Gita 3.11

devan bhavayatanena

te deva bhavayantu vah

parasparam bhavayantah

sreyah param avapsyatha

Meaning

By this (Yajna) please the devas who will in turn please you! Thus supporting each other you will attain the highest good.

Explanation

By yajna or worship and appeasement one pleases the Devas or demi- gods, who in turn please you with prosperity and abundance. Thus mutually gratifying each other both humans and the devas will be happy and attained the highest good.

Trees and plants etc. naturally bear flowers and fruits, but their growth is luxuriant if these are tended properly. Similarly, a man should perform his duty by nurturing and fostering the gods by offering worship and service to them. By doing so, he is sustained by the gods with timely rain etc. But when he does not perform his duty properly, the gods do not properly protect and so he has to face calamities, such as a deluge and drought etc. It is an accepted fact that the body, senses, mind, intellect and possessions are neither ours nor for us. If we sincerely perform our respective duties, we will add immensely, to the welfare of the world.

Generally the Devas are the presiding deities of a particular function, such as Kubera for wealth, Varuna for Waters, Vayu for air, Agni for fire, etc. We have to do Yajna to please these Gods who in turn take good care of us in all aspects. Similarly in organizations we have Heads of Departments and CEO and one must serve their departments selflessly and with devotion and you will be taken care with promotions and prosperity.

Duties and responsibilities of the Hindu life have been classified into five great Yajna or the Pancha Mahayajnas.  It is imperative on the part of every householder to perform the following five sacrifices

Rishi-yajna – honouring Rishis by the study of Holy Scriptures.

Deva-yajna – worship of the celestials (devas) by pouring oblations into the sacred fire. This is done during the twilight prayers (sandhya), aupasana, and agnihotra yajna.

Pitri-yajna – offering libations to ancestors or pitrs.

Manushya-yajna – charitable offerings of food to fellow humans.

Bhuta-yajna — feeding animals, especially cows and birds.

Gita 3.12

istan bhogan hi vo deva

dasyante yajna-bhavitah

tair dattan apradayaibhyo

yo bhunkte stena eva sah

Meaning

Fostered by the sacrifice (yajna), the gods, will bestow upon you all the requisite necessary for performing your duty. He who relishes these, without using these in the service of others, is verily a thief.

Explanation

One should know, however, that all the necessities of life that the human society requires are supplied by the demigod. No one can manufacture anything. Take, for example, all the eatables of human society such as grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar, etc., none of which can be manufactured by men. Then again, take for example heat, light, water, air, etc., which are also necessities of life – none of them can be manufactured by the human society. Without the Supreme Lord, there can be no profuse sunlight, moonlight, rainfall, breeze, etc., without which no one can live. Obviously, our life is dependent on supplies from the Lord. Even for our manufacturing enterprises, we require so many raw materials like metal, sulphur, mercury, manganese, and so many essentials-all of which are supplied by the Devas, with the purpose that we should make proper use of them to keep ourselves fit and healthy for the purpose of self-realization, leading to the ultimate goal of life, namely, liberation from the material struggle for existence. This aim of life is attained by performance of yajna. If we forget the purpose of human life and simply take supplies from the agents of the Lord for sense gratification and become more and more entangled in material existence, which is not the purpose of creation, certainly we become thieves, and therefore we are punished by the laws of material nature. A society of thieves can never be happy because they have no aim in life. The gross materialist thieves have no ultimate goal of life.

We owe this body to our parents, and it is they, who have fostered it. For our knowledge, we are grateful to our preceptors and sages. Thus, whatever material, strength, ability, rank, authority, wealth and property we possess, we owe it all, to others. So whatever we possess should be devoted to the service of others. The person who without repaying the rightful due of others and enjoys the objects himself, is a thief. Thus a thief is, he who performs actions with a selfish motive in order to gain honour and praise etc. Such a person can never gain purity and peace of mind. A selfish man is not liked or praised by anyone. In a family, objects get concealed from a passionate and pleasure-seeking person. On the other hand, if a person serves others with all his resources, he attains salvation and is also praised, honoured, comforted and supplied things, even though he is unwilling to receive them.

Gita 3.13

yajna-sistasinah santo

mucyante sarva-kilbisaih

bhunjate te tv agham papa

ye pacanty atma-karanat

Meaning

The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.

Explanation

Those who accept food after first offering it to the Supreme Lord are freed from the sins acquired from the five areas in the home causing harm to any living entity. They are: the mortar and pestle where sometimes extremely small bugs are accidentally killed, the grindstone where microscopic amoebas inside of the seeds are ground to death, the fireplace where sometimes crawling things come into when the fire is out only to be burned to death when the fire is lit, the water pot where sometimes insects fly into and drown and the broom which while sweeping dirt and dust from the house might also sweep ants and such in such a way as to cause their demise. These are the five areas of harm in the home causing accidental death to harmless creatures as confirmed in the Manu Samhita. Those sinful wretches who do not first offer what they eat to the Supreme Lord are not freed from any of these sins but they are punished for them and verily day by day they eat only sin. On account of these sins multiplying daily they have no opportunity to attain heaven.

The body, ability, rank (position), authority, knowledge and power etc., which a man possesses, have been obtained and will be lost. Therefore they are not ours and are not for us, but they are for rendering service to others. Our Indian culture is summed up in this principle. As all the organs of the body are for the welfare of the body, so all the people of the world are for the welfare of the world. A man may be of any country, guise, Varna (social order), ashram (stage of life) etc., may easily attain salvation by rendering service to others through his actions.

We get everything from nature and society and therefore we are duty bound to return part of our earnings to them. Those who do not are called thieves. Similarly one must not sell food or even put poison in food even to kill rats or other insects.

Gita 3.14

annad bhavanti bhutani

parjanyad anna-sambhavah

yajnad bhavati parjanyo

yajnah karma-samudbhavah

Meaning

All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.

Explanation

The human being eats different kinds of food grains, vegetables, fruits, etc., and the animals eat the refuse of the food grains and vegetables, grass, plants, etc. Human beings who are accustomed to eating meat and flesh must also depend on the production of vegetation in order to eat the animals. Therefore, ultimately, we have to depend on the production in the field and not on the production of big factories. The field production is due to sufficient rain from the sky, and such rains are controlled by demigods like Indra, sun, moon, etc., and they are all servants of the Lord. The Lord can be satisfied by sacrifices; therefore, one who cannot perform them will find himself in scarcity -that is the law of nature. Yajna, specifically prescribed for this age, must therefore be performed to save us at least from scarcity of food supply.

Gita 3.15

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi

brahmaksara-samudbhavam

tasmat sarva-gatam brahma

nityam yajne pratisthitam

Meaning

Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme God. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.

Explanation

It should be known that actions have its origins in the Brahman meaning the Vedas. Although nature is seen as a force of action actually it is supported fully by the underlying energy of the Supreme Brahman. Actions though appearing to have a force of their own are only manifested through the instrument of matter in humans in the physical body. The Vedas as described earlier have been emanated from the imperishable Supreme Brahman, Lord Krishna. The words sarva-gatam means all-pervading or indestructible. This is indicative of the Supreme Brahman as well as the soul within every living entity. The soul is known to be indestructible and all pervading. The word ‘udbhavan’ meaning ‘originates from’ is used to illustrate that this fitness comes from the source from which one manifests from. Even nature is only able to operate from the substratum through the utilisation of sun, rain, wind, fire etc. and by no other means. Therefore the all-pervading and indestructible Atma or soul utilises a physical body which is its substratum.  

 

 

 

 

Gita 3.6

karmendriyani samyamya

ya aste manasa smaran

indriyarthan vimudhatma

mithyacarah sa ucyate

Meaning

One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.

Explanation

One who is able to restrain their body from sense objects still may find their mind attached to sense objects. This is due to impurities caused by passion and desires from past lifetimes. Those who forcefully restrain their senses under the pretext of meditation but is inwardly reflecting on the objects of the senses is a cheat and a charlatan. Being impure the mind of such an impostor lacks the tranquillity and lucidity to practice such meditation.

Here the term ‘Karmendriyani’ does not stand only for the five organs of action (speech, hand, foot, anus and generative organ) but also stands for the five sense organs (ear, skin, eye, taste and nose) because actions cannot be performed by the organs of action alone without sense-organs. A man of foolish understanding (who cannot distinguish the real, from the unreal) restrains the senses forcibly, from running after sense-objects but thinks of the objects of enjoyment, with his mind and assumes this state, as action less. Such a person is called a hypocrite. The reason is that outwardly he has restrained the organs and senses, but because of egoism, attachment and desire, he performs action by enjoying pleasure, while thinking of the objects of enjoyment.

Gita 3.7

yas tv indriyani manasa

niyamyarabhate ‘rjuna

karmendriyaih karma-yogam

asaktah sa visisyate

Meaning

But he who controls his senses through the mind, O Arjuna, and engages himself in the path of action, with the organs of action and sense, without being attached, is superior.

