Jnana karmasannyasa yogah /Topic of renunciation of action through knowledge(Chapter 4)
All the wisdom has already been revealed in the second chapter, the fourth chapter—Jnana karmasannyasa yogah— just ties up the loose ends. In this chapter, Krishna talks about himself as the source of knowledge, not as Krishna, son of Vasudeva, the historical figure. He talks about himself as Ishwara, being the source of this knowledge. This is interesting–this knowledge is about reality and what Ishwara is.
Let me make a hypothesis here: If there is a God—I’m deliberately using the word `God’ here—there is no way a human being can logically come to establish God. I briefly mentioned this in an earlier post. God is not an object of your perception, much less inference, etc. Now you may say you have an inference for it, you may say if I see a pot, I know there should be a potter around; if I see a table, I know there is a carpenter somewhere. Even though you have never seen the carpenter, his inevitable presence can be inferred. And so you see a world and you infer there is a God. That’s what I would call kitchen logic. Why? For the simple reason that `pot’ is an effect, `table’ is an effect…this is evident. Why? Because you have seen the prior non-existence of the pot and the table before it was made and the later non-existence when the pot and the table will not be there. If you have seen it for one pot or one table, you can extend it to all pots and all tables, in fact you can extend it to all other things that you know because you have seen a thing being made which was not there before or a thing being destroyed and, therefore, later non-existent. Now tell me how many universes have you seen being made? I should have seen the prior non-existence or later non-existence of at least one universe to be able to conclude that this universe of ours is made by someone. Since I have not seen that, my very logical premise that this universe is a creation is not enough, logically not tenable, and if people are using that logic, it’s illogical. The first step itself is illogical.
[pullquote]There are certain things that the Vedas talk about which are verifiable, like the fact that I am pure awareness, the fact that a certain ritual will produce a result in this world. Those give me enough trust to accept those that I can’t verify here also as truth. [/pullquote]
Then you would say that God has made this universe. That is the second illogical step. Therefore, if there is a God, God himself has to reveal himself to me. I’m using the word `himself’ for want of a better word, the word `herself’ will do just as well. Therefore, God himself should have revealed himself. That is why all religions claim to be from God, either directly or indirectly, most of them indirectly through prophets etc. Here, Krishna himself says that I am the source of this knowledge; he says there is no way you can figure it out, you don’t have the means of knowledge necessary. Your perception, inference, etc are not enough to establish a God. Therefore, if God is there, it has to be God that reveals God and the way we look at it Vedanta, Gita and the Upanishads etc, the source of all of these is the Lord himself. In the Vedas and in the Gita, you will find a statement saying `I am the source’. And he gives a little genealogy here– how he taught it to the first ruler, Rama’s ancestor etc and how it has come to Arjuna and to all of us reading this blog.
It is confusing, Swamiji….on one hand you say “if there is a God’’, on the other hand you say Krishna is the source of knowledge…?
Krishna’s words prove there is a God. So the hypothesis is now gone, it’s a fact. How is it a fact? Only by Krishna’s words, only by that pramana, no other pramana will tell you about that. There is no other pramana that will tell you about God. Vedanta is a pramana, a means of knowledge to know what I cannot figure out by myself.
Vedas do talk about pralaya, dissolution of the world, the big collapse…?
There are certain things that the Vedas talk about which are verifiable, like the fact that I am pure awareness, the fact that a certain ritual will produce a result in this world. Those give me enough trust to accept those that I can’t verify here also as truth. It talks about heaven…I don’t know, I don’t have the logic to prove or disprove it but I can accept it because the other things the Vedas talk about is a fact. Veda talks about Ishwara—we have clarified this in an earlier post in a very logical presentation—that’s what the Veda says….Therefore, God becomes something not merely to believe but to be understood. Similarly, I am awareness is not a matter of opinion, it is verifiable. Each one has to validate the knowledge.
Now you may ask, `How do I know the pramana works?’ Here I use the word `pramana’ s as a `means of knowledge’, not authority. Any pramana is to be established by the pramana itself. How do you know your eyes see? If you open your eyes, the eyes will tell you whether they work or not…If you see clearly, the eyes will tell you, and if you don’t see clearly that also the eyes will tell you; so a pramana is self-proven. Whether a pramana works or not can be self-proven, whether a pramana works or doesn’t can’t be disproved by any other pramana. I can’t say I don’t hear a sound and, therefore, my eyes don’t see an object. A pramana is a means of knowledge that can stand independently.
Another interesting idea he speaks about in this chapter is the idea of avatara. The idea of avatara is peculiar to Hinduism in the sense we talk about all-pervading Ishwara—omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient etc– actually taking a human form. I can accept it as possible because all forms are his forms anyway. If the whole universe is a manifestation of his form, why can he not take a special form for a special purpose? Because form follows function. Therefore, he takes a certain form for a certain function and he gives certain parameters. He says, in the seventh verse, that he appears whenever there is a decay of dharma to an extent that human beings are not capable of handling it.
I’m not talking about the present scenario. There is a lot of adharma but human beings are capable of handling it, we just have to get out of our apathy and start doing something about it. But when it gets 100 times worse than what it is now and humans are not able to handle it, only then will an avatara come…Since he has manifested this universe, he is the maker, and so when there is a major breakdown I have to call the original engineer. And he makes it very clear that the purpose of an avatara is to re-establish this order and give the human being a chance to take it forward again. So whenever there is an entropy and things go beyond repair by human beings, he does the job. That’s why we talk about the ten avataras…the tenth is yet to come; he is supposed to come at the end of kalyuga. Things are bad but wait and see another 20000 years. Now I can still have the blog and a few people read it, but when the blog gets banned or when spiritual teachers get stoned in public, that will be the time for an avatara to come. We have a long way to go.
There is also an understanding that all those who are doing good work in society are avataras. Your views?
In India there is a tendency to deify people…like the God of cricket, for example. Instead of respecting the person as a phenomenal human being, we deify him. We have a word for such a person; instead of calling them avatara, we call them yugapurusha. Like `Man/Woman of the century’, a person who has had a phenomenal impact on society, whether he is Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. The shastras mention ten avataras and I would prefer to stick to that.
What if I don’t consider Krishna as an avatara?
Doesn’t matter. Just take it that the source of this knowledge is God himself. You can understand that. All that is there is from Ishwara itself, the whole universe is a manifestation of Ishwara, all the knowledge in the universe is also a manifestation of Ishwara. There can be no other source of knowledge other than Ishwara. A teacher only explains and unfolds this knowledge. So you don’t have to accept Krishna as an avatara, you could take him as a great teacher, a warrior, a political leader though traditionally we accept him as an avatara. As long as you can accept this knowledge and make it work for you, it’s fine.
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