Chapter 2

TRANSCENDENTAL KNOWLEDGE

Sanjaya said: Lord Krishna spoke these words to Arjuna whose eyes were tearful and downcast, and who was overwhelmed with compas­sion and despair. (2.01)

Lord Krishna said: How has the dejection come to you at this juncture? This is not fit for a person of noble mind and deeds. It is disgraceful, and it does not lead one to heaven, O Arjuna. (2.02)

Do not become a coward, O Arjuna; because it does not befit you. Shake off this trivial weakness of your heart and get up for the battle, O Arjuna. (2.03)

ARJUNA CONTINUES HIS REASONING

AGAINST THE WAR

Arjuna said: How shall I strike my grandfather, my guru, and all other relatives – who are worthy of my respect – with arrows in battle, O Krishna? (2.04)

Arjuna had a valid point. In Vedic culture, gurus, the elderly, honorable personalities, and all other superiors are to be respected. One should not fight or even joke or speak sarcastically with superiors, even if they hurt you. But the scriptures also say that anyone who is engaged in abominable activities or supports misdeeds against you or others, is no longer to be respected, but punished.

It would be better, indeed, to live on alms in this world than to slay these noble personalities because by killing them I would enjoy wealth and pleasures stained with their blood. (2.05)

We do not know which alternative – to fight or to quit – is better for us. Further, we do not know whether we shall conquer them or they will con­quer us. We should not even wish to live after killing our cousin brothers who are standing in front of us. (2.06)

Arjuna was unable to decide what to do. It is said that expert guidance of a guru, the spiritual counselor, should be sought during a moment of cri­sis or to overcome the perplexities of life. Arjuna now requests Krishna for guidance:

My senses are overcome by the weakness of pity, and my mind is con­fused about duty (Dharma). Please tell me what is bet­ter for me. I am Your disciple, and I take refuge in You. (2.07)

NOTE: ‘Dharma’ may be defined as the eternal law govern­ing, upholding, and supporting creation and the world order. It is the eternal relationship between the creator and His creatures. It also means way of life, doctrine, principle, prescribed duty, righteousness, right action, integrity, ideal conduct, custom, virtue, na­ture, essential quality, commandments, moral principles, spiritual truth, spirituality, spiritual values, and a function within the scriptural injunction or religion.

I do not perceive that gaining an unrivaled and prosperous kingdom on this earth, or even lordship over all the celestial controllers will remove the sorrow that is drying up my senses. (2.08)

Sanjaya said: O King, after speaking like this to Lord Krishna, the mighty Arjuna said to Krishna: I shall not fight, and became silent. (2.09)

O King, Lord Krishna, as if smiling, spoke these words to the distressed Arjuna in the midst of the two armies. (2.10)

THE TEACHINGS OF THE GITA BEGIN WITH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF AND THE PHYSICAL BODY

Lord Krishna said: You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief and yet speak words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. (2.11)

People meet and depart in this world as two pieces of wood flowing down the river come together and then separate from each other (MB 12.174.15). The wise who know that the body is mor­tal and the Spirit is immortal have nothing to moan about (KaU 2.22).

NOTE: The Self (or Atma) is also called soul or consciousness and is the source of life and the cosmic power behind the body-mind complex. Just as our body exists in space, similarly, our thoughts, in­tellect, emotions, and psyche exist in the Self, the space of conscious­ness. Self cannot be perceived by our physical senses because Self is beyond the domain of the senses. The senses were designed only to comprehend physical objects.

The word “Atma” has been also used in the “Gita” for the lower self (body, mind, and senses), psyche, intellect, soul, spirit, subtle senses, oneself, ego, heart, human beings, Eternal Being (Brahma), Absolute Truth, individual soul, and the supersoul or the supreme Self, depending on the context.

