Religious or Secular? Which act is Superior?

July 9, 2013 Comments Off on Religious or Secular? Which act is Superior?

The formula for doing activities, Geeta says, is dropping sanga, attachment, and keeping the mind equal and impartial towards the object-results. If this principle is adopted, then it will apply to all actions, worldly and religious alike. Karmas are the same, when viewed thus. In religious work, your own limbs, mouth, mind and intelligence are employed.
In secular activities also, the same factors alone are involved. If both involvements can be oriented the same way, can either be different from the other, or one be more sacrosanct than the other? Both activities are equally binding or contaminating, or can be equally elevating. The elevating note does not lie in the kind of activities as such, but in the manner in which they are pursued and taken in.
Where is then any superiority for religious work? How can any inferiority be adduced to worldly work? Did not Arjuna fight the battle, as he would have done any religious rite? His battle was not a mere physical activity, as he had conceived it first. It became a full-fledged vicara saadhana itself!
Think well. What Arjuna did not acquire in the 13 years of his austere forest and incognito life, he gained just by the Geeta discussion and dialogue. And what kind of activity was the Geeta discussion? How do you rate it, categorize it?
That is how Krishna has stressed in the 3rd chapter, that all actions done as an asakta, become a full yajna. And such yajna leads one to the Supreme (3.19). Even the rituals and ceremonies have to be done with the same asakti. If the asakti part is thus what makes one’s actions in any field religious or worldly, pure or holy, then can preference in one be justified? Think about it well.
In the 18th chapter, Arjuna raises the question. Are yajna, daana and tapas to be done or not? What purpose do they serve? Krishna says, when these too are done without sanga, then they conduce to purity of mind and sublimation. But the other actions too when done with asakti will lead to purity. The sanga part is what makes your actions contaminated and desecrating. So can we look at any religious exercises or routines with any special relevance? Is not transforming every action to become pure and sublime, the only factor called for?
Look at the sloka 18.6 (of Bhagavadgeeta). Krishna’s formula is to take away the idea of restricting religiousness to particular acts, and implant it in everything and all. He stresses purifying the whole of one’s life and actions. In fact, the sole emphasis of the Geeta discussion is on eliminating undue preference towards religious rituals, and extending the sense of religiosity to everything and all in life. Only then, the spiritual mission will be fulfilled. Whatever religiousness remains, let it, as a character or feature of the person, depending upon his birth, growth and habits.
So a critical evaluation of the rituals and ceremonies, as is done in the Upanishadic discussions, cannot be avoided. In fact, this alone brings the required change in the seeker. And from there alone he can take up his real seeking and saadhana. Reflect more. Do not leave. Be studious. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
[An extract from a correspondence of Poojya Swamiji published in the April 2001 issue of Vicharasethu.]
(c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012



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