Chapter 2 – Sāṅkhya-yoga (The Yoga of Analysis)
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तं तथा कृपयाविष्टमश्रुपूर्णाकुलेक्षणम् ।
विषीदन्तमिदं वाक्यमुवाच मधुसूदनः ॥१॥
sañjaya uvāca –
taṁ tathā kṛpayāviṣṭam aśru-pūrṇākulekṣaṇam
viṣīdantam idaṁ vākyam uvāca madhusūdanaḥ
Sañjaya said: Śrī Kṛṣṇa then spoke the following words to Arjuna whose heart was overwhelmed with pity and whose eyes were filled with tears.
कुतस्त्वा कश्मलमिदं विषमे समुपस्थितम् ।
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ viṣame samupasthitam
anārya-juṣṭam asvargyam akīrti-karam arjuna
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: Arjuna, how has such illusion overcome you at this crucial moment? This is not appropriate for an honourable man, nor does it lead to higher planets. It is the cause of infamy.
क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते ।
क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परन्तप ॥३॥
klaibyaṁ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha naitat tvayy-upapadyate
kṣudraṁ hṛdaya-daurbalyaṁ tyaktvottiṣṭha parantapa
O Pārtha, give up this unmanliness. It does not befit you. O chastiser of enemies, get up and do not yield to this petty weakness of heart.
कथं भीष्ममहं सङ्ख्ये द्रोणं च मधुसूदन ।
इषुभिः प्रतियोत्स्यामि पूजार्हावरिसूदन ॥४॥
arjuna uvāca –
kathaṁ bhīṣmam ahaṁ saṅkhye droṇaṁ ca madhusūdana
iṣubhiḥ pratiyotsyāmi pūjārhāv-arisūdana
Arjuna replied: How can I counterattack such persons as Bhīṣma and Droṇa in battle, firing arrows at those who are worthy of my respect, O Madhusūdana?
गुरूनहत्वा हि महानुभावान्
श्रेयो भोक्तुं भैक्ष्यमपीह लोके ।
भुञ्जीय भोगान् रुधिरप्रदिग्धान् ॥५॥
gurūn ahatvā hi mahānubhāvān
śreyo bhoktuṁ bhaikṣyam apīha loke
hatvārtha kāmāṁstu gurūn ihaiva
bhuñjīya bhogān rudhira-pradigdhān
It is better to live in this world by begging than killing our respectable superiors. Otherwise, the wealth and property that we enjoy here in this world will be tainted with their blood.
न चैतद्विद्मः कतरन्नो गरीयो
यद्वा जयेम यदि वा नो जयेयुः ।
यानेव हत्वा न जिजीविषामस्-
तेऽवस्थिताः प्रमुखे धार्तराष्ट्राः ॥६॥
na caitad vidmaḥ kataranno garīyo
yadvā jayema yadi vā no jayeyuḥ
yān eva hatvā na jijīviṣāmas
te’vasthitāḥ pramukhe dhārtarāṣṭrāḥ
I do not know what is better for us – to conquer them or be conquered by them. If we slay the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra who are assembled here before us, I have no desire to live.
पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसम्मूढचेताः ।
यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे
शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम् ॥७॥
pṛchhāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍhachetāḥ
yachhreyaḥ syān niścitaṁ brūhi tan me
śiṣyaste’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam
My natural propensity as a warrior is weakening and I am bewildered as to what is righteous. Kindly tell me what is most beneficial for me. I am your disciple, surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
न हि प्रपश्यामि ममापनुद्याद्
राज्यं सुराणामपि चाधिपत्यम् ॥८॥
na hi prapaśyāmi mamāpanudyād
yac chokam ucchoṣaṇam indriyāṇām
avāpya bhūmāv-asapatnam ṛddhaṁ
rājyaṁ surāṇām api cādhipatyam
Even if I gain a substantial kingdom beyond compare and the power of the demigods, I see nothing that can remove this grief that is eroding my senses.
This second chapter is where the Bhagavad-gītā truly begins. Bhagavad-gītā literally means the ‘Song of Bhagavān’ and Bhagavān means the Absolute Truth. Here for the first time in Bhagavad-gītā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is addressed as Bhagavān. According to Vedic scholars such as Parāśara Muni, Bhagavān means one who possesses all wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation.
aiśvaryasya samagrasya vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ
jñāna vairāgyayos caiva ṣaṇṇāṁ bhaga itīraṇā
He that possesses the attributes of sovereignty, potency, fame, wealth, knowledge and renunciation in full, is known as Bhagavān. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 6.5.74)
Additionally, Jīva Gosvāmī, the 16th Century Vaiṣṇava philosopher, says that Bhagavān is bhajanīya guṇa ca ananta ca nityaḥ – He that possesses all adorable qualities and whose all-attractive nature is such that He attracts our feelings of affection and adoration.
In contemporary society there is much debate as to whether God exists or not. First it is necessary to define what we mean by ‘God’ before His existence can be determined or dismissed. Accordingly, seers of the truth in ancient India have concluded that if there is a God, then God must necessarily be the owner and proprietor of everything; He must be all-powerful, the most famous, the most beautiful, the possessor of all knowledge and at the same time, detached or renounced. After careful analysis, those seers of truth concluded that only Śrī Kṛṣṇa could be and is the ultimate fountainhead of Reality, the Absolute Truth. These findings have been corroborated by many sages throughout the ages (from before 10,000 BCE) and are dealt with extensively in the Vedic literature such as the Vedas, Upaniṣads, Purāṇas, Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata, Vedānta-sūtra, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and Brahma-saṁhitā etc.
