Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #281 - Dharma, Yog, and Hinduism

Yesterday's newsletter generated a lot of controversy and abuse. Instead of moving on to another topic, wanted to deep dive and clarify some misconceptions. Lets explore.

Be equanimous/balanced/one in Siddhis or Asiddhis (सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो:) [attainment/failure/power/lack of power] with bhuta being balanced (भूत्वा समत्वं). Such a state is called Yog. - Bhagwad Gita


Yesterday’s newsletter created a lot of debate and even abuse against us and Sadhguru.

Some comments were:

  • Sadhguru is not calling Yog as Hindu - as was the case with our take - because he wanted to “market his work to the Westeners”

  • Our understanding was not based on Hindu scriptures so - as one commentator declared, our article could be “dismantled easily”

So, even though we had other topics to address today, I wanted to go into more detail of this topic and address some of the abuse.

First, there was no such thing as Hindu in our scriptures ever. Dharma was. And, Dharma by definition is Sanatan. Hindu is a derivative of India - as others knew us. Megasthenes wrote a book called “Indika”. (Source) He lived in 350 BC by historical records.

Second, Dharma is not belief. It is the fundamental way of the existence. Dharma in its practiced form is not some self-created rules or edicts or principles of morality but methods and tools to align oneself with the way of the existence.

Lastly, the reason why Dharma is shared by Gurus as Dharma and not a belief or a cultural set of beliefs, which Hinduism has now become, is not because of some marketing gimmick, but because that is the ONLY way it has been shared always. Krishna took pains to demolish all ideas of belief in some moral principles or “takeaways” that Arjun had from his reading of scriptures. That is the only way.

You may want to limit Dharma to your own belief and fashion it in a cultural way of Hinduism, but then please stop abusing it by calling it Sanatan Dharma.

No belief, no moral edict, and no word is Sanatan/eternal. It has as much longevity as your brain and life.

Dharma, on the other hand, is beyond physicality, change, and existence. Even if this entire galaxy and universe is not there, Dharma will remain intact. Whether there is anyone to align with it and live it is another question!

Deep-dive into Krishna’s journey of Dharma - the Yog-Shastra Bhagwad Gita

We will start our journey from the second chapter of Gita and take a relook at the verses to see what they say in terms of a spiritual journey. We will look at the traditional translations, yet look at the shlokas that would make sense in terms of an enlightened state and spiritual verities. We will try to remain honest to the understanding of the divine as the underlying consciousness, which we will realize was what the Sages and Rishis have always understood. The हिंरण्यगर्भ (Golden/substantive/existence womb) - the womb of existence.

We will start our journey from the 44th shloka.

भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम् |
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धि: समाधौ न विधीयते || 44||

जिनकी बुद्धि भोग और ऐश्वर्य से अत्यन्त लुब्ध और आसक्त है, और इसलिए उनकी ही प्राप्ति के लिए लालायित है, इस प्रकार के लोगों की परमात्मा में कदापि रुचि नहीं होती, और उनकी ध्येयपरक बुद्धि उस परमार्थ तत्व में संलग्न भी नहीं हो पाती । (Source)

Here buddhi is not mere intellect. It is beyond that. Buddhi is the ability to understand, perceive and discern. When one is attached to the physical - remember here that bhog-aishwarya (भोगैश्वर्य) is the indulgence of the physical and thus a metaphor for what is experienced in the physical - then one’s ability to perceive/discern is taken away (अपहृत) from awareness of the infinite consciousness (चेतसाम्). Such a buddhi which is based on physical effort/work/strategm व्यवसायात्मिका - is not based in contentment/fulfillment. In other words, it can never reach fulfillment. (For, the nature of the physical is to remain unfulfilled)

त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन |
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् || 45|

The knowledge found there in all vedik texts deals with the sense-objects and their experiences only. These sense-objects and their relative experience are in fact relative knowledge and in other words ignorance (of the Self) only. Therefore free yourself from all that relative knowledge and the three attributes (guṇa-s of prakṛti) O arjuna! Be clear of conflicts, stay in the essence of the 'Self', forget the thought of body-mind and their all past and future concerns, and abide thus in the Self.  (Source)

The three gunas (त्रैगुन) are सात्विक (saatvik), तामसिक (taamsik), राजसिक (raajasik). त्रैगुण्यविषया is the domain of the three gunas. Which are the Vedas. Why is that so?

Because in the domain of the written word, there is a distinction between knower, knowledge, and the object of knowledge (ज्ञाता ज्ञान और ज्ञेय). The highest state of such a domain can be सात्विक (saatvik) but it still is a place where you create karmas. You are not free from the karmas, and so within the cycle of births. The idea is to go beyond the cycle of births, so all the karmas, not just the तामसिक (taamsik) and राजसिक (raajasik)!

