Yogakshemam Vahaamyaham

Your Wordly and Spiritual Welfare Is My responsibility

In this world rife with dangers and worries, who will look out for our welfare? In Gita Vahini, Sri Sathya Sai Baba passionately explains the answer given by Krishna to Arjuna 5000 years ago, which pertains to us even today, as a way to liberation.

“Whatever the name, whatever the form of worship, I am the recipient; for I am the goal of all. I am the only one. There is no other. I myself become the worshipped, through My many names and forms. Not only this, I am the fruit of all actions, the bestower of the fruit, the basis, the prompter, the promoter of all. Why recount and repeat? I am the force behind the birth, existence and death of everything and of every life. I am the birthless, deathless cause. 

“Realise Me, the primal cause. That is indeed moksha. He is the jivanmuktha (liberated even while alive) who attains that moksha. Therefore, Arjuna, if one yearns to become a jivanmuktha, to attain moksha, he must accomplish some simple disciplines. That is to say, he has to eradicate fully the attachment to the body.”    

Illustration of Krishna Arjuna Conversation

Hearing this, Arjuna intercepted, “Krishna! Do you speak of this sadhana of complete detachment as a simple discipline? Is it so easy to practise? Even accomplished ascetics find it difficult and you recommend it so glibly to people like me! You speak of it as if it were a very simple task. But it is a formidable endeavour. I feel you are putting me on trial with such suggestions. Can I ever attain that state? Can I win liberation, can I attain moksha? I have no hope,” he said and sat dispirited.   

Krishna was watching him steadily losing courage. He went close to him and patted his back in a reassuring manner. He said, “Arjuna, there is no need to get startled and desperate just for this. No, no one will get faith as soon as one hears of it. One must delve into it with the help of reason; then it will be found that this discipline is not as hard as it is imagined to be. To become completely detached it is not necessary to grow matted hair, wear ochre robes and torture the body into skin and bone. It is enough if you do all acts as dedicated to the Lord, without any desire. This is the secret of liberation.

“Performing all activities in this manner is not difficult. Only, one should have steady faith and earnestness. Of course, these are essential for every type of activity. So, you can realise that they are indispensable for spiritual activity too.

“Whoever among devotees dedicates all acts to Me with no other thought, whoever meditates on Me, serves Me, worships Me, remembers Me, know that I am always with him, ever providing for him in this world and the next; I bear the burden of his Yoga Kshema (welfare). Do you hear Me?” asked Krishna, patting Arjuna again on the back and imparting courage to his drooping heart.   

This statement about the Lord guaranteeing the yoga kshema of the devotee has given rise to a great deal of misunderstanding. Even pundits, not to speak of others, have failed to grasp its real import. The commentators on the Geetha propagate this declaration in manifold ways. This most sacred sentence is as the navel to the Geetha-body. The navel of Vishnu was the place where Brahma took birth. This sloka is the navel or place of nativity for those who thirst for Brahma Jnana. If this sloka is followed in practice, the entire Geetha can be understood.   

There are a number of interesting stories current about this sloka. I shall give one example: A learned pundit was once giving discourses on the Geetha in the august presence of a maharaja. One day, the turn of this sloka came: 

Ananyaaschinthayantho maam

Ye janaah paryupaasathe

Theshaam nithyaabhiyukthaanaam

Yogakshemam vahaamyaham.

The pundit was explaining enthusiastically the many-sided implications of this sloka, but the maharaja shook his head and said: “This meaning is not correct.” He continued to dispute the correctness of every one of the explanations the pundit gave. The poor pundit had won meritorious distinctions at the court of many a maharaja and was honoured by them all with pompous titles. He felt as if he was stabbed, when the maharaja in the presence of the entire band of courtiers condemned his explanation of the sloka as “wrong.” He smarted under the insult.

But picking up courage, he again set upon his task; and collecting all his scholarship, he plunged into an eloquent discourse on the multiple meaning of the words, “yoga” and “kshema.” The maharaja did not approve of even this; he ordered: “Find out the meaning of this sloka and having understood it well, come to me again tomorrow.” With this, the maharaja rose from his throne and went into the inner apartments. 

The pundit lost even the few grains of courage left in him. He was weighed down by anxiety. He tottered under the insult. He reached home and, placing the copy of the Geetha aside, he fell on the cot. 

Surprised at this, the pundit’s wife said, “Tell me why you came home from the palace today in such grief? What exactly did happen?” She rained one anxious question after another, so that the pundit was obliged to describe to her all that had happened, the insults heaped on his head, the command with which the maharaja sent him home, etc. The wife listened calmly to the account of what had happened and after pondering deeply over the incident, she said, “Yes, it is true. What the maharaja said is right. The explanation you gave for that sloka is not the correct one. How could the maharaja approve it? The fault is yours.” At this, the pundit rose in anger from the cot, like a cobra whose tail is trodden hard. “What do you know, you silly woman? Am I inferior in intelligence to you? Do you, who are engaged in the kitchen all the time, cooking and serving, claim to know more than I? Shut your mouth and quit my presence,” he roared. 

Illustration of Conversation between Pundit and his Wife

But the lady stood her ground; she replied, “Lord! Why do you fly into such a rage at a statement of mere truth? Repeat the sloka once again to yourself and ponder over its meaning. You will then arrive at the right answer yourself.” Thus, by her soft words the wife brought calm into the mind of her husband. 

The Pundit started analysing the meaning of each individual word in the sloka. Ananyaas-chinthayantho maam, he began, deliberately and slowly, repeating aloud the various meanings. The wife intervened and said, “What benefit is it to learn and expound the meanings of words? Tell me what your intention was, when you approached this maharaja. What was the purpose?” At this, the pundit got wild.

“Should I not run this family, this home? How am I to meet the cost of food and drink, of clothes and things, for you and all the rest? It is for the sake of these that I went to him, of course, or else, what business have I with him?” he shouted.

The wife then replied, “If you had only understood what Lord Krishna has declared in this sloka, the urge to go to this maharaja would not have arisen! If He is worshipped without any other thought, if one surrenders to Him, if at all times the mind is fixed on him, then the Lord  has declared in this sloka that He would provide everything for the devotee. You have not done these three. You approached the maharaja, believing that he would provide everything! That is where you have gone against the meaning of this verse. That is the reason why he did not accept your explanation.” 

Hearing this, that reputed scholar sat awhile, ruminating on her remarks. He realised his fault. He did not proceed to the palace the next day. Instead, he got immersed in the worship of Krishna at home. When the king inquired why the pundit had not appeared, courtiers said that he was staying at home and had not started out. The king sent a messenger, but the pundit declined to move out. He said, “There is no need for me to go to anyone; my Krishna will provide me with everything; He will bear my yoga kshema Himself. I suffered insult because I did not realise this so long, being blinded by eagerness to know the manifold meanings of mere words. Surrendering to Him, if I am ceaselessly engaged in worshipping Him, He will Himself provide me with all I need.” 

When the messenger took this message to the palace, the maharaja proceeded to the dwelling of the pundit, on foot. He fell at the feet of the pundit, saying, “I thank you sincerely for explaining to me this day, out of your own experience, the meaning of the sloka which you expounded yesterday.” Thus, the king taught the pundit that any propagation of spiritual matters which does not come out of the crucible of experience is mere glitter and show.

Reference Gita Vahini

Note from website team: Inviting your contemplation, the exact translation of the above famous four-line Sanskrit sloka is:

"To those who worship Me alone, thinking of no other, who are ever devout, I secure for them that which is not already possessed (YOGA) by them, and preserve for them what they already possess (KSHEMA)".