Explanation

So the one performing actions without attachment is the best. Even the married householder who gradually through his actions controls his mind and senses is far superior to such a false renunciate. By diverting the senses from sense objects by control of the mind one becomes eligible for contemplation of the self.  When unattached to the desire for anything, one gets qualified for meditation on the atma or soul. So it is clear that the discipline of karma yoga the practice of selfless actions is essential for spiritual development.

Here the term ‘Manasa, stands for all the inner senses-(mind, intellect, faculty of reflection and ego) and the term ‘Indriyani’ denotes, all the ten organs of action and sense-organs. ‘Controlling the senses by the mind’ means that by applying discrimination a seeker should realize that the self has no affinity for the senses and the mind. When the senses are controlled by the mind, these can be engaged in or deviated from, any activity as the seeker wishes.

It is attachment, and not actions or their fruit that is the root of all evils. Attachment is the main stumbling block to perfection.

We should remember that the Gita is meant for the man of the world and not for the recluse. Arjuna wanted to abandon karma which is impossible because he was not mentally ready for it and hence Krishna tells him how to transform the same karma into ‘nishkamakarma’(selfless action). Control of the senses must come from within through the mind.

Gita 3.8

niyatam kuru karma tvam

karma jyayo hy akarmanah

sarira-yatrapi ca te

na prasiddhyed akarmanah

Meaning

Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction. A man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.

Explanation

One should perform the duties prescribed in the Vedic scriptures appropriate for ones stage in life. The daily duties like praying, meditating and worshipping are being referred to by Lord Krishna. Action is superior to inaction for by abstention from action none of these activities can be accomplished. What to say of those, if one fails to take actions even the maintenance of their physical body will not be possible.

One should perform the actions that are appropriate to one’s ‘varna’ or status and ashram or stage in life. In Vedic culture there are four varnas: brahmin the priestly class, kshatriya the royalty and warrior class, vaishya the farmers and business classes and sudra the workers and servants of the previous three classes. In Vedic culture there are also four ashrams: bramacharya which is celibate student life, grihasta which is married family life, vanaprastha which is semi-retired householder life and sannyasa which is complete renunciation of worldly life for meditation on God. Due to changing times and the unseemly mixture of different varnas people no longer adhere exclusively to the natural duties of their ashram as prescribed by the Vedas. This was even happening over 5000 years ago at the end Dvapara yuga. In the Mahabharata we see King Yudhishthira noting that it was becoming exceedingly difficult to determine the varna of people due to the mixture of different classes. Therefore it is only by conduct and attributes that one can judge what class one belongs to and not simply by what varna one was born into and this conduct is determined by actions.

A man is permitted to perform two types of actions-those as laid down in the scriptures such as, fasts and worship etc., and the allotted duty according to one’s caste, order of life, nature and circumstance, such as eating food, doing business, construction of a house and guiding a person who has lost his way and so on. Even if a man cannot perform all actions as laid down in the scriptures, thoroughly, he can very easily abandon the forbidden actions.  Non-performance of prescribed actions is not very harmful, but abandonment of forbidden actions, such as falsehood, theft and violence etc., is very beneficial. When he abandons forbidden actions, actions sanctioned by the scriptures, are automatically performed by him.

Gita 3.9

yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra

loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah

tad-artham karma kaunteya

mukta-sangah samacara

Meaning

The mankind is bound by actions other than those done for the sake of sacrifice. Therefore, O son of Kunti (Arjuna), perform action for that (yajna) sake, and without attachment.

Explanation

Generally, a person does an act promptly and efficiently, only if it serves his selfish motive, but such an action binds him. In order to be free from the bondage, he should perform actions prescribed by the scriptures, disinterestedly. Actions should be performed as a sacrifice to the Supreme Lord and no sacrifice should ever be performed with an intention for reward. Activities performed as an offering to the Supreme Lord known as yajna or sacrifice should be performed which are not bound to the material nature.

According to the Gita, every duty is ‘Yajna’ (sacrifice). The term ‘Yajna’ includes sacrifice, charity, penance, oblation, pilgrimage, fast, study of the Vedas and all physical, mundane and spiritual actions. Professions such as business, service and teaching etc., sanctioned by the scriptures, are also included in ‘Yajna’. Actions which are performed to comfort others and for the welfare of others are also included in the term ‘Yajna’. Attachment perishes very quickly by performing actions for the sake of sacrifice and all actions of a Karma yogi are dissolved i.e., they instead of leading the person to bondage, reduce the stock of his past actions also to nothing.

Only when people come forward to act in a spirit of cooperation and self-dedication, can the community get itself free from its shackles of poverty and sorrow. And such activities should be undertaken in a spirit of divine loyalty only then the worker gets no attachment.

Gita 3.10

saha-yajnah prajah srstva

purovaca prajapatih

anena prasavisyadhvam

esa vo ‘stv ista-kama-dhuk

Meaning

At the beginning, when the creator ‘(Prajapati) created living beings with sacrifice and said, “By this shall you propagate; let this fulfil all your requirements for the sacrifice (Yajna).”

Explanation

At the beginning of creation Brahma, the creator, created man by providing him with power for performing actions and also bestowed upon him discrimination to choose the right use of desirable and undesirable circumstances that leads to salvation. A Karma yogi (the follower of the Discipline of Action), is ever ready to render service or do good to others. Therefore, according to the ordinance of Brahma, the creator, such a Karma yogi does not lack the required capacity and material for rendering service to others, and for the maintenance of his body. All this required material is easily available to him. According to the ordinance of Brahma everybody has been offered this material, in order to enable him to perform his duty.

God has created the entire world with a spirit of sacrifice and service. Look around and see yourself! The sun, moon, sea, river, trees…. All serve others selflessly without expecting anything in return. Only human beings are selfish. We can only progress when we start doing selfless service to others without expecting anything in return.

 

 

Chapter three establishes the fact by various points of view that the performance of prescribed duties is obligatory for everyone. Here Lord Krishna categorically and comprehensively explains how it is the duty of each and every member of society to carry out their functions and responsibilities in their respective stage of life according to the rules and regulations of the society in which one lives. Further the Lord explains why such duties must be performed, what benefit is gained by performing them, what harm is caused by not performing them. Plus what actions lead to bondage and what actions lead to salvation. All these points relating to duty have been described in great detail. Thus this chapter is entitled: The Eternal Duties of Human Beings.

Gita 3.1

arjuna uvaca

jyayasi cet karmanas te

mata buddhir janardana

tat kim karmani ghore mam

niyojayasi kesava

Meaning

Arjuna said – If you think that knowledge is superior to action, O Janardhana (Krishna), why then do You make me do a dreadful deed, O Kesava (Krishna)?

Explanation

Although jnana yoga and karma-yoga have been explained in detail, the relationship between the two has not been established as to which is superior and which is subordinate. Here in this verse Arjuna is thinking that he was blamed earlier in chapter two, verse 11 for lamenting for those who should not be grieved for. He was subsequently tutored in jnana yoga, the path of knowledge to alleviate this error. Now Lord Krishna is presenting a way to alleviate this error from the point of view of karma yoga, the path of actions without attachment. In chapter two, verse thirty-nine he is told he has the right to perform actions but not to desire the fruit of action. In chapter two, verse forty-seven and forty-eight he is instructed not to be attached to inaction and perform duties with equanimity, respectively. Then in chapter two, verse fifty-three he is told how the mind becomes in this state. Then from verse fifty-five until the end of the chapter two Lord Krishna gives the proofs to show the superiority of the cultivation of spiritual knowledge which leads to the ultimate truth in the last verse of this chapter where once one having attained even at a second before death attains liberation from the material existence. But in spite of these instructions Arjuna was still being instructed to arise and fight. These seemingly contradictory instructions caused some confusion in Arjuna mind that he was anxious to have the omniscient and omnipotent supreme Lord Krishna dispel.

Gita 3.2

vyamisreneva vakyena

buddhim mohayasiva me

tad ekam vada niscitya

yena sreyo ‘ham apnuyam

Meaning

You seem to confuse me with contradicting statements. Tell me for certain which will fetch me the highest good.

Explanation

Due to the praising of both jnana yoga and karma yoga in a seemingly equal manner some conflict arises in Arjuna’s mind and he became confused. Although Arjuna was bewildered he could still understand that Lord Krishna valued the cultivation of spiritual knowledge as being superior to activities without attachment and he could also understand that if Lord Krishna was ordering him to fight this must be also for his betterment as well, The Lord did not specify which path Arjuna was qualified for as yet and thus Arjuna was in a dilemma and needed a clear, definitive instruction that would end his confusion. Arjuna is humbly requesting this with the underlying request that the most merciful and compassionate Supreme Lord should not bewilder the mind of one who is His surrendered devotee. Arjuna requests Lord Krishna to tell him decisively, one principle either of action or of knowledge, by which he may attain the highest good or bliss.

Every day in our life, we are offered multiple choices to solve an issue or do something new. Where we reach in our life is based on the choices we make and to make the right choice clarity of thoughts arising out of knowledge and wisdom is a must. Here the Lord is guiding us towards that eternal wisdom.

Gita 3.3

sri-bhagavan uvaca

loke ‘smin dvi-vidha nistha

pura prokta mayanagha

jnana-yogena sankhyanam

karma-yogena yoginam

Meaning

The Blessed Lord said: O sinless Arjuna, I have already explained that there are two classes of men who realize the Self. Some are inclined to understand Him by empirical, philosophical speculation, and others are inclined to know Him by devotional work.

 

Explanation

Lord Krishna’s reply begins with O sinless one inferring that Arjuna is fit to be instructed. Lord Krishna states that in this world these are the two paths aspirants can take which lead to moksha or liberation. But they both depend upon qualification as jnana yoga is suitable for one type of human being and karma yoga is suitable for another type. What has been presented in the previous chapter was from the point of view of jnana yoga.

Gita 3.4

na karmanam anarambhan

naiskarmyam puruso ‘snute

na ca sannyasanad eva

siddhim samadhigacchati

Meaning

Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.

Explanation

It has been established that activities prescribed in the Vedic scriptures performed without anticipation of rewards are conducive for spiritual development. Without this inner consciousness one is not qualified for jnana yoga or the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. Many may wish for moksha or liberation and attempt to renounce the world prematurely but they do not reach perfection only by such renunciation. So it should be understood that without purity of mind and adequate spiritual knowledge a person even though appearing to be a renunciate actually has not properly qualified themselves for jnana yoga in spite of appearances.

The Gita teaches a man, how to attain spiritual perfection by performing one’s duty. It inspires him to perform actions, rather than to renounce them. So the Lord lays emphasis, on performing actions, in both the Disciplines of Action and Knowledge. It is natural that when a seeker aims at salvation, he gets tired of the worldly affairs and wants to renounce those affairs. Lord guides him to renounce his attachment to them instead of renouncing the performance of actions.

Gita 3.5

na hi kascit ksanam api

jatu tisthaty akarma-krt

karyate hy avasah karma

sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih

Meaning

For, no one under any circumstances can remain even for a moment, without undertaking action; everyone is compelled to act, by the modes born of nature.

Explanation

The renunciation of actions factually means not being attached to them. It does not mean actually giving them up, as that is impossible. If one should steadfastly determine to perform absolutely nothing, still one would be compelled into action by the qualities of the three gunas being sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or ignorance, all from prakriti, material nature. The effects of these have sprung into existence from one’s past life activities.

Generally, people regard their professions, such as business, service, teaching or nursing children etc., as actions, but they do not consider eating, drinking, sleeping, waking and thinking etc., as actions. So, when they renounce their profession, they think that they are not performing actions. But it is a serious error on their part. All the activities performed by the physical body, for the purpose of earning a living, actions performed by the subtle body like sleeping and thinking and in trance, performed by the causal body, are all regarded as actions. So long as, a man has ego and sense of ‘mineness’ with the body, the activities performed by body are actions as the body is part of nature and nature is never inactive. So, a person having egoism and attachment to the body cannot remain without performing action, in either of the states, either of activity or inactivity.

What we perceive as life existed even before we took this particular form of human body. When a baby is born, for instance, we do not know what it was before its birth and how many births it has gone through and similarly when a man dies we do not know where he goes and how many more births he had to undergo. So what is visible to us of the whole universe and all beings in the universe is only a small portion compared to the whole existence as such. So Krishna says why should there be any grief over the loss of lives or entities in this world.

Not only will happiness and fame elude Arjuna if he disregards his duty as a Kshatriya but the whole world will chastise him and speak of his act of disgrace in public as well as in private. They will say Arjuna was a coward for when the battle was about to begin he gave only excuses and retreated hastily from the battlefield. Lord Krishna is telling him that forever history will brand him for cowardice. If Arjuna was to reply that what the public think is of no consequence to him, Sri Krishna neutralises that by stating that for a person of honour possessing the qualities of heroism, determination, strength, courage etc. which are all contrary to cowardice to have to accept infamy is worse than death. An action by itself is neither good nor bad; the motive behind the action makes it so. Once we choose the right motive and inspire ourselves into action the achievement would be spectacular and rewarding. We all must act diligently, tirelessly, constantly and joyously. This results in increased efficiency and better results.

“If you are killed in the war you will attain heaven and if you gain victory, you will gain the kingdom. Thus righteous warfare would result in good, both here and hereafter. So you should be prepared to wage war, otherwise you risk losing both.” says the Lord. Krishna’s call to war can be understood to be a general call to each and every one of us to shed our inhibitions, negative attitude and lethargy and go forward to work hard for any righteous cause including our duty as a good son/daughter, parent, citizen or employee. By discharging one’s duty, one makes advancement in this world and other world. It means that by discharging one’s duty and by abstaining from what ought not to be done; one attains perfection here as well as hereafter.

Running away from problem is cowardice and the result always will be defeat, shame and sorrow. Facing the difficult situation needs courage and with courage you have a greater chance to succeed. Everyone should discharge his duty earnestly and efficiently, whether he has a desire or not for its fruit. By refusing to be affected by favourable and unfavourable circumstances, the mind becomes steady. So treating the two equally, one should discharge one’s duty. Moreover, one should not perform an action for the sake of pleasure, and refrain from another, for fear of its pain. But your aim is not to think of victory and defeat, gain and loss, and pleasure and pain, but your goal is to discharge your duty by treating the agreeable and the disagreeable, alike.

There is a huge difference between the mentality of those who are involved in actions with their intelligence seeking fruits of reward and the mentality of those spiritually evolved engaged in selfless actions not seeking rewards and totally devoted to the Lord Krishna. In the case of those enacting actions with desires of rewards, their thoughts are endless due to their desires being endless. We forget that enjoyment of pleasure is not the goal of human life, but its supreme object is the attainment of perfection and God realization, and all the circumstances, whether favourable or unfavourable, they are placed in, are means to attain perfection. The fact is that worldly pleasures and objects are not real obstacles to God-realization, but attachment to these, is the main hindrance. So long as, this attachment continues, not to talk of God-realization the people cannot even make up their minds to attain God, because their minds are drawn away, by worldly pleasure and prosperity etc. There are endless universes and there are endless pleasures in them. But if they are renounced and one becomes detached from them, they come to an end. Similarly there are endless desires. But if they are renounced, they come to an end and the man becomes desire less.

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. The Lord advised that Arjuna not be inactive, but that he performs his prescribed duty without being attached to the result. One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. In this verse there are four points which need attention-(i) your right is to perform your duty (action) only. (ii) Never lay claim to its fruit. (iii) Do not be the cause of the fruit of action. (iv) Let your attachment be not to inaction.

Renunciation of attachment will result in evenness of mind. A man should be even-minded, in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, in honour and dishonour, and in praise and reproach. To give up attachment one should be free from desire and aversion. Then success and failure do not affect him. Whatever comes is accepted with equanimity. Then he concentrates only on the work at hand. In the state of equanimity, a man while living in the world detaches himself from the world, and remains untouched by virtues and sins, as a lotus leaf by water. When one does all actions as karma yoga, without attachment to the result, it means that his mind is free from desires and his actions are not desire motivated. Thus he attains the evenness of mind. Then he does not accumulate fresh karma by his actions. His past karma which has not yet started giving result is demolished by his shedding off his ego as a result of evenness of mind. Those with spiritual intelligence, who relinquish all desires for the results of all actions, perform in righteousness activities as an offering unto the Supreme Lord are blessed with self-realisation. And being released from the bondage of birth and death they being liberated attain the eternal and everlasting spiritual worlds of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Those who perform activities as a matter of duty, free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms.

There is no end to sorrow, calumny, dishonour and unfavourable circumstances, in this world. But a man of wisdom remains unperturbed, because the aim of his life is to discharge his duty to the best of his ability and capacity, for the welfare to others, without having any desire for its fruit. So, he always remains happy and unperturbed even in the most unfavourable circumstances. He does not crave for any kind of pleasure such as praise, honour and favourable circumstances etc., nor does he have a desire to prolong, such a state. He remains unruffled in the midst of favourable or hostile circumstances. He remains untainted and unaffected by good and bad, favourable and unfavourable circumstances. Experiencing good or pleasant, he is not delighted. The term, ‘wise man’ has been used, for the man who practises self-control, who performs his duty without attachment and desire for its fruit, one who discriminates between the real and the unreal and who thinks of the welfare of all creatures.

Brooding on the objects of senses, leads to attachment; attachment leads to desire; desire to anger; anger to delusion; delusion to loss of memory; loss of memory to loss of reason and finally, loss of reason leads to utter ruin. This is the best scientific explanation for the downfall of a man.  It may be further submitted that since it is impossible to control the senses who by their very nature tend to be drawn towards senses objects, it would be extremely difficult to overcome these defects; so where is the possibility of attaining steady wisdom. Apprehending such doubts Lord Krishna states that one who is free from both attachment and aversion although amidst sense objects attains the mercy of the Supreme Lord. All sorrows are only due to the agitation of mind concerned with acquiring the objects of desire and preservation of them and the grief on losing them. All experiences whether joyous or painful bring only sorrow, former because of their fleeting nature and the latter because of their being unpleasant. When the mind is in equanimity neither the pleasure nor the pain affects the person. Then the mind becomes established in Brahman immediately.

