SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 8 – Chapter 2, Verses 41 to 50 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna explains the essence of Karma Yoga in these ten verses. The path of Yoga is to practiced with a single minded purpose and resoluteness.  Bhagavan Krishna explains in the verse 2.47 to Arjuna thus – “You have the right to perform your prescribed activities but never to the fruits of those actions. You should never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and nor should there be any attachment to not doing your duty. You have a right to perform your prescribed activities but never to the fruits of those actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and nor should there be any attachment to not doing your duty.”

Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, and the resultant good birth, power, and so forth.

All actions performed from the platform of spiritual intelligence are not binding and the mind is preserved in a perfectly equipoised state which can be compared to a state of a blissful state (Sat Cit Ananda).

2.41     Shloka 2.41 

व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन।
बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम्।।2.41।।

Vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana |
Bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam ||
Meaning: Those who are on this path of Yoga with a focused mind are resolute, and their aim is one. O’ beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are full of material desires is has unlimited diverse branches.

 The Caitanya-caritamrta states:
‘sraddha’-sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya |
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya ||
MeaningFaith means unflinching trust in something sublime. When one performs actions while constantly meditating on Bhagavan, he need not endeavour for good results in his activities.  All activities performed in that spirit are not subject to dualities of good and bad. The highest perfection is renunciation of the material pursuits of life. This state is achieved by constant meditation of Bhagavan.

A person acting based on the knowledge –“Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah” – realises the Self (Atma)There is a huge difference between the mentality of one who is involved in actions seeking fruitive rewards and the mentality of one who is spiritually evolved who is engaged in selfless actions not seeking rewards and is devoted to Lord Krishna which brings great happiness. It is single pointed because its aim is solely for the service and devotion of the omnipotent, omniscient, Supreme Lord Krishna, the controller and dispenser of all rewards and the sole destination of all those seeking liberation.

Thus Lord Krishna uses the word ‘vyavasa’ or resolute, to emphasise that the purpose for actions must be resolute. One should perform actions with the thought that it is for the ultimate satisfaction of Lord Krishna, thinking that their action will please Him and not for any other reason. This resolute intelligence gives one the realisation that they will be liberated by the Lords grace, from the samsara of birth and death.

Those of fragmented intelligence who have not perceived reality and whose endless desires for fame, wealth, power, etc. and who by their actions are dictated by procuring and accumulation, work and reward. Their intelligence is fragmented into endless directions each unique unto itself and of diverse types all leading to misery. These things can only be perceived by direct experience.

2.42     Shloka 2.42

यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्िचतः।
वेदवादरताः पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिनः।।2.42।।

Yam imam puspitam vacam pravadanty avipascitah     |
Veda-vada-ratah partha nanyad astiti vadinah          ||2.42||
Meaning: Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, and the resultant good birth, power, and so forth.

Some scholars who have studied the Vedas so fastidiously fail to possess the resolute intelligence. This is because their lack of comprehending the essence of the Vedic scriptures and consequently they have misunderstood the true essence of the Vedas. Lord Krishna emphasises this with the word ‘avipascitah’ meaning the ‘ignorant who are not knowledgeable’ are attracted to flowery descriptions in the Vedas, even as a beautiful flowery creeper may be attractive although it is poisonous. But these living entities are ignorant and not actual scholars of Vedanta because they are only devoted to those parts of the Vedas that help them secure material opulence in this life and the next.

People in general are not very intelligent, and due to their ignorance they are most attached to the fruitive activities recommended in the karma-kanda portions of the Vedas. But all these pleasures are transient as ‘kshine punye martya lokam visanti’ – after they exhaust their positive karmas, they return to the mortal world.

2.43     Shloka 2.43

कामात्मानः स्वर्गपरा जन्मकर्मफलप्रदाम्।
क्रियाविशेषबहुलां भोगैश्वर्यगतिं प्रति।।2.43।।

Kamatmanah svarga-para janma-karma-phala-pradam  |
Kriya-visesa-bahulam bhogaisvarya-gatim prati           ||2.43||
Meaning: Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.

So all their activities in this life are enacted solely for the sake of accruing benefits in order to reside in the heavenly spheres where they can enjoy and enjoy for a seemingly unlimited time span. But when their merit expires after enjoying the delights of heaven in various wonderful ways to their hearts content they will again take birth on earth in a rich and learned family who also are following the flowery phrases of the Vedas and they will again follow this path and in the end transmigrate to the heavenly planets once again to enact the process. By being born into situations of opulence and prosperity allows one ample means and facility to perform the various prescribed rituals to obtain the maximum result. Thus, they transmigrate from body to body, again and again, continuously revolving like a waterwheel. In special situations Indra, the ruler of the Devas sometimes appoints one of them as a Gandharva celestial musician or as an Aspara celestial damsel among the Devas for the duration of time their merit warrants.

2.44     Shloka 2.44

भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम्।
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिः समाधौ विधीयते।।2.44।।

Bhogaisvarya-prasaktanam tayapahrta-cetasam |
Vyavasayatmika buddhih samadhau na vidhiyate ||2.44||
Meaning: In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination of devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.

Samadhi means having a ‘fixed mind’. Samadhi is never possible for persons interested in material sense enjoyment, nor for those who are bewildered by such temporary things. They are more or less condemned by the process of material energy.

The actions of those who are not resolute are not in conformity with the Vedic scriptures; but those who are resolute possessing spiritual intelligence never act contrary to the Vedic scriptures.

Those who revel only in the words of the Vedas are known as Vedavad-ratah. However, some have a poor comprehension of these and they speak only of revelling in the pleasures derived from actions. Those who are influenced by such words, doctrines and philosophies which are contrary to the Vedic scriptures, consider that the fulfilment of desired objects is the purpose of life. Enjoying whatever pleasures they have managed to manipulate for themselves they are repeatedly born again and again cast down into the material existence or depending upon the method of how they acquired their material opulence even hurled down to be born again in the material world. For these persons spiritual intelligence and comprehensive discrimination does not manifest itself in the form of an equanimity.

The essence and the objective of the Vedic scriptures is knowledge of the Ultimate, which is the Supreme Lord, who is very pleased by those who are devoted to Him. The instructions and injunctions within the Vedic scriptures should be known to be applicable solely to the Supreme Lord and no other. It is the knowledge of the Supreme Lord that is to be sought and understood. This is what is to be achieved by all living entities to make their life in this world purposeful.

2.45     Shloka 2.45

त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन ।
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान्।।2.45।।

Trai-gunya-visaya veda nistrai-gunyo bhavarjuna                 |
Nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-ksema atmavan ||2.45||
Meaning: The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O’ Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties of acquisition and preservation, and be established in the Self.

If there was no material goal to pursue what would people strive for?  They would lose interest and faith in spiritual knowledge and ritualistic practices and thus they would lose both chances bequeathed to them. So it is justly so that the Vedic scriptures deal with the three modes of material nature as they explain the rituals that bring benefits for all those subject to the influence of these modes.  

All material activities involve actions and reactions in the three modes of material nature. They are meant for fruitive results, which cause bondage in the material world. The Vedas deal mostly with fruitive activities to gradually elevate the doer from the field of sense gratification to a position on the transcendental plane. Bhagavan Shri Krishna advises Arjuna to raise himself above the three gunas to the transcendental position by attaining a mental state of equipoise.

It is quite possible that one may become indifferent to the heavenly delights but the basic requirements for human existence such as food, clothing and shelter which are also actual modifications of the three modes of material nature and are impossible to ignore.  It’s hard to become indifferent to that.

Lord Krishna explains one has to be free from dualities like praise and blame, heat and cold, pleasure and pain. Being free from them means being unattached to them. How can this be done? By enduring them and becoming established in pure spiritual consciousness. Its characteristic is patience and endurance uninfluenced by passion or covered by ignorance. One should always be tempered by patience. As anyone without patience is easily overpowered by passion and ignorance and becomes uncontrolled and fearful in situations involving the three modes of material nature. So we should overcome the hindrances of passion and ignorance and maintain a balanced state of equilibrium.

One may wonder how they can may maintain themselves in the material nature. To this Lord Krishna reiterates niryoga-kshema i.e. become free from the desire of acquisition and preservation.  When Lord Krishna speaks about being free from gain and preservation, this does not mean to deny the things one needs to survive and flourish but relates only to curb the desire or obsession for acquisition of possessions.

But how then would one sustain their lives? By being ‘Atmavan’ meaning firmly established in spiritual consciousness of the Soul. The essence is to understand that the Supreme Lord as the fulfiller and bestower of all desires. So one should only seek His refuge and accept His shelter. Never fear nor seek any other form of succour from any other source for the Supreme Lord will provide all sustenance and maintenance to those who understanding Him fully surrender unto Him.

Continuous remembrance of the Supreme Lord Krishna is ever present within. The full acceptance of the Supreme Lord within one’s own-self effectively to realisation of the Ultimate Truth.

2.46     Shloka 2.46

यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः संप्लुतोदके।
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः।।2.46।।

Yavan artha udapane sarvatah samplutodake        |
Tavan sarvesu vedesu brahmanasya vijanatah ||2.46||
Meaning: All purposes that are served by a well of water is better served by a vast lake. Similarly, all the purposes of the Vedas are realised to he who knows the Ultimate Truth (Supreme Brahman).

Whatever benefit is for a person seated in the knowledge of Brahman, the same benefit is available to one who is knowledgeable in Vedic scriptures; however, for the one who has realised the Ultimate Truth, all the meanings of the Vedic scriptures are revealed to him by Bhagavan.

During the course of universal dissolution, whatever rewards are ordained by the Bhagavan Shri  Krishna, who is full of all attributes, independent from any support and transcendental to time; the same fruits are available for one who has knowledge of the confidential meanings in the Vedic scriptures.

2.47     Shloka 2.47

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।।2.47।।

Karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana |
Ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango ‘stv akarmani ||2.47||
Meaning: You have a right to perform your prescribed activities but never to the fruits of those actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and nor should there be any attachment to not doing your duty.

