Recap: With the words ‘Eshã te’bhihitã sãnkhye buddhiryoge tvimãm shrunu, buddhyã yukto yayã Pãrtha karmabandham prahãsyasi. ’ – ‘O Parth, I have explained sãnkhya jnãn, I will now explain the knowledge of yoga. Listen carefully. By this knowledge you will be freed of all bonds’ (Gitã 2.39). Shri Krishna pledged to explain the secret of yoga. This pledge was to explain yoga which is conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã.
Yoga Is Dharma
Shri Krishna says to Pãrth, ‘नेहाऽभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते। स्वल्पमप्यस्य घर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात्॥’ – ‘Nehã’bhikramanãsho’sti pratyavãyo na vidyate, svalpamapyasya dharmasya trãyate mahato bhayãt.’ Meaning, there is no loss in commencing this yoga of conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã, that is to say, no effort to attain it is futile. Moreover, even the slightest practice of this dharma (conviction of God) protects one from great dangers (Gitã 2.40).
‘Asya dharmasya’ means ‘this dharma’. Let us take a look at the word ‘this’. ‘This’ is a pronoun. A pronoun is a word used instead of and to indicate something already mentioned. The shloka before this mentioned the yoga of conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã. It is this yoga that the word ‘this’ refers to. Therefore, it is clear that ‘this dharma’ is synonymous to the yoga of conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã.
This is a unique concept of dharma. In a general context, ‘dharma’ normally refers to the dharma of one’s caste and stage in life. In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna Bhagwan goes beyond that and sees dharma as conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã. ‘घारयते इति घर्मः’ – ‘Dhãrayate iti dharmaha’ – ‘That which upholds all is dharma.’ Paramãtmã, pervading everywhere, upholds all. Conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã is our lifeline. It is also the basis of liberation. Paramãtmã, being our refuge, rids us of our miseries. That is why, in the Gitã, Shri Krishna Bhagwan repeatedly uses the word ‘dharma’ when giving precepts on conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã. We can see this clearly in many other cases.
Establishing Dharma of Yoga
The fourth adhyay of the Gitã starts with precepts on yoga. Shri Krishna Bhagwan says, ‘इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम्। विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत्॥ एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदुः। स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप॥ स एवायं मया तेऽद्य योगः प्रोक्तः सनातनः। भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम्॥’ – ‘Imam vivasvate yogam proktavãnahamavyayam, vivasvãn manave prãha manurikshvãkave’braveet. Evam paramparãprãptamimam rãjarshayo viduhu, sa kãleneha mahatã yogo nashtaha parantapa. Sa evãyam mayã te’dya yogaha proktaha sanãtanaha, bhakto’si me sakhã cheti rahasyam hyetaduttamam.’ – ‘O Paramtapa Arjuna, I previously explained this yoga of conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã to Vivasvãn. Vivasvãn explained it to Manu. Manu explained it to Ikshvãku, and continuing in this way the rãjarshis attained this knowledge. But eventually, after a long time passed, that yoga was forgotten. Therefore, I explained that mystic yoga to you today’ (Gitã 4.1-3).
In other words, ‘I have come to revive that forgotten yoga of conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã.’ Thereafter, in the seventh and eighth shloka, this is stated even more clearly with the words, ‘यदा यदा हि घर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत। अभ्युत्थानमघर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम्। परित्राणाय साघूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्। घर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे॥’ – ‘Yadã yadã hi dharmasya glãnirbhavati Bhãrata, abhyutthãnamadharmasya tadãtmãnam srujãmyaham, paritrãnãya sãdhoonãm vinãshãya cha dushkrutãm, dharmasansthãpanãrthãya sambhavãmi yuge yuge.’ – ‘Whenever dharma declines and adharma increases, I manifest to protect the sadhus and destroy the adharmis. O Bharata, I manifest in age after age to firmly establish dharma’ (Gitã 4.7-8).