In the Discipline of detached Action, control over the mind and senses is important, because without control, desire persists and with the persistence of desire, the mind does not get fixed. Therefore, it is obligatory for an aspirant following the Discipline of Action to control his mind and senses. Without being happy there is no possibility of concentration of the mind. Without concentration of the mind there can be no meditation and without meditation it is not possible to have inner awakening or soul-cognition. Therefore it has been declared that these things are not possible for one without concentration.

As enemies are curbed by superior force, similarly, the senses can be curbed not by any human endeavour, but only by keeping them engaged in the service of the Lord. A man of stable wisdom has not the least sense of mine, with men, things and even his body and senses, because he has received them from the world. Therefore, they belong to the world, not to him. Beauty is for admiring; Knowledge is for giving; Mind is for thinking; Life is for living. Let’s enjoy every minute of living our life.

Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2.

The essence of the Bhagavad Gita unfolds in the second chapter called Sankhya Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge). The chapter begins with the grief of Arjuna and concludes with the description of a Man of Perfection. The lesson here is that, it is only when we are prepared to abandon our ego and give ourselves up totally to the Lord that He will come to our aid.

Sanjaya gives a complete picture of Arjuna’s mental state to Dhritarashtra which is overwhelmed with sorrow for his near and dear ones. All the lofty arguments of Arjuna have been summarily dismissed by Krishna as being rubbish or ignominious, more so because this attitude has come to him, at the most inappropriate moment.  Lord Krishna warns Arjuna that his affliction would bring him neither benediction, nor heaven nor fame, but would degrade and defame him, and lead him to hell. Krishna could see that the pity that has come over Arjuna was not due to mercy towards his relatives in general, especially towards Kauravas but it was prompted by his reluctance to fight against Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, etc. who were his respected elders.

Arjuna did not know whether he should fight and risk unnecessary violence, although fighting is the duty of the Kshatriyas, or whether he should refrain and live by begging. Arjuna’s desire to live by begging, although he was born in the royal household, could be due to a sense of desperation and defeat. This is what happens to most of us when confronted by unimaginable problems in our day to day life. When hysteria attacks, intellectual composure is destroyed, resulting confusion leads to inefficiency and ultimately to failure in life.

Although Arjuna was quoting scriptures and principles of religion and moral codes, it appears that he was unable to solve his real problem all by himself. He could understand that academic knowledge, scholarship, high position, money etc., are all useless in solving the problems of life; only a qualified spiritual master can help. Thus Arjuna completely surrenders to Lord Krishna as a student and requests for instructions. Arjuna qualifies himself to receive instructions from Lord Krishna by the words ‘sisyah te aham’ meaning I am your disciple.

Verse 11 of Chapter 2 is essentially the beginning of “Bhagavad Gita”. Chapter 1 and first 10 verses of Chapter 2 are used to build the background for the Gita. Verse 11 is the introduction and gives the essence of things that follows. It says ‘sorrow arises out of misunderstanding and self-realisation is the only way to overcome sorrow.

Discrimination between the real and the unreal is called Panda (wisdom), and one who has developed discrimination, is known as ‘Pandita’ (wise). Such wise men do not grieve, because they can discriminate between the real and the unreal, the imperishable self (soul) and the perishable body. The body ever perishes, therefore it is not to be grieved, while the self never perishes, and therefore it is also not to be grieved. One is grieved only because of lack of wisdom and discrimination.

Once we understand the meaning of ‘Sathya’ and ‘Mithya’, the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal’, it becomes easy for us to understand the difference between body and the soul. That which was not in the past and which will not be in the future, but seemingly exists in the present is called ‘mithya’, the unreal. And the ‘real’ the ‘sathya’ is that which defies all changes and remains the same in all the periods of time: past, present and future. Lord Krishna has talked about the past and the future, by saying that there was never a time, when they were non-existent, nor they will cease to be. As, one does not grieve for the body when it passes through babyhood, youth and old age; similarly one should not grieve, when the soul passes on, to another body. As babyhood, youth and old age are different stages of physical body, so attaining another body after death, is a stage, for the subtle and causal body. The body neither existed before birth nor will exist after death and at present also it is dying every moment. In fact the process of its death begins as soon as it comes to the womb. At the death of boyhood, youth ensues, at the death of youth, old age ensues and at the death of the old age, the embodied self passes on to another body. The body undergoes all these states. The physical body is subject to pleasure and pain, old age and disease. Although the eternal soul is embodied within the physical body; its position is not compromised or affected by the modifications of the physical body. Being immortal and indestructible, the self can neither be killed nor kill anyone and those who think so are ignorant. What is killed and gets killed are only the body and not the self. Lord Krishna explains that just as there is no grief when one discards old worn out garments and there is joy at accepting new garments in the same way the embodied soul discarding old worn out bodies joyfully accepts new ones. Another question that arises is that a man is happy by discarding old clothes and putting on new ones, whereas he feels grieved, while casting off an old body and getting into a new one. The reason is that a man by identifying himself with a body wants to live long and thinks of the death of the body, as his own death. Thus, he gets sad.

The basic principle is that no instrument can hit or destroy an element subtler than itself. Atma being subtler than the subtlest it cannot be changed by any other elements such as air, waters, fire or earth.

Verses 11 to 25 can be taken as a theme. These 15 verses explain the ways and means of overcoming sorrow. Sorrow comes due to ignorance and the only way to overcome the same is through knowledge and self-realization.

Gita 2.67

indriyanam hi caratam

yan mano ‘nuvidhiyate

tad asya harati prajnam

vayur navam ivambhasi

Meaning

As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.

Explanation

Senses are involuntarily drawn to the sense-objects. Mind that follows anyone of the senses is naturally led astray by it. For example, while relishing a tasteful dish, the sense of taste gets attached to it, and then it attracts the mind, and thus the misdirected mind gets entangled in this taste. When the mind gets entangled in pleasures, man immediately loses his determinate intellect that he has to realize God only. A ship without a rudder is at the mercy of a strong wind. As a rudderless ship does not reach its destination, a misdirected mind takes away man’s discrimination.

A strong wind either pushes away the ship in the wrong direction or sinks it. But a skilful sailor manages the ship in such a way, that the wind instead of pushing it away from its course helps it in sailing and reaching its destination. Similarly, the misdirected mind misguides discrimination, in two ways. It leads it astray from the path of God-realization and engages it in sense-pleasures or it ruins him by entangling it, in prohibited pleasures. But a controlled mind and senses do not take the intellect away ward, they rather help one in realizing God.

Gita 2.68

tasmad yasya maha-baho

nigrhitani sarvasah

indriyanindriyarthebhyas

tasya prajna pratisthita

Meaning

Therefore, O mighty-armed, his intellect is stable, whose senses are completely controlled against sense-objects.

Explanation

As enemies are curbed by superior force, similarly, the senses can be curbed not by any human endeavour, but only by keeping them engaged in the service of the Lord.

As a snake, without teeth has no poison, senses without attachment and aversion, have no poison to degrade a man from a spiritual path; these become sublimated and lead an aspirant, to divinity. This verse means that if an aspirant has determination that his aim is to realize God, rather than to enjoy worldly pleasures and prosperity, his intellect will become stable.

Gita 2.69

ya nisa sarva-bhutanam

tasyam jagarti samyami

yasyam jagrati bhutani

sa nisa pasyato muneh

Meaning

What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.

Explanation

There are two classes of intelligent men. The one is intelligent in material activities for sense gratification, and the other is introspective and awake to the cultivation of self-realization. Activities of the introspective sage, or thoughtful man, are night for persons materially absorbed. Materialistic persons remain asleep in such a night due to their ignorance of self-realization. The introspective sage remains alert in the “night” of the materialistic men. The sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture, whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in his sleeping condition. The introspective man is always indifferent to materialistic happiness and distress. He goes on with his self-realization activities undisturbed by material reaction.

Here Lord Krishna indicates that the operation of senses to the one situated in transcendental mediation are completely different from an ordinary being.  Those worldly people whose senses and mind are uncontrolled and who are immersed in pleasure are, asleep in the dark, because they never think that the aim of human life, is emancipation or salvation. Further, they never think ‘What is God?’ ‘What is Self-realization?’ ‘Why are we suffering?’ ‘Why are there all these burning sensations?’ Where will our misdeeds take us?’ Turning away from these thoughts, is complete darkness, for the worldly people. When the worldly people remain asleep in the dark, having no inclination for God-realization, the seer who has controlled his senses and mind and who has no attachment for pleasures and prosperity and whose aim of life is only God-realization, remains wakeful because his intuition, his concepts and precepts, are all filled with Divinity. The worldly people, feel very happy and deem themselves very wise, in enjoying and hoarding worldly pleasures. These, a seer, in the state of Divine Knowledge and Supreme Bliss, perceives as dark. People attach importance to worldly prosperity and pleasure and for gaining these they employ all sorts of means, fair or foul. But a self-controlled seer knows that all mundane pleasures, prosperity and praise etc., are transient, illusory and changing, while God and his own self, are eternal, real and permanent.

Gita 2.70

apuryamanam acala-pratistham

samudram apah pravisanti yadvat

tadvat kama yam pravisanti sarve

sa santim apnoti na kama-kami

Meaning

Just as water of different rivers enter the ocean, which though full, remains undisturbed; likewise the man in whom all enjoyments are merged and attains tranquillity, but not he, who hankers after such enjoyments.

Explanation

The vast ocean is always filled with water, especially during the rainy season it is filled with much more water. But the ocean remains the same, steady; it is not agitated, nor does it cross beyond the limit of its brink. That is also true of a person fixed in God consciousness. As long as one has the material body, the demands of the body for sense gratification will continue. The devotee, however, is not disturbed by such desires because of his fullness. A God conscious man is not in need of anything because the Lord fulfils all his material necessities. Therefore he is like the ocean, always full in himself. Desires may come to him like the waters of the rivers that flow into the ocean, but he is steady in his activities, and he is not even slightly disturbed by desires for sense gratification.

Worldly enjoyments and pleasures cannot satisfy a man, who hankers after them. He can never be satisfied. He can never be free from desires, anxieties and burning sensation. So how can he attain peace?

Gita 2.71

vihaya kaman yah sarvan

pumams carati nihsprhah

nirmamo nirahankarah

sa santim adhigacchati

Meaning

A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of proprietorship and is devoid of false ego—he alone can attain real peace.

Explanation

An earnest wish for something is, ‘kamana‘ (desire) while an earnest wish for acquiring or preserving necessities of life is, ‘sprha‘ (thirst). A man of steadfast wisdom lives devoid of longings and desires and has no thirst, for acquiring or preserving even the necessities of life, as he has attained the supreme bliss, for which the human body was bestowed upon him. A man of stable wisdom has not the least sense of mine, with men, things and even his body and senses, because he has received them from the world. Therefore, they belong to the world, not to him. It is a blunder to have a sense of possession over things acquired. On rectification of this blunder the sense of possession over persons, objects, body and sense organs is totally wiped out. A man of steadfast wisdom attains peace. But a man by having desires to enjoy worldly pleasures cannot realize that peace. But, as soon as he becomes free from desire, thirst for necessities, a sense of mine and egoism, he can realize that peace.

Whether he is seen practicing yoga or seemingly indulgent in ‘bhoga’ his inner bliss remains unalloyed. He is always happy because his mind revels ever in Brahman. On the other hand it is only the man who has not controlled his mind gets agitated by the desires.

Gita 2.72

esa brahmi sthitih partha

nainam prapya vimuhyati

sthitvasyam anta-kale ‘pi

brahma-nirvanam rcchati

Meaning

O Partha, such is the state of a God-realized soul. Having attained this state, he overcomes delusion. Being established in this state, even at the hour of death, he attains brahmic bliss (identification with the absolute state).

Explanation

Lord Krishna extolling the virtues of the process of spiritual knowledge concludes chapter two with this verse enunciating the performance of actions by being unattached to their rewards. This state of consciousness leads to self-realisation and ‘brahmi’ the ultimate truth. Even if one becomes established in this state at the last moment when death has come, still one will achieve the eternal spiritual attainment. Liberation from the material existence in the form of ecstatic bliss that is completely devoid of all unhappiness is derived as a result of the cessation of all desires for reward for ones actions. In essence this means that having relinquished both the physical body and the subtle body one becomes qualified to realise their spiritual body and experience the sublime bliss of uninterrupted devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

 

 

Gita 2.61

tani sarvani samyamya

yukta asita mat-parah

vase hi yasyendriyani

tasya prajna pratisthita

Meaning

One who restrains his senses and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.

Explanation

By controlling the senses, an aspirant should devote himself, heart and soul to Me. Moreover, he should not feel proud of his sense-control, because pride goes before a fall. He should, rather, feel that it was only God’s grace, which enabled him to control his senses.

Whosoever would wish to succeed in overcoming the dichotomous difficulty by the mutual inter-relating dependence of sense control and soul cognition as delineated previously, must certainly master the senses. Which due to their constant craving for pleasure are extremely troublesome to govern. Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord is instructing to make Him the sole object of one’s meditation and thus become established in undisturbed serenity in the ultimate reality. When our minds have been evolved to realising Lord Krishna as the supreme absolute reality all impurities are eradicated and the mind is purified and clear, free from all desires.

Gita 2. (62-63)

dhyayato visayan pumsah

sangas tesupajayate

sangat sanjayate kamah

kamat krodho ‘bhijayate

 

krodhad bhavati sammohah

sammohat smrti-vibhramah

smrti-bhramsad buddhi-naso

buddhi-nasat pranasyati

 

Meaning

Contemplating constantly on the objects of senses, a man develops attachment for them; from attachment springs desire and from desire (unfulfilled) originates anger. From anger arises delusion; from delusion, confusion of memory; from which grows loss of reason; and with loss of reason (discrimination), he goes to complete ruin.

Explanation

This is the best scientific explanation for the downfall of a man.  Brooding on the objects of senses, leads to attachment; attachment leads to desire; desire to anger; anger to delusion; delusion to loss of memory; loss of memory to loss of reason and finally, loss of reason leads to utter ruin.

Lord Krishna is explaining that one whose cravings for sensual objects linger, the effort to overcome the senses without focusing the mind on the Supreme Lord is futile. This is due to the fact that without the Supreme Lords grace the residue of past sensual activities and the pleasure or frustration derived therefrom will delude the mind to pursue sense objects. This debilitating effect creates a magnetic attraction where the desire for sense objects becomes more and more extreme. From this extreme desire springs ‘kama’ lust. Lust is the next stage of desire. Lust is that which one feels when they think that they cannot exist without their desire being gratified. From lust springs ‘krodha’ anger. ‘Krodha’ is that frustrated outrage one feels against that which stands in the way of obtaining the gratification of ones senses. From ‘krodha’ arises ‘sammoha’ bewilderment and delusion which is the mental condition where one is no longer cognisant of what action should be performed and what action should not be performed. One will foolishly do anything in this condition. Thereafter comes dementia causing loss in memory of the process one began in order to constrain the senses and control the mind. From dementia comes loss of will power, one no longer has the drive and incentive to cultivate themselves towards obtaining spiritual realisation of the eternal soul. When this happens then one perishes their spiritual opportunity being drowned again and again in samsara the endless cycle of birth and death in the material existence.

Desire is a ‘rajasika’ trait; delusion a ‘tamasika’ one, and anger lies between the two. If you are angry with either, it means that you have attachment for something or the other. If you are angry with a man who defames you, it means that you are attached to fame. If you are enraged with a person who censures you, it proves your pride of innocence and so on.

From anger, arises delusion. In fact, delusion ensues not only from anger, but also from desire, greed and attachment. (i) Delusion born of desire, veils discrimination and so a man goaded by desire performs undesirable actions. (ii) Out of anger, a deluded person utters harsh and pinching words, to even friends and adorable ones, and performs wrong and cruel deeds. (iii) Delusion born of greed makes a man blind and he cannot distinguish between the real and the unreal, the right and the wrong and he cheats others by using fraudulent methods. (iv) Delusion born of attachment creates partiality.

From delusion arises confusion of memory. It means that a man forgets his aim to attain salvation, or to follow the spiritual path, in accordance with the ordinance of the scriptures etc. From confusion of memory arises loss of reason viz., a man cannot discriminate between right and wrong. Loss of discrimination paves the way to self-destruction. Therefore, it is obligatory for all seekers to devote themselves heart and soul to God, in order to escape self-destruction.

Gita 2 (64-65)

raga-dvesa-vimuktais tu

visayan indriyais caran

atma-vasyair vidheyatma

prasadam adhigacchati

 

prasade sarva-duhkhanam

hanir asyopajayate

prasanna-cetaso hy asu

buddhih paryavatisthate

Meaning

One who can control his senses by practicing the regulated principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord and thus become free from all attachment and aversion. For one who is so situated in the Divine consciousness, the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such a happy state, one’s intelligence soon becomes steady.