This is one of the more popular Shlokas in the Bhagavad Gita in which Karma Yoga is encapsulated. Prescribed duties refer to activities performed while one is in the modes of material nature. And inaction means not performing one’s prescribed duties. Bhagavan Krishna advises Arjuna to perform his prescribed duties without being attached to the results (Nishkama Karma). One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. Thus he is the enjoyer or sufferer of the result of such actions.

As far as prescribed duties are concerned, they can be classified into routine work, emergency work and desired activities. Routine work, in terms of the scriptural injunctions, is done without desire for results. As one has to do it, obligatory work is action in the mode of goodness. One who performs actions without desirous of the rewards develops equipoise and does not get attached to the fruits of their actions.  It is also important to understand that it is not that the person will not receive the rewards thereof. To the contrary they will certainly receive rewards as well but the difference is they do not let reward be the reason for the motivation of their activities. We must perform all of our actions without being motivated by the fruit.  Everyone has his proprietary right to perform prescribed duties, but they should act without attachment to the result; such dispassionate obligatory duties doubtlessly lead one to the path of liberation.

Arjuna was therefore advised by the Lord to fight as a matter of duty without attachment to the result. His non-participation in the battle is also another form of attachment. Such attachment never leads one to the path of salvation. Any attachment, positive or negative, is cause for bondage. Hence, there should be attachment for doing nothing as Inaction is sinful.

The question may arise that if one is seeking liberation from the material existence should not one acquire firmness in spiritual knowledge and ignore all forms of actions. To this Lord Krishna instructs that everyone has the right to perform actions in order to purify ones existence and advance in spiritual knowledge. But one should not cultivate the mind to think that with the right to perform actions one is entitled to receive rewards. This mentality is destructive to spiritual advancement because then one will get attachment to the actions and then subsequently to the rewards. So Lord Krishna emphasises never be attached to the rewards of actions or even consider the rewards because this attachment will keep up locked in the material existence.

Therefore, fighting as a matter of duty was the only auspicious path of salvation for Arjuna.

2.48     Shloka 2.48

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते।।2.48।।

Yoga-sthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya         |
Siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga ucyate ||2.48||
Meaning: O’ Dhananjaya, be steadfast in yoga, perform your duties giving up any attachment and be equipoised in both success and failure. This equanimity is known as the science of uniting the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. 

Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that he should act in Yoga. Yoga means to concentrate the mind by controlling the ever-disturbing senses by focusing on the Supreme. As Bhagavan Himself is telling Arjuna to fight, Arjuna has nothing to do with the results of the fight. Loss or victory is Krishna’s concern; Arjuna is simply advised to act according to the diktat of Krishna.

What should one do? Lord Krishna states here to remain balanced and in equipoise. Discard the attachment, be in a state of  equipoise in both victory and defeat and perform your duties. Yoga is explained by Lord Krishna Himself as being in the state of equanimity.

2.49     Shloka 2.49

दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय।
बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः।।2.49।।

Durena hy avaram karma buddhi-yogad dhananjaya      |
Buddhau saranam anviccha krpanah phala-hetavah ||2.49||
Meaning: O Dhananjaya, with spiritual intelligence, rid yourself of all fruitive activities which are certainly abominable, and surrender fully to that consciousness. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.

One performing actions with the thought of receiving rewards may get the desired results. This appears to be positive but it is repeatedly denounced. Why? Because actions performed for selfish motives are inferior to actions performed with selfless motives. Selfless motives are balanced in equanimity. Equanimity possesses a determinate consciousness. Because of this reality, one should seek the shelter of evenness of mind in equanimity. Arjuna had acquired so many riches before naturally following his duty, so why should he try to avoid his duty worrying about success or failure. Those motivated to perform activities craving only to get a reward for their actions are inferior and wretched.

One who has actually come to understand this and performs actions while constantly meditating on the Lord is said to be in Yoga. As already explained, buddhi-yoga means transcendental loving service to the Lord. Such devotional service is the right course of action for the living entity. Only misers desire to enjoy the fruit of their own work just to be further entangled in material bondage.

All activities performed with the desire of fruitive results are abominable because they continually bind the performer to the cycle of birth and death. One should therefore never desire to be the cause of work and everything should be done in the spirit of offering to Bhagavan Krishna.

Misers do not know how to utilise the riches which they acquire by good fortune or by hard labour. Like the misers, unfortunate persons do not employ their human energy in the service of the Lord. Phala-hetavah are those who sole motivation is dictated by the prospect of reward. It should be understood that such living entities are ‘kripanah’ or ‘misers’ or ‘pitiable’ as acting in this way they are trapped in the material existence, hence unable to attain spiritual knowledge.

For all living entities the Supreme Lord is the only refuge. When this realisation finally dawns upon the intellect of a living entity whether they are ignorant, wise or liberated they surrender unto the Supreme Lord without reservation. Those who live in delusion consider themselves the same as the Supreme Lord who is distinctly different due to His inconceivable potencies and transcendental attributes.

2.50     Shloka 2.50

बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते।
तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्।।2.50।।

Buddhi-yukto jahatiha ubhe sukrta-duskrte                     |
Tasmad yogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam ||2.50||
Meaning: One endowed with spiritual intelligence can get rid of both positive and negative reactions even in this very life. Therefore, be engaged in Yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work. 

Since time immemorial each living entity has accumulated the various reactions of good and bad work. As such, he is ignorant of his real purpose of life. One’s ignorance can be removed by the instruction of the Bhagavad-gita which teaches one to surrender unto Lord Shri Krishna in all respects and become liberated from the eternal bondage of action and reaction, birth after birth. Arjuna is therefore advised to be in Yoga (be equipoised and act with a spirit of surrender), the purifying process of resultant action.

Those whose activities are inherently protected under the secure guidance of spiritual intelligence are released from the bondage of continuous rebirth in the material existence. Hence one should remain steadfast in spiritual intelligence. Although cultivating spiritual intelligence indeed takes enormous effort to achieve, once attained it is not difficult to maintain. All actions performed from the platform of spiritual intelligence are not binding and the mind is preserved in a perfectly equipoised state which can be compared to a state of a blissful state (Sat Cit Ananda).

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

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SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 5 – Chapter 2 (Verses 11-20) – Sankhya Yoga

Now the teaching begins as Bhagavan starts to explain to Arjuna about ‘Atma Jnana’ or Knowledge of the Self.  Bhagavan explains to Arjuna that the ‘Soul or Atma’ is eternal, it always existed and never dies.  The body is just an encasement that is subject to decay over time and hence a perishable for which he need not grieve, as it will perish sooner or later.

2.11     Shloka 2.11

श्री भगवानुवाच
अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे  
गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः  ।।2.11।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca
Asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase |
Gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah  ||2.11||
Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.

Bhagavan at once took the position of the teacher and chastised the student, calling him, indirectly, a fool. Bhagavan said, you are talking like a learned man, but you do not know that one who is learned—one who knows about the body and the soul— does not lament for the body at any stage, neither in the living nor dead.

In order to evoke the power of discrimination between the physical body and the soul, Shri Krishna rejecting Arjuna’s contention and replied that he was grieving for those who should not be grieved for. Shri Krishna responds to Arjuna’s statement in chapter 1, verse 32 where he says: Of what use is the kingdom, this fabulous wealth and enjoyments or even living if it is to obtained by killing one’ kins.

The body is born and is destined decay and vanish sometime in the future, lamenting for something known to be a perishable is foolish.  One who knows that the Atma is ‘Nitya’ or eternal is actually the learned man, and for him there is no cause for lamentation, regardless of the condition of the gross body.

Those who are illumined due to realization are ‘prajnah’ or wise and knowledgeable. ‘Avadah’ means they who are opposed to the Vedic injunctions. Whatever the wise and knowledgeable proclaim is always in conformity with the Vedic injunctions. Whatever is contrary to the Vedic injunctions on any level of consciousness is not worthy of contemplation.

The Mundaka Upanishad states that one who has realised the Ultimate Truth, whose heart is calm and whose senses are under control, such a person who is enlightened should compulsorily impart the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth to others by which they can also become self-realised.

Those with spiritual intelligence do not grieve for the dead or the living. The root word of ‘panditah’ is ‘panda’ meaning ‘learned’ or one endowed with the power of discriminative intellect. Those who possess such discrimination are considered wise. The wise never lament for the physical body.

Encompassing all that exists, internal and external is the Supreme. Everything existing is manifested from Him. One who is peaceful and tranquil should propitiate and worship under all circumstances. Under the control of the Supreme the whole cosmic manifestation functions.

In the Katha Upanishad, it says:
Bhayaad asya agnis tapati bhayaat Tapati Suryah |
Bhayaat Indrashcha Vaayushcha Mrityur Dhaavati Panchamah || K.U. 2.6.3
Meaning: Out of Fear for Him the fire burns, for fear of Him shines the Sun, for the fear of Him do Indra, the wind (Vaayu) and Death (Yama), the fifth proceed with their respective functions’. In other words the Nature obeys His laws unquestioningly and with total commitment as though out of fear of him.

We have a similar Mantra in the Taittriya Upanishad (2.8.1):
Bhisha asmad vatah pavate bhishodeti Suryah
Bhisha asmad agnish cha indresh cha Mrutyurdhavati panchama iti |
Meaning: Out of fear of Him the wind blows; Out of fear of Him the Sun rises; Out of fear of Him burns the Fire, as also Indra and Death, the fifth proceeds to their respective duties.

The all-pervading, omnipresent, soul of all being and of the nature of being eternally, simultaneously one and distinctly different.

2.12     Shloka 2.12

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ।।2.12।।

Na tvevaham jatu nasam Na tvam neme janadhipah |
Na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param ||2.12||
Meaning: Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.

Bhagavan is explaining that the Atma is eternal and always existed and it is the body that takes different forms.

In the Katha Upanishad it says:
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati Kaamaan   |
Tam atmastham ye ‘nupasyanti dhiras tesam santih sasvati netaresam ||K.U. 2.2.13||
Meaning: The Eternal among the non-eternals, the Intelligence among the intelligent, who, though one, fulfils the desires of many—those dhiras (persistent, brave and calm) who perceive Him as existing within their own self, to them belong eternal peace and to none else.

Atman is described in a few significant phrases:
एको वशी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा, नित्योऽनित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानाम् |
eko vashi sarvabhutAntarAtma, nityo’nityaanaaṃ cetanas cetananaam |

एको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान्                |
Eko bahunaaṃ yo vidadhaati kaamaan |

The Supreme One who is the Controller of all, who is Antaryami – the inner Self of all beings, the Eternal among the non-eternals, the Intelligent among the intelligent, and who, though One, fulfils the desires of the many. 

The same Vedic truth given to Arjuna is given to all persons in the world who pose themselves as very learned but they actually have very poor knowledge. It is not that they did not exist as individuals in the past, and it is not that they will not remain eternal persons. Their individuality existed in the past, and their individuality will continue in the future without interruption. Therefore, there is no cause for lamentation for anyone.

Bhagavan does not deal with the liberation the individual soul here and says that it existed in the past and will do so in the future as well, as confirmed in this Upanishad.

When we begin learning we move from a basic level to intermediate level and finally to the advanced level.  Hence the concept of salvation or Moksha will be introduced in the later Chapters.

The Skanda Purana contains the following:

There is no possibility of any destruction of the Ultimate Consciousness of the Supreme.  The same applies to the individual consciousness of all living entities as the Lord is the Antaryami (inner self). The connection and disconnection from the physical body is known as birth and death. This is the reality for all living entities.

So this explains and puts into the proper perspective the dissolution of the material manifestation at the time of universal destruction. By negating the origin and destruction of the soul, its very existence is proven in all three stages of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution. All souls are immortal and hence should never be grieved for.

2.13     Shloka 2.13

देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा 
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति  ।।2.13।।

Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara      |
Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati      ||2.13||
Meaning: As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realised soul is not bewildered by such a change.

Since every living entity is an individual soul, each is changing every moment, manifesting sometimes as a child, sometimes as a youth, and sometimes as an old man. Yet the same spirit soul is there and does not undergo any change. This individual soul finally changes the body at death and transmigrates to another body; and since it is sure to have another body in the next birth—either material or spiritual—there was no cause for lamentation by Arjuna on account of death, neither for Bhisma nor for Drona, for whom he was so much concerned.

As Bhishma and Drona, being noble souls, were surely going to have either spiritual bodies in the next life, or at least life in heavenly bodies for superior enjoyment of material existence. So, in either case, there was no cause for lamentation.

Any man who has perfect knowledge of the constitution of the individual soul, the Supersoul, and nature—both material and spiritual—is called a dhira or a most sober man. Such a man is never deluded by the change of bodies.

The body is just the container and when the soul departs, the body has no further identification with the soul and returns to its elements. While the soul remains within the physical body in all three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, it is possible to perceive the existence of the soul as an independent consciousness.

The soul cannot be destroyed. Hence the statement ‘dehinah’ meaning the soul being the occupier of the deha. With the deterioration and demise of the body comes the acceptance of a new body.  Therefore if perceived as a further modification of the body after old age, there is no justification for sorrow.

2.14     Shloka 2.14

मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत  ।।2.14।।

Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah      |
Agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata                 ||2.14||
Meaning: O’ Son of Kunti, the interaction of the senses and the sense objects give cold, heat, pleasure and pain. These are temporary, appearing and disappearing from time to time, therefore O’ Bharata, learn to tolerate them.

The two different names to address Arjuna are also significant. To address him as Kaunteya signifies his proximity of blood relations from his mother’s side; and to address him as Bharata signifies his greatness from his father’s side. He has a great heritage from both sides and that brings with it responsibility to properly discharge duties; therefore, he cannot avoid fighting.

‘Matra’ (Tanmatras – Touch, Sound, Speech, Taste and Smell) means sensuous experience and ‘sparsas’ means contact with them thus matra-sparsas is the interaction of the senses with the sense objects. Although it is the body that actually experiences these things, anyone with lack of sufficient knowledge who considers that they are their body automatically classifies the soul as the body as well and this misconception is the cause of all sorrow.

Since it is evident that contact with the senses is experienced only in the waking state and not in any other state; it is clear that only when there is contact with the physical body which includes the mind, is there an effect and this proves that the individual consciousness itself is not affected.

Consequently when the individual consciousness is deluded into relating to itself as the body, pleasure and pain is experienced; but when the individual consciousness sees itself as separate from the physical body then the sorrow arising from the death of friends and relatives would not arise.

Therefore one should just tolerate them with discrimination, patience and fortitude for they will disappear in due course of time. So the one who attain this spiritual intelligence that the soul is eternal they neither lament nor are they deluded.

2.15     Shloka 2.15

यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ 
समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते  ।।2.15।।

Yam hi na vyathayanty ete purusam purusarsabha           |
Sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram so ‘mrtatvaya kalpate ||2.15||
Meaning: O best among men [Arjuna], that person who is of wise judgment is equipoised in happiness and distress, who is steady and not be disturbed by these is certainly eligible for liberation.

Anyone who is steady in his determination for the advanced stage of spiritual realisation and is equipoised in distress and happiness is certainly a person eligible for liberation. In the varna ashrama institution, the fourth stage of life, namely the sannyasa (renounced life) is a painstaking stage. But one who is serious about making his life perfect adopts the sannyasa order of life in spite of all difficulties.

The difficulties usually arise from having to sever family relationships, to give up the connection of wife and children. But if anyone is able to tolerate such difficulties, surely his path to spiritual realisation is complete. Similarly, in Arjuna’s discharge of duties as a khsatriya, he is advised to persevere, even if it is difficult, to fight with his family members or similarly beloved persons.

When one has relinquished all conceptions of being the physical body one becomes naturally filled with the spiritual attributes that are inherent of the soul. Fixed in this awareness one is known as a Purusha, and the word ‘pura’ in purusha signifies full or complete, so complete with noble attributes and full in wisdom, the meaning of the word Purusha is ‘illuminated’.

2.16     Shloka 2.16

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः  |
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः  ।।2.16।।

Nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah                 |
Ubhayor api drsto ‘ntas tv anayos tattva-darsibhih ||2.16||
Meaning:  In the unreal there is no duration and in the real there is no cessation; indeed the distinction between both of these have been analysed by the knowers’ of the truth and established conclusively by them.

The body undergoes physical changes but is not enduring. But the spirit or the soul exists permanently, remaining the same despite all the changes to the body and the mind. That is the difference between matter and spirit.

In the Vishnu Purana it is stated that Sri MahaVishnu and His abodes all have self-illuminated spiritual existence – ‘Jyotimsi Vishnur bhavanani Vishnuh’. 

The statement ‘nasato vidyate bhavo’ is specifically used to emphasise a spiritual truth. For e.g. a flower to be offered to the Lord which blossomed today, did not exist last week and will perish by next week but is utilised while available. While the existence of the flowers is real appearing as real it’s not durable and hence ‘asat’ or ‘mithya’.

Sri RamanujAcharya states that which is known to be asat or material cannot be made to be sat or spiritual and that which is sat or spiritual cannot be made to be asat or material. To those established in truth, the ultimate nature of both are matters discerned by the direct perception of observation.

The literal meaning of ‘anta’ means end and in this verse it means the summation or conclusion of the essential natures of sat and asat. The authoritative conclusion arrived by great sages in this matter is that the nature of the physical body is asat being temporary and that the nature of the spiritual soul is sat being eternal.

That which is asat is therefore known by its perishable nature and that which is sat is known by its imperishable nature. Hence it is clear that what is indicated by satva and asatva are the soul and the body.

The Vishnu Purana states: knowledge of the ‘atma or soul’ is indeed satyam or truth and everything else is ‘not truth’. That which is imperishable is the highest truth and that which is derived by means of perishable things is undoubtedly perishable as well.

The nature of the duration and cessation of things in this world cannot be learnt by one lacking spiritual intelligence.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises the point that the reality of the duration and cessation in the material existence has been perceived by those elevated souls who have attained the Ultimate Truth. The eternal reality of the immortality of the soul is revealed in the Vedic scriptures and this has been realised by those who have achieved this understanding.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that due to his improper understanding of the difference between the perishable nature of the Body and the imperishable nature of the Soul, he is needlessly grief-stricken.

2.17     Shloka 2.17

अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम्  
विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्िचत् कर्तुमर्हति  ।।2.17।।

Avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam        |
Vinasam avyayasya na kascit kartum arhati   ||2.17||
Meaning: Know that which pervades the entire body (Consciousness or Soul) is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.

This verse more clearly explains the real nature of the soul, which is spread all over the body in the form of consciousness. Everyone is conscious of the pains and pleasures of the body and hence this spreading of consciousness is limited within one’s own body. Therefore, each and every body is the embodiment of an individual soul, and the symptom of the soul’s presence is perceived as individual consciousness. This soul is described as one ten-thousandth part of the upper portion of the hair point in size. The Svetasvatara Upanishad confirms this:
balagra-sata-bhagasya satadha kalpitasya ca     |
bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate ||5.9||
Meaning: That individual soul is as subtle as a hair-point divided and sub-divided hundreds of times. Yet He is potentially infinite and has to be known.

Therefore, the individual particle of spirit soul is a spiritual atom smaller than the material atoms, and such atoms are innumerable. This very small spiritual spark is the basic principle of the material body, and the influence of such a spiritual spark is spread all over the body as the influence of the active principle of some medicine spreads throughout the body. This current of the spirit soul is felt all over the body as consciousness, and that is the proof of the presence of the soul. Any layman can understand that the material body minus consciousness is a dead body, and this consciousness cannot be revived in the body by any means of material administration. Therefore, consciousness is not due to any amount of material combination, but to the spirit soul.