That is precisely what Arjun is being asked to do - Go beyond the domain of the three gunas which is attained via scriptures, which can at best lead you to the saatvik state, to a point where you are established in Truth (नित्यसत्त्वस्थो) by being beyond Duality (निर्द्वन्द्वो). Nature of the physical is duality. Once you go beyond duality - advaita (अद्वैत) - you are beyond the physical realm and in the realm of Truth.

One indivisible, eternal, and unchanging Truth.

That is the state, Shri Krishna tells Arjun, is the state free from anxiety, secure/unchanging/eternal (निर्योगक्षेम) and established in self (आत्मवान्).

But how to be in Niryogkshem state?

Now, let us go to see how to be in that state? Shri Krishna carries on.

यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वत: सम्प्लुतोदके |
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानत: || 46||

Whatever purpose/objective is gained from the well (यावानर्थ उदपाने), that all (and more) is attained from the larger flow/expanse of water (river/lake/ocean). Everything that (तावान्सर्वेषु) is attained from the Vedas (वेदेषु) is also realized (and more) by one who is established fully/completely विजानत: in Brahman (ब्राह्मणस्य).

What Krishna is sharing with Arjun is that all the Vedas - whatever you can find in them (via your hearing/interpretation and practice) can be attained and far more than that is realized by being established in the Brahman/Consciousness.

Krishna is not “dinging” the Vedas. He is pointing out the limitation of the word as opposed to the experience of the Truth. There is an obvious limitation of the word. Even the Vedas. Because, as we saw in the previous shloka, there is always a distinction between knower, knowledge, and the object of knowledge.

Now, we come to the verse/shloka that is probably the most popular and most distorted in Bhagwad Gita.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||

कर्म करने में ही तुम्हारा अधिकार है (अर्थात् अपने विवेक से अपने सामर्थ्य और कर्म के औचित्य को समझकर उसमें संलग्न होने का संकल्प होना), किन्तु उसके फल के संबंध में कभी नहीं (क्योंकि फल अनेक कारणों का सम्मिलित परिणाम होता है, जिनमें से अपना संकल्प केवल एक ही कारण होता है ) । इसलिए किसी (सुनिश्चित, इच्छित और विशिष्ट) कर्मफल के मिलने का आग्रह मत रखो, और वहीं दूसरी ओर, अकर्म (कर्म से पलायन करने) के प्रति भी  तुम्हारा आग्रह न हो । अर्थात् कर्म ’न करने’ के प्रति भी तुम्हारा आग्रह / आसक्ति नहीं होना चाहिए । (Source)

Your only (एव) ability/influence/authority (अधिकारस्ते) is to action the karma (कर्मण्य). Not (you have no influence/authority) on the fruits of the actioned karma that you perform. Do not consider yourself as the cause of the results of your action (कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा) and nor should you ever be (attached/associate) yourself with inaction (because you are not the cause of the results of your actions) (सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि).

For this, we want to look at it logically. When one says - “I want to do Good - what does one mean?

That he wants to do an action which will yield a Good result. Isn’t it?

Now, think carefully - is Good a qualification of the action or the result?

Obviously of the result. Not action.

The assumption when one declares “I want to do Good” is that I will do an action that necessarily will yield a result that is Good (by his definition).

Which essentially means that one has predetermined the results of one’s actions. In such a state, where everyone can predetermine the results of their actions, based of course on their own definition of “good” we will have a situation that is inherently untenable. For, my good can be someone’s bad.

That is why, the result is not within one’s influence. Only action is. And action is without any qualification.

So how does one be in that state - where one is beyond domain of the gunas, association with the results of one’s karmas and established in Brahman?

योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय |
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते || 48||

(देह, मन, बुद्धि या प्रकृति से) किए जानेवाले कर्मों से अपना तादात्म्य न करते हुए, अर्थात् उनकी संगति को त्यागते हुए, बुद्धियोग में स्थित रहकर, सिद्धि और असिद्धि, सफलता और विफलता को समान समझते हुए कर्म करो, इस प्रकार की समत्व-बुद्धि ही योग है । (Source)

While being established in Yog (योगस्थ:), Dhananjaya (Arjun), perform your karmas (actions of body/mind/energy) (कुरु कर्माणि) by abandoning all association (to them in terms of where they lead or more importantly, as a doer) (सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा).

