Dictionary-Explanations-The Srimad Vers-& Bhagavad Gita-Ch 2 Jul 20, 2013 12:29:09 GMT 1
Post by Anne Terri on Jul 20, 2013 12:29:09 GMT 1
GOD'S LIVING BIBLE - THE THIRD TESTAMENT - RESEARCH LIBRARY
Dictionary of Religion
Dictionary and Explanations of The Srimad Bhagavad Gita
Dictionary of Religion
Dictionary and Explanations of The Srimad Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is part of The Mahabharata
This major epic originally in Sanskrit is of ancient India.
The other of its kind is known as the Ramayana. The Mahabharata is a narration about the Kurukshetra War.
Due to the size and nature of many areas available within, for study purposes, a link is provided below.
EXTERNAL LINKS - MAHABHARATA
Second Chapter - The Way of Knowledge
KÂSHINÂTH TRIMBAK TELANG, M. A.
Arjuna A hero and one of primary characters of The Bhagavad Gita. He is known as the third of the Pandavas. These are the sons and princes of Pandu. When Lord Krisha teaches Arjuna is the one who is the Receiver of his Divine Word. It his conversation with Lord Krishna, which brings this Gita to life, both in philosophy and in learning of the Divine Ways of Lord Krisha. Arjuna, as a warrior is also a primary character, within the entire Mahabarata epic, and was one of the finest archers. It is He who facilitated the defeat of the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War. Within The Mahabharata he receives many names, some of which you will note as you read the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
Arjuna - one of taintless fame and glow like silver
Phalguna - one born on the star of Phalguna
Jishnu - conqueror of enemies
Kiriti - one who wears the celestial diadem, Kiriti, presented by Indra
Swetavahana - one with white horses mounted to his chariot
Bibhatsu - one who always fights wars in a fair manner
Vijaya - victorious warrior
Parth or Partha - son of Pritha or Kunti. Incidentally his father is the Lord of Heavens, Indra.
Savyasachi - skillful in using both arms, ambidextrous
Dhananjaya - one who conquers bows (dhanu) referring to his skills as an archer
Gudakesa - One who has conquered sleep (gudaka "sleep")
Kapi Dhwaj - Having flag of Kapi (Monkey) in his chariot (Arjuna's flag displayed an image of Hanuman from a previous encounter)
Parantap - one who concentrates the most, destroyer of enemies from his concentration
Drona: Teacher and Royal guru to Kauravas and Pandavas. He was a master at the art of fighting, especially with the bow and arrow. His most favored student whom his loved as a son, was Arjuna, who is the primary character taught by Lord Krisha in The Bhagavad Gita. He is thought to be partial incarnate of Brhaspati.
Brahmaṇaspati (Brihaspati) (Bṛhaspati) (Bruhaspati)
For the Story of Drona see: The Mahabharata
Book 7: Drona Parva
Kisari Mohan Ganguli, tr.
GOD'S LIVING BIBLE ---- THE THIRD TESTAMENT ----- RESEARCH LIBRARY
God and Brahman
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NAMES OF CHAPTER 2
Madhusudana: another name of Vishnu or God
Govinda: another name for Vishnu and thus Krishna.
Hrishikesha: another name for Vishnu. Each time Vishnu is referred to by another name, his power becomes evident in the meaning. This is said to be one who is the master of the senses.
Bhishma in the Mahabharata, Bhishma is prominate, and as Arjuna is an archer written to have killed the strong Parasurma.. He is known as the eighth son of Kuru King Shantanu.
Madhu: meaning sweet as with honey
Gudâkesha, the scorcher of foes: Arjuna or Gudâkesha, best translated means "lord of sleep" (he who has conquered sleep
Bharata: in the Hindu epic Ramayana, (see below) Bharata appears as the second brother of Rama, and the son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi.
Kunti: In Hindu mythology, within the Mahabharata, is the biological daughter of Shurasena and a Yadava. She is also the sister of Vasudeva, the foster daughter of her cousin King Kunti-Bhoja, the wife of King Pandu of Hastinapur and the mother of King Karna of Anga and King Yudhisthira of Indraprastha.
Prithâ: One who is the son of Pritvi the earth, that is, one who is the representative of mankind. (Prithâ: Queen Kuntî, mother of Arjuna)
O scion of Kuru: Kuru's story is in the MAHABHARATA. See above link and, Mbh.1
O Pârtha on hold.
the Ramayana of Valmiki,
the three Gunas
Aryalike. The meaning of Arya is noble.
The Philosophy of the Bhagavadgita
by Swami Krishnananda
Chapter 2: The Battlefield of Life
We have seen that the occasion for the delivery of the Bhagavadgita was a field of war which is conspicuous in its occurrence in the context of the Mahabharata. As we have observed earlier, the Bhagavadgita does not intend telling us a story for entertaining our leisure hours but to give a permanent message for the salvation of the soul of the human being. That is why it is called a Yoga Shastra or a scripture of yoga. Whatever is said in this scripture is a sermon on the practice of yoga, and the necessity for the teaching arises on account of a conflict in which one finds oneself at any given moment of time in one’s life; and the whole of the Mahabharata is a story of conflict. We would gradually realise that the practice of yoga resolves itself into a simple system of the overcoming and the balancing of forces for the purpose of resolving all conflicts.
The universe moves in two directions, one may say — the centripetal and the centrifugal. There is an outward centrifugal urge of the universe which propels it in the direction of space, time and externality. There is also a centripetal impulse to maintain its integrality of status inwardly, and these two tendencies in the universe represent the character of the whole of nature. And this character that we see in creation is sympathetically reflected in every one of us, so that we are also at every moment of time centrifugal and also centripetal; we have an externalising impulse towards activity, social relationship and contacts of various kinds, and at the same time we have a powerful impulse to maintain our integrality and status, as such. We do not wish to lose our independence in the name of outward relationship or even social welfare. All this is conditioned by a need we feel to maintain our freedom, which we may call our own status. Who would like to lose his status in the name of something else? But, side by side with this impulse to retain our individuality or integrality of status, there is also a propulsion towards externalisation, which also we cannot resist. We run about day-in and day-out demonstrating thereby that a complete inwardisation and maintenance of personal status is not the completion of life. This has to be set in tune or harmonised with the external world, or the universe.
While we are bent upon maintaining our independence and status, we are also compelled, at the same time, to recognise the existence of other people in the world, things around us, the vast world in front of our eyes, with which we have to maintain a balanced relationship. While we are, in a sense, in a non-spatial and non-temporal indivisibility which we call the status we maintain, we are also in a world of space and time. We are like a double-edged sword which cuts both ways; or like a person who is pulled equally in two different directions, now one urge preponderating and now the other. The cosmical impulse corresponding to this psychological impasse through which we are passing is designated in the language of Indian philosophy, especially the Vedanta, the Samkhya and the yoga, as the process of the matrix of all things known as Prakriti, a Sanskrit word which means the original substance of all creation. The material of the universe is called Prakriti. It is constituted of certain processes, parts, energies or properties. These are known as sattava, rajas and tamas. The property of tamas indicates inertia, fixity, immobility.
Rajas is the name that we give to the impulsion dragging everything outwardly into the space-time-complex and compelling everything to relate itself to things outside. Sattva is the counter-balancing urge which obliges everything to maintain an individuality of internal status, which requires all to maintain a balance and not lose the alignment in the inner layers of personality or the external relationships in society. If there is no alignment in the inward structure of our psyche, we can go crazy, one becomes neurotic and a patient psycho-pathologically. Health is the harmony of the layers of our personalities. If they are disbalanced we are sick physically or psychologically. There is a necessity to maintain inward balance. But that will not do entirely; we have also to maintain a similar balance in our relationship outside. There should be a balanced relationship between ‘you’ and ‘me’, for instance; a balanced relationship with the five elements and ourselves – earth, water, fire, air and ether – the climatic conditions and the many other conditions that constitute what we call the outward life of individuals. There is, thus, a conflict everywhere, cosmically and individually. Life is a battle, a situation which does not require a commentary. It is a struggle from birth to death. It is a process of confronting something or the other everyday, a necessity that we feel every moment of time to resolve a situation that has arisen in front of us. When we wake up in the morning, we are face to face with the reality that confronts us as a conflict.
We have conflicts inside and conflicts outside. We are not always happy, because happiness is the outcome of a rare preponderance of sattva-guna, the balancing part within us, and to the extent we are balanced inwardly and outwardly, to that extent we are also happy, delighted and joyous. To the extent rajas preponderates in us, there is a tendency to upset everything — it may be an upsetting of the layers of our own individual personality or the upsetting of our relationships with the outside world. Any kind of upsetting of an existing balance is the tendency to the absence of joy, which is tantamount to an entering into grief and sorrow. The whole of life is an arena of such a conflict. If we read Homer’s Illiad or Odyssey, if we read Milton’s Paradise Lost, if we read the Ramayana of Valmiki, if we read the Mahabharata, we shall find everywhere the same thing presented in different languages and styles, the whole picture presented being the scene of a tremendous conflict, a rubbing of shoulders, a circumstance into which we are thrown unwittingly, the circumstance becoming worse when we have not got the adequate understanding of the causes of the occurrences. Our condition seems to be growing worse because we do not know why a situation has arisen at all, why there should be conflict of any kind. Why should we not be happy always?
Why should there not be a balance, a harmony, an equilibrated relationship inwardly and outwardly? We do not know, and nobody can know, easily. But this state of affairs cannot continue for a long time, and we do not wish that it should continue indefinitely. We are not merely entangled individuals; but also individuals in whom is planted a light of reason and a flash of insight which occurs sometimes in our personal lives, telling us that, in spite of the unfortunate circumstances in which we find ourselves in the world, there is some hope for the better. We do not always entertain a despairing mood of dejection and utter hopelessness, though, occasionally, when the power of rajas, of external relationship, and a loss of inward stability, becomes very strong and overwhelms, we may lose our balance completely. We may not then be even able to think in a right manner. But such occasions are rare; usually we are able to realise that there is justice in this universe, though in moments of intense suffering we are likely to complain against the system of things and find fault with the structure of the universe. But this we do not do always. There are moments of sobriety when we are able to think in a better manner and feel that there is a need for the resolution of conflict. That there should be an urge felt within us to resolve a conflict should be an indication of the possibility of the resolution of the conflict; one cannot entertain merely a hopeless hope. A hope is hopeful, it is not negativity. When we assure ourselves that things will be better one day, in some way or the other, some insight is welling up from inside, and that is the inward status of integrality that speaks to us in the words of a super-physical language.
The epics of the great masters, whether of the East or of the West, are a depiction of the drama of life. It is a play of various circumstances, situations, colours, each looking independent of others, but somehow collaborating to present the picture of completeness, as in a play. The dramatis personae, the people who enact the play, are independent and isolated in their performances. It does not mean that everyone taking part in the play will present the same picture and place before us, an identical situation. Every individual enacting the play is different from the others, has a performance which is distinct from that of others. But the whole drama is a completeness by itself. It is not a distracted chaos. It is a harmony and we enjoy the play. When the whole enactment is over, we are delighted. ‘This is a wonderful performance.’ Thus we go away with happiness. We do not say, ‘This man did this and that man did that, there is no connection between one and the other.’ We realise the connection in spite of the variegated scenes presented in the drama which may run for hours together in the night and the pictures may be completely different if individually perceived. But the wholeness behind the acts is the delighting feature. So is life. Such the intention of the writing of epics.
We are not always in a position to see the wholeness that is behind the pictures in the form of the drama of creation. We are the actors in this great field of activity called the cosmos. ‘The whole world is a stage,’ said Shakespeare, and we are all the people who are acting on this stage, but we are not always conscious that we are playing the drama. This consciousness is wrested out of us by some unfortunate occurrence in us. Look at the fate of a person who is performing one role in a dramatic enactment. Suppose he forgets his relationship with the other performer. He behaves as if he is absolutely independent, and has no connection with the entirety of the play. He does not know that there is a direction of the play. He does not know the intention behind the performance. He is acting absolutely independent, presenting an isolated picture. He would cut a sorry figure and spoil the whole game. This we are doing every day. We are disturbing the game of life, not knowing that we are items in the totality of the dramatic presentation in this grand enactment of the aims of life, of which the Supreme Being Himself is the Director. His vision is the totality of the picture of the drama. The Bhagavadgita takes up this point of view of the completeness that is behind this wonderful picture of creation; and a necessity that is to be there for recognising a harmony in the midst of forces which look like conflicting powers on account of their isolated individualities not related harmoniously one with the other. The difficulty is the excessive preponderance of one of the powers of Prakriti, at some time, on which we lean due to the force exerted upon us by one or the other of them.
Apart from rajas and sattva, the externalising and stabilising powers, there is a third condition called tamas, inertia. In the language of physics you would have heard it said that there are two forces — statics and kinetics, or dynamics. There is no such thing as sattva in science, which is not concerned with it, and perhaps it is not willing even to think of it. There are only two conditions of things: either they are in a state of inertia or they are dynamic and expressed in some form of activity. So we are, and everything is, in one of these conditions, and sometimes in both these conditions, working together in some sort of proportion.
We are in a field of the opposition of the forces, which work simultaneously in the universe outside and in the personality of ours inwardly. The universe is a battlefield in the sense of this metaphysical description of the constitution of the universe. We will understand why the Bhagavadgita is given in the context of a war and not in a chapel, a convent, a temple of worship. The universe is a temple, no doubt, in one sense, it is the shrine of the Supreme Being, the Absolute. We can adore anything and everything as God. But it is not to be done in a spirit of exclusiveness or isolation of any kind. Temporal perception works in a threefold manner presenting this picture of creation as a permutation and combination of sattva, rajas and tamas. The very first verse of the Bhagavadgita brings to highlight two important words, ‘Dharmakshetra’ and ‘Kurukshetra’ — significant terms indeed. The universe is a field of tremendous activity, of conflict and warfare. It is also a field of justice and law. ‘Kurukshetra’ is ‘Dharmakshetra’. There is a law that integrates these apparently conflicting powers in the same way as there is a law inside us which integrates the cells of our physical body into a wholeness of personality. Every cell of our body is different from the other. It can disintegrate, and when the life force is withdrawn from it, it dissolves itself into the five elements, it decays, decomposes itself and loses its oneness.
