoever, ultimately culminates in Knowledge"—(Translator.);
And as our Path of Devotion is based on this principle, the doctrine, 'the principle of Equability of Reason, which comes into existence as a result of Realisation, is the root of good conduct (sadācaraṇa) and of Release', remains unchanged even in the Path of Devotion. The only important objection against this principle, established by Vedānta philosophy, is the belief of some. Vedāntists, that it is absolutely essential to abandon all Action after one has come to the stage of Realisation. And therefore, the Gītā has, after showing that there is no conflict between Knowledge and Action, expatiated on the Karma-Yoga doctrine that Jñānins must, notwithstanding that they have destroyed Desire, perform all Actions, purely as duties, for universal benefit, and with the intention of dedicating them to the Parameśvara. It is true that the advice given to Arjuna is a special advice to fight, as he has been asked to fight and to dedicate all Actions to the Parameśvara; but that advice has been given consistently with the occasion which then existed (Bhagavadgītā 8.7). All persons e.g., farmers, carpenters, ironmongers, agriculturists, grain-dealers merchants, Brahmins, clerks, etc., must keep going their various activities pertaining to their respective positions in life, with the intention of dedicating them to the Parameśvara, and thereby carry out the maintenance and uplift of the world, in the same way as Arjuna; and the SUMMARY of all this advice is that when everyone in this way sticks to whatever profession or position in life is his by birth, with a desireless frame of mind, he, the doer, does not thereby commit any sin; that all Actions are essentially the same; that the fault, if any, lies in the Reason of the doer, and not in the Action (Karma); and that, when a man performs all Actions after equabilising his Reason, he thereby only performs the worship of the Parameśvara, and, not having committed any sin, ultimately attains Release. But, those persons, who have made a firm determination not to enter the deep waters of the consideration of the Ātman and the Non-Ātman by transgressing the borders of the perishable and visible universe, because it is improper to do so, (especially, in these modern days), give up the high level of man's highest ideal of Realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, and start the exposition of their philosophy of Ethics with the inconstant, if visible, Materialistic principles of 'the benefit of mankind', or 'the benefit of all created things'. But just as one cannot say that a tree has become a different tree, as a result of one's having lopped off the top of it, so also does the philosophy of Ethics invented by Materialistic philosophers not become a new philosophy, merely because it is headless or incomplete. Even in our India, Sāṃkhya philosophers, who do not admit the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, and who look upon each Puruṣa (Spirit) as a separate entity, have fixed the characteristics of the three constituents, sattva, rajas and tamas, after considering which of those constituents is responsible for the maintenance of the world, and which, for the destruction of the world; and they have maintained that it is the duty of every man to reach the highest state of the sāttvika constituent, and that by doing go, one attains the state of the Triguṇātīta (beyond the three constituents), and acquires Release; and the same import has been conveyed, with a slight difference, in the seventeenth and the eighteenth chapters of the Gītā. Whether you call it the 'highest development of the sāttvika constituent ' or, you call it the 'highest expansion of philanthropy, or humanness' in Materialistic terminology, it is just the same. Not only have all these Materialistic principles been fully enunciated both in the Mahābhārata and in the Gītā, but it is clearly stated in the Mahābhārata, that if one considers the worldly or the external use of rules of Right and Wrong (dharmādharma), one sees that these moral rules are for the good of all created beings, that is, for universal good.
But, instead of somehow or other getting rid of the matter like Materialistic philosophers, by relying merely on the Perceptible, and indulging in verbosity because they have no faith in the Imperceptible, although they realise that Materialistic principles are insufficient for philosophically distinguishing between the Duty and the Non-duty, the Blessed Lord has in the Gītā taken the ladder of these principles right up to the fundamental, imperceptible, and permanent Element at the root of the Body and Cosmos, and established a complete harmony between Release, Morality, and worldly life on the basis of philosophy; and, therefore, it has been clearly stated in the beginning of the Anugītā (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. 16.12) that the principles, which have been enunciated for distinguishing between the Duty and the Nonduty, ultimately lead to Release. Those who are of the opinion that it is not necessary to harmonise the science of Release with Ethics, or Metaphysics with Morality, will not realise the importance of this exposition. But such people as are not indifferent about this matter, will certainly consider the argument in support of Karma-Yoga as superior to or more acceptable, than the purely Materialistic exposition of the subject. As philosophy was not as highly developed metaphysically in any country in ancient times as in India, it was not possible that such a Metaphysical exposition of Karma-Yoga (Right Action) should have been made in any country; nor has it been so made.
I have considered in the eleventh chapter above the pros and cons of the doctrine that, rather than abandoning Action some- time or other in this life, it is better to continue performing the same Actions, desirelessly and for the public welfare, cf: "karma, jyāyo hy akarmaṇah" (i.e., "Action is superior to Inaction" ~Translator.), which has been enunciated in the Gītā, notwithstanding that it accepts the position that worldly life is inconstant, and that there is more of unhappiness than happiness in such life (Bhagavadgītā 9.33). But, in comparing this Karma-Yoga of the Gītā with the Western philosophy of Action, or our philosophy of Renunciation with the Western philosophy of Abandonment of Action (karmatyāga), it is necessary to deal at greater length with this matter. The doctrine that Release cannot he attained, unless one goes out of this painful and insipid worldly life, was first brought into the Vedic religion by the writers of the Upaniṣads and the Sāṃkhya philosophers. The prior Vedic religion was Energistic, that is to say, it dealt with ritualistic Action, But, if one considers religions other than the Vedic religion, it will he seen that most of them had accepted the Path of Renunciation from the very commencement. For instance, the Jain and Buddhistic religions are both from the very beginning in favour of Renunciation; and the preaching of Christ is also to the same effect. The original Christian religion has preached the same principle: as was preached by Buddha to his disciples, namely: "abandon worldly life, live like an ascetic, and do not look at or speak with women" (Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta 5.23). Whereas Christ preached: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 19.19), St. Paul has preached "Whether therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I. Cori. 10.31); and both these commandments are similar to the preaching of the Gītā, that. all Actions should be performed by Self-Identification and with the idea of dedicating them to God (Bhagavadgītā 6.29 and 9.27). But from that it does not follow, that the Christian religion is Energistic like the Gītā religion; because, the ultimate ideal of the Christian religion is, that man should attain immortality, and be redeemed; and as the Christian religion has maintained that that ideal cannot be reached without giving up one's home, the original religion of Christ must be said to have been renunciatory. Not only did Christ himself remain unmarried till the end of his life, but when a young man came and said to Him: "I have from my youth up followed all such commandments as 'Honour thy father and thy mother', 'Love thy neighbour as thyself' etc.; what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?", Christ gave him the plain answer: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me" (Matthew, 19.16–30 and Mark, 10.21–31); and immediately afterwards He turned to His disciples and said:–"It is easier for a camel to go through, the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God". One may safely say that this is only a copy of the advice given by Yājñavalkya to Maitreyī that: "amṛtatvasya tu nāśāsti vittena" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2. 4. 2), i.e., " if you have money, you need not entertain any hope of obtaining immortality". Christ has nowhere preached what has been preached by the Gītā, namely, that for obtaining immortality, it is not necessary to give up worldly life, and that it is enough if all Actions in such life are performed desirelessly.
