Preyas & Sreyas
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Preyas & Sreyas - the Gita, the Upanishads

Sri Krishna and Arjuna are the eternal companions. This companionship is an objective representation of the relationship between Parmatman (Super Soul) and jivatman (individual soul).

All human endeavours fall under two categories: the preyas and the sreyas. Among the human acquisitions and experiences there is not a single aspect that lies outside the pale of these two.

The Katha Upanishad II (Up. I. 2.& 3.) reads: "The good (Sreyas) is one thing, the pleasant (Preyas) is another. These two having different purposes, bind a man. Of these two, it is well for him who takes hold of the good; he who chooses the pleasant misses his end."

"The good and the pleasant approach a man; the wise man considers and distinguishes the two. Wisely does he prefer the good to the pleasant, but a fool chooses the pleasant for its worldly good."

Pleasures that are sense-bound and prone to mutation come under the category of preyas. The majority of mankind are seekers of preyas. But there are a rare few who aspire for the transcendental. Scriptures describe this transcendental experience as the sreyas.

"The senses are created with outward tendencies like a bar door with hinges that allow it to swing open outward only"
- Swami Ranganathananda. Belur Math

The Katha Upanishad, IV (Up. II. 1. & 2.) read:

"The Self -existent pierced the senses outward, and so one looks outward and not within oneself. Some wise man, however, seeking immortality, and turning his eyes inward, sees the inner Self."

"The ignorant pursue outward pleasures, they walk into the wide-spread net of death. The wise, however, recognising eternal life, do not seek the constant among inconstant  things."

All virtues, strength, self-denial, and sublimity are born of sreyas. Yoga and spiritual enlightenment are all contained in this sreyas. A life of triumph and conquest is available to all who tread the path of sreyas.

This is the core of the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. Each of the subsequent chapters in this book is an elaboration of this theme from a particular angle.

The strong and the virile alone are fit for a life of great consequence. Achievements both here and hereafter are born of competence and manly action. Strength nurtures life. Weakness wears it away. Vitality drives away disease; debility aggravates it. Virtue and righteousness are the outcome of strength. Vice and wickedness have their origin in weakness; cowardice creates crookedness. It is the feeble that resort to foul play. Action born in manliness leads to freedom and its opposite to bondage. Strength and sreyas are identical. This is the teaching of the Gita.

The first chapter of the Gita reveals that Arjuna  was still under the sway of preyas- things that bring prosperity, pleasure, power and glory to life. Souls incarnate many times in order to acquire and enjoy these pleasures. This enjoyment has a place in the cosmic plan.

Sooner or later comes a turning point in life when the individual self sees the vanity and emptiness of preyas and hankers after something permanent. The slow, steady and imperceptible mental evolution that Arjuna underwent, the transitory nature of the earthly pleasures that he enjoyed, the conviction that came to him of the vanity of earthly splendour,- all these contributed to Arjun's changeover from preyas to sreyas.

The Gita teaches one to equip oneself for the battle of life. Without self-preparation the battles of life cannot be waged successfully.

Each science has its twin aspects- theory and practice. Intellectual grasp of a subject is theory; its application is practice. Brahma vidya - Self Knowledge - is what touches and transforms life. It is intensely practical. When applied to life, it is called Yoga Shastra. This is one of the other names by which the Bhagavad Gita is known. All the eighteen chapters of the Gita are designated, each as a type of yoga. The function of the yoga is to train the body and the mind.

If a wage earner applies the principles of the Gita to his life he will become a better wage earner. A farmer will equip himself better if he only translates the Gita principles into action. A merchant is bound to thrive in his business by putting these tenets to practice. An officer will execute his duty more efficiently when he becomes a yogi. Man becomes well equipped for life by taking to yoga. An efficient man is otherwise called a yogi.

All the eighteen yogas contained in the eighteen chapters of the Gita may be reduced to four -The Karma Yoga (the yoga of action), The Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), The Raja Yoga (the yoga of meditation) and The Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge).

While playing the part of the charioteer, Sri Krishna is controlling the reins of the four white horses yoked to the chariot. They are like the four yogas yoked to the human frame. The human body is the chariot.
Arjun (the individual embodied soul) is inside the chariot. This body chariot is driven by the Supreme Lord. The four horses of this body chariot -Action, Emotions, Will and Reason should work in perfect harmony. In order to succeed in life, one must advance along all four lines in a balanced and integrated manner. Integral yoga presents a blend of the four major yogas of the Gita corresponding to the four aspects of the human personality.

This harmony can be achieved by integrating the four major yogas. - KARMA Yoga (Yoga of action) unfolds one's hidden potentials while preparing his psychological being to face and confront life's day to day activities. BHAKTI Yoga (the yoga of devotion) cultures the feelings and brings about emotional integration in the personality. RAJA Yoga (the yoga of meditation) allows one to develop a strong will and a controlled mind and JNANA Yoga (the yoga of wisdom- knowledge) trains and renders the intellect sharp and subtle.
==============
Related articles 

Pravritti-Nivritti (Acts versus knowledge)
Kathopanishad in brief (Upanishads)

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Index Alphabetical [Index to Pages]

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