There was never a time when these monarchs, you, or I did not exist, nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future. (2.12)

Just as the soul acquires a childhood body, a youth body, and an old age body during this life, similarly, the soul acquires another body after death. This should not delude the wise. (See also 15.08) (2.13)

The contacts of the senses with sense objects give rise to the feel­ings of heat and cold, and pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent. Therefore, one should learn to endure them bravely. (2.14)

Because a calm person – who is not afflicted by these sense objects and is steady in pain and pleasure – becomes fit for salvation. (2.15)

Nothing can hurt one if the mind can be trained to with­stand the impulse of the pairs of opposites – joys and sorrows, pains and pleasures, loss and gain. The phenomenal world cannot exist without the pairs of opposites. Good and evil, pain and pleasure will always exist. The universe is a playground designed by God for the living entities. It takes two to play a game. The game cannot continue if the pairs of opposites are altogether elimi­nated. Before one can feel joy, one must know sorrow. Both negative and positive experiences are needed for our growth and spiritual development. Cessation of pain brings pleasure, and cessation of pleas­ure results in pain. Thus, pain is born in the womb of pleasure. Peace is born in the womb of war. Sorrow exists because the desire for hap­pi­ness exists. When the desire for happiness disappears, so does the sorrow. Sorrow is only a prelude to happiness and vice versa. Even the joy of going to heaven is followed by the sorrow of coming back to the earth; therefore, worldly objects should not be the main goal of human life. If one chooses material pleasures, it is like giving up nectar and choos­ing poison instead.

Change is the law of nature— change from sum­mer to winter, from spring to fall, from the light of the full moon to the darkness of the new moon. Neither pain nor pleasure lasts forever. Pleasure comes after pain, and pain is followed again by pleasure. Reflecting like this, one must learn to tolerate the blows of time with patience and learn not only to endure but also to expect, welcome, and enjoy both the joys as well as the sorrows of life. Sow the seed of hope in the soil of sorrow. Find your way in the darkness of the night of ad­versity with the torch of the scriptures and faith in God. There would be no opportunities if there were no problems. Einstein said: Opportunity lies in the middle of difficulties.

THE SELF IS ETERNAL, BODY IS TRANSITORY

The invisible Self (Atma, Atman, the soul, spirit, the life-force) is eternal. The visible physical body is transitory, and it undergoes changes. The reality of these two is indeed certainly seen by the seer of the truth who knows that we are not this body, but the Atma. (2.16)

The Self exists everywhere and at all times — past, present, and future. The human body and the universe both have a temporary existence, but appear permanent at first sight. Webster defines Atman or Atma as the ‘World Soul’ from which all souls derive and the Supreme Abode to which they return. Atma is also called ‘Jivatma’ or ‘Jiva’, which is the ultimate source of all individual selves. We have used the English words: Self, Spirit, spirit, soul, or individual soul interchangeably for different aspects of Atma.

Our physical body is subject to birth, growth, maturity, reproduction, decay, and death; whereas the Self is eternal, indestructible, pure, unique, all knower, substratum, unchangeable, self-luminous, the cause of all causes, all pervading, unaffectable, immutable, and inexplicable.

The Spirit by whom this entire universe is pervaded, is indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable Spirit. (2.17)

The physical bodies of the eternal, immutable, and incomprehensible Spirit are mortal. Spirit (Atma) is immortal. Therefore, as a warrior, you must fight, O Arjuna. (2.18)

One who thinks that the Spirit is a slayer, and one who thinks the Spirit is slain both are ignorant because the Spirit neither slays nor is slain. (2.19)

The Spirit is neither born, nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and pri­me­val. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. (2.20)

O Arjuna, how can a person who knows that the Spirit is indestructi­ble, eternal, unborn, and immutable, kill anyone or causes anyone to be killed? (2.21)

DEATH AND TRANSMIGRATION OF SOUL

Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones, similarly, the living entity or the individual soul acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22)

Just as a caterpillar takes hold of another object be­fore leaving an object, similarly, the living entity (or soul) obtains a new body before or after leav­ing the old one (BrU 4.4.03). The physical body has also been com­pared to a cage, a vehicle, an abode, as well as a garment of the sub­tle body that needs to be changed frequently. Death is the separa­tion of the subtle body from the physical body. The living entity is a traveler. Death is not the end of the jour­ney of the living entity. Death is like a rest area where the individual soul changes vehicles, and the journey continues. Life is continuous and endless. Inevitable death is not the end of life; it is only an end of a perishable, physical body.

Weapons do not cut this Spirit, fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. The Spirit cannot be cut, burned, wet, or dried. It is eternal, all pervading, changeless, immovable, and primeval. Atma is beyond space and time. (2.23-24)

The Spirit is said to be unexplainable, incomprehensible, and immutable. Knowing the Spirit as such, you should not grieve for the physical body. (2.25)

In the previous verses Krishna asked us not to worry about the indestructible spirit. A question may arise: Should one lament the death of (the destructible body of) our near and dear ones at all? The answer comes:

Even if you think that the physical body takes birth and dies perpetually, even then, O Arjuna, you should not grieve like this because death is certain for one who is born, and birth is certain for one who dies. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevi­table death. (2.26-27)

One should not lament the death of anybody at all. Lamentation is due to attachment, and attachment binds the individual soul to the wheel of transmigration. Therefore, the scriptures suggest one should not mourn, but pray for several days after the person’s death for salvation of the departed soul.

The inevitability of death and indestructibility of the soul, however, does not and cannot justify lawful but unnecessary killing of any creature, unjust war, or even suicide. The Vedic scriptures are very clear on this point in regard to killing human beings or any other living entity. The scripture says: One should not commit violence towards anyone. Unauthorized killing is punishable in all circumstances: A life for life. Lord Krishna is urging Arjuna to fight – but not to kill wantonly – in order to establish peace and law and order on earth as a matter of a warrior’s duty.

All beings are unmanifest, or invisible to our physical eyes, before birth and af­ter death. They manifest between the birth and the death only. What is there to grieve about? (2.28)

THE INDESTRUCTIBLE SPIRIT TRANSCENDS MIND AND SPEECH

Some look upon this Spirit as a wonder, another describes it as won­der­ful, and others hear of it as a wonder. Even after hearing about it, very few people know what the Spirit is. (See also KaU 2.07) (2.29)

O Arjuna, the Spirit that dwells in the body of all beings is eternally indestructible. Therefore, you should not mourn for anybody. (2.30)

LORD KRISHNA REMINDS ARJUNA OF HIS DUTY AS A WARRIOR

Considering also your duty as a warrior, you should not waver because there is nothing more auspicious than one’s personal duty in life. (2.31)

Only the fortunate warriors, O Arjuna, get such an opportunity for a righteous war against evil that is like an open door to heaven. (2.32)

The righteous war is not a religious war against the followers of other religions. The righteous war may be waged even against our own evil-doer kith and kin (RV 6.75.19). Life is a con­tinuous battle between the forces of evil and goodness. A valiant per­son must fight with the spirit of a warrior – with a will and determination for victory – and without any compromise with the forces of evil and difficulties. God helps the valiant who adhere to morality. Dharma (righteousness) protects those who protect Dharma (morality, justice, and righteousness).

It is better to die for a right cause and acquire the grace of sacrifice than to die an ordinary but compulsory death. The gates of heaven open wide for those who stand up to vindicate justice and righteousness (Dharma). Not to oppose an evil is to indirectly support it. Very similar ideas are expressed in other scriptures of the world. The Koran says: Allah loves those who battle for His cause in ranks (Surah 61.04). The Bible says: Happy are those who suffer persecution because they do what God requires. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them (Matthew 5.10). There is no sin in killing an aggressor. Whosoever helps and supports an aggressor is also an aggressor. Thus, all those who supported Kauravas were basically an aggressor and deserved to be eliminated.

If you will not fight this battle of good over the evil, you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation as a warrior, and incur sin by not doing the right action. (2.33)

People will talk about your disgrace for a long time. To the honorable, dishonor is worse than death. (2.34)

The great warriors will think that you have retreated from the battle out of fear. Those who have greatly esteemed you will lose respect for you. (2.35)

Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful to you than this? (2.36)

You will go to heaven if killed in the line of duty, or you will enjoy the kingdom on the earth if victori­ous. No matter what happens you win. Therefore, get up with a determination to fight, O Arjuna. (2.37)

Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, and victory and defeat alike en­gage yourself in your duty. By doing your duty this way, you will not incur any sin. (2.38)

Lord Krishna says here that even the violence done in the line of duty with a proper frame of mind, as discussed in the above verse, is sinless. This is the starting verse of the theory of KarmaYoga, the main theme of the Gita.

The wise should wholeheartedly welcome pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, without becoming discouraged (MB 12.174.39). Two types of people are happy in this world: Those who are completely ignorant and those who are truly wise. All others are unhappy (MB 12.174.33).

THE SCIENCE OF KARMA-YOGA, THE SELFLESS ACTION

The science of transcendental knowledge has been im­parted to you, O Arjuna. Now listen to the science of God-dedicated, selfless action (Seva), en­dowed with which you will free yourself from all Karmic bondage, or sin. (2.39)

No effort ever goes to waste in selfless service, and there is no adverse effect. Even a lit­tle practice of this discipline protects one from the cycle of repeated birth and death. (2.40)

The selfless action is also called Seva, KarmaYoga, sacrifice, yoga of work, science of proper action, and yoga of equanimity. A KarmaYogi works with love for the Lord as a matter of duty without a selfish desire for the fruits of work or selfish attachment to the results, and becomes free from all fear. The word Karma also means duty, ac­tion, deeds, work, endeavor, or the results of past deeds.

A selfless worker has resolute determination only for God-realization, but the desires of one who works to enjoy the fruits of work are endless which makes the mind unsteady. (2.41)

THE VEDAS DEAL WITH BOTH MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF LIFE

The misguided ones who delight in the melodious chanting of the Vedas – without understanding the real purpose of the Vedas – think, O Arjuna, there is nothing else in the Vedas except the rituals for the sole purpose of obtaining heavenly enjoyment. (2.42)

They are dominated by material desires and consider the attainment of heaven as the highest goal of life. They engage in specific rites for the sake of material prosperity and enjoyment. Rebirth is the result of their action. (2.43)

Self-realization – the real goal of life – is not possible for those who are attached to pleasure and power and whose judgment is obscured by ritualistic activities for fulfillment of selfish desires. (2.44)

Self-realization is to know one’s relationship with the Supreme Lord and His true transcendental nature. The promise of material benefits of Vedic rituals is like the promise of candy to a child by the mother to induce him or her to take the medicine of detachment from the material life; it is neces­sary in most instances. Rituals must be changed with time and backed up by devotion and good deeds. People may pray and meditate anytime, anywhere, without any ritual. Rituals have played a great role in spiritual life, but they have been greatly abused. Lord Krishna and Lord Buddha both disapproved the misuse of Vedic rituals, not the ritu­als as such. Rituals create a holy and blissful atmosphere. They are regarded as a heavenly ship (RV 10.63.10) and criticized as a frail raft (MuU 1.2.07).

A portion of the Vedas deals with three modes — goodness, passion, and ignorance — of material Nature. Rise above these three modes, and be Self-conscious. Become free from the tyranny of pairs of opposites. Remain tranquil and unconcerned with the thoughts of acquisition and preservation of material objects. (2.45)

To the enlightened person, who has realized the true nature of the Self within, the Vedas become as useful as a small reservoir of water when the water of a huge lake becomes available. (2.46)

A scripture is like a finite pond that derives its water from the infinite ocean of Truth. Therefore, scriptures become unnec­essary only after enlightenment in much the same way that a reservoir of water has no use when one is surrounded by floodwater. One who has realized the Supreme Being will not desire the attainment of heaven mentioned as the fruits of performing Vedic rituals. Scriptures, such as the Vedas, are necessary means, but not the end. Scriptures are meant to lead and guide us on the spiritual path. Once the goal is reached, they have served their purpose.