On the other hand, whereas Christ has preached that, as there is a permanent conflict between worldly wealth and God (cf: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon", Matthew 6.24), therefore,
"if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14.26),
St. Paul, the disciple of Christ has preached that:
"It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I. Cori. 7. 1).
In the same way, I have shown above the similarity between the statement in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.22) that,
I.e., "as we see that the whole world is nothing but our Ātman, why should we have any (other) generation?"; see p. 433, Vol. I supra—(Translator.),
And the following words uttered by Christ:
"Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matthew, 12.46–50).
It follows from these statements in the Bible itself, that the Christian religion, like the Jainism or Buddhism, originally advocated the giving up of worldly life, that is, supported Renunciation; and if one considers the ancient history of the Christian religion, it is seen that consistently with the preaching of the Lord Christ to his disciples that: "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses", the earliest of Christian preachers used to live in a state of Renunciation. The practice of Christian preachers or of followers of Christ, of taking up the state of householders and leading a family life, is the result of the reform which came afterwards; that was not the original Christian religion. Even in these days, people like Schopenhauer maintain that worldly life is full of pain, and on that account discardable; and I have mentioned before that the question whether it was better to spend one's life in philosophical contemplation, or to spend it in diplomatic activity for public welfare, had arisen in Greece in ancient times. In short, this Western philosophy of the Abandonment of Action and our philosophy of Renunciation are to a great extent similar to each other; and one may safely say that the Western method of supporting that philosophy is the same as the Eastern method. But, as the reasons given by Western philosophers for proving that the Path of Action is better than that of Abandonment of Action are different from the reasons adduced in the Gītā for following Energism, this difference must be mentioned here. The supporters of the Western Materialistic Path of Action say, that we must look upon the greatest good of the greatest number or of all the beings in the world–that is, their Material happiness–as the highest ideal in this world,, and that it is the duty of everybody, while working for the happiness of everybody else, to also become engrossed in the same happiness; and for supporting this position, many of the philosophers say, that there is more of happiness than of unhappiness in life. From this point of view, one has to say that the followers of the Western Path of Action are such as- "take part in the worldly life in the hope of obtaining, happiness", and that those who follow the Western Path of Abandonment of Action are "tired of worldly life"; and for this reason, they are respectively called 'Optimists' and 'Pessimists'. But the two paths mentioned in the Bhagavad- Gītā are different from these paths. By being induced to take part in worldly life by the enticement of physical material pleasure, whether one's own or of other people, the sāttvika mental frame in the shape of Equability of Reason suffers to a certain extent at least.
The Gītā, therefore, says that
(a) whether worldly life is productive of happiness or of unhappiness, if one cannot give up worldly affairs even if one wants to do so, there is no sense in considering whether they produce happiness or unhappiness; that
(b) whether there is happiness or unhappiness, one must consider it a great good fortune that one has got a human birth; and that
(c) it is the duty of every human being to (i) suffer whatever fate befalls him in the inevitable activity of this world of Action, without allowing his heart to be discouraged, and with an equable frame of mind, as described in the words,
duḥkyeṣu anudvignamanāḥ sukheṣu vigataḥspṛhaḥ
(Bhagavadgītā 2. 56.),
I.e., "with an undejected mind in the midst of unhappiness. and being free from desire in the midst of pleasures"—(Translator.),
And to (ii) go on performing life-long whatever portion of Action has fallen on one's shoulders, for the maintenance of the world, according to one's status in life, consistently with the injections of the Śāstras, and not for this purpose or that purpose, but desirelessly. In the times of the Gītā, the arrangement of the four castes was in full swing; and that is why it is stated in the Gītā that different social duties are allocated to different persons according to the arrangement of the four castes; and it is shown in the eighteenth chapter how these differences arise according to the divisions of the constituents and of Karma (Bhagavadgītā 18.41–44). But, one must not, on that account, draw the conclusion that the principles of Ethics enunciated in the Gītā apply only to the arrangement of the four castes. The writer of the Mahābhārata was fully alive to the fact that the compass of the principles of Ethics like, Non-Violence (ahiṃsā) etc., is not restricted to the four castes, and that these principles ordinarily apply to the whole of mankind. It is, therefore, clearly stated in the Bhārata, that the maintenance of the Non-Aryans, who were outside the four castes who observed these principles, must be made by the king according to these general Ethical principles (Śān. 65.12.22); and instead of making the exposition of principles of Ethics depend on any particular arrangement of society, such as the arrangement of the four castes, the Gītā has based it on universal Metaphysical philosophy. The chief conclusion of the Ethics of the Gītā is, that, one must perform all one's duties according to the Śāstras, desirelessly, and by Self-Identification; and this applies equally well to all persons in all countries. But, although this universal principle of Ethics of a Self-Identifying vision and of; 'Desireless Action is thus established, it is also necessary to give Some explanation of how those Actions, to which that principle has to be applied, fall to the lot of different persons in this world. The arrangement of the four castes has, therefore, been mentioned in the Gītā, as it was the most simple and natural illustration, which applied to the circumstances of that particular age; and the arrangement of society in those days has been concisely explained in the Gītā according to the division of 'constituents of Matter' (guṇa). and Action. But this is not the principle idea of the Gītā; and it must be borne in mind that the comprehensive doctrine of the Gītā is that, even where this arrangement of four castes is not in vogue, or is not rigorously observed, a human being comes into existence to perform whatever duties come to his share, for the maintenance of society, according to the arrangement of society which may then be in vogue, as duties, desirelessly, courageously, and enthusiastically, for the public good, and not for the enjoyment of pleasure; and the opinion advanced by some that the Ethics expounded in the Gītā is based on the arrangement of the four castes is not correct. The Gītā says that whether the society is a Hindu society or a non-Hindu society, whether it is an ancient society or a modern society, whether it is an Eastern society or a Western society, if the arrangement of the four castes applies to that society, then according to that arrangement, and if it does not apply, then according to any other arrangement of society which may be applicable to it, that duty which has fallen on one's shoulders or which, being possible, may have been taken up by one as a duty, of one's own choice, becomes a moral duty; and giving up these moral duties, and, on the spur of the moment, taking up that which is proper.for someone else, on some pretext or other, is wrong from the point of view of Morality, as also from the point of view of public good.
