Bhagavad-gita Chapter 3

In chapter 3 of the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna talks about karma yoga, the yoga of offering your actions to your spiritual source.

In chapter three Krishna talks about karma yoga, the yoga of offering your actions to your spiritual source. This yoga also involves increasing your awareness of the web of interdependence and chains of dependence in this world. To be able to see you are dependent on the sun. To be able to speak and hear you are dependent on the ether and air. To be able to smell you are dependent on the Earth. To be able to taste you are dependent on water. There are so many things you need from the material elements to live. In Vedic as well as many native spiritual traditions the visionaries perceive deities behind all these elements. In karma yoga, you offer homage to all of these deities, expressing gratitude to them for everything you receive. In the ultimate view, you offer homage to Krishna who is the source of all of them, as he is the source of everything and everyone and also the source of the all-pervading world-soul.

One saint has given the simile that in the beginning, it is like paying the bills for electricity, water, etc. It’s just something you have to do, like kids learning to say, “Please” and “Thank you”. But as you grow spiritually you will come to appreciate the value of giving in itself. It Is said that giving is getting. At first, we give in appreciation for what we are getting, but in time we will come to appreciate the giving itself and build an entire identity around that. Right now, our identity is built around what we think we have. At some point, we will realize that nothing belongs to us, but that things are just placed around us for us to be able to engage in the play of giving. The ultimate gift is to give ourselves.

To come down a little bit to where we are at present, Arjuna asks Krishna why it is that we as if by force do things that we know are wrong. Krishna answers that it happens by the influence of a quality in nature called rajas. He will explain this quality along with the other two qualities, tamas and sattva, that permeate all of material nature, in the fourteenth chapter. That they permeate all of nature also means that they permeate the senses, mind, and intelligence. Rajas produce material desires, since we out of ignorance believe that we need material things to maintain our existence. When things don’t go our way, we get frustrated and act outside the parameters of our own better judgment.

The key here is to become proactive and learn what is likely to create such outcomes and instead act in other ways. Here the teachings of Vamanadeva from the Srimad Bhagavatam come to mind. Vamanadeva is asking the king of the world for three steps of land. The king tells him that he can give him a whole continent if he likes, so why only ask for three steps of land? Vamana replies that if he got a whole continent, he will soon want two continents. And having two, he would want three. So it’s better to be satisfied with the space that one needs for one’s spiritual practice.

Categories: : Yoga