No One is Incompetent! Karma Yoga - Transformation Technology

October 30, 2011

In discussing Bhagavad Geeta chapter 3, Guruji, Swami Tejomayanandaji, often refers to an adage in Samskritam:

अमंत्रमक्षरो नास्ति नास्ति मूलमनौषधं ।
अयोग्य पुरुषो नास्ति योजकस्तत्र दुर्लभः ।।

ama.ntramaksharo naasti naasti mUlamanauShadham .
ayogya puruSho naasti yojakastatra durlabhah ..
There is no alphabet(syllable) that cannot become a mantra, no root that cannot become a medicine.
No one is incompetent, only the expert is rare (i.e. who can do make make a mantra of a syllable, a medicine of a root and transform an individual's capability).
Many such adages are to be found in Sūktisudhā. This free translation with any attendant errors is entirely mine.

Chapter 3 lays out the transformation methodology aka karma yoga. The foundation of karma yoga begins with the understanding that everyone acts based on their likes and dislikes (राग द्वेश). While that appears to be perfectly normal, in life there is a constant tension between what the situation demands of us versus what we like to do. For instance, the ubiquitous need for the internet means that the workplace becomes a push to getting the real work done versus the pull of browsing the web for million interesting videos, websites and gems of wisdom. I know my son is is constantly caught between getting the homework and schoolwork done versus chatting or playing Starcraft and War of the Worlds.

The science of action, Karma Yoga, makes it explicitly clear that our obligatory duties (what "must be done", 3-8 says नियतं कुरु कर्मत्वम्) ALWAYS takes priority no matter how attractive the alternatives are. In In the 3rd chapter of the Geeta, starting with the 8th verse and through to the 30th verse, Śrī Kṛṣṇa lays out the logic and the value of Karma Yoga and how effectively it resolves the tension between obligatory duties and likes and dislikes.

In verses 3-20 to 3-26, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains how a true leader becomes a role model to everyone around him. He explains that he himself, has nothing to gain from the world (न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन | - "I have nothing to achieve in this world" 3-22) and yet I "constantly engage in action" (वर्त एव च कर्मणि). "For if I if I do not engage myself in action without rest, all men would follow my path" (3-23).

It is this approach that transforms someone into a leader who can lead the ordinary people. For just as the ordinary man (अविद्वान) is attached to results, the leader is just as intensely engaged in the service to the world (3-25). The leader then transforms those whom he or she leads. Think Gandhiji and the effect he had on the nation. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, describes the attitude in India in 1921 in his autobiography,
It was remarkable how Gandhiji seemed to cast a spell on all classes and groups of people and drew them into one motley crowd stuggling in one direction.

Nationalism is essentially an anti-feeling and it feeds and fattens on hatred and anger against other national groups, and especially against the foreign rulers. There was certainly this hatred and anger in India in 1921 against the British but, in comparison with other countries similarly situated, it was extraordinarily little. Undoubtedly this was due to Gandhiji's insistence on the implications of non-violence.

A demoralized, backward and broken-up people suddenly straightened their backs and lifted their heads and took part in disciplined, joint action on a country-wide scale.
This is the transforming power of Karma Yoga. I have to admit I have lifted the title of this blog from a the title of a book, Transformation Technology, by Guruji, Swami Tejomayanandaji.

Hari Om and Namaskaar until the next post

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