This is what is meant by the statement in the Gītā:
I.e., "even if one has to die in the performance of those duties which are one's own, that is meritorious.; but, taking up the duties (dharma) of another person is dangerous";
And, it is well-known in the Maharashtra that Rama Shastribuva said to the elder Madhavrao Peshva, who was a Brahmin by caste, and who had taken up the career of a soldier having regard to the circumstances prevailing at the time, that: "by your not wasting time in prayer and worship, but spending it for protecting society by taking up the career of a soldier, you will acquire happiness in this life and in the next". The chief object of the Gītā is not to show what would be the proper arrangement for the maintenance of society. The summary of the Gītā religion is that, whatever the arrangement of society may be, one should enthusiastically perform all the duties which have come to one's share, according to one's status in life, and acquire the benefit of the Ātman in the shape of the happiness of all created things. It is true that the Actions, which the Sthitaprajña of the Gītā performs by way of duties, are naturally productive of public good. But, the Sthitaprajña of the Gītā does not entertain the egotistical feeling that 'I' am by 'MY' actions causing public good; and, as Equability of Reason has become an inherent nature with him, all the Actions which are performed by him, purely as duties, according to whatever arrangement of society may be in vogue at any particular time, are naturally productive of public good. The modern Western moral philosopher, on the other hand considers worldly life as an embodiment of happiness, and bespeaks the performance of Actions which produce public good in order to enable everybody to obtain this happiness of worldly life: this is the important difference between the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā and the Western Materialistic Path of Action.
Nevertheless, it is not that all modern Western philosophers subscribing to the Path of Action, consider worldly life as productive of happiness. There is also a class of Karma-Yogins in the West like Schopenhauer, who, while admitting that worldly life is principally full of unhappiness, maintain, that one should not give up worldly life, but should try as much as possible to reduce the unhappiness of others since it is the duty of a wise man to reduce this general unhappiness as much as possible; or who desire 'to reduce unhappiness'. And there is a great deal of similarity between this path and the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā.
Where it is stated in the Mahābhārata that:
I.e., "in worldly life, unhappiness is proportionately greater than happiness",
na jānapadikaṃ duḥkhaṃ ekaḥ śocitum arhati |
aśocan pratikurvīta yadi paśyed upakramam ||
(Śān. 305.5 and 330.15),
That is, "it is not proper to lament about that unhappiness which is universal; instead of lamenting about the matter, one (the Jñānin) should use such means as occur to him for obviating that unhappiness".
From this it becomes quite clear, that even the writer of the Mahābhārata had accepted the doctrine that, although worldly life is full of unhappiness the wise man should busy himself with reducing such universal unhappiness. But, this is not what the Gītā is trying to preach. There must still be a considerable amount of improvement in the Western Karma-Yoga which attempts to reduce unhappiness, before it can come to the level of the KarmaYoga in the Gītā, which gives greater importance to the happiness resulting from Self-Identification, than to mere Material happiness, and which preaches that all worldly affairs should be carried on, while experiencing this happiness born of Self-Identification, merely because they are duties, and without entertaining the rājasa pride that, '"I" (the doer) am performing Action with the idea of reducing the unhappiness of others". Western philosophers are always more or less engulfed in the idea that Material happiness, whether of oneself or of others, is the true highest ideal of man in this world–whether that ideal is reached by increasing the means of happiness or by reducing unhappiness–it is not possible to find in their philosophy, the desireless Karma-Yoga of the Gītā, which looks upon worldly life as inevitable, although it might be productive of unhappiness, and preaches Action for universal good (loka-saṃgraha). It is true that all these persons follow the Path of Action; but it is easy to see the difference between the two, even from the point of view of Pure Morality, namely, that the Western Energism desires happiness or desires the obviation of unhappiness, that is to say, in either case, desires something, and is sakāma (based on Desire), whereas the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā is always indifferent about the Fruit of Action–or, if the same meaning is conveyed in other words, the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā is sāttvika and the Karma-Yoga of the West is rājasa (Bhagavadgītā 18.23 and 24).
