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A verse from Gita: Yogic interpretation

In one of the previous posts, we learned about the Vedantic meaning of the below sloka. In this post, we will try to understand the Yogic meaning of the same.

buddhi yuktō jahātīha ubhē sukṛta duṣkṛtau

tasmād yōgayā yujyasva yōgaḥ karmasu kauśalaṁ

The words sukṛta and duṣkṛta in the above verse mean good and bad karma. But from the yogic view, the definition of good and bad karma is entirely different from that of the regular usage. In the yogic sense, karma is the traversal of prana (or life force) in the body.

Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are prominent names in yogic terminology. They are cited in Kundalini Yoga and in the Swara Shastra. Ida represents the Moon and has a cooling effect. When prana traverses through the Ida channel, soft or amiable karma is generated. This is referred to as the good karma.

Pingala represents the Sun and has a heating effect. When prana flows through this channel, the actions performed by a person are cruel. This is referred to as bad karma. Prana primarily flows through one of these channels in all humans at any point of time. Hence, they are forever bound between the acts of good and bad karma.

But, there do exist a few instances when prana flows uniformly in both the channels. It is during these times that the Sushumna channel awakens. The actions performed by a person in this state is known as ‘Dagdha Karma’ and does not result in further consequences. This span of time is highly suitable for meditation.

If one tries to meditate during this time lapse, the mind is easily freed from the clutter of thoughts and concentrates on the third-eye center, which is the epicenter of intellect. When the mind solely focuses on this, the flow of prana in both Ida and Pingala nadis (which represent good and bad karma respectively), is overpowered by the steady flow in Sushumna.

There also exists an alternate dormant and subtle flow of prana through the Sushumna. During this process, the inhalations and exhalations of a person almost come to a standstill. The awakening of Sushumna means rising above the acts of good and bad karma and is known as ‘Kusala Karma’ in Pranayama. As long as a person remains in this state, he is beyond the repercussions of karma. God anticipates humans to engage in such ‘Kusala Karma’.

In this condition, the mind experiences extreme bliss, the pulse slows down and heart beat decelerates. Body-awareness is very subtle to almost non-existent. The flow of thoughts come to a halt. The prana recedes completely into the Sushumna channel. This is the state of ‘Akarma’ where all the limits of karma are crossed.

It means that not only the thoughts of mind, but also the entire bio-system goes into a dormant state. Sustaining for ten minutes in this state is equivalent to eight hours of deep and sound sleep. One does not feel any sluggishness or fatigue after coming out of this state. From this point of view, ‘Kusala Karma’ is the ability to redirect the path of prana from Ida and Pingala channels into Sushumna and balance it at the third-eye center.

Being able to perform this ‘Kusala Karma’ is Yoga. Due to this, one goes beyond the realm of good and bad deeds and remains steady in the state of one’s own Self. According to Lord Sri RamaKrishna, pure intellect and pure self are one and the same.

Pure intellect awakens when the mind is free of thoughts and when there is minimal movement of prana in the body. In that state, one can realize his own Self. This state is beyond the ambit of karma, so a Yogi who can remain in this state is said to be above the vagaries of karma.

So, the Yogic interpretation is,

jahātīha ubhē sukṛta duṣkṛtau = to overcome the ida and pingala nadis,

buddhi yuktō = concentrate on the third-eye center which is the epicenter of intellect,

tasmād yōgayā yujyasva = perform such yoga,

yōgaḥ karmasu kauśalaṁ = this is Kusala Karma, this is Yoga.

This is the hidden meaning of this sloka.

In this state, one is free of all desires. He reaches a state beyond karma as the bondages of love and hatred are severed. Where is the bondage of karma for a person whose body and prana are at repose? How does the result of karma bind a person who has mastered all his senses?

|| yadā sarvē pramucyantē kāmā yasya hṛdi sthitāḥ

atha martyō amṛtō bhavathi yetāvadyanu śāsanam|| (Kathopanishad)

|| yadā sarvē prabhidyantē hṛdayasyēha granthayaḥ

atha martyō amṛtō bhavathi yetāvadyanu śāsanam|| (Kathopanishad)

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Gayatri K, which was originally posted in on August 21, 2009. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

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