Improve yourself and serve the world through progress—every step you take pulls every one of us with you.
Lord Krishna continues giving Arjuna good reasons for going forward with Karma Yoga as represented by the battle of Kurukshetra-Dharmakshetra, by telling him the beneficial outcome for all, of persisting.
BHAGAVAD GITA, CHAPTER 3, VERSE 20
Having adamantly persevered, perfection was attained by King Janaka, thus holding together and protecting the world. You should do likewise.
Lord Krishna now resorts to historical reference to add authority to what he has taught Arjuna in the previous verses. He calls Arjuna’s attention to King Janaka, the ruler of a kingdom who succeeded in reaching perfection. He was known as “Videha Janaka”—Videha, not identified with the body, Janaka, progenitor (father).
“He tilled the soil with his own hands, and he was also the greatest of the knowers of Truth of his time…Strictly speaking it is almost impossible to work like that for the good of the world from the householder’s position. In the whole of Hindu scriptures there is the single instance of King Janaka in this respect. But you nowadays want to pose as Janakas in every home by begetting children year after year…” — Swami Vivakananda
Why is Lord Krishna bringing up King Janaka? Perhaps to point out to Arjuna, the previously mentioned requirements as having been accomplished by someone known to him and with whom he has a few things in common, such as notoriety, caste, expertise, and the similar responsibilities of protecting the people.
Though having to carry out the rulership of an entire kingdom, King Janaka was not identified with his body or desirous of worldly things. This is no small matter—“In the whole of Hindu scriptures there is the single instance of King Janaka in this respect”—and is why this Yoga was not generally practiced by those bound by the responsibilities of a householder.
The origin of this Yoga is the Indus Valley and the mountain foothills many thousands of years ago. It has been practiced, tried and tested over millennia by accomplished sages who have attained the perfection it promises. Who are we, the newbies of the western world, to think that we are exceptions to this?
Practitioners of this form of Karma Yoga who have reached perfection, have gotten there by divesting themselves of the worldly life and dedicating themselves solely to their spiritual practices. If you are thinking, or hoping, that you are an exception, I would caution you to contemplate the above.
Also, consider King Janaka: (1) an aristocrat with the responsibilities of a ruler, (2) with the duty to protect the people, (3) completely enlightened as to what and who he was, and (4) completely unattached to the things of this world. Look inside yourself and ask, “Do I fit this description? What would these circumstances demand of me, and could I carry them out and still succeed in this practice?”
King Janaka’s singular position in the annals of history as a householder achieving perfection, gives us some idea of the challenges one could expect to encounter (it’s difficult enough for a renunciate!), and why I say…
“Get your ducks in a row now,
in case you decide to take it all the way later.”
Coming this mid-week: Going for God, Conclusion
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),