THEORY AND PRACTICE OF KARMA-YOGA

You have control over doing your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive, and you should never be inactive. (2.47)

The right outlook on life develops when we fully understand that we have the ability to put our best effort into all endeavors, but we cannot pick the results of our work. We have absolutely no control over all the factors that determine the results. The affairs of the world would not run if all were given the power to choose the results of their ac­tions or to satisfy all their desires. One is given the power and the ability to do one’s respective duty in life, but one is not free to choose the desired results. To work without ex­pecting success or good results would be meaningless, but to be fully prepared for the unexpected should be an important part of any plan­ning. Swami Karmananda says: The essence of KarmaYoga is to go to work just to please the creator; mentally re­nounce the fruits of all action; and let God take care of the results. Do your duty in life – to the best of your ability – as God’s personal ser­vant without any regard for the personal enjoyment of the fruits of your work.

Fear of failure, caused by being emotionally attached to the fruits of work, is the greatest impediment to success be­cause it robs efficiency by constantly disturbing equanimity of mind. Therefore, duty should be performed with detached attach­ment. Success in any undertaking becomes easier if one works hard without being bothered by the outcome. Work is done more efficiently when the mind is not continuously — consciously or subconsciously — both­ered with the outcome, good or bad, of an action.

One has to dis­cover this fact personally in life. A person should work without selfish mo­tives as a matter of duty for a greater cause of helping human­ity rather than just helping oneself, one’s children, or a few individuals. Equanimity and spiri­tual progress result from selfless service, whereas work with selfish motives creates the bonds of Karma as well as great disappointments. Dedicated selfless service for a greater cause leads to everlasting peace and happiness here and hereafter.

The boundary of one’s jurisdiction ends with the completion of duty; it never crosses the garden of fruit. A hunter has control over the arrow only, never over the deer. Harry Bhalla says: A farmer has control over how he works his land, yet no control over the harvest. But he cannot expect a harvest if he does not work his land.

When one has no desire for the pleasure of victory, one is not affected by the pain of de­feat. Questions of the pleasure of success or the pain of failure do not arise because a KarmaYogi is always on the path of service without waiting to enjoy the fruit or even the flower of work. He or she has learned to enjoy the joy of service. The myopia of short-term, personal gain, caused by ignorance of metaphysics, is the root of all evils in society and the world. The bird of righteousness cannot be con­fined in the cage of personal gain. Dharma and selfishness cannot stay together.

The desire for fruit takes one to the dark alley of sin and prevents one’s real growth. Acting only in one’s own self-interest is sinful. The welfare of the individual lies in the welfare of society. The wise work for all of society, whereas the ig­norant work only for themselves or their children and grandchildren. One who knows the Truth does not let the shadow of personal gain fall on the path of duty. The secret art of living a meaningful life is to be intensely active without any selfish motive, as stated below:

Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind at­tached to the Lord, abandoning worry and selfish attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. The selfless service brings peace and equanimity of mind that leads to the union with God. (2.48)

KarmaYoga is defined as doing one’s duty while maintaining equanimity under all circumstances. Pain and pleasure, birth and death, loss and gain, union and separation are inevitable, being under the control of one’s past deeds or Karma, like the coming of day and night. Fools rejoice in prosperity and mourn in adversity, but a KarmaYogi remains tranquil under all circumstances (TR 2.149.03-04). The word ‘yoga’ has also been defined in the following verses of the Gita: 2.50, 2.53, 6.04, 6.08, 6.19, 6.23, 6.29, 6.31, 6.32, and 6.47. Any practical technique of understanding the Supreme Reality and uniting with Him is called spiritual practice, or yoga.