The Energistic path, or the Path of Karma-Yoga based on Spiritual Knowledge, of continually performing all worldly affairs as pure duties with the idea of dedicating them to the Parameśvara, and thereby making a sacrifice to, or worshipping lifelong, the Parameśvara, which has been preached by the Gītā, is known as the 'Bhāgavata religion'. The essence of this path is contained in the words: "sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ saṃsiddhiṃ labhate naraḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 18.45). This doctrine has been propounded in the Vana-parva in the story of the Brahmin and the hunter (Vana. 208), and in the Śāntiparva in the conversation between the merchant Tulādhāra and Jājali (Śān. 261) in the Mahābhārata, and even in the Manu-Smṛti, after the enunciation of the path to be followed by ascetics, it is stated that this Karma-Yoga of the Vedānta’s ascetic (veda-saṃnyāsika) should also be followed, and that it will lead to Release (Manu-Smṛti 6.96, 97). It becomes clear from the word 'veda-saṃnyāsika' (Vedāntist ascetic), as also from the descriptions to be found in the Veda-Saṃhitās and in the Brāhmaṇas, that this path had been in vogue in our India from times immemorial. Nay, if it were otherwise, our country would never have reached that prosperity, which it had; for, it is clear that in any country whatsoever, the persons who wield the destinies of the country must be supporters of the Path of Action. But the important point of our Karma-Yoga is that even such nation-builders must, without giving up the Knowledge of the Brahman, keep Action inter-linked with it; and, as has been stated above, this path came to be called the 'Bhāgavata religion,' because the Blessed Lord Bhagavān enunciated this path logically, and emphasised it, and gave it wide circulation. On the other hand, it becomes quite clear from the Upaniṣads that some Jñānins were inherently inclined from the very beginning towards the Path of Saṃnyāsa; or at any rate, that after going through the state of a house-holder in the beginning, they, towards the end of their lives, used to conceive the desire of taking up Asceticism, whether they actually took it up or not. Therefore, it cannot also be said that the Path of Renunciation (saṃnyāsa) was something new. But; there is no doubt that, although both these paths were in this way in vogue in India since ancient times, on account of diversity of human nature, yet, in the times of the Vedas, the path of Ritualistic Action of the Mīmāṃsā school was more in favour; and that in the times of the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas, the Karma-Yoga had to a great extent put the Path of Renunciation into shade.
Because, our religious treatises have clearly said that in the Kali-yuga, that is, after the date of the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas, the Path of Renunciation was prohibited; and in as much as every religion is prima fade a sign of whatever is customary at that time, according to the rule,
I.e., "Morality springs from custom"—(Translator.), (Śriman Mahābhārata Anu. 149, 137; Manu-Smṛti 1.108),
It is quite clear that the Path of Renunciation (saṃnyāsa) must have lost ground as a custom long before the writers of the religious Śāstras enunciated this prohibitory rule. The question now naturally arises as to why this Karma-Yoga based on Spiritual Knowledge, which was at one time in full swing, started its decadence, if it was in this way predominant in the beginning and matters had come to the stage of considering the Path of Renunciation as objectionable in the Kali-yuga; and why the opinion has gained ground even in the Path of Devotion, that the Path of Renunciation alone was superior. Some persons say that this difference was brought about by the first Śaṃkarācārya. But if one considers history, it will be seen that this idea is not correct. As has been stated by me already in the first chapter, the teachings of the school of Śaṃkarācārya fall into two divisions, (1) Knowledge or Realisation of Non-Duality based on the doctrine of Māyā (Illusion), and (2) the Path of the Renunciation of Action. Out of these two, although the Upaniṣads have advocated Renunciation along with the Realisation of the Non-Dual Brahman, yet, as this inter-relation between the two is not of a permanent nature, it does not follow from the acceptance of the Non-Dualistic Vedānta, that one must also accept the doctrine of Renunciation. For instance, not only were Janaka and others, who had fully learnt the Non-Dualistic Vedānta from Yājñavalkya and others, followers of the Path of Action, but even the Gītā has advocated the Path of Action based on Spiritual Knowledge, instead of advocating, the Path of Renunciation, although it has adopted the doctrine of the Realisation of the Non-Dual Brahman from the Upaniṣads. Therefore, it must be first borne in mind that the accusation against the School of Śaṃkarācārya that it encouraged Renunciation, does not apply to the Non-Dualistic basis of that cult, but may probably be ranged against the doctrine of Renunciation included in the cult. Although this Path of Renunciation was not something new which had been invented by Śrī Śaṃkarācārya, yet, it is true that he removed the inferiority which had become attached to it, as it had been, included among the things prohibited in the Kali-yuga. But, if the Path of Renunciation had not acquired favour with people before the date of Śaṃkarācārya for some other reason, it is doubtful whether his advocacy of Renunciation would have gained as much ground as it did. Christ has said that when one cheek has been slapped, one should proffer the other- cheek also for being slapped (Luke. 6.29). But if one considers how many followers of this position are to be found among; the European kingdoms, it will be seen that something does not come into vogue merely because a religious preacher has praised it, but that there are at first some other substantial reasons why the minds of people are attracted towards it, and why there is thereafter a change in the public customs, and a sympathetic change in the religious rules. This is what is meant by the saying in the Smṛtis that 'Custom is the root of law or religion'. Schopenhauer sponsored the Path of Renunciation in Germany in the last century; but we find that that seed has not even yet taken root in that country; and Nietzsche has found greater favour there than Schopenhauer; and even if we turn to India, we find that although the Path of saṃnyāsa was already in vogue in the times of the Vedas long before Śaṃkarācārya, it had never put the Karma-Yoga into the shade. It is true that there are directions in the Smṛtis that one should renounce the world towards the end of life. But they too have not done away with Action in the previous stages of life; and although the works of Śaṃkarācārya advocate Abandonment of Action, yet, his own life bears testimony to the fact that he had no objection to Jñānins, or even Saṃnyāsins, performing the Action of universal welfare according to their own qualifications, e. g., for establishing religion (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 3.3.32). If the teaching of Śaṃkarācārya based on the Smṛtis had been responsible for the predominance of the Path of Renunciation, Rāmānujācārya, who belongs to the modern Bhāgavata school, would have had no reason to give an inferior position to the Karma-Yoga in his commentary on the Gītā, in the same way as Śaṃkarācārya. But, if the