In Bhagavata Purana, Sri Krishna’s reply to Uddhava:
SKANDHA XI. CHAP. 20.
Uddhava said: —
“Karma is to be performed and Karma is not to be performed — both are Thy injunctions in the Vedas. The Vedas speak of merits and demerits in connection with Karma. They speak of Varna and Âsrama, of differences in time, space, age and objects, of Svarga and Naraka.
“The sense of right and wrong is not innate but it is acquired from the scriptures, and the same scriptures undermine all ideas of difference. All this is confounding to me.”
Shri Krishna replied: —
“I have spoken of three paths leading to the attainment of Moksha by men — Jnâna, Karma and Bhakti Yogas. There is no other means what so ever of attaining Moksha. Jnâna Yoga is for those that are disgusted with the performance of Karma and so give it up.
“Karma Yoga is for those that are not disgusted with the performance of Karma but are attached to it.
“He who perchance becomes fond of what is said or spoken of Me, but has no aversion for Karma nor has any undue attachment to it is fit for Bhakti Yoga.
“Perform Karma so long as you do not feel disgust for it or as long as you are not drawn by love for me. True to your duties, perform Yajnas but without any selfish desires. Do not perform prohibited Karma. Then you shall cross the limits of both Svarga and Naraka.
“By the performance of one’s own duties, the purified man may acquire pure wisdom (Jnâna) and Bhakti.
“The dwellers of Svarga wish for the human body and so the dwellers of Naraka. For that body is a means to the attainment of of Jnâna and Bhakti both, not so the Svarga body or Naraka body.
“The far-sighted man does not wish for Svarga or Naraka. He does not even wish for human existence. For connection with the body causes selfish distractions.
“The sage knows the body as leading to desired for ends. But he realises at the same time its transitory character. He therefore loses no time in striving for Moksha before the approach of death. Even so the bird loses all attachment for its nest and flies away free and happy before the man who strikes at the tree succeeds in felling it.
“The human body which is the primal source of all attainments is a well built boat, so hard to secure and so cheap when once attained. The Guru is at the helm of this boat, and I am the favorable wind that drives it. The man that does not cross the ocean of births with such a boat is a killer of self.
“Jnâna: — When a man feels disgust for karma and becomes dispassionate and when his senses are controlled, he should practise concentration of mind.
“When in the act of concentration, the mind suddenly goes astray and becomes unsettled, you should bring it back under the control of self, with unremitting efforts, after allowing it to go in its wandering course a little.
“Never neglect however to check the course of the mind with your Prânas and senses all controlled. With the help of Sâtvic Buddhi bring the mind under the control of self.
“This control of the mind is the highest yoga. The horseman slackens the reins at first but never lets go the reins. Reflect on the creative manifestation of all objects and then the contrary process of their dissolution, according to the Sânkhya method. Do this till the mind attains calm.
“By cultivating a sense of disgust, by the growth of dispassion, by constant pondering over the teachings of the Guru, the mind gives up its delusion.
“By practising Yâma and other ways of Yoga, by discrimination of self and by worshipping Me, the mind is able to think of the Supreme.
“If by loss of mental balance, the Yogi does some improper act he should burn up the impurity by Yoga alone, but not by any other means (not by expiatory rites. Śridhara)
“Adherence to the particular path of one’s own following is the right thing. People have been taught to distinguish between right and wrong, not because the acts are not all impure by their very nature but because the distinction is necessary to regulate the acts themselves with a view to cause a final abandonment of all attachments to them”. (It may be said that according to the scriptures, Nitya Karma (acts ordained to be daily performed) and Naimittika Karma (acts ordained to be occasionally performed) purify the mind. Hence they are right (guna). The killing of animals and such other acts make the mind impure. Hence they are wrong (dosha). Expiatory acts (Prâyaschitta) are required to be performed in order to remove the consequences of wrong acts. Therefore Prâyaschitta is a right thing (guna). How can impurities be destroyed by means of Yoga then and not by means of Prâyaschitta: therefore it is said that what is called Guna (right) and Dosha (wrong) by injunctions and prohibitions, is only a regulation of acts. The purport is this. The impurities of a man are not the outcome of his own inclinations. Man is impure through his natural tendencies. It is not possible for him all on a sudden to have disinclination for all actions. Therefore “Do this,” “Do not do this,” these injunctions and prohibitions only put a restriction upon the inclinations of a man and by this means, they lead to disinclination. The Yogis have no inclinations. The rules of Prâyaschitta are therefore not meant for them. Śridhara.)
Bhakti: — “He who has reverential faith in all that is said about Me, and who feels disgust for all actions, who knows that desires are identical with misery, but is yet in-capable of renouncing them, such a man should worship Me, with sincere devotion and firm faith. Though gratifying his desires, he should not have any attachment for them, knowing that they lead to misery in the end. Those that constantly worship Me according to Bhakti yoga as already expounded by Me, have all the desires of their heart destroyed as I myself dwell in their heart. The bondage is broken asunder, doubts all cease to exist, the accumulated actions fade away, when I, the Âtmâ of all, am seen. My Bhakta speedily attains every thing that is attained by other means, Svarga, Moksha or even My own abode, if he has any desire for any of these. But My Bhaktas who are solely devoted to Me do not desire any thing even if it be offered by Me, not even final liberation. They are beyond the limits of Guna and Dosha.”
