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End of second chapter PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

At the end of first chapter Arjuna was in despair (vishad). He was concerned about the impending death of his loved ones. And this led him to think and believe that he should not fight. Arjuna, although, in no condition to fight and in utter despair, is looking up to Krishna for answers. In the back of his mind lies his duty to fight as a soldier and also the stories of the atrocities of the Kauravas. Arjuna is asking for clear directions. He is asking Krishna to tell him the one thing to do. Arjuna is an intelligent person. He has given many valid reasons as to why fighting is not the right thing to do. Krishna simply smiles. He then goes through the second chapter, which ends with a titile of sankhya yoga.

Is Arjuna wiser at the end of the second chapter? Has he got the answer or say the answers? Although the second chapter is called sankhya (gyan) yoga, it contains much more than that. In other words a lot has been said by Krishna in this second chapter. It raises more questions than it gives answers. If Arjuna was in despair at the end of first chapter, he must be confused at the end of this second chapter. Krishna has been methodical, but he also has been very broad-minded. He starts with the fact that death does not exist. There have been many births of Krishna, Arjuna and others in the past. And there will be many more for most of them. Therefore, it is not worth worrying about life and death. He goes on to talk about sat and asat. Whatever can be destroyed is asat and whatever is imperishable is sat. We see more of the asat and worry more about this as well. Krishna suggests Arjuna to focus on the existence of sat and be established in sum-bhava. We have explained this in our previous columns and also emphasized that this sum-bhava has nothing to do with mental equipoise.

Krishna then goes on to describe the properties of the Atma, the essence of our being. He makes sure that Arjuna understands that atma is not like a thing. There is no way to destroy this essence and that the soul to the body is like clothes to the physical body. All you have to do is change your clothes when the old ones need cleaning. Atma is indestructible and again the journey continues through several lives. He points out that every one who is born is bound to die and then he is going to be born again. So, what is there to worry about? Arjuna is worried about impending death of his loved ones. Krishna simply says that they will not really die. Their physical body may die, but the essence will remain. Krishna also says that only few people look at this truth. Most of us are concerned only about the physical beings. Very few even want to know about the sat and the atma.

Then Krishna touches the question of swadharma. Arjuna is a soldier and the duty of a soldier is to fight. Krishna has suddenly changed his level of talk. He was talking from the peak of the mountain; now he is at Arjuna’s level. Arjuna should fight as a soldier. If he does not fight, he will not be respected. These are mundane points but important ones from the practical point of view. Krishna travels from peak to the valley and then goes back to the peak.

Krishna then turns to Buddhi yoga. He lays down the importance of ek-buddhi (decisive ness, clarity) before he talks about karma yoga. Clarity of mind is the need of the hour. Arjuna needs to be clear in his mind and so do we. Decidophobia is not good for any of us. Then he turns to his working sanyas, the karma yoga. In the process he goes on to the qualities of a centered person (sthitapragya). During that discussion Krishna tells Arjuna the intricacies of desire pathway and touches the alternate pathway as well. He has also touched briefly about the importance of the three gunas, sat, rajas and tama. And the second chapter ends with description of a Brahmistithi.

Is that all-confusing? Are you confused? I certainly am. I am sure Arjuna was too. But Krishna has certainly changed the mode of thinking. Arjuna is on a different track. And so are we. The questions are different now. And that is the marvel of Krishna here. The situation is that of war. Krishna talks about spirituality. And we say that Gita is not practical. Gita is as practical to me as having a cup of tea in the morning. It applies as much for drinking a cup of tea as in going to a war. Awareness can be taken to both the acts. Krishna advises Arjuna to carry his awareness to each and every act. This will open up new doors. Let us expect more questions from Arjuna. And that will help us see details about many of the topics touched by Krishna in this chapter.

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