Work done with selfish motives is inferior by far to selfless service. Therefore, be a selfless worker, O Arjuna. Those who work only to enjoy the fruits of their labor are unhappy (because one has no control over the results). (2.49)

A KarmaYogi or the selfless person becomes free from both vice and virtue in this life itself. Therefore, strive for selfless service. Working to the best of one’s abili­ties without becoming selfishly attached to the fruits of work is called KarmaYoga or Seva. (2.50)

Peace, composure, and freedom from Karmic bond­age await those who work for a noble cause with a spirit of detach­ment and do not seek any personal reward or recognition. Such per­sons enjoy the joy of selfless service that ultimately leads them to the bliss of salvation. KarmaYoga purifies the mind and is a very powerful and easy spiritual discipline that one can practice while living and working in society. There is no religion better than selfless service. The fruits of vice and virtue grow only on the tree of selfishness, not on the tree of selfless service.

Generally, it is thought that one works harder when one is deeply interested in, or attached to, the fruits of work. Therefore, KarmaYoga or selfless service may not be very conducive to the material progress of the individual or society. This dilemma can be solved by developing a hobby of selfless service to a noble cause of one’s choice, never letting greed for the fruits dilute the purity of action. Dexterity or skillfulness in work is in not getting bound by the bonds of one’s Karma or worldly duty.

KarmaYogis are freed from the bondage of rebirth due to renouncing the selfish attachment to the fruits of all work and attain a blissful divine state of salvation or Nirvana. (2.51)

When your intellect completely pierces the veil of confusion regarding Self and non-Self, then you will become indifferent to what has been heard and what is to be heard from the scriptures. (2.52)

Scriptures become dispensable after enlightenment. According to Shankara, this verse means one who has rent asunder the veil of ignorance and realized the Truth, becomes indiffer­ent to the Vedic texts that prescribe details of performing rituals for the attainment of desired fruits.

When your intellect that is confused by the conflicting opinions and the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas shall stay steady and firm, con­centrating on the Supreme Being, then you will be enlightened and completely united with God in trance. (2.53)

Non-scriptural reading or reading of different philosophical writings is bound to create confusion. Ramakrishna said: “One should learn from the scriptures that God alone is real and the world is illusory.” A beginner should know that only God is eternal and everything else is temporal. After Self-awareness, one finds God alone has become everything. Everything is His manifestation. He is sport­ing in various forms. In trance, or the superconscious state of mind, the confusion arising from conflicting views ceases, and mental equipoise is attained.

Different schools of thought, cults, systems of phi­losophy, ways of worship, and spiritual practices found in the Vedic culture are different rungs in the ladder of yoga. Such a wide choice of methods does not exist in any other system, religion, or way or life. People’s tempera­ments are different due to differences in their stages of spiritual development and understanding. Therefore, different schools of thought are necessary to suit different individuals as well as the same individual as he or she grows and de­velops. The highest philosophy of pure monism is the topmost rung of the ladder. The vast majority cannot comprehend it. All schools and cults are necessary. One should not be confused because different methods are not meant to confuse, but one should choose wisely.

Arjuna said: O Krishna, what are the marks of an enlightened person whose intellect is steady? What does a person of steady intellect think and talk about? How does such a person behave with others, and live in this world? (2.54)

The answers to all of the above questions are given by Lord Krishna in the remaining verses of this chapter.

MARKS OF A SELF-REALIZED PERSON

Lord Krishna said: When one is completely free from all desires of the mind, and is satisfied with the bliss of knowing the Supreme Being, then one is called an enlightened person, O Arjuna. (2.55)

According to mother Sarda, desires for knowledge, devotion, and salvation cannot be classed as desires because they are higher desires. One should first replace the lower desires with higher desires and then renounce the highest desire also and be­come absolutely free. It is said that the highest freedom is the freedom from becoming free.

A person is called an enlightened sage of steady intellect whose mind is unperturbed by adversity, who does not crave pleasures, and who is completely free from attachment, fear, and anger. (2.56)

Attachment to people, places and objects takes away the intellect, and one becomes myopic. People are help­lessly tied with the rope of attachment. One has to learn to cut this rope with the sword of knowledge of the Absolute and become detached and free.

