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That which cannot be said must be said PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

atha cainam nitya-jatam
nityam va manyase mrtam
tathapi tvam maha-baho
nainam socitum arhasi


If, however, you think that the soul is perpetually born and always dies, still you still have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed.

jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur
dhruvam janma mrtasya ca
tasmad apariharye 'rthe
na tvam socitum arhasi

For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

avyaktadini bhutani
vyakta-madhyani bharata
avyakta-nidhanany eva
tatra ka paridevana

All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?

ascarya-vat pasyati kascid enam
ascarya-vad vadati tathaiva canyah
ascarya-vac cainam anyah srnoti
srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit

Some look at the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.

dehi nityam avadhyo 'yam
dehe sarvasya bharata
tasmat sarvani bhutani
na tvam socitum arhasi

O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature.


Arjuna was concerned and worried. He was worried about the possibility of death of his loved ones. He was concerned about what will happen to the society as a whole after the great Mahabharata. All these clouded his judgement so much so that he could not hold on to his bow and was in no state to fight. His questions and concerns were like all of us have. A friend of mine sent an e-mail recently. The email reads as follows:

“But my worry is: Granting all this, what are we going to do in India with its Enormous Muslim population and their continuing intransigence, the Pakistan menace, and the Islamic watchdogs beyond? It is as if we have a wild beast in the house which cannot be driven out or killed. Do we have an alternative to try to tame it? And how can this taming be done? These are the thoughts that keep troubling me at this age of my life. [I will be 69 soon] These are difficult problems for the India we all love, far more difficult than metaphysics or philosophy. What do you think?”

We are all worried and concerned like what Arjuna was 5000 years ago. Arjuna did not ask Krishna about Atma or Parmatma. Arjuna’s question was not about death and life. He was convinced that people die. He most likely wanted an escape out of the war. Many people in India would have loved Arjuna’s argument. It so happened that Arjuna asked these questions to Krishna who had a totally different and unexpected answer for Arjuna.

Krishna has so far explained to Arjuna that death per se does not exist. The essence in Bhishma, Drona and all lives on. Krishna so far has been speaking from a peak, aheight that he is at. Now he comes down to Arjuna’s level and talks to him like a friend. When Krishna talks from his peak, he has rebuked Arjuna and has told him bluntly that he was on the wrong track. But, when Krishna talks to Arjuna like a friend, he addresses him as Mahabaho (great warrior) and such great adjectives that Arjuna really deserves.

Krishna goes on to say that even if you do not believe in the eternity of Atma, the physical body is definitely going to die. It is inevitable and when it is inevitable, there is nothing to worry. Krishna basically is telling Arjuna not to worry. In the above five shlokas, Krishna has emphasized to Arjuna not to worry. This is so important. We all feel that if we do not worry or if we are not concerned how will we act. In our common view, worry and concern are requirements for purposeful action. But, Krishna views it differently. He can see that this concern and worry has paralyzed Arjuna. Now even if Krishna makes Arjuna to fight, this worry will be eating him away. And, it will be impossible for Arjuna to fihgt at his best. The Arjuna who could not see anything but the eye of the bird which he had to target in a competition, will now be seeing dead friends and relatives all around in the Mahabharata war. Krishna can sense it and hence he is addressing this question here in these shlokas. He says to Arjuna all about Sat and Asat and then says to him that even if you do not believe in that and believe in the theory that this body is the end, the end is inevitable and therefore you should stop worrying.

Krishna is not against Arjuna planning and deliberating about how to fight; he surely is against a worried and concerned Arjuna fighting this important and decisive war. Krishna goes on to say that we all are unmanifest before and after our temporary manifest form of the physical body. It is as if you are sitting by a winding river. A jet ski comes around the corner. It makes the noise in the air and ripples in the water and then disappears round the corner. All the noise and ripples then disappear and so does the Jet Ski. Our life in the time of Brahma is no more than the Jet Ski going from one corner to the other. When we are here we cause noise and ripple and feel so important. Sometimes we do feel like the center of the universe. But we are not. And that is what Krishna is pointing out to Arjuna. Arjuna was unmanifest before is manifest now and will be unmanifest again. The existence will continue. The Jet Ski is out of sight but is not gone. And again knowing this as such there is no need to worry. Bhishma, Drona or Arjuna are not going to become non-existent, they will simply become unmanifest.

What Krishna says next is so beautiful. Most of us are busy and engaged in the material world. We have a house, a car and a boat and we feel so attached to it. Somebody hits the car and it hurts inside. We are all surrounded by the material world. Somebody wants his or her son to get married and others want the father or mother to get better. Most of our needs are for the material world. Most of our relationship is with this outer world. When we come closer to ourselves or say when we go inside of us, we find the thoughts. However, even the thoughts are really outside. I can be without thoughts but thoughts cannot be without the ‘I’. When you are in deep sleep or deep meditation, you can reach to this thoughtlessness. However, as long as we are looking outside, we cannot find the Atma. This has been already discussed in our last column, “Atma and I.”

Krishna is saying here that it is a miracle that some one starts looking inside of him. It is a miracle that once in a while a Buddha or Ramakrishna decides to look inside. The outside can keep most people involved for a number of lives that it truly is a wonder that someone starts the journey of inside. And the next wonder or miracle is that such a person decides to talk about this Atma. The movements and understanding of Atma is so subtle that it really cannot be comprehended by intellect or any such means. It can only be realized by becoming it. Yet some people amongst those who have known do decide to talk about it. It cannot be expressed, yet an attempt to express it is made. There is a saying that “What cannot be said should not be said.” But a Buddha or a Krishna defy that saying and start saying about that which cannot be said.

The third wonder or miracle is that someone amongst millions decides to listen to it. It is so true. You only find a few who are truly interested in listening to what is being said. There may be a crowd listening to Buddha but only few were Bodhidharma. Ramakrishna said his sermons to many but there was only one Vivekananda. Krishna talked to many but there was only one Arjuna. Why is that? Actually there are many people who will go to a Mahatma who can promise to give material things. A saint who cures cancer will have a big draw. Who really wants to know about Atma and Parmatma? Atma is not our necessity. It can wait. We can talk about Atma when we are ready. I am busy right now. I have my practice. I have to serve the poor and the sick. I will learn about Atma another day. And, Krishna warns Arjuna that there are many who hear about this truth but do nothing about it. He wants to make sure that Arjuna understands that before he goes too far. Arjuna has to develop the right kind of listening. Arjuna must be saying, “wow.” What is going on? Arjuna had simple questions. He did not ask about gyan yoga and karma yoga. Now, Krishna prepares him for further travel. He says to Arjuna to fasten his seat belts.

Krishna reiterates the fact that the essence in the body does not die. There is no possibility of that and hence he strongly suggests Arjuna not to worry about the whole mankind. Krishna wants Arjuna to be fearless (all fear originate from fear of death) and worry-free.

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