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇaṁ
Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Controller. His form is made of bliss, knowledge and eternity. He is the origin of all. He is the Master of the cows and the senses. He has no other origin and He is the primeval cause of all causes. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.1)
ete cāṁśa kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
indrāri vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge
The various avatāras are either plenary expansions or parts of plenary expansions. But Kṛṣṇa is the original source of all avatāras. When impious elements disturb His devotees, He manifests age after age in order to protect them. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.3.28)
harir eva sadārādhyaḥ sarva-deveśvareśvaraḥ
itare brahma-rudrādyā nava-jñeyāḥ kadācana
Only Śrī Hari (Kṛṣṇa) should be worshipped as the Master of the entire universe. Brahmā, Śiva and all other demigods never violate this principle at any time. (Padma Purāṇa)
paraṁ brahmā narākṛtim
When the Supreme Person descends in His human-like form, He is Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Brahman. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 4.11.2)
tasmāt kṛṣṇa eva paro devas taṁ dhyāyet
taṁ raset taṁ bhajet taṁ yajet
Thus Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Person. One should meditate on Him. One should delight in Him. One should worship Him and make offerings to Him. (Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad 1.54)
kṛṣir bhū-vācakaḥ śabdo ṇaś ca nirvṛti-vācakaḥ
tayor aikyaṁ paraṁ brahma kṛṣṇa ityabhidhīyate
The verbal root kṛṣ refers to the all-attractive quality of Kṛṣṇa, and the syllable ṇa refers to His spiritual bliss. When kṛṣ is added to the affix ṇa, it becomes the word Kṛṣṇa, indicating the Supreme Truth. (Mahābhārata, Udyoga-parva 71.4)
Arjuna has become overwhelmed with compassion for those who are about to die on the battlefield. In fact, such is his grief that he himself is prepared to die rather than kill his enemies. But Arjuna is a warrior and from a noble family, therefore Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna against his weakness of heart. If one is a warrior it is one’s duty to face the enemy and not cower away. Fighting is indeed a nasty business, but when duty calls, such fighting may be unavoidable. In ancient times, acts of aggression were abhorred and strictly forbidden in society and between nations. When such aggression did occur, retaliation and war were acceptable. According to the great sage Vasiṣṭha, there are six types of aggressors and according to Manu-saṁhitā these aggressors are to be met with lethal response.
agnido garadaś caiva śastra-pāṇir dhanāpahaḥ
kṣetra-dārāpahārī ca ṣaḍ ete hyātatāyinaḥ
The arsonist who sets fire to one’s house, one who administers poison, one who attacks with deadly weapons, one who usurps a nations resources, one who invades and occupies a sovereign country and one who kidnaps one’s family members – all should be considered as aggressors. (Vasiṣṭha-smṛti 3.19)
ātatāyinam āyāntaṁ hanyād evāvicārayan
nātatāyi-vadhe doṣo hantur bhavati kaścana
Without hesitation a warrior should destroy aggressors, as there is no bad reaction in slaying them. (Manu-saṁhitā 8.350)
These verses are according to the rules given in the laws of society (artha-śāstra). Yet the laws of dharma (dharma-śāstra), which are superior to the artha-śāstra, state that one should never inflict harm on any living being (mā hiṁsyāt sarva-bhūtāni) – what to say of one’s family members and superiors?
This was Arjuna’s dilemma. Being a softhearted devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna was disinclined to take up arms against his family members, but being a warrior he had to face his destiny. In this state of bewilderment, Arjuna decided to put aside his casual relationship with Kṛṣṇa as a friend and accept Śrī Kṛṣṇa as his guru (spiritual master). Thus Kṛṣṇa accepted Arjuna as a disciple.
According to Vedic knowledge there are numerous planets and parallel universes wherein life can be found. Some of these planets and universes have higher standards of living than we experience on Earth and some are lower. If one performs one’s prescribed duties in this life then accordingly, one is elevated to higher planets. However, if one neglects his duty then only infamy and descending to lower planets awaits one in the next life.
Kṛṣṇa has used the word anārya meaning ‘non-āryan’ to describe Arjuna’s disinclination to follow his prescribed Vedic duties. For centuries there has been much controversy about who is an āryan and where the āryans came from. For the most part, all such considerations have been based upon bodily designations in order to establish one race of people as superior to another. But in Bhagavad-gītā, according to the words of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the āryans are those who carry out their duties in accordance with the Vedic injunctions. Thus it is understood that the word āryan does not pertain to a particular race of people, but to a conception of life and a way of living.
Knowledge of the eternal existence of the infinite consciousness (Kṛṣṇa) and the finite individual unit of consciousness (ātmā or the self) is the key to all Vedic wisdom. This will be the central theme of Kṛṣṇa’s instruction to Arjuna in this chapter.
एवमुक्त्वा हृषीकेशं गुडाकेशः परन्तप ।
न योत्स्य इति गोविन्दमुक्त्वा तूष्णीं बभूव ह ॥९॥
sañjaya uvāca –
evam uktvā hṛṣīkeśaṁ guḍākeśaḥ parantapa
na yotsya iti govindam uktvā tūṣṇīṁ babhūvaha
Sañjaya said: Having thus addressed Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the vigilant conqueror of enemies Arjuna declared, “O Kṛṣṇa, O Govinda, I will not fight!” and became silent.
तमुवाच हृषीकेशः प्रहसन्निव भारत ।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये विषीदन्तमिदं वचः ॥१०॥
tam uvāca hṛṣīkeśaḥ prahasann iva bhārata
senayor ubhayor madhye viṣīdantam idaṁ vacaḥ
Descendant of Bharata, there, between the two armies, Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Hṛṣīkeśa) smiled and spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.
अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे ।
गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः ॥११॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ prajñāvādāṁś ca bhāṣase
gatāsūn agatāsūṁś ca nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: While speaking like a wise man, you are actually grieving for that which is unworthy of grief. The wise lament for neither the living nor the dead.
न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः ।
न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ॥१२॥
na tv-evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ sarve vayam ataḥ param
There was never a time that you, nor I, nor all these warriors assembled here did not exist. Nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future.
देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा ।
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति ॥१३॥
dehino’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
As the ātmā passes through the bodily transformations of childhood, youth and old age, it similarly transmigrates from one body to another at the time of death. The wise are never deluded by this transition.
मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः ।
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ॥१४॥
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ
āgamāpāyino’nityās tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
O son of Kuntī, the interaction between the senses and the sense-objects produce the sensations of cold, heat, pleasure and pain. These feelings are temporary, always appearing and then disappearing. Thus, O descendant of Bharata, you must learn to tolerate them.
यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ ।
समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते ॥१५॥
yaṁ hi na vyathayanty-ete puruṣaṁ puruṣarṣabha
sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ dhīraṁ so’mṛtatvāya kalpate
O most virtuous one, a sober man who is equipoised in both pleasure and pain and remains undisturbed is certainly qualified for liberation.
Arjuna is lamenting for the loss of the body, but Śrī Kṛṣṇa does not approve of his lamentation and reminds Arjuna that all living beings are eternal. Kṛṣṇa says that He, Arjuna and all those present on the field of battle are eternal personalities – they have existed eternally in the past and they will exist eternally in the future.
Arjuna is an accomplished student of Vedic thought and an associate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but for the benefit of those who will study this erudite conversation in the future, Arjuna is feigning bewilderment and confusion just to encourage the discourse. Arjuna is considered a liberated personality and thus he is actually above ignorance and bewilderment.
Although consciousness is eternal, the material body does not share this quality. The body passes through the stages of birth, childhood, youth, old age, disease and death. At death, consciousness transfers to another body according to the laws of material nature (karma) and begins the cycle yet again. The ever-changing body never bewilders those who are cognisant of the difference between the material body and consciousness.
Embodied consciousness is said to have five stages known as the pañca-kośa – annamaya (satisfying our existence by eating, as seen in children), prāṇamaya (consciousness of the preservation of one’s body), manomaya (the stage of mental awareness), vijñānamaya (the cultivation of consciousness based on higher knowledge, understanding one is not this material body) and ānandamaya (cultivating and entering into one’s relationship with the Supreme as part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa). The first three stages, annamaya, prāṇamaya and manomaya pertain to all living beings that are caught in the doldrums of material sense enjoyment. Vijñānamaya and ānandamaya concerns those who have acquired knowledge of self-realisation (vijñāna) and perfection (ānanda).
Those who are asleep, simply absorbed in bodily identification, never experience the world beyond their sense perception. Heat and cold, happiness and distress, pleasure and pain, birth and death – these are the perceptions of life experienced by those with no knowledge of consciousness. But those who are liberated from the bodily concept of life are awake in the conscious world and are always in balance, even in the face of opposing and contradictory situations in the material world. They are undisturbed.
नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः ।
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः ॥१६॥
nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo’ntas tv-anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ
Of that which is temporary there is no eternal existence. Of that which is eternal there is no destruction or change. Seers of the truth have realised the constitutional position of both.
अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ।
विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्चित्कर्तुमर्हति ॥१७॥
avināśi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
vināśam avyayasyāsya na kaścit kartum arhati
Know for certain that individual consciousness, which pervades the whole body, is imperishable. Nobody can destroy the indestructible individual unit of consciousness.
अन्तवन्त इमे देहा नित्यस्योक्ताः शरीरिणः ।
अनाशिनोऽप्रमेयस्य तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत ॥१८॥
antavanta ime dehā nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ
anāśino’prameyasya tasmād yudhyasva bhārata
Embodied consciousness is eternal, imperishable and infinite. Only the material body is perishable. Therefore O Arjuna, fight!
Herein, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is reiterating the superiority of consciousness over matter. Since the time of Darwin, and even amongst some philosophers of ancient India such as Cārvāka up to the present day, there are those who think that life arises out of matter. The Big Bang Theory and other contemporary scientific ideas also support this opinion. However, the problem with such thinking is that there is no concrete evidence whatsoever to explain or demonstrate how lifeless matter ever developed the symptoms of life. The Theory of Evolution, as the Darwinians understand it, is substantially defeated in the fossil record, since no ‘transitional species,’ that are supposed to reveal the gradual evolution of living organisms from primitive species to advanced life forms, have ever been discovered. Furthermore, there is no suitable model to explain where matter originated.
The numerous theories, new and ancient, that expound that life arose from matter are fundamentally flawed in many ways. On the other hand, from observing microscopic living creatures to giant creatures like the elephant and whale, it is self-evident that life comes from life. Thus, the Vedic perspective on life is that all life comes from an intelligent life source, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Scientific interest in finding the cause of the universe, and indeed to all life, is certainly laudable. Yet when all reasonable and honest research leads us to the conclusion that life/consciousness is not a byproduct of matter and the blueprint of intelligent design can be observed everywhere and in all things, then it should also be intelligently concluded that Super Consciousness is the cause of matter, the universe and all living things.
य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम् ।
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते ॥१९॥
ya enaṁ vetti hantāraṁ yaścainaṁ manyate hatam
ubhau tau na vijānīto nāyaṁ hanti na hanyate
One who considers the eternal unit of consciousness to be the slayer, and one who considers it to be capable of being slain are both in ignorance – for it neither slays nor is slain.
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥२०॥
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato’yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
The individual unit of consciousness neither takes birth nor dies at any time. It has never been created nor will it ever be created. It is unborn, eternal, indestructible and timeless – it is not destroyed when the material body is destroyed.
वेदाविनाशिनं नित्यं य एनमजमव्ययम् ।
कथं स पुरुषः पार्थ कं घातयति हन्ति कम् ॥२१॥
vedāvināśinaṁ nityaṁ ya enam ajam avyayam
kathaṁ sa puruṣaḥ pārtha kaṁ ghātayati hantikam
O Pārtha, considering that the individual unit of consciousness is eternal, unborn, imperishable and indestructible, how can a person kill anyone, and whom does he kill?
It is sometimes thought that God, or some source of higher intelligence, has created life in the universe, but herein Śrī Kṛṣṇa expresses that the individual consciousness of a living being is never actually created. It exists eternally as part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, as part and parcel of the Super Consciousness. In the Vedic concept of the Absolute Truth, Kṛṣṇa exists eternally along with His energies. Consciousness by that measure is never created; it simply exists eternally as part and parcel of the Absolute Truth.
The characteristics of consciousness are described as unborn, eternal, indestructible and timeless – that which is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. The effects of time on the material body are perceived as growth, maintenance, by-products, old age, dwindling and death. But consciousness, being transcendental to matter, transcends time and therefore never grows old, dwindles or dies.
In certain religious traditions the Creator is sometimes visualised as being an old man in the sky. He is naturally thought of as old because He has fathered the universe a long time ago and He is the oldest of all. But here again the conception of Bhagavad-gītā differs dramatically. Consciousness is ever fresh and the source of consciousness, the Super Conscious Being, is always youthful and never old.
Those who are engrossed in material affairs and who ignore the wisdom of Bhagavad-gītā will find it very difficult to overcome the bodily concept of life and understand the difference between matter and consciousness.
वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि ।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा-
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही ॥२२॥
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya navāni gṛhṇāti naro’parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny-anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
Just as one removes old clothes and accepts new ones, similarly the embodied unit of consciousness gives up old bodies and accepts new bodies.
नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ॥२३॥
nainaṁ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṁ dahati pāvakaḥ
na cainaṁ kledayanty-āpo na śoṣayati mārutaḥ
Weapons cannot cut the individual consciousness; it cannot be burned by fire; water cannot wet it and air cannot dry it.
अच्छेद्योऽयमदाह्योऽयमक्लेद्योऽशोष्य एव च ।
नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुरचलोऽयं सनातनः ॥२४॥
acchedyo’yam adāhyo’yam akledyo’śoṣya eva ca
nityaḥ sarva-gataḥ sthāṇur acalo’yaṁ sanātanaḥ
It is indestructible, incombustible, insoluble and cannot be withered. It is eternal, all-pervading, unchanging, immovable and primeval.
तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि ॥२५॥
avyakto’yam acintyo’yam avikāryo’yam ucyate
tasmād evaṁ viditvainaṁ nānuśocitum arhasi
It is said that it is imperceptible, inconceivable and immutable. Thus, understanding the nature of individual embodied consciousness, it is inappropriate for you to lament.
The transcendental nature of consciousness has been described in the above verses. It cannot be cut, burned or even touched by water or air. However, the material body is subject to all the above. Consciousness is described as eternal because it can never be destroyed. It is omnipresent because it animates and gives feeling to all parts of the body. It is unchanging because it never becomes anything other than what it is – pure consciousness. It is immovable because it does not change its constitutional position. It is primeval because it is the oldest of all. It is imperceptible because it lies beyond the range of the physical senses. It is inconceivable because it is beyond the speculative function of the mind, and it is immutable because it is part and parcel of the Absolute Truth.
अथ चैनं नित्यजातं नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम् ।
तथापि त्वं महाबाहो नैवं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥२६॥
atha cainaṁ nitya-jātaṁ nityaṁ vā manyase mṛtam
tathāpi tvaṁ mahā-bāho nainaṁ śocitum arhasi
Even if you believe that the individual consciousness is eternally subject to birth and death, still you have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed one.
जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च ।
तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥२७॥
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye’rthe na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
For one who is born, death is certain. For one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, you should not grieve over that which is inevitable.
अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत ।
अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना ॥२८॥
avyaktādīni bhūtāni vyakta-madhyāni bhārata
avyakta-nidhanāny-eva tatra kā paridevanā
O Bhārata, all living beings are unmanifest before birth, manifest between birth and death, and again unmanifest after death. What then is the reason for lamentation?
माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः ।
श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् ॥२९॥
āścaryavat paśyati kaścidenam
āścaryavad vadati tathaiva cānyaḥ
āścaryavac-cainam anyaḥ śṛṇoti
śrutvāpy-enaṁ veda na caiva kaścit
Some consider the individual conscious unit as astounding, some describe it as astounding, others hear of it as astounding – and some, even after having heard about it, have no knowledge of it.
देही नित्यमवध्योऽयं देहे सर्वस्य भारत ।
तस्मात्सर्वाणि भूतानि न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि ॥३०॥
dehī nityam avadhyo’yaṁ dehe sarvasya bhārata
tasmāt sarvāṇi bhūtāni na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
O descendant of Bharata, the eternal individual consciousness that dwells within the bodies of all beings can never be slain. Thus, you should not lament for anyone.
The individual unit of consciousness is difficult to understand because it is transcendental, a non-material substance, and cannot be seen with the material senses or even with the world’s most powerful microscope. It is atomic in size and can only be perceived through perfect intelligence. This atomic unit of consciousness is situated in the midst of the five kinds of subtle life-airs within the body (prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, samāna, udāna). It is located within the heart and spreads its influence throughout the body. To give us some idea of the minuteness of the ātmā and its positioning within the body, the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad and Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad provide the following information:
bālāgra-śata bhāgasya śatadhā kalpitasya ca
bhāgo jīvaḥ sa vijñeyaḥ sa cānantyāya kalpate
When the upper part of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of those parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each part is the dimension of the ātmā. (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 5.9)
eṣo’ṇur ātmā cetasā veditavyo
yasmin prāṇaḥ pañcadhā saṁviveśa
prāṇaiś cittaṁ sarvam otam prajānāṁ
yasmin viśuddhe vibhavaty-eṣa ātmā
The ātmā is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic ātmā is floating in the five kinds of airs, is situated in the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living beings. When the ātmā is purified from its contamination of the five kinds of material airs, its spiritual influence is exhibited. (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 3.1.9)
The cycle of birth and death (saṁsāra) is described as a natural phenomenon for one who is embodied. Although such a conception may be considered a fatalistic world view, both birth and death are an unwanted experience for the embodied consciousness. After experiencing life, no sane person wants to die – everyone has the desire to live as long as possible.
To that end, nowadays the producers of wonder drugs promise us eternal life, although no such life-giving cures exist at present – everyone has to die and before death comes, the wonder drugs and doctors fees are sure to bankrupt the family fortune. However, death is an unnatural experience. The fact that everyone seeks everlasting life should be indicative that such a pure state of life exists beyond birth and death. Indeed it does and Śrī Kṛṣṇa will shed light on that subject as this chapter develops.
