Renunciation on the Path of Love? (Gita 9.28)

Lord Krishna instructing the Bhagavad Gita to ...
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Gita 9.28

The ninth chapter is the center of the Gita. It is the core, the essence, the kernel, the most confidential topic in the book. Thus far in the ninth chapter, however, we have not gotten to the true essence. The true center of the Gita, the deepest core, is the end of the ninth chapter. The first part of the ninth chapter merely introduced the subject and discussed who is and who is not qualified to be understand the core of the Gita and its most confidential secrets. But starting from the 22nd text, Kṛṣṇa began speaking the actual secret of Bhagavad Gita began.

Lets get our bearings straight by first reviewing what has happened so far in this chapter. I will put the text numbers in parenthesis.

The Ninth Chapter So Far

Kṛṣṇa: You are my friend, so I trust you (1). Therefore I am about to tell you the most confidential of all spiritual secrets (2). Those who do not have a trusting relationship with me cannot hope to understand this secret (3).

Arjuna: What is it exactly about me that you feel warrants this trust?

Kṛṣṇa: Because you have achieved what we have discussed so far [up through the end of the 8th chapter]. You have unshakable devotion to me?

Arjuna: How can one gain this qualification.

Kṛṣṇa: First he or she must understand who I really am. I am not ordinary person. Anything you love in this world is merely my energy! Yet I am above and beyond all those things and even your wildest dreams. (4) Everything that brings you happiness and pleasure is my energy – but since I am the source of that energy, even greater happiness and pleasure comes from loving me than comes from loving any object separated from me by illusion. (5)

Arjuna: But the objects in this world, composed of your energy, do not just give happiness and pleasure. They also give sadness and pain. Am I to understand by the same logic that you are also the source of greater sadness and pain than any object could give?

Kṛṣṇa: Pain and sadness comes as a result of divorcing my energy from me. This divorce occurs by your own will, not mine. Therefore the pain results from you, not from me. It results from your wishing to divorce me. Thus although there is pain in my creation, it emanates from the illusion of people trying to exploit my creation – it does not directly emenate from me. Know that I am uncontaminated by the pain in my energies, just as the sky is uncontaminated by the wind. (6)

Arjuna: Why do you allow pain to exist in your energy?

Kṛṣṇa: What to speak of “pain,” when divorced from me even “pleasure” becomes a source of misery. Even your greatest pleasure becomes your worst pain when you lose it, which you inevitably will since everything in my energy is temporarily manifest in endless cycles of creation and destruction. (7)

Arjuna: Why do you allow it?

Kṛṣṇa: It is true that I allow it and sanction it (8), but I cannot be held responsible for sanctioning the nature results of pain and pleasure (9).

Arjuna: Why not?

Kṛṣṇa: Because I am merely the referee in this game you are playing with my energies. I enforce the rules, but is the players (you) who are to be held responsible for winning or losing. (10)

Arjuna: I see.

Kṛṣṇa: That is why I can tell you my secrets, that is why you have my trust and I have yours, because you understand what I have just said. Other people think that I am not an umpire, but just another player. They think that God is competitive and prejudiced like human beings. (11) Naturally, they hate me for the suffering they endure, while other persons I seem to favor with pleasures. If one does not understand that I am completely neutral and merely sanction the just rewards of everyone’s destiny, they will never develop trust and love in me but will come to miserable ruination in a lonely state of perpetual divorce. And they will blame me in vain even for the divorce! (12).

Arjuna: Let’s not discuss such depressing things any longer! Tell me now what happens to a person who does accept that you are neutral and not to blame for the pleasures and pains they experience in your energies?

[comment – the next text is the first place the most confidential secret of Bhagavad Gita begins to be mentioned. But the topic will divert shortly]

Kṛṣṇa: When a soul accepts full responsibility for their pleasures and pains they can start to trust in me and love me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They soon lose interest in divorcing themselves from me and exploiting my energy. Instead they seek to use my energy in a divine way! They Goddess of my divine energies, Śrī Rādhā takes them under her wing and remarries them to me, engaging them fully in the bliss of divine loving service! (13)

Arjuna: What is the nature of a fortunate soul who is under the shelter of Śrī Rādhā and fully loves you?