Every thought is different from every other thought. We can think one thousand things everyday, and yet we know we are the person thinking these one thousand things. ‘I thought something yesterday and I am thinking something today; though there is no apparent connection between yesterday’s thought and today’s thought, yet, I know that there is connection, because I am the person thinking these thoughts.’ There is an integration of the psychic structure as well as the physical body. This is the ‘dharma’, the law which organises things. Law is a name that we give to the system which organises bodies into a completeness or a meaningful wholeness, instead of their being thrown as scattered particulars or a meaningless chaos. Dharma is law, we may also call it justice. That which is in consonance with the system of the universe is the justice of the universe, and the way in which this justice operates in terms of the various particularities is the law. There is activity, there is movement, there is change, there is transformation — all pointing to an apparent diversity of things. But this is not the whole truth of the matter.
There is an organisation everywhere, right from the atom to the solar system. Even an atom is not a chaos, there is a balance maintained by the constituents of the atom, the electrons getting conditioned and ruled by a central nucleus, and the solar system working beautifully by the power of the Sun who organises the system. A similar power is working within ourselves, on account of which we are individuals, a completely organised body. Our personality is not a disorderly heap. We have a capacity to think consistently, logically, and in an organised manner. There is a dharma operating everywhere, in the whole cosmos, the entire creation, in our own self, in the atom, in everything, notwithstanding the fact that there is distraction, difference, individualisation, egoism, and externalisation. The bringing together of these two tendencies in all things is the purpose of yoga. Neither are we to lean externally, too much on visible phenomena and be busy-bodies who have lost the soul, nor are we expected to be hibernating frogs in the crevice of our individuality, unrelated to the outer world.
The whole teaching of the Gita is centred on balance, equanimity, a putting in order of everything that is not in order — samatva. Things do not appear to be in order or in a state of harmony because of a preponderance of this externalising power known as Rajas. There is struggle everywhere, in everything, at all times, a struggle, to maintain a balance. All struggle is an effort towards the maintenance of equilibrium in any field of life, in any plane of existence. The laws of various types — the governmental law, the social law, the communal law, the family law arid various other systems of management — signify one and the same thing, namely, the necessity to maintain harmony, and it has to be maintained everywhere, in every walk of life, in any given moment of time. If there is a lack of balance anywhere, in any part of our body, for instance, or in any part of human society, there is then an anxiety creeping into our experience, at once. We are unhappy if there is a little thorn pricking the sole of our foot, and our joy goes away in a second. If there is some intractable element in society, which is disturbing the peace of the minds of people, we are obliged to be conscious of its existence and are also compelled to see what means can be adopted in setting right the situation. Even a single incoherent element is sufficient to disturb the entire balance, just as an ear-ache is enough to make us grieve the whole day. The point is that there should not be any occasion for misbalance even in the slightest manner, and the whole of yoga is a comprehensive approach to the situation of cosmic conflict which sympathetically reflects itself in every individual, also.
That conflict there is, is obvious enough. We all know that the world is wretched. We complain about the world everyday that it is stupid and it is going to dogs. We are very much concerned about the future, but we are not fully awakened to the needs of the hour and the means that are to be employed and the way we have to conduct ourselves under such circumstances. We are not in a state of yoga. We only perceive things as they happen outwardly in the world of space and time. We are sense-ridden, entangled completely in the perceptions of the senses. We are living in a sense-world and we are wholly relying upon the reports of the senses. We do not exercise our reason and understanding to the extent necessary to counterbalance the distracted reports that we receive from the senses. Our reason is not strong, our understanding is feeble, but the senses are vigorous, they are impetuous; so low we are in the cadre of creation. We have fallen very low indeed, while the senses are active and rebellious. The organising power in us, the understanding, is not equally powerful. One can imagine the state of affairs if individuals who rebel are stronger than the organising power of a government. This is what has happened to us. The organising power in us, called reason and understanding, is not able to cope up with the situation of conflict that is presented before us in experience by the senses that work in terms of the objects outside. We are slaves to the senses and not their masters. We stoop down every moment to the level of the demand of a particular sense organ; and this cannot be regarded as freedom of any kind. Whatever the senses say is acquiesced in by our reason and understanding, by our knowledge and education, by our culture, and everything that we have is a subsidiary stooge; as it were, to these revolting dacoits called the senses. The. Bhagavadgita does not want this circumstance to continue.
