Adhyăya 2 : SănkhyaYoga
The first Adhyăya was a reflection
of Arjunas simplicity of heart and god-fearing pious character and searching
mind. As a troubled humanist he is in search of something higher than mere victory
and killing. How painfully and honestly Arjuna justifies his mood of revulsion and
plays a role of a pacifist is also seen in the opening part of the second Adhyăya.
He is prepared to throw away the warriors conventions that do not recognise the
respectability of the elderly persons like Bhishma and Drona. Arjunas magnanimity
reaches its height when he declares his preference to begging than to killing them.
Rest of the second Adhyăya is
solely devoted to Lord Krishnas reply to Arjunas objections. The Gităs
real teaching starts now onwards and Lord Krishna initiates some of the very
fundamental and lofty doctrines of Indias perennial philosophy so well established
and developed throughout the ages.
The Atman, the indwelling Supreme
Divinity, called Brahman has an eternal existence and the body is simply a passing
phase. Mans every action is to be judged in this absolute sense. Human Being
possesses a double nature, a bodily existence and an Eternal Self, the Spirit, the Soul.
The first is transitory. Immortality of the soul and the mortality of the body and
nonbinding character of ones natural duty called Swadharma are the basic
postulates established in this Adhyăya .
Verses 1 to 9
Lord Krishna was not happy with Arjunas depressed
mood. His untimely compassion evoked a sharp reaction from the Lord. Calling it unmanly,
disgraceful, unworthy of a man of enlightenment, Lord Krishna said, "Oh foe-consumer,
shake off this cowardice and arise, such petty weakness and impurities of heart are
unbecoming of a warrior like you!" Lord Krishnas direct reference to Arjuna
losing heaven and fame due to his cowardice did not appeal him much. For him these things
were not greater than the respectful superiors like Bhishma, the grand father and Drona,
the veteran teacher who were worthy of veneration. Any wealth or pleasure would be cursed
with blood guilt if earned by killing elderly persons. " Better to live by begging
than to commit such a sin!"
Although Arjuna said this, his resolution
dwindled and he started suspecting his own position, "What is better: we defeating
Kauravas or they defeating us" He asks desperately:
"I am confused about my duty, I wish
to know what is good for me. I am your disciple. Please show me the right path. Till then
neither the supreme and the unchallenged worlds kingdom nor the throne of heavenly
gods will be able to remove my sense - killing sorrow. I will not fight!" Saying this
Arjuna became silent.
Verses 10 to 25
Lord Krishna begins his reply by striking
at the very root of Arjunas dilemma over the act of killing. The dweller in the
body, the Ătman is the sole reality and the body is merely a
passing phase, simply an appearance. Life and death are the stages attached to the body
alone. The dweller ( dehěn /sharěrěn ) in the body i.e.
the Ătman has no birth, no death.
Though outwardly people seem to die, there never was a time
when they including Lord Krishna, Arjuna and the kings at the war did not exist in the
past nor they shall cease to be in future. Lord Krishna emphasises on the immortality of
the soul, the Ătman. The immortal soul dwelling in
the body passes through the stages of childhood, youth and old age, likewise at the death
he merely passes in to another kind of body. The soul merely changes bodies after bodies
in a manner similar to a person discarding his old clothes and donning new ones.
At the very outset Lord Krishna has thus
lifted the discourse to such a philosophical height where superior intellect and objective
analysis reign supreme over Arjunas emotional and subjective thinking. A spiritual
framework is provided in the beginning itself and in the later Adhyăyas these
fundamental doctrines are fully exposed in minutest details with logical explanations.
Lord Krishna wants Arjuna to imbibe
discriminatory wisdom whereby he can distinguish between permanent and transient. "
The truly wise mourn neither for the living nor for the dead, therefore your sorrow is for
nothing, " Thus advising Arjuna Lord Krishna starts defining the transient and
ephemeral nature of this phenomenal world.
"Feelings of heat and cold, pleasure
and pain are caused by the contact of the senses with their objects. They come and they
go, never lasting long. You must bear with them." Existence of the world is
nothing but experiencing the pairs of opposites (Dvandva) that keep on changing
every moment. Reality stands beyond this.