Karma-Yoga, which had once been very powerful, has been put into shade even by the renunciatory Path of Devotion included in the Bhāgavata cult, one must say that there must have been some other reasons for its having thus lost ground, which apply equally to all countries or all cults. In my opinion the first and the most important of these reasons was the growth and the development of the Jain and the Buddhistic religions; and as both these religions had opened the door of Renunciation to all the castes, the Path of Renunciation has gained ground even with the warrior (kṣatriya) class from the date when these two religions came into vogue. But although Buddha had in the beginning preached the inactive Path of Renunciation, yet, soon thereafter, there was a reform in the Buddhistic religion, consistent with the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā, by it being preached that Buddhistic ascetics should not remain in the woods, in solitude, like rhinoceroses, but should continually exert themselves for the propagation of religion and for public good (See Appendices); and history proves to us that as a result of this reform, societies of energetic Buddhistic ascetics reached Tibet in the North, Burma, China, and Japan in the East, Ceylon in the South, and Turkestan and the adjoining European countries like Greece, etc., in the West. The promulgators of the Jain and Buddhistic religions were born about 600 to 700 years before the Śalivāhana era, whereas Śaṃkarācārya was born about 600 year after that era. As the eminence of the societies of Buddhistic ascetics,, working ire the propagation of religion, was before the public eyes in the intervening period, there arose a kind of liking or respect for the life of an ascetic in the public mind, long before Śaṃkarācārya was born; and although Śaṃkarācārya had refuted the Jain and the Buddhistic doctrines, yet, he gave a Vedic turn to the respect which reigned in the public mind for the life of an ascetic, and brought into existence Vedic ascetics- for the establishment of the Vedic religion, instead of the Buddhistic religion, who were as active and energetic as fee Buddhist ascetics. It is true that these (Vedic) Saṃnyāsins led the lives of celibates, and used to wear clothes and carry a staff, which were the emblems of Renunciation; yet, they, like their spiritual preceptor, continued the work of establishing the Vedic religion. Seeing in this way, that Śaṃkarācārya. had established an institution similar to the Buddhist societies of ascetics, a doubt may even at that time have arisen as to- whether there was any difference between the teachings of Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya and the Buddhistic teachings; and possibly Śaṃkarācārya has on that account said in his commentary on the Chāndogyopaniṣad that: "Buddhistic and Sāṃkhya asceticism is outside the purview of the Vedas and false; and as the Path of Renunciation enunciated by me is consistent with the Vedic religion, it is true" (Chāndogyopaniṣad Śāṃ. Bhā. 2. 23. 1), in order to clear that doubt. Whatever may be the case, there is no doubt that Asceticism was first introduced in the Kaliyuga by the Buddhist and Jain teachers. It is, however, quite clear from history that even the Buddhist ascetics later on performed Action for spreading religion or for public good and that the societies of Vedic ascetics, brought into existence by Śaṃkarācārya for defeating the Buddhistic ascetics, also did not abandon Action altogether, but re-established the Vedic religion by their activities. But soon after that, our country began to be invaded by Mahomedans; and as the Kṣatriya. rulers, who were maintaining and protecting the country by their prowess against foreign invasions, and also simultaneously, the prowess of our country, began to die out during, the Mahomedan regime, the original one-sided opinion that the path of sitting idle, taking the name of God (saying 'Hari', 'Hari') was the only proper way out of the two paths of Renunciation and Energism, must have become more and more acceptable to people for leading their worldly lives, as it was more in keeping with the particular external circumstances then prevailing.
That is, "those who give up the duties which are theirs (according to their religion) and (simply) sit saying 'Hari', 'Hari,', are really enemies of Hari, and sinners; because, even Hari has taken birth for protecting religion".
Really speaking, such persons do not belong either to the fold of Saṃnyāsins or of Karma-Yogins; because, they do not give up worldly affairs as a result of Spiritual Knowledge and intense apathy towards the world, as is done by Saṃnyāsins; nor do they desirelessly perform the duties which have fallen on them as a result of the injunctions of the Śāstras like Karma-Yogins, while they take part in worldly affairs. Therefore, these nominal Saṃnyāsins must be classified under a third category, which has not been mentioned in the Gītā. When people acquire this neutral mentality from any cause whatsoever, Religion cannot but ultimately be destroyed.
This very state of things was responsible for the Parsi religion being thrown out of Iran, and the Vedic religion in India was also on the point of being,
samūlaṃ ca vinaśyati,
I.e., "destroyed root and branch"—(Translator.)
For the same reason; but the recrudescence of the Bhāgavata religion enunciated in the Gītā along with Vedānta after the fall of Buddhism, prevented this evil consequence from manifesting itself in our country. A few years before the Hindu dynasty of Daulatabad was destroyed by Mahomedans, Jñāneśvara Mahārāja, by our good fortune, gave "a native clothing" to the Bhagavadgītā, and brought about an "over-flow of the knowledge of the Brahman" propounded by the Gītā into the Maharashtriya provinces; and about the same time, other saints were preaching the Path of Devotion mentioned in the Gītā, in other provinces. As the illustrious teaching of the Gītā, which looked equably towards Mahomedans, Brahmins, and people of lower castes etc., and which was based on Knowledge, was being preached on all sides simultaneously, although in the shape of Devotion combined with Renunciation, not only was the danger of the Hindu religion being totally obliterated averted, but it began to gain some kind of influence on the bigoted Mahomedan religion, and to enter Mahomedan saints like Kabīra and others; and about the same time, Shahzada Dara, the elder brother of Aurangazeb, got the Upaniṣads translated into Urdu under his own supervision. If the Vedic Path of Devotion had been based on the pure ritualistic basis of Religious Faith, without being connected with Spiritual Knowledge, it is doubtful whether it would have retained this strength. But as this modern revival of the Bhāgavata religion took place during the Mahomedan régime, it also was more or less devotional, that is, one-sided; and the Karma-Yoga of the original Bhāgavata religion, which had once lost its independent importance, did not regain it; and the saints, philosophers and preceptors of this period began to say that Karma-Yoga was only a part of the Path of Devotion, instead of saying that it was a part of or a means in the Path of Renunciation. I think that the only exception to this then prevalent opinion is the works of Śrī Samartha Rāmadāsa Svāmi; and anyone who wishes to see the true glory of the Path of Action, in pure and inspired Marathi language, must study the Dāsabodha of Śrī Samartha Rāmadāsa, and especially the latter portion of it.