It is worthwhile analyzing the words used in the above shlokas, such as ‘yogo nashtaha’ (Gitã 4.3), ‘sa evãyam mayã te’dya yogaha proktaha’ (Gitã 4.3), ‘dharmasya glãnihi’ (Gitã 4.7), ‘dharmasansthãpanãrthãya sambhavãmi’ (Gitã 4.8). At first the word ‘yoga’ has been used, and thereafter, the word ‘dharma’ has been used in its place. The forgetting of yoga has later been referred to as the declination of dharma. The revival of yoga has been referred to as the establishment of dharma. Therefore it is clear that incarnations of Paramãtmã are for the establishment of yoga. That is to say, for establishing conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã. It is this establishment of conviction for which the word ‘dharma’ has been used in the phrase ‘dharmasansthãpanãrthãya’.
In the current context, we should remember the words of Parabrahman Purushottam Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan, “God assumes avatars upon earth for the purpose of establishing dharma, and that too, not simply for the establishment of the dharma of one’s varna and ashram. After all, even the ãchãryas of pravrutti dharma, such as the Saptarshi and others have established the dharma of the four varnas and ashrams. God does not, however, assume avatars solely for that purpose; he assumes avatars to expound the dharma of his ekãntik bhaktas” (Vachanãmrut, Gadhadã II 46). “The type of dharma that the avatars of God come to establish is this very same dharma [i.e., Bhãgvat dharma, conviction in the form of Paramãtmã]. On the other hand, the dharma of one’s varna and ashram alone is extremely inferior compared to Bhãgvat dharma, because it is through Bhãgvat dharma that the jiva crosses God’s mãyã and attains the abode of Purushottam” (Vachanãmrut, Gadhadã III 21).
Secret Dharma Is Conviction
‘इदं तु ते गुह्यतमं प्रवक्ष्याम्यनसूयवेज्घर्म्यम्’ - ‘Idam tu te guhyatamam pravakshyãmyanasooyave… dharmyam’ – ‘Arjuna, I will now tell you about a secret dharma’ (Gita 9.1, 3). With these words the ninth adhyãy commences with a pledge to reveal a secret dharma; what is that secret dharma? The Gitã says,
‘मया ततमिदं सर्वम्’ – ‘Mayã tatamidam sarvam’ – ‘Everything is pervaded by me’ (Gitã 9.4), ‘मत्स्थानि सर्वभूतानि’ – ‘Matsthãni sarvabhootãni’ – ‘All living things are upheld by me’ (Gitã 9.4), ‘न च मां तानि कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति’ – ‘Na cha mãm tãni karmãni nibadhnanti’ – ‘Karmas cannot bind me’ (Gitã 9.4), ‘मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सूयते सचराचरम्’ – ‘Mayãdhyakshena prakrutihi sooyate sacharãcharam’ – ‘Under my control, nature creates the whole of creation, including both animate and inanimate things’ (Gitã 9.10), ‘अवजानन्ति मां मूढा मानुषी´ तनुमाश्रितम्’ - ‘Avajãnanti mãm moodhã mãnusheen tanumãshritam’ – ‘The foolish people who have taken a human birth and do not know my supreme nature disregard me. The foolish who do not know my superiority are disrespectful’ (Gita 9.11), ‘पिताहमस्य जगतः’ – ‘Pitãhamasya jagataha’ – ‘I am the father of the world’ (Gitã 9.17), ‘मन्मना भव मद्भक्तो मद्याजी मां नमस्कुरु’ – ‘Manmanã bhava madbhakto madyãjee mãm namaskuru’ – ‘Focus your mind on me. Devote yourself to me. Worship me. Bow to me’ (Gitã 9.34). Thus, the entire ninth adhyãy directs one to develop conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã. Therefore, it is clear that Shri Krishna Bhagwan calls these precepts of conviction ‘dharmyam’ (Gitã 9.2), i.e., he identifies them as precepts of dharma.
Conviction in Paramãtmã Is Nectar of Dharma
Let us now take a look at the twelfth adhyãy, which also features precepts on conviction with words like, ‘मय्यावेश्य मनो’ - ‘Mayyãveshya mano’ - ‘Engrossing your mind in me’ (Gitã 12.2), ‘सर्वाणि कर्माणि मयि संन्यस्य मत्पराः’ - ‘Sarvãni karmãni mayi sannyasya matparãhã’ – ‘Dedicating all your actions to me, becoming focused on me’ (Gitã 12.6), ‘मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय’ - ‘Mayi buddhim niveshaya’ – ‘Keeping your intellect fixed on me’ (Gitã 1.8), ‘मामाप्तुमित्व्छ’ - ‘Mãmãptumichchha’ – ‘Desire to attain me’ (Gitã 12.9), ‘मत्कर्मपरमो भव’ - ‘Matkarmaparamo bhava’ – ‘Focus your actions on things relating to me’ (Gitã 12.10), and after all of these precepts of conviction, it concludes by referring to these precepts as ‘घर्म्यामृतमिदम्’ - ‘Dharmyãmrutamidam’ – ‘nectar of dharma has been identified’ (Gita 12.20).
