Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 21 – part 2

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 21


He who is free from hope, who is self-controlled, who has abandoned all the possessions though working merely with the body, does not incur sin.


***   continued from last week   ***

b)  Yata chittatma: Self controlled.

It is the control of the lower self which is the “ego” by the higher Self which is the Atman within.

The ego works through the sense organs, mind and the intellect. One cannot put any blame on the objective world for the failure to progress. It is our reaction to those sense objects that makes all the difference. The vision we have of the objects has to move from sensual to spiritual. An object of beauty should not become an object of desire. It should become an object of adoration. One should see the hand of the divine in creation of the object of adoration. The sense organs should be taught the lesson of collecting the “Sreyas” aspects of the world around. (Sreyas is that which is beneficial in the spiritual quest.) They should be under the control of the mind.

The mind in turn should know its master and be under the control of the intellect. The intellect should be working hard at listening to the “Inner voice of the divine” (Antaratma) and get a grip on the thoughts that generate in the mind which might distract the seeker (refer to sloka 42, chapter 3). Eventually such acts of constant self-control will lead to “Atmajnana.”

This way, the ego will be subdued and the physical body will work as the servant of the divine atman within.

The example we have from the epic Ramayana is about the character of Hanuman. Hanuman is said to have the image of His Lord Rama and mother Sita in his chest at all times. He considers himself as the servant of Rama and never as the most powerful vanara (monkey). He lives constantly in self- control.

c)  Aparigraha:  Non-receiving.

The word used in the sloka is “Tyakta sarva parigrahaha.”

Parigraha is receiving. Not receiving any gifts and abandoning all possessions is “Tyakta sarva parigraha.” It is the rule of conduct for any spiritual aspirant.

The scriptures declare that he who receives any gift from others  automatically receives from them their part of the karma. Let us understand this clearly. If the other person has accumulated bad karma, by accepting gifts from him, the receiver would receive part of donor’s sin. Using the same logic, if the other person has accumulated good karma, by accepting gift from him, the receiver will get part of his punya. This is the principle of work by the saints. The saints give us the gift of the scriptures which they have mastered. We get part of their punya but they in turn get more punya by their gift to us.

Accepting of gifts would put the individual under moral obligation and many a times there is an expectation of return of favours. This rule of aparigraha does not apply to those who receive the due remuneration for the work rendered.

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