In the Mundaka Upanisad the nature of the atomic spirit soul is further explained:
eso ‘nuratma cetasa veditavyo yasmin pranah pancadha samvivesa |
pranais cittam sarvam otam prajanam yasmin visuddhe vibhavaty esa atma ||3.1.9||
Meaning:  The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.”

The hatha-yoga system is meant for controlling the five kinds of air encircling the pure soul by different kinds of sitting postures—not for any material gain, but for liberation of the minute soul from the entanglement of the material atmosphere.

When a hammer strikes an object with excessive force an extreme vibration produces a molecular disruption which causes the destruction of the object. But in the case of the soul there is no potential for destruction. For e.g. when light penetrates a glass jar, the light is not destroyed when the glass is broken; similarly the soul is like light in relation to the body, thus imperishable.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises the definitive position of the soul with the word ‘avyayasya’ meaning indestructible. The pervasiveness of the Soul is so extremely subtle that it is impossible for anything to cause the destruction because whatever would be attempting to destroy it is also completely pervaded by it as well.

2.18     Shloka 2.18

अन्तवन्त इमे देहा नित्यस्योक्ताः शरीरिणः 
अनाशिनोऽप्रमेयस्य तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत  ।।2.18।।

antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririnah                  |
anasino ‘prameyasya tasmad yudhyasva bharata ||2.18||
Meaning: The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible, immeasurable and infinite. Only the material body is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O’ descendant of Bharata.

The material body is perishable by nature. It may perish immediately, or it may do so after a hundred years. It is a matter of time. But the spirit soul is indestructible and is so minute that that no one has any idea of how to measure it. So from both viewpoints there is no cause for lamentation because the living entity (Soul) cannot be destroyed and the material body cannot be protected forever.

In the Vedanta-sutras the living entity is qualified as light because he is part and parcel of the Supreme light. As Sunlight maintains the entire universe, so does the light of the soul which maintains this material body. As soon as the spirit soul is out of this material body, the body begins to decompose; therefore it is the spirit soul that maintains the body. The body itself is unimportant, hence, Arjuna was advised to fight.

In the Taittiriya Upanisad it is stated :

One who knows the Supreme Lord as the Ultimate Truth, as what is real, as what is knowledge and as what is infinite; simultaneously existing within the heart of all living entities as well as in the eternal spiritual world has realised all there is that needs to be known.

Transcending to that state of awareness which consists of total bliss, descending and ascending in various worlds, assuming the form one desires, all actions manifesting according to one’s desires, one sings and chants the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna in sublime ecstasy. Attaining this transcendental state of affinity to the Supreme Lord, being completely protected in this state, the individual soul resides blissfully in full consciousness.

In the BrihadAranyaka Upanisad it is stated:

In that state of liberation there is no seeing although everything is seen. Because of attaining the transcendental state, becoming imperishable in consciousness, there is nothing perceived other than the transcendental state which permeates everything and which the Self is. Thus there is nothing separate from the Self which can be differentiated and in this way everything can be seen as transcendental, as Brahman.

If by liberation the individual consciousness ceases to exist then what is the purpose of deliverance? The reverend sage Yajnavalkya eradicated this doubt by clarifying that in this transcendental state all the mundane academic perceptions of empirical knowledge cease to exist being replaced by the transcendental perception and realisation of the Ultimate Truth. How could it ever be possible that cessation of mundane perceptions of empirical knowledge could simultaneously cause cessation of the Soul? It is not possible nor can it ever be possible. The eternal Soul being independent from the mind and body is not subject to cessation.

Essentially the Bhagavan is different from the creation of the material manifestation. Because the Universe is dependent upon creation it is said to be different as it is. In regard to enjoyment of the senses of smell, sight etc. they are known to be perceived only due to the potency generated by the presence of the Soul. Thus the empirical experience of the Self is similar to the realisation of the Supreme Lord. There is nothing else is to be known when one realises one’s Soul one as he/she realises the Supreme Brahman.

When the soul does not see anything as different from its own Self then there is no perception of separateness from anything and there is oneness with everything, in the same way the Supreme Lord does not see anything as separate from Himself.  When one attains this state of perception there is no separateness between the individual consciousness and the Ultimate Consciousness and there is no delusion ever regarding knowledge of the Supreme.

Neither liberated souls nor the material substratum can be superior to Bhagavan. But by knowledge of Him, by knowledge of His name and form, by having knowledge of His sagacious instructions, by the knowledge of His pastimes, qualities and associates all living entities can experience the essence of the Supreme Lord according to their abilities. When one attains communion with the Supreme Lord how can there be any difficulties? How can there be any ignorance? How can there be any bewilderment? It is not possible for one to be liberated without the grace of the Supreme Lord.

From ‘aheya’ the word ‘aham’ has been derived which symbolises the immutable Supreme Lord Krishna. Because He possesses all attributes He is known as ‘Para Brahman’. He is known as ‘asmi’ because he destroys all evil and is existing eternally. Being resplendent He is known as ‘tvam’. All these words intimating activity, intimating elements and intimating attributes refer solely to the Supreme Lord. Because He is the foremost among all performers of activities He is known as yushmat. Because He abides in the heart of all living entities with His potencies He is known by the word asmat and because He is imperceivable He is known by the word tat. On attaining self- realisation one will understand that all these indications represent only His predominant role.

The Story of Svetaketu

The greatest of the great mahavakyas ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ (‘That Thou Art’ or ‘You Are That’) originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad (c.600 BCE) in the dialogue between Sage Uddalaka Aruni, the father and his son Svetaketu where the father explains the relationship between the individual and the Absolute.  Svetaketu is more like a disciple than a son, and Uddalaka more like a Guru than a father.

‘Tat’ is the Brahman and ‘tvam’ the divine self, the Atman that resides in all beings. ‘Asi’ is an affirmation that harmonises the Brahman and Atman.  The statement is frequently repeated in the sixth chapter as the father who is also the teacher instructs his son regarding the nature of Brahman, the supreme reality. 

Sage Uddalaka was deeply concerned about his young son Svetaketu. His son had just returned home full of pride in his Vedic learning after 12 years from an eminent guru. Having studied all the Vedas the Sage Svetaketu becoming extremely conceited, arrogantly assumed because he was so knowledgeable that he was not human but a partial manifestation of the Supreme Lord Himself. Thinking thus, he became disrespectful to his own father.

His father said to him: ‘Svetaketu, I know you have learned a lot, can you tell me by which we hear the unhearable, perceive the unperceivable, know the unknowable?’

‘Sir, I am not aware of that knowledge,’ said Svetaketu. ‘I request you to please teach me that essential thing by which everything else becomes known?’

Uddhakala Aruni answered the question himself.

‘That is Brahman, the truth, the subtle essence of all and the Self. Son, you are aware of the fact that there are many products made out of clay, but the clay is the real thing. Likewise there are also different forms of gold ornaments but the real thing is the gold.

Even if the forms and names are lost, the essence of the article is revealed as clay or gold. That essential nature is the ultimate truth. Forms and names are immaterial to know the Reality, which is the Supreme Being’.

‘Son, by knowing the material cause (gold/clay) all its effects (ornaments/pots) are known. This universe with all its myriad forms and features was earlier with the One and the real Brahman.   That Brahman is the material and intelligent cause of this Jagat or this World.

 It is the ultimate reality, but it did not create anything, everything is projected out of its own being– but not as a separate entity, for, son, Brahman is within everything as its own Reality, as its Self, as its subtle essence, and that, my dear Svetaketu, That Art Thou’. 

Svetaketu says, “My Gurus did not appear to have understood all these things. They never taught me these things,” says the boy to the father. “If they had known this, why should they have not told this to me? I have never heard these things up to this time. I have studied the four Vedas, I have studied the Shastras, but nothing of this kind was heard from any quarter. What is this? Please, sir, I want to know more about this Self.’ 

Uddlaka Aruni began to explain to his son, “My dear boy, there was only a single Reality existing in the beginning. There was no variety of life forms. It was one, without a second. There was nothing outside it; nothing external to it, to compete with it, to equal it or to be different from it. There is no conceivable reality in this world of this nature. Whatever be the stretch of your imagination, you cannot conceive of something outside which nothing is. At least space would be there, time would be there, something would be there. But even space and time are objects, externals, effects that came afterwards in the process of creation. And, therefore, they too are negated in the case of this reality. That alone was.”

Uddalaka went on further, “there are some people who think that, originally, Non-Being as an origin of things under peculiar conditions. But how can Being come from Non-Being? Has anyone seen such a phenomenon? But how can something out of nothing? We have never heard of such a possibility.

So Uddalaka says: “My dear boy, though it is true that there are people who hold the doctrine that Being proceeded out of Non-Being as an effect, but this is not a practicability. It is inconceivable. Non-Being cannot be the cause of Being. Nor can we say that Being is the cause of Being. It is a tautology of expression. ‘A is the cause of A’—you cannot say that. It is a meaningless way of speaking. If Being is also not the cause of Being, then what is the cause of Being?

No cause. There cannot be a cause for Being. So it must be a causeless Being. If it has a cause, we must explain what that cause could be, and the cause should be either Being or Non-Being. There cannot be a third thing. Being cannot be the cause of Being; Non-Being also cannot be the cause of Being, so there is No cause for Being. It is causeless existence.

If there is no cause then you have to say that there is no such thing as an effect. But if there is no such thing as an effect, how comes the creation? If creation has to be explained, the nature of an effect has to be explained; but you cannot understand what an effect is. And therefore you cannot understand what creation is.

