Chapter 2 Bhagavad Gita (Part 1)

Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita describes more than any other chapter the basic philosophy of the poem. Basically this chapter is about being brave in the face of life..and taking action, rather than falling into depression and a sense of futility.

(Note : Professor S. Radhakrishnan’s translation and commentary used throughout).

Verses 1 – 38…..

These are Extracts, not the complete verses….

Verse 1 : ” To him who was thus overcome by pity, whose eyes were filled with tears and troubled and who was much depressed in mind, Krishna spoke these words…”

Verse 2 : ” Whence has come to thee this stain, this dejection of spirit in this hour of crises? It is unknown to men of noble minds; it does not lead to Heaven…O Arjuna.”

Verse 3 : ”Yield not to this self pity, Arjuna…Cast off this petty faint-heartedness and arise, O Oppressor of foes.”

Verse 4 : ”Arjuna said –  How shall i strike (my family) who are worthy of worship, O Krishna, with arrows in battle..?”

Verse 5 : ”It is better to live in this world as a beggar than to slay these honoured teachers….”

Verse 6 : ‘Nor do we know which for us is better, whether we conquer them or they conquer us..”

Verse 7 : ”My very being is stricken with the weakness of sentimental pity. With my mind bewildered before my duty, I ask Thee (Krishna). Tell me for certain, which is better….”

Radhakrishnan’s Commentary.

”Arjuna (the seeker) is driven not only by despair, anxiety and doubt, but also by an ardent wish for certainty. To realise one’s ‘unreason’ is to step towards one’s development to reason. The consciousness of imperfection indicates that the soul is alive. So long as it is alive, it can improve, even a s a living body can heal…..The human being is led to a higher condition through a crises of contrition.

It is the general experience of seekers that they are assailed by doubts and difficulties, even when they are on the threshold of light. The light as it shines in the soul provokes the darkness to resist it…they must all be laid on the altar and consumed in the fire of wisdom. The struggle with darkness will continue until the light fills one’s whole being…

Man cannot be left to his own devices. …one can only turn within and seek illumination as the gift of God’s infinite compassion….the aspirant must be anxious to do God’s will and discover what it is..”

Verse 8 : ”I do not see (Krishna) what will drive away this sorrow…”

Verse 9 : ”Having thus addressed Krishna, Arjuna said ”I will not fight” and became silent…”

Verse 10 : ”To him thus depressed….Krishna smiling..spoke this word..”

Verse 11 : ”Thou grievest for those whom thou should not grieve for..Wise men do not grieve for the living or the dead..”’

Verse 12 : ”Never was there a time when i was not, nor thou, nor these..men, nor will there ever be a time hereafter when we all shall cease to be..”

Radhakrishnan’s Commentary : 

” …..Each individual is an ascent from initial non-existence to full existence..Brahman is the basis of all things and is not itself a thing. Brahman does not exist in time but time is in it….Souls are like Brahman, for the cause and the effect are essentially ONE…. ”I am Brahman”, ”Thou art That”…..”

Verse 13 : ”As the soul passes in this body through childhood, youth and age, even so is its taking on of another body. The sage is not perplexed by this..”

Verse 14 :  ”…Objects..pleasure and pain..come and go and do not last forever, O Arjuna..”

Verse 15 : ”The (one) who is not troubled by these, O Arjuna, who remains the same in pain and pleasure, who is wise, makes himself fit for eternal life..”

Verse 16 : ”Of the non-existent there is no coming to be; of the existent there is no ceasing to be….”

Verse 17 : ”Know that that by which all is pervaded is indestructible….”

Verse 18 : ”It is said that these bodies of the eternal Indestructible (the soul) come to an end….Therefore fight, O Arjuna..”

Verse 19 : ”He who thinks that this slays and he who thinks that this is slain; both of them fail to perceive the truth; this one neither slays nor is slain.”

Verse 20 : ” He is never born, nor does he die at any time, nor having once come to be will he again cease to be. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

Verse 21 : He who knows that it is indestructible and eternal..how can such a one slay any one….or cause anyone to slay?”

Verse 22 : ”Just as a person casts off worn out garments and puts on others that are new, even so does the embodied soul cast off worn out bodies and take on others that are new.”

Radhakrishnan’s Commentary :

”..The embodied soul moves from one abode to another..It gathers to itself a mind, life and body formed out of the materials of nature according to its past evolution and its needs for the future..When the gross physical body falls away the psychic and mental sheaths (koshas) still remain as the vehicle of the soul….”

Verse 23 : ”Weapons do not cleave this self, fire does not burn him; waters do not make him wet; nor does the wind make him dry.”

Verse 24  : ”He is uncleavable. He cannot be burnt….He is eternal, all-pervading, unchanging…He is the same forever.”

Verse 25 : ” He is unmanifest, unthinkable and unchanging….therefore thou shouldst not grieve.”

Radhakrishnan’s commentary :

”Right through (these verses) it is the PURUSHA of Samkhya (philosophy) that is described here…Forms may change; things may come and go, but that which remains behind them all is forever.”

Verse 26 : ”Even if thou thinks that the self is perpetually born and perpetually dies, even then Arjuna thou should not grieve.”

Verse 27 : ”For to the one that is born, death is certain, and certain is birth to the one who dies. Therefore,..thou should not grieve.”

Verse 28 : ”Beings are unmanifest in their beginnings, manifest in their middles, and unmanifest again in their ends, Arjuna. What is there in this for lamentation?”

Verse 29 : ”One looks upon Him as a marvel, another speaks of Him as a marvel, another hears of Him as a marvel, and even after hearing, no one whatsoever has known Him.”

Radhakrishnan’s commentary :

”Though the truth of the Self is of free access to all mankind, it is attained only by very few who are willing to pay the price in self-discipline, steadfastness and non-attachment. Though the truth is open to all, many do not feel the urge to seek. Of those who feel the urge, many suffer from doubt and vacillation. Even if they do not have doubts, many are scared away by the difficulties. Only a few rare souls succeed in braving the perils and reaching the goal.”

Verse 30 : ”The dweller in the body of every one, O Arjuna, is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore thou should not grieve for any creature…”

Verse 31 : ”..having regard for thine own duty, thou should not falter…”

(Note – Arjuna is a warrior – His highest duty or dharma is to fight, not to become a renunciate. Therefore Krishna tells him he must do his earthly duty)

Verse 32 : ”Happy are the warriors..for whom such a war comes…”

Verse 33 : ..”If thou does not this lawful battle, then thou will fail thy duty and will incur sin”

Radhakrishnan’s Commentary :

”When the struggle between right and wrong is on, he who abstains from it out of false sentimentality…would be committing a sin…”

Verse 34 : ”Besides, men will ever recount thy ill-fame and …ill-fame is worse than death..”

Verse 35 : ”The great warriors will think that thou hast abstained from battle through fear…”

Verse 36 : Many unseemly words will be uttered by thy enemies…”

Verse 37 : ”Either slain thou shall go to Heaven, or victorious thou shall enjoy the earth. Therefore, arise, O Arjuna…”

(Though it seems to apply to an act of war, we can take this advise with respect to metaphysical duties.)

Verse 38 : ”Treating alike pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, then get ready for battle….”

Radhakrishnan’s Commentary :

”The fight (note : spiritual quest) has to be undertaken in a spirit of equal-mindedness. Without yielding to the restless desire for change, without being at the mercy of emotional ups and downs, let us do the work assigned to us in the situation in which we are placed. When we acquire faith in the Eternal and experience its Reality, the sorrows of the world do not disturb us. He who discovers his true end of life, and yields to it utterly is great of soul. Though everything else is taken away from him……he shall yet be able to go his way with a smile on his lips for he has gained inward freedom.”

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Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

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