Explanation

It may be further submitted that since it is impossible to control the senses who by their very nature tend to be drawn towards senses objects, it would be extremely difficult to overcome these defects; so where is the possibility of attaining steady wisdom. Apprehending such doubts Lord Krishna states that one who is free from both attachment and aversion although amidst sense objects attains the mercy of the Supreme Lord. Here Arjuna’s fourth question is being answered concerning how one of steady wisdom experiences sense objects. The answer given in this verse is that one experiences sense objects with one’s senses under control. Lord Krishna now explains that when the mind is placid and pure it has enacted for itself the cessation of all miseries arising from conjunction with materialism. ‘Prasanna-chetah’ refers to that delightful one whose mind is expunged of all impediments that hinders it from realising the eternal soul while bestowing the spiritual intelligence needed for illumination. Thus when the mind has been purified all sorrow is terminated.

An aspirant, who has controlled his mind and whose senses are controlled and free from attachment and aversion, uses the sense-objects, but does not enjoy them viz; he does not derive pleasure from them. And it is enjoyment, rather than use, which leads him to ruin. An aspirant who utilizes the sense objects being free from attachment and aversion attains placidity (purity) of mind. This placidity of mind is called mental austerity which is superior to the austerity of body and austerity of speech. So an aspirant should neither enjoy the sense-objects with attachment, nor should renounce them with aversion, because both attachment and aversion lead him to affinity for the world. Such an aspirant attains placidity of mind and if that placidity of mind is not enjoyed, that leads to God-realization. With the attainment of such placidity of mind, all his sorrows come to an end, because it is attachment only, which causes sorrows. These sorrows give birth to desire which again causes sorrow. When attachment goes away, the mind becomes serene and that serenity destroys all sorrows. 

All sorrows are only due to the agitation of mind concerned with acquiring the objects of desire and preservation of them and the grief on losing them. All experiences whether joyous or painful bring only sorrow, former because of their fleeting nature and the latter because of their being unpleasant. When the mind is in equanimity neither the pleasure nor the pain affects the person. Then the mind becomes established in Brahman immediately.

Gita 2.66

nasti buddhir ayuktasya

na cayuktasya bhavana

na cabhavayatah santir

asantasya kutah sukham

Meaning

One who has no control over his senses and the mind will not have steadiness of mind nor is he able to contemplate on the Lord. Therefore for him there is no peace of mind and without peace of mind there is no happiness.

Explanation

In the Discipline of detached Action, control over the mind and senses is important, because without control, desire persists and with the persistence of desire, the mind does not get fixed. Therefore, it is obligatory for an aspirant following the Discipline of Action to control his mind and senses. What happens to the man who has not controlled his mind and senses, is explained in this verse

Without being happy there is no possibility of concentration of the mind. Without concentration of the mind there can be no meditation and without meditation it is not possible to have inner awakening or soul-cognition. Therefore it has been declared that these things are not possible for one without concentration.

He who has not controlled his mind and senses cannot have determinate intellect that he has only to realize God, because he indulges in worldly pleasures and seeks prosperity. He develops desire for riches, honour and bodily comforts etc. These numerous desires keep his intellect obsessed and do not allow him to have a stable intellect. He, whose intellect is not determinate, cannot have the feeling that he has to discharge his duty by renouncing attachment and desire etc. The man, who does not discharge his duty efficiently and sincerely, can have no peace, whosoever he may be. How can he who lacks peace be happy? He cannot be happy, because his heart is filled with agitation and commotion. Despite acquiring all agreeable sense objects, his mental perturbation cannot be wiped out. In other words he cannot be happy.

Gita 2.56

duhkhesv anudvigna-manah

sukhesu vigata-sprhah

vita-raga-bhaya-krodhah

sthita-dhir munir ucyate

Meaning

He, whose mind remains unperturbed in sorrow, who does not crave for pleasure, and who is free from passion, fear and anger is called a sage with stable wisdom.

Explanation

There is no end to sorrow, calumny, dishonour and unfavourable circumstances, in this world. But a man of wisdom remains unperturbed, because the aim of his life is to discharge his duty to the best of his ability and capacity, for the welfare to others, without having any desire for its fruit. So, he always remains happy and unperturbed even in the most unfavourable circumstances. He does not crave for any kind of pleasure such as praise, honour and favourable circumstances etc., nor does he have a desire to prolong, such a state. He remains unruffled in the midst of favourable or hostile circumstances.

There are three types of sorrow or pain: ‘adyatmika’ or physical, ‘adhidaivika’ or supernatural and ‘adhibhautika’ or natural. Adyatmika is pain of the body and pain of the mind. The pain of the body is diseases and ailments attacking it such as fever, rheumatism, gout, etc. The pain of the mind is due to insult, jealousy, shame and the like. Adhidaivika is pain caused by drought, flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. Adhibhautika is pain caused from people, demons, animals, ghosts, etc. All these three are destined by fate and as such are not transitory and after experiencing them they fade into oblivion. Determining in this way that those whose minds remain unperturbed in affliction coming due to fate as well as in happiness rising up by chance, these beings have become devoid of desires in whatever results occur. The reason is they are free from passion, fear and anger. Passion is the extreme mental attachment to objects cherished with intense desire with the intention of never letting possession of these objects be discontinued. Fear is the pain caused from the approaching agony arising from separation from what is cherished. Anger is a specific mental attitude which appears in one who experiences separation at the time of loss of cherished objects. These three passions, fear and anger all arise due to the lack of discrimination regarding the eternal nature of the soul. By the gradual development of this discrimination one becomes free from these three impediments and by this discrimination when the introspective one’s contemplation becomes mature they’re known as sthita-prajna.

If a stronger person tries to deprive us of worldly possessions, it arouses fear in us, whereas if a weaker person does so, it arouses anger in us.

So long as there are perturbations, cravings, attachment, fear and anger, even in a small measure, a man is called a seeker. But when he is totally free from them, he becomes an enlightened soul.

Gita 2.57

yah sarvatranabhisnehas

tat tat prapya subhasubham

nabhinandati na dvesti

tasya prajna pratisthita

Meaning

He, who remains unattached under all conditions, he who is neither delighted at good, nor dejected with evil, is stable in wisdom.

Explanation

Lord Krishna now answers the question of how one situated in transcendent consciousness speaks. When exposed to sources of pleasure like mouth-watering delicacies, delicious drinks, silky, fashionable clothes or luxurious homes such a person does not rejoice at receiving these things neither give praise to those who have bequeathed these things. Similarly when exposed to sources of unpleasantness like unpalatable food and drink, coarse unfashionable clothes and humble homes he does not show disdain. Such a person is the one who is situated in transcendent consciousness.

In the previous verse, Lord Krishna explained that a man of stable wisdom remains unperturbed, while discharging his duty. In this verse, he explains, that such a man remains stable in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, which he comes across as a result of the deeds he performs. He remains untainted and unaffected by good and bad, favourable and unfavourable circumstances. Experiencing good or pleasant, he is not delighted. This delight means mental joy and expression of joy through words. By encountering evil or unpleasant, he is not dejected. This dejection means mental suffering and despair, and the thought why and how this situation has occurred, and how to get rid of the unpleasant situation. He remains untainted in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, which we got as a result of destiny.

Gita 2.58

yada samharate cayam

kurmo ‘nganiva sarvasah

indriyanindriyarthebhyas

tasya prajna pratisthita

Meaning

When, like a tortoise, withdrawing its limbs from all sides, he detaches completely his senses from sense-objects, his wisdom is stable.

Explanation

The test of a yogi, devotee, or self-realized soul is that he is able to control the senses according to his plan. Most people, however, are servants of the senses and are thus directed by the dictation of the senses.

Lord Krishna gives the analogy of a turtle which withdraws its limbs inside when faced with danger. Similarly when one is able to keep their senses from pursuing sensual objects of mundane pleasure by withdrawing the senses inside and who also consciously reflects upon the soul within, such a one is ‘sthita- prajna’ situated in the perfect knowledge of transcendent meditation.

As a tortoise withdraws its six limbs-four legs, a tail and a head-into the shell to protect itself against possible dangers, so does an enlightened one withdraw his five senses and one mind from sense-objects. If he has the least affinity with senses, he cannot be a man of stable wisdom.

Gita 2.59

visaya vinivartante

niraharasya dehinah

rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya

param drstva nivartate

Meaning

The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.

Explanation

It may be said that lack of inclination towards sense objects may not necessarily be a defining characteristic to determine whether one is of steady wisdom.

A man becomes an abstainer in two ways (i) Fasting by one’s own will or owing to sickness. (ii) Abstaining from sense enjoyments. Here, the term has been used, to refer to a seeker, who withdraws his senses from sense-objects. The senses of a sick man become unfit for indulgence, but craving in them, for sense enjoyment persists. He hopes to enjoy these after recovery. Similarly, sense-objects cease for the abstinent seeker, but the taste persists. It means that his body and senses come under restraint, but his mind wanders. When one decline to enjoy sense objects the physical experience ceases; yet the residue desire for sense objects still remains and the craving for them actually has not departed. But when one has experienced what is Supreme then even this residue desire for sense objects is dissolved. Another meaning is that although inclination for the objects of the sense automatically ceases for one who is sick having no desire to enjoy the senses; but as soon as one’s health has been regained the desire to relish the objects of the senses returns again being only temporarily inoperative.