स्वधर्ममपि चावेक्ष्य न विकम्पितुमर्हसि ।
धर्म्याद्धि युद्धाच्छ्रेयोऽन्यत्क्षत्रियस्य न विद्यते ॥३१॥
svadharmam api cāvekṣya na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyāddhi yuddhāc chreyo’nyat kṣatriyasya na vidyate
Moreover, considering your natural duty, you should not waver as there is no better course of action for a warrior than a battle to uphold righteousness.
यदृच्छया चोपपन्नं स्वर्गद्वारमपावृतम् ।
सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ लभन्ते युद्धमीदृशम् ॥३२॥
yadṛcchayā copapannaṁ svarga-dvāram apāvṛtam
sukhinaḥ kṣatriyāḥ pārtha labhante yuddham īdṛśam
O Pārtha, only the most fortunate warriors are favoured with the opportunity to engage in such a war, which has come of its own accord to you as an open door to the higher planets.
अथ चेत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं संग्रामं न करिष्यसि ।
ततः स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं च हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि ॥३३॥
atha cet tvam imaṁ dharmyaṁ sangrāmaṁ na kariṣyasi
tataḥ svadharmaṁ kīrtiṁ ca hitvā pāpam avāpsyasi
But if you decide not to take part in this war of righteousness, your principles of dharma will be lost, fame will abandon you and impiety will be incurred.
अकीर्तिं चापि भूतानि कथयिष्यन्ति तेऽव्ययाम् ।
सम्भावितस्य चाकीर्तिर्मरणादतिरिच्यते ॥३४॥
akīrtiṁ cāpi bhūtāni kathayiṣyanti te’vyayām
sambhāvitasya cākīrtir maraṇād atiricyate
For all time to come, people will speak of your infamy, and for one who is great, infamy is worse than death.
भयाद्रणादुपरतं मंस्यन्ते त्वां महारथाः ।
येषां च त्वं बहुमतो भूत्वा यास्यसि लाघवम् ॥३५॥
bhayād raṇād uparataṁ maṁsyante tvāṁ mahā-rathāḥ
yeṣāṁ ca tvaṁ bahu-mato bhūtvā yāsyasi lāghavam
Illustrious warriors will believe that you ceased fighting out of fear. You will fall into disgrace in the eyes of those that hold you in great esteem.
अवाच्यवादांश्च बहून्वदिष्यन्ति तवाहिताः ।
निन्दन्तस्तव सामर्थ्यं ततो दुःखतरं नु किम् ॥३६॥
avācya-vādāṁś ca bahūn vadiṣyanti tavāhitāḥ
nindantas tava sāmarthyaṁ tato duḥkhataraṁ nu kim
Your enemies will insult you with slanderous words, condemning your prowess. Alas, what could be more painful than that?
हतो वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम् ।
तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चयः ॥३७॥
hato vā prāpsyasi svargaṁ jitvā vā bhokṣyase mahīm
tasmād uttiṣṭha kaunteya yuddhāya kṛta-niścayaḥ
O son of Kuntī, if you are killed you will attain the higher planets, and if you are victorious you will enjoy the Earth. Therefore, be confident of your success – stand up and fight!
सुखदुःखे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ ।
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि ॥३८॥
sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā lābhālābhau jayājayau
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi
Maintain equanimity when faced with happiness and distress, gain and loss, victory and defeat – fight, and in this way you will not incur impiety.
Arjuna’s social position was that of a kṣatriya, a member of the warrior class. As such, it was Arjuna’s solemn duty to uphold righteousness and to protect the kingdom from aggressors. By law and social decree, Arjuna and his brothers were the rightful heirs to the throne, yet the throne had been usurped by his uncle Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Arjuna, his wife Draupadī, his mother Kuntī and his brothers Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Sahadeva and Nakula had all been forcibly exiled from the kingdom.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa knows the temperament of Arjuna very well and therefore He is appealing to Arjuna’s kṣatriya spirit to stand and fight. Kṛṣṇa reminds Arjuna that only shame awaits him if he neglects his duty. His enemies will speak ill of him and claim that he is a coward. Such neglect of his duty will lead to infamy, not to glory.
A kṣatriya, when called to battle, should never abandon his duty under any circumstance. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna that if he is killed in battle while defending the kingdom, such an act of heroism will promote him to a higher status in his next life. Or, Kṛṣṇa says, if he is victorious in battle then he will regain the kingdom and enjoy life on Earth. In any case, Kṛṣṇa strongly encourages Arjuna not to abandon his duty.
एषा तेऽभिहिता साङ्ख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां शृणु ।
बुद्ध्या युक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि ॥३९॥
eṣā te’bhihitā sāṅkhye buddhir-yoge tv-imāṁ śṛṇu
buddhyā yukto yayā pārtha karma-bandhaṁ prahāsyasi
O Arjuna, son of Pṛthā, I have revealed to you the knowledge of individual consciousness. Now hear how to act upon this knowledge, through which you will be able to release yourself from the bondage of action.
नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते ।
स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ॥४०॥
nehābhikrama nāśo’sti pratyavāyo na vidyate
svalpam apyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt
There is no loss, nor is there any diminution of result in performing this dharma. Even the slightest effort saves one from the greatest fear.
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन ।
बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम् ॥४१॥
vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-śākhā hy-anantāś ca buddhayo’vyavasāyinām
O descendant of the Kurus, spiritual intelligence is one-pointed and exclusive. However, the intelligence of those that desire mundane enjoyment is many branched.
यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्चितः ।
वेदवादरताः पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिनः ॥४२॥
yām imāṁ puṣpitāṁ vācaṁ pravadanty-avipaścitaḥ
veda-vāda-ratāḥ pārtha nānyad astīti vādinaḥ
O Pārtha, those of small intelligence misinterpret the Vedas and claim that there is no divine principle in creation. Thus they glorify those statements that are pleasing to the senses.
कामात्मानः स्वर्गपरा जन्मकर्मफलप्रदाम् ।
क्रियाविशेषबहुलां भोगैश्वर्यगतिं प्रति ॥४३॥
kāmātmānaḥ svarga-parā janma-karma-phala-pradām
kriyā-viśeṣa-bahulāṁ bhogaiśvarya-gatiṁ prati
Because their hearts are filled with selfish desires and their goal is the higher planets, they prescribe many rituals that award higher birth, wealth and power and lead to enjoyment and opulence.
भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम् ।
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिः समाधौ न विधीयते ॥४४॥
vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ samādhau na vidhīyate
By such ideas these persons, contemplating sense gratification and mundane pleasures, do not attain the resolve to fix their minds on the Supreme.
The greatest fear that is mentioned in the above verse is the fear of losing the human form of life and taking birth in an animal body or lower. Some people think of the consciousness that is generally called ātmā as being human and other ātmās as being animal etc. But in reality no such distinction between a human ātmā and an animal ātmā exists. One transmigrates, according to one’s karma, through many lower species of life and eventually arrives at the human stage.
Human life offers one the opportunity of self-realisation or the chance to cultivate spiritual knowledge and awareness. One who attempts to become self-realised is not always successful in one attempt or in one lifetime. However, Śrī Kṛṣṇa gives us the assurance that even a little endeavour on the path of self-realisation will save us from the greatest fear, namely that of taking birth in a lower life form.
The perfection of self-realisation in the yoga system is called samādhi, or the complete absorption of our consciousness in the Supreme. The student of bhakti-yoga achieves such a state of self-realisation by following the instructions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa with steady determination. This state is only possible due to the great boon of having attained a human form of life.
However, if one neglects the opportunity of self-realisation in human life then one certainly runs the risk of sinking down into animal life or worse. It is sometimes argued that animals like cats and dogs have a better, more comfortable life than many humans, and that is certainly true for many cats and dogs in western countries. But there is no guarantee that in losing the human form of life one will become a dog or cat and be taken care of by a rich American family. One may become an animal that is eaten alive by wild beasts or torn apart by predators in the sea. Certainly it goes without saying that such a life and death is full of suffering.
Therefore, to avoid the unnecessary suffering found in animal life, a person who has achieved the human platform should, with great determination and diligence, pursue the path of self-realisation as outlined in Bhagavad-gītā.
त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ॥४५॥
traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna
nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-kṣema ātmavān
The Vedas deal with subjects in the three modes of material nature. O Arjuna, become free from duality, situated in a state of pure spiritual consciousness, free from the pursuits for gain and preservation and thus you will transcend these three modes.
यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः सम्प्लुतोदके ।
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः ॥४६॥
yāvān artha udapāne sarvataḥ samplutodake
tāvān sarveṣu vedeṣu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ
A large lake serves all the purposes served by a small pond. Similarly, one who is the knower of the Absolute Truth realises all the purposes found within the Vedas.
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥४७॥
karmaṇy-evādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo’stv-akarmaṇi
Your right is to perform your work, but never to the results. Never be motivated by the results of your actions, nor should you be attached to not performing your prescribed duties.
योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ॥४८॥
yogasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga ucyate
O Dhanañjaya, stand firm in yoga, perform your activities giving up attachment and be equipoised in both success and failure. Such balance is known as yoga.
दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय ।
बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः ॥४९॥
dūreṇa hy-avaraṁ karma buddhi-yogād dhanañjaya
buddhau śaraṇam anviccha kṛpaṇāḥ phala-hetavaḥ
O Dhanañjaya, fruitive activities are by far inferior to the yoga of wisdom. Therefore, take shelter in the wisdom of equanimity. Those that are motivated by the fruitive results of their actions are misers.
बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते ।
तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् ॥५०॥
buddhi-yukto jahātīha ubhe sukṛta-duṣkṛte
tasmād yogāya yujyasva yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam
A wise man refrains from performing both good and bad actions in this world. Thus, engage in yoga, as yoga is the best of all activities.
कर्मजं बुद्धियुक्ता हि फलं त्यक्त्वा मनीषिणः ।
जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः पदं गच्छन्त्यनामयम् ॥५१॥
karma-jaṁ buddhi yuktā hi phalaṁ tyaktvā manīṣiṇaḥ
janma-bandha-vinirmuktāḥ padaṁ gacchanty-anāmayam
The wise give up the results of their actions and thus liberate themselves from the bondage of material birth and death. Thus they attain the plane beyond all suffering.
यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति ।
तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च ॥५२॥
yadā te moha-kalilaṁ buddhir vyatitariṣyati
tadā gantāsi nirvedaṁ śrotavyasya śrutasya ca
Once your intelligence is able to pass through the dense jungle of illusion, you will become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is yet to be heard.
श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला ।
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि ॥५३॥
śruti-vipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niścalā
samādhāv-achalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi
When your mind is no longer affected by the false interpretations of the Vedas, then you will attain the perfect stage of yoga.
To be situated in transcendence means to be liberated from the three modes of material nature – the modes of ignorance, passion and goodness (tama-guṇa, raja-guṇa and sattva-guṇa). Yoga is the practice of becoming situated beyond the modes of nature. Everyone in the material world is under the three modes of nature and only a true yogī can surpass these modes.
Our activities are categorised in three ways – as action prescribed by the Vedas (karma), unauthorised action (vikarma) and transcendental action (akarma). Karma means those activities that derive a good result and sometimes promote one to higher planets or higher standards of living. Vikarma are those activities that are against the Vedic injunctions and cause suffering to the self and to other living creatures. Akarma means those activities that have neither good nor bad reactions.
One who is wise and who knows the science of yoga always strives to perform the activities of akarma. Such yogīs are known as bhakti-yogīs and can easily situate themselves in transcendence. Other systems of yoga such as aṣṭāṅga-yoga, rāja-yoga, kuṇḍalinī-yoga, haṭha-yoga and kriyā-yoga can also reach transcendence, but the path is very difficult, especially in this modern age.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is known as Yogeśvara, the Supreme Master of yoga, and although Bhagavad-gītā discusses other yoga systems, it is the bhakti-yoga system that Kṛṣṇa ultimately recommends. The yogī situated in bhakti-yoga is always engaged in devotional activities to satisfy the Supreme Master of yoga, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Thus, the bhakti-yogī is always in complete control of his senses. Without control of the senses no one can perform meditation or engage in spiritual practices properly. Therefore, the bhakti-yogī is the topmost yogī because he is engaged in the topmost yoga system.
