Bhagavadgita: 2. The Yoga of Knowledge

Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavadgita

Translated by Jayaram V

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Summary: This is the second chapter, which is considered the summary of the entire scripture. Its presents the importance of realizing that the eternal, indestructible Self is one’s true identity and becoming stabilized in it, in addition to the need to cultivate detachment, overcome desires and perform selfless actions.

Samkhya Yoga

1. Said Sanjaya, Seeing Arjuna thus filled with compassion, his tearful eyes and melancholic mood, Madhusudhana spoke these words.

2. The Supreme Lord said, From where did these impure thoughts came to you at this critical juncture, thoughts of a disrespectful man, that cause infamy and disqualify one from heavenly life?

3. O Chastiser of Enemies, do not succumb to cowardliness. It does not suit you. Give up the lowly weakness of your heart and stand up.

4. Arjuna said, O Madhusudhana, how can I fight against persons like Bhishma and Drona, countering them with arrows, when they are fit for worship?

5. It is better to lead the life of a beggar in this world than to kill these great souls who are my teachers and superiors. If we kill them we have to live and enjoy the rest of our lives with blood stained hands.

6. Nor do we know what is good for us, whether to conquer them or be conquered by them. Certainly by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra, we would not wish to live. Yet they are all now standing there in front of us in the battle field.

7. Afflicted with the impurity of meekness and confused in my heart as to my duty (dharma), I am beseeching you to tell me clearly what is in my interest. I am now your disciple. Please do instruct me and help me as I have now surrendered to you.

8. Even if I have sovereignty over an unrivalled and prosperous kingdom of the divinities in heaven, I do not think I will be able to drive away my grief that is now drying up my senses.

9.  Said Sanjaya, “Having thus addressed Hrisikesa, Gudakesa said, ‘Govinda, I will not fight,’ and became silent.”

10. O Dhritarashtra, at that time, amidst the battle filed, with a gentle smile, Krishna spoke the following words to the grief stricken Arjuna.

11. The supreme Lord said, You are grieving for that which is not to be grieved for. Yet you are speaking like a great scholar. A true scholar would not worry about life that has ended or not ended.

12. There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings. Nor will we ever cease to exist in future.

13. Just as the embodied soul passes from childhood to youth to old age, it also passes from one body to another. The undaunted person therefore is not deluded.

14. Heat and cold, pleasure and pain arise merely because of the contact of the senses with the sense objects. They are fleeting. Therefore O Arjuna, try to tolerate them.

15. O chief among men, that person is eligible for immortality who is not troubled by the sense and who is equal in both happiness and sorrow.

16. Asat (unreality) knows nothing about existence while Sat (reality) of non-existence. The seers who had the vision of both concluded thus about the two.

17. Know that which is pervading all this as indestructible. No one is capable of destroying it.

18. This physical body is perishable. But the embodied soul is described as indestructible, eternal and immeasurable. Therefore do fight O Bharata.

19. Neither the one who thinks it kills nor the one who thinks it is killed do not know the truth. This neither kills nor gets killed.

20. He is never born, nor does he ever die, or he was never nonexistent and he will never cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, changeless and ancient. Even though the body is killed, he (the soul) is not slain. .

21. O Partha, he who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and inexhaustible, how can he injure or kill any one?

22. Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones.

23. The soul cannot be pierced by weapons, burnt by fire, moistened by water or dried by wind.

24. The soul is impenetrable, incombustible, unchangeable, certainly ever existing, all-pervading, fixed, immovable, and ever continuing.

25. It is said that the soul is unmanifested, incognizible, and immutable. Knowing this about the soul you should not grieve.

26. Even if you think that the soul is subject to birth and death, then also there is no cause for worry, O mighty armed.

27. It is a fact that that which is born is certain to die and that the one which has died is bound to take birth. Therefore, do not worry about that which is unavoidable.

28. All created beings were unmanifested in the beginning, manifest themselves in the middle and become unmanifested again when they die in the end. If this is so, then where is the need for lamentation?

29. Some behold the soul with amazement, some speak of it with amazement. Some hear of it with amazement, yet some even after hearing about it know it not.

30. The soul that exists in the body of everyone cannot be slaughtered. Therefore you need not have to lament over the death of any living being.

31. Besides, considering your duty as a warrior also, you should not dither since for the sake of your duty as a warrior there is no better engagement for you than fighting.

32. Happy indeed are those warriors who reach unexpectedly the wide open portal of heaven, unsought, by getting an opportunity like this to fight. Therefore, O Partha, take advantage of this situation and fight.

33. Besides, if you do not fight this righteous war and do not perform your prescribed duty as a warrior, you will lose your reputation as a great warrior and incur sin.

34. People will narrate forever stories of your infamy. For a respectable man, infamy is worse than death.

35. The great charioteers, who hold you in great esteem, would say that you ran away from the battlefield out of fear. Thus, your reputation will go down.

36. Your enemies will defame your abilities, using many unkind words. What could be more painful than this?

37. O Kaunteya, if you are killed ( in the battle) you will ascend to heaven. On the contrary, if you win the war, you will enjoy the comforts of earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight with determination.

38. With equanimity towards happiness and sorrow, gain and loss, victory and defeat, fight. This way you will not incur any sin.

39. So far I have described to you the knowledge of Samkhya yoga. Now listen O Partha, to that (path) which is suitable to your intelligence, by which you can be released from the bondage of karma.

40. There is no loss in this effort, no reverse effect. Even a small effort releases you from the fear of death.

41. Those whose intellect is turned inward into their inner selves, have only one aim in this world, O Kurunandana, while the intelligence of those who are not engaged thus run in many directions.

42. Men of superficial knowledge who take delight in the debate of the Vedas using flowery words, say that there is nothing else besides.

43. Hearts filled with desires, they engage in many specific religious actions with a desire to gain heavenly life, good birth and attainment of sensuous life and material wealth.

44. Their attachment to worldly pleasures and material wealth takes away their intelligence, and they cannot achieve mental discipline.

45. The Vedas speak of the three gunas (qualities). Transcend the three gunas and go beyond the dualities, ever established in sattva( purity), indifferent to personal welfare, and ever established in the self.

46. Of what use water in great reservoir to a man who has well water with him? Similarly, of what use knowledge of all the Vedas to a person who has gained the knowledge of Brahman?

47. You have a right to perform your assigned duty, but not to the results of your actions at any time. Let there be no desire in you for the fruits of your actions. Nor should you ever get attached to inaction or non-performance of duty.

48. Established in (karma) Yoga, do your duties. O Arjuna. sacrificing all attachment, with the same attitude towards success and failure. Equanimity of mind in all situations is called yoga.

49. Actions that bind are far inferior to actions that are performed with equanimity of mind . Therefore. O Dhananjaya, take refuge in Buddhi yoga (equanimity of mind). Only the wretched yearn for the fruits of their actions.

50. The yogi of equal mindedness can get rid of both his good and bad gains in this very life. Therefore. engage yourself in this yoga , for yoga is but skill in performing actions.

51. Performing activities with equanimity of mind, leaving aside the concern for the results, great men are liberated forever from the bonds of birth and death and go beyond the world of illusions.

52. When your intelligence crosses the mire of illusion, you will become disinterested in what is heard and what is yet be heard.

53. When your mind remains impervious to the conflicting statements of the Vedas and becomes stable and fixed in samadhi (absorption in the self), you have then achieved the perfect state of buddhi yoga.

54. Arjuna asked, He who is established firmly in the equanimity of his mind (samadhi) and has attained skill in the stability of mind (sthithapragna), what is his language? How does he speak and how does he sit and walk?

55. Said Lord Supreme like this, When a person gives up all the desires in his waking mind, and when his self is turned inward and satisfied within itself, at that time he is said to be a 'sthithaprajna' ( one who is stabilized in awareness).

56. Undisturbed when there is adversity, indifferent to happiness, free from attachment, fear and anger, he is called a sage of stable mind.

57. Who is everywhere free from relationships, who does not praise or loathe favorable or unfavorable circumstances, his mind is stabilized.

58. He who can withdraw his senses completely from the sense objects, the way a tortoise withdraws its limbs , his intelligence is firmly established.

59. Sense object cease to torment him who practices abstention, although the taste for them still remains in his consciousness. Even that feeling will also disappear completely when he experiences the Supreme State.

60. The sense forcibly throw out of balance even the mind of a man who has complete knowledge of discrimination and is trying his best to control them. Therefore he who subjugates all his senses by keeping them firmly under his full control, and seated properly meditates upon Me, his intelligence is stabilized.

61. By constantly thinking of sense objects, one develops attachment with them. From attachment is born desire, and from desire comes anger.

62. From anger develops delusion, from delusion comes confusion of memory, from confusion of memory loss of intelligence, and when intelligence is lost, the breath of life is also lost.

63. But a man whose mind is under control, even if moving among the sense objects, as his senses are also under his control, he is freed from passion and anger and attains Divine Mercy.

64. On achieving God's mercy, all his suffering is destroyed, and he becomes cheerful. In that cheerful state, his buddhi (intelligence) is sufficiently established.

65. (Without God's mercy) there cannot be intelligence or happiness. And the one who is not established in peace, where is happiness for him?

66. The senses certainly drive away the intelligence of a person whose mind is constantly engaged even if in only one of his roaming senses, just as the winds blow away a boat that is floating on the waters.

67. Therefore O mighty armed Arjuna, when the senses are controlled from all directions from the sense objects, his intelligence is firmly established.

68. The state which is considered as night (unknown) by all the beings is a state of enlightenment for the awakened soul, but the state in which all beings think they are awake is perceived as night by enlightened seer.

69. As the ocean which is though full of water remains unagitated when the river waters continue to flow into it, the awakened soul remains undisturbed by the stream of desires flowing into him. Not by him who is desirous of fulfilling his desires.

70. He who gives up all his desires and lives without the awareness of any need, without any sense of ownership and egoism, he attains peace.

71. This is the state of realization, O Partha, after achieving which one is not deluded. At the time of death, if one remains in this state of consciousness, one achieves the state of Brahma nirvana (the state of Supreme realization.)

Thus ends the second chapter named Yoga of Knowledge in the Upanishad of the divine Bhagavad-Gita , the knowledge of the Absolute, the yogic scripture, and the debate between Arjuna and Lord Krishna.

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