A stream cut off from the main river stagnates, putrefies and dies. Similarly a human being disconnected from the totality degenerates and falls into error, delusion and grief. The Bhagavad Gita lifts you out of despair and awakens you to your own glory and power.
The wise one constantly lives in the awareness of the basic unity of existence, free from the delusion of separateness. Underlying the outer differences is the unity of the Spirit. Grief and delusion come as a result of identification with the body, mind and intellect – the little self. The moment you look at things from a personal angle there is sorrow. View the same thing from a larger perspective and peace prevails.
The grief-stricken Arjuna is reduced to tears. He lays down his bow and arrow and refuses to fight. He surrenders to Krsna and says, “I am your disciple. Please teach me”. Arjuna is now ready for Krsna’s message.
Krsna smiles. He knows Arjuna is only going through a temporary setback and is confident of dispelling his confusion. He does not comfort Arjuna. He speaks the Truth – uncompromising and forthright. This dries the tears and makes Arjuna take notice. It removes the grief and despair and prepares Arjuna for the philosophy that is to come.
Krsna’s opening words are – Arjuna, you speak words of wisdom but you mourn for those that should not be mourned for. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. Thus from verses 11 to 53 Krsna presents the highest knowledge – the indestructibility of the Soul.
Atman, the real you, never dies. Even the mind and intellect do not perish. All that happens at death is that you leave behind the body and environment that no longer meet with your needs and move to another body and circumstances that are more suited for the fulfilment of your desires. Just as a man gives up tattered clothes to don new ones.
Krsna says – There was never a time when you and I did not exist nor will there ever come a time when we shall cease to be. Everything around us changes. One who is not troubled by these fluctuations and remains steady, equal to joy and sorrow, is fit for Immortality.
In the midst of this cycle of birth and death it is your duty to act. For a ksatriya there is nothing more sacred than a righteous cause. You are fortunate to have such an opportunity that is a win-win situation. If victorious you will gain the vast kingdom. If you die you will attain heaven.
We are all warriors in the battle of life. Each one of us has obligations to perform. Do what you have to do, without attachment. Your right is to action only, not to its fruit. When you are free from attachment to action and anxiety for its fruit the mind is calm and intellect sharp and clear. The result is perfect action which gives the fruit of success, happiness and spiritual growth. If you act thus you will be freed from the sorrow and bondage of birth and death. Then through meditation you will transcend the mass of delusion and move to the state of Godhood.
In verse 54 Arjuna asks Krsna, “Who is a Perfect Person? What are the hallmarks of one who has reached the state of Enlightenment? What is his inner nature and how does he interact with the world of finitude?” Krsna answers in the next 18 verses with masterstrokes to paint the picture of a Perfect Person. It serves as a guide to humanity for all times. Mahatma Gandhi would recite these 19 verses at every prayer meeting to remind himself and others that Perfection is the goal of human existence and that our only mission is to reach the exalted State. The book “Profile of a Perfect Person” by Smt. Jaya Row details the message of these 19 verses in a contemporary, easy-to-implement style.
Krsna defines a Perfect Person as one who has completely abandoned all desires from the mind as a result of being fulfilled in the Self by the Self. It is desire that takes away your might and power. To regain Perfection you need to drop desire. However desire cannot just be wished away. You can only pick up a higher desire that is more gratifying and fulfilling. As a result the lower fascinations and temptations drop of their own accord. Go back to your own life. As a child you were captivated with toys. Today you have no desire for toys. How did the desire go away? Did you ever make a decision to give it up? You just moved on to more satisfying things, as a result of which the desire for toys dropped. The same principle works now. As a spiritual child you are stuck with physical and material playthings. Move to emotional joys and the material preoccupations no longer have a grip over you. Pick up an intellectual ideal and even the emotional attachments lose their charm. Take the final plunge to the spiritual and nothing will hold you back. All desires drop. You regain your Immortal stature.
As you rise above desire, objects of desire come to you unsought. The way to gain the world is to escalate to higher realms. You will obtain the lower effortlessly. Thus you become successful, happy and grow to your Divine potential.
Krsna emphasizes the importance of the intellect. Without the intellect even a harmless, innocuous desire can take you down the stairway to destruction. Yet modern life completely ignores the intellect. No school teaches how to use and strengthen the intellect, no university dwells on it and no organisation understands the vital role of the intellect in achieving success. Thus Vedanta Trust has developed world-class educational programs for school children and young adults on the importance of the intellect among other basic values of life.
Krsna emphasises the importance of sense control which requires a strong and alert intellect. He then gives the formula for self control. With a powerful intellect that keeps the senses and mind subdued you take off into higher realms. He concludes with the definition of happiness. We all seek happiness but are clueless about where it lies or how to obtain it. Here is a clear definition that enables us to rise to higher levels of happiness until we attain infinite happiness. Thereafter nothing in the world will impact on our Bliss. We will remain untouched like the ocean that remains still in spite of all the rivers entering it. Mathematics endorses this view – anything added to or subtracted from infinite is still infinite.
Krsna concludes by saying, “This is the state of Brahman. Having attained it one is not deluded again. Being established in it one attains union with Brahman even after death”. Once you reach the state of Enlightenment there is no falling back into the realm of the impermanent. This is true even in the relative. Once you escalate to refinement you will never display crude behaviour, a person with good command over a language will not make grammatical errors.
Learnings from Chapter 2
1. Dejection and depression are self-created. Hence the solution also lies within. A slight change in outlook resolves the problem.
2. Grief comes from a narrow, self-centred view. When you understand the totality and have a larger vision there is no grief.
3. Everything in the world changes, passes, moves on. The body must die but the Spirit within never dies. Know this and you will not grieve.
4. Even the mind, intellect and vasanas (unmanifest desires) remain. Only the body is discarded and a new one acquired to enable you to fulfil your mission in life.
5. Practise titiksha. Endure unfavourable circumstances. Bear with difficulties cheerfully. Do not get victimised by the changes in the world.
6. In this kaleidoscope of change do your karyam karma, obligatory duty. Do what you ought to do wholeheartedly, objectively, without excitement. You will be happy regardless of success or failure.
7. Dedicated action towards a higher ideal, the highest being Self realisation, makes one equanimous in the fluctuations of the world – profit and loss, joy and sorrow, victory and defeat. This is worship.
8. Perfect action that emerges from a calm mind is yoga. A calm mind is the prerequisite to meditation and Enlightenment.
9. Importance of the intellect.
10. Self control – two methods: Scan existing likes and dislikes with the intellect and do not linger in the enjoyment of new enjoyments.
11. Escalate to higher desires and you will be free from the lower ones. Finally the desire for Realisation removes all other desires and itself vanishes. What remains is Atman.