There should be a strong organising force, a Central Government, to establish a central administration in the cosmos, and, as a consequence thereof, in our own selves and in society. This is to enter into the field of yoga. We generally argue in terms of human society or human relationship and not in the light of reason and the higher understanding. We have a poor religion and a sentimental argument to justify our social conditions. But we have not got the understanding or the reason enough to awaken ourselves to the existence of the higher power of dharma, the power of God, the law of the universe, and the Bhagavadgita takes its stand as a good teacher in a school or a college and leads us by our hand by degrees to the various levels to which we have to rise for the purpose of the real freedom that we have to achieve. The greater the operation of law and justice, the greater is its intensity of action, the greater is the freedom that we are assured. Salvation and freedom mean the same thing, and a recognition of the law and obedience to this law is necessary in order to achieve true freedom. If we do not know how the law of the universe operates in relation to ourselves and other things, if we are oblivious of the law of our own country, how can we abide by that law? We are ignorant of the law, and so we are likely to blunder, and we are blundering everyday, and every error in respect of the law is to court punishment from the law. The punishment comes upon us as a grief, a sorrow, an unhappiness, an insecurity, a feeling that something is wrong.
The Bhagavadgita places us in the context of human society at the very outset, the situation in which we are today. We are nationals of a country, and we are human beings with a relationship obtaining in mankind as a whole. We always think in terms of human relationship. It is well-known that we argue in this manner. This is the subject of the first chapter of the Bhagavadgita, where the whole social structure is taken as the stand for the argument in connection with any action to be taken under a particular situation, and taking Arjuna as the symbol of mankind, the epic of the Mahabharata in its gospel of the Bhagavadgita tells us how we think as individuals. We are faced with a warring situation and our activities in daily life are our efforts to face the battle. The work that we do in our office, the labour that we put forth in a factory, or any other work that we do in any walk of life, is the effort we put forth to resolve a conflict and solve a situation. But we do not always do it properly, and so a factory worker need not be happy, and an office-goer need not be satisfied. Our activities need not bring us happiness: We stoop down to the state of utter hopelessness and wretchedness, because we have not found time to walk with the light of reason and the justice of the universe. We cannot see this law with our eyes, just as we cannot see a government for instance. Anything that is impersonal cannot be seen with the eyes. We cannot see even money, we see a piece of paper called a note or a metal piece called coin, but money is something different. It is a value that is imbedded in the symbol called note or coin and that value cannot be seen with the eyes. The higher law is an impersonal operation and, therefore, it is not an object of the senses. Inasmuch as we are depending on the senses for our achievement and judgement of things, we are unable to take advantage of the existence of impersonal powers, reason and insight. Arjuna was in this condition. He was thinking in terms of his relationships with people, as a son of so-and-so, a nephew, etc., with ulterior motives behind. Even as we gird up our loins to do something very vigorously everyday, Arjuna got ready to embark upon a war. ‘We shall do this,’ is our determination in the early morning of the day. So was the contemplation in the mind of Arjuna, and all people on his side. They decided that certain steps were to be taken, and the decision was complete. There was a necessity to implement the decision. This implementation of the decision is the entering into the field of battle. This is also the entering of ourselves into the field of the practice of yoga, towards which the Bhagavadgita will take us.
Read All Chapters from The Philosophy of the Bhagavadgita by Swami Krishnananda
The Philosophy of the Bhagavadgita
by Swami Krishnananda
Chapter 7: The Nature of Right Understanding (Refers to The First and Second Chapter)
We have covered practically the whole ground behind the meaning and the context of the First Chapter of the Bhagavadgita. We had to take so much time in covering the field of this one Chapter as it lays the foundation for all further thought and understanding which will follow through the coming chapters. We had occasion to observe that the background of the First Chapter is not simple and not so very introductory as it is generally made to appear. Rather it has a value in preparing the ground for the edifice of the teaching. I am sure, you will be able to recollect the various stages of thought through which we had to pass in understanding the profound significance of ‘The Yoga of the Dejection of the Spirit’, which is the title of the First Chapter. The dejection, or the mood of melancholy in which the representative man, Arjuna, found himself, has been described as a spiritual condition. That is why even the so-called dejection is regarded as a part of yoga. It is not a morbid condition of negativity or an earth-bound attitude, but a necessary condition of positivity in its most initial stage, the task which a spiritual seeker has to take upon himself when he girds up his loins to encounter the universal Reality.
The darkness which one faces at the outset is the cumulative effect of the tremendous inward preparation which has already been made through the earlier stages of self-investigation, study and reception of knowledge from various avenues in the world. But an explanation has to be offered as to why this dejection arises at all, which comes in the form of an answer given by Krishna in a few verses at the commencement of the Second Chapter. The point made out is that the understanding is not clear enough. The knowledge which is designated as the samkhya is lacking. There is a turbidity of the intellect and a misdirection of the ratiocinating faculty, which situation supervenes on account of the reason of the human being itself getting contaminated by the prejudices of the psyche, from which it arises, as it were, like a tendril from a seed. Who can gainsay that our rationality or logic is to a large extent conditioned by the structure of our personality which is located in a phenomenal context of the universe and every thing that devolves out of this phenomenality?
The term ‘samkhya’ that is used in the Second Chapter is the knowledge which is supposed to be in consonance with the nature of Reality, and that which is dissonant with its nature is the opposite of it, the absence of knowledge, or samkhya. What this knowledge is will be told to us in the Third Chapter — what it is to be endowed with samkhya or correct understanding, alongside of which we will also know what is meant by wrong understanding. The immediate reaction of Krishna, the Teacher, to the predicament of the psyche of Arjuna is metaphysical, and it takes into consideration certain aspects in the course of the argument. The sudden answer which comes as an immediate reaction to the various arguments posed by Arjuna is that the soul of the individual is essentially immortal.
The fear of death and destruction and catastrophe which harassed the mind of this human representative in Arjuna — all these problems are out of point on account of the essence of being or the basic fundamentality of the individual being indestructible. There is no such thing as destruction, ultimately, of anything that exists. There cannot also be a destruction of that which does not exist. This is simple logic which is the encounter that comes forth as a flash of light from Krishna upon the mind of Arjuna. The fear of destruction was one of the points raised by Arjuna as a counter blast against the injunction that engagement in war is necessary. This argument of Arjuna received a reply in a short passage which makes out that destruction of reality is not possible.
That which is, always is; and that which is not, cannot be under any circumstance. Now, when it is said that something is destroyed, one does not properly understand what one is speaking. There is only a change of form; the name-form-complex undergoes a transformation in the process of evolution in the universe. But even in this transformation a total destruction of any element does not take place. There is a decomposition of the parts and a rearrangement of the parts in a particular manner under a given condition. And when one lacks the knowledge of this peculiar process through which everything passes, one regards it as a destructive process or death. Hence the fact being that the essence of everything is immortal — we call this essence of things the soul of things — there is no need for entertaining the fear of such a thing as death. If death that seems to be imminent or impending is the retarding factor in one’s engaging oneself in any action, this fear has to be shed immediately because there is no death of the essence of the personality of the individual. But if it is the fear of the destruction of the form or the name-form-complex, it is inevitable, and no one can escape this possibility, because the finite can never rest in itself forever. Death becomes necessary because evolution is a necessity. And death is nothing but a name we give to the process of the passing of a thing from one state into another state, into another thing as we usually call it. So, there is no fear of the death of the essence of the individual and there is no escaping the chance of undergoing the transformation of the name-form-complex which is called the death of personality. Hence, either way, there is no cause for grief. What is inevitable has to be accepted, and to weep over the inevitable is absolutely without any significance and is to no advantage, whatsoever. You cannot avert the possibility of this transformation which everything has to undergo as long as it is located as a finite entity in the realm of space-time-cause relationship. But if it is the soul that you are speaking of, it cannot be destroyed. This is a metaphysical point, a highly philosophical issue, which is the answer which Krishna gives to Arjuna’s query. But this is not the only answer.
The individual is not merely a metaphysical entity, though it is also that. We have noted in our earlier studies that the individual is also a social unit. There is a large society of individuals and the relevance of the individual to this social atmosphere is also to be taken into consideration when any judgement is to be passed at any time. There is a duty of everyone in respect of the atmosphere in which one is placed. This is called the dharma of the individual in respect of society. Svadharma is usually regarded as one’s obligation towards the society in which one is placed. And we have observed what society is. It is not merely the human atmosphere that we are referring to as society but everything that is around us which cannot be exhausted merely by the human world. The whole universe becomes an atmosphere later on, and we seem to be owing a duty towards this vast expanse of the universe which touches us on our very skin in various degrees of its manifestation, including what we call human relationship. Thus, from the point of view of the ultimate nature of Reality, from the standpoint of one’s connection with the society around, as well as the interest of one’s own self — from all these angles of vision, if we consider the duty of a person, it appears that no one is free from duty of some kind or other. So, inaction is unthinkable. And, even the decision not to act is also an action. Thus, the action bound world compels everyone to be active in some way. But wisdom consists in understanding the process of connecting one’s activity with the whole to which it belongs, and any kind of selfishness or emphasis on one’s own particularity or finitude in the process of engaging oneself in an action would not be a yoga but a passage to one’s bondage. Bondage is the consequence that follows from action which arises from non-understanding of the vital connection of one’s self with the whole to which one belongs. And freedom is the opposite of it. So, action is finally not an individual’s initiative merely. It is a part of the total purpose of the universe as a whole. And not to understand this would be the absence of samkhya, or knowledge. “I have explained to you what samkhya is,” says Krishna. The details of the samkhya would be touched upon in the Second Chapter. Now we are only getting into a little introduction or inkling of what this samkhya could be. This samkhya has to be applied in daily practice. This knowledge has to become a method or procedure of conducting oneself in daily life. This implementation of the knowledge of the samkhya in one’s daily life is called yoga. “Now I shall tell you what yoga is, after having told you something about samkhya.”
Knowledge is the precedent to action. The way in which we have to behave, conduct ourselves in this world, the method of action, is the knowledge thereof. Theory and practice go together. Knowledge and action are inseparable. Yoga is not merely action in the commonsense meaning of the term, but action proceeding from the being of a person, and the action becoming more and more comprehensive and complete as the dimension of the being expands itself gradually in the process of the practice of yoga. “Even a little of this practice is a great credit to you” — “nehabhikramanaso sti”. There is no loss of any sort in this glorious encounter of the soul with the Absolute. Every bit of endeavour in the right direction is going to be a credit-balance, however meager that balance may be. One should be happy that some good has been done. And everything is good if it is done with an understanding of the samkhya. It ceases to be the good and it becomes a way to one’s bondage only when it is bereft of this background of knowledge. We have only a duty and we have no right to expect any fruit out of the performance of duty.
This is the great ringing tone of the teaching of the Bhagavadgita. This is something which the modern mind cannot easily understand, which is sunk in the mire of expectation of fruits even before the seed is being sown. We are always after the rights that we have to expect from world minus the duties that we seem to owe to the society in which we are. One cannot expect the fruits of one’s action, there is a great mistake in this expectation, because the fruits are not in one’s hands, while action is obligatory. Even to take a common example of sowing the seed in a field — look at the work of the farmer; he does his duty very well, but we cannot say that the fruit is entirely in his hands. Many factors which are out of his bounds go to contribute in the production of the result which is the harvest that he has to reap. There should be rainfall, there should be the proper weather condition, and many other things, as we know very well.
The fruit, the result, the consequence, of an action is decided by factors beyond the comprehension of the human individual and therefore to expect a particular fruit would be the height of ignorance on the part of any person. We suffer because we expect a particular consequence to follow from a set of actions that we perform, and those results we expect do not follow on account of the simple reason that there are other conditions to be fulfilled for the production of the result than merely the initiative taken by the so-called agent of action. I as an agent, the so-called initiator of the action may be one of the factors. Yes, accepted. But I am not the only factor, and to consider myself as the sole conditioning principle behind the production of the result of an action would be ignorance, and that would be the absence of samkhya, knowledge. Hence we are told again and again, throughout the teaching, that it is highly improper to expect a fruit. All that goes to constitute the universe in its entirety has something to say in the production of the result of even the least of actions, and we are not the only deciding factor.
There is a ‘bench-of judges’, as it were, and it is not only one judge that decides the case, here the ‘bench’ being a very large one constituted of innumerable judges. This wondrous knowledge becomes a source of great solace and peace to the mind, and it remains equally rooted in success as well as failure. The words, success and failure, are applied by us as a kind of judgement upon the nature of the results of action. But we are not supposed to pass such judgements because success and failure are not to be regarded as the criterion of the correctness of an action, because, success and failure are our valuations, from our own standpoints, and not necessarily from the total standpoint of the purpose of the universe. Again, there can be a so-called failure in spite of all the efforts that we have put forth, and that should not be a source of dejection of our mind, provided we have done our best. Nor should there be any kind of unnecessary exultation on account of a so-called success, merely because it is in consonance with our pleasures and predilections. ‘Sukha’ and ‘dukha’, pleasure and pain, should not be the judging factors in the performance of an action. We have to be cautious in seeing that the action is performed in as impersonal a manner as possible freeing it from the intrusion of individual agency or doership as much as possible. All actions, finally, are cosmic actions, and they appear to be our actions on account of a misunderstanding of the causative factors of any action. Yoga is the balance of attitude which consciousness maintains on account of the presence of the samkhya-buddhi, or knowledge behind the performance of duty — samatvam yoga ucyate. And this equanimity or poised attitude of consciousness in the performance of a duty or action accelerates the process of the action and one becomes dexterous due to the element of impersonality that is present there. The more are you unselfish the more are you capable of executing a deed in the proper manner.