Kṛṣṇa: They have firmly determined vows to always sing my devotional “kirtana” due to the deep respect they have for devotion, which they cultivate by always engaging in worshipping me. These are the “great souls.”

[comment – with this next question Arjuna diverts the topic from diving further into the most confidential secret for the time being. It is important that Krsna fully explains how to fully understand the most confidential secret before revealing it. Therefore Arjuna directs the conversation towards this more full disclosure.]

Arjuna: There are those who spite you and hold you responsible for their suffering. And then there are those who embrace you. The former are the “bad guys” and the later are the “good guys.” Aren’t there some people who fall in between these two extremes?

Kṛṣṇa: Yes – these are the people who do religious or spiritual things, but ignore me in the process. They forget that the whole point of religion or spirituality is to embrace me with increasingly pure love.” (15)

Arjuna: Can you illustrate with a few examples?

Kṛṣṇa: Here are four examples.

1. People who do religion as if it were a ritual, forgetting that love for me is the essence of every element of the ritual. (16)

2. People who pursue philosophy as though it were a mundane science, forgetting that the whole point of the scientific endeavor is to more deeply appreciate and love me. (17)

3. People who do good deeds as though that were divine in and of itself, not knowing that I am everything good and everything good that can be done, and am therefore the ultimate one whom one should seek to please by doing good things. (18)

4. People who appreciate nature but forget that I am the source of energy within everything they appreciate about it. (19)

Arjuna: What is the result of being “half-good” like these persons?

Kṛṣṇa: They indirectly worship me, so they get a result that is indirectly good. Specifically they get freed from bad karma and rise to heaven to enjoy paradise. (20) When their good karma is thus spent in heaven, they return to the mortal world and are right back where they started (21).

[Comment – feeling that Kṛṣṇa has adequatedly distinguished what sort of person we must become to fully comprehend the deepest secrets of the Gita, he now directs Kṛṣṇa to begin directly disclosing that most confidential secret.]

Arjuna: What is the result of being entirely “good” and taking full shelter of devotional yoga under the wing of the Goddess of Devotion, Śrī Rādhā?

Kṛṣṇa: Those great souls who properly perform religion and spirituality by always being exclusively in divine love with me and fully concentrating directly on loving my transcendental senses – I destroy their every obstacle and provide everything they ever need! (22)

Arjuna: Why does it have to be focused on your transcendental senses. Can’t someone love someone else, or some other god? After all, isn’t everything ultimately you anyway?

Kṛṣṇa: No! Everything is my energy, but nothing except me is me! Yes, those who love other persons and other gods indirectly love me, because all persons and gods are my energy. But real spirituality must not be so indirect! (23)

Arjuna: What happens to such spiritualists?

Kṛṣṇa: They fall from the path.

Arjuna: Why?

Kṛṣṇa: Those who acknowledge me directly, I take direct care of them and see to it that their obstacles and faults do not destroy them. But those who engage in spirituality without directly focusing on loving me do not elicit such a response from me! Therefore their own obstacles and faults destroy them eventually. (24)

Arjuna: But we see and hear that many persons obtain significant results from spiritual practices that do not directly love you.

Kṛṣṇa: Yes, as I said, they attain paradise! But paradise is temporary, those who are wise know this. Those who worship other persons and goals go to those other persons and goals. Such persons are unfit “husbands” because they cannot fully shelter the lover! Therefore eventually they release the lover again to the ocean of mortality. Those who directly love me are loving the only absolute “husband” – when they come to me I never ever cast them away or let them fall. (25)

Arjuna: Aho! Aha! It is wonderful!!! How can one begin to develop this direct loving relationship with you!?

Kṛṣṇa: It is simple. It is just about love, that’s all. Love is the most simple yet profound thing there is. Just offer me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even some water. I will accept the love in your offering and this begins our loving bond which will lead to our “marriage.” (26)

Arjuna: [speechless]

Kṛṣṇa: You are already eating, you are already working, right? Just do the same type of things, but now do them as an effort to please my transcendental senses! This is how a loving relationship begins! (27)

Arjuna: [remains speechless in ecstacy]

Kṛṣṇa: [attempting to recall Arjuna to a normal state] Remember when we discussed true renunciation and true freedom from Karma [chapter three]?

