“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)
गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः ।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥ २३ ॥
“I theoretically understand the concept of merging into transcendence, wherein you are not affected by the ups and downs of the material world. You are focused only on the spirit soul and its inherent link to the Supreme Soul.
“The connection is yoga, and a person whose only interest is yoga has essentially transcended the world. They are not affected by what is going on. They are on the path towards liberation; they may already be liberated.
“How does a person square the theory against the reality, though? We get upset when something bad happens to someone. We are happy upon receiving good news. We have to work for a living. This involves action and reaction, intention and consequence.
“Sometimes things don’t go our way. We inevitably become upset. The same in the reverse situation; we are happy at the expected outcome. How is this transcendence? How does any of this merge, in the way that Shri Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita?”
An easy way to understand is to take the reverse case. Consider a person who is not in transcendence. They are not interested in the afterlife nor are willing to accept anything beyond the temporary. They are focused on the here and now. Besting the competition, racing to the top of the mountain of achievement, so to speak.
Let’s say they are involved in adharma. They lie, cheat and steal for a living. They may even be willing to sacrifice innocent children at the altar of experimental science in order to increase their net worth. Money and power are everything. Those who get in the way are essentially collateral damage.
In such a case, everything this person does merges into adharma. Their eating, sleeping and mating are all sinful. Even something as basic and innocent as getting up in the morning and taking a shower – this has a negative impact.
The connection is to the improperly aligned objective. It is like the thief planning their heist. The hideout, the getaway car, the coconspirators, the food ordered to maintain energy throughout the nighttime of deception – everything merges into the inauspicious result.
Another person could be following similar activity. They are also planning. They have a routine of eating and sleeping. They collaborate with others to achieve an objective. They are interested in a successful outcome.
Since everything is related to an auspicious end, there is a merging that takes place. If we take examples from shastra, the travel of Shri Hanuman to Lanka is auspicious. His expanding the size of his body, crushing trees and grass while leaping off a mountain, punching a female obstructer, taking a false guise while searching the city – these merge into transcendence.
His only purpose is pleasing the Supreme Lord. There is no attention paid to ups and downs from a personal side. There is no bounty to collect, no medallion to earn, and no plaudits to publish in a book of glorification. Hanuman only wants to see Sita and Rama happy.
Meanwhile, someone like Ravana is tied to adharma. He runs a kingdom. He fights against enemies. He eats and sleeps. Ravana lives in a palace and hears the counsel of others. Sometimes the advice is not to his liking, such as with the younger brother Vibhishana. Sometimes the advisors know that Ravana’s efforts are ill-fated, but they have no choice but to go along.
There is total destruction in the end. The efforts to enjoy the senses become fruitless. It was like spending time playing games while awaiting execution or sentencing to jail. Everything merged into the undesired outcome.
The acharya recommends following the path of the devotees, who automatically stand above the interests of the senses. They are no longer triggered by personal honor or dishonor, rise or fall, gain or loss, and even birth or death. In life after life they are blissfully engaged in service to the all-attractive one and His servants.
When on sinful outcome an eye,
Then everything associated to try.
Like in the morning awaking,
And great effort taking.
As sinful all considered,
Since to end result delivered.
So the same with devotion align,
Then into transcendence combine.