Chapter 2 – Sankhya Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge)

In Chapter 2 we can study an exhaustive summary of the entire Gita philosophy. Sankhya means knowledge and particularly knowledge of GOD.

In Gita we address Lord Sri Krishna as “Bhagavan”. In fact this term is used generally to address God and for goddess the term used is “Bhagavati”. Bhagavan means He who possesses All Aisvarya (Lordship), dharma (righteousness), Yashas (renown/fame), Sri (splendour), jnana (knowledge) and vairagya (detachment). You may find many who claims to have or seems to have most of these ‘gunas’, yet it is only limited and not ‘All’. But the most important ‘Guna’ is that God also possess vairagya (detachment) which is always lacking in people with power or money.

Arjuna advises Lord Krishna to place his chariot in between the two armies, so that he may behold the war-minded warriors who dared to risk their lives, by fighting against such a valiant warrior, as he. But the same heroic and zealous Arjuna, at the sight of his kinsmen, becomes overwhelmed with grief, his limbs give way, his mouth is parched, his body shivers, his hairs stand on end, his bow slips, from his hand, his skin burns all over and his mind reels. His bravery turns into faint-heartedness and he slips into the seat of the chariot. Sanjaya conveys the same feelings of Arjuna, who was drowned in distress and despondency.

Gita 2.1

sanjaya uvaca

tam tatha krpayavistam


visidantam idam vakyam

uvaca madhusudanah


Sanjaya said: Seeing Arjuna full of compassion and very sorrowful, his eyes brimming with tears, Madhusudana, Krishna, spoke the following words.


Sanjaya gives a complete picture of Arjuna’s mental state to Dhritarashtra which is overwhelmed with sorrow for his near and dear ones.   Sanjaya by using the word ‘Madhusudana’, means to say that Lord Krishna is the killer of demon, Madhu i.e., He is the destroyer of people having a villainous nature, and so He will certainly destroy wicked natured Duryodhana, and his group.

If the situation controls you and you are not in a position to take control of the situation, failure is imminent.

Gita 2.2

sri-bhagavan uvaca

kutas tva kasmalam idam

visame samupasthitam

anarya-justam asvargyam

akirti-karam arjuna


The Bhagavan said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy.


All the lofty arguments of Arjuna have been summarily dismissed by Krishna as being ‘kasmalam’, rubbish or ignominious, more so because this attitude has come to him, at the most inappropriate moment. Here, the Lord by giving these three expressions ‘Anaryajustam’, ‘Asvargyam’ and ‘Akirtikaram’, in a sequence has explained that there are three types of persons (i) Thoughtful-whose aim is to attain benediction, (ii) Virtuous-who by doing virtuous actions want to attain heaven, (iii) and Ordinary-who want name and fame in the world. So, by giving the above-mentioned three kinds, Lord Krishna wants to warn Arjuna that, his affliction would bring him neither benediction, nor heaven nor fame, but would degrade and defame him, and lead him to hell. Such unmanly sentiments are never expected from a person belonging to the civilized class of men known as Aryans. The word Aryan is applicable to persons who know the value of life and have a civilization based on spiritual realization. Persons who have no knowledge of liberation from material bondage are called non-Aryans. Although Arjuna was a Kshatriya, he was deviating from his prescribed duties by declining to fight. Such deviation from duty does not help one in the progress of spiritual life, nor does it even give one the opportunity to become famous in this world. Lord Krishna did not approve of the so-called compassion of Arjuna for his kinsmen.

Great men who want to achieve success do so with fixed objectives, during activity as well as non-activity. They do not shirk their duty. According to prevailing circumstances, they perform their duty thoroughly, with zeal and enthusiasm, to achieve their objectives. If we leave aside the goal of success and consider the matter from a worldly point of view, the attainment of heaven, is the highest achievement. With timidity one can never attain the heaven. Even without having the aim of attainment of heaven, a noble person performs those deeds which bring him name and fame in the world.

Gita 2.3

klaibyam ma sma gamah partha

naitat tvayy upapadyate

ksudram hrdaya-daurbalyam

tyaktvottistha parantapa


O son of Pritha, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.


By addressing Arjuna as the son of Pritha it refers to his mother Kunti who by worshipping Indra, the ruler of the demi-gods received Arjuna as her son endowed with extraordinary might and valour like Indra. “Pritha” is also a symbol of renunciation as she left her own house and became the adopted daughter of Kuntibhoja who was a friend of her father. Lord Krishna reminds Arjuna of this to instruct him not to yield to this impotence for it does not befit him and that he should discard this weakness of heart. By using the vocative ‘parantapa’ meaning chastiser of enemies Lord Krishna is reminding Arjuna that at the time of his birth a heavenly voice proclaimed that he would conquer all enemies.

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. That was why Krishna calls it ‘hrdaya daurbalyam’.

Gita 2.4

arjuna uvaca

katham bhismam aham sankhye

dronam ca madhusudana

isubhih pratiyotsyami

pujarhav ari-sudana


Arjuna said: O killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhishma and Drona, who are worthy of my worship?


Arjuna addresses the Lord as ‘Madhusudana’ and ‘Arisudana’, because he had killed unrighteous, villainous and cruel demons, such as Madhu etc., and foes also who always are jealous of others, without rhyme or reason. But how can he kill his great well-wisher, the respected grandfather Bhishma, and adorable preceptor Drona, who have great affection for him? Arjuna is not turning away from war because of faint-heartedness, but because it is unrighteous for him to fight, with the revered grandsire Bhishma and venerable teacher Drona. Arjuna said “I am not afraid of dying but I do not want to kill my venerable elders, who have always been very affectionate to me”. Duryodhana by placing Bhishma and Drona directly in the forefront caused the ever righteous Pandavas discomfort at the thought of having to fight against them as it was opposed to the time honoured noble traditions of their family lineage. Arjuna is asking how he can engage in battle with respectable elders, when even to argue against them is improper.

Most problems in life are due to the fact that we identify ourselves with a big “I”. The moment we expand beyond the “I” ness and identify with a larger cause, movement, organization or country, we become really insignificant and reaches an egoless state. We become humble and willing to do anything to achieve our larger cause and objectives.

Gita 2.5

gurun ahatva hi mahanubhavan

sreyo bhoktum bhaiksyam apiha loke

hatvartha-kamams tu gurun ihaiva

bhunjiya bhogan rudhira-pradigdhan


It is better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though they are avaricious, they are nonetheless superiors. If they are killed, our spoils will be tainted with blood.


Why should Bhishma and Drona fight for the unlawful kingdom of the Kauravas on the side of the wicked Duryodhana? Bhishma’s statement that a man is slave to wealth but wealth is slave to no man; therefore due to accepting wealth he was controlled by the Kauravas. So this proves that controlled by wealth and not righteousness and thus slaying them incurs no sin. Bhishma himself has stated that a superior who is degraded by these qualities deserves to be abandoned. But to this Arjuna states that by slaying elders we may undoubtedly enjoy some pleasures in this world but these pleasures would be tainted with blood as they are derived from the sin of slaying superiors.

To treat any disease or problems in life, the first step is correct diagnosis of the problem. If the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment will be wrong. And once we misread the situation our emotions and sentiments could further cloud our understanding and judgements that leads to deterioration of the situation.

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