In the 20th chapter, Uddhava tells the Lord that he is bewildered, since it is by His word (the Vedas) alone that the distinction between good and evil is to be determined; and again it is by His word that the distinction is negatived. How then is an aspirant to attain liberation (moksha) without taking into consideration this distinction?
In reply the Lord says that for aspirants eligible for moksha there are three and only three disciplines or paths available viz.jnana yoga (the path of knowledge), karma yoga (the path of action) and bhakti yoga (the path of devotion). Jnana yoga is meant for those such as Sanaka etc. who have developed dispassion in the matter of performing actions. Those who have yet to develop such dispassion and still hanker after fruits of action (which is the case for human beings) karma yoga is prescribed. Bhakti yoga is for persons with preponderance of sattva (which is the case with the gods).
A man should continue to do his duties enjoined by the shastras so long as he does not get disgusted with the pleasures of sense or so long as keenness does not appear in him for listening to the stories of the Lord. A man adhering to his course of conduct and propitiating the Lord through sacrificial performances but never hankering for their fruit, neither ascends to heaven nor goes down to perdition, unless he perpetrates a prohibited act. Continuing in this body and sticking to his own dharma, abstaining from sin and thus purged of all impurities he attains jnana or even bhakti by Lord’s grace.
A wise man should not long for heaven anymore than for being reborn in this world as a human being. For through attachment to a particular body, one generally neglects one’s true interests. Alive to this truth, he should diligently strive for moksha (liberation)-which is cessation of transmigration-before death overtakes him, knowing this body to be mortal, though helpful for the attainment of his goal. That man wastes his life, who having secured the exceptionally fit vessel of a human body, piloted by an expert helmsman in the form of a preceptor and propelled by a favorable wind in the form of the Lord, nevertheless fails to cross the ocean of samsara. Importance of controlling the mind and senses and reposing the mind in the Lord is again stressed.
The moment the Lord is realized (witnessed) by the aspirant in his heart, through bhakti yoga-the mind-senses-ego apparatus (prakrita anthakarana) is destroyed, all doubts resolved and the stock of karma exhausted. Devotees exclusively devoted to Sri Hari even as they are desirous of heaven etc do not accept such positions as a quid pro quo for their devotion; rather they accept it as a command from Sri Hari. So also moksha or liberation, when conferred by Sri Hari is accepted by them, not as a reward for their devotion, but as a means of pleasing Sri Hari, by accepting His command. Bhakti yoga is therefore the foremost among the three yogas. The wise declare desirelessness to be the greatest and most efficacious way to final beautitude. Virtue and sin resulting from good and evil, do not attach to pious souls that are even minded and exclusively devoted to the Lord. Those who follow the paths in the aforesaid manner attain to the Lords realm which is free from fear and which is known as the Supreme Brahman. Thus ends the twentieth chapter.
2 thoughts on “Chapter 20. Jnana yoga, karma yoga and bhakti yoga – an analysis.”
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Dear Mr Mittal
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