The Gita Resolves the Debate Between Vedism and Vedantism

The Gita resolves the debate between Vedism and Vedantism by redefining the sense of the term “sacrifice” and putting everything within the broader context already worked out for the opposition between Sankhya and Yoga.

The Vedic term “sacrifice” is tightly focused on the practice of rituals and chanting to obtain specific results from the various gods or powers of creation and existence. The Gita redefines “sacrifice” to mean the dedication of all effort toward the Lord of Creation, which is the active aspect of the Divine Existence. In so doing, the Gita widens the concept so that it now takes on the sense that we see in its definition of the Yoga of Works. Sri Aurobindo concludes: “Vedism is a specialised and narrow form of Yoga; the principle of the Vedantists is identical with that of the Sankhyas, for to both the movement of salvation is the recoil of the intelligence, the buddhi, from the differentiating powers of Nature, from ego, mind, senses, from the subjective and the objective, and its return to the undifferentiated and the immutable.”

Inasmuch as the Vedantic path is consistent with the focus we see in Sankhya, this redefining of “sacrifice” into the broader context now yields a resolution consistent with the Sankhya/Yoga resolution taken up earlier in the teaching. All effort, all works are now seen not as obstacles but as opportunities along the way for dedication of the force and direction toward the supreme realisation. We see here not only the resolution of the apparent conflict, but the first recognition that “all life is yoga”, as Sri Aurobindo has famously stated elsewhere.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 11, Works and Sacrifice, pp. 105-106

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