The mind and intellect of a person become steady who is not attached to anything, who is neither elated by get­ting desired results nor perturbed by undesired results. (2.57)

True spiritualists have a peaceful and happy look on their faces under all circumstances.

When one can completely withdraw the senses from the sense objects, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into the shell for protection from calamity, then the intellect of such a person is considered steady. (2.58)

When a person learns to control or withdraw the senses from sense objects, as a tortoise retracts its limbs inside its shell in time of danger and cannot be forced to extend its limbs again until the trouble is over, the lamp of Self-knowledge becomes lighted, and one perceives the self-effulgent Supreme Being within (MB 12.174.51). A Self-realized person enjoys the beauty of the world, keeping the senses under complete control like a tortoise. The best way to purify the senses and control them perfectly like a tortoise is to engage them in the service of God at all times.

The desire for sensual pleasures fades away if one abstains from sense enjoyment, but the craving for sense enjoyment remains in a very subtle form. This subtle crav­ing also completely disappears from one who knows the Supreme Being. (2.59)

The desire for sensual pleasure becomes dormant when one abstains from sense enjoyment, or due to physical limita­tions imposed by disease or old age. But the craving remains as a subtle mental impression. Those who have tasted the nectar of unity with the Supreme Being no longer find enjoy­ment in the lower-level sensual pleasures. The subtle craving lurks like a robber ready to rob the striver at the appropriate opportunity, as explained below:

DANGERS OF UNRESTRAINED SENSES

Restless senses, O Arjuna, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection. (2.60)

The wise always keep vigilance over the mind. The mind can never be fully trusted. It can mislead even a Self-realized person (BP 5.06.02-05). One has to be very alert and closely witness the wanderings of the mind. Never relax your vigilance until the final goal of God-realization is reached. Mother Sarda said: It is the very nature of the mind to go to lower objects of enjoyment, just as it is the nature of water to flow downwards. The grace of God can make the mind go towards higher objects as the sun’s rays lift the water.

The human mind is ever ready to deceive and play tricks. Therefore, discipline, constant vigilance, and sincere spiritual practice are needed. The mind is like an unruly horse that needs to be broken in. Never let the mind roam – unwatched – into the realm of sensuality. The path of spiritual life is very slippery and has to be trodden very care­fully to avoid falls. It is not a joyous ferryboat ride, but is very diffi­cult to tread like the sharp edge of a sword. Many obstacles, dis­tractions, and failures come on the path to help the devotee become stronger and more advanced on the path, just like iron is turned into steel by alternate heating, cooling, and hammering. One should not get discouraged by failures, but carry on with determination.

One should fix one’s mind on God with loving contemplation after bringing the senses under control. One’s intellect becomes steady when one’s senses are under complete control. (2.61)

One develops attachment to sense objects by thinking about sense ob­jects. Desire for sense objects comes from attachment to sense objects, and anger comes from unfulfilled desires. (2.62)

Delusion or wild ideas arise from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls from the right path when reasoning is destroyed. (2.63)

ATTAINMENT OF PEACE AND HAPPINESS THROUGH SENSE CONTROL AND KNOWLEDGE

A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects with senses that are under control and free from attachments and aversions, attains tranquillity. (2.64)

Real peace and happiness are achieved, not by sense gratification, but by sense control.

All sorrows are destroyed upon attainment of tranquillity. The intel­lect of such a tranquil person soon becomes completely steady and united with the Supreme. (2.65)

There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception to those who are not united with the Supreme. Without Self-perception there is no peace, and without peace there can be no happiness. (2.66)

The mind, when controlled by the roving senses, steals away the intellect as a storm takes away a boat on the sea from its destination – the spiri­tual shore of peace and happiness. (2.67)

A person without control over the mind and senses drifts like a ship without its rudder, becomes a reactor instead of an actor, and develops negative Karma.