Pointing out the ever-changing and destructible nature of
both the phenomenal world of matter and individualised consciousness Lord Krishna draws
our attention to the real, permanent and infinite principle that pervades the entire
universe. Whatever the man experiences and reacts through his body, mind and intellect is
of transient nature and therefore finite but that Reality which pervades all things,
animate and inanimate is indestructible and no one has power to destroy it or change it. The
same Eternal Principle, Brahman when dwells in the body is called Ătman
which is birthless, deathless and changeless, whereas the bodies it possesses are said to
is incapable of slaying or being slain. It is neither born nor can it die. "It is
immutable, illimitable and imperishable!" Declares the Lord. Arjunas anxiety
about committing a sin of killing becomes meaningless since the " Soul can not be cut
to pieces by any weapon, can not be burnt by fire, can not be wetted by water and can not
be dried by wind." In modem terms it can be said to be extending beyond all
dimensions of time and space. Thus It being beyond the comprehension of time and space
limited senses, these senses can not perceive it at all. Hence described as Avyakta,
without concrete manifestation. It is also beyond ones mental capacity to grasp, Achintya.
It is also changeless, Avyaya, as it has no manifested form or shape or period
of existence that are the characteristics normally capable of being changed.
Here the implied meaning is very
important. The Ătman, the Self, being the Knower, the Seer
or Doer in the body, a sense - mind - intellect combination which function under
Its power is incapable of external observation or experimentation. It is not an outside
object with name and form so that weapons, fire, water, wind and similar instruments, can
experiment on it to know its nature.
Immortality and various other
descriptions of Ătman forming this section of the second Adhyăya,
become the core of Gitas perennial philosophy and with its power of logic and
rationality it dispels Arjunas delusion arising out of mundane thoughts.
Verses 26 to 31
After teaching the highest of the metaphysical truth ever
spoken, Lord Krishna comes down to worldly plane to remove Arjunas doubts that led
to his despondency. If according to Arjunas own conception, this Ătman is subject to constant birth and death even then he should
not mourn since all beings who are born had to die and rebirth is certain for the dead. So
it is unwise to grieve for what is unavoidable. Lord Krishna has skilfully touched upon
the great truth propounded by sănkhya philosophy. "None knows where we
come from and where we would go to, but in the middle for a brief spell, interim between
birth and death, we become manifest in our bodies. Death is merely a preordained passage
of the soul from the limited body into limitless Unmanifest. Once this truth is realised,
there remains no cause for any grief."
Lord Krishna, then praises the wondrous
experience of those who have realised the Ătman in
its true nature. But there are many ignorant ones who are told about It and still do not
understand a word about It. The Lord wanted Arjuna to be one amongst the enlightened souls
who have realised the eternal nature of the dweller in the body so that he has no reason
to mourn for anyones death.
The question then arises what one should
do in his bodily existence? The Lord now brings the discourse to practical level without
breaking its link with the metaphysical foundation so wisely laid down so far. It was also
necessary to dispel the doubt whether all types of killings were permitted under the
pretext of the immortality of the Soul.
Verses 32 to
The Lord glorifies the warriors
profession. The battle opens a door to heaven and therefore Arjuna should feel happy to
get such a rare opportunity. He was expected to maintain his reputation as a formidable
warrior whereas if he turns aside from his lawful war-duty he would be disloyal to his
innate nature, would lose his fame and would be called a sinner. The arguments came down
to a very human level when the Lord talks about Arjunas colleagues misunderstanding
his reluctance to fight, as arising out of fear and to a man of self-respect "that is
surely worse than death. Your admirers will despise you and your enemies will slander your
courage. What would be harder to bear than to hear such words of infamy and insults."
In such touching, emotional words Lord exhorts Arjuna to rise and fight. After enumerating
negative effects of Arjunas inaction the Lord, then starts painting a bright picture
of his getting earthly pleasures if he emerges victorious and he would attain the heaven
if he dies a heros death in the battle.
Thus urging Arjuna to rise and fight
Lord Krishna strikes a vital chord by telling him the secret of nonbinding actions. Action
by itself is not good or bad, neither sinful nor meritorious. The mental attitude that
puts opposites like victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain and so forth on
the same plane makes ones actions non binding and therefore Arjuna was encouraged to
do Kshatriyas prescribed duty while being non-attached to results
thereof. In such mental equipoise when war is fought as a part of lawful duty, it is not a
Verses 39 to 46
Arjuna was urged to perform his Swadharma
with a mind illuminated by the knowledge of the Eternal Reality. It was not merely
doing a duty for dutys sake. It was really a duty for Gods sake. The unitive
knowledge of the Divine Reality through self realisation can be attained by practising DnyănYoga,
here refer to as Sănkhya Buddhi the path of knowledge by observing metaphysical
discipline of discrimination between real and apparent. Thus the metaphysical discipline
was the focal point of the earlier part of the second Adhyăya referred to as Sănkhya,
by the Lord.
But this discriminatory knowledge can lead
to renouncing all actions including that of a Kshatriya, the warrior. Arjuna too,
had to some extent suggested the same by his reluctance. Lord Krishna now begins
explaining the method of KarmaYoga, here referred to as Yoga-Buddhi the path
of action. Every action born out of desire has a binding effect that remains in the form
of Văsanas, the subtle impressions of ones past experiences and actions.
These effects have to be carried by the doer in this life or subsequent ones for
atonement. Affected ones are those who perform actions with attachment to fruits thereof,
and not those who consider the actions their sacred duty, cast on them by their innate
nature called Swadharma. They perform it as their offerings to God, and thus keep
no Văsanas behind.
Ones little efforts in acquiring this
attitude of non attached action is never wasted and it has no contrary results. "
Even a little practice of this Yoga can save you from the terrible wheel of
rebirth and death." Arjuna is thus reassured by the Lord to make a humble beginning.
But then what are the means to reach that
state of mind? The Lord discloses the secret by telling the importance of discriminatory
intellect that makes ones will concentrated upon Divine ideal. The will of the
person lacking the power of discrimination, and as a result lacking concentration, is
confused. Such irresolute mind wanders in all directions, being attached to material
pleasures. Most of the people fall in this category. Their confused minds drove
them towards the letter of scriptures. And overlooking the inner truth they desire earthly
happiness and heavenly rewards. Involving themselves in elaborate rituals they grow deeply
attached to pleasure and power. As a result they are caught in the cycle of rebirth and
Vedas are sacred scriptures of
Hindus and Lord Krishna refers to their ritualistic portion that invariably comes under
the influence of three Gunas, sattwa, rajas and tamas, which are three natural but
material forces. Living and non-living beings have their own characteristics born of the Gunas
combining in a vast variety of ways. Matter and mind get their differentiating tendencies
and traits due to Guna-influence. These forces keep a human being chained to pairs
of opposites like pleasure and pain, gain and loss, heat and cold, etc.
Arjuna is persuaded not to become involved
in the play of these Gunas. To become free from the pairs of opposites, his
mind has to be absorbed in Ătman without caring even
for his personal livelihood. Unlike the well in the flooded country the Vedas
become useless to a person who is enlightened by the unitive knowledge of Brahman.
What is important is selfless detached action. Vedic rituals and sacrifices when
performed for purification of mind and for the wellbeing of the common people also
become selfless activity that leads to spiritual freedom.
Verses 47 to
Lord Krishna summarises the KarmaYoga
in a very beautiful couplet. "You have the right to work, but for works sake
only. You have no right whatsoever to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits must never
be your motive. Never get attached to laziness either."
These well-known principles stand as
four cornerstones of KarmaYoga. The result of any act does not solely depend on its
doer, but also on various other known-unknown factors. Therefore ones actions should
be free from the anxiety about the fruits. To achieve this goal, every action needs to be
performed fixing ones heart on the Supreme Reality. By renouncing attachment to
fruits one becomes indifferent to success and failure and as a result becomes calm and
peaceful. That evenness or steadfastness of mind is called "Yoga," That
is the state of unity with Ătman.
Work done with anxiety about results is
inferior to work done without such anxiety. Surrendering oneself to Supreme Lord is
rewarded by achieving equanimity of mind. Selfish ones who run after fruits of their
actions are miserable. Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to devote fully to gain unitive experience
of Brahman to enable him to detach himself from the bondage of good and evil. Skill of
doing work without attachment keeping mind fully absorbed in Ătman
is Yoga. He who maintains the mental equilibrium can easily renounce the
fruits of actions. He is bound to reach enlightenment and braking the cycle of birth and
death becomes a perfect human being.