Be equanimous/balanced/one in Siddhis or Asiddhis (सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो:) [attainment/failure/power/lack of power] with bhuta being balanced (भूत्वा समत्वं). Such a state is called Yog.

This is important to understand. Panchbhutas (पञ्चभूत)- the five elements - is the basis of this existence. The state of Yog or enlightenment is where one has mastery and (therefore) balance of the panchbhutas.

Most commentators, including Gitapress, translate भूत्वा समत्वं - as simply being equanimous. That does not account for the central objective of Yog which is panch-bhuta mastery/balance. Patanjali also shares that in the 3rd chapter.

ततोऽणिमादिप्रादुर्भावः कायसंपत्तद्धर्मानभिघातश्च॥४५॥

Now, we have the definition, objective, and the way to the state of Yog. What is it and how it is attained.

Performing your karmas by abandoning all association to them and being equanimous/balanced/one in Siddhis (attainments) or Asiddhis (lack of attainments) with panchbhuta being balanced.

This state, also the निर्योगक्षेम, is beyond the domain of the gunas and includes all that the Vedas have to offer, and more!

Let us now go to shloka # 52, and pick up the conversation from there.

यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति |
तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च || 52||

जब तुम्हारी बुद्धि मोहरूपी दलदल को भलीभाँति पार कर लेगी, अर्थात् उसमें नहीं फँसेगी, तब तुम्हें निर्वेद  (वैराग्य) की वह स्थिति प्राप्त होगी जिसमें श्रवण किए हुए ज्ञान के वास्तविक अभिप्राय, और सुनकर अपनी बुद्धि से ग्रहण किए गए उसके अवास्तविक अभिप्राय का अन्तर मिट जाएगा, अर्थात् जो कहा गया उसे तुम्हारी बुद्धि यथावत् ग्रहण करेगी और वैराग्य में स्थिर हो जाएगी ।

The word निर्वेद (Nirved) has also been translated as “not from scriptures/Vedas” - apart from “indifference.”

Swami Mukundanandaji cites another shloka from मुण्डक-उपनिषद्, Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad where the same word निर्वेद (Nirved) appears with almost the same import. (Source)

parīkṣhya lokānkarmachitānbrāhmaṇo nirvedamāyānnāstyakṛitaḥ kṛitena (1.2.12)[v45]

This is translated by him as

“Realized sages go beyond Vedic rituals, after understanding that the pleasures one attains from fruitive karmas, in this life and in the celestial abodes, are temporary and mixed with misery.”

Note: It is quite irritating that whenever any Sage/Yogi has suggested going “beyond the Vedas,” the Hindu commentators have almost always added “Fruitive karmas” or Rituals. As if that is all the Vedas - which have been known as Shrutis - have to offer!

Vedas, when they are mentioned, are just mentioned as Vedas, without adjective or qualification.

The qualification that the Yogi or Rishi meant “rituals” in such verses, and not the शास्त्र in its entirety, (as word sans inner transformation) - is purely commentator’s own understanding. Made up understanding.

In the very next shloka, Krishna goes on and explains things further with some more insights.

श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला |
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि || 53||

विविध प्रकार के परस्पर भिन्न भिन्न मतों को सुनने से विचलित और भ्रमित हुई तुम्हारी बुद्धि निश्चल होकर जब अचलरूप से समाधि में सुस्थिर हो जाएगी, तब तुम्हें  योग की उपलब्धि हो जाएगी । (Source)

Here the operative word is श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना. Gitapress, however, translates this word as शास्त्रीय मतभेदों से विचलित. One who is listening to different translations of the Shrutis. Shrutis, as in the Vedas.


Now let us understand these shlokas in their entirety.

When your buddhi (which is more than intellect - primarily the ability to discern and perceive) has gone beyond (बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति) the confusion that comes from attachment/identity (मोहकलिलं),you will reach a realm (तदा गन्तासि) which is beyond the written word of scriptures (निर्वेदं) - where what has been said and what will ever be said are.(श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च)

That realm is the state of an enlightened being.


Yesterday, we had said that Vedas as well as the other scriptures - and everything that arises from them in terms of rituals, our practices and the way we do things are the tools that take us to a point where we can observe a door. A door to the spiritual enlightened state. The state of Yog or निर्योगक्षेम or मोक्ष (Moksh/liberation).

What the path of Yog has to offer is attained to by purusharth/actual sadhana. That path is beyond any ritual/scripture/word/knowledge-knower-object of knowledge (ज्ञाता ज्ञान और ज्ञेय).

This understanding is not a mere “marketing stratagem” of any new age Guru but the principles established by Shri Krishna, Patanjali, and all the other Rishis.

