Reconciliation of Yoga of Knowledge and Yoga of Works

If we put aside the traditional concept of the yoga of knowledge requiring physical renunciation of action, we can find the reconciliation that the Gita is trying to achieve. The Gita gives its approval to the practice of the yoga of knowledge, the yoga of the intelligent will, but not in the absence of action, but in the carrying out of action performed according to the principles that knowledge provides for us.

Sri Aurobindo explains: “For knowledge does not mean renunciation of works, it means equality and non-attachment to desire and the objects of sense; and it means the poise of the intelligent will in the Soul free and high-uplifted above the lower instrumentation of Prakriti and controlling the works of the mind and the senses and body in the power of self-knowledge and the pure objectless self-delight of spiritual realisation….”

“…the Yoga of the self-liberating intelligent will finds its full meaning by the Yoga of desireless works. Thus the Gita founds its teaching of the necessity of desireless works, niskama karma, and unites the subjective practice of the Sankhyas–rejecting their merely physical rule–with the practice of Yoga.”

The central concept here is to do works using the mind to bring the senses under control. Action undertaken in Karma Yoga is done under the principle of “non-attachment, it is to do works without clinging with the mind to the objects of sense and the fruit of the works.”

This process is one that develops in stages, sequentially, starting with the practice of doing works with the consciousness of being the “doer” but with non-attachment to the results. As the Gita progresses, it goes through the various different stages until the complete understanding of the implications of this reconciliation of knowledge and works becomes clear.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 11, Works and Sacrifice, pp. 101-102,

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