Greed for the pleasure of enjoying the light leads bugs to destruction, similarly, desire for the enjoyment of sensual pleasures keeps one away from Self-knowledge and leads into the net of transmigration (MB 3.02.69).

Therefore, O Arjuna, one’s intellect becomes steady when the senses are completely withdrawn from sense objects. (2.68)

A yogi, the person of self-restraint, remains wakeful when it is night for all others. It is night for the yogi who sees when all others are wakeful. (2.69)

Ascetics keep awake or detached in the night of mun­dane existence of life because they are in quest of the highest truth. One is considered awake when one is free from worldly de­sires (TR 2.92.02). A yogi is always aware of the Spirit about which others are un­aware. A sage who sees is unaware of the experience of sense objects about which others are aware. The life of an ascetic is entirely different from the life of a materialistic person. What is considered real by a yogi is of no value for a worldly person. While most people sleep and make dream plans in the night of the illusory world, a yogi keeps awake because he or she is detached from the world while living in it.

One attains peace when all desires dissipate within the mind without creating any mental disturbance, as river waters enter the full ocean without creating any dis­turbance. One who desires material objects is never peaceful. (2.70)

Torrents of the river of desire can carry away the mind of a materialistic person as a river carries away wood and other objects in its path. The tranquil mind of a yogi is like an ocean that takes in the rivers of desire without being disturbed by them because a yogi does not think about personal gain or loss. Human de­sires are endless. To satisfy a desire is like drinking salt water that will never quench thirst, but will increase it. It is like trying to extinguish a fire with gasoline.

Trying to fulfill material desires is like adding more wood to the fire. The fire will go out if no more wood is added to it (MB 12.17.05). If one dies without conquering the great enemy – desires – one has to reincarnate to fight this enemy again and again till victory (MB 12.16.24). One cannot see one’s face in a pot of water that is dis­turbed by the wind, similarly, one is unable to realize God when the mind and senses remain perturbed by the winds of material desires (MB 12.204.03).

One who abandons all desires and becomes free from longing and the feeling of “I” and “my”, attains peace. (2.71)

O Arjuna, this is the superconscious state of mind. Attaining this state, one is no longer deluded. Gaining this state, even at the end of one’s life, a person attains the very goal of human life by becoming one with God. (2.72).

The Supreme Being is the ultimate Reality and truth, knowledge and consciousness, and is limitless and blissful (TaU 2.01.01). The individ­ual soul becomes blissful and filled with joy after knowing God. The giver of bliss is nothing but the bliss itself like the giver of wealth must have wealth. That from which the origin, sustenance, and dissolution of this universe are derived is called the Absolute (BS 1.01.02, TaU 3.01.01). Knowledge is not a natural quality (Dharma) of the Absolute; it is the intrinsic nature of the Absolute (DB 7.32.19). The Absolute is the substratum, or material as well as efficient cause of the universe. It is both the source and the sink of energy in one. It is also called the Unified Field, Supreme Spirit, Divine Person, and Total Consciousness that is responsible for the sense percep­tions in all living beings by functioning through mind and intellect.

The word “Salvation” in Christianity means deliverance from the power and penalty of sin. Sin in Hinduism is nothing but the Karmic bondage responsible for transmigration. Thus, salvation is equivalent to the Sanskrit word “Mukti” — the final emancipation of the living entity from transmigration — in Hinduism. Mukti means the complete destruction of all impressions of desires from the causal body. It is the uniting of the individual soul with the Supersoul. Some say that the all-pervading Supersoul is the causal body who is conducting everything and remains compassionately detached. The Sanskrit word “Nirvana” in Buddhism is thought to be the cessation of worldly desires and ego. It is a state of being in which worldly desires and personal likes and dis­likes have been absolutely extin­guished. It is getting out of body-consciousness and attaining a state of Self-consciousness. It is liberation from attachment to the material body and achieving a state of bliss with God.