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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bhagavad Gita vs Yoga Sutras

The Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras are often referred to as the bibles of yoga, but there is a distinct difference between them.  The Bhagavad Gita (BG) and the Yoga Sutras (YS) part from one another quite distinctly when it comes to violence. 

In the BG Lord Krishna tells warrior Arjuna not to despair over killing his friends and relatives on the battlefield because the mortal body is not permanent.  He explains to Arjuna that there never was a time when you and I or anybody else did not exist.  He goes on to say that there never was a time in the past nor in the future when all of us cease to exist.  No one can destroy what is everlasting.  Although the bodies of the warriors may be destroyed, the true Self remains and is immortal. He encourages Arjuna to carry on the fight.

In the YS Patanjali describes the yamas (five conditions of behavior).  One of these conditions is non-violence.  To be a true yogi one of the most imortant characteristics is to have an unconditional positive regard for everyone and everything.  Ahimsa (non-violence) is the first and foremost of the five yamas.  When this art of love and compassion is mastered one attains the power of peacefulness.  Ahimsa is said to be one of the most important threads for reaching samadhi.

So, how can you kill someone and still have compassion?  In the BG Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna, "If you fail to wage this war of sacred duty, you will abandon your own duty and fame only to gain evil."  Krishna is telling Arjuna that as an honorable warrior you must kill your enemy, but it must be with compassion.  You cannot kill your enemy with hate because you will end up with hate (evil) within yourself.  It is a double-edged sword.

So, killing the enemy is a duty of the warrior but it must be done with compassion or else the warrior will suffer immense psychological problems.  The question, therefore, is how do you kill someone with compassion?  This is where yoga comes in.  Patanjali explains it in the Yoga Sutras.  You have to develop compassion for everyone and everything through practice of the Sutras.  When you have practiced the yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana successfully you will reach samadhi. 

Samadhi is "complete clarity of mind concerning all things at all times" (Sutra IV.29).  With this complete clarity you will see your enemy not as someone you hate but as someone who is the true Self who will live on after death of his body.  This clarity opens consciousness into complete and absolute love for all things no matter what.  All things are one with the true Self therefore it is impossible to kill or eliminate anything.  Everything is present right now.

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