Śivāji Maharaj was blessed by the advice of Śrī Samartha Rāmadāsa; and later on, when the necessity of explaining the elements of the Karma-Yoga was being felt in the time of the Marathas, prose translations were made of the Mahābhārata, and not of the Śāṇḍilya-Sūtras or of the commentary of the Brahma-Sūtras, and they began to be studied in the form of "bakhars". These translations are still kept in the library at Tanjore. If this course had been carried on further without interruption, one-sided commentaries on the Gītā would have been left in the background, and the fact that the essence of Ethics and Morality in the Mahābhārata has been described in the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā, would certainly have been realised by people. But, by our misfortune, this revival of the KarmaYoga was not long-lived.
This, however, is not the place to describe the religious history of India. My readers will have realised from the brief and succinct statement made above, that the religion propounded in the Gītā contains some sort of life, brilliance, and power; and that this power was not lost in spite of the fact, that there was an intermediate fortuitous revival of the Saṃnyāsa religion. The root meaning of the word 'dharma' (morality) is "dhāraṇāt dharmaḥ" (i.e., " Morality is that which upholds"—Translator.); and it ordinarily falls into the two divisions, (1) 'dealing with life after death' (pāralaukika) and (2) 'dealing with worldly life' (vyāvahārika), or (1) the philosophy of Release (mokṣa-dharma), and (2) Ethics (nīti- dharma), as has been stated by me in the third chapter. Whether you take the Vedic religion, or Buddhism, or the Christian religion, the principal object of each of them is that the world should be maintained and that man should ultimately attain Release; and therefore, each of these religions deals to some extent or other with worldly notions of Right and Wrong, simultaneously with the philosophy of Release. Nay, we may even say that in ancient times, no difference used to be made between the philosophy of Release And worldly Morality; because, everyone then fully believed that in order to obtain a proper state after death, one's conduct in this world must also be pure. Not only was it so, but people used to believe that there is one and the same foundation for happiness after death as for happiness during life. But, as a result of the growth of the Material sciences, this belief has now lost ground in the Western countries, and people have begun (i) to consider whether Morality, that is, those rules by which the world is maintained, can or cannot be based on something other than the philosophy of Release, and (ii) to base Sociology on a Materialistic, that is to say, a visible or perceptible foundation. But, how will all the needs of human beings be satisfied by that which is only perceptible? Even the class-denoting words, 'tree', 'man', etc., carry an, imperceptible idea. It is true that a mango-tree or a rose-tree are specific objects which are Visible; but the common noun 'tree' does not specify any visible or perceptible object; and all our activities are of the same nature. From this it follows, that in order that the idea of the Imperceptible should come into the mind, it is necessary to have some perceptible object before the eyes. But, it is equally true that the Perceptible is not the final stage, and that we cannot take a single step forward or complete even a single sentence without the support of the Imperceptible. Therefore, if one abandons the imperceptible idea of the Parabrahman in the shape of the Identity of the Ātman in all created beings, which is taken as a foundation for Ethics from the point of view of Metaphysics, it still becomes necessary to worship as a God, "the whole of mankind," which is a non-visible, that is, an imperceptible thing; and even ninety-nine per cent Materialistic philosophers have now begun to earnestly preach that we should include in mankind all the past and future generations, in order to satisfy the natural desire of human beings for immortality; and that worshipping wholly, solely, and lovingly this magnified God,. or spending one's whole life in the service of it (mankind), or sacrificing one's selfish interests for it, is the highest duty of everybody in this world. This is the summary of the doctrines preached by the French philosopher Comte, and this religion has- been given by him the pretty name of "Religion of the entire mankind" or shortly "Religion of Humanity". The same is the case with the modern German philosopher Nietzsche. This philosopher has, in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, definitely proclaimed that "God is dead "; and he says that Metaphysics is all bosh. Nevertheless, after admitting the doctrines of Causality and of Re-incarnation from the Materialistic point of view, he has admitted in all his books, that performing such action as can he again performed hy us birth after birth, and having such an arrangement of society as will lead to the creation in future of such a human animal as has all its mental faculties fully developed, and in a state of complete perfection, is the duty and the highest ideal of man in this world. From this it will be seen, that even those, who do not admit the science of Metaphysics, have to take something or other as the highest ideal in dealing with the question of Morality and Immorality, and that such ideal is in one way 'imperceptible' (avyakta). Because, whether you ask people to worship the magnified deity in the shape of the 'whole of mankind', and to thereby bring about the benefit of the entire human kind, or you ask people to perform Action in such a way that at some time or other in the future a human being will be created which is in the most completely perfect state, both these ideals of the Materialistic moralists are invisible or imperceptible to the eyes of those for whom this preaching is intended. Although this preaching of Comte and Nietzsche may be contrary to a purely Intuitionist devotional religion like Christianity, which is devoid of philosophy, yet, all the abovementioned Materialistic- ideals can without any difficulty be included in the highest ideals of the science of Morality and Immorality, or of Ethics, based on the foundation of (i) the ideal of the Realisation of the identity of the Ātman in all created beings, or of (ii) the state of perfection of the KarmaYogin Sthitaprajña (one whose Reason has been steadied by the practice of Karma-Yoga); and therefore, one need not entertain the fear that this- Materialistic philosophy will ever give a set-back to the Vedic religion, which is replete with the Knowledge of the Absolute Self. If it is necessary to look upon the highest ideal as imperceptible, why should it be restricted to "mankind'?; and even if the 'State of Perfection' is to be considered as the highest ideal, how is that ideal better than the Materialistic ideal which is common both to man and animal? These are the questions which now face us; and when one attempts to answer these questions, one has ultimately to take shelter in the one, indescribable, highest Element, which is the foundation of the entire moveable and immoveable creation from the Metaphysical point of view. The Material sciences have had an unprecedented growth in modern times, and our knowledge of the visible world is a hundred times more extensive than before; and that Eastern nation which will fail to acquire the knowledge of those sciences, following the principle of measure for measure', will undoubtedly fail to resist the onslaught of new civilised Western countries. But, however much the Material sciences may grow, the inherent tendency of the human mind to try to understand the Boot Cause of the universe, will never be fully satisfied by Materialistic explanations. The knowledge of the perceptible world by itself does not account for everything; and even evolutionists like Spencer frankly admit that there must be some imperceptible Substance at the root of the Name-d and Form-ed visible world. But, they say that as it is impossible to understand the characteristic features of this permanent and eternal Substance, no science can be based on the foundation of such a Substance. The German philosopher Kant also admits the incognoscibility of the imperceptible Substance at the root of the creation; yet, he is of opinion that the science of Ethics must be based on this incognoscible Substance.