But there was creation. So, there must be a Creator. How can there be creation without a Creator? The Creator was the Absolute Being. This is what I posit as the Ultimate Reality. And what would be the process of creation and the cause for creation? The intention of the Creator is the cause of creation. The will of the artist is the cause of the manufacture of the effect or the product in the form of sculpture, architectural piece, painting, etc. The intention, the will, the original meditation or tapas, as sometimes it is called, of the Supreme Being is the cause of creation. IT WILLED.

Uddalaka said, “In the beginning of creation, O child, the Sat or True Being alone existed. It had neither an equal nor a second. It thought, ‘Let me multiply myself and create beings.’ He first created Tejas or fire god. The fire god wanted to multiply himself. He created the water god. That is why whenever anybody weeps or perspires, water comes out. The water god wanted to multiply himself and created the food god. Then the True Being thought, ‘I have now created these three gods. Now I shall enter them as Jivatma and assume name and form!’ 

‘Later on, the True Being thought, ‘I shall now make each of them enter into the other.’ “Having thus entered them with His living spirit, It assumed names and forms like Agni, Indra etc. The True Being made them enter into one another, again. 0 child, now learn what each became thereafter. Whatever was fire showed as red. Whatever was water showed as white and whatever was food showed as black. Thus you will see the word Agni vanishes in fire. This change has only been in name. The three primary forms Tejas, Apas or water and Annam or food are the only true forms. 

The red colour of the Sun is Tejas; its white colour is water; its black colour is the food or the earth. Thus the name Aditya for Sun should vanish. It is only a conventional name. “You have now learnt from me, child, how every deity and element is descended from the three primary forms of the True Being.”

“He or the Sat alone is all-name, because every name is His name. He alone is all-power, because every power is His. All the forms that belong to others are reflections of His form. He is the only one without an equal or second. He is the best of all. He being the Chief, He is called Sat or the True Being. Knowing Him we know everything else.

When a man sleeps soundly, he comes into contact with the Sat. When man dies, his speech merges in the mind, the mind in his breath, his breath in the fire and the fire in the Highest God, the True Being. Thus the soul or Jiva-Atman is deathless. All the universe is controlled by the Sat. He pervades it all. He is the destroyer of all. He is full of perfect qualities. O Svetaketu, you are not that God. 

The whole universe has That as its soul. That is Reality, That is the Self, and That is you, Svetaketu.

 ‘Please, sir, tell me more about that subtle essence which is the supreme reality’ said the son.

Uddalaka said, “The bees, my child, collect the honey from different flowers and mix them in the hive. Now, honeys of different flowers cannot know one from the other. 

“My child, the rivers that run in the different directions rise from the sea and go back to the sea. Yet the sea remains the same. The rivers, while in the sea, cannot identify themselves as one particular river or another. So also creatures that have come from Sat know not that they have come from that Sat, although they become one or the other again and again.” 

‘O.k’, said the father, ‘Bring a fruit of that Nyagrodha [Banyan] tree’.

Uddalaka then asked his son to bring a fig fruit. When he did so, Uddalaka asked him to break it. He broke it. 

Uddalaka: “What do you see in it?” 

Svetaketu “I see small seeds.” 

Uddalaka “Break one of the seeds and say what you see.” 

Svetaketu “Nothing Sir.” 

Uddalaka: “You are unable to see the minute particles of the seed after breaking it. Now, the big fig tree is born out of that essence of that particle. Like that, the True Being is the essence of all creation.”

Uddalaka asked his son to bring some salt and put it into a cup of water and bring the cup next morning.  Svetaketu did so. 

Uddalaka: “You put the salt into the water in this cup. Can you take the salt out? 

Svetaketu “I am unable to find the salt; for it has dissolved.” 

Uddalaka “Taste a drop from the surface of this water.”

Svetaketu “It is saltish.” 

Uddalaka “Now taste a drop from the middle of the cup.” 

Svetaketu “It tastes the same, saltish.” 

Uddalaka: “Now taste a drop from the bottom.” 

Svetaketu “It is saltish all the same.” 

Uddalaka “Now child, you do not see the salt, although it is certainly in the water. Even so, the True Being is present everywhere in this universe, although you do not see Him. He is the essence of all, and the desired of all. He is known to the subtlest intellect.” 

Svetaketu became humble thereafter, and became a great rishi himself in course of time. Then the father said, “Here likewise in this body of yours, my son, you do not perceive the True; but there, in fact, it is. In that which is the subtle essence, all that exists has its self.

That is the Truth, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That – Tat Tvam Asi.”

Therefore Arjuna is being instructed to unsnare himself from his delusion and do his duty.

2.19     Shloka 2.19

य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम्  
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते  ।।2.19।।

Ya enam vetti hantaram yas cainam manyate hatam      |
Ubhau tau na vijanito nayam hanti na hanyate           ||2.19|| 

Meaning: He who thinks that the Soul is the slayer and he who thinks that the Soul is slain; both of them are ignorant and wrong; the Soul neither slays nor is slain.

When an embodied living entity is hurt by fatal weapons, it is to be known that the living entity within the body is not killed. The spirit soul is so small that it is impossible to kill that by any material weapon. Nor is the living entity killable because of its spiritual constitution. What is killed, or is supposed to be killed, is the body only. This, however, does not at all encourage killing of the body. The Vedic injunction is, “mahimsyat sarva-bhutani” never commit violence to anyone. Nor does the understanding that the living entity is not killed encourage animal slaughter. Killing the body of any being without authority is abominable. Arjuna, however, is being engaged in killing for the principle of Dharma, and not whimsically.

The soul being of an eternal nature can never be destroyed by anything nor can the soul ever destroy anything. Not being able to fathom the intrinsic nature of the soul they cannot realize that the soul is never the instigator of any action nor is the soul ever the recipient of any action.

2.20     Shloka 2.20

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि न्नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः 
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे  ।।2.20।।

Na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah     |
Ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire      ||2.20||
Meaning:
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Qualitatively, the small atomic fragmental part of the Supreme Spirit is one with the Supreme. He undergoes no changes like the body. Sometimes the soul is called the steady, or kutastha. 

The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its form in the womb of the mother’s body, is born, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into the oblivion. The soul, however, does not go through such changes. The soul is not born, but, because it takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth, and the soul does not die. Because the soul has no birth, it therefore has no past, present or future. It is eternal, ever-existing, and primeval—that is, there is no trace in history of it coming into being.

In the Katha Upanishad we find a similar passage which reads:
na jayate mriyate va vipascin nayam kutascin na vibhuva kascit
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire ||1.2.18||

The meaning and purport of this verse is the same as in the Bhagavad-gita, but here in this verse there is a special word, ‘vipascit’, which means learned or with knowledge.  The soul is full of knowledge, or full always with consciousness. Therefore, consciousness is the symptom of the soul. Even if one does not find the soul within the heart, where he is situated, one can still understand the presence of the soul simply by the presence of consciousness. Sometimes we may not find the Sun in the sky due to the presence of clouds, but the light from the Sun is always there, and we are, therefore, convinced it is daytime. Similarly, since there is some consciousness in all bodies—whether man or animal—we can understand the presence of the Soul. This consciousness of the Soul is, however, different from the consciousness of the Supreme because the Supreme Consciousness is all-knowledge—past, present and future. However, the consciousness of the individual Soul is prone to be forgetful.

There are two kinds of souls—namely the minute particle soul (anu-atma) and the Supersoul (the vibhu-atma). This is also confirmed in the Katha Upanishad in this way:
anor aniyan mahato mahiyan atmasya jantor nihito guhayam  |
tam akratuh pasyati vita-soko dhatuh prasadan mahimanam atmanah ||1.2.20||
Meaning: The Atman that is subtler than the sublest, and greater than the greatest, is seated in the cavity of the heart of each living being. He, who is free from willing and wishing, with his mind and senses composed, beholds the majesty of the Self and becomes free from sorrow.

Both the Supersoul [Paramatma] and the atomic soul [jivatma] are situated on the same tress of the body within the same heart of the living being, and only one who has become free from all material desires as well as lamentations can, by the grace of the Supreme, understand the glories of the soul.

In the Mundaka Upanishad, it says:

द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते । 
तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्यो अभिचाकशीति ॥

dva suparṇa sayuja sakhaayaa samaanaṃ vṛkṣaṃ pariṣasvajaate | 
tayoranyaḥ pippalaṃ svaadvattyanashnannanyo abhicaakashiti || 3.1.1 ||
Meaning: Two inseparable companions of fine plumage perch on the self-same tree. One of the two feeds on the delicious fruit. The other not tasting of it looks on.

The two birds are the Jiva and Isvara, both existing in an individual compared to a tree. They exist together as the reflection and the original. They both manifest themselves in different ways in every individual. The body is compared to a tree because it can be cut down like a tree. This tree is also called the Kshetra or the field of manifestation and action of the Kshetrajna (the Knower of the field). The body is the field of action and experience and it is the fruit of actions done already. The fruits enjoyed by the Jiva are of the nature of pleasure and pain, i.e., they are all relative experiences born of non-discrimination. The experience of Isvara is eternal and is of the nature of purity, knowledge and freedom.

The eternal soul is also permanent but the eternal soul never exists independently; it has limited power, limited knowledge, incomplete in itself, dependent upon the transcendental energy of the Supreme Lord. In juxtaposition to that are the sublime attributes of the Supreme Lord who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Therefore the holy sages and rishis designated them both as ‘sasvatah’ or permanent. Thus in the Visnu Purana because the living entity is embodied in countless bodies from the beginning of time it is known as puranah meaning ancient. The word purana means ancient. Etymologically it stems from purapi navah meaning old yet new illustrating that the eternal soul although ancient is experienced with every birth as ever new. Thus it has been clarified that the physical body only perishes but never can the eternal soul perish.

The imperishable soul which pervades the physical body of all living entities is aja or unborn and thus it is known to be eternal and constant only changing its external embodied form. The two characteristics of being eternal and constant denote that like the material substratum known as prakriti even the most subtle and infinitesimal modifications in the stage preceding manifestation has no ability in any way to affect the eternal soul.

