The Bhagavad-Gita
by Dr. Ramanada Prasad
2. TRANSCENDENTAL KNOWLEDGE

Sanjay said: Lord Krishn spoke these words to Arjun whose eyes were tearful and downcast, and who was overwhelmed with compassion and despair. (2.01) The Supreme Lord 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 Arjun. (2.02) Do not become a coward, O Arjun, because it does not befit you. Shake off this trivial weakness of your heart and get up for the battle, O Arjun. (2.03)

Arjun continues his reasoning against the war

Arjun said: How shall I strike Bhishm and Dron, who are worthy of my worship, with arrows in battle, O Krishn? (2.04) It would be better, indeed, to live on alms in this world than to slay these noble gurus, 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 the sons of Dhritaraashtr who are standing in front of us. (2.06)

My senses are overcome by the weakness of pity, and my mind is confused about duty (Dharm). I request You to tell me, decisively, what is better for me. I am Your disciple. Teach me who has taken refuge in You. (2.07) I do not perceive that gaining an unrivaled and prosperous kingdom on this earth, or even lordship over the celestial controllers (Devas) will remove the sorrow that is drying up my senses. (2.08) Sanjay said: O King, after speaking like this to Lord Krishn, the mighty Arjun said to Krishn: I shall not fight, and he became silent. (2.09) O King, Lord Krishn, as if smiling, spoke these words to the distressed Arjun in the midst of the two armies. (2.10)

Teachings of the Gita begin with the true knowledge of spirit and the physical body

The Supreme Lord 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) 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 living entity (Atma, Jeev, Jeevaatma) acquires a childhood body, a youth body, and an old age body during this life; similarly, it acquires another body after death. The wise are not deluded by this. (See also 15.08) (2.13) The contacts of the senses with the sense objects give rise to the feelings of heat and cold, and pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent. Therefore, learn to endure them, O Arjun, (2.14) because a calm person --- who is not afflicted by these sense objects, and is steady in pain and pleasure --- becomes fit for immortality, O Arjun. (2.15)

The spirit is eternal, body is transitory

The invisible Spirit (Sat, Atma) is eternal, and the visible world (including the physical body) is transitory. The reality of these two is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth. (2.16) The Spirit (Atma) by which all this universe is pervaded is indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable Spirit. (2.17) Bodies of the eternal, immutable, and incomprehensible Spirit are perishable. Therefore, fight, O Arjun. (2.18) One who thinks that Atma (Spirit) is a slayer, and the one who thinks Atma is slain, are both ignorant. Because Atma neither slays nor is slain. (2.19) The Spirit (Atma) 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 Arjun, how can a person who knows that the Spirit (Atma) is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and immutable, kill anyone or cause 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 (Spirit, Atma, Jeev, Jeevaatma) acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22) Weapons do not cut this Spirit (Atma), fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. Atma cannot be cut, burned, wet, or dried. It is eternal, all-pervading, unchanging, immovable, and primeval. (2.23-24) The Spirit (Atma, Self) is said to be unexplainable, incomprehensible, and unchanging.

Knowing this Spirit as such, you should not grieve. (2.25) Even if you think that this living entity or body takes birth and dies perpetually, even then, O Arjun, 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. (2.26-27) All beings, O Arjun, are unmanifest --- 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) 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 it. (2.29) O Arjun, the Spirit that dwells in the body of all beings is eternally indestructible. Therefore, you should not mourn for any body. (2.30)

Lord Krishn reminds Arjun of his duty as a warrior

Considering also your duty as a warrior, you should not waver. Because there is nothing more auspicious for a warrior than a righteous war. (2.31) Only the fortunate warriors, O Arjun, get such an opportunity for an unsought war that is like an open door to heaven. (2.32) If you will not fight this righteous war, then you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation, and incur sin. (2.33) People will talk about your disgrace forever. To the honored, 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. Therefore, get up with a determination to fight, O Arjun. (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 sin. (2.38)

Importance of KarmaYog, the selfless service

The wisdom of transcendental knowledge has been imparted to you, O Arjun. Now listen to the wisdom of KarmaYog, the selfless service (Seva), endowed with which you will free yourself from the bondage of action (Karm). (2.39) In KarmaYog, no effort is ever lost and there is no adverse effect. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from the great fear of birth and death. (2.40) A KarmaYogi has a resolute determination for God-realization, O Arjun, but the desires of one who works to enjoy the fruits of work are endless and many-branched. (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 Arjun, as if 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 prosperity and enjoyment. Rebirth is the result of their action. (2.43) The resolute determination of Self-realization is not formed in the minds of those who are attached to pleasure and power; and whose judgment is obscured by such ritualistic activities. (2.44) A portion of the Vedas deals with three modes or states (Gunas) of the material Nature. Become free from pairs of opposites; be ever balanced and unconcerned with the thoughts of acquisition and preservation. Rise above the three states, and be Self-conscious, O Arjun. (2.45) To a Self-realized person, the Vedas are as useful as a small reservoir of water when the water of a huge lake becomes available. (2.46)

Theory and practice of KarmaYog

You have control (Adhikaar) over your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive. You should never be inactive. (2.47) Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjun, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning worry and selfish attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. The calmness of the mind is called KarmaYog. (2.48) Work done with selfish motives is inferior by far to selfless service or KarmaYog. Therefore, be a KarmaYogi, O Arjun. Those who work only to enjoy the fruits of their labor are, in truth, unhappy. (because one has no control over the results). (2.49)

A KarmaYogi becomes free from both vice and virtue in this life itself. Therefore, strive for KarmaYog. Working to the best of one’s abilities without becoming attached to the fruits of work is called KarmaYog. (2.50) Wise KarmaYogis are freed from the bondage of rebirth by renouncing the selfish attachment to the fruits of all work; and attain a blissful divine state. (2.51) When your intellect completely pierces the veil of confusion, then you will become indifferent to what has been heard and what is to be heard from the scriptures. (2.52)

When your intellect; that is confused by the conflicting opinions and the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas; shall stay steady and firm on concentrating on the Supreme Being, then you shall attain the union with the Supreme Being in trance (Samaadhi). (2.53) Arjun said: O Krishn, what are the marks of an enlightened (Sthit-prajn) person whose intellect is steady? How does a person of steady intellect speak? How does such a person sit and walk? (2.54)

Marks of a Self-realized person

The Supreme Lord said: When one is completely free from all desires of the mind and is satisfied with the Eternal Being (Brahm) by the joy of Eternal Being, then one is called an enlightened (Sthit-prajn) person, O Arjun. (2.55) A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow, who does not crave pleasures, and who is completely free from attachment, fear, and anger, is called Sthit-prajn --- a sage of steady intellect. (2.56) Those who are not attached to anything, who are neither elated by getting desired results, nor troubled by undesired results, their intellect is considered steady. (2.57) When one can completely withdraw the senses from sense objects, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into the shell for protection, then the intellect of such a person is considered steady. (2.58) The desire for sensual pleasures fades away if one abstains from sense enjoyment, but the craving for sense enjoyment remains. The craving also disappears from one who has known the Supreme Being. (2.59)

Dangers of unrestrained senses

Restless senses, O Arjun, forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection. (2.60) One should fix one’s mind on Me 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 Self-knowledge

A disciplined person, enjoying sense objects with senses that are under control and free from likes and dislikes, attains tranquility. (2.64) All sorrows are destroyed upon attainment of tranquility. The intellect of such a tranquil person soon becomes completely steady and united with the Eternal Being (Brahm). (2.65) There is neither Self-knowledge nor Self-perception to those who are not united with the Eternal Being (Brahm). 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. (2.67) Therefore, O Arjun, 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) (While most people sleep and make dream plans in the night of the illusory world, a yogi keeps awake or detached from the world while living in it.)

One attains peace when all desires dissipate within the mind without creating any mental disturbance; just as river waters enter the full ocean without creating any disturbance. One who desires material objects is never peaceful. (2.70) One who abandons all desires, and becomes free from longing and the feeling of “I” and “my”, attains peace. (2.71) O Arjun, this is the superconscious (Braahmi) state. Attaining this state, one is no longer deluded. Gaining this state, even at the end of one’s life, a person attains BrahmNirvan (or becomes one with the Absolute). (2.72)


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