30. Perfection is
Verily, the renunciation of obligatory action is not proper; the abandonment of the same from delusion is declared to be tamas. (18:7)
Here Krsna uses the very beautiful expression 'niyatam'.
Niyatam is what is ordained.
It also means something which is extraordinarily beautiful, and something that makes things move - hence very often it is translated into 'world order'.
It is the impulse that keeps things as they are, and makes them do what they do i.e. water flow, ice freeze, fire glow, wind blow.
You are the fruit of that impulse.
That you cannot abandon.
Even yajna, dana and tapas, which are essentially human characteristics, do not belong to you because you have cultivated them, but they are determined by niyati.
These qualities are there, not because you want them to be in you in order that you might reach a certain goal, but because that is the only way in which a human being is made.
To lead a natural life means you become completely and totally one with this niyati.
You do not want to defy niyati and you have no consciousness of obeying destiny; you just live in total harmony.
A tree full of luscious fruits is completely different from us - when you have something precious, beautiful or glorious in you, you lock it up, whereas when the fruit becomes really ripe the trees drop it.
That is 'niyati'.
That is as it should be.
He who is free from the egoistic notion, whose intelligence is not tainted (by good or evil), though he slays these people, he slayeth not nor is he bound (by any action). (18:17)
Non-attachment is possible only when the sense of doership is not there.
It is easy to understand.
But if you do not want to understand, it is impossible to understand!
Nobody in the whole universe is going to say: "I am not".
'I am', 'aham bhavana', is correct, but 'ahamkara' is very doubtful.
One who is certain that 'I' is not the doer of this action, that this action is part of niyati, does not cling to the action or to the result - like the blessed tree, when the fruit is ripe, it drops.
It is then that you are totally in niyati, inseparable from niyati, and therefore unattached to it.
Non-attachment, or non-contact, is not an arrogant and isolationist separation from all but a total integration with everything; and therefore the expression 'to be detached' is very defective - though one understands what it means.
To be non-attached is not to be detached, but to realise oneness.
When I am one with you, I am not attached to you, but I am not detached from you.
Therefore the 'buddhi' does not come into contact with anything - not because it stands aloof as a sort of super divinity, but it is one and therefore there is no contact.
It is not an aloofness but an all-oneness.
If that is sort of clear, then the second half of that verse becomes meaningful - otherwise it is dreadful.
... though he slays these people, he slayeth not, nor is he bound (by any action). (18:17)
Even if that person destroys the entire universe, he does nothing and he is not bound.
Therefore, if the tree drops one of its big branches when you are sitting underneath, for meditation, and you are instantly crushed, it does not sin.
Can you also pretend to be like that?
If you cut a branch, the tree stands there absolutely nonresistant.
Can you similarly be totally unaffected by the consequences?
So, hypocrisy will not do here, it is a waste of time.
Only if that is more or less clear can we read epics like the Mahabharata and understand what they mean.
The most crucial message of the Bhagavad Gita is contained in verses forty-five and forty-six of the eighteenth chapter.
Each man devoted to his own duty attains perfection. How he attains perfection while being engaged in his own duty - hear now. (1:45)
He from whom all the beings have evolved and by whom all this is pervaded - worshipping him with his own action, man attains perfection.(18:46)

If you can be totally devoted to whatever you are doing, you will immediately come face to face with your likes and dislikes, and realise that you are not devoted to the action, but to what comes out of it.
If you are totally devoted to the action that happens right now, then you will have freed yourself and also have understood what Krsna said earlier: "Yoga is skill in action."
You will becowe a great expert in whatever you are doing, because your whole being is there in that action.
If there is no 'doership' in this action, if you are observing without creating an observer so that the action alone is, then it becomes total, tremendously efficient, and yoga.
That action itself is perfection, because you have no sense of doership, and it is from God that the action arises.
How does one who is trapped in these two errors of perception - 'I am talking' , 'I am talking to you' - get out of them?
Krsna suggests a method.
"Use every one of these actions a flower and adore the Lord through these actions."
Realise that all these beings towards whom you direct your actions are the offspring of this cosmic being, or God.
The offspring is identical with the parent, so all these beings who are the offspring of God, are God.
Therefore, all these beings that have emanated from God are pervaded by God.
Therefore I am talking - but I am offering this as a flower at the feet of God who dwells in all.
This in itself is not perfection, but it will remove all the stupid ideas, such as 'You are so and so, and I am talking to you in order that ... ', that have crept into your consciousness and veiled the truth.
As this dirt is wiped away, knowledge of the truth arises.
That is, there is the faculty of speech which speaks, there is the faculty of hearing that hears, and there is a faculty of understanding that understands.
'I am' - there are so many 'I am's sitting here.
The faculty of speech expresses through one 'I am', the faculty of understanding expresses through a second 'I am', the faculty of non-understanding expresses through a third 'I am', and the faculty of misunderstanding expresses through a fourth 'I am'.
No problem, everything is correct.
When that understanding arises:
He whose intellect is unattached everywhere, who has subdued his self, from whom desire has fled - he by renunciation, attains the supreme state of freedom from action. (18:49)
- then there is non-attachment, self-control and self-transcendence.
Suddenly something (desire, ambition) that seemed to propel you in various directions, is gone, and 'niyati' has taken its place.
What happens happens.
Then and only then does one become a non-doer of any action whatsoever.
It is then that you can justifiably say that God does everything.
The Lord dwells (abides) in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, causing all beings, by his illusive power, to revolve as if mounted on a machine. (18:61)
This is a great verse.
I think it contains in it the acme of Krsna's humour.
He says: "What do you think you are doing?" Do you think you are fighting? Do you think you do not want to fight? There is a God sitting in your heart and in the hearts of all beings, and you are being made to dance like a puppet."
This is a verse of extraordinary beauty, humour, truth and mystery.
It is quite simple - and yet not so simple.
'God is in the very heart of your whole being, and not only yours, but the entire universe.'
What does it mean?
You cannot understand, because you are caught in this maya, and you are being whirled around as on a merry-go-round - where you are being whirled around so fast that nothing seems to be clear.
That is our fate.
Finally Krsna says:
Abandoning all dharma, take refuge in me alone: I will liberate thee from all sins; grieve not. (18:66)
What are all the dharma mentioned here?
Dharma is something that upholds, that brings us together.
Dharma is also something that is worn, a dress that is put on.
But, deeper than external coverings and dresses are the false notions and ideas 'I am this, I am that; I am doing this, I will not do that'.
Somehow we become confirmed in those notions, even to the extent of regarding them as duty or non-duty.
Where do all these things arise?
In 'me', in memory, in something that aspires for liberation.
There is nothing wrong with aspiring for liberation, provided you know where you are bound.
And it is possible that the very effort of understanding this bondage is liberation.
When this bondage is sought to be understood, there is inner awakening.
Then the guru is seen - whether it is the indwelling presence (or God), or an external personality who is also God in another form.
Then, one by one, all your cravings drop away.
Your eyes are open, they see; your ears are open, they hear; when breath flows through the throat and the vocal cords, they speak; when energy moves in your brain, that is thought.
None of these things belongs to you.
But, it is possible for us to deceive ourselves.
Therefore constantly seek to find God within, and as you seek, 'niyati' will take over.
God cannot be found as long as the 'I am' functions.
As long as you are clinging to the religion called egoism, you cannot find your foothold in Godism.
As you seek to find this God, you have to go beyond this egoism.
There 'niyati' takes over - perfection is.

The Bhagavad Gita - Introduction | EN

Swami Venkatesananda

The Song of God - Introduction - Swami Venkatesananda - enlarged 4th edition – 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa
1998 - 2017