Thus the twelfth adhyãy also uses the word dharma to refer to conviction.
Dialogues on Yoga Are Dialogues on Dharma
Let us finally take a look at the last adhyãy of the Gitã. Shri Krishna Bhagwan himself regards this dialogue with Parth to be a dialogue on dharma. He says ‘इमं घर्म्यं संवादमावयोः’ - ‘Imam dharmyam samvãdamãvayoho’ – ‘This has been a dialogue between us on dharma’ (Gitã 18.30). It is as if the precepts spread across the 18 adhyãys of the Gitã are summarized in one word, ‘dharma’.
Yoga is the main subject of the Gitã. That is why the Gitã has become renowned as a ‘yoga shastra’ (scripture on yoga). The word ‘yogashastre’ is also recited at the end of every chapter of the Gitã. Yet, by calling this whole dialogue on yoga a dialogue on dharma, Shri Krishna Bhagwan has affirmed the unity between the two.
Thus, we can see that the yoga of conviction in Paramãtmã has been explained throughout the Gitã from start to end as dharma. This same yoga has been referred to with the word ‘dharma’ in the sentence ‘svalpamapyasya dharmasya trãyate mahato bhayãt’ (Gitã 2.40).
This special and distinctive meaning of the word ‘dharma’ was first revealed by Parabrahman Purushottam Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan. He says, “When the Mahãbhãrat war was fought… Arjun never became disheartened, despite committing countless misdeeds during the war. He maintained firm faith in God. Conversely, Yudhishthir had not committed any sins whatsoever, and yet, because he had faith in the words of the scriptures, he felt, ‘I shall never attain liberation.’ Even when all of the rishis, Vyãsji and even Shri Krishna Bhagwãn himself attempted to explain to him, still he did not forsake his remorse. Only when Shri Krishna Bhagwãn took him to Bhishma and had him listen to Bhishma’s discourse on the true meaning of the words of the scriptures did he develop some faith. Nevertheless, he did not become totally free of doubt like Arjun. Thus, one who is intelligent should intensely maintain spiritual strength based on the conviction of God.
“Even the slightest strength based on this conviction will protect one from great dangers. Shri Krishna Bhagwãn has also said,
स्वल्पमप्यस्य घर्मस्य त्रायते महताð भयात् ॥
This verse means, ‘If one has the slightest strength based on the conviction of God, it will protect one from great calamities.’ For example, when Arjun fought in the Mahãbhãrat war, he encountered many, many types of grave dangers in the form of adharma. Yet, he was spared from those dangers because of his conviction in God” (Vachanãmrut, Gadhadã II 9).
Here, Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan calls conviction in Paramãtmã courage of conviction in God. He explained the meaning of the word ‘dharma’ in the above shloka, and in the explanation of just this one word, he has explained the entire Gita. He has brought out the secret hidden within the Gita. Many have contemplated on and discussed these words before, but Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan is the only one who has brought to light this approach of understanding the word dharma to mean conviction in the manifest form of Paramãtmã.
Hence, conviction in Paramãtmã is the prominent meaning of the word dharma. That is why Shri Krishna Bhagwan talks of the value of this dharma saying, ‘Nehã’bhikramanãsho’sti’ (Gitã 2.39) – ‘There is no loss in commencing this dharma’, ‘pratyavãyo na vidyate’ (Gitã 2.39) – ‘There are no unwanted side-effects’ and ‘Trãyate mahato bhayãt’ (Gitã 2.39) – ‘It protects one from the great fear of countless births and deaths’.
Thus, the Gita considers the conviction in Paramãtmã as yoga. Calling this yoga ‘dharma’ in the phrase ‘svalpamapyasya dharmasya’ (Gitã 2.39), it reinforces that yoga. And, telling us about the fruits of that yoga, it inspires us to perfect it in our lives.