Gita 2.60

yatato hy api kaunteya

purusasya vipascitah

indriyani pramathini

haranti prasabham manah

Meaning

The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavouring to control them.

Explanation

There are many learned sages, philosophers and transcendentalists who try to conquer the senses, but in spite of their endeavours, even the greatest of them sometimes fall victim to material sense enjoyment due to the agitated mind. Even Vishvamitra, a great sage and perfect yogi, was misled by Menaka into sex enjoyment, although the yogi was endeavouring for sense control with severe types of penance and yoga practice. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the mind and the senses without being fully God conscious.

The term, ‘wise man’ has been used, for the man who practises self-control, who performs his duty without attachment and desire for its fruit, one who discriminates between the real and the unreal and who thinks of the welfare of all creatures. The turbulent senses of even such a wise man carry away his mind towards pleasures. The reason is that so long as mind is not permanently established in God, the past influences of enjoyment of pleasures attract the senses and mind towards pleasures, forcibly.

 

Gita 2.51

karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi

phalam tyaktva manisinah

janma-bandha-vinirmuktah

padam gacchanty anamayam

Meaning

The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.

Explanation

Those with spiritual intelligence, who relinquish all desires for the results of all actions, perform in righteousness activities as an offering unto the Supreme Lord are blessed with self-realisation. And being released from the bondage of birth and death they being liberated attain the eternal and everlasting spiritual worlds of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Those who perform activities as a matter of duty, free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms.

An action even without the desire for its fruit will bring about fruit. No one can dispense with its fruit. Suppose a farmer sows seed without a selfish motive, will he not get results?  In the same way if a person works in a detached spirit, he will get its fruit. Therefore, renunciation of fruit means, renunciation of manifest and latent desires for fruit and attachment for fruit. All people are free and capable of renouncing such desires. Wise people endowed with equanimity attain the state, which is free from any kind of blemish. This state has been called eternal state.

Gita 2.52

yada te moha-kalilam

buddhir vyatitarisyati

tada gantasi nirvedam

srotavyasya srutasya ca

Meaning

When your intellect crosses over the mire of delusion then you will get detachment from both what is heard and what is to be heard.

Explanation

With genuine concern one may ask: When will I be able to attain that eternal and everlasting spiritual world? An important question but first one must successfully circumnavigate the maze of delusion in the material existence. When one has factually rejected the conception of identifying oneself as the physical body then one will by navigating oneself out of the maze of delusion successfully escape the net of illusion which is likened to a bottomless abyss. From this understanding one will attain indifference towards the activities that are heard about or that will be heard about. The desire to inquire about temporal things will cease as it will be perceived that only existing temporarily they are not worth pursuing.

Acute discrimination between the real and the unreal makes one indifferent to the unreal world, and a keen desire for selfless service for the welfare of others, enables one to renounce the desire for one’s own pleasures. In the same way as when a disciple for his preceptor, a son for parents, a servant for his master develop a wish for providing all sorts of comforts to them, then their desire for comfort goes away automatically.

It is the ignorance of one’s real nature that creates the identification with the body mind and intellect and he is deluded into believing the sense experiences as real and gets affected by the joy and sorrow through them. When the intellect is cleared of this delusion through knowledge one gets detachment from the sense experience which is indicated by ‘Srotavya’ and ‘Sruta’. This means what is heard and what is to be heard which includes the seen and unseen and likewise all sense experiences, that were already experienced and that to be experienced.

Gita 2.53

sruti-vipratipanna te

yada sthasyati niscala

samadhav acala buddhis

tada yogam avapsyasi

Meaning

When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness.

Explanation

Arjuna was in a fix, whether he should perform his duty as a Kshatriya or he should avoid the slaughter of his kith and kin. If he protected his family, he would shirk his duty. If he performed his duty of fighting, then the family would not be protected. So he was bewildered. Therefore Lord Krishna persuades Arjuna to keep the intellect firm in case of scriptural opinions and steady in regarding God-realization; First of all, an aspirant is unable to make up his mind whether to have honest and sincere dealings with the worldly people, or to attain God. Then he decides that he has to render selfless service to the world. Having taken this decision, he starts showing indifference and dispassion to the worldly pleasures. Then in the spiritual path he comes across different opinions of the scriptures. So it becomes difficult for him to decide, which opinion he should follow. In that case by good company or faith etc., he is either able to take the decision or he surrenders himself to God. Then by God’s grace his intellect becomes firm. Secondly, in all the scriptures and religions, God, soul and the world, have been described in different forms and ways.

If a person has the only aim of salvation and has no selfish motive by having affinity for wealth-property and family-relatives etc., then he crosses the worldly delusion. If he does not want to gain bookish knowledge (rot-learning) by studying the scriptures but has the only aim to realize the self, he crosses the scriptural delusion, it means that a seeker should neither be enamoured by the worldly delusion nor by the scriptural (philosophical) differences of opinions viz., he should not insist on any sect or religion. Thus he becomes eligible for ‘Yoga’, salvation or devotion. Besides this there is no need of any special eligibility (qualification).

When the mind gets free from delusion which is the cause of joy and sorrow by wrong identification of oneself with the body there is no more confusion of conflicting thoughts and the intellect comes to rest, steady, and with no distractions, in the absolute reality and one attains Samadhi, realization.

Gita 2.54

arjuna uvaca

sthita-prajnasya ka bhasa

samadhi-sthasya kesava

sthita-dhih kim prabhaseta

kim asita vrajeta kim

Meaning

Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?

Explanation

What is it that which defines the ‘sthita-prajnah’ or the adept fixed with spiritual intelligence who is immersed in transcendent consciousness? What are the characteristics to be recognised by such a one so situated in this state of mind? How does he speak and how does he act? Due to possessing what characteristics is one called a person of steady wisdom and how does such a person of steady wisdom conduct themselves? This is the meaning which is meant to be conveyed here.

It is like asking how the best sales person talks, walks and behave? In every organization there are some outstanding performers, be it in research, manufacturing, sales or support. If you are aspiring to emulate that performance it is best to study that person’s behaviour and way of working so that copying the same you may be able to replicate his success. Arjuna is showing his keenness to be a “sthita prajnah’ and hence asking such a question.

Gita 2.55

sri-bhagavan uvaca

prajahati yada kaman

sarvan partha mano-gatan

atmany evatmana tustah

sthita-prajnas tadocyate

Meaning

O Partha (Arjuna), when a man discards all his desires visiting the mind, and is self-satisfied in own self, he is said to be stable, in wisdom.

Explanation

Actually a man is always steady in wisdom, but when he accepts his desires, because of unsteady mind, he does not realize his stableness in wisdom. When he abandons his desires viz., accepts the non-existence of desires, he realizes his stability in wisdom. A seeker has to make effort to concentrate his mind, but by renouncing desires he does not have to do so, instead he attains this stage, in a spontaneous manner.

Swami Chinmayananda used to give an equation for happiness as follows:

Number of desires fulfilled

____________________ = the quotient of happiness.

Number of desires entertained

When the denominator becomes zero the value of the quotient is infinity. So it follows that only the absence of desire will result in infinite happiness. This can be verified through experience. Generally one’s childhood is always remembered as the happiest part of our lives except for some unfortunate beings. If we analyse as to why it was so, we could see that in our childhood we had very few simple desires which were mostly fulfilled. As we grow older we multiply our desires so fast that it becomes impossible to satisfy all of them even during the whole span of life.

Gita 2.46

yavan artha udapane

sarvatah samplutodake

tavan sarvesu vedesu

brahmanasya vijanatah

Meaning

As on obtaining a reservoir of water flooded on all sides there is no use for a small reservoir of water. So a Brahmin, who obtains enlightenment, has the same use for all the Vedas, or says no use at all.

Explanation

A small reservoir of water is useful, in a place where there is no other source of water. But nobody ever, pays any attention to such a reservoir of water where there is a big reservoir of pure water. Moreover that such a small reservoir of water becomes dirty and impure and cannot be used for drinking purpose, after washing and bathing in it. But water from a large stream remains clean and pure, even after washing and bathing in it. Likewise oblations, charities, penances and pilgrimages etc., mentioned in the Vedas, are of use to those who are ignorant. But these become meaningless to the illumined souls who have realized God. The great soul after realizing God transcends the three attributes (modes), rises above the pairs of opposite viz., becomes free from attachment and aversion, gets established in the self and remains unconcerned about provision and preservation. He always remains devoted to God.

There is no end of worldly pleasures. There are endless universes and there are endless pleasures in them. But if they are renounced and one becomes detached from them, they come to an end. Similarly there are endless desires. But if they are renounced, they come to an end and the man becomes desire less. To one who has the ‘brahmajnana’, there is nothing to be gained by any action either spiritual or secular as he has no desires to be fulfilled. Hence the Vedas are not of any use for him as there is no happiness to be gained by the fruits of actions prescribed by the Vedas either in this world or the next. He is filled with the bliss absolute and all the other joys are like bubbles when compared with that. Hence Krishna compares the Vedas, meaning the fruits accruing from them to the water in a small reservoir like a well or pond when the whole area was flooded with water.