Now, does this mean that we cannot clothe Dharma in the unidimensional ways of other belief systems? Yes.

Because, Dharma is NOT a belief. It is not a word. It is not a book. It is not even knowledge.

It is beyond all of these.

And, to share it any other way - repeat, ANY OTHER WAY - would be to bastardize every work of every Sage, Rishi and Guru.

If we are honest about Dharma and are established in (have निष्ठा) in Dharma, then we have to rise to it. Not bring it down to our convenient level, where are want to play the game of oneupmanship of religions.

If Dharma has to “compete” in the modern world, it wil have to compete on its own strength of Truth and Absolute Truth. Not some sly interpretation because we are vested in a scripture or a book.

The only reason why no commentator of Gita has had the courage to translate वेद as the scripture in its completeness, whenever it has been used by Krishna in the Second Chapter - as opposed to the “Rituals aspects of Vedas” (which almost everyone uses) is because they were attached to their belief that Vedas (written word) is supreme. Even when Krishna repeatedly keeps saying that being established in that realm beyond the word/gunas/scriptures is the state he wants Arjun in.

And, because all the commentators (and the Hindus at large) have been more attached to their belief of Vedas as opposed to what Krishna was actually saying, they keep thinking that belief of primacy of one’s book - is the way to Dharmic glory.

Because, after all, in a world ruled by belief systems that tout their books as the “truth”, we should also have something to compete with. Right?

Well, in that effort we have brought down Dharma to the level of a belief. We have, in our competition with the religions and belief systems, made Dharma into yet another belief system!

When it should have been received and shared as the search and effort for Truth! Not Hindu Truth, but existential Truth.

That is what India, the land which came to be known as one of Hindus, had to offer to the world.

market corner: 10 quick bytes

  1. Housing sale in 8 major markets reaches pre-Covid level - more

  2. Delhi-Meerut RRTS: Eco-friendly features of India’s first Regional Rapid Transit System - more

  3. NBFIs face renewed asset quality risks amid second COVID wave: Fitch Ratings - more

  4. MSME lender U GRO Capital eyes Rs 20,000 crore AUM by 2025 to address small business credit gap - more

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  7. Realty, insurance, oil & gas see biggest FPI inflow in March - more

  8. Renault joins hands with CERO Recycling for vehicle scrapping - more

  9. Vehicle registration fell 28.64% y-o-y in March despite low base: Dealers - more

  10. Sebi imposes Rs 25 cr penalty on Ambani brothers and others - more

nota bene

Communist-Muslim League Carnage: On April 7, at least 10 Left party offices were vandalised in Kannur district, Kerala, after a youth wing member and IUML worker was killed in a political clash. As per reports, 22-year-old Mansur, a member of Youth League, the youth wing of Indian Union Muslim League, died in a post-poll clash between workers of CPI(M) and IUML on April 6. The violence, that has now engulfed the area, erupted during the funeral procession of Mansur the next day. T V Subhash, district collector, has called an all-party meeting at 11 AM on April 8 over the violence. Venugopal K Nair, Inspector General, Kannur Range, said that the situation is under control. (Source)

Myanmar troubles: Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn has been locked out of its embassy in central London in what he called an "unacceptable" move following the military coup in his home country.  Protesters have left flowers and posters outside the embassy to commemorate the civilian victims of the coup. (Source)

Merkel reprimands Putin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called President Vladimir Putin and demanded that Russia unwind its recent military build-up in the area around eastern Ukraine, the German government said in a statement on Thursday. "One subject of their conversation was, among others, the increased Russian military presence near eastern Ukraine," the statement said. "The chancellor called for a reduction of these troop reinforcements to de-escalate tensions." (Source)

Masks litter beaches: Discarded masks and gloves started showing up on beaches not long after the virus began circulating widely last year, and continued to appear as quarantine-weary people sought an escape at the beach. In the second half of 2020, more than 107,000 items of PPE were collected by volunteers around the world according to the Ocean Conservancy group — a figure its members believe is a vast undercount of the year’s true totals. (Source)

Abnormalities found in the 'standard model of physics' by Fermilab and CERN could reveal a 'universal theory of everything' according to famed physicist Michio Kaku. In his latest book, Kaku, a leading string theorist from City College of New York, describes the ongoing search to find a 'God Theory' that explains everything. This is a theory Albert Einstein hoped to discover but failed to find in his lifetime, with Kaku describing it as being able to explain the 'rich diversity of matter'. (Source)

video corner: The Collapse of Everything

This video is not shared for its conspiratorial content, but the information of the past. Something that one won’t get anywhere. Take that and add to your understanding of the world when you evaluate the present.

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