Authenticity and Hypocrisy 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 3 Verses 20-35 are covered in this article. 

Verses 20-24: Why we need good role models

Young people these days seek role models in film stars or pop stars and they aspire to be famous, rich, successful. For the spiritually inclined, the role model is a wise person, who has attained. Those like King Janaka and  Sri Krishna, who have attained, are role models. If the role model behaves in a certain way, others who aspire to be like him may choose to imitate him. 

What does one do, when one has fulfilled one’s desires? Do you indulge in decadence, do you neglect your duties? What would happen if a role model like King Janaka or Sri Krishna would stop performing good action and neglect their duties, only indulging in royal pleasures. If you are a role model for young, impressionable minds, they will imitate you. The role model, in this case, a mentor or guide has a responsibility to set a good example. Sri Krishna is referring to those who have attained, they should be good role models, set an example to others and continue to perform their duties and actions, not giving in to decadence, selfishness or passivity.

Verses 25-26: Who is a good role model

Sri Krishna refers to the wise ones like Janaka. You may not be as wise as Janaka, but you too may be a role model. As a parent you would be a role model for your children, as a teacher you would be a role model for your students and in your profession, you would be a role model for young people, who you may be training. In this situation it is important not to confuse the ones who need time for preparation and training.

Sage Vishvamitra was notorious for losing his temper. Everybody was terrified of Vishvamitra, he would explode and then curse the people so he was not a good role model for anybody on the path to follow. Janaka on the other hand was the perfect role model.

Verses 27-28: The three Gunas

The Gunas are the building blocks of the universe according to Samkhya metaphysics. Just as different atoms form molecules which then build complex compounds and create matter in different forms, similarly in samkhya metaphysics there are three basic building blocks of prakruti or nature, known as Tamas, Rajas and Sattva.

The quality of Tamas is darkness, ignorance, heaviness, it slows down. Rajas is that which is aggressive, moves outwards. Sattva is that which is stable, which sustains, maintains, and has a divine quality, it is light. All of life is built of these three Gunas and these are constantly changing and moving all the time.

A foolish person is one who believes that he is a cause of action, and takes ownership of all the things that are happening around.  The wise one knows that all this is the play of the three gunas interacting with each other and knowing this, he does not get attached to anything. While he acts, there is always a part which is conscious and alert. This is the difference between one, who is wise and one who is not wise.

Verse 29: Don’t impart, don’t impart, don’t impart

It may seem harsh to talk about the minds of dull-witted, little knowing ones, but we require a little bit of humility and patience.  If a child from class 6 and put him straight in to class 12, what you think is going to happen? He is going to be utterly confused, because he would not know all of these things. It is nothing to do with intelligence. This is about systematic learning. When the Tradition speaks of “Na datavyam, don’t impart” this is not because the teacher wants to keep you out or is playing power games, it is because there is a systematic path and we need to go through it. Skipping the basic steps only leads to confusion.

Verse 30: Repeated reminders

Perform your actions fearlessly: Stand up and fight, Arjuna!  This instruction is repeated again and again in the Bhagavad-Gita. Why does Sri Krishna keep repeating himself? 

We do not get it the first, second or the third time you hear a message. Large corporations put in fortunes into advertising, they keep repeating advertising again and again, until it creates such a strong impression, that you will never forget. That is why  a teacher keeps repeating the teachings and that is why you must keep repeating the practices.

Verse 31-32: Only a jeweler can recognize a gem

These verses compare those who find value in these teachings and those who do not find value in these teachings. There is a traditional saying: Only  a jeweler knows the true value of a gem. Only well-trained eyes know whether a stone is really a valuable gem or a worthless pebble. You need to train yourself for that. 

Those who find value in these teachings have had some kind of experience. It is not blind faith, it is reasoned faith. You cannot create a doubt in the mind of such a person. One who has not had any experience, is not prepared and cannot really appreciate these teachings. Do not be judgmental, harsh or critical, do not try to “convert” people like a missionary, rather allow them to go through their own development. 

Verses 33-35 Authenticity versus Imitation

Be authentic! Be a poorer version of yourself then be a good imitation of somebody else. There already so many aversions and attractions why add more? Follow your own Dharma, do not pretend to be somebody else.

Yamas and Niyamas are often are taught as though they are rules to follow. These are not rules.  Anyone can follow rules, this does not make you a Yogi. If it would as simple as following rules, then then all the disciplined armies of the world would attain. 

If it is not blindly following the Yamas and Niyamas, then what  is it that makes one into a Yogi or a wise one? It is the quality of awareness or attention. Attention is just another word for awareness. Observe yourself and your world and know that the Yamas and Niyamas are a framework within which we can operate.

Comments:

Write a Comment:

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *