The Reconciling Experience That Leads To Liberated Action

The Gita diverges from the traditional yoga of knowledge in that it does not stop with the defining experience of the immutable, silent, immobile, impersonal Brahman, no matter how high and powerful that experience may be. The Gita signals its view when it brings in the concept of devotion, Bhakti, at this stage. Normally, devotion would be looked upon as an inferior state of consciousness, having to do with the ego-individual and the struggle to exceed the bondage of the Gunas. The Gita however treats devotion as more than this, as a liberated action in its own right, and one which is based on an ultimate Reality beyond the immutable, immobile experience achieved through the traditional yoga of knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo quotes from the Gita: “When one has become the Brahman, when one neither grieves nor desires, when one is equal to all beings, then one gets the supreme love and devotion to Me.” The implication here is that realisation of the Brahman, rather than being the ultimate experience, is a stage or status from which a higher realisation, one based in devotion, is to be attained. This reveals the supreme secret that the Gita has developed, the concept of the Purushottama, which holds both the immutable and the mutable, the inactive and the active, together within its larger being and for its own larger purposes.

The result is stated by Sri Aurobindo: “The ego personality still disappears in the silence of the Impersonal, but at the same time there remains even with this silence at the back the action of a supreme Self, one greater than the Impersonal. There is no longer the lower blind and limping action of the ego and the three Gunas, but instead the vast self-determining movement of an infinite spiritual Force, a free immeasurable Shakti. All Nature becomes the power of the one Divine and all action his action through the individual as channel and instrument. In place of the ego there comes forward conscious and manifest the true spiritual individual in the freedom of his real nature, in the power of his supernal status, in the majesty and splendour of his eternal kinship to the Divine, an imperishable portion of the supreme Godhead, an indestructible power of the supreme Prakriti….”

“It is in this double realisation, it is in this union of two sides of an ineffable Truth of existence by either and both of which man can approach and enter into his own infinite being, that the liberated man has to live and act and feel and determine or rather have determined for him by a greatest power of his supreme self his relations with all and the inner and outer workings of the spirit.”

“The One who eternally becomes the Many, the Many who in their apparent division are still eternally one, the Highest who displays in us this secret and mystery of existence, not dispersed by his multiplicity, not limited by his oneness,–this is the integral knowledge, this is the reconciling experience which makes one capable of liberated action….”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 21, Towards the Supreme Secret, pp. 517-518