Talks on the Gita -Vinoba 31

Chapter 4
16. Art Of Akarma Should Be Learnt From The Saints

10. How does karma become akarma? From whom can we learn this art? From the saints, of course. The Lord says at the end of this Chapter, “Go to the saints and learn from them.” Language fails in describing how karma is transformed into akarma. To gain an understanding of this, one has to sit at the feet of the saints. The Lord is described as ‘शांताकारं भुजगशयनम् ’—He is fully at peace even though He is lying on the thousand-hooded cobra (Shesha). The saints too do hundreds of actions, but do not allow even a little ripple of commotion to arise in the still waters of their minds. This remarkable thing can never be understood unless the lives of saints are observed from close quarters.

11. Nowadays, books have become quite cheap. There is no dearth of teachers. Education is widespread and cheap. Universities are liberally doling out knowledge. But nobody seems to have assimilated it. In fact, the more one looks at the heaps of books, the more one realises how necessary it is to sit at the feet of the saints. Knowledge encased within the thick covers of the books does not come out of those covers. I am always reminded of an abhang (devotional poem) in this context: ‘काम क्रोध आड पडिले पर्वत। राहिला अनंत पैलीकडे॥ (‘The high mountains of desires, passions and anger bar the way to the Lord.’) Similarly, the way to knowledge is barred by the heaps of books. Although libraries are everywhere, man still seems to be a monkey—ignorant and uncouth. There is a big library at Baroda. Once a gentleman was carrying a thick volume with a lot of pictures, thinking it to be an English book. When I browsed through it, I found it to be a French book! The gentleman must have thought that as the book was in the Roman script, had nice pictures and good binding, it must be full of knowledge!

12. Every year, tens of thousands of books are published in English. This is so in other languages too. With such spread of knowledge, how is it that man behaves so stupidly? Some say that the power of the memory has weakened, some say that concentration is becoming difficult, some say that whatever a man reads, appears true to him. Some say that there is no time left for thinking! The Lord says to Arjuna, “Yoga will be far away so long as your intellect, confused by listening to different things, remains unsteady. So stop reading books and listening to others and surrender yourself to the saints. There you would read the book of life. Your doubts will get dissolved by the silent, wordless sermons there. You would know how to remain perfectly serene even while constantly performing acts of service, how the heart could be tuned to produce music without a break even as the storm of action rages outside.”[1]


References and Context

  1. 13.3.32