The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2

The Bhagavad Gita translated by Antonio T. De Nicolas

The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2

The Yoga of Understanding


Samjaya said:
1. To him who was thus burdened with sadness,
His eyes filled with tears and confused,
Who was sinking into depression,
Madhusūdana (Krsna) spoke these words:

The Blessed One said:
2. Whence came to you this weakness in this (moment of) crisis?
It is ignoble, O Arjuna,
And neither leads to heaven nor brings glory.

3. Yield not to such unmanliness, Son of Prthā,
It does not befit you!
Having relinquished this petty faintheartedness,
Stand up, O Foe-Destroyer!

Arjuna said:
4. O Madhusūdana (Krsna), how am I to fight with arrows
Against Bhīsma and Drona
Both worthy of reverence?

5. Surely it would be better to be even a beggar in this world
Than to have slain those mighty teachers.
For having slain them, wealth-desiring though they are,
I would enjoy only blood-smeared pleasures here on earth.

6. We know not which is better for us,
To conquer them or that they should conquer us.
For having slain those sons of Dhrtarāstra standing there before us,
We would not desire to live.

7. My inmost being is stricken by this flaw of pity,
For my mind is confused about dharma,
I ask you which would be better?
Tell me decisively, I am your pupil;
Instruct me who have come to you.

8. For I do not myself see what would take from me this grief
Which dries up my senses,
Even if I gained sole rule over a thriving kingdom on earth,
Or even sovereignty over the gods.

Samjaya said:
9. Having so spoken to Hrsīkesa (Krsna),
And having said to Govinda, ‘Ί will not fight!
GudĀkāsa became silent.

10. Then, O Bhārata (Dhrtarāstra), Hrsīkesa (Krsna),  
As it were smiling,
Spoke these words to him who was sinking into depression
In the middle of the two armies:

The Blessed One said:
11. You grieve for those who are not to be grieved for,
Yet you speak words that sound like wisdom.
The wise do not grieve for the dead or for the living.

12.  Never was there a time when I was not,
Nor you nor these rulers of men;
And never hereafter shall there be a time
When any of us will not be 

13. For just as the embodied (one) comes to childhood,
Youth and old age in this body,
So he comes to another body (after departure from this body form):
The intelligent man is not deluded by this.

14. It is contact with objects of the senses, O Son of Kuntī (Arjuna),
That yield pleasure and pain, cold and heat,
These conditions are not lasting,
They come and go. Endure them, O Bhārata (Arjuna).

15. For he whom these do not disturb, O Bull among men,
 The intelligent man who remains the same
Amidst pleasure and pain,
He is fit for immortality. 

16. Of what-is-not there is no coming to be;
Of what-is there is no ceasing to be.
The final truth of these is also known
To those“who see the truth.

17. Know that that by which
all this is pervaded, is indestructible;
Nothing can work the destruction
of this which is imperishable.

18. These bodies, it is said, come to an end,
(But they belong) to an embodied one who is eternal, indestructible, immeasurable.
Therefore, fight, O Bhārata!

19. Both he who considers this to be slayer
And he who considers this to be slain,
Fail to understand: this neither slays nor is slain.

20. Nor is it ever born, nor dies,
Nor having come to be will it not be once again.
Unborn, eternal, everlasting,
This primeval one is not slain when the body is slain.

21. He who knows this which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, changeless,
How and whom does this man slay
Or cause another to slay, O Son of Prthā (Arjuna)?

22. Just as a man, casts off clothes and takes on new ones,
So the embodied one, casts off worn-out bodies
And takes on others that are new.

23. Weapons do not cut it, fire does not burn it,
Water does not wet it, winds do not dry it.

24. It is not able to be cleaved in two, burned, wetted, dried;
It is eternal, all-pervasive, unchanging, and immovable.

25. This is said to be unmanifest, unthinkable, invariable.
Therefore, knowing it as such, you should not grieve.

26. And likewise, even if you think
this is perpetually born and perpetually dying,
Even so, O Strong-Armed, you should not grieve for this.

27. For to one born, death is certain,
And to one dying, birth is certain.
Therefore you must not grieve over what is unavoidable.

28. Beings are unmanifested in their beginnings, apparent in their middles,
And unmanifested in their ends:
What in this is to be lamented, O Bhārata?

29. Some take this for a marvel, others speak of this as a marvel,
And others hear of this as a marvel;
But even having heard of this, no one knows it yet.

30. This embodied one in the body of each, is eternal and invulnerable:
Therefore, O Bhārata, you must not grieve for any being!

31. Moreover, having regard to your own dharma, you must not falter.
There is no higher good for a ksatriya
Than to fight accordant with dharma.

32. I do not crave victory for myself, Krsna,
Nor kingdom nor pleasures.
Of what use is kingdom to us, O Govinda (Krsna)
Of what use pleasure, or even life?

33. But if you will not engage in this righteous battle,
Then having forsaken your own particular dharma as well as glory,
You will incur sin.

34. Besides, men will recount your unalterable dishonor;
And for one who has been held in honor,
Dishonor is worse than death.

35. Great warriors will think you withdrew from battle out of fear,
And you, having been highly thought of by them,
Will be made light of.

36. Your enemies will speak many unseemly words,
Scorning your courage.
What could be more painful than that?

37. Either, slain you will gain heaven,
Or victorious, you will enjoy the earth.
Therefore, stand up, Son of Kuntī, resolved to fight.

38. Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss,
Victory and defeat as all alike,
Become readied for battle.
Thus you will not incur sin.

39. This (preceding) wisdom declared to you is the (wisdom of) Sāmkhya;
But listen to the following wisdom of Yoga, O son of Prthā;
When disciplined with it, son of Prthā,
You will leave behind the bondage of karma.

40.  In this path, there is no unsuccessful effort,
No reversal is known;
Even a little of this dharma rescues one from great fear 

41. In this, O Joy-of-the-Kurus, understanding is resolute and unitary;
Many-branched, indeed, and endless
is the understanding of him who is not resolute.

42. The undiscerning who delight in flowery words,
Who rejoice in the letter of the Veda, O son of Prthā,
Saying that there is nothing else,

43. Whose selves are made of desire, whose highest goal is heaven,
Who are full of ritual acts for the sake of enjoyment and power,
They only gather rebirth as the fruit of these actions (karman).

44. The intellect of those men devoted to enjoyment and power,
Robbed of insight by these (words) is not established in meditation (samadhi).

45. The Vedas deal with three gunas; but you, Arjuna, become free of the three gunas
Constantly take your stand in sattva: (light, wisdom)
Free of dualities, free of acquisition-and-possession, self-possessed.

46. For a brahman who understands, (who knows what stands-under)
There is as much use in all the Vedas
As there is in a well when there is a flood of water on all sides.

47. Your interest is in action (karman) alone, never in its fruits:
Let not the fruit of action ((karman() be what impels you,
But do not let yourself be attached to in-action (akarman) either.

48. Taking your stand in yoga, be active, O Winner of Wealth,
Having relinquished attachment and having gained equilibrium amidst success and failure.
Serenity of mind is called yoga.

49. Action (karman) is inferior by far indeed to the disciplined-intellect (buddhi-yoga), O Winner of Wealth;
Seek refuge in buddhi.
Pitiful are those who are impelled by the fruit of action (karman).

50. One whose intellect is disciplined leaves behind good and evil while on earth.
Therefore become readied for yoga,
For yoga is skill in action (karma).

51. Having relinquished the fruit born of action (karma),
Having disciplined their understanding,
The wise are free from the bondage of birth,
And arrive at a state which is beyond delusion.

52. When your intellect shall cross over the tangle of delusion,
Then you will become unattached
To what has been or will be heard (from the Veda).

53. When your intellect, turned this way and that
From what you have heard (the Veda),
Shall stand in meditation (samādhi), immovable,
Then you will attain yoga.

Arjuna said:
54. What is the mark of the man of firm wisdom,
Of the one who is centered in meditation (samādhi), O Késava?
How might the man of steady wisdom speak?
How might he walk, how sit?

The Blessed One said:
55. When a man forsakes
All the desires of his mind, O Son of Prthā (Arjuna),
And through himself becomes content in his self alone,
Then, he is said to be of firm wisdom.

56. He whose mind is not troubled in the midst of sorrows,
Is free from desire in the midst of pleasures,
From whom passion, fear, and anger have departed,
He is said to be a sage of steady-wisdom.

57. He who has no attachment to anything,
And who neither rejoices nor is upset when he obtains good or evil,
His wisdom is firmly established.

58. When he, like a tortoise drawing in his limbs,
Withdraws his senses altogether from sense objects,
His wisdom is firmly established.

59. The objects of sense recede from the embodied one
Who abstains from feeding on them,
But a taste for such things persists.
Even that taste recedes, however, when the highest has been seen.

60. But, O Son of Kuntī, even the excited senses of a wise man
Endeavoring to make his way toward fulfillment,
Forcibly carry away his mind.

61. Having held all these in check, he should sit disciplined,
Intent on me; for he whose senses are submissive,
His intelligence is firmly established.

62. When a man dwells upon objects of sense,
Attachment to them is born.
From attachment, desire is born,
And from such desire anger arises.

63. From anger arises delusion, and from delusion loss of memory.
From loss of memory the destruction of intelligence,
And from this destruction, he perishes.

64. But that man finds clarity of mind,
Who moves among things of sense with his senses under control,
Free from desire and aversion
And who is thus self-controlled.

65. And in that clarity, the cessation of all his sorrows is born.
For the intelligence of a calm mind is quickly reestablished.

66. For the one uncontrolled, there is no intelligence,
Nor is there realization;
And without realization there is no peace,
And how can there be happiness without peace?

67. Verily, the mind which yields to the roving senses,
Carries away man’s understanding,
Like a wind carrying away a ship on the waters.

68. Therefore, O Mighty-Armed (Arjuna), His intelligence is firmly established
Whose senses do not have sense-objects as an end.

69. When it is night for all beings,
Then the man of self-discipline is awake;
When beings are awake,
Then is night for the sage who sees.

70. He attains peace into whom all desires
Flow like waters entering the sea,
Though he is always being filled, he is always unaffected,
And not one who cherishes desires.

71. The man who abandons all desires, and acts without yearning,
Without possessiveness,
Without ego (not making himself to be the doer),
He finds peace.

72. O Son of Prthā, having reached this eternal state,
One does not again become bewildered and deluded.
Fixed in it up to the end of his time
He attains Brahman-Nirvāna.

This is the end of the secod chapter, entitled
“The Yoga of Knowledge”

About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives