I know I know, I keep coming back to this question of Surrender in yoga. Something just doesn't smell right, sets my old philosophers spidy sense a tingling, surrendering what, to what ( and that's without even starting on the preposition).
I could be completely wrong of course but for now I want to keep teasing it, picking away at it, testing it.
1-7 Pratyaksha anumana agamah pramanani
Right knowledge is that by which a thing is made clear to you. It is these three things: direct perception, inference and/or scriptures.
So my thinking went like this.
Surrender is currently associated with yoga but has this always been the case. Is it perhaps a modern preoccupation, an Ashtanga thing, something Jois stressed or perhaps Krishnamacharya.
No such luck, wherever I seemed to turn there was surrender, started to feel I might have been on dodgy ground.
Back it goes all the way to the Gita. The Gita..... ever thought there was something ....fishy about the Gita. Beautiful beautiful book but doesn't it also sound a little too .... familiar?
Apocrypha..... I kind of have this image of a handful of scrolls turning up. 'The Book of Thomas' perhaps, Old suspicious Tom having a chat with Jesus who then reveals himself in all his glory.
Axial Age, not surprising.
OK. So surrender goes back to the Gita but what about before then, the Yoga Upanishads, the Veda's. Sometimes it appears sometimes not which makes me think it might have something to do with the preoccupations of the translator.
By the way, Juan Mascaro, the famous early translator of the Gita was supposedly much influenced by the King James version of the bible, all that praise him praise him we come across in his version, no wonder my spidy sense was set a tingling, for example ( from his penguin classic translation )
Offer all thy works to God, throw off selfish bonds, and do thy work. No sin can then stain thee, even as waters do not stain the leaf of the lotus. (p. 28; chapter 5: 10)
And do thy duty, even if it be humble, rather than another's, even if it be great. To die in one's duty is life: to live in another's is death. (p. 20. Ch. 3: 35)
and this on surrender from his introduction
All life is action, but every little finite action should be a surrender to the Infinite, even as breathing in seems to be receiving of the gift of life, and the breathing out a surrender into the infinite Life. Every little work in life, however humble, can become an act of creation and therefore a means of salvation, because in all true creation we reconcile the finite with the Infinite, hence the joy of creation. (from the introduction)
No wonder we're so fixated on surrender in yoga, lays it on pretty thick.
...there I paused.
Until this week when I heard a BBC Radio 4 'In our Time' show on the Gita itself. I've added a link but I'm not sure you can listen to it outside the UK. The format is a discussion with three scholars on a different topic each week. Last week was on The Minoans, the week before was on the poem In Memoriam, past shows have been on the Cogito, Custer, The anatomy of melancholy.... you get the idea. Anyway, in the show, right at the end Jessica Frazier who\s now my alma mata mentioned that the idea of Yoga had changed in different periods, at the time of the vedas, the Upanishads and ....the Gita.
So I'm not necessarily in denial or intricate avoidance it seems.... well I might be but there's a genuine discourse, a debate, spidy sense feels a little justified.
This weekend I've been doing a little research, came across the Anugita, did you know, there's a second Gita, comes at the end of the Mahabharata.
I also came across reference to a book The Gita as It Was: Rediscovering the Original Bhagavadgita Book by Phulgenda Sinha; 1987. It's out of print but there are still used copies floating around Amazon, I have one on the way. ( turns out it's available on scribd HERE, Thanks Maya).
There's a discussion of it over at Indiadivine
'... According to Sinha the Gita is based upon the Karika of Kapila. On page 130, Phulgenda writes:
"The total number of versus of the original Gita is 84. The original begins with verse number 28 of the Bhagavadgita and ends with verse 43 in Chapter III. Thus, the content of the original Gita is found within the first three chapters of the extant Bhagavadgita. The remaining fifteen chapters (from Ch. IV to XVIII), containing 538 versus, have been interpolated.
...There are 162 verses in the first three chapters of the Bhagavadgita, of which 78 verses are additions and only 84 are original.
... Sinha lists the sequence as: Chapter I, 28-34, 37, 40, 46, and 47. Chapter II, 3, 11-31, 34-36, 39-41, 48, 50, 53, 56-58, 60, and 64-70. Sinha says: "Verse 39 explains the difference between Samkhya and Yoga. Upon hearing the inspiring reply of Krishna, Arjuna raises the question in two verses (Ch. III, 1-2) about the superiority of knowledge or action. In answering Arjuna's question, Krishna explains the paramount importance of action in life and the means of performing one's dut, acheiving social justice, and setting an honorable precedent. the teaching of Krishna is based on Samkhya and Yoga and takes up 31 verses of Ch. III, 3-9, 16-21, 23-29, 32-35, 38-40, and 42-43".'
Here's a clearer layout in case you want to read for yourself, the Gita..... as it was.
Ch. I 28-34,37,40, 46-47.
Ch. II 3, 11-31, 34-36, 39-41, 48, 50, 53, 56-58, 60, 64-70.
Ch. III 1-9, 16-21, 23-29, 32-35, 38-40, 42-43.
Now what I find particularly interesting is that when you read the Gita in this way it seems to fit much more clearly with Ramaswami's alternative derivation of yoga as coming from yuja....
'... yoga can also be derived from the root yuja and mean samadhi or samadhana, "to put in place perfectly".... Thus yoga by this definition, would mean putting all mental energies in place, or harnessing mental energies without any dissipation. This definition is different from the earlier derivation of the word yoga from the root yujir, meaning "unity" (yujir yoga).
Based on this interpretation the yoga of Patanjali is a system of practices that lead to the total harnessing of mental energy without any dissipation whatsoever (nirodha "completely contained") One can note that it is not unity with a higher principle that is aimed for in this form of yoga, but rather the removal of all the distractions of the mind.... One system talks of unity the other of freedom'
Yoga for the Three stages of Life. Chapter III, What is yoga. p34-35 Srivatsa Ramaswami
Which was one of the reasons I went to study with him in the first place ( See this post ).
I should point out here that I have no idea of Ramaswami's thoughts on this, for all I know he's happy with the Gita as it is now rather than as it supposedly was and of course the academics are having a field day asserting and disputing the validity of what is or isn't the original Gita anyway.
And surrender has been wrapped up with yoga for a thousand years or more, so you can go along with that. My point though is that perhaps it doesn't necessarily have to be, Yoga got along quite nicely thank you very much without the concept of surrender, just as I seem to be.
Oh and it seems there's an original Yoga Sutras too, all that about Ishvara, 100 slokas or so.... yep you guessed it, they added that too.......perhaps.
NB trying to make up a version of how the Gita would read in this 'format' hope to post it tomorrow.
So here it is, the supposed original Bhagavad Gita
Ch. I 28-34,37,40, 46-47.
Ch. II 3, 11-31, 34-36, 39-41, 48, 50, 53, 56-58, 60, 64-70.
Ch. III 1-9, 16-21, 23-29, 32-35, 38-40, 42-43.
Bhagavad gita, as it was?Sinha's verses outlined above taken from the online edition HERE ( but remember this is not Sinha's own translation, still waiting for his book to arrive, this should give us a general idea however).
Arjuna was overcome with great compassion
And sorrowfully said:
O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen standing
With a desire to fight,
My limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry.
My body quivers
And my hairs stand on end.
The bow, Gaandeeva, slips from my hand
And my skin intensely burns.
My head turns,
I am unable to stand steady
And, O Krishna,
I see bad omens.
I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle.
I desire neither victory
Nor pleasure nor kingdom,
O Krishna. What is the use of the kingdom,
Or enjoyment, or even life, O Krishna?
Because all those, for whom we desire kingdom,
Enjoyments, and pleasures,
Are standing here for the battle,
Giving up their lives and wealth.
Teachers, uncles, sons, grandfathers,
Maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons,
Brothers-in-law, and other relatives.
Therefore, we should not kill our brothers,
The sons of Dhritaraashtra.
How can we be happy
After killing our kinsmen, O Krishna?
With the destruction of the family,
The eternal family traditions are destroyed,
And immorality prevails
Due to the destruction of family traditions.
It would be far better for me
If the sons of Dhritaraashtra should kill me
With their weapons in battle
While I am unarmed and unresisting.
Sanjaya said: Having said this in the battle field
And casting aside his bow and arrow,
Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot
with his mind overwhelmed with sorrow.
Do not become a coward, O Arjuna,
Because it does not befit you.
Shake off this weakness of your heart
And get up (for the battle), O Arjuna.
Krishna said: You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief,
And yet speak the words of wisdom.
The wise grieve neither
For the living nor for the dead.
There was never a time when I, you,
Or these kings did not exist;
Nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future.
Just as the Atma acquires a childhood body,
A youth body, and an old age body during this life,
Similarly Atma acquires another body after death.
The wise are not deluded by this.
The contacts of the senses with the sense objects
Give rise to the feelings of heat and cold,
And pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent.
Therefore, endure them, O Arjuna.
Because the calm person,
Who is not afflicted by these feelings
And is steady in pain and pleasure,
Becomes fit for immortality, O Arjuna.
There is no nonexistence of the Sat And no existence of the Asat.
The reality of these two
Is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth.
Know That, by which all this is pervaded,
To be indestructible.
No one can destroy the indestructible.
Bodies of the eternal, imperishable,
And incomprehensible soul
Are said to be perishable.
Therefore, fight, O Arjuna.
The one who thinks that Atma is a slayer,
And the one who thinks that Atma is slain,
Both are ignorant,
Because Atma neither slays nor is slain.
The Atma is neither born
Nor does it die at any time,
nor having been it will cease to exist again. I
t is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval.
The Atma is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.
O Arjuna, how can a person
Who knows that the Atma is indestructible, eternal,
Unborn, and imperishable,
kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed?
Just as a person puts on new garments
After discarding the old ones, Similarly Atma acquires new bodies
After casting away the old bodies.
Weapons do not cut this Atma,
Fire does not burn it,
Water does not make it wet,
And the wind does not make it dry.
This Atma cannot be cut, burned, wetted, or dried up.
It is eternal, all pervading,
Unchanging, immovable, and primeval.
The Atma is said to be unmanifest,
Unthinkable, and unchanging.
Knowing this Atma as such you should not grieve.
If you think that this (body) takes birth
And dies perpetually, even then, O Arjuna,
You should not grieve like this.
Because, death is certain for the one who is born,
And birth is certain for the one who dies.
Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.
All beings, O Arjuna, are unmanifest
Before birth and after death.
They are manifest between birth and death only.
What is there to grieve about?
Some look upon this Atma as a wonder,
Another describes it as wonderful, And others hear of it as a wonder.
Even after hearing about it no one actually knows it.
O Arjuna, the Atma that dwells in the body of all (beings)
Is eternally indestructible.
Therefore, you should not mourn for any body.
Considering also your duty as a warrior
You should not waver.
Because there is nothing more auspicious
For a warrior than a righteous war.
People will talk about your disgrace forever.
To the honored, dishonor is worse than death.
The great warriors will think
That you have retreated from the battle out of fear.
Those who have greatly esteemed you
Will lose respect for you.
Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words
And scorn your ability.
What could be more painful than this?
The wisdom of Saamkhya
Has been imparted to you, O Arjuna.
Now listen to the wisdom of Karma-yoga
Endowed with which you will free yourself
From the bondage of Karma.
In Karma-yoga no effort is ever lost,
And there is no harm.
Even a little practice of this discipline
Protects one from great fear.
Those who are resolute
Have only one thought (of Self-realization),
But the thoughts of the irresolute
Are endless and many-branched, O Arjuna.
Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna,
With your mind attached to the Lord,
Abandoning (worry and) attachment to the results,
And remaining calm in both success and failure.
The equanimity of mind is called Karma-yoga.
A Karma-yogi gets freedom
From both vice and virtue in this life itself.
Therefore, strive for Karma-yoga.
Working to the best of one's abilities
Without getting attached to the fruits of work
Is called (Nishkaama) Karma-yoga.
When your intellect,
That is confused by the conflicting opinions
And the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas,
Shall stay steady and firm with the Self,
Then you shall attain Self-realization.
A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow,
Who does not crave pleasures, and who is free
From attachment, fear, and anger;
Such a person is called a sage of steady Prajna.
Those who are not attached to anything,
Who are neither elated by getting desired results
Nor troubled by undesired results,
Their Prajna is deemed steady.
When one can completely withdraw
The senses from the sense objects
As a tortoise withdraws its limbs,
Then the Prajna of such a person
Is considered steady.
Restless senses, O Arjuna,
Forcibly carry away the mind
Of even a wise person
Striving for perfection.
A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects
With senses that are under control
And free from likes and dislikes,
All sorrows are destroyed
Upon attainment of tranquillity.
The intellect of such a tranquil person
Soon becomes completely steady.
There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception
To those whose senses are not under control.
Without Self-perception there is no peace;
And without peace there can be no happiness.
The mind, when controlled by the roving senses,
Steals away the Prajna as a storm takes away a boat
On the sea from its destination, the spiritual shore.
Therefore, O Arjuna,
One's Prajna becomes steady
Whose senses are completely withdrawn
From the sense objects.
A yogi is aware of the thing (or Atma)
About which others are unaware.
A sage who sees is unaware
Of the experience (of sense objects)
About which others are aware.
One attains peace in whose mind
All desires enter without creating any disturbance,
As river waters enter the full ocean
Without creating a disturbance.
One who desires material objects is never peaceful.
If You consider that transcendental knowledge
is better than work
Then why do You want me to engage
in this horrible war, O Krishna?
You seem to confuse my mind by apparently conflicting words.
Tell me, decisively, one thing by which I may attain the Supreme.
In this world, O Arjuna, a twofold path of Sadhana has been stated by Me in the past.
The path of Self-knowledge (Jnana-yoga) for the contemplative,
And the path of unselfish work (Karma-yoga) for the active.
One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma
by merely abstaining from work.
No one attains perfection by merely giving up work.
Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment.
Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed,
by the Gunas of nature.
The deluded ones, who restrain their organs of action
but mentally dwell upon the sense enjoyment,
are called hypocrites.
The one who controls the senses by the mind and intellect,
and engages the organs of action to Nishkaama Karma-yoga,
is superior, O Arjuna.
Perform your obligatory duty,
because action is indeed better than inaction.
Even the maintenance of your body
would not be possible by inaction.
Human beings are bound by Karma
other than those done as Yajna (sacrifice).
Therefore, O Arjuna, do your duty efficiently
as a service or Seva to Me,
free from attachment to the fruits of work.
The one who does not help to keep the wheel of creation
in motion by sacrificial duty, and who rejoices in sense pleasures,
that sinful person lives in vain, O Arjuna.
The one who rejoices in the Self only,
who is satisfied with the Self,
who is content in the Self alone,
for such a (Self-realized) person there is no duty.
Such a person has no interest, whatsoever,
in what is done or what is not done.
A Self-realized person does not depend on anybody for anything.
Therefore, always perform your duty efficiently
and without attachment to the results,
because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme.
King Janaka and others attained perfection
by Karma-yoga alone.
You should perform your duty with a view to guide people
and for the universal welfare (of the society).
Because, whatever noble persons do, others follow.
Whatever standard they set up, the world follows.
Because, if I do not engage in action relentlessly,
O Arjuna, people would follow My path in every way.
These worlds would perish if I do not work,
and I shall be the cause of confusion and
destruction of all these people.
As the ignorant work, O Arjuna,
with attachment (to the fruits of work),
so the wise should work without attachment,
for the welfare of the society.
The wise should not unsettle the mind of the ignorant
who is attached to the fruits of work,
but the enlightened one should inspire others
by performing all works efficiently without attachment.
All works are being done by the Gunas of nature,
but due to delusion of ego
people assume themselves to be the doer.
The one who knows the truth, O Arjuna,
about the role of Guna and action
does not get attached to the work,
knowing that it is the Gunas that work
with their instruments, the organs.
Those who are deluded by the Gunas of nature
get attached to the works of the Gunas.
The wise should not disturb the mind of the ignorant
whose knowledge is imperfect.
But, those who carp at My teaching and do not practice it,
consider them as ignorant of all knowledge, senseless, and lost.
All beings follow their nature.
Even the wise act according to their own nature.
What, then, is the value of sense restraint?
Raga and Dvesha (or the attachments and aversions)
for the sense objects remain in the senses.
One should not come under the control of these two,
because they are two stumbling blocks, indeed,
on one's path of Self-realization.
One's inferior natural work is better
than superior unnatural work.
Death in carrying out one's natural work is useful.
Unnatural work produces too much stress.
Kama, the passionate desire
for all sensual and material pleasures,
becomes anger if it is unfulfilled. As the fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion,
similarly the Self-knowledge gets obscured by Kama.
O Arjuna, Jnana gets covered by this insatiable fire of Kaama,
the eternal enemy of Jnani.
The senses, the mind, and the intellect
are said to be the seat of Kaama.
Kama, with the help of the senses,
deludes a person by veiling Jnana.
The senses are said to be superior,
the mind is superior to the senses,
the intellect is superior to the mind,
and Atma is superior to the intellect.
Thus, knowing the Atma to be superior to the intellect,
and controlling the mind by the intellect,
one must kill this mighty enemy, Kama, O Arjuna.