“How much easier is this yoga for Brahmans and royal sages! So having acquired this temporal and unhappy world, devote yourself to Me, Arjuna! Devoted to Me, bowing down reverently to Me, having Me as your highest goal, united with Me, you will surely reach the Highest Goal.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verses 33-34
How much easier it is then, for Brahmans and royal sages! So having acquired this temporal and unhappy world, devote yourself to Me!
Lord Krishna has been teaching Arjuna the practice of yoga, and in doing so He makes it synonymous with the worship of Himself as Absolute God, thus making yoga a ‘God-practice’. In the previous verse (32) and this one, He reveals that this yoga is easier for some than others, which He describes, but that anyone can do it successfully through devotion to God.
“This temporal and unhappy world”
In this verse we have God as Lord Krishna calling this world ‘unhappy’ and making devotion to God an imperative antidote. Although we know that our time in this world is temporary and can accept this, in this our own day and age, we resist hearing statements of an “unhappy world” and put them down as ‘negative’. We go on to reassure ourselves that everything is perfect and just as it should be, and try to take a more ‘positive’ stance. But clearly, Lord Krishna is not going to pull any punches. He tells it like it is to motivate us to get on with this yoga, this God-practice, while we can, so we can reach liberation from having to return.
How much easier it is for those of auspicious births—upper caste men and royal sages! So now in this temporary and unhappy world, while you have a chance, devote yourself to Me!
Lord Krishna is telling Arjuna that, being of royal birth, he’s got it made. He has advantages other, more unfortunate folks don’t have (vs. 32). Yet they can accomplish the very thing he has been resisting on several counts (in chapter one). Even though he is a warrior and brave on the field, he has hesitated to go forward with this yoga, and Krishna is urging him (and us) onward.
Devoted to Me, bowing down reverently to Me, having Me as your highest goal, united with Me, you will surely reach the Highest Goal.
- Highest Goal – the Sanskrit also means ‘the final end, chief objective or final aim, finished’.
Lord Krishna reiterates to Arjuna, his description of ‘worship’ as surrendering oneself solely to Him, Absolute God. By this means Arjuna will become united (yoga) with Him. This will take him to the Highest Goal. There being nothing higher, Arjuna (and ourselves) will reach the finish-line liberated from death and rebirth, the journey completed.
What is it about bowing down before God, God-images, Gurus and Holy People that we westerners find so objectionable? This attitude strikes me as silly.
When I was given my first initiation, even though I had never seen or heard of bowing down, never heard of swamis or even yoga, before I even know what hit me, I had bowed down before this Master with my body fully outstretched on the floor and grasping his feet. I was flooded with love and bliss (there just isn’t a better word) and given experience after experience, and pieces of knowledge, one after the other, until I was steeped in wonder and joy.
From that time to now, I bow down at every opportunity. Done in the spirit of loving worship of God, that is what I get: God, the bliss and joy of God. I get drunk with it. Once I even found myself pranaming to students and had the same experience. But I had to stop doing that because they were disturbed about it. One student even left and never came back. Human beings are, I think, the greatest mystery on earth.
“Bowing down reverently to Me”
Lord Krishna, who is teaching yoga to Arjuna, is Arjuna’s guru. It is customary to make this pranam by bowing down before Guru and images representative of God. By putting your head at the feet of God or Guru, you also honor your Real Self, for they are all the same. The willingness to make this gesture of devotion is what sends you forward to more advanced stages of yoga and Self realization.
At the very least, you show your respect. Giving your ego a jolt by placing it at the feet of someone other than yourself, you open yourself to receiving more from the teachings of a guru than you otherwise would do. You draw the Truth to yourself in this way.
This gesture of pranama is illustrated by a choice that Arjuna made earlier in the story of the Mahabharata:
Arjuna demonstrated his loving devotion for Lord Krishna by placing himself at Krishna’s feet in pranama. Upon Lord Krishna’s awakening, Arjuna was the first to be seen by Lord Krishna, thus giving Arjuna first choice between Krishna’s armies or Krishna Himself. Arjuna chose his guru instead of the much needed armies.
This surrender resulted in Lord Krishna driving Arjuna’s chariot for him. To drive the chariot, Krishna seats Himself in the front of the chariot in a lower position, while Arjuna stands in the higher position behind Him.
Now do you begin to see the significance of this custom?
Reaching the Highest Goal of Yoga
“Having Me as your highest goal, united with Me”
If you have God/Krishna as your highest goal, you will become united with That. If you cannot even pranam to That, how do you expect to ever reach That?
By bowing down reverently to God, God will drive your chariot, and you will become united with God. “You will surely reach the Highest Goal”
You get what you worship.
You get what you surrender to.
End of Chapter Nine
The Secret Science of Royal Yoga
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
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