Schopenhauer goes further, and maintains that this imperceptible Substance is of the nature of Desire, and the English Moralist Green maintains that this Substance at the root of the creation has been partially incarnated in the human body in the shape of the Ātman; and as for the Gītā, it clearly says that,
I.e., "parts of My eternal essence take the form of Life, in the world of Life (the world of Action)"—(Translator.).
The writers of the Upaniṣads say that this imperceptible Substance at the root of the universe, is permanent, one, immortal, independent, and of the form of the Ātman, and that nothing more can be said about it; and it is doubtful whether human knowledge will ever go beyond this conclusion; because, as the imperceptible Substance at the root of the world is invisible to the organs, that is, necessarily quality less, this quality less Substance cannot be described by any words which denote a quality, or an object, or an Action; and that is why it is called 'ajñeya' (unknowable). But though this knowledge, which we acquire of the imperceptible World-Substance, cannot be described to a greater extent in words, and though it may be small to all appearances, yet, as it is the sum and substance of all human knowledge, the exposition of worldly Ethics must be made by reference to it; and it will be apparent from the exposition made in the Gītā that there cannot be the slightest difficulty in the way of doing so properly. In order to properly understand how the thousands of activities in the world should be carried on–for instance, how commerce should be carried on, how wars should be fought out, what medicine should be given to a sick person and in what circumstances, or how one should measure the distances of the Sun and the Moon etc.–one will always need the knowledge of the Name-d and Formed visible world; and in order to carry on this worldly activity more and more skillfully, one must undoubtedly study the Material sciences deeper and deeper. But that is not the subject-matter of the Gītā. The chief object of the Gītā is to explain which is the most excellent state of man from the Metaphysical point of view, and to decide the fundamental principles of Ethics as regards the Doable and the Not-Doable on that basis. I have shown in the previous chapters that (i) although the Materialistic view is indifferent about Release which is the Metaphysical ideal, yet, that view is insufficient- even for definitely deciding the elementary principles of Ethics; that (ii) that point of view cannot satisfactorily answer the moot questions of Freedom of Will, or the permanence of ethical principles, or the inherent desire in the human mind to attain immortality; and that (iii) one has ultimately to necessarily enter into the question of the Ātman and the NonĀtman. But the province of Metaphysics does- not end there.
And it must be borne in mind that the Materialistic theory of Happiness does not explain what the most perfect- state of a human being is, as satisfactorily as it is explained by the science of Metaphysics, since the fundamental basis of Righteous Action (sadācaraṇa) is the change,, which takes place in the character or the nature of a man, as a result of the particular Peace (śānti) which is acquired by the human Ātman by the continual worship and direct Realisation of that Immortal Substance which is at the root of the world.
Because, pure bodily pleasures are the ideal only of animals, and they can never fully satisfy the intelligence of an intelligent human being; and, it has already been fully explained in previous chapters, that Happiness and Unhappiness are transient, and that Duty is permanent. Looking at the matter from this point of view, it will be seen that (i) this most advanced religion of the Gītā will never be found inferior to the purely Materialistic philosophy, which considers human actions from the point of view that man is only a superior kind of animal, since the religion relating to the life after death and the Ethics preached in the Gītā, have both been explained with reference to the permanent and immortal World-Substance; that (ii) this our Gītā religion is a permanent, undauntable religion; and that (iii) the Blessed Lord has not left the necessity for Hindus to rely on any other book, or religion, or opinion in this matter.
Nay, the words,
abhayaṃ vai prāpto'si,
I.e., "now, you have nothing to fear" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad k 2. 4),
Which were addressed by Yājñavalkya to Janaka, after the entire Knowledge of the Brahman had been explained to him (Janaka), may literally and in several meanings, be applied to the religion of the Gītā.
The religion of the Gītā, which is a combination of Spiritual Knowledge, Devotion, and Action, which is in all respects undauntable and comprehensive, and is further perfectly equable, that is, which does not maintain any distinction between classes, castes, countries, or any other distinction, but gives Release to everyone in the same measure, and at the same time shows proper forbearance towards other religions, is thus seen to be the sweetest and immortal fruit of the tree of the Vedic Religion. In the Vedic Religion, higher importance was given in the beginning principally to the sacrifice of wealth or of animals, that is to say, principally to Action in the shape of ritual; but, when the Knowledge expounded in the Upaniṣads taught later on that this ritualistic religion of the Śrutis was inferior, Sāṃkhya philosophy came into existence out of it. But as this Knowledge was unintelligible to ordinary people, and as it was specially inclined towards Abandonment of Action, it was not possible for ordinary people to be satisfied merely by the religion of the Upaniṣads, or by the unification of the Upaniṣads and the Sāṃkhya philosophy in the Smṛtis. Therefore, the Gītā religion fuses the Knowledge of the Brahman contained in the Upaniṣads, which is cognoscible only to the Intelligence, with the 'king of mysticisms' (rāja-guhya) of the worship of the Perceptible which is accessible to Love, and consistently with the ancient tradition of ritualistic religion, it proclaims to everybody, though nominally to Arjuna, that, "perform lifelong your several worldly duties according to your respective positions in life, desirelessly, for the universal good, with a Self -Identifying vision, and enthusiastically, and thereby perpetually worship 'the deity in the shape of the Paramātman (the Highest Ātman), Which is Eternal, and Which uniformly pervades the Body of all created things as also the Cosmos; because, therein lies your happiness in this world and in the next"; and on that account, the mutual conflict between Action, Spiritual Knowledge (Jñāna), and Love (Devotion) is done away with, and the single Gītā religion, which preaches that the whole of one's life should be turned into a Sacrifice (Yajña), contains the essence of the entire Vedic religion. When hundreds of energetic noble souls and active persons were busy with the benefit of all created things, because they looked upon that as their duty, as a result of their having Realised this eternal religion, this country was blessed with the favour of the Parameśvara, and reached the height not only of Knowledge 'but also of prosperity; and it need not be said in so many words, that when this ancient religion, which is beneficial in this life and in the nest, lost following in our country, it (our country) reached its present fallen state.