Arjunas intellect was clouded by
delusion and Lord Krishna wanted to clear it so as to make him indifferent to fruits of
his actions. Arjunas arguments were indicative of his intellect being bewildered by
conflicting interpretations of the scriptures. Lord tells him to make his confused mind
steady and undistracted and poise it in the contemplation of the Ătman.
That was the sure way to self realisation.
Verses 54 to 63
Lord Krishna impressed upon Arjunas
mind the necessity of acquiring mental equanimity to enable him to overcome his grief and
delusion. Arjuna had wilfully and with full confidence accepted the discipleship of the
Lord. His receptive mind was so much alive to the inspiring thoughts that breaking his
silence he asked the Lord very basic and intelligent question:-
"Krishna, How can one identify a man
who is firmly established and absorbed in the Ătman,
the Divine self and therefore whose intellect has become steady ? In what manner does the
illuminated soul speak? How does he sit? How does he walk ?
Arjunas eagerness to see the
perfect human being, the personified wisdom in the surrounding world is clearly reflected
in these short questions. It is noteworthy that the Lord does not prescribe
dos and donts of human conduct as arbitrary commandments,
but brings out beautifully the virtues of the Realised Man who lives amidst us and sets an
ideal before others.
Man of steady wisdom;
-Abandons all desires of the mind.
-is blissfully absorbed in the Ătman itself.
-Remains unshaken in the adversity and does
not hanker after pleasures.
-Is free from attachment, fear and anger.
-His worldly bonds are broken.
-Neither rejoices on good luck nor hates
-Withdraws his senses from sense -objects
like a tortoise withdrawing his limbs from all sides.
-The abstinent outwardly runs away from the
objects of enjoyment by negative restrictions but really carries his desires with him, but
in the case of the man of steady wisdom, having once tasted the joy of Ătman, his desires also disappear.
-Senses are so strong and impetuous that
they forcibly drag the mind even of a wise man who is trying to control them. But the man
with the steadfast mind restrains the senses keeping them under full control. Thus
recollecting the mind he fixes it on Me the Lord.
Lord Krishna demonstrated the
qualities of the man of steady wisdom by stressing indirectly the need of the
mind-control. He now draws our attention to the very fundamental pitfalls of human mind.
Lord describes the process:-
Thinking about sense-objects develops
attachment to sense-objects. From the attachment grows the addiction. Addiction thwarted
produces anger. Anger leads to mental confusion which in turn kills the power of memory.
Once memory is lost discriminatory intellect is lost and when power of discrimination is
lost the man is doomed.
What a realistic picture of our worldly
Verses 64 to 70
In contrast to the human failures, the man
of steady wisdom exhibits extra ordinary qualities while living in the pairs of opposites.
A person who is obedient to Ătman, walks safely among the objects of lust and hatred. His
peace of mind is not disturbed. In this peace all sorrows melt. Once his mind is peaceful
his intellect becomes steady.
Whereas one who has no knowledge of the Ătman, can have neither a steady mind nor a steady intellect. Without
steadiness there is no peace and where there is no peace, from where can there be
As the strong wind sweeps away a ship from
its course upon the waters a mind engaged in wandering senses drag away the intelligence
which is the main instrument of gaining wisdom; ...................... But in the case of
man with steady wisdom senses get detached from their objects.
Lord Krishna in a famous couplet brings out
the contrast between the illuminated soul and the common people.
"The man of restraints is awake in
his enlightenment which is a dark night to all other beings, and the beings are awake in
sensual fife which is a daylight to them; but to a seer it is a dark night."
Water flows continually into the ocean but
the ocean remains undisturbed, likewise when desires are flowing in to the mind of the
seer his peace is not disturbed. This is not possible with a passionate one.
Verses 71 to 72
After profusely praising the man of steady
wisdom by presenting his shining virtues, Lord Krishna now concludes by glorifying the
state of enlightenment in Brahman, called Brăhmi sthiti.
A person who has deserted all his desires
of sense gratification and who is passionless and devoid of sense of possession and ego
takes the seat of peace in the heart of Brahman.
This is, Lord Krishna reiterates, the state
of enlightenment in Brahman. Once attained there is no chance of becoming a
victim of any delusion. Even at the time of death the man thus situated, gets freed and
enters into Brahman.
Since the second Adhyăya stresses the importance
of knowledge as a precondition to self realisation, it is rightfully called sănkhyaYoga.