CHENNAI: The Bhagavad Gita lays stress on the paths of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti as effective in one’s search for liberation. While comparing the paths of Karma and Jnana, Lord Krishna proves wrong Arjuna’s premise that only Sanyasis are eligible to gain Jnana and affirms that in whatever way of life one may be placed, Moksha is attainable if one does one’s Karma with sincerity and to the best of his ability, pointed out Swami Omkarananda in a lecture.
The path of Jnana requires a high level of maturity in one’s thought and actions and demands renunciation of desires. An average person without this mental maturity opting for this path is sure to flounder and fail. But Karma is shown to be the safest and most suitable path for the majority of householders and simple folk.
The ascetic’s way of life, characterised by ochre robes, compulsory meditation, study of scriptures, etc., is indicative of the effort to rise above likes and dislikes towards worldly objects and aim for renunciation. But the challenge of distancing oneself from worldly attractions can be met even by a householder engaged in a social or economic activity. Adopting the right spirit and attitude to life is what really matters in one’s effort to gain the knowledge of the self. A householder can develop a Sanyasi’s mental makeup without adopting a Sanyasi’s life for this purpose.
The path of Karma gives an opportunity to interact with others, give vent to emotions and desires, etc., when one is engaged in daily activities. Such an exposure helps one to acquire the skill to deal with joy and pain, friend and foe, likes and dislikes, success and failure, etc., and this in turn gradually purifies the mind. One slowly learns to remain undisturbed by the fickle pulls of the mind and the outside world and develops the ability to maintain equanimity. Such a state of mind leads to God realisation.
He who strives to rise above likes and dislikes, and is keen not to hurt others or cause pain to them, is also aiming towards renunciation. The wise know that the goal in both Jnana and Karma is the same and only the foolish and the ignorant assume that there is a difference between the two.