There are eight mystical perfections of yoga known as the aṣṭa-siddhis. These perfections are – becoming very small (aṇimā-siddhi), becoming lighter than air (laghimā-siddhi), being able to retrieve anything from anywhere, such as extending one’s hand while in New York and picking a mango growing in India (prāpti-siddhi), to become heavier than the heaviest (mahimā-siddhi), to create something wonderful or to destroy anything at will (īśitva-siddhi), to control the material elements (vaśitva-siddhi), the ability to fulfil all of one’s desires (prākāmya-siddhi) and the ability to assume any form one wishes (kāmāvasāyitā-siddhi). As the Master of yoga, Kṛṣṇa has these eight yoga perfections in full.
It is sometimes claimed by yogīs that they have achieved one or more of these aṣṭa-siddhis and such seems to have been relatively common in ancient times. But in modern times the claim of having one of the aṣṭa-siddhis, more often than not, turns out to be fraudulent or simply a show to attract many followers. With the rise in popularity of yoga, false claims of aṣṭa-siddhis have become a lucrative business.
A higher aspiration for the yogī is not the achievement of the aṣṭa-siddhis, but the achievement of samādhi in bhakti-yoga because such achievement frees one from the cycle of birth and death.
स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव ।
स्थितधीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम् ॥५४॥
arjuna uvāca –
sthita-prajñasya kā bhāṣā samādhi-sthasya keśava
sthita-dhīḥ kiṁ prabhāṣeta kim āsīta vrajeta kim
Arjuna said: O Keśava, what are the characteristics of that person who is perfectly situated in divine wisdom and fully absorbed in pure spiritual consciousness (samādhi)? How does he speak? How does he sit? How does he walk?
प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् ।
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते ॥५५॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha manogatān
ātmany-evātmanā tuṣṭaḥ sthita-prajñas tadocyate
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: O Pārtha, When the living being abandons all material desires that enter the mind and becomes self-satisfied within, then that person is said to be situated in divine knowledge.
दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः ।
वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ॥५६॥
duḥkheṣv-anudvigna manāḥ sukheṣu vigata-spṛhaḥ
vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhaḥ sthita-dhīr munir ucyate
One whose mind remains undisturbed by distress, who has no desire for pleasure, who is free from mundane attachment, fear and anger, is a sage of steady mind.
यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम् ।
नाभिनन्दति न द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥५७॥
yaḥ sarvatrānabhisnehas tat tat prāpya śubhāśubham
nābhinandati na dveṣṭi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
One who is unattached to anything in this world and who does not become joyful or resentful on attaining good or evil, is firmly established in wisdom.
यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः ।
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥५८॥
yadā saṁharate cāyaṁ kūrmo’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
When one is able to withdraw the senses from sense-objects, just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs, then he is firmly established in wisdom.
विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिनः ।
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते ॥५९॥
viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ
rasa-varjaṁ raso’pyasya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
An embodied living being may renounce sense-objects, but the taste for enjoying them remains. However, this too also ceases for one who realises the Supreme.
यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्चितः ।
इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मनः ॥६०॥
yatato hy-api kaunteya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ
indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṁ manaḥ
Yet the turbulent senses can forcibly steal the mind of even a wise man of sound judgment, O son of Kuntī.
तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य युक्त आसीत मत्परः ।
वशे हि यस्येन्द्रियाणि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥६१॥
tāni sarvāṇi saṁyamya yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ
vaśe hi yasyendriyāṇi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
Restraining all the senses, a self-controlled person should fix his mind upon Me. Thus he becomes firmly situated in divine knowledge.
As previously stated, there are numerous yoga systems. Śrī Kṛṣṇa states unequivocally that by the system of withdrawing one’s senses from the objects of the senses, namely sound, touch, taste, smell and sight for sense satisfaction and concentrating the mind on Him, one becomes firmly situated in divine knowledge and samādhi.
Simply suspending the senses without positive engagement for advancing in spiritual life is not very profitable. Many yogīs have tried giving up sense activities altogether, but because the taste, or attachment, for sense-objects remains, many have fallen down in their attempts. However, the senses of the bhakti-yogī who follows Kṛṣṇa’s direction are safeguarded because the senses are engaged twenty-fours hours a day in Kṛṣṇa’s service. As such, the taste for sensual satisfaction gradually dries up and disappears leaving the bhakti-yogī free to advance spiritually.
One who cannot control the senses cannot concentrate the mind. Additionally, the senses are never actually satisfied by material engagement. The senses become satiated for sometime, but then again become stimulated with an even greater avarice. Those who are servants of the bodily senses can never become masters of the self.
Being fully absorbed in pure spiritual consciousness or samādhi means to be conscious of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Person. Such absorption of the mind and senses in Kṛṣṇa is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते ।
सङ्गात्सञ्जायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ॥६२॥
dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣūpajāyate
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho’bhijāyate
By meditating upon sense-objects, one becomes attached to them. From attachment desire appears and from desire anger manifests.
क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोहः सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः ।
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ॥६३॥
krodhād bhavati saṁmohaḥ saṁmohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati
Delusion manifests from anger. Delusion causes bewilderment of memory. Bewilderment of memory causes loss of intelligence and when intelligence is lost, one is destroyed.
रागद्वेषविमुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन् ।
आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति ॥६४॥
rāga-dveṣa-vimuktais tu viṣayān indriyaiś caran
ātma-vaśyair vidheyātmā prasādam adhigacchati
However, one who can control his mind and senses, and is free from both attachment and repulsion, even while in the midst of sense-objects, attains divine grace.
