September 22, 2018

Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 – Samkya Yoga Or the Yoga of Knowledge-Part-1

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Again this chapter begins with Sanjaya talking to Dhritaraashtra, here by referring to the Supreme Lord by the name Madhusudana (Slayer of Madhu) His intention was to point out that the Supreme Lord  had on a previous incarnation killed the demon Madhu who had been tyrannising the celestials and that was how he was come to be known as Madhusudana. It was that very Lord who encouraged and motivated the disheartened and unenthusiastic Arjuna to engage in the battle.  In these conditions Dhritaraashtra cannot expect victory for his sons who were tyrants like the demon Madhu. Since the Lord’s chosen mission is to bring about the destruction of the tyrants and persecutors, therefore by implication Sanjaya intended to urge Dhritaraashtra to save the Kauravas from the dreadful consequences of the terrible war.

Actually the second chapter introduces us to the most complex relation between the Lord who symbolizes the God meaning a being envisaged as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, in short the principal object of faith and Arjuna stands for man; the human individual.  Bhagavad Gita is a unique religious epic wherein God, the Lord presents himself as a servant; a person who is hired to do duties of a simple charioteer of Arjuna; he is willing to obey the command of a man, and he is looked upon by Arjuna as companion and the Lord is too well-known to Arjuna to be treated as divine.  Now the scheduled time for the start of an operation or action, especially a combat operation of great size has come for Arjuna; he sees in the Lord his guide, a philosopher and teacher and appeals to him to accept him as a disciple. Arjuna finds that most people gathered on the battlefield have no personal enmity between them and yet some strange quirk seems to drive them into a fateful homicide, this particular war is being waged to recover a country from Arjuna’s own cousins; he describes Bhishma and Drona as Gurus of great understanding. The Guru of empathy deserves veneration but not the greedy grabber of somebody’s property; it is likely that most of these people, with whom he would very much love to live and enjoy the country would not survive hence to his mind the war is most suicidal. When Arjuna puts on one side values such as riches and victory in the war, and on the other side values such as reverence for the aged, love for friends and relatives and a need for inner peace and contentment he finds the course of the action he has chosen dragging him into a wrong digression, to him to decide one way or the other does not look simple. He does not see how war could lead him or anyone else to the liberation of the soul. Arjuna is serious in his search of salvation from the bindings of action which are fraught with dreadful consequences. Arjuna’s immediate problem is his becoming a cause of the death of his dear ones on the battlefield, this fear of Arjuna is born of the misconceptions like; he identifies a person with his body; he thinks that with the death of the body a person perishes; he imagines that the other person’s death depends on his action, and that he is responsible for the life of others. It is for this reason that Arjuna places himself most devoutly at the feet of the Lord and accepts him as his Guru Sometimes when a mind is overwhelmed with doubts and fears, frustrations and agony, the clean light may begin to be perceived as bringing understanding and assurance, composure and ecstasy, vigour and nerve; all embracing vision and love. A guru is often the model of an enlightened person; he is always well versed in scriptures he is sinless, not afflicted mentally, morally, or emotionally Arjuna sees in the Lord his Guru in the strict sense of the term Guru as one who dispels the darkness of spiritual ignorance and bestow upon him spiritual experiences and spiritual knowledge.

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This chapter could more appropriately be called the Samkhya .and Yoga instead of just Samkhya-Yoga, the second half of this chapter is the Yoga; outcome of the Samkhya philosophy of the first half. In the verse 39 of this chapter the Supreme Lord says, “Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, and victory and defeat alike en­gage yourself in your duty; by doing your duty this way, you will not incur any sin. Arjuna’s lack of understanding in the mind is carried over from the previous chapter, where we would normally have expected it to come to an end. A situation which should normally delight a chivalrous warrior creates in Arjuna a feeling of disgust and revulsion, here he has to woo a war and has to produce a victory. His potential to carve a victory has to come from prowess as a warrior and from his skill in archery. Drona expects from Arjuna love and gratitude for teaching him archery. By a spiteful travesty of fate, Arjuna is now asked to aim his arrow at his own preceptor a very unusual and tragic situation that breeds in him fear and powerlessness.

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Arjuna’s conflict, condition, and attitude are typical of a wisdom seeker; if Arjuna was in a mere emotional state in the previous chapter; his thoughts have now acquired a state of philosophical doubt which he is quite capable of stating consciously and precisely in conformity with the scriptures. Arjuna responds to the Supreme Lord; “It appears to me that this is not a battle, it is an everlasting rebuke; it will require us to raise our hands against venerated relatives, who should be held in respect, adored, whom we should in fact serve and endure always, and they are not to be belittled and offended. I find in the assembly of the adversary righteous elders; noble preceptor, those to whom I owe deep sense of gratitude, they are the ones who brought me up, they made me what I am now, and I cannot repay this allegiance by inflicting death on them, they are worthy of my deep reverence. Even the throne or sovereignty would not make me take my weapons against them I would prefer the life of a recluse in wilderness/mountains than fight such a war. Please explain to me a healthier way if there is one, I want to tread the path aligned to Dharma  You have been  a source of solace and guidance to me; I seek the answers from you. My mind is dispirited, no worldly enticement not even absolute sovereignty will remove the confusion/grief in my mind, I seek your grace alone O Lord. The smile on the Lord’s lips is typically in contrast with the pessimistic gloomy and pensive state of Arjuna. Between the bright smile and the dreariness vitae is to take place presently a normal dialectical revaluation of perception and values. The Supreme Lord gives Arjuna his teaching in the traditional way of the Upanishads; the only way of presenting it to Arjuna for the Supreme Lord is by the priori method of revelation; a method that is foreseeable without claim to particular experience made before or without examination; not supported by factual study. The traditional way of learning this great wisdom is by listening to the word of Guru, pondering on it continuously and experiencing it as an intimate vision of the absolute and the Supreme Lord puts it in a manner which is most appropriate to the situation.

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About Sridharan Lakshmanan 12 Articles
Retired officer from Syndicate Bank
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