The living entity and the Supreme Lord are both irrevocably established as unborn, eternal and indestructible. The Supreme Lord possessing a spiritual body does not come into existence by being associated with the material manifestation; but is eternally existing independently. Death correctly comprehended is merely the separation of the embodied soul from the physical body leaving it lifeless.

The soul is never born and never dies at any time. How can this be? The soul exists eternally but opting the experiences of the material existence accepts a physical body. What did not exist in the past but is manifested only in the present is called conceived and that which exists now but will cease to exist eventually is called dead. But the soul is not conceived as it eternally exists and it will never die because it is immortal.

With the two words ‘ajah’ meaning ‘unborn’ and ‘nityah’ meaning eternal, it is made clear that the modifications of birth and death are not applicable with regards to the soul. The modification of any growth of the soul is neutralised by the word ‘puranah’ meaning ancient, that it always existed as it is. The soul is bereft of any of the six modifications of the physical body and hence can never be destroyed and it is only the physical body that is destroyed.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 3 – Chapter 1 (Verses 21-46) – Arjuna Vishada Yoga

In the first part of Chapter 1, we saw the vivid description of the battlefield by Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana insinuating Drona to fight with vigour and offer no concessions to his favourite disciples.  In this part, we will see the state of Arjuna’s mind as he prepares for this Maha-Bharata war and this sets the prelude to the conversation between him and Bhagavan Shri Krishna. 

1.21     Shloka 1.21

अर्जुन उवाच
हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत ।।1.21।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthapaya me ‘cyuta ||1.21||

Meaning:  Arjuna said: O’ Achyuta, please draw my chariot between the two armies. 

Arjuna instructs the Shri Krishna to take his chariot between the two armies. He addresses Bhagavan as “Achyuta” meaning “the infallible one”.  Though Shri Krishna is the Supreme Being, because of His “Sausheelyam” (affection) for His devotees, He readily acts on the instructions of Arjuna, without showing any hesitation.

1.22     Shloka 1.22

यावदेतान्निरीक्षेऽहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान् ।
कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन्रणसमुद्यमे ।।1.22।।

Yavad etan nirikse ‘ham yoddhu-kaman avasthitan             |
Kair maya saha yoddhavyam asmin rana-samudyame ||1.22||
Meaning: Arjuna says, So I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle.

Arjuna was anxious to see who the leading persons in the battlefield to assess who he had to contend in this battle.

1.23     Shloka 1.23

योत्स्यमानानवेक्षेऽहं य एतेऽत्र समागताः।
धार्तराष्ट्रस्य दुर्बुद्धेर्युद्धे प्रियचिकीर्षवः।।1.23।।

Yotsyamanan avekse ‘ham ya ete ‘tra samagatah               |
Dhartarastrasya durbuddher yuddhe priya-cikirsavah ||1.23||
Meaning: Arjuna said, let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.

Though Arjuna had full confidence in Himself, more so with Shri Krishna on his side, he wanted to see the enemy army closely to see evil Duryodhana’s allies.

1.24     Shloka 1.24

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्तो हृषीकेशो गुडाकेशेन भारत।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये स्थापयित्वा रथोत्तमम्।।1.24।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam ukto hrsikeso gudakesena bharata   |
Senayor ubhayor madhye sthapayitva rathottamam ||1.24||
Meaning: Sanjaya said: O’ descendant of Bharata, as instructed by Gudakesa (Arjuna), Hrisikesha (the controller of all senses) drew up the fine chariot in the midst of both the armies.

Dhritarashtra is addressed here by Sanjaya as O’ descendant of Bharata, thus subtly stressing that Dhritarashtra is born in the exalted lineage of the righteous and noble King Bharata.  It appears that Sanjaya is attempting to appeal to the conscience of Dhritarashtra to make a last ditch effort to review his foolish and ill thought out decision of forcing this conflict.

In this verse Arjuna is referred as Gudakesa. ‘Gudaka’ means sleep, and one who conquers sleep is called Gudakesa.  So Arjuna had conquered both sleep (also means ignorance) because of his association with Bhagavan Shri Krishna.  A devotee of Shri Krishna can conquer ignorance simply by constantly meditating on Him.

1.25     Shloka 1.25

भीष्मद्रोणप्रमुखतः सर्वेषां च महीक्षिताम्।
उवाच पार्थ पश्यैतान्समवेतान्कुरूनिति।।1.25।।

Bhishma-Drona-Pramukhatah Sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam  |
Uvaca Partha pasyaitan samavetan Kurun iti              ||1.25||
Meaning: In the presence of Bhishma, Drona and all other Kings of the world, the Bhagavan Shri, said, behold Partha (Arjuna), all the Kurus who are assembled here.

And the word Partha, or the son of Kunti or Prtha, is to emphasise the closeness between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. He wanted to comfort Arjuna that as he was the son of Prtha, the sister of Shri Krishna’s father Vasudeva. What did Shri Krishna mean when He told Arjuna to ‘behold the Kurus’?

Placing the chariot in front of Bhishma and Drona between the two opposing armies, Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: O Partha observe all these Kauravas and see those who are favoring them. Bhagavan Shri Krishna could understand what was going on in the mind of Arjuna. The use of the word Partha was to emphasise the affection for Arjuna, as he was the son of Kunti who was the sister of Vasudev (Shri Krishna’s father).  This was to give confidence to Arjuna that He will engage Himself by accepting the position of Arjuna’s charioteer.

1.26     Shloka 1.26

तत्रापश्यत्स्थितान्पार्थः पितृ़नथ पितामहान्।
आचार्यान्मातुलान्भ्रातृ़न्पुत्रान्पौत्रान्सखींस्तथा
श्वशुरान्सुहृदश्चैव सेनयोरुभयोरपि ।।1.26।।

Tatrapasyat sthitan parthah pitrn atha pitamahan
Acaryan matulan bhratrn putran pautran sakhims tatha      |
Svasuran suhrdas caiva senayor ubhayor api                     ||1.26||
Meaning: There Arjuna saw, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers-all present there.

He could see Bhurisrava and grandfathers from the same generation as his grandfather Bhishma. The teachers like Drona and Kripa, maternal uncles like Salya, brothers like Bhima and Duryodhana, sons are like the age of his own son Abhimanyu, grandsons like Lakhsmana and friends like Asvatthama and others.

1.27     Shloka 1.27

तान्समीक्ष्य स कौन्तेयः सर्वान्बन्धूनवस्थितान्
कृपया परयाऽऽविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत्। ।।1.27।।

Tan samiksya sa kaunteyah sarvan bandhun avasthitan        |
Krpaya parayavisto visidann idam abravit                            ||1.27||
Meaning: When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and struck with grief, he spoke thus:

The reference to Arjuna as Kaunteyah, the son of Kunti, is to denote his natural afflictions of the mundane world. He is struck by grief and compassion that accompanies the attachments one develops in this Samsara.  The word ‘Krpaya’ signifies Arjuna’s nature of being compassionate and the word ‘paraya’ denotes that this compassion is only for his own soldiers but also for the enemy soldiers.  The word ‘visidan’ connotes all the symptoms of being grief stricken, like shedding of tears, shuddering, choking, etc. and Arjuna exhibited these as he began to speak (showing all signs of ‘Vishada’).

1.28     Shloka 1.28

अर्जुन उवाच
दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम्।
सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति ।1.28।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Drstvemam sva-janam Krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam  |
Sidanti mama gatrani mukham ca parisusyati                     ||1.28||
Arjuna said: ‘My dear Krishna, seeing all my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, the limbs of my body are quivering and my mouth is completely parched’. Arjuna, after seeing his kinsmen, friends and relatives on the battlefield, was at once overwhelmed by compassion for them foreseeing their imminent death. That thought made his limbs quiver, and his mouth dry.

Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to fear or weakness but because of his kindness, a quintessential characteristic of a pure devotee of the Bhagavan Shri.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (5.18.12) it says:
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah     |
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih   ||5.8.12||
Meaning: One who has unflinching faith in the Supreme and has utmost devotion, that person is blessed by God with all the good qualities that make it endearing to Him. But one who merely engages in seeking knowledge without Bhakti such knowledge is of little value. Knowledge without Bhakti is useless tinsel.

1.29     Shloka 1.29

वेपथुश्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्च जायते
गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते। ।।1.29।।

Vepathus ca sarire me roma-harsas ca jayate                |
Gandivam sramsate hastat tvak caiva paridahyate ||1.29||
Meaning: My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. 

Arjuna is losing his composure as he feels his hair standing on its end, his heart racing, his skin burning and his famous bow Gandiva slipping out of his hand.  All of this is happening to him not because of the fear of the battle but out of his compassion for all those assembled and their kins.

1.30     Shloka 1.30

न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः
निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव। ।।1.30।।

Na ca saknomy avasthatum bhramativa ca me manah    |
Nimittani ca pasyami viparitani kesava                             ||1.30||
Meaning: I am now unable to keep my composure. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon.

Arjuna was unable to stay focussed and was losing control of senses as he was overwhelmed with grief. Bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah: such fearfulness and loss of mental equilibrium takes place in persons who are too attached to the material world. Arjuna envisioned only unhappiness in the battlefield—he would not be happy even by gaining victory over his foes as he saw his cousins, uncles, gurus and grandfathers among them.

The use of the word ‘nimitta’ is significant.  Nimittani is used to mean inauspicious omens but not as an indication or sign of what might happen but as the result.

1.31     Shloka 1.31

न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे
न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च।  ।।1.31।।

Na ca sreyo ‘nupasyami hatva sva-janam ahave           |
Na kankse vijayam Krishna na ca rajyam sukhani ca ||1.31||
Meaning: I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor do I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.

Arjuna thought that his victory in the battle would only be a cause of lamentation for him and says he does not desire the Kingdom that is obtained by killing his kinsmen. He sees the consequences of war presenting conflicting results. Arjuna says that even if he were victorious in the battle and obtains the Kingdom he would not feel any satisfaction or happiness, on the contrary he would be remorseful.