प्रसादे सर्वदुःखानां हानिरस्योपजायते ।
प्रसन्नचेतसो ह्याशु बुद्धिः पर्यवतिष्ठते ॥६५॥
prasāde sarva-duḥkhānāṁ hānir asyopajāyate
prasanna-cetaso hy-āśu buddhiḥ paryavatiṣṭhate
When one attains divine grace, all miseries cease. Certainly, such a person who achieves a tranquil mind develops divine wisdom.
नास्ति बुद्धिरयुक्तस्य न चायुक्तस्य भावना ।
न चाभावयतः शान्तिरशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम् ॥६६॥
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
One who is bereft of self-control cannot attain wisdom. Without wisdom one can never meditate. One who cannot meditate cannot achieve peace, and without peace how can one attain happiness?
इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते ।
तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि ॥६७॥
indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ yan mano’nuvidhīyate
tad asya harati prajñāṁ vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi
Whichever sense the wandering mind becomes absorbed in, that sense carries away the intelligence, just as a ship at sea is swept away by a strong wind.
तस्माद्यस्य महाबाहो निगृहीतानि सर्वशः ।
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥६८॥
tasmād yasya mahā-bāho nigṛhītāni sarvaśaḥ
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
Therefore, O mighty armed Arjuna, one whose senses are fully withdrawn from the sense-objects is firmly established in divine wisdom.
Unfortunately, there are many charlatan yogīs who, for the sake of money and gaining disciples, give their so called ‘blessings’ advocating that there is no need to follow any particular practice of sense-control such as a non-violent diet, sexual abstinence or avoiding intoxication etc. Such charlatans cheat and mislead their followers into thinking that they themselves are gods and that they can enjoy whatever their senses fancy.
But fair warning is given here. Such uncontrolled sense activities lead not to divine grace or divine wisdom, but to attachment, then increased desire, then anger, then delusion, bewilderment, loss of intelligence and ultimately to destruction.
या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी ।
यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः ॥६९॥
yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśā paśyato muneḥ
That which is day for the self-controlled sage is night for all living beings, and that which is day for all living beings is night for the introspective sage.
समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् ।
तद्वत्कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे
स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी ॥७०॥
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
Such a sage who is steadfast in facing the constant flow of desires and who does not strive to satisfy them achieves peace. He remains unaffected, just as the ocean remains calm as rivers enter into it.
विहाय कामान्यः सर्वान्पुमांश्चरति निःस्पृहः ।
निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः स शान्तिमधिगच्छति ॥७१॥
vihāya kāmān yaḥ sarvān pumāṁś carati niḥspṛhaḥ
nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ sa śāntim adhigacchati
Only one who abandons all desire for sense-indulgence, who lives free from possessiveness and is free of false ego can attain peace.
एषा ब्राह्मी स्थितिः पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति ।
स्थित्वास्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृच्छति ॥७२॥
eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha naināṁ prāpya vimuhyati
sthitvāsyām anta-kāle’pi brahma-nirvāṇam ṛcchati
O Pārtha, having attained realisation of the Absolute Truth one is never bewildered. If one is situated in this state at the time of death, one attains brahma-nirvāṇam, the abode of pure consciousness, and all suffering ceases.
The highest achievement by accepting the instructions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā is given here. One who does so at the time of death, attains brahma-nirvāṇam, the spiritual planets of Vaikuṇṭha and the mitigation of all suffering.
According to the knowledge of self-realised souls, the Absolute Truth has three stages of realisation – Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate
The seers that know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.11)
Brahman means attaining the impersonal light experience or effulgence of the Absolute. The word ‘Brahman’ is found throughout the Vedic literature and according to scholars of bhakti-yoga, ultimately means Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa.
The Buddhist philosophers take nirvāṇa to be the end of material life and entering into the void, but Bhagavad-gītā teaches differently. In the Vedic teachings there is no void anywhere. Everything is the energy of the Absolute Truth and no existence or non-existence is reconcilable outside of that.
According to the prominent sages of bhakti-yoga, Viśvanātha Cakravartī translates brahma-nirvāṇam as liberation. His disciple, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa understands brahma-nirvāṇam as Paramātmā who is Viṣṇu, the form of liberation. Rāmānuja takes Brahman as the ātmā and nirvāṇam as full of happiness. Madhva takes brahma-nirvāṇam as Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa without a material form. Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja takes brahma-nirvāṇam as freedom from material bondage and A.C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda takes brahma-nirvāṇam as meaning the kingdom of Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa. In all cases, the devotees of Kṛṣṇa never accept liberation in the impersonal state of Brahman or the void because they are only interested in service to Kṛṣṇa and are already liberated.
Paramātmā means realisation of the Absolute situated in the hearts of all living things – the Maintainer of the universe, being situated within and in between every particle of matter.
Bhagavān is the realisation of the personal aspect of the Absolute Truth and is considered to be the ultimate stage of self-realisation, because in that stage one realises the Absolute Truth in toto as Kṛṣṇa, the fountainhead of all energies. The abode of Kṛṣṇa is known as Vaikuṇṭha or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Furthermore, verse 71 refers to the ahaṅkāra, or the false ego, that is attached to consciousness when driven by the modes of material nature. False ego presupposes the existence of real ego – that real ego being the pure consciousness of a living being. Thinking oneself to be the material body, or thinking oneself to be the enjoyer of the senses, is the cause and the effect of false ego. Such false ego never leads to enlightenment, but to repeated births and deaths in the cycle of saṁsāra. The false ego is like a shadow of darkness that covers pure consciousness. The pure ego is non-different from pure consciousness itself. Pure ego is to realise oneself as part and parcel of the Absolute Truth and eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.
ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमहाभारते शतसाहस्रयां संहितायां
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायां योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
साङ्ख्ययोगी नाम द्वितीयोऽध्यायः।।
oṁ tat saditi śrī-mahābhārate-śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ vaiyāsikyāṁ bhīṣma-parvāṇi
brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
sāṅkhya yogo nāma dvitīyo’dhyāyaḥ
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter Two entitled Sāṅkhya Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.