Most modern readers will immediately recognise the clear ideological and political issues that emerge from Krishna’s yoga. It is clear that the Gita delivers ideological justification for warriors and kings, rubberstamping their violence and war. It creates a divine social hierarchy, where the king implements the plan of god. It is not up to soldiers to scrutinise their orders, however upsetting they might be. Do as you are told with no hesitation and afterthought . Most modern readers would conclude that this, is the typical discourse of the disciplining of not only soldiers but of society as such. At one stroke it defines any opposition to the king as violating god’s will. It makes dissenting citizens into people ignorant of cosmic duties. A society accepting this monotheistic discourse is condemned to a life of docile duties.
Buddhi-yoga and karma-yoga legitimising social order
Obviously following orders will often tend to generate emotional and personal conflicts for the individual. This is also what Arjuna expresses. The problem is a part of a wider and more general issue: when humans act – doing their duties, performing rituals or just living their lives – following problem emerges: do these actions generate karma sending the soul into cycles of endless rebirth? How to handle this existential dilemma? Krishna introduces (in CH.2) a buddhi-yoga – very similar to the buddhi-yoga of the MD – aimed at calming the mind, so that it becomes detached and disinterested. Buddhi in Krishna’s discourse is an ontological element (a tattva ) of the mind or the self, which stands for pure distinctive thinking’. The powerful capacities of the Buddhi in general cannot be utilised within the self as the imbalance of three gunas overwhelm the self. However through ascetic self-discipline and meditation the three gunas can be mastered. This allows the buddhi element of the self to emerge. Experiencing the world from the buddhi part of the self enables the yogi to become a detached person, who is neither plagued by negative (anxiety, for instance) nor positive (desire, for instance) feelings. This claim is in line with the Samkhya stoicism (Wikipedia link) that we encountered in the MD’s discussion of buddhi-yoga.
Contraindications: Imbalance, plantar fasciitis, anterior cruciate tear, Yoga for back pain patellofemoral arthralgia, Dupuytren’s contracture. Props: A yoga mat, a wall, and a Yoga for back pain block. Avoiding pitfalls: The back leg may collapse, the front knee may misalign. Use a block for the hand that goes to the floor if your hips are stiff. Stand with your back to a wall, raise your arms to shoulder height, and step your feet apart the same width as your outstretched arms. Turn the right foot and leg parallel to the wall but do not turn the torso. Inhale, firm your legs and lengthen up through the spine. As you exhale, bend your right knee until it is over the ankle.