1.32     Shloka 1.32

किं नो राज्येन गोविन्द किं भोगैर्जीवितेन वा।
येषामर्थे काङ्क्षितं नो राज्यं भोगाः सुखानि च। ।1.32।।

Kim no rajyena Govinda kim bhogair jivitena va                   |
Yesam arthe kanksitam no rajyam bhogah sukhani ca ||1.32||
Meaning: O’Govinda! What need do we have for a Kingdom or what need of enjoyments and livelihood, if for those whom we desire the Kingdom and happiness for are all here?

By addressing Shri Krishna as Govinda, Arjuna is appealing to the compassionate virtues of the Lord. Arjuna explains that he does not desire the Kingdom that is to be won in a battle in which the destruction of one’s kins’ is certain. Hence, he says, it is a fruitless desire to engage in a battle where all kinsmen will perish.

1.33     Shloka 1.33

त इमेऽवस्थिता युद्धे प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा धनानि च।
आचार्याः पितरः पुत्रास्तथैव च पितामहाः  ।1.33।।

Ta ime ‘vasthita yuddhe pranams tyaktva dhanani ca       |
Acharyah pitarah putras tathaiva ca pitamahah             ||1.33||
Meaning: All of these men in this battlefield will be giving up their lives and riches. Amongst them are Acharyas, Fathers, Sons, as well as grandfathers.

Arjuna appears to have even forgotten the moral codes for a kshatriya. It is said that two kinds of men, namely the Kshatriya who dies directly in the battlefield under Shri Krishna’s personal command and Sanyasi, a person in the renounced order of life who is absolutely devoted to spirituality, are eligible to enter into the Surya mandala, which is so powerful and dazzling.

Arjuna is reluctant to kill even his enemies, let alone his relatives. He was not willing to fight as he was overcome by grief at the thought of killing so many of them.

1.34     Shloka 1.34

मातुलाः श्चशुराः पौत्राः श्यालाः सम्बन्धिनस्तथा।
एतान्न हन्तुमिच्छामि घ्नतोऽपि मधुसूदन। ।1.34।।

Matulah svasurah pautrah syalah sambandhinas tatha      |
Etan na hantum icchami ghnato ‘pi madhusudana        ||1.34||
Meaning: O’ Madhusudana, even if I am killed, I do not wish to kill my maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and all relatives for the sake of a Kingdom.

1.35     Shloka 1.35

अपि त्रैलोक्यराज्यस्य हेतोः किं नु महीकृते।
निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन 1.35।।

Api trailokya-rajyasya hetoh kim nu mahi-krte                    |
Nihatya dhartarastran nah ka pritih syaj Janardhana ||1.35||
Meaning: I am not prepared to fight with them even if I get all three worlds in exchange, let alone this world. O’ Janardhana, the maintainer of all living entities, what happiness shall we derive by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra?

Arjuna’s deep affection and compassion for the community and his family members comes to the fore. Arjuna is addressing Shri Krishna by his various names as Govinda, Madhusudhana and Janardhana and is appealing to compassionate virtues of the Lord to relieve Him of his agony.

Janardhana means ‘One Who destroys the ignorance of His devotees’. Thus, Arjuna is appealing to Bhagavan Shri Krishna to destroy his ignorance as well in this verse.

1.36     Shloka 1.36

पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिनः
तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान्
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव  ।।1.36।।

papam evasrayed asman hatvaitan atatayinah
tasman narha vayam hantum dhartarastran sa-bandhavan
sva-janam hi katham hatva sukhinah syama Madhava        ||1.36||
Meaning: Sin will accrue if we slay such aggressors. Therefore, it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra and our friends. What would we gain, O’ Madhava, the consort of Maha Lakshmi, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?

According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors:

  • a who poisons
  • one who commits arson
  • one who attacks with deadly weapons without just cause
  • one who plunders riches
  • one who occupies another’s property, and
  • one who kidnaps someone’s wife.

Such aggressors can be slain without instantly without accruing any sin and as mentioned in Vedic injunctions – ‘Atatayinam ayantam hanyad’ meaning ‘Without hesitation such aggressors may be slain as there is no sin in killing them’. The sons of Dhritarashtra have committed these heinous acts of aggression against the Pandavas.

Although there is no reward in this world or the next for such an action, a responsible King of a State is required to be righteous and should not be cowardly. However, one should consider in the case of Arjuna, the aggressors were his own relatives viz. grandfathers, Gurus, friends, sons, grandsons, etc.

Arjuna considered that rather than kill his kinsmen for political gains, it would be better to forgive them. So, he reasoned that such killing is not worthwhile or legitimate for acquiring temporary enjoyments. After all, Kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk salvation by killing his own kinsmen?

Arjuna’s reasoning is based on Dharma Shastra which states ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ meaning ‘Non-violence is the ultimate obligation’ while the moral codes of Niti Shastra states one can rightfully kill his aggressors. Since Dharma Shastra is superior to Niti Shastra, Arjuna reasoned that killing of revered elders such as Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and others can only accrue sin.

Arjuna addresses Shri Krishna as Madhava, reinforcing the aspect that He is the consort of Maha Lakshmi who is the controller of all wealth and opulence, to stress his point that why is the Lord who is the consort of the Goddess of fortune asking him to fight a battle in which there will be blood, gore, death, and devoid of wealth and opulence.

 

1.37     Shloka 1.37

यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतसः
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम्।।1.37।।

Yadi api ete na pasyanti lobhopahata-cetasah             |
Kula-ksaya-krtam dosam mitra-drohe ca patakam ||1.37||
Meaning: These men, overtaken by greed in their heart, do not see any fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends.

Arjuna begins with ‘yadi api ete na pasyanti’ to underscore the reason for the Kauravas to be engaged in this war was out of greed. As we don’t have this greed there is no need for a battle.

1.38     Shloka 1.38

कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभिः पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम्।
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन ।।1.38।।

Katham na jneyam asmabhih papad asman nivartitum  |
Kula-ksaya-krtam dosam prapasyadbhir Janardana ||1.38||
Meaning: O’ Janardana, although these men are unaware, why should we engage in the destruction of a dynasty with full knowledge of the sin? 

Being a devotee of the Bhagavan Shri Krishna, who is the propounder of dharma or righteousness, Arjuna addresses Him as Janardhana meaning ‘the remover of ignorance’ and asks Why should they not refrain themselves from such ignorance being aware of the implications of unrighteous acts?

1.39     Shloka 1.39

कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः।
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत ।।1.39।।

kula-ksaye pranasyanti kula-dharmah sanatanah                   |
dharme naste kulam krtsnam adharmo ‘bhibhavaty uta ||1.39||
Meaning:  With the destruction of dynasty, the spiritual family tradition is destroyed forever, and when spiritual practices are destroyed, unrighteous acts predominate the entire society. 

There are many principles of religious traditions to help members of the family to attain spiritual values. The elder members are responsible for such purifying processes in the family, beginning from birth to death. But on the death of the elder members, such family traditions may stop, and the remaining younger family members may develop unrighteous habits and thereby lose their chance for spiritual salvation. Therefore, for no purpose should the elder members of the family be slain.

Arjuna now describes the evil consequences of war in detail with this verse beginning kula-ksaye pranasyanti. The compound word ‘kula-dharmah’ means ‘the righteous family traditions prescribed in Vedic rites such as the agnihotra (yagna)’. Arjuna argues that due to the destruction of the dynasty there will be lack of qualified family members knowledgeable enough to guide the younger members on the path of dharma. When dharma or righteousness is absent then adharma or unrighteousness takes hold and the remaining dependants along with the whole family will destroy the foundations of society.

1.40     Shloka 1.40

अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रियः।
स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्करः।।1.40।।

Adharma abhibhavat Shri Krishna pradusyanti kula-striyah       |
Strisu dustasu varsneya jayate varna-sankarah        ||1.40||
Meaning: When unrighteousness is prominent in the family, O Shri Krishna, the women in the family are sullied, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.

As the society degenerates without proper spiritual guidance, Arjuna opines that the female of the family become easily accessible and are placed in conditions of compromise. From this polluted and degraded position arises undesirable progeny. The purpose of Arjuna addressing Bhagavan Shri Krishna by the vocative Varsneya is to remind Him that He took birth in the exalted royal Vrsni dynasty and as such should be fully aware of these things.

1.41     Shloka 1.41

सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च।
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः।।1.41।।

Sankaro narakayaiva kula-ghnanam kulasya ca        |
Patanti pitaro hy esam lupta-pindodaka-kriyah ||1.41||
Meaning:  When there is an increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors. 

According to the traditions, there is a need to offer periodic oblations of food and water to the departed forefathers of the family. This offering is performed by worship of Vishnu, because eating the remnants of food offered to Vishnu can deliver one from all kinds of sinful actions.

However, one who is engaged in the devotional life is not required to perform such actions. Simply by performing devotional service, one can deliver hundreds and thousands of forefathers from all kinds of misery. It is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.41):
Devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam na kinkaro nayamrni ca rajan  |
Sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato mukundam parihrtya kartam ||
Meaning: Anyone who has taken shelter of the Lotus feet of Mukunda, the bestower of salvation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the Devas, Sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers. Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by engaging in devotional service of God.

1.42     Shloka 1.42

दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः।
उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः।।1.42।।

Dosair etaih kula-ghnanam varna-sankara-karakaih        |
Utsadyante jati-dharmah kula-dharmas ca sasvatah ||1.42||
Meaning: Due to the evil deeds of the destroyers of family tradition, all kinds of spiritual traditions are eradicated and the nobility of the family devastated.

Arjuna describes the misery experienced for those who are responsible for causing this destruction of the family traditions. Due to these evils, the essential duties prescribed in the Vedic scriptures that are faithfully instructed by holy sages and spiritual gurus are all forsaken.