Gita 2.47

karmany evadhikaras te

ma phalesu kadacana

ma karma-phala-hetur bhur

ma te sango ‘stv akarmani

Meaning

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

Explanation

There are three considerations here: prescribed duties, capricious work, and inaction. Prescribed duties refer to activities performed while one is in the modes of material nature. Capricious work means actions without the sanction of authority, and inaction means not performing one’s prescribed duties. The Lord advised that Arjuna not be inactive, but that he performs his prescribed duty without being attached to the result. 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 fitted into three subdivisions, namely 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. Work with results becomes the cause of bondage; therefore such work is not auspicious. Everyone has his proprietary right in regard to prescribed duties, but should act without attachment to the result; such disinterested 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 nonparticipation in the battle is another side of attachment. Such attachment never leads one to the path of salvation. Any attachment, positive or negative, is cause for bondage. Inaction is sinful. Therefore, fighting as a matter of duty was the only auspicious path of salvation for Arjuna.

God has bestowed this human birth, the very last of all births so that by performing actions in the form of selfless service to others, a person may achieve salvation and be freed from the bondage of the cycle of birth and death. If he remains engaged in selfish actions, these will result in bondage. In case he is given to indolence and heedlessness, he will follow a cycle of birth and death. Therefore, the Lord advises human beings, to render selfless services for common good. Favourable or unfavourable circumstances cannot make a man happy or sad. It is merely his ignorance, which makes him happy or sad as he identifies himself with those circumstances and becomes the ‘experiencer’ of happiness or sadness. If he gives a serious thought, he will come to know that the external circumstances cannot make his internal self, either happy or sad. He should make proper use of the favourable circumstances by serving others and of the undesirable ones, by renouncing the desire to enjoy pleasure. You cannot claim the fruit of action, because you are not free in getting it, which is dispensed by the Lord. If you perform actions with a desire for fruits, you will get into bondage. Secondly, all actions are performed with the help of worldly objects and persons. So it is dishonest, to desire the fruit of those actions, for only one’s own self.

The means to be free, from the desire for fruits of actions are as follows-(i) Desire cause a feeling of lacking something. Its fulfilment makes one a slave. Its non-fulfilment causes suffering. The pleasure derived out of fulfilment of desire, gives birth to new desires and a man goes on getting interested in performing new actions, in order to reap their fruit. By understanding this fact in the right perspective, a man becomes free from the desire for the fruit of action. (ii) Actions have a beginning and an end, these are not eternal. So, how can their fruits be eternal? But the self is eternal. How can the eternal get any benefit from the perishable? By understanding this fact, one becomes detached from the world and attains God-realization. In order to be free from the desire for fruits of actions, an aspirant should have discrimination as well as feelings to serve others. Discrimination will be helpful to an aspirant in renouncing his comforts, while the feelings of service to others, will enable him to do ‘good’ to others. By doing so, a devotee can follow the discipline of ‘Detached Action’ in the right sense. Let your attachment not be to inaction, because by leaning towards inaction, you will become lazy and idle, and like the desire for fruit it will also mislead you to bondage.

In this verse there are four points which need attention-(i) your right is to perform your duty (action) only. (ii) Never lay claim to its fruit. (iii) Do not be the cause of the fruit of action. (iv) Let your attachment be not to inaction. Out of these four points, the first and the fourth, have the same theme as both of these lay emphasis on the performance of duty or action. Similarly, the second and the third points have the same theme, as in both of these it is mentioned, that you should not desire or be the cause of the fruit of action. Actions done with an expectation of results cause bondage because they are done with desire. But the same act done as an offering to God releases one from bondage.

The important fact about Karmayoga is-protection of the rights of others by performing one’s duty and renouncing the fruit of action viz., renouncing one’s right. By protecting the right of others, old attachment is wiped out and by renouncing one’s own right, new attachment is not born. Thus when old attachment is wiped out and new attachment is not born, a man becomes ‘vitaraga’ (free from attachment).By becoming ‘vitaraga’ one realizes the self. The reason is in attaining Self-realization, attachment to the unreal things is the only obstacle.

Swami Vivekananda said “work for work’s sake; duty for duty’s sake” meaning that one should do work for its own sake and not out of desire to get the result. But the question is will anyone do anything unless he wants the result? Certainly not! There is nothing wrong in starting a work with a specific result in mind but Karma yoga consists in not getting attached to the result. This is not as pessimistic as it seems to be but sheer common sense. When we begin a work we cannot help fixing a goal to achieve as otherwise we would not have started at all. But once started we should concentrate on the action only without worrying about the result constantly as the anxiety will reduce our efficiency. On the other hand, if we put our heart and soul into the work we are doing, the result will automatically follow, and even if it does not, due to some factor on which we have no control, we will not feel frustrated as we have already had the satisfaction from the work itself.

This is the most misinterpreted and misused verse in the whole of Bhagavad Gita. People give unbelievable meaning and quote this verse to suit their actions or inactions.

  1. This clearly exploits the working class as they have no right to their fruits of actions and they must keep on working without rest irrespective of! – Union leaders.
  2. Why work when we cannot look for results? – Common man
  3. If I do not get credit for the order why I should I work for the case? – Salesman.
  4. In spite of all my hard work, I never get the results. This is my destiny! – Pessimist.

If you send an important mail for instance, you have the power only to send it and not over its being replied. It may never reach the recipient or he may never answer it but that is not in your control. If you worry about the possibility of not getting a reply the chances are that you will never send it.

Gita 2.48

yoga-sthah kuru karmani

sangam tyaktva dhananjaya

siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva

samatvam yoga ucyate

Meaning

O Dhananjaya (the conqueror of wealth), perform actions (duties) being steadfast in the path of Yoga, renouncing attachment, having become even-minded in success and failure; and that equanimity (equilibrium) is called Yoga.

Explanation

The fundamental question which might be raised is what then is factually to be done? This is now being answered in this verse. Established in the science of yoga perform all activities. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. Being established by this yoga, perform actions relinquishing attachment, motivation for rewards and depend solely upon the mercy of the Supreme Lord in all one’s activities. Totally unconcerned about success or failure, attainment or non-attainment resultant surrender in righteousness all actions as an offering unto the Supreme Lord. This is the eternal path called yoga by the wise as it consists of fixed concentration of the mind.

Renunciation of attachment will result in evenness of mind. A man should be even-minded, in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, in honour and dishonour, and in praise and reproach. A follower of the Discipline of Detached Action, should be so even-minded while performing actions, that he should not bother about their accomplishment or non-accomplishment, for getting the fruit or not, for getting salvation or not. He should remain devoted to his duty. If an aspirant has not realized detachment and equanimity, he should aim at evenness of mind. By having this approach, he will attain equanimity finally, which will lead to God-realization or Self-realization.

To give up attachment one should be free from desire and aversion. Then success and failure do not affect him. Whatever comes is accepted with equanimity. Then he concentrates only on the work at hand. We all live with memories of the past and hopes, expectations and fears of the future. And forget to live the present! Only present is available to us to think and work for better future, so why waste these precious moments in worries?

Gita 2.49

durena hy avaram karma

buddhi-yogad dhananjaya

buddhau saranam anviccha

krpanah phala-hetavah

Meaning

O Dhananjaya, action with a selfish motive is far inferior to that performed with equanimity of mind. Seek refuge in this evenness of mind, for low are those, who crave for fruit of action.

Explanation

Action without equanimity, mislead to pain, as well as to the cycle of birth and death, because they have no power to lead one to salvation. Equanimity is the ability to neutralize actions. If there is no equanimity, one will develop one’s egoism and attachment, to the body. This egoism and attachment are beastly. An action performed with equanimity leads to God-realization, while motivated actions mislead to the wheel of birth and death.

Gita 2.50

buddhi-yukto jahatiha

ubhe sukrta-duskrte

tasmad yogaya yujyasva

yogah karmasu kausalam

Meaning

A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.

Explanation

Lord Krishna speaks of directing one’s consciousness by spiritual intelligence. The merits one gains in the course of human existence such as fame, relations, power and wealth though pleasant should not be deemed important or be attached to. But those superior merits one has acquired by surrender and meditation to the Supreme Lord such as righteousness, compassion for all living entities, devotion and love of God should be most attached to. But one who is engaged in actions performed in spiritual intelligence is superior. By the grace of the Supreme Lord one acting in this way is relieved of both good actions which lead to heaven and evil actions which lead to hell even in this very life.

In the state of equanimity, a man while living in the world detaches himself from the world, and remains untouched by virtues and sins, as a lotus leaf by water. When one does all actions as karma yoga, without attachment to the result, it means that his mind is free from desires and his actions are not desire motivated. Thus he attains the evenness of mind. Then he does not accumulate fresh karma by his actions. His past karma which has not yet started giving result is demolished by his shedding off his ego as a result of evenness of mind.