Arjuna asks–Which road will lead to moksha — sanyasa or karma yoga? Krishna is very clear about this. He says that compared to a life of sanyasa a life of karma yoga is better. Why does he say so? Because it does seem obvious that if knowledge is the end and gaining the knowledge is the pursuit, then sanyasa would be a better option. However, he says `No, karma yoga is better.’

In the third verse, he makes a very beautiful statement:

Jneyah sa nityasannyasi yon a dveshti na kankshati

Nirdwando hi mahabaho sukham bandhatprmucyate  5.3

The person who neither hates nor longs (for anything) should always be known as a sanyasi, Arjuna, the mighty armed! One who is free from the opposites (likes and dislikes) is indeed effortlessly released from bondage.

Know that person to be a sanyasi who is free from the hold of likes and dislikes, he does not hate anything or long for anything. He says such a person is a sanyasi. That means he equates sanyasa to being free from the hold of raga and dwesha, your likes and dislikes. Now obviously this is not a lifestyle, this is a mind-set. In other words, if you want to be a sanyasi, the minimum you require is a mind-set that  frees you from likes and dislikes. How does one get that? How does one become free from likes and dislikes? Because we all find that we all have likes and dislikes, all of us feel victimized by our likes and dislikes.

[pullquote]The advantage of making it inclusive is that if you have any areas of growth you can take care of them. The advantage of making it exclusive is, if you are ready for it you do not waste time on anything else.[/pullquote]

As we have seen in our earlier posts, this mind-set can be gained only by living a life of karma yoga, by pursuing what I want with an attitude of ishwara- arpanam and prasada buddhi. Therefore, he says; whether you want to live a life of sanyasa or not is open to choice but whether you live a life of karma yoga or not is not open to choice. For the simple reason that you need a mind free from raga, dwesha and that is gained with karma yoga i.e. ishwara- arpanam buddhi and prasada buddhi .That’s why, he says, karma yoga is better because it prepares your mind. Later on, you can choose to be a sanyasi or to continue with the same lifestyle. Pursuit of knowledge, however, is common to both. You can only choose between whether you make your pursuit inclusive of other things in life or exclusive. The fact remains that you need a mind free from the hold of raga and dwesha and you will get that only in a life of karma yoga. Therefore, he says, ‘karmayogah vishishyate’ because you have a field of activity, a field of endeavour. He says, ‘Nirdwandohi mahabaho sukham bandhaatpramucyate’, meaningWhen your mind is free from the pairs of opposites of likes and dislikes effortlessly, you will be free from the bonds of samsara.’ Therefore, karma yoga is completely unavoidable.

Then he makes a very interesting comparison here. He says `Only children would speak about karma yoga and sanyasa as being two different things.’

Sankhyayogau prthagbalah pravadanti na panditah

Ekam apyasthitah samyagubhayorvindate phalam  5.4

Children (those who do not know), but not the wise, argue that knowledge and karma yoga are different. the person who follows even one (of the two) properly, gains the result of both.

In the fourth verse, he says, if you follow any one you get the result of both.  And he who sees sanyasa (which he calls ‘sankhya yoga’  here) and karma yoga as one, that person has really understood what these two lifestyles are about.

Look at it, what is a sanyasi trying to achieve? Rootedness and clarity in this knowledge for which he has burnt his boats; he has no other involvement and is on a fast track to moksha. He will gain it, if his mind is ready he will definitely he will gain it. What is a karma yogi trying to do? He too is trying to gain moksha and along with this he is fulfilling other priorities, because he has priorities to fulfill. Really speaking, the goal is moksha, which both the sanyasi and karma yogi seek. The means for the goal is this knowledge/ wisdom, which both are seeking. Therefore, the goal is the same, the means are the same…So what’s the difference? There is only a small difference in the lifestyles; one is inclusive, one is exclusive. The advantage of making it inclusive is that if you have any areas of growth you can take care of them. The advantage of making it exclusive is, if you are ready for it you do not waste time on anything else.

Therefore, sanyasa is a fast track process, but for that your car i.e. your mind has to be in very good condition, you cannot afford a tyre burst on the way. You cannot take a life of sanyasa and then suddenly find that you have some emotional needs or sexual needs etc; you better have taken care of all that before you take to a life of sanyasa. The advantage of karma yoga is that if any major priority comes up later, there is a field of endeavour to handle that. Both lifestyles have its advantages but Krishna is definitely against hasty sanyasa because there is no coming back, you are burning your bridges.


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