GUNA AND DOSHA OR RIGHT AND WRONG
SKANDHA XI. CHAP. 21.
Those who do not follow the Paths of Bhakti, Jnâna and Karma, but who only seek paltry desires become subject to rebirths [For those that are matured in Jnâna and Bhakti, there is neither Guna (right) nor Dosha (wrong). For those that practise Disinclination, the performance of Nitya and Naimittika Karma is Guna, for it leads to the purification of the mind. The non-performance of such Karma and the performance of prohibited Karma are Dosha, for they give rise to impurities of the mind. Prâyaschitta counteracts such Dosha, and therefore it is Guna. For those pure men that are fixed in the Path of Jnâna, the practice of Jnâna is Guna; Bhakti is Guna to them that are fixed in the path of Bhakti. What is opposed to Jnâna and Bhakti is Dosha to the followers of those two Paths. All this has been said before. Now Guna and Dosha are detailed for those that do not follow the Paths, but seek their selfish ends. Śridhara]. Devotion to the path of one’s following is Guna. The reverse is Dōsha. This is the proper definition of Guna and Dosha (Guna and Dosha are relative terms. They do not appertain to the thing itself. Śridhara).
Purity (Sûddhi) or Impurity (Asûddhi), Right (Guna) or Wrong (Dōsha), Auspicious (Sûbha) or Inauspicious (Asûbha) are terms applied to the same objects, in relation to religion (Dharma), Society (Vyavahara) and living (Yâtrâ), respectively.
I have explained Âchâra (rules of life) for those that want to be guided by Dharma (Sanctional religion). (Shri Krishna refers here to the works of Manu and other Smriti writers).
The body of all beings is composed of the five elements (earth, water &c). They are all ensouled by Âtmâ. Though men are all equal, the Vedas give different names and forms to their bodies (saying this is Brâhmana, this is Sudra, this is Grihasthâ, this is Sanyâsî) with a view to do good to them. (The object is to put a limit to the natural inclinations and thereby to secure Dharma, Artha, Kâma and Moksha. Śridhara). Similarly classification is made of time, space and other things, solely with the object of regulating actions (Karma.) Thus those lands are impure where the black deer do not roam (Details are not given for which read the original).
“Those that perform Yajna attain Svarga.” Sayings like these do not speak of final bliss. They are only tempting words really meant for the attainment of Moksha, just like words said to a child to induce him to take medicine (The father says; “Eat this Nimba — a bitter drug. I shall give you this sweet meat.” The child takes the medicine. But the sweet meat is not what he really gets, for his real gain is recovery from disease).
From their very birth, mortals are attached to some objects of desire, to their lives and powers and to their own people. But these are only sources of misery in the future. Why should the Vedas then teach attachment to such things? Some wrong-minded people say so without knowing the purport of the Vedas. They are deluded by the performance of fire sacrifices, and they resort to Pitri Yâna (i.e. they are drawn to rebirths on the Earth after temporary enjoyment of Svarga). They do not know their own abode, which am I as seated in their heart, from whom the universe proceeds. Not knowing the real meaning of the Vedas, they worship Indra and other Devas and perform Yajnas at which animals are sacrificed. Parâ, Pasyanti and Madhyamâ remain deep and unfathomable like the ocean and only Vaikhari becomes manifest in the Vedas originating in Pranava and appearing through the letters of the alphabet and the Metres. Even that Vaikhari is not properly understood by men. (The Vedas form the sound manifestation of Íshvara. That sound has four divisions. Parâ, which finds manifestation only in Prâna, Pasyanti, which finds manifestation in the mind, Madhyamâ which finds manifestation in the Indriyas, and Vaikhari which finds manifestation in articulate expression. Those who have mental vision can only find out the first three. But the Vedas as expressed in language are also difficult to understand.) Further details are given, which are not reproduced.
SKANDHA XI. CHAP. 22.
Uddhava asked: — “How many Tatvas (elemental principles) are there? The Rishis give the number differently.”
Sri Krishna replied: —
“The discussion about the number is useless. The principles are interpenetrating. Their order and their number are therefore differently understood.”
Uddhava asked: —
“Prakriti and Purusha though different by themselves are interdependent. They are never seen separately. Âtmâ is seen in Prakriti (body) and Prakriti is seen in Âtmâ (Where is then the difference between body and Âtmâ?)
“This is my doubt.”
Sri Krishna replied: —
“Prakriti and Purusha are essentially different.”
PRAKRITI AND PURUSHA.
SKANDHA XI. CHAP. 22.
(1). Prakriti is subject to manifestation.
(2). It is subject to transformation.
(3). It consists of the transformations of the Gunas.
(4). It is various, — broadly speaking threefold, Adhyâtma, Adhi-bhûta and Adhi-daiva.
(5). It is not self manifest.
Âtmâ is one, immutable and self manifest.
Ahankâra is at the root of all doubt and delusion. They last as long as the mind is turned away from me (Excerpts from “A study of the Bhagavata Purana or Esoteric Hinduism”).