Essays on the Gita -Sri Aurobindo
First Series : Chapter 20
Equality and Knowledge
YOGA and knowledge are, in this early part of the Gita’s teaching, the two wings of the soul’s ascent. By Yoga is meant union through divine works done without desire, with equality of soul to all things and all men, as a sacrifice to the Supreme, while knowledge is that on which this desirelessness, this equality, this power of sacrifice is founded. The two wings indeed assist each other’s flight; acting together, yet with a subtle alternation of mutual aid, like the two eyes in a man which see together because they see alternately, they increase one an- other mutually by interchange of substance. As the works grow more and more desireless, equal-minded, sacrificial in spirit, the knowledge increases; with the increase of the knowledge the soul becomes firmer in the desireless, sacrificial equality of its works. The sacrifice of knowledge, says the Gita therefore, is greater than any material sacrifice. “Even if thou art the greatest doer of sin beyond all sinners, thou shalt cross over all the crookedness of evil in the ship of knowledge. There is nothing in the world equal in purity to knowledge.” By knowledge desire and its first-born child, sin, are destroyed. The liberated man is able to do works as a sacrifice because he is freed from attachment through his mind, heart and spirit being firmly founded in self- knowledge, gatasan gasya jnana vasthita cetasah. All his work disappears completely as soon as done, suffers laya, as one might say, in the being of the Brahman, pravilı yate; it has no reactionary consequence on the soul of the apparent doer. The work is done by the Lord through his Nature, it is no longer personal to the human instrument. The work itself becomes but power of the nature and substance of the being of the Brahman.
It is in this sense that the Gita is speaking when it says that all the totality of work finds its completion, culmination, end in knowledge, sarvam karma khilam ̇ jnane parisama pyate. “As a fire kindled turns to ashes its fuel, so the fire of knowledge turns all works to ashes.” By this it is not at all meant that when knowledge is complete, there is cessation from works. What is meant is made clear by the Gita when it says that he who has destroyed all doubt by knowledge and has by Yoga given up all works and is in possession of the Self is not bound by his works, yoga-sannyasta-karmanam atmavantam na karmani nibadhnanti, and that he whose self has become the self of all existences, acts and yet is not affected by his works, is not caught in them, receives from them no soul-ensnaring reaction, kurvann api na lipyate.