Hypocrisy, fatalism and escapism in Yoga

The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. Chapter 2 Verse 69 - Chapter 3 Verse 6 are covered in this article.

Verse 69: Rogi, Bhogi and Yogi

This mysterious verse, is very deep and meaningful with  many layers of wisdom.

Most people are active during the day and sleep at night. There are three types of people who are awake at night: the rogis, the bhogis and the yogis. 

A rogi is one who is diseased and is unable to sleep at night, he keeps awake at night because he is suffering physically. May be he cannot breath or he is worried, various reasons, causing him to stay awake at night, leading to further sickness.

A bhogi is the one who is very materialistic and decadent. Those enjoying a decadent life like to keep up at night, drinking, eating and indulging in sensual and sexual pleasures. The night is a favorable time to engage in secret activities allowing the darker aspects of the mind to play out.

Verses 70-72: Stages of spiritual evolution

There are 4 stages on the path of spiritual evolution. The first is kutiyachara. A seeker maintains relationships but is learning to become emotional independent.  The next stage of bahuchara, when he is established in his independence and learns to become selfless. He is learning to live fearlessly.  In the third stage of paarivraajaka, he becomes a wanderer. He is truly free of fears and roams the world like a King. He is enjoys the worldly objects, knowing that nothing really belongs to him. The fourth estate is the state of attainment, he is Paramahansa, a master of the Self.  These are the phases of inner independence as the seeker learns to become desireless.

Having attained you cannot be confused anymore. You become a  Witness. You enjoy the drama, it is tragic or beautiful, you enjoy it knowing you are not a part of that drama. You are the Witness.

Supreme desirelessness means even giving up the desire for the Self. This is paramvairagya. It is important to strengthen the desire for abiding in the Self. When that desire becomes so strong, it swallows all other desires. All other desires burn away in the fire to attain the highest. But finally right at the end you even have to let go of that because that desire also becomes an obstacle.

Chapter 3 Karma Yoga

Verse 1-2: A teacher interprets scriptures

Arjuna once again poses some questions that might have been asked by one of us. He seems to reproach Sri Krishna for speaking about wisdom in Chapter 2 and then urging him to fight this battle of life because he has not understood the subtle teachings. 

Like Arjuna, many modern students say, “I am already pure Consciousness, so why should I practice meditation?” It requires dedicated guidance over a period of time, until these misunderstandings and misinterpretations are clarified. It is convenient, to have a teacher who says, you do not have to meditate. A teacher who insists that the students meditate and go through the process of purification is not going to be very popular. Neo-Advaita teachers are very popular, because they do not ask you to do a systematic practice. This kind of teaching is popular but not necessarily useful.

The path of wisdom does not mean passivity and fatalism. Fighting the battle is about looking at our own negative qualities and freeing ourselves from them to eventually go beyond all dualities. 

The question clears shows that Arjuna has not grasped the yoga of wisdom explained in Chapter 2. Students, seekers, meditators, who have not matured, find the teachings of the scriptures or the teacher to be conflicting. It is not the statements of the teacher or the teachings of the scriptures that are in conflict, it is the student who is unable to grasp these subtle teachings. 

The questions asked by Arjuna and the doubts expressed by him, reflect those of any sincere seeker on the path. 

The interpretation of the scriptures by students is generally incorrect because of a communication gap between the teacher and the student. The task of the teacher is to repeatedly correct the wrong interpretations of the student and thus prepare him.

If the student is deeply interested he will listen to the teachings again and again and he will discover the deeper and subtler wisdom with time. This is why the teacher needs to keep repeating these truths again and again until the student begins to absorb, assimilate and integrate these subtle teachings in his life. 

Verses 3-5 Nishkarma or freedom from bondage of karma

The path of wisdom and contemplation is a mystical path, you are an adhikari and you have attained it.

Others have not attained this wisdom through direct Self realization and must put in effort to transform themselves through systematic meditation.

What is nishkarma or freedom from bondage of karma? Freedom from bondage of karma does not mean passivity or fatalism. It is a state of freedom, when your actions do not create any impressions or samskaras. 

You do not attain the state of freedom by (1) refraining from action nor will you attain freedom by (2) tyaga or external renunciation of worldly objects.

Vairagya, internal renunciation is necessary, this alone is considered to be nishkarma. 

Verse 6: On mityachara or Duplicity

You can restrain the sense-organ and not indulge in sense-objects, but the mind may remain preoccupied with these sense-objects. Such a person is a hypocrite, a mityachari. This is tyaga, the external renunciation of worldly objects, without any internal renunciation, vairagya.  A great deal of cautioned is to be exercised here, by those who are still are not mature but imagine that they have to give up the objects of the world and live a life of asceticism. These ideas, prevalent among many young genuinely sincere seekers are the result of misinterpretation of the teachings.

This misinterpretation causes a terrible division in the mind. A divided personality or a hypocrite wears a mask. This way we go further away from attaining the highest. To attain accept yourself fully, and if you have certain desires, find healthy ways of living out these desires. Be fearless and be yourself!