I, therefore, now pray to the Parameśvara, at the end of this book, that there should come to birth again in this our country such noble and pure men as will worship the Parameśvara according to this equable and brilliant religion of the Gītā, which harmonises Devotion, Spiritual Knowledge, and Energism; and I end this Exposition of the Mystic Import (rahasya) of the Gītā by addressing to my readers the following hymn, with a prayer that if there is any omission or excess in this hook, they should rectify such mistakes with an Equable vision:–
(OM-TAT-SAT; this is dedicated to the Brahman.)
Footnotes and references:
The word 'fight' has been used having regard to the occasion; but it does not mean only 'fight', but must be taken to mean 'perform all Actions pertaining to your status in life'.
A comparison of our Vedānta with Western Philosophy has been made by Prof. Deussen in his book called the Elements: of Metaphysics; and at the end of the second edition of this book, there is printed the lecture delivered by Prof. Deussen before the Royal Asiatic Society at Bombay, when he had come to India in 1893, on the subject: "On the Philosophy of Vedānta". Besides this, the work, The Religion and Philosophy of the Upaniṣads, written on this subject by Prof. Deussen also deserves to be read.
This stanza, in Pali has been interpreted by different persons in different ways; but in my opinion this stanza is based on the principle, that in order to determine the propriety or impropriety of any particular Action, one has to consider the nature of the Mind of the doer. See the commentary of Max Müller on his English translation of the Dhammapada (S. B. E. "Vol. X. pp. 3, 4).
See Kant's Theory of Ethics, translated by Abbott, 6th Edition. This book contains all these propositions; the first proposition is at pages 10, 12, 16, and 24; the second, at pages 112 and 117; the third, at pages 31, 68, 121, and 290; the fourth, at pages 18, 38, 55, and 119; and the fifth, at pages 70–73 and 80.
See Deussen's Elements of Metaphysics, Eng. Translator., 1909 p. 304.
"Empiricism, on the contrary, cuts up at the roots of the morality of intentions (in which, and not in actions only, consists the high worth that men can and ought to give themselves)... Empiricism, moreover, being on this account allied with all the. inclinations which (no matter what fashion they put on) degrade humanity when they are raised to the dignity of a supreme practical example is for that reason much more dangerous than mysticism" Kant's Theory of Ethics pp. 163 and 236–238. See also Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (trans, by Max Müller) 2nd Ed. pp. 640–657.
See The Ethical Problem by Dr. Carus, 2nd Ed., p. 111. "Our proposition is that the leading principle in ethics most be derived from the philosophical view back of it. The world-conception a man has, can alone give character to the principle in his ethics. Without any worldconception, we have no ethics (i.e., ethics in the highest sense of the word). We may act morally like dreamers or somnambulists, but our ethics would in that case be a mere moral instinct without any rational insight into its raison d' être ".
The book named, The Hindu System of Moral Science written by Babu Kishorilal Sircar M. A., B. L., is of this kind, that is, it is based on the foundation of the three constituents, sattva, rajas, and tamas.
This is the standing advice of those who advocate the Path of Renunciation. The words "kā te kāntā kas te putraḥ" (i.e., "what is thy wife? what is thy son?" ~Translator.) uttered by Śaṃkarācārya are wellknown; and there is a statement in the Buddhacarita (Life of Buddha) by Aśvaghoṣa (6.45) that Buddha had said:–
kvāhaṃ mātuḥ kva sā mama,
I.e., "what am I to my mother, what is she to me?"—(Translator.)
See Paulsen's System of Ethics (Eng. trans) Book. I, Chap. 2 and 3; esp. pp. 89–97.
"The new (Christian) converts seemed to renounce their family and country... their gloomy and austere aspect, their abhorrence of the common business and pleasures of life, and their frequent predictions of impending calamities inspired the pagans with the apprehension of some danger which would arise from the new sect".
Historian's History of the World, Vol. VI. p. 318. The German poet Goethe has, in his poem Faust said:–Thou shalt renounce; that is the eternal song which rings in everyone's ears; which our whole life long, every hour is hoarsely singing to us" (Faust. Part I lines 1195–1198). I can quote many other authorities in support of the position that the original Christian religion was renunciatory.
James Sally has in his book called Pessimism described the two paths of Optimists and Pessimists. Out of these 'Optimist' means 'enthusiastic', and 'Pessimist' means 'tired of life'; and I have mentioned in a previous note (see p. 420 supra), that these words are synonymous with the words 'Yoga' and 'Sāṃkhya" used in the Gītā; and the same idea is explained above in detail. There is a third path who 'desire to prevent unhappiness', and Sully has described this path as 'Melliorism'.
See the quotations given above in the footnote to p.476, Vol. I of this book.
Comte has named his doctrine the "Religion of Humanity"; and the whole of it has been expounded in his work A System of Positive Polity (Eng. trans, in four volumes). This book contains a very clever discussion of the question how society can be established. and maintained even from the purely Materialistic point of view.
This hymn has come at the end of the Ṛg-Veda Saṃhitā. This is a speech addressed to people assembled in a sacrificial pandal. It means: "May your opinions be uniform; may your hearts be uniform, may you all be of the same mind; thereby you will acquire the strength of unity", 'asati' is the Vedic form of 'asti' (i.e., 'may it be' ~Translator.). The words "yathā vaḥ susahāsati" have been- expressed twice, in order to show that the book has come to an end.