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Expecting quick liberation shows a bloated self-esteem || Acharya Prashant, on Bhagvad Gita (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ ।

ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि । ।

sukha-duḥkhe same kṛitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau

tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi

(Chapter 2, Verse 38)

Treating happiness and sorrow, gain and loss, and conquest and defeat with equanimity, then engage in battle. Thus you will not incur sin.

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एषा तेऽभिहिता साङ्ख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां शृणु ।

बुद्ध्या युक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि । । 39।

eṣhā te ’bhihitā sānkhye buddhir yoge tvimāṁ śhṛiṇu

buddhyā yukto yayā pārthakarma-bandhaṁ prahāsyasi

(Chapter 2, Verse 39)

This Buddhi regarding the self Samkhya has imparted to you. Now listen to Yoga, by following which you will get rid of the bondage of Karma.

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नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते।

स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ।।40।।

nehābhikrama-nāśho ’sti pratyavāyo na vidyate

svalpam apyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt

Here there is no waste of an attempt; nor is there any harm. Even a little of this righteousness saves one from great fear.

(Chapter 2, Verse 40)

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व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन ।

बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम् ।। 41 ।।

vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana

bahu-śhākhā hyanantāśh cha buddhayo ’vyavasāyinām

O scion of Kuru dynasty, in this there is a single, one-pointed conviction. The thought of irresolute ones have many branches indeed and are innumerable.

(Chapter 2, Verse 41)

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यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्चित: ।

वेदवादरता: पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिन: ।। 42 ।।

कामात्मान: स्वर्गपरा जन्मकर्मफलप्रदाम् ।

क्रियाविशेषबहुलां भोगैश्वर्यगतिं प्रति ।। 43 ।

yāmimāṁ puṣhpitāṁ vāchaṁ pravadanty-avipaśhchitaḥ

veda-vāda-ratāḥ pārtha nānyad astīti vādinaḥ

kāmātmānaḥ swarga-parā janma-karma-phala-pradām

kriyā-viśheṣha-bahulāṁ bhogaiśhwarya-gatiṁ prati

They remain engrossed in the utterances of Vedas and declare that nothing else exists; their minds are full of desires and they have heaven as the goal.

(Chapter 2, Verses 42, 43)

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भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम् ।

व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धि: समाधौ न विधीयते ।। 44 ।।

bhogaiśwvarya-prasaktānāṁ tayāpahṛita-chetasām

vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ samādhau na vidhīyate

One-pointed conviction does not become established in the minds of those who delight in enjoyment and affluence, and whose intellect is carried away by that speech. * * *

(Chapter 2, Verse 44)

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त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।

निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ।। 45 ।।

trai-guṇya-viṣhayā vedā nistrai-guṇyo bhavārjuna

nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-kṣhema ātmavān

O Arjuna, the Vedas have the three qualities as their object. You become free from worldliness, free from pairs of duality, ever-poised in the quality of Sattva, without desire for acquisition, and protection and self-collected.

(Chapter 2, Verse 45)

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यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वत: सम्प्लुतोदके ।

तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानत: ।। 46 ।।

yāvān artha udapāne sarvataḥ samplutodake

tāvānsarveṣhu vedeṣhu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ

A Brahmana with realization has that much utility in all the Vedas as a man has in a well when there is a flood all around.

(Chapter 2, Verse 46)

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कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ।। 47 ।।

karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana

mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi

Your right is for actions alone, never for the results. Do not become the agent of the results of action. May you not have any inclination for inaction.

(Chapter 2, Verse 47)

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योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय ।

सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।। 48 ।।

yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya

siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga uchyate

By being established in Yoga, O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), undertake actions, casting off attachment and remaining equipoised in success and failure. Equanimity is called Yoga.

(Chapter 2, Verse 48)

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दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय ।

बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणा: फलहेतव: ।। 49 ।।

dūreṇa hy-avaraṁ karma buddhi-yogād dhanañjaya

buddhau śharaṇam anvichchha kṛipaṇāḥ phala-hetavaḥ

O Dhananjaya, indeed, action is quite inferior to the Yoga of wisdom. Take resort to wisdom. Those who thirst for rewards are pitiable.

(Chapter 2, Verse 49)

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बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते ।

तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योग: कर्मसु कौशलम् ।। 50 ।।

buddhi-yukto jahātīha ubhe sukṛita-duṣhkṛite

tasmād yogāya yujyasva yogaḥ karmasu kauśhalam

Possessed of wisdom, one rejects here both virtue and vice. Therefore devote yourself to Karma-yoga. Yoga is skillfulness in action.

(Chapter 2, Verse 50)

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Question: Even though I try to act without any self interest, I still do expect results. Although I superficially believe that none is my doing, I still feel responsible for things which don’t go as intended. Where am I going wrong? Or is the state explained by Shri Krishna just an ideal that can’t be achieved, but something one must still strive for?

Acharya Prashant (AP): You are not going wrong anywhere; it's just that your expectations are premature and misplaced. That which you are asking for is so very sublime, and bounteous, and beautiful, and fulfilling that it cannot come cheap; it will extract a high price from you.

Remember that any price you pay will not really be big enough to buy out Liberation for you. Liberation is priceless. So even the highest price that you offer for Liberation will be insignificant, but still you have to pay the highest price that you can.

From your side you have to pay the highest price that is possible for you to pay. And the highest price is your entire self, the totality of what you are, the entirety of your entire personality. That’s what you have to pay; ‘pay’ in the sense of disown, give up. Not that this is a just payment for obtaining Liberation. Liberation, we repeat, is priceless. But still you have to make the complete payment from your side, and that entitles you to come to a point where you are equanimous, not influenced by the result, equipoised in success and failure, victory and defeat.

All that requires payment or investment, if you would, and time, and a lot of conscious effort; lot of conscious effort. You will have to fight against yourself. You’ll have to check yourself again and again, and encounter innumerable disappointments.

It seems easy to correct oneself—it really is not.

Inside we all are quite crooked. It takes a lot of determination and effort to straighten and simplify our inside. So do not expect results too early, and be grateful for any partial results that you are obtaining.

When it comes to effort, always say, “Oh! My efforts have always been too little.” When it comes to whatever spiritual fruits you have obtained, always say, “Oh! I have been blessed with much more than what I deserve.”

Remain grateful.

Your effortfulness, coupled with your gratefulness will keep opening doors for you. Lack in either of them, effortfulness or gratefulness, and you will find that you are left only with bitterness and complaints. So keep going, keep improving, keep fighting. It’s a long journey.

Question 2: Acharya Ji, you just now said, “You need to keep fighting; it is a long journey.” So when we reach a point where we can see that we cannot fight anymore, at that point what should we do?

AP: Pause for a while, relax, and then fight even more!

It is a battlefield. Sometimes obviously you will feel tired, sometimes you will feel very strongly that you cannot carry on anymore. Don’t retreat at that point.

Just pause, give yourself a bit of time.

Be determined.

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