Evam paramparaapraaptamimaam raajarshayo viduh |
sa kaaleneha mahataa yogo nashtah parantapa || (Gita 4/2)
“O oppressor of the foes (Arjuna), this Karmayoga handed down thus, in regular succession (from father to son), it remained known to the royal sages. But through long lapse of time, it has been forgotten and lost to the world.” (Gita 4/2)
`Evam paramparaapraaptamimaam raajarshayo viduh’— The kings, such as the sun-god, Manu and Ikshvaku, learnt the Karmayoga, followed it and also, inspired their subjects to follow it. Thus, it was handed down in regular succession to the families of the royal sages. This Karmayoga is a special lare of the kings (the warrior class). Therefore, every member of the warrior class should know it. Similarly, the heads and leaders of a family, society, village and town etc., must also know it.
In ancient days, the kings who knew Karmayoga, administered the affairs of state smoothly, without being attached to royal pleasures. They had a natural inclination for the welfare of the subjects. The great Samskrat poet Kalidas writes about the kings of solar dynasty:—
“Those kings levied a tax on their subjects in the same way, as the sun sucks water from the earth, in order to supply it a thousand times more back to the earth in the form of rain .”
It means, that the tax realized from the subjects by kings, was all used for public welfare. In order to provide for their household expenses, they followed occupations, like farming. By practising Karmayoga, they were automatically endowed with singular knowledge and devotion. Therefore, even great sages went to those kings in order to learn wisdom. Shri VedaVyas’s son named Sukhadeva, went to king Janaka, in order to gain wisdom from him. In the fifth chapter of the Chandogyopanishad it is mentioned, that six sages together went to king Asvapati, in order to learn knowledge of Brahma, the Supreme.* Having mentioned kings, such as Janaka and others in the twentieth verse of the third chapter, and the sun-god, Manu and Ikshvaku etc., here, as Karmayogis, Lord Krishna wants to urge Arjuna that he should also perform actions accordingly (follow Karmayoga) as the ancestors did, in former times, as he was also a householder and a member of the warrior class (Gita 4/15). Moreover, it was very easy for him to learn it, because he belonged to the warrior class.
`sa kaaleneha mahataa yogo nashtah’— God is eternal and the means—Karmayoga, Jnanayoga and Bhaktiyoga (Disciplines of Action, Knowledge and Devotion) etc., are also eternal, as they have been laid down by God. Therefore, they never cease to be. The Lord declares, “The real, never ceases to be” (Gîtâ 2/16). The yogas are eternal, even if these are not practised. Therefore, here the term `Nashatoh’ means, passing out of sight, rather than out of existence.
In the first verse of this chapter, this Yoga has been called imperishable. Therefore, if this term `Nashtah’ is taken as `out of existence’ there will be a contradiction between the two statements. Moreover, the Lord again in the third verse declares, that He is going to reveal the same ancient Yoga, to Arjuna. It means that the religious texts and the learned sages who possessed knowledge of this Yoga, and practised it, had more or less disappeared from the earth.
The Lord declares, that it was through a long lapse of time, that it disappeared, because at the beginning of creation, the Lord taught it to the sun-god, then it was handed down in regular succession and the royal sages come to know it. But due to the absence of great spiritual souls, possessed of the knowledge of this Yoga, it could not be handed down. So, at present only a few people know and talk about it.
Though this doctrine was not practised, yet it did not cease to be, because without selflessness, which is the essence of Karmayoga even other disciplines (such as of knowledge and devotion) cannot be constantly practised. A Jnanayogi through discrimination, by regarding actions as `Asat’ (unreal), renounces his affinity for these, while a Bhaktiyogi renounces affinity for them by surrendering these to God. No affinity, howsoever, is to be maintained. This is the doctrine of `Karmayoga’. Therefore, a Jnanayogi and a Bhaktiyogi will have to adopt the principles of `Karmayoga’, even though they may not practise it. It means, that at present, though it has been lost, yet as a doctrine it exists.
The fact is, that in Karmayoga, Karma (actions) have not disappeared but `Yoga’ (selflessness) has disappeared, because a man performs actions with a selfish motive. It means, that strivers have a firm belief that they will attain God, through actions in the same way as they acquire worldly things through actions. But they forget the reality, that God is, ever attained. Actions, are performed for the world while `Yoga’ (union with God) is ever for one’s own self. Yoga is not attained through actions, as is self-evident.* Therefore, the generality of the assumption that this Yoga can be attained through action has practically caused the disappearance of yoga.
This human body, has been bestowed upon us, so that we may practise Karmayoga i.e., serve others without any selfish motive. But, we are so much absorbed in hankering after pleasures, prosperity and honour etc., that we do not pay heed to it. Thus, this knowledge has been lost, because we have forgotten it.
A man by rendering service can control not only birds, beasts and persons but also the gods, manes, sages, saints and even God. But having forgotten this practice, he has been overpowered by pleasures, which lead to hell and eighty-four lac forms of lives. This is called concealment of Karmayoga.
From “The Bhagavadgita – Sadhak Sanjivani” in English”
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