1.43     Shloka 1.43

उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन।
नरकेऽनियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम।।1.43।।

Utsanna-kula-dharmanam manusyanam Janardhana  |
Narake niyatam vaso bhavatity anususruma                 ||1.43||
Meaning: O Janardhana, maintainer of the people, I have heard from the learned that those people whose family traditions have been destroyed always reside in hell.

Arjuna is supporting his argument by affirming that he has heard from respectable sources in Guru Parampara, that those who are responsible for destroying righteousness reside permanently in hellish existence. Therefore this decision to fight is not the wisest of choices.

1.44     Shloka 1.44

अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम्।
यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः।।1.44।।

Aho bata mahat papam kartum vyavasita vayam    |
Yad rajya-sukha-lobhena hantum sva-janam udyatah ||1.44||
Meaning: Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness. 

It is a sinful act even to think about the killing of friends and relatives. As Arjuna has surmised in the previous verse that it is not in his best interest to fight according to his understanding. Now he is seen repenting that as such an act would bring only evil consequences. Thinking that his intelligence must be marred by delusion he sorrowfully speaks the words: ‘aho bata’ – alas how ironic it is. It is ironic to him that he has committed himself to great sin by his intention to slay friends and kinsman in the pursuit of royal pleasures and enjoyments.

1.45     Shloka 1.45

यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः।
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत्।।1.45।।

Yadi mam apratikaram asastram sahastra-panayah            |
Dhartarastra rane hanyus tan me ksemataram bhavet ||1.45||
Meaning: I would consider it better for me for the sons of Dhritarashtra to slay me in the battlefield unarmed and unresisting, rather than fight with them.

It is the custom—according to Kshatriya fighting principles—that an unarmed and unwilling foe should not be attacked. Arjuna, however, in such an enigmatic position, decided he would not fight if he were attacked by the enemy. All these symptoms are due to kind-heartedness resulting from him being a great devotee of the Bhagavan Shri Krishna.

Bhishma and the Kauravas will certainly attempt to kill Arjuna as they are eager to engage in this war. To answer this, Arjuna is speaking this verse beginning ‘yadi mam apratikaram’ – being not resistant is my atonement.  Ksemataram means much better, since the atonement will wash away all sins. Bhishma and the others fighting on the Kaurava side will not be able be able to escape the result of that sin.

Arjuna states that even if the sons of Dhritarashtra being devoid of wisdom and obsessed by greed would slay him unarmed and unresisting, this would still be more preferable than perpetuating sin by slaying friends and kinsman and permanently going to hell as a result. Arjuna feels that if he refrains from fighting, then after the death of his physical body there would be no feelings of guilt or repentance from committing such a sin.

1.46     Shloka 1.46

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्त्वाऽर्जुनः संख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत्।
विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः।।1.46।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam uktvarjunah sankhye rathopastha upavisat         |
Visrjya sa-saram capam soka-samvigna-manasah ||1.46||
Meaning: Sanjaya said, Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Sanjaya spoke that Arjuna whose mind was agitated by grief cast aside his bow and arrows and sank down despondently in the back of the chariot.

Summary of Chapter 1

Chapter 1 explains the problems of this Samsaara. They arise from attachment (Raga), grief (Soka) and delusion (Moha). When one is not happy with oneself, one seeks happiness from external sources. This leads to dependence and attachment to those external sources. Since the conditions of the external factors are unpredictable, therefore happiness from such sources is unsustainable leading to losing of one’s peace of mind.  A disturbed mind can only make erroneous judgments which would complicate things further. This, in short, is the problem of Samsaara.

The main topics of this chapter are:

  • Verses 1 to 20 – These verses contains a vivid description of the armies and their formations. After a brief inspection followed by instruction by Duryodhana to his commander Drona, Bhishma blows the conch to please Duryodhana.  This is followed by blowing of conch by Shri Krishna, Arjuna, and others, signaling the commencement of the battle.
  • Verses 21 to 25 – Arjuna instructs Shri Krishna to place his chariot in the middle of the armies to scrutinize the enemy-forces. The Lord brings the chariot in front of Bhisma and Drona and asks Arjuna to survey the army.
  • Verses 26 to 27 – Arjuna, looking at the army sees his grandfather Bhishma, his Guru Dona, his uncles, cousins and relatives and has a change of mind arising from his attachment (Raga). In a moment of weakness, Arjuna slips down from reason to relation. Instead of seeing the violators of dharma, he sees his beloved kith and kin. Arjuna is overpowered by attachment which is followed by its twin offshoots grief and delusion.
  • Verses 28 to 34 – Arjuna’s expresses his intense grief (Soka) which shakes him completely. This indicates the extent of his attachment.
  • Verses 35 to 45 – Arjuna’s veiled by attachment loses his discriminative power and he commits a series of false judgments from his delusion (Moha). Interestingly, Arjuna quotes the scriptures to bolster his unjustifiable stand.

Arjuna finds himself in the deep sea of attachment, sorrow, and delusion.  He sincerely wants to get out of this predicament where he is overcome by grief due to his attachment and compassion. In his mind, it is better to die without fighting than kill his kinsmen for the sake of Kingdom and enjoyment that comes with it. At the same time, he has not realized that the problem is so deep for him to solve independently with an unclear head.

In a confused state of mind, Arjuna casts his bow and arrow aside and drops down on the chariot in grief.

Conclusion

Om Tat Sat iti Srimad Bhagavad Gitasu Upanishatsu Brahma Vidyayam Yoga Shastre
Shri Krishna Arjuna Samvade Arjuna Vishaada Yogo Naama Prathamo dhyaayah||

Meaning: Om Tat Sat. This Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishad, is for gaining knowledge of the Brahman, the Yoga Shastra, is a conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna.  The first chapter is called Arjuna Vishada Yoga (Arjuna’s despondency).

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!


Hari Om Tat Sat

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 1 INTRODUCTION

Invoking the blessings of Sri Swami Desikan and Shri Krishna, I embark on this journey of gaining a deeper understanding of this great source of knowledge for the human kind – “Srimad Bhagavad Gita”!

As I began with this introduction, a friend came in to deliver me “Prasadam (Laddoo)” from Tirupati, signifying a divine blessing to begin this journey! With that, I begin my quest for gaining a deeper meaning of the purpose of our life.

The word “Gita” means song and Bhagavad Gita means the God’s song. The Bhagavad Gita is a spiritual text composed by Maharishi Veda Vyasa as revealed to him by Shri Krishna,  It comprises of a 700-verses and forms part of the great epic ‘Mahabharata’.

Gita is a quintessential part of the Prasthana Trayam, the holy books of Sanatana Dharma,. Prasthana trayam, literally, three sources (or axioms), or texts of Hindu philosophy, especially of the Vedanta schools:

  1. The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasthana (injunctive texts), and the Shruti Prasthana (the starting point or axiom of revelation), especially the Principal Upanishads.
  2. The Brahma Sutras, known as Nyaya Prasthana or Yukti Prasthana (logical text or axiom of logic)
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, known as Sadhana Prasthana (practical text), and the Smriti Prasthana (the starting point or axiom of remembered tradition)

Srimad Bhagavad Gita speaks about “the way of living, the nature of things and provides many paths to attain self-realisation.” It speaks about humanity, Reality and our place in that Reality, as well as the actions we are to take to find inner peace. It emphasizes the various forms of Yogas — ways in which humans can deal with the challenges of the ever-changing world and the constant vacillation of emotions of the mind. It deals with the path to wisdom and the relationship of self (Atma) with that of the ultimate Reality (ParamAtma).

The essence of the Gita is that it establishes a person’s right to question every aspect of life.  Sanatana Dharma (ancient wisdom) thrives on “tarka” or debate to explore and find “truth”.  There are many paths that lead to the Absolute truth and each path, followed with utmost faith and devotion, leads to Self-realisation and Salvation.

The Bhagavad Gita is set as a dialogue between a human, namely, Arjuna, and the God Reality, Shri Krishna. The dialogue between the two establishes the principle to question life and gain a true understanding.  Shri Krishna answers Arjuna’s many questions that clarify the confusions and doubts clouding Arjuna’s mind.

The core principles of Srimad Bhagavad Gita are:

  • The consciousness that exists in the macrocosm and the consciousness that exists in each one of us is one and the same. If one understand what upholds one’s being, one can understand the consciousness that sustains and upholds the Cosmos.
  • Everything is composed of matter (that which forms matter) called “Prakriti”, and Spirit or Consciousness called “Purusha”.
  • The life on Earth has only one purpose – to know the spiritual foundation that sustains and upholds the cosmos and all that is there.
  • Humans are capable of this self-realisation, which is knowing the Absolute.

The knowledge found within the Bhagavad-Gita is incomparable as it gives specific information regarding the purpose of human existence, the immortality of the soul and our eternal relationship with God. This information applies to each and every one of us without exception. Without realization of our divine relationship with the God it is impossible to establish our eternal relationship with Him.

There are three paths which lead directly to establishing a relationship with God. According to the Bhagavad-Gita these paths have been designated as the yoga of perfect actions, the yoga of perfect devotion and the yoga of perfect knowledge. These three paths have been fully explained in the Bhagavad-Gita, within chapter 23 to 40 in the Bhishma-Parva of Mahabharata.

The Bhagavad-Gita consists of 18 chapters and each chapter is called a Yoga. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. So each chapter is a specialized yoga revealing the path of attaining realization of the Ultimate Truth.

The first six chapters have been classified as the Karma Yoga section as they deal with the realisation of the Ultimate Consciousness through actions.

The middle six chapters are known as the Bhakti Yoga as they principally pertain to the path of devotion to attain communion with the Ultimate Consciousness.

The final six chapters are regarded as the Jnana Yoga as they explain the science of the attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness through the intellect.

Aum ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya |
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah ||
Meaning: I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.

जय श्री कृष्णाJai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat