||The second chapter is almost complete in itself. The essence of the Gita has been well illustrated here. It is a synopsis of the entire work. One should be very alert and careful while going through this chapter.
The first verse begins with a statement of Sanjaya addressing himself to Dhritarashtra: "Arjuna was overcome with pity. He was shedding tears profusely. He was restless and agitated. He was despondent."
Krishna was the friend, guide, and philosopher of the Pandavas for years. He had a true feeling for Arjuna, who was his sisters husband. Krishna had helped the Pandavas to get out of many difficult situations. He was trying to defend the pious persons, kill the demons, and reestablish Sanatana Dharma. The present war was a part of his scheme. The ace warrior on the side of Pandavas was Arjuna.
Now Krishna found that this very top archer had plunged into gloom. Krishna was pained to see him in that state of mind. However, he was the best of the Yogis. He was also an excellent teacher. He could easily see that Arjuna was thinking along wrong lines. Arjuna had become nervous and entered a state of self-hypnosis which was dragging him to lower depths of dejection and despondency.
Krishna thought of giving Arjuna a jolt to get him out of that state of mind and spoke to him these words: "Arjuna! What are you saying? This is a critical moment; from where did you get these false ideas? You are regarded as an excellent warrior. You will lose your reputation. You will go to hell. This does not befit you. Don't become impotent. Shake off that weakness of heart. You are a brave warrior. Get up. Get going now. Don't be negative."
Arjuna rose up a little on his knees, gesticulated wildly with both his hands, and yelled at Krishna, "How on earth can I shoot arrows at Bhishma and Drona? Both have been my highest respected teachers. It is better to beg for a living rather than eat and enjoy the food and wealth stained by their blood. Also, we do not know whether we are going to win or lose. For certain we don't want to kill these sons of Dhritarashtra. However, we are now faced with the prospect of killing them.
"Lord Krishna, my heart is overpowered with pity. I am confused. I am putting this question to you. Tell me in no uncertain terms: What is good for me? I am not able to decide for myself. I am your disciple. I surrender myself to you. Kindly guide me. Kindly instruct me." (This verse, if repeated devotedly, leads one to the proper spiritual guide, or guidance will come from within.) "Maybe I can conquer the whole world and also the heavens. How will that pacify my grief which is drying up my whole personality? No! I will not get into it. I will not fight." So saying, Arjuna lapsed into silence again. At this point, Lord Krishna could not help smiling or laughing at Arjuna. He then addressed to Arjuna the discourse on "Sankhya Yoga."
Here we have completed the first ten verses of the second chapter. The real Gita starts from the eleventh verse. This chapter can be divided into the following heads on the basis of the topics discussed:
Verses 1 10: Introduction
Verses 11 30: Immortality of Soul
Verses 31 38: Sankhya Yoga
Verses 39 53: Karma Yoga
Verses 54 72: Sthita-prajna, Illumined Soul
Lord Krishna now directly talks about the immortality and indestructibility of the Self. He says, "On the one hand you are lamenting for those that one should never lament for. On the other hand you talk like a wise man. As a matter of fact, the wise grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. Just as the body goes through childhood, youth, and old age, in the same way, one attains another body. Hence, there is no reason for one to lament here. However, one does feel pain, pleasure, etc., when one comes in contact with the sense objects. There, one has to bear with these transitory things. You must cultivate patience and remain unperturbed. Then you will be qualified for immortality.
"The Self, which is all pervading, is indestructible. Nobody can kill it. He who thinks that the Self can be killed and he who believes that it is the killer both of them do not know anything. The Self is never born. It never dies. It is unborn, ever-present, and all-pervading. It does not die when the body is killed. Just as one changes his clothes, so also the soul acquires new bodies. Weapons cannot cut it. Fire cannot burn it. It is very subtle, beyond perception, and it never undergoes any change. Those who are born must die someday. However, the soul in the body never dies. Hence, there is no point in you lamenting over the dead or the living."
In the following nine verses (31 38), Lord Krishna tries to impress upon Arjuna the significance of his duty and status in society. Arjuna belonged to the class of warriors, Kshatriyas, whose duty was to fight for the good and pious people, and protect them from the unrighteous. Lord Krishna says, "This is a God-sent opportunity to attain a position in heaven. If you turn away from this war, people will think that you are running away for fear of being killed. Those who held you in high esteem will start talking ill of you. Death would be more welcome than dishonor. Your enemies will heap insults on you. Can there be anything more painful? You had better get up and get going. If you get killed, you will go to heaven; if you win, you will enjoy this empire. You should look upon pleasure/pain, profit/loss, victory/defeat with the same attitude the same balanced state of mind. Then you will never commit any sin."
Up to this point, Lord Krishna had described the immortality of soul which comes under the Sankhya system of philosophy. He now continues with the "Wisdom of Yoga" in the next fifteen verses (39 53). Of these verses, the first eight (39 46) are introductory in nature. The next two verses (47 and 48) give the gist of this wisdom. The last five verses (49 53) give an account of the effects or advantages of bringing this wisdom into practical life.
Lord Krishna said, "I have described the true nature of Self. It is all-pervading, immortal, indestructible, and eternal. Now let me tell you about the technique of bringing this Self-knowledge into action, known as Karma Yoga. A good grasp and a thorough practice should enable you to cut off all bondage created by these actions (Karmas). In this system there is no harm and no waste of energy. Even a tiny bit of this Yoga can protect you from great catastrophes.
"You do come across those endowed with a strong will, single-mindedly determined, and ready to sacrifice everything for one purpose. However, there are many who are fickle-minded. They indulge in all sorts of activities. They are carried away by their desires. They perform all sorts of rites described in the Vedas to attain power and pleasures. They are thus engrossed in the worldly activities that give all sorts of pleasures. In due course of time, they become tied up and bound by these actions. Such persons can never control their mind. They will never reach the Samadhi state.
"As a matter of fact, the Vedas deal with the three Gunas: attributes that pertain to the world. You must rise above these attributes. You should transcend beyond the reflection of opposites, such as pleasure/pain, heat/cold, etc. You must free yourself from the thoughts of acquisition and preservation. You will thus attain purity of mind and heart. You will thus be united with the Supreme Self. Once you are firmly established in your Self, you will not hanker after the three Gunas, or attributes, and will thus rise above the domain of the Vedas."
In the second chapter, Verse 47 is often quoted as the "essence of Karma Yoga." It is interpreted in many ways by seers, saints, and philosophers in India. The translation of this verse is as follows:
"You have every right to work, but you have no right over the fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive. Never think of becoming inactive."
This verse can be analyzed and subdivided into four sections.
1. Firstly, Lord Krishna says, "Human beings are entrusted to do some work or other. They are given the opportunity to work or act using the body and mind. Nobody, not even God, infringes upon this basic freedom or right of human beings. The laws of society that rule the activities of the individuals and communities are in this domain. If one acts along right lines, he is entitled to some benefits. If one violates the rules, he is punished."
2. In the second part of this verse, Lord Krishna says, "You have no right as far as the fruits of your actions are concerned." This is apparently a funny statement. A person works someplace for a day or a week or a month. Then at the end of that period, he expects some payment in return for the labor he puts forth. If, after a long, hard day, he is told that he is not entitled to the "fruit," or "pay," or "wages," that would sound absurd. Evidently, Lord Krishna has something else in his mind when he mentions the word Phala, or "fruits of action."
In the first verse of the eighth chapter, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, "What do you mean by Brahma, Adhyatma, Karma, etc.?" In reply to this question, Lord Krishna defines Karma as "Creation (or universe) which is responsible for the birth and growth of all beings." Then the result of this Karma, or action, of the Almighty leads to diversity, division, separateness, or ego which brings up the experience of one being different from all others. Here ego means Ahamkara and not audacity or arrogance, as is commonly understood. Lord Krishna is telling us not to develop this sense of separate existence or ego.
Here the Sanskrit word used is phaleshu which means "in the fruits." The word is used in the plural. Does that mean that one individual has more than one ahamkara or ego? If we reflect upon this idea of "ego" a bit more deeply, we will realize that this ego is not constant or fixed. It changes continuously, hence the usage of plural here.
What is ego? It is nothing but a bundle of ideas or convictions. You ask a young lad, "Who are you?" He will say, "Sir, my name is John. My father works downtown. My mummy is at home. I go to school. . . ." As he grows up, he gets a degree in engineering. Now he says, "Sir, I am an engineer." So, the idea of his being an engineer enters the ego. After he gets married, he will say he is the husband of so-and-so. When he has children, he will say he is a father. Thus the ego, though of one and the same person, keeps on changing continuously. Hence, Lord Krishna says, "You have a right to do your actions. But do not feed your ego." He is explaining to Arjuna that his actions should result in a dissolution of the ego.
3. In the third part of the verse, Lord Krishna says, "Whatever work you do, the motive force behind those activities should not be the ego." It is a fact that there is some motive behind every action. It may be good and pious. It may be bad or evil. There cannot be any work without a motive. Every motive in turn is a product of the ego, which is a complex structure built out of desires and ambitions of every individual. Every action feeds the ego. Ego then feeds the actions. This is a never-ending cycle.
Here Lord Krishna is pointing out the fact that the life force or energy necessary for actions comes not from the ego, but from the Divine, which is beyond the domain of ego. If the activities are inspired and guided by the Divine, not by the ego, then the actions will not be binding.
4. At this juncture, a thought arose in the mind of Arjuna: "Why bother about these actions which will feed the ego? Why not stop all activities and remain quiet?" Lord Krishna understands that point and hastens to add, "Do not try to be inactive, because that is not what the Lord had in mind when he created this universe. The human body is built with some definite purpose. The organs of actions and senses have a goal or a purpose. To fulfill that goal, one must remain active."
The question that comes up next is this: "Well then, tell us how to do our work? If it should not inflate our ego, not bind us anymore, should it be a tool for liberation and Self-realization?"
Lord Krishna gives the answer in Verse 48 of this chapter. He says, "Abandon all attachment. Try to retain the balance of your mind in the face of opposites, such as success and failure. Be deep-rooted in Yoga, which means be united with the Supreme Self. Now seek all inspiration from the Lord with whom you are closely knit. Try to do your duties in the framework of your social order and in tune with your own setup. Retain your mental balance. In such a balanced state of mind, if you can do all your actions, then you are in Yoga." Samatva, or balanced state, is Yoga. Lord Krishna elaborates this point of Samatva in the next five verses.
Lord Krishna says, "Suppose one is doing his actions that are motivated by ego, then I can only pity him. It is a very, very inferior type of activity. One must develop a detached view. Then he can be firmly rooted in the Divine. His intellect is now filled with the power of the Lord. He will then be detached from the results of actions. That is why I am telling you to launch upon the path of Karma Yoga. This Yoga is proficiency in the art or skill of performing actions.
"The wise men shun all the fruits of actions. They are thus freed from the cycle of births and deaths. They attain the highest liberation. Your intellect must get over the present delusion. It should come out of the present perplexed condition. It should become steady and still. It should now merge with the Divine. Then you will be a Yogi who has the master key to all activities."
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