Dexterousness or adroitness in action is yoga, yogah karmasu kausalam. An expertness in action is yoga, an expertness that follows from the equanimity that is behind the performance of an action. Thus, yoga has been defined in a novel manner in the Second Chapter of the Bhagavadgita, not necessarily in the way in which we people take it, usually. Yoga is impersonality of approach and not merely the isolated hermit-life of an individual performing breathing exercises or sitting in postures of the body, etc. Such is not the yoga which the Bhagavadgita emphasises, though the importance of this aspect of yoga also will be touched upon in one of the Chapters that is going to be explained later. The yoga of the Bhagavadgita is very comprehensive. It regards life itself as yoga. The way in which we have to live in this world is yoga. And this way or manner of living may involve various requisites or preparations. They may all be necessary conditions in the fulfillment of the vast achievement called duty in life.
We have also noted that rights follow duties automatically. To ask for rights would be redundant in the context of things, because, the privileges of the individual are necessary results that follow from the correct performance of duties and we are anxious about our rights on account of the incorrectness of the performance of duty — a selfishness that creeps into its so-called performance, wherein placed the individual ceases to be performing duty really. The value of the performance in the form of duty lies in the extent of the unselfishness that is behind it, the impersonality of the ground on which it is rooted. The larger the self that performs the action, the greater is the unselfishness behind the action. What we call the selfishness of an individual is the attitude of the limitation of the self involved in the visualisation of things.
There are grades of selfishness and grades of unselfishness, too. In comparison with the higher stage the lower one may appear as selfish. Hence, in the advance of consciousness through the process of its evolution we will find that there is an ascending degree of the concept of unselfishness. And the particular degree of unselfishness which determines an action will also determine the nature of the result that follows from that action, so that when an utter unselfishness or a total abolition of personality is behind the performance of an action, that action is no action at all. There we see inaction in action, when the action is motivated by an annihilation of the consciousness of individuality. That is called Cosmic Action, if at all, we can call it an action. Thus, action and being commingle at a particular stage, so that existence itself becomes action. But this is a very remote possibility, the final end of things, the absoluteness which the self reaches when it is supposed to have attained liberation, by which we mean the freedom of consciousness from finitude of every kind, in which condition placed the self of an individual becomes the Self of all beings — “yena sarvam idam tatam,” that Self of ours pervades the selves of all beings. And, therefore, the performer of action, if it is to be regarded as the self, should be considered as the Self of all beings, so that everyone is doing that action and not ‘you’ or ‘I’ as apparently privileged individuals, encased in a body-mind-complex.
This is the sum and substance of the Samkhya and the Yoga expounded in the Second Chapter of the Gita, amounting to a precise answer to the complicated question which Arjuna raised in the First Chapter. And, inasmuch as the questions of Arjuna arose from the various levels of his personality, the answer also has to be equally relevant to those levels from where the questions arise. That is the reason why the Bhagavadgita is not exhausted merely by the Second Chapter, though, for all practical purposes, it appears as if we have given a suitable and complete answer. We have laid the foundation for a correct and full answer but the details shall follow in the Chapters to come.
Our problems do not arise merely from one level of our being, as the homeopaths tell us that the disease is not merely in the physical body. It is a total organic condition and unless the root of it is dug out, the disease is not cured. The whole of the Bhagavadgita is the panacea, the remedy, the medicine that is prescribed as an antidote to the diseased questions which arose from the disintegrated personality of humanity in general represented in the individuality of Arjuna. We are also told towards the end of the Second Chapter how such a poised person conducts himself in this world into which details we need not enter here, because they are obvious from what we have studied up to this time. Every one of us would be able to understand how such a perfect person would conduct himself in the world. There is no necessity to offer a commentary thereon. Everything would be welcome, everything would be all right. All shall be for the best for that person who has ceased to be a person any more. That person has become an ‘imperson’ and therefore everything is welcome and everything gets absorbed into the impersonality of the person, the genius of an individual. Just as every river is welcome to the ocean and it absorbs all the waters into its bosom, such is the comprehensiveness and the charitableness of the impersonal person, the Sthitaprajna, the perfected individual of the Second Chapter of the Bhagavadgita. One with established understanding, whose consciousness does not flicker or waver when the winds of the world blow over it — such a person is a spiritual stalwart, known sometimes as the Jivanmukta in the language of the Vedanta philosophy. What a wondrous message we have in a single Chapter! And what a wondrous problem we picked up in the first Chapter! Duty is the name of this wisdom-charged admonition of the great Master of the Bhagavadgita, Bhagavan Sri Krishna.
Read All Chapters from The Philosophy of the Bhagavadgita by Swami Krishnananda
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Based on the Divine Discourses of Bhagavân S'rî Sathya Sai Baba