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#Gita Chapter 02 (English translation)

November 29, 2017

Acknowledgements, Translation Notes, and Vocabulary Notes

Chapter 2




Sanjaya speaks:

Madhusudhana (Sri Krishna) spoke these words to him who was overcome with pity, despondent, eyes full of tears, and agitated: II2.1II


Sri Krishna Bhagavan speaks:

Arjuna, where does this dejection come from? It is unworthy, heaven-excluding, and disgraceful. II2.2II


Do not become impotent, Partha (Arjuna). This weakness of heart does not befit you. Stand up, Parantapa (the scorcher of foes, Arjuna)! II2.3II


Arjuna speaks:

Bhishma and Drona are worthy of worship. How can I fight them with arrows in battle, Madhusudhana (Sri Krishna)? II2.4II


(Change in poetic metre for the next four verses)

It is better to beg for alms than to slay the most noble of teachers. The wealth and desires I gain in this world by killing them will be stained with their blood. II2.5II


I do not know which is better–that we should corner them (in battle) or they should corner us. Having killed them we should not wish to live. They stand before us as Dhritarashtra’s people. II2.6II


I am overpowered by the taint of pity. My mind is confused as to what I should do. I ask You, please tell me decisively what is good for me. I am your disciple. I take refuge in You. II2.7II


I cannot see how this will remove my sense-scorching sorrow. I cannot see the use in it even if it means I will attain prosperity, unrivalled dominion over this earth, and also the gods. II2.8II


Sanjaya speaks:

Having spoken thus to Hrishikesha-Govinda (Sri Krishna), Gudakesha-Parantapa (Arjuna) became silent. II2.9II


A smiling Krishna spoke these words to him (Arjuna), despondent in the middle of the two armies: II2.10II


Sri Krishna Bhagavan speaks:

Though you speak words of wisdom, you grieve for those who should not be grieved for. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. II2.11II


We are eternal in our nature as Consciousness (Self) in all three times (past, present, and future). There was not a time that I did not exist, nor you, nor these kings; and nor shall we all not exist hereafter. II2.12II


When the stages of childhood, youth, and old age pass through this body, the Consciousness that is embodied remains unchanged. In the same way, Consciousness passes unchanged from one body to another. II2.13II


Contact of the senses with objects produces those pairs of opposites like cold and heat, joy and sorrow, Kaunteya (son of Kunti, Arjuna). They have a beginning and an end and are impermanent in nature. Therefore, bear them, Bhaarata (descendant of Bharata, Arjuna). II2.14II


The wise one who is not afflicted by these pairs of opposites (like joy and sorrow) is fit for immortality, Purusharshabha (the foremost of men, Arjuna). II2.15II


Seers of the Truth have realized that unreal objects do not exist and that which is real always exists. II2.16II


That all-pervading, Self (Consciousness) is indestructible. No one can destroy this imperishable One. II2.17II


These (physical) bodies that have (a beginning and) an end are said to be embodiments of that indestructible, immeasurable One. Therefore, join the battle, Bhaarata (Arjuna). II2.18II


He who thinks one is the killer and the other is the killed, they both do not understand. This being can neither kill nor be killed. II2.19II


(Change in poetic metre for this one verse)

This One is not born, nor does it die. It neither came into being nor ceases to be. This One is birthless, eternal, changeless, ancient. It is not killed when the body is killed. II2.20II


Partha (Arjuna), that man who knows this Consciousness to be indestructible, eternal, birthless, and changeless--who does he instigate to kill or who does he kill? II2.21II


(Change of poetic metre for this one verse)

Just like a man discards old clothes and puts on new clothes, in that same way, this embodied Self drops its decaying body and unites with a new body. II2.22II


Weapons cannot cut It, fire cannot burn It, water cannot wet It, air cannot dry It. II2.23II


This Self cannot be cut. This Self cannot be burned. This Self cannot be moistened. This Self cannot be dried. This Self is eternal, all-pervading, stable, and immovable. II2.24II


This Self is said to be unmanifest, inconceivable, unchanging. Knowing this, you should not grieve. II2.25II


On the other hand, if you think that the Self is continually born and dying, then too you should not grieve, Mahabaaho (the mighty-armed one, Arjuna), because ...II2.26II


…that which is born must die and that which dies will be born. Therefore, do not lament over the inevitable. II2.27II


Bhaarata (Arjuna), all beings are unmanifest before birth and after death, but are manifest in the interim from birth to death. What then is the point in grieving about them? II2.28II


(Change of poetic metre for this one verse)

Some see It as a wonder, others speak of It as a wonder, others hear of It as a wonder. Some do not realize It even after hearing, seeing, and speaking about It. II2.29II


That Self which exists in all beings, Bhaarata (Arjuna), can never be killed. Therefore, you should not grieve for any being. II2.30II


Even considering your own duty, you should not waver. There is no better duty for a Kshatriya than a righteous war. II2.31II


Happy are those Kshatriyas who come across such a battle that presents–unsolicited–the open doors of heaven. II2.32II


On the other hand, if you do not fight this righteous battle, you will incur sin by giving up your own duty and fame. II2.33II


People will also talk perpetually of your infamy. And for one who has been honored, infamy is worse than death. II2.34II


The great chariot-warriors will think that you have retreated with fear from the battle. Those who have looked up to you will now view you with disdain. II2.35II


Besides, your enemies will use unspeakable words to scorn your might. What can be more painful than this? II2.36II


