ಸ್ವಲ್ಪಮಪ್ಯಸ್ಯ ಧರ್ಮಸ್ಯ ತ್ರಾಯತೇ ಮಹತೋ ಭಯಾತ್ ॥೪೦॥
nehābhikramanāśoSsti pratyavāyo na vidyate |
svalpamapyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt ||40||
Gist of the sloka:
Even hesitant steps in this direction is not wasted. A small action of following the dharma, could prevent a dangerous fear to us.
Lord Krishna is instructing that, while the soul is immortal so is the real knowledge. One who is on the path of seeing this science of self-realization, he need not worry that the knowledge dies with his body. The soul continues on the path in its new birth and nothing ever is wasted.
Any action in following the dharma does not go unrewarded. Lord remembers our efforts and duly safeguards us from dangerous fears. One who protects Dharma is protected by it.
There is a common question which occurs to all of us. We are born, we study, acquire knowledge [all references are to knowledge of self-realization] and then die. We are born again. Do we then have to redo all the exercises?
Unlike the worldly education system wherein we start off from the kindergarten every time we have new birth, Lord Krishna clearly indicates that when it comes the knowledge of self, each of these sciences cannot be understood in one lifetime. Secondly this knowledge is attached to the self/soul, which itself is made of light of knowledge.
Which means the knowledge is not lost with the loss of gross body but attached permanently to the soul. When the next birth happens, the Lord ensures that the study continues from wherever it was left out last time. It is through this cycle of accumulation of the right knowledge over multiple births that the soul reaches the state of elevation leading to mukthi.
We have seen and continue to see child prodigies, who after a short time exhibit extraordinary depth of knowledge in their chosen fields be it art, music, science, knowledge etc., This is due to the fact that they had in their previous lives achieved extraordinary heights in their chosen fields and are continuing the process in their next.
Knowledge about self is not a thing to be demonstrated or exhibited for it is sacred and needs to be treated with great respect at all times. This is the science of inner world. There is no better time to start on this path than at this instant. Even if we have just started on this sacred journey, it would at the appropriate time would lead you to mukthi - without fail. That initial action itself is enough to prevent great fears coming your way. These are the promises of the universal Lord. There is no one else superior or equal to him to prevent him from carrying out his promise. If not him, who else can protect us or lead us?
There are 3 types of students of this science of Atma. Uttama [superior], madhyama [middle category] and finally adhama [lower category].
Uttama also known as ‘Bhagavatharu’ believe in the superiority of the universal Lord Krishna. They believe he is supreme and there is none equal or superior to him. They believe all other demi-Gods belong to his retinue and dedicate all their actions/prayers/ceremonies in the beginning, middle and at the end, to Him alone.
The Uttama devotee also believes that the entire world of sounds, words, names belong to Him alone and they represent different qualities in Him. Irrespective whom they show respect to [demi-Gods, elders in the family etc.,] they believe He is within them and receiving their worship. Such a devotee is a true believer and a sincere student. They would finally reach the state of mukthi for they have understood the real knowledge of omnipresence, omnipotent and omniscience of the Lord in the universe.
Coming to madhyama category, they worship individual demi-Gods as independent and at the end of the worship/ceremony, dedicate the action to Lord Krishna. These people are called ‘trividyaru’. They do get some benefits as the Lord is in ever thing and receives the offering, but it might result in minor benefit and they would reach heaven [for the good actions done] but would come back for rebirth and deaths. As they do not have real Vedic knowledge of the Lord indwelling in everything they go through the cycle of birth and deaths repeatedly.
Lastly the adhama category of devotees do not believe in the sole suzerainty of the Lord over the universe. They worship each demi-God separately and believe that all of demi-Gods favors are required to survive and cannot be ignored. They do not believe that the Lord Krishna occupies everything and is present everywhere. They have no clue as to the real Vedic purports. They will never progress in their path of self-realization.
When one performs his actions with a single-minded devotion and concentration after knowing the truth of self-realization and God realization, his actions are never wasted. It does not matter in what form or name the Lord is being worshipped as long as we have the knowledge that it’s the universal Lord Krishna who is sought by us. Such practices would be far away from influences of fear, hatred, selfishness, ego, grief etc., That practice would certainly elevate oneself, for such actions should be understood to be blessings from Lord.