Arjuna: Yes.

Kṛṣṇa: Well, this is the most perfect way to be renounced from sense object and freed from karma – by dedicating all sense objects and all endeavors to pleasing Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead!

Arjuna: Is the result the same as normal selfless karma yoga?

Kṛṣṇa: No! You obtain the result of such yoga – liberation, but you get much more, you actually come to enjoy a wonderful divine loving existence with Me, in person! (28)

More about the 28th Text <- There is a link to the 9th chapter, 28th text of Gita, with our most kind teacher’s explanatory purport.

His explanation of the verse focuses on the fact that Kṛṣṇa uses the word “yukta” (sanyassa-yoga-yukta) in this text. “Yukta” and “yoga” are nearly synonymous. They both mean “linking.” The phrase Kṛṣṇa uses here means, “linked (yukta) to the linking path (yoga) of renunciation (sanyassi)” The implication is that one does not literally need to be on the path of renunciation! One obtains it’s result by linking to it.

How does one “link  to the path of renunciation” without actually becoming a renunciate oneself?

By following the directions given in 9.27, the previous verse: “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform — do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.”

Our grand master, Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī elaborates on this as an important practice of bhakti yoga, in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.255. If you wish to explore this text in it’s context, you can do so here:

In fact this section of Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu is a direct exposition of the texts we are now discussing in Bhagavad Gita! The context there is:

Rūpa Goswāmī has just finished describing 64 things that constitute practice of bhakti yoga. Then, in text 246 of the section, he begins to address things that certainly are not practices of bhakti yoga.

246: Those who are wise and have deep knowledge of Bhakti do not accept practices of Karma to be practices of SAdhana Bhakti.

247: Śrī Rūpa explains that Karma (i.e. “religion” or “proper action.”) is only useful for people who still are not interested in loving God directly. He quotes Bhagavatam 11.20.9 to substantiate this: ““One should practice Karma as long as one hasn’t developed distaste for such things, or faith in things like hearing about me.”

248: Now he addresses the next platform, Jñāna (knowledge and renunciation). He says that these are moderately useful in the very beginning of developing an interest in loving God. But they do not have any place within the practice of Bhakti proper!

249: Why not? Because being scholastic and detached makes the heart very lofty and stoic and difficult to move. Bhakti, however desires a lowly, gentle and soft heart that is easily moved. Therefore renunciation is antithetical to the practice of bhakti!

250: This sounds radical, so he quotes Bhagavatam 11.20.31 – “Certainly knowledge and detachment are not usually beneficial to a yogi endowed with love for me and absorbed in me.”

251: How then does a bhakti yogi become free from karma and sense desires? Sri Rūpa says, that it happens automatically as a result of loving Kṛṣṇa.

252-253: Again he substantiates this by quoting Bhagavatam, 11.20.32-33 – That which comes from karma, from austerity, from knowledge and detachment, from yoga, from charity, from religion, and from other auspicious means, my devotee easily obtains all these from my loving service. Even if he or she somehow desires heaven, liberation, or my abode, he or she gets it.”

254: He then states explicitly: “A person’s attachment to objects, however deep they may be, is usually destroyed when he or she develops taste for worshipping Hari. “

Then comes the verse which Prabhupāda indicates is tantamount to the current Bhagavad Gita text, 255: “Worthy detachment” is to be without attachment for things yet to utilize those that are worthy in relation to Krishna.

And then he contrasts, 256: “Unworthy detachment” is when one in search of liberation totally renounces objects related to Hari, considering them to be material.

So, we do seek “sense gratification” on the path of bhakti yoga. Specifically we seek to gratify the senses of our beloved, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, with the very best sense objects we can create or obtain! This is the perfect “renunciation” for the path of love.

The Gopis are the perfect exemplars of this renunciation. They sacrifice everything that brings any normal girl happiness and security – all just for the sake of pleasing Syamasundar Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

This is why when the Gopis incarnate in this world they appear as renunciates of the highest caliber – such as Rūpa Goswāmī, etc.

Hare Kṛṣṇa.

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