Killed in battle, you will attain heaven. Winning in battle, you will enjoy the earth. Therefore, Kaunteya (Arjuna), stand up and fight with resolve. II2.37II


Treat the pairs of opposites like joy-sorrow, gain-loss, victory-defeat with equanimity and get ready for battle. With this attitude you will not incur sin. II2.38II


This wisdom has (thus far) been imparted from the standpoint of Self-realization. But listen to this wisdom from the standpoint of yoga (the means of attaining this knowledge). With this knowledge you will cast off all bonds of action, Partha (Arjuna). II2.39II


In this there is no waste of effort, nor is there any harm. Even a little practice of this knowledge (yoga) protects one from great fear. II2.40II


In this path to liberation there has to be single-pointed conviction, Kurunandana (joy of the Kuru dynasty, Arjuna). The worldly minded man entertains endless thoughts that lead to innumerable paths. II2.41II


Those who remain engrossed in the teachings of the Vedas use flowery words to declare that nothing exists apart from rites and duties. II2.42II


Driven by desire, with heaven as their goal, they seek new births as a result of their actions. They prescribe methods to attain this pleasure and power. II2.43II


Those whose intellects are carried away by pleasure and power cannot have steadiness of mind. They cannot concentrate or meditate. II2.44II


The Vedas have three objectives–to make you free from worldliness, free from the pairs of opposites, and ever-poised in the reality of the Self, without desire to acquire or to preserve. II2.45II


The Vedas are of as much use to a Self-realized one (Brahmana) as a reservoir is in a flood. II2.46II


Your right is in action alone, never in the result. Do not be the cause driving the result, and do not be inclined to inaction. II2.47II


Perform actions established in this yoga, Dhananjaya (Arjuna), without attachment to the result and remaining the same in success and failure. Evenness of mind is called yoga. II2.48II


Action performed with the desire for results is far inferior to actions undertaken with evenness of mind, Dhananjaya (Arjuna). Seek refuge in wisdom, for pitiable are those who seek rewards. II2.49II


With wisdom, one rejects both good and evil deeds. Therefore, strive for evenness of mind. Yoga is skill in action. II2.50II


Renouncing the fruits born of action, the wise are released from the bonds of birth and go beyond evil. II2.51II


When your intellect is no longer deluded (and understands "the distinction between the Self and not-Self"), then you will have no use for that which has been heard and that which is to be heard. II2.52II

(Quotes from Swami Gambhirananda's translation of Sri Shankaracharya's Sankara Bhashya.)


When your intellect is no longer perplexed by the divergent ideas heard in the Vedas, and is able to stand immovable and steady, you will attain Self-realization. II2.53II


Arjuna speaks:

What is the description of a man of steady wisdom (Stitha Prajna) who is merged with the Self? How does that one of steady wisdom speak? How does he sit? How does he conduct himself? II2.54II


(Verses 2.55-2.72 are collectively known as Stitha Prajna Lakshana–Indicators of a Man of Steady Wisdom)


Sri Krishna Bhagavan speaks:

When one renounces all desires of the mind and remains content in the Self by the Self, he is called a man of steady wisdom, Partha (Arjuna). II2.55II


When his mind is unperturbed by sorrow and does not seek pleasures, when he is free from attachment, fear, and anger, he is called a sage of steady wisdom. II2.56II


He who is not attached to anything anywhere, who neither rejoices nor hates–his wisdom is firm. II2.57II


When he withdraws his senses from sense-objects, like a tortoise withdraws its limbs, then his wisdom is firm. II2.58II


When sense-objects recede from an abstinent man, the tastes for these objects remain. But this taste too disappears when he sees the Supreme. II2.59II


The turbulent senses forcibly carry away the mind of a wise man, even though he strives to control them, Kaunteya (Arjuna). II2.60II


His wisdom is firm who controls the senses with his mind and remains concentrated on Me as the Supreme. II2.61II


Thinking of sense-objects creates attachment. From attachment is born desire. From desire arises anger. II2.62II


From anger comes delusion. From delusion comes failure of memory. From failure of memory comes the loss of discrimination. The loss of discrimination causes utter ruin. II2.63II


He attains peace who conducts himself among sense-objects with his senses free from attraction and repulsion. II2.64II


In this peace all pain is destroyed. The intellect of the peaceful one soon becomes steady. II2.65II


For the unsteady there is no wisdom or meditation. For the unmeditative one there is no peace. Where is happiness without peace? II2.66II


The mind that follows the senses carries away one’s discrimination, just like the wind carries away a boat on the water. II2.67II


Therefore, his knowledge is firm whose senses are completely restrained from sense-objects, Mahabaaho (Arjuna). II2.68II


The self-controlled man is awake to things that others are oblivious to. And those things that others are attracted by, the sage is oblivious of. II2.69II


(Change of poetic metre for this one verse)

Just as waters continuously enter the ocean from all sides and yet the ocean remains unchanged, so too the sage resting in his eternal nature is unchanged by all the desires that surround him–but, not so for the one who longs for objects of desire. II2.70II


He who moves around abandoning all desires, free from longing and “mine”-ness, without ego, he attains peace. II2.71II


Partha (Arjuna), this is the state of being established in Brahman (Consciousness). Having attained this, one does not become deluded. One attains identification with Brahman even in the closing years of one’s life. II2.72II


Concluding verse:

Om! Such is the Truth in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. This is the knowledge of Supreme Consciousness. It is a scripture of union; a dialogue between Sri Krishna (the teacher) and Arjuna (the student). The second discourse ends, titled “